Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, March 17, 2012

We people and wee people


Even St. Patrick's Day has become merely and delightfully March 17th. Penny Whistle on WERU.FM and traditional Irish melodies on Pandora following morning practice in bookshed/retreat. Incense in streams of sunlight kept low across room, like crawling escapee from burning reminder we are being transformed as we remain still and silent in the presence of what-is-here.
I expected to see only pink blossoms,
But a gentle spring snow has fallen
And the cherry trees are wearing a white coat
.
- Ryokan (1758-1831)
Yesterday's steady rain gives way to today's sunny breeze and warming air.

We'll go to breakfast, walk dogs, bail peapod, and breath the day with gratitude for just this morning, this day, this meditation.

Watched part two of Mythos with the incisive words of Joseph Campbell at Friday Evening Conversation. He brings "feeding the fire" right into the front room, as did Dean, pizza. It is communion, relational transforming elemental interpenetrating communion, we seek. Of course there is only communion.

A new understanding is afoot. Some receive communion with worthy gratitude. Some ignore it with unworthy disregard and disrespect. But there is, always and only, communion.

Churches and religion do not own communion. They do, at times, attempt to help us see and understand it according to their lights. But our task is to own communion according to our lights. In older days someone would ask church relatedly, "Did you receive communion today?" These days, the chickadee and yellow finch look over at us and invite us into communion. We either give and receive communion -- presence, participation, and particular realization of our interconnection -- or we remain not yet aware of our true nature of unified non-separate interpenetrating with all that is.
I Ask You

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside--
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it's all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles--
each a different height--
are singing in perfect harmony.

So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt--
frog at the edge of a pond--
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches.

(Poem by Billy Collins)
The words are helpful, only, they should not have been appropriated so exclusively: "This is my body!"

Can you feel it?

Can you take it?

Will fear flee?

Yes, to all the questions. We will feel our singular and distinctive body. We will take what is given with gratitude and respect. We will present our fragile reluctance to the open and loving spirit of wholesome benevolence and compassion without fear for what follows.

Today is St. Paddy's Day.

Take the high road, take the low road. Arrive at the sunny, Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond.

We people and wee people all together!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Memories of Basketball in New York


I was in my grandmother's room
The year St Bonaventure played
Ohio State on New year's Eve, 1960,
That Holiday Festival. I think of
Orrie Jirele today. They lost in
Overtime by 2 points.
What a game 51 years ago!


(nunc ipsum, wfh)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

question for screwtape

if war is hell
why do we go to hell
so often

(nunc ipsum, wfh)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shojo no shu

To see clearly let
illusion fall fully flat
bottom mind body

(nunc ipsum, wfh)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"...important in a human way"


Pakistan. Afghanistan. Israel. Syria. Iran. Vatican City. The United States.

Dangerous countries?
For now, I’ll try to draw our attention back to a question that’s behind so much recent history – so far behind that it usually goes unasked: Do we Americans want to have a relationship with the rest of the world, or do we just want to use other societies and nations for our own purposes?... 
Todd Shea, a high-school dropout who has lived and worked in Pakistan providing disaster relief and health care since the earthquake that killed 80,000 people there on October 8, 2005, and who has never been invited to contribute to Foreign Affairs, has an answer to Thornton that resounds with tragic echoes of what might have been. Here’s what Todd said to me in July 2009 (I quote this passage in my new book Bearing the Bruise: A Life Graced by Haiti):
I believe that it was a direct recognition that in the eyes of the U.S. leaders at the time, they were barbarians, subhuman, not worth it. And I would submit that they are human beings, that if U.S. leaders had treated them as important in a human way, then society in Pakistan and Afghanistan would be far further along today, because we would have helped them avoid all the things that are happening now. If you remember, at the time, we were loved. Both countries were in such a state of need, and then we just left. “We got rid of our big enemy, let’s get outta here,” and boy, wasn’t that a strategic error. When the [Berlin] Wall came down and we were waving flags and saying “America, America,” why weren’t we waving Pakistani flags? I remember seeing the Wall come down and all that, and I don’t remember hearing anything about Pakistan.
And yes, it has everything to do with Vietnam, with which American society never did come to terms. As an older friend once told me, what the Sixties were about was how “the blood of the war got on everyone’s hands, and we couldn’t wash it off. It’s still all over the place.”(-- from, What does Afghanistan have to do with Vietnam? Posted by  on March 11, 2012) http://www.ethancasey.com/2012/03/what-does-afghanistan-have-to-do-with-vietnam/
Asked today whether the slide toward right wing and ultra right wing notions and behavior was something reversible, I heard myself say that, no, it will continue and spread and people will take up the banner of militant intolerance and things will get uglier. Watch for arrogance, unbridled wealth, power, and devious cunning masked as good business, religious correctness, or political ambition, and there is danger of manipulative hostility to ensure acquisition or continuation of narrow ends that exclude wider population.

What is there to be done?
Don't Go to War

We come upon our greediness, jealousy, or impatience, and the next impulse is to go to war with it. We don’t realize that all the while we’re strengthening the thing we’re fighting against. It’s like trying to push a beach ball into the water. Holding it down requires a huge amount of energy, and inevitably it pops back up with equal force, taking an unpredictable direction. But if you give the beach ball space and let it be, it will float effortlessly along the surface.

