Saturday, December 13, 2003

Advent is "coming to."

Like someone fallen asleep, or unconscious from concussion, Advent is the attention that helps us "come-to."

Therefore, be as a lamp
Unto yourselves,
Be as a refuge to yourselves.
Take no external refuge.
Hold fast to the Truth as a lamp;
Hold fast to the Truth as a refuge.
Look not for a refuge in anyone besides yourselves.

- The Buddha

Buddha's last words are words inviting the individual to be just this -- undivided. It is invitation to attention extended to the sangha, the community, to be just that -- of themselves.

When we wake up, when we "come to," we embody the last words of Buddha. We also incarnate the "coming to" of Christ.

When the celebration of the birth of Jesus, his coming-to-us, is part of our profound practice, we are celebrating and practicing our coming-to-ourselves.

If this is truth, we hold it. It is light itself.
If that is truth, we nestle within it. It is our refuge and strength.

Saskia said it at Wednesday Evening Conversation -- "come to."

We are coming-to. Such is the attention of Advent

Coming-to light, coming-to protective comfort -- unto yourselves -- the place where dwells the bread of life.

We will awake to this.

We will come-to.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Lets take up juggling

People pass away,
And the truth of the passing world
Impresses me now and then,
But otherwise my dull
Wits let this truth too pass.

- Saigyo (1118-1190)

Something Elie Wiesel wrote in short story “The Wandering Jew,” -- "When are you going to understand that you are searching and living in vain, because God means movement, not explanation."

My grandma used to say that handsome is as handsome does.

Strikes me all talk about God is like trying to peel wet from rain.

God is not the definition of God.

And yet, we seem to associate compassion and kindness with any felt experience or intuition of God. It is thinking about God with thinking’s agitated, fearful impulse that we associate a punishing, vengeful notion of God.

It's no longer possible to use "God" to determine how the world should be. I agree with the troubling prospect that we are on our own -- no God will serve any longer to sort the wash and stoke the fires of incinerating rejection.

Mostly it's up to whatever leap of integrity my fellow humans are capable of making. It's distressing to think that we are what God might have wished us to become -- free, and responsible for each other.

Forget absolute and relative. Remember something more practical -- remember what life feels like in the near prospect of losing it.

When I look at wreaths placed on graves this season I don't think of patriotism, heroism, or bravery. Rather, it evokes "Memento Mori," remember your death. I'm not interested in any notion of 'God' that inspires fear or punishment -- there are more than enough humans to take on that task.

'God' has given himself/herself/itself away -- and we seem to be the awkward recipients of the gift.

Like the first theatrical line I spoke in a third grade class play when a box containing (hidden within) the gift of life was handed me, I asked, "It's nice, but what is it?"

War, peace, cruelty, kindness, punishment, forgiveness – it’s all in our hands.

How well are we juggling?

Thursday, December 11, 2003

A student's father dies. We say we'll hold him in prayer. A young man from town dies in snow bank in Vermont. He, too, passes through our prayer. So, also, the Afghani children -- and on, and on, and on.

The mind for truth
Begins, like a stream, shallow
At first, but then
Adds more and more depth
While gaining greater clarity.

- Saigyo (1118-1190)

Prayer is, simultaneously, holding and releasing presence as it moves on.

Prayer, like life, is touch and go. The touch of our hand, like the touch of prayer, lends itself to blessing and comforting each other as we pass through the increasing diaphaneity and clarity of life’s wholeness.

Elie Wiesel writes in his short story, The Wandering Jew, that “God means movement and not explanation.”

There is no explaining death, no explaining God.

We move with each other, we move with God -- through, with, and in one another -- as the stream flows deeper into clarity

The mind for solving problems cannot comprehend this movement. The mind for truth resides within and releases its grasp as it flows through God's depths.

We pray for peace and grace.


Wednesday, December 10, 2003

In the desert prepare the way of the Lord. (Isaiah 40:)

Only wind and sand know their way through the desert. Everyone else is guessing.

The field of boundless emptiness
Is what exists from the very beginning.
You must purify, cure, grind down,
Or brush away all the tendencies
You have fabricated into apparent habits.
Then you can reside in the
Clear circle of brightness.

- Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091–1157)

Thirty-five years ago Thomas Merton died in Bangkok. We feast him today. His smiling face connecting Catholic Christian contemplative tradition and Buddhist Zen and Tibetan meditative tradition as he went about with camera, sumie brush, and poems.

