Saturday, August 06, 2005

It's hard to believe what you see. It's hard believing anything. Most things turn out to be somewhere between no-way and get-lost.

He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him." When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. "Stand up," he said "do not be afraid." And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus. (from Matthew 17)

Jesus seen through. Japanese seen through. The odd juxtaposition of August 6th -- Transfiguration, and Hiroshima Atomic Bomb blast. The transparency.


Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,

A hand that can be clasped no more --
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly through the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.

(Poem: excerpts from "In Memorium" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

What's odd is the emptiness.

Holding my jacket and facing the fragrant peony,
I sense how different our viewpoints are.
Someday our hair will turn gray,
Yet the flowers will be this red each year;
Following the morning dew, each blooms gorgeously
Then their sweet scent is chased by the evening winds.
Why wait till they have withered and fallen
To understand such emptiness?

- Fa Yen (885–958)

To see through and be seen through is to be empty.

The beauty of the memorium and the ugliness of so many incinerated -- stuns mind into emptiness.

The oddity that one of us is God -- that each one of us just might be -- shuts down comprehension.

It is not enough to hate the mind that chooses, and the act that commits, murder.

We look on ourselves, in each form, and weep.

Love the emptiness.

Friday, August 05, 2005

For sixty years a belief there was no alternative to dropping the bomb on Hiroshima.

I don't share that belief. Absent this non-believer. A child nearly one year old, the feeling of horror found its way to Brooklyn streets.

If your ears see,
And eyes hear,
Not a doubt you'll cherish
How naturally the rain drips
From the eaves!

- Daito Kokushi

That long ago remains close tonight. If my hand could I would stay the order, un-push the button, and find some hint of genuine compassion for those below a terrible idea.

I call off the bombing of Hiroshima sixty years ago.

Tomorrow will be a day of grace and kindness.

A toast -- to you, my brothers and sisters!

Communion is a better idea.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It is hard to tell if anyone is saying anything anymore.

So many listening ears, so many watching eyes. It hardly seems necessary to explain why the teaching someone follows needs to be spoken aloud. If the teaching isn't in his or her silence, what use sounding it?

Soundless Sound

I like bamboo as the symbol of constancy and simplicity.
I built my house deep within the grove.
Do not strike my bamboo with a piece of brick.
Perhaps the sound might be heard by other Zen monks
And cause trouble.

- Jakushitsu (1290 - 1368)

I suspect a time approaches when even the most garrulous will comprehend the uselessness of the words and sounds made to convince others of the insight and advancement of the speaker. (Some say there is no advance, there is no place to be gotten to quicker; there is only here. There is nowhere to go. Each is already in their own place.)

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.... Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
(--Jean Arp (1887 - 1948), French-German artist, poet. "Sacred Silence," On My Way, ed. Robert Motherwell (1948).)

As that day approaches, silence will allow man to go his noisy way. With man gone off to the extreme edges of deafening polemic, there remains in the center silence in every sound. Even in the soundless pause between sounds -- a rich quietude resides in interim.

Preserve silence.

Observe it visiting here.

As it is...on its way...nowhere else.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Chapels are places for prayer and respite.

Before the night is even through,
I rise and sit,
Watching fireflies.
The night air clear as water,
The meditating mind
Is light as a reed.
The moon outlines
Trees on the western ridge;
A bell rouses
Home up above.
There may be those in the dark
Who know just how fine
Is what I have found.

- Wen-siang (1210-1280)

I fall from the odd news of the world. What sense there is in the ways of the world -- escapes me these days.

Francis was now attracted to a tiny chapel known as St. Mary of the Portiuncula, belonging to a Benedictine monastery on Monte Subasio. It stood in the wooded plain, some two miles below Assisi, forsaken and in ruins. Francis rebuilt it as he had done the others, and seems to have thought of spending his life there as a hermit, in peace and seclusion. Here on the feast of St. Matthias, in 1209, the way of life he was to follow was revealed to him. The Gospel of the Mass for this day was Matthew X, 7-19: "And going, preach, saying The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.... Freely have you received, freely give. Take neither gold nor silver nor brass in your purses . . . nor two coats nor shoes nor a staff.... Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves...." These words suddenly became Christ's direct charge to him. His doubts over, he cast off shoes, staff, and leathern girdle, but kept his rough woolen coat, which he tied about him with a rope. This was the habit he gave his friars the following year. In this garb he went to Assisi the next morning and, with a moving warmth and sincerity, began to speak to the people he met on the shortness of life, the need of repentance, and the love of God. His salutation to those he passed on the road was, "Our Lord give you peace." (

Lets make chapels our first visit. Make chapels of ourselves.

Make bells the threshold of silence.

Of loving prayer.

Monday, August 01, 2005

After silent sitting, meditative walking, and chanting of Heart Sutra, we bow and prepare to leave the chapel/zendo.

Extinguishing the candle that lights the icon of Mary and Jesus in the cabin after first part of Sunday Evening Practice, I think of the insight during a half-hour cycling exercise in front room of hermitage facing similar icon while listening to Dalai Lama healing chant from middle room. I am suddenly aware that the words below cabin icon – “Mother of God, Light in all Darkness” – have a reference I’d not thought of before.

