Saturday, February 05, 2005

No more!

At what point does discussion cease to add, but only fall to subtraction?

The pointless mind of distraction.

In the autumn of my sixty-sixth year,
I’ve already lived a long time.
The intense moonlight
Is bright upon my fact.
There’s no need to discuss
The principles of koan study;
Just listen carefully to the wind
Outside the pines and cedars.

- Ryonen Genso (1646-1711)

Nothing else to say. We simply look.

In silence.

Is there more?


Thursday, February 03, 2005

The party's over.

Swearing-in fallen silent, dancing done, State of Union thrown into filing cabinet of speeches delivered -- America's world goes on with myth-making, resource-taking, and altruism-faking.

It is a question, they say, of trying to make the world safe for freedom and democracy.

America has appropriated a particular interpretation of Christianity and claimed all of Christ. We are also appropriating a Buddhist koan that asks to show the Buddha.

If you understand the answer clearly,
There was no Buddha before you
And there is no Buddha to come.

- Mumon

America the new Buddha? This Buddha is not Buddhist. This Buddha is not even a Buddha. But, that doesn't matter. In their own eyes, America is never wrong, has no doubts, and is doing the bidding of all gods, devas, angels, talk-show hosts, and born-again reconstituted messiahs -- and therefore is the Buddha, the Christ, and Apocolyptic Avenging Angel rolled into one governing group of ideologically intoxicated good old boys (and one girl).

Joan Chittister writes from Ireland about an incident and a mindset:
Dublin, on U.S. Inauguration Day, didn't seem to notice. Oh, they played a few clips that night of the American president saying, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."

But that was not their lead story.

The picture on the front page of The Irish Times was a large four-color picture of a small Iraqi girl. Her little body was a coil of steel. She sat knees up, cowering, screaming madly into the dark night. Her white clothes and spread hands and small tight face were blood-spattered. The blood was the blood of her father and mother, shot through the car window in Tal Afar by American soldiers while she sat beside her parents in the car, her four brothers and sisters in the back seat.

A series of pictures of the incident played on the inside page, as well. A 12-year-old brother, wounded in the fray, falls face down out of the car when the car door opens, the pictures show. In another, a soldier decked out in battle gear, holds a large automatic weapon on the four children, all potential enemies, all possible suicide bombers, apparently, as they cling traumatized to one another in the back seat and the child on the ground goes on screaming in her parent's blood.

No promise of "freedom" rings in the cutline on this picture. No joy of liberty underlies the terror on these faces here.

(Published on Friday, January 28, 2005 by the National Catholic Reporter, "What the Rest of the World Watched on Inauguration Day" by Joan Chittister) (

"It is a little frightening," someone said yesterday passing through the shop, "that what these people in charge are doing is being done in the names of each and every one of us." At conversation yesterday evening we read "The Politics of Victimization," by Mel Gilles. Anyone who has known abuse or bullies will shiver in recognition at her words. (

In the Laura Soul Friend Circle last evening there was considerable passion and wisdom about abuse, bullies, and spiritual caution.

"God made the angels to show Him splendor -- as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind! If He suffers us to fall to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and yes, then we may clamor like champions...if we have the spittle for it. And no doubt it delights God to see splendor where He only looked for complexity. But it's God's part, not our own, to bring ourselves to that extremity! Our natural business lies in escaping..."
(Sir Thomas More, in A Man for All Seasons, play by Robert Bolt)

Escaping is a tricky tactic.

