Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We pin dedication notice, laminated and logo'd, six years later, on side of chapel/zendo. In honor of Janet, our original elder, on this ninth anniversary of her death. With grateful thanks to Jim and Paul six years after their generous gift of material, labor, and expertise.

It always seemed fitting -- Janet's death on her island on the feast of the Assumption of Mary.
The great Tao flows everywhere,
To the left and to the right.
All things depend upon it to exist,
And it does not abandon them.
To its accomplishments it lays no claim.
It loves and nourishes all things,
But does not lord it over them. (--Chuang tzu)
At table after morning practice Tom first and then Dean sang compositions and Lieders, first in French, then German -- to the delight of Erika, Saskia, and me. Quite by surprise after sitting and Lectio -- this spontaneous regaling.

This hermitage life feels just like the gift it is.

The Desire for Hermitage

Ah! To be all alone in a little cell
with nobody near me;
beloved that pilgrimage before the last pilgrimage to death.
Singing the passing hours to cloudy Heaven;
Feeding upon dry bread and water from the cold spring.
That will be an end to evil when I am alone
in a lovely little corner among tombs
far from the houses of the great.
Ah! To be all alone in a little cell, to be alone, all alone:
Alone I came into the world
alone I shall go from it.
"The Desire for Hermitage," taken from marginalia scribbled by medieval Irish monks in the corners of the manuscripts they were illuminating, translated by Seán Ó Faoláin.
We are simultaneously always and never alone.

This unbroken and unrepaired solitude is the practice of presence. The mind's identification with detail and drama is punctuated by mere seeing what is there as it is, without adornment.
Between Walls

the back wings
of the

hospital where
nothing

will grow lie
cinders

in which shine
the broken

pieces of a green
bottle

(Poem by William Carlos Williams)
A woman visiting her husband at Maine State Prison stopped by between morning and afternoon visits yesterday. A woman from Philadelphia visits this afternoon. The oven is on full tilt on this the hottest day in Maine this year.

We are in the body, as bodies, through the mystery of union of body, mind, and spirit.
She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth.
(--from Book of Revelations, 12)
Being in, as, and through this reality -- this not one, not two -- of matter/spirit, is a grand meditation that has befuddled many (if not all of us) throughout human existence.

I like the incarnational spirituality of wholeness -- where, as Williams writes. "nothing / will grow".

This meditation on nothingness and emptiness, kenosis and shunyata, is today's gift.

Mary...went...where?

Here I am.

Dwelling.

In, as, and through, the inquiry.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's not too late.
"Honest conversation may be the most revolutionary act of our time."
(--from The Earth Charter, A New Economy and the Rise of Earth Community, by David Korten, at Earth Charter Leadership Gathering, Indianapolis June 19, 2009
Although we're slow to learn the skill, it's still possible.
Keep your heart clear and transparent
And you will never be bound.
A single disturbed thought, though,
Creates ten thousand distractions.
Let myriad things captivate you
And you'll go further and further astray.
How painful to see people
All wrapped up in themselves.

- Ryokan
Unwrap.

Speak honestly.

The revolution will be a joy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When I'm dying, I'd like to be sure a conversation takes place about options. I'm not sure anyone will object. The public theater of exaggerated distortion is bad theater.
During the moment of illumination,
When I see the original face of mind,
A limitless compassion arises.
The greater the illumination,
The greater is the compassion.
The greater my compassion,
The deeper is the wisdom I feel.

- Garmaba
So much that passes for political discourse is really the personal fight for power and a financial payoff.

I prefer the eremitical life.

No power, no payoff, nothing personal.

Just morning, evening.

Sip water, eat potatoes.

The end is always near the beginning..

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We hang a louvered door to the front room.

I worry about the American people.

Something disturbing is arising in their midst.

And they do not recognize it.

I don't. Do you?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Some say they have faith in God. Others say they know God. Still others say they feel God's presence.

Me? I'm happy to hear what all three say. It is that listening which is enough for me. To have faith, or know, or feel is not as interesting to me as is listening to the words and silence surrounding each one.
There’s a traditional story about a man imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit who attempts to dig his way to freedom with a spoon—rather like the character played by Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption. After years of bone-wearying struggle, his hands calloused and bloody, he finally realizes the futility of his efforts and gives up. Tears of frustration and desperation streaming down his cheeks, he leans back against the door of his cell, only to discover that it’s been unlocked all along. As implausible as this story may seem, the point is clear—the prison that you imagine constrains you doesn’t really exist.
—Stephan Bodian, from Wake up Now (McGraw Hill), Tricycle Daily Dharma
So much of my life is futility. The dictionary says: The quality of having no useful result; uselessness. Lack of importance or purpose; frivolousness.

My life a futile act.

This realization does not upset.
Art as Flirtation and Surrender


In your light I learn how to love.

In your beauty, how to make poems.

You dance inside my chest,

where no one sees you,

but sometimes I do,

and that sight becomes this art.


(Excerpts from The Essential Rumi, translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, 1995.
)
Seeing is enough. Not seeing is also enough. No one sees God.

But we can listen.

Practicing.

Futility.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Clare lived 27 years after the death of Francis. Once they were young together.
Orchid

Deep in the valley, a beauty hides:
Serene, peerless, incomparably sweet.
In the still shade of the bamboo thicket
It seems to sigh softly.

