Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I have found a solution to war.

In the Catholic Christian calendar there are back to back celebrations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To end war I propose an international, ecumenical, interreligious, multicultural feast and celebration of the Human Heart of Earthly Existence, followed by equally universally celebrated feasts of The Heart of all Being, the Heart of All Sentient Beings, the Heart of Coming-to Being, and, finally, the Heart of Ancestors Once-in-Being.

When we acclaim the "Immaculate Heart of Mary," we likewise acclaim the Immaculate Hearts Of All Attempting Awareness So As To Alleviate Suffering In The World.

Or, "I HO AAA SAT AS IT W."
To cling to oneself as Buddha,
Oneself as Zen or the way,
Making that an understanding,
Is called clinging to the inward view.
Attainment by causes and conditions,
Practice and realization,
Is called the outward view.
Master Pao-chih said, “The inward view
And the outward view are both mistaken.

- Pai-chang (720-814)
What is between the inward view and the outward view?
Compassion and the Individual:
Whether people are beautiful and friendly or unattractive and disruptive, ultimately they are human beings, just like oneself. Like oneself, they want happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to one's own. ...When you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them.
Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. Nor is this wish selective; it applies equally to all.

- The Dalai Lama, Compassion for the Individual
"ETA," or, "equally to all."

What's our "eta" (estimated time of arrival) to "ETA" (equally to all)?

"What Is" presents "Itself" equally to all.

Is this why so many of us find it difficult to experience God?
Is this why so many of us find it difficult to love God?
Is this why so many of us find it difficult to dwell as God dwells in this existence?

I've found a solution to war.

Q: What is it?

A: Find your heart!

Yes, do this. (We "do this" when we "what-is" something. To "what-is" something or someone is to allow their true nature to be seen through, that is, we "God-view-it." We "Allow-God-God's-way-in-and-through-it.")

Be immaculate -- do not contain flaw or error. Of course there are (what we call) flaws and errors in this existence. Let them go. They were meant to go. Then, let them. There's no need to contain. Open my heart. Open your heart. Let each error or flaw go. They will, you know. Go. That's what change is. Letting go...going on.

The more we change, the more we become what the heart becomes -- immaculate.

Dwelling in the open. That's how we become hermits.

In the desert. ("desert," from L.de- + serere, means "to join together.")

Be a hermit.

Dwell in the desert of the heart.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The morning is spent in the heart of prison.
"Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."
-- Kahlil Gibran
This feast of the Sacred Heart, we pray:
Most Sacred Heart of Christ,
be mercifully with us,
merciful with us,
as we near a life of mercy with one another!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jonathan writes to tel me about Richard Rorty: "No question the smartest guy I ever got to stand in a room with. What a shame."
Richard Rorty, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Philosophy at Stanford University, passed away on Friday, June 8, 2007, at home in Palo Alto.
(http://www.stanford.edu/~rrorty/)
Things do, at times, feel like they are falling apart.
"Philosophy occupies an important place in culture only when things seem to be falling apart...At such periods, intellectuals reinterpret the past in terms of an imagined future. "
(– Richard Rorty, "Grandeur, Profundity, and Finitude," Philosophy as Cultural Politics)
It's time for philosophy.

Richard Rorty - philosophical hero to some and enemy of philosophy to others. Richard Bernstein has noted that Rorty-bashing has become something of a philosophical sport. Love him or loathe him, you cannot ignore him. There is no doubt that Rorty is one the most influential, controversial, prolific, and widely read philosophers in the world. Unlike many of his contemporaries, and following the example of his own heroes William James and John Dewey, he is a public philosopher writing for a broad audience on a vast range of topics related to social justice and democracy.

Rorty sets out his stall in two early texts, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979) and Consequences of Pragmatism (1982). Rorty is a pragmatist. That is, he believes that language cannot claim accurately to represent reality as some sort of 'mirror of nature'. Instead, the best we can hope for is that knowledge provides us with the means to cope effectively with the 'real' world. There is no truth 'out there' to be discovered. For example, the word 'gene' does not necessarily correspond to some sort of real thing. What matters most is whether or not thinking in terms of genes helps us to cope with the particular environment in which gene-talk has an effect. The resultant collapsing of the assumed 'facts' of hard science into the softer discourse of the humanities and the arts means that there is no guaranteed way of getting beyond language and seeing the world as it 'really' is. All attempts at 'worldmaking' are cursed by an inescapable ethnocentrism.

