Saturday, December 17, 2005

"The play's the thing..." (-From Hamlet, II, ii, 633)

Not the players, nor the celebrities; not the professors, nor the athletes; not the CEOs, nor the elected officials and judges. There is entirely too much misidentification of the play (which is vital) with the players (who have become darlings and demigods of contemporary culture).

Students of today get nowhere because they base their understanding upon the acknowledgment of names. They inscribe the words of stone dead old guys in a great big notebook, wrap it up in four or five squares of cloth, and won't let anyone look at it. "This is the Mysterious Principle," they aver, and safeguard it with care. That's all wrong. Blind idiots! What kind of juice are you looking for in such dried-up bones!"
- Lin-chi (d.866)

Lin-Chi's fierce passion suggests looking at sometime more alive and perhaps something with more simplicity, modesty, and truth.

I am the Lord, unrivalled;
there is no other God besides me.
Though you do not know me, I arm you
that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
that, apart from me, all is nothing.

(from Isaiah 45:1 - 13 )

I'm fond of this "no other" God. This one reminds me of the Buddha's last words to his friends: "Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation."

So much depends on how we see and read the words "your own" -- and how we understand "salvation."

The "no other" God who sees, in the prophet Isaiah's words, "that, apart from me, all is nothing" -- is the God of (from, with) whom the Christ emerges.

The simplicity, modesty, and truth of what is itself disappeared into the reality appearing and playing out into everydayness -- this is for me, today, a glimpse into Lin-Chi's passion.

Not the person, but what is itself sounding through. Not the particular athlete, but what inserts itself into the play when they act. Not the spiritual teacher, but what reveals itself through their presence or words.

Have we forgotten how to play well? Not the outcome, nor the adulation; not the cult of personality, nor the pride of ego feigning "I did this!"

No other, nothing apart.

All together now:

Play well!

Friday, December 16, 2005

No need to call anything other than what it is.

There is a simple way to become a buddha. When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate to all sentient beings...not excluding or desiring will be called a buddha. Do not seek anything else. (Eihei Dogen, in "Moon in a Dewdrop")

Don't even seek to be called what you are.


You are.



Thursday, December 15, 2005

Chocolate pudding with whipped cream.

Jewels are tested with fire, gold is tested with a stone; a sword is tested with a hair, water is tested with a pole. In the school of the patchrobed monks, in one word, one phrase, one act, one state, one exit, one entry, one encounter, one response, you will see whether someone is deep or shallow, you will see whether he is facing forwards or backwards. But tell me, what will you use to test him with?
- Yuan-wu (1063-1135)

Test him with chocolate pudding and whipped cream.

You, Lord, are my inheritance and my cup. You control my destiny,
the lot marked out for me is of the best, my inheritance is all I could ask for.
I will bless the Lord who gave me understanding; even in the night my heart will teach me wisdom.
I will hold the Lord for ever in my sight: with him at my side I can never be shaken.
Thus it is that my heart rejoices, heart and soul together; while my body rests in calm hope.

(- from Night Prayer, Psalm 15, 16)

Kalliopeia, that which "works to support the evolution of a world culture that honors the underlying unity at the heart of life's rich diversity," humbles us with a gift, out of the blue.

They say: "In devotion to the Essence that unites all as one..."

We say: Blessings of the day and quiet serenity of the night.

We are facing every way that You, O Honored Guest, appear.

With gratitude.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

No wonder...we shun God.

John of the Cross' mystical experience, which he also called infused contemplation, meant a real experience of union with God.

Truth's naked radiance,
Cut off from the sense and the world,
Shines by itself.
No words for it.

- Pai-chang (720-814)

The idea we have of God is not God. Nothing but God is God. Itself alone is God Itself.

St. John implies that the experience of contemplation is an intersubjective experience. The person experiences God within him, not as an object or thing about which something is known, but simply as a whole, a subject. God is present to him in a way analogous to the way he is present to himself.

