Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Even those who say there's no death are surprised when someone dies. Sometimes, shocked.
Careful! Even moonlit dewdrops,
If you’re lured to watch,
Are a wall before the Truth.
- Sogyo (1667 – 1731)
If it is not death we fear, then fear of death is our fear.

No fear doesn't mean no death. Whatever else death might or might not be, there's usually plenty of clothing that doesn't get worn anymore.

I've too many items of clothing outgrown.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Reading Common Dreams article and readers comments added afterwards.
Published on Thursday, June 12, 2008 by Associated Press
House Waves Off Impeachment Measure Against Bush
by Laurie Kellman
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/06/12/9576/
Reading the submissions here is stark reminder that the political/governmental situation is bleak. What to do?

It is true that everyone, yes everyone, is complicit as actors, enablers, or intellectual tourists watching a film about some despicable corrupting virus eating away what was thought to be a kind and benevolent system of caring service to the populace.

I hate to consider that my fundamentalist brothers and sisters are correct in pointing out that human beings are self-defeating and self-hating sinners who must give either complete submission to Christ or Allah -- or deserve to be blasted off the face of the earth and consigned to hell.

We certainly are at an important cusp. What happens next, in the face of unadulterated criminality on the part of so many sectors in both Middle East and North America, is vital. It is hard to believe that escalating violence, muscle, and carried out threats of diminishing freedoms will not become the orders of the day. A monk recently told me: "Cheer up; things are going to get worse."

These are the times we will look back on and wish were still here -- a time when our best instincts were saying "Uh oh - I'd better extinguish the flames or jump from this burning building while I can. The city won't help me." But the burning building is our character and integrity as citizens of two cities -- that of God and that of what we think of as not-God. In fact there is only one city. We all live in it. And the water is threatened, the waste treatment facility is broken down, and the frightened men and women of the police and populace begin to contemplate shooting each other over issues of security and shortage.

This is not a time of politics as usual. Nor is it a time of prayer as usual. Rather, this is a time for serious and profound public questioning, suspension of the normal workday, school day, and summer vacation plan.

I propose a three day National Sit Down Conversation to occur within 30 days. Everywhere, among all ages, in public places and private living-rooms, a NSDC will ask and consider 3 questions:
1. What really is the purpose of human life in this world and existence?
2. How is it we do not consider every living person, animal, and organism, everything already part of us, to be brother and sister -- and thereby worthy of love, attention, and assistance?
3. Who benefits from the inequities of money, power, and resources -- and how best might we all be brought out of states of mind that make hoarding, scarcity, and separation a seemingly better way of being than sharing, abundance, and interconnectivity?
Admittedly these are awkward and naive questions for a National Sit-Down Conversation -- I'm sure there are better ones. But a conversation must be had. We are impoverished by false debates in political/media theater; we are mislead by experts/pundits telling us their eloquent self-interest opinions; we are humiliated by people in religious/corporate roles of command telling us we are not ready, not worthy, and not holy enough to have a say in matters known best and only by their version of God in sacred sanctums of their control.

Can we talk? Can we listen? Are we willing to stop the juvenile shouting and bomb throwing, bullying intimidation and fear of being punished? Are we willing to accept the premise that we are responsible for our lives, our leaders, our moral conscience, and the present/future of our human race?

I'll suggest July 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

Sit down. Talk with one another. Take notes. Collate responses. Let's find a forum to publish our considerations. Then, we will move to the next step.

The next step might be to embody integrity, incarnate moral/ethical thinking, then communicate pragmatic practical behavior towards people, institutions, and oneself.

Philosophers have spoken about the Good, the Good Life, even the Good News. Let's see what we have to say about any or all of these themes.

It's time. And we're in it. Way deep.

