Saturday, December 08, 2001

Mary, it is said, knew no other. She knew no other God. She knew no other man. She found herself open and she knew enough to recognize there wasn't anything that wasn't her. This was disconcerting. When she ate bread, she was bread. When she drank water, she was water. When she sat on a stony ledge looking out at the distant mountain, she was where she sat and what she saw. It was always that way for her. From her birth there was no barrier to her understanding who she was. There was no separation, no veil, no impediment. Mary didn't know sin -- she embodied no conception of anything other than what it truly is. She became God's presenting openness.

Siddhartha Gautama, it is said, woke up. He stayed put, finally, under a tree. Where was there to go? So, he didn't. He found himself open under the tree. All through the night, finally, the morning star. He saw it. And that was that. There he was. When milk came there was milk. When daylight came there was daylight. When he was asked if he was ok -- there he was, ok. This was new. No dusty road of illusory opinions. No extremes of opulence or asceticism. He found himself in the middle of what was right there. He didn't know -- not this, not that -- he saw. There he was, Buddha enlightened. Now he was what he saw, what was there. He became Reality's awakened presence.

Mother Mary's opening conception, and, Buddha Siddhartha's waking enlightenment -- what lovely remembrance sharing the same day! This December 8, what lovely family encouraging us on our way!

Friday, December 07, 2001

Last night's conversation, reading from Putting on the Mind of Christ, by Jim Marion:
The Dark Night of the Soul is the central mystery in the evolution of human consciousness on this planet. ...Once human consciousness begins to move beyond the bounderies of human personality (and, by definition therefore, beyond spacetime and spacetime language), the multi-dimensional world that begins to come into view can only be glimpsed "through a glass darkly" as St. Paul said (1 Cor. 13:12). [p.118]

A Meetingbrook meditation: Placing Christ

1. Christ is the passage of God-Life.
2. When longing calls for God-Life -- Christ, the passage, deepens.
3. Christ is the uncreated way.
4. With Christ, creation passes through God-Life.
5. To Breathe this passage is prayer.
6. This is the gift of Spirit.
7. This is our passage.

Finally, some humor from the shop:

Coffee counter encounter, a poem

Pat from Woodfield
came in to the shop,
wearing dark glass sunshield
(luckily she didn't flop)

she picked a dark blue cup
poured organic coffee at the round
which splattered and flew up
she had it upside down

"uh oh, oh well," she said
turning to get a napkin
her face a little red
"bottom's up!" (but what a din!)

Thursday, December 06, 2001

An Inquiry of Hermits: A Meetingbrook meditation of seventeen passing reflections --

1. Hermitage is a way of life practicing contemplation, conversation, & correspondence.
2. In silence and solitude we listen and watch for ourselves.
3. Hermits do not seek company.
4. Hermits do not seek emptiness -- they do not seek God, or self, or Being.
5. Hermits are alone.
6. Hermits gather nothing and no other -- and present this to all.
7. Hermits know nothing of God.
8. Hermits pray -- their prayer is listening.
9. The posture for prayer is the human body.
10. Prayer is being present to what is.
11. God is what is listening to prayer.
12. To pray always is to remember God.
13. What is God?
14. God is prayer itself.
15. What am I? Better to ask when you are at prayer.
16. Hermits pray that God at prayer remembers what is present.
17. All other questions will not be answered by hermits.

How curious we are! What we ask when alone is heard by the Alone. This inquiry makes love possible.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

Soup pot on gas flame, the kitchen fills with sauteing leeks, onion, and eggplant, garlic, fresh basil.

At Mass this morning the parable included the words: there were seven loaves, ...and they ate." If we humans are the addition to whatever things that are there before us, then, perhaps the miracle is what we are willing to do with what is there before us. Where there is seven there is eight. On the stairway wall at the hermitage is a Zen saying: Seven times down, eight times up. At a Zen center years ago Bobbie wondered to me over soup whether the Zen Master had a problem with arithmetic -- it didn't add up, down seven up eight. Was this a test? I wondered. I answered that it all depends where you begin, doesn't it?

Seven down, eight up -- the prostrations of praise and humility. Seven loaves and they ate -- the human arithmetic of heaven's compassion. How feed those who hunger for food, for freedom, for peace? Maybe, if we've forgotten something we once understood, we might begin again. What have we forgotten? Where do others end and we begin?

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

The Zen poet Ryoken wrote some lines that might apply to a lot of things, one of them, -- loving life now:
If we gain something it was there from the beginning.
If we lose something it is hidden nearby.

The attempt to control, whether through violence or law, has little to do with love. Love is releasing control, dropping the reins of enslavement and self-will. Love lets go any claim of ownership and control -- inviting us into the strong-version, fire-thought, exacting-test the Zen Master imprints on our freedom -- to follow the call of life whenever it asks us to commit ourselves to what is true.. And what is true? That question -- like prayer -- is what is being called for right now!

