Saturday, May 20, 2006

Birds sing in Saturday morning sunshine. After so long a rain, blue sky.

We live until we die. And then? Do we get up and do it again? Or does everything return to the way it is?

I'm twenty seven years
And always sought the Way.
Well, this morning we passed
Like strangers on the road.

- Kokuin (10th century)

The way it is -- a phrase many remember from a newscaster in the 20th century, it was his signature valedictory at end of half-hour news -- is equally a meditation on the ground of human experience and being.

Somewhere in the center of the moving world, the center of what is in-itself, there is the way it is. The "way" of each one of us is more likely our experience of riddle, koan, or mystery. We say, "That's just his way," or "The way she's going she'll be exhausted," or "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

The Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power) begins with the following:
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

(Written by Lao-tzu, From a translation by S. Mitchell)

Buddhists might say: "The source is called emptiness."
Christians might say: "Calling emptiness is the way each appears as itself."

This morning we might say: "When we hear the call in emptiness we respond through emptiness as we are the way it is."

This call and this response is all there is. What else is there?

"Dialogue... is a conversation with a center, not sides. It is a way of taking the energy of our differences and channeling it toward something that has never been created before. It lifts us out of polarization and into a greater common sense, and is thereby a means for accessing the intelligence and coordinated power of groups of people."
(-- William Issacs, Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together)

This is our way -- a conversation with a center.

Poet Charles Olsen wrote:
There is no intelligence
the equal of
the situation.

There are only
two ways:
create the situation
(and this is love)
or avoid it.
This also can be

(from poem, "Love" by Charles Olsen, in his book Archaeologist of Morning, c.1973)

In the shop this afternoon two men talk about steering wheel salutes on islands. (The lifting of one hand from wheel, fingers extended, to each passing car.) Now it is the stock market. Now it is being freaked out by psy-ops. The sky darkens with intimation of rain.

It is necessary to remain aware so that we do not miss patterns.

Heidegger says we are not yet thinking. Authentic thinking would mean we are seeing our way through.

Our way, for each one, is through.

Passing through the way it is, it is as though there is no way.

That's the way it is.

Friday, May 19, 2006

All those not chosen for chaplain position in prison, say aye.


If your mind is fixed on a certain spot,
It will be seized by that spot and
No activities can be performed efficiently.
Not to fix your mind anywhere is essential.
Not fixed anywhere,
The mind is everywhere.
The Original Mind is like water which flows freely,
Whereas the deluded mind is like ice.
There is a passage in the Diamond Sutra that says:
"The mind should operate without abiding anywhere."

- Takuan (1573-1645)

I give talk to lifetime recovery group in prison this morning. I say it is all about home. Poet David Wagoner says it is about "Here," that we are not lost. Central to the word "home" is "OM" the sacred syllable, the original sound of creation.

If the original sound of creation is not reverberating within us, we have abandoned our true home -- integrity and wholeness become exploitable and exploited.

"I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation."
(Malcolm X, 1925-1965)

"OM" sounds close to I AM."

So many of us are lost. The sound practice of spirituality will assist being found.

Spirituality is aware practice of what is revealing itself in our midst.

Of course we are intimidated by the realization we've not seen into truth because mind has been taking bows and throwing confetti in perfect diversion and subterfuge.

Freedom, justice, and equality are wonderful words.

The time nears when any attempt to violate the wonderful will result in shocking, fruitless insanity.

There's a tutorial taking place in our nation's corporations, capital, and curriculum. It teaches diminishment of wonder. Without authentic education we learn hate and patronizing intolerance.

Poet Derek Walcott wrote: "You will love again the stranger who was your self." (In poem "Love After Love")

We will remember. Our self. With no separation. The sacred sounds of interior solace.

We'll feast, the poet says, on our life.



No other.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

God is what is happening. We don't see God because we do not accept what is happening as it is happening. So it is we miss God. We want our idea, our image of God -- not God as God is. We want what is taking place to be different.