Sink? Or swim?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Saskia's Continuation Day.
On your birthday, it is advisable that you don't sing, 'Happy Birthday,' but instead you sing, "Happy Continuation Day." You have been here, you don't know since when. You have never been born and you are not going to die, because to die means from someone you suddenly became no one. From something, you suddenly became nothing. Nothing is like that. Even when you burn a piece of cloth, it will not become nothing. It will become the heat that penetrates into the cosmos. It will become smoke that rises into the sky to become part of a cloud. it will become some ash that falls to the ground that may manifest tomorrow as a leaf, a blade of grass, or a flower. So there is only continuation.
(--From, "Going Home," by Thich Nhat Hanh)
She shares this anniversary with Anne Frank. Does each person born on the same date share in the selfsame reality with one another? No doubt. We are more profoundly interconnected than we can even imagine. But don't despair or turn up your preferential nose -- just because we are not separate from one another doesn't mean we can't continue to have our own toothbrushes and drivers licenses. Still, we are appositions of one another. Friend co-monastic. This, in itself, conjoins refreshing view.
"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love!"
(--Anne Frank)
Yesterday shoveling ten yards of limestone gravel along dooryard drive made glass backs ready to splinter. This morning at 4:30am sitting in chapel'zendo with Rokpa the (learning-obedience-we-hope) Border Collie showing white with black spot on back and black flecks on ears. He snoozed on circles-within-circles center rug placed in meditation space the other day and awaiting final approval from all sectors. Dawn is prayer, a subtle quiescence.
Wholehearted Commitment

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 p
erson, 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.
(-- Aya Khema, When the Iron Eagle Flies, from Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith)
"Send me," is quintessence of commitment.

"Where?" you ask.

"Here!" breeze responds.
Song

I don't know any more what it used to be
Before I saw you at table sitting across from me
All I can remember is I saw you look at me
And I couldn't breathe and I hurt so bad I couldn't see.

I couldn't see but just your looking eyes
And my ears was buzzing with a thumping noise
And I was scared the way everything went rushing around
Like I was all alone, like I was going to drown.

There wasn't nothing left except the light of your face,
There might have been no people, there might have been no place,
Like as if a dream were to be stronger than thought
And could walk into the sun and be stronger than aught.

Then someone says something and then you spoke
And I couldn't hardly answer up, but it sounded like a croak
So I just sat still and nobody knew
That since that happened all of everything is you.

(--"Song" by Edwin Denby from The Complete Poems, Random House, New York, 1986.)
Saskia is here.

We continue to ponder and circle the mysteries of being-incarnation and being-beyond.
IV. How does the Sayings Gospel Handle Jesus' Death?
Although the Sayings Gospel has no passion narrative or resurrection stories, this omission does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the Q people knew nothing of Jesus' fate or had never thought about where it left them. It is hardly probable that his death was not quickly rumored among his followers, even into the most obscure corners of Galilee. But then, after his death, was not the only sensible thing to do, to give up the whole thing as some tragic miscalculation, a terrible failure? Jesus had assured them, "the Father from heaven gives good things to those who ask him," and yet his last word according to Mark was "My God, My God, why have you left me in the lurch?" (Mark 15:34). What was there left to proclaim?

The emergence of the Sayings Gospel was, to put it quite pointedly, itself the miracle at Easter! Rudolf Bultmann formulated a famous, or infamous saying to the effect that Jesus rose into the kerygma. But perhaps we would do better to say: Jesus rose into his own word. The resurrection was attested, in substance at least, in the Q community, in that his word was again to be heard, not as a melancholy recollection of the failed dream of a noble, but terribly naive, person, but rather as the still valid, and constantly renewed, trust in the heavenly Father, who, as in heaven, will rule also on earth.

(--from The Real Jesus of the Sayings "Q" Gospel, by James M. Robinson, http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=542)
I have constantly renewed trust in the gift given. Word. Word in words. Word as individual person.

In the lurch of ordinary loving life.

It is Saskia's Continuation Day.

These words cheer.

With ordinary joy.

This someone.

Nearby.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Those 18 years in the life of Jesus, from age 12 until 30 -- how is it there is nothing written, nothing known?

If the metaphor of the Christ-experience were to be chosen today, what would it be? Back then it was Messiah. And today?
Be angry if you must, but do not sin: do not let your anger outlast the sunset: do not give the Devil his chance.
(--Ephesians 4:26-27, from Compline)
Something with cosmology, having to do with physics, multi-dimensional, and including consciousness as template.

