Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We need a conversation. I want us to talk about what it might be that causes us to want to kill and eliminate anyone who disagrees with us. Why is war so attractive to us?
General George Casey, the Chief of Staff of the Army, said today the United States could face another "decade or so" of persistent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In two months, the U.S. will have been at war in Afghanistan for nine years.

The four-star general said the U.S. military moved beyond conventional warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan "long ago," and that the focus is now on the people. Casey highlighted job, education and economic growth as essential to success in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When asked if enemies of the U.S. have to be a part of the reconciliation process for it to be considered a success, Casey said that is a "matter of debate," but that enemies have to be convinced they will lose.

(--from, Casey: U.S. Could be at War Another Decade, CBS News, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20010184-503544.html)

War is ugly and insane. It is costly and dangerous. It disfigures and mutilates. War terrifies and seems to be what appeals to us so much we are loath not to be at war. It is truly a confounding consideration why we relish war.

Chris Hedges writes:
War and conflict have marked most of my adult life. I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of Central American roads, locked in unnerving firefights in the marshes in southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by Iraqi Republican Guards, strafed by Russian Mig-21s in central Bosnia, shot at by Serb snipers and shelled with deafening rounds of artillery in Sarajevo that threw out thousands of deadly bits of iron fragments. I have seen too much of violent death. I have tasted too much of my own fear. I have painful memories that lie buried most of the time. It is never easy when they surface.

And yet there is a part of me that remains nostalgic for war's simplicity and high. The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it gives us what we all long for in life. It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our news. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble. And those that have the least meaning in their lives-the impoverished refugees in Gaza, the disenfranchised North African immigrants in France, even the lost legions of youth that live in the splendid indolence and safety of the industrialized world-are all susceptible to war's appeal.

( --from "War is a force that gives us meaning", by Chris Hedges, Amnesty International NOW magazine, Winter 2002, http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/War_Peace/War_Gives_Meaning.html)
Conversation is what is missing.

I think we do not know how to have a conversation. I think conversation is more frightening than war.

Conversation is also more attractive and more important than war.

Conversation is the antidote to war.

That's why we fear conversation.
Each person is the daily recipient of new thoughts and unexpected feelings. yet so often in our social encounters and in the way we have grown used to describing ourselves, these thoughts and feelings are not welcome and remain unexpressed. This is disappointing in view of the fact that the deepest things that we have inherited have come down to us across the bridges of meaningful conversation. The Celtic tradition was primarily an oral tradition. The stories, poems, and prayers lived for centuries in the memory and voice of the people. They were learned by heart. The companionship and presence of such rich harvest of memory helped poeticize their perception and conversation. Without the presence of memory conversation becomes amnesic, repetitive, and superficial. Perception is most powerful when it engages both memory and experience. This empowers conversation to become real exploration. Real conversation has an unpredictability, danger, and resonance; it can take a turn anywhere and constantly borders on the unexpected and on the unknown. Real conversation is not a construct of the solitary ego; it creates community. So much of our modern talk is like a spider weaving a web of language maniacally outside itself. Our parallel monologues with their staccato stutter only reinforce our isolation. There is so little patience for the silence from which words emerge or for the silence that is between words and within them. When we forget or neglect this silence, we empty our world of its secret and subtle presences. We can no longer converse with the dead or the absent.
(pp. 110-111, in section 'Ascetic Solitude', in John O'Donohue's Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom, c.1997)
When we cease speaking with one another we are inclined to punch, shoot, and kill one another.

There's one more thing that has to be considered.

Silence.

Silence -- real silence, not tense festering non-communication -- allows everything into it.

Silence -- real silence -- allows everything to be merely and delightedly itself.

Real silence -- is the middle name of peace, God, and the mother of all being.

So, love your mother. Love God. Love peace.

Learn from silence to practice silence.

Want it.

Be it.

Silence is an especially good word and practice that mothers our creation.

Friday, July 09, 2010

I honor my mother's birth.

EVE, MOTHER'S BIRTH
(for Catherine)

When my mother was born
whole reaches of universe came to be

when she died, so many coffee cups
beer glasses stay dry in cupboards --

still the universe drinks
without pouring a single drop

from what is not open.
When mothers are born

every point of light spouts itself
over and open over again

a wondrous thirst never slaked,
each word mothers our creation.

(wfh, 8July2002)
I wrote this on the eve of her birthday in 2002. She died in 1981.

It holds true for me today, that "each word mothers our creation."

You are within these words -- Thanks Mom!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Do we co-originate reality?

We usually think of 'reality' as fixed and static, of-a-whole. the unchanging beingness of what is, God's will already and always done.

