Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The spirit of holiness. Of compassion. Of wisdom

So the story goes. It is our birthing day when these appearances come upon us.

My hut settled among neighbors,
I ignore the noise of horses and carts.
You ask how I get along;
My mind remains wide,
So my place is naturally remote.

- Tao Yuan Ming (365 - 427)

It's not what anyone believes about us that matters. It's what we are, matters. The bare, mere, reality -- unadorned, unexplained, and clearly visible -- this is what matters.

The unspiritual are interested only in what is unspiritual, but the spiritual are interested in spiritual things. It is death to limit oneself to what is unspiritual; life and peace can only come with concern for the spiritual.
(Romans 8:5-)

Let's call spiritual what is: in itself true -- that which is what it is. Then unspiritual is that which is not what it is. Concern for the spiritual, in this calling, is concern for what is not other than itself. The "itself" is that which presents itself as what is itself true.

Itself, about this, let's say: God's life come to visit becomes God's life come to stay.

Spiritual is not contrasted with material. This is not a longing for the non-physical. Rather, spirituality adheres physical and metaphysical, material and immaterial -- in a singularity of what is itself true.

Spirituality infuses holiness, compassion, and wisdom into what is as it is.

On Pentecost, this spirit makes itself manifest.

Birthing each.

One.

Of us.

As itself.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Destroy the woman. Destroy the child. What has changed in two thousand years?

What we fear is life, not death. Death is easy. Life is difficult. As the Buddhists say: "There is suffering in life."

Whether you are an innocent beginner or seasoned adept, you must show some spirit! Don't vainly memorize other people's sayings: a little bit of reality is better than a lot of illusion. Otherwise you'll just go on deceiving yourself.
- Yunmen (864-949)

A news item tells about another shooting of non-combatants in Iraq. This time a pregnant woman in the process of going to hospital to give birth. She, her to-be child, and her female cousin were shot dead by American soldiers because they were driving on the wrong road.

It makes me wonder. What is taking place? What is it that has to be killed in order to satisfy the security needs of an occupying army? Obviously, in this case, a woman about to give birth must die so that, temporarily, some soldiers might feel their lives are safe from the threat of harm.

Of course the soldiers are frightened. It is war. Their country went into Iraq to make the world right. Their compatriots are murdered and mutilated every day. It is understandable their behavior will deteriorate to primal survival -- anything that threatens their survival must be destroyed.

"Sartre tried to prove that consciousness in itself is nothing until it has perceived something. Because consciousness is always conscious of something. And this 'something' is provided just as much by ourselves as by our surroundings. We are partly instrumental in deciding what we perceive by selecting what is significant for us."
"Could you give me an example?"
"Two people can be present in the same room and yet experience it quite differently. This is because we contribute our own meaning -- or our own interests -- when we perceive our surroundings. A woman who is pregnant might think she sees other pregnant women everywhere she looks. That is not because there were no pregnant women before, but because now that she is pregnant she sees the world through different eyes. An escaped convict may see policemen everywhere..."

(pp. 458-459, in Sophie's World, A Novel About the History of Philosophy, by Jostein Gaarder, c.1991, trans by Paulette Moller, 1994)

Soldiers see their death everywhere.

In the shooting incident, which happened on Tuesday but was only fully reported on Thursday, pregnant Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, and her 57-year-old cousin Saliha Mohammed Hassan were killed.
The pregnant woman's brother, who was driving the car, was wounded by broken glass.
"I was driving my car at full speed because I did not see any sign or warning from the Americans," Khalid Nisaif Jassim said.
"It was not until they shot the two bullets that killed my sister and cousin that I stopped.
Nabiha Nisaif Jassim's mother-in-law mourns her death
Relatives of the victims are in mourning
"God take revenge on the Americans and those who brought them here. They have no regard for our lives."
He said attempts to save the baby's life failed.
Local police told AFP news agency: "They took a wrong road just behind the hospital which is now closed because it is next to a military road used by the Americans."
US forces said: "As the vehicle neared the troop location and failed to stop despite repeated visual and auditory signals, disabling shots were fired into the vehicle.

(BBC News, Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK)

I join the lament. For the two women. For the dead upon arrival new-unborn. For their families. For the soldiers. For their compatriots killed daily. For innocent Iraqis killed daily. For combatant Iraqis killed daily. For the whole sorry mess. For all of it, I lament.

But for the President, Vice-president, House, and Senate of the United States I do not lament. For them I have a more particular feeling. I feel they have disgraced something important. They have sullied trust and truth. I am embarrassed. I am angry. I am at a loss to say why it is no one has the insight, courage, or ability to replace the invidious with individuals and actions we might be able to respect.

