Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, February 14, 2009

He practices online dating. Once he proposed on one knee to a lovely lassy from across the sea. The world has changed. More and more pixils. Fewer glances. There are further contacts coming across his email. Not much, come to think, changes.
There's no self and no person,
How then kinfolk and stranger!
I beg you, cease going
From lecture to lecture;
It's better to seek truth directly.
The nature of Diamond Wisdom
Excludes even a speck of dust.
From "Thus we have heard,"
To "This I believe,"
All's but an array
Of unreal names.
(- Layman P'ang)
Maybe Valentines Day is really about Reese's chocolate peanut butter hearts and M&M's of many colors. What's love got to do with it? I listened to a man's saga. That's my practice. It's not much, really. It's just time and attention. Soon I'll run out of both. That too is a devoutly to be wished acceptance.
The Good Man

The good man.
He is still enhancer, renouncer.
In the time of detachment,
in the time of the vivid heather and affectionate evil,
in the time of oral
grave grave legalities of hate - all real
walks our prime registered reproach and seal.
Our successful moral.
The good man.

Watches our bogus roses, our rank wreath, our
love's unreliable cement, the gray
jubilees of our demondom.
Coherent
Counsel! Good man.
Require of us our terribly excluded blue.
Constrain, repair a ripped, revolted land.
Put hand in hand land over.
Reprove
the abler droughts and manias of the day
and a felicity entreat.
Love.
Complete
your pledges, reinforce your aides, renew
stance, testament.

(Poem, The Good Man, by Gwendolyn Brook
We still look here and there for what is next to show its face. Canada? Camden?
Long ago when the World-Honored One was at Mount Grdhrakuta to give a talk, he held up a flower before the assemblage. At this all remained silent. The Venerable Kasho alone broke into a smile. The World-Honored One said, 'I have the all-pervading True Dharma, incomparable Nirvana, exquisite teaching of formless form. It does not rely on letters and is transmitted outside scriptures. I now hand it to Maha Kasho.'
(--'Sakyamuni Holds Up a Flower', 6th Koan of the Mumonkan
Pizza cooks. Woman rests. Dog curls downstairs by wood stove. Sam played harmonica earlier. Silvia stopped to say she's holding a good thought for the next step of meetingbrook. Billy told Jayen at lecture last night he too would help us disengage from here. These six weeks as work came to end in kitchen at Ragged Mtn, this studio above shop has been home. Like Old Orchard, Camp Ellis, Rye Beach, and Santa Cruz before -- the familiar scent of ocean and sound of silence has nourished.
Tokusan once called on Ryutan to ask for instruction and stayed until night fell. Ryutan said, 'It is getting late; you had better leave.' At last Tokusan said good-bye, lifted up the door curtain, and went out. Noticing that it was dark, he turned back and said, 'It is dark outside.' Ryutan thereupon lit a candle and handed it to him. Tokusan was about to take it when Ryutan blew it out. At this Tokusan was all of a sudden enlightened. He made a bow. Ryutan asked, 'What realization do you have?' Tokusan replied, 'From now on I will not doubt the sayings of any of the great Zen Masters in the world.'

The next day Ryutan mounted the rostrum and declared, 'Among the monks here there is a fellow whose fangs are like swords, and whose mouth is like a bowl of blood. You may strike him with a stick but he will not turn his head. Some day in the future, he will establish his way on a steep and lofty peak.'

Tokusan then took out his notes and commentaries on the Diamond Sutra and in front of the monastery hall he held up a burning torch and said, 'Even though one masters various profound philosophies, it is like placing a single strand of hair in the great sky; even if one gains all the essential knowledge in the world, it is like throwing a drop of water into a deep ravine.' Taking up his notes and commentaries, he burned them all. Then he left with gratitude.

(--Shibayama 2000, p.201, In the 28th koan entitled 'Well-Known Ryutan.')
It has been dark a while.

So many tides come and gone.

So many lines tied and thrown off.

Joseph Goldstein told the story of Mother Teresa when asked about her praying said she doesn't say anything, she listens to God. "And God?, she was asked, "What does God say?" She said, "God says nothing, he also listens."

Listening is the Ur-Wort -- the original word.

The original word is the field of awakening allowing what is being readied for saying to find its sound in unhurried genesis.

