Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Some follow the law of abundance. Some, the law of attraction.

I follow the law of emptiness. In this law everything is what it is, and everyone belongs.

I thought of following the law of God, but that law seems too difficult. The law of God is: Love is nowhere not; and, Love is the embodiment of love.

See what I mean? If "There is only love," and I don't love who and what I am, I cannot love anyone else. If "Here is love alone," and I don't love the person, place, or thing right here, I cannot love myself.

This is why God is annoying. However we spell the word "God," (whether "Life" or "Reality" or "Great Spirit" or "One"), there and here is a wholeness within which we dwell, within which everything is, and within which nothing else exists.
The river of Zen is quiet,
Even in the waves;
The water of stability is clear,
Even in the waves.

- Xuedou
This morning the laud chorus of bird and chipmunk, passing car and squirrel, sunlit leaf and bamboo tube, whirr of hummingbird and drops of dew falling through stillness -- conduct Ragged Mountain monastic practice. This is done in and of itself.
When I see the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars, which you set in their place –
what is man, that you should take thought for him? what is the son of man, that you should look after him?

You have made him but one step lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honour; you have set him over the works of your hands.

You have put everything beneath his feet, cattle and sheep and the beasts of the field,
the birds in the air and the fish in the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the waters.

How wonderful is your name above all the earth, O Lord, our Lord!

(--from Psalm 8)
No step lower. Nothing beneath feet. Man is service attempting to wake from sleep.

An apple drops from old and broken apple tree in Sally's field.

So many are abundantly attracted to the power of intention. I am content with the foolish humility of emptiness.

Existence might or might not be absurd.
from Latin absurdus, from ab- + surdus deaf, stupid
1 : ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous
2 : having no rational or orderly relationship to human life : MEANINGLESS ; also : lacking order or value
3 : dealing with the absurd or with absurdism
. (Mirriam-Webster)
I certainly am deaf. Also, stupid. I do not hear the true and enormously lovely sound that permeates and surrounds this existence in this world.

If I had to guess, that sound is love. It just might be what Pythagoras and Kepler called the "music of the spheres." It could merely be the sound of stillness embracing silence.

Or, maybe it is the gaze of love seeing itself through itself.

What a lovely looking morning!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The men at the prison were good teachers today. Maybe I was , finally, for today, a good student.

Love is the embodiment of love.

Love is nowhere not.
When you’re settled in Zen,
Your mind is serene,
Unaffected by worldly distractions.
You enter the realm of enlightenment,
And transcend the ordinary world,
Leaving the worldly while
In the midst of society.

- Fenyang
If, even in prison, one embodies the reality of love, there's no need to try to make the dismal and oftentimes hateful atmosphere better. It is enough to be the atmosphere with oneself that does not hide the open resonance of love.

Love yourself, love others. Love others, love yourself.

Love yourself and others, there are no others, there is no self. Only no other. Only true Self.

The thing about love, is that it is true even when it is not there.

Embodied, it is nowhere not.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I am sickened. How long will the American people allow their administration to create terror in Iraq? Will our apathy and false arguments destroy the country of Iraq and this country of the United States?

Some say civilization itself must be destroyed -- for its indifference, hatred of truth, and unwillingness to act when it experiences cruel and cynical lies.
Our souls are crushed into the dust,
our bodies dragged down to the earth.

(--from Psalm 44)
We are not separate from the people of Iraq. The suffering they undergo continues and shifts from an Iraqi dictator to an American conqueror. Their society disintegrates in a way differing from the way our society disintegrates. Men and women in positions of influence argue the merits of getting out of Iraq. They use words like "victory" and "defeat." They think they are defending freedom and ensuring security by perpetuating occupation and slaughter of both Iraqis and American military personnel. There is an insanity surrounding the arguments made.
Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.

Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished.

(--In an article article posted July 9, 2007 (July 30, 2007 issue) of The Nation Magazine, entitled "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness," by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian, (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070730/hedges). Military veterans speak about the violence and terror on Iraqi citizens by American forces in Iraq.)
No one can claim they didn't know. No one can make an argument that Mr. Bush and friends have not cynically exploited 9-11 for their private rationale and that the vast majority of American citizens, politicians, and media people have given this madness permission and cover. The secrecy of immorality perpetrated by these men will come into the open some day. We will be ashamed and horrified at what we accepted and condoned. Phrases like "the fog of war" and "the shock of 9-11" will no longer be tolerated as excuse for the unlawful and traitorous acts of men in power.

So many have become infuriated at the wanton disregard of law and ethics on the part of the American administration, it is a wonder retaliation has not yet exploded again on American soil. The pity will be, that when it does, this administration will use it as justification for everything it has done, denying any responsibility for the backlash. When it occurs, it will be suspect and paradoxical. The slap back to our face will be the slap back to another incursion into another country. The flopping of bombs and death of intelligent discourse will drown out the cries of heart and mind issuing from people made to suffer further degradation into senseless folly.

Simple-minded men and women might someday drop their red/blue, democrat/republican, left/right, conservative/liberal dualistic divides they've used as reasons to avoid facing the moral and human, some say divine and cosmic, implications of the lies and deceits foisted on and cultivated by the populace of the American nation. There will be a reckoning. But will we survive the time from now until then?
Going Against the Stream
The Buddha described his teachings as "going against the stream."The unflinching light of mindful awareness reveals the extent to which we are tossed along in the stream of past conditioning and habit. The moment we decide to stop and look at what is going on (like a swimmer suddenly changing course to swim upstream instead of downstream), we find ourselves battered by powerful currents we had never even suspected--precisely because until that moment we were largely living at their command.

