Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, January 31, 2009

If "what is" is all that is, how is it we've not yet fully entered and engaged "what is"?

Pray for the well-being of each being entering and engaging "what is".

The One-we-call-God is the entering and engaging of "what is" -- Open Itself Origin.

The poet said:
Love
everyone you can. The list gets longer and shorter.
We're seldom better than weather. We're nearly as good
as a woman we met in passing once at Invergarry.
Don't be sorry, for him or for self. Love the last star
broken by storm. And love you. You hold it together.

(--from Poem, 'Villager' by Richard Hugo, in The Right Madness on Skye)
We hold it, all of it, as it comes, together.

Not one will be lost.

Happily each is found.

As one.

All.

Alone.

Together.

This, soon-to-dawn, morning.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Afghanistan.

Iraq.

Bush.
Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment,
At this place,
The whole of the flower,
The whole of the world
Is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower,
The truth of the blossom;
The glory of life is fully shining here.
- Zenkei Shibayama
War.

War.

Happily gone.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It is time to sit still in a room, alone, and ponder.
"All of man's troubles come from his inability to sit alone, quietly, in a room, for any length of time." (-- Blaise Pascal)
This room, silent this morning following snow/ice storm, scent of Tibetan incense mingling with organic Echinacea tea, harbor open of ice.
In cold weather I always to go sleep early,
Not waiting for the sunlight to withdraw.
I never shut my cottage door,
Lest it keep the mountain monkeys out.
Falling leaves strike the window;
At my pillow it seems like raindrops.
Rising, I gaze at the western peaks;
The moon has set, the stars are twinkling.

- Wen-siang (1210-1280)
I've sometimes thought of 'ego' as that which is opposing God. (I recall someone's 'elide God out' for 'ego'). We'd have to ask what God is in order to grasp the opposing of God.

These mornings I think of God as the Open, Itself, Origin.

We don't 'know' God. We approach the Open, as Ourselves, Anew. By this I mean that God is not 'something' -- nor are we. God, and thus we, are ever-being-revealed, where we are revealed, as we are revealed.

It scares me to contemplate this. I am not there, not anywhere, when God is with me. Always inchoate. Always nascent. Always alone. (All ways, all one.) Of course, a voice inserts, each of us is distinct, particular, and connected. And, yes, each has history -- as does the world. Still, God is what is taking place this moment; God is this moment speaking. Silence, curiously, is the language of God.
The Enemy Within
An interview with Archimandrite Dionysios

Interview

This article first appeared in What is Enlightenment Magazine, Issue 17, “What is Ego? Friend or Foe...” Spring–Summer 2000

What Is Enlightenment: What is the ego?

Archimandrite Dionysios: When Satan, who was the first and highest angel, looked away from God and turned his attention to himself, there we had the first seed of ego. He took his spiritual eyes from the view of the Holy Trinity, the view of the Lord, and he looked at himself and started to think about himself. And he said, “I want to put my throne in the highest place, and to be like Him.” That moment started the history, the reality and the existence of ego—which is not in fact a reality, but the refusal of reality. Ego is the flower that comes out from the death of love. When we kill love, the result is the ego.

WIE: What is the character of the ego? How does it manifest within a human being?

Dionysios: When we don’t trust. Ego is born when we don’t trust others. When we’re afraid of others, when we need guns against others, then we need to have an ego because we are in the wrong way of life. We think only of ourselves, and we see only our ego. But when we see each other, when we trust each other, there is no need for ego, no reason for ego, no possibility for ego.

WIE: So in the way you’re speaking about it then, ego is the insistence on our separation, our independence?

Dionysios: Yes, on our solitude. Our need to be alone, to have our own way of thinking that satisfies us and preserves our personality in the wrong way.

WIE: Putting ourselves first and foremost?

Dionysios: Yes. And Christ said, “The last is the first.” Because when you want to be the last and you choose the last seat, only then may you call the others friends of yours.

WIE: The ego, this sense of self-importance you’ve been speaking about, is often described in The Philokalia and other writings of the Christian mystics as the primary enemy with which the spiritual aspirant must wrestle in their quest for union with God. Why is the ego considered to be such a formidable adversary on the path?

Dionysios: It is such a powerful enemy because it is the enemy within us. We are enemies to ourselves, like Adam and Eve in paradise. Of course, the snake talked to Eve. But she could have avoided him. The snake said to her, “The Lord lied to you,” but if she would have trusted the Lord, she would not have started to talk to the snake. And Adam, too, lost his communication with the Lord and stayed with his ego. And the two egos worked together, Adam and Eve.

