Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, February 25, 2006

I knew him from boatbuilding school. He was an apprentice. I taught him in college program on neighboring harbor.

Later he'd come visit. I find the necklace Rob left here at bookshop years ago. I take it upstairs. It hangs on bronze cross. Incense burns. Gregorian chant streams from Spain. Some solitude remembering Rob. They found his body in a shallow grave. He'd been shot, by his friend, the news says.

The consistent conduct of people of the Way
Is like the flowing clouds
With no grasping mind,
Like the full moon reflecting
Universally, not confined anywhere.

- Hung-Chih

Bufflehead swim harbor. Dan plays guitar downstairs. Laughter from women's voices. Door opens. Seagulls on fingerfloat near dredging barge.

He was 28. That's all I know. It is a bit cold today. At home the chain has fallen off the electric saw.

This morning, cat failed to snare chickadee after jumping up to feeder. He came in front door and went to kibble bowl under table. Dog lay long in front room before going out to pee. These are things to look at. Things that unfold. Like Saskia's marbled gugelhupf. Like piece of raisin toast Susan brought to counter as I read news on computer.

Feet are wiped inside door at bottom of stairs.

In paradisum deducant te angeli, (from Faure's requiem) "May the angels lead you into paradise."

The day moves through.

This is how we go on.

Just like this.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mu-ge (the cat) paws ball under kitchen bed.

Things are produced around us,
But no one knows the whence.
They issue forth,
But no one sees the portal.
People value that part of knowledge which is known.
They do not know how to avail themselves
Of the Unknown in order to reach knowledge.
Is this not misguided?

- Chuang-tzu

Cat steals dog's food.

Some Pharisees approached him and asked, "Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?" They were testing him. He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" "Moses allowed us," they said, "to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce." Then Jesus said to them, "It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide."
(from Mark 10:1 - 12)

The sacrament of marriage is the outward sign of the inner reality of all things -- one body, not divided.

At Friday Evening Conversation a realization that source, sound, and suffusion are contemporary metaphors side by side with father, son, and holy spirit.

What is the sound of one hand?

Don't ask.

Be it.

Cat exits room.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It is as grey a February day in Maine as you might ever find. Wet, raw, a tinge of despondency rubbing against the edges.

The conduct of the administration of Messrs Bush and Cheney, in the eyes of many if not most, is an embarrassment and a scandal. It is tedious to broach the topic, what with watchdogs waiting to slobber fealty and a divided nation distraught as to how put a fallen humpty government back into repair for our constitutional republic with democratic aspirations to carry on once the current crowd vacates office.

In my house there is a cave
And in the cave is nothing at all
Pure and wonderfully empty
Resplendent, with a light like the sun.

- Han shan

From that cave's emptiness only a curious glance toward what is actually occurring around us. We allow the kidnapping and torture of Canadians. We arrest and torture Afghani and Iraqi men. We steal money from our own and foreign government(s). We go so deeply in debt that we sell off parts of our country and security to foreign creditors. We allow corporations and conglomerates the freedom to use slave-like labor in foreign lands so as to maximize profits here at home. We claim our president and vice president can do anything they wish to do anywhere and anytime as long as they perseverate the phrases "9/11" and "war on terror." And we allow any and every elected representative to remain cowed and silent in an odd obsequiousness to appropriated power.

It is, indeed, curious that things have fallen so far below once revered standards and expectations. It appears the fall is too subtle and overwhelming at the same time for most of us to comprehend. We want our own lives, our own favorite biases, and our own cheerleading section rather than having to think, reason, and recognize the sheer inanity of the rants and skewed discourse.

On March 25, 2003, President Bush signed Executive Order 13292, a hitherto little known document that grants the greatest expansion of the power of the vice president in American history. The order gives the vice president the same ability to classify intelligence as the president. By controlling classification, the vice president can in effect control intelligence and, through that, foreign policy.
(Published on Thursday, February 23, 2006 by Salon, "Cheney's Coup," A 3-Year-Old Executive Order That Vastly Expanded His Powers Illuminates How the Vice President and His Minions Led Us Into War. By Sidney Blumenthal)

It seems ironic that it took the shooting of a fellow hunter for Mr. Cheney to reveal to the world that he has had the power of deciding what is and is not classified, what is and is not lawful in the country. For many it is the other shoe hitting floor -- namely, for all who've believed it has been Cheney, not Bush, behind the erstwhile disastrous decisions of dishonest use of intelligence, ill-advised invasion of Iraq, and decisions to imprison without recourse, torture with impunity, and shroud with fear the so-called innocent populace of a benevolent United States for purposes and gains it is still unfathomable to discern. Something is emphatically wrong. But who can name it, much less fashion a meaningful and rehabilitive response?

The more words, the greater the vanity of it all; and what does man get from it? Who knows what is good for man in his lifetime, in those few days he lives so vainly, days that like a shadow he spends? Who can tell a man what will happen under the sun after his time?
Better a good name than costly oil, the day of death than the day of birth.
(Ecclesiastes 6:11 -)

Will a day come, and possibly soon, when we will long for the simple excuse of vanity? Vanity seems a kinder judgment than villainy. We are uncomfortable with malevolent intentions as the explanation of executive actions. And we should be uncomfortable at such consideration.

I choose not cynicism. Nor mere carping. Fatalism and apocalypticism are too detached from human responsibility for my interest. And blanket conspiratorial shenanigans do not absolve us from intelligent conversation along more classical lines -- namely cause and effect, reason and intuition, oversight and co-equal branches of government.

As I said at the top, it is a grey February day. Not much looks cheery. There are pouts and sneers, snarls and smirks, glares and sniggers -- glowering warnings -- infesting the atmosphere where I would prefer loving glance, tender understanding, and deep listening.