All we can do is listen for the sound of what is being said.

And when it is, to receive it, as if everything -- everything -- depended on the sound's origination for the very continuation of creation, the very isness of existence.

The pizza is cut.

Wind sails the harbor.

Leaving with gratitude.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Republicans, oddly, begin to call themselves 'Taliban.'

Lose an election, then choose a metaphor that ensures disdain. A curious course of action.
Our Work in the World
Some people think that they will practice the dharma once they have finished with their worldly business. This is a mistaken attitude because our work in the world never finishes. Work is like a ripple of water continually moving on the surface of the ocean. It is very difficult to break free from our occupations in order to practice dharma. The busy work with which we fill our lives is only completed at the time of our death.

(--Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Meaningful to Behold)
It has been a good week for conversations in prison. Conversation with others, no matter how different opinions might be, is a sign of respect and responsibility transcending usual conditional mind meting out human judgment.

It is hard to understand the lack of respect and responsibility shown by a failing political party moribund and miserly toward the real physical and spiritual needs of citizens in the United States.

Absurd. But exhausting.

The stake driven into the back of a once vital land by unmindful and myopic ideologues has settled mortally close to a compromised faint heart of a bewildered staggering people. It is a sorry story of desperation -- some say, macabre insanity, to murder what you claim to love in the name of a love that feels nothing but depraved and numbing belief in one's own disconnective perfection.

We know God when we don't know.

But serve, with humility and simplicity, one another in real and present ways free from generality, duplicity, or self-serving reference.

May God protect us from men who refuse what God is (ever becoming) in the midst of this world!

Be caring.

Love to be unknown.

Particular and attentive.

To each.

Within.

All.

Without exception.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We are earth.

From time to time something extraordinary is realized: we are earth, earth become aware of itself.
With the groundbreaking synthesis of the German idealists Schelling and Hegel, no longer did humanity need to be seen as being adrift in a state of sin and suffering, as the Church claimed, having “fallen” away from the presence of God in the primordial past. Nor did God have to remain merely a mythic remnant of a more ignorant age, as many scientists continued to insist. Instead, the reality of the Divine could now be understood to reside most fully in our collective future—to be revealed in the world, with increasing depth and clarity, as history marched forward and consciousness evolved. “God does not remain petrified and dead,” said Hegel. “The very stones cry out and raise themselves to Spirit.”

Echoing that sentiment almost two centuries later, the American integral philosopher Ken Wilber wrote, “Both humans and rocks are equally Spirit, but only humans can consciously realize that fact, and between the rock and the human lies evolution.”

(from, A Brief History of Evolutionary Spirituality, by Tom Huston, in What is Enlightenment magazine, https://www.courses.maine.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_id=_2_1&url=%2fwebapps%2fblackboard%2fexecute%2flauncher%3ftype%3dCourse%26id%3d_22106_1%26url%3d)
Becoming aware.

Moment by moment. Stone by tree. By light. Within.

Are we what is extraordinary realizing something ordinary? 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It doesn't matter.
Dreaming, Chuang Tzu became a butterfly;
Waking, the butterfly became a man.
Who knows which is real?
Who know where endless changes end?
The waters of the deepest sea
Return to the smallest stream.
The melon-grower outside the city gate
Was once the King of the Hill.
Even rank and riches eventually disappear.
You know, and still you toil

- Li T’ai-po (701-?)
Not really.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Seven men attend a meetingbrook conversation at the prison in Bucks Harbor in Down-East Maine this morning. From Eckhart Tolle to A-Rod's steroids, poems by Robert Bly and David Ignatow, and various asides -- the nine of us took turns speaking and listening to each other. It's unusual, Tony said, to have such a conversation in prison.

It's a small thing, but a seldom thing, to court real conversation.
Enlightenment as Beginningness

Most people think of enlightenment as a kind of magical attainment, a state of being close to perfection. At this level, one can perform amazing feats, see past and future lives of others, and tune in to the inner workings of the universe. This may be possible for a number of special beings, but for most of us enlightenment is much more in line with what Suzuki Roshi describes. It means having a quality of "beginningness," a fresh, simple, unsophisticated view of things. To have "beginner's mind" in how we approach things is a major teaching. In many ways, the process of enlightenment is clearing away the thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that cloud our ability to see things as they really are in their pristine form.

