Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, July 09, 2011

There is today. And breath to live it.

Why worry about anything.

There is no tomorrow.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Lose the idea you are special.

You're not. I'm not. 'Special' is not the accolade we think it is.
Those who are following the Way should behave like a piece of timber which is drifting along a stream. If the log is neither held by the banks, nor seized by people, nor obstructed by gods, nor kept in the whirlpool, nor itself goes to decay, I assure you that this log will finally reach the ocean. If monks walking on the Way are neither tempted by the passions, nor led astray by some evil influences, but steadily pursue their course for Nirvana, I assure you that these monks will finally attain enlightenment.
- Sutra of Forty Two Chapters, (dailyzen.com)
In prison today we sat with Atwood's poem:
Siren Song

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can't remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don't enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,
I don't enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.


(Poem by Margaret Atwood, “Siren Song” from Selected Poems 1965-1975. Copyright © 1974, 1976 )
Stick with being ordinary.

It confounds the paranoid and the powerful.

Life, they say, goes on.

Millay, in Lament, can't imagine why.

LAMENT
by: Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

LISTEN, children:
Your father is dead.
From his old coats
I'll make you little jackets;
I'll make you little trousers
From his old pants.
There'll be in his pockets
Things he used to put there,
Keys and pennies
Covered with tobacco;
Dan shall have the pennies
To save in his bank;
Anne shall have the keys
To make a pretty noise with.
Life must go on,
And the dead be forgotten;
Life must go on,
Though good men die;
Anne, eat your breakfast;
Dan, take your medicine;
Life must go on;
I forget just why.

-- "Lament" is reprinted from Second April. New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1921.
There is no why. And I don't know why this is.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


In the Magnificat there is a line: "He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away:”

To send empty away is to leave the rich with something less than emptiness, namely, separation and disconnection. The rich were not sent away empty, rather ‘empty’ is sent away.

In Buddhism ‘empty’ means empty of independent, isolated, separate existence.
Errant thoughts are fundamentally empty; the essence of mind is fundamentally pure. You suddenly realize this essence is originally free from afflictions; the essence of knowledge is inherently complete, no different from Buddha. To cultivate practice based on this is called the Zen of the highest vehicle, and it is also called the pure Zen of those who realize suchness.
- Master Chinul (1158-1210)
Mary’s soul, in itself, magnifies the Lord.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Tuesday, July 05, 2011



Mu-ge, here shown guiding winter songbirds to their feeder, died today. Barnestown Road had one too many cars, we suppose, for him to elude.

The ground next to Koto, Jitai, Mini, Sandi, and Cesco is unearthing itself to receive his body.

We are saddened. We are also grateful for his 9 years with us.

And we are equally blest for someone like Tom who found him, waited for us to return home from town, and quietly, simply told us where he was.


Monday, July 04, 2011

I could hear waves hitting against the island but could not see it. Thick fog as I rowed the outer harbor. A solitude surrounding rare.
People cling to their worldly possessions and selfish passions so blindly as to sacrifice their own lives for them. They are like a child who tries to eat a little honey smeared on the edge of a knife. The amount is by no means sufficient to appease his appetite, but he runs the risk of wounding his tongue.
- Sutra of Forty Two Chapters
What is a mystic? Someone in the fog trusting a clarity unseen.

John Dear writes about Thomas Merton:
When Jesus calls us to love our enemies, he said we should do so because God does so. God let's the sun shine on the just and the unjust, and the rain fall on the good and the bad. God is compassionate to everyone, and we should be. too. This is the heart of contemplative nonviolence. Then we are able to see everyone as a human being, and to see God and become like God.

As we pursue contemplative peace like Merton, we learn, contrary to what the Pentagon tells us, that our God is not a god of war, but the God of peace; not a god of injustice, but the God of justice; not a god of vengeance and retaliation, but the God of compassion and mercy; not a god of violence, but the God of nonviolence; not a god of death, but the living God of life. We discover a new image of God. As we begin to imagine the peace and nonviolence of God; we learn to worship the God of peace and nonviolence; and in the process, become people of peace and nonviolence.

"The great problem is this inner change," Merton writes. "We all have the great duty to realize the deep need for purity of soul that is to say, the deep need to be possessed by the Holy Spirit."

On his way to Asia, Merton told David Stendl-Rast that "the only way beyond the traps of Catholicism is Buddhism." In other words, every Catholic has to become a good Buddhist, to become as compassionate as possible, he said. "I am going to become the best Buddhist I can, so I can become a good Catholic." That is the wisdom of Merton's contemplative life, to become like Buddhists, people of profound compassion, deep contemplative nonviolence.

That is what he discovered with his experience in Polonnaruwa when he wrote: "Everything is emptiness and everything is compassion."
(--John Dear, June, 2005, in Thomas Merton and the Wisdom of Nonviolence, San Diego, California, http://www.johndear.org/speeches/thomas_merton_wisdom.htm
This is what makes Merton so interesting.

On a day like today, the fog shrouds, the fog lifts, the fog returns, the fog converses with dusk in sounds only silence endears and endures.

A subtle interdependence.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The only freedom is choosing to be free even in unfree places.

For now, It rains.