Saturday, June 18, 2005

These men are not to be trifled with. They are smart. They are cunning. They will sanction murder. They will smile, speak calmly, behave reasonably, and fool the vast majority of lookers on.

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

(Poem by Wendell Berry)

Even if they are the elite of this land, even if they have the power to misdirect, misuse, and mystify a benumbed populace -- they will soon fall hard to a force stronger than justice.

What force?

You know.

Say it.

Samson called on the Lord and cried out, "Lord the Lord, I beg you, remember me; give me strength again this once, and let me be revenged on the Philistines at one blow for my two eyes". And Samson put his arms round the two middle pillars supporting the building, and threw all his weight against them, his right arm against one and his left arm against the other; and he cried out, "May I die with the Philistines!:" He thrust now with all his might, and the building fell on the chiefs and on all the people there. Those he killed at his death outnumbered those he had killed in his life. His brothers and his father's whole family came down and carried him away. They took him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father (Judges 16:27 - 31)

Is that it? Will each one of us have to die for that which is beyond justice?

Ask Jesus. Ask Socrates. Ask John the Baptist. Ask Martin Luther King Jr.

Or, don't ask.

You don't want to know.

Do you?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Downing Street Memo hearing led by Representative John Conyers of Michigan took place in Washington DC today.

Cold Cliff's remoteness is what I love
No one travels this way
Clouds lie around on the peaks
A lone gibbon howls on the ridge
What else do I cherish
It's good to grow old content
Cold and heat change my appearance
The pearl of my mind stays safe

- Han shan

A resolution is introduced by a few in Congress to remove American troops from Iraq.

Something odd is happening. A ripeness? Time for tainted fruit to fall?

Some at the shop insist a reckoning approaches.

I'll settle for the truth.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Faith, whether Buddhist or Christian, means saying "Yes."

Yes is not the same as "whatever." Whatever means a desultory "who cares." Yes means an emphatic "I do."

Believe nothing because a wise man said it.
Believe nothing because it is generally held.
Believe nothing because it is written.
Believe nothing because it is said to be divine
Believe nothing because someone else believes it.
But believe only what you yourself judge to be true.

- The Buddha

At Tuesday Evening Conversation (as at Mass that morning) the reading referenced Jesus' words about turning the other cheek. It is not a popular thought. I think many consider it a sign of weakness and victimhood to behave so oddly.

Here's what Matthew writes:
You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
(Matthew 5.38-41)

It strikes me (no pun intended) there is a more profound consideration for us to ponder in these words, one that drops well into the place that meditative or contemplative mind settles to. This mind seeks and periodically settles upon the still point of the turning world. This still point is root, is absolute center around which everything not immediately there revolves.

At this root-center there is no movement. There is no other, no duality, and no subject-object split. Within this core reality, therefore, there is no right cheek/other cheek, there is no hand to slap an opposite target, and no other person who does the slapping or receives the slap.

I suspect one way of penetrating the words of Jesus in this instance is to enter the stillness offered by zazen (silent sitting) or contemplation (resting in the reality of what is there) -- and becoming Being, or, by being Becoming. The words Being and Becoming have been used as foils against one another since the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers Parmenides and Heraclitus found their preferences in Being and Becoming to explain that "All is static" versus "Everything flows." Thus they captured (or let go on) their thought and experience.

My thought and experience suggests to me that one is the expression of the other. Zen says that the absolute is "not two, not one." Absolute, in Philosophy is found in the dictionary as:
1. Something regarded as the ultimate basis of all thought and being. Used with "the."
2. Something regarded as independent of and unrelated to anything else.
Hence, of itself -- or -- in, through, and with itself. In non-dualistic thinking this is a seeming paradox, namely, nothing outside and nothing inside. It defies rational thought to consider something to have no inside and no outside. The contrary viewpoint is equally true, namely, nothing is not inside, nothing is not outside.

At times these words begin to set sight to the wording of God -- namely, God is What-Is-Itself.

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
(Matthew 6:6 NAB)

Repay -- to give you back, to give back you.

The notion curiously comforts: that the Father (or the Mother), that God -- "Who sees in secret," is the hidden, dependably discreet, inward, beyond ordinary understanding, mysterious, and ever-present reality of existence -- the still point and wholeness surrounding each and every one of us; that this God is root reality of who we are.

This God invites a transforming faith that says yes to what is you/me.

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

(Matthew 6:17-18)

Faith, for me, is yes beyond comprehension. Hope, for me, is hidden wholeness. Love, for me, is death to two, death to one, all arising.

This practice is a kind of fast. It does without the need to to be anything other than what and who I am. All the ideas, beliefs, identities, insults, pretense, falsity, and egoistic narratives that rise up like attractive nuisances are, in fact, unnecessary luxuries without nourishment to this ready assent and readying ascent to authentic life, surrender to wholeness, and loving compassion.

It is a triune way. A way of practice, journey, and dwelling. It is a laura.
laura: \Lau"ra\, n. [LL., fr. Gr. (?) lane, spun thread (defile), also, a kind of monastery.] (R. C. Ch.) A number of hermitages or cells in the same neighborhood occupied by anchorites who were under the same superior. --C. Kingsley. (

We become another experience of what is there.

Laura practice, Laura journey, Laura dwelling!

The Laura Way is a poem.

Poem is prelude to
final line. We are words. Come
play. There is no end.


Yes leads through wholeness to love.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Jizo gently will help. No doubt.

There is suffering in the world.

