Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer.

It will be 12 full years at the harbour shop in 8 days since opening on 29June96.
Contemplation is a vision of Totality through discovery of the Center within.
-- Raimon Panikkar
This will be our transition year. We will end Meetingbrook's presence at the cape on Camden Harbour by the end of next spring. Our new landlord wants the upstairs for himself. He's told us that he's buying the building from his brothers and will live upstairs. He's wanted it for a while.

There it is.

We will revert to the hermitage at Ragged Mountain. We will focus on the life of solitude and prayer. There will still be conversations as we've had them the past 12 years at the shop -- only now at the hermitage or on the boat that will serve for retreat, hospitality, and conversation. (We don't have that boat yet, but we might someday.)
When all thoughts

When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd's purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.
(--Poem by Ryokan)
My thoughts return to our original inspiration. That was time ago.

There's a Zen koan: "All things return to the one. Where does the one return?"

I don't know.

You?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Light pauses today. "Oh," it says, "here I am in the balance of human attentiveness. They call me solstice."

Tree drips with rain and fog. Green sits on mountain. Clouds muse. Summer takes the bridge.
The iris pond has flowered
Before the old temple;
I sell tea this evening
By the water’s edge.
It is steeped in the cups
With the moon and stars;
Drink and wake forever
From your worldly sleep.
- Baisao (1675-1763)
Whenever I come to the end of something I never expect any tomorrow. My life ends. I'm surprised to wake to birdsong. Surely I'm no longer here.
Closed Path

I thought that my voyage had come to its end
at the last limit of my power,
---that the path before me was closed,
that provisions were exhausted
and the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.

But I find that thy will knows no end in me.
And when old words die out on the tongue,
new melodies break forth from the heart;
and where the old tracks are lost,
new country is revealed with its wonders.

(-- Poem by Rabindranath Tagore)
Spring goes. Night comes. Cat eats. Dog snoozes. I've died. Who says this? This is what makes me wonder about this life -- it is so difficult to figure who is saying what to whom.
Buddha: One who acts on truth is happy, in this world and beyond.

Jesus: You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.

Buddha: Hatred does not ever cease in this world by hating, but by love; this is an eternal truth... Overcome anger by love, Overcome evil by good. overcome the miser by giving, overcome the liar by truth.

Jesus: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. From anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.

(--from the book, Jesus and Buddha, the Parallel Teachings, by Marcus Borg)
We're not here to profit.

We're here to divest.

St. Benedict wrote -- To prefer nothing to Christ.

Nothing, you say?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reception.

It is not perception, accurate or faulty, that is our issue. Rather, it is reception -- the ability to merely receive what presents itself.
Forty-some years I’ve lived in the mountains
Ignorant of the world’s rise and fall
Warmed at night by a stove full of pine needles
Satisfied at noon by a bowl of wild plants
Sitting on rocks watching clouds and empty thoughts
Patching my robe in sunlight practicing silence
Till someone asks why Bodhidharma came east
And I hang out my wash.

- Shih-wu (1252-1352)
It's as though we have an inner transformer that, when prepared and empty of anything but clear light, is able to receive anything, however kindly or gross and vulgar, and transform it into a graced and equanimous reception.

No one can predict or control what comes our way. But belief in the act of transformation helps sort through what becomes of the world when whatever comes through is returned back through.
But my first theoretical article dealt with what I have later seen is called "the dissonance principle", which might be summarized thus: If you don't do what you believe in, you'll end up believing in what you do.
...
I still got enthusiastic later on over another of our thinkers who died very young: Joan Crexells. He taught me that nothing could be "absolved" from its determining factors – psychological, sociological, historical, et cetera – nor really "resolved" either, to give an ad hoc synthesis. For me, the gravest sin of all, now and always, is to postulate that man needs to believe in order to remain consistent. Hence my moral aversion to the application of principles and this formulation of "I never". The morality I stand for doesn't include this "never".
...
Once I was surprised by people who became radical when they got old. But it's happening to me too. I think that if, to cap it all, someone's created man, if there's a God that lets a mother see her child die in her arms in a bombing attack, I don't want to know him.

In Dios entre otros inconvenientes ("God and other inconveniences" – 2000), I focused on the theme of religion, the "myth", as a crystallisation of atavisms that reconstructs – on the symbolic level – instinctive solidarity that has been undermined by the development of "logos" (Bergson has bequeathed us a magnificent description of the process).

