Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What new year? Today is Wednesday. Tomorrow, Thursday. Place remains the same. Space continues to extend.
The Dalai Lama's Nobel Prize Lecture

In conclusion, let me share with you a short prayer which gives me great inspiration and determination:

For as long as space endures,
and for as long as living beings remain,
until then may I, too, abide
to dispel the misery of the world.

(--The Dalai Lama, "Nobel Peace Prize Lecture," in The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness, edited by Sidney Piburn)
What place will hermitage be in? What space will practice and service occupy? Questions for an idle mind. So it is mine is.

One, two, three. With so much disparity about, I'm fo(u)r union.
The four seasons don’t ever stop to rest
The years come and the years go
The ten thousand things
Succeed themselves endlessly
But the universe itself does not die or decay
The east is bright and the west is dark
Flowers fall and flowers bloom again
Only the travelers to the Yellow Springs
Go shrouded in mystery and don’t return

- Han-shan
When there is no where to go, where is there to return from?

It's beyond me.

So, I'll sit dawn.

As soon as it and angels arrive!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Spirit of God surrounds and insinuates itself everywhere.

For this, gratitude!

For this, humble and simple awareness of love!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Replete Isness, this.

The phrase came up during conversation at hermitage. No need for something other, making object, or two. Only the fullness of this as is. Experience isn't as important as the motion of stillness excluding nothing.
We just sit in the midst of this contradiction where, although we aim, we can never perceive hitting the mark. We just sit in the midst of this contradiction that is absolutely ridiculous when we think about it with our small mind. In our zazen, it is precisely at the point where our small, foolish self remains unsatisfied, or completely bewildered, that immeasurable natural life beyond the thoughts of that self functions. It is precisely at the point where we become completely lost that life operates and the power of Buddha is actualized.
- Kosho Uchiyama (1912 -1999)
Even with eyes closed.

We have to see it first.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What we are doing.

Is the subject.

Of meditation.
Clouds and rain
Shroud the gateless gate;
Frost and snow
Veil the winding road.
With contemplation and
Subtlety of spirit
We discover Tao
And the secret of the Way
Grows within us.

- Loy Ching-Yuen (1873-1960)
Practice this evening.

Was the subject.


What we are.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dean brought in Kathleen Norris' new book. On acedia. A good conversation.
Please wait for the light of the moon,
The mountain path
Is covered with fallen chestnuts.

- Ryokan (1758-1831)
The shop filled chuck full this afternoon. Sam said thanks for opening. I ordered books. Strange time to be ordering books.
Acedia is a word from ancient Greek describing a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one's position or condition in the world. It can lead to a state of being unable to perform one's duties in life. Its spiritual overtones make it related to but distinct from depression.[1] Acedia was originally noted as a problem among monks and other ascetics who maintained a solitary life.
(--from wikipedia,

I'll think about this later on.

I'm off to bed.

Too tired.

To think.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Puer natus est pro nobis. A child is born. To us. With us. Each child.

What are we missing in the story? What in our story are we missing?
"Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
you will not find me in the stupas,
not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues,
nor in cathedrals:
not in masses,
nor kirtans,
not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me,
you will see me instantly —
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath."

— Kabir
Maine Coon cat crouches on white remnant facing bird activity beyond glass door. Gregorian chant plays to drying dishes and pots in wooden rack. Solitude is its own monastery.
‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved.’
(--Matthew 10:17-22)
What's his name?

Is his name "the practice of love without exception"?

No practice, no love, thus no name. We become nameless when we steal from others their itself-fullness.
"I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty.

You don't grasp the fact that what is most alive of all is inside your own house;
and you walk from one holy city to the next with a confused look!

Kabir will tell you the truth: go wherever you like, to Calcutta or Tibet;
if you can't find where your soul is hidden,
for you the world will never be real!"

— Kabir (The Kabir book: Forty-four of the ecstatic poems of Kabir)
It is not difficult to ask of this world, or country, or neighborhood, "Where is the sound of the true name of peace? Of love? Of truth? Of acceptance without reservations or conditions?"

It is not difficult to hear in response the crack of a gun, the blast of a bomb, the snicker of mocking denigration, the shuddering ice of disdain, the resolute sarcasm of professional hatred on radio and cable talk show. Or the mimetic recitation of our own suffering aimed at another or others. 

What is difficult is to be Stephen (in today's feast) or myriad others (in daily history) in the course of their being murdered still staying with the holy name of "the practice of love without exception." Real martyrdom is not being killed or suiciding yourself for something you believe, Real martyrdom is the active incorporation of your murderer (or daily executioner) into your name with the holy name as you travel beyond the limitations of this existence.
"I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such rush?
We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves birds and animals and the ants -
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in your mother's womb.
Is it logical that you would be walking around entirely orphaned now?
The truth is you turned away yourself,
and decided to go into the dark alone.
Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten what you once knew,
and that's why everything you do has some weird failure in it."

— Kabir (The Kabir book: Forty-four of the ecstatic poems of Kabir)
The 'dark alone' is not the 'Alone' -- that is, we cannot travel alone to the Alone. The Alone is Reciprocity-Itself. When we come to see the reciprocal (Latin reciprocus returning the same way, alternating {Merriam-Webster}) -- we come to see one-in-two, two-in-one. It is our nature, for this time, to have to go out in order to come in, to go in so as to find out.
Waking from Sleep
by Robert Bly
Inside the veins there are navies setting forth,
Tiny explosions at the waterlines,
And seagulls weaving in the wind of the salty blood.