Children suffer. They suffer hunger. They suffer war. They suffer the difficulties of being unborn and the difficulties of being born. We need inspiration and we need protection for our children. And not only children. All of us.

There is an invitation, therefore, to all of us to help diminish and end suffering. We vow to make safe, as best we can, life, living beings, and those beyond or below the obvious realms of ordinary existence for sentient beings.

Do away with your
Throat and lips,
And let me hear
What you can say.

- Shih-tou (700-790)

Jizo, the bodhisattva, is an inspiration and protector.

JIZO (Jizou, Jizoo)
Sanskrit: Ksitigarbha or Ksitegarbha

Guardian of Souls in Hell
Savior from the Torments of Hell

Master of Six States of Reincarnation
Protector of Children, Expectant Mothers, Firemen, Travelers, and Pilgrims

Protector of Aborted or Miscarried Babies
Guardian of Children Who Die Prematurely

One of the most beloved of all Japanese divinities, Jizo works to ease the suffering and shorten the sentence of those serving time in hell. Jizo can appear in many different forms to alleviate suffering. In modern Japan, Jizo is popularly known as the guardian of unborn, aborted, miscarried, and stillborn babies. At the same time, Jizo serves his customary roles as patron saint of expectant mothers, children, firemen, travelers, pilgrims, and the protector of all beings caught in the six realms of reincarnation.

Jizo is perhaps the most popular deity of the common people, a friend to all, never frightening even to children, and his many manifestations -- often cute and cartoon like in modern Japan -- incorporate attributes from earlier Shinto traditions and Shinto kami. Jizo statues can be found everywhere in Japan, especially in graveyards. Jizo is often translated as "Womb of the Earth," for JI means earth, while ZO means womb. But "ZO" can also be translated with equal correctness as "store house" or "repository of treasure" -- thus Jizo is also translated as "earth store" or "earth treasury."

We can make vows.

All Buddhist practices involve vows. At the Zen Center we chant the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows every day:

Beings are numberless, I vow to free them.
Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to put an end to them.
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.
Buddha's way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.

Over the years we have chanted vows like these hundreds, thousands of times. It does not matter if the vows where made when we where half-asleep or if we didn't quite understand them. We have made these promises and now the jig is up, the promissory note is due. This explains the common feeling people have. " I don't know why I practice, I just have to." "Something is compelling me to do this practice." The ongoing vow operates below the conscious mind. It is very important to shape and say our vows. Maezumi Roshi recommended starting each day with vows. There are many possible vows can be a simple. "I vow to do what I can to relieve suffering." "I vow to do what needs to be done to awaken fully, even if I'm afraid at times." "I vow to open my mind and hands and let go of what needs to be dropped for me and others to be free." Vows can be formal and part of a ritual. They can be simple and spontaneous. What is important is to vow. At that point the things that are needed for the vow to be fulfilled begin to flow toward us.

Jizo Bodhisattva is called the King of Vows. When we call upon the power of Jizo we are calling upon the power in each one of us that is always urging us in the direction of fulfilling our life vow or purpose. For all of us the fundamental vow is actually the same, to uncover and embody our innate wisdom and compassion. For each of us the specific situation that helps us with the uncovering and the embodying is different. It could be having a difficult child, caring for an elderly parent, working an extra job to earn money for retreats, or driving a city bus in a poor part of the city. When we are in the midst of these specifics, we often lose track of our larger purpose. We get angry or impatient and we feel like we are failing. This is the time to call upon Jizo Bodhisattva.

( Excerpt from Jan Chozen Bays, co-Abbot of Great Vow Zen Monastery , in Chozen Roshi's book Jizo Bodhisattva: Chapter twelve, PRACTICING WITH JIZO BODHISATTVA; from The Zen Community of Oregon;

The invitation to participate with Jizo is a gentle calling.

Gently, one by one, in this time. All of us, children.

We vow to enter that calling.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Anthony of Padua, in Catholic lore, was a professor, preacher, and finder of lost articles par excellence. It is his feast.

St. Francis, informed of Anthony's learning, directed him by the following letter to teach theology to the brethren:
To Brother Anthony, my bishop (i.e. teacher of sacred sciences), Brother Francis sends his greetings. It is my pleasure that thou teach theology to the brethren, provided, however, that as the Rule prescribes, the spirit of prayer and devotion may not be extinguished. Farewell. (1224)

At Eucharist today I sensed the joy of receiving the silent mystery of presence-itself.

Receptivity invites disclosure.

Here's mine: there's nothing else wanted but the grace of receptivity, reciprocity, and relationality.

Hermits hide from mankind
Most go to the mountains to sleep
Where green vines wind through woods
And jade gorges echo unbroken
Higher and higher enraptured
On and on simply free
Free of what stains the world
Minds pure like the white lotus

- Han-shan

The brook sounds quietly beyond layers of green from this cabin porch.

An itinerant lad will make solo retreat in meditation cabin for a string of days.

Chipmunk is displaced.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Saskia's birthday. She goes to move sailboat put on wrong mooring. There will be string of balloons someone left for her on boat, barbecue, chocolate torte, and ice cream at shop this afternoon.

Her family celebrates birthdays with presence and presents.

Spring morning on the lake:
The wind merges with the rain,
Worldly matters are like flowers
That fall only to bloom again.
I retire to contemplate behind closed doors,
A place of true joy,
While the floating clouds come and go
The whole day long.

- Zhengue (12th cent)

Morning fog burns off.

We are grateful for this birth.