Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, February 24, 2007

If I happen to get lost, don't find me too quickly.

Yellow bags are lifted and tossed over railing into hopper at transfer station. It used to be called the dump. Everything is recycling. It used to be called garbage.

In Sara's story at Poetry, Tea, and Literature in the shop this afternoon, she wrote of someone who's insulted the character, "He was someone to be polite to." We used to say, "I'm going to knock his lights out." A lot has changed. There are people who you think you want to hurt. You might not. And for noble reasons. Still, the impulse is there.
If you have any desire to surpass others, or any thought of your own ability, this is egoism and possessiveness. These are sicknesses in the context of nirvana, so The Nirvana Sutra says, “Space can contain everything, but space does not entertain the thought that it can contain everything.” This is a metaphor for the disappearance of egoism and possessiveness, by which you proceed to indestructible concentration.
- Hongren (602-675)
Cesco walks into kitchen. Takes water. Turns, walks out. Saskia works at counter the makings of supper. Mu-ge is out in the barn. I am mulling about impulse and how many men I've known who've not mulled, but let rip into the fog of substances, anger, and immediate satisfaction.
one's not half two. It's two are halves of one:
which halves reintegrating,shall occur
no death and any quantity;but than
all numerable mosts the actual more

minds ignorant of stern miraculous
this every truth–beware of heartless them
(given the scapel,they dissect a kiss;
or,sold the reason,they undream a dream)

one is the song which fiends and angels sing:
all murdering lies by mortals told make two.
Let liars wilt,repaying life they're loaned;
we(by a gift called dying born)must grow

deep in dark least ourselves remembering
love only rides his year.

All lose,whole find
(--Poem by E.E. Cummings)

What have you found?

Concentrate now.

Friday, February 23, 2007

One and zero. Something and nothing. Form and emptiness. Wholeness and partiality, fractionality.

It all belongs to all of us. It all belongs to God. We ought not accept what is not itself whole and entire. Don't be sold fear. Fear uses partiality and fractionality to lure us away from what is whole and undivided.
The Invention of Fractions

God himself made the whole numbers: everything else
is the work of man.

—Leopold Kronnecker

God created the whole numbers:
the first born, the seventh seal,
Ten Commandments etched in stone,
the Twelve Tribes of Israel —
Ten we've already lost —
forty days and forty nights,
Saul's ten thousand and David's ten thousand.
'Be of one heart and one mind' —
the whole numbers, the counting numbers.

It took humankind to need less than this;
to invent fractions, percentages, decimals.
Only humankind could need the concepts
of splintering and dividing,
of things lost or broken,
of settling for the part instead of the whole.

Only humankind could find the whole numbers,
infinite as they are, to be wanting;
though given a limitless supply,
we still had no way
to measure what we keep
in our many-chambered hearts
(--Poem: "The Invention of Fractions" by Jessica Goodfellow, from A Pilgrim's Guide to Chaos in the Heartland.)
Let's clarify something important. We are not ignorant. Nor are we innocent. We are merely fearful of truth. Truth means nothing is disclosed. Are we ready to experience nothing? We have spent lifetimes loathing and fearing nothing. And now we are being asked to step away from fear.

Is it possible that we have managed to ignore God because we are unwilling to disclose the wholeness of our very nature, the frontside and backside, inside and outside, upside and downside of exactly what we are? Light and shadow? Help and hindrance? Good and bad? Is our hiddenness and incompleteness what keeps us back from experiencing God experiencing us? Do we actually think we are better than God?
By all accounts, it was Luther's early "theology of the cross" that most decisively influenced Heidegger. It was the "young Luther" whom Heidegger explicitly acknowledged as a tutor in these matters (G63 5/4).10 The "theology of the cross" is Luther's designation for any theological position, such as his own, that repudiates the classic tradition of philosophical monotheism, which he called the "theology of glory."11 Luther worries, first of all, that philosophical monotheism actually misses the real message of Christianity. As he puts it in the "Heidelberg Disputation" from 1518, "The theologian of glory does not recognize, along with the Apostle, the crucified and hidden God alone (1 Corinthians 2:2)" (LW31 227). More than that, however, Luther worries that the "theology of glory" reflects the same drive for human self-aggrandizement that surfaces in the more familiar phenomenon of the "righteousness of works." More specifically, the "theology of glory" is the issue of a perverted desire to determine the nature of God independently of God's own free self-disclosure in the "foolishness" of the cross.12 In the end, the "theology of glory" puts itself above God, dictating who and what God is and what God can do. Luther writes, "But alas, even now very many people think in an unworthy way about God and claim in bold and impudent treatises that God is this way or that way. ... They so raise their own opinion to the skies that they judge God with no more trouble or fear than a poor cobbler judges his leather" (LW25 167).

