Saturday, May 03, 2003

Mary found herself an empty tomb.

She went to anoint Jesus in death as in life. That's what she thought. Instead she found herself, an empty tomb.

When her name was pronounced, she looked at the one in front of her, and saw her teacher.

Don't cling, she is told. Go beyond, she is told. Tell each one they will see, they will be seen, as they go on.

True spirituality is attentiveness to what is unfolding now.
Real intimacy is fully engaging what is enfolding now.

Mary saw Jesus through his death.
Mary saw through Christ's resurrection.

Looking for one thing; finding another.


Thursday, May 01, 2003

Some things become clear.

Other things are cloaked from sight.

Commander in Chief glints posture of power in high sea tribute.

Standing on a cliff,
Among the pines and oaks;
Spring has come
Clothed in mist.

- Ryokan (1758-1831)

Dick says, "Get over it." He means the war.

Not yet, I say.

An American Colonel in Iraq quotes Sherman who said that war is cruelty. The Colonel said, "There's no sense in trying to refine it. The crueler it is, the sooner it's over." (- in NYT Magazine article, 'Good Kills,' by Peter Maass, April 20, 2003)

The mist cloaking spring this year is cruelty. It's important to hear lies through. It's necessary to carefully watch cruel lies and mean behaviors of war all the way through to the end.

Try as this administration might to prolong war at any price, as some suggest their strategy, we must see it to its end.

If I get over it, Christ does not rise from the dead.

The soul is repulsed by war. All war. This war.

Truth is cloaked. The tomb of truth is resealed.

Mary approaches again.

Blindness, not clear sight, is applauded.

Silence our hands. Open our eyes!

Anoint, Mary, spring.


Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Return to practice.

For John it is music. For Su-Sane, writing. Carter, animals. Our practice is what we return to when we fall off meaning, reason, sense, or purpose. Delia-Mae's voice on the answering machine said it was the river trip in Utah that washed the war from her face.

If you make subjective,
Personal judgments
Of past and present events,
Not having been through
The process
Of refining and purifying
Your insight,
This is like trying to do a sword
Dance without having learned
To handle a sword.

( - Fayan)

Annie's day was chaos. Sam and Susan swept and cleaned back deck waiting for late arrival at shop. Ed told two jokes. Woman from Islesboro asked her book be mailed to the island. Herb drank coffee and ate apple cake looking out at harbor.

The insight is what is presenting itself this moment.

Dick sat awhile after conversation. Is it important to know where we are going? Or is just moving along, foot by foot, enough for today?

There is no sword the equal of attention. Attention cuts away all that is not itself.

This is how we experience we are paying attention: everything not it falls away.

Pay attention to war.

Slice, slit, pare.

Fall away.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Empty seeing.

The word Vacate in Latin is translated as ‘stillness’ or ‘emptiness.’

In Psalm 45 the familiar translation is “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Psalm 45 (46)
9 Venite et videte opera Domini quae posuit prodigia super terram
9 Come and behold ye the works of the Lord: what wonders he hath done upon earth,
10 Auferens bella usque ad finem terrae arcum conteret et confringet arma et scuta conburet in igne
10 making wars to cease even to the end of the earth. He shall destroy the bow, and break the weapons: and the shield he shall burn in the fire.
11 Vacate et videte quoniam ego sum Deus exaltabor in gentibus exaltabor in terra
11 Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.

Vacate comes from the Latin vaco, vacare, = to be empty, to be free from anything, be without, be at leisure, to have time for. Verse 11 might then read, “Be empty and see that I am God.”

Empty seeing is not a perception, and not easily arrived at.

The more concrete objects of most men's religion, the deities whom they worship, are known to them only in idea. It has been vouchsafed, for example, to very few Christian believers to have had a sensible vision of their Saviour; though enough appearances of this sort are on record, by way of miraculous exception, to merit our attention later. The whole force of the Christian religion, therefore, so far as belief in the divine personages determines the prevalent attitude of the believer, is in general exerted by the instrumentality of pure ideas, of which nothing in the individual's past experience directly serves as a model.