The real enemy is the ego. It is the enemy because it is against love. When I look at myself, I don’t love others. When I want to occupy for myself what is yours, I become the killer of my brother, like Cain killed Abel. When I want to satisfy myself, this satisfaction is gained through sacrificing the freedom of the other. Then my ego becomes my lord, my god, and there is no stronger temptation than this. Because to us, this ego may seem like a diamond. It has a shine like gold. But whatever is shining is not gold. The ego is just like a fire without light, a fire without warmth, a fire without life. It seems that it has many sides and many possibilities—but what is this possibility? What is ego? Only the means by which I protect myself as if I were in a battle, as if every other person is my enemy, and the only thing I care about is winning the victory.

( from
The Enemy Within, An interview with Archimandrite Dionysios, Monk, Greek Orthodox, in What is Enlightenment Magazine (now EnlightenNext Magazine), Issue 17 / Spring–Summer 2000, "What Is Ego? Friend Or Foe...")
http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j34/dionysios.asp
Love of the beautiful/holy/good/exalted is what the word 'Philokalia' translates as.
We long for "What Is" beautiful/holy/good/exalted.

Sitting alone, breathing, not actively thinking nor grasping on to thoughts passing, everything is --and is in -- itself.

Itself, as in, not other than.

What.

God.

Is.

Doing .

Here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wind howls from Northeast. Snow blinds, frantic to alight. Cars and people fall into ditches on hills and personal valleys. I stay in shop all day, classes at prison and university canceled early.

It is hard to distinguish whether someone is truly mentally distressed or imitating a conservative talk show host. For that matter, imitating anyone speaking to the object of their perseveration.

It's all in a day's meetingbrook. What do we expect? We're each of us a little odd. Anyone denying their oddness is looking for a fight. There comes the blaming of another for what belongs in your home court.

A woman asked what psychotic actually meant, saying someone is dying and was said to be psychotic. Apart from 'sad,' I say something traditional.

If truth be told, I don't know what psychotic means. My guess is that it has to do with a man parking his car on the back of someone looking for the penny they dropped and becoming angry at the US Treasury for not insisting the Department of Agriculture demand a broader variety of penny candy at the corner shop that closed last year because the proprietor, whose sister is named Penny, had a heart attack at her brother Ralph's house who lived next door to the man from whom the parking man bought the car now parked on the back of the elderly Mr. Theodore who hated the idea of wasting money and had just finished a leisurely stroll returning from the Italian restaurant which opened last month, a remodeled space once the corner shop which closed last year. An 'Ow!' was heard as the man who'd parked his car stepped over the outstretched arm under his wheel, now annoyed to have his silent exodus broken by the sound.
REMOVING THE SPLINTER OF EGO
Understanding suffering is very important. The practice of meditation
is designed not to develop pleasure but to understand the truth of
suffering; and in order to understand the truth of suffering, one
also has to understand the truth of awareness. When true awareness
takes place, suffering does not exist. Through awareness, suffering
is somewhat changed in its perspective. It is not necessarily that
you do not suffer, but the haunting quality that fundamentally you
are in trouble is removed. It is like removing a splinter. It might
hurt, and you might still feel pain, but the basic cause of that
pain, the ego, has been removed.

(From Chapter Three, "The Power of Flickering Thoughts," in THE TRUTH OF SUFFERING AND THE PATH OF LIBERATION, edited by Judith Lief, based on talks at the Vajradhatu Seminars conducted by Chogyam Trungpa.)
It's a hard season for folks. Money is small. Cold is constricting. One's history steps out of the shadows and stands there like a ticket vendor to a circus moved out of town. Madness phones up and pretends to want to rent your house, saying you can have one room. Memory plays tricks. You remember things that weren't said. You try to recall names of lovers you've never kissed.
Having it Out with Melancholy
by Jane Kenyon
"If many remedies are prescribed for an illness, you may be certain that the illness has no cure."
(--A. P. CHEKHOV The Cherry Orchard)
1 FROM THE NURSERY

When I was born, you waited
behind a pile of linen in the nursery,
and when we were alone, you lay down
on top of me, pressing
the bile of desolation into every pore.

And from that day on
everything under the sun and moon
made me sad -- even the yellow
wooden beads that slid and spun
along a spindle on my crib.

You taught me to exist without gratitude.
You ruined my manners toward God:
"We're here simply to wait for death;
the pleasures of earth are overrated."