It is the morning. The country has slept the whole winter.
Window seats were covered with fur skins, the yard was full
Of stiff dogs, and hands that clumsily held heavy books.

Now we wake, and rise from bed, and eat breakfast!
Shouts rise from the harbor of the blood,
Mist, and masts rising, the knock of wooden tackle in the sunlight.

Now we sing, and do tiny dances on the kitchen floor.
Our whole body is like a harbor at dawn;
We know that our master has left us for the day.

(--Poem, "Waking from Sleep" by Robert Bly, from Silence in the Snowy Fields. Wesleyan University Press, 1962.)
Christmas season is a celebration of birth. The birth of Jesus, yes.  The arriving of one with God-life. Whose name, we are coming to learn, transcends names. The coming, in a profoundly mythic narrative, of what saves us. And more. Your birth. My birth. Each birth.

What saves us? Maybe we could call it: "Being-With ... What Is ... Loving." 

To be with what is loving requires a presence beyond appearance or words. A silent engagement of one within the other.

Without exception.

No conditions.

There is much in this story to catch up with. So much has gone missing.

There's a papyrus scroll gathering dust in our inner cave of forgetfulness.

It wants to be found.

Inside our own house.

There in the next seat.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dark, Night

Neither church nor Santa Claus encapsulates Christmas. Something else wants in.

When everything is seen and accepted as itself, as it constantly changes to become itself -- then, the day is what it is meant to be.
Perhaps the great quest in life is to discover this constancy - to know this continuing process of change. With one discovery comes another question. The game is infinite.

Yet in the discovery, perhaps Christ is Born, Buddha Enlightened, the Tao followed, and Truth revealed.
(--from, An Agnostic Celebrates The Birth Of Christ, by Susan Smalley, the Huffington Post, Posted December 25, 2008 | 08:39 AM (EST)
Arriving with family or remaining with solitude, we discover, are born, become enlightened, follow way, reveal what is. The mere delight of it all!

As things change.
Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid,
calf and lion feed together,
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear make friends,
their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;
into the viper’s lair
the young child puts his hand.
They do no hurt, no harm,
on all my holy mountain,
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters swell the sea.

(--from, Isaiah 11:1-10, Office of Readings, Christmas)
Are we ready?

For love?

For love.

Is. No.

Nearing dusk

Walking woods on Ragged Mtn with white Border Collie black saddle-spot on back. Solitary tumbling brook sliding around snowy stones. Trees still and quiet as winds suddenly gust animating conversation.
A heart free of desire is true emptiness:
No holding back,
Just drift with the untied clouds,
Existence and non-existence are one
And the same:
Embrace the void.
To the seeker, emptiness is All.

- Loy Ching-Yuen (1873-1960)
Woman leaves for family visit. The mountain sent a pine needle spray for octogenarian mourning her dog's death. House gathers itself for dusk. Fire in wood stove glows red.
Your eternal word leaped down from heaven
in the silent watches of the night,
and now your Church is filled with wonder
at the nearness of her God.

(-- Alternative Prayer, Christmas Morning Hour)
Black and white cat on his back on Wohnkuche rug in front of fire. Newly placed colored lights on yew bush bird house, white lights on potted indoor tree by wall of glass doors.

Gusting whoosh sounds through window.

This is the day.

The Lord has made.

Out of nothing other than nearness.

And so...

It is!


Night wind blows away darkness.

Whisper light breaks over tree.

Recapitulation. (Anakephalaiosis.)

"Start again" -- silence says.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bayview street is quiet. Shops close early for Christmas Eve. Passing wharf where last night's fire, doused, gone inside itself again, officially inspected, sends charred memory smells across evening.

Saskia shops for family in her own shop. Rokie snoozes as gentle music sits quietly in vacant chairs.

Roof rake from Rankins on top of Element is ready for ride to hermitage and thinks of stretching and pulling in the morning. Black Oil bird seed hunches in rear of car for morning's Eucharist with Blue Jay, Chickadee, Nut Hatch, Junco, Cardinal, Titmouse, White Throated Sparrow and assorted passersby.
Most people can read a book with words, but not one without words, and they can play a lyre with strings but not one without strings. How can they derive tranquil pleasure from a book or lyre, when they exercise their intelligence only on the material, but not on the spiritual, aspect of things?
- Hung Ying-ming 1596
Walking town I nod and smile to those I meet. Each one of us the material/spiritual, each this Eve the expectancy of something conceived without interference or separation. We greet one another on slushy sidewalk.
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’
(--from Matthew 1:18-25)
It's a lovely thought. A kindly consideration.




Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What is born?
On this frosty day, clouds and mist congeal,
On the mountain moon, the icy chill grows.
At night I receive a letter from my home,
At dawn I leave without anyone knowing.

- Fahai
The fire down the waterfront from the balcony was spectacular.

What comes to be, falls away.

Only aseity perdures.




Monday, December 22, 2008

If I don't know, is there anything or anyone other? Is it possible that the great revelation in Christian metaphor and lore is the emptiness and transparency of truth and love in our middle in the midst of mere existence?