But in addition to these ideas of the more concrete religious objects, religion is full of abstract objects which prove to have an equal power. God's attributes as such, his holiness, his justice, his mercy, his absoluteness, his infinity, his omniscience, his tri-unity, the various mysteries of the redemptive process, the operation of the sacraments, etc., have proved fertile wells of inspiring meditation for Christian believers. We shall see later that the absence of definite sensible images is positively insisted on by the mystical authorities in all religions as the sine qua non of a successful orison, or contemplation of the higher divine truths. Such contemplations are expected (and abundantly verify the expectation, as we shall also see) to influence the believer's subsequent attitude very powerfully for good.

( - from “The Reality of the Unseen,” Lecture III from The Varieties Of Religious Experience, by William James )

In Iraq there is trouble with what is seen. Fifteen (15) dead and seventy five (75) injured, among them children, were shot by American soldiers outside a schoolhouse occupied by troops. The Iraqi's wanted the schoolhouse back, for school. There’s a story that some in the crowd had guns and fired at the schoolhouse. There’s another story that no guns were in the crowd. These stories conjure images of either gunmen mixing in with protesting civilians, or jittery soldiers reacting to the heat of an unhappy crowd. Either way, no soldiers were killed or injured. Still, 15 and 75 Iraqis were killed and injured. Imagining this is not hard, nor is it easy. It is war. The unimaginable occurs with little effort.

Each hour is sacred. Whether seen or unseen, dealing with concrete facts and measurable details or invisible realities and spiritual intuition, each hour holds invitation for empty seeing.

What is empty seeing?

How hard is it to see what is taking place? Without confusion of idea, image, or intent? Empty seeing -- the sight of God.

4. The hour of our redemption. Although deeply troubled, Jesus does not flee before his “hour”. “And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour?' No, for this purpose I have come to this hour” (Jn 12:27). He wanted his disciples to keep him company, yet he had to experience loneliness and abandonment: “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mt 26:40- 41). Only John would remain at the foot of the Cross, at the side of Mary and the faithful women. The agony in Gethsemane was the introduction to the agony of the Cross on Good Friday. The holy hour, the hour of the redemption of the world. Whenever the Eucharist is celebrated at the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, there is an almost tangible return to his “hour”, the hour of his Cross and glorification. Every priest who celebrates Holy Mass, together with the Christian community which takes part in it, is led back in spirit to that place and that hour.
( - from ENCYCLICAL LETTER, ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA, Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 17 April, Holy Thursday, in the year 2003, the Twenty- fifth of my Pontificate, the Year of the Rosary. IOANNES PAULUS II )

To enter into temptation is to attempt to make something other of what is taking place. For Jesus that Thursday it was the reality of presence itself through him at final meal, in garden prayer, and unflinching surrender to betraying friend and deceiving officials. His holy hour was profound engagement with the disturbing actions and intentions of individuals full of blind motivation.

There is no escaping the disturbances of human opinion, belief, and ideology. What makes engagement of disturbance holy is surrender to the empty core of each reality, being suited to the end in view, simply extricating from the event its essential unseen reality.

Turn your attention within;
Don’t memorize my words.
You have been turning from light to darkness
Since before you can remember,
So the roots of your subjective ideas are deep
And hard to uproot all at once.
This is why I temporarily use expedients
To take away your coarse perceptions.

- Yangshan

The exhausting tedium of rival perception about sensate occurrence in postures of war, politics, and religion coarsen and confuse spirit and soul.

A more profound, simpler sight is called for.

Within. Attention.

Watch. And pray.

As we shall also see.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Many things confuse me.

Things you can hear, but not see.

The wind blows where it will.
You hear the sound it makes
but you do not know where it comes from, or where it goes.
So it is with everyone begotten of the spirit.

(John 3: 6-8)

Procreating breath.

