Saturday, August 19, 2006

Joe asks about faith. He's got none, he says.

I tell him, for me, faith is not knowing anything, but trusting it being there.

O, Master of the Secret, what is enlightenment?

It means knowing your own mind as it really is.
This is unexcelled complete perfect enlightenment,
In which there is nothing at all that can be attained.
Because the form of it is enlightenment,
It has no knowledge and no understanding.
Because enlightenment has no form.
The formlessness of all things is called the form of space.

- The Scripture of Vairochana attaining Buddhahood

Shawn wonders why there's a body on the cross. It don't make no sense, he says, the guy is dead, raised, and ascended.

I tell him, as companioning comparison, about the Bodhisattva vow, how Buddhists consider Jesus a great Bodhisattva. Jesus, in this Christian iconography, not going anywhere until we all gather and go with him in love.

If you took notice of our transgressions, Lord -- Lord, who would be left?
But with you is forgiveness, and for this we revere you.

Psalm 129 (130)

We don't own God.

Ours is an unknown God.

There, and here, and everywhere.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Be careful as you live.


Errant thoughts are fundamentally empty; the essence of mind is fundamentally pure. You suddenly realize this essence is originally free from afflictions; the essence of knowledge is inherently complete, no different from Buddha. To cultivate practice based on this is called the Zen of the highest vehicle, and it is also called the pure Zen of those who realize suchness.
- Master Chinul (1158-1210)

"Suchness" was the last word Charlotte wrote me. Things as they are. Such it is. As it is.

about competition

the higher you climb
the greater the pressure.

those who manage to
that the distance
between the
top and the

and those who
this secret:
there isn't

(Poem: "about competition" by Charles Bukowski from the Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line the Way. c. Ecco.)

No distance; no secret.

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
—Ephesians 5:15-20, NIV

"Be careful how you live," in Greek is "See to things very carefully."

Seeing to things very carefully is paying attention to what is taking place.

Out in the open.

The presence of truth, of God, whole and complete.


Speak to one another.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I know why we are in pain. Without 'my' we don't believe we exist.

My interests. My profit. My desires. My way. My beliefs. My ass.

It seems easy to figure how we go missing. We are not there (we think) but with 'my' 'my' 'my.'

Everything is the original law;
Every day the morning sun
Clears the sky,
In every mind there is no
Separate mind.
In every place the pure wind
Circles the earth.
If you can understand in this way,
Then there is no need for Buddha
To appear in this world
Or for Bodhidharma to come
From the west.

- Daio (1235-1309)

'My' is a filter eliminating 'we.'

Is this why Christians fear Buddhists? The notion of no-self is too terrifying to contemplate.
Is this why Buddhists fear Christians? The notion of three-we (trinity) is too mysterious to meditate?

No-self is three-we; three-we is no-self.

Definitions of trinity:
* three: the cardinal number that is the sum of one and one and one
* the union of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost in one Godhead
* trio: three people considered as a unit

Where society goes wrong is teaching my my my as primary craving. This primary craving is original separation. All that is wrong falls from this misunderstanding.


It must be that my early friendship with defeat
Has given me affection for the month of August.
The potato fields belong to early night.

So many times as a boy I sat in the dirt
Among dry cornstalks that gave assurances
Every hour that Francis has his ear to the night.

Columbus's letters tell us that we will receive
The gifts that mariners all receive at the endÂ?
Memories of gold and a grave in the sand.

The shadow of a friend's hand gives us
Promises similar to those we received from
The light under the door as our mother came near.

Each of us is a Jacob weeping for Joseph.
We are the sparrow that flies through the warrior's
Hall and back out into the falling snow.

I don't know why these images should please me
So much; an angel said: "In the last moment before night
Brahms will show you how loyal the notes are.

(Poem: "Brahms" by Robert Bly from My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy. © Harper Collins Publishers.)

What is true to itself resides in the no-other.

It's what Christ is.

It's what Buddha is.

No-self, only, one and one and one.

Micah had it right. He himself will be peace. (Micah 4:14ff)

Be it.


No my.

No other.




Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Stephen's Day. The motif of a father's grief for his son. Contemplation takes in both sorrow and joy. At times they are indistinguishable.

Once, in Vienna Austria, inside the Cathedral of Saint Stephen, a late afternoon light through stained glass fell to floor. That was 17 years ago.

Stephen wrote the Admonitiones (Admonitions) in Latin for his beloved and talented Christian son Imre. This writing was the most noteworthy piece of literature in Hungary at that time. After his power was consolidated, Stephen planned to abdicate in the favor of Imre and dedicate the rest of his life to God. The Illustrated Chronicle reports about this in chapter 69:

"After God's glory and mercy was made manifest in King Saint Stephen, by driving off kings before him and subduing the principalities and powers of the neighboring nations, King Saint Stephen decided and was determined to leave all the pomp of this world, to lay down the crown of the fleeting earthly kingship and to dedicate himself to God only. He planned to cast off worldly problems, to spend his life in quiet peacefulness and contemplation, and to give the crown to his son, Prince Imre, who was blessed and full of holy virtues and was raised this way."

