Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Any identification is troublesome.

Rather say: "I am not this; I am not that."

Just do what you are doing, without commentary or classifying.
Zen mind is not Zen mind. That is, if you are attached to Zen mind, then you have a problem, and your way is very narrow. Throwing away Zen mind is correct Zen mind. Only keep the question, "What is the best way of helping other people?"
- Seung Sahn
By unconditionally welcoming.

Be radically hospitable.

Even if it kills you.

Let it.

Be.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Maggie said someone suggested she was in grief because she is losing her sight.

Walt, her husband, read a Carl Dennis poem:
A MAXIM

To live each day as if it might be the last
Is an injunction that Marcus Aurelius
Inscribes in his journal to remind himself
That he, too, however privileged, is mortal,
That whatever bounty is destined to reach him
Has reached him already, many times.
But if you take his maxim too literally
And devote your mornings to tinkering with your will,
Your afternoons and evenings to saying farewell
To friends and family, you’ll come to regret it.
Soon your lawyer won’t fit you into his schedule.
Soon your dear ones will hide in a closet
When they hear your heavy step on the porch.
And then your house will slide into disrepair.
If this is my last day, you’ll say to yourself,
Why waste time sealing drafts in the window frames
Or cleaning gutters or patching the driveway?
If you don’t want your heirs to curse the day
You first opened Marcus’s journals,
Take him simply to mean you should find an hour
Each day to pay a debt or forgive one,
Or write a letter of thanks or apology.
No shame in leaving behind some evidence
You were hoping to live beyond the moment.
No shame in a ticket to a concert seven months off,
Or, better yet, two tickets, as if you were hoping
To meet by then someone who’d love to join you,
Two seats near the front so you catch each note.


(Poem by Carl Dennis, in The New Yorker, June 7, 2010)
They have grown old together.

My travels from prison conversation to nursing home conversation is from eternity to infinity.
A thousand clouds and ten thousand streams,
In their midst lives an idle man,
In the daytime wandering over green mountains,
At night returning to sleep by the cliff.
Swiftly springs and autumns pass,
At peace and free from ties to the dusty world.
How pleasant with nothing to rely on,
Still as the waters of autumn rivers.

- Han-shan
Not only am I nowhere near home, I've never left it.

And old is not a word that has anything to do with time.

Come. Sit here in the front. Can you hear well?

You are evidence of something loving.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


In the early hours of the morning I call your name.
92 Bonum est confiteri

1 It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD, *
and to sing praises to your Name, O Most High;

2 To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning *
and of your faithfulness in the night season;

3 On the psaltery, and on the lyre, *
and to the melody of the harp.

4 For you have made me glad by your acts, O LORD; *
and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands.

5 LORD, how great are your works! *
your thoughts are very deep.

6 The dullard does not know,
nor does the fool understand, *
that though the wicked grow like weeds,
and all the workers of iniquity flourish,

7 They flourish only to be destroyed for ever; *
but you, O LORD, are exalted for evermore.

8 For lo, your enemies, O LORD,
lo, your enemies shall perish, *
and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

9 But my horn you have exalted like the horns of wild bulls; *
I am anointed with fresh oil.

10 My eyes also gloat over my enemies, *
and my ears rejoice to hear the doom of the wicked who
rise up against me.

11 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, *
and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.

12 Those who are planted in the house of the LORD *
shall flourish in the courts of our God;

13 They shall still bear fruit in old age; *
they shall be green and succulent;

14 That they may show how upright the LORD is, *
my Rock, in whom there is no fault
.
(--Psalm 92, from The Psalter or Psalms of David According to the use of The Episcopal Church,
http://www.bcponline.org/
And you answer me.

In the stillness, light, and silence of your dwelling place.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Saskia brings me Cheryl's raspberries in honey-Greek yogurt where I sit on meditation cabin porch.

In the New York Times Opinion section Robert Wright, quoting Teilhard de Chardin, writes: “There need be no fear of enslavement or atrophy in a world so richly charged with charity.” Or, as he more aphoristically put it: “To say ‘love’ is to say ‘liberty.’”
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/with-liberty-and-connectivity-for-all/#more-56113

I find talk of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's "Noosphere" as interesting today as I did in the 1960's reading his book The Phenomenon of Man (Le Phénomène Humain, 1955).

