Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, May 27, 2006

We honor and pray for all deadened by war.

Gaia, Mother Earth, this May, comes green and full in Maine, New England, this weekend. It is Memorial Day Weekend.

For about thirty years I wandered,
Searching for the real Tao everywhere.
How many times did I see the trees
Grow new branches and watch the old leaves fall.
But at this moment, seeing the peach blossoms,
Suddenly there are no more doubts.

- Huang Shan-ku (1045 - 1105)

War is when human hearts and minds refuse to love. War is what hidden hate turns to when it sees itself in the mirror.

What We Want

What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names --
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun.

(Poem: "What We Want," by Linda Pastan, from Carnival Evening. W.W. Norton.)

We want fairness and justice. We want those for whom war is profit and power to go away, spare us the falsity of explanation, spare us the dry darkness of their souls. We want room for peace, love, and genuine freedom.

If you refuse to love, you must remain dead;
to hate your brother is to be a murderer,
1and murderers, as you know, do not have eternal life in them.
This has taught us love --
that he gave up his life for us;
and we, too, ought to give up our lives for our brothers [and sisters].
If a man who was rich enough in this world's goods
saw that one of his brothers [or sisters] was in need,
but closed his heart to him [or her],
how could the love of God be living in him?

(from 1John 3:11-17)

This Memorial Day we need to remember the deadened among us who exist with lies, burdened with murders, with blood on hands for mayhem they've created.

We also remember the unknown dead whose lives have been erased with no remorse, no recourse, with no compassion.

We want to care. And so we do.

We say no to war.

Jamais plus la guerre!


We remember the fallen.

Stand silent for them.

Friday, May 26, 2006

All those offered half-time position as chaplain, say aye.

Aye.

Saskia and I sit with inmate Buddhist group. We bring Heart Sutra, showing them the chanting.

In the night the bells of the mountain temple
Are swung by the wind from the pines.
From my bed of stone by the wintry lamp
I can hear the flowering rain of Buddha.

- Wang Wen-lu

JJ reads poem about 4am hour of the wolf -- when our secrets cry to be told.
We converse about two words: prolepsis, and prescinding.
After Meetingbrook Conversation in prison, deputy warden wants to see me. Would I?

It's a good weekend to remember the fallen. A good stretch to mull and decide.

We each imagine a world faithful to our perspective.

When given a look, take it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tarkovsky's "Sacrifice" moves slowly. Two nights so far and more to come.

The day was odd. Woman talking about "walk-ins" and "walk-outs." I don't understand the process of the thinking or what she described. I'm a bit uncertain about cloaked spaceships and thousand year time spent on one.

I prefer the news that Enron trial is over. The men who were in charge have been found guilty, I'll take mete of justice and sanity where found.

If you want to freely live or die, go or stay, to take off or put on your clothes, then right now recognize the one who is listening to my discourse. That one is without form, without characteristics, without root, without source, and without any dwelling place, yet is brisk and very alive. As for all manifold responsive activities, the place where they are carried on is, in fact, no place. Therefore, when you look for that one, it retreats farther and farther, when you seek that, it turns more and more the other way: this is called the "Mystery."
- Lin-chi (d.866)

We attend mass in Belfast celebrating Ascension. Breakfast muffins, eggs potatoes and toast with tea and coffee over conversation at Chase's Daily extends mystery of that which surpasses understanding. What does it mean to ascend to God?

I'm far from sure. I merely don't know. Tonight I take some rhubarb kuchen. A few squares of chocolate. Run off an essay on "Picture of Dorian Gray," for prison in morning -- and set out for bed.

I hope Jesus got home ok.

As well might we all.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Placid water. Canoeing around Curtis Island. Sunset. Cedar strip color silently alongside bell buoy clanking.

There is a meditative terrace
Left by the ancient Master Chi.
It is so high that it is always covered with white clouds.
Should the woodcutter see it, he would not recognize it; The mountain monks, however, were glad to find it.
They thought it would interest me and took me there to see it.
Throughout the night dew drops fall leisurely from the bamboos;
During the day pure breezes blow from the pine grove.
Meditation is what I used to do as the first thing;
The terrace of Master Chi inspires me even more.