Maybe Christ would be emergence, as a friend once suggested.

Maybe Devil would be concealment.

Someday my anger will just be anger. No sin; no separation.

Something to do with not attempting to break through the obstacles, but working with them with small steps toward realizing and accomplishing the task -- in whatever diaphanous appearance shows itself.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

At first light, birds sing. They chant. And call out. Mountain valley wakes with bird prayer. To sing is to pray with abandon.

We are an abandoning people.
Emptiness is a name for nothingness,
A name for ungraspibility,
A name for mountains, rivers, the whole earth.
It is also called the real form.
In the green of the pines,
The twist of the brambles,
There is no going and coming;
In the red of the flowers
And the white of the snow,
There is no birth and no death.

- Ryusai
Giving over, I abandon.
abandon
Main Entry: aban·don
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English abandounen, from Anglo-French abanduner, from (mettre) a bandun to hand over, put in someone's control
Date: 14th century

1 a: to give up to the control or influence of another person or agent b: to give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in
2: to withdraw from often in the face of danger or encroachment
3: to withdraw protection, support, or help from
4: to give (oneself) over unrestrainedly
5 a: to cease from maintaining, practicing, or using b: to cease intending or attempting to perform
(--Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
Even so, we prefer to think we are not abandoned. We prefer to hold we are held. Beheld. That we are beholden.

Emptiness abandons being beholden. We are not indebted, not being under obligation for a favor or gift.

Does this worry? 'Not being' is under obligation. 'Not being' loses itself as it is. But, some hold, we are being. We are being born. We are under no obligation. We are free. (Sartre said we are condemned to being free. Silly existentialist philosophy!)
First Marriage
by Liam Rector

I made it cross country
In a little under three days.
The engine blew out

About a hundred miles north
Of San Francisco, where I'd
Hoped to start living again

With a woman I'd abandoned
Only a few months before.
The reasons I'd left her were

Wincingly obvious
Soon as I got back
To her, and it didn't take long

Before I again left her.
In a few weeks I'd meet
The woman who became

My first wife, the one
With whom I spent
Almost the entirety

Of my twenties. It took
About twenty years
Getting over her, after

We divorced at thirty.
Broke then, I took
A bus cross-country

And was back in the East
By Christmas, thinking it
Would take three years maybe

To put this one behind me.
But getting over her
Happened as we were

Both in our third marriages,
Both then with children,
Heading for our fifties.

She came cross-country
To tend to me when I had
Cancer, with a 20% chance

Of recovery. The recovery
From all she had been to me,
Me abiding with her as long

As I did, took place finally
When we, her sitting on my bed
And me lying in it, held hands

And watched ourselves watching
TV, something we'd never quite
Been able to do comfortably

All those years ago. So many
Things turn this way over time,
So much tenderness and memory,

Problems not to be solved
But lived, and I resolved
Right then to start living

Only in this kind of time.
Cancer gave this to me: being
Able to sit, comfortably, to get

Over her finally, and to
Get on with the fight to live while
Staying ready to die daily.

(--Poem "First Marriage" by Liam Rector, from The Executive Director of The Fallen World. The University of Chicago Press, 2006.)
In my poem, 37yrs draft, it takes until now to traverse Texas with headwind holding 1963 VW bug, muffler akimbo, to 34mph -- that long, empty stretch -- as good a metaphor for Texas, honeymoon, and youth.

It is as it was still difficult to accept the abandonment requisite to arrive where we always and only are -- just here, just now -- as we are disposed to living in places nonexistent: 'not being,' 'past,' and 'future.'

The birds have left the cathedral of Lauds for workplace of morning food.
The Remarkable Objectivity of Your Old Friends
by Liam Rector

We did right by your death and went out,
Right away, to a public place to drink,
To be with each other, to face it.

