Today At Meetingbrook

Friday, May 27, 2005

There are a thousand ways up a mountain. Some harder than others. A few, easy. None deny there is a mountain.

Subhuti, does it occur to you that I believe that through me living beings are led to liberation? Never think that way, Subhuti. Why? Because there is no separate being to lead to liberation. If I were to think there was, I would be caught in the notion of a self or person or a life span. Subhuti, what I call a self is essentially not a self in the way that an ordinary person thinks of it. But neither do I think of anyone as an ordinary person. However, knowing the essence, I can use the name, ordinary person.
- Diamond Sutra

I said tonight I am not egoless, but ecoless -- that is, homeless. We were disagreeing about something at conversation. I was cranky. I didn't enjoy hearing observations that excluded others -- either by dint of superiority, or dint of someone's way being the true way.

It seldom cheers me to hear an overt or insinuated inclination to impress or drive in forcibly the prevalence of one belief system over another, or dismissal of a point of view before all efforts to clarify are exhausted. I'm not fond of this when done by Christians or Muslims, Republicans or Democrats, Harvard grads or drug dealers.

The judgmental mind -- the mind constantly reinforcing hierarchical thinking -- is seldom satisfied short of belittling or patronizing a perceived underling.

I'm not fond of the current administration in Washington. Nobody asked, but I'm not fond of those in the shadows who own these politicians and power players. It distresses me that the truth of Pat Tillman's death was manipulated by them. That Terry Schiavo's agony was fodder for their trough. It pains me that family members of men and women killed daily in Iraq begin to feel through their tears a cold suspicion that their lost loved ones paid a steep price for lies and deception, for arrogance and ambition on the part of their command betters.

For those who brush off the tragedy of this belligerent folly by claiming a high road of rhetoric and spirituality, I say -- stop. Stop before the spirit of this nation is tarnished beyond repair by revenge and torture. Stop before the men following very uncertain tendencies lead us into a darkness too enclosed to allow escape.

In prison today some inmates say that they'd like to have a writing circle to hone skills of expression, clarity, and insight.

The crimes for which they serve time are serious. The crimes committed in my name in the Middle East, under orders of doubtful legitimacy claiming to serve my security, are far more serious. It gives me no joy to witness justice so unevenly distributed.

What joy I do experience is with a diverse loosely-knit association of a conversant community -- in prison, or, in town -- willing to face their lives in the open; to say so; to ransom integrity.

This Memorial Day weekend demands an integrity of recollection. The dead buried and the deadened living among us as a result of war deserve our integrity.

You, Lord, are in our midst, and we are called by your name; therefore do not abandon us, Lord, our God. (Jeremiah 14:9, Night Prayer)

On Memorial Day our attentive salute needs to be followed by careful introspection.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

It's an old revelation. We've forgotten it. Or we've made it into one of those bridges we burn.

Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen. (May the body of our Lord Jesus Christ keep my soul unto life eternal.)

The Irish man said when he dies he wants his body taken to Tibet, hacked into pieces, and given air burial. He's not for cremation. He'll settle for being thrown in a trunk of a car, driven downeast, and dropped in a dug hole in the woods -- fully clothed, if you please, no bother.

The mighty ocean has but one taste,
The taste of salt.
Even so, the true way has
But one savor,
The savor of freedom.

- Majjhima Nikaya

Saying something about the Body of Christ without true faith is like trying to say something about air without breathing. That true faith is an intangible thing. It's not that you believe something -- that's just skin. It's that you affirm an experience incapable of any verification -- that's bone marrow. That experience is every breath we take and each thing seen or sound heard. It is the scent of rain rising from dirt before felt splashing on face.

This fabric of matter, the fact of existence itself, and the empty mind that follows the gaze of eyes falling gently on every passing thing -- this is sinew and willingness to move muscle and yawn with abandon.

I have said to the Lord "“You are my Lord, in you alone is all my good"”.
(From Psalm 16, Compline, Thursday)

Forget the hocus pocus. Remember Christ each time body is realized, each time blood flows through veins, or drips helpless to ground.

Some new understanding waits in empty barn for growing season to come. Fields are wet. Corn will get in late. Bees are scarce. Old grain is rationed. It will not satisfy new hunger.

Tonight I pray for the bodies of men and women, children and nature caught in the terror of war and deception of explanation of war. I pray for the Body of Christ unrecognized in person but adored in ideology. It is the feast of Corpus Christi.

All day I've looked at these hands.

They reveal something unimagined.

See them together, profound bow, greeting God.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

When it rains, get wet. When you sleep, rest well. When it is time to awake, do not hesitate.

Every day Ruiyan would call to himself, "Master, Master!"
And every day he would respond, "Yes, yes."
Then he would say, "Be awake! Be alert!"
"Yes!"
"From now on, don't be fooled by anything."
"No, I won't be!"

(Mumonkan Case 12)

There are some who want to fool us. There are swindlers who want to take our money. There are feckless bullies who try to twist everything to their advantage. That's how things are at times. That's where we live in the world. What is to be done?