- Meng Hao-jan

Mountains, sea, silence, dusk.

We are only visitors here.

Home is the passage through.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wakefield got four outs in the 6th inning. There were two passed balls. Rodriguez came in on the second passed ball, he got on base after striking out to lead off. (The hour timer on radio shuts off game with men on 2nd and 3rd, 2-0 count on hitter.)

Your self-partiality is at
The root of all your illusions.
There aren’t any illusions
When you don’t have this
Preference for yourself.

- Bankei (1622-1693)

Silence is good arrival. Everything goes on somewhere else, but here silence leaves things alone.

Philosophy in Warm Weather

Now all the doors and windows
are open, and we move so easily
through the rooms. Cats roll
on the sunny rugs, and a clumsy wasp
climbs the pane, pausing
to rub a leg over her head.

All around physical life reconvenes.
The molecules of our bodies must love
to exist: they whirl in circles
and seem to begrudge us nothing.
Heat, Horatio, heat makes them
put this antic disposition on!

This year's brown spider
sways over the door as I come
and go. A single poppy shouts
from the far field, and the crow,
beyond alarm, goes right on
pulling up the corn.

(Poem: "Philosophy in Warm Weather," by Jane Kenyon, from The Boat of Quiet Hours. © Graywolf Press.)

Baseball might not be the solution to tensions in the Middle East. Whether Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter will gather another 1003 hits if he stays healthy to reach 3000 career hits seems less interesting than 2500 US military personnel killed in Iraq. Johnny Damon's four year 52 million contract seems a millionaire's idle detail in the face of the cost of the Iraq war in April 2004, starting at $134.5B and increases at a rate of $177M per day, $7.4M per hour and $122,820 per minute (as measured by the Times Square Digital Clock.)

On Jan 10, 2006 The Christian Science Monitor reported that "Reuters also reports that a Marine Corps spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Roseann Lynch, said Monday that the war is costing the US about $4.5 billion a month in military "operating costs," not including procurement of new weapons and equipment. Colonel Lynch said the war in Iraq had cost $173 billion to date.

If I never learn another detail about the game at Fenway tonight, my life would not be changed. It is a game they play there. An expensive game played by millionaires being paid to wear certain labels, sip certain drinks, drive certain cars, and sell, sell, sell their name and face to the highest bidders.

My life, however, is changed by the wars engaged in by my country. Ill-advised wars. Absurd wars. I think we have become absurd men and women with little consideration of any substantial thought or meaningful consequence.

He has put forth his strength:
he has scattered the proud and conceited,
torn princes from their thrones;
but lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.

(from Canticle, Magnificat, Vespers)

How say that canticle nightly without wondering what, if anything, it means?

American Military Casualties in Iraq

American Deaths Date: Total \ In Combat
Since war began (3/19/03): 2455 \ 1978
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 2318 \ 1881
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 1990 \ 1672
Since Handover (6/29/04): 1589 \ 1346
Since Election (1/31/05): 1019 \ 861

American Wounded Official \ Estimated
Total Wounded: 17648 \ 18000-48100

Latest Fatality May 21st, 2006
Page last updated 05/22/06 7:59 pm EDT

Others
Other Coalition Troops \ 214

US Military Deaths - Afghanistan \ 295

Iraqi Body Count (IBC)
minimum: 37,848
maximum: 42, 216


We approach the final out.

If you know one, say a prayer.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Looking across to mountain -- only mountainside filling window.

Even when you are uncertain, do not use this one day wastefully. It is a rare treasure to value. Do not compare it with an enormous jewel. Do not compare it with a dragon's bright pearl. Old sages valued this one day more than their own living bodies. Reflect on this quietly. A dragon's pearl may be found. An enormous jewel may be acquired. But this one day out of a hundred years cannot be retrieved once it is lost. What skillful means can retrieve a day that is passed? No historical documents have recorded such means. Not to waste time is to contain the passage of days and months within your skin bag, without leaking. Thus sages and wise ones in olden times valued each moment, day, and month more than their own eyeballs or the nation's land. To waste the passage of time is to be confused and stained in the floating world of name and gain. Not to miss the passage of time is to be in the Way for the Way.
- Dogen (1200-1253)

Cesco walks long road to beach through woods in Owls Head. Sitting in crevice rock, ocean waves lift duck and gull.

