Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Susan coughs. She has bronchitis. Sam plays harmonica. Joanie does not, momentarily, talk about not moving to New Jersey. Myles takes wedge of bread to slather. Saskia wraps turkey burgers and puts into freezer. Priscilla doesn't get to see her artwork not yet hung over fireplace. She tells me she was given a snake potion by the local non-aleopathic doctor. (She worries about hissing.)

Mike leaves table-top book as donation. Dirk and wife leave out into sunny cold. I put Christmas circular letter from Connecticut aside after reading travelogue of forty years. Bernard stops in to say Fanny is feeling ok today. The green wet pine donated yesterday acts like homeland security to fire attempting to encroach from kindling.

Those who awaken never rest in one place.
Like swans, they rise and leave the lake.
On the air they rise and fly an invisible course.

They live on emptiness.
They have seen how to break free.
Who can follow them?

- Dhammapada

Follow them where? Who goes? And where's to go?

The Doc has arrived and sits while the artist sketches. She sketches his words to her. He is telling her about original wholeness, Christness, pure reality. He tells about a question that arises: What would it be like if I were separate? (It's only an imagination, it's not true. That, he says, is the beginning of the ego. The mind grows curious with the question, and grows a fascination with twoness, of separation.)

Each psalm in Liturgy of the Hours ends with doxology:Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

"Amen" finishes the doxology. We say yes to wholeness, even when we feel fragmented. That's what faith is -- saying yes in the midst of myriads of no.

The Doc goes on: "The ego, in the immensity of the fear and guilt at imagining and attaching to separation, attempting to escape, projects the creation of the universe. You make the problem, then you project so that you don't have to own it. I project wars. The ego uses the body attempting to be whole again. It uses it for pleasure and attack. Only the heart and mind is interested in truth, in love. Not the ego. Ego creates sickness."

Gregorian chant sounds from the internet station from Spain.

The sun bounces off shrink-wrapped boats at Wayfarer across the harbour.

Time to get the trash to the transfer station.

Doc says we see the innocence of everyone. So, we forgive.

And...

go on.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Doug said the Dalai Lama's words on "attitude" stay with him after the course. He's got a lot of years to settle into. About 45 more in prison.

Will some understanding reveal itself to him?

Arise, shine out, for your light has come,
the glory of the Lord is rising on you,
though night still covers the earth
and darkness the peoples.

-- Isaiah 60:1

At shop tonight reading First Church of the Higher Elevations, by Peter Anderson, we speak afterward of the blackness between stars and the vast unreachable space within us. How we are breathing membranes between infinite expanses of inner and outer space.
How if the incarnation has any meaning for contemporary shrugs of religious indifference on one hand and zealous fundamentalist enthusiasm on the other it would have to be grounded on ordinary humanity and the sacred revelation manifesting itself within it and within its surroundings.

In short, our worst fear is being revealed -- namely, God has given us Itself. What shall we do with it?

Death and life are looked on
As but transformations;
The myriad creation is all of a kind,
There is a kinship through all.

- Huai Nan Tzu (2nd century B.C.)

The kinship is manifest.

We are kin. It is the twelfth day of Christmas. It is Epiphany. "It's me," God says, "do you recognize me?"

"Recognize you? Recognize you...?"

No, we don't. But give us time. It shouldn't take much longer. Have some tea while you wait. Here, sit by the fire. How has your day been? Some cake? I just have a few things to do. Can you stay a while?

(Are there really three wise men? Are there two? Is there one?)

Are we to understand you are not you any more?

Are we talking about what is...here...now?

Attitude: a) : a mental position with regard to a fact or state; b) : a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state.(Webster's)

Looking a little closer. Leaning in. Tilting head.

"Say, aren't you...?

(Waiting. Waiting.)

Yes, I am.

(Doug?)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What is the corrective in convergence?

Sorry times invite correctives of clear sight and aware action. When reason becomes corrupt, intuitive spirit must emerge innocence.

We grow frightened by official belief. The State, the Church, the Corporate Offices, the Dead Certain opinions of otherwise ordinary people -- the behavior of arrogant power frightens us.

It is true that power and wealth are sorry substitutes for authentic compassion and kindness. We dwell in sorry times.

