Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Faith is nothing doing what is being done.

It is the response to the question: "What is the sight of God?"
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

Bodily health is a good thing, but what is truly blessed is not only to know how to keep one’s health but actually to be healthy. If someone praises health but then goes and eats food that makes him ill, what is the use to him, in his illness, of all his praise of health?
We need to look at the text we are considering in just the same way. It does not say that it is blessed to know something about the Lord God, but that it is blessed to have God within oneself. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
I do not think that this is simply intended to promise a direct vision of God if one purifies one’s soul. On the other hand, perhaps the magnificence of this saying is hinting at the same thing that is said more clearly to another audience: The kingdom of God is within you. That is, we are to understand that when we have purged our souls of every illusion and every disordered affection, we will see our own beauty as an image of the divine nature.
And it seems to me that the Word of God, in these few words, was saying something like this: In you there is a certain desire to contemplate what is truly good. But when you hear that God’s majesty is exalted high above the heavens, that his glory beyond comprehension, that his beauty is beyond description, that his very nature can neither be perceived nor be understood, do not fall into despair or think you can never have the sight that you desire.
So if, by love and right living, you wash off the filth that has become stuck to your heart, the divine beauty will shine forth in you. Think of iron, which at one moment is dark and tarnished and the next, once the rust has been scraped off, shines and glistens brightly in the sun. It is the same with the inner core of man, which the Lord calls the heart. It has been in damp and foul places and is covered in patches of rust; but once the rust has been scraped off, it will recover itself and once more resemble its archetype. And so it will be good, since what resembles the good must be good itself.
Therefore, whoever looks at himself sees in himself what he desires. And whoever is pure in heart is blessed because, seeing his own purity, he sees the archetype reflected in the image. If you see the sun in a mirror then you are not looking directly at the sky, but still you are seeing the sun just as much as someone who looks directly at it. In the same way, the Lord is saying, although you do not have the strength to withstand the direct sight of the great and inaccessible light of God, if you look within yourselves once you have returned to the grace of the image that was placed in you from the beginning, you will find in yourselves all that you seek.
For to be God is to be pure, to be free from weakness and passion, to be separated from all evil. If these things are all true of you then God is within you. If your thought is kept pure from evil habits, free from passion and weakness, separated from all stain, you are blessed because your vision is sharp and clear. You are able to see what is invisible to those who have not been purified. The eyes of your soul have been cleansed of material filth and through the purity of your heart you have a clear sight of the vision of blessedness. What is that vision? It is purity, sanctity, simplicity, and other reflections of the brightness of the Divine nature. It is the sight of God.

(--by St Gregory of Nyssa on the Beatitudes, form Office of Readings, Saturday of Week 12)
The sight of God is the seeing of what God is seeing.

Only "no-one" can see God and live. Nothing else is real.

Be nothing else doing nothing else.

Faith is nothing doing what is being done.
Early cabin sitter drops off newspaper before leaving. Says gloomy weather will linger. Jokes that gloomy weather cheers us up. Tells after invitation to coffee there's another guest sitting in cabin. We, of course, are late for practice.
At the sound of the bell
in the silent night,
I wake from my dream
in this dreamworld of ours.
Gazing at the reflection
of the moon in a clear pool,
I see, beyond my form, my real form.

- Kojisei
Arjuna and Krishna dialogued during Friday Evening Conversation about no expectations. Then we (7 of us) argued the timetable, cost, workforce, and design of BookShed to take place opposite barn and Wohnkuche. No acrimony, just direct pummeling and slamming of our idiosyncrasies. Good enough interaction. This morning's guest said, no, not to buy 20x10 from shed-city (although they make a good product) but make it a community slugfest that will deepen the lore of the hermitage.
Buddhas and Patriarchs appeared on earth to teach the doctrine of prajna. The Sanskrit prajna means wisdom in Chinese. This wisdom is the Buddha-nature that we originally possess. It is also called Self-Mind or Self-Nature. This essence is originally undefiled, so it is called "clear and pure." It is originally without darkness, so it is called "bright." It is originally vast and all inclusive, so it is called "void and empty." It is originally without delusion, so it is called "the one truth." It is originally immutable, so it is called tathata. It is originally illuminating everywhere, so it is called "perfect enlightenment." It is originally calm and extinct, so it is called "nirvana."
- Han-shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623)
In prison Friday, two conversations: (Tao te Ching, 1st chapter; and, Phillis Wheatley 1753 – December 5, 1784.) When Stephen Mitchell's translation suggests that source is darkness, one of the men shuddered that his Christian mind had trouble with the association of devil and darkness.

