Saturday, May 13, 2006

Each word and act is either creative genesis or destructive analysis. The mind you bring is the reality you find.

Enter a room with disappointment at who and how many are there -- you have an insufficient, dissatisfied mind and a disappointing reality. Enter that same room with appreciation for what and who is there -- begins an engaging and originary entrance into present moment. So too, takes shape an embodying, emerging revelation of creation itself. That's what we settled on at Friday Evening Conversation as fire in fireplace warmed inquiry. The ever-present energy of creative "wording/doing" & "breathing" (Hebrew: "Dabhar" & "Ruah") is omni-present and profoundly willing to originate manifesting life.

The Aramaic wording of one section of the "Our Father" opens this:
Nehwey tzevyanach aykanna d'bwashmaya aph b'arha ("Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven") can be considered the heart of Jesus' prayer. The "will" referred to here connotes a deep desire causing one's whole being to move toward a goal with the certainty that the effort will bear fruit. In some sense, it is living as though God's vision were already a reality. "Earth" (arha) carries a strong feeling of solidity and support; it is something that is fully materialized. Here, then, we pray that the sense of "I can" expressed in the line above be put fully into action. The phrase in its entirety could be: "Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with your desire." or "Moving to the heartbeat of your purpose, make us the embodiment of your compassion." In essence, we pray that all we do be an act of co-creation with God.
(from The Aramaic Prayer of Jesus, An Introduction by Mark Hathaway,

There's no need to pretend all is well. All is well. It is not a matter of mind trying to put an optimistic spin on whatever happens, rather mind is what is happening. Mind is less an interpreter of reality than originator of it. So much depends on how we see what is seen. (Thus the problem of "thinking.")

Our original mind includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few.
- Shunryu Suzuki (1905-1971)

Out of emptiness emerges practice of origin and light.

Origin and light practice emptiness.

We emerge embodying what is found in this practice.

Enter a room. Walk the mountain. Chew fruit on layer of vanilla yogurt. Sip tea. Bite raisin toast with trappist jam. Ride exercise cycle. Talk to prisoners. Watch film. Listen to news. Write poem. Trust oneself. Smile with compassion. Forgive everything for being exactly what each is -- forgive yourself for misperception that we are separate.


Nothing is so beautiful as spring --
--When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
--Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightings to hear him sing;
--The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
--The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
--A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. -- Have, get, before it cloy,
--Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
--Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

(Poem: "Spring" by Gerard Manley Hopkins.)


(The troubling way we think. The lovely way we see.)


God's vision.

{All ready! Already?}


Friday, May 12, 2006

The Red Sox first baseman said, "You fail so much. It's a game of failure." He might have been talking about life, and not his line drive hit right at 2nd baseman. Dogen Zenji's, "My life is one continuous mistake", is additional wisdom to that of the infielder turned philosopher.

Meditation will not carry you to another world, but it will reveal the most profound and awesome dimensions of the world in which you already live. Calmly contemplating these dimensions and bringing them into the service of compassion and kindness is the right way to make rapid gains in meditation as well as in life.
- Hsing Yun

Even when you hit the sweet spot on the bat, when you find yourself walking down an empty road in carnival celebration of spring flowering, or turning in a room, becoming aware of processions and walking meditations or meanderings in good company of living beings beyond immediate registry -- even then, amid the exuberance, the realization that sleeping dream and waking reality are interchangeable, no clear differentiation, no pin-point placement defined by time or space -- we live our lives in trusting practice one footstep will follow into this very next footstep to unknown, but necessary, destination.

Mother Night

When you wake at three AM you don't think
of your age or sex and rarely your name
or the plot of your life which has never
broken itself down into logical pieces.
At three AM you have the gift of incomprehension
wherein the galaxies make more sense
than your job or the government. Jesus at the well
with Mary Magdalene is much more vivid
than your car. You can clearly see the bear
climb to heaven on a golden rope in the children's
story no one ever wrote. Your childhood horse
named June still stomps the ground for an apple.
What is morning and what if it doesn't arrive?
One morning Mother dropped an egg and asked
me if God was the same species as we are?
Smear of light at five AM. Sound of Webber's
sheep flock and sandhill cranes across the road,
burble of irrigation ditch beneath my window.
She said, "Only lunatics save newspapers
and magazines," fried me two eggs, then said,
"If you want to understand mortality look at birds."
Blue moon, two full moons this month,
which I conclude are two full moons. In what
direction do the dead fly off the earth?
Rising sun. A thousand blackbirds pronounce day.

(Poem: "Mother Night" by Jim Harrison from Saving Daylight. Copper Canyon Press.)

A hundred thousand raindrops carry light into Friday morning in Maine. Windchimes are toll collectors of falling currents. Birdsong weaves through arriving dawn. Everything we've ever done is wrong -- but all is well, and right. Once on one's own path, we are alone itself -- and never apart from community of beings and Being.