"At this time God does not communicate Himself through the senses as He did before, by means of the discursive analysis and synthesis of ideas, but begins to communicate Himself through pure spirit by an act of simple contemplation, in which there is no discursive succession of thought."

It is love in informing and vivifying faith that allows faith to attain to this sort of knowledge. Love of its nature is geared to the subject, and divine love lifts the person to a subject- to-subject relationship to God. Contemplation "which is knowledge and love together, that is, loving knowledge" is the beginning of the experience of this new relationship. In it love is strong enough that it draws knowledge with it, so there results an experience of the within, God present as a self in the heart of the limited human self.

(from St. John of the Cross and Dr. C.G. Jung, Part II: THE DAWN OF CONTEMPLATION, Chapter 3: St. John and the Beginning of Contemplation, by James Arraj,

John of the Cross, (1542 - 1591), joined with Teresa of Avila (1515 - 1582) to reform and deepen the religious life of Carmelites and the times they lived. He knew suffering. The words of Eckhart Tolle, if applied to John, cast curious light on his life:
"Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment". (E Tolle)

John's consciousness was profound. As was his suffering.

"Man is a certain immensity. In his relation to the universe he is more than a part: he is a center, a totality, a culmination."
"(W)ithout man the universe is truncated and inexplicable: it has no center, no ultimate, no issue. It is nowhere conscious; therefore at no point does it take possession of its own being, and so it does not exist intrinsically... Man is the intrinsic end of the world, and is the relatively last end for the world."

(Arraj, quoting from -The Theology of the Mystical Body, by Emile Mersch, Herder, St. Louis, 1951,)

Man is center, God is center; man is end, God is end.

Shun man, shun God.

It's what we do without wonder.

Let's diminish our lack of it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

At 12:01am Tuesday another man will be killed. We know about this one. He's been convicted of murder himself, and been on death row since 1981.

LOS ANGELES - As word spread this afternoon that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had turned down Stanley Tookie Williams' last-ditch bid for clemency, reaction was muted on the streets where Williams launched the Crips gang 35 years ago.(San Jose Mercury News - online, By Patrick May. LOS ANGELES)

May he, and all those departing and departed, with the mercy that remains us of God, rest in peace.

What remains for us to do?

Would that God re-mind us!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Moonlight on snow during zazen in cabin. Soft candlelight inside. Kerosene lanterns on path from barn.

Woodstove a balanced harmony of heat and clear air.

Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16)

I don't know why it is; I do know that it is -- at times everything falls into place and nothing is other than it is.

A wandering monk was climbing a mountain alongside a stream, on his way to the Zen monastery at the top, when he noticed a vegetable leaf floating downstream from the direction of the monastery. He thought, "It is just a single leaf, but any place that would waste it cannot be very good," and he turned to go back down the mountain. Just then he saw a lone monk come running down the path, chasing after the floating leaf. Immediately the wandering monk decided to enroll in the monastery at the top of the mountain.
- Hsueh-feng I-ts'un (822-908)

Around table in silence reading of Teilhard, Hildegard, and Berry -- the need to relieve the divine its burden of being God. Free humans their obsession of feeling enslaved. Allow nature release from rapacious progress in what erroneously is called economy.

Four shared the monastic ritual sitting, walking, chanting compline, reading as lectio, eating in silence, sharing reflections in words, departing in quiet appreciation. "Four harpies," we were, Jory said, "holding the space, preserving temple ritual."

In earlier versions of Greek myth, Harpies were described as beautiful, winged maidens. (Encyclopedia Mythica)

We read the New Zealand lecture on cosmotheandric spirituality and the feminine -- quoting Richard Tarnas saying the need for the feminine does not negate the work laid down by the masculine -- but a balanced harmony must emerge. A new creative act is called for.

So we act on our lives. Moon inspiring. Snow refreshing. Light revealing.

Not why we are, but that we are, here doing this. Tonight, it is enough.

Compline's end: That awake, we might keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.

Now, Lord...