I can barely see you.
Icy rain. Cat licks. Dog's head under couch. Fog at Bald. Creaks from upstairs hallway enter winter zendo. Everything sits meditation.
Time for clearer view of one's life presents itself.
There is a simple way to become a buddha: When you refrain from unwholesome action, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no designing thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Do not seek anything else.
--Zen Master Dogen, Moon in a Dewdrop,
edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi
Saddam has fallen through trap and is back under ground. Bush imagines the number 3000, divides it by 2006 over 2007, subtracts 24 months remaining to his office -- and worries what answer will compute.
The observant today think Theotokos and
celebrate Mary's Solemnity and consider what it means to say she is the God-bearer, the one who gives birth to God, Mother of God Incarnate
-- Mary as Mother of God.
If earth, then Mary. If God, then earth. If January 1st, then fire in wood stove, coffee on stove, and lute on radio.
Some say that everything happens for a reason. I'm uncertain of that belief. I think that everything happens because it happens. This belief is the mother of such children as "Shit Happens" as well as "Kindness Happens." We have a large family, as it happens. Some of our brothers and sisters, though hard to take, are still family.What was born of Mary was therefore human by nature, in accordance with the inspired Scriptures, and the body of the Lord was a true body: It was a true body because it was the same as ours. Mary, you see, is our sister, for we are all born from Adam. The words of St John, the Word was made flesh, bear the same meaning, as we may see from a similar turn of phrase in St Paul: Christ was made a curse for our sake. Man’s body has acquired something great through its communion and union with the Word. From being mortal it has been made immortal; though it was a living body it has become a spiritual one; though it was made from the earth it has passed through the gates of heaven. Even when the Word takes a body from Mary, the Trinity remains a Trinity, with neither increase nor decrease. It is for ever perfect. In the Trinity we acknowledge one Godhead, and thus one God, the Father of the Word, is proclaimed in the Church.
(from A letter of St Athanasius, Office of Readings)
There will be a new understanding of what "church" is and is to become. It is time for a transformed consciousness that steps beyond into the open. What we've believed too long is that "God" fits within the box of our thoughts and concepts, that we own God, or, at least, we do God's bidding and therefore, by extension, are soldiers in his army carrying out his commands and wielding his power for him. It is a metaphor and belief that has been God-awful.The Kernal of Free Inquiry
(It is said that Siddhartha Gautama, while with the Kalama people, was asked how to discern Truth. His words are reported as follows.)
"It is essential to doubt, to question all things deeply, to inquire, examine, inspect and experiment.”
“Do not rely on what another says, be they a friend, a monk, a respected teacher or even a sage.”
“Do not rely on what tradition implies, mainstream culture dictates or what scripture may state.”
“Do not rely on comforting beliefs born of favorable ideas, traditional views, logical reflection, careful analysis or deep pondering.”
“Only when you know directly - having put them to the practical test of free and active inquiry, of living, dynamic embodiment and experience - 'these things are destructive; when enacted they lead to harm', then abandon them. And - 'these things are liberating; when enacted they lead to emancipation', then abide in them.
“Come to know directly - through the crucible of your own individual life - the truth that certain actions, thoughts and feelings lead to suffering - your own and that of other beings - then your vision will become clear.“
“Awakened Beings, with purified minds and harmonious of thought, word and deed, are those through whom boundless, panoramic dynamic peace is manifest in every event, in every moment and in every place.”
“Awakened Beings are complete, in need of no hereafter, and their Awakening precipitates the Awakening of sentient beings all around them.”
(--from The Engaged Zen Foundation, http://www.engaged-zen.org/Liturgy/Kernel.html
The path to freedom is paved with bare attention.
The Sudden Light And The Trees
My neighbor was a biker, a pusher, a dog
and wife beater.
In bad dreams I killed him
and once, in the consequential light of day,
I called the Humane Society
about Blue, his dog. They took her away
and I readied myself, a baseball bat
inside my door.
That night I hear his wife scream
and I couldn't help it, that pathetic
relief; her again, not me.
It would be years before I'd understand
why victims cling and forgive. I plugged in
the Sleep-Sound and it crashed
like the ocean all the way to sleep.
One afternoon I found him
on the stoop,
a pistol in his hand, waiting,
he said, for me. A sparrow had gotten in
to our common basement.
Could he have permission
to shoot it? The bullets, he explained,
might go through the floor.
I said I'd catch it, wait, give me
a few minutes and, clear-eyed, brilliantly
afraid, I trapped it
with a pillow. I remember how it felt
when I got my hand, and how it burst
that hand open
when I took it outside, a strength
that must have come out of hopelessness
and the sudden light
and the trees. And I remember
the way he slapped the gun against
his open palm,
kept slapping it, and wouldn't speak.
(-- Poem by Stephen Dunn)
Let's not shoot sparrows. Let's be wary of those with guns wanting to shoot sparrows -- they are really after us. They are afraid we will denude controlling anger and deposit them in an open vulnerability where violence cannot, nor will not, go.
Maybe that's another way of understanding "mother." Like the French word "mere" (for "mother"), there is the English word "mere"-- (adj 1: being nothing more than specified; "a mere child" 2: apart from anything else; without additions or modifications; "only the bare facts".)
We practice mere gaze when we practice meditation. "Mere gaze" can be envisioned as "mothering gaze" and/or "bare gaze." A bare gaze is one that looks without making additions or modifications. This would be akin to looking at one another without judgment or evaluative motives, but resting in the reality as it presents itself.
Mere gaze -- is mothering. Mere gaze -- is bare attention.
This is how we assist one another in times of icy rain and hopelessness. This is how we support one another through times of motherless isolation and nonspeaking abandonment. We present ourselves as nothing other than merely who and what we are -- attentive, listening, and engaging what is presenting itself before us.
This is how we mother God.
We present ourselves as nothing other than merely who and what we are -- attentive, listening, and engaging what is presenting itself before us.
We're meditating with that line. It can become, this new year of 2007, sudden light and trees.
We recall the words of Siddhartha Gautama:
"And 'these things are liberating; when enacted they lead to emancipation', then abide in them.
“Come to know directly - through the crucible of your own individual life."
Bearers of God, Mothers of God -- each and every one of you -- thank you for your crucial presence!
In this crucible, in this hollow place, we receive the melting form of our experience, and hold it with mere attention.
Happy New Year!