Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Nobody is losing faith.

They've just stopped looking where others have told them to look.
On this frosty day, clouds and mist congeal,
On the mountain moon, the icy chill grows.
At night I receive a letter from my home,
At dawn I leave without anyone knowing.

- Fahai
I've been thinking about leaviing.

Without anybody.

Knowing.

Why.

Friday, May 08, 2009

We watch Jerome Bixby's The Man from Earth for Friday Evening Conversation. We are confronted with the possibility that much we believe is clothing easily discardable. Real faith is the direct experience of the individual. It doesn't matter what we think, nor what we believe.

Faith is an experience of the individual. The individual is that which is undivided.
Rain clears from the distant peaks
Dew glistens frostily.
Moonlight glazes the front of
My ivied hut among the pines.
How can I tell you how I am,
Right now?
A swollen brook gushes in the valley
Darkened by clouds.

- Daito (1282-1334)
These days we are tired.

We are here.

And tired.

In prison this morning we spoke about torture. Torture is a betrayal of language, language meant to actually convey the dignity of wholeness through expressive word. Torture is primarily a lie. It is a lie that asks for and receives lies in return.

It is so good to see the sun!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Rainy silence.

Rosy Breasted Grosbeak makes first appearance at feeder.
Subject and object from the start
Are no different,
The myriad things nothing
But images in the mirror.
Bright and resplendent,
Transcending both guest and host,
Complete and realized,
All is permeated by the absolute.
A single form encompasses
The multitude of dharmas,
All of which are interconnected
Within the net of Indra.
Layer after layer there is no
Point at which it all ends,
Whether in motion or still,
All is fully interpenetrating.

- Zhitong (d.1124)
Final class of Mythology last evening at University College at Rockland. Campbell spoke of Indra's Net with suggestion that each reflecting each posits no blame. Everything arises and occurs as it does. Everything dissolves and vanishes as it is. Who is there to take the blame for what has gone awry? Who is there to take credit for what is going fine?

Each raindrop falls from clouds in sky upon the earth beneath. A little dance of arrival at mud puddle. White dog stretches then returns to stillness on daybed.

I rearrange altar in front room. Between statue of seated Buddha and cross suspending Jesus is section of split firewood with empty knothole in middle. A space perfect in emptiness. For all three. In betweenness. Circularity seeing through. A morning's meditation!

For now, the serenade of silence soothes as rain on roof and skylight -- as glorious as any chant in any monastery in any part of the world.

For this sound, deep appreciation.

Twenty five years ago today Saskia and I first lay eyes on one another. In Portland. On Exchange Street. The beginning of 15.5 hours of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film Berlin Alexanderplatz over 5 nights.

I don't remember if it is raining that first viewing.
“To listen to this, and to meditate on it, will be of benefit to many who, like Franz Biberkopf, live in a human skin, and, like this Franz Biberkopf, ask more of life than a piece of bread and butter.” ( —Alfred Döblin, from the preface to his novel Berlin Alexanderplatz)
Yesterday Saskia accompanies me to penultimate college class on Aesthetics for the college program at Maine State Prison. We watch Rouge (Red) by Krzysztof Kieslowski, the 3rd film in his trilogy Three Colors. Tomorrow we'll return for regular Friday Morning Meetingbrook Conversations at the prison.
Here in the beginning, Franz Biberkopf leaves Tegel Prison into which a former foolish life had led him. It is difficult to gain a foothold in Berlin again, but he finally does. This makes him happy, and now he vows to lead a decent life.
(--Opening words, First Book, Berlin Alexanderplatz, by Alfred Döblin)
In prison classroom, Greg, one of the inmates, offers and brings Saskia a cup of water.

In the final scene of film, the man whose life seems to be undergoing a quiet, joyous renaissance, looks out his window as if at his life retrouver, finding something lost, his life again.

From curious beginnings, curious continuation.

Penses-tu? (You think?)

