Saturday, June 09, 2007

Kirk recited, or perhaps more to the point, embodied, poetry. He re-presented the feeling of the poem as body of words experiencing themselves in artful expression.
Being a Buddhist
Have confidence in your own spiritual potentiality, your ability to find your own unique way. Learn from others certainly and use what you find useful, but also learn to trust your own inner wisdom. Have courage. Be awake and aware. Remember too that Buddhism is not about being a Buddhist; that is, obtaining a new identity tag. Nor is it about collecting head-knowledge, practices and techniques. It is ultimately about letting go of all forms and concepts and becoming free.

--John Snelling, Elements of Buddhism
One who loves poetry cheers every masterful embodiment of poem and encourages every poet finding their fingers and toes and beginning to make primal sounds.

Alana sends poem by Carl Phillips:
Bright World

—And it came to pass, that meaning faltered; came detached
unexpectedly from the place I'd made for it, years ago,
fixing it there, thinking it safe to turn away, therefore,
to forget — hadn't that made sense? And now everything
did, but differently: the wanting literally for nothing
for no good reason; the inability to feel remorse at having
cast (now over some, now others), aegis-like, though it
rescued no one, the body I'd all but grown used to waking
inside of and recognizing, instantly, correctly, as mine,
my body, given forth, withheld, shameless, merciless—
for crying shame. Like miniature versions of a lesser
gospel deemed, over time, apocryphal, or redundant — both,
maybe — until at last let go, the magnolia flowers went on
spilling themselves, each breaking open around, and then
apart from, its stem along a branch of stems and, not of
course in response, but as if so, the starlings lifting, unlifting,
the black flash of them in the light reminding me of what I'd
been told about the glamour of evil, in the light they were
like that, in the shadow they became the other part, about
resisting evil, as if resistance itself all this time had been
but shadow, could be found that easily. . . What will you do?
Is this how you're going to live now? sang the voice in my
head: singing, then silent—not as in desertion, but as
when the victim suddenly knows his torturer's face from
before, somewhere, and in the knowing is for a moment
distracted, has stopped struggling — And the heart gives in.

(-Poem by Carl Phillips.)
Forgive me for what I thought was poetry. Thinking seldom is.

What is poetry, is indeed...its own...embodiment.

Never allow anyone to form your mind. No one could receive your enlightenment for you; do not allow them to construct your opinion.

Have none of it. Not mind, not opinion. Only the full feeling face of the person before you. Only unconditioned receptivity of the reality of the one presenting themselves, as they are, before you. What you feel as they reveal is what you feel. Trust it, watch it,.

Zen Master Dogen wrote: "Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself."

Be body.

Feel each.


Friday, June 08, 2007


We're vagabonds.
How radiant, yet how peaceful and relaxing,
The spirit of Spring is!
Surely out of this spirit
All these blossoming mountain cherries burst.

- Kamo no Mabuchi (1697-1769)
Vanilla Bean ice cream with Cranberry Walnut cookie splashed with Canada Dry ginger ale.

Silence makes home a forwarded address.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Morning in-town walk. One Belted Galloway, standing in middle of fenced pasture, moo'd loudly. One more monk in the world. Gene the walker passed on other side of road, hands clasped behind back, making his rounds. I look in windows of Swiss Cottage, Buzz-vacated, now for sale, and try to remember when real estate prices were last sane. Cheerful fellow asks how far I walk; he's at the end of his, turns in driveway, last house on left before Bayview.
It has been asked,
“How should those who enter
The path apply their minds?”
All things are originally uncreated
And presently undying.
Just let your mind be free;
You don’t have to restrain it.
See directly and hear directly;
Come directly and go directly.
When you must go, then go;
When you must stay, then stay.
This is the true path.
A scripture says,
“Conditional existence is the site
of enlightenment, insofar as you
know it as it really is.”

- Niu-t’ou Hui-chung (683-769)
What does it mean to keep or hold someone in prayer? The making of a statement of intention to hold in prayer is part of any spiritual life, certainly of a monastic life. Praying my hand-beads as I walk the roads I mention names adding, "May God's blessing be with them!" Passing Herb's grave and Ben's grave, and the "Unknown, Unwanted" grave of the 5 month old quarry baby from many years ago, I pray for them and their neighbors along tree shaded cemetery. I pray for names over the years, for those passing me today, and for relatives of people I've not met.

Prayer is appreciative communion resounding our reliance on one another in this life and existence. Prayer asks into God-nature to comfort, protect, and enlighten those for whom we pray, those we've forgotten to include, and those for whom we'd rather we didn't have to pray. Prayer is the assent, conscious or unconscious, of unity -- a oneness too profound for thought, a union so inchoate it itself is the prayer we do not know how to pray.
Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation.
(--Thomas Aquinas, Office of Readings, Feast of Corpus Christi)
The catholic Christian metaphor is a good one. (Literally -- a "good one.")