Joseph Campbell writes in his classic work about the Monomyth:
The hero is the man [or woman] of self-achieved submission. But submission to what? That precisely is the riddle that today we have to ask ourselves and that is everywhere the primary virtue and historic deed of the hero to have solved. As Professor Arnold J. Toynbee indicates in his six-volume study of the laws of the rise and disintegration of civilizations, schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be revolved by any scheme of return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal projected future (futurism), or even by the most realistic, hardheaded work to weld together again the deteriorating elements. Only birth can conquer death -- the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. Within the soul, within the body social, there must be -- if we are to experience long survival -- a continuous "recurrence of birth" (palingenesia)to nullify the unremitting recurrences of death. For it is by means of our own victories, if we are not regenerated, that the work of Nemesis is wrought: doom breaks from the shell of our very virtue. Peace then is a snare; war is a snare; change is a snare; permanence is a snare. When our day is come for our victory of death, death closes in; there is nothing we can do, except be crucified -- and resurrected; dismembered totally, and then reborn.
(pp.16-17, in The Hero With A Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell)

And then:
Professor Toynbee uses the terms "detachment" and "transfiguration" to describe the crisis by which the higher spiritual dimension is attained that makes possible the resumption of the work of creation.
(Campbell, p.17)

Many do not know what to think about America's war and strategy in Iraq and the threat of expansion into other countries. Disintegration and schism worm through the soul, through body politic and body social -- causing a civilization close at home and in the desert to shiver.

I think it is time to escape into the present reality.

We are to be born from the middle, the center of submission and recurrence.

No Christian, Buddhist, Neocon, or anyone else can appropriate to themselves that which belongs to each and every person, each and every name.

What is it that belongs?

Being born -- once and again. Again -- once and for all.

Renounce bullies. Escape abusers. Hide in the center of truth and awareness.

Dissolve abusive dreams and let bullying behavior disintegrate into its own demise.

We must be about life. About love and compassion. We must be about the work of creation.

Don't be fooled.




Beginning, now.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Only to learn.

Searching for words,
Hunting for phrases,
When will it end?
Esteeming knowledge
And gathering information
Only maddens the spirit.
Just entrust yourself
To your own nature,
Empty and illuminating
Beyond this,
I have nothing to teach.

- Bankei Yotaku (1622-1693)

Beyond this and that -- is mother.

Tibetans believe that we have all lived so many lives that every single person we pass in the street was in some former life either our parent or child. "Seeing all beings as our mother" is recommended in traditional Asian Buddhist cultures. We come into existence in each moment totally mutually dependent, with all phenomena. Thus all beings are like our mothers, helping give us birth, and are worthy of our love.
(pp.215-216,"Kshitigarbha (Jizo), Monk as Earth Mother," in Bodhisattva Archetypes, Classic Buddhist Guides to Awakening and their Modern Expression)

Beyond mother and father, male and female, you and me -- is wordless entrusting nature.

Original monastic practice.

Looking under our feet.

Seeing one's life!

Monday, January 31, 2005

Ramesh Balsekar has written: A painting can never know why its painter created it.

Maybe we don't understand what we call 'free will.'

If one understands Amida Buddha,
His paradise is not far;
But if one has doubt, it is indeed distant.
The compassionate Buddha
Will not come from the West,
The dying soul will not be
Taken to the western paradise.
It is like the moon shining upon the waters;
It does not sink to the lakes and ponds,
Nor do they rise to the heavens.
Pure water reveals the moon,
A pure mind manifests the Buddha.
If the mind understands and gives praise,
It reaches satori.

- Ungo Kiyo (1582-1659)

'Free will' might just be the realization there is no separate will, there is only God's will and our attempts to divert from that. Once we abandon our conditioning and ego, we are free to be what the undifferentiated creating painter is painting.

There is no faith in God without total acceptance of "what is" in the present moment -- including all the ugliness.
(-- Ramesh S. Balsekar, in The One in the Mirror, See What You Truly Are!)

Sitting in 'winter zendo' front room of hermitage house, dawn light gives outline to outdoor tree and indoor tree. Cat stretches as I bow. Hit, hit, hit of wooden box in rhythm with Prajna Paramita. Of course there is no need to practice -- no need for prayer, nor to turn off whistling tea kettle on stove.

Still, all three happen and are done.

Sunlight climbs down Bald Mountain.

I sew cat's ripped toy.