Not to know, to have don't-know mind, is ground for awakening into this and this and this. If we enter and receive this -- this body, this mind, this heart -- are we in the midst of the innocent unknowing loving presence at once called 'Christ', 'Shunyata', 'Kenosis' ?
'Christ'-- cf. (
'Shunyata' -- cf. (
'Kenosis' -- cf. (
Here's what I like about Advent and Christmas: If there is no other, who knows?
Versions of Isaiah 45:5

New American Standard Bible (©1995)

"I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me;

King James Bible
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

American King James Version
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded you, though you have not known me:

American Standard Version
I am Jehovah, and there is none else; besides me there is no God. I will gird thee, though thou hast not known me;

Douay-Rheims Bible
I am the Lord, and there is none else: there is no God, besides me: I girded thee, and thou hast not known me:

Darby Bible Translation
I am Jehovah, and there is none else; there is no God beside me: I girded thee, and thou hast not known me;

English Revised Version
I am the LORD, and there is none else; beside me there is no God: I will gird thee, though thou hast not known me:

Webster's Bible Translation
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God besides me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

World English Bible
I am Yahweh, and there is none else. Besides me, there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not known me;

Young's Literal Translation
I am Jehovah, and there is none else, Except Me there is no God, I gird thee, and thou hast not known Me.

Apocalypsis 22:21 Latin: Biblia Sacra Vulgata

ego Dominus et non est amplius extra me non est deus accinxi te et non cognovisti me

Isaías 45:5 Spanish: La Biblia de las Américas (©1997)
Yo soy el SEÑOR, y no hay ningún otro; fuera de mí no hay Dios. Yo te ceñiré, aunque no me has conocido,

Isaías 45:5 Spanish: La Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos (©2005)
Yo soy el SEÑOR, y no hay ningún otro; Fuera de Mí no hay Dios. Yo te fortaleceré, aunque no Me has conocido,

Isaías 45:5 Spanish: Reina Valera (1909)
Yo Jehová, y ninguno más hay: no hay Dios fuera de mí. Yo te ceñiré, aunque tú no me conociste;

Isaías 45:5 Spanish: Sagradas Escrituras (1569)
Yo soy el SEÑOR, y ninguno más hay ; no hay Dios fuera de mí. Yo te ceñiré, aunque tú no me conociste;

Isaías 45:5 Spanish: Modern
Yo soy Jehovah, y no hay otro. Aparte de mí no hay Dios. Yo te ciño, aunque tú no me conoces,

Ésaïe 45:5 French: Louis Segond (1910)
Je suis l'Eternel, et il n'y en a point d'autre, Hors moi il n'y a point de Dieu; Je t'ai ceint, avant que tu me connusses.

Ésaïe 45:5 French: Darby
Moi, je suis l'Éternel, et il n'y en a point d'autre; il n'y a point de Dieu si ce n'est moi. Je t'ai ceint, et tu ne me connaissais pas;...

Ésaïe 45:5 French: Martin (1744)
Je suis l'Eternel, et il n'y en a point d'autre; il n'y a point de Dieu que moi. Je t'ai ceint, quoique tu ne me connusses point.

Ésaïe 45:5 French: Ostervald (1744)
Je suis l'Éternel, et il n'y en a point d'autre; il n'y a pas d'autre Dieu que moi. Je t'ai ceint, quand tu ne me connaissais pas;

Jesaja 45:5 German: Luther (1912)
Ich bin der HERR, und sonst keiner mehr; kein Gott ist außer mir. Ich habe dich gerüstet, da du mich noch nicht kanntest,

Jesaja 45:5 German: Luther (1545)
Ich bin der HERR und sonst keiner mehr; kein Gott ist ohne ich. Ich habe dich gerüstet, da du mich noch nicht kanntest,

Jesaja 45:5 German: Elberfelder (1871)
Ich bin Jehova, und sonst ist keiner, außer mir ist kein Gott; ich gürtete dich, und du kanntest mich nicht: -
(--Isaiah 45:5)
Not me.

I don't know.

But that's the miracle.

That's the gift.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Every blowing grain snowy swirls by barn door this Sunday storm.

Vespers read. Sauerkraut soup. Finish Hawk's Cross, a novel by Mark Varnum. Enjoyed it.

What storm gives, beside storm soup, is quiet punctuated by flashing lights of plows climbing hill to the Bok place, edging Hope
Subject and object from the start
Are no different,
The myriad things nothing
But images in the mirror.
Bright and resplendent,
Transcending both guest and host,
Complete and realized,
All is permeated by the absolute.
A single form encompasses
The multitude of dharmas,
All of which are interconnected
Within the net of Indra.
Layer after layer there is no
Point at which it all ends,
Whether in motion or still,
All is fully interpenetrating.

- Zhitong (d.1124) archives "The Universe" for our viewing tonight. Things are very big out there. A woman on eve of follow-up visit to medical center tomorrow thinks about how much it matters to live longer. In light of millions of years between celestial bodies, what's 50 or 60 years?

Time goes.


It's winter!

Compline completes.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

If you care, do something. If you care and don't do something, care is uncaring. If you don't care, and do something, care insinuates beyond intention. But if you don't care, and don't do something, you are no longer alive.
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
--Carl Jung
Practice and care are two made one.
With red leaves left after frost
That you gathered under the trees
You brew tea, call me in
A most generous thought!
We sit here not speaking;
The mountain window is still,
But pine winds from ten thousand peaks
Stir in the kettle.

- Gensei (1623-1668)
When someone dies the spirit, they say, leaves. The body is experienced as vacated. I think differently.

With death the spirit goes still and silent. It does not vacate. It doesn't move or activate or sound through. Instead, it rests. In peace. Unmoving.

Stillness is life at peace.

No wonder stillness is unrecognized.

As is God.

Tea, anyone?

