Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, August 07, 2004

To unsay oneself.

To allow the breeze to be the voice that flows through you. To be unpronouncing. To unanounce yourself.

In prison yesterday, Wendell spoke of passive awareness. Charlie, Craig, Jared, Joe, Ryan, Saskia and I listened.

French poet, Simone Weil (1909-1943) wrote, "Love is abdication. God is abdication". Abdication is the formal relinquishment of one's claims, rights, responsibilities and power.

Talk included Robert Nozick, Krishnamurti, John O'Donohue, Eckhart Tolle, Francis Thompson, and the Zen Master's dry shit on stick.

The truth is, had God not abdicated, there would be no hope for creation, if in fact there would have been a creation at all. None. Zero. There would have been no incarnation, no crucifixion and no resurrection. And there would be no new creation. There would only be hopelessness and despair in everything we do and say everywhere we turn. The cries of Ecclesiastes would be our cries. "Meaningless! Meaningless! . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaning- less" (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV). Life would be filled with nothing but unrelenting emptiness, sorrow and woe. There would be no Romans 8:28. There would be no redemption. Praise God this is not the way is is.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified" (Romans 8:28-30 NIV).

It was for but a moment in time, but can we even begin to take hold of the gravity of God's abdication? Can we comprehend the astonishment of the angels at such a sacrifice? We can only humble ourselves and accept it by faith. Clearly, the abdication of God was an act of purest selflessness and, as it can only be with God, abdication demonstrates for us what brokenness looks like. We can only begin to take it in by the grace of God. And O the wonder of it all.

(from "The Brokenness of God, A Biblical Look at the Humility and Brokenness of God," by Anne Murchison, http://www.annemurchison.com/brokennessofgod.htm)

The words 'this' and 'here' and 'now' riveted attention. Even with, as Craig said, the life so many men lived in the prison. He was saddened by the plight of his brothers.

We remembered Thompson's words:
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home :
Rise, clasp My hand, and come !"

(from poem "The Hound of Heaven", by Francis Thompson, 1859 - 1907)

So we go.

On.

Being said.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Jesus on Tabor studied Zen. On Golgotha he studied Zen.

In Hiroshima 59 years ago today, at 8:15am, one of the darkest days in world history, the world's first A-bomb attack took place. The bomb, dropped by a U.S. plane on August 6, 1945, caused the deaths of an estimated 80,000 people. Eighty thousand died right away; perhaps as many died from radiation or injuries. President Harry S Truman, announcing the news from the cruiser, Augusta, in the mid-Atlantic, said the device contained 20,000 tons of TNT and was more than 2,000 times more powerful than the largest bomb used to date. (from bbc.co.uk)

At that hour of 8:15am many Japanese people beginning their day studied Zen.

When your original reason
For studying Zen is not right,
You wind up having labored
Without accomplishment.
This is why ancients used
To urge people to study Zen
As if they were on the brink of death.

- Yuan wu (1063-1135)

When Jesus was seen through at his Transfiguration, no one could figure what it meant.

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” – not knowing what he said. As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
Luke 9:28 - 36

Of course they were afraid as they entered the cloud.

Listen! And keep silence.

If someone could tell what was seen at the Transfiguration, if someone could tell what was seen at Hiroshima, they would surely be deemed crazy.

Who can be seen through? Who can see through the actions and events of men and history and retain sanity, hope, or compassion?

Today is that day.

Becoming transparent.

We pray with, in, and through each one and all of us.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Eternal life is now.

It is no-time -- like the present.

Meanwhile, the priest takes the host and breaks it over the paten. He places a small piece in the chalice, saying quietly:
"May this mingling of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it."
(Breaking of the Bread, Communion Rite, Catholic Mass, Weekday Missal)

Bring now to us. That's what we pray.

Is 'now' the body of Christ?

Receive it!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Breathe.

Each and all of us.

It is not merely a matter of having a personal relationship with Jesus. Isn't it a matter of personifying Christ as well? Or, embodying enroute?

Is the divine energy of the Original Logos the very impulse that enlivens each and all of us toward realizing the true direction of our lives?

Jesus wondered aloud why God had not appeared to prevent his death, asking: "Why have you forsaken me?"

Night sitting
The hermit doesn’t sleep at night:
In love with the blue of the vacant moon.
The cool of the breeze
That rustles the trees
Rustles him too.

- Ching An (1841–1920)

There is no "me" in divinity. Divinity constitutes all of us. The kindness of God is allowing the dissolution of any idea, belief, or behavior which makes an "other" of each and all of us.

God is not to be seen face-to-face nor possessed as one might a person or a favored thing. God resides in the intimacy, engagement, and transparent compassion each extends to each and all of us long for in our lives.

No one was forsaken.

Separateness dissolved.

Christ arose in the wholeness.

Some bread? Wine? One another?

Converse. This is how what is lost is found.

Exhale. Inhale.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Soon, distinctions disappear.

By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.
(Prayer during preparation of the altar and the gifts)

Water in wine, one in the other, is symbol enough to throw us into the reality.

We touch one another, wish Peace of Christ, suspecting, pretending, actually enacting what we really are.

Walking forward. Small bow. Open hands. Host. Tilting cup. Sip.

Returning consecrated.

Sitting still.

Sitting.

Still.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Would moving to Cape Breton Island be same or different?

(It's a trick question. "Same" or "different," say Zen folk, exist only in the mind.) Moving to Cape Breton Island, to follow that way of seeing, would only be moving to Cape Breton Island. No more. No less. Just that.

Everything feels not quite "just that."

There’s a stream, and there’s bamboo,
There’s mulberry and hemp.
Mist-hidden, clouded hamlet,
A mild, tranquil place.
Just a few tilled acres.
Just a few tiled roofs.
How many lives would I
Have to live, to get that
Simple.
- Yuan Mei (1716–1798)

Still, we'd like to think everything is what it is, no matter what story we tell about it.