God's free self-disclosure is locked into the straitjacket of "human metaphysical rules" (LW29 111). The partisans of the "theology of glory," Luther tells us, "want to be like God, and they want their thoughts to be not beneath God but beside Him" (LW25 366).

The central concept that Luther uses to undermine the "theology of glory" is that of the "hidden God" (deus absconditus). By "hiddenness," Luther clearly does not mean "nonexistence." He tells us what he means quite clearly in the lectures on Romans: "[The work of God] is never hidden in any other way than under that which appears contrary to our conceptions and ideas" (LW25 366). The "hidden God" is contrasted with the "naked" God longed for by theologians of glory, that is, God as an object of immediate apprehension. For Luther, the "hidden God" reveals himself, paradoxically, in the suffering humanity of Christ.13
...
Footnote 13:
13 In order to remove the primary cause of alienation between humanity and God, that is, human pride, God reveals himself in "his human nature, weakness, foolishness" (LW31 52). God must be seen in the "humility and shame of the cross" (LW31 52–53). The God "hidden" in the humanity of Christ is elsewhere called "the God who is not seen" (LW29 111).
(--excerpt from "
On the Track of the Fugitive Gods: Heidegger, Luther, Hölderlin," by Benjamin D. Crowe, University of Utah, in The Journal of Religion, Volume 87, Number 2, April 2007)
The hidden God isn't hidden from itself.

This is why we are so befuddled.

God's self-disclosure is the nearside of one's own true self.

Unafraid. And alone. We look through God as God looks through us.

Word must become body. Body must become word. When so, speech is act. When so, act is graceful silence. When so, graceful silence is eloquent articulation of what is longing to be revealed in the very next act, word, moment, and face.

We are -- foolishly -- one and zero in the presence of one another.

Is the presence of the Great Mystery, undisclosed -- not made known -- but only integral to, in, with and through us?

Is Christ suffering humanity?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Jack asked the circle tonight at Thursday Conversation, "What is it each one of us fears?

I mask my fear with anger. Fear, for me, is failure to question.
Few people believe their
Inherent mind is Buddha.
Most will not take this seriously,
And therefore are cramped.
They are wrapped up in illusions, cravings,
Resentments, and other afflictions,
All because they love the cave of ignorance.
- Fenyang
What I fear is ignorance -- mine and others'. I don't fear innocence. 'Not knowing' is devoutly to be wished. No, I fear ignorance.

Jack had said earlier, "We don't know what is experiencing what!" (Words have palpable reality.) For me "what is" is God...experiencing "what", that is, the question, or, the questioner.

As a hermit/monastic, I long to live my life as an open question. This entails calling things into question. (Hence my difficulty with ignorance and arrogance -- unquestioning, not wanting to know enough to warrant thought, feeling, or action.)

If fear is failure to question, then I fear "what is" not experiencing "what." If I am "what" I am, then without the "what" there is nothing there to experience. "What" is the question. I am the "what" in this moment in this place in this form.

Ignorance and arrogance -- my own, and that of others -- is my fear.

I cloak my fear in anger.

There is much to be angry about.
And a second time the voice spoke from heaven, “What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane”. This was repeated three times, before the whole of it was drawn up to heaven again.
(--from Acts 11:1 - 18)
Down from Lincoln, today in East Bangor, alongside Maple Grove Cemetery, Cesco and I walked out a broad field on snowmobile track, behind the Baptist Church. The enormous field was snow filled and ice crusted. The old dog is good company.

Each one of us is God's question.

Let God experience this question.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Ashes to ashes,
Dust to dust --
Thou art --
Remember..."

It's her own version. That's what Saskia says making a sign with her fingers on my forehead before leaving for Pittsfield, Newport, Bangor, and Gardiner Maine.

