Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Inmates and outmates experience intimate conversation with one another.

Blending with the wind,
Snow falls;
Blending with the snow,
The wind blows.
By the hearth
I stretch out my legs,
Idling my time away
Confined in this hut.
Counting the days,
I find that February, too,
Has come and gone
Like a dream.

- Ryokan

To you, I cry, in this hut, incense lighted, Sally's land brown with sunrise, creaking roof under wind, fire yawning in woodstove.

I recall yesterday's conversation in prison with Chris, Darcy, Pat, Saskia, and Jeremy. Whatever words we used we were crying out to reality. Reality was worded on green chalkboard as "Radical Retrieval of Origin Conversation."

We posited a platform of RRoOC, or, Radical Retrieval of Origin Conversation, as a potential counter-argument to the point of view expressed that once we have missed early imprinting experiences of trust, love, healthy patterns of adult interactions, and other matters of life affirmation -- they are gone, there's an irretrievable hole in both experience and neurological physiology. In short, there's no "there" there to bring forward to assist or correct current behavior.

But what if "there" was "here"? What if wholeness itself is that which surrounds and informs us? Wholeness-Itself, what Heidegger and other philosophers call "Being" -- what Pantanjali and others call "Brahman," what Isaiah and other prophets call "Lord," what Buddha calls "Shunyata" (or, Emptiness), "what Jesus calls "Father," what Mohammad calls "Allah," what Chief Seattle and others call "Great Spirit," and what Robert Frost and others have called "All the Difference."

Crying out to the source of all Being, we long for origin conversation. Origin, or source, is ever-present. Conversation means to turn with one another.
converso -are [to turn round often]; pass. , in middle sense, [to live, consort, have dealings].
We long to converse with one another. We long to live with one another. We long to experience the Alone in Communion with One-Another.

I call on you with all my heart -- answer me, Lord. I will obey your laws.
I call on you, save me so that I can keep your decrees.

At dawn I cry to you, I put all my hope in your word.
In the night I keep watch, pondering your sayings.

In your mercy, Lord, hear my voice; in your justice, give me life.
My persecutors come to do me harm: they are far from your law.

But you, Lord, are near to me, and you are trustworthy in all your precepts.
From the beginning I have known your decrees, how you have made them to last for ever.

--Psalm 118 (119): 145-152

Mu-ge wants out of cabin. Saskia gets up from her cushion and opens door. I look out diamond shaped window here in loft. It is time to chant psalm and sutra.

In collation and recollection we turn with inmates and outmates in intimate conversation.

"I am," says source.

"RRoOC," we say.

One solid source.

Ever-flowing.

Here.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Allowing one's light, midwifing birth and death is a brave, attentive process.

The dying Buddha, in Mary Oliver's poem "The Buddha's Last Instruction," says, "Make of yourself a light." The thought of standing on our own feet, living one's own life, is terrifying to many of us. Oliver ends poem with,
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.


We are frightened. We fear someone else should, or does, control the switch.

I mean, the essence of life and the essence of theater is to communicate about lives, either lives that have ended or lives that are still alive, beliefs, what is in those beliefs, and this was an extraordinary young girl. It wasn't -- she didn't take sides, although she went to defend Palestinians. It isn't about taking sides. It's about defending human life. That's the basis of all human rights. That's the basis of what every country proclaims it stands for. (Vanessa Redgrave, from "Democracy Now" interview with Amy Goodman, Wednesday, March 8th, 2006, "Legendary Actor Vanessa Redgrave Calls Cancellation of Rachel Corrie Play an 'Act of Catastrophic Cowardice.'")

Reading Terry Tempest Williams at Wednesday Evening Laura Conversation, from Refuge, her mother's final hours -- the geese, the feelings, the moon. Then at home, "21 Grams" film, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's gritty non-linear study of three sets of lives. How we intertwine. How we unwind.

Light isn't outside. Light isn't inside. Light is between. Light suffuses when each arrives at the point of authentic engagement. Any other contact -- hitting on, knocking over, swiping at, claiming ownership -- these are short circuits draining energy into darkening hopes and beliefs.

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 create the world we live in.

Say less. Or else, speak from source.

Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him."
(Matthew 7:7 -)

I wouldn't know what to ask for. George Berkeley said, "to be is to be perceived."