We called other friends—the ones
Your mother hadn't called—and told them
What you had decided, and some said

What you did was right; it was the thing
You wanted and we'd just have to live
With that, that your life had been one

Long misery and they could see why you
Had chosen that, no matter what any of us
Thought about it, and anyway, one said,

Most of us abandoned each other a long
Time ago and we'd have to face that
If we had any hope of getting it right.

(From American Prodigal by Liam Rector, published by Story Line Press. Copyright 1994 by Liam Rector.)
Abandoning not-being, I arrive at morning with nothing to show for the journey.

For Liam, his wives and friends, there is the poem. For all of us, the poem is being written. The maybe good, so-so bad, and mitigated ugly.

Maybe why there's such hesitancy about poetry is its insistence nothing be abandoned, nothing left out.

Sylvia loved poetry. As did Janet psalms. Dick rewrote Mary Oliver when he felt like it.

Cars roll unrhymed down valley between Bald and Ragged. Off in distance late-rising bird chatter echoes green stillness of cusp season.

WIE: You said very poetically that we have “a God-shaped hole” in our heart. Do you feel that the shape of that hole is changing or evolving? In other words, do you feel that our sense of God is evolving?

Haught: Oh yes. Just by virtue of the emergence of science, it gives us a different understanding of the universe and of ourselves. For example, Darwinian evolution gives us a deeper understanding of ourselves, which changes this sense of restlessness that I’ve been speaking about. The idea of a God-shaped hole is not my idea—it’s been talked about a lot. The restlessness itself is a constant. What changes are its symbolic expressions. Our theological and philosophical ideas, as well as scientific and cultural ideas, influence what fills that hole. Each generation looks at it differently.

For example, the French priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin argues that there are three different ways of being religious today. One is what he calls communion with God, which is the traditional idea that our best way of living is to detach ourselves from this world and try to put ourselves in touch with another world beyond this one.

The second understanding of religion is what he calls communion with the earth. He’s referring to scientific naturalism or to religious naturalism, which is the view that nature itself is enough to fill our hearts. Many people feel that the physical universe has been made so expansive and so interesting by developments in evolutionary biology and geology and cosmology and astrophysics that nature is enough to fill that hole. This is quite different content from that of traditional religion.

Teilhard himself proposed a third way of being religious that he calls communion with God through the earth, meaning that we want to keep alive our sense of the infinite, our sense of the eternal, our sense of the divine, even as we remember that the way in which we come in contact with that divine reality is only by way of natural reality or by way of things immediate to our experience. We can’t have a naked experience of the divine; it’s always mediated or expressed through creation, through nature, culture, history, and so forth. The advantage of this approach is that it allows us to become involved in earthly matters but in such a way as to realize that there’s always something more—that no matter how much we love nature, how much nature fills us up, there’s a horizon of infinity beyond nature, deeper than nature, that gives us a future and, in a sense, gives us a guarantee that nature, too, has a meaningful outcome.

In fact, the problem with pure naturalism, which is the second approach, is that it does not guarantee that there is any ultimate victory over meaninglessness. If nature is all there is, since we know scientifically that nature is going to someday reach an energetic death by entropy, then there’s no getting around the idea that ultimately everything goes down into a pit of nothingness. Teilhard’s third alternative is not that we try to escape from nature but that we actually travel with nature into the infinite. You might say that nature is a fellow traveler rather than the ultimate context of our existence. The root of our restlessness is the whole evolution of the cosmos itself. Thus when we think about ourselves and our destiny, we can’t dissociate them from the destiny of the whole universe. It’s a much wider and deeper approach for religiously sensitive people than either of the first two.
(--from "A God-Shaped Hole at the Heart of Our Being," An interview with evolutionary theologian John F. Haught, by Amy Edelstein, in What is Enlightenment Magazine, http://www.wie.org/j35/haught.asp)
I'm happy to be here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Boston up two zero over LA. Just sayin'.

Breeze kicks up after warm night.
For food pure air,
For house white clouds,
For carriage clear winds,
For lantern a bright moon.
Honors, wealth and mundane things
Valued by most people
To the wise monk or nun
Are not worth a glance.