Kevin Youkilis came up, the Sox still behind, 3-2. He crushed one but right at second baseman Robinson Cano. Youkilis, in anger and disbelief, clutched his helmet with both hands and yelled.

''Pretty self-explanatory," he said, when asked what he was thinking at that moment. ''You fail so much. It's a game of failure. To do everything perfect, hit the ball hard, and it's right at him, nothing to show for it."

(from story in Boston Globe, RED SOX 5, YANKEES 3, "Rescue club" --Red Sox strand 15 but survive to take 2 of 3 in New York, By Chris Snow, Globe Staff, May 12, 2006)

There is, as he says, nothing to show for it, even when there is.

Many saints and martyrs died forgotten, and intercede for us anonymously in Heaven: we shall not know them until the day of judgement. Others are one degree less anonymous: we know their names, and we know that people whose judgement we trust regarded them as saints, but that is all. Such are Saints Nereus and Achilleus...(their deaths [were] early in the fourth century.) (

One foot in front of another. One day following another. One breath and then another.

So much depends on how we regard one another.

Simple appreciation; simple realization.

Soon enough -- no step, no day, no breath.

Simple surrender.

Simple joy.



Thursday, May 11, 2006

It is a joy to walk down Bayview Street through fine drizzle in May.

It is the lightness of something completed. Final class, final student interview, final finalist interview with warden and deputy warden. (The fragrance of barbecued hotdogs sneaking through security into corridor.) It was an occasion and inquiry not to be ignored.

This is the Mind-seal of not one thing.
What is "not one thing?"
Mountains fresh and green,
Water clear and flowing.

- Yamaoka Tesshu (1830)

Beads of water cling to screen in harbour room. The non-violent communication group will arrive for meeting in a few minutes. Saskia's gone to meeting for friend recently diagnosed with brain tumor and short days. The bay is shrouded with early evening fog and rain obscuring islands many will swear are still there.

On blackboard downstairs, chalk lettering: "no one here."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Exactly where does God dwell?

Tonight it rains.

If you did not attain enlightenment in the past,
Do so now.
Liberate this body
That is the culmination of many lifetimes.
Before enlightenment,
Ancient buddhas were like us.
When enlightened, we will be like those of old.

- Longya

A long, wet, rain.

If the Word has truly been made flesh and we in very truth receive the Word made flesh as food from the Lord, are we not bound to believe that he abides in us naturally?
(from A tract on the Trinity by Saint Hilary, bishop)

Christians cannot pretend God away from God's dwelling place. They can only deny themselves.

Tomorrow there's an interview at one of the houses of God.

The warden will decide.

One only hopes.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Walking Ragged with Cesco after returning from Belgrade Lakes with cedar canoe, basking in mountain's beauty.

This mountain has neither ugly rocks nor clumsy trees.
It raises itself ten thousand feet towards the cold heaven.
Even a stray cloud does not cling around the mountain.
Only the moon showers its pale light abundantly over the summit.

- Jakushitsu (1290--1368)

It is hard to know why men go to war. There's no beauty there.

There's a word in Farsi that has no proper translation into English but that every Iranian knows the meaning of: ta'arouf. Ta'arouf is social convention in Iran; it can be nothing but small talk, or frustratingly incomprehensible back-and-forth niceties uttered in any social encounter. It can be a long-winded prelude to what is actually the matter at hand, whether the matter be a serious negotiation or just ordering dinner. It can also be polite entreaties, or overtures, and on all counts Mr. Ahmadinejad just made ta'arouf to Mr. Bush. For Mr. Bush to refuse to counter-ta'arouf may, to the Iranians, seem extremely rude, but Americans need not be concerned with that. What Americans need to be concerned with is whether there is anything, and I mean anything, that will change the minds of the men who want to go to war.
(Hooman Majd, Blog, 05.08.2006, on Huffington Post, "Why We Are Going to Go to War, Part II" Hooman Majd was born in 1957 in Tehran, Iran, and was educated in England and the United States)

I cried in the car hearing two more members of the Maine Nationall Guard were killed in Iraq. The Noah bell we hung from overhead console rang one, two, three times in the ensuing quiet once radio was turned off.

Peace and compassion are beautiful.

Why not reside there.

And chat a while.

Monday, May 08, 2006

This morning at church I wondered about "hoc" within symbolic letters IHS "In hoc signo." I like the notion that "this" is the sign. Constantine's vision and the belief he would conquer in the sign of the cross in early 4th century sky -- or Chi Rho (two Greek letters beginning "Christ") or iota, eta, and sigma (three Greek letters -- H being capital letter of e, for iesous), -- notwithstanding, the sign we seek is "this."

I like that a Zen master when asked for a definition of truth that would still be true in 500 years said, "Truth -- is just like this." We often stumble on "this" and prefer rather "that." Is "this" too near? Is this too intimate? Is this all there is?

Annie was confirmed and took communion officially as a Catholic yesterday. I told Sam he was a CBA now -- Catholic by association -- as he looked at me, warily shaking my hand, waiting for some release from tight pew and unusual Sunday morning, as I hug his long-time associate.

