Thursday, February 16, 2006

We carry silence within.

Do not sit with a mind fixed on emptiness.
If you do, you will fall into a neutral kind of emptiness.
Emptiness includes the sun, moon, stars and planets,
The great earth, mountains and rivers,
All trees and grasses,
Bad people and good people,
Bad things and good things,
Heaven and hell;
They are all in the midst of emptiness.

- Hui-neng (638-713)

When we are completely within what we are saying or doing, we carry silence.

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, "Who do people say I am?" And they told him. (Mark 8:27 - 28)

They told him, and he heard silence.

The woman walks up the mountain
and then down. She wades into the sea
and out. Walks to the well,
pulls up a bucket of water
and goes back into the house.
She hangs wet clothes.
Takes clothes back to fold them.
Every evening she crochets
from six until dark.
Birds, flowers, stars. Her rabbit lives
in an empty donkey pen. The sea is out
there are far as the stars.
Always quiet.
No one there. She may not believe
in anything. Not know
what she is doing. Every morning
she waters the geranium plant.
And the leaves smell like lemons.

(Poem: "Being" by Linda Gregg from In the Middle Distance. Graywolf Press. From

Always quiet. No one there.

Silence itself.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Truth is complicated. "This" is the truth. Then, what is this?

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. (Confucius)

This is constantly changing. But we hold fast to patterns we consider to be unchanging.

...[H]e asked, "Can you see anything?" The man, who was beginning to see, replied,"I can see people; they look like trees to me, but they are walking about". Then he laid his hands on the man's eyes again and he saw clearly; he was cured, and he could see everything plainly and distinctly. And Jesus sent him home, saying, "Do not even go into the village". (--Mark 8:22 - 26)

Stay out of the village?

Everything plain and distinct.

It is a simple formula: if you do this, this will follow.

Cause and effect are complicated.

Without this, nothing exists.

Well, here we are!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I've got a new haversack. Mostly red, grey, and black.

By chance I knocked at his Zen hut,
Sat among the slopes
And knew that these monastery dusty dreams
Are all unreal.
Water flowing mindfully; what trace does it leave?
Idle clouds pursuing their whim; they lean on nothing.
The novice hoes the garden, greens at their best now;
Monkeys wail in the ravine where chestnuts
Have grown plump.
Reluctantly I start down the path among the pines;
The white moon in its beauty comes to see me home.

- Ichkawa Kanasai (1749-1820)

Moon on winter sea tonight.

Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, "Peace to this house!" (Luke 10:1-4)

Perhaps a wish; certainly a prayer. Peace!

Do not trust those in love with war.

See yourself home.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The opposite shore. If not a sign, then what?

The dharmas taught by buddhas
Hinge on two truths:
Partial truths of the world
And truths which are sublime.
Without knowing how they differ,
You cannot know the deep;
Without relying on conventions,
You cannot disclose the sublime;
Without intuiting the sublime,
You cannot experience freedom.

- Nagarjuna

Freedom is the sign. It is not the opposite shore. It is right here in the world of birth and death.

The Pharisees came up and started a discussion with Jesus; they demanded of him a sign from heaven, to test him. And with a sigh that came straight from the heart he said, "Why does this generation demand a sign? I tell you solemnly, no sign shall be given to this generation." And leaving them again and re-embarking he went away to the opposite shore.
(Mark 8:11 - 13)

We are urged, in zen, to experience and not to talk a lot. (Saskia reads aloud from Thay as I write. His words seep in.)

To say nothing about God is what a good theologian says.

No opposite shore. No notions of God.

Only birth and death. Only ultimate reality.

No birth. No death. Only two words written in snow at end of forest clearing. Only here. Only now.

Please stop supplying guns to the troubled world.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow, enough.

Steep is the Mountain of Yun-men,
Rising straight and upward,
Leaving the white clouds down below!
Its streams, dashing and eddying about,
Allow no fish to linger around.
The moment you step into my door, I already know
What kind of ideas you've brought with you.
What's the use of raising again the dust
Long settled in an old track?

- Yun-men Wen-yen (d.949)

Walking incipient snow around waters edge in Rockport, Saskia, Jon, (Cesco), and I speak of rhetoric and conversation as experienced in political sphere. I enjoy the lad's fair thoughts -- his Lockean preference (he says). The words are more nourishing than the black/white, red/blue, christian/muslim, blather/brouhaha we're meant to accept as passing for civilized discourse in today's markets.

A thirsty man is happy when he is drinking, and he is not depressed because he cannot exhaust the spring. So let this spring quench your thirst, and not your thirst the spring. For if you can satisfy your thirst without exhausting the spring, then when you thirst again you can drink from it once more; but if when your thirst is sated the spring is also dried up, then your victory would turn to harm.
Be thankful then for what you have received, and do not be saddened at all that such an abundance still remains. What you have received and attained is your present share, while what is left will be your heritage. For what you could not take at one time because of your weakness, you will be able to grasp at another if you only persevere. So do not foolishly try to drain in one draught what cannot be consumed all at once, and do not cease out of faintheartedness from what you will be able to absorb as time goes on.
(From a commentary on the Diatessaron by Saint Ephrem, deacon; Office of Readings)

We are thirsty. Parched for integrity. Fasting for want of offerings encouraging life and love in any public square. Life isn't an unsuccessful abortion. Love isn't the fault you find in someone considered false to your true.

Martha Stewart Living

A man at the Dominion was looking long and hard
at chicken breasts, first at economy trays
then at smaller portions, finally hefting the smaller
and saying to the woman nudging his rear, 'Do you suppose
these are free-range chickens?' The woman shouldered
him aside. She was in a hurry, she said, and in no mood
for asinine chit-chat. 'But no,' she said, scurrying away,
'I don't suppose those are free-range. I suppose those
are dead chickens.' At which point, or actually about thirty
seconds later, the man said to me, 'Some days I am happy
I never married.'

(Poem: "Martha Stewart Living" by Leon Rooke from Hot Poppies.)

If you come across dead chickens, for heaven's sake -- honor them with your body. Cook, eat, incarnate them within you. They are resurrected through you. You are chicken. They are human. Now try to find the balance.

All day, snow.


For now.