- Ryokan Taigu (1758-1831)
There's something unusual about hermits.

Francis loved Clare. Clare loved Francis.

They both loved poverty.

In 1215 Clare obtained permission to own nothing, as did Francis six years earlier. Only alms and nothing else would sustain them. Their intention was risky, a threat to established powers in the church, and was deemed a trifle insane.

They were unusual.

Intentional poverty for purposes of selfless compassion calls blindly to the unseen realm we once named heaven.

The real name of 'Lady Poverty' has never been known.

Clare and Francis were coy about their intimate realization.

They saw what we seem not able to see.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

No complacencies. Merely Sunday morning.

We meet 3 dogs and their human companion at the turn of the first runway just up our path at the Snow Bowl. They run a little. We go on to the pond and fetch tennis ball and stick, returning by way of parking lot where Wallace and his human companion Jane are exiting their car. Rokpa and Wallace are good buddies. Rokie does the Border Collie crouch as they both sidle closer until like Sumo wrestlers they pound up against one another, run and tumble, pee and eat grass, smelling the remains of yesterday's tent catering now empty to the right of the chalet lodge.

They are, one surmises, happy to be with one another for this Sunday morning sunny time.
Dogen writes, “For the time being the highest peak, for the time being the deepest ocean; for the time being a crazy mind, for the time being a Buddha body; for the time being a Zen Master, for the time being an ordinary person; for the time being earth and sky… Since there is nothing but this moment, ‘for the time being’ is all the time there is.”

For seven days that week I spoke about this in as many ways as I could think of, silly and sometimes not silly, and for seven days 65 silent people listened and took Dogen’s words to heart.

We want enjoyment, we want to avoid pain and discomfort. But it is impossible that things will always work out, impossible to avoid pain and discomfort. So to be happy, with a happiness that doesn’t blow away with every wind, we need to be able to make use of what happens to us — all of it — whether we find ourselves at the top of a mountain or at the bottom of the sea.

(-- from Happy Days, The New York Times, August 7, 2009, 9:25 pm, For the Time Being, By Norman Fischer a senior Zen Buddhist priest and poet.)
Today I celebrate the sorrowful Feast of Nagasaki. In 1945 the second Atomic bomb dropped on Japan. It made the world a more frightening place for sane men and women. It began a spate of terror that has little promise of abatement. 9/11/2001 in New York City was only a small grandchild of that terror. There is a large extended family of terror-embedded offspring from the 1945 blasts that wander through time and being trying to remember why it is they feel driven to explode themselves reaking havoc, death, and destruction in their wake.

The parent originators and perpetrators of these terrifying and terrible ways of attacking the world with perceptions of fear and annihilation have long since retired from rationalizing and justifying and basking in adulation for their part in conceiving, creating, and cremating fellow men, women, and children. They have, as is said, taken their place in the pages of history. The scientists, the military, the president, and the populace all have settled into their own deaths and are little consulted in the conversation about their dangerous and demented grandchildren strapping explosives to their bodies, yelling or whispering demagogic threats of assassination, racism, and lynching in public town meetings, cable stations, and the podiums of congress.

We falsely accuse others of that which we are. These days "Hitler" and Nazism" and "Demagogue" are the epithets of right wing ideologues against their perceived enemies. A demagogue is a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power. These men and women, the grandchildren of atomic bomb ancestors, continue the delusion of separation, continue the rhetoric of division, continue the buildup of new platforms from which to launch contemporary versions of egoic fear and trembling that they are not, as they are wont to believe, the sole favored, privileged, and divinely appointed future of this planet.
Toward dawn I dozed off, and in my dream I found myself surrounded by a group of skeletons . . . . One skeleton came over to me and said:

Memories
Flee and
Are no more.
All are empty dreams
Devoid of meaning.

Violate the reality of things
And babble about
"God" and "the Buddha"
And you will never find
the true Way.

(--Ikkyu, 1400’s, from his poem "Skeletons")
Saskia and Rokpa come down from the mountain. It's a good day. We'll try Chase's Daily for brunch.

I love this life. And the world. I grow in deeper appreciation of my sisters and brothers. Even those grandparents who so desperately believed their perceptions of attack and destroy.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.
(--from poem Epilogue by Robert Lowell)
My name is Bill. I am Nagasaki. I am America. I created the bomb. Flew it over Japan. Ordered the drop. And was killed there. So were you. So are you.

I tell you this because I do not want you to feel you have to continue my illusion. You do not have to blindly follow the conditioning imprinted by frightened ancestors and frightening figures selling delusional contemporary fear.

We are, for the time being, creators of the present. Imagine that!
Cease doing evil,
Learn and practice doing good,
Purify one's mind
This is the teaching of all the Awakened.

(from the Dhammapada, Verse 183, by the Buddha)
Begin here, now. From the rising of the sun to its setting. Let the name that is yours and mine, our brothers and sisters, earth and the whole of what is -- let it be praised and appreciated, respected and cherished. Take your finger off the button. Put it down. Look carefully beyond fear and attack. See What-Is there. Be the innocent child. Enter compassion!

Imagine

If only

We were love

With one

Another!

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