It is the affirmation that at core of existence is a benevolent unity within which all belong. This belonging does not exclude anyone or anything. Everything belongs. And as -- (the metaphor extends) -- the body of Christ. "Christ," here, might be considered "what-is, sacred-in-itself." Thus, our prayer is for this Corpus Christi in our midst. The most difficult realization is that which is closest.

Jack comes in. He's bought a new boat. He wants me to read the name on its side. It is across the channel, tied to his recently purchased finger float. He's happy with his purchase. It's a J-boat. He says I'd appreciate the name; others would think its two kids' names. The name is Samadhi.
Samadhi, (Sanskrit, lit. "establish, make firm"), is a Hindu and Buddhist term that describes a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object.
(footnoted --Diener Michael S., Erhard Franz-Karl and Fischer-Schreiber Ingrid, The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen; -- in Wikipedia)
I've noticed over the years the emergence of a new phrase of valediction. (Ed S. was the first to catch my attention with it. Then, others.) They would say, "Have a good one!" Maybe it began as a shortening of , "Have a good day!" Nevertheless, the words themselves have a life of their own. They are a prayer of sorts. This prayer attempts to remind someone to have a "good one" -- to enter the sacred space of communion with everything as it all appears, and even as it all remains invisible.
The art of dharma practice requires commitment, technical accomplishment, and imagination. As with all arts, we will fail to realize its full potential if any of these three are lacking. The raw material of dharma practice is ourself and our world, which are to be understood and transformed according to the vision and values of the dharma itself. This is not a process of self- or world- transcendence, but one of self- and world creation. The denial of self challenges only the notion of a static self independent of body and mind--not the ordinary sense of ourself as a person distinct from everyone else. The notion of a static self is the primary obstruction to the realization of our unique potential as an individual being. By dissolving this fiction through a centered vision of the transiency, ambiguity, and contingency of experience, we are freed to create ourself anew.
--Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs
On one level I pray wanting to be prayed for.

I often forget who I am and why I am here.

Prayer -- coming or going -- is an act of calling to mind, an invitation to remember, a commitment to try to embrace and embody our whole and complete reality.

We forget often and we do not pray often enough.

Corpus Christi is today self- and world- creation, anew.

No leaving out.




Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This retreat at Harbour Room has enough silence and solitude for now. Morning sun penetrates sea fog. Tracy brings plants and flowers for gardens. Tie-hack (the white husky) appears in Barney's truck, walks about the back deck, a little bruised, shaved, and dazed -- but on her own after being run over last Saturday. Lobster boats pull abeam, greet, then head for open water with this year's traps. The shop is quiet. Last night's coffee is good enough until fresh pot in a bit.

Something necessary and radical is changing.

Kate, from New York, sends a piece written by Thomas Merton:
O my brother, the contemplative is not the man who has fiery visions of the cherubim carrying God on their imagined chariot, but simply he who has risked his mind in the desert beyond language and beyond ideas where God is encountered in the nakedness of pure trust, that is to say in the surrender of our own poverty and incompleteness in order no longer to clench our minds in a cramp upon themselves, as if thinking made us exist. The message of hope the contemplative offers you, then, brother, is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God; but that whether you understand or not, God loves you, is present to you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons. The contemplative has nothing to tell you except to reassure you and say that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and dare to advance without fear into the solitude of your own heart, and risk the sharing of that solitude with the lonely other who seeks God through you and with you, then you will truly recover the light and the capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanations because it is too close to be explained: it is the intimate union in the depths of your own heart, of God's spirit and your own secret inmost self, so that you and He are in all truth One Spirit. I love you, in Christ.
Such are the few ideas I have had, written in haste -- so much more will be said so much better by others.
Yours in Christ Jesus, br. M. Louis (Thomas Merton)

{--from, Monastic Apology, br. M. Louis
(Thomas Merton),}
It is a time to penetrate, dare, and risk a new solitude of intimate union in the open.

When things feel foul and emotions hoist storm flags, it is time to remember the very ground of being-itself -- this place of God's spirit and your own secret inmost self,

And, as well, remember the collateral collation of this existence.
Transitory, Insubstantial and Conditional:
To say that Buddhism is transitory, insubstantial and conditional is merely to restate its own understanding of the nature of things. Yet its teachings endlessly warn of the deeply engrained tendency to overlook this reality.... Instead of seeing a particular manifestation of the Dharma as a living spiritual tradition of possibilities contingent upon historical and cultural circumstances, one reifies it into an independently existent, self sufficient fact, resistant to change. Living continuity requires both change and constancy. Just as in the course of a human life, a person changes from a child to an adolescent to an adult while retaining a recognizable identity (both internally through memory and externally through recurring physical and behavioral traits), so does a spiritual tradition change through the course of its history while retaining a recognizable identity through a continuous affirmation of its axiomatic values. Thus Buddhism will retain its identity as a tradition as long as its practitioners continue to center their lives around the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and affirm its basic tenets. But precisely how such commitment and affirmation are expressed in different times and places can differ wildly. The survival of Buddhism today is dependent on its continuing ability to adapt.

