Saturday, December 18, 2004

Skunk hits. Cat walks desultorily up driveway. The reeking.

In the mountains,
A monk's robe hangs
In the meditation hall.
Outside the window,
No one's to be seen,
Only birds skimming over the creek.
As I descend,
Dusk meets me halfway
Down the mountain road.
Still hearing the creek fall,
I hesitate, reluctant
To leave these blue heights.

- Meng Hao-jan (689-740)

This cold night. Ice thickens on pond, Ice grows out from stones in brook.

I hesitate.

The seeking.

No one's to be seen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Carrying ladder to cabin. Carrying wreath to place up near forepeak. Climbing. Wire-wrap on last year's headed nail. Coming down. Carrying ladder back to barn.

The simple fact of it.

To find a buddha,
you have to see your nature.
Whoever sees his or her nature is a buddha.
If you don't see your nature,
invoking buddhas,
reciting sutras,
making offerings
result in good karma.
Reciting sutras results in good memory.
Keeping precepts results in a good rebirth.
And making offerings results in future blessings.
But no buddha.

- Bodhidharma (d. 533)

The practice of everyday actions as a path to the seeing of everyday actions as the path of practice enlightening each thing being done, each face appearing, each sound shaping silence -- this is a fine learning.

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!" Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.
(Isaiah 7:10-14)

The young girl, the ordinary maiden, will be pregnant, give birth, find name for the child -- and live day to day the ordinary reality of her life, his life, and the life of the people walking by.

Door opens -- Saskia, Cesco, and Sando come in door to kitchen where Mu-ge looks out from wicker basket and I listen to Dvorak's Romance in f-minor on Maine Public Radio's Morning Classical Music.

No Buddha? No Christ? Fluppidup!

(This is where "Mu" arises.) Un-ask the question. Instead, glance over at snoozing cat, snoozing dog -- and let addled border collie back out to sunshine embracing him in front of barn door.

Tall trees sway further up Ragged incline!

Offenbach's ballet of snowflakes ends as Snowbowl makes snow this cold morning

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Otherwise, blame and guilt emerge with the divisible.

Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.
(--St. John of the Cross)

The forest grows wood. Some will be shaped into a cross to hang the indivisible. Some wood hangs silently in a deep solitude where awareness wanders.

The trail enters
Pines, the sound of pines;
The farther one goes,
The rarer the sound.
Mountain's light
Colors the river water.
Among peaks,
A monk sits Zen,
Facing an old branch
Of a cassia tree,
Once a seedling in the Liang.

- Chiao-jan (730-799)

It is hard imagining any sense coming from explanation offered by men about the world of politics and society, much less thought and wisdom. Maybe -- poets. As it is, nature itself is truest expression of what is beyond comprehension. The wet leaves on mountain path will stiffen tonight in freezing plunge.

Ah, who has the power to heal me?
now wholly surrender yourself!
Do not send me
any more messengers,
they cannot tell me what I must hear.

(STANZA 6, Spiritual Canticle, John of the Cross)

No more messengers, poet says.

Pass quietly the pine tree.

Sapling grows beyond brook.

Across footbridge, just there.

Ragged indivisibility.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Cesco is better. As odd as ever. But better. He reminds me of so many I meet. Oddly themselves.

Don?t be concerned with
who is wise and who is stupid.
Do not discriminate the
sharp from the dull.
To practice whole-heartedly
is the true endeavor of the way.
Practice-realization is not
defiled with specialness;
it is a matter for every day.

- Dogen (1200-1253)

In cabin at dusk Cesco, Sando, and Mu-ge stretched on floor. I sat on one of Phil Root's benches. Just that. Saskia was still in Boothbay. The apple tree on Sally's land tilted on its broken arm.

Undoubtedly, what attracted [Jean]Gebser was the same clarity that he also appreciated in the Zen monasteries of Japan. According to him, clarity is an essential aspect of the arational structure of consciousness. He lived by this principle himself. Gebser stood for intensification, rather than mystical or psychedelic expansion, of consciousness. Clarity is both a means and a sign of such intensification. Gebser approvingly cited a remark by Paul Klee, one of the great pioneers of the aperspectival consciousness in art. "I begin more and more to see behind or, better, through things."
(-- from "JEAN GEBSER: Philosopher of the New Order" - By Georg Feuerstein)

Life is impermanent, they say. Still, it is nice to be gathered with one another.

Cesco looks up when I say that to Saskia.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

No names. Things are what they are. The attachment we have for names is similar to the attachment we have for ownership, privilege, and personal wealth.

To study the Way,
whether moving or still,
is nothing more or less
than becoming quite intimate
with our own nature,
resting quite easy in our natural state.

- Anon

The natural state is the thing itself.

(Ding an sich, i.e the thing itself, was defined by Immanuel Kant in his "Critique of Pure Reason" as the reality of the thing -- the essence beyond the knowledge of appearances. Or Zu die sache selbst (to the things themselves) -- Edmund Husserl's phrase in his phenomenology -- the attempt to describe the structures of experience as they present themselves to consciousness, without recourse to theory, deduction, or assumptions from other disciplines.)

Pointing to natural state -- unadorned and unmediated, unappropriated and uncovered -- seeks to see individuals (things or persons) in and of themselves.

What I envision is a rebuilding of monasticism without the need for monasteries, a recovery of sacred language without a church in which to use it, an education in the soul that takes place outside of school, the creation of an artful world accomplished by persons who are not artists, the emergence of a psychological sensibility once the discipline of psychology has been forgotten, a life of intense community with no organization to belong to, and achieving a life of soul without having made any progress toward it.
(p.40, in Meditations, On the Monk Who Dwells in Daily Life, by Thomas Moore)

The monastic life at dusk between Bald Mountain and Ragged Mountain lifts water by spoonful to the dog Cesco on his side between brother cat Mu-ge and sister dog Sando.

This enlivens and leavens the world -- spoonfuls of water -- or soup, taken in the presence of attentive and engaged community.

At least...for now.

We are being lead out.

Into the open -- that nameless place.

We are.