Something odd is taking place. Feelings of inauthentic and even illegitimate executive leadership haunt the country. Religious leaders sidle up to political power and cast their influence on intellectually valid turned morally suspect behavior -- war, patriotism, payoffs, pork, power, money, and a turgid respectability. They have trumped Jesus. He is not fit for their club.

We have been blind-sided by a coup d'etat so fundamentally flawed and ideologically inane that even both the most cynical and trusting in our midst have been fooled.

How long can something so odd occupy us?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A young woman pregnant. She wonders what God wants.

The substance of a sage
Is nameless and cannot be spoken of;
The empty door of truth as it really is
Cannot be tarried in.

- Pai-chang (720--814)

Truth is to be passed through. Like the time Mary spent with Elizabeth, both pregnant. These two women are to be passed through.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home. (Luke 1:56)

We don't stay forever. Just like a woman doesn't stay pregnant forever.

Do you want to know what God wants?

Pass through.

Stay real.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Lay wreaths. Say prayers. Salute smartly. Cry at "Taps." Let the day have its dignity. Death of men and women in war deserves a pause, a time of acknowledgement. It's only right. Who would choose to die if there were an alternative?

The realm of non-thinking
Can hardly be fathomed by cognition;
In the sphere of genuine suchness
There is neither "I" nor "other."

- Yunmen (864-949)

We're not ready, it seems, for the consideration of suchness offered by Yunmen. We are affixed, so it seems, by the obvious duality of our experience -- that of "I' and "other." And so, it appears, it has been a long time.

Buddha tried to help see it another way -- teaching a path through seeming separation by means of an awake interdependence. Christ became another way so that we might become what Christ became. They were distinct individuals pointing out undividedness.

There are millions pointing to something other than the point of Buddha and Christ. (They are not alone -- many along with them intend the same realization.) Buddha and Christ pointed "as" (not "at") -- they became the way, an embodied, organic, life-filled way. The million others stand at a distance. They point away from themselves to a methodology, a war-plan, an ideology to combat the difficulty found in our psyches -- the terrible truth that we are not other than one another.

Millions do not want to hear this truth; there is no profit to it, no acquisition to set apart, no special privilege to hold some better and more important that the others. These are prophets of war. They have taken possession of the earth. Wrongly, as it will turn out. Still, they position themselves, they posture, and they prevent a difficult truth from being seen in the world.

Children,
you have already overcome these false prophets,
because you are from God and you have in you
one who is greater than anyone in this world;
as for them, they are of the world,
and so they speak the language of the world
and the world listens to them.
But we are children of God,
and those who know God listen to us;
those who are not of God refuse to listen to us.
This is how we can tell
the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood.

My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God's love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God's love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

(from 1 John 4:1 - 10)

The great sacrifice is the death of division.

Is this the Christian mystery that hardly anyone -- not even a Christian -- understands? Instigating and perpetuating division is the easy joy of the false prophet. That course of misdirection is cause of suffering and distress.

Rather, restorative integrity -- inviting the manifestation of our true nature, our true identity and longing, the undivided wholeness of creation/humanity/divinity -- is the difficult practice of the community of prayer, meditation, and useful healing activity.

"The person who is really in revolt is the optimist, who generally lives and dies in a desperate and suicidal effort to persuade other people how good they are."
(- G.K. Chesterton, in "Introduction to The Defendant")

The lover of truth, the lover of God, and the lover of all-which-is, is the person who is in true community with brothers and sisters, sentient beings and heavenly angels. We are good. All of us. And we are not at odds with one another. Do not fall under the spell of those fomenting the opposite.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
(Chief Seattle)

We shudder at the presence of those among us who would attempt, by acts and rhetoric, to separate us from the root wholeness of our interconnection. They are among us. Listen carefully for them. They are cunning and they are shrouded in the disguise of decency. Our task is to see through the disguise and not be fooled into believing their misdirection.

We are bound to -- we are joined with -- one another. Death in the cause of revealing indissoluble reality, the reality of non-disintegretive unity, of non-decomposable being and existence -- this truth of non-separateness will not decline, not fall, will not fail. To die in service of life for all is a sacrifice worth noting with honor and prayer. This kind of death is non-taking of life. This sacrifice gives one's life for one's life.

Today we consider such honor and prayer.

We remember those fallen.

That we might stand.

In their place.

With one another.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Is anything what it seems to be?

How profoundly silent is the temple of Tao!
Boundless and infinite,
It is the dwelling place of the divine.
The light-hall is wide and high,
Yet awed by silence.
Trees with colored leaves
Are flourishing and spreading.
Forgetful of words I roam and rest here.

- Ni Tsan (1301–1374)(dailyzen)

We confuse one and two.

Odd, isn't it?