Saturday, July 02, 2005

What is Laura Common?

Take up a pencil. Draw a circle. Write the words "What Is" inside the circle. Then write the names of a dozen people you know. Write the names of a dozen countries, a dozen animals, plants, birds, bodies of water, asylums, hospitals, prisons, cemeteries, and situations that have occurred in your life to date.

Look at the circle. Familiarize yourself with what is written there. This is your mind. This is mind itself. This is also your life. This actually is life itself. Everything encompassed by your gaze, everything included (as well as the hundreds of thousands of not yet included names) within your watchfulness -- is you. Everything is me. Everything -- all that is -- is of one another.

I have just three things to teach:
Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
You return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
You accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
You reconcile all beings in the world.

- Lao Tzu

Now, in order to transcend the inclination to believe there is an inside of the circle and an outside of the circle, erase the circle line. The template form that helped us at the beginning has evaporated. There is no inside. There is no outside.

There is only each and every one of us, each and every thing, place, name, being.

Each of us is what is. Side by side. Each in all. All in each. Each self in all being. Each being in all self. An unbroken wholeness. Without exclusion. Nothing unexcluded. Each, and all, seeing. Each, all, seen.

This is what is -- looking and seeing we watch out for one another. We look into one another. We see Itself -- Itself being what is carefully embracing each and all as it is.

With simplicity, patience, compassion.

This is a Laura Common. A Laura Common is where each finds each. A Laura Common is when each sees all. It is how all looks at each. It is why all is all and each is each -- in, with, through, and as one another.

A Laura Common is a practice of wholeness. It is practiced by individuals longing to be what they are -- namely, undivided. It is a simple, patient, and compassionate being in the world with eyes open, heart open, and mind open.

Tell one another what you see. Share what your listening receives. Embrace the silence and stillness you find in the presence of one and all.

Then do the next thing there to do. Mindfully, with care, and with no special effort. Merely act with what is inviting your action; come to something without knowing why.

Support a Laura Common. Grow your own. Visit one another. With deep listening and loving speech recognize what is present in our midst.

Reconcile all beings.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

July/August 2005 Meetingbrook Hermitage Bookshop/Bakery Update
An Invitation for Subscriptions

To Support Meetingbrook Harbour Retreat Dedicated to Interreligious & Interdependent Dialogue -— Unveiling and Practicing Peace Between Ways.

Dear Community and Ever-present Friends of Meetingbrook,

We begin our 10th year. We love being here. Our goal is to stay at the harbour. We are asking the larger Meetingbrook community for additional support in order to keep Meetingbrook’s Harbour Retreat on Bayview Street open. We’re beginning a Laura Subscription to Meetingbrook.

A “Laura” is a footpath or trails that individuals, (historically, hermits or solitaries), walk to connect with others. Meetingbrook’s Laura embraces any individual interested in the convergence of their inner and outer life. We see the Harbour Retreat as a central connecting place, a Laura Common, for individuals to come to for refreshment and sustenance on their particular spiritual, meditative, active, contemplative, or intellectual life of prayer and learning. Our koan with us since 1996 is: Embodying the dwelling place of the Alone; Stepping aside to make room for Another!

Ostensibly a bookshop and bakery, the real purpose of Meetingbrook Harbour Retreat is to be a center for conversation, contemplation, and community in the heart of Camden. It is a place where anyone can drop in for conversations that range from the serious to the silly, from spiritual inquiry to practical exchange of skills and knowledge. Primarily, it is hospitality.

Our time, and the time of the people who staff and support the harbour shop, is all given voluntarily. We are only secondarily a place that offers books, music, baked goods, and assorted items for sale. Hence our request for support. For the first nine years of the shop we supported the harbour location (happily) with our other employment -- workers comp audits and teaching. We now need to share the costs of rent, oil, wood, and utilities with those interested in preserving the space at the harbour. The donations will be used to cover the $18,500 yearly cost to run the harbour site.

Both visitors and locals genuinely enjoy the shop and its location. These friends from near and far grace our doors. As the public face of Meetingbrook Hermitage, we emphasize community, learning, and sharing. Living a contemplative and meditative life in the open is our practice and invitation. Here is an opportunity to cultivate such a space.

He who truly attains awakening knows that deliverance is to be found right where he is. There is no need to retire to the mountain cave. If he is a fisherman he becomes a real fisherman. If he is a butcher he becomes a real butcher. The farmer becomes a real farmer and the merchant a real merchant. He lives his daily life in awakened awareness. His every act from morning to night is his religion. (Sokei-an)

Subscriptions: When you make a donation to Meetingbrook, this is what we have to offer you:
1. A place on the harbour to gather daily for conversation, coffee, tea, and the practice of
community – all on the house. All events at Meetingbrook are free, open, and informal.
2. Use of the Harbour Room. Free borrowing of any used/or Laura Library books, tapes.
3. Sails with Saskia in summer. Use of rowboat at shop.
4. Use of patio anytime, of gas barbeque grill, of food offered in hospitality.
5. A forum for structured conversations and a place for personal expression of growth.
6. A loosely-knit association and membership in a community that is open, interested, and
engaged in active practice of hospitality and compassion with one another.
7. A place of intellectual and spiritual practice of deep listening and loving speech.
8. A chance to be yourself. To be heard. And to listen.
9. The opportunity to be part of a Laura Common -- an unusual expression of an evolving
consciousness rooted in everyday individual solitude and shared community life.
10. Computor and wireless internet access for all to use at the harbour location.
11. Note – Any and all donations are welcome. We’ll show our appreciation by giving
• A 10% yearlong discount on books and music for donations of $50.00 or more.
• For donations of $500.00 or more -- a 20% yearlong discount, as well as two overnights in the Harbour Room based on availability.