The wholeness of life has, from of old,
Been made manifest in its parts;
Clarity has been made manifest in heaven,
Firmness in earth,
Purity in the spirit,
If rim and spoke and hub were not,
Where would be the chariot?
Who will prefer the jingle of jade pendants
If they once have heard the stone
Growing in a cliff?

- Lao Tzu

Midcoast Maine this morning begins mute gray-brown. Snow begins falling gently past kitchen window, sputtering like Make and Brake one lung engine in dawn harbour. Cat pleads to be sent out again to prowl his nation-yard. (To be rid of the melodrama, I open door to barn.) Of a sudden snow is full throttle. The brown hill gone white.

In one of the psalms one of us -- either with us or on our behalf -- said to him, I shall be filled when your glory appears. But he and the Father are one, and whoever sees him sees the Father also, so the Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory. He will bring us back, he will show us his face and we shall be saved; we shall be filled, and he will be sufficient for us.
Until this comes to pass, until he gives us the sight of what will completely satisfy us, until we drink -- drink our fill of him, the fountain of life -- while we wander about, apart from him but strong in faith, while we hunger and thirst for justice, longing with a desire too deep for words for the beautiful vision of God, let us fervently and devotedly celebrate the anniversary of his birth in the form of a servant.
We cannot yet contemplate the fact that he was begotten by the Father before the dawn, so let us hold on to the fact that he was born of the Virgin in the night. We do not yet understand how his name endures before the sun, so let us acknowledge his tabernacle placed in the sun.
Since we do not, as yet, gaze upon the Only Son inseparably united with His Father, let us remember the Bridegroom coming out of his bride-chamber. Since we are not yet ready for the banquet of our Father, let us acknowledge the manger of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(from A sermon of St Augustine, Office of Readings, Thursday, 5Jan06, Eve of The Epiphany)

So many of us seem to be "wandering about, apart" yet "longing...for the beautiful vision of God." It is curious we have not fallen together into a common prayer for such unity vision. (It is not, as we once thought a vision of looking at God. It is, rather, the vision of looking as God.)

At Wednesday Evening Laura Soul-Friend Conversation at the bookshop, Paul smiled mischievously at the diversity of the ten of us gathered, saying: "It's terrific to sit in such a circle of diversity. This way, if even one of us is right there's a chance we'll all be pulled along to the truth; instead of the possibility that, being of one mind, belief, and creed, we just might all fall into ruin with falsity." (His wife, visiting her first time, glanced at him, keeping an eye on his delighted smile.)

Ragged Mountain is curtain of snow.

We are in profound need of what Augustine and psalmist plead: "bring us back, he will show us his face." Again, not to show us a face out and apart from our face -- rather, show us his face. It is our faces that are to be the face of God. This is not to suggest (for those of us troubled by the confusion of dualism and non-dualism) that some substitute for God is envisioned. What is envisioned is the emergence of God where the Christian mystery this season reveals God to be -- that God became human so that humans might become God.

460: The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature":78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81
(80 St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B)
(in Catechism of the Catholic Church, c.1992, PART ONE, THE PROFESSION OF FAITH, SECTION TWO, THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH)

Of course these words are terrifying! Our fear is that misguided, unaware, and deluded men and women might try to grasp at and appropriate this notion of "becoming God" -- and ride roughshod with flailing egos over those they subordinate.

On the other hand, the above words of St Athanasius (295-273) invite a new "Pax Terra" (rather than a War on Terror) -- a peace that belongs to every being emerging from out itself to become itself. ("Pax Terra," is Latin for "Peace on Earth.") The word "terra" means earth, land, ground, soil; a country, land, region. It is time for authentic terra.

God's way is not the way of war. It is not the way of power and control. The way of God is kinder, more compassionate, and ultimately loving.

Cruelty, torture, deception, and greed are signs that the true and authentic God, profoundly longed for by every human heart and every being, is not emerging through us, but rather a perversion and distortion of our "idea" and "grab" of God has taken possession of our lives and culture.

