Saturday, January 14, 2006

Anything done in the name of war is now allowed. If it is done to make America safe, it is permitted. Nothing is as important as ensuring the United States is right and victorious in its never-ending crusade to exact revenge for 9/11. Maddened politicians and hair-triggered military are free to do anything they want, unchecked and immune from accountability. America is showing signs of ugly anger and arrogance.

Just as the pure crystal takes color from the object which is nearest to it, so the mind, when it is cleared of thought-waves, achieves sameness or identity with the object of its concentration.
- Patanjali

The object of concentration is mistrust and deception. Claiming to be trying to ferret out dangers to the safety, health, welfare, and security of the United States, it seems the powers of Department of Defense, National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, and Federal Bureau of Investigation are contributing to the undermining of law, decency, rights, and good will of the country and those in the world in any way getting in its way.

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 14 -- Pakistani officials said Saturday that a U.S. missile strike intended to kill al Qaeda deputy Ayman Zawahiri had missed its target but had killed 17 people, including six women and six children.
Tens of thousands of Pakistanis staged an angry anti-American protest near the remote village of Damadula, about 120 miles northwest of Islamabad, where Friday's attack took place. According to witnesses, the demonstrators shouted "Death to America" and "Death to Musharraf" -- referring to Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf -- and the offices of at least one U.S.-backed aid organization were ransacked and set ablaze.

"Pakistanis Condemn U.S. Attack" By Griff Witte and Kamran Khan, Washington Post Foreign Service, Saturday, January 14, 2006; 7:51 PM)

It is a fools errand to fight fire with fire. Wisdom would prescribe a more thoughtful method of recognizing and reconciling hostility with actions aimed at relieving underlying causes so as to relieve overt antipathy. We are not innocent victims who were attacked for no purpose whatsoever -- we have a history, covert and overt, of imposing our will on reluctant targets. We target anyone in the world that appears to be in opposition to our vested interests. We are fast becoming the bully we've fought wars in the past to defeat. It is not an optimistic schizophrenia.

We do our single-minded defense of wealth, privilege, and power at a time when something new and vital longs to find its way into our midst.

An awareness of global oneness has begun to constellate. The idea of the unity of life, that "we are one," no longer belongs just to a spiritual or ecological fringe, but is becoming part of the mainstream. But this awareness is lacking an essential ingredient--it is still an idea, it is not fully alive. When it becomes alive the heart of the world will open and we will hear the song of the divine oneness of life.

The world has to awaken from its sleep of forgetfulness--it can no longer afford to forget its divinity. More than any pollution it is this forgetfulness that is killing the earth. Collectively we are dying--we have forgotten our purpose and a life-form that has forgotten its purpose cannot survive. Its fundamental reason for existence fades away. The awakening of the heart of the world can redeem what has been desecrated, heal what has been wounded, purify what has been polluted. The song of the world will remind us all why we are here and the whole of life will rejoice.

(-- Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, in "The Awakening of the World")

We cannot allow horrors to be committed in our name. The blind fascination with war and heroic images of ridding the world of evildoers is crippling the spirit of truth and freedom. The world is full of good and evil, right and wrong -- and we are tasked with finding peace in the middle of antagonistic dualities. In the middle, not at some fantastical end that is reached by elimination of everything between the reality of life as it exists and some ideological utopia that doesn't and never will exist.

The coincidence of opposites and the harmony of opposites is grounded on the experience there is a middle path, a core resting place, that exists in the very center of all the contentious opposites encountered in life. It takes a special kind to dishonesty to convince people only you are right, powerful, knowledgeable, and empowered to bring about the world as you see it ought to be.

Be clear about one thing -- if we do not forbid our leaders to kill, plunder, and lie, then we earn the unenviable fruits of their dishonesty.

Once trust and reputation are lost, all that remains is brute force and deluded ideology.

We have to talk. We have to sort this out. We have to change the mind that leads us to destruction into a mind that sees the way into a sacred awareness that leads to authentic peace.

Do not be deceived.

Something is wrong.

We must pray, yes, for one another.

But more -- we need to change our mind. (God is not in our mind. We must attend first and foremost to God, as God is, in the world.)

Come back to earth.

Look around.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Ken, in prison, said, "I feel you," when we spoke to Lifetime Recovery Group about spirituality.

There is a point of correspondency between two views which is called the pivot of the Tao. As soon as one finds this pivot, he stands in the center of the ring of thought where he can respond without end to the changing views; without end to those affirming, and without end to those denying.
- Chuang Tzu

Matt, the chaplain, is resigning to go the New Hampshire.