(--from: Xavier Rubert de Ventós, Daniel Gamper, Mercè Rius, "If I don't say what I think, what's the point of being mad?" A conversation with Catalan philosopher Xavier Rubert de Ventós)
What we think becomes determinative of the world that emerges with our participation following encounter with the world as we receive it. We didn't create the world that is there with or without us; we only create the world we encounter and transform.
The term atavism is sometimes also applied in the discussion of culture. Some social scientists describe the return of older, "more primitive" tendencies (e.g., warlike attitudes, "clan identity," etc. -- anything suggesting the social and political atmosphere of thousands of years ago) as "atavistic." "Resurgent Atavism" is a common name for the belief that people in the modern era are beginning to revert to ways of thinking and acting that are throwbacks to a former time. This is especially used by sociologists in reference to violence. Marxists refer to pre-capitalist classes (such as the peasantry, the aristocracy and the petit-bourgeoisie) as "atavistic" to indicate that they do not fit into the bipolar class division (bourgeoisie/proletariat) of modern capitalist society. Marxists therefore view them as a reactionary force that will try to stop not only socialism, but also bourgeois progress itself.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atavism
There's always a danger of throwback. No bridges (but the metaphoric ones) are ever irretrievably burned. Every drunk knows what a slip is. Anyone who's promised anything remembers what betrayal feels like. It's not that we can't go home again; rather we've never left home. We're only on a sleepover -- temporarily elsewhere.

It is the feastday of Romuald, hermit and monk.

Sit in your cell as in paradise.
Put the whole world behind you and
forget it.
Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for

fish.

The path you must follow is in the Psalms — never leave it.

If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good
will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you
can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your
mind. And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back
and apply your mind to the words once more.

Realize above all
that you are in God's presence, and stand there
with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor.

Empty yourself completely and sit waiting,
content with the grace of God,
like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing
but what his mother brings him.
(--St. Romuald's Brief Rule for Camaldolese Monks and Oblates, 1006 AD)
I'm ignorant of the world's rise and fall.

I wish, though, to practice receiving.

Communion.

Towards transforming the world.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I understand the United States is still at war with Iraq.
The Buddha taught that all phenomena are impermanent; there is birth, then there is death. Our civilization is also like that. In the history of the earth, many civilizations have ended. If our modern civilization is destroyed, it also follows the law of impermanence. If our human race continues to live in ignorance and in the bottomless pit of greed as at present, then the destruction of this civilization is not very far away. We have to accept this truth, just like we accept our own death. Once we can accept it, we will not react with anger, denial, and despair anymore. We will have peace. Once we have peace, we will know how to live so that the earth has a future; so that we can come together in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood and apply the modern technology available to us, in order to save our beloved green planet. If not, we will die from mental anguish, before our civilization actually terminates.
(-- Letter from Thay {Thich Nhat Hanh} to Spiritual Family on the occasion of Autumn Retreat, Blue Cliff Monastery. October 12, 2007)
It won't last. The American citizenry and the many populations of the world won't let it go on.

It's been over five years.

It won't last. Religious leaders world wide will condemn it and call their congregations to oppose the war with strong action.

Count on it.

This is a just world hungering for justice.

An accounting will soon take place.

Eh?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Breaking News 11:54 PM ET: Boston Celtics Win N.B.A. Championship, 131-92
In the night the bells of the mountain temple
Are swung by the wind from the pines.
From my bed of stone by the wintry lamp
I can hear the flowering rain of Buddha.
- Wang Wen-lu
It's just a game, right?

Yea, right!

Pass the umbrella.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'"(--Psalm 14:1)

Looking at the world we might conclude that if there is not no God, then, as Abbott and Costello asked, "Who's on first?"

We find "I don't know" is on third, so close to home, but caught in a seeming eternal recurrence of verbal return pointing to a dialogic dilemma. We cannot locate God in words. God is as invariably word as God is invariably silence. To look outside word is useless. To look inside word is muted incomprehension. Word is its own creation, its own sustenance, and its own withdrawal.

And yet, we are happy with this unattainable on-again off-again, appearing disappearing, comforting disconsolation we inexplicably call "God;" "I Am;""Thee."
The Right to Happiness

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 and the Individual; From Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith)
Maybe it's not about God. Maybe it's about being a fool. Maybe it's really about the word "there." The word "there" in this sentence is a trickster. We'd like to think it signifies a a conclusion reached, some synthesis of syllogism in the troika of logical argumentation. No, not here.

Actually, ('actually' is a word used when we accidentally stumble upon the right wording, or, maybe when trying to obfuscate something about to be said) , the word "there" in the sentence above means -- "No, not here."

The sentence re-rendered now reads: "The fool says in his heart, 'No, not here is no God.'"

Abstracting convolution, or removing double negative from the pericope, and the phrase reads: "No, here is God." Thus, the fool says in his/her heart: Here is God.

If "Here" is God, then it becomes more obvious why we cannot see the face of God. God is Here. Who sees Here? Not only that, but I recall that in the study of Logic,
The predicate of an affirmative proposition is regarded as having particular quantification, the predicate of a negative proposition, universal.
(--Aristotelian Syllogisms; after Raymond McCall, Basic Logic (Barnes & Noble, 1967) http://www.friesian.com/aristotl.htm )
Is "God" or "Here" absolute or particular?