It is terrifying to become what one is. It means we let go of everything we are not. God is the longing of God to emerge through this creation. There is no "intelligent design" out there pulling puppet strings, manipulating the material world to bring about a pre-ordained spiritual paradise once we muck through this horrible existence. We might rather think that we are the longing of God to fashion in our emerging way the kind of existence and world worthy to allow God's dwelling place under our roofs, under our feet. It has been given to us to work this out with diligence.

This prospect -- the humanity of God -- is frightening. It scuttles many of our theories about "God out there" judging and damning, praising and rewarding us. It asks us to grow up -- not fall back on mommy and daddy's praise or blame, and continue on with faithful hope that love alone reveals the reality of God in our midst.

Ours is a sorry time. It invites correctives of authentic compassion and kindness to heal the hurt and comfort the suffering. We cannot count on leaders whose idea of God is punish and protect. They will deceive and force their will on those weaker than them. We cannot, (God help us), depend on churches, mosques, temples, or any bastions of deficient ideas of what God is and what God wants. "God" is not our idea of God.

God is Itself -- emerging through love, longing to dwell in this world, with one and all, as one and all. The way we know God is God is when our actions are compassionate, loving, kind, and truthful

The fruits of God are God itself.

Without God we are not converging -- not in contemporary culture and world, not within ourselves.

God is the corrective in convergence.

Pray for corrective.

For Epiphany.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Appearance and transparence -- maybe that's it. It is said no one has ever seen God, who is pure spirit. But there have been manifestations of God, expressions of this holy spirit that appear to our senses and minds, presenting confirmation of our suspicions (or faith).

There is spirit, and there is manifestation of spirit.
There is nirvana, and there is samsara.

At the same time, one is and is not the other. (Who can hold this contradiction?)

Nicholas Cryfts, (whom we know as the philosopher Nicholas of Cusa, 1401-1464) has his work described:
Theodicy
God is infinite. The infinity of God leads Nicholas of Cusa to affirm the coincidence of opposites. Observing how, in a circumference carried to infinity, the straight and the curved line coincide, he affirms that in the infinity of God all oppositions are identified, all distinctions overcome, and all contrariety fades into nothingness, since the correlative is not to be found. God is the "implicatio" of all opposites. But what in God is "implicatio" and "complicatio," becomes "explicatio" in the universe, which results from multiplicity, distinction, and opposition.

This concept does not differ substantially from the Neo-Platonic idea. The "explicatio" is equivalent to Platonic emanations, by virtue of which God, absolute unity, becomes multiple through subsequent emanations. The concept of Nicholas of Cusa becomes more dangerous because of the consequences he derives from "explicatio." The world is an infinite potential, and because of this it participates in an attribute of divinity. This theory was to be reaffirmed by Giordano Bruno. God is as it were contracted in beings; He is the absolute quiddity of all the things in which He is contracted.

(http://radicalacademy.com/philcusa.htm)

Quiddity means essence, whatness.

Giordano Bruno was murdered by the Catholic Church for not believing what it believed. It's a fact. There are many disturbing facts.
Bruno (1548-1600) was burned at the stake as a heretic. Four hundred years after his execution, official expression of "profound sorrow" and acknowledgement of error at Bruno's condemnation to death was made, during the papacy of John Paul II.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

Last night in West Virginia church bells sounded with the joyous proclamation that trapped miners were found alive. The family and community sang hymns and cried with joy at the rescue. But it was short lived. The news was erroneous. In fact, only one of thirteen trapped survived. Where does praise and thanksgiving to God go when it stops on a dime?

Su Sane said at conversation that if time were money we are wealthy. Some people are very busy and have no time. We have all the time in the world. She says of herself that she is very wealthy. Time is expensive. She spends much for it. She has a great deal of time.

Through the rise and fall of empires, through the creation of vast bodies of symbols that give shape to our dreams; through the forging of magic keys with which to unlock the mysteries of creation; through it all we are marching from epoch to epoch towards the fullest realization of our soul.
- Rabindranath Tagore ( 1861-1941)

Today my marching took thoughts to Cape Breton.

Amber's went to Spain and Egypt. Paul's to the Yukon. Joanie's to Princeton. Robert's to an unpainted round chair where a 7 year old girl sits. Jayen went to an ecstatic place with joy. Sylvia travels where she doesn't know a thing. Saskia went to mists of snow on mountain tops. Su Sane was spending time. Helen thought she'd wait til next time to share her trip. There was a curious peace at conversation.