As soon as you arouse aspiration for enlightenment, even if you transmigrate in the six realms and four forms of birth, transmigration itself will be your practice of enlightenment. Although you may have wasted time so far, you should vow immediately, before this present life ends: "Together with all sentient beings, may I hear the true dharma from this birth on throughout future births."
When you hear the true dharma, do not doubt or distrust it. When you encounter the true dharma, relinquish ordinary affairs and uphold the buddha-dharma. Thus you realize the way together with the great earth and all sentient beings. This vow is the ground for genuine aspiration. Do not slacken in this determination.

- Dogen (1200-1253)

We read Shantideva at table during practice last evening -- about exchanging self with others. He writes:
But what need is there to say more?
The childish work for their own benefit,
The Buddhas work for the benefit of others.
Just look at the difference between them!

(In "Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life," Shantideva)

There is no "own benefit" but this -- and "this" belongs to others as oneself. What we do, ever and anywhere, is for everyone. This is what "this" means -- this is who, this is what, we are.

My heart was sore, my being was troubled --
I was a fool, I knew nothing;
I was like a dumb beast before you.
But still I stay with you:
you hold my right hand.
You lead me according to your counsel,
until you raise me up in glory.

For who else is for me, in heaven?
On earth, I want nothing when I am with you.
My flesh and heart are failing,
but it is God that I love:
God is my portion for ever.

(from Psalm 73)

God-Life, behind and beyond what is, is this moment all there is.

And we -- we will not be content with what is not true.


It was one of those mornings utterly distorted by the night's dreams.
Why go to court to change my name to Gaspar de la Nuit in order to
avoid thinking of myself as a silly, fat old man? At midmorning I
looked at the dogs as possibilities for something different in my life.
I was dogsitting both daughters' dogs plus our own: Lily, Grace, Pearl,
Harry, Rose and Mary. I shook the biscuit box and they assembled in
the living room on a very cold windy morning when no one wanted
to go outside except for a quick pee and a bark at the mailman. I sang,
"He's got the whole world in his hands," as they waited for their snack.
Harry was embarrassed and furtive and tried to leave the room but I
called him back. I tried, "Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas
today," and Lily, the largest of the dogs, became angry at the others
who looked away intimidated. I tried something religious, "The Old
Rugged Cross," to no particular response except that Mary leapt up
at the biscuit box in irritation. I realized decisively that dogs don't care
about music and religion and thus have written up this report. This
scarcely makes me the Father of the A-bomb, I thought as I flung the
contents of the full box of biscuits around the room with the dogs
scrambling wildly on the hard maple floor. Let there be happy chaos.

(Poem: "Science" by Jim Harrison from Saving Daylight. Copper Canyon Press.)

Beginning this -- is life.

Happy chaos -- at end.

We muddle through middle way.

Interim joy.

Hic, haec, hoc.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sitting on footbridge over brook, afternoon sun tumbling between stone-wash, the sweet openness of just watching.

What is sitting meditation? To remove ourselves from all external distractions and quiet the mind is called "sitting." To observe the inner nature in perfect calmness is called "meditation."
- Hui-neng

Cat in cabin dreaming sounds in wall on white blanket at southeasterly floor window to stone wall. Dog under shrub by barn where wood-horse stands ankle deep in sawdust.

praise god, though he's no place in any

praise god, though he's no place in any
astronomic seating plan,
sing still his might for still he can
wreak havoc on the race of man.
----he still can shrug the earth a bit
----to make your standing towers sit
----and quite destroy your joules and volts
----with mediocre thunder-bolts.
----he still can tear your towns apart
----while his surrealistic art
----grows grass where hitler's moustache grows
----and ferns from hirohito's toes
----fills frank sinatra's mouth with ashes
----and springs a toad from garbo's lashes
----and with some slight celestial mayhem
----destroys the shrines of martha graham
----and porter cole and coward noel
----and splits the earth from pole to pole,
----or with some ray you haven't found
----sink dante's hell-shaft under-ground.
sing still his might for still he can
wreak havoc on the race of man.

(Poem: "praise god, though he's no place in any" by Robert Lax from Tertium Quid. Stride.)

Man says he doesn't need God any longer -- not for destruction, thank you -- that is easily done with our imitation of willful arrogance and mindless disconnection so rife in failure of feeling and compassion. When our foot hurts does the hand say "What's it to me?"

We are of a piece. I find it consoling to posit that we each feel one another's pain, one another's joy. But, in an odd acrobatic deflection, we make up reasons why not to engage the reality before us. Our natural communication is immediate empathy. The unnatural distancing and separation we fabricate is a result of invented reasons why to not attend to what is actually felt.

There's not much need to know prayers. When someone wishes to pray, ask them how they pray. When we long to pray, ask the spirit of prayer how to pray. Their revelation in our presence is prayer. Our realization of their presence is when prayer becomes gift.

Presence is the prayer of God. Even the experience of absence is prayer.

No place in any.

Place itself.