Saturday, November 30, 2002

A hard heart doesn't hear the voice of God. Not in silence, not in the conversations that intersect our thinking. "If today you hear God's voice..." Psalm 95 says, "harden not your heart."

Do not accept anything simply
Because it has been said
By your teacher,
Or because it has been written
In your sacred books,
Or because it has been
Believed by many,
Or because it has been
Handed down by your
Accept and live only
According to what will enable
You to see truth face to face.

- Buddha

Seeing God face to face is death -- death to ego, death to separate self, death to the powerful illusion we are alone. The voice of God sounds through everything and every sentient being. Seeing God face to face is a heart that is broken with compassion.

In the parking lot outside the restaurant there are screams. A young (man/woman?) was punching themself in the face and nose. Blood smeared. An older man and woman were in attendance. He tried to hold the hands. The person began banging their face on the car, Finally they agreed to get into the front seat, to have the seat belt buckled, to be driven away. This scene, autistic sorrow, covered the afternoon. The few in the shop spoke softly about the sorrow of autism.

One need not be supernaturally inclined to hear the voice of God. God screamed in the parking lot today. Our hearts sorrowed, softened, and stood ready to assist with helpless attention.

To enter God's rest is to pray -- that is, to open heart and mind to the sound of what is being said, the sight of what is taking place. Open mind, open heart, and open eyes -- without judgment, without separating oneself from the whole that is there -- this is how we learn to pray.

I pray for those three in the parking lot today. I pray for those hearing, seeing, and sorrowing the encounter.

I almost forget: he’d do anything for you. Love him
for what you might have become
and love him for what you are, not that far
from him. We are never that far. Love
everyone you can. The list gets longer and shorter.
We’re seldom better than weather. We’re nearly as good
as a woman we met in passing once at Invergarry.
Don’t be sorry, for him or for self. Love the last star
broken by storm. And love you. You hold it together.

( -- from poem Villager by Richard Hugo, in The Right Madness on Skye)

Friday, November 29, 2002

Bookshop/Bakery closed today. No open poetry reading there this afternoon.

White pail fell back down cliff from the spot alongside icy path we climbed up from rocky shore. I watched it bounce. It wanted to stay where I'd found it this morning.

Silent Illumination

Silently and serenely, one forgets all words,
Clearly and vividly, it appears before you.
When one realizes it, time has no limits.
When experienced, your surroundings come to life.
Singularly illuminating is this bright awareness,
Full of wonder is the pure illumination.

- Hung Chih Cheng Chueh (1092-1157)(dailyzen)

Take nothing for the journey, bring nothing back.

Poetry is one of the forms of joy, the most articulate, the most expanding, and, therefore, the most fulfilling form. It is no separation from the world; it is the mankind of the world, the most human language of man's uncertain romance with the universe. -- John Ciardi

Mu-ge finds crevice between table leg and file cabinet, hunkers down on spilt-over paper behind wires suckling electricity from strip plug, and watches me.

Poetry returns what is in words to itself.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

It is Thursday.
For that fact
I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

In America it is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a heavy travel day. Saskia yesterday, Jon today, off to places south and west. Sando, Cesco, and Mu-ge travel around the house, Ragged, and bookshop. Dredging of harbor continues. Emptying out and filling up is the rhythm of the day.

Better than a thousand hollow words
is one word that brings peace.
Better than a thousand hollow verses
is one verse that brings peace.
It is better to conquer yourself
than to win a thousand battles.
Then the victory is yours.

- Buddha in the Dhammapada (dailyzen)

We are stragglers and strangers wandering home. Just as there is no way to peace -- peace is the way itself; so too there is no way to get back home again -- home is where we are. Turtles, we traverse here to there, coming and going, dwelling and carrying our very home within and without.

Death reminds us of the illusion of fixed addresses. Certain addresses provide warmth, food, companionship, and a place to receive mail. But there is no longer any address that satisfies the psychological & spiritual need for home. Home is right where we are.

The eggshells of family visits temper the longing for home, for grandma’s house, during holidays. So much to reconcile from years and unfinished business gone by, so compact and charged a space of time to face it. We are nomads who feel every place and each relative we know owes us something we define as something we deserve but has somehow been denied us.

Beneath and beyond the opinions we cultivate and scores needing to be evened, we carry also the forgotten reality that is our very being. By forgetting Being we busy ourselves with tasks and appointments, people as resources and roles as defining identities. By forgetting Being we forget God.

Peace is remembering who, what, and where we are. Peace is who, what, and where we are. Ask those who radiate peace. Pray in their presence, whether they are alive and visible, or dead and invisible – either way, they are there. Ask Jesus. Ask Buddha. Ask saints and bodhisattvas. Ask the ordinary person sitting right next to you, or walking across the street from you, or passing on a bus, car, train, or plane.

Ask them, not necessarily with words or voice. Ask them with your eyes. Ask them with your heart. Ask them with your attention. Look at each one with silence and acceptance, and let your loving watchfulness be what you ask. You are asking them to consider where they are. Doing so you prayerfully and mindfully invite them to be at home. Stay a while at home. Dwell in peace.

May each dwell grateful as snow falling where it falls, finding where it is, home.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Worry, worry. It's not as though everything will not fall down around us. Leaves have. Deaths in Nigeria, Palestine, and everywhere else. Political parties pick up the pieces after wins and loses. Economy sags. War strains at its leash. Finally, this morning, some sunlight over new rows of wood Jon, Saskia, and I stacked Sunday.

