Saturday, July 28, 2007

Kids out on the deck play a game, chanting, "We're following the leader, the leader, the leader; we're following the leader wherever she may go." They are laughing, and tiring as evening fog comes in over harbor.
Refreshing, the wind against the waterfall;
The moon hangs a lantern on the peak,
And the bamboo window glows.
In old age mountains
Are more beautiful than ever.
My resolve:
That these bones be purified by rocks.

- Jakushitsu (14th century)
A young man from Austin Texas brings up a book asking how much it is. We look it up. "No Pluckier Set of Men Anywhere, The Story of Ships and Men in Damariscotta and Newcastle, Maine." It had originally been twenty five dollars, but now was either 35, 45, or 90 depending which website checked. Amazon is going to the high end. And we have two. So we discuss the ins and outs of pricing and selling. His mom is in the store, then leaves. His dad and I chat about the heat in Texas. The lad was born in 1996. That's when we got these two copies into the store, I tell him.

There's so much to consider.
WIE: In your book, The Mystic Heart, you write about how deep mystical experience will engender the depth of care and perspective that will enable us to truly respond to the crisis facing the world, to the needs of the whole. Can you speak about the relationship between mystical experience and the arising of compassion?

WT: Well, in my experience in the mystical life, I find myself becoming more and more aware of the Source as "inherently warmhearted." The vast consciousness that is the Divine is not a cold analytical intelligence—it emanates from its very core a concern. Heidegger said that the essence of being is concern, and this is what many of the traditions have tried to communicate, even the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha said that once a person lets go of the focus on self-interest, then they see that all is emptiness and all is compassion. And that compassion, that ultimate concern that Heidegger is talking about, that "agapic" or selfless love, is the connectivity of all sentient beings. It's the glue that holds it all together.

(--from Transforming the Seeds of Corruption, An interview with Brother Wayne Teasdale, by Amy Edelstein, in What is Enlightenment magazine.)
Selfless love, I suspect, is a trick phrase. But what if it means what it says? What if "selfless love" means we need to dissolve and evacuate self, become self-less in order to engage with love as it is in itself?

The leader/followers vanish with darkness. I straighten chairs and take in Karuna Arts flags from deck.

Earlier a French Horn player with the Metropolitan Opera sat, spoke, and laughed about things Manhattan and Maine. He felt at home. On vacation, sans horn. I offered him my kazoo. He demurred.

Now it's late. Charlie and Dorothea drop in with visitors. Nawang Khechog's Tibetan meditation music plays.

These bones.

As selfless.

A purity, a glue holding.



Friday, July 27, 2007

When the man-down announcement came over the loudspeaker, one of the men said they'd be back in 5 minutes. Saskia and I sat in the middle of the pod day room as 60 men stepped inside their cells and the doors shut and locked.

There we stay, conversation paused, in the middle of protective custody pod in maximum security prison.
This cold night bamboos stir,
Their sound- now harsh, now soft
Sweeps through the lattice window.
Though ear’s no match for mind,
What need, by lamplight,
Of a single Scripture leaf?

- Kido
It's only conversation. About this and that. Just us and whatever men stop by the table. Three this morning in Close A. Then six at Buddhist group in Activities Building. Finally three at the regular conversation in Tony's tutoring room.

It's just a gift we give one another.


Of this.

And that.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Then, I'll subscribe to "true knowledge."
God speaking to Luther: "Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend — it must transcend all comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from His father… not knowing whither he went. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man… but I myself, who instruct you by my Word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all you choose or contrive or desire — that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple."
103-4, DISCIPLESHIP AND THE CROSS, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Then, I'll concede to work "clean contrary to all you choose or contrive or desire."

Tommy said it yesterday about his way right now: "I don't have the faintest idea."

Michael runs about getting papers signed and systems engaged.

The way is Christ-instructed.

Then, I'll be an someone under instruction. Con-struction.




Wednesday, July 25, 2007

James, they say, was beheaded in 44AD(CE). Brother of John. A fisherman. Now thousands yearly make pilgrimage to Compostela. Santiago de Compostela means get your shoes in order, there's walking to do.
The Buddha compared faith to a blind giant who meets up with a very sharp-eyed cripple, called wisdom. The blind giant, called faith, says to the sharp-eyed cripple, "I am very strong, but I can't see; you are very weak, but you have sharp eyes. Come and ride on my shoulders. Together we will go far." The Buddha never supported blind faith, but a balance between heart and mind, between wisdom and faith. The two together will go far. The saying that blind faith can move mountains unfortunately omits the fact that, being blind, faith doesn't know which mountain needs moving. That's where wisdom is essential, which means that a thorough understanding of the teaching is crucial.
--Ayya Khema
Beheading is barbarous.

Head and heart must be retained for balance and equanimity.

Mary Beth walked the pilgrimage.

I don't walk enough these days.

My understanding is not thorough.

I keep on.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

One man says "ascendant masters". Another says "praying mantis." A third says "holy spirit." I'm saying (this being Tuesday Conversation) "mind."
In the stillness by the empty window
I sit in formal meditation
Navel and nose in alignment,
Ears parallel with shoulders.
Moonlight floods the room;
The rain stops, but the eaves drip and drip.
Perfect this moment;
In the vast emptiness, my understanding deepens.

- Ryokan (1758-1831)
Does it matter what the imagination chooses to represent the giving and receiving of insight and intuition?

One woman says "Jesus." Another says "higher power." A third says "multidimensional spirit." Someone else says "cosmotheandric revelation."

If all is mind, and there is no isolated, separated, or independent "self" -- then, everything is connected to everything. We are not separate from one another, not from anything.