Remember what? The historical Jesus? Or something equally compelling? What is that something?

That 'something' is the ongoing interpenetration and interlocution that being-in-the-world necessitates in order for authentic revelation to take place.

In other words, we are. First and foremost -- we are. As is, (we hold) -- God. We posit an incomplete perfection wherein each one of us is absolutely necessary for the perfect incompletion to move with the vital grace of God toward wherever it is the perfect and incomplete move toward with imperfect and complete mutual intention and assistance. It doesn't end. Life is without end. Suffering will end (so we pray). The world might and might not end. It depends on our perception and conception of 'world.'

Here's what William McNamara says:
WIE: Could you explain exactly how you define "the world" on the spiritual path?

WM: I find it necessary to distinguish between the world and what I call the "Mpire"—the world of the three M's: mediocrity, mendacity, and manipulation. The world that is the earth, the gift God has given us—I would never renounce that. All I want to do is embrace that and love it and become more and more a part of it—that objective, wonderful world.

But the Mpire is that aspect of the world that has been used and twisted out of shape in order to provide the power, pleasure, and prestige of human beings. The net result of that, down through the centuries, has been an unreal world. The Mpire is an unreal world. It's made up of a network of mediocrity, manipulation, and mendacity.

The whole sociopolitical world we live in is dominated by mendacity—the big lie. The big lie is coming through television, through magazines (not enlightenment magazines but through many magazines) through propaganda, ideologies. There is some truth in it, but it's the big lie because it doesn't reveal the ultimate. And it doesn't evaluate contemporary situations in terms of the ultimate. Therefore it goes askew.

Then there's mediocrity. Everything is worked out into a system so that there are no surprises. And God is surprise. God is beyond our conceptions, our images, our big to-dos. If we are not being surprised constantly, it means we are out of touch with the real, and we've worked things out simply to be manageable, to provide us with more power, more convenience, more comfort.

The third aspect is manipulation. I think the biggest problem of society today is that we let too many things happen to us. We've allowed ourselves to become usable items for government, for church, for whatever the big power structures may be. That's manipulation. It happens in respectable, subtle ways. First we allow television into the home. Then we allow computers, and then because there is pornography on the Internet, we get used to pornography in the home. It just becomes absurd, but we've gotten used to it. We are shrinking humanly. We're not being divinized; we're not being transformed. It happens little by little as we let too many dehumanizing things happen to us, so that we can no longer take a stand against it.

The term I like to use to describe that whole phenomenon is "pretty poison." It's not a spectacular kind of evil. Pretty poison is the kind of evil that killed Christ. It was not the bad men of that age, not the state, not the church. It wasn't the notoriously evil men but the pretty poison that seeped into the best institutions and the best people. Pretty poison is that kind of evil that seeps unnoticeably, imperceptibly into our nicest people and our best institutions and just disorients them, derails them. It's a respectable kind of evil.

(--in What is Enlightenment magazine, "THE e'M'pire", An interview with Father William McNamara, by Carter Phipps) http://www.wie.org/j18/mcnam.asp?pf=1
It is clear many in our midst, many of our 'betters' have nearly perfected this respectable kind of evil. They have their version of 'world' -- they have their version of 'Christianity.' They call it "Don't think, don't feel, don't act." They call it "Terror and perpetual war on terror." They call it "It's for your own sake, for your security, for your protection," (as they take all three from us.) And they call it "We know better than you; trust us." These political strategies operate in both secular and religious minds.

If trust means relinquishing inquiry, action, and common sense, if someone's notion of mind means abandoning heartfelt thought and clear compassionate thinking -- then don't mind them. Mind yourself. Practice cultivating a sound, sane, and sensible mind.
Calm yourself, quiet yourself,
Master your senses.
Look right into the source of mind,
Always keep it shining bright,
Clear and pure.
Do not give rise to an indifferent mind.

- Hongren (602-675)
Mind sees this movement through and through.

It is Ash Wednesday. The story is being told. Our story is being told. Common here is 'being, told.'
For in our history I know redemption only in fragments which are experienced personally and collectively; in which, however, Jesus remains the critical and productive promise of an undefinable definitive future salvation. Nowhere do I see signs of an 'objectively completed' redemption. Yet I believe that our action in helping people, healing them and bringing them political liberation, fragmentary though it may seem, has definitive value in and of itself, even when it fails. It is precisely to this that the living God will grant an even greater future. 'He gives a new face to darkness and light, to all that we do.'
Even in his[ or her] Christian view of grace and redemption, the Christian will have to remain aware of his [or her] human condition.

--p.25, in Christ, The Experience of Jesus as Lord, by Edward Schillebeeckx, c.1977, trans by John Bowden, 1981)
This is our daily, ordinary, journey.

Being present is the way, there and here. Presence transcends mere physical attendance. Presence also transforms that which is beyond physical into a concretion of real and felt re-membering, one permeated with remembrance.

Correspondence is the conversation of contemplation.
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

(--1st stanza of poem Ash Wednesday, by T.S. Eliot)
The usual reign is conducting self-immolation by using other bodies at its pyre. This holy season of Lent must redesign the mind that destroys others to uplift self. It is a brutish and hellish pattern of deceit and dishonor. We must begin with the resemblance of such thinking and behavior within ourselves. This is mortification -- coming to the end of death-designs on living beings.

For this practice, we need help.

For this practice we listen to the conclusion of Eliot's poem:
Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

(--final stanza of poem Ash Wednesday, by T.S. Eliot)
We are.

Not to be...

Separated.

Remember!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Tibetan Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche says that: "Empty cognizance is our nature."

If that is so, what would 'sinning against nature' be?

(Morning cool kitchen, looking out at green hanging bird-feeder, not a taker in sight.)

Because you grasp labels and slogans,
You are hindered by
Those labels and slogans,
Both those used in
Ordinary life and those
Considered sacred.
Thus they obstruct your
Perception of objective truth,
And you cannot understand clearly.

- Linji (d.867)

At Meetingbrook we seem to fall between things and labels. Like perpetual inner ear imbalance, there's a dizzying awareness that soon the plunge will irretrieve itself. (Saskia tells of her fall on razor-slick second brook while assessing height of rising ice under plank footbridge, nearly going the unmoving cascading distance.)

A form of hermit-monastic life that wanders through the thin place between men/women, solitude/community, work/play, prayer/politics, monastery/marketplace, Buddhism/Catholic Christianity, hidden/open, conversation/silence, listening/engaging, and this/that. (Red squirrel runs down hill to splay of empty shells, foraging what has fallen from feeder. Climbs to source.)
Empty cognizance is our nature. We cannot separate one aspect of it from the other. Empty means “not made out of anything whatsoever”; our nature has always been this way. Yet, while being empty, it has the capacity to cognize, to experience, to perceive. It’s not so difficult to comprehend this; to get the theory that this empty cognizance is buddha nature, self-existing wakefulness. But to leave it at that is the same as looking at the buffet and not eating anything. Being told about buddha nature but never really making it our personal experience will not help anything. It’s like staying hungry. Once we put the food in out mouth, we discover what the food tastes like. This illustrates the dividing line between idea and experience.
(--from article, "As the Clouds Vanish, Training in the Dzogchen Approach to Enlightenment", by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920-1996). He was a master in the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Issue September 29, 2006)
Looking beneath things, or beyond things, should come with a warning label: "Any sighting beneath or beyond things is likely to upset your balance. Do not tear off this label."
In the same way, if we have correct understanding, the moment we apply what our master teaches, we recognize our nature. That there is no entity whatsoever to be seen is called “emptiness.” The ability to know that mind essence is called “cognizance.” If it were only blank, bare space, what or who would know that it is “blank” or “empty” or “nothing”? There would be no knowing. These two aspects, empty and cognizant, are indivisible. This becomes obvious to us the very moment that we look; it is no longer hidden. Then it is not just an intellectual idea of how emptiness is; it becomes a part of our experience. At that moment, meditation training can truly begin.--Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
(Saskia washes dishes that camped out in sink last night. Water stretches to boil in tea pot on stove. Drip from faucet, warm air from floor register, trash can from under sink receives bits from drainer.)
We call this training "meditation," but it is not an act of meditating in the common sense of the word. There is no emptying the mind essence by trying to maintain an artificially imposed vacant state. Why? Because mind essence is already empty. Similarly, we do not need to make this empty essence cognizant. All you have to do is leave it as it is. In fact, there is nothing whatsoever to do, so we cannot even call this an act of meditating. There is an initial recognition, and from then on we do not have to be clever about it or try to improve it in any way whatsoever. Just let it be as it naturally is -— that is what is called meditation, or more accurately “nonmeditation.” What is crucial is not to be distracted for even a single instant. Once recognition has taken place, undistracted nonmeditation is the key point of practice.
--Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

It will be Oregon Chai Tea with toasted English muffins for today's travel to Ellsworth and Bar Harbour. Cesco will be at elbow between us in green car. Saskia will go to collect numbers; dog and I will wander collecting fragrances, sights, and sounds. Time will pass. Sky will be "Mostly cloudy with scattered flurries," (I thought it read scattered "flumes." A flume is "A narrow gorge, usually with a stream flowing through it.")
“Distracted” means that once the attention wavers and loses itself, thoughts and emotions can take place. Distraction is the return of all these kinds of thoughts, in which the continuity of nondual awareness is lost. The training is simply to recognize again. Once recognition takes place, there is nothing more to do; simply allow mind essence to be. That is how the cloud-covers gradually dissolve. --Tulku
If the slash between all the complementary arrivals begins to dissolve (this/that, cloistered/peripatetic, practicing monk/non-practicing monk) -- what would be seen, what would change? (Squirrel, the nervous one, finally makes it to roof of green feeder -- but issues his staccato high-pitch chattering declarations of his presence. It's a long ritual before taking seed. Much like us!)
The ultimate state is totally free from any obscuration, like the short moment of recognition. However, in the latter there is still the tendency for the obscurations to return. The state of realization, complete enlightenment, means that no cloud-cover can ever return; its causes are utterly and permanently eliminated. When the clouds vanish, what else can cover the sun? That is the final or ultimate realization — when there is only brilliant, pure sunshine throughout space without any cloud-cover whatsoever. In other words, everything that needed to be removed has been removed and everything that needed to be actualized is already present. The empty sky and the brilliant sunshine are not of our making. They have always been there and are fully actualized when the cloud-cover is eliminated.
-- Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Finally, red squirrel eats, perched on squirrel-proof wooden bar carefully distributing weight so as not to depress bar -- he gets to do what clever engineers say cannot be done. So it goes! It's a rare box that cannot be broken in to or out of.

We nibble around the edges of things, around the edges of boxes cleverly constructed and packaging what is trademarked and owned by executive, hierarchy, and lawyered pronouncements laced with 'no trespassing' and 'beyond here there be dragons' signs.

We long for something dissolved. Something like quiet simplicity.
Essential

She just wants to keep her essential
sorrow. Everyone wants her to
be happy all the time, but she doesn't
want that for them. There is value in
the thread of sadness in each person.
The sobbing child on an airplane, the
unhappy woman waiting by the phone,
a man staring out the window past his
wife. A violin plays through all of them,
one long note held at the beginning and
the end.

Employed

She just wants to be employed
for eight hours a day. She is not
interested in a career; she wants a job
with a paycheck and free parking. She
does not want to carry a briefcase filled
with important papers to read after
dinner; she does not want to return
phone calls. When she gets home, she
wants to kick off her shoes and waltz
around her kitchen singing, "I am a piece
of work."

Poems: "Essential" and "Employed" by Beverly Rollwagen, from She Just Wants. Nodin Press.)

We'll have to mull Tulku's words that, "Empty cognizance is our nature."

It is time to...

Go.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Her card was signed once "Merry Mary Christmas." Mary Christine was born on December 25. In dream before waking she visits, coming from where she sat across auditorium to where I stood looking for her after someone asked where she was. Hair shorter than long, in smart brown or rust suit, she arrives at wood high-back chair I have brought to the table.
The sound of a swollen
Mountain stream rapidly rushing
Makes one know
How very quickly life itself
Is pressed along its course.
--Saigyo (1118-1190)
Our mountain streams are swollen but not rapidly rushing. They are fast in their form waiting in slow frozen memory of what they once were and will be again. Hard wind blows. Land buoys sound swell waves whooshing through tubes, triangles, and tinkling wind chimes surrounding safe harbor of hermitage.

All wisdom is from the Lord,
and it is his own for ever.
The sand of the sea and the raindrops,
and the days of eternity, who can assess them?
The height of the sky and the breadth of the earth,
and the depth of the abyss, who can probe them?
Before all other things wisdom was created,
shrewd understanding is everlasting.
For whom has the root of wisdom ever been uncovered?
Her resourceful ways, who knows them?
One only is wise, terrible indeed,
seated on his throne, the Lord.
He himself has created her, looked on her and assessed her,
and poured her out on all his works
to be with all mankind as his gift,
and he conveyed her to those who love him.
Ecclesiasticus 1:1 - 10
Finch, momma and poppa Cardinal, Chickadee, Nuthatch, and Woodpecker take turns at back feeder before red squirrel zips down hill (then leaves without ascending) pole to green hanging dispensary.

Wood stove wakes from overnight doze. Water splashes shower wall behind kitchen bookshelves. Snowstorm left less through night than it might. We'll drive to Sabattus in a bit.

Mary died somewhere back. But she lives (this morning) in particular, real dream of a Monday before dawn alongside Ragged and Bald Mountains in a blowy gust, where now, quick and acrobatic squirrel balances and eats alone at feeder.

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
(Poem by Mary Oliver)
In last night's reading William McNamara said no fuss, no lust, and no rust are the properties of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These vows are curiosities in our world. Mary would giggle.

Word hides in words. All we get to see of nature's brilliance is what appears along surface for the duration we look to it. Nature presides even when we are distracted. So too Word resides in nascent kindness and compassion at periphery of our eyes and ears, awareness and wakefulness.

Dreams reveal the sound and sight of what is beyond hearing and seeing.

What is beyond. Hearing. And, seeing.

Revelation. The form of dream.

Avowal of One's restorative wisdom, with our avowal, sets sight on road's uncertain turns.

One's. With ours.

A sudden breath of creation transcending and conveying one in one to each one.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chuang-tzu said:
"Cherish that
which is
within you."


He sums up contemplative life.

If we live looking out for ourselves, we usually wind up watching out for anybody coming near us. Fear is like that. Everyone is threat because everyone is seen as wanting to take what we are looking out for.

If the candle of craving, lusting, and arrogating is extinguished, then we are left with two options: utter self-defeat, or, contemplative life. Two options but only one choice.
The essence of nirvana is tranquil, uncontrived bliss. Realize your own mind is the true mind, and errant imagining ceases. When errant imagining ceases, you are accurately aware. By virtue of accurate awareness, dispassionately perceptive knowledge arises and thus one finds the nature of reality.
- Hongren (602-675)
February is lovely teacher. Ice and snow, cold and emptiness -- the approach of penitential forty days. Cutting wood for warm cabin to practice in tonight. Walking to brook which is nearly up against both foot bridges with swelling ice. Prayer whose name is empty sound, visits.
WIE: Why do you think it is that there are now so few people interested in the kind of life that you have undertaken?

WM: I think that most people in this modern age are seduced by the workaday world. The average human being is being deceived by hyper-activity, feverish activity. It's dispersed human energy. It is not hitting the target. It is not uplifting the world. It's just a roundelay of repetitive mechanisms, over and over again, with no final end.
George Santyana, the great Harvard professor, said, "A fanatic is one who, having forgotten the end, multiplies the means." And that's what we're all doing. Where are we? We don't know. Who are we? We don't know. We're just busy. And that embarrasses us, and so we keep doing more things to cover over the embarrassment, the emptiness, the hollowness of our lives. So given the condition that we're in, we shy away from the contemplative life.

(from THE e'M'pire, An interview with Father William McNamara, by Carter Phipps, in What is Enlightenment Magazine, http://www.wie.org/j18/mcnam.asp?pf=1)
There's no real cover for emptiness. Emptiness is hollowness and embarrassment uncovered.

Without cover is seen hallowedness and humility -- a holy earthiness faced squarely.

Jesus said: "I am with you always, even until the end of the world." I think he meant that he is with us, all ways. We should even the earth, "un-till" the "end" -- there is no end -- of the world.

So many cultivate the end, ending, finish, Armageddon, Apocalypse, judgment, punishment, reward, just desserts, and vengeful payback. Jesus, in today's meditation, says "un-till" that world of mind. Find balance and equilibrium. Equanimity. Harmony. Be even-minded, even-hearted, even-handed.

In this, he is with us.

This is that which is.

Within us.