Today At Meetingbrook

Friday, February 03, 2006

Six read from Peter Anderson's First Church of the Higher Elevations. Five watched Richard Russo's Empire Falls. Three pieces of pizza remain.

Rujing said: "Studying Zen is dropping off body and mind. Without depending on the burning of incense, bowing, chanting Buddha's names, repentance, or sutra reading, devote yourself to just sitting."
Dogen: "What is dropping off body and mind?"
Rujing said: "Dropping of body and mind is zazen. When you just sit, you are free from the five sense desires and the five hindrances."

- Dogen (1200-1253)

It seems too warm with fog for toboggan nationals in the morning. Hosmer pond is soft with slush after a day of downpour. Tonight the sky is clear with stars. Mild.

The Lord is near to those who call on him,
to all those who call on him in truth.
For those that honour him,
he does what they ask,
he hears all their prayers,
and he keeps them safe.
(From Psalm 145)

We pray for the safety, happiness, and homecoming of all around. Jon arrives from Chicago. No electrical outage this evening.

We love what we love, is what a character said in the film.

Yes, we do.

In prison this morning, we spoke of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

We love the conversation.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The circle of consideration and responsibility widens. The lives of animals must be considered. Our awareness now wonders: they too are alive; they too share this earth; they too bring forth new life and care for it.

So, neighbor Bob and I, standing around old cedar tree on which climbed Central Maine Power troubleshooter, talked about penguins caring for their egg as Robert (up tree) spliced power line and moved it between wide branches from trunk.

Meditating deeply upon Dharma
Reach the depth of the source.
Branching streams cannot compare to this source!
Sitting alone in a great silence
Even though the heavens turn and the earth is upset,
You will not even wink.

- Jakushitsu Genko Zenji (1290-1368)

Mu-ge purrs on my stomach, tail flicking as these words wrap around him. Cesco and his companion have gone to Ellsworth for other work. Something scratches in ceiling. Water drips in sink. Wood in stove gives itself to fire. Blowing air from registers up from furnace sounds into kitchen now that Robert found corrosive connection at power pole on Barnestown Road.

Why are the nations in a ferment? Why do the people make their vain plans? (From Psalm 2)

In Catholic calendar today used to be the Purification of Mary, Mother. Now it is the Presentation of the Lord. So too, it is Groundhog Day. There will be a funeral mass for Mary Sullivan at Our Lady of Good Hope in a half hour. I'll be with a student doing critical thinking.

The ferment is a battle -- not for land, nor oil. It is not a battle for democracy nor for tyranny -- (these are only means to something else). The battle, I submit, is the struggle into consciousness, into an evolving consciousness that widens the circle of compassion and responsibility, of consideration and inclusion.

Vain plans try to make this and this mine, that and that (of little value)-- yours.

When awareness is purified, when light and revelation of truth is presented -- we are blessed and bothered by new awareness that begs for our attention, for our right action.

We will include animals when we include humans. We will include humans into our circle of consideration and compassion when we include ourselves. We will include ourselves when we see and include the source and origin of life, of being.

Finally, we will cease our turmoil when we open to the realization there is no further inclusion necessary because nothing has been excluded or categorized into inferiority by the mind.

No inclusion, no exclusion -- only things and beings as they are -- and we, we attend each and every -- one -- with lovingkindness.

We will come to practice deep listening and loving speech. And we will no longer know from which direction the sound comes from.

We will be centered in the circumference of original sound.

Until then, and as we encircle openly, six more weeks of winter.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I'd rather think about the birth of Thomas Merton this date in 1915. I'd rather not think about the dress-up in Washington DC tonight.

No dependence upon letters or words,
But direct pointing to the source of human mind!
No stepping up any ladders,
But mounting straight to the Buddha-land.

- Bodhidharma (d. 534 )

Words in Washington are straw in wind. They are dollar signs looking for a wallet.

I am lonely as a pelican in the wilderness,
as an owl in the ruins,
as a sparrow alone on a rooftop:
I do not sleep.
All day long my enemies taunt me,
they burn with anger and use my name as a curse.
I make ashes my bread,
I mix tears with my drink,
because of your anger and reproach –
you, who raised me up, have dashed me to the ground.
My days fade away like a shadow:
I wither like grass.

