Saturday, January 18, 2003

We touch each other in passing.

In his book A Monk in the World, Wayne Teasdale writes, “It can be said that solitude is the teacher, and silence is the teaching ”

And what is being taught?

Being taught is this very moment revealing itself.

The last word is itself.


Friday, January 17, 2003

broken and troubled
sit together in prison
mending and healing


Mist and fog shroud out
the dust of the world.
Mountain and stream embellish
the place where I live.
At a time like this,
should I turn to scribbling poems,
the breeze and moon would surely
look down on me with scorn.

- Tami No Kurohito (unknown)

At prison today,
twelve converse theme "Beauty Within."
And it was, seen


Perhaps the real joy in conversation is simply conversing with one another.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

At Canadian border yesterday we receive yellow card and invited to pull over, "It came up on computer," said customs woman. A brief glance about and we are free to enter Canada for brief pickup of salami, dog biscuits, grapefruit mineral water, and tea.

It is a surprising thought re-entering the United States that someone at the border might say, "You are under arrest, come with us," and be taken away in handcuffs. No lawyer. No charges. No court hearing. Just handcuffs and jail in the name of national security.

A thousand mountains,
Wind and snow,
Stop me in my lonely tracks;
Turning my head to the western sky,
The road a dead end,
I recall the distant event of
Bodhidharma’s arrival in China
An old monkey howls from the highest peak.

- Wu Hsueh Tsu-Yuan (1226 – 1286)

Along with the innumerable email offers received daily to enlarge penis, buy discount viagra, watch barnyard animals and human females do things I can only hope not to imagine, purchase cheap ink replacements for printer, protect my computer from the destructive viruses of people who send out destructive viruses, and those kind requests from Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa to hold millions of dollars for them for a short while --- there are other emails these days.

These emails ask me to sign petitions and circulate telephone and fax numbers of President Bush and assorted Senators. These pleas worry that Mr. Bush only wants war with Iraq, period. They ask to let him know that a significant number of people do not trust he will keep his word and let inspectors inspect, and use force only as a last resort. They worry bellicosity produces bellicosity. They wonder whether the president is being manipulated by less than honorable intentions of other powerful men in his Republican club. These other emails fear deep damage to democracy and painful harm to America's true strength, namely, freedom and justice, tolerance and inclusivity.

Ninety percent of incoming email is about sex, money, viral war, or personal appearance.
Would that the remaining ten percent celebrated the courage to undertake fellowship and neighborly concern in the form, not of war, but of love.

After Mass this morning we sat silently in the empty church. It is Martin Luther King's birthday. In a speech on 4April1967, one year to the day prior to his assassination on 4April1968, he said:
This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.

( -- from speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City )

Some people change their email address to avoid the unnecessary and superfluous things they receive. Some change their physical address and residence to avoid those who would cowardly harm them. Some even change their country when the fear of loss of liberty and menace of authoritative police and military tactics begin to encroach. Today I long to change the mind of this country from arrogance and fear to open inquiry and love.

I suspect the more honest change would be to change my own mind, to become closer to the twofold invitations of Christianity and Buddhism. One, to empty myself and allow in the form of Christ-mind, the other to empty myself and allow the form of Buddha-mind. These two forms, kenosis and shunyata, are for us the practice of simplicity, integrity, and faithful engagement. Worded differently, it is the practice of attentive presence, root silence, and transparent service.

Can we live this way?
And allow embodying love?

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Why pray?

If prayer is opening to God, to the person whose voice comes from across the room, to the chickadee on branch, and cat on stairs – why, and to what purpose is prayer?

I don’t know. I pray to find out.

Eagle Poem
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear,
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

(Joy Harjo)

The beauty of this life in this world!

"... until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the Providence moves, too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

- Goethe

Men who refuse beauty or who wish its substitute -- power, possessions and wealth -- talk of and plan for war.

Prayer opens to these men in their strategy rooms and uncertainty of heart

Why, and to what purpose?

Begin now prayer.
Begin now peace.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Icicles hang from eave guarding small window in this room as sunrise lengthens light embrace through them. Ice on window melts and drips. January is soft snow and cold freeze.

I live far off in the wild
Where moss and woods
Are thick and plants perfumed
I can see mountains rain or shine
And never hear market noise
I light a few leaves in my stove to heat tea
To patch my robe I cut off a cloud
Lifetimes seldom fill a hundred years
Why suffer for profit and fame?

- Stonehouse (

There is no cutting away the human to reach for the divine. Each is in each. They grow together like water and ice. No water, no ice. When season matures, sun comes, melts ice, only water.

But in deep cold of January sun is able only to shine through ice, illuminate it, and reside thereby within and without even in this state of hard encased stillness.

The term [Pleroma] is used in John's indicate the perfect presence of divinity in Christ, who is the place where God dwells bodily, but also to indicate Christ as the whole measure of divinity, knowable through the church, his body. (p.698, Encyclopedia of the Early Church, entry by L. Vanyo)

Church, whoever is gathered in the consciousness of Christ, is the body of Christ. Christ is the fullness of the place "where God dwells bodily." Whether zendo, chapel, circle conversation, one-to-one soul-friend meeting, or ever-solitary meander through crunching snow -- it is our good fortune to be body here on earth.

It is not a matter of 'believing' in God. It is the matter of 'being' in God. Being in God as water in ice, as ice in light, and as the slow movement -- lengthening and shortening -- of all three in the world of winter.

There is no need to suffer for profit and fame. We suffer, rather, the coming-to-light of all that is hidden in shadow.

There is no one without the other. Here is one within no other.

Morning! The spirit of birds blur past bright icicles.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

No water, no life.

The Great Person from time past
Had no fixed abode.
In famed mountains hid his traces,
Grew old amid wind and frost.
From afar, I see your
White-rock hermitage,
Hidden in a haze
Of evergreen trees.
When the moon sets,
It’s mind-watching time;
Clouds arise
In your closed eyes.
Just before dawn, temple bells
Sound from neighboring peaks;
Waterfalls hang thousands of feet
In emptiness.
Moss and lichen
Cover the cliff face;
A narrow, indistinct path
Leads to you.

- Chia Tao (779-843)

It is not distant and separated seclusion the hermit seeks. The hermit seeks pure nature and distinct reality in human nature and the indistinct dispersions of our common everyday experience.

After Saturday Morning Conversation with Richard and Susan it was suggested it is not an oppositional stance the hermit takes, rather a stance in the middle of the values of the society and culture, a stance that dissolves within immediate reality.

Thus says the Lord: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread, your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. (Isaiah 55)

Salt doesn't lose its flavor after it dissolves in water. It is not pure salt; it is salt water. Hermits do not lose their distinctive quiet presence after they disappear into the marketplace. They are not separated seclusion; they are inclusive immersion.

Baptism immerses us in everyday reality permeated with Christic grace. Jesus came to it with John at Jordan. We must face our own beginningless and endless interpenetration with God in all things, in beings with indistinct meander.

"You," said the voice in the Christ experience of Jesus, "are my beloved son with whom I am well pleased."

Come to the water. Come to life.

They lead to you.

Where else would God be watching?

Be well? Be pleased? Be loved?