Today At Meetingbrook

Friday, February 11, 2005

Crossed driveway; filled birdfeeders. Closed shop today. Deep snow. Recuperating.

I crossed seas and rivers,
Climbed mountains, and
Forded streams in order
To interview the masters,
To inquire after Truth,
To delve into the secrets of Zen;
And ever since I was enabled to
Recognize the path.
I knew that birth and death are not
The things I have to be concerned with.
For walking is Zen,
Sitting is Zen,
Whether talking or remaining silent,
Whether moving or standing quiet,
The Essence itself is ever at ease;
Even when greeted with swords and spears,
It never loses its quiet way,
And all that befalls cannot perturb
Its serenity.

- Yoko Daishi

It's not about birth or death.

Last night until this morning, the silence of no electrical power to hermitage. It felt like a hermitage. We sat zazen, then spoke of light and "Te igitur" -- "Therefore, you..." beginning the liturgical re-enactment of birth-death-grateful-communion in the Catholic Christian Missale Romanum (a donated book) opened on table to beginning of Canon of Mass.

It is a story of invitation and gathering. I don't think it is about punishment, suffering, and death. I think the story of Jesus is about invitation, gathering, and the mysterious center of our being that longs to manifest fully in this world, in this existence.

I'm not fond of the idea of heaven that is far away and detached from everyday experience. Heaven is within. And the Father is within. The Mother surrounds. We pass through and are blessed with their characteristics and geneology. A new DNA is being written. The script and grammar are borrowed from a Language of Being only barely begun to be heard in our consciousness.

We are meant to become what Father and Mother are -- enlightened and engaged -- in this very world. We forget our family and relatives sometimes -- especially the illimitable expanding endless reach of who all are part of our family. We forget who you are.

There's a need to recuperate from forgetfulness.

There's a need to remember Father and Mother.

Christ, the narration of our story, passes through with us.

Through darkness to light; through anger to compassion; through despondence to active engagement.

Climb mountains, ford streams, rest in bed -- pass through each and every reality with quiet confidence. You are on your way. I am on my way. Each way is surrounded by guiding companions.

Therefore...

You! You! And you...!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A good day to rest. Shop closed today.

Midwinter, the eleventh month.
Wet snow falls unceasingly,
All the mountains have become the same color;
On the myriad paths, human tracks are few.
My past journeys now all seem like dreams,
The door to my grass hut is deeply covered.
All night long I burn small chunks of wood
And silently read poems by masters of the past.

- Ryokan (1758-1831)

The Laura Conversation Wednesday Evening was on Savitri, A Poem by Sri Aurobindo.

Will led conversation pointing out that a great deal of light is placed on more and more events in the world. Light is core of everything. That light is rooted at center of each and every thing -- rock, plant, animal, human. And nation? Of course. Light longs to shine through. God, seen as metaphor of light, longs to be seen through. Who are we? We are to be the seers. With, through, and in the human person, light longs to dwell in this world.

To see this longing through -- reveals the core of being.

By seeing, light is released.

That notion appeals.

Whether rumors of expanding war or data about the expanding universe, from alliances between competing corporations to upcoming marriage between royalty and consort -- it is part of our evolutionary consciousness that so much is revealed which once remained long concealed. It takes seconds -- what once took days, months, or years -- to come to light.

A flood of data arrives, at times, with worrisome consequence. The light of awareness reveals trouble as well as hope. What follows any revelation is story. We make up stories to establish a perspective on data and lack of data. Stories attempt to explain, deflect, or try to settle the new knowledge into an understandable pattern. From this pattern we formulate response.

North Korea unveils nuclear information. Iran warily watches new U.S. Secretary of State build up rhetoric presaging new incursion into Iran. The Pope goes home to recuperate. In Maine it snows.

Awareness is one necessity we do not dare ignore.

New form and new understanding must follow.

Or disintegrate.

Altogether.

Choose light!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Part of the illness I experience has to do with my failure to comprehend and dwell with "these countless persons of one self" -- the many faces I fail to see as my own.

Will, a man who attends Wednesday's Laura Conversations, sends quote from Savitri, A Poem by Sri Aurobindo.

First, a word from Sri Aurobindo about the poem:
The tale of Satyavan and Savitri is recited in the Mahabharata as a story of conjugal love conquering death. But this legend is, as shown by many features of the human tale, one of the many symbolic myths of the Vedic cycle. Satyavan is the soul carrying the divine truth of being within itself but descended into the grip of death and ignorance; Savitri is the Divine Word, daughter of the Sun, goddess of the supreme Truth who comes down and is born to save; Aswapati, the Lord of the Horse, her human father, is the Lord of Tapasya, the concentrated energy of spiritual endeavour that helps us to rise from the mortal to the immortal planes; Dyumatsena, Lord of the Shining Hosts, father of Satyavan, is the Divine Mind here fallen blind, losing its celestial kingdom of vision, and through that loss its kingdom of glory. Still this is not a mere allegory, the characters are not personified qualities, but incarnations or emanations of living and conscious Forces with whom we can enter into concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life.
Sri Aurobindo

Here is the excerpt received today:

All she can do is marvellous in his sight:
He revels in her, a swimmer in her sea,
A tireless amateur of her world-delight,
He rejoices in her every thought and act
And gives consent to all that she can wish;
Whatever she desires he wills to be:
The Spirit, the innumerable One,
He has left behind his lone eternity,
He is an endless birth in endless Time,
Her finite's multitude in an infinite Space.