(- Hua-shan chih)
What is one life amid so many? One life is everyone's life. When we return home to awareness everything reveals itself. What is the revelation?
Kisagotami was a poor widow who had suffered many cruel reversals in life. Then, a final twist of the knife, the beloved baby that was all she had in the world died. She was inconsolable and would not have the child's body cremated. Despairing, some of her fellow villagers suggested she go to see the Buddha. She arrived before him, still clutching the child's corpse in her arms. "Give me some special medicine that will cure my child," she begged.

The Buddha knew at once that the woman could not take the bald truth, so he thought for a while. Then he said, "Yes, I can help you. Go and get me three grains of mustard seed. But they have to come from a house in which no death has ever occurred."

Kisagotami set off with new hope in her heart. But as she went from door to door, she heard one heart-rending tale of bereavement after another. That evening, when she returned to the Buddha, she had learned that bereavement was not her own personal tragedy but a feature of the human condition—and she had accepted the fact.

Sadly, she laid down her dead child's body and bowed to the Buddha.

(--John Snelling, in Elements of Buddhism)
Poetry, like reverence, is respect in the presence of mystery.
June 8, 2008
Editorial
The Best Way Out Is Through

For years, Jay Parini, the Robert Frost biographer and literature professor, had been writing — wrestling with, he says — a book titled “Why Poetry Matters.” No sooner was it published than the writer was confronted with a slice-of-life demand to demonstrate his thesis.

The criminal justice system in Ripton, Vt., prescribed poetry, of all things, as punishment — and we hope rehabilitation — for 25 teenagers (townies all) who broke into Frost’s old summer house in the woods last December. They trashed it during a snowy night’s bout of drinking and partying.

Skeptical at first, Mr. Parini, who teaches at nearby Middlebury College, accepted the invitation to teach the wayward teens. He did not pull any iambic punches in class last week.

One lesson was built around “The Road Not Taken,” Frost’s caution on the fateful choices that crop up in the dense woods of life. Harsher still was the choice of “Out, Out,” Frost’s account of a youth’s precious life spilling away in a sawmill accident amid the heedless glories of Vermont.

“They seemed shaken to their foundations,” said Mr. Parini, not that surprised. “A wake-up call: don’t waste your life.”

The young perpetrators must also do hours of community service, but the professor knows Frost’s words struck home best. “Poetry is about life and death and who you are as a person,” Mr. Parini explained, quoting the prose line from Frost “that really drove me towards these kids.” It’s from the essay “Education by Poetry,” in which the poet warned, “Unless you are educated in metaphor, you are not safe to be let loose in the world.”

(--The New York Times)
It is high time dogs and cats, lions and lambs, perpetrators of violence and pacifists of peace, West and East, as well as the powerful and the weak, the grabbers of money and the penuriously penniless -- to all arrive at a resting place between instinct, thought, and words where pause is prelude to breathing the same air together with awareness of one another's being and reality revering and respecting the mystery.

As a poet, however, I am more than anything else drawn to not only these poets’ mastery of language – the lyricism, images and meanings of their poems – but also to their almost post-modernist desire to disturb and disrupt what the words and compositions of language signify. In the greatest of Sufi poetry the words do not ‘mean’ what they ‘represent’. The most famous example of this anti-mimetic phenomenon, perhaps, can be found in the 12th century Sufi master Attar’s allegorical epic poem Manteq al-Tair. While the poem purports to be about a search for the 'simorq' (a mythological giant of Chinese origins, possibly a phoenix), the participants in this parabolical quest are thirty birds, and the Persian words for ‘thirty’ and ‘bird’ are 'si' and 'morq.' In other words, the poem is actually about the individual birds’ journeys to find themselves, and not at all a search for the supernatural simorq.