(from Psalm 102)

The psalmist laments the kiss of God. The poet laments the squalor of words used to pretend something noble is happening what what is happening is power rutting penury.

Although tyranny...may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people.
~Hannah Arendt

The man doing dishes said he'd rather bamboo inserted under finger nails than hear the voice of the man delivering the State of the Union.

Only fools seek power, and the greatest fools seek it through force.
~Lao Tsu

I don't think the man delivering the speech is a fool. It is far more serious than that. Some say the fools are them that hear his words but do not comprehend where they lead. He knows where he goes. Most have no sense where they're led.

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war.
~Thomas Merton

There's no sense we're being led to peace. War, for these leaders in Washington, is a permanent platform. There's something eerie about the grin and gleam when posturing with war-words and war-bucks.

Heroic labor is what we need.

Difficult sacrifice is what is called for.

We will not go shopping; we will not buy more gasoline and oil from Exxon-Mobil. And we will not pretend any longer these men in Washington speak for the rest of the country.

We need a greater heroism.

We need real saints. Someones to lead us out of the dark and endless deception of war and plans for war.

"The only tragedy," the novelist Léon Bloy wrote a century ago, "is not to have become a saint."

Is there still time?

e.e. cummings, in "six non-lectures" wrote: Better Worlds are born, not made, and their birthdays are the birthdays of individuals. Let us pray always for individuals; never for worlds.

So, we pray!

God within.

Being born.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Tommy called. Mary S. died this morning.

Two days ago, walking by her house, stopping to bow to her. She sat in front room. I was in dark street. Bowing goodbye.

What is of all things most yielding
Can overcome that which is most hard,
Being substanceless, it can enter in
Even where there is no crevice.
That is how I know the value
Of action which is actionless.
But that there can be teaching without words,
Value in action which is actionless
Few indeed can understand.

- Lao Tzu (5th century BC)

Death is substanceless. The inner energy invigorating outer form lets go and goes on.

I don't know what happens when people die.

But for the prayer.

Being said now.

Once said, silent.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Stick with what is known. What is known is what is taking place at any given moment.

The Hidden Singer
The gods are less for their love of praise.
Above and below them all is a spirit that needs nothing
but its own wholeness, its health and ours.
It has made all things by dividing itself.
It will be whole again.
To its joy we come together --
the seer and the seen, the eater and the eaten,
the lover and the loved.
In our joining it knows itself. It is with us then,
not as the gods whose names crest in unearthly fire,
but as a little bird hidden in the leaves
who sings quietly and waits, and sings.

(Poem by Wendell Berry)

The battle isn't between words or silence; nor is it between thinking or feeling. The crux of our discontent and disillusionment is getting caught in the snare of egoistic narrative -- the narrative of isolated, separated self. That's what was said at table during practice. When the fog horn sounds, it gives itself to any within hearing. It might be saying, "Here I am, stay away;" or, "Here I am, hear me on your way through."

Cesco, our dog, is deranged monk again during zazen. He is idiorhythmic practitioner biting at stuffed toys, barking sharply as if carrying stick to wake up drifting meditators.
Elsewhere it is written:
Two monks and/or nuns assist in zazen. The first is the jikijitsu, who is in charge of the meditation hall, and is thought of as the strong leader, like a father. The jikijitsu has a two-fold role. First, he or she keeps track of the time spent in the zendo. He or she rings the bells to signal the beginning and the end of each sitting. Secondly, the jikijitsu keeps order in the zendo. If, during zazen, a participant is making noise or moving, the jikijitsu will remind him or her to be still, either with words, or by use of the keisaku, or encourager, a wooden stick used to strike the shoulders, usually at the request of a participant made by bowing to the jikijitsu. The jikijitsu also leads the meditators in and out and leads walking meditation. (From Mount Baldy Ritual)

Cesco, our old Border Collie, serves us well in this role.

It snows. Fog horn sounds from harbor. Joanie will leave in the morning for new home south of New England.

Two Haiku
(for Joanie)
1.
Home away from home?
This is your passport: Hereby
Admit one… dear friend!
2.
No one can replace
Your inimitable face –
Go… return… with grace!


(We sign it "With all our love, the meetingbrook irregulars." She aways.)

What would we be without words? We try to be the words with which we say ourselves.

Even if a cherry tree bears no cherries, it holds snow on branches during winter drift.

What do we hold as we drift?

The very fact of one another!