Parmenides of Elea (5th C. BCE) wrote:
VΙΙΙ
One path only
is left for us to speak of, namely, that It is. In it are very many tokens that what is, is uncreated and indestructible, alone, complete, immovable and without end. Nor was it ever, nor will it be; for5 now it is, all at once, a continuous one. For what kind of origin for it. will you look for ? In what way and from what source could it have drawn its increase ? I shall not let thee say nor think that it came from what is not; for it can neither be
thought nor uttered that what is not is. And, if it came from
10 nothing, what need could have made it arise later rather than sooner ? Therefore must it either be altogether or be not at all. Nor will the force of truth suffer aught to arise besides itself from that which in any way is. Wherefore, Justice does
not loose her fetters and let anything come into being or pass
15 away, but holds it fast. ʺ
Is it or is it not ? ʺ Surely it is adjudged, as it needs must be, that we are to set aside the one way as unthinkable and nameless (for it is no true way), and that the other path is real and true. How, then, can what is be going to be in the future ?
20 Or how could it come into being ? If it came into being, it is not; nor is it if it is going to be in the future. Thus is becoming extinguished and passing away not to be heard of Nor is it divisible, since it is all alike, and there is no more of it in one place than in another, to hinder it from holding together, nor less of it, but everything is full of what is.
25 Wherefore all holds together; for what is; is in contact with what is. Moreover, it is immovable in the bonds of mighty chains, without beginning and without end; since coming into being and passing away have been driven afar, and true belief has cast them away. It is the same, and it rests in the self-same place, abiding in itself.
(--from Poem of Parmenides : on nature, http://philoctetes.free.fr/parmenides.pdf
Where, exactly, do you think love is?

Ego and insane thinking cast lots and divide lines putting love only in columns of yes and no, here or not here. Whereas the fact of the matter is that there (or here) is only love. Mind fictionalizes love into discrete and distinct places while exiling it from places deemed off limits. These actions are the delusions of an insane desire to label and control the spirit of love -- which is not possible.

Love is looking out for you -- and only sees itself --as you are -- seeing love.

I used to think I had something to say. Now I see I am nothing being said.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Let's call it lending safe uncertainty. By extending presence as modeling and mentoring to one another we join with each to deepen mores and minds toward a co-originality creating what is true, fair, and just.

In other words, we don't want rules, we want continuous engagement with what is unfolding with innumerable immeasurable possibilities.
One who gives rise to the awakened mind should know that what is called a self or person, a living being or a life span, is not so in essence but only in concept. That names self, person, living being, or life span are names only. Subhuti, you should know that all things of the world are like this, and you should have confidence in their essence without names.
- Diamond Sutra
It is possible we know little or nothing about other cultures aside from caricature and innuendo. The Afghan people are not in our tv commercial demographics and thus are unstudied and irrelevant to the money in our culture. And without celebrities entering courtrooms or treatment programs for sex use or drug abuse there's not much interest on the part of gag reporters to file stories from so far away.
Barking

The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

(--Poem by Jim Harrison in Poetry, September 2008).
The Great Blue Heron standing in the mud flats of the Royal River in Yarmouth Maine this morning was not bothered by the Border Collie chasing stick into the water down the ancient launching cement ramp not 20 yards from the observation tower of his bending water gaze.

The woman with the curiously contoured straw hat said it covered all the important spots -- like the tops of her ears.

Boatyards in July are desolate craters on a landscape of abandoned stands and keel blocks.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It is July. Today, hot. And I think: War is insane. But everyone already knows that. What we don't know is what to do with that knowledge. There you have it. There are no theories. There are no answers. The statement, "War is insane," is a stupid statement.
On That Side, beyond the clouds,
The mountain is blue-green as jade
The white clouds on the mountain
Are whiter than white
From the spring on the mountain,
Drop after drop
Who knows how to see the face
In the white clouds?
Clear skies and rain have their times,
They're like lightening.
Who knows how to listen to the
Sound of this spring?
It flows on without stopping
Through thousands
And thousands of turns
The moment before thought is
Already wrong
To try to say anything further
Is embarrassing.

- T'aego (1301-1382)
I'd rather talk about something I know. But I don't know anything. So have nothing to say. Today.

It is July. It was hot. After rain, it cools. And war is insane. I know this. Everyone knows this.