But Imre died unexpectedly in 1031: "By God's secret decision, he died, so that wickedness would not change his soul and false imaginations would not deceive his mind - as the Book of Wisdom teaches about early death." (Chapter 63) Mourning took its toll on Stephen and he became very ill:

"The great and bitter anguish made King Saint Stephen very sick; after many days his health recovered somewhat, but his old health never returned. He suffered from pains in the foot and was tormented by sadness, mainly because he couldn't find anyone among his brethren who would keep the Hungarians in their Christian faith after his death. For Hungarians were attracted more to pagan rituals than to the faith in Christ. (Chapter 69)"

King Stephen died on August 15, 1038 at Szekesfehervar (a city in central Hungary) and he was buried there. His people mourned for three years:

(from "Stephen I, the First Christian Hungarian King, Reigned 997-1038"

We worry and pray that our Father will not grow sick at our plight. There is so much to despair, sorrow, and lament. Is there light for joy?

Joy is prayer- Joy is strength - Joy is love - Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.
Mother Teresa 1910-1997

Today, faith in Christ is grounded trust there is no place foreign to redeeming presence.

There are times I cannot see. I cannot see anything but the suffering of human minds being played out in the drama of take and hurt. At other times I cannot see anything but the light of Christ shining through every crack in the masking protection we wear in the cultures of this existence that demand protective masking and hard faces.

I prefer the light. I often do not know what is meant when people say, "We are a Christian nation." In my view, to be Christian is to allow the light of God be seen through. This "seeing through" is the view of Christ.

At times I wonder what I am -- who I am.

A man who is a former chaplain once said, "I always saw you as a Zen Catholic Hybrid." (I think his caps are overstated.) I'd write it, "zen catholic hybrid."

American Heritage Dictionary has "zen" as
[Japanese zen, from Chinese (Mandarin) chan, meditation, from Pali jhanam, from Sanskrit dhyanam, from dhyati, he meditates.]

That fits.

American Heritage Dictionary has "catholic" (with a small 'c') as:
cath'·o·lic (kath'-lik, kath'lik) pronunciation
1. Of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive: "The 100-odd pages of formulas and constants are surely the most catholic to be found" (Scientific American).
2. Including or concerning all humankind; universal: "what was of catholic rather than national interest" (J.A. Froude).

That fits.

American Heritage Dictionary has "hybrid" as:
hi'-brid pronunciation, n.
1. Genetics. The offspring of genetically dissimilar parents or stock, especially the offspring produced by breeding plants or animals of different varieties, species, or races.
a) Something of mixed origin or composition.
b) Something, such as a computer or power plant, having two kinds of components that produce the same or similar results.
3. A word whose elements are derived from different languages.

That, too, fits.

As a "zen catholic hybrid," then, I seem to have something to do, as well as something to be.
-- One who meditates
-- Broad or liberal scope; comprehensive.
-- Including or concerning all humankind; universal.
-- Looking at words whose elements are derived from different languages.

Thomas Merton said we need a new language of prayer. I think we need a new mind to look at everything as a whole.

Stephen's son Imre died, the narrative tells us, "By God's secret decision, he died, so that wickedness would not change his soul and false imaginations would not deceive his mind - as the Book of Wisdom teaches about early death." (Chapter 63)

The son of the Creator Itself also died early -- perhaps, as the teaching of his followers goes, "By God's secret decision, he died, so that wickedness would not change his soul and false imaginations would not deceive his mind - as the Book of Wisdom teaches about early death."

And us? Are we ready for such a death? Maybe not the stop-breathing death, but the non-change, non-deceive kind of death?

This keeps-breathing death says we will not be changed by wickedness and falsity. The wicked and the false will not withstand light. They will have to stand upright in the light.

Christ is the transparent emerging light that shines though everything as it is.

Our task is to let fall all that blocks that light.

(Buddhists call this Buddha-nature: awake and aware. Can we learn to see and speak all and everything through many ways of expression?)

This Christ-light and Buddha-nature encourages us.

To become transparent.

To be seen through.

To see through.

With this light.

Our true nature.

As our life.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Old woman closes her eyes.

Sitting meditation is a method of great liberation;
all teachings flow forth from this,
myriad practices are mastered this way.

- Daikaku (1213-1279)

Goes to place we cannot follow.

Yes, I'm truly a dunce
Living among trees and plants.
Please don't question me about illusion and enlightenment --
This old fellow just likes to smile to himself.
I wade across streams with bony legs,
And carry a bag about in fine spring weather.
That's my life,
And the world owes me nothing.


Walking from cabin after dark, stopping to look up to stars, the thought: who are we?