I only appeared to belong to my mother,
to live among blocks and cotton undershirts
with snaps; among red tin lunch boxes
and report cards in ugly brown slipcases.
I was already yours -- the anti-urge,
the mutilator of souls.

2 BOTTLES

Elavil, Ludiomil, Doxepin,
Norpramin, Prozac, Lithium, Xanax,
Wellbutrin, Parnate, Nardil, Zoloft.
The coated ones smell sweet or have
no smell; the powdery ones smell
like the chemistry lab at school
that made me hold my breath.

3 SUGGESTION FROM A FRIEND

You wouldn't be so depressed
if you really believed in God.

4 OFTEN

Often I go to bed as soon after dinner
as seems adult
(I mean I try to wait for dark)
in order to push away
from the massive pain in sleep's
frail wicker coracle.

5 ONCE THERE WAS LIGHT

Once, in my early thirties, I saw
that I was a speck of light in the great
river of light that undulates through time.

I was floating with the whole
human family. We were all colors -- those
who are living now, those who have died,
those who are not yet born. For a few

moments I floated, completely calm,
and I no longer hated having to exist.

Like a crow who smells hot blood
you came flying to pull me out
of the glowing stream.
"I'll hold you up. I never let my dear
ones drown!" After that, I wept for days.

6 IN AND OUT

The dog searches until he finds me
upstairs, lies down with a clatter
of elbows, puts his head on my foot.

Sometimes the sound of his breathing
saves my life -- in and out, in
and out; a pause, a long sigh. . . .

7 PARDON

A piece of burned meat
wears my clothes, speaks
in my voice, dispatches obligations
haltingly, or not at all.
It is tired of trying
to be stouthearted, tired
beyond measure.

We move on to the monoamine
oxidase inhibitors. Day and night
I feel as if I had drunk six cups
of coffee, but the pain stops
abruptly. With the wonder
and bitterness of someone pardoned
for a crime she did not commit
I come back to marriage and friends,
to pink fringed hollyhocks; come back
to my desk, books, and chair.

8 CREDO

Pharmaceutical wonders are at work
but I believe only in this moment
of well-being. Unholy ghost,
you are certain to come again.

Coarse, mean, you'll put your feet
on the coffee table, lean back,
and turn me into someone who can't
take the trouble to speak; someone
who can't sleep, or who does nothing
but sleep; can't read, or call
for an appointment for help.

There is nothing I can do
against your coming.
When I awake, I am still with thee.

9 WOOD THRUSH

High on Nardil and June light
I wake at four,
waiting greedily for the first
note of the wood thrush. Easeful air
presses through the screen
with the wild, complex song
of the bird, and I am overcome

by ordinary contentment.
What hurt me so terribly
all my life until this moment?
How I love the small, swiftly
beating heart of the bird
singing in the great maples;
its bright, unequivocal eye.

(--Poem, Having it Out with Melancholy, by Jane Kenyon)
Once, almost 40 years ago -- a long time ago -- I lived on Brook Avenue in Santa Cruz California. Then Hall Street. Now, the sobriquet meetingbrook is by another ocean another mountain town where sleet and ice threaten to distress covering boards and plate glass with pings and whooshes of wind maddened winter.

It's the feast of Thomas of Aquinas. He wrote:
Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder. (--Saint Thomas Aquinas)
So much. So odd. So big?

John Updike died yesterday. I'd sent him one of my ten Christmas cards in 1966 to thank him for his writing. Someone asked me why? I liked the face in the artist's mirror. His reflection seemed recognizable.

The mirror glances as I pass. The unusual meets the ordinary without being introduced.

I wonder how it all turns out!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Muriel Rukeyser writes:"The fear that cuts off poetry is profound: it plunges us deep, far back to the edge of childhood." (p.15, in The Life of Poetry)

She says that in great poetry you feel a source speaking to another source. Poems invite you to feel. To respond. Poems invite a total response. 
The vagaries of life
though painful,
teach us not to cling
to this fleeting world
.
- Ikkyu (1394-1481)
No clinging; but to feel what you feel, think what you think, be what you are. Yes! Then, drop it!

Snow storm approaches. Perhaps classes will be cancelled. I'll return to dream. Who was that visitor last night?

If the poem is Being written -- with -- no wonder -- we're frightened.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It is wearying to live.
Now whether withdrawn on a mountain,
or retired in a city, the essential
thing is the long maturation.
For this, it is good to keep
the examples of the old masters in mind,
or we will be pulled back into
the dust and delusion of the world.