I sorrow for my stupidity. For prolonging war. For the men and women who go to war. Who don't come home. Not as who they were.
I died for beauty, but was scarce
by Emily Dickinson

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth,—the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.
Kahlil Gibran's words at evening conversation spoke of "Life, Love, and Beauty." Someone else might use the words "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." There's something in the three that reaches out to us.
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church --
I keep it, staying at Home --
With a Bobolink for a Chorister --
And an Orchard, for a Dome --

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice --
I just wear my Wings --
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton -- sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman --
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at least --
I'm going, all along!
(Poem by Emily Dickenson)
I can go along with that.

Along with the bell ending meditation, the birds at dusk, and the pungent smell of the dead porcupine up in the woods, I find my solution to war.

Unlike Billy Collins, I've not made love to Emily Dickenson in a poem.

Monday, July 05, 2010

When I sit at times I think: God is what is taking place before me here."

God is before me.

God is here.
Subhuti, do not think that when one gives rise to the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind one needs to see all objects of mind as nonexistent, cut off from life. Please do not think in that way. One who gives rise to the awakened mind does not deny objects or say that they are nonexistent.
- Diamond Sutra
I like the challenge of those who say that before and beyond my ego is God. I like Ram Das saying there are only two beings in the world: God, and what remains of my ego. It is thought-provoking to consider what is without making 'God' into any object of thought or any construct of imagination.

God is God. Nothing more, nothing less.
Psalm 39 (40)

My food is to do the will of my Father, who sent me.
I waited, I waited for the Lord;
and he heard me.

He heard my voice when I cried,
he led me from the pit of misery,
he led me from the mire of filth.

He set my feet on firm rock,
he steadied my footsteps.

He filled my being with a new song,
a song to the Lord.

Many shall see what has happened, and trust,
and honour the Lord.

Happy the man who puts his trust in the Lord,
who pays no heed to the proud,
who pays no heed to liars.

Many are your wonders, O Lord my God,
and great is your care for us:
there is no-one like you.

If I wanted to tell the things you have done for us –
they are too many to count.

You have refused sacrifice and oblation,
but you have opened your ears to me.

You have refused burnt-offerings, even for sin –
so I said “I am coming.

The books of scripture have written of me.
It is your will, my God, that I wish to perform:
your law is next to my heart.
Mercy, compassion, acceptance -- yes!

Judgment, punishment, retribution -- no!

Sitting in zendo this afternoon with white dog on porch and Tibetan incense sent as healing prayer to Halifax Nova Scotia where David S. in hospital after stroke does not prepare for talk he was to give three days ahead in Camden Maine. I bow to the calligraphies he stroked for us. Brush stroke and paralyzing stroke in one waft of grateful hope for him and his recovery.
On Eagle-Watched Shores

No debris. No bodies. Not yet. Fishermen
on and near the bite of raw water, Down East
harvesters of deep and shallow sea, or
raking in low tides; they are not a passing
tale or lore of days gone by, but today’s men
filling grocery sea-shelves as scallop
dragger sinks along with all men aboard;
so close to rockweed, eagle-watched shores charted
near the Black River’s flow to Fundy or
a descent in Cobscook Bay’s ice-water
as sister-towns Eastport, Lubec mourn with
kin Campobello, Deer Island, Grand Manan;
two more, four more, six more; eight more; too many
overdue for supper from back then to today.

Stranded at the threshold between you and
them, below the brink of “almost made it”
they rest confined in their hull of clothes – we
weep and the fishermen do not return
home to communities who look for a
boat called The Whole Family – Bottom Basher,
Miss Priss, All American, that sends the
message from below in debris and fishing
crates that break the surface. Sometimes it’s him
floating alone with no tale to tell of
the others; of good men dragging hard wares,
against hard rocky sea beds, busted apart
hard as weighty engines take her down too fast.

(···Poem in Bangor Daily News, 7/4/10 by Frances Drabick who wrote this poem in support for plans to raise a Lubec Memorial for fishermen who have lost their lives to the sea.)
My row this morning on glazed Penobscot Bay took me as far as the wealthy man's mansion toward Rockport. A porpoise came as surprise to surface to starboard and lingered there in the sound of its breath as I held my oars still. It slid below where things beyond my understanding take place.

My morning row is like a monastery. Loons call. Buoys toll. Sea holds. Gregorian chant in my ear.

Prayer is all about.

For each.
A never-ending newness.

Beginning before and beyond us.

Birth.

Itself.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Two porpoises, one harbor seal, some ducks, an osprey, and a loon.

Morning row at 5:55AM.

They say it is the 4th of July. Kudos.

True freedom has nothing to do with military campaigns or enemies slain.

It involves sitting quietly inside bird song, inside the day, inside God.

Two hours on Penobscot Bay, a quarter left on red and white channel buoy, another hour with the Quakers, nothing left to say.

At evening sitting practice three of us recount things just as they are.