Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Why not be as perfect as is?

Perfect--
To make or do
One's way through.

(wfh)

One dictionary definition of "perfect" reads: Lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature or kind. (from dictionary.com)

A woman is uncertain whether she is dying. She's also uncertain she wants to live. She's tired of everybody's opinion of her frame of mind. She asks if I'm afraid to die.

Am I?

Forty-some years I've lived in the mountains
Ignorant of the world's rise and fall
Warmed at night by a stove full of pine needles
Satisfied at noon by a bowl of wild plants
Sitting on rocks watching clouds and empty thoughts
Patching my robe in sunlight practicing silence
Till someone asks why Bodhidharma came east
And I hang out my wash.

- Shih-wu (1252-1352)

No, I'm not. And yet, that's as much a lie as saying I am afraid to die. Until the moment itself, every prior thought is only speculation. I don't trust speculation -- but I enjoy it. I trust what is -- but I don't understand it.

Speaking with a woman from China just before Windjammer Weekend fireworks at the harbor, she told me how her preference has moved from Confucious (too legalistic) and Lao Tzu (too idealistic) to the direct simplicity of Zen.

Then reading Iris Murdoch, who says:
"Christianity can continue without a personal God or a risen Christ, without beliefs in supernatural places and happenings, such as heaven and life after death, but retaining the mystical figure of Christ occupying a place analogous to that of Buddha: a Christ who can console and save, but who is to be found as a living force within each human soul and not in some supernatural elsewhere Such a continuity would preserve and renew the Christian tradition as it has always hitherto, somehow or other, been preserved and renewed. It has always changed itself into something that can be generally believed."
(p.419, in Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, by Iris Murdoch)

I trust what is found as a living force within each human soul. We might only be able to talk with each other, to sit a while with each other -- to speak of what the soul is facing. If we do this with someone, with one another -- that's perfect.

keen as midsummer's keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly(over utmost him
so hugely)stood my father's dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn't creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

Scorning the pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
less humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is

(from poem "my father moved through dooms of love" -- by e.e. cummings)

As our (heavenly) father is.

Making one's way through.

Perfect.

With.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina and God! Within each we long to see what is taking place, and who we are.

ACT OF GOD - A natural event, not preventable by any human agency, such as flood, storms, or lightning. Forces of nature that no one has control over, and therefore cannot be held accountable.
This phrase denotes those accidents which arise from physical causes, and which cannot be prevented.
(http://www.lectlaw.com/def/a011.htm)

Is that what we conceive God to be: not preventable by any human agency; that which no one has control over; and that which cannot be held accountable?

They call it an "Act of God." Which is curious. I'd rather it was said: "What is taking place is a direct result of what is, given and found, within the whole of life and existence, there and then, experienced and responded to."

Could it be that's what God is? If God is "What Is Taking Place" -- what do we "human beings" respond to what is taking place? Call longs for response; appearance longs for realization. There are no isolated, unrelated events. What arises longs for whole response and wholesome effect. What arises and what responds in this process of wholeness is akin to reciprocality.

Reciprocality is defined as "interchangeable; complementary; alternating." The Way of reciprocality is a Way of Being, a way of God, a way of existence, a way of human and all sentient being. If we are to come to appreciating and dwelling in wholeness, we must consider and follow this way.

What is taking place -- for wholeness -- is dependent on where, when, how, and who is the reciprocity and dynamic interdependent co-origination of what is taking place. In other words, the Alone involves Everyone. That which is Itself is nothing other. What you see is what you get. This calls for opening our eyes to see what is there -- something very difficult, so it seems, for many of us to do.

Perhaps, as an aside, if put in computer terms, we'd come closer to getting the process of coming to any wholeness, temporary or final:
WYSIWYG (pronounced "wizzy-wig", "wuzzy-wig" or "wissy-wig") is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get, and is used in computing to describe a seamlessness between the appearance of edited content and final product.
The phrase was originated by Jonathan Seybold and popularized at Xerox PARC during the late 1970s when the first WYSIWYG editor, Bravo was created on the Alto. Seybold and the researchers at PARC were simply reappropriating a popular catch phrase of the time originated by "Geraldine", a character on The Flip Wilson Show, (1970-1974). In addition to "What you see is what you get!" This character also popularized "The Devil made me do it!"
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WYSIWYG)

Flip -- was he being flip? Or was he flipping the way we think on its head? If what we see is what we get, it is vital to see clearly and openly. If we fail to see what is there, or if we perceive incorrectly what is taking place -- is that when we mutter the phrase "The devil made me do it" and hide in our blindness? Is what we call the "devil" a co-origination of our unwillingness or inability to see with awareness and clarity?