I'm not asking. I'm looking.

For an opening.

A point.

Allowing light.

One's mother.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Non-interference is such as the kingdom of heaven.

Not fixed anywhere,
The mind is everywhere.
The Original Mind is like water
Which flows freely.
The deluded mind is like ice.
There is a passage in the Diamond Sutra that says,
"The mind should operate without abiding anywhere."

- Takuan

Let flow freely that which longs to flow freely toward true home.

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.
(Mark 10)

Don't stop them. Do not interfere. Provide no resistance.

Those who allow through -- to such as these.

Is belonging.

Where God is.

Let through.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Encircling one another.

Leaving conversation just as horn was about to sound in prison last week, Greg asked about the circle of beads I'd been fingering throughout the morning. "You're Buddhist," he said, "but you're using Christian beads," (a medal in the circle of Sacred Heart one side, Mary and child Jesus on other), "how come?" I nod and say, That's because I'm Catholic Buddhist." "Of course," he says, and turns corner to walk back to pod and cell.

I give these words to the open. I leave for Mass in few minutes. There, as word made me, I will listen to word made language, then witness word made sacrament, side by side with brothers and sisters attending one another, attending word made flesh.

As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do. Isaiah 55:10 - 11

What is word sent to do?

Do not be an embodier of fame;
do not be a storehouse of schemes;
do not be a proprietor of wisdom.
Embody to the fullest what has no end
and wander where there is no trail.
Hold on to all that you have received from Heaven
but do not think you have gotten anything.
Be empty, that is all.

- Chuang Tzu

Word is sent to empty itself.

Become itself.

Embodying.

What is here.

With love.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Who and what are we in one-another's life?

Nothing is in-itself what it is. It is relationality that manifests authentic wholeness. Contemplative and mystical life longs for holiness. Holiness is wholeness. Nothing and wholeness are not two things. Nor are they one thing. Our need is to look through what is third.

What is third, the trinitarian, is middle ground, is meeting place. It is shape and form of relationality that always involves another. Not "other" -- rather, another.

Mr. Glusenkamp

His gray face was a trapezoid, his voice
droned on like an ellipse.
He hated students and their noise
and loved the full eclipse
of their faces at the end of the day.
No one could have been squarer,
and nothing could have been plainer
than his geometry.

He didn't go for newfangled
stuff -- new math, the open classroom.
And yet he taught us angles
and how lines intersect and bloom,
and how infinity was no escape,
and how to give abstractions shape.

(Poem: "Mr. Glusenkamp" by Ron Wallace from Teachers: A Primer.)

Like a koan, our life seeks answer to the confusing circumstances of present day matters. War is not only in Iraq; it is in you and me. We, too, are imprisoned in Guantanimo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram. We are homeless in New Orleans. We are on a cross in Jerusalem. We cannot understand what is happening in the minds of those who are in power. We do not know how to believe in God; God who is said to be Love Itself in the current world.

My gate overgrown in this desolate land,
Greetings and farewells rare,
I loosen my robe and sit in idleness,
Nurturing the mystery of solitude.

This autumn courtyard's never swept.
Finding myself a walking-stick,
I just amble and stroll, all idleness here
Among yellow we-t'ung leaves.

- Po Chu-I (772-846)

If I could see what I am looking at...I would greet God with no great surprise. I would look at you, at each person passing, at the deep and suddenly quiet mind watching -- and...pause.

The Lord spoke to Moses; he said:
'Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:
"Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.
"You must not steal nor deal deceitfully or fraudulently with your neighbour. You must not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God. I am the Lord. You must not exploit or rob your neighbour. You must not keep back the labourer's wage until next morning. You must not curse the dumb, nor put an obstacle in the blind man's way, but you must fear your God. I am the Lord.
"You must not be guilty of unjust verdicts. You must neither be partial to the little man nor overawed by the great; you must pass judgement on your neighbour according to justice. You must not slander your own people, and you must not jeopardise your neighbour's life. I am the Lord. You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord."'

