Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I was wondering during Lauds at Saturday Morning Practice what it would be like to be Christian. Not in name. But in fact. To become the Way of Christ?

By a green jade lake,
What a wonderful sight:
An old hermit fathoming Tao.
Aren't they the lucky ones,
Humble and still,
Quietly humming the
Melodies of heaven?

- Loy Ching-Yuen

I was wondering what it would be like to follow the Tao, the Way.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly [and sisterly] love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Romans 12:9-21 New International Version)

I was wondering why so many people call themselves Christian. Paul, and Jesus before him, attempted to be Christian. They arrived at words that are seldom, if ever, contemplated and enacted.

Let's not call ourselves what we are unwilling to enact.

Let's first step onto the Way. Then, embody the Way. Where, in silence and in active word, we do what we are.

To be what we are we must become what we are.

For this, love must be sincere.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I watched five women sit in a circle on the deck. They were smoking cigarettes.

Passions grow from the will
The will grows from thought and imagination:
When both are calmed,
There is neither sensualism nor transmigration.

- Sutra of Forty Two Chapters

It's hard to comprehend that the smoking of cigarettes continues.

That's only one thing I don't comprehend.

Another has to do with blowing up people with bombs.

That's two.

Too many.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The answer: conversation.

This is work that is alive,
Effervescent, free, liberated,
Gloriously enlightened, true,
And great.
Do you think it can be attained
By people who shut the door
And sit quietly with blank minds?

- Liu I-Ming

The question: What creates hope when bombs and bullets destroy faith?

For the suffering of those innocently hurt and killed in London -- and for the suffering of those who knowingly set off explosives -- our prayers.

Even in silence conversation is sacred.

Let's begin one.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Kindness. That's his religion. So says the Dalai Lama. It's his birthday.

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.
(-- Dalai Lama)

His religion -- and, his philosophy.

Kindness isn't for saps or doormats. Sometimes kindness is harsh and cracks the shell that covers who we really are. We say at those times, "Thank you for the kindness."

Of course we're grateful. Only when we are who we really are can we be grateful.

Be kind to yourself.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Freedom is good. Independence is good. Where these two good things wish to go is toward a loving and just interdependence.

Heaven and heart
Remain peacefully unmoved,
Yet their life breath is
Unceasing, and is seldom
Known to rest.
The sun and moon continue on
Their courses day and night,
Yet their light has not changed
Through the ages.
Late at night when others rest,
Sitting alone I look deep into my heart.
Distractions cease, truth alone becomes
Manifest as dew appears at dawn.
The mind is then free and responsive.

- Hung Ying-ming (~1596)

It was quite radical to declare freedom toward self-reliance and equality of each with all. We must remember the revolutionary roots of this step. We are inclined to forget what we in the United States were throwing off -- namely: fear, no or false representation, unresponsive authority, being controlled by an established and privileged order ruled by out-of-touch arrogance. It is time to remember -- and to pray for our country, again.

How To Be a Poet
(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill -- more of each
than you have -- inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places
And desecrated places.

(Poem: "How To Be a Poet" by Wendell Berry from Given New Poems, Shoemaker, Hoard, Washington, D.C.)

Let us be a sacred place...

Again.

Enjoy freedom!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

At table tonight a guest says she undertakes an adventure. Quite without choice she is given change -- husband dies, material possessions gone, new direction begun.

The curious gift of independence.

Today she is Buddhist Nun Ru,
Yesterday she was Teacher Wang.
Although born to wear silken gauze,
She now wears only the roughest hemp.
Mouths that open and spew out lofty talk
Have no interest in becoming buddhas.
Leap out of the cauldron of right and wrong,
Cut off completely the road of life and death,
Then enter tiger's lair and demon's palace
With a heart that feels not the slightest fear.

- Zhenru

Fear constricts. No one is meant to fear God. Love expands. This is how God sees.

At the shop, hanging from balcony, American flag alongside Canadian flag. No country stands alone. We stand together, side by side.

Nunc Dimittis *

Little time now
and so much hasn't
been put down as I
should have done it.
But does it matter?
It's all been written
so well by my betters,
and what they wrote
has been my joy.

*"Nunc dimittis" are words from the Vulgate Latin
translation of the New Testament,
Luke 2:29, Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine . . .
-- "Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord."

(by James Laughlin)

Once we fought for freedom. We have to find it again.

It is time to word justice without gunpowder.

Say it better. Say love. A curious gift.

That which is form.

Is emptiness.

Obverse.

Converse.

Too.