(--David A. Cooper, Silence, Simplicity and Solitude)
War casualties:
Iraq numbers: US forces -- 31,010 wounded; 4234 dead.
Afghanistan number: US forces -- 648 dead.

These are sad numbers.
Kaddish

Mother of my birth, for how long were we together
in your love and my adoration of your self?
For the shadow of a moment as I breathed your pain
and you breathed my suffering, as we knew
of shadows in lit rooms that would swallow the light.

Your face beneath the oxygen tent was alive
but your eyes were closed. Your breathing was hoarse
but your sleep was with death. I was alone with you
as it was when I was young but only alone now
and now with you. I was to be alone forever
as I was learning, watching you become alone.

Earth is your mother as you were mine, my earth,
my sustenance, my comfort and my strength
and now without you I turn to your mother
and seek from her that I may meet you again
in rock and stone: whisper to the stone,
I love you; whisper to the rock, I found you;
whisper to earth, Mother, I have found my mother
and I am safe and always have been.

(~Poem, Kaddish, by David Ignatow, from New and Collected Poems 1970-1985)
A day will come when I will fall down. Dizziness will overwhelm. I will think, "Oh! This is death!" And no more get up. My brothers and sisters in Iraq and Afghanistan show me the way.
When My Dead Father Called

Last night I dreamt my father called to us.
He was stuck somewhere. It took us
A long time to dress, I don't know why.
The night was snowy; there were long black roads.

Finally we reached the little town, Bellingham.
There he stood, by a streetlamp in cold wind,
Snow blowing along the sidewalk. I noticed
The uneven sort of shoes that men wore

In the early Forties. And overalls. He was smoking.
Why did it take us so long to get going? Perhaps
He left us somewhere once, or did I simply
Forget he was alone in winter in some town?

(Poem: “When My Dead Father Called,” by Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poem, Harper Collins).
Last night along tidal river in Machias, we walked dismantled train bed as full moon came through Pine trees. Cold wind braced. Rokpa scuttled over icy remnants of last high tide down embankment. A quiet, near wordless, wander.

I don't know how to pray words now that a non-dual and eternally-now sense of God takes root.

White circle ascends sky with prayerful acknowledgment of those dead in war, those frightened in life, and those who wonder about all of it.

Indulgences are not germane. Guarantees about forgiving sins are a less interesting pronouncement by the RC church. I'd prefer loud and inconsolable wailing over the absurdity of human thought and behavior concerning something like war.

I'll start. This. Now. Here.

Quietly.

For all my brothers and sisters hurt and dead.

A prayer.

A conversation with wordless grief.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Zazen is orange sun dripping from sitting in sea beyond Curtis Island.
Under the thin smoke of winter
The old temple is quiet.
After sundown,
All the visitors are gone.
On the west wind, three,
Four chimes the evening bell.
How can the old monk
Concentrate on zazen?

- Ma Chih-yuan (1260-1334
To Calais and Machias as sun goes about chores. To DownEast Correctional Facility tomorrow morning for meetingbrook conversation with inmates.

If you have the desire, do you also have the will? That's what O'a asked yesterday as we sat with Tommy in studio above shop. Is a market face of the hermitage still willing to be unveiled?

With enough pause to not appear facile -- 'Yes!'

Like the sun, we'll attempt to rise through the see to the vision that connects seer with what is seen.

I've long loved what-is, seen and unseen.

Presence is no corrective lens.

It is inner vision and outer sight.

With no separation.  

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Captain Sullenberger landed his plane in the river three weeks ago. No one died. He doesn't smile when he tells the story on 60 Minutes. Nothing goofy. He just answers questions.
I came late to the dharma,
But each day, deepen my retreat.
Waiting for mountain monks,
I sweep my simple hut.
Then down from cloudy peaks
You come through knee-deep weeds.
We kneel on tatami, munching pine nuts.
We burn incense and study the Way.
Light the lamp at twilight;
A simple chime begins the night.
In every solitude, deep joy:
This life abides.
How can you think of returning?
A lifetime is empty like the Void.

- Wang Wei
Sullenberger did a good job. He flew safely. It was a good landing -- as river landings go.

Peculiar.

It could start a trend.