Further down 40 Isaiah says,
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord God...

"Here" is God. Nowhere else. Here.

When you come to consider this, where is not here?

What is not here?

Only here is here.

This here is the way of the Lord.

Now here? When the space between words dissolves, as the space between our thinking and mere transparent reality disappears, we'll be nowhere.

As God is. Clear light.

Tonight we pronounce again our Meetingbrook promises. We’ll say aloud in the presence of one another and whoever attends Wednesday Evening Conversation that we will practice Contemplation, Conversation, and Correspondence along with the Simplicity, Silence, and Service attending each one.

The water of this way humbles the desert of our lives.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Is that the word?

At the moment of awakening,
the Buddha exclaimed:
“Wonder of wonders!
All living beings are
truly enlightened and
shine with wisdom and virtue.
But because their minds
have become deluded and
turned inward to the self,
they fail to understand this.”

- Kegon Sutra

"And" connects, collates, includes, and collaborates with what is near it.

The Eucharistic koan, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you; only say the word and I shall be healed;" -- took a glinting turn when I heard the word "and" today. I hear it today, "...only say the word, 'and;' I shall be healed."

Say the word 'and,' hear the word 'and.'

In so doing, healing takes place.

'And' is the balm soothing the cuts and slashes that attempt to sever us one from another.

With the aspirant 'h' attached, we have something to extend each other -- a hand.

Monday, December 08, 2003

What is received when receiving communion?

At mass following blizzard Fr. Art preached Mary. We sat in rear near Mary chapel. Last night's and this evening's vespers in chapel/zendo ask for her protection. Moonlight brightened by snowy ground made the cold beautiful.

Diane and Paul brought two watercolor paintings to reside at shop for a while. Elizabeth and Irwin stop in to catch up since they closed their shop across the way. Jeff brought folk song cd for those who sing on Wednesdays and Sundays. All this and we were closed today.

The light of awakening
Appears when it has been
High and vast the mountain
Lifts forth the moon
I myself have climbed
To the summit
In the world outside of things
There is nothing to get in the way.

- Muso Soseki (1275-1351)

We remember Margaret's mother. She died recently. The clarity of night's full moon on snow be with mother and daughter in this passage.

Mothering transcends biology. We mother each other even when we do not emerge from each others bodies. The whole is mother. When we touch each other with light of wholeness, we mother what we touch. Mary is seed. We are ground. God is emerging through seed breaking open.

We pray for Buddhists today. Enlightenment and Immaculate Conception bespeak common sound -- none are separate, none severed -- a holy sound only profound silence realizes.

We're grateful to be celebrating these two people and events.

Coming back from evening walk to Snow Bowl we take letter from mailbox. The Internal Revenue Service says they "are pleased to confirm that you are exempt under 501(c)(3) of the Code, and you are classified as a public charity under the Code section listed in the heading of this letter." We'd finished the four year advance period, submitted what we've been doing, and are now successfully told to continue on.

It is auspicious that we receive this on 8 December. The 8th, 9th, and 10th of December are held in special regard by Meetingbrook. We renew our promises on the 10th, as it happens, the anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton.


What is -- (whole-hearted surrender to One who is what One does) -- in this instance, love, is received when receiving communion.

We go on.



All beauty is found here.


Sunday, December 07, 2003

Snow everywhere. White mountain. Heaps alongside path and driveway. Drifts on windowsills. Piles in corners backed in by wind.

“Delusion,” “enlightenment”
just fox-words fooling
Zen practitioners everywhere.

- Daito (1282-1334)

Eve of Buddha's enlightenment. Eve of Mary's Immaculate Conception. And John Lennon's death.

To think about enlightenment is to worry white from snow. To strut and fret dogma is failure to appreciate and move through the necessity of sin. And not to have song to whisk us willy nilly through time is to stand mute and deaf under richness of melody.

Nine children were killed in Afghanistan by American military ordinance. We are fooled every day by words that have no root in common human decency.

No Buddha is enlightened. No Mother of God remains unsevered from original wholeness. And no writer/singer of songs is able to enchant his listeners.

Snow is not enlightened, does not foreknow God, and cannot carry a tune.

Snow is just snow.

Over everything.

At and on and under as it is.

Not fooled.