The words "Here" and "Now" are very big words. They contain all that is, everything, everywhere, with no exceptions. Everything is here; all time is now. It is for this ungraspable truth that I despair my attitude to the current situation of my country and its leaders. It is a religious question I face. Dick the Republican was right -- "Stay away from politics," he'd say. (Then he'd send a contribution to George W. Bush and receive back a signed photograph of the first couple.) He'd say: "Judgment, criticism, and negativity are your enemy -- avoid them." (Then he'd judge, criticize, and conclude "You're wrong!" when we'd talk. This is why I was so fond of my deceased friend.) He'd have excoriated the following:
I'm sure I'll reserve a very small moment in my life when I'll feel sorry for Mr. Bush, when I'll briefly give him the benefit of doubt and consider that he merely was mistaken, misleading, and miserably wrong.

But that will pass. Quickly.

In my six decades in this land I have never seen nor heard a more frustrating and infuriating man who'd been entrusted with public responsibility and service. I, as many, have been ashamed of his presidency, ashamed to be a citizen of a country whose leader invaded, murdered, destroyed, lied, undercut the constitution, mocked and denigrated any idea differing from his take on things, and, finally, a man who posed as some pious evangelical religious prophet doing God's will toward a flirtatious endtime of human history.

Absurd man, absurd administration, absurd political and religious ideology.

There is much to be forgiven as the United States limps home from hated violence with blood dripping behind, as the American people dully begin to realize what fools they've been played, and as buffoonery masquerading as media watchdoggy lechery collapses into some digital landfill to rot away.

I'm not up to the forgiveness. Such recalcitrance is bound to weigh heavy on my soul. It is a burden I'll have to willingly bear.

(--Posted as response to: Sorry, Mr. President, But Your Legacy Is More Awful Than You Think, a piece by Bob Cesca, Huffington Post, Posted June 11, 2008 | 04:57 PM (EST))
And he'd be right. The inability to forgive, even in the context of recent disgrace, is missing the point of Here and Now.

What is most difficult to discern is the possibility that all of it extends anywhere in space or time; the disgrace and the anger, the reluctant prayer and the uncertainty there is any hearing of prayer -- that all of it is of God.

And that God is, whatever not else, poet -- which clarifies everything and nothing.

Some words about Ted Kooser point this out:
Website photos of Kooser typically depict him relaxing in a broad, wooden Adirondack chair or smiling affably in a checkered shirt and jeans. But there’s no mistaking the clear, steady gaze of someone who has spent his life observing the smallest of life’s details—and distilling them for meaning. From a jar of buttons to dishwater, from birthdays to book clubs, Kooser ponders those daily moments many would consider hardly worth writing about. He insists these are the very moments that do matter—small pieces of daily living that define us and connect us as human beings.

"I think a poem is the record of a discovery," he explains. "It can be a discovery in the world or in the process of writing. You record it as poet and the reader participates in that occasion of discovery.

"I do think attention span has been affected by the pace and nature of contemporary life, but you can train people to pay attention to detail. Get in the present moment and quit thinking about what happened yesterday and what’s going to happen tomorrow. Try to notice what’s going on. The detail is what makes your experiences unique."

(--Published September 2006: A Poet for the People, U.S. poet laureate brings his down-to-earth observations to Hawai‘i, by Libby Young, in http://www.hawaii.edu/malamalama/2006/09/f3_poet.html)
I'm pretty much a fool. No experience, and no thinking, serves to clarify this poet we call God, much more all entailed herein. No matter how much I look, I do not see God. That's because God is not "there" to see.

Each.

Detail.

I continue a fool's blind unseeing prayer. Often mistakenly asking for something else or to be somewhere else -- I'll continue to receive the only response prayer has silently given:
"I am here; I am with you; There is no other."
And as though God came from some New York bohemian literary cafe, I hear:
"Stop worrying and stop wanting. Drop the drama! It'll all be fine! Try not to think about it. Now, play the game, pass the cards; whose turn is it to deal? And what's the gig?"
A woman in a talk says the following:
"Happiness, and peace, and love is your nature. But the nature of the mind is acquisition and rejection."
(--Gangaji, Satsang -- the ungraspable offering)
I throw in my hand. There's nothing there. My mind is thrown in as well -- nothing there.

I'll think about what Richard said. I'll think about what Gangaji said. I'll think about what the Psalmist said.

I'll sit, as a fool, with What-Is-Here.

(In the dark, as usual.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

When solitude asks quarter, it must be given.
In all things be a master
Of what you do and say and think.
Be free.
Are you quiet? Quieten your body.
Quieten your mind.
By your own efforts
Waken yourself, watch,
And live joyfully.
Follow the truth of the way.
Reflect upon it.
Make it your own.
Live it.
It will always sustain you.

(-- Buddha, from the Dhammapada)
When change is requested, give it good sense.
You received without charge, give without charge.
(--Matthew 10:8)
Poverty loosens all resources.

Pay it out.