Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 12, 2010

England 1, USA 1. A draw. It is more entertaining than some other things -- like 9 years of bad news and grim statistics into the Afghan War.

War is what happens when men want war.
When you dig into the earth,
Water springs forth,
And when the clouds clear,
All the sky is blue.
In the land of water and clouds
Is there anything but Zen?

- Mookam Choinul (1722-1795)
When man wants peace there will be peace.

There seems to be a difficulty sorting through the wants we experience within. War? Peace? A large chocolate cookie ice cream bar?
...the Singularity University founders hold dear and often discuss with a techno-utopian bravado: the arrival of the Singularity — a time, possibly just a couple decades from now, when a superior intelligence will dominate and life will take on an altered form that we can’t predict or comprehend in our current, limited state.

At that point, the Singularity holds, human beings and machines will so effortlessly and elegantly merge that poor health, the ravages of old age and even death itself will all be things of the past.

(--from"In the Singularity Movement, Humans Are So Yesterday", By ASHLEE VANCE, the New York Times, Published: June 11, 2010, MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.)
No need for the part about prolonging age and eliminating death. A short life with certain death would suffice if...if there was intelligence, creativity, and a felt kinship with all and each existing here.

England's Mr. Robert Green, as goalkeeper, let an easy keep get away from him in South Africa, allowing the Americans to score their goal. Many tsk tsk'd. I don't see the big deal.

Everybody fails.

Get on with the next game.

Right after we end war, that is.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dusk.

Let our heart be sacred, not scared.
Gain and renown are hindrances
To students of the Way;
They taint our purity of heart.
Uncentered,
How can we comprehend Tao?

- Loy Ching-Yuen (1873-1960)
The author of Romans (8:39) says something about fused eternity/mortality this Friday:
For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Phoebe flies to nest of squeeking mouths.

We say psalms.

Toll bell.
Walk to house.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

There's a weariness about the world. There's too many things to dislodge any fixed opinion. Even the most heinous occurrence is, finally, regarded as a passing glitch in the orderly running of the day. Former candidates for higher office become beauty queens again dancing the polls and are stuffed with dollar bills right where they pontificate.
The brushwood gate to the hermitage
Is closed even in daylight.
What's the use of asking
About fleeting worldly affairs?
Even time slows its pace
When I sit before the blue mountains.

- Mookam Choinul (1722-1795) http://www.dailyzen.com/
Dogen said, "Dropping off body and mind" is the way to go. I can't claim to grasp this. But that doesn't matter. I can't grasp how cold water comes out of our well, through the pump, and out the faucet.
The Main Case
Dogen studied with Master Rujing. One evening during the intensive summer training, in the first year of Pao-chang, 1225, Rujing shouted at a disciple, “When you study under a master, you must drop the body and mind. What is the use of single-minded intense sleeping?”
Sitting right beside this monastic, Dogen suddenly attained great enlightenment. Immediately, he went up to the abbot’s room and burned incense. Rujing said, “Why are you burning incense?” Dogen said, “Body and mind have been dropped off.” Rujing said, “Body and mind dropped off. The dropped-off body and mind.” Dogen said, “This may only be a temporary ability. Please don’t approve me arbitrarily.” Rujing said, “I am not.” Dogen said, “What is that which isn’t given arbitrary approval?” Rujing said, “Body and mind dropped off.” Dogen bowed. Rujing said, “The dropping off is dropped.”
The Commentary
Beginning with his ordination at age fourteen, Dogen’s relentless search for the Way carried him from teacher to teacher throughout Japan. Yet, the Great Doubt persisted. Finally, at age twenty-four, he crossed the ocean to China. When he arrived there, he immediately resumed his search for an authentic teacher. After visiting a number of monasteries, he discovered Rujing. The monastic environment at Rujing’s monastery was marked by a severe and disciplined meditation. By this time, Dogen was as far onto the edge of his practice as anyone can get. When the crack of Rujing’s voice shattered the silence of the darkened meditation hall, the universe collapsed and the edge disintegrated for Dogen.
“Body and mind fallen away” is a realm in which there are no doctrines or marvels, no certainties or mysteries. It’s just “when you see, there is not a single thing.” Having reached this place, Dogen expressed it to his teacher. Rujing then approved and Dogen bowed. Having passed through the forest of brambles, he then passed beyond the other side, too. Rujing said, “The dropping off is dropped.”
We should understand that this body and mind is not the bag of skin. So I ask you, what is it that is dropped off? Who is it that drops off? This is the place of inquiry that must be clarified. Haven’t you heard the words of the teachers of old? When the ten thousand things have been extinguished, there is still something that is not extinguished. What is it
?
(--Dharma Discourse by John Daido Loori, Roshi, Koans of the Way of Reality, Case 108, Master Dogen’s Enlightenment, Featured in Mountain Record 21.1, Fall 2002 http://www.mro.org/zmm/teachings/daido/teisho29.php)