Wikipedia:

Noosphere (pronounced /ˈnoʊ.ɵsfɪər/; sometimes noösphere), according to the thought of Vladimir Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin, denotes the "sphere of human thought". The word is derived from the Greek νοῦς (nous "mind") + σφαῖρα (sphaira "sphere"), in lexical analogy to "atmosphere" and "biosphere".

In the original theory of Vernadsky, the noosphere is the third in a succession of phases of development of the Earth, after the geosphere (inanimate matter) and the biosphere (biological life). Just as the emergence of life fundamentally transformed the geosphere, the emergence of human cognition fundamentally transforms the biosphere. In contrast to the conceptions of the Gaia theorists, or the promoters of cyberspace, Vernadsky's noosphere emerges at the point where humankind, through the mastery of nuclear processes, begins to create resources through the transmutation of elements. It is also currently being researched as part of the Princeton Global Consciousness Project.[1]

History of concept

For Teilhard, the noosphere emerges through and is constituted by the interaction of human minds. The noosphere has grown in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the earth. As mankind organizes itself in more complex social networks, the higher the noosphere will grow in awareness. This is an extension of Teilhard's Law of Complexity/Consciousness, the law describing the nature of evolution in the universe. Teilhard argued that the noosphere is growing towards an even greater integration and unification, culminating in the Omega point, which he saw as the goal of history. The goal of history, then, is an apex of thought/consciousness.

One of the original aspects of the noosphere concept deals with evolution. Henri Bergson (1907) was one of the first to propose that evolution is 'creative' and cannot necessarily be explained solely by Darwinian natural selection. L'évolution créatrice is upheld, according to Bergson, by a constant vital force that animates life and fundamentally connects mind and body, an idea opposing the dualism of René Descartes. In 1923, C. Lloyd Morgan took this work further, elaborating on an 'emergent evolution' that could explain increasing complexity (including the evolution of mind). Morgan found that many of the most interesting changes in living things have been largely discontinuous with past evolution, and therefore did not necessarily take place through a gradual process of natural selection. Rather, evolution experiences jumps in complexity (such as the emergence of a self-reflective universe, or noosphere). Finally, the complexification of human cultures, particularly language, facilitated a quickening of evolution in which cultural evolution occurs more rapidly than biological evolution. Recent understanding of human ecosystems and of human impact on the biosphere have led to a link between the notion of sustainability with the "co-evolution" [Norgaard, 1994] and harmonization of cultural and biological evolution.

The resulting political system has been referred to as a noocracy.

American integral theorist Ken Wilber deals with this third evolution of the noosphere. In his work, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995), he builds many of his arguments on the emergence of the noosphere and the continued emergence of further evolutionary structures.

The term Noöcene epoch refers to "how we manage and adapt to the immense amount of knowledge we’ve created." [1]

The noosphere concept of 'unification' was elaborated in popular science fiction by Julian May in the Galactic Milieu Series. It is also the reason Teilhard is often called the patron saint of the Internet.[2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noosphere
Robert Wright in his "Opinionator" piece adds:
Many others, far from thinking I’d gone off the deep end, encouraged me to venture beyond the shallows. Several recommended that I read the mystical Catholic theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who in the mid-20th century built a theology around the superorganism idea. He saw the emergence of a global brain (the “noosphere”) as part of God’s plan to lead humanity toward “Point Omega” — which, as best as I can make out from Teilhard’s dense, poetic writing, will be a kind of worldwide organic love blob. (Count me in!)

One commenter — the theologian Philip Hefner, who once wrote a pithy little book on Teilhard — suggested that a Teilhardian view could allay the fears of the DA06488s [Note: a responder to Wright's earlier piece] of the world, showing that we cells needn’t be enslaved or diminished by the superorganism. Teilhard, wrote Hefner, “saw that the evolution toward the interconnected brain is one pole of the dialectic, while the enhancement of the ‘cell’ is a co-equal pole… . One needs to have a metaphysic (or theology) that recognizes both elements of this dialectic. Perhaps you can write your next piece on this balancing of the two poles.”

(--from The New York Times, Opinionator Blog, A Gathering of Opinion From Around the Web, July 13, 2010, 9:00 PM, "With Liberty and Connectivity for All" By ROBERT WRIGHT)
Another responder to Wright adds an interesting point of view:
One of my favorite television series, dating back to the 90s, was a show called "Northern Exposure". And one of my favorite scenes from that series was one in which a character named Chris, a radio announcer, read the following Einstein quote over the airwaves, just before packing up one evening to head home, ending the show for that week:

"Strange is our situation here on Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men -- above all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends."

