Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Jane donates ten years of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review to hermitage. They reside in harbour room for reading and borrowing.

Tommy and Saskia loaded wood yesterday into pickup from hermitage dooryard by mountain. This morning we'll unload at harbour. Fires begin in earnest in large hearth at bookshop/bakery today. Sam will like that. He began bringing daily kindling this week.

The harbour room is now equipped with wireless internet access for visitors to use. We are now a Hermitage/Internet Cafe. I suppose the difference is that should you get nothing from the computer, that would be just fine.

The waters of Penobscot Bay backdrop harbour room. Moorings unhook their boats as October frost dips toes and temperatures into autumn tides.

When water is pure and sparkling clear,
you see straight to the bottom.
When your mind holds no concern,
no circumstance can turn you.
And once your mind doesn't stray
you are residing in spaciousness.
From such awareness nothing hides.

- Han shan

Saskia makes brownies. She'll take to tiller and jib with Alana for brisk sail.

Morning practice in the breath-watching middle 30's cabin at sunrise. We walk meditatively the lower mountain up to waterfalling cascades. We turn reflexively looking for second dog, catching up within.

Sun on yellow and burnt orange leaves on trees.

Mu-ge, cat-kibble breakfast taken, has thousands of blowing leaves to pounce.

Zen and contemplation are not mysterious.

If we see this -- there's nothing to say.

Except, perhaps, as World Series begins, "Play Ball!"

Friday, October 21, 2005

The New York Times, Fox News, the Networks, news media and sources..
The United States Government.
The Roman Catholic Church.
Major financial institutions.
Large corporations.
Guardians of law.
Civic vigilance.

Are failing.

They fail readers, viewers, citizens, church-goers and children, the public and employees, neighbors and newcomers.

Before the window
yellow leaves rustle.
I sit in meditation
without the least word
and look back to see
my illusions completely gone
.
- Han Shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623)

It is surprising how widespread the failings of what we've known and trusted.

The institutions fall away in failure -- as we await our illusions to fall away.

May we not, ever again, be led into temptation.

But delivered from the absence of truth, absence of compassion, absence of good, and absence of integrity -- that these failings represent.

We will look back and wonder how we ever had faith in these embarrassing examples of deceit and illusion.

When we do look back, and when we continue on our individual and common ways, perhaps it will be with forgiveness and mercy -- but it will never again be with trust.

In order to come to terms with this new abandonment -- we will need profound meditation and deep contemplation.

Without the least word.

In prison this morning we sit awhile with a table full of conversation in one room, followed by silent sitting with fledgling meditators in another.

It is refreshing.

Words and silence.

Starting new.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Some argue the words "attached" and "detached."

Better we find a middle ground. Somewhere between "engaged" and "not-clinging." Just there, in that middle between, we suspend -- surrendering to what is -- God is there.
About this dwelling-place, we are unknowing.

Above all don't wish to become a future buddha;
Your only concern should be,
As thought follows thought,
To avoid clinging to any of them.

- Dogen

When I dozed off five years ago -- just after midnight and just before tap on foot told me my sister had breathed her last -- a stillness held us all in the presence of what is taking place.

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

(--Emily Dickinson)

The word we speak is our presence gathered into community, sangha. For some -- church, assembly, or circle.

Word is community as silence is solitude. Between the two, profound faith -- that is, unknowing presence.

The Lord's ways are pure; the words of the Lord are refined in the furnace; the Lord protects all who hope in him.
(from Psalm 17 {18})

There, in middle of everything that seems to be two, dwells what is of itself.

That which is of itself -- not one, not two -- dwells in the sound of word pronouncing the unknown with attentive silence.

We chant Compline. Invite bell. Extinguish candles. Walk back from chapel/zendo.

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there . . .

(from "Asphodel," poem by William Carlos Williams)

We are poems.

Being written.

Found there.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The war in Iraq is lost.

The "war on terror" is a foolish statement uttered by curiously detached men who seem not to care that international and national rules of common decency are abandoned as cruelty and torture become tit for tat between terrorists and U.S. troops along with mercenary hirelings.