There's a correspondency between Ken and Matt.

God is correspondency.

We breathe together.

It's a promise.

Pivot point.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

There's no going back. Names and faces surface and fade again from a long ago life. No longer. You can look back. But no going. Which is a a great kindness.

Follow the truth of the way.
Reflect on it. Make it your own.
Live it.
It will always sustain you.
Do not turn away what is given you,
Nor reach out for what is given to others,
Lest you disturb your quietness.
- Dhammapada

Dripping rain from full gutters under kitchen roof. That's what religion is. If someone asked if I had religion, I'd open an umbrella. Religion is looking around at stillness inside kitchen. Spoon leans from soup bowl next to water glass work done resting empty.

Once I was somewhere else. That was long ago. It is hard to remember why I was not always here. Some other state. Some other work. Some other dissatisfaction.

No longer. Now. Here. Doing this. Aware of suffering, its cause, and path through.

Boots face each other on rug. No steps are taken. Slippers under desk do not shuffle. Feet are on chair across from another chair holding me up.

Religious life is the kindness of emptiness gone midnight sheltered under roof from torrential rain.

A leper came to him and pleaded on his knees: 'If you want to" he said "you can cure me". Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. "Of course I want to!" he said. "Be cured!" And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, "Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery". The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.
Mark 1:40 - 45

Part of religion is staying in places nobody lives. Another part is saying no more than one should.

Learning to listen to thunder alongside mountain.

Leaving anyplace else for the nowhere right here.

Grateful for bread. For soup. For apfelkuchen with whipped cream. Or the love of God.

No place is as good as this place we are.

So it is.

Place yourself.

Go nowhere else. Humbly return to one's own profound heart.

Sufism is a path of love and also a journey to self-knowledge, of carrying the light of consciousness into the core of our being. The spiritual journey is always inward, a gradual process of self-discovery as you realize the real wonder of being human. The wayfarer makes the most difficult and courageous of journeys, turning away from the outer world of illusion, and turning back to God, not as an idea but as a living reality that exists within the heart. This is a journey of self-revelation, a painful process of leaving behind our illusory nature, the ego, and entering into the arena of our true Self. And as another hadith explicitly states, on this journey you have to "die before you die": before you can experience the innermost state of union with God, the ego has to be sacrificed; you have to be burnt, consumed by the fire of divine love.
(-- Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Excerpt from Love is a Fire : the Sufi's Mystical Journey Home )

Once consumed by the innermost fire of sacred love, who remains to go anywhere else?

Gazing on the once-was, turning quietly, gently, returning to the only place remaining.

Who you are, as you are, where you are. Dissolving what is not you.

Each is invited into this humbling loving gift.

For this is each ordained.

Do this, mindfully!

As does the rain, itself!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

We are invited to let silence.

Not every thing speaks to us. At times we can't hear some things. Nothing special. It is a decibel above or below our hearing range. It fades. Never makes it to our mind. Or heart. That's all.

From the passions arise worry,
and from worry arises fear.
Away with the passions, and no fear,
No worry.

- Sutra of Forty Two Chapters

Tonight we read three pieces prelude to conversation. The range of each was particular. Each reading (Sufi, Zen, Jewish) touched someone (at least). Not all for each.

It struck me that there is a temptation to find something wrong with the one that doesn't speak to you. It's nothing special, it's just what the mind does when looking for something to judge.

I'm learning how to listen carefully to each. If one falls outside my tuning frequency, I let it stay for a while outside my hearing. There's nothing wrong with the author, or the piece, or me. It is merely not a conversation I can have with what is presented.

I let it have silence.

No top one, two, three bottom.

I am often surrounded by silence.

I learn from what I don't hear.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

At conversation a woman trashed religion.

She would not be dissuaded. No reason passed her certainty. She's convinced.

Her proof is spiritualism, channeled teachings she affirms.

After stopping at grocery store, we drive home, eat spaghetti, feel filling fall from tooth, watch part of film, get tired, climb stairs.

"How come there's no resistance?" Saskia asks, trying stationary bike.

What is there to resist?

Opinion or faith?

Either way, practice is that which fits between.

Early morning zafu.

Without knowing.

An open emptiness.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Back by brook, at bend by protruding root of oak tree cheering parade of tumbling mountain spill ahead of ice, the graves of three dogs and one cat, watched over by winged angel statue shouldering snow, hands cupped in perpetual prayer or gassho at its beginning or end. These dead animals converse with root and stone and earth in dawn assembly speaking of the day alighting and of the night gone by.