Dick points out the 1st rule of metta practice is to love yourself. Tom says that the 1st step of 12 is to admit that your life is out of control. He claims the several reminders of that fact for him have been "a glorious wash, not a violent thunderstorm." The Buddhist studies evening looking at the 5 Wonderful Mindfulness Trainings -- one end of the bookends.

The other bookend, elsewhere, a few miles away, a meeting based on the question/phrase "What Matters Now..." -- the midcoast community looking at how to encounter and respond to the teen suicides these recent months.

Susan leads the study/practice group so well on Tuesday evenings. She leads a guided meditation found in Thich Nhat Hanh's The Blooming of a Lotus: Guided Meditation Exercises for Healing and Transformation. In this meditation on looking deeply and healing, Thay suggests we invite our fears into consciousness, welcome them, and they'll grow weaker under the light of consciousness. Breathing in I realize I am getting old; breathing out I see there is no escape. Breathing in I know I will die; breathing out I know there is no escape. In, there is the abandoning of what I cherish; out, no escape. Breathing in I realize my actions are my only true possessions; breathing out I know there is no escape from consequences. In, I'm determined to live my days in mindfulness; out, I see joy. In, I offer my joy to my beloved; out, I try to ease the pain of my beloved.

There's a Tibetan Buddhist understanding of renunciation (noted in Lovingkindness ) that helps: renunciation is accepting what comes into our lives, and letting go what leaves our lives. Desirelessness, or detachment, means to be very full, alive, open. The energetic manifestation of desirelessness is love. Allow change, practice generosity, develop gratitude, -- and by simplifying, know what we need to be happy in a spontaneous and natural way.

Su-Sane says that dirt is life in process -- there's a need to be patient with the dirt. Nancy (saying she's "beyond vague") tells that she's letting go of the idea that she'll change the world, and in its place a strong sense of community grows. "I can rest back, trusting another will be there in my place -- there's contentment, despite a sense of crisis in our world," she says. Delia relates that the weatherman on public radio said this morning that "its a tranquil day, and tomorrow there's another one coming." This observation, along with her refusal to pick up the discouraging newspapers, gave her courage for the day.

The thought of suicide, like all thoughts and emotions, is a passing thought. It doesn't need to be acted on -- this is something we need to watch and wait with for understanding, the young and the old of us. The thought of suicide comes to many of us. It can pass on without us -- without our grasping or controlling it -- and it will pass. Renunciation is not getting stuck -- what comes, comes; what goes, goes. Our job, our practice, is to come back, re-enter the now, not try to do it all ourself. What was there in the beginning is hiding nearby. We pray that what we do here will assist what they do there. In each place there is a commitment to community -- you can book on it.

Book now, love life -- there's no ending it!

Monday, December 03, 2001

On daybed in kitchen this evening Sando has respiratory spell. Earlier on, during morning meditation-walk by Hosmer Pond, she threw up several times drawing our attention as Saskia and I sat in cold but clear toboggan chute looking over first soft red strokes of sun on water . This afternoon Sando lay in leaves by cabin as we complete cutting, fitting, and screwing-in drywall at end peak. She is a sweet dog. The vet has her on medications. She's asleep now behind me in the silence of her sweetness.

I meant to write about our last walk.
We had nothing to do but gaze--

(-Robert Lowell, in poem "Last Walk?")

We sang Lauds at an empty Our Lady of Good Hope this morning -- except for Tommy who sat in the back pew as we prayed with all the invisible souls wishing to reside in the praise of Christ for Father and Spirit. Tommy would be off to the hospital where wife Susan begins to remember and recover from Saturday's automobile accident that splintered her lower leg and traumatized chest and lungs. Tommy says he's learning the requirements of TLC, heretofore only an elective in his studies.

Wounds break open a secret we keep enclosed within ourselves --namely -- there is only this breath, and this one, and this breath. When we're broken open we notice simple life breathe. One breath at a time. One breath each time. What a gift!

A great gift -- to walk with each other and watch...

Sunday, December 02, 2001

At Sunday Evening Practice a reading from Illuminated Life, Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light, by Joan Chittister, chapter on Faith, a story:
Abba Doulas, the disciple of Abba Bessarion, said: When we were walking along the sea one day, I was thirsty, so I said to Abba Bessarion, "Abba, I am very thirsty," Then the old man prayed and said to me, "Then drink from the sea." And the water was sweet when I drank it. So I poured it into a flask so that I would not be thirsty later. Seeing this, the old man asked me, "Why are you doing that?" And I answered, "So that I won't be thirsty later on." Then the old man said, "God is here and God is everywhere." (p.44)

After ten minutes of silence and Hungarian mushroom gulyas soup following the reading, we spoke at Janet's table.
"What is being called for right now," we agreed, "is prayer."

Earlier in the afternoon, while flute, guitar, harmonicas, and voices played and sang at the shop, Joanie gave Sando a new purple bandana, the color of Advent.