Saturday, November 03, 2007

There's not enough room here for two of us.
My hut isn’t quite six feet across
Surrounded by pine, bamboos, and mountains,
An old monk hardly has room for himself
Much less for a visiting cloud.
- Shih-wu (1272-1352)
The impulse is to get rid of what we do not like. So we decide between two. Then cut away what we consider to be not us. It's an ancient problem, solved by elimination. It's a solution without promise.
Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence of. . . a Soul, Self, or Atman. According to the teaching of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary, false belief which has no corresponding reality, and it produces harmful thoughts of "me" and "mine," selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill-will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all the troubles in the world from personal conflicts to wars between nations. In short, to this false view can be traced all the evil in the world.
--Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book
Such a strange prospect -- no-self.

What could possibly come of it?

What if there were only room for one?

Pardon me, I'd like to step aside, make room for another, and disappear.

Are we willing to be one of these unremarkable transparencies?

See through.




It's quite cloudy over the mountains tonight.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Water is water wherever it is.

Today the dead are alive in our heart and mind. All Souls Day. A monstrance of remembrance.
Holding my sweater and
Facing the fragrant peony,
I sense how different our viewpoints are.
Someday our hair will turn gray,
Yet the flowers will be this red each year;
Following the morning dew,
Each blooms gorgeously
Then their sweet scent is
Chased by the evening winds.
Why wait till they have withered and fallen
To understand such emptiness?

- Fa Yen (885–958)
On way to prison this morning we stop at cemetery and pray a psalm:
Psalm 40

I waited, I waited for the Lord;
and he heard me.
He heard my voice when I cried,
he led me from the pit of misery,
he led me from the mire of filth.
He set my feet on firm rock,
he steadied my footsteps.
He filled my being with a new song,
a song to the Lord.

Many shall see what has happened, and trust,
and honour the Lord.
Happy the man who puts his trust in the Lord,
who pays no heed to the proud,
who pays no heed to liars.
Many are your wonders, O Lord my God,
and great is your care for us:
there is no-one like you.
If I wanted to tell the things you have done for us –
they are too many to count.

You have refused sacrifice and oblation,
but you have opened your ears to me.
You have refused burnt-offerings, even for sin –
so I said “I am coming.
The books of scripture have written of me.
It is your will, my God, that I wish to perform:
your law is next to my heart”.
There is no-one like you.

You are the one.





Thursday, November 01, 2007

A saint knows no separation and acts accordingly.

Jose Ortega y Gasset had a phrase that fits: 'Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo', (Roughly re-rendered: I am myself and my circumstances, and if my circumstances are not saved, nor am I.

Or, put another way: We are the world, the earth, and each being dwelling therein and thereon; as is the mind and heart, so too the outer forms we call the circumstances of this existence.
If you meet a fencing master on the road,
give him your sword,
If you meet a poet,
offer her your poem.
When you meet others,
say only a part of what you intend.
Never give the whole thing at once.

- Mu-mon (1228)
A non-poet will not hear your poem. So, speak carefully and carry no shtick.

Emily Dickinson wrote: "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant-".

We need saints.

Circumstances require them.

Let's stand around together.

Until saints show.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

There's no difference.
With the moon emerged,
My mind is motionless.
Sitting on this frosty seat,
No further dream of fame.
The forest, the mountain
Follow their ancient ways,
And through the long spring day,
Not even a shadow of a bird.

- Reizan (1411)
Nor is anything the same.

Each is.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

When leaders hide and dissemble, many suffer.

What is the right thing to do?
Kuei-shan asked Yun-yen,
“What is the seat of enlightenment?”
Yun-yen said,
“Freedom from artificiality.”

- Kuei-shan (771-854)
Do authentically what is the authentic thing to do.

That's right.
au·then·tic (ô-thntk) adj.
1. Conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief: an authentic account by an eyewitness.
2. Having a claimed and verifiable origin or authorship; not counterfeit or copied: an authentic medieval sword.
3. Law Executed with due process: an authentic deed.
Be true to origin.

Be source to circumstance.

No trickery.

Try treating truth well.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Boston wins baseball crown. Tommy's not going to be happy. Better than that other team playing between Yonkers and Staten Island. We did, nevertheless, like Joe.
Recognize as the basis the mind
That does not pursue things.
In the midst of your daily activities,
As you attend to things and
Respond to things,
Always rely on this mind that
Does not pursue things.
As soon as your mind starts to pursue
Things, immediately gather it back in.
Stay with this for a long time, and you
Will gradually become ripe.

- Luo Hongxian (1504-1564)
Cut branches, limbs, tree. Clean gutters, transfer freezers, walk mountain. A day outdoors working in the chill sun.

Living the life of the mind isn't academic. Being smart is no promise of wisdom or even sanity. I know so many who think they know this or that, get fine grades and fail ordinariness, know exactly what's wrong everywhere else but in their own mind. It's our story. We live here. On earth.
The skies tell the story of the glory of God,
the firmament proclaims the work of his hands;
day pours out the news to day,
night passes to night the knowledge.

Not a speech, not a word,
not a voice goes unheard.
Their sound is spread throughout the earth,
their message to all the corners of the world.

At the ends of the earth he has set up
a dwelling place for the sun.
Like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
it rejoices like an athlete at the race to be run.
It appears at the edge of the sky,
runs its course to the sky’s furthest edge.
Nothing can hide from its heat.

(--Psalm 19)
The earth submits and survives.

We have not learned yet how to come to earth.

Would that we did know how to live here.

Examining and integrating community.

Dropping out and falling through the center of nothing there.

It is the season of thin places.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What if Jean Gebser is right? What is there's a mutation of consciousness happening? And what if those tasked with administrating the country are not on the list of those open to wisdom and compassion? How do we live with their darkness? How disarm them and secure them from themselves?
I climb the road to Cold Mountain,
The road to Cold Mountain that never ends.
The valleys are long and strewn with stones;
The streams broad and banked with thick grass.
Moss is slippery, though no rain has fallen;
Pines sigh, but it isn’t the wind.
Who can break from the snares of the world
And sit with me among the white clouds?

- Han-shan
These men are in the snare of the world. They shout with glee as their ankles are torn and ripped by their dark desires to rule by fear and greed. Decency, and authentic trust, like torn trees, have been felled.
An Old-Fashioned Song

No more walks in the wood:
The trees have all been cut
Down, and where once they stood
Not even a wagon rut
Appears along the path
Low brush is taking over.

No more walks in the wood;
This is the aftermath
Of afternoons in the clover
Fields where we once made love
Then wandered home together
Where the trees arched above,
Where we made our own weather
When branches were the sky.
Now they are gone for good,
And you, for ill, and I
Am only a passer-by.

We and the trees and the way
Back from the fields of play
Lasted as long as we could.
No more walks in the wood.

(--From Tesserae and Other Poems, by John Hollander)
War-making, like stripping the world of vital resources, is now the primary economic and political sport. There's no stopping the clear-cutting. They are too powerful. The war machine is lubricated. It lurches forward. The die is cast.

I've been thinking about Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. How hospitality, poverty, personalism, honest labor, green revolution, works of mercy, nonviolence, and prayer are, in their heart and mind. in their world, a better way of being than the ways so facilely chosen today.

Pray, pray, pray -- is what the workers for justice, charity, and holiness say.

It's hard to see the use of it.

So I will do it uselessly.

Pray, that is.