Wednesday, June 26, 2002

When prayer finds me I am always surprised. I'm not always aware I'm lost. Like a friend appearing in a summer morning's playful tag, prayer taps shoulder with "you're it" and scoots away behind birdcall.

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)

Ages ago there was only linear time. Long straight extension from an unimaginable past stretching to an unimaginable future. Then arrives prayer.

Prayer encircles. It enfolds. What seemed once to be a line straight and narrow becomes a round return, origin to origin.

If I pray for a happy life and happy death for those who come to mind, I am praying for their happy life and death at the very moment of their life and death. It doesn't matter that they've been dead in linear time's measurement for 30 years or 3 days. Prayer reaches into the instant of that person's life, the instant of their death, and touches them there.

Prayer is eternal presence. This eternal presence consists of the one praying, the one prayed for, and the One Presence encircling and enfolding each in prayerful round return.

Each and any prayer is eternally real. It is, as well, felt presence in time. It acknowledges and participates in the creating life of the whole family of Being -- humanity, all sentient beings, matter itself, divinity itself. (What we call non-divinity, or non-being, or some, evil -- might be the separating, non-inclusive, fragmenting, othering, and divisive intent/activity to avoid and deny what is whole -- causing harm and suffering.)

Prayer heals and wholes that which has been broken by those of us not yet ready for love, not-yet ready to be Love's dwelling place. When I'm tagged by prayer in my forgetting, touched by presence when I'm lost -- suddenly I remember -- be prayer, say prayer, long for what I am.

God is the longing that inspires prayer. We are God's longing to inhabit and transform this sacred family.

Prayer is surprising. Let's surprise each other!

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

The strawberry moon came full over Curtis Island. Tom O'D alerted us, took zoom lens and camera to edge of Waterfront patio and clicked away at it. The new waitress from Colorado, then kitchen crew, customers, all stood in a silence of liturgical vigil at its rising.

If your mind is fixed on a certain spot,
It will be seized by that spot and
No activities can be performed efficiently.
Not to fix your mind anywhere is essential.
Not fixed anywhere,
The mind is everywhere…
The Original Mind is like water which flows freely
Whereas the deluded mind is like ice
There is a passage in the Diamond Sutra that says:
“The mind should operate without abiding anywhere.”

- Takuan (1573-1645)

The universe in a rounded moon, and St. John's Day to boot. The sky resplendent, conversation in open air, a sense of loss and gain all at once.

We will stay where we are at Ragged Mountain. The moon is familiar there too.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

When I die will the world still exist?
This is a spiritual question. If God Alone Is, and I die -- does the world still exist?

Although the marvelous
Lines are difficult to trace,
Still I can make out
Several layers of mountains,
A jumble of peaks,
Like shell-spiraled locks of hair.
Faraway streams and mountains,
Peaks swathed in clouds,
Just like a painting,
Have captured the essence.
Gazing into emptiness,
I long to ask the monk about it.
If I don’t learn the meaning
Of the reclusive life,
I can but sigh with regret until the day I die!

- Su Shih 1073 (dailyzen)

The reclusive life is returning to what alone is.

The novelty of Christianity from the sociological standpoint, as compared with other religions, lay in breaking down all imperative relationship between religion and the family, clan, nation or empire, giving it a personal basis in conscience. (opening line in Church and State c.1939, by Luigi Sturzo)

Perhaps the reason prayer is vital is in its personal basis. What we call 'conscience' is the dwelling place of what is and can be known, seen, and intuited -- the apparent and the hidden -- residing in the very essence of each individual. Prayer -- or the meaning of the reclusive life -- is enfolding conscience resting in itself, in what is true and loving. Prayer asks into and invites what is there to see and know with (i.e. to dwell as conscience). Prayer resides within a common wholeness. Prayer engages what is there.

What alone is! All else is dispersion, diffusion, and dissimilation.

If I recall, e.e.cumming's words go something like: Better worlds, I suggest, are born, not made -- and begin with the birthdays of individuals. Let us pray, therefore, not for better worlds, but for individuals.

In response to my first question above, I suspect the world will still exist when I die. The mystery of appearance and disappearance is more than one person's biographical terminus. Still, there is something to contemplate here that corresponds to the meaning of the reclusive life. If God alone is, and I have died into Christ's mysterious passage -- through creation, through life, through death, into what is alone God -- then, what else is there?

As I live and as I die -- I'll be gazing into this emptiness -- knowing the sight of God is what is looking through me. This will be my prayer.

One day I'll no longer sigh with regret at what I no longer am.