Saturday, December 01, 2001

Lovely rain, wells fill, mist fog climbs Bald mtn. Mixing bowl hums. Sando on daybed snoozes from her wheezing. Lectio over, Advent readings -- why is the Son of Man likened to a thief? What's being taken from us that we don't need?
Saskia back from retreat. Jim drives in, turns around, drives out. Saturday morning at hermitage. Temperatures to 65 this afternoon. Welcome December!

At Friday Evening Poetry Annie reads of Rumanian father's leaving his homeland -- the beauty and melancholic gasp of Carpathian departure! Dick reads an Annie Dilliard usual lovely descriptive. Then there was Merton's poem on Eichmann read by Jim; Annie's response recitation of an Auden poem; and then Hafiz, Nye, and Robert Lax (on his birthday), plus retreat journal entries and other poems.

We wondered whether a land that has known much sorrow and bloodshed is willing to show its beauty to just anyone.

Imagine the land veiling itself to eyes seeking only evidence of strife and desolation, showing them only what they look for; then, that same land revealing itself unveiled in its hidden loveliness only to those eyes that look at it openly with compassion, showing them what they look at without any other intention or purpose. We wondered whether we do the same -- if not ready for beauty, we see and show only pain, fear, and destruction. Perhaps poetry is finding beauty in a person or place -- as a gift given only to those allowing another to show themselves -- as they are, at their own time, in their own way.

In his poem Old Magician, Robert Lax writes about the magician's last commands, the elaborate preparations -- of newt's egg, toad's eye, and cinnebar -- to be followed by his assistant. When all is ready the poet writes:

all right, said
the assistant, now what
do we expect?

nothing, said
the magician.
expect nothing.

nothing? said
the assistant.
then what did we
do the experiment

all my life, said
the magician,
i've wanted to do
an experiment
that hoped for nothing
accomplished nothing.

and now? said the

i think i've done
it, said the magi-
cian. go out in the
garden & look.

The poem ends with the assistant reporting a golden tree with golden fruit and golden leaves with a living trunk that sings,

& sings, it sings
like a tree full of

Last night a poet sitting next to the fireplace spoke of being there, "the space, the quiet, the sense of timelessness," she said. We smiled. Her words a lovely unveiling.

Friday, November 30, 2001

Sparked by Jim Marion's Putting on the Mind of Christ at Thursday Evening Christian Contemplative Studies, Forrest offers, "God is life. What the opposite of life is, I don't know; I don't know what not-life is."

Responding to the question of frequency, vibration, light and the appearance of things or thoughts in the world, Kristen suggested that "If it is here, we've created it." This, all of this as a cooperative manifesting-into-existence of what can be thought, worried, imagined or hand made.

The thought comes: God doesn't say no!

Like the saddened father in a Navajo myth giving his two sons the weapons they ask for to battle the monsters -- saddened because the monsters, too, are his children -- the father gives what is asked for.

This takes care. Life is a question constantly asking.
Can we know (or want to know) what not-life is?
Don't ask!

There is a question all seem to face and most choose to engage -- whether by respond-ability or responsibility. That question is: What are we being asked? --or-- What is being asked?

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Wednesday Evening Conversation's first evening with Eckhart Tolle's 2nd book Practicing the Power of Now. In it the sentences: Enlightenment is your natural state of felt oneness with Being; and, No-mind is consciousness without thought.

When we don't feel at-one with Being, notions of separation arise. We are not separate from nor other than Being. Yet we don't feel what we are, or are not aware of our non-separatness. Muriel spoke of embracing her grandchild -- the feeling of loving wholeness. Someone wondered if Zen was a only a single-minded portal, and that a greater variety of entrance ways back into felt oneness is necessary. Holly added that curiosity and inquiry itself was an entry point. Another suggested that Zen was the open seeing through of everything as portal, and not just a particular meditation technique. Zen is engaging transparency -- coming to see there are no barriers to our full experience of what and who we are.

The thought of being without thought is anxiety provoking for many. By it is not meant that we stare zombie-like. Rather, what we are seeing, hearing and attending to is done simply, patiently, with presence -- without the reflex activity of incessant judging, analyzing, and evaluating. The practice entails watching our mind and understanding we are not our mind, our mind is available for us to use, not for us to be used by it.
Dirk felt this consideration was the one he wished to bring to next Tuesday evening's mid-coast community discussion about the recent teen suicides all are suffering. There is relief from the thoughts of suicide that periodically occupy our minds. It strikes me that to paraphrase a poem-fragment by Robert Creeley -- Thoughts come, thoughts go, then, let them! -- compliments Dirk's offering to the community.

When we comprehend this we are free from slavery to thoughts that riddle our mind, and, consequently, we grow in freedom to utilize useful thoughts as tools for the work we do.
And what is that work? The work is what is going on within me at this moment.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

At last night's Buddhist studies there was conversation about a line from Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg -- (my notes don't have the whole of it, but): 'Pain is not a sign of things gone wrong. Pleasure/pain, gain/loss, fame/disrepute is what the world naturally provides -- and still we can be happy.'
So much, if not all, of our experience in the world is made up of oscillation between two opposing possibilities. We seem to live in a world of twos: good/bad, up/down, right/wrong, friend/enemy, love/hate. What interests me is the between, the (/) slash that can be seen as the separator, or, (my preference) the meeting place where extensions of the one reality engage.

There are so many explanations why the world is so often at war. The intervals of peace are more often described as detente, balance at the brink, don't you dare or I'll unleash. Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote:
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I'll not play the hypocrite
To my own heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace.

