Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, February 04, 2012

What is wordless said

Bookshed readying for morning practice.

Yesterday at prison Tony, Ed, Chip, Brandon, and I chatted in room transformed into zendo waiting for Chris and Doris to arrive for Friday practice. We speak of love. Of God.

Tony brought it up, telling of crossing letters with dear friend on outside, both exploring the matter from two directions. In the conversation, like fledgling Tibetan monks hand-slapping in debate practice, or young Yiddish שול shul students pausing before stickball game to clarify a point, we have begun pre-practice. Something occurs that feels a new understanding of an old koan.

If God is love why is the fear of God beginning of wisdom?
Two methods enable us to rectify the heart:
The first is study,
Enriching our mind through practice
And discipline; training, studying
Until an inner light begins to grow within.
This seed of consiousness,
The sages teach, should be nourished
And kept in silence.
The second is the cultivation of virtue.
A sincere student discovers the
Workings of Tao by overcoming all
Manner of temptation.
Hordes of riches are outweighed in
Merit by a single word, Virtue.

- Loy Ching-yuen 1879-1960's)
We conclude this pre-practice wondering. It is a wonder to us that, in prison, aside from the Christian men's group at their monthly Kairos gatherings, nobody says to another "I love you!" (Agreement all around.) It is a frightening thing to hear or say -- and not only in prison. We are a little afraid of love.

But when we become aware that we are afraid of love we begin to notice what is there and what is not there. This noticing is the beginning of the path that points to wisdom.

If God is love, and I am a little afraid of love, I am a little afraid of God, afraid to love and be loved. Perhaps ignorance of this condition, or refusal even to acknowledge the possibility of behavior confused about this subtle equation, is the metaphoric prison surrounding so many of us.
May the light of your soul guide you

May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work
You do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those
Who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden you.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams,
Possibilities and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.

(Poem by John O'Donohue, 1956 - 2008)
Chris and Doris arrive. We sit.

The morning is lighter.

A calming, consoling, renewing silence of awareness sits alongside.

Something pre-pronouncing has poised at origin of sighting words looking at nothing in particular merely accepting the sangha and loving the inward breath it's new choice recognizing what is wordless said.

Friday, February 03, 2012

"If the people you love are elsewhere"

In the dream it was everybody.

Unwilling to go back to former place I wish another visit. I round hill walking with man and woman to huge gathering space with enormous dwellings under expansion construction, a gracious woman welcoming in a gaggle of the gathered. I know I have been here, am welcome, but on waking cannot place who and where I was.
Purifying our self-direction,
Our emotions, and behavior in all endeavors,
One grows in understanding of the Way.
But individual abilities vary
And the exalted Way has many different aspects.
To students of Tao, this sincere forewarning:
Only with a clear, honest spirit
Can we begin meaningful learning.
With an unsullied heart
We may even move the immortals.
Debasing the Way,
Not even heaven forgives us.

- Loy Ching-yuen 1879-1960's)
I was welcome, That's what I remember.
Flying at Night

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.

(Poem by Ted Kooser)
There was joy.
I think it was
And I was visiting
On my way
Elsewhere, uncertainly

Returning from Farmington just in time for conversation last evening. Someone said they were sorry for the misunderstanding last week as I was playing messages. I said there was no misunderstanding. Another celebrated their 77th birthday with a 15 minute silent meditation sending what she could our way. I thought of the pile of dogshit on snowshoe path the big dog decided as right place and I had to move off to the hundreds of acres not chosen. Another person quietly enters during silence bringing ghost of her recently deceased sister through door without a sound. The circle, as always, calling its welcome with comforting familiarity.
He Foretells His Passing

I can imagine, years from now, your coming back
to this high, old, white house. "Home" I shouldn't say
because we can't predict who'll live here with a different
How tall the birches will be then. Will you look up
from the road past the ash for light in the study windows
upstairs and down? Go climb the black maple as first
in new sneakers you walked forty feet in air
and saw the life to come. Don't forget the cats.