The master of existence lurks in us
And plays at hide-and-seek with his own Force;
In Nature's instrument loiters secret God.
The Immanent lives in man as in his house;
He has made the universe his pastime's field,
A vast gymnasium of his works of might.
All-knowing he accepts our darkened state,
Divine, wears shapes of animal or man;
Eternal, he assents to Fate and Time,
Immortal, dallies with mortality.
The All-Conscious ventured into Ignorance,
The All-Blissful bore to be insensible.
Incarnate in a world of strife and pain,
He puts on joy and sorrow like a robe
And drinks experience like a strengthening wine.
He whose transcendence rules the pregnant Vasts,
Prescient now dwells in our subliminal depths,
A luminous individual Power, alone.
The Absolute, the Perfect, the Alone
Has called out of the Silence his mute Force
Where she lay in the featureless and formless hush
Guarding from Time by her immobile sleep
The ineffable puissance of his solitude.
The Absolute, the Perfect, the Alone
Has entered with his silence into space:
He has fashioned these countless persons of one self;
He has built a million figures of his power;
He lives in all, who lived in his Vast alone;
Space is himself and Time is only he.
The Absolute, the Perfect, the Immune,
One who is in us as our secret self,
Our mask of imperfection has assumed,
He has made this tenement of flesh his own,
His image in the human measure cast
That to his divine measure we might rise;
Then in a figure of divinity
The Maker shall recast us and impose
A plan of godhead on the mortal's mould
Lifting our finite minds to his infinite,
Touching the moment with eternity.
This transfiguration is earth's due to heaven:
A mutual debt binds man to the Supreme:
His nature we must put on as he put ours;
We are sons of God and must be even as he:
His human portion, we must grow divine.
Our life is a paradox with God for key.

-Sri Aurobindo, in Savitri -- A Legend and a Symbol,Book I Canto 4 Pages 66-67

We are sons and daughters of God. We must grow through this paradox and revelation.

I must meet my family -- my whole family -- with deeper appreciation, acceptance, and engaged interaction.

For us to transfigure into dwelling places of peace, a combination of submission, suffering, and profound inquiry is required.

To see though masks of imperfection.

Homeopathic practitioners say that "like cures like."

This is the balm, the need of one another.

What do we each see?

Monday, February 07, 2005

I feel sick. It's not virus. It is the secret nation.

It is a recurring feeling. I felt it during El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala. And yet, there are moments when something else arises. Like the feeling during profound illness that the nausea cannot last forever, I like the fact that George Bush and this administration -- recurring reminders of hidden governance and secret agendas -- that they, too, will go away.

There is a Pali chant which I like very much. I don't know if I have the tune quite right but it goes something like "All things are impermanent, they arise and they pass away. To live in harmony with this truth brings great happiness." How do we learn to live in harmony with this truth of impermanence? When we first meet it we think of it only as: "our life will end." But impermanence is in each moment. Each instant. All things are impermanent - all the time. Everything arises and passes away. And in the practice of zazen we see this.
(from "Dogen Zenji's Zazen," a talk by Abbess Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Oct. 1999)

We sat Sunday Evening. At table we read from Cheri Huber. She wrote, Life will not prove to you that you are inadequate. The only evidence of your inadequacy comes from those voices, that conditioning.
(in Trying To Be Human, Zen talks, c.1995).
The voices she refers to are the inner voices of resistance. These are the voices we hear in our head every day, those saying, 'You can't do it,' and 'You're not good enough.'

I hear these voices whenever I hear the gloating voices of the President and other Republican examples of -- (what has become for me) -- smirking arrogance. It is hard to love these people. It's hard to respect someone you feel is smacking you around. It's one thing to stand in church and pray for victims of tsunami devastation, or sit on zafu holding difficult people in lovingkindness metta inclusion. It is quite another thing to discern harm being done or discriminate whether someone is actively intending to commit crimes in your name. Further, the difficulty of what then to do.

Suffering love is not an easy prescription to fill.

"To enter deeply into meditation is to enter into the mystery of suffering love. It is to encounter the woundedness of our human nature. We are all deeply wounded from our infancy and bear these wounds in the unconscious. The repetition of the mantra is a way of opening these depths of the unconsciousness and exposing them to light. It is first of all to accept our woundedness and thus to realize that this is part of the wound of humanity. All the weaknesses we find in ourselves and all the things that upset us, we tend to try to push aside and get rid of. But we cannot do this. We have to accept that "this is me" and allow grace to come and heal it all. That is the great secret of suffering, not to push it back but to open the depths of the unconscious and to realize that we are not isolated individuals when we meditate, but are entering into the whole inheritance of the human family." (Bede Griffiths, p50).

