Saturday, December 23, 2006
Just now is still not yet revealed.
Not yet born. Still not seeing light. Here we are. It is the 23rd. Jesus is not yet born. That happens on the 25th.
What happens on the 25th? That's for the 25th to reveal. Just now is still not yet revealed.
Do not believe anything on the mere authority of teachers or priests. Accept as true and as the guide to your life only that which accords with your own reason and experience, after thorough investigation. Accept only that which contributes to the well-being of yourself and others.
Rainy morning. Bald Mountain under fog. Brook chanting its way. Ground wet. Incense extinguished. Winter zendo sitting. Crucifix and Buddha on either side of knot-hole split wood next to Mary/Child Icon, window draped with small colored lights.
Home this morning. Hiatus. No 20 mile arrival at where Saturdays have been for six months. We are not yet the presence that transcends petty power and egoic erratic indignation. We're not yet surrendered to the wholeness of what is -- the presence of God, the Christ-reality permeating everything with no-name, no-imposition, no-intrusion, and no-other compassion.
‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John’. And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God.
(--in Luke 1:57 - 66)
No one in our family knows the name of the one calling us.
No one knows what the call wishes in our response.
No one comprehends the sound of the name resounding in the depths of silence.
I was struck, most of all, by the way witness and compassion are woven into the very fabric of monastic life, wherever we find it. No fanfare, no manifesto, no big theory, just life lived with integrity in all its splendid ordinariness.
(-p.125, David Steindl-Rast, in Benedict's Dharma)
My commitment is to monastic life.
As not-yet realized wholeness.
Friday, December 22, 2006
What was it that Buddha wished to teach? Was it sagacity? Was it brilliant academic understanding? Was his aim to encourage the reading of the sutras, or asceticism or austerities? In reality it was none of these. He simply wished to show all living beings how to set in right order the body and mind. The method of doing this is given in the classic on meditation called Zazen-gi:
"Think the unthinkable. How to think the unthinkable? Be without thoughts; this is the secret of meditation."
-- Takashina Rosen (1876-1968)
Without thought, ego disappears. Ego is the thought that believes we are separate.
When the ego dissolves, where does it go?
I was mulling my morning meditation about "ego." At Chase's Daily, over muffin and coffee, across from Saskia, just from St Francis of Assisi's reminder that the incarnation roots us in this reality. This existence is full of revealing grace which inquires into who we are and wonders in stillness what name within us presences us, what sound we listen to.
Teilhard De Chardin writes:
To sum up, in order to match the new curve of Time Christianity is led to discover the values of this world below the level of God, while Humanism finds room for a God above the level of this world. Inverse and complementary movements: or rather, the two faces of a single event which perhaps marks the beginning of a new era for Mankind.
This double transformation is something more than a speculation of my own. Throughout the world at this moment, without distinction of country, class, calling or creed, men are appearing who have begun to reason, to act and to pray in terms of the limitless and organic dimensions of Space-Time. To the outside observer such men may still seem isolated. But they are aware of one another among themselves, they recognize each other whenever their paths cross. They know that tomorrow, rejecting old concepts, divisions and forms, the whole world will see what they see and think as they do.
--From the 1942 essay "The New Spirit" by Teilhard de Chardin. Peking, February 13, 1942
This Christmas I consider the birth of wholeness into the not-yet realizing itself as wholeness.
I say to my friends: I am well, I am fine.
Where you are, I am.
These are the words of Christmas.
Fizzle well! Dissolve well. You are well!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Cold night, no wind,
Bamboo making noises,
Noises far apart, now bunched
Filtering the pine-flanked
Listening with ears is less fine
Than listening with the mind.
Beside the lamp,
I lay aside the half scroll of sutra.
- Hsu-t’ang Chih-yu (1185-1269)
Francis of Assisi reminded us that God incarnated. Conversion is when breath turns to return home to wholeness.
Christmas is the birth of wholeness -- not-yet realized.
We should ask God
To help us toward manners. Inner gifts
Do not find their way
To creatures without just respect.
If a man or woman flails about, he not only
Smashes his house,
He burns the whole world down.
Your depression is connected to your insolence
And your refusal to praise. If a man or woman is
On the path, and refuses to praise — that man or woman
Steals from others every day — in fact is a shoplifter!
The sun became full of light when it got hold of itself.
Angels began shining when they achieved discipline.
The sun goes out whenever the cloud of not-praising comes near.