Such use of double-entendres, very common in all Sufi verse, may strike the contemporary reader as ‘word play’ and ‘clever’. But for the Sufi poets, who lived in a Persia ravaged by religious extremism, feudal dictatorships and the extraordinarily brutal Mongolian invasion, there existed a crucial need to oppose these calamities and horrors through the medium of poetry and the powers of language and imagination. As such, Sufi poetry can be seen as a political struggle against the people’s belligerent and tyrannical rulers, as well as an equally politicised artistic movement against the ignorance and dogmatic perceptions common among most Persians and Muslims during the poets’ lives. It should come as no surprise, then, that the first ‘official’ Sufi master Al Hallaj was hanged by the Islamic authorities for heresy in about 922 AD.

Sufi poetry can be best understood as an heretical and dissident spiritual movement that challenged, and was in many instances suppressed by, mainstream religion. Among the most controversial aspects of the poets’ works one may list their perception of the relationship between an individual and the creator as an erotic love-affair between an 'asheq' and a 'maeshuq' (‘Lover’ and ‘Beloved’); the blatantly anti-Islamic, quasi Christian, depiction of the Union between the Lover and the Beloved in the metaphors of 'mey' (Wine) and 'jam' (Chalice); and the poets’ at times vitriolic critiques of their society’s religious institutions and rituals. This said, Sufi poetry is ostensibly an Islamic discourse – albeit a deeply individualistic and even, a contemporary reader may note, a Romantic one – since the poets are still ‘submissive’ in their relationship with the creator ('Islam' meaning ‘submission’ in Arabic) and their verse contains many quotations from, and references to, the verses of the Koran.

(--from Confused About Sufi Poetry?, by Ali Alizadeh; Ali Alizadeh is a Melbourne-based writer of poetry, narrative and criticism. http://www.innersense.com.au/salonim/articles/sufi.html.)

Every prison visit is accompanied by poetry.

Poetry is Being written.

Heidegger warned we have forgotten Being.

Today's a good place to begin again.

With awareness.

Of what is...being revealed.
Can we respect this?

Breathe!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Peripatetic threesome, eight legs, Saturday Morning Practice walking meditation along Ragged Mountain after zazen in lightly fired stove meditation cabin.

We discuss the circumference of Christ in the many minds the last few days at prison, in shop, within own thoughts. So many perceptions and projections, opinions and perambulations of curiosity. Who or what was this Christ? Do the "personal Lord and savior" articulators mean the same thing as the "Christ consciousness" folks? Was, as some hold, Jesus not human but God in human form? Or was he fully human fully divine in an integrity refusing to be separated out? And is Jesus unique beyond all beings , or, is he one lovely manifestation of all that is held good and sacred -- there being others who attain same or near-same realization? Finally, is Jesus the only way, truth, and life? Or, are there myriad paths to the graced liberation of holy realization that we call God, Truth, Love, Salvation, Redemption, Nirvana, Satori, Clear Light, Great Spirit, Heaven, Awakening?
Religious Consolation

One size fits all. The shape or coloration
of the god or high heaven matters less
than that there is one, somehow, somewhere, hearing
the hasty prayer and chalking up the mite
the widow brings to the temple. A child
alone with horrid verities cries out
for there to be a limit, a warm wall
whose stones give back an answer, however faint.

Strange, the extravagance of it—who needs
those eighteen-armed black Kalis, those musty saints
whose bones and bleeding wounds appall good taste,
those joss sticks, houris, gilded Buddhas, books
Moroni etched in tedious detail?
We do; we need more worlds. This one will fail.

(--Poem "Religious Consolation" by John Updike from Americana and Other Poems. Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.)
Women and men we meet hold tight or cast away one or the other of set beliefs as to how the world of spiritual/religious truth is constituted. The daring or darling factor of personal preference often is a tripwire setting off a gotcha or get-thee-behind-me or God-bless-thee response. Of course we are diverse. Off course we don't know for sure. Still in all, it is the quality of our perceptions and preferences that influence or determine the way we conduct
ourselves in the presence of anyone and everyone -- whether we are gracious and kind, or judgmental and alienating.