Britta, Erika's devoted shepherd dog, went still today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm not fond of the idea God is outside of creation. A very pleasant young man doing theological studies chatted about this notion earlier.

I'm not fond of professional sports either. There might be a connection.
It’s over, the “buddhas and patriarchs” disease
That once gripped my chest.
Now I’m just an ordinary man
With a clean slate.

- Daito (1282-1334)
I like cherry pie in the evening.

A wood stove finally hot.

And being nobody.

Finally no one.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Maybe we're looking for God in all the wrong places.

That's where God is.
I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.
(--Philippians 4:4-5)
Forget being right. It's irrelevant. What's wrong is where we live. It's what Advent tries to point out. To see what's wrong is to stand alone. To act with what's compassionate and forgiving in the face of what's wrong is to sit together.
Soaring birds disappear over the distant mountains,
Leaves fall continually in the quiet garden.
Lonely autumn breezes.
An old monk in his black robe, I stand alone.

- Ryokan (1758-1831)
The old monk falls continually.

We're not dead yet. We're not born yet.

What are we?

Be evident.

Be happy.

Don't know.

Stay near.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

There's no teaching, only learning.
A few fluttering green leaves and fallen red flowers on the doorstep, if they are gathered together, become the subject matter of poetry. A mass of floating cloud and a sweep of glimmering mist before the window, if their meaning is apprehended, suggest a clue to the wisdom of Ch’an.
- Hung Ying-ming 1596
All knowledge is self-knowledge.
The Torture Report

Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President Bush’s most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.

Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

(--from Editorial The New York Times, Published: December 17, 2008)
The ethical life has nothing to do with knowledge, but with presencing awareness of interrconnectivity.

No one stands alone in this.

We hold it all together.

Let's put it down!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter zendo in front room.

A space defined by silence, sitting, scripture, and sutra.
If this life buffeted by the wind
Of a thousand sorrows
Is even more precarious than a bubble on water,
It is a miracle, after sleeping,
Breathing in, breathing out, to wake up refreshed!

(- Nagarjuna (1st c) in DailyZen)
The whole house is monastery of momentary awareness.

Until forgetting.

Which is often.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Everything fails.

It's what makes life bearable.
A Hundred Bolts of Satin
by Kay Ryan

All you
have to lose
is one
and the mind
all the way back.
It seems
to have been
a train.
There seems
to have been
a track.
The things
that you
from the
abandoned cars
cannot sustain
life: a crate of
tractor axles,
for example,
a dozen dozen
clasp knives,
a hundred
bolts of satin—
perhaps you
more than
you imagined.

(--Poem, “A Hundred Bolts of Satin” by Kay Ryan, from Say Uncle. Copyright 2000)
To fail is to not forget human existence.

As a failure, my memory is just fine.

I hone it daily.
If it is the case that man is emptied of all things, creatures, himself and god, and if god could still find a place in him to act . . . this man is not poor with the most intimate poverty. For God does not intend that should have a place for him to work in since true poverty of spirit requires that man shall be emptied of god and all his works so that if God wants to act in the soul he himself must be the place in which he acts . . . [God takes then] responsibility for his own action and [is] himself the scene of the action, for God is one who acts within himself.
(-- Meister Eckhart in Thomas Merton On Mysticism, by Raymond Bailey, pp.169-170; from his sermon "Blessed are the Poor")
An old Christmas card, undated, with your and your son's name, suddenly appeared today. Two snowmen, a young boy between them, your name and his. You were not in the picture. It was before you died. This much, at least, I know successfully.


I remember fondly failure.
Note: The shop is closed today. We're working at hermitage.
Yes, there will be Sunday Evening Practice tonight at 6pm at the hermitage.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Be what God is; be grateful.
Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16)
Advent invites gratitude.

Because God is.




With gratefulness.

Friday, December 12, 2008

News: American cars are dead and their auto workers are making too much (say some Senators) at 71 dollars an hour. Ok. Elsewhere a professional baseball pitcher's 16.5 million a year for 9 months work, or 1.8 million a month or 7 starts a month at 262,000 for every 3 hours on the mound. Another fellow gets 23 million a year for 9 months work. These kings of baseball are good to go. One guy's $425,000 dollars for three hours work every 5 days has become an obscenity that can be justified only by truly disconnected minds. (If my math is off, it's not by much. If my mind is off, it's off by a mile.)
The Yankees and Burnett agreed to terms on a five-year, $82.5 million contract, the team’s second major strike on the free agent pitching market this week. After reaching a seven-year, $161 million agreement with C.C Sabathia on Wednesday, the Yankees bolstered their rotation again. (--Burnett and Yankees Reach 5-Year Deal TYLER KEPNER, NYTimes, Published: December 12, 2008)
A connected mind is no-mind. It arrives. It attends. It abrogates itself.
When the wind blows through the scattered bamboos, they do not hold its sound after it has gone. When the wild geese fly over a cold lake, it does not retain their shadows after they have passed. So the mind of the superior person begins to work only when an event occurs; and it becomes a void again when the matter ends.
- Hung Ying-ming 1596
Sports and politics are no longer interesting. Their time is up. The throne is abandoned. An earth too soon forgotten is rising from obscurity to place itself before our numbed mind.
Returning to Earth

I'm getting very old. If I were a mutt
in dog years I'd be seven, not stray so far.
I am large. Tarpon my age are often large
but they are inescapably fish. A porpoise
my age was the King of New Guinea in 1343.
Perhaps I am the king of my dogs, cats, horses
but I have dropped any notion of explaining
to them why I read so much. To be mysterious
is a prerogative of kingship. I discovered
lately that my subjects do not live a life,
but are life itself. They do not recognize
the pain of the schizophrenia of kingship.
To them I am pretty much a fellow creature.