(--Stephen Batchelor, Tricycle's Daily Dharma: July 12, 2007)
The cranky local Irishman who has disappeared from the area would say that people in America are fools, easily led and deceived, and just plain dumb. (And that's what he'd say on a good day!) He could be right, however depressing it might have been to hear it said again and again.

If you feel depressed about the war and the inability of anyone to stop the insanity -- welcome to the community. It is a meditation both difficult and necessary. There is no clever ending to this course of events, no cute phrase to sum up and resolve this human stupidity and ignorance.

We have been enslaved by our own ignorance.

We are slaves of misguided men in power.

Our soul, imprisoned and grieving, longs for respite and release.
O God, the world had fallen flat in the dust but your Son’s humility stood it upright once more.
Fill your faithful people with a holy joy:
take those whom you have torn away from slavery to sin
and make them rejoice eternally.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
Amen

(--Concluding Prayer, in today's Christian tradition Office of Readings.)
Must we turn to something other than us? Or are we imploring our deepest sense of truth and love?

We must come awake to this question.

Awake to this reality.
Prayer for Peace
Send Thy peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting,
that our souls may radiate peace.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may think, act,
and speak harmoniously.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may be contented
and thankful for Thy bountiful gifts.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife
we may enjoy thy bliss.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may endure all,
tolerate all in the thought of thy grace and mercy.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that our lives may become a
divine vision, and in Thy light all darkness may vanish. Send Thy peace, O Lord, our Father and Mother, that we
Thy children on earth may all unite in one family.
Amen.

(--from Who We Are, Prayers, Morning Prayer, Sufi Order International, http://www.sufiorder.org/prayers.html
So we pray.

Darkly.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Work is prayer. Prayer is work.

Prayer and Work.

Ora et Labora

With gratitude for Benedict, originator of western monasticism.
The purpose of Zen is
to enable people to immediately
transcend the ordinary and the holy,
just getting people to
awaken on their own,
forever cutting off
the root of doubt
.
- Fayan
The root of doubt is the belief we are separate and inferior, and thus, consequently, we counter by behaving like we are more important and more powerful than others.

Without this root doubt we rest in the reality that we are not separate and therefore not inferior nor superior, not better nor worse, than what is wholly us.
“Founding a monastery is a continuous process of sawing to build your design and trying to dispose of the sawdust, while you're always being forced to reconstruct. You have to give it your all and it's never done.”
(--St Benedict)
What's to be done?

All of it.

Our monastery is the attention we give to all of it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hatred says, "I don't like you the way you are."
The Inner Enemy
Hatred is far worse than any ordinary enemy. Of course, ordinary enemies harm us: that is why we call them enemies. But the harm they do is not just in order to makes us unhappy; it is also meant to be of some help to themselves or their friends. Hatred, the inner enemy, however, has no other function but to destroy our positive actions and make us unhappy. That is why Shantideva calls it "My foe, whose sole intention is to bring me sorrow." From the moment it first appears, it exists for the sole purpose of harming us. So we should confront it with all the means we have, maintain a peaceful state of mind, and avoid getting upset.

--The Dalai Lama
Love says, "I like you as you are."
Let us pray.
Of your kindness, Lord, dispel the darkness of this night, so that we your servants may go to sleep in peace and wake to the light of the new day, rejoicing in your name.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

(--Prayer ending Tuesday Compline)
The light of a new day is the one that helps us see one another as we are, in the light of acceptance and compassion, free from the need to possess or change what we see.

It's grace, it's a gift, to allow with love and light that which is love and light to move in and through each one of us.

It is a practice worth practicing.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Small self says,"Go away -- I'm the only important thing here." True Self says, "Welcome home -- everyone belongs here."
Just get to the root,
Don’t worry about the branches,
For someday you will
Come to have them naturally.
If you have not attained the basis,
Even if you consciously study
You cannot attain the outgrowths either.

- Yangshan
The root basis of the spiritual life is acknowledging the need to belong with what is true.

Breathe. Enquire. Engage. Practice.

Beep! (A reminder.)

Poet Derek Walcott writes, "Sit. Feast on your life."

Make your way through this world re-membering what is right here and now.
Do, don't own.
Live with, not for.
Love to give;
give to, not for.
Give to love.
Love, don't own.

(--from Fragments, by poet Phillip Booth, Oct. 8, 1925 - July 2, 2007)
Thank you, Phillip.

This.

This is our life.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

There's nothing to reach for. Just fall.
If you want to be free,
Get to know your real self.
It has no form, no appearance,
No root, no basis, no abode,
But is lively and buoyant.
It responds with versatile facility,
But its function cannot be located.
Therefore when you look for it
You become further from it;
When you seek it,
You turn away from it all the more.

- Linji (d. 867)
Our natural state, (they say), is openness, is freedom. When the ego is starved by our not biting on judging opportunities, we tumble into the fact of the open, the free, the encompassing reality of what some call God.
For the Lord is your shelter and refuge;
you have made the Most High your dwelling-place.
Evil will not reach you,
harm cannot approach your tent;
for he has set his angels to guard you
and keep you safe in all your ways.

(--from Psalm 91, Sunday Compline)
In all our ways. Dropped through. With awareness.

The disciples of Jesus, sent out, were not to bring the kingdom of heaven. Those to whom they went were already near the kingdom of heaven for them -- the disciples wished to tell them where they were, what was near, and the freedom that comes with loving what is their natural inheritance.
Litany

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

(--Poem by Billy Collins)
It is enough to be what we are.

With awareness, our life gone through, trusting the fall, accepting the given grace of the simple fact of being-alone-with-(God, or)-truth; arrives the open, freeing.

With sound of bell, the man said after meditation cabin practice at table, tears.

Mere surprise.