The Buddha said: "My doctrine implies thinking of that which is beyond thought, performing that which is beyond performance, speaking of that which is beyond words and practicing that which is beyond practice. The way that can be expressed in words stops short; there is nothing which can be grasped. If you are wrong by so much as the thousandth part of a hair, you will lose the Way in a flash."
- Sutra of 42 Sections

At Wednesday Evening Laura Conversation there is agreement not much can be trusted coming from press, media, and government. The role of each seems to be obfuscation. Still, some say, the search for clarity cannot abandon truth and compassion. Engaged Buddhism and engaged Christianity (to name only two forms of engagement) ask us to assist the hurting and work for peace. The absence of trust need not inhibit authentic action toward finding balance between individuals and nations at a time of questionable behavior and doubtful resources.

In the Oval Office no visitor is obliged to fall upon
knees and weary the President's hand with kisses.
Yet the fear Tacitus expressed could be voiced today.
He worried that such "a monotony of disasters"
as those ordered by Nero might, if recited, disgust all
who heard them. He preferred not to sicken his readers
lest they be "fatigued of mind and paralyzed with grief."
In Rome thousands like us could only pray for relief.

(Poem: "Of Presidents & Emperors" by David Ray from The Death of Sardanapalus and Other Poems of The Iraq Wars.)

Jesus and Buddha's devotees debate whether we are on our own or if we are an integrity of community in the tasks confronting human being in the world.

We're on our own because we cannot find trustworthy confidence in our leaders.
We're in this with everyone because, no matter the weakness and shortsightedness of those claiming to act on our behalf, we must find a way to transcend their shortcomings and enact a reasonable and sane response to the anger and suffering of the world.

If you took notice of our transgressions, Lord -- Lord, who would be left?
But with you is forgiveness, and for this we revere you.
I rely on you, Lord, my spirit relies on your promise;
my soul hopes in the Lord, more than the watchman for daybreak.

(--from Psalm 129{130})

I don't suspect it occurred to many after 9/11/01 to forgive the men, known and unknown, who brought about the killing and destruction in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania.

Some say it would have been too brave an action for our limited mind, heart, and spirit. In other words, Jesus, so embraced by pious platitudes, proves to be beyond the mettle of furiously fatuous men out to prove how tough they really are.

Death and loss demand a spirit that transcends retaliatory revenge and conquering combat. Seldom, and (obviously) not after 9/11, does anyone invoke the forgiveness of Yom Kippur or Easter Sunday following a grievous hurt. First we demand justice (read, revenge) -- then we attack. Only then do we find ourselves saying prayers for our fallen men and women.

What has become of the heart of religion?

There are many signs that religion is irrelevant in contemporary discourse and decisions having to do with matters of might and malicious menace. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism fail to impress in this our current torturous repetition of narrowness and fanaticism exercised by adherents within each of the three religious faiths.

More's the pity.

We could use some real faith.

Where shall we look?

What excuse will we offer as substitute sacrifice for truth?

Who will officiate the obsequies?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

White moon breaks through.

The voidness so created within Bodhi
Is but a bubble in the ocean.
Worldly realms, countless as the dust,
Arose in this relative emptiness.

When the bubble bursts, the void's unreality
Is exposed:
How much more so is that of the three realms?
Though all return to One Nature at the source,
There are many expedient methods for the purpose.

- Surangama Sutra

A woman thinks she is dying and that friends abandon her. She might be right about both. Her mood is certain skepticism about what doctors cannot find in her.

"There is no such thing as a romantic experience. There are romantic memories, and there is the desire of romance -- that is all. I myself would sacrifice everything for a new experience, and I know there is no such thing as a new experience at all. I think I would more readily die for what I do not believe in than for what I hold to be true. I would go to the stake for a sensation and be a skeptic to the last! Only one thing remains infinitely fascinating to me, the mystery of moods. Sometimes I think that the artistic life is a long and lovely suicide, and am not sorry that it is so."
(--Oscar Wilde)

Perhaps we do eliminate what we think we are by drips and drabs. What's left afterwards? An unfair question. We can only know the second before the end of knowing. The woman takes comfort in her knowing. No one else does.

Creativity is no death and no extinction of it.

Like the Zen Case where if you have no staff it will be taken away.

We only lose what we do not have.

Take two, call morning; if one, no call.

This is silly. What nonsense.

Do all beings come to dwell in their true home?

May they!