Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The woman with gray hair with house in Castine knows Joe Biden. Their kids went to school together. She was happy to hear he was the VP choice for the Democrats. The resident Republican wore out his cynicism and went along with the good feeling of the folks from Delaware.
Seven Points of Practice

1. Study and practice the buddhadharma only for the sake of the buddhadharma, not for the sake of emotions or worldly ideas
2. Zazen is our truest and most venerable teacher
3. Zazen must work concretely in our daily lives as the two practices (vows and repentance), the three minds (magnaminous mind, nurturing mind, and joyful mind), and as the realization of the saying “Gaining is delusion, losing is enlightenment.”
4. Live by vow and root it deeply.
5. Realizing that development and backsliding are your responsibility alone, endeavor to practice and develop.
6. Sit silently for 10 years, then for ten years more, and then for another ten years.
7. Cooperate with one another, and aim to create a place where sincere practitioners can practice without trouble.

- Uchiyama Roshi (1975)
To live for God is to live in the open. The cloisters of a day gone by were ways of protection for a mind still separating the inner life from outer life. Solitude now must be found in the middle of one's life along the wandering footprint between mendicancy and madness. For the world is mad when it scapels itself in two, labels one half an enemy cancer, and tries to sew the projected errant half onto a judgment to be enshrined in defamy and hung as ideology alongside bathroom mirror for daily confirmation.

The vast lands of monasteries were an external attempt to define depth of soul with expanse of enclosure. No longer. Dualisms diminish. Our new need is as was the old one -- to explore the inner expanse as no other than ("not") anything the mind presents. What is, seen, is what is not -- that is, "no other than."

Not me. Not you. Not God. Not truth. Not love.

Our goal is to enquire, explore, experience and embrace all that is as no other than what it is as it is in itself.

God is absolute solitude in the midst of daily life. Collectedness and fusion -- not from any without, but the breakdown return to the unified whole from which there has never been a departure in fact, only in belief.

And humor. Dedication to holiness is not the same as preservation of sacred ground set off from the crowded byways of ordinary commerce. Our holy ground is under our feet. Let's look there. As you stand humbly and gratefully in your own footprint of no other, everything is invited to stand on their own.

From now on one's feet. Look under your feet!

Jesus told Peter he was right. (Peter, of course, that Mulla Nasruddin of the Christian scriptures, always has it right by flaw, unknowing, askew interpretation, and favored love.) In the reading for this sabbath: Yes, as Peter responded to Jesus' question, "You are the Christ!" The Christ is the son and daughter of the living God. Tell no one he or she is the Christ. Given our habits, we'd try to make ourselves very special, make others not as good, then conclude they are dispensable, not worth the ink we've written them off with in our mind.
  1. "When I was in the desert," said Nasruddin one day, "I caused an entire tribe of horrible and bloodthirsty bedouins to run." "However did you do it?" "Easy. I just ran, and they ran after me."

  2. A certain conqueror said to Nasruddin: "Mulla, all the great rulers of the past had honorific titles with the name of God in them: there was, for instance, God-Gifted, and God-Accepted, and so on. How about some such name for me?" "God Forbid," said Nasruddin.

  3. "May the Will of Allah be done," a pious man was saying about something or the other. "It always is, in any case," said Mullah Nasruddin. "How can you prove that, Mullah?" asked the man. "Quite simply. If it wasn't always being done, then surely at some time or another my will would be done, wouldn't it?"
Christ is nothing special. We are nothing special. We are (each) a place of collation and recollection -- a practice of collectedness and fusion. If we bind, things are bound -- everywhere. If we loose, things are loosed -- everywhere. There is no action that can be restricted to just one place. What happens in one place happens everywhere.

Perhaps we have to not-know our place. To "no other than" our place. (Maybe "don't know" is shorthand for "do no t'other know.") I've long felt my existence to be as an exile in the land of not-knowing. Every word heard from the land of othering -- the contemporary world of "know othering" --is a stinging bite on this body of no-other.

Let each come to their own understanding of their true nature. The truth and power of the Dharma will prevail. The grace and inspiration of the Spirit of advocacy for one another will root and transform us.

We must pray for one another. We are unique. Not better than, nor worse than. Just unique.

Unique. And one.

And.

One.