Je pense que oui! (I think so.)

Alors allons-y! (So let's go!)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

They're called parallel universes.
With compassionate hands Buddha and
Bodhisattvas constantly save those who are lost. 
Is there anything better than to stay
At the foot of this misty cliff
Watching in meditation 
The calm clouds on their way home to the cave?

- Muso Soseki (1275-1351)
When I get back, I'll say more.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

First Tuesday Evening Practice at hermitage. Sitting on cushion. Then beginning of Emptiness, A Study in Religious Meaning, on Nagarjuna, by Frederick J. Streng. With green tea. Then walk to pond.

The fine mist of dusk precipitation.
Digesting Mindfulness
Cultivating mindfulness is not unlike the process of eating. It would be absurd to propose that someone else eat for you. And when you go to a restaurant, you don’t eat the menu, mistaking it for the meal, nor are you nourished by listening to the waiter describe the food. You have to actually eat the food for it to nourish you. In the same way, you have to actually practice mindfulness in order to reap its benefits and come to understand why it is so valuable.

–John Kabat-Zinn, from Letting Everything Become Your Teacher
We actually practice because we actually have to practice.

Twenty eight years ago today Katherine died. I bow to her. Light incense. Light candle.

What time has gone by in eternity?

None.

None at all.

Hence we practice.

Hence we pray.

Monday, May 04, 2009

What would it be like to live Christ life and Zen life without doubt or disagreeableness? I'm uncertain. And it seems a silly idea. That's why I ask the question.
The teaching of the mind ground
Is the basis of Zen study.
The mind ground is the
Great awareness of being as is.
- Fayan
There's a bookmobile in Illinois that would make an unusual bookshop and bakery. The lobby officer at the prison thinks we should get it and name it "The Road Taken." He likes poetry.
Finding Happiness Outside the Box

Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.
Thich Nhat Hanh, from Teachings on Love, Parallax Press
Right now, I'm happy.

We'll stay with this for a while.

I'd be pleased to say the same phrase again and again if I had to.

Right now.

I am.

Happy.

Living Christ life, Zen life.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Of course we can change the past. It's right here. Quietly watch the mind. Accept, forgive, compassionately -- there. These acts of wisdom are the appearing aspects of understanding which is beyond being seen.
I explain to you matters
Pertaining to enlightenment,
But don't try to keep
Your mind on them.
Just turn to the ocean
Of your own essence
And develop practical accord with its nature.

- Yangshan
Beyond being seen is a very rare event. It changes everything.
Standing in the in-between of religions offers us today a most fruitful form of spirituality. One theologian talks of 'passing over' and coming back. Passing over, pascha, into another religious tradition and spirituality and then coming back to one's own, transformed and reformed. In passing over mind and heart into another one, one dies to one's own particular, self-enclosed religion; in coming back, one is born in spirit and truth. When we are identified totally with one religion, we lose our souls. Passing over and coming back, or better standing in-between, the spirit becomes freed and we come into our goodness and compassionate humanity. Standing in-between, the self stands nowhere and yet embraces all. The self is open to the infinite, yet its home is in the particular and the concrete, in the Here and the Now. It has no boundaries and no limits, yet it is through the door of the ethical life that it comes into life and reality.               (Zen Christ: A Monastic Teisho, From Zen Heart, Zen Mind: The Teachings of Zen Master AMA Samy , 2002 Cre-A Thiruvanmiyum India, If Not Now, When)
Dean said to leave is not to quit. It's stepping outside to get perspective. 

Carol liked Hillel:
If you are not friends with yourself,
Who will be?
If you are only that, what are you?
If not now, when?
Saskia liked the betweening.

Jory quoted Hafiz about throwing sticks at the soft part of yourself is throwing sticks at God.

Go on, let change come between you and it all.

Where do we live?

We live between one another.

I'm silenced.

There is nothing.

Else.

I can say.