Tonight at Thursday Evening Conversation we'll talk about the readings from which the below selections are taken. Some who attend know this stuff. I merely facilitate. I'm unsure I understand anything. I did, however, buy at Goodwill today a fine pair of five dollar fisherman's boots, easily slipped on, burnt orange toes so to see my feet just before I drown off the side of the dinghy I use. (I keep looking for an old, beat-up, rowboat to call my own -- if such claim to proprietorship is seemly -- that costs little or is donatable. The boots will fit well in a salty skiff with character.)
Hate is specific There must be a thing to be attacked. An enemy must be perceived in such a form he can be touched and seen and heard, and ultimately killed. When hatred rests upon a thing, it calls for death as surely as God's Voice proclaims there is no death. Fear is insatiable, consuming everything its eyes behold, seeing itself in everything, compelled to turn upon itself and to destroy.
Who sees a brother as a body sees him as fear's symbol And he will attack, because what he beholds is his own fear external to himself, poised to attack, and howling to unite with him again. Mistake not the intensity of rage projected fear must spawn. It shrieks in wrath, and claws the air in frantic hope it can reach to its maker and devour him.

(--from Lesson 161, A Course in Miracles)
Then there's this:
You have made much progress, and are really trying to make still more, but there is one thing you have never done; not for one instant have you utterly forgotten the body. It has faded at times from your sight, but it has not yet COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED. You are not asked to let this happen for more than an instant, but it is in this instant that the miracle of Atonement happens. Afterwards, you will see the body again, but never quite the same. And every instant that you spend WITHOUT awareness of it gives you a different view of it, when you return.

At no SINGLE instant does the body exist at all. It is always remembered or anticipated, but NEVER experienced just now. Only its past and future make it seem real. Time controls it entirely. For sin is never present. In any SINGLE instant, the attraction of guilt would be experienced as pain and nothing else, and would be avoided. IT HAS NO ATTRACTION NOW. Its whole attraction is imaginary, and therefore MUST be thought of from the past, or in the future.

(- from "I Need Do Nothing", ch.22, ACIM, http://courseinmiracles.com/urtext/chapter_22/section_6.htm)
For now, this body is good enough for me. Beat-up, old, and still wanting to carry on, or drift on into the misty buoyancy.

I dwell with or's and oars.

We drift in sheltered harbors and need not go anywhere that is anywhere else.

I'm told I will vacate my body some day.

I think of this when I tie up, set bumpers, and step out of the Cape Dory 10 that goes with Saskia's LOON IV. I don't go with the sailers, but I do huddle along in solitude when it is not being used. I balance, then slowly swing onto the beaten-up free-floats in Rockport Harbor.

The meditation correlates.

June deepens.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Oil gushes and pollutes. Everything.

No one knows what to do. This is not propitious. Not knowing, we turn to our most cultivated skill, mendacity, smooth and diversionary, placating and preposterous. Mendacity.

I know mendacity. It has been a longtime practice in my life. It's not the same thing as stupidity. It just wears the same clothes.
Account

The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.

Some would be devoted to acting against consciousness,
Like the flight of a moth which, had it known,
Would have tended nevertheless toward the candle's flame.

Others would deal with ways to silence anxiety,
The little whisper which, thought it is a warning, is ignored.

I would deal separately with satisfaction and pride,
The time when I was among their adherents
Who strut victoriously, unsuspecting.

But all of them would have one subject, desire,
If only my own -- but no, not at all; alas,
I was driven because I wanted to be like others.
I was afraid of what was wild and indecent in me.

The history of my stupidity will not be written.
For one thing, it's late. And the truth is laborious.


(Poem by Czeslaw Milosz, 1980)
There's a skewed consolation as well as terrifying realization flowing from the BP disaster in the Gulf Coast -- that we, all of us, do not know what we are doing. No one is in control of anything. There is only serial release of mayhem and reactive response of deflective ratiocination.

Then the predation begins. The talking heads and paid shills spew prepared rhetoric applicable to any circumstance. The formula is simple: Them bad; Me good; Send money; America (or Israel, or BP, or My Political Preference) is God's favored choice.
A Partial History of My Stupidity

Traffic was heavy coming off the bridge
and I took the road to the right, the wrong one,
and got stuck in the car for hours.

Most nights I rushed out into the evening
without paying attention to the trees,
whose names I didn't know,
or the birds, which flew heedlessly on.

I couldn't relinquish my desires
or accept them, and so I strolled along
like a tiger that wanted to spring
but was still afraid of the wildness within.

The iron bars seemed invisible to others,
but I carried a cage around inside me.

I cared too much what other people thought
and made remarks I shouldn't have made.
I was silent when I should have spoken.

Forgive me philosophers,
I read the Stoics but never understood them.

I felt that I was living the wrong life,
spiritually speaking,
while halfway around the world
thousands of people were being slaughtered,
some of the my by countrymen.

So I walked on--distracted, lost in thought--
and forgot to attend to those who suffered
far away, nearby.

Forgive me, faith, for never having any.

I did not believe in God,
who eluded me.
(Poem by Edward Hirsch)
We are becoming frightened people. Terrorism has become so attractive it is now a fund-raising goldmine. Anything done in the name of National Security is permitted and saluted, smartly.

Bullets and boarding raids, border protection and bullying behavior become our new Liturgical Celebrations. The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, having left the desiccated altars of dithering forgetfulness, has taken to showing up milliseconds before the rounds of arms fire enter the bodies aimed at. The blood and the flesh, torn and ripped, is placed on these new mobile altars in the middle of waters, in empty sluices, and in desolate mountain passes where drones scream soundlessly their descent into gatherings of people, all of whom are, de facto of the hit, guilty as sin. No matter that sin has been forgiven. No matter that neighbor is to be treated as oneself. No matter that hell is in the eye of the reloader.
US Border Patrol Agent Shoots Dead Mexican Teen on Mexican Soil

A fourteen-year-old Mexican boy is being buried today, less than forty-eight hours after being shot by a US Border Patrol agent on Mexican soil. Mexican officials say Sergio Adrian Hernandez
Huereca was shot in the head. Graphic photos published in the Mexico press show the boy lying next to a pool of blood. Sergio and his friends were reportedly playing in a dry section of the Rio Grande and throwing rocks at border guards. The Mexican government has condemned the shooting, saying the use of firearms to respond to boys throwing rocks was a "disproportionate use of force." An eyewitness said Hernandez was clearly on the Mexican side of the border when he was shot.
Eyewitness: "Once the youngsters were on Mexican soil, an official—I don’t know if he was an immigration agent or a police officer—arrived on a bike, wearing a white shirt, a helmet and shorts, and he shot at the youngsters, at the whole group. Some ran in one direction, and others in another. This one teenage victim hid behind the wall. He looked out, and that’s when the teenager was shot."
The shooting comes just weeks after President Obama announced a plan to send an extra $500 million and 1,200 National Guard troops to the border. Two weeks ago, a Border Patrol officer in California shot and killed an undocumented Mexican immigrant with a stun gun. The thirty-two-year-old
Anastacio Hernandez had lived in San Diego since he was fourteen and had five American-born children. Border Patrol agents claim he had resisted being deported. (--From Democracy Now, 9June2010,
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6/9/headlines#5)
I often wonder: What purpose monasteries? I've come to this -- in real monasteries the monastics realize there is no enemy out there. Monks and Nuns practice awareness -- as do myriad lay-practitioners in middle of ordinary lives. Awareness reveals to practitioners the illusions of this world. The primary illusion is antithesis. A setting against. An opposite. A dualistic other that must be eliminated if the you (or separate self) is to survive. At that revelation there is choice to be made -- continue the illusion by taking arms against and watching the destruction, or shatter the illusion by embodying and integrating into whole-sight.

The contemplative is faced with this choice in prayer and stillness. Then, in act and motion, the invitation so reminiscent of heroes and saviors throughout history -- to become the place where illusion ends -- to remain the reality... God is. Embodying.
“The ocean drives climate and weather, shapes the character of the planet. We do know now that the ocean, where 97 percent of earth’s water is, is vital, not just to the dolphins, the whales, the coral reefs, the kelp forests; it’s our life support system, too. We are sea creatures as much as any of the other creatures who actually live in the ocean, because without the ocean, our lives would not be possible. Anything we care about—our economies, our health, our security, life itself—depends on the fact that this is a blue planet. The ocean is the key to our survival."
(--Sylvia Earle, from National Geographic Explorer)
Perhaps all is dream. The task is to awaken. And sleep is actually our never-ending judgments.

At this point, I'd be happy just to realize every belief and judgment as being belief and judgment. It'd be a start.

From there?

To here.

As from a nap.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A well-formed conscience must be followed. It supersedes.
1799 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.

1800 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.

1801 Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt.

1802 The Word of God is a light for our path. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed.

(--from Catechism of the Catholic Church, http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a6.htm)
That, and walking at least an hour a day.
Its boundary is wider than the world,
But where to find a trace of it
Once relativity is broken?
Only fools examine their own hearts
It's like measuring the sky or binding the wind.