(--Poem, "Returning To Earth" by Jim Harrison.)
The time for silly games is past.

Let's drop the bat and the battering.

We are one another. Will we share what we know to be necessary for one and all? We are one another.

Everybody knows that.

And knowing this truth through and through -- sooner or later.

We acquiesce.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ice storm thickens all surfaces. Feet slide along sidewalk. Staying put for night.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thomas Merton died 40 years ago today. In his honor we pronounce for the 11th time our monastic promises.
Looking for Buddha
Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It's not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can't grab it. Beyond this mind you'll never see a Buddha. The Buddha is a product of your mind. Why look for a Buddha beyond this mind?

(-- The Zen teachings of Bodhidharma)
As monastics we promise contemplation, conversation, and correspondence. We say them in public.
I live on Earth at present, and I don't know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing -- a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process -- an integral function of the universe.
(--Buckminster Fuller, from his book, Seem To Be a Verb)
We word our unknowing.

Happy to be so doing.

Integrally functioning.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Finally coming to a place where one is at home.

Where belonging has been difficult to grasp.
I have lived for more than fifty years,
Floating in the sea of birth and death
There is nothing to grasp.

- Shin’etsu (1639-1696)
Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474 - 1548) met the Aztec Mother who wanted a church built on the spot she appeared. With persuasion of cloak and flowers the Bishop relented. Juan "left everything and devoted himself to the care of the sanctuary and the reception of pilgrims until his death in 1548." (

If I were a saint I would do the same.
McClures Beach

Here at the end of the world,
or so it seems to a traveller
in this country,

where the sun buffs the sea silver
in the late afternoon,
and water drips from the high clay banks,

having come as far as it can
from the upland meadows
where tule elk graze,

even here at this end of the world
where two turkey vultures in the sand
empty the white rib cage of a dead seal,

even here where the water is dripping
into the sand, poppies blossom,
yellow and orange,

and the land is bright with wildflowers,
as if to surprise each new visitor
who comes to the end of the world.

(--Poem, McClures Beach, by Sidney Hall Jr.)
I feel I've come to the end of the world. I don't want to build a church -- at least, no one has asked me to. I want to step into the sanctuary of the monastery of the world without distinctions about what is church and what is world. I wish to bow to Mother and thank her for the rain, the snow, the flowers, and the mountain.

To smile to each new visitor. As Juan must have.

Silently, in his eyes, saying: This is where we belong!

Monday, December 08, 2008

What is within is what is withing. What is withing is what is within.

Night spends itself. We are beneficiaries. Behind the hills across the road last dreams begin to turn to dawn.
Seeing the Buddha

At the time of the Buddha there was a monk who was so infatuated with the Buddha that he followed him around like a puppy dog. Wherever the Buddha went, this monk went too. One day the monk became very ill and had to stay in bed. As he was lying in bed he started crying. When the other monks came to see him . . . he said, "I am crying because, being ill, I can't see the Buddha."

Upon learning this, the Buddha immediately came to visit the sick monk, who brightened up and looked happy again. Then the Buddha said to him, "Whoever sees me, sees the dhamma; whoever sees the dhamma, sees me."

Whoever sees a Buddha, sees nothing but enlightenment, which is the essence of the dhamma. Whoever can see the dhamma within, sees the Buddha, equaling enlightenment. The greatest jewel is recognizing the dhamma in oneself and not being attached to any one person, even the Buddha, who only wants to be our guide. When true confidence arises in the dhamma, it gives great impetus to the practice.

(---Ayya Khema, When the Iron Eagle Flies)
With dawn, perhaps, we'll see what is within dawn.
V. Tota pulchra es, Maria. V. Thou art all fair, O Mary.
R. Tota pulchra es, Maria. R. Thou art all fair, O Mary.
V. Et macula originalis non est in te. V. And the original stain is not in thee.
R. Et macula originalis non est in te. R. And the original stain is not in thee.
V. Tu gloria Ierusalem. V. Thou art the glory of Jerusalem.
R. Tu laetitia Israel. R. Thou, the joy of Israel.
V. Tu honorificentia populi nostri. V. Thou art the honor of our people.
R. Tu advocata peccatorum. R. Thou art the advocate of sinners.
V. O Maria. V. O Mary.
R. O Maria. R. O Mary.
V. Virgo prudentissima. V. Virgin most prudent.
R. Mater clementissima. R. Mother most tender.
V. Ora pro nobis. V. Pray for us,
R. Intercede pro nobis ad Dominum Iesum Christum. R. Intercede for us with Jesus Christ our Lord .
V. In conceptione tua, Immaculata fuisti. V. In thy conception, Holy Virgin, thou wast immaculate.
R. Ora pro nobis Patrem cuius Filium peperisti. R. Pray for us to the Father, Whose Son thou didst bring forth.
V. Domina, protege orationem meam. V. O Lady! aid my prayer,
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat. R. And let my cry come unto thee.
Oremus Let us pray

(--From "My Prayer Book", Fr. Lasance, 1908, pp 554-556.
Within ourselves, perhaps, we'll hear what is within ourselves.

So may it be with us; so may it be within us.

Withing within.
Within withing.

