Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Nothing is true but that which is in itself true.

We want truth, but we settle most times for our prejudices and opinions even when we suspect there's no real foundation for them. Truth waits. It knows we will come round sooner or later. Whether in life or in death. We'll see and affirm what is true. And yet, giving ourselves to what is true remains always a radical act.

There are two forms of error now prevailing among followers of Zen, laymen as well as monks. The one thinks that there are wonderful things hidden in words and phrases, and those who hold this view try to learn many words and phrases. The second goes to the other extreme, forgetting that words are the pointing finger, showing one where to locate the moon. Only when these two erroneous views are done away with is there a chance for real advancement in the mastery of Zen.
- D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966)

We ask: "Where is Christ? Who is Jesus? What is the correct way to behave in the face of the mystery of God's presence in this world of matter, creation, and human thought?

We get no answer. We look around. We wonder -- Is today a good day to die? It either is, yes. Or it isn't, no.

Jesus said, "Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God's throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is "Yes" if you mean yes, "No" if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one."
(Matthew 5:33 - 37)

A woman asked at the shop why I would want to be chaplain at the prison. I tell her it's the same as asking whether today is the day to commit suicide. She was confused by this. I told her Camus was right about suicide being the only serious philosophical problem. Every statement about preference, affirmation, or negation is a meditation about suicide. Will I live? Should I? How? And why?

"The absurd man will not commit suicide; he wants to live, without relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope, without illusions, and without resignation either. He stares at death with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him. He experiences the "divine irresponsibility" of the condemned man." (from Sartre analysis of Mersault, in Literary and Philosophical Essays, 1943)

I choose to live until I die. When my death occurs, it will be time. Until my life is taken from me I will have to consider -- (from time to time, even without stress or duress) -- that my life is in my hands. Until then, I pray with ambiguity the words, "Take my life!"

Please.

Do with it that which is in itself true.

Friday, June 16, 2006

All this will soon be over. Thought-forms will dissolve as ego dissolves. What you are will be what you present.

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)

Shahab said it at conversation. He said: "Time right now is slowing us down because we're hurting each other."

At the speed of light is light itself.

The ropes of death were around me,
the agonies of the underworld were upon me.
I came upon trouble and anguish,
and I called on the name of the Lord:
"Lord, free my soul".

(Psalm 114 (116A)Universalis.com)

We must stop hurting each other.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Not only is nothing as it seems, everything is as it is.

Wise listeners, the wisdom of enlightenment
Is inherent in each of us.
We fail to recognize it because
Of delusion of mind;
To know the essence of Mind
Seek the teachings of the enlightened.

- Hui-neng (638-713)

Jesus told the truth about life. He said "I am it." This was not a triumphal statement. Saying "I am it" is a statement of profound humility spoken by Jesus so that each of us might repeat it.

Practice now: "I...am...it."

This is not a self-referential statement. This is an utterance pointing out the way to recognize and realize what is in and of itself true.

Nothing is as it seems.

Everything is as it is.

God is "I am."

We are "it."

Ready?

Speak now!

I...
am...
it!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

No more than knowing the unknowable. That's what Paul said at conversation tonight. Also, nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Look. There was one who was enlightened with the sound of a bamboo being struck and another who clarified his mind upon seeing peach blossoms. Is the bamboo bright or dull, deluded or enlightened? Are peach blossoms shallow or deep, wise or foolish? Although flowers blossom year after year, not everyone who sees them is enlightened. When a bamboo cracks, not everyone who hears it realizes the way.

Enlightenment and clarity of the mind occur only in response to the sustained effort of study and practice. Endeavoring in the way ripens the conditions of your practice. It is not that the sound of the bamboo is sharp or the color of the blossoms is vivid. Although the sound of the bamboo is wondrous, it is heard at the moment when itÃ?’s hit by a pebble. Although the color of the blossoms is beautiful, they do not open by themselves but unfold in the light of springtime. Studying the way is like this. You attain the way when conditions come together. Although you have your own capacity, you practice the way with the combined strength of the community. So you should practice and search with one mind with others.

- Dogen (1200-1253)

The effort of study and practice is likely to place us at the origin of unknowing. Any effort to understand why things are so, or why someone made the decision they made will lead us to a silent stillness filled with significant emptiness.

In that emptiness we come to glimpse our true nature.

What we see is the way we are.

We practice the way.

One mind with others.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

St Anthony of Padua is patron saint of lost and found.

Give up all questions except one: "Who am I?" After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The "I am" is certain. The "I am this" is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality.
- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

We have lost our way.

Find us out.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The fellow asked what denomination. I said "non de nom" (of no name). The God of Judeo Christian heritage was a no-name God. That's my tradition.

Sages are benevolent without trying,
Trusted without speaking.
They gain without seeking,
Succeed without striving.
They take naturalness to heart,
Preserve ultimate reality,
Embrace the Way,
And promote sincerity,
So the whole world follows them as echoes
Respond to sounds;
As shadows imitate forms.
What they work on is the root.

- Wen-tzu

The root in soil of soul is nameless.

See the face.

Hear no name.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Try Neti Neti.

A new understanding of Trinity?

In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya is questioned by his students to describe God. He states "The Divine is not this and it is not that" (neti, neti). (Neti neti, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

At Quaker Meeting in Children's Chapel the rain stopped. Wind swung to the southeast. I attended, finally, to breath. Inbreath, originator. Thin place between inhalation and exhalation, embodier. Outbreath, transformer.

We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.
(from A letter by St Athanasius)

Above, through, and in. Not just above. Not merely through. Not only in. This is the practice of neti neti -- not this not that -- but above, through, and in all of it.

In Guantanamo, the American base in Cuba, three men commit suicide this week.
[S]aid Bill Goodman of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based advocacy group that oversees lawyers representing many of the detainees[:] "This is an act of desperation because they have no way to prove their innocence. A system without justice is a system without hope."

The detainees had apparently used their clothing and sheets to fashion makeshift nooses in what military officials believe was a coordinated suicide pact. All left suicide notes written in Arabic, the officers said.

"They are smart, they are creative, they are committed," said Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the commander at Guantanamo. "They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

("3 terror suspects found hanged, Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay", by James Risen and Tim Golden, New York Times, Sunday, June 11, 2006)

The Rear Admiral tries to identify suicide -- taking one's life without taking another's -- as something waged against the United States. It is a convenient analysis, proving again that the US is victim of this new asymmetrical treachery. Nothing is said about the three men who died. They never existed. They were "enemy." "Other." Of no value but to kill themselves. The admiral would probably feel that Jesus was this type -- an annoying gap embodying empty wholeness in middle of Holy Trinity, a nano-second of clarity between what comes in and what goes out.

We can never truly define God in words. All we can do is say, it isn't this, but also, it isn't that either". In the end, the student must transcend words to understand the nature of the Divine. (Wikipedia)

I pray for rest for these men. I pray for their families. I pray for all of us who try to explain away the mysteries of human life and death, warfare and greed, sanctity and hope.

Try neti neti.

Become the trinity of breath.

Do not explain away life.