We do not hear what they say. Rumor has it, (borne by red squirrel passing up and back to ridge) they have been talking about snow.

Koto said, "I used to lay down on snow and stay as long as until called to something else. I would find the last mountain patch of snow in late spring and scratch at it and roll on back to sweeten my coat. I died in a snowstorm, the sight of it falling, the sounds of 'Ode to Joy' and my mistress' head in front seat of car. That was a good death."

Jitai said, "I would bound like a gazelle through snow, my Norwegian Elk ancestors proud of my young skill, like cousin kangaroo I'd boing boing boing through dooryard drifts. We'd have such fun, those squirrels and I, racing behind barn and over hill by runoff. How jubilant our roundy rounds. I couldn't keep up that one morning the yellow school bus ran over me as we tore across the road. That was great fun. Then I came back here."

Sando said, "The walks we had! Everywhere those fourteen years, and everywhere we drove. Such great times in snow and rain, in sunshine and icy paths. My paws would melt the granules on the path and I'd work the clumps gone solid between my pads...and she, my human friend, would hold my leg and pick them clean, and off we'd go again. The walks, the walks, the glorious walks, the walks across that life! And to spend my final day in their cabin chapel, surrounded by flowers, tennis balls, and incense, red squirrel peeking in window to see how things were going, and Cesco (always the thief) quietly stealing one of the balls -- what lovely play we'd had -- I wish I had just one more stick that he could take from my mouth, I loved the give and take!

Mini said, "I was too delicate for snow, except in my basket on kitchen bed looking up at cedar tree and Bald Mountain behind it. That year a herd of deer in deep snow would set their path in clearings high above by open rock. My baton paw conducting cold when I had to step outside. Your big doggy tails swinging overhead coming in from snow, begging for a swipe hello passing woodstove feeding tray. Then there was that night, and in that night (I was so tired) in front room, I let myself to sleep under window altar, in middle prayer of silence."

The whole race is a poet that writes down
The eccentric propositions of its fate".

(--from poem "Men Made Out Of Words" by Wallace Stevens)

The morning snows.

Cesco goes out to pee. Mu-Ge claws at boor to barn ready to go out again fortified with kibble feed. The fire warms from kitchen Elefos stove, as Saskia wipes snow from old border collie's back.

The trees and ice and tumbling waters -- the dogs and cats and passing squirrels -- never tire of their silence. Never tire of allowing one another their talk of what is happening.

Here is a proposition...

As eccentric as here is, here is our fate.

And we are poets writing here, as it is, again and (never repeating) again.

The dogs and cats, the trees and stones, the earth and sky -- all the falling flakes, fell wood, and silent gaze -- each human breath -- all written here, are writing here, here as here, "its."

The eccentric proposition of "its" fate.

Glory be to "its!"

Everything belongs!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Morning fire coaxes creaks in stovepipe.

Their conversation enlivens after cooling through the night. Blue daybreak and red sunrise mute behind gray cloud. It is Sunday morning. "Pause," the trees say, "consider your life. Listen to the Creating Sound in quiet awhile."

We are coming to our true inheritance of the world,
we are broadening our consciousness, ever seeking
a higher and higher unity; ever approaching nearer
to the one universal truth which is the All-comprehensive all embracing.

- Rabindranath Tagore ( 1861-1941)

Christian Church calendar is disjointed this time of year: When is Christmas? For Greek Orthodox? For Russians following Julian calendar? When is Epiphany? When Baptism of the Lord? On traditional dates or Sundays? For some it is the Great Christmas. One tradition (how recent?) the Sunday after Epiphany favors the liturgizing and baptizing of Jesus. I'm not sure it matters. We're only reflecting on narratives and stories and mysteries that transcend fixed appointments. Jesus is vagabond to our schedules and appointment books.

Water spoke to him. Water spoke to those quietly near him. Water speaks to Saskia in baptismal shower in next room.

Jesus stands zazen in the water.

"In whom," says water, "in whom I am," it continues, "well" (imagine, well) -- "pleased."

Entering new profound silence, water glides over body, saying nothing, falling to ground, entering earth, finding level truth. Resting there, going on.

He does not cry out or shout aloud,
or make his voice heard in the streets.
He does not break the crushed reed,
nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice;
he will neither waver, nor be crushed
until true justice is established on earth,
for the islands are awaiting his law.

(Isaiah 42: 2-3)

When innocence opens eyes, glancing this way and that, what is born is every new and included life, all in all.

Embracing all.