Machias today.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

History is written with facts that have changed names and bear no resemblance to what used to be called truth or reality.

Today, delusion masquerades as historical record.
At one point, Mr. Bush was asked if he wanted any do-overs. “The biggest regret of the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq,” he said. “A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction” were cause for war.
(Editorial, The Deluder in Chief, Published: December 7, 2008, NYTimes)
It is impressive that Mr. Bush will rewrite history without anyone blinking. He's that good.
Buddha as Physician

Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor optimistic. If anything at all, it is realistic, for it takes a realistic view of life and of the world. It looks at things objectively. It does not falsely lull you into living in a fool's paradise, nor does it frighten and agonize you with all kinds of imaginary fears and sins. It tells you exactly and objectively what you are and what the world around you is, and shows you the way to perfect freedom, peace, tranquility and happiness.

One physician may gravely exaggerate an illness and give up hope altogether. Another may ignorantly declare that there is no illness and that no treatment is necessary, thus deceiving the patient with false consolation. You may call the first one pessimistic and the second optimistic. Both are equally dangerous. But a third physician diagnoses the symptoms correctly, understands the cause and the nature of the illness, sees clearly that it can be cured and courageously administers a course of treatment, thus saving his patient. The Buddha is like the last physician. He is the wise and scientific doctor for the ills of the world.

(--Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book)
It's been a difficult 8 years. The illness is deep.

Time to stop and think. How did we allow such disease? Such suffering?

On eve of Buddha's Enlightenment Day and Mary's Barrierless Coming-To-Existence, I can only be grateful for the invitation to see clearly through the deceit of delusion.

Happy to be invited.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Such a fuss about money. Such an odd way of living.
You received without charge, give without charge.
Stock market, interest rates, savings, cash.

Why don't we just give each other what is needed? Pulling cart laden with necessary gift St. Nicholas wanders through our eloquent mythic imagination singing soft sounds of human remembrance.

The lone tip of Wonder Peak is
Beyond any climber’s reach.
One can only see white clouds
Drifting this way and that.
Thick pine and cypress forests
How old could they be?
Still, in rare moments birds
Along the steep cliffs sing.
- Daito (1282-1334)
The silliness of charging someone for conversation. Or fuel to warm homes. Bread to sustain body. Coffee to carry words and thoughts to voice.

Demanding money for healing.

Fees for everything.

We've got God wrong!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Return love for anything thrown your way.
Your body sits silently;
Your mind is quiescent, unmoving.
This is genuine effort in practice.
Body and mind are at complete rest.
The mouth is so still that moss
Grows around it.
Grass sprouts from the tongue.
Do this without ceasing,
Cleansing the mind
Until it gains clarity
Of an autumn pool,
Bright as the moon
Illuminating the evening sky.

- Hung-chih
Practice asks for love.

To be itself.

Beyond all.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

To observe is to care.
Observe what cannot be spoken.
Do not accept anything simply
Because it has been said
By your teacher,
Or because it has been written
In your sacred book,
Or because it has been
Believed by many,
Or because it has been
Handed down by your
Accept and live only
According to what will enable
You to see truth face to face.
(- Buddha)
With care.


Is itself seen.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What makes us turn? What is it suddenly focuses and empties mind bringing bare gaze to the fore?

If your mind is fixed on a certain spot,
it will be seized by that spot, and
no activities can be performed efficiently.
Not to fix your mind anywhere is essential.
Not fixed anywhere, the mind is everywhere.
The Original Mind is like water which flows freely,
whereas the deluded mind is like ice.
There is a passage in the Diamond Sutra that says:
“The mind should operate without abiding anywhere.”

- Takuan (1573-1645)
"Nada" in Spanish is "nothing, not anything."

"Nada" in Sanskrit is "Sound; tone, vibration."
Metaphysically, the mystic sounds of the Eternal, of which the highest is the transcendent or Soundless Sound, Paranada, the first vibration from which creation emanates. Paranada is so pure and subtle that it cannot be identified to the denser regions of the mind. From Paranada comes Pranava, Aum, and further evolutes of nada. These are experienced by the meditator as the nadanadi shakti, "the energy current of sound," heard pulsing through the nerve system as a constant high-pitched hum, much like a tambura, an electrical transformer, a swarm of bees or a shruti box.
(--from Hindu Dictionary)
Different perspective, different meaning

Touched by your goodness, I am like
that grand piano we found one night on Willoughby
that someone had smashed and somehow
heaved through an open window.

And you might think by this I mean I'm broken
or abandoned, or unloved. Truth is, I don't
know exactly what I am, any more
than the wreckage in the alley knows
it's a piano, filling with trash and yellow leaves.

Maybe I'm all that's left of what I was.
But touching me, I know, you are the good
breeze blowing across its rusted strings.

What would you call that feeling when the wood,
even with its cracked harp, starts to sing?

(--Poem, "Piano" by Patrick Phillips, from Boy. The University of Georgia Press, 2008.
Being touched by goodness shows a lovely perspective.

Bright light singing.



Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Long to see?
Filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’
(--Luke 10:21-24)
In meditation, when we sit, we allow what is passing to come into focus.

Seeing, we affirm the seeing.

No more; no less.

Monday, December 01, 2008

We must change our mind.
Do not pursue the outer conditions
nor dwell in the inner void.
Rest yourself in oneness with things and all barriers will disappear

- Seng Ts’an (526-606)
We must change our heart.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why stay awake? Why wake up?

Because we do not know.

Know what?