Buddha ancestors have said since ancient times, "Living for one hundred years without encountering a buddha does not compare with living for one day and arousing determination for the way."
- Dogen (1200-1253)

If the way for each one of us is the truth of our life -- it becomes imperative we dwell authentically our way, truth, and life.

"Peace is the dream of the wise. War is the history of man." (Philippe Paul, French General and historian of the 1800s). The French ethics student rounds out the quote with his: "Ethics is the dream of the wise, politics is the history of man." (R.P., May 2006). There is a split, he says, between the moral standards of ordinary people and the the ethical behavior of those in power. So why, he asks, cultivate moral standards so easily violated by rulers?

Easter Morning

On Easter morning all over America
the peasants are frying potatoes in bacon grease.

We're not supposed to have "peasants"
but there are tens of millions of them
frying potatoes on Easter morning,
cheap and delicious with catsup.

If Jesus were here this morning he might
be eating fried potatoes with my friend
who has a '51 Dodge and a '72 Pontiac.

When his kids ask why they don't have
a new car he says, "these cars were new once
and now they are experienced."

He can fix anything and when rich folks
call to get a toilet repaired he pauses
extra hours so that they can further
learn what we're made of.

I told him that in Mexico the poor say
that when there's lightning the rich
think that God is taking their picture.
He laughed.

Like peasants everywhere in the history
of the world ours can't figure out why
they're getting poorer. Their sons join
the army to get work being shot at.

Your ideals are invisible clouds
so try not to suffocate the poor,
the peasants, with your sympathies.
They know that you're staring at them.

(Poem: "Easter Morning," by Jim Harrison.)

The humble person sees and faces the truth.

We know the difference between distant stare and loving gaze.

Practice seeing what is happening.

As it is happening.

Engage wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Giving up isolating individual identity, you might realize a wisdom and presence far beyond any definition carved out by small mind.

The true person is
Not anyone in particular
Like the limitless deep blue sky,
It is everywhere, and everyone in the world.

(Dogen Zenji)

The mind of Christ sees through our cultivated separation. Threading insight. Interweaving longing. And thatching true dwelling between delight and despair. Our everyday human path -- shreded plans, frayed dreams.

You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.

(from John 15:1-8)

Soon, as soon as this next breath, it will dawn on us the great loveliness of existence side by side with one another.

Soon, this very blink of the eye, clears away whatever keeps us from seeing what is true among us.

Soon, ah! -- just now, did you feel it?

You are free to be yourself.

Beyond definition.

Great awareness.

Clear through.



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Stanley Kunitz knew where to look.

"Poetry is ultimately mythology, the telling of stories of the soul," he wrote. "The old myths, the old gods, the old heroes have never died. They are only sleeping at the bottom of our minds, waiting for our call. We have need of them, for in their sum they epitomize the wisdom and experience of the race."
(-- Poet Stanley Kunitz, quoted in NYTimes, 16May2006, on his death 5/14/06 at age 100)

There is so much to read.

However deep your knowledge of the scriptures,
It is no more than a strand of hair
In the vastness of space;
However important seeming your worldly experience,
It is but a drop of water in a deep ravine.

- Tokusan

So much to embody.

The Long Boat

When his boat snapped loose
from its mooring, under
the screaking of the gulls,
he tried at first to wave
to his dear ones on shore,
but in the rolling fog
they had already lost their faces.
Too tired even to choose
between jumping and calling,
somehow he felt absolved and free
of his burdens, those mottoes
stamped on his name-tag:
conscience, ambition, and all
that caring.
He was content to lie down
with the family ghosts
in the slop of his cradle,
buffeted by the storm,
endlessly drifting.
Peace! Peace!
To be rocked by the Infinite!
As if it didn't matter
which way was home;
as if he didn't know
he loved the earth so much
he wanted to stay forever.

(Poem by Stanley Kunitz, from The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden by Stanley Kunitz with Genine Lentine, W.W. Norton & Co., 2005.)

So much to let go.

With what purpose, Lord, do you stay away, hide yourself in time of need and trouble?
The wicked in their pride persecute the weak, trap them in the plots they have devised.
The sinner glories in his desires, the miser congratulates himself.
The sinner in his arrogance rejects the Lord: “there is no God, no retribution”.
This is what he thinks – and all goes well for him.
Your judgements are far beyond his comprehension: he despises all who stand against him.