Advent approaches, again, prelude to what some identify as the birth of the embodiment of peace -- Jesus, seen as Christ. This person, this mind, invites a deeper consideration of peace. What would Hopkins' "piecemeal peace" look like if it was transformed into whole-peace? Is this the invitation of Christ-mind? To see and embody what our fragmenting minds and opposing bodies cannot hold together? It will be a meditation this Advent -- the movement through gradual piecemeal to a personal awareness of the root profundity of Peace-Itself.

What I'm curious about is what E.E.Cummings refers to in Eimi as the "Voice of silence" --
silence is made of
(behind perfectly or
final rising
more dark
most luminous proudly
whereless fragrant whenlessly erect
a sudden the!entirely blossoming)


I like Cummings' words about silence. And I like the interpretation that Salzberg's words suggest: "Still...we can be happy."

I'll pay attention to the invitation into the opening wholeness of peace, into the ongoing practice of silence and stillness.
I'll watch and pray the gradual/sudden embodiment of peace -- for one/all this Advent.
Day by day one engaged meeting at a time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

The phrase at end of scripture reading -- "This is the Word of the Lord" -- on sheet of paper folded into leather cover at back of writing book. Two years ago in October 1999 I read the passage at my sister's funeral mass. Of course now I ask the question -- What is the Word of the Lord? And, of course, the response -- the answer is the question (as all true questions contain their answer).
So -- What is the Word of the Lord? Yes, it is! What is (is) the Word of the Lord.
Is this Paul's mind when he exhorted to preach (i.e.speak/listen) the Word in and out of season, always? If the Word of the Lord is What Is, then, the point of what is becomes the open place for entry and realization of What is called God. That open place can be anywhere and is everywhere. We are invited to speak/listen to what is, with what is, as what is.

The quote for the day is from Fenyang:
Few people believe their
Inherent mind is Buddha.
Most will not take this seriously,
And therefore are cramped.
They are wrapped up in illusions, cravings,
Resentments, and other afflictions,
All because they love the cave of ignorance.
(-- Fenyang)

As Fr. Abbot at the Trappist monastery pointed out on Thanksgiving Day, one casualty of September 11th was our negligence. From that day, and perhaps continuing, is our awakened awareness that each goodbye kiss, each passing encounter, each felt acknowledgement of each other in our personal or work life is vital, is not just 'another, another' repetitive event. Rather, our neglect and ignoring behavior has turned -- turned into face to face appreciation -- turned into seeing each moment and encounter as the first one -- to the moment of love that is all there is.

In my dream the morning following Thanksgiving my sister appears in a room. Her childhood friend Sr. Rosemary comes in the door and looks at me, then Pat, then back to me. We both (in the dream) silently acknowledge that here she is. I hug Patricia and note the solid feel of her, my hands on her back, and am again surprised at this felt reality. I also think (in the dream) Pat doesn't know she is dead -- or as I rethink it, she doesn't know she is anything else but alive where she is!
I look to Ro to see whether she is a questioning person inside the dream as I am. Namely, Pat has died, but here she is; are you, Ro, part of the dream or part of the dream's unveiling? "Where are you?"--I ask Ro, "When are you?" I ask. She nods affirmatively to me, as though understanding my inquiry, and says, "I'm in nowtime, I'm in nowtime!" Ro says to Pat "I love you." Pat's face lights and she says something to the effect "Oh, how wonderful to be so special!" And I say the same words to her. Then I wake.
Fresh between worlds in the pre-3am stillness of my room I say aloud into the silence,
"I love you Pat."

Monday, November 26, 2001

Warm rainy November evening muted with fog. Sitting in the meditation room I can hear splashing tires on Barnestown road.
Pablo Neruda begins his poem "Keeping Quiet" with these lines:
And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let's not speak in any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

At silent sitting (zazen) tonight I am not as restless as last night. That’s neither good nor bad, but it does remind me of Shunryu Suzuki's words in the chapter Mistakes in Practice in Zen Mind, Beginners Mind -- "Whether you have difficulties in your practice or not, as long as you continue it, you have pure practice in its true sense. Even when you are not aware of it, you have it. So Dogen-zenji said, 'Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment.' Whether or not you are aware of it, you have your own true enlightenment in your practice." (p.73)

Neruda has these lines near end of poem:
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

At times our practice seems uninspiring and senseless. At other times quiet and rooted in the earth. Returning to earth is a good practice.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

Today we officially begin postings for Today at Meetingbrook. As usual, with gratitude to Karl Gottshalk.

When Luke tells the story of the man saying to his companion -- Remember me when you enter your kingdom -- and the response he received -- Today you will be with me in paradise -- there is an experience of entering that takes place. What kingdom? Where? When? The conversation then was between two people nearing their deaths. One was about to open the kingdom of the presence of God to the whole world, the other asked (some say made a declarative demand) to be shown the way home.
Who knows this conversation understands the seeming impossibility of locating for certain that which is our true home.
And that's what the conversation is about: what, where, when -- even how -- to enter or return to our true home. At Meetingbrook today, there is an invitation -- to practice, presence, and pray -- that which is longed for.
Ask the one you are with!

From the bakery corner:[Saskia]
Today we have Hungarian Gulyas soup (with meat), and a cheddar vegetable chowder full of cauliflower, broccoli and various veggies. Along with homemade bread.
Also a Viennese Topfen Kuchen and chocolate chip cookies. It is such a joy to bake in silence as part of my morning meditation! Tomorrow I am off for a week long retreat in silence at a Trappist monastery.