And just as he closes up shop, the scene switches to a snapshot of all the characters in the series, taken at "The Brick", a favorite place to get together in the fictional town of Little Cicely Alaska. The camera pans over the snapshot, showing smiles, banter, friendships built up over years of meaningful personal exchanges, exchanges that the show used to highlight on a weekly basis.

The characters didn't spend hours "friending" each other over the internet, dropping little tidbits about daily activities. Instead they spent hours together face to face, having meaningful conversational exchanges. They didn't have dozens of what for all intents and purposes might be considered acquaintances, instead they had a handful of highly communicative relationships.

Whenever I see that scene now, I smile and find tears welling up in my eyes. Why? Because the art of meaningful face to face exchange seems to me something we're trading in more and more for alternate modes of new but shallow communication.

There was a study a few years back now about growing isolation in America, and the significant drop in true confidants had by people in general, with a sizable portion of the population now having few or none at all. It's natural to wonder if there's a correlation with the increase in these other more shallow modes of communication. I also read another study recently in "Scientific American" magazine about how a small number of meaningful conversations had throughout a day results in an increased sense of personal well being, while days spent in dropping tidbits do not.

And so I wonder as I did in my previous comments if instead of building a global brain, we aren't building a kind of global labyrinth instead, increasing social isolation in a significant sense. Daedalus was one smart cookie, but he constructed the labyrinth in such a way that even he himself found it barely possible to escape the thing once dropped inside. What would an episode of "Northern Exposure 2010" feel like I wonder? I bet each week the townsfolk of Little Cicely would be glued to their cell phones and social networks, and I'd be watching some other show instead.

Scott Inglett
Rochester, MN
July 14th, 2010, 10:00 am, NYT
I marvel how all these thoughts come to the porch of meetingbrook's hermitage in Maine. Inside, a candle burns before the icon depicting Jesus' liberating visit to our first parents (however you understand them) after his crucifixion but before his resurrection. The icon sits in this non-winter season on the black wood stove in the corner. Scent of incense left here by a visitor many years ago and lighted an hour ago permeates the chapel/zendo.

We are invited by Paul to have that mind in us that was in Christ Jesus. Buddhist thinkers suggest there is only mind, Big Mind, for us to consider. Others say that Consciousness is all there is. If so, those of us denying anyone freedom or acting unlovingly to self or others are, literally, out of our mind.

Some make the supposition that being of one mind means the absence of freedom or the end of individuality. I prefer not to think that way.

I think we will become like the individual in Hsueh-feng Hui-k'ung's verse -- sketchers of dream -- artists of sight willing to give each its particular appearance, call each its particular name, allow each its particular reverence.
All alone, in any place,
One can achieve simplicity:
An old man on verdant cliffs
Among layered peaks.
Truly the view of these
Streams and mountains
Resembles a dream,
So on the contrary you should
Take ink and water
And sketch the streams and mountains.

- Hsueh-feng Hui-k'ung (1153)
It's a curious world we live in.

We need to dwell in our right mind.

A fresh simplicity: mind me; mind yourself.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I'm Catholic in the same way I am just shy of 6'3". It's just a fact. I don't give up being nearly 6'3" because I can't reach some things. Nor do I say I am no longer 6'3" because I no longer believe in such a height. And I certainly do not allow someone to say I can no longer be 6'3" because other people of other heights hold certain beliefs about conforming factors of height that my height seems to stand outside of.

I am a discovering Catholic -- one willing to transcend yet include what history, tradition, and scriptural exegesis plus hermeneutic have posited up til now. It is at this place, at the Now-Here of encounter experience, that originating Catholicity begins again the ever-present contemplation, conversation, and correspondence of each individual 'I Am' with 'What Is' in the geography of 'Being Here.'

We are invited to be what we are to become by abandoning everything and remaining open within an inchoate incarnate instantiation of emerging awareness centered in this immediate moment with all it's revelatory realization.