1

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

(--Tao Te Ching, ,Written by Lao-tzu, From a translation by S. Mitchell)

It came round to the possibility that "darkness" might be understood as "not-knowing." This not-knowing precedes any notion of God, any idea called "devil." The biblical origins emerge from darkness, chaos, and the void. Perhaps the "don't-know mind" is the true source of wisdom manifesting in mystery throughout what we call 'creation.'

I really like that conversations happen here and there.

As spring changes into summer, this poem by by E. E. Cummings:
Spring is like a perhaps hand

III

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything
.
(Poem by by E. E. Cummings)

No need to break anything anymore. Everything is already broken within wholeness.

As itself.

Is.

Complete, alone, together.
Gateway.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sweep, sweep.
The shadow of the bamboo
Sweeps the stair
All night long.
Yet not a mote of dust is stirred.
The moon beams penetrate
To the bottom of the pool,
Yet in the water not a trace is left.

- Chikan Zenji
Two known entertainers die today.

Sweep, sweep, sweep. How lovely the misty fog settling on board walk to cabin.

Living and dying -- we're in this together.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Watched War Made Easy, documentary based on Norman Soloman's book. Journalist I.F. Stone wrote: "All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed." This sums up the film. Investigative work, not blind obeisance, is needed.

It's about time -- war is. Something ought to be done about time.
Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.
--Ludwig Wittgenstein
Walking Ragged Mountain this afternoon I say hello with each step to the deceased members of family and friends. I imagine they are right on the other side of time just as they were when they passed through. I say hello and ask how they are today. It is raining and ground is water-saturated in this time schema on the mountain.
Inscribed on the Wall of the Hut by the Lake

If you want to be a mountain dweller,
No need to trek to India to find one.
I’ve got a thousand peaks
To pick from, right here in the lake.
Fragrant grasses, white clouds,
To hold me here.
What holds you there,
World dweller?

- Chiao Jan (730–799)
When I want to visit the earth I step out my door.

It is said John the Baptist knew in the womb his cousin Jesus. Might be fanciful story. But if it is true before birth, why not after death?

Hello John! How are you today?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Neda is, or was, her name. Shot dead in Iran.

The sorry pattern of deteriorating mind that effects terror and revenge in the name of disintegrating categories of good and evil.

There's something unsatisfying about both omniscience and nescience. I respectfully want to disagree with a friend who wrote: "God does NOT know what is happening...God IS what is happening." Neither I nor God are able to word the disagreement.
The great path has no gates,
Thousands of roads enter it.
When you pass through this gateless gate
You walk freely between heaven and earth.

- Mumonkan
This inability to word what is happening is the beginning recognition and orientation of mindfulness. As mindfulness deepens, the desire to find words for the ineffable diminishes in intensity. Maybe we really can't judge with any repute.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How dare you say to your brother, “Let me take the splinter out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:1-5 )
Maybe this is my body. Maybe this is my blood. This world. This moment. This inability to enter language so deeply there is no sound necessary. Only the touch and presence of what we call 'love.'
The world in which we live today and about whose suffering we know so much seems more than ever a world from which Christ has withdrawn himself. How can I believe that in this world we are constantly being prepared to receive the Spirit? Still I think this is exactly the message of hope. God has not withdrawn himself. He sent his Son to share our human condition and the Son sent us his Spirit to lead us into the intimacy of his divine life. It is in the midst of the chaotic suffering of humanity that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love, makes himself visible. But can we recognize his presence?
(--pp.179-180, from The Genesee Diary, by Henri J.M. Nouwen)
The thought of hope in the Holy Spirit doesn't satisfy.