Name the flow of insight as coming from whatever direction you wish, it is one complete whole even if funneled through particular imaginings from designated sources. When, if fact, there is only one source and one truth: that source is all sources; that truth, all truths.

The proof of any darkness or evil is not other than the proof of any light or goodness, namely, in the fruit. When the fruit is egoistic self-serving power or possession, something's wrong. When the fruit is self-emptying service with humility and inclusion of the needs of others -- something akin to love begins.

Perfect this moment.


As it is.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kindness and sorrow are kindred.

We can, of course, pretend that sorrow is beneath us. The strong know fate, and destiny, and dominion sovereignty. Sorrow, for many, is not an aspect of their god. Their god is ruthless and decisive, above it all and triumphant.
"One who rejects delusions to search for truth,
May achieve skill in discrimination,
But such a student will never reach enlightenment
Because they mistake the enemy for their own child."
Some Christians admire an angel but hate a devil. Some Confucians pine for the ancient kingdom but complain of the present government. All of them attempt to take hold of the true by abandoning the false. They struggle endlessly, but never attain true peacefulness. Zen students who try to reach truth by rejecting delusions are making the same mistake. Learn silence and work on constantly in silence, to see clearly what the mind is.
(--Yoka-daishi, d.713, Commentary by Nyogen Senzaki, Excerpted from Buddhism and Zen)
A new whirligig with four sailboats, the cloth sails of which tack as they circumnavigate the pointless four directions of wind vane, rises from the porch of the harbour room. In the boat channels of the water, schooners and assorted craft sail by. The marine engineer says he could teach sailing using the whirligig. He says if we were to attain the lovely wooden sailboat he'd look after the engine and systems.

Joannie was up for 5 days staying over the shop. She was pleased to tell her Princeton stories to all hands.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

(--Poem: "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. Eighth Mountain Press, 1995.)
As we age we suspect that each phone message could be the last sound heard of a loved one's voice, how each nod and smile to passing stranger could be the final one, and how no step across wet field with old dog companion might follow, suddenly, the last step taken together.

I watch mortality sidle alongside my awareness. Someone will have to pick up the clothes left fell about. The sweet drizzle of July dusk cannot dampen the joy of evening walk.

An Irish melancholy finds quiet company this solitary Monday.

We'll wait a bit longer for kindness to turn the corner of white fence gone tender.

Could it find this room?

Will I welcome it to my amnesiac being?

Accept its dwelling?

Remember to be.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Apparently the Secretary of Defense cried while talking about writing condolence notes to families of military personnel killed in Iraq.
Mr. Gates captured the sadness we feel about American kids trapped in a desert waiting to be blown up, sent there by men who once refused to go to a warped war themselves.
(--in column by Maureen Dowd, Published: July 22, 2007)
I find myself crying listening to real men and women speak about their experiences in combat. There are tears when the woman pilot in wheelchair and with service dog talked to an anonymous "Sir" whose empty absence conjured the one who sent her to her brokenness. Tears for the helicopter pilot who came back alone from a mission, who cannot straighten his head and neck. And tears for the soldier whose wheelchair was a segwayish balancing wheel atop wheel as he related "breathing, breathing, step; breathing breathing, step," attempting to make it from transport plane seat to his waiting wheelchair in rear.
"An ideal Zen student neither seeks the true
Nor avoids the untrue.
They know that these are merely dualistic ideas
That have no form.
Non-form is neither empty nor not empty.
It is the true form of Buddha’s wisdom."
To assist you in the interpretation of this stanza I shall paraphrase a portion of Shin-jin-mei, a poem written by the Third Patriarch in China.

“Truth is like vast space without entrance or exit. There is nothing more, nor nothing less. Foolish people limit themselves, covering their eyes, but truth is never hidden. Some attend lectures trying to grasp truth in the words of others. Some accumulate books trying to dig truth from the pile of trash. They are both wrong. A few of the wiser ones may learn meditation in their effort to reach an inner void. They chose the void rather than outer entanglements, but it is still the same old dualistic trick. Just think non-thinking if you are a true Zen student.

“There you do not know anything, but you are with everything. There is no choice nor preference, and dualism will vanish by itself. But if you stop moving and hold quietness, that quietness is ever in motion. If children make a noise, you will scold them loudly so that the situation is worse than before. Just forget and ignore the noise, and you will attain peace of mind. When you forget your liking and disliking, you will get a glimpse of oneness. The serenity of this middle way is quite different from the inner void.”

(from, Sho-do-ka – Song of Realization, by Yoka-daishi {d.713}, Commentary by Nyogen Senzaki 1953)
I'm not there. Not yet. Maybe never. So, I try. And then I try to keep that "try" mind.

There are so many brilliant men leading the effort to rule the world, own the oil, kill the enemy, and punish dissent. They are far more brilliant than those among us whose practice is to hear another, serve a brother, console someone suffering, listen to grieving loss, and share some joy when it presents itself.

So many brilliant minds as operatives. So few listening hearts as humans.
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the Ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?

(--1st stanza from poem: "Love's Philosophy" by Percy Bysshe Shelley.)
When people first begin to suspect and realize that Jesus was not other than Christ, they begin to make room in their consciousness for his words to seep deep within.

This is called listening.

It is not blinding, (to throw contrast to Paul's metaphor). It is silently shaded with longing to hear -- which accompanies a sudden and irreparable willingness to listen.

Please, let's hurry. There are men and women trapped in the desert waiting to be blown up.

Those whose imagination is vicious do not care.

This is a call to practice to those who do.