Another.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Our monastery is the attention given to all of itself.
Searching for praise and honor
Keeps mankind restlessly moving,
But in the warm sun and peaceful wind,
Things renew themselves naturally.
Needing no human control,
The spring brightness is both pale and deep;
In the mountains of endless rest,
There is a single tranquil person.
(- Gesshu Soko 1618-1696)
There is a new monastic life being formed. Not a knock-off of traditional monastic life. But something new.

At the intersection between monastery and cafe, university and front porch -- at the place where intellectual, artistic, musical, and poetic cross paths with care for the elderly, the dying, the outsiders, and the stranger -- there is where the new form of enterprise/vocation takes shape.

The sea helps. Messing about in boats helps. Food and dogs and bicycles help.

A chapel and a zendo help. A large room with fireplace for conversation and collegiality helps. A disrobing of titles, accouterments, and pretensions help. A sense of simplicity coupled with a crying need of creativity helps.

Meetingbrook is asking the questions: What are we? What will we become?

If we listen to people until they grow tired of being listened to, then we have come to a learning beyond teaching.
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus
exsules filii Evae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

Translate
d:
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Ma (ry)
The hymn/prayer goes on to say:
-- Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
-- that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ."
Perhaps it is the "promise" of Christ, the same promise each shares. Because each shares the promise of Christ. What we become is what we are. Christ-reality, like Buddha-nature, is our promise and our emerging realization.

The monastic life attends to this.

There's a line in the Course in Miracles: "Teach only love for that is what you are."

Good words.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Not to want is not an easy thing to want. Whatever you want fills you with want. What we want is what we get -- really or metaphorically. Remember if we don't learn about metaphor, (the woman filmmaker said), we go insane.
Zazen is the dharma of all the Buddhas. Non-Buddhists also practice zazen. However, they make the mistake of coloring it; their incorrect views are like thorns. Therefore, it cannot be the same as the zazen of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Sravakas and pratyeka Buddhas also do zazen, but they wish only to control their minds and seek to reach nirvana. This is not the same as the zazen of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas.
- Nagarjuna (150-250 CE)
I've gone a little insane. I can't accept the metaphor of disposable people. Nor can I accept the division of matter from spirit. And if Christ is translucence, I can't accept the metaphor of original sin passed down sperm through ovary and washed off with water. What I want is not the absence of want and suffering -- but the shared understanding of every being in the universe that "God is movement, not explanation." (Wiesel.) Movement disposes of no means to enact its essence. Movement merely moves.

No Matter, Never Mind

The Father is the Void
The Wife Waves

Their child is Matter.

Matter makes it with his mother
And their child is Life,
a daughter.

The Daughter is the Great Mother
Who, with her father/brother Matter
as her lover,

Gives birth to the Mind.

(-- Poem by Gary Snyder in Turtle Island)
There's not much hope of not losing my mind. Putting it up for adoption. Maybe it'll get good home. With a dog and cat. Books. French Vanilla yogurt. Some raspberry Kefir.

At mass today before epiclesis, all honor and glory is given to the father by the son (read, creation/humankind) in the unity of the Holy Spirit. I like the phrase "unity of the Holy Spirit."

With unity, consecration.

Without it, the world of everyday news.

It is convenient now as elections approach to announce a withdrawal date out of Iraq. Wind gone from sails, the administration has started the motor of appeasement with the American people. These people smile appreciatively at the tossed bone of one person one vote. Of course we make a difference.
What We Might Be, What We Are

If you were a scoop of vanilla
And I were the cone where you sat,
If you were a slowly pitched baseball
And I were the swing of a bat,

If you were a shiny new fishhook
And I were a bucket of worms,
If we were a pin and a pincushion,
We might be on intimate terms.

If you were a plate of spaghetti
And I were your piping-hot sauce,
We'd not even need to write letters
To put our affection across,

But you're just a piece of red ribbon
In the beard of a Balinese goat
And I'm a New Jersey mosquito.
I guess we'll stay slightly remote.
(--Poem "What We Might Be, What We Are" by X.J. Kennedy, from Exploding Gravy, Little, Brown, 2002.)
So much this administration has done I consider ludicrous and pernicious. They've been remarkably unfazed by the results of their fiasco. But, money was counted and pocketed from death and destruction. And that counts as success in an accountant's office.

