Friday, March 14, 2003

Incarnational spirituality is to be embodied and respectful of such embodiment. It's how we dwell in this world.

As long as you are subject
To a life bound by force of habit,
You are not free from the
Burden of the body.

- Kuei-Shan (771-854)

In prison this morning Sonny said he wasn't going to surrender his spirituality to anybody, "not even to God, because he don't need it."
Charlie and Les talked to each other attempting to get to the bottom of whether 'respect' was there even if you didn't agree with the opinion of another. (We decided 'respect' really meant 'to look again' at what was being said. In that 'looking again,' respect means not discarding out of hand, but taking another look at it.)

If you took notice of our transgressions, Lord – Lord, who would be left?
But with you is forgiveness, and for this we revere you.

- Psalm 129 (130)

Charlie, wondering about the one universal thing that everybody participates in said, when asked what is is, "I don't know; it's whatever it is."

Andre ends his poem/song entitled "Tough" with the couplet:
it's so much less exhausting not to want,
and not be lost in the emotions I was taught.

The Lord doesn't see our transgressions. The Lord sees us.

Charlie would suggest the fact might be "we believe we believe,” but don't.

We look again. We respect each other. All these bodies around a table, speaking each to each.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

"Prayer is the sense of the source within our beings." That's what Tom R. said at Thursday Evening Conversation. When it was repeated to him what he had said he asked with a laugh, "Did I say that?"

Prayer is the sense of the source within our beings.

Coming to word is relational travel. Often in conversation we are graced with words, not initiated by separate self or small 'I,' but originating within the whole self, or relational 'we.'

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice,
"This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what
they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

(cf. Mark 9:2-10)

Jesus alone, with them.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices,
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.

- Hakuin (1686-1768)

Perhaps mossy crevices are the routes we travel with each other. The gift of conversation is stepping into the flowing water with no idea of stopping up or damming the movement. If we hear each other out we emerge from the burden of hiding, a hiding that weights and clouds our being.

The little stream, quietly, turns clear and transparent. It returns to itself, to its source, with simple surprise.

Prayer is the sense of the source within our beings.

Is this a response to the conversation Jesus, Peter, James, and John were having on a high mountain apart by themselves?

Is the sense of the source within our beings a response to the question about what rising from the dead meant?

Tom, surprised by prayer in conversation, smiled his way out the door to the icy parking lot.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The fear is that our words have no power.

When there is no communication between us, there is no power in our words. When we are angry and lash out at others, words are razors. When we promise something and fail to intend what is promised, words are spoiled and rotten food. When we decide to say something is when that something is not, when we presume to deceive and distort what we are saying, words are broken mirrors holding no recognizable images of us, nor semblance of truth.

So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

(Is 55:11)

This is why we long for the word of God. We long for words to replicate and embody what they say. We hunger for the Body of Christ (or, the Thusness of Being) to be what it is, to be the self-same reality with the One pronouncing it.

Just don’t seek from another
Or you’ll be far estranged from self.
I now go on alone
Meeting it everywhere
It now is just what I am
I now am not it.
You must comprehend in this way
To merge with thusness.

- Dongshan Liangjie (807-869)

So it is we long for Incarnation, Embodiment, Thusness, Things As They Really Are -- this is our pilgrimage alone to the Alone. We long to awaken to and realize mergence.
To emerge from unconsciousness is to merge with consciousness. There we finally see with the mind that sees what is there.

On wooden bench this morning with Cesco stretching himself across my knee on carpet, the position of silent watchfulness is our rite of prayer. Mu-ge watched birds outside front window. Cesco watched Mu-ge from carpet. I watched Cesco from bench. We are all watched by non-void word encircling us in silence. Saskia and Sando visit southern Maine watching cars and numbers pass by.

What is the end of Isaiah's word?
Completing what is -- this is Isaiah's word.

How do we complete what is?
We complete what is as no other, by no othering, by whole sighting what is there.

You ask me, "What does that mean?" I respond, That means when we pray we are the prayer we open to with full heart and mind. The one we call God is the one calling us.

The word of God is one calling one. It cannot be other than it is. The word in prayer wills, wants, what is God. Between you and me, when in prayer, no other longing exists but God as what is, the dwelling place of you and me. We long to be what we already are. We are what we are. But we forget. And forgetting, we hear no calling.

We only exist when words have power. Words only exist when we have the power of now. It is root silence that nourishes words, nourishes us, nourishes now.

Silence is the dwelling place of word. Sacred word dwells in sacred silence. The resonance of now is the power of each within God, God within each, within each now, God.

We go forth in the power of this resonance.
Thusness, merging longing, unafraid.

We are our word.

Monday, March 10, 2003

When do we see the face of God? And how do we live with what we are seeing?

Mu-ge purrs on stomach and chest as sun comes through opaque iced window. He is well tuned. His young exhalation and inhalation the smoothness of morning sun melting crystal patterns formed by winter night's frozen artistry.

Zazen with sunrise melting drip!
Chanting melody of black & white coon cat-eared sage!

You will see then that
both your body and mind,
together with the mountains,
rivers, space, and earth
of the outward world,
are all within the
wonderful, illumined, and true Mind.

(- Surangama Sutra, dailyzen)

The whole outward world awaits the command to begin invasion of Arabic country by American military. There is, I suspect, room in the true Mind for one more war.
The ‘what is’ of all there is might find itself under screaming bombs and lamenting mothers wailing for their children.

It is equally possible the ‘what is of all there is’ could find itself in earnest deliberations, diplomatically resolving the interests of two nations to satisfaction without disturbing the prepared ennui of men and women with loaded guns and bombs.

At breakfast tables in both desert and city individual minds take toast and cereal in distracted wonder.

When do we see the face of God? And how do we live with what we are seeing?

‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’. (Matthew 25)

The mind, like the world, is a dangerous place. More accommodating is tea and toast, or coffee and soymilk alongside banana slices.

If we placed our minds on breakfast with the same unswerving attention of a self-licking cat or the single concentration of warriors readying pre-dawn attack – perhaps breakfast with true Mind would throw everyone and everything into original creation. Once there, in a complete realization of “do to one, do to me,” dangerous mind might just yield to awakened heart, and all would return to dwell within their true home.

At my window, night cold chiseled patterns of ice disappear and clear light moves through grime of accumulated dust and wind soil. Cat has run to other room sound of drapes pulled back.

Bells take wind’s passing and turn it to tolling sound. Mountain sits still. Pond makes thick ice its unmoving meditation. Broken open shells on frozen snow under birdfeeder hold emptiness as their new exclosure.

No one knows the mind of God. There are only faces. Billions of faces! And we are those faces. We look from those faces. We look at those faces. We face what we are seeing.

This is our prayer: May we see what we are looking at!

As such, our life is prayer.

And so, when we see the face of God, we live with what we are, seeing.