The reference is to the combination of Mary and Jesus – not to Mary alone, as if Jesus were a prop for purposes of lending legitimacy to the woman and mother. No, the icon is of both of them, equally chosen and equally represented as relational iconography. Is this an icon of a new reality? This reality emerges by means of pregnancy, birth, and offspring. This new reality is interim. It is the middle emergence that holds and permits continuance through an unbroken and unceasing wholeness that involves each of us and everything going on.

The icon invites the observer, especially the praying observer, into the sequential circumference of pregnancy, birth, and offspring as center, radial energy, and spiral wholeness.

The “Mother of God” in this observation is the relational sequence of Mary/Jesus. This sequence of Mary/Jesus is the Mother of God. It is also the sequence of each of us as we attend prayerfully that-which-is unfolding in this existence. I say “in this existence” because we begin where we are and we need to be here while we are here.

The wording of threes, namely: “that-which-is”, or, things “as-they-are”, or, something “as-it-is” – begins to emerge more and more frequently as descriptive of simple and ultimate reality.

To investigate that-which-is invites inquiry and experience to encounter what is there with willing mind and open heart.
To face things as-they-are is to face reality without illusions.
To accept someone or something as-it-is is to surrender to and into the reality before us.

A monk from a Catholic community of hermits visiting at table said that Marian devotion had changed in that he had a strong understanding of Jesus the Christ as mother. A woman who had attended a Bat Mitsva the day before related that the Rabbi (a woman) said that the Hebrew word for “compassion” and “mercy” was the same as for “womb.”

It is here the sequence takes shape and makes sense. There has been a tension in Catholic theology as to the place of Mary. There have been impulses to have her take on the role that the Goddess plays in spirituality. There have been attempts to define her role as co-redemptrix, mother of God, or even the feminine third person in the metaphor of the Trinity. It seems Catholic Christians are never quite sure what to think of their Marys.

But in the quiet evening cycling, and in extinguishing cabin candle, it occurs that part of the mystery is in the threefold sequence of pregnancy, birth, and offspring -- a sequence which is a never-ending revelation spiraling up from and beyond things as-they-are. It is the way earthly existence and human emergence contribute to the coming to be of consciousness relating to the reality of what is called God.

Jesus/Mary is the Mother of God.

Like a Zen koan – not one, not two – only, Jesus/Mary.

Father is Life Itself.
Mother is Jesus/Mary.
Spirit is Making-Its-Way-Through-Us.

The question emerges -- Who are we in this revelation?

A circumference "carries round."

The soup and bread, as usual, were delicious.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, as usual, were nourishing.

The simple circle of mindful gatherers was, as usual, blessing.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sunday morning news programs do not encourage. Congress passes legislation that makes us long for individuals now that most grease, pork, and boons go to corporations and their lobbying legal partners and patrons. So much talk; so little said.

I might have to listen more closely to those who say it doesn't matter. Even the most conservative and most liberal of folks hereabouts are beginning to look at government and realize the so-called red-blue (conservative-liberal) split so touted and loved by politicians and commentators is illusory -- a public deception. It is not a war of ideas, nor a war between religions that is being fought. It is a matter of money. Who has it, who wants it, who has the power to keep it where it is? Sometimes money has a hard sound to it.

When a country is in harmony with the Tao,
the factories make trucks and tractors.
When a country goes counter to the Tao,
warheads are stockpiled outside the cities.

There is no greater illusion than fear,
no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself,
no greater misfortune than having an enemy.

Whoever can see through all fear
will always be safe.

(#46, Lao Tzu, in Tao Te Ching, trans. by Stephen Mitchell)

I don't think it is a matter of money. I think it is something else. I think we have forgotten what it means to be. Being, to be at all, is a silence with remarkable sounds and stillness.

It is a matter of Being. And we have forgotten Being. For religious folks, this translates that we have forgotten God. So many for so long have gotten used to fighting over the ideas and their political implications we have about God, fighting about a notion of God that arranges power and control in the hands of those for whom power and control are the only things of true value. God Itself -- with nothing added -- has been forgotten.

Some say it would be good if we forgot about God entirely. Forgot about religion. Forgot about anything that is not real, here, and now.

The Master has no mind of her own.
She works with the mind of the people.

She is good to people who are good.
She is also good to people who aren't good.
This is true goodness.

She trusts people who are trustworthy.
She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy.
This is true trust.

The Master's mind is like space.
People don't understand her.
They look to her and wait.
She treats them like her own children.

(#49, Lao Tzu, in Tao Te Ching, trans. by Stephen Mitchell)

The heart does not break when we look at suffering. The heart deepens into Itself.


Sometimes we don't say anything. Sometimes
we sit on the deck and stare at the masses of
goldenrod where the garden used to be
and watch the color change from day to day,
the high yellow turning to mustard and at last
to tarnish. Starlings flitter in the branches
of the dead hornbeam by the fence. And are these
therefore the procedures of defeat? Why am I
saying all this to you anyway since you already
know it? But of course we always tell
each other what we already know. What else?
It's the way love is in a late stage of the world.

(Poem: "Silence" by Hayden Carruth, from Collected Shorter Poems ©. Copper Canyon Press.)

We need to turn again.

To Being.

And ask, with silence: How should I be?