On That Side, beyond the clouds,
The mountain is blue-green as jade
The white clouds on the mountain
Are whiter than white
From the spring on the mountain,
Drop after drop
Who knows how to see the face
In the white clouds?
Clear skies and rain have their times,
They're like lightening
Who knows how to listen to the
Sound of this spring?
It flows on without stopping
Through thousands
And thousands of turns
The moment before thought is
Already wrong
To try to say anything further
Is embarrassing.

- T'aego (1301-1382)

The brook turns and tumbles down mountain these days of rain. It sings and dances with abandon and delight. It goes where it goes without thought of where it is going. Brook is simply every place it is.

We must be everywhere we are. As who we are. Wherever we find ourselves that is where we are. That's the practice. The practice is not to be fooled. Not to pretend we are what we are not. Not to try for what is not ours to attain. Not to hide what is already in the open.

There are those who live to deceive and be deceived. Don't do that.

There are those who live to love and be kind. Do that.

A time will come when whatever is authentically itself will be free to be authentically Itself.

I like the fact that to be enlightened is to be exactly what one is. Without and within; alone and with others; turning one to another and turning back with no effort, no fear, and no idea but the thing itself.

No fooling.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The woman didn't mean to ridicule it, nor did the retired minister mean to make fun of it, when they pointed out that the thought of bread becoming the Body of Christ was absurd and cannibalistic.

This morning at Eucharist the thought never occurred to me. It was, like any conversation, a moment allowing light to shine through the reality with which Spirit and Matter bowed one to the other, one as the other.

The rain has stopped,
The clouds have drifted away,
And the weather is clear again.
If your heart is pure,
Then all things in your world are pure.
Abandon this fleeting world,
Abandon yourself,
Then the moon and flowers will guide you along the Way.

- Ryokan (1758-1831)

It has stopped raining. For now. Days have followed days of rain.

Who knows what takes place when sacred reality interpenetrates what we call ordinary reality? Reality, I submit, is only and always reality, wherever it is.

Does God become human? Does God become word? Does God become bread?

God becomes whatever God is.

The metric theology and mathematical suppositions about the edge of spirit nearing the edge of matter are contemporary versions of angels and pinheads.

It is a matter of out of sight out of mind. We cannot see what we are not conscious of. With consciousness comes seeing. What we consider magical transubstantiation is, in contemporary thought, integral holistic interpenetration. When we come to see, nothing -- nothing -- is impossible to the seeing mind/heart.

And when we do come to see, we see nothing special. Bread is sacred food. Christ is sacred word. Word is sacred moment. Now is sacred Christ. And all of it is simply the reality of being-in-the-world through the manifest enlightenment of What Is Itself.

But, we don't see it. We are not conscious of the gift laid out before us every day. The gift of one another. The gift of bread. The gift of rain, flowers, sunshine, tall grass, panting dog, and complaining cat. Of sunflower seed stuffed in chipmunk mouth. The gift of seeing Itself.

We don't mean to ridicule life in all its glorious manifestation. But we do. We try to make our opinion rise from the corpse of another's opinion. Let's not try that trick. Let's listen to one another. Let's try to see through words and experience to the reality itself.

Be egregious egalitarians.

Honor thyself by forgetting thyself and remembering to wash the dishes, empty the garbage, and say goodnight kindly to all who momentarily leave your sight.

Hold each in your heart.

In your mind.

Lightly.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Wind bends trees. Rain drenches earth. Silence reveals nothing.

There is nothing in front of you;
Nothing, yet everything is as usual.
Do not belabor wisdom to examine it;
Substance itself is empty and obscure.

(--Niutou Farong, 594-657)

There are times words say pseudo-nothing with annoying insistence. Listen to presidential platitudes. Listen to senate monologues. Or corporate executives.

Thoughts arise and pass away,
The preceding no different from the succeeding.
If the succeeding thought does not arise,
The preceding thought cuts itself off.

(--Farong)

We talk too much. Stay too long. Try too hard.

In past, present, and future,
There is nothing;
No mind, no buddha.
Sentient beings are without mind;
Out of no-mind they manifest.

(--Farong)

I suspect learning to think is more valuable than forming opinions or accumulating knowledge.

To think is to see and act in authentic concert with what appears.

Thinking is not thought.

Thinking is ever-nascent presence.

Thinking, like silence, reveals nothing.

A ripe revelation!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Thich Nhat Hanh says Non-self is Interbeing.

A hundred thousand worlds
Are flowers in the sky
A single mind and body
Is moonlight on the water
Once the cunning ends
And information stops
At that moment there
Is no place for thought.

- Han-shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623)

When we sit, walk, move, or eat in harmony we need not worry about "self." There is only sitting, walking, moving, and eating -- there is no self.

Practice tonight was strong gift of five and three beings among, with, and between one another.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes that mystics and zen masters become more non-dual, less dogmatic or speculative in their talking and writing.

We stumble smoothly into seemless whole as we practice harmony, habitless, with more alertness.

Everyone must practice. Killing and consuming will decrease as screaching selves disappear.

And the Lord descended in the form of a cloud, and Moses stood with him there.
He called on the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "the Lord, the Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger rich in kindness and faithfulness." And Moses bowed down to the ground at once and worshipped.
(Exodus 34: 5ff)

We celebrate the Trinity. Compassion, kindness, and faithfulness!

By any name...possible.