Name it!
So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’
(--from Mark 13: 33-37)
Mary thought about the invitation, then said, 'May it be with me as your word is -- creating from source --of all that is.'

Something was not done to Mary. Rather she asked it be with her as it was with God.

What is with God?
We thank our Father for one thing alone; that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him. And we rejoice that no exceptions ever can be made which would reduce our wholeness, nor impair or change our function to complete the One Who is Himself completion. We give thanks for every living thing, for otherwise we offer thanks for nothing, and we fail to recognize the gifts of God to us.

Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love. For hatred is forgotten when we lay comparisons aside. What more remains as obstacles to peace? The fear of God is now undone at last, and we forgive without comparing. Thus we cannot choose to overlook some things, and yet retain some other things still locked away as "sins." When your forgiveness is complete you will have total gratitude, for you will see that everything has earned the right to love by being loving, even as your Self.

(--Lesson 195, ACIM, "Love is the way I walk in gratitude.")
I like beginnings. Advent is a beginning.

I like endings. Death, in it's own way, is an ending -- at least a transition.

I dislike obituaries that don't reveal the person committed suicide. I dislike ones that claim "After a long battle..." with cancer, or MS, or some other medical designation. Life, in this way, is a losing battle.

I'd rather the obituary say that so and so surrendered to the source.

Went back in after being out for so many years.

Found surcease.

Decided to begin again.

Advent reminds me that life is beginning now. That love has no comparison.

An invitation to let life and love be with you.

And with each breath.

Joyfully awake!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Her daughter sat on stool. Her best friend on wood bench. She sat by wood stove. The conversation went from John O"Donohue to Eckhart Tolle, to what would I read if I had only a month or little more to live.

Then she said she'd decided. She'd stop chemo. How would the other two feel? They'd respect her wishes. The room fell quiet. That's what I'll do, she said.
To learn to be always in a state of meditation means never to let your vital energy wane. You would never allow it to do so if it were certain that you were to die tomorrow. It wanes because you forget about death. Grit your teeth, fix your gaze, and observe death at this moment. You have to feel it so strongly that is seems as if it’s attacking you. Fearless energy comes from this. At this moment death is right before your eyes. It’s not something you can afford to neglect.
- Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655) Daily Zen
The prospect of death focuses.

She'll come back, she says. I've ordered Anam Cara for her. The final chapter is worth the price of the book.

It's about dying.

It's First Advent.

It's about watching.

As we live and breathe.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The man just turned 75 remembers at age 8 deciding to walk from house to barn to tell his dad he loved him. He tells of how, half way there, he stopped, thought, turned and went back to house. He never did get to say it, his dad dying ten years ago just shy of 100.

But he'd said it out loud, tonight, right there in a circle.
All obstructions of defilements
and karmas of worry and trouble,
are in origin, empty.
All causes and effects
are dreams and illusions.
The great Way is empty and vast.
It is beyond thought and deliberation.
You, at this instant, have this
Dharma and are without lack.

- Fa-yung (593-657)
We think it is too late to retrieve or repair. It's not.

Origin is always at hand.

Fathers remain close.


Near the open.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

I've never been where I'm not now.
Silent Illumination

Silently and serenely, one forgets all words,
Clearly and vividly, it appears before you.
When one realizes it, time has no limits.
When experienced, your surroundings come to life.
Singularly illuminating is this bright awareness,
Full of wonder is the pure illumination.
- Hung Chih Cheng Chueh (1092-1157)
I'm just grateful to be here.

With you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The light of presence through emptiness.
Singularly radiating is the wondrous Light;
Free is it from the bondage of matter and the senses.
Not binding by words and letters,
The Essence is nakedly exposed in its pure eternity.
Never defiled is the Mind-nature;
It exists in perfection from the very beginning.
By merely casting away your delusions
The Suchness of Buddhahood is realized.

- Seng T’san (d.606)
What is emptiness?

The light of presence-through.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things get dicey in scripture as end of liturgical year plays out. The Book of Revelation fits the day -- early darkness, wet, chill, rain, gusts between 30-60mph. Maine coast is suitable backdrop for shivering warnings of destruction and decimation.

Before the cape on the harbor blows over we'll brace ourselves with Buddha's words.
Better than a thousand hollow words
is one word that brings peace.
Better than a thousand hollow verses
is one verse that brings peace.
It is better to conquer yourself
than to win a thousand battles.
Then the victory is yours.

(-- Buddha in the Dhammapada)
Of course its the end of the world as we know it. In passing, a former military man says he's exercising his rights before they're taken away by purchasing a lot of bullets and a new gun or two. When asked why, he says a lot of people are frightened by the new people coming into power in Washington. I wonder. He might be in a time-delay reaction-warp to the atmosphere of trepidation so rife these past eight years. Or, he could be a right-wing racist intent on survival once the 'coloreds' start to take over the country. Maybe he's a religious fundamentalist getting ready to shoot for Jesus to help the rapture along. Either way -- I don't know -- the end of the world at times seems an attractive scenario.

I don't own a gun. Like the Zen Abbot eye to eye with the fierce Samurai telling him he could run the monk through with his sword, the monk replies "Didn't you know I could be run through?" I'd like to think when the shooting starts (for some reason I cannot fathom) I'd be able to remember the colloquy and say: "Didn't you know I have one more second to breathe now that I've been shot through?"
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.’