The moment that foolish angel felt insolent, he heard the door close.
(Poem: "Praising Manners" by Robert Bly, from The Winged Energy of Delight.)
Christ is defenseless. The metaphor is a little baby.
If praise is the breath of life, find gratitude.
Slap oneself into breathing. Cry a bit. Then go on.
No looking back because there is nothing behind you.
Step next, then next, just next.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Outside the temple,
Already I know how fine
The mountain must be;
Clear cool shade detains me.
I sit by the circling steps.
On newly opened leaves I see
Wonder if they’re from Han-shan’s brush,
The ink not yet dried.
- Feng of Pei-shan
We must recall, reconnect, remember.
Tomorrow, the O Antiphons say, I will come.
The sense of what is beyond!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The artists "Clarity," that is. They said: No longer "deadline panic," rather "lifeline assessment." Their insight is a gift for those of us who can't do something until the last moment. It's because life longs for full assessment before downloading its reflection. It works for school papers in the same way it works for appreciation of our true self.
How marvelous, how wonderful!
All sentient beings are perfect without flaw.
It is only due to delusive attachments
That the truth cannot be seen.
Their primary colors and collaborative process brighten the room. We are deep in the revelation that we are in this act of creativity together.
Back out on Elm street, Tommy is mailing letters in front of Wild Rufus. The street and sidewalks are empty but for two cars leaving after library closes. We laugh at the lovely absurdity of some of the characters and stories of the day we've come through.
The people crowded around him were so touched by their own consciences that they departed. When Jesus found himself alone with the woman, he asked her who were her accusers. She replied, “No man, lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.”
Jesus had it square on. Condemnation is a pile-on syndrome. If one person (in this case, Jesus) refuses to condemn, the impetus is broken, and someone is set free.
We recall John's father and mother's silent story revealing the realization of what is being born to us:
When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had received a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them, and remained dumb.
When his time of service came to an end he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept to herself. ‘The Lord has done this for me’ she said ‘now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered among men.’
Let's try something different. Let's try taking away the humiliation that is suffered by men and women in living among men and women.
We're well practiced in humiliating one another.
A new practice is to exchange the humiliating skill for the appreciating skill.
Both Jesus and Buddha embody this appreciating skill.
How fortunate we are.
That we all might be moved, soon and simply.
To practice this.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Feeling a little stupid doesn't absolve me from pointing out my inner delusion onto the world of passing things. Like the helicopter paddle-balling to top of Ragged. Or dropping off words that promise nothing but more words and longer exasperation. I am crazed. And a galaxy has a billion stars.
If we happen to receive the instructions of a good friend and suddenly awaken to this void and calm awareness, the calm awareness becomes free of thought and formless. Who then would assume that there is “self” or “person”?
- Chinul (1209)
Land, lift, set down, lift lower land. Have you ever looked a tree right into the bark? Don't tell me we're alone in the universe. Other life isn't out there. It permeates us.
His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn;
Our barn has circle of white light on red barn door. It might be a wreath. It might be nothing. You'll have to consider the matter yourself.
Once some people were visiting Chekhov.
While they made remarks about his genius
the Master fidgeted. Finally
he said, "Do you like chocolates?"
They were astonished, and silent.
He repeated the question,
whereupon one lady plucked up her courage
and murmured shyly, "Yes."
"Tell me," he said, leaning forward,
light glinting from his spectacles,
"what kind? The light, sweet chocolate
or the dark, bitter kind?"
The conversation became general
They spoke of cherry centers,
of almonds and Brazil nuts.
Losing their inhibitions
they interrupted one another.
For people may not know what they think
about politics in the Balkans,
or the vexed question of men and women,
but everyone has a definite opinion
about the flavor of shredded coconut.
Finally someone spoke of chocolates filled with liqueur,
and everyone, even the author of Uncle Vanya,
was at a loss for words.
As they were leaving he stood by the door
and took their hands.
In the coach returning to Petersburg
they agreed that it had been a most
(Poem: "Chocolates" by Louis Simpson from The Owner of the House: New Collected Poems 1940-2001.)
They're all unusual -- each conversation. One whole galaxy is reduced to a dog's tongue lapping water on Ragged Mountain on a cloudy afternoon. Things disappear anytime you open your mouth to say anything.
I'll think of this when next I feel compelled to prove a point.
There's no proof.
Is there any point?
Just make it.