Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Middle East erupts. Again. There are those in our world that want war and chaos. Those not knowing why are killed. They are called "innocent."

What we call Buddhahood is the fact that all things are originally empty. Fundamentally, there is no me, no you, no dharma, no Buddha. Buddhahood is complete separation from everything, letting go and being free. Whether it is satori or anything else, if something is there, it is not.
- Shosan

The words, "complete separation from everything," are not immediately appealing. I might have thought it would be called, "completely what everything is."

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.
(From the Journey of the Mind to God by St. Bonaventure)

Today might just be paradise.

The Lord God asked prophet Amos what he saw. "A plumb-line," Amos answered. Vertical reference. True, and integral. In right relation with earthen gravity.

In the Pagan gathering the other day some men did a severance and blessing ritual for someone leaving prison that day. Not to have him back, releasing and separating his spirit from everything to do with the prison. I thought it a kind thing to do.

In Christian service this afternoon talking about going home, singing Dvorak melody for song "Going Home" -- recognizing we are called back, to turn around, to change our thinking -- to return to Source, Christ, and Spirit.

God is no discrimination.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Holiness is dwelling in the presence of God.

Finishing a day of begging,
I return home through the green mountains.
The setting sun is hidden behind the western cliffs
And the moon shines weakly on the stream below.
I stop by a rock and wash my feet.
Lighting some incense, I sit peacefully in zazen.
Again a one-man brotherhood of monks; quickly the stream of time sweeps by.

- Ryokan (1758-1831)

To be present is to have a change of mind.

"The burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness."
So says Sosan, The Third Zen Patriarch.

If God is what is taking place right now, how can we be separated from the presence of God?

Christians have a difficult job. To be present -- and not dictate to God how God could be a better Christian.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What is seen?

The foolish reject what they see,
Not what they think;
The wise reject what they think,
Not what they see.
Observe things as they are
And don't pay attention to other people.

- Huang-po (9th cent)

Things as they are.

Just like that.

What is, seen

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I wonder why so many men want other men dead.

The practice of Zen
Has no secret,
Except standing on the
Verge of life and death.
- Takeda Shingen (1521-1573)

Breath by breath let us invite men and women to live.

Basic trust. Unclutching faith. Love that surrenders to what is.

Maybe they don't want each other dead.

In that case, we'll come to see.

(Rain, rain, and mosquitos.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

We chant Vespers in chapel/zendo in honor of St. Benedict. We purchase blue VW used Beetle. A Benedict's Day transport!

St Benedict (480 - 547)
Benedict was born at Nursia, in Umbria, and studied in Rome; but he was unable to stomach the dissolute life of the city, and he became a solitary hermit at Subiaco. His reputation spread, and some monks asked him to be their abbot, but they did not like the discipline he imposed and tried to poison him.
Benedict organised various small communities of monks and nuns in various places, including the great monastery of Monte Cassino. He drew up a set of rules to guide the communal life of monasteries, and, though not the first monastic rule ever, the Rule of St Benedict has proved so wise and balanced that it has served as the foundation of practically every attempt at communal living ever since. It recognises that people aim at perfection but often fall well short of it, and aims to be a "rule for beginners" in which even the least perfect and least able can grow in spiritual stature. To visit a Benedictine monastery of almost any kind is to find oneself spending time among a group of people who, by their strivings to live and grow together, have become more and more themselves, as God intended them, instead of being crushed into false uniformity by some idealistic and authoritarian regime.
For those of us in the world, too, the Rule of St Benedict has much to say: it drags our eyes up to the stars but keeps our feet firmly on the ground; it calls us to perfection but keeps us sane.


To become more and more ourselves, as God intended us -- this is monastic practice.

Oblivious, I pass Hsiang-chi Temple,
Walking on through mountain clouds,
An empty trail through ancient trees.
Deep in the mountains, a bell resounds.

The singing river flows among stones.
Sunlight streams though frozen pines.
In this still pool, in falling light,
Zen overcomes the serpents of delusion.

- Wang Wei (710-761)

The delusion is "false uniformity by some idealistic and authoritarian regime." So many compel so many into delusion.

When Jesus realized God's power flowed through him in the presence of faith, he became humble. He became human. He became what the Father longed for him to be. One of us.

We can no longer be afraid of those afraid of God. Their fear is that they will not have the mettle to allow God to flow through them -- and will be stuck quoting scripture and condemning people the remainder of their bitter lives.

Our body is on the cross. Benedict knew this. As God is made flesh, and dwells among us, it is the time of Christ even as there is no more time.

Richard was in rare form tonight at shop. Even with bruised ribs.

With gratitude, the monastic rule of Benedict is complete.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Speaking of her father, Mary Karr writes, "His love of language made words his sacraments, too. Poetry was the family's religion. Beauty bonded us." (From Afterword, "Facing Altars: Poetry and Prayer," in her book of poems, Sinners Welcome, by Mary Karr, c.2006)

Mark, visiting from Ontario, was reading Karr. We were talking about poetry -- how it is for me a universal scripture for spirituality. Heather and he sat with Saskia and I over breakfast wondering whether anyone was willing to face with faith the falling through the trapdoor of certitude and belief. So assured that belief meant that you "know" -- there is a powerful reluctance to enter the darkness of faith falling through the never-ending and ungrasping love of God.

Faith is falling through the loving trust of God itself.

It's a delight to meet, set out, and together
Visit Master Dharma-Guile's Ch'an stillness
Where people never go.
At his stone hut
We find only a tiger dozing in a hammock,
Shadowy wind harboring perennial snows, and
Springwater welling up into pine cascades.
We came from lives so different, but here,
Dharma mats offer a joy we share utterly.

- Meng hao-jan (689-740 C.E.)

As chaplain in prison there is a wide circle that is walked. Men in segregation. Men in worship or study groups. Men in wary trust. Along that circle there are welcomes and there are abandonments. Both welcome and abandonment feel an uncertain footing stepping over trapdoor. What could be gallows, could also be ungrasping falling touch of God. All bets are off as foot feels creaky contour of floor.

In my terror, I said
"I am cut off from your sight";
but you heard the voice of my prayer
when I called to you.

Love the Lord, all his chosen ones.
The Lord keeps his faithful ones safe,
heaps rich revenge on the arrogant.
Be brave, let your hearts be strong,
all who trust in the Lord.

(from Psalm 31)

Certitude is a sure bet. Most money is laid on it. Knowing is short odds. A tight yield that is familiar. Faith, on the other hand, is a very long shot, with rare odds coupled with unforseeable payoff.

In this vision, faith is God looking through us as we look into the face of God invisibly positioned between gaze and mirror, self's regard and neighbor's response.

Last week Betty's daughter's boy stopped by the shop. He was reading Robert Service. Susan and Sam were there and Susan traded lines with Peter from Service's poems. Here's one they might not know:


Since all that is was ever bound to be;
Since grim, eternal laws our Being bind;
And both the riddle and the answer find,
And both the carnage and the calm decree;
Since plain within the Book of Destiny
Is written all the journey of mankind
Inexorably to the end; since blind
And mortal puppets playing parts are we:

Then let's have faith; good cometh out of ill;
The power that shaped the strife shall end the strife;
Then let's bow down before the Unknown Will;
Fight on, believing all is well with life;
Seeing within the worst of War's red rage
The gleam, the glory of the Golden Age.

("Faith" a poem by Robert William Service)

Dusk slides green down Bald Mountain.

In the night of faith, our night prayer: "You, Lord, are in our midst, and we are called by your name; therefore do not abandon us, Lord, our God." (Jeremiah 14: 9)