Since my madness I don't count for anything. This situation has it's charm. The room empties when I arrive.

That's ok. I'm fond of emptiness. It's that place where everything is, only and exactly, what it is.

I read the Irish Times from a few days ago in Chase's Daily with coffee and strawberry pecan muffin. I looked into the help wanted ads.

The making of holiness is a lovely undertaking.

Hard-tellin', most times, who's got it.

How it comes.

Or where it goes.

Crazy, eh?

Waddya want?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Something's gotta change.

They are off the main road. They are at the edges. Many have fallen off the edges. Where are they? They are our brothers and sisters. They don't have much. Not much at all. They are us. Only, we don't know ourselves. We do not recognize our own faces. Nor that we have fallen off. Who even looks?

Ezekiel speaks today, saying: "No one bothers about them and no one looks for them."

Them? Ourselves.
The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them:
Shepherds, the Lord says this: Trouble for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Shepherds ought to feed their flock, yet you have fed on milk, you have dressed yourselves in wool, you have sacrificed the fattest sheep, but failed to feed the flock. You have failed to make weak sheep strong, or to care for the sick ones, or bandage the wounded ones. You have failed to bring back strays or look for the lost. On the contrary, you have ruled them cruelly and violently. For lack of a shepherd they have scattered, to become the prey of any wild animal; they have scattered far. My flock is straying this way and that, on mountains and on high hills; my flock has been scattered all over the country; no one bothers about them and no one looks for them.
Well then, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. As I live, I swear it–it is the Lord who speaks–since my flock has been looted and for lack of a shepherd is now the prey of any wild animal, since my shepherds have stopped bothering about my flock, since my shepherds feed themselves rather than my flock, in view of all this, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. The Lord says this: I am going to call the shepherds to account. I am going to take my flock back from them and I shall not allow them to feed my flock. In this way the shepherds will stop feeding themselves. I shall rescue my sheep from their mouths; they will not prey on them any more.
For the Lord says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view.

(--Ezekiel 34:1 - 11)
Our leaders have forgotten. Cases in point -- the people Katrina exposed as needing our attention. Men and women in prison. Those without medical insurance or medical care. Those used as fodder for capital gains in bogus wars. Those left on financial skid rows by street sharks and banking lenders whose lobbying have granted them permission to milk suckers dry and toss them away. Our leaders have forgotten what it means to be human, to be touched by compassion and empathy. To exist as one. To be alive. To care.

But war...war and armaments, defense spending, missile shields, private backwater black ops, movement against so-called insurgents abroad and in our domestic cities, against citizens who used to be able to protest, who now are put behind fence cages, harassed for criticizing, punished for wanting something resembling democracy, not fascism nor the tyranny of deception and lies of secret government where any dissent, any finger pointing to a naked emperor triggers bullying beatings and tasering pain -- 'of course,' their thinking goes, 'they must be intent on bringing down the government,' they are domestic terrorism threats, a mentality of frozen fear and phony patriotism prevails and postures, playing to the last bastion of Pharisaical piety -- the demography of demagoguery, the rapture-worthy and pure all packed and ready to disappear...these wars against invented and fabricated enemies are all the rage in the new playbook of cynicism and grab-your-own without mercy.

The shepherds are feeding themselves. The hell with the flock! Those immature and ordinary people! Let them wallow in pain, debt, and mistrust of each other. Nothing scarce about the resources of those who lead and lend, who take bribes and payoffs to keep the rabble in their subservient place. Today, physical, psychological, and spiritual hunger haunts and plagues the land. All we can think about is eliminating the enemy, warring against those who threaten our happiness -- when, in devastating fact, we've become oblivious that the enemy wanting to bring down our defenses, and those that threaten our happiness...are...us. We long to end the false options placed before us. We are like sleeping, hypnotized people who, deep within a residue of consciousness below the suggestions and puppeteering, sincerely desire to throw off the masters' voices and emerge from unconsciousness. The great lie has been that the enemy is out there. When in fact the ones telling us the enemy is out there are the real danger to our well being. Those who incessently tell us, "Prepare for war!" Those who command us to "look out" -- who switch the direction and call war peace and hate love and we they. We fight ourselves while the manipulators smirk and grin and take their profits.
Memorial Day

