Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, October 03, 2009

In his transitus, where did Francis go?
At Zen centers they say
There is a Way to be practiced
And a religious truth to be realized.
Tell me, what religious truth is realized,
What way is practiced?
In your present functioning, what do you lack?
What would you fix?
Younger newcomers, not understanding this,
Immediately believe these mesmerists and
Let them talk about things that tie people up.

- Linji (d. 867)
He is in the rain.

He is in these words.

He has found nature to be home.

A joy, if not perfect, at least complete.

Friday, October 02, 2009

No matter where I look, all I see is what is looking by itself as itself within itself. All that is heard is the sound of what is being said.

And it sees nothing, says nothing. Nothing worth mentioning. Nothing special.
The Dharma is without living beings, because it is free of the dust of living beings. It is selfless, because it is free of the dust of desire. It is lifeless, because it is free from birth and death. It is without personalities, because it dispenses with past origins and future destinies.
( - The Buddha in Vimalakirti Sutra)
Prison conversation and Assisted Living Center conversation both lend cheer to the day. It's just listening and speaking. Nothing else.
First He Looked Confused

I could not lie anymore so I started to call my dog "God."
First he looked
confused,

then he started smiling, then he even

danced.
I kept at it: now he doesn't even
bite.

I am wondering if this might work on
people?

(Poem by Tukaram {c. 1608 - 1649}, India. From “Love Poems From God” trans. by Daniel Ladinsky. c.1999)

Let's not kid ourselves. There is no God beyond what God is saying to each one of us.

Each.

One.

Of us.

Here. Right here.

Can you feel what you are within the name of God?

Being pronounced ?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

In the film "Phoebe in Wonderland" (2009), Miss Dodger tells Phoebe that one day she will realize all the things that make her different and say, "This is what I am."
One of the things that most nourishes true compassion is clarity—when we know what we are thinking and know what we are feeling. This clarity differentiates compassion from shallow martyrdom, when we are only thinking of others and we are never caring about ourselves. This clarity differentiates compassion from what might be thought of as a conventional kind of self-preoccupation, when we care only about ourselves and not about others. The Buddha said at one point that if we truly loved ourselves we would never harm another, because if we harm another it is in some way diminishing who we are; it is taking away from rather than adding to our lives.
(- Sharon Salzberg from "A Quiver of the Heart," Tricycle Spring 2009)
A woman left conversation tonight early. Thirty minutes later she was still in the dooryard trying to get into the locked car with a hanger while using a solar powered garden light to see what she was doing. When she got it open, still unable to find her keys, the security alarm continuously blared and honked. It was a drama that unfolded with solitary determination. She too was an articulation of "This is what I am."
but if a living dance upon dead minds

but if a living dance upon dead minds
why,it is love;but at the earliest spear
of sun perfectly should disappear
moon's utmost magic,or stones speak or one
name control more incredible splendor than
our merely universe, love's also there:
and being here imprisoned,tortured here
love everywhere exploding maims and blinds
(but surely does not forget,perish, sleep
cannot be photographed,measured;disdains
the trivial labelling of punctual brains...
-Who wields a poem huger than the grave?
from only Whom shall time no refuge keep
though all the weird worlds must be opened?
)Love

(--Poem by e.e. cummings)
Of the three "Toms" visiting here today: one wants to buy the house across from the lake; one stops for coffee after visit to V.A. at Togus; and one passes at final circle feeling tired and weak and shaky waiting for a diagnosis other than just being shy of 84.

The hammering and building of book shed continues. Six of us plus two dogs and a cat sat in garden chairs with coffee after clean-up inside the space trying to determine where the wood stove will go and how the stairs will ascend to the not yet begun second story.

We look at one another -- look around at mountains and brook and pond -- and say, "This is what I am."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Returning to the Way by going through the opposite. The Tao:
...flows through all things,
inside and outside, and returns
to the origin of all things.

(-from Chapter 25, trans. by Stephen Mitchell)
September leaving. October in a minute or two.

We are what Greatness is.
The realm of non-thinking
Can hardly be fathomed by cognition;
In the sphere of genuine suchness
There is neither "I" nor "other."
- Yunmen (864-949)
How is it we once thought ourselves not what we are?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thinking of angels, specifically, archangels today.

Maybe the history of religion and theology is the unfolding of consciousness. The narratives we relate are the specific insights consciousness unveils..

Someday we will know the true nature of reality.
There is ultimately no means
of safeguarding anything in this world;
anything you gain can be
lost, destroyed, or taken away.
For this reason if you make
the acquisition and retention
of goods or status your aim in life,
this is a way to anxiety and sorrow.
- Muso Kokushi (1275-1351
)
What is this reality?
Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

(from: If You Forget Me, by Pablo Neruda)
My right elbow suffers from hammering large nails.

I think "God" has disappeared into the center of creation.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Watched "The Devil Came on Horseback" (2007) -- the story of Darfur as witnessed and told by Brian Steidle. Murder, rape, and pillaging.