I much prefer to love this country and respect its leaders. I look forward to the return of such delightful emotions. For now, skeptical thinking has earned its place in the forefront of my attention.

I await the resplendence of the wonderfully empty.

Where true trust and authentic respect require no effort.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Education is constant departure. There is no end to learning. Nor any staying where once you were. The body might seem to be the same body as before, even as mind and spirit traverse terrain and sky newly illuminated -- but body itself is transmuted inside out with an intelligent radiance not easily observed at a distance.

The secret principle of all disciplines
is that by training, training falls away.
By forgetting about training and
sloughing off your own mind,
you will be all the more unaware of your self,
and the place you thus come to
is the perfection of the Way.

- Yagyu

In Belfast Catholic church a man presiding communion service offered the Body of Christ. I said (amen) yes, thank you, I shall so be what you offer. So, too, accepts the others in that small space beyond kitchen. Now I am (with many others) what some call body of Christ -- one who receives the reality mostly shrouded from ordinary view.

It is ordinary view we long for. The ordinary is where resides the reality of Christ. Here in this foyer of higher education. In the Co-op where two cheese danish cost $1.50. On route 3 not turning into the credit card driveway. Along route 1 watching morning sun rising over Penobscot Bay. Driving route 52 beside Megunticook Lake hard with new ice so late in winter. Turning from dooryard driveway where woman from New York does morning practice in meditation cabin, where woman doing audits descends stairs from sleep. Letting pedals slow and stop on Tunturi as frost fastened to kitchen roof lets lay dawn light on it.

'I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.' (Matthew 16:19)

Heaven is where the reality of the revelation of Christ coincides with the awareness of Buddha, the sound of Adonai, the submission surrounding Allah, the dance entwirling Brahman, and the urge emitting manifestation through earthen ground of all that moves to fruition.

We leave where we are only to arrive where we have never left nor yet fully realize.

We're always here -- yet seldom arrive where we are.

As body of Christ becomes incarnated awareness within every atom of sensory existence, we practice in place the offering and reception of one another.

We are being led out of and into, around and through, what is itself whole.

Enjoy the ride.

Eleven bells.

Away!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Malcolm X was assassinated 41 years ago today, in 1965. Two years earlier, in 1963, President John Kennedy was assassinated. Three years later, in 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Two months later in 1968 Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated.

There are men who see assassination as a tactic to eliminate those whose ideas and strategies are troublesome to them. It is a tactic that traumatizes with sorrow and fear. The men who assassinate are choosing a deficient tactic. They bring sorrow and anger, fear and cynicism. They know nothing of hope. They know nothing of love. They know nothing but the terrible seduction of murder, pain, torture, and death.

What to do?

Let's take some time in silence
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It is all pervading, spotless beauty;
It is the self-existence and uncreated
Absolute
Then how can it even be a matter
Of discussion that the real Buddha
Has no mouth and preaches no dharma,
Or that real hearing requires no ears,
For who could hear it?
Ah, it is a jewel beyond all price.
- Huang-po (d. 850)
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Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn't it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven't got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. Why you don't have what you want is because you don't pray for it; when you do pray and don't get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires. (James 4:1 - 10)
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They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all." He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, "Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." (Mark 9:34 - 37)
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Others have been assassinated, and more will be.

But not by me.

Not by you.

So, we pray for those assassinated, and those who assassinate, and who will again. They are caught in a narrative of terror too overwhelming to escape from. They think troubles can be assassinated. They believe their brand of terror is a useful terror. They live their lives as normally as you and I live ours -- but for one important difference.

That difference is forgiveness. They do not forgive -- not the victims of assassination, not themselves as assassins. They, many suspect, glory and gloat their accomplishment of death. Maybe. But more likely, something shrivels in the soul of these men. The light goes out in their eyes. They cannot help but remember what they have done. Bitterly.

These assassins have not heard Isaiah sounding a profound revelation:

Thus says the LORD:
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
The people I formed for myself,
that they might announce my praise.
Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob,
for you grew weary of me, O Israel.
You burdened me with your sins,
and wearied me with your crimes.
It is I, I, who wipe out,
for my own sake, your offenses;
your sins I remember no more.

(Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25)

What we do remember is John, Malcolm, Martin, Robert, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador in 1980, the Jesuits of El Salvador in 1989, the four churchwomen in El Salvador in 1980, and the hundreds of thousands of others murdered by assassins throughout the world. For those who send planes into foreign buildings, for those who die there. For those who send planes to bomb foreign countries, for those who die there. For those who send arms and munitions to places worldwide, for those who die there. For all who are mutilated, deformed, and deranged because of these violent men, violent intent, and violent acts. And the more recent assassinations, as yet not revealed, in this our country, and this our world.

We remember -- without bitterness -- their deaths. We pray for them. We pray for their assassins.

Something new has got to be done.

After prayerful silence...

...Authentic conversation.

Originate now.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Trappist monk preached himself into tears. I watched him as the "Credo" was intoned and slowly begun. He blew his nose. He wiped his eyes. He looked at eyeglasses as if there was something they did to bring strong emotion.

I am reminded of power of word. His were good words. He quoted a conversant saying that forgiveness is remembering without bitterness.

This moment's thought sees through eternal time;
Eternal time is just this moment.
If you see through this moment's thought,
You see through the person
Who sees through this moment.

- Mumon

Isaac the monk sounding Isaiah the prophet opened several words and, falling through, came silence.

There's not much revelation greater than stillness. Not much truth larger than silence. The monk brought both Sunday morning.

(When I got home from away, two days writings had fallen mysteriously from Today at Meetingbrook. A first. No worry. They couldn't stand next to what I'd fallen through with the sound of monastic emptiness.)

In two places.

Very sound!

A new thing is being...done.