Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Barge breaks ice in west channel of Camden harbor. What minutes ago was solid across is broken apart into floes in time for descending outgoing tide.

Notch the arrow of emptiness
To shoot the hawk of ultimate meaning;
If you’re not right on target,
You will be deceived by this barbarian monk.

- Fugai Ekun (1568-1654)

I worry the arrow set loose from America's hand and sent wobbling dangerously into a foreign heart will not rest unreturned.

Cupid's arrow says love. I don't know what this invasive arrow stands for.

...and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.
(1 Corinthians 1: 28)

There is an edge to our reasoning. What is over that edge? Is there an unforgiving solidity that aggression smashes against? Will an arrow poisoned by ignorance send an unyielding venom through the barrier we imagine separates "us" and "them?"

Albert Einstein proffered the theory that the edge of the universe is constantly expanding. Being completely nothingness, a perfect vacuum, the universe is expanding into what Einstein imagined to be "less than nothing." He posited that if a rocket ship were to approach the edge of the universe, exceeding the speed of expansion, it would disintegrate, because apparently even "nothingness" has an edge, a solidity to it. Letting go of the contents of mind, of desire, leaves nothing to obstruct the entrance into "less than nothing." The actual experience of "less than nothing" cannot be accurately imagined because even that moment of imagination is "just another something" in the mind.
(p.52, in Who Dies, An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying, by Stephen Levine, c.1982)

The ice flows out. Solidity breaks apart. One country elects to smash through and waits to see what follows.

The bow is slack. A confident, uncomprehending, man grins after the something he has loosed.

Einstein, in another dimension, looks blankly at the man.

The man has something in his mind.

Just another something.

We are befuddled.

Where will it land?

Friday, January 28, 2005

At prison today eight of us read from Bo Lozoff's It's a Meaningful Life, It Just Takes Practice.

One of the guys says that each aspect -- the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual -- is receptor and originator of the world we pass through.

Nancy says there's a dynamic tension to be practiced. We have to sit with the contradictions pressing in and out. At times, just that -- to sit with.

The fuel in the tea brazier is burnt out,
So I collect pine needles,
The fields of medicinal plants are empty,
So I cut vegetable roots.
Naturally dull, I've forgotten Zen activities,
My gate is darkened at noon by
The shade of ancient trees.
White clouds impart a sense of peace
To my Zen meditation,
Green grasses suffice to make a rug for my guests.
What I have collected is a hundred years
Of emptiness.

- Isshi Bunshu (1608-1646)

Murder. That's what it's called. Prison. That's where murderers go when caught and convicted. Conversation. That's what takes place afterward between those of us who have and have not murdered.

It's a crap-shoot. So we shoot the breeze. We drift along one another's breath. We keep ourselves in one another's sight.

The 1st Noble Truth in Buddhism reminds us.
1. Life means suffering.

To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

(http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html)

We collect a hundred years. Of emptiness.

Awareness of emptiness. Looking to see.

Turning with one another.

Listening. Even, hearing.

It takes practice.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A suicide changes his mind. He decides to stay alive. Eleven die in his place.

The president tells people to vote in Iraq. Many die. He lives. Some wonder what he is doing in Iraq, Iran, the Middle East.

Vibrating within
The ear are many voices
But their origin
Has a source which may be called
The sound of no sound.

- Takuan (1573-1645)

It is bewildering to hear and see the antipathy against America. How a few people could turn a country around so quickly is astounding.

"Prayers don't change the world, but prayers change the people, and people change the world." (Albert Schweizer)

Iraq and America exchange glances.

Is anyone listening?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Will awareness transcend and include forgiveness?

So -- in thinking about someone's "wrongdoing," are we being in a judgmental mood, blindly, stubbornly identified with a position from which we condemn or accept? Or are we in an open, impartial space of wondering and examining what is going on in ourselves, and why anyone would be doing what they are doing?
Suspending the judgment of someone else's violent action, we may discover, maybe to our surprise, a movement of animosity and violence in ourselves. Can we examine it thoroughly, not looking away, not needing to condemn? Don't actions of violence and animosity speak clearly for themselves, revealing their driving ignorance, their divisiveness and destructiveness -- their lack of love? In our relationships with each other, do we need judgment and condemnation, or rather understanding and compassion?
This is the miracle of awareness: it gives birth to intelligent and compassionate action. Awareness does not judge, condemn, or accept, because it has no me-ness to be defended or nurtured. In the wonder of clear-seeing, me-ness is in abeyance, leaving infinite room for love.

(pp.101-2, in The Wonder of Presence And The Way Of Meditative Inquiry, by Toni Packer, c.2002)

Is awareness love?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Blizzard white along Maine coast. And at the mountain, snow on snow.

Human nature is developed by profound
Serenity and lightness,
Virtue is developed by harmonious
Joy and open selflessness.
When externals do not confuse
You inwardly,
Your nature finds the condition
That suits it;
When your nature does not disturb
Harmony, virtue rests in its place.

- Huai-nan-tzu

Bird feeders full. We shovel, sit on open porch facing brook, and will light fire in cabin. Shop closed. Joanie celebrates 75th birthday.

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. Matthew 4:12 - 23

Imagine the disappointment when you are no longer allowed to speak or hear truth.

Those who favor the opposite of truth are forever trying to make truth something else.

Where we come down is that everything is itself.

Truth is sacred. 'Itself' is what we call one's everyday revelation. God is this moment revealing Itself.

Meetingbrook sees contemplation, conversation, and correspondence as the sacred ordinary.