I hope Giordano and the men from West Virginia are at peace.

They are transparent. They have gone. Where?

We'll see.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Not all who come to Buddhist conversation like some of the ideas of Buddhism. Take "nothing" for example. Reading James Carse's Breakfast at the Victory, The Mysticism of Ordinary Experience , the discussion turns to samsara and nirvana.

I liked the story.

Wanting nothing with all your heart, stop the stream
When the world dissolves, everything becomes clear.
Go beyond this way or that way
To the farther shore where the world dissolves,
And everything becomes clear.
Beyond this shore and the farther shore,
Beyond the beyond,
Where there is no beginning, no end,
Without fear, go.

- Dhammapada

There's a difference between meditation practice and meetingbrook conversation. One intends to view nothing; the other places nothing in view. When I say that "transparency" might be a better word for "nothing" there is some softening of rhetorical banter. Several attempts on the part of unruly members to shift the talk to Gnostic Christianity -- the time is up and once again the nonbelievers in victory and defeat smile and argue and make their way out into the cold winter night.

Now you know that he appeared in order to abolish sin,
and that in him there is no sin;
anyone who lives in God does not sin,
and anyone who sins
has never seen him or known him.

1 John 3:6

It is terrific that we might live in God yet still not see God. No sin, nothing doing, is where we no longer are over against ourselves or anything else -- just doing what must be done when it needs doing.

God not sinning means samsara is nirvana, and nirvana samsara -- the world of change and the world of extinguished ignorance, hatred, and earthly suffering. One is the other. Nor is there, then, any other.

Nevertheless, we have the conversation, tea is sipped, rubric of attentive listening thoughtful speech followed, hats and scarves put on, pleasantries posted in the air between all -- "safe home" "drive carefully" "see you next week."

In Hen kai polla -- the Greek phrase, the one and the many -- "kai," i.e. "and" -- is the root word.

Unity.

It's all we have.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Baptist deacon said to us God works in mysterious ways.

When the master
Without a word raises his eyebrows
The posts and rafters
The cross beams and roof tree
Begin to smile
There is another place for conversing
Heart to heart
The full moon and the breeze
At the half-open window.

- Muso Soseki (1275-1351)

The 9th day of Christmas. The only prayer is heart to heart. With the woman in Belfast pulling two trash cans to curb. With the man in Lincolnville by green gate, two Springer Spaniels ready to walk.

He brightens with the idea being neighbor to monastic retreat hermitage. It is only an idea, we say. He says we should ask Charlie Cawley to make the place happen.

We say that might not be a bad idea.

Everything in God's hands.

Handing mystery.

(Just saying.)

Our own.

Over.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Mothering God is day one, job one, for each one of us.

Paul Andrews, in the newsletter of "Sacred Spaces," tells that Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a Christmas play in 1940, "Barjona." The following are excerpts:
The Virgin is pale, and she looks at the baby. What I would paint on her face is an anxious wonderment, such as has never before been seen on a human face. For Christ is her baby, flesh of her flesh, and the fruit of her womb. She has carried him for nine months, and she will give him her breast, and her milk will become the blood of God. There are moments when the temptation is so strong that she forgets that he is God. She folds him in her arms and says: My little one.

...I think that there are other rapid, fleeting moments when she realises at once that Christ is her son, her very own baby, and that he is God. She looks at him and thinks: "This God is my baby. This divine flesh is my flesh. He is made from me. He has my eyes, and the curve of his mouth is the curve of mine. He is like me. He is God and he is like me."
(http://www.sacredspace.ie/latestspace/latestspace17.htm)

This 8th day of Christmas is New years Day. It is celebrated in the Catholic Christian calendar as The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

"He is like me," Mary says through Sartre's pen.

Mothering God, Mary knows, is not a one-time historical event. As absurd as it sounds, each one of us today is invited to mother God.

How is this possible? We do not know how one mothers itself.

Be transparent.

Be innocent.

Be as-is is longing to be.

Become the body, the blood, the water, and the sight of God.

Happy New Birth of God -- all our dear kind mothering communion of beings!