Last two days with Bukowski and Cohen.

As
the
spirit
WANES
the
FORM
appears

(--Charles Bukowski, 1977)

A delightful emptiness drifts within. Day itself is unmooring.

Finally, the actual persona of their creator may be said to haunt these songs, although details of his private lifestyle can be only surmised. A decade ago, a teacher who called himself Shree Bhagwan Rajneesh came up with the name "Zorba the Buddha" to describe the ideal modern man: A contemplative man who maintains a strict devotional bond with cosmic energies, yet is completely at home in the physical realm. Such a man knows the value of the dharma and the value of the deutschmark, knows how much to tip a waiter in a Paris nightclub and how many times to bow in a Kyoto shrine, a man who can do business when business is necessary, allow his mind to enter a pine cone, or dance in wild abandon if moved by the tune. Refusing to shun beauty, this Zorba the Buddha finds in ripe pleasures not a contradiction but an affirmation of the spiritual self. Doesn't he sound a lot like Leonard Cohen?
(from THE MAN IN THE TOWER, by Tom Robbins, Seattle 1995, writing about Leonard Cohen)

Today's occupation is viewing young green leaves playing wind for all its sunny worth.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Some people are afraid.

They feel there are things taking place -- abuse of power, erosion of freedoms, polite patronizing of populace by police and military. It is hard figuring out to whom the insanity belongs. Some are driven mad by the subterfuge. Some are driven mad by the usurpation. The result? A mess of insane individuals passing each other like characters in Ionesco or Genet, Pinter or Beckett.

We become daffy and delusionary. Sorrier to say, we abandon trust. Suspicion and secrecy win the day. Psychological anemia replaces spiritual alertness.

Devote yourself to the Absolute Emptiness;
Contemplate earnestly in Quiescence.
All things are together in Action,
But I look into their Non-action,
For things are continuously moving, restless,
Yet each is proceeding back to its origin.
Proceeding back to the origin means Quiescence.
To be in Quiescence is to see "Being-for-itself."

- Lao tzu

The diversion is gaming power. Control seduces insecurity into flexing muscle. It is an exercise of pretending. Once we were told to pretend we're happy when we're blue -- now it is dangerous so to do.

I shall keep singing!

I shall keep singing!
Birds will pass me
On their way to Yellower Climes--
Each -- with a Robin's expectation --
I -- with my Redbreast--
And my Rhymes --
Late -- when I take my place in summer --
But -- I shall bring a fuller tune--
Vespers -- are sweeter than Matins-Signor --
Morning -- only the seed of Noon--

(Poem: "I shall keep singing!" by Emily Dickinson.)

We drip drop by drop into madness. No wonder we stay away from news. Some say it is better not to know. For others, such nescience itself is sign of touch being lost, a drifting in some region of imagined purity.

Theodore Roethke asks in his poem about a dark time:
"What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance?"

(from "IN A DARK TIME," by Theodore Roethke)

The cost of alertness can be disillusioning. To lose illusion sobers.

The lyrics to the Nat King Cole hit suggest to us:
The little things you haven't got
Could be a lot if you pretend


Fifty years ago the song was about finding a love you can share. Today the imagined outcome has wider sweep and more grave consequence. Something seeps from the soul of a country lost in mirrors reflecting guns and drugs, martial obsession and pathetic mistrust. We have redefined certitude to mean everybody's wrong but the one stamping his will on every corner of each patch once believed inviolately personal.

The words of the song take on a darker tone once seen through dual lens of deprivation and rapaciousness :
And if you sing this melody
You'll be pretending just like me
The world is mine, it can be yours, my friend
So why don't you pretend?

("Pretend" -- Words and Music by Lew Douglas, Cliff Parman, and Frank Lavere, 1953)

No need to submit to insanity. See the tormenter for what the tormenter is -- afraid.

Practice no-mind. Have no fear.

See your way clear -- no pretending -- the world belongs to itself, no one else.

Leave behind anything they can use.

Take nothing with you.

Then let that go.

As well.