(-- Philosopher of the Month, April 2002 - Richard Rorty, Simon Eassom, http://www.philosophers.co.uk/cafe/phil_apr2002.htm)

Two former Navy men named Hugh regale one another downstairs. Some folks drop in who are familiar with Shahola PA and Rohman's Tavern, Barryville and Rebers Restaurant, the old Glendella where my family and parent's friends would go on vacation during my childhood. There are photos. Or were. With generational deaths the brown envelopes with hundreds of photos have become candidates for someone else's useless clutter. My sister's son might have jettisoned them. I'm philosophical about the past. It has passed through my life. I have passed through time. Everything is passing through 'now.'
Few people are capable of wholehearted commitment, and that is why so few people experience a real transformation through their spiritual practice. It is a matter of giving up our own viewpoints, of letting go of opinions and preconceived ideas, and instead following the Buddha's guidelines. Although this sounds simple, in practice most people find it extremely difficult. Their ingrained viewpoints, based on deductions derived from cultural and social norms, are in the way.

We must also remember that heart and mind need to work together. If we understand something rationally but don't love it, there is no completeness for us, no fulfillment. If we love something but don't understand it, the same applies.

If we have a relationship with another person, and we love the person but don't understand him or her, the relationship is incomplete; if we understand the person but don't love him or her, it is equally unfulfilling. How much more so on our spiritual path. We have to understand the meaning of the teaching and also love it. In the beginning our understanding will only be partial, so our love has to be even greater.
(--Ayya Khema, from When the Iron Eagle Flies )
Love, we'll have to consider, is greater than love of wisdom, philosophy. We must also love the fool, the rogue, the scamp, and the ne'er-do-well.

In a time when things fall apart, wisdom might not be enough.

The sailors leave. World War II and Korean War have been fought again and flags flown with pride in their recounting. Soon the reading group for Course in Miracles will assemble. The woman and her mother drive back from the arduous task of considering a used car to buy.
Rorty denies the possibility that humanity could one day be united by a common realisation of the truth of how we ought to live. Indeed, he accepts that the best we can possibly hope for is a consensus amongst a very large percentage of the population. What matters most is that there is a 'them' opposed to 'us' and that we are open to the possibility of changing our historical, contingent language-game to expand it to include others. Liberalism is the only political philosophy, to Rorty's mind, that allows alternative language-games to co-exist side-by-side and thus keep open the possibility of us hearing the 'unfamiliar noises' of others and incorporating them into our world view. Inevitably then, he has drawn the wrath of neo-Marxists in particular from whose ranks come the strongest critics of his political philosophy. However, Rorty has continually rebutted and refuted his 'enemies' and, in public debate, he is a formidable opponent, well worth handing over real money to see and hear.
(--- Richard Rorty, by Simon Eassom)
I like the idea of handing over real money.

To see.

To hear.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lost?

Pray.
"Consider every day that you are then for the first time--as it were--beginning; and always act with the same fervour as on the first day you began."
--Saint Anthony of Padua.
Found?

Pray.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Saskia's "Continuation Day."
Happy Continuation Day
If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. To be born means that something which did not exist comes into existence. But the day we are “born” is not our beginning. It is a day of continuation. But that should not make us less happy when we celebrate our “Happy Continuation Day.” Since we are never born, how can we cease to be? This is what the Heart Sutra reveals to us. When we have tangible experience of non-birth and non-death, we know ourselves beyond duality. The meditation on “no separate self” is one way to pass through the gate of birth and death. Your hand proves that you have never been born and you will never die. The thread of life has never been interrupted from time without beginning until now. Previous generations, all the way back to single cell beings, are present in your hand at this moment. You can observe and experience this. Your hand is always available as a subject for meditation.

--Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment
In the dream just after daybreak I am wandering through time. Bob C. and Jon W. are there in a Franciscan context of departure, as is Diane in a prison context of finding a spot to continue conversations. Departure and continuation are familiar themes. There are times I cannot remember leaving places I've been. I feel I am still part of this particular place, that group, a work situation, a former relationship, my family home, a lookout on scenic mountain, a conversation with a man in wrist and leg restraints, -- or myriad other re-presentations of faces and situations arriving and departing with residue of feeling, even in dream-state. When I awake, I am both there and here. I think -- Bob is dead. I'll call Jon in Virginia. How is Marge doing with her twins? Is Jo-Ann's new married life her cup of tea? Where did Jim H. from Rhode Island disappear to? Where does anyone, especially those who have died, disappear to?
"We find it so hard to accept the fact that it's all temporary. But things change. We change. Our growth, the identity God gave each of us, is the product of inexorable change. Whenever we become attached to anything, we try to stand in the way of change. We can't. We're setting ourselves up for a fall..
"Ownership is the self-delusion of frightened, insecure people. God gives us roses, sunsets, youth. He invites us to drink deeply, allow experience to expand our being..."

(p.90, in Voices of Silence, Lives of Trappist's Today, by Frank Bianco)
Clouds over Penobscot Bay this morning. Wind gusts whip water and flags.

We own nothing. Still, we celebrate everything.

It is joy to feel all of it -- the sorrows and the glad smiles.

There'll be a cake. A sign. And flowers.

Because we love to carry on.

So we do!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Contemplatives sometimes think they are going to meet God. It's an encouraging thought. What is found out is that, first, they are deconstructed. Whereupon, an empty self is astounded at its own irrelevance. Before despair darkens the psyche, there's a possibility of humility sneaking in. Humility grounds thought in an open-eyed watchfulness of one's self.
In a grove of tall bamboos
Beside an ancient temple
Steam rolls from the brazier
In fragrant white clouds;
I show you the path of Sages
Beyond this floating world,
But will you understand
The lasting taste of spring?

- Baisao (1675-1763)
Contemplatives, once grounded, look to their brothers and sisters in a new light. Once deconstruction takes place, the individual deconstructed and grounded continues in a posture of watchful appreciation. This person learns compassionate awareness of their brothers and sisters -- how each suffers in their lives; and of all of creation -- how it, too, watches us.
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

(--from Love After Love, poem by Derek Walcott
Once compassion emerges with humble awareness, the contemplative looks again the original impulse to meet God -- only now, without any idea whether, where, how, or even if such a meeting is desirable. Having seen one's self, (or, oneself) -- and having begun a more authentic pilgrimage along the path of compassion -- a contemplative no longer strives to grasp or experience something called "God."
[Addendum, 12June07: I find the passage I've been writing around in the chapter "Pray All Ways" in Frank Bianco's book on Trappists]
"Saint Bernard talks about coming to the monastery to see God. But when we get here, that's not what God lays on us. What he lays on us is self-knowledge. Then the second phase is a compassionate viewing of our brother. Only then do we reach that image of God that brought us here."
(--from p.99, in Voices of Silence, Live of the Trappists Today, by Frank Bianco, c1991)
Receiving communion is no longer what once thought to be.

The bare fact of love itself reveals itself in no other.
Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

(-- Poem, Love After Love, by Derek Walcott)
What we call "other" is nothing other.

That's what love is.

Love is our nothing other.

A feast of ordinariness.

Contemplative stillness.

One step at a time.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

There's a Quaker saying that we are to let our lives speak.
So high you cannot
Climb or get close to it;
Raindrops scatter in the flying wind.
The gate is barred with green moss.
Suddenly forgetting thought,
Without attainment,
Only then will you be sure
The gate has been open all along.

- Zen Master T’aego (1301-1382)
From somewhere on the harbor a sudden voice carries over the morning water calm: "Good morning God! Good morning planet! Good morning family!" Just as suddenly, silence again. I look out. Nothing detectable. Only the sound of what is...being...said.
A Homecoming

One faith is bondage. Two
are free. In the trust
of old love, cultivation shows
a dark graceful wilderness
at its heart. Wild
in that wilderness, we roam
the distances of our faith,
safe beyond the bounds
of what we know. O love,
open. Show me
my country. Take me home.

(--Poem by Wendell Berry, from The Country of Marriage)
Vesper Hill Chapel, the open air stone and wood gift to this community, holds Friends Meeting for Worship at 9:00am Sunday mornings.

There, today, I go.

(Would that such were so!)

There, today, sitting.

With God. With planet. With family.

Home.