(Leviticus 19:1 - 18)

Maybe God is irrelevant to today's world, not because God is so beyond this world and rejected by unbelievers, but because God is so impossibly embedded within this world that God has been played and manipulated by those who know the vulnerability of God. They do this in order to fashion a God that the real God refuses to be. Those who've enslaved God think they know better than God how the world should come to look. They will exercise control using freedom, they will be generous by taking away from those who have little, they will praise God by imprisoning those whose questions and opinions differ from received ideology.

God is irrelevant to those who own God.

This is a shame to some.

Yet those who own God would offer substitutes for the real shame.
There is , however, another explanation of feelings of shame. One could say with great plausibility that the homosexual and the person who has yielded to torture feel ashamed not because they have a prereflective awareness of being the authors of their behavior, but rather because they are aware that others do or may despise them for it. And the fact of their being an object of contempt for others may very well be something for which they are in no way responsible. Sartre himself offers this alternative explanation of shame. "It is," he writes, "before the Other that I am guilty.... But this guilt is accompanied by helplessness without this helplessness ever succeeding in cleansing me of my guilt." (pg.131, in an introduction to existentialism, by Robert G. Olson, c.1962)

The men who own God have become what they want God to be, namely, "Other." Other is superior, powerful, controlling, above any law or restriction. Other limits freedom, demands obeisance, punishes differing opinion, calls things the opposite of what they are, and instills fear as prototype interaction.

A whole generation of people is caught staring into oncoming headlights of motorcade racing from one worship service pronouncing power to the next, where smiling believers don't seem to recognize the absence of some essential presence. Other doesn't need an essential presence which has become redundant. Other believes facsimile suffices.

Is authentic God retrievable, resurrectable?

The one true God is no-other. The source of being is diaphaneity, is confluent with one-another.

Quietly and quickly.

Choose no-other.

One-another.

Help God.

Help us.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

On all sides is heard the cry of Christ. From monk cell to prison cell, from sick woman's lonely house to void silence silhouetting cedar shadows with morning cold comes rising sun, light. We are the passageway through which the sound is magnified. Listening as prayer has no place to go. Only...itself...is gazing loveliness we listen for, and embody for one/another.

People are afraid to forget their own minds, fearing to fall through the void with nothing onto which they can cling. They do not know that the void is not really the void but the real realm of the Dharma. It cannot be looked for or sought, comprehended by wisdom or knowledge, explained in words, contacted materially or reached by meritorious achievement.
- Huang-po

She weakens in her house across from ridge, waiting for time hospice will apply. Down the road across flowing under St George river ice, a family waits body of their son from Iraq. Her sadness and their sorrow and his service coincide and converge in Appleton valley sluice this season pondering (again) what this sound is echoing from the ends of the earth. How inquire, how inhabit, the real realm?

What I said before: 'Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer; I cried out to you from the ends of the earth.' That is, I made this cry to you from the ends of the earth; that is, on all sides.
Why did I make this cry? While my heart was in anguish. The speaker shows that he is present among all the nations of the earth in a condition, not of exalted glory but of severe trial.
Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.
The one who cries from the ends of the earth is in anguish, but is not left on his own. Christ chose to foreshadow us, who are his body, by means of his body, in which he has died, risen and ascended into heaven, so that the members of his body may hope to follow where their head has gone before.

(From a commentary on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop; in Office of Readings, Sunday)

As men and women dance the seductive pas de deux of what to do with their bodies, and with whom, for what duration, at what cost -- northwest winds through snow-dry skies with muted sounds where bodies blow from far and wide to our sides. From ends of earth. What is the "end" of the earth?

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room;
and hermits are contented with their cells;
and students with their pensive citadels;
maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
high as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
in truth the prison, into which we doom
ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
in sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound
within the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground;
pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
should find brief solace there, as I have found

(Poem: "Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room" by William Wordsworth. Public Domain.)

The intention (of ground, of earth, of woman's eyes, of man's feet) and the reality (that health will fail, soldiers die, ice soon thaw, and hearts awake) connect in prayer and emptiness. Coincide in communion between one and one with you and me. Converge with tumbling appearance and glance across what mind divides.

We have here no lasting separation.

Instead, eu-cha-rist-ia (thanks, giving) is what (it) is.

Is no prison.

Is our confluence

Is fretless continuity.

Is this, our body,offered, one to each.

Not sought, comprehended, explained, contacted, or reached.

But...

Is, itself, gift.

As we, do, find.