The annoying invitation that Buddhist nirvanic awareness and Christian incarnational resurrection issues is that I consider -- not running away -- but being present to, consciously entering, and willingly transfiguring the reality Mr. Bush fashions and hurls at me and the world.

It is not enough for me to take the advice of a Republican friend -- that spirituality demands not paying attention to this world. (He, of course, regularly contributes money to Bush campaign and Republican causes). He writes:
How can you dare to blend politics and war with the right of passage of a soul, any soul that takes on for itself the task of completing its mission on this earth. That path compels noninvolvement with the various crisis's going around as they always will to confuse and dilute the strength necessary to complete the task. Be above the fray. All problems are designed to confuse and deter. (email, 5Feb05)

His words do not make me pause. Bede Griffiths' do.

"The resurrection does not consist merely of the appearances of Jesus to his disciples after his death. Many think that these appearances in Galilee and Jerusalem are the resurrection. But they are simply to confirm the faith of the disciples. The real resurrection is the passing beyond the world altogether. It is Jesus' passage from this world to the Father. It was not an event in space and time, but the passage beyond space and time to the eternal, to reality. Jesus passed into reality. That is our starting point.
It is into that world that we are invited to enter by meditation. We do not have to wait for physical death, but we can enter now into that eternal world. We have to go beyond the outer appearances of the senses and beyond the concepts of the mind, and open ourselves to the reality of Christ within, the Christ of the resurrection."

(p.77, Bede Griffiths OSB, The New Creation In Christ: Christian Meditation And Community (Springfield, IL: Templegate, 1994))

It is a bit confusing to consider that the eternal, that reality itself, is the dwelling place of the Christ. Not the easy Jesus of facile cultural one-upmanship, but the essential ground of existence as experienced by mystics of every tradition by whatever name they wish to call it.

The world of Bush and company must become suffused by the ground of being. Let them call out 'Jesus, Jesus,' 'Lord, Lord' -- as they slap aside the poor, create more suffering, and play king-of-the-hill. For the rest of us, there must be a quieter and more involved way to dwell as companion and family to those most distressed and discarded by powerful and wealthy forces.

I'll have to spend more time in meditation.

The sickness I feel at this time of conquest and disregard for law and common decency must find healing balm in quiet understanding of what is eternal and what is real.

No one owns truth. No one owns the world. Nor can truth remain hidden and privatized for long. Anyone pretending to own and control these things is performing a solipsistic pantomime in a dark corner of their mind they believe no one can see. It is not a world that can be claimed and owned by a permanent landed ownership class.

We are visitors here. The unhidden is a public park. We must dance together in the open.

Everything arises, and passes away.

And then arises in new light.

Can we see this?

A starting point.

To your health!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

"Faith," says a man lecturing at University Synagogue in Irvine California, "is a conversation stopper."

Invoke "Faith" and no criticism is brooked.

It is worth a moment of pondering.

If there is a God, however "God" is conceived or conceptualized, there's no need for Faith. If God is here, there, and everywhere -- then something more obvious is called for than belief without evidence.

The reason those who search
For the Way are unaware
Of its reality is simply
Because from the first
They accept all their
Discriminations for true.
Those have been the very source
For birth and death.
How clear, in a dream,
The Three Worlds are.
When you wake,
All is empty,
All the myriad worlds are Mu!
Where does this seeing take place?
The entire earth is the eyeball of a
Buddhist monk --
Take one more step!

- Hakuin (1685-1769)

Let's take a step back. There's no reason to gasp with horror that cherished beliefs and institutions are crumbling or are about to disappear into irrelevance. It is more the option to grasp what it is that religious revelation has attempted to make manifest in this sensible world.

What is attempting to manifest in this world and on this earth?

We must walk, carefully and caringly, the ground of our being. The Golden Rule -- treat others as we wish to be treated; don't do to others what you don't want done to you -- constitutes the ground we all walk.

Compassion and love survey that ground with an attentive presence all their own -- they are the present moment unveiled with joy and inclusive appreciation.

Charles Murray, conversing on C-Span, suggests we might wish "To be a valued place" -- i.e., a person or place that would be missed if absent or gone. A Buddhist response to that fine suggestion might be that a valued place has no absence, is ever-present, and cannot be missed.

We long for wholeness of presence, wholeness of being, and wholeness of seeing.

Mind's destiny is the madhouse, because a part
trying to pretend to be the whole is already mad, insane.

(p.28, The Grass Grows By Itself, Osho)

We must learn to dance with one another, to turn with one another -- to fall into conversation without fear.

We have two options -- conversation and war; and "Faith" is a conversation stopper.
(Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)

Why are we at war?

"MU!"

We must unask the question that has as its aim to convince or explain. Our need right now is to investigate. We need to investigate, profoundly and without fear, what is right before our eyes, right under our feet.

In effect, we must begin to practice in, with, and through one another. Practice what?

Practice the sacred ordinary.

For now, Meetingbrook sees contemplation, conversation, and correspondence as sacred ordinary practice.

For now.