(--by Stephen Batchelor, in The Awakening of the West)
Walking the self-same and seemingly-divergent paths of "change and constancy," we set out on a practice that necessitates both the threefold love of God's One Spirit, and the Three Refuges (Three Jewels) in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

A hermit's life must adapt.
"Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.
(--Deut. 4:39, New American Standard Bible, 1995)
As "monastics of no other" it is both oddly satisfying and curiously desolating to approach the realization that there is, in fact, no other.

It is time to open the doors.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I'm afraid today. Of what? I don't know. I'm afraid that the fear I feel is only me. I'm equally afraid that the fear I feel belongs to the larger body of my brothers and sisters in the world.

(Someone is likely to be thinking "Love is the absence of fear" -- and thus I am fallen outside the protection of love. This might be so. Hence, fear.)

Question: You say that the suchlike Dharma Nature is embodied by both sentient beings and the Buddhas identically and without duality. Therefore, if one group is deluded, both should be deluded. If one group is enlightened, both should be enlightened. Why are only Buddhas enlightened, while sentient beings are deluded?

Answer: At this point we enter the inconceivable portion of this teaching, which cannot be understood by the ordinary mind. One becomes enlightened by discerning the mind; one is deluded because of losing awareness of True Nature. If the conditions necessary for you to understand this occur, then they occur; it cannot be definitely explained. Simply rely on the ultimate truth and maintain awareness of your own True Mind.

Therefore, the Vimalakirti Sutra says: “Dharmas have no Self Nature and no Other Nature. Dharmas were fundamentally not generated in the first place and are not now extinguished. Enlightenment is to transcend the two extremes and enter into non discriminating wisdom. If you can understand this doctrine, then during all your activities you should simply maintain awareness of your fundamental Pure Mind. Do this constantly and fixedly, without generating false thought or the illusion of personal possession. Enlightenment will thus occur of itself.

If you ask a lot of questions, the number of doctrinal questions will become greater and greater. If you want to understand the essential point of Buddhism, then be aware that maintaining awareness of the mind is paramount. Maintaining awareness of the mind is the fundamental basis of nirvana, the essential gateway for entering the path, the basic principle of the entire Buddhist canon, and the patriarch of all the Buddhas of past, present, and future.

{--Hung-jen (early 8th century), Excerpted from: The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism, by John R. McRae 1986}

My mind has gotten away from me. I slip and tumble down the slope of rootless suspicion.

I am alone.

In a ditch.

Words are stones.

Even the most benevolent are hurled weapons cutting my face and head.

There's nothing to do but let the day go its way across the sky to its horizon.

I can't see anyone passing by.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Throughout night, rain. Purple Finch sings at daylight. Flags are curled back over railing on balcony.

A good day to be quiet and ask: What is spirituality?
Alone in mountain fastness,
Dozing by the window.
No mere talk uncovers Truth:
The fragrance of those garden plums!

- Bankei (1622–1693)
Begin with breath. Breathe!

Look around. See!

Listen openly. Hear!

Engage what is there. Serve.
My reading of what happened in early Christianity is that those communities knew Jesus the Christ was risen and living. Did they want to hear the stories of Jesus? Of course. But that is not why these four Gospels were written or collected into the canon. These four Gospels --and only these four Gospels-- form the internal and eternal sequence of spiritual practice: Face change, endure suffering, receive joy, and serve. Early Christians wanted to know how to practice Christianity --not the flat words of an "original Jesus." And the great truth has endured the passage of centuries and numerous translations.
Wind stiffens flags at wharf's end by Wayfarer Marine where blue travel-lift waits on next hull.

Preparing farm prison presentation/conversation to be held in three weeks. Some poems and questions about topic: What is Spirituality? "What is" spirituality is the most difficult practice. Who can take in the behavior and secret shenanigans of the world and still practice a transformative engagement that occasions profound friendship and panentheistic revitalization of this phenomenal existence?

One can begin with Shaia's "Quadratos" -- namely:
[T]he internal and eternal sequence of spiritual practice: Face change, endure suffering, receive joy, and serve.
The fragrance of rain borne by wind over salt seas.

Water weaves ways down wet window.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

There are days when the only sanity is solitude.
What sages learn
Is to return their nature
To the beginning
And let their minds
Travel freely in
What developed people,
Learn is to link their nature
To vast emptiness and,
Become aware of the
Silent infinite.

(- Huai-nan-tzu)
Solitude is the open itself.

Without belief or ideology, the open emptiness of solitude is comfort.
Since my house burned down
I now own a better view
Of the rising moon

(-- Poem by Masahide, 1657-1723)
Elsewhere, Masahide's poem is translated as:
The barn’s burnt down
but now I can see
the moon above.
Loss opens once hidden vistas.