Because our sons adore their plastic missile launchers,
electronic space bazookas, neutron death-ray guns,
a decade down the pike it won't prove difficult
to trick them out in combat boots
&camouflage fatigues,
rouse them with a frenzy of parades, the heady
rhetoric of country, camaraderie & God,
the drum & bugle & the sudden
thunder of the cannon as they march
into Hell singing.
Which is the order of things.
Obedient to a fault, the people will do as they are told.
However dispirited by grief at the graves
of their fallen, the mother returns at last to her loom,
the father to his lathe,
& the inconsolable widow home to raise sons
ardent for the next imperial bloodbath;
Ilium. Thermopylae. Verdun. Pork Chop Hill.
(-Poem "Memorial Day" by Steve Kowit from The First Noble Truth. University of Tampa Press)
These days kids buy facsimile toy guns, point them at police, and are shot dead. Then we wonder.

If we stop the love affair with power, money, and death -- if we ever learn to pray and meditate -- will there be any hope for something true and authentic? For perfect presence, that is, being here in complete and whole realization?

Coming to presence truth and love --recognizing God in bread and wine, water and fruit; acknowledging the simple longing for belonging when listening and speaking with one another; in burying our dead with dignity; deliberately intending to consciously become human; take flesh and honor it; finally, to step out of the death-peddling facsimiles of compliance and complicity which foster addiction, rejection, and abuse. Are we still able to rise to new understanding of what love and truth really are? Are we ready to extricate the touted myth from historical narrative and see it as the liberating template of contemporary existence --namely, to consciously undergo the transfiguring suffering, death, and resurrection of one breaking through the seed of human life emerging through the facticity of human experience into the clear and transparent release of what that one really is?

Until the sons and daughters of men and women reveal and are revealed as God's breath in this world, we will have to endure the artificial respirators suspending the moribund as they pass quietly away.

Reveal and be revealed! Look into one another! See through yourself! Don't stop asking into what is true and loving!

Make noise!

Dance and find joy.

At last.

Again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

All that remains is the bow.
Just Bow

Putting my right and left hands together as one,
I bow.
Just bow to become one with Buddha and God.
Just bow to become one with everything I encounter.
Just bow to become one with all myriad things.
Just bow as life becomes life.

- Uchiyama Roshi’s death poem
I bow to grave markers as I walk through or drive past. To those with whom I am not at peace. To those with whom I am at rest. To strangers when their eyes are averted.

The world is a dangerous place.

We're all the stuff of enemies. We can hardly stand each other. Idiosyncrasies are painful splinters in soft flesh when we brush up against them.

The out-of-his-mind young man at 2:14am on Bayview street shouted unmercifully along its length about some girl and his displeasure with her. Has the booze, or substances, or mental distress worn away come morning light?

I wished him the company of angels in that vacant rage he walked down the street.

Us all.

The company of angels.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The moon came up over flag with sailboat. From orange to yellow to white.
No string on that balloon.
Don't Forget Where You Came From
It is helpful in learning to appreciate and develop your ability to change to think about how you have changed over time. You are not the same person you were ten years ago. How are you different? What were you like before? Would your present self and past self be friends if they met? What would they like and dislike about each other? How did you come to be the person you are now? Your ideals, thoughts, and opinions have changed; what has replaced the old ones and why? By reviewing the changes that have occurred, you can savor the growth and progress you have made, and appreciate the benefits the process of change has brought to your life.

When you notice how much you have changed and developed even without consciously trying, you can see how much you could grow if you made a real effort to change.

(-- Tarthang Tulku in Skillful Means)
Earlier, walking to Rockport Harbor. Walking back.

I'm here, but I've lost my way.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The little girl brought parsley sprig to elderly Frenchman's table. He said, "I blush." Later the little girl with blond hair brought him four small stones. He thanked her. After she left, the stones went back to ground. It was the interaction, not the content, that counted.
This wall gazing old barbarian monk
Has eyes that exceed the glow of the evening lamp;
His silence has never been challenged
His living dharma extends to the present day.

- Fugai Ekun (1568-1654)
Reading Panikkar at table. He says God is the "I" and each one of us is God's "thou."

We wonder whether our flirtation with ego is blasphemous. Only God is I. Ego is the fabrication of counterfeit God.

Real faith in God is egoless.

So little real faith.

No wonder we're in trouble.