People may not know, for instance, that the Morning Star is the Evening Star and so their beliefs about and their reactions to what is in fact one and the same planet can be quite different according to the description under which it is considered.
(p.202, entry "Leibnitz Law" in A Dictionary of Philosophy, by Antony Flew, c.1979)

There are times it is painful to hear one more explanation, warning, narrative description, or apologia for things as they take place in the world. It is a curious time when even dire alerts about possible terrorist attacks are based on planning information begun four years ago, only recently discovered, and released at this time. It is all beyond understanding.

Leibnitz law is the principle that if one thing is identical with another then anything that is true of the one must also be true of the other.

The political parties, Democrat and Republican, seem identical. The names Bush and Kerry have become targets of abusive and negative statements. People seem to actually believe that by trashing one of them the other comes out smelling of roses. That's not the law.

In Contrast to Spinoza's view that there is only one substance, Leibnitz declares that there is an infinity of substances, created and maintained in existence by God. The world that these substances compose is the best possible, created by God precisely because it is the best possible world. Each substance is simple, that is without parts, and for this reason Leibnitz calls it a 'monad', a term that means 'unit' or 'unity'. A substance is also immaterial, and therefore may be called a soul.
(p.199, "Leibnitz", ibid)

The words 'unity' and 'soul' seem anachronisms in the fierce rhetoric of denunciation and denigration.

Some consider the upcoming election a bellwether. The man whose bell leads the sheep of the flock come election results that first Tuesday in November will poise us at open grazing field or precipice tumbling drop.

An alarming sentiment grows -- it augurs an end of trust in the electoral process. We enter an age of blasts and bombast. Decisions by fiat and proclamation will replace, some say, plebiscite and popular choice. Those who know best will decide what is right for this country. And those who know best trust in power and explosives, hostile aggression and preemptive retaliation for possible future hostilities. Sucker-punches and blind-side hits are the new ungentlemanly and indecorous strategies replacing conflict resolution and negotiation.

A mild, tranquil place?

To get that simple...

Which field?

What bell?

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Forget my pain, cause your pain.

Banks, financial center, lower Manhattan, will be hit. So say government spokesmen for terrorist warnings. They have specific and credible information that an attack is immanent. The director of homeland security also says even if a building or two are lost they will never disrupt the business of finance and economic strength the United States represents.

So, there. Sticks and stones may shatter our bones but wealth, our ground, will always charm us.

No one wants a terrorist attack. No one wanted the Spanish Inquisition. Attacks and inquisitions happen because whoever “no one” is, they get what they want.

Who would have expected that the
Self nature is fundamentally
Complete in itself?
Who would have expected that the
Self nature is fundamentally
Immutable?
Who would have expected that the
Self nature can create all things?
- Altar Sutra

I’ve begun to suspect that calling upon “God” is an act intending to defeat Self nature. When the republican or democratic politicians say “God bless you, and God bless America” they continually hypnotize listeners into a subtle state of misidentification, a sort of schizoid distance from their own Self nature. I don’t think they suspect they are divisive and disuniting – they think it's a time-proven strategy for getting them something they do not want the other to have. That might be power, wealth, or position – but the dynamic is the same: negate the other, become the one. So they think.

When they become ‘the one” or “number one” or “the only one” – there is a curious shift that occurs. As the “one” they become the “other.” “One” has to say “no” to every contender to their position, power, or wealth. They become their opposite. Their “no” attaches them to “the other.” It might be thus that for those claiming to be “the one,” God is made “the other.”

Is the opposite of “one” -- “the other?” Is the negation of “one”-- “two?”

The opposite of “one” is “no one.”

The curious shift that occurs is “one” cuts off “two,” “many” and “all of us,” by taking claim to “the one” and ignoring whatever is not “one” with them.

Disagreement goes, as does dissent. Others who do not fall into the camp of the one are believed to deserve the poverty or disempowerment occurring in their lives. Their lack of living wage, medical benefits, social assistance, or any real say in the choice, participation in matters of governance, and stance toward the rest of the world is dismissed and disinvited.

The ugliness of terrorism and the ugliness of ruthless response by war – both done in the name of causing pain to the other – is the remarkable insensitivity and unawareness on both parts for the pain each carries within.

The main question is “Do you own your pain?” As long as you do not own your pain – that is, integrate your pain into your way of being in the world – the danger exists that you will use the other to seek healing for yourself. When you speak to others about your pain without fully owning it, you expect something from them that they cannot give. As a result you will feel frustrated, and those you wanted to help will feel confused, disappointed, or even further burdened.
(p.72 in The Inner Voice of Love, A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, by Henri J.M. Nouwen, c.1996)

When the man in prison said, “Spirituality is how we carry ourselves,” he spoke well. We shred spirituality by implying God will assist in any plot to terrorize or decimate any people.

Owning our own pain is not blaming or punishing anyone else for it.

Philosopher John Caputo, in the introduction to his book, said,
We have it from Aristotle himself that life is hard. There are many ways to miss the mark of virtue, he said, but only one way to hit it, and so the former is easy but the latter is difficult (Nic. Ethics 1106 b 28ff.).
(Opening line in Introduction, “Restoring Life to Its Original Difficulty,” in Radical Hermeneutics, Repetition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project, by John D. Caputo, c.1987)

Buddha made it the first noble truth – There is suffering in life.

Jesus embodied it so as not to deny it, but to transform it.

And we – what do we do with the original difficulty of life?

(Off in distance, thunder. It travels closer. Dogs and cat make their way back into the house.)

Let’s come home.

Dwell true.

All of us.