Saturday, December 14, 2002

Woodstove smoke at 5:00am from cabin. Bald Mountain reveals and conceals itself with moving clouds along southern side. Inside we read Dogen's words on walking mountain. If we're unaware of a mountain walking can we be aware of our own walking?

Under the thin smoke of winter
The old temple is quiet.
After sundown,
All the visitors are gone.
On the west wind, three,
Four chimes the evening bell.
How can the old monk
Concentrate on zazen?

- Ma Chih-yuan (1260-1334)(

Following Saturday morning's conversation, Many Faces of Death, a woman said she thought the practice at Meetingbrook was a radical acceptance of & surrender to the reality of each person arriving here. Like death, we arrive, finally, at who we are as we are at that moment. Why not in life as well?

True love and prayer are learned in the moment when prayer has become impossible and the heart has turned to stone. (-Thomas Merton, quoted in The Grace in Dying.)

Today, in unrelenting driving rain, this impossibility of prayer surrounds the walking mountain, shrouding clouds, chimney smoke, and this stony heart.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Who knows what person we are?
The sound of each and every thing is sonorous within us. Which sound do we retain and claim to be us?

Or does our consciousness stretch to the extending edges of an expanding multi-verse far beyond the ideas we've held of a contained universe, enclosed mind, separate self, atomistic existence, or isolated unconnected people in a conditioning manipulation we call society and culture?

Dreaming, Chuang Tzu became a butterfly;
Waking, the butterfly became a man.
Who knows which is real?
Who know where endless changes end?
The waters of the deepest sea
Return to the smallest stream.
The melon-grower outside the city gate
Was once the King of the Hill.
Even rank and riches eventually disappear.
You know, and still you toil.

- Li T’ai-po (701-?)(dailyzen)

In Boston, the Cardinal resigns over issues of protecting child-abusing priests and denying the problem. In Washington the President chastises impromptu remarks by the returning Majority Leader of the Senate regaling segregation and lamenting the difficulties that followed not having a segregationist leadership in this country. In America the bait and switch technique so popular in retail minds is being applied to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in world affairs. Which one am I?

Mu-ge steals a slice of cheese from counter. Sando eats morning treat from pink bowl on bed. Cesco hides out under an unassuming alias. Snow melts from roof with warming sun.

Each is alone. We are not each other. Our true worth comes in realizing this, waking up from the very same dream, stepping out our life in the midst of everyone else sleeping, dreaming -- and waking.

Who knows who we are?
Who hears the sound of What Is being said?

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Sitting in cabin night and morning. Temperature 18 to 8 degrees. No fire. Incense, sunrise, starlight.

There’s no self and no person,
How then kinfolk and stranger!
I beg you, cease going
From lecture to lecture;
It’s better to seek truth directly.
The nature of Diamond Wisdom
Excludes even a speck of dust.
From “Thus we have heard,”
To “This I believe,”
All’s but an array
Of unreal names.

- Layman P’ang (740-808)(dailyzen)

Arraying myself with unreal names, warm socks, and woolen watch cap the sitting occurs as snowmaker at Snow bowl makes good use of cold.

All in prayer, there, as sitting continues. One bell, two bells, three bells. Mother and child icon, circles on wooden cross, one finger raised on rosewood Buddha -- stain-glass candle is warmth enough.

All day, dust motes carry on in our absence.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Today is Thomas Merton day. We're happy Thomas Merton was who he was.

Let the wise one watch over the mind,
So hard to perceive, so artful,
Alighting where it wishes;
A watchfully protected mind
Will bring happiness.

- Dhammapada

He died Dec.10, 1968. He is vital for us.

"Thomas Merton wrote in his journal:
If I am to be a saint - and there is nothing else that I can think of desiring to be - it seems that I must get there by writing books in a Trappist monastery. If I am to be a saint, I have not only to be a monk, which is what all monks must do to become saints, but I must also put down on paper what I have become. It may sound simple, but it is not an easy vocation.
To be frank, without being boring, it is a kind of crucifixion. Not a very dramatic or painful one, But it requires so much honesty that it is beyond my nature. It must come, somehow, from the Holy Spirit.
(Logan Alley's Eulogy for Thomas Merton, December 10, 2000, Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky,

The man of Tao
remains unknown
Perfect virtue
produces nothing
is 'True-Self'
And the greatest man
is Nobody

Thomas Merton, in The Way of Chuang Tzu

The Merton we knew, who is still in the lives of both of us, was a different man, and monk, from the saintly person of pre-fabricated purity that has become his image these days. He was a real person, not a saint; he was a mystic searching for God, but a God that crossed the boundaries of all religions; his was not a purely Christian soul. He developed closer spiritual ties than Church authorities will ever admit to the Eastern religions, Hinduism as well as Buddhism. In fact just before his appalling accidental death in December 1968, he was saying openly that Christianity could be greatly improved by a strong dose of Buddhism and Hinduism into its faith. These are things the record needs.
For us Merton was one of the seminal figures of our time. He was deeply curious about all religions, all areas of thought and philosophy. Rice says: "The Church has not done right by him. In fact, the Church has wronged him, and continues to wrong him, by glossing over, by evading the universality of his thought. The Church wants to obscure his basic human nature, his reaching out to other people in a desire to create a common bond, not necessarily based on religion."
"Sometimes I think there are two Churches," Rice says, "one run by the Vatican and the other by Merton. The one run by the Vatican is exclusionary and cold and based on dogma. The one run by Merton reaches out to the whole world and is based on faith."
(Jim Knight, in his recollection of Merton, along with Ed Rice and Robert Lax, in The Thomas Merton We Knew,

Merton's last recorded words were "...and now I will disappear."
And so, he did. But not before he was sighted in our midst.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Buddha's Enlightenment Day. Mary's Immaculate Conception. Meetingbrook Monastics 5th public proclamation of 3 Promises: Contemplation, Conversation, and Correspondence. Strong wind blows clear stars above ground snow.

You’re bound to become a Buddha if you practice
If water drips long enough even rocks wear through
It’s not true thick skulls can’t be pierced
People just imagine their minds are hard.

- Shih-wu (1272-1352)

He saw, the star.
She is conceived, with no barrier.

We are happy to be in a garden with what grows around Sunday Evening table. Still, the Cape Breton attraction. Who dares explain what draws us:
Alles Vergängliche
Ist nur ein Gleichnis;
Das Unzulängliche
Hier wird's Ereignis;
Das Unbeschreibliche,
Hier ist es getan;
Das Ewigweibliche
Zieht uns hinan.

(-- Chorus Mysticus: Faust)

(All things corruptible
are but reflection
Earth's insufficency
here finds perfection,
Here the ineffably wrought
is with love;
The Eternal Womanly
draws us above.)

(-- Mystical Chorus, Faust, by Goethe)

So it is, we are drawn.