Because you grow away from a house, no matter how much you
come back,
if the people you love are elsewhere, or if the reason is,
nostalgia, don't worry about small changes or lost names.
Sit down for a minute under the tallest birch. Look up
at the clouds reflected in the red barn's twisted window.
Lean on the wall. Hear our voices as at first
they shook the plaster, laughed, then burned in the dry air
like a wooden house. I imagine you won't forget the cats

(Poem by F. D. Reeve, b.1928)
Wilber was right in his poem:
"We're seldom better than weather." (in "Villager")

It was a sunny walk to the site.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Remain with us; forever

We suffer, the Buddha said, because of craving, ignorance, and attachment.
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 ( 1879-1960's)
The kingdom of heaven, Jesus said, is open to the pure of heart.
Second reading Hebrews 2:14-18
Since all the children share the same blood and flesh, Christ too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham. It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.
( Feast of the Presentation)
Jesus, it is said, was completely like us. We, similarly, are completely like Christ.

But we crave Christ for ourselves, are ignorant of the true nature of Christ-reality, and are attached to the forms of religiosity and ritual pronouncements presented by our society and culture.

A Sort of a Song 
Let the snake wait under 
his weed 
and the writing 
be of words, slow and quick, sharp 
to strike, quiet to wait, 
-- through metaphor to reconcile 
the people and the stones. 
Compose. (No ideas 
but in things) Invent! 
Saxifrage is my flower that splits 
the rocks 
(Poem by William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963)
Words break rocks as silence shapes water -- attend reality itself without concepts or opinion.

Truth, the zen master said, is easy to arrive at -- just drop all your opinions.

Truth is what is remaining.

I pray for our remains.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

At this very moment


Restive, rolling wheel
Recollection every place
I've been, now here, gone

(wfh/nunc ipsum)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This single morning is enough

River between US and Canada inky on evening walk along iced path rutted with snowmobile tracks. Cold wind. This morning temperature is -2 degrees fahrenheit here in Calais Maine.

The human body is a little universe Its chill tears, so much wind-blown sleet
Beneath our skins, mountains bulge, brooks flow
Within our chests lurk lost cities, hidden tribes

Wisdom quarters itself in our tiny hearts
Liver and gall peer out, scrutinize a thousand miles
Follow a path back to its source, else be
A house vacant save for swallows in the eaves

- Shih-shu (17tt-early 18th c)
This body has been kind. It walks in freezing temperature, sleeps near snoring dogs, acknowledges passing beings, shares footlong tuna sandwich loaded with pickles, black olives, lettuce and peppers, drives through snow squalls over slippery soft new fallen flakes, reads The Dhammapada for two hours in front seat of green Element making pencil notations in margins, and allows itself to be breathed in and out by the atmosphere surrounding this planet Earth with humble surrender and acceptance of the comings and goings.
8. The Thousands

Better than a thousand pointless words is one saying to the point on hearing which one finds peace. 100

Better than a thousand pointless verses is one stanza on hearing which one finds peace. 101

Better than reciting a hundred pointless verses is one verse of the teaching (one dhammapada) on hearing which one finds peace. 102

Though one were to defeat thousands upon thousands of men in battle, if another were to overcome just one -- himself, he is the supreme victor. 103

Victory over oneself is better than that over others. When a man has conquered himself and always acts with self-control, neither devas, spirits, Mara or Brahma can reverse the victory of a man like that. 104, 105

Though one were to perform sacrifices by the thousand month after month for a hundred years, if another were to pay homage to a single inwardly perfected man for just a moment, that homage is better than the hundred years of sacrifices. 106

Though one were to tend the sacrificial fire for a hundred years in the forest, if another were to pay homage to a single inwardly perfected man for just a moment, that homage is better than the hundred years of sacrifice. 107

All the sacrifices and offerings a man desiring merit could make in a year in the world are not worth a quarter of the better merit of homage to the righteous. 108

Four principal things increase in the man who is respectful and always honours his elders -- length of life, good looks, happiness and health. 109

Though one were to live a hundred years immoral and with a mind unstilled by meditation, the life of a single day is better if one is moral and practises meditation. 110

Though one were to live a hundred years without wisdom and with a mind unstilled by meditation, the life of a single day is better if one is wise and practises meditation. 111

Though one were to live a hundred years without seeing the rise and passing of things, the life of a single day is better if one sees the rise and passing of things. 113

Though one were to live a hundred years without seeing the deathless state, the life of a single day is better if one sees the deathless state. 114

Though one were to live a hundred years without seeing the supreme truth, the life of a single day is better if one sees the supreme truth. 115

(--from, The Dhammapada, Gautama Buddha / Translated by John Richards,
This single morning is enough.