I am not someone who belongs to a belief or organization. I am the inclusion and interiority of each original intuition within the origination experience at core of what in time becomes belief organized. I am as I am inside and outside the belief or organization -- fully appreciative of, but not easily impressed by, artificial borders and boundaries based on criteria external or internal to the very factual reality of the individual.

If Christ is, I am. If I am, you are. If you are, we share the simple reality of being-in-the-world with one another with the One we call God, and with the very earth, cosmos, and mystery of existence. The only illusion is not to be what we are.
The old Catholic ceremony of Benediction was among the most beautiful acts of devotion that had evolved in the Church over the centuries. It was a triumph of ceremonial craft that blended light and incense and chant, a sweet celebration of Christ's continual union with His Church by his bodily presence.
(pg. 79, in Vatican, A Novel, by Malachi Martin, c.1986)
Rules are usually clasped tightly by those who cannot abide the immense potentiality and infinite possibilities open before us. We seem to be more inclined to limit and sanction, exclude and divide -- rather than seeing the world as a transparent portal of access to every extension of space and duration of time. It's something we're unfamiliar with -- the singularity of throughness -- the way we are diverse and diffuse, limited only by our limited perceptions, beliefs, and lack of faith.
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
(John 1:10, New American Standard Bible c.1995)
To know is to resound and permeate, without reservation or restriction, what is real. Perhaps we do not 'know' God because we do not resound and permeate, unreservedly and unrestrictedly, the revelation and presence of what is most real in our midst.
To be unstained in all environments is called no-thought…If you stop thinking of the myriad things, and cast aside all thoughts, as soon as one instant of thought is cut off, you will be reborn in another realm. The Dharma of no-thought means: even though you see all things, you do not attach to them, but, always keeping your own nature pure, cause the six thieves of the senses to exit through the six gates. Even though you are in the midst of the six dusts, you do not stand apart from them, yet are not stained by them, and are free to come and go.
(- Hui Neng)
Of course, saying I am Roman Catholic (perhaps, 'Ronin' Catholic) includes being also Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Confucian, Taoist, Jain, Shinto, Pagan, and the innumerable variations, Christian and Neo-Pagan, Atheistic and Agnostic, Theistic and Deist, Secular Humanist and Scientific Skeptic, Shamanic Visionary and none of the above -- that the world in all its multiplicity and grand nascence/nescience offers as paths to the mysterium tremendum et fascinans.

My root tradition offers me a strong meditation:
'Those who humble themselves will be exalted' is not a promise of future prestige to those who have no prestige now or to those who have given up all reliance upon prestige. It is the promise that they will no longer be treated as inferior but will receive full recognition as human beings. Just as the poor are not promised wealth but the full satisfaction of their needs -- no one shall be in want; so the little ones are not promised status and prestige but the full recognition of their dignity as human beings. To achieve this a total and radical re-structuring of society would be required.

The kingdom of God,then, will be a society in which there will be no prestige and no status, no division of people into inferior and superior. Everyone will be loved and respected, not because of his education or wealth or ancestry or authority or rank or virtue or other achievements, but because he like everybody else is a person. Some will find it very difficult to imagine what such a life would be like but the 'babes' who have never had any of the privileges of status and those who have not valued it will find it very easy to appreciate the fulfillment that life in such a society would bring. Those who could not bear to have beggars, former prostitutes, servants, women and children treated as their equals, who could not live without feeling superior to a least some people, would simply not be at home in God's kingdom as Jesus understood it. They would want to exclude themselves from it.

(--from pp. 57-58, Ch.8, THE KINGDOM AND PRESTIGE, in Jesus Before Christianity, by Albert Nolan, c.1978)
I long for such a home.
There -- (wherever 'there' might be).

Or, here.

Where you and I mostly long to be.

Completely with.

What is.

Here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Benedict told his monks to live in God.

So he and they created monasteries.

Today, the whole world is a monastery. And I live in a small hermitage off to the side.
Buddhas know beings' minds,
Their natures each different;
According to what they need to be freed,
Thus do the Buddhas teach.
To the stingy they praise giving,
To the immoral they praise ethics;
To the angry they praise tolerance,
To the lazy they praise effort.

- Avatamsaka Sutra
Saskia takes dog out through barn for final pee. In the morning he'll be 60lb ballast aft for our 2.5 hour row at 5:55am in peapod.

The stars are out, she said. The long rain has ended.

I'm grateful for Benedict.

He said, "Listen."

Do.