- Torei (1721-1792)
It is time to rub eyes and wonder how it was these last eight years that fear paralyzed nearly all of us.

It was not about 9/11. It was about men with no conscience. It was about people believing the lie.

About something lost.
Fishing
by Kate Scott


Sam was a galunky kind of guy,
my cousin says. He walked like this.
He takes on a bow-legged swagger
that makes us laugh. And boy,
could he drink beer. He lifts his hand,
tipping imaginary cans in quick succession.
He talked real fast too. Back then we laughed,
asked what was the rush? Never slowed him any.
Girls loved him. He was such a big guy,
think they figured he must have a big heart.

My cousin slows a little in his walk,
tugs on his ear to remember more.

We hung out a lot and unless he was excited,
talking fast, he was real quiet, would just sit,
stare out to space like he was someplace else.
Maybe he was thinking about the girl he loved
who died one winter, fell through the ice
as she was skating towards him.
She was only twenty feet away, her arms out wide.
They say he was there all night,
smashed the ice in a hundred places to find her.
They pulled her out in the Spring.
I think when he talked so fast
he was trying to forget,
like the words would fill up the space she left.

My cousin stops in the road,
brushes imaginary hair from his eyes.

I lost touch for some time, years went by.
I didn't hear from Sam, neither of us
were much use at letter writing.
Then one summer I came home to visit,
bumped right into him in a store downtown.
He talked real slow, like he was a clock
that had wound down. He said he'd taken up fishing.
He said he didn't much care for fish
but when he flung the line out hard,
heard the whir as it spun out over the water,
saw the river winking and glinting at him,
he felt he could catch anything.

("Fishing" by Kate Scott, from Stitches. Peterloo Poets, 2003)
We can hardly speak of that time. The lost 8 years.

Not looking back, afraid what we might find.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

To know the mind of God is to see the entire picture. We don't; therefore, we don't.
The little retreat is to hide
Among wooded hills;
The great retreat is to vanish
In the capital.

- Kanzan
There's a boat in Izola, Slovenia, named 'Tai Pan.' Were meetingbrook to purchase it, it's name would expand two letters both before the first word and after the second.

It would be called 'Jitai Panis.' ('Jitai' is Japanese for 'Itself.' 'Panis' is Latin for 'Bread.')

The name 'Jitai Panis' means 'Bread Itself,' or, 'Itself Bread.'

Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Itself.

The bread of life is God itself.
Lesson 025

I do not know what anything is for.
Purpose is meaning. Today's idea explains why nothing you see means anything. You do not know what it is for. Therefore, it is meaningless to you. Everything is for your own best interests. That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means. It is in recognizing this that your goals become unified. It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning.

You perceive the world and everything in it as meaningful in terms of ego goals. These goals have nothing to do with your own best interests, because the ego is not you. This false identification makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for. As a result, you are bound to misuse it. When you believe this, you will try to withdraw the goals you have assigned to the world, instead of attempting to reinforce them.

Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with "personal" interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all. And thus you do not know what anything is for.

Before you can make any sense out of the exercises for today, one more thought is necessary. At the most superficial levels, you do recognize purpose. Yet purpose cannot be understood at these levels. For example, you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity. What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for. And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.

It is crucial to your learning to be willing to give up the goals you have established for everything. The recognition that they are meaningless, rather than "good" or "bad," is the only way to accomplish this. The idea for today is a step in this direction.

(from Lesson 25, The Course in Miracles)
I don't know what the boat is for. God knows. Nor do we have the money to purchase it. Someone does. Not only that, how could we expect anyone to assist in the purchase of the boat intended for service to God and the mysterious family of brothers and sisters everywhere?

I used to think it was absurd to want to serve.

I no longer think that.

I am absurd. Trying to serve.

Without thought.

Itself Bread. Bread Itself.

Either way, the word we hear is Servus!
Servus (Czech: Servus, Hungarian: Szervusz, Polish: Serwus, German: Servus, Romanian: Servus, Ukrainian: Cepeyc) is a salutation used in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe.

These words originates from the Latin word for servant or slave, servus. The phrase is an ellipsis of a Latin expression meaning, "I am your servant" or "at your service"
. (from Wikipedia)
We don't know the mind of God --

We are merely trying to be.

At your service.
Note: A lovely sunny day. Shop is open, 
However, there will not be a Sunday Evening Practice at the hermitage. Deadlines demand!