To look at life is like being in a dream;
It is really noisy being in the dream.
Everything stops when the dreamer suddenly awakens,
And in the same way as a dreamer awakes,
The wise understand how to wake from the dream.
The deluded believe in the dream and are disturbed
That understanding and dreaming
Seem to be two aspects.
When once the truth is comprehended,
There is no other comprehension.

- Master Pen Ching (dailyzen)

Stepping through this dream -- what courage.

Francis M. Cornford in his translation and running commentary of Plato's Sophist, says, "The Stranger begins by pointing out that 'all discourse depends on the weaving together of Forms'."
Stranger. Yes, my friend, and the attempt to separate everything from every other thing not only strikes a discordant note but amounts to a crude defiance of the philosophic Muse
Theaetetus. Why?
Stranger. This isolation of everything from everything else means a complete abolition of all discourse; for any discourse we can have owes its existence to the weaving together of Forms.
Theaetetus. True.

The weaving together of Forms allows conversation. We experience it four evenings during the week around the fire in the bookshop and one evening around the Rhodes table at hermitage. No lecture, no performance, no sermons or reports -- just conversation weaving together the forms that have appeared.

When we as dreamer awake, we begin to experience comprehension of a truth well beyond distraction and inattention. The energy of awareness with its potential for sharing this teaching and practice with another -- is what Buddhists call faith. It is what Val used to call "holding as true." Our era, writes Thich Nhat Hanh, is a time of lost faith.

When we hold something as true we really don't "know" it to be true. There is room for doubt, for a change of form, for new insight. Faith allows us a temporary resting place for time to change hands.

There's no need to worry. What is going to happen will happen. What will not happen is what is not going to happen. In the meantime we must remember everything and forget everything at the same time. Worry is worthless. What is worthwhile is weaving together forms in conversation with each other and every one. This conversation is the origin of present moment. This conversation is the completion of dream and awakening of what we hold as true with each other.

Tonight ends the four-year volunteer facilitation by Susan Smith-Hudson of the Tuesday Evening Buddhist Meditation Studies. Her faithful service, choice of poems, and unwavering counsel to "breathe three times before speaking" and "no cross talk" will be the source of respect and ribbing for many years to come. We are grateful to Susan.

Monday, November 25, 2002

John Cassian conference read at Sunday Evening Practice. Is it possible that any act is in itself indifferent? That we receive it and impose on it the designation "good" or "evil?" And if our minds are open and unjudging? No matter what the intent of the one acting the act in our direction? Can it be that only good be received no matter how wrong the act appears to be?

It is quite the power of transformation to be able to receive all in the light of God. No slight, no hurt, no malicious intent need darken our minds/hearts/spirits. Yes, there will be sorrow. Yes, there will be delight. But the steady state of receptivity to all as the appearance of God -- and the freedom to accept whatever comes as the transformative grace of re-creation of the world -- is this in our everyday capability as public worship inviting divine transcendence with inner presence?

There is not much the world can do to touch our inner presence. Once God has disappeared into God's creation -- permeating inner and outer so that there is no absence of God's awareness -- then all can be received through us into God. Nothing can separate us from the awareness of God loving us within and throughout.

But, of course, our unawareness. It cannot separate us, but our unawareness will create the illusion that an absence of God prevails. While it is only illusion, it nevertheless overwhelms us with despondency, depression, and distraction. It is up to our willingness to surrender to the radical reality suffusing our uncertain reality -- surrendering to the ground of being waiting to be seen in each and every thing, person, or act. Even the acts that give every impression as being devoid of God.

Francis of Assisi called it perfect joy. Jesus called it forgiveness without fear. It is the radical acceptance of what is taking place. It is transformative reception of what is there. It is grace and gratefulness. It is gift to trust we are not lost in our falling but will be found safe in the open hands of a God beyond whom we cannot fall.

There is no place to go that is not the presence of God. Not a notion of a God that causes harm and wrong, but a reality of God who appears within the experience to see us through.

Love sees us through. We are seen through, and in that transparent gift of freedom, love sees us through.
This is an innerstanding, (Shunyata's word), with which I can only watch and pray while dwelling in silence, stillness, and stark surrender. It is most often an empty wait. So, don't wait. Rather watch and pray with what is within us and throughout all already. This is a gift one can live and die with.

One, with which, I am grateful.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Are we going to wake up? Michael Thoms poses the question on New Dimensions this Sunday morning.

Terrorism is how our lives become devastated. It finally became "our" problem, after long plaguing other countries. Thoms' guest wonders whether our current response is just an attempt to strengthen the illusion that we are in control.

It's not only terrorism that threatens the illusion of control we cultivate. Everyday living and dying, everyday accidents, everyday surprises -- these too threaten the illusion.

Taking care of you is not a selfish thing. Taking care of others is not a selfless thing. There is a middle place. That place might be called leaving care. In that place is leaving care its own. Leaving care is abandoning both the selfish and selfless. Leaving care is allowing things to follow their own course -- with an exception. That exception is our watchfulness, our engaged, participatory watchfulness.

This notion of leaving care is out of our control. Life is living itself within, through, and alongside our presence. We cannot control anything for the long haul. It is our illusion to believe the brief spurts of balance (that we mistakenly call control) can be manipulated and extended throughout our lives, the life of our country and the life of our planet.

God is caring-itself. When we are involved in true care it is caring-itself lighting through us. Leaving care is allowing caring-itself freedom to enter the world in its own light.

Only gratefulness, for each thing and for everything, allows us to see within the light of God.