Thursday, June 06, 2002

We ask each other: What is it our hearts long for?

A regular life. Full of the liturgy of the hours, zazen sitting, hospitality, conversation, stillness, and silence. And solitude. Especially what Henri Nouwen calls 'solitude of the heart.'

Thinking is not the perseverating noise that rattles inside people's heads. Thinking is watchfulness. It is a seeing that allows what is there to be seen. Thinking is not worrying. Thinking is not analyzing or judging. Thinking is seeing itself.

"There is a pleasure in philosophy, and a lure even in the mirages of metaphysics, which every student feels until the course necessities of physical existence drag him from the heights of thought into the mart of economic strife and gain." (Durant)

"To be a philosopher," said Thoreau, "is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates, a love of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust." (in The Story of Philosophy, by Will Durant)

South and north,
Sharing a single mountain gate,
Above and below,
Two temples both named T’ien-chu.
Dwelling therein is
An old dharma master,
Built tall and skinny
Like stork or swan.
I do not know what
Practice he engages in,
But his green eyes
Reflect the mountain valleys.
Just looking into them
Makes one feel fresh and pure,
As if all one’s baneful
Vexations had been cleansed.

- Su Shih (1073)

When we see what is there, we are not other than what is there. Green eyes reflect the mountain valleys.

This afternoon the harbor is calm and sky is cloud gray.
When we see, will we see what we see?

What is it our hearts long for?

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Absurdity -- the unsound and stupid -- postures as power and wealth in our culture. This is unfair.

The sound and wise invest money and rule confidently the institutions of learning, government, religion, and financial matters. They are not the absurd ones.

Real absurdity hides in simplicity and poverty. Within or without awareness – in Spirit, Truth, and Love.

Though night after night
The moon is stream-reflected,
Try to find where it has touched,
Point even to a shadow.

- Takuan (1573–1645)

It cheers to think we no longer know the whereabouts of our priests, roshis, rabbis, sages, and saints. They are hidden within the ordinary sound of birdsong. They are felt in the passing fragrance of mowed field. They reside in the silence of cloud-break sunlight on scarred wood desk. They wander without knowing the pathways the rest of us wander.

It is not the lies, deceit, greed, nor even pretense of good intention that disturbs about the culture of professional political and private-public power grabbers -- it is the absurdity masked as the American Way, Capitalist Way, Plutocratic Way.

Absurdity -- the unsound and stupid -- belongs instead to a different segment of our world. Absurdity belongs to the fools whose lives are lost in the sacred silence of stillness, solitude, and simplicity.

Ridiculous, unreasonable, and incongruous -- radical holiness -- the foolish way of one lost in God.
This one does not kill, substitute the unreal, take from another, lie, or pretend the unlovely is lovely.

Somewhere this morning there are Buddhists reciting precepts. Somewhere there are Christians praying promises. Jews saying a blessing. Muslims proclaiming the greatness of God. Hindus making vows real. Native Americans chanting the earth and sun into being. Atheists and agnostics caring for loved ones and the earth.

Somewhere -- absurdity is regaining its correct domain. Those who grab power, money, influence, and control of who lives and dies -- they should not be allowed to appropriate the alias absurdity -- they should be given a name resembling something less valuable: like stocks, lawyer's bills, and success.

Absurdity belongs with the lovers of the earth, sentient beings, human family, and divine guest. These failures, chaotic expressions, and imperfections are what is now and ever sacred. The sacred – the unpretentious absurd – our lives.

Absurd. Seem strange?
"Try to find where it has touched" -- and heal within that place.