The sinner says to himself: “I will stand firm; nothing can touch me, from generation to generation”.
His mouth is full of malice and deceit, under his tongue hide trouble and distress.
He lies in ambush by the villages, he kills the innocent in some secret place.
He watches the weak, he hides like a lion in its lair, and makes plans.
He plans to rob the weak, lure him to his trap and rob him.
He rushes in, makes a dive, and the poor victim is caught.
For he has said to himself, “God has forgotten. He is not watching, he will never see”.

(from Psalm 10)

I'd trade one Kunitz for any world leader, especially today.

Master And Mistress

As if I were composed of dust and air,
The shape confronting me upon the stair
(Athlete of shadow, lighted by a stain
On its disjunctive breast--I saw it plain--)
Moved through my middle flesh. I turned around,
Shaken and it was marching without sound
Beyond the door; and when my hand was taken

From my mouth to beat the standing heart, I cried
My distant name, thinking myself had died.
One moment I was entered; one moment then
I knew a total century of pain
Between the twinkling of two thoughts. The ghost
Knocked on my ribs, demanding, "Host! Host!
I am diseased with motion. Give me bread
Before I quickly go. Shall I be fed?"
Yielding, I begged of him: "Partake of me.
Whatever runneth from the artery,
This body and its unfamiliar wine,
Stored in whatever dark of love, are thine."
But he denied me, saying, "Every part
of thee is given, yea, thy flesh, thy heart."

(Poem by Stanley Kunitz)

So much to poetry.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Every act done with compassion is a mothering act. Happy mothering day!

What is of all things most yielding
Can overcome that which is most hard,
Being substanceless, it can enter in
Even where there is no crevice.
That is how I know the value
Of action which is actionless.
But that there can be teaching without words,
Value in action which is actionless
Few indeed can understand.

- Lao Tzu (5th century BC)

Lao Tzu might have been angling for water in response. We might add: compassion.

If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.

John 15:1-8

If we remain in sight of ourselves -- as one another -- just as Jesus suggested to those looking for what he saw, we are the response to our request. We get it sooner or later that communion of all being begins with communion one with another in the spirit of compassion.

Our breath is within and without. The voice of being, the voice of compassion, is within and without.

In the shop today a woman was not sure she liked the idea that hell wasn't a place to be consigned to forever. She didn't know what to think about the notion that Jesus (according to the teaching of her religion) took away the separation between God and everything which is of God -- traditionally known as taking away the sin(s) of the world. Jesus, one might say, died revealing the presence of God here (inside and outside) and now (no-time, just-this-and-nothing-else).

Is it, as David Whyte suggests, a terrible revelation to our troubled and divisive thinking.

Revelation Must Be Terrible

Revelation must be
terrible with no time left
to say goodbye.

Imagine that moment
staring at the still waters
with only the brief tremor

of your body to say
you are leaving everything
and everyone you know behind.

Being far from home is hard, but you know,
at least we are exiled together.
When you open your eyes to the world

you are on your own for
the first time. No one is
even interested in saving you now

and the world steps in
to test the calm fluidity of your body
from moment to moment

as if it believed you could join
its vibrant dance
of fire and calmness and final stillness.

As if you were meant to be exactly
where you are, as if
like the dark branch of a desert river

you could flow on without a speck
of guilt and everything
everywhere would still be just as it should be.

As if your place in the world mattered
and the world could
neither speak nor hear the fullness of

its own bitter and beautiful cry
without the deep well
of your body resonating in the echo.

Knowing that it takes only
that one, terrible
word to make the circle complete,

revelation must be terrible
knowing you can
never hide your voice again.

(Poem by David Whyte)

One mothers one another in this revelation.

A beloving beauty beyond our thinking, a wondrous compassion transcending our exacting calculus, and a slow silencing sacredness appears -- within and without -- of a sudden.

A blessed mothering.

On each of us.

This day,