- Chunkyung Haewon (1691-1770)
Once you try to fragment and divide, the whole fabric of the world tears and frays. Like a broken mirror, each piece reflecting what it can, the whole of it is scattered on the ground. The ache for whole-sight is heart-rending.

High-Toned Old Christian Woman

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That's clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began. Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

(Poem by Wallace Stevens)
Inquire into, clear-eyed, then, trust, yourself.

As you must.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Dawn. Time for prayer. Wood seiza bench. Brown cushion. Red blanket. Tibetan incense. Bronze bell.
Leaning on a stick, I entered a deep forest
And wandered freely, enjoying spring.
Its fragrance soaked through my clothes,
Butterflies followed me all the way home.

- Hwansung Jian (1664-1729)
Northeast breeze pushes through screen. Cat does rounds through barn. Purple Finch and young Grosbeak take seed at feeder. Cars descend Barnestown Road.
John relied upon a baptism of conversion; Jesus set out to liberate people from every form of suffering and anguish -- present and future. How?
(p.29, Jesus Before Christianity, by Robert Nolan)
How?

Now?

There is more here than meets the eye. Are we going forward in time, or backward? Or is it only and ever 'now?'

In the Angelus, is the final couplet, "And the Word was made flesh; And dwelt among us." Or is it: "And the Word is made flesh; And dwells among us."?
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know
.
(-- from BURNT NORTON, No. 1 of 'Four Quartets', by T.S. Eliot)
Blue jay clanks green feeder. Sun comes over Melvin Heights. Silence remains the only sound that holds all sounds.

Crude oil in the Gulf sickens. Shooting in Iraq and Afghanistan has not ceased. Celtics even finals with Lakers at one each. The man who pitched a perfect game gets a one hit shutout.

There are doors I've never opened that store consciousness belonging to everyone. I'm not sure what to do with that sentence. Do I write: "I hope they open." Or, "It is better not to know."? There is a curious combination of declarative and interrogatory diacritical marks. I'm uncertain whether it means: "I am." or, "I am?"

I no longer know who or what I am. Even if or why? Someone dropped by last night to bring a pig-in-a-chef's-hat with blackboard at its apron. She arrives, says it's for Saskia if she wants it, takes cookie, tells of books in box returned to bookshed, leaves. The pastry pig stands on center island. After she leaves it occurs to me that it is all a dream. This coming and going. This sitting and praying. The dreams of night. This morning window and rising sun.

A dream that is real and not-real and not what it seems to be.

Car arrives. Man goes to meditation cabin. I have not yet begun to understand. And if truth be known, I'm not sure I wish it. An ambiguation reveals itself.

Cars pass. Radio comes on and soon goes off. Wind blows and leaves and birds give voice. Ground, wet with weekend rain, will dry. Books, demure reminders of conversations waiting to continue, poise.

It is Monday morning.

Time and tide wait for man.

The opposite is myth.

No?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

If one were to live the silent life, there are considerations.
St. Romuald's Brief Rule 

Sit in your cell as in paradise;
 put the whole world behind you and forget it;

like a skilled angler on the lookout for a catch

keep a careful eye on your thoughts.
The path you follow is in the psalms -- don't leave it. 
If you've come with a novice's enthusiasm and can't 
accomplish what you want, take every chance you can find 
to sing the psalms in your heart and to understand them 
with your head; if your mind wanders as you read 
don't give up but hurry back and try again.
Above all realize that you are in God's presence;
 hold your heart there in wonder as if before your sovereign.
Empty yourself completely;
 sit waiting, content with God's gift,
 like a little chick tasting and eating nothing 
but what its mother brings.
(Saint Romuald's Brief Rule was written around AD 1006 -- about twenty years before St. Romuald's death.)
If one were to dwell listening, there is a way.
Voila le silence: Laisser le Seigneur
prononcer en nous une parole
égale a` lui.


Sieh, dies ist die Stille: Den Herrn in
uns ein Wort sprechen lassen, das er
selbst ist.


Behold the silence: Allow the Lord
to speak one Word in us…
that He is.

(At 0:58:54 in Le Grand Silence - film de Philip Groning, about the daily life of monks of La Grande Chartreuse, founded by St. Bruno (1030- 1101) based in the Alps, known as The Carthusians)

If one were to think of life as faith/grace, nothing linear or scientific could limit, nothing would be impossible with God.

Things appear and disappear -- people, rainclouds, small animals caught by cat -- still, we are invited into a place that goes nowhere, but is complete; that arrives nowhere, but is the ground you walk on to get right here.

I am, alors, grateful for merely being alive.