Red pickup neighbor's truck starts engine. Dogs, mirabile dictu, do not bark.

Soon, Sorel boots with orange ice-grippers, peat canvas vest, green hooded anorak, brown scarf, charcoal wool watch cap, blue flannel lined jeans, thick grey sox, walking sticks, black gloves, sunglasses and a willingness to be breathed by sub-zero air and it is time to walk the river path with three companions.

Inshallah, to return and continue the day, the reading, the companionship, the driving, with coffee and liberty for all.

No sacrificial fire; just warm air blowing half to feet half to windshield ready for afternoon's predicted snowfall heading home.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Relenting; re-centering recent erring of the cosmos

When I take a spoonful of soup into my mouth I am doing it for the hungry child in Somalia. I am nourishing the death row inmate sitting at last meal before execution. I am tasting the bittersweet realization that as one body, if mindfully aware, everyone is sipping soup, even those starving and about to die. It is not about keeping everybody alive -- that is not possible. It is about going beyond the barrier of death-ridden ignorance to the realization no one is separate, no one left out of the core of care, the center of being, the engagement with one-another which is the very nature of in-der-Welt-sein

Recapitulation. An act or instance of summarizing or restating the main points of something.

What are the main points of being alive, being here, of there being anything at all instead of nothing?
(German: In-der-Welt-sein)
Being-in-the-world is Heidegger's replacement for terms such as subject, object, consciousness, and world. For him, the split of things into subject/object, as we find in the Western tradition and even in our language, must be overcome, as is indicated by the root structure of Husserl and Brentano's concept of intentionality, i.e., that all consciousness is consciousness of something, that there is no consciousness, as such, cut off from an object (be it the matter of a thought, or of a perception). Nor are there objects without some consciousness beholding or being involved with them.
At the most basic level of being-in-the-world, Heidegger notes that there is always a mood, a mood that "assails us" in our unreflecting devotion to the world. A mood comes neither from the "outside" nor from the "inside," but arises from being-in-the-world. One may turn away from a mood, but that is only to another mood; it is part of our facticity. Only with a mood are we permitted to encounter things in the world. Dasein (a co-term for being-in-the-world) has an openness to the world that is constituted by the attunement of a mood or state of mind. As such, Dasein is a "thrown" "projection," projecting itself onto the possibilities that lie before it or may be hidden, and interpreting and understanding the world in terms of possibilities. Such projecting has nothing to do with comporting oneself toward a plan that has been thought out. It is not a plan, since Dasein has, as Dasein, already projected itself. Dasein always understands itself in terms of possibilities. As projecting, the understanding of Dasein is its possibilities as possibilities. One can take up the possibilities of "The They" self and merely follow along or make some more authentic understanding. (See Hubert Dreyfus' book -"Being-in-the-World")
(Wikipedia, Heideggerian terminology)
We are alone in the world. (Does that sound stark?) How about: We are all one in the world? (Does that sound frightening?)

My sorrow might not be 'my' sorrow. My joy not 'mine.' And my life? Whose 'life' is it?

How is it possible that I am dense enough or clever enough to manufacture a belief that I am separate or separated from the whole of everything that is in the world? What refined illusion do I hang on my wall as a mirror so that when I look into it I see the image of a disconnected entity on his own, for himself, less than/more than everything/everyone else, an isolated ideology of miraculous living at a distance from what-is?