Buddhists help with another perspective:
The doctrine of dependent origination is the key insight upon which the entire teaching of the Buddha rests. The Buddha even went so far as to equate the Dharma itself with dependent origination. "Now this has been said by the Blessed One: 'One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.'" (Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, p. 284) An understanding of dependent origination is integral to having a clear understanding of Buddhism.

Put simply, dependent origination means that all phenomena arise as the result of conditions and cease when those conditions change. The general theory of dependent origination was taught by the Buddha as follows: "When this exists, that comes to be; with the arising of this, that arises. When this does not exist, that does not come to be; with the cessation of this, that ceases." (Connected Discourses, p. 575) So nothing exists as a static, isolated entity. Everything arises and ceases depending on causes and conditions which themselves arise due to causes and conditions. There is no ultimate ground or primordial cause, but a network of causes and conditions. This undercuts the view of a metaphysical selfhood, fixed entity, or substance underlying the constant change which is life.
Dependent origination can be summarized in a few words, but truly understanding what it means and the profound implications of it is something else altogether.


And:
We may be the products of causality but we are also the producers of the very causes which will determine whether we perpetuate suffering or attain liberation. The Buddhist vision of dependent origination is a vision in which sentient beings are not determined by forces beyond their control, but rather are fully integrated in the co-arising of all things and as such are able to take responsibility for themselves and create better conditions for themselves and others by making better causes informed by an awareness of the way things arise in mutual dependence. ("On Dependent Origination," by Ryuei Michael McCormick, http://nichirenscoffeehouse.net/Ryuei/depen-orig.html)

If we were to speak of God, the use of the words "God is love" is a good way of speaking. Perhaps we do not comprehend "love" -- but in that non-comprehension I continue to find it difficult to listen when some, bizarrely, perhaps bitterly, suggest the death and devastation of hurricane Katrina is something fore-ordained and approved by "higher powers" to "cleanse and purify" a region of the world. (These comments are heard about natural disasters, wars, and diseases. Presumably something, according to these proclamations, needs "cleansing and purifying" -- euphemisms for death and destruction.) It is hard to understand such rationalizations.

Rationalizations usually emerge equally from those who descry "intellectual" inquiry as insufficient to their "spiritual" understanding. There is a touch of cynicism in the failure of the mental structure of consciousness to comprehend the myth of God. The reality of God, if I understood it, would take the myth to a further consciousness, beyond mental, and surround it with a new wholeness. Of course, words cannot hold the fullness of anything. They point. So do the words "myth" or "reality" only point toward what is taking place in that which we call "God."

The fire pit is cold
The stone bed like ice
The clay censor died
Before the end of night
The world of sound is
Silent, my mind
Completely still
And now it seems
My body exists inside

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

A disaster is a disaster. They prove unfortunate in many ways: the act itself, the aftermath, and the explanation. We have grown accustomed to blaming and shaming any and all associated with the events undergone -- from looting to lawsuits, from inadequate fore-knowledge to inappropriate response, from sex to sickness, from desire to survive at the expense of others to believing the egoistic delusion that might is right, or, finally, from fear of goodness to love of power. Disasters all. Disaster begins when we move awareness away from the stars, the planets, the suns and vast beyondness of deep and incomprehensible Being. Disaster begins when we reduce Being to personal desire.

Some say global warming factors in. If so, fie on those who know better yet refuse for political and economic reasons to act responsibly to carefully study and assess the matter, and urge changing our way of life when results call for it.

There isn't much that can be said of God. (If my intent in saying the previous sentence is honorable, the emphasis should be more on what cannot be "said" and less on there cannot be "God.")

Our hearts open and stay open for all touched by the hurricane and its aftermath. Our hearts do likewise for all those in Iraq suffering death and pain resulting from the no-act-of-no-God awfulness of invasion, war, and aftermath. Our hearts remain open and prayerful for these as well as all suffering ravages of disease, e.g. AIDS in Africa, alcoholism, cancer, and depression world-round.

For anyone interested in God, a re-reading of Han-shan is called for. Perhaps, using literary transparency, Han-shan might be God telling us of God's whereabouts:
The world of sound is
Silent, my mind
Completely still
And now it seems
My body exists inside


At this time, in this place, we look, openly.

Inside.

Out.

All around.