As Mr. McKenzie wrote from California thirty six years ago, "This is the way we are." Or the poet Hugo, "We're seldom better than weather." Our dissatisfactions are innumerable.
Note that "suffering" is an inadequate translation of the word "Dukkha", but it is the one most commonly found, lacking a better word in English. "Dukkha" means "intolerable", "unsustainable", "difficult to endure", and can also mean "imperfect", "unsatisfying", or "incapable of providing perfect happiness". Interestingly enough, some people actually translate it as "stress".

Suffering is a big word in Buddhist thought. It is a key term and it should be thoroughly understood. The Pali word is dukkha, and it does not just mean the agony of the body. It means that deep, subtle sense of unsatisfactoriness which is a part of every mind moment and which results directly from the mental treadmill.

The essence of life is suffering, said the Buddha. At first glance this seems exceedingly morbid and pessimistic. It even seems untrue. After all, there are plenty of times when we are happy. Aren't there? No, there are not. It just seems that way. Take any moment when you feel really fulfilled and examine it closely. Down under the joy, you will find that subtle, all-pervasive undercurrent of tension, that no matter how great this moment is, it is going to end. No matter how much you just gained, you are either going to lose some of it or spend the rest of your days guarding what you have got and scheming how to get more. And in the end, you are going to die. In the end, you lose everything. It is all transitory.

(--Henepola Gunaratana, in Mindfulness in Plain English, from A View of Buddhism, The Four Noble Truths, /buddhism.kalachakranet.org/4_noble_truths.html)
Knowing the transitoriness of the present, we try to fasten a future that is set in conceptual concrete. "This is the way it will be," we say about our square inch of control in our earthly households as well as in our heavenly speculative geography. Immigrants from other square inches or speculative real estate not welcome -- unless, or course, your investment portfolio is given over to our holdings.
The Buddha explained that we can use the Four Yardsticks to assess if we are practicing the correct way: one should feel happiness, compassion, love and joyous effort when practicing.
(--from A View of Buddhism, op cit)
Practice, it is said, makes perfect. Dogen Zenji said that practice is enlightenment, enlightenment is practice. Nothing hard and fast; everything moving and quiet.
‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’
(--from Matthew 9:9-13)
Jesus must have wearied his listeners with his new mind. Nothing of the old mind was let alone. Stop killing and devastating for the pleasing or appeasement of God, he said. Will you please just be forgiving and merciful? Will you, for the sake of God, be loving and kind -- to everything and everyone?
ALDONZA
Why does he do the things he does?
Why does he do these things?
Why does he march
Through that dream that he's in,
Covered with glory and rusty old tin?
Why does he live in a world that can't be,
And what does he want of me...
What does he want of me?

Why does he say the things he says?
Why does he say these things?
"Sweet Dulcinea" and "missive" and such,
"Nethermost hem of thy garment I touch,"
No one can be what he wants me to be,
Oh, what does he want of me...
What does he want of me?

Doesn't he know
He'll be laughed at wherever he'll go?
And why I'm not laughing myself...
I don't know.

Why does he want the things he wants?
Why does he want these things?
Why does he batter at walls that won't break?
Why does he give when it's natural to take?
Where does he see all the good he can see,
And what does he want of me?
What does he want of me?
(--lyrics of What Does He Want From Me, from musical Man of La Mancha)
To add a measure of grace to the world. That's what Don Quixote de La Mancha, responded to Aldonza, his Dulcinea. Just a smidgen. Only a speck and fleck. An insy winsy tinsy offering of holy spirit. Just this. Here. And now. No matter how absurd. Til death we do part.
ALDONZA
To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,

PADRE
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go...

ANTONIA
To run where the brave dare not go,
Though the goal be forever too far.

SANCHO, ANTONIA
To try, though you're wayworn and weary,

PADRE, ANTONIA, SANCHO, BARBER
To reach the unreachable star.

ALL
To reach the unreachable star,
Though you know it's impossibly high,
To live with your heart striving upward
To a far, unattainable sky!
(--"Finale" from Man of La Mancha)
How do we part death?

Death itself splits apart to make way for love.

The dying delusion marches into hell with a heavenly cause.

Entering heaven through it all. Spelling hell with love.

To part death see life through loving sight.

But that's only one way to see it.

How do you?

This.