How odd!
Tellhard de Chardin was convinced that the total material universe is in movement toward a greater unified convergence in consciousness, a hyper-personalized organism. He conceived of the universe as a vast transhuman body in the process of formation, held together by the Omega point, "a distinct Centre radiating at the core of a system of centers." Because of Christ, Teilhard indicated, we live in "an irreversible personalizing universe." Teilhard spoke of the organic nature of Christ as the total Christ whose activity consists in "recapitulation," or bringing the universe to its ultimate center through the transforming energies of the resurrection. Christ is the physical center of an expanding universe. By "physical" Teilhard meant ontological reality. Christ is the real personal center of the universe.
(--p.156, in, Christ in Evolution, by Ilia Delio, O.S.F., c.2008, Orbis)
With meditation and contemplation we begin to drop off the moments, years, decades, millennia misunderstanding of existence. The misunderstanding is understandable. We look as if from outside at the outside of everything, measuring distance and threat, dimension and tactical approach for small-self-interests. Food, shelter, clothing, the means to attain these, perpetuate them, the ability to protect them, who to mistrust, who might invade our storehouse, take our imagined future, defile our pure idea of eternal life, separate us from our separative thinking.
As flowing waters disappear into the mist
We lose all track of their passage
Every heart is its own Buddha
Ease off; become immortal

Wake up: the world's a mote of dust
Behold heaven's round mirror
Turn loose: slip past shape and shadow
Sit side by side with nothing save Tao

- Shih-shu (17th - early 18th c)
White Border Collie stares at me. The red geodesic ball is at side of bed on rug. He is flummoxed that I am not throwing it across room for the 15th time. That I am looking at a stupid square making clickink sounds while there is a perfectly good activity throw and fetch at hand. He doesn't think these humanoids hold much promise.
Sri Aurobindo's teaching states that this One Being and Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection. (--from, Sri Aurobindo's teaching and method of sadhana. -- Sri Aurobindo on himself)
Rokpa makes quiet sounds, then more audible soft barks, poised on rug next to rocking chair, tail swooshing, eyes darting from red sphere to my being here.

He grows tired of my obtuse nescience.

I relent.

I lean over.

Pick up the whole earth, whole cosmos, round ball.

I throw it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Outwandering; mendicant, empty handed

5.3km row out and around bell buoy and Curtis Island greeted by Harbor Seal glinting wet sunshine watching me in mutual solitude as I place coin on bobbing monastery-church-of-the-sea bell tower for travellors seen or unseen. I imagine two bits will fetch a couple of coffees or something stronger in the world-beyond-world of mythic maritime lore.
A Life of Deep Awareness
The secret of beginning a life of deep awareness and sensitivity lies in our
willingness to pay attention. Our growth as conscious, awake human beings is
marked not so much by grand gestures and visible renunciations as by extending
loving attention to the minutest particulars of our lives. Every relationship,
every thought, every gesture is blessed with meaning through the wholehearted
attention we bring to it. In the complexities of our minds and lives we easily
forget the power of attention, yet without attention we live only on the surface
of existence. It is just simple attention that allows us truly to listen to the
song of a bird, to see deeply the glory of an autumn leaf, to touch the heart of
another and be touched. We need to be fully present in order to love a single
thing wholeheartedly. We need to be fully awake in this moment if we are to
receive and respond to the learning inherent in it.

~Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield,
Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart
To be able to cavort with wind and swell, tide and sunlight, fish and fowl, memory and imagination in quiet cloistered solitude originates gratefulness while pulling oars move meter by meter over muted depths of alterity.

Otherness calls for awe and attention. It has to be contemplated with care. During which, in an unattended instant, it disappears and you are left alone.
In all ten directions of the universe,
there is only one truth.
When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same.
What can ever be lost? What can be attained?
If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time.
If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.
Look: this ball in my pocket:
can you see how priceless it is?

--Ryokan ( (1758-1831)
What stirs in barn to set Border Collie barking a second time this middle of night? He doesn't understand my dullness of senses. He comes to front room to sleep on white couch. Everyone else in household returns to bed. Sump pump moves water to Barnestown Road. Furnace takes its turn. Good laborers! Serving the temporary needs of the house and bodies.
The fool thinks, "I am the body"; the intelligent man thinks,
"I am an individual soul united with the body." But the wise
man, in the greatness of his knowledge and spiritual discrimination,
sees the Self as the only reality and thinks, "I am Brahman."

It's not difficult becoming a fool. I've accredited it without much thought. I've been recognized by both peers and strangers alike for my decomplishment.
Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
O luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night
(--Poem by Robert Frost)
There's no one in the barn.

There's no one in this room.

Nor, videlicet, could anyone remain reading this.

Look at what is left alone!