Goodbye Charlotte.

Bell rings.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Mother is strong medicine. Biological mother. Mother earth. Mother of God. All understanding of mother derives from direct, intuitive, experiential connection to source of being.

When suddenly mind and environment are both forgotten there is the ability to penetrate freely earth, mountains and rivers. The whole substance of the real body of the king of Dharma is manifest --
People these days face it without knowing it.

- Daio (1235-1309)

Not knowing our mothers is odd gift. We are all orphans and parents of orphans. Mother/Father disappears. We remain alone. Only one another to be, as community, mother/father to one another.

The Feast of the Dormition or Falling Asleep of the Theotokos commemorates the death, resurrection, and glorification of Christ's mother. To help us in our preparation of the feast, it is preceded by a two week fast. As with the Nativity of the Virgin (September 8/21) and the feast of her Entrance to the Temple (November 21/December 4), the Feast of the Dormition also comes from the Tradition of the Church.

There we learn that Mary died as all people die because she had a mortal human nature affected by the corruption of this world. The Church proclaims that Mary needed to be saved by Christ just as all of us are saved from trials, sufferings, and death of this world. Having truly died, she was raised by her Son as the "Mother of Life" and already participates in the eternal life of paradise which is prepared and promised to all who "hear the word of God and keep it." (Luke 11:27-28) Finally, we celebrate the fact that what happens to Mary happens to all who imitate her holy life of humility, obedience and love.

It is important to remember that there are no relics of the Theotokos. Their existence has never been mentioned throughout history. At one time in Constantinople there was a center of pilgrimage where the belt and veil of the Virgin were venerated.

(Adapted from The Orthodox Church, Volume II: Worship, by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

God-Bearer, she and we, must be.

The definition of the Council of Chalcedon states:

Following the holy Fathers we teach with one voice that the Son [of God] and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same [Person], that he is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very man, of a reasonable soul and [human] body consisting, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood; made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted; begotten of his Father before the worlds according to his Godhead; but in these last days for us men and for our salvation born [into the world] of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God according to his manhood. This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Prophets of old time have spoken concerning him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ hath taught us, and as the Creed of the Fathers hath delivered to us.

The word Theotokos comes from the Greek Theos = God, and tiktein = to be the mother of a child, or to bear. Therefore the word is translated as "God-bearer" - or more eloquently, "she who bore God in her womb" or "she who birthed God into the world." This makes the real meaning behind the name "Mother of God" a lot less confusing and controversial.

We are theotokoi

In a non-biological sense, every Christian is also a theotokos, a God-bearer. All Marian titles teach us something about Christ, because Mary points us to Christ ("His mother saith unto the servants, 'Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.'" John 2:5, KJV) and Jesus Christ is the focus of our faith.

But it also teaches us about ourselves - Catholics regard Mary as the prototype follower of Christ. Her virginity represents the purity the Bible tells us to live up to. Her immaculate conception shows us our final state when our fallen nature is perfected by Christ. Her assumption into heaven depicts our future glory when our bodies and souls are united in heaven and spent eternity with God. And her role as God-bearer shows us in an intimate way how we are to personally bring Christ into the world for others. Jesus is the light of the world, and we are the bearers of that light, and he tells us not to hide that light (Matt 5:15.) We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20.)

We are truly theotokoi because we bring Christ into the world to be experienced by others!

Charlotte R. died yesterday. I bow to Sando's grave in honor of that good dog's good friend Charlotte. They walked home often together.

This is how we mother each other.

Walking one another home.

May we safely arrive.

Right where we are.

Asleep or awake.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

In the Tibetan folktale a bear squeezes the life out of someone who listened to the animals' conversations for his own personal gain and greed. The other man, the one who had a generous heart, who'd heard their wisdom and freely helped heal those who suffered -- he lived on as a humble and happy man.

Humility brings us to earth. Greed opens the door to hell.

Heaven is the realization of service. This service sees and engages everyone and everything as oneself. Put another way -- one's self is all around us -- no separation or exclusion or selfish fog of illusion is known in heaven.

What is really clear in heaven is really clear on earth. This is why loving service is an open doorway through which heaven is revealed.

It is most urgent that you seek real, true perception,
So you can be free in the world
And not confused by ordinary teachers.
It is best to have no obsessions.
Just don't be contrived.
Simply be normal.
You impulsively seek elsewhere,
Looking to others for your own hands and feet.
This is already mistaken.

- Linji (d. 867)

Some loving men from Kairos came into prison yesterday morning to meet with other men (some who are loving and know it, some who are loving and do not know it yet) who live there.

We step by step attempt to see what is love and what is our humility in the face of love. Nothing special.

Here is what is nothing special -- Presence without preference without prejudice.

Jesus said in reply, "Stop complaining to each other.
No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life."

Believe in Presence.

Hear it. Learn by it.

Come to see...

To be...