We will ask for donations each year. If there is an interest and a willingness to give to the continuation of Meetingbrook at the harbour, we will gratefully continue to cultivate the practice of presence. If we do not near the amount needed to pay the expenses of the place, we will quietly return the donations made and resume the life of Meetingbrook at Ragged Mountain. Let’s see how it goes.

Thank you for the opportunity to deepen the practice of community with you. We would like to receive any donation, or pledge of one, by the first week of September, 2005.

Sincerely, in the Way and the Dharma,
Bill, Saskia, Sando, Cesco, Mu-ge, and all who grace Meetingbrook

Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage is a Schola Gratiae et Contemplationis, i.e., a School of Gratefulness and Contemplation. Bookshop and Bakery opened 29 June1996. Hermitage was formed as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization in 1998 for the purpose of serving as a place of collation and recollection for the side-by-side practice and study of Buddhist Zen Meditation, Christian Contemplative Prayer, and the Engaged Service flowing from each. Central to Meetingbrook is its Laura Common – dedicated to a forum for individuals sharing practice with others, and its Schola -- dedicated to Interreligious & Interdependent Dialogue —Unveiling and Practicing Peace Between Ways. Donations are always gratefully accepted for the continuance and deepening of Meetingbrook. Visit 207-236-6808 Please send your donations to Meetingbrook, 50 Bayview St., Camden, Maine 04843 -- Thank you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tomorrow begins our tenth year at the harbor hermitage location in the form of bookshop and bakery.

Today the State of Maine said we are recognized as a house of religious worship.

At Tuesday Evening Conversation, after reading from Zen and the Kingdom of Heaven, we spoke about the importance of the mind remaining in the body. It is there that we can come to see and understand all there is to see and understand.

Consider worship as devotedly and intentionally holding another or others in high esteem. Consider religious as that which holds us connected.

To be a house of religious worship, then, is the practice attempting to embrace what-is, and hold what-is whole by means of devoted and intentional interest in one another. This form is a sign of life lived in simplicity, integrity, and faithful engagement -- life lived in study, practice, and service -- in the name of what is holy.

Stripped of reason my mind is blank
Emptied of being my nature is bare
At night my windows often breathe white
The moon and stream come right to the door.

- Shih-wu (1272-1352)

Wherever men and women encounter each other with deep listening and loving speech, where yes, wholeness, and compassion take precedence over their lack -- it is there that religious and spiritual life is grounded in What-Is-Real.

There's a red Ford used econoline van in the dooryard. It has a hydraulic lift for wheelchair or any other necessary uplift. The brown caravan ends its good service by relinquishing its gears and shifting. It sits in a back field traded in Belfast with a daisy tucked under windshield wiper.

We love our hermitage life. The sacrament of encounter with the one who shows up in our midst on any given day is what Meetingbrook quietly longs for and attends.

We don't pray for holiness; holiness comes as prayer for one another. And prayer is holding one another in light and understanding.

From the rising of the sun to its setting, What-Is-Holiness is to be praised!

Monday, June 27, 2005

It comes to us to do the right thing. Always, it is up to each one of us.

Careful! Even moonlit dewdrops,
If you're lured to watch,
Are a wall before the truth.

- Sogyo (18th century)

The film must fall. Wax melt. Veil lift. Masks removed. It is time to allow truth to return. Let hope be permitted.

This is prayer -- to bring again to the open what has fallen into closed rooms and darkened motivations.

It comes to you, and us -- truly we are the ones it comes to.

Who are we? We are any one of us willing to enter, and be entered by, truth.

We are where light seeks to finds its way through.

Choose light. Be shone through. Please. See for yourself. Come through!

No lure. No watching.

Simply Itself.

You, seeing Itself.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Lightning and thunder roll over Bald Mountain. Sando crawls under desk. She doesn't like thunder and lightning.

Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned him and buried him at Ramah, his own town. Saul had expelled the necromancers and wizards from the country.(1 Samuel 28:3-4)

Watching Donald Rumsfeld on three different Sunday news programs -- he skillfully buries any thought he might be mistaken about what the Pentagon has loosed in Iraq.

Sando wraps herself around chair leg and computer wires -- knocking to floor the odd unattached whatnot.

She hides from what terrifies her.

I wonder what terrifies the Secretary of Defense.

I'd like to think kindly of him.
Not be terrified.
As rain begins.

Real haiku is the soul of poetry. Anything that is not actually present in one's heart is not haiku. The moon glows, flowers bloom, insects cry, water flows. There is no place we cannot find flowers or think of the moon. This is the essence of haiku. Go beyond the restrictions of your era, forget about purpose or meaning, separate yourself from historical limitations -- there you'll find the essence of true art, religion, and science.
Santoka Taneda - tr. John Stevens

Rumsfeld offers war. Santoka, poems.

We move silently
In the cold rain
Carrying the white boxes in front

Will the town
Throw a festival
For those brought back as bones

(Santoka Taneda, last of the wandering beggar-monks, wrote these haiku in 1937 protesting against the savage Sino-Japanese war.)

The poet speaks and I accept his words.

I reject the war-maker's offer.