(- Aura Glaser, "Into the Demon's Mouth") http://www.tricycle.com/dharma-talk/demons-mouth?page=0,0
It is difficult to recognize that what is seen in the world is what is taking place within you and me.

I do not yet know how to synthesize the news that the arrogant trickster operative tearing down his enemies... is me. How the haughty multi-millionaire ripping off ordinary people with banking and insurance scams... is me. How the corrupt politician pretending to love Jesus and hate evil while doing everything in his power to foment lies and cynically manipulate the system to his personal benefit... is me.

While spiritually intriguing and mystically enticing, the prospect that I am everything I dislike is, at best, unnerving and disturbing. The work, it is suggested, has to, therefore, take place within me first.

It was so much easier to think that all that was necessary to do was to bring down those others who were bad and thereby stop them from their nefarious deeds.

 
I found my way up
Yoshino's precipice-hung
Path and into its
Past, seeing there the blossoms
I sought that spring ages ago.

- Saigyo (1118-1190)
I've got to find my way back to that garden place where we hadn't been fooled into thinking the world into two.

Where one was not an issue.

Where we had to look into each other's eyes without bodyguards, police, military, surveillance, pundit interviewers, or legal shenanigans -- and speak to one another as if each person mattered, as if each person was brother or sister, as if the anguish involved in seeing our way through together was worth the effort of being and becoming human.

"God" was companioning. We were interested in love and truth and wisdom and understanding. Then we got this idea. The idea that there was an "other" and that "other" was there to be fooled, used, killed, disgraced, robbed, and distanced.

We were "right." They were "wrong."

What is there to be done?

Tuesday morning: 3 haiku

1.
Wake up, brew coffee,
lace sneakers, walk to Snow Bowl,
listen to good words.

2.
Dog chases green ball,
happy zen practice running
here to there to here

3.
It is not enough
to love god, we have to give
both away -- sunrise!

(nunc ipsum, wfh)

Monday, March 12, 2012

fingers in nearing spring sun


About death, or, about my death, I have something to say. I know nothing about it. Not before death. Nor do I expect to know during and after. That should cover it.
"On the one hand you are so completely bewildered that something so surreal and incomprehensible could happen. At the same time, suddenly the limitations or hesitations that you might have imposed on yourself fall away. There's a weird, optimistic recklessness that could easily be construed as nihilism but is really the opposite. You see that there is a beginning and an end and that you have only a certain amount of time to act. And you want to get started."
(Dave Eggers about time after his parents died when he was 21, Writer's Almanac, 12mar2012) http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/
In the same episode of Garrison Keillor's daily offering is a poem by Pat Schneider I'd like to engage.
River

A delicate fuzz of fog
like mold, or moss,
all across the river
in this early light.
Another day, I might
have still been sleeping.

What a pity. How the stars
and seas and rivers
in their fragile lace of fog
go on without us
morning after morning,
year after year.
And we disappear.

(Poem, "River" by Pat Schneider, from Another River: New and Selected Poems. Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2005.)
I like the poem. And so it ends. Still, the dialogue continues with it within me. "We disappear" suggests there has been an appearance distinct from or other than "the stars / and seas and rivers / in their fragile lace of fog". I'm coming to suspect that we are what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. That it is an accident of misperception which transposes us to a distance of separation and division. That we are, essentially, that which we place our attention upon. This is trickier than it impossibly seems. It is not a matter of our 'becoming' that which we attend or attend to. Rather, that we are that which we, finally, awaken to and attend, as if we'd been absent in our own footprint up to the present moment.

Chuang Tzu writes:
What is It is also Other, what is Other is also It. There they say "That's it, that's not" from one point of view, here we say "That's it, that's not" from another point of view. Are there really It and Other? Or really no It and Other? Where neither It nor Other finds its opposite is called the axis of the Way. When once the axis is found at the centre of the circle there is no limit to responding with either, on the one hand no limit to what is it, on the other no limit to what is not. Therefore I say: "The best means is Illumination." rather than use the meaning to show that "The meaning is not the meaning," use what is not the meaning. Rather than use a horse to show that "A horse is not a horse" use what is not a horse. Heaven and earth are the one meaning, the myriad things are the one horse.
(--from ch.2, "The Sorting Which Evens Things Out" in The Book of Chuang Tzu: The Seven Inner Chapters, trans. by A.C. Graham, 1981)
The question whether we do or do not die is beside the point. The point is awareness, non-differentiation, and detachment. We arrive with awareness at who and what we are seeing. We no longer experience alterity. We drop all attachment to ideas, beliefs, and concepts based on othering, objectifying, and strangering.

The river, the fog, and the bird; the bandit, murderer, and the corrupt money man; the holy person, saint, and bodhisattva; the Christ, the Buddha, and the nameless myriad expressions of Our True Home -- all this, all these, all of it is who and what we are.
WHO has not found the heaven below
Will fail of it above.
God’s residence is next to mine,
His furniture is love.

(--Emily Dickenson)
I am already dead. I have never been born. I am not going to die. My birth is upon me.

Take your pick.

Words on branches -- fingers in nearing spring sun -- carry them away.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The hour when the shift-front begins


Where did that hour go? It fell away like...
I don't know, like Maine winter's snow
this week gone by
into wu wei's effortlessly caring eye.