The practice of being aware of what is taking place is all I can muster.

For now.

I mourn as those who mourn do.

These soggy rainy days.
I could just as easily not attend mass. The ritual is so familiar. I attend on weekday mornings when possible so as to sit between word and silence.
Upon the clatter of a broken tile
All I had learned was at once forgotten.
Amending my nature is needless;
Pursuing the tasks of everyday life
I walk along the ancient path.
I am not disheartened in the mindless void.
Wherever I go I leave no footprint,
Walking without color or sound.

- Chikan Zenji
We complete three sections of boardwalk to meditation cabin.

I never think I will awaken in the morning.

Going to sleep is the end of this thought.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Maybe the outside world is a dream. Not what it seems. Real, but not what we think it is.

What does that make the inner world? When we awaken, is everything inside/out?

At Sunday Evening Conversation we read words about Thomas Berry. He died June first. Forty years ago I studied with him in his graduate class on the Bhagavad Gita. He seemed to my conditioned eyes to be an old man then. He lived forty years longer.
Moreover, in contrast to Descartes' concentration on rationalization [Giambattista] Vico [1668-1744] emphasized the poetic wisdom and creative imagination needed for the future.

In his study, Vico used large, sweeping categories to describe major historical periods since the time of Noah and the flood. Looking at human history from a macrophase perspective he identified three ages: the age of the gods, the age of the heroes, and the age of men. Corresponding to each age are different kinds of customs, laws, languages, arts, and economies embracing quite distinctive cultures. moreover, in each stage a different human faculty dominates, namely, sensation, imagination, and intellect.

In the first period, the age of the gods, a theocratic government supported by mythology prevails. In the second period, the age of the heroes, an aristocratic government dominates along with class conflict and slavery. In the third age, the age of men, democracies appear and the power of reason and human rights emerge. Vico sees this cycle as recurring at different points in human history as we move from myth to rationality and from savage to civilized states. In each of these periods the role of natural or poetic wisdom and intuition has been crucial in founding institutions which have given rise to the nations. Yet the movement through history is punctuated by disintegration and dissolution. Vico called these the periods of the "barbarism of reflection." In passing through such phases of entropy history moves toward a "creative barbarism of sense."

Vico's thought has clearly been seminal for Berry. This is evident in several respects: the sweeping periodization of history, the notion of the barbarism of reflection, and the poetic wisdom and creative imagination needed to sustain civilizations. With regard to periodization, Berry has defined four major ages in human history namely, the tribal shamanic, the traditional civilizational, the scientific technological, and the ecological or ecozoic age. He observes that we are currently moving into the ecozoic era which he feels will be characterized by a new understanding of human-earth. relations. Nonetheless, he acknowledges that we are in a period of severe cultural pathology with regard to our blind yet sophisticated technological assault on the earth. In other words, we are in a time of a "barbarism of reflection". Vicols description of people in the midst of such a barbarism is uncannily reminiscent of contemporary western societies:
… such people, like so many beasts, have fallen into the custom of each man thinking only of his own private interests and have reached the extreme of delicacy, or better pride, in which like wild animals they bristle and lash out at the slightest displeasure. Thus no matter how great the throng and press of their bodies, they live like wild beasts in a deep solitude of spirit and will…(3)
To extract ourselves from this cultural pathology of alienation from one another and destruction of the earth Berry calls for a New Story of the universe. By evoking such a deep poetic wisdom he feels we may be able to create a sustainable future. He calls for reinventing the human at the species level which implies moving from our cultural coding to recover our genetic coding of relatedness to the earth. By articulating a new mythic consciousness of our profound connectedness to the earth we may be able to reverse the self-destructive cultural tendencies we have put in motion with regard to the planet.

(--from Biography of Thomas Berry, by Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University, http://www.thomasberry.org/Biography/tucker-bio.html)
I fell into silence the last two days. Spring fell into summer. Rain has been falling three days and will continue for three more days.

Silence is a country with no passport requirement.

Slip the border.

Stay a while.

Listen.

Well.