The terribleness of it.
We're All in the Same Boat

We’re all in the same boat. Born as we are in this human body, we can’t escape the blessings and tortures of the human brain. From our first breath, we yearn for love and understanding in the most complicated ways imaginable. We find it most satisfying as we learn to give it. The ability to do this comes from acceptance of our frailties. By understanding the conditions of our own lives, we accept the conditions of others. Compassion is not condescension, but a leveling of the playing field, a recognition of yourself in others and an acceptance that their stress is your stress, that their happiness is your own. The gulf between us all is imaginary, born of insecurity and fear.

(- Stephen Schettini, from “What to Expect When You’re Reflecting,” Tricycle, Fall 2008)
I can only wonder why I am so willing to murder my brothers and sisters. Aside from someone paying me to do the killing, why do I do it?
Skull Trees, South Sudan

Arok, hiding from the Arabs in the branches of a tree,
two weeks surviving on leaves,
legs numb, mouth dry.
When the mosquitoes swarmed
and the bodies settled limp as petals under the trees,
he shinnied down, scooping out a mud pit with his hands
sliding into it like a snake,
his whole body covered except his mouth.
Perhaps others were near him,
lying in gloves of mud, sucking bits of air through the swamp holes,
mosquitoes biting their lips,
but he dared not look.

What did he know of the rest of South Sudan, pockmarked with bombs,
skull trees with their necklaces of bones,
packs of bony Lost Boys
roving like hyenas towards Ethiopia,
tongues, big as toads, swelling in their mouths,

the sky pouring its relentless bombs of fire. Of course they were
tempted to lie down for a moment,

under the lone tree, with its barely shade,
to rest just a little while before moving on,

the days passing slyly, hallucinations
floating like kites above them
until the blanched bones lay scattered in a ring around the tree,
tiny ribs, skulls, hip bones—a tea set overturned,
as the hot winds whistled through them
as they would anything, really,

and the sky, finally exhausted,
moving on.
( Poem by Adrie Kusserow, Published in Best American Poetry 2008; originally published in The Kenyon Review)
I will begin again: Who am I? Why am I here? What is life? How should I live? Who are you in my life?

I will look to the source, the ground, of my and all being.

I will stop murdering my family.

I cease being false.

Stop looking for me.

I am no longer where you think I am.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Heavy rain.

Good sitting practice.
Wanting nothing,
With all your heart stop the stream.
When the world dissolves,
Everything becomes clear.
Go beyond this way or that way
To the farther shore where the world dissolves,
And everything becomes clear.
Beyond this shore and the farther shore,
Beyond the beyond,
Where there is no beginning, no end,
Without fear, go.

- Buddha in the Dhammapada
It's an odd time to be an American. It feels like everyone is accusing everyone else of being un-American. No more debate and dissent. No more arguing and reasoning.

Rather, yell. Accuse. Rage and hate.

It's an odd time.
In the Absence of Bliss

Museum of the Diaspora, Tel Aviv

The roasting alive of rabbis
in the ardor of the Crusades
went unremarked in Europe from
the Holy Roman Empire to 1918,
open without prerequisite
when I was an undergraduate.

While reciting the Sh’ma in full
expectation that their souls
would waft up to the bosom
of the Almighty the rabbis burned,
pious past the humming extremes
of pain. And their loved ones with them.
Whole communities tortured and set aflame
in Christ’s name
while chanting Hear, O Israel.

Why?
Why couldn’t the rabbis recant,
kiss the Cross, pretend?
Is God so simple that He can’t
sort out real from sham?
Did He want
these fanatic autos-da-fé, admire
the eyeballs popping,
the corpses shrinking in the fire?

We live in an orderly
universe of discoverable laws,
writes an intelligent alumna
in Harvard Magazine.
Bliss is belief,
agnostics always say
a little condescendingly
as befits mandarins who function
on a higher moral plane.

Consider our contemporary
Muslim kamikazes
hurling their explosives-
packed trucks through barriers.
Isn’t it all the same?
They too die cherishing the fond
certitude of a better life beyond.

We walk away from twenty-two
graphic centuries of kill-the-jew
and hail, of all things, a Mercedes
taxi. The driver is Yemeni,
loves rock music and hangs
each son’s picture—three so far—
on tassels from his rearview mirror.

I do not tell him that in Yemen
Jewish men, like women, were forbidden
to ride their donkeys astride,
having just seen this humiliation
illustrated on the Museum screen.

When his parents came
to the Promised Land, they entered
the belly of an enormous
silver bird, not knowing whether
they would live or die.
No matter. As it was written,
the Messiah had drawn nigh.

I do not ask, who tied
the leaping ram inside the thicket?
Who polished, then blighted the apple?
Who loosed pigs in the Temple,
set tribe against tribe
and nailed man in His pocket?

But ask myself, what would
I die for and reciting what?
Not for Yahweh, Allah, Christ,
those patriarchal fists
in the face. But would
I die to save a child?
Rescue my lover? Would
I run into the fiery barn
to release animals,
singed and panicked, from their stalls?

Bliss is belief, but where’s
the higher moral plane I roost on?
This narrow plank given to splinters.
No answers. Only questions.

(Poem by Maxine W. Kumin)
I remember a question from Brooklyn asked so often: "Who do you think you are?"

Lets remember to ask.

Let's urge honest responses.

Like the rain.

Down to earth.

Blessed Yom Kippur!