The six supernormal faculties of the enlightened
Are the ability to enter the realm of form without
Being confused by form, to enter the realm of sound
Without being confused by sound,
To enter the realm of scent without being confused
By scent, to enter the realm of flavor without being
Confused by flavor, to enter the realm of feeling
Without being confused by feeling, to enter the realm
Of phenomena without being confused by phenomena.

- Linji (d. 867)

As one confused, I am not burdened by enlightenment. Imagine – being without confusion!

To pour together [L. co=together; fundo=to pour out] is to confuse.

One thing is not the other. That kind of thinking only confuses.

War is not peace. Killing is not preserving life. Marrying does not eliminate the other. Hurrying does not save time. And a map of Cape Breton Nova Scotia is not the place it represents.

I took down Bill Findley’s boat flag from atop directional pipe on deck over shop at harbor. It was frayed and shredding having stood through icy wind, slicing sleet, and ripping entanglements over the past year. Mike told me he’d gotten an anonymous call saying the beaten up flag was a disgrace to our country in a time of war.

The flag was indeed scarred and shredded by the wind. I told Mike to tell the caller it was in honor of those killed in the war – their torn bodies blasted and disheveled by explosives far sharper than the wind. The war was only pretty and spectacular on television. If the caller squinted his eyes and constricted his voice, tell him it was a temporary tribute to only the American military personnel killed. Sometimes small beginning doses of compassionate awareness evoke seedbed of larger appreciation.

Some like their grief specific, neat, and clean. So, the flag came down, its circle of stars and salt memory to reside indoors away from celebrations of antiseptic hidden horrors of war.

I hear of war. I hear screaming voices in pain from searing metal. I hear questioning voices confused and sorrowing at the murderous ways of war inflicted on Iraqi people.

And I hear the sound of wind along mountainside, tolling bells and chime this sunny day in Maine.

All those lives lost in the confusing fog and lies of war!

Yet, and still, each enters the realm of itself. There – there, at least – each one enters the realm of peace.

We are confused when one thing is poured into another and we are told it is for our own good.

Wind is itself on its way.

As we are.


Sunday, April 27, 2003

Sitting, reflection, and prayer. These three, and the recognition solitude unveils in stillness.

Ronald from far opposite coast writes about "marrying" Zen and Christian contemplation in his spiritual quest. This nuptial is quiet and compatible. So many obstacles to any marriage! Family calls out for singularity. Singularity calls out for family. Even those seeming to forsake family find, by any other name, family in shared vision.

Buddha’s Satori

For six years sitting alone
Still as a snake
In a stalk of bamboo
With no family but the ice
On the snow mountain.
One night, seeing the empty sky
Fly into pieces, he shook
The morning star awake
And kept it in his eyes.

- Muso Soseki (1275-1351)

What did Buddha keep in his eyes? What is in your eyes right now?

Mu-ge purrs on grey sleeping bag on single bed to right of chair. Brief visit? Stay forever? Or until some small movement, some new distraction lures him off and away?

New view of family is needed. We might ask: What is not family? Jesus told his mother to look at her son standing next to her. It was John. John was told, "This is your mother." It was Mary. The story concludes, "And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home." (John 19: 27)

These words, "This is your son," and "This is your mother," are the morning star awake in the realization of Jesus, Mary, and John. Their eyes saw.

Is it true that when we see what is there -- as it really is -- the empty sky flies into pieces, and we see each other as who we are in each other?

Killing our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children and relatives -- is a very sad and terrible thing to do. Prisons are full of many who've done such things. And so too are defense departments, military organizations, and leaders in their palaces and white houses. When some do it, it is called horrendous crime. When others do it, it is called rationale for war, patriotism, or democracy for all.

It is not difficult to oppose murdering members of one's family.

It is, however, very difficult to cross that perfect unbroken line in the sky that believes in narrow, limited, proprietary clutch of who is family.

May the sky burst into pieces! Lines fall apart. And eyes come to see.

Here is my mother. This is my brother. There is my sister. Everywhere is my family.
They are not to be murdered, not in the name of anything, least of which in pious evocation of the name of God.

Marry well!


Mu-ge is gone.

No barrier.