(--Luke 21:5-11)
Destruction's not as interesting as you might think. It's something anybody can do. Murder/suicides are increasing. Shooting up malls, churches, and classrooms are happening at an odd alarming rate. Solitary self-inflicted wounds or death seems a choice these days in the same way one might say "I'd like that pink thingy with black trim" at a shop. We're blase about the carnage. We're a nation of options -- if you think this is bad, there's other ways it could get worse -- "choose your poison," the doomsday folks mutter, thinking it sounds profound.

Pema Chodron says that the spiritual life makes room for all of it -- the delightful and the desperate. Things continually fall apart then fall back together again -- only to fall apart once more then come back again. It is the nature of things to fall apart. It is the nature of humans to find a way to continue through the debris. Impermanence is run through and through all of existence.

Mary who mattered to me, gone or asleep
among fruits, spilled

in ash, in dust, I did not

leave you. Even now I can't keep from
composing you, limbs & blue cloak

& soft hands. I sleep to the sound

of your name, I say there is no Mary
except the word Mary, no trace

on the dust of my pillowslip. I only

dream of your ankles brushed by dark violets,
of honeybees above you

murmuring into a crown. Antique queen,

the night dreams on: here are the pears
I have washed for you, here the heavy-winged doves,

asleep by the hyacinths. Here I am,

having bathed carefully in the syllables
of your name, in the air and the sea of them, the sharp scent

of their sea foam. What is the matter with me?

Mary, what word, what dust
can I look behind? I carried you a long way

into my mirror, believing you would carry me

back out. Mary, I am still
for you, I am still a numbness for you.

(--Poem "Hail" by Mary Szybist, in Poetry Magazine, Nov.2008)
I knew two Marys in Albany. I knew a Mary in Pittsburgh. I knew a Mary in Camden. I knew a Mary in the Bronx. One in Attleboro. Another in Nanuet. All are out of my life. Three have died. No tellin' about the others. We fall apart and go beyond. I bow to their memory. They could be at these words the way southerly wind is at the windows with ecstatic rain. I don't know, at all, where they are. But these words carry them within.

As I set to leave this hermitage room I marvel at the force of wind pounding building, huge swells blowing into harbor, streets abandoned, night fallen. Buddhist conversation was intimate and rich with MaryAnn, Saskia, and Pema.

“Love of the Truth Puts You on the Spot,” is the Naropa Institute motto.

Fall apart and go beyond.

Spot on!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fr. Joseph spoke about those being remembered (Saints Andrew Dung-Lac and his Companions, Martyrs of Vietnam) before mass this morning.

Like peace activists everywhere, punished, or those who worked and died for racial equality, these martyrs spanning time suffered at the hands of ignorance and uncaring.

A life can end at any moment. What would I want to be my final comprehension?
To look at life is like being in a dream;
It is really noisy being in the dream.
Everything stops when the dreamer suddenly awakens,
And in the same way as a dreamer awakes,
The wise understand how to wake from the dream.
The deluded believe in the dream and are disturbed
That understanding and dreaming seem to be two aspects.
When once the truth is comprehended,
There is no other comprehension.

- Master Pen Ching (d. 761)
There is something I would like to comprehend. Why is it we refuse so passionately to accept within us the broken and suffering? Thus there is lashing out at others, punishing them, treating with scorn and disdain, and finally, missing our true light as it is pushed closed behind doors of fear and clinging opinion. Shut tight with certainty.

Who are the people going beyond lie and fault? Who are they?
They never allowed a lie to pass their lips and no fault can be found in them. (--Apocalypse 14:5)
Do I just not see? So often I live a lie. Do the faultless and truthful pass among us without being...seen?

The thirteen years at this odd shop have taught me some. Some compassion Some wariness. Some patience. Mostly it has taught me some foolishness. The absurdity of my fixed opinions, the absurdity of others' hard and fast habits of thought. Kindness is lacking when we cling to fixed and hard habits of unreflective and uncompromising mental and emotional identity.

Only kindness is worth noting. Tonight I note kindness. Little gifts letting pass what faults rise up. Someone giving some length. Not pinning with flaws easily pinned. Things like waiting for time to go by, finishing making a fool of oneself without someone making it worse by pointing it out.

We are faulty at the same time as we are faultless; living in flaw while being flawless. We are hurtful and inconsiderate while being healing agents touching one another's lives with sudden sparks of gentle consideration. Maybe that's our crazed experience in this existence -- the convoluting glory of forgiveness, the surprising grace of genuine feeling for one another!

The armies of the righteous omnisciently rumble by. Pinning down and pointing out faults and flaws. There's a muteness undergirding all accusation, one that doesn't issue forth from marauding plunderers. The guardians and custodians of others' failures do not share their sound, the sound that reverberates within them that echoes the sound of judgment and castigation spewed from their lips. They hold themselves in camera. Nothing they externalize finds recognition internally. Correspondence is a severed ear. What remains is the projected failure of acceptance in the dismaying sound of detonation that blows hands from bodies. We experience the futility of an unforgiving hand.

If being a Christian means being right, I fail. There's a meanness in us when we refuse to allow kindness to come to light. Offense given, offense taken; defense on field, defense defining fear.

Let's try something new. Let's hold out our hand.
Look Deeply into the Palm of Your Hand

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.

To be born means that something which did not exist comes into existence. But the day we are "born" is not our beginning. It is a day of continuation. But that should not make us less happy when we celebrate our "Happy Continuation Day."

Since we are never born, how can we cease to be? This is what the Heart Sutra reveals to us. When we have tangible experience of non-birth and non-death, we know ourