Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Spurs beat Suns.

The semi-graveyard of men -- who muscle their way past each other, throw a ball or decree downward through a hoop, kick and swing elbows at opposing players in vintage gangster bland visage "What?, Me?" surprise -- is no longer interesting.

From Bush/Cheney to Horry/Bowen, the law of enforcers is game's gangster rule. The game has moved on from whatever it was and changed into whatever it is. Big-body stop-signs, and crushing slam-dunks, carnival shots from one inch to full court away and consultant scripted comments post-game -- and what was once a childhood sport is what everything becomes. From basketball to war -- it all becomes business. Big and boisterous, deadly and dismal -- business

But this is not about basketball, is it? Athletics and politics wear the same uniform. It's not so much anymore about the good of all, the greater good. Its about individual skills, individual power, and individual wealth. It's more about not caring about opposing views or players. The motto on locker doors and government clearance badges is the same: "I want what I want, and I've got the money and power to get it -- the rest of you be damned."
Casualties in Iraq
The Human Cost of Occupation
Edited by Margaret Griffis :: Contact
American Military Casualties in Iraq

American Deaths : Date, Total, In Combat
Since war began (3/19/03): 3409, 2799
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03) (the list): 3270, 2691
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 2948, 2493
Since Handover (6/29/04): 2550, 2166
Since Election (1/31/05): 1972, 1903

American Wounded Official Estimated
Total Wounded: 25378, 23000 - 100000
Latest Fatality May 19, 2007
Page last updated 05/18/07 11:58 pm EDT

Other Coalition Troops
274

US Military Deaths - Afghanistan
390

American Civilian Casualties
Sources: DoD, CentCom, MNF, and iCasualties.org

Iraqi Body Counts:
Reported Minimum
63929
Reported Maximum
70023


(from http://antiwar.com/casualties/)


If we dare, try thinking about each one of the men and women and families enumerated above.
Though I think not
To think about it,
I do think about it
And shed tears
Thinking about it.
(--Ryokan)
There are those who say, "Give up naivety. This is the way of the world." The sullen version of existence is dog-eat-dog, no-prisoners-taken, each-man-for-himself.

Are there other versions?
When mortals are alive, they worry about death.
When they're full, they worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great Uncertainty.

But sages don't consider the past.
And they don't worry about the future.
Nor do they cling to the present.
And from moment to moment they follow the Way.
(--Bodhidharma)
What is the Way?

Does the question interest?

What is the Way.

Does the response interest?
Summer grasses:
all that remains of great soldiers’
imperial dreams
(--Basho)
Let's turn the gangster's credo upside down, and say: "It's not business; it's only personal. Intimate, real, and personal! "

Way will open!

So...we pray.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Frontline's 90 minutes of "Hand of God", first aired January 16, 2007, was watched tonight. More than 10,000 children reportedly were sexually abused by Catholic priests in the United States. Filmmaker Joe Cultrera tells the story of his brother Paul and their family. He tells the story of the priests and bishops involved in either the sexual abuse or the cover-up.

One thing about truth -- it will (we suspect) always come out and show itself. It's not a pretty picture of the men in power and the diminished trust of them.
We shield our heart with an armor woven out of very old habits of pushing away pain and grasping at pleasure. When we begin to breathe in the pain instead of pushing it away, we begin to open our hearts to what's unwanted. When we relate directly in this way to the unwanted areas of our lives, the airless room of ego begins to be ventilated.
(--Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are)
The days of unquestioning reliance on priests and the church are becoming dim memory. That's a good thing. A shift must take place.

Two people who come into the shop say the old language as well as the structures must be destroyed. Others worry there had best be something to replace what crumbles. Some items on the menu seem a bit airy. We agree that there's more thought needed.
SUCCESS IS COUNTED SWEETEST

SUCCESS is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory,

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear.

(--Poem by Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886)
Whenever I am able to stop in at church, I am a back stander, or last row sitter. I do this at lectures and museums also, even at the Trappist monastery when on retreat. As a catholic Buddhist -- (a designation a zen master Jesuit priest theologian once winced at when I told him Cynthia's self-proclamation claim at John Nickerson's memorial)-- I have found a quiet place wherein to dwell during the collapse. And collapse it must.

Walls and words must collapse into open breath and still, silent gaze. And breath and gaze must morph into an engaged presence. This presence first listens. Then, it remains without advice as the speaker attempts to hear themselves through an engaged quiet presence.

The American philosopher Ken Wilber says: "transcend and include."

Tonight it rains in Maine. It has so for three days.

Each is given their life to investigate.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Invisibility is the translucence of Light-Itself, as itself, having no object. In this existence we do not see heaven, it is being created and recognized in every act, each face, and whatever sound of healing prayer pronounced for one another.

In the story, Jesus, 40 days after the 3rd day following his death, entered invisibility. The Christian metaphor is Ascension. The 3rd day was Resurrection. His day of death is known as Good Friday. Jesus, for some, is an object of devotion. For others, he is the reality in whom, through whom, and with whom the invisibility of Life-with-the-Father/Mother takes temporary residence in this world of isomorphic physicality/spirituality.

The ordinary expression is "heaven on earth."

The names we employ ("heaven" and "earth") are expedient means and methods of achieving a particular end. That end is no-end. No-end is the name we loan to invisibility and heaven and all the additional words we associate with the divine, the sacred, the ineffable, and the hierophanic.
The word "hierophany" derives from The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion by Mircea Eliade. This word etymologically breaks down into "hiero" (meaning "sacred") and "-phany" (meaning "manifestation" or "appearance"). Eliade defines a hierophany when he writes: "Man becomes aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane. To designate the act of manifestation of the sacred, we have proposed the term hierophany. It is a fitting term, because it does not imply anything further; it expresses no more than is implicit in its etymological content, i.e., that something sacred shows itself to us. [. . .] In each case we are confronted by the same mysterious act—the manifestation of something of a wholly different order, a reality that does not belong to our world, in objects that are an integral part of our natural ‘profane’ world.”
http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~howard/314lspring2005/eliade.htm)
What is your name? What is my name? Are they two? Or one?
A Twice Named Family

I come
from a family
that twice names

its own.
One name
for the world.

One name
for home.
Lydi, Joely, Door,

Bud, Bobby, Bea,
Puddin, Cluster, Lindy,
Money, Duddy, Vess.

Yes,
we are
a two-named family

cause somebody
way back knew
you needed a name

to cook chitlins in.
A name
to put your feet up in.

A name
that couldn't be
fired.

A name
that couldn't be
denied a loan.

A name
that couldn't be
asked

to go
through anyone's
back door.

Somebody way back
knew we needed names
to be loved in.

(--Poem: "A Twice Named Family" by Traci Dant. In Writer's Almalac)
Today, on the Feast of Ascension, it is not seemly to bring up a controversy sparked by the leader of the Roman Catholic church -- one that seems to try to eliminate one name associated with its history -- that name, oppression, or perhaps, conquering coercion.
Brazil Indigenous Groups Fault Pope Talk

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Published: May 15, 2007, Filed at 11:25 a.m. ET

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- Indian rights groups are criticizing Pope Benedict XVI for insisting that Latin American Indians wanted to become Christian before European conquerors arrived centuries ago.

The pope said Sunday that pre-Columbian people of Latin America and the Caribbean were seeking Christ without realizing it. ''Christ is the savior for whom they were silently longing,'' Benedict told a regional conference of bishops in Brazil.

But Paulo Suess, an adviser to Brazil's Indian Missionary Council, said Monday that the comments fail to account for the fact that Indians were enslaved and killed by the Portuguese and Spanish settlers who forced them to become Catholic.

Benedict ''is a good theologian, but it seems he missed some history classes,'' said Suess, whose council is supported by the Roman Catholic Church.

The pope told the bishops that, ''the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.''

But Marcio Meira, who is in charge of Brazil's federal Indian Bureau, said Indians were forced to convert to Catholicism as the result of a ''colonial process.''

''As an anthropologist and a historian I feel obliged to say that, yes, in the past 500 years there was an imposition of the Catholic religion on the indigenous people,'' Meira said.
The Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a poem entitled "Call Me By My True Names." It is a strong, stark, and necessary poem.
Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

(--Poem by Thich Nhat Hanh)
The door of compassion does not discriminate. Everyone is welcomed through it. The human mind, ashamed of all that it discriminates against, all that it excludes and rewrites in the name of self-preservation, has a silent longing for truth.

Ascension calls for truth.

To be invisible is to be completely at home with the whole of experience.

So, we inquire, we practice awareness, we engage experience, we attempt to give ourselves to consciousness as it reveals us to all and all to us.

No need to look for Jesus.

Dwell well within one's own name.

Each one.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Let's posit this: If things are exactly what they are, there is no same or different. Each thing is what it is. Each person is what he or she is.
Clouds appear
and bring to men a chance to rest
from looking at the moon.

(--Poem by Matsuo Basho, 1644-1694)
So, we ask: What is it? We ask: What is he? or, What is she?

Here's my thought: If only the real is interesting, if only the real is true -- then, the constant inquiry "What is it?" can drop the question mark, and become a declarative or imperative -- namely, "What is it." or, "What-is it!"

To "What is" something is to recognize its reality. To "What-is" a person is to appreciate their reality. "What is" is true.

"What is" transcends "seems to be." "What is" includes seeming, or appearance -- yet continues the inquiry (What is this?) until all story and excuse, blame or praise falls away into the dust-bin of narrative and there remains only what is in itself.

"What is in itself" is real. Ask it: "Are you what is there?" "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect another?" (These are useful questions!) The only truthful answers to these questions are: "Yes!" and "Yes!"
Silence

My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
nor the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self reliant like the cat --
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth --
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "`Make my house your inn'."
Inns are not residences.

(--Poem by Marianne Moore)
Jory brought in Adyashanti for Laura Conversation.

None of the above can be blamed on either of them. I opened the door to an inn and put my bags down for a while.

Now I'm going home.

Home shows itself in silence.

Still, I ask, arriving: "What is it?"

And
hear
the
empty
new
moon
through
raindrop
.
.
.
s.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A man wants to save another man from what he considers to be an injustice perpetrated by people in very influential and powerful position. He is passionate and intense in his suspicions and imaginative assessment of the other man's situation.
What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance?

(--from poem "In a Dark Time" by Theodore Roethke)
Perhaps much of life is an unwritten poem a poet has conceived but might not take to terms.
Various quotes from On Poetry and Craft: Selected Prose of Theodore Roethke
by Theodore Roethke


The poem, even a short time after being written,
seems no miracle; unwritten, it seems
something beyond the capacity of the gods.

*
Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of
haste. It's what everything else isn't.

*
You can't make poetry simply by avoiding clichés.

*
There's a point where plainness is no longer a virtue,
when it becomes excessively bald, wrenched.

*
You must believe: a poem is a holy thing -- a good poem,
that is.

(--From On Poetry and Craft: Selected Prose of Theodore Roethke; reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 2000. Poets.org)
Maybe everyone is a poem on the verge of being revealed.

What's verse but nobody's business inhabiting another's form for a brief duration of excited spiration?

Nobody's listening.

What we hear is quite beyond our capacity to fit into intelligible thought.

We'll have to wait on poets to reveal the world to the rest of us unsuspecting dolts.

I, for one, am stupid.

It's a curiosity.

To be.

So.

Stunned.

For: One is stunning.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I'm just off to the side. Just in from the outside. Barely there in the back. When lots are drawn, I remain in hand.
Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place’. They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.
(--from Acts 1: 15-26)
Call me Barsabbas.
All day long people
Repeat the word prajna aloud,
But do not know their
Self-natured prajna.
They are like one who
Cannot satisfy their hunger
By only talking about eating.
Just talking of voidness
Will not enable one to
Perceive one’s nature for
Myriads of eons, and there
Will be no advantage in the end.

- Altar Sutra
At times, it is enough to draw lots, an object used as a counter in determining a question by chance. As chance would have it -- (something that happens unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause) -- things are the way they are. Some find themselves in the throes of war in foreign lands; others are outside the picket fence, passing by, tourists to terror happening just away from their harms.
'...in the desire to put an end to suffering, one should develop understanding' (Santideva)

The sixth of the six perfections (paramitas) on the Bodhisattva path is wisdom or understanding, panna (Pali) or prajna (Sanskrit). Such wisdom, however, does not refer to mere intellectual understanding but to a direct, experiential insight into the true nature of reality: 'Wisdom is not the same as worldly intelligence. It is possible to have great intelligence but little wisdom' (Geshe Kelsang Gyatso).

(--from About: Buddism; Wisdom (Prajna)
Worldly intelligence says: "Take what you can -- get what you can -- while the getting's good."

Self-natured prajna/wisdom says: "Give it all away -- empty yourself -- there's nothing to hold onto."
XXVII

I’M nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us—don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

(--Poem by Emily Dickinson)
Let's not start a club. Then we won't have to call it: "Nobody too!"

Here's my motto: Ama Nesciri -- Love to be unknown!

I love.

What is.

Unknown.

To be.

One's particular

(Just us.)

Proper place.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother- mind.
The fundamental teaching of Buddhism is nothing but the doctrine of One Mind. This Mind is originally perfect and vastly illuminating. It is clear and pure, containing nothing, not even a fine dust. There is neither delusion nor enlightenment, neither birth nor death, neither saints nor sinners. Sentient beings and Buddhas are of the same fundamental nature. There are no two natures to distinguish them. This is why Bodhidharma came from the west to teach the Ch’an method of “direct pointing” to the original true Mind.
- Han-Shan Te-Ch’ing
Attention is mother. Embodied, we say, "Mom!"

No-mind, no-mother.

(Pay attention here.)

I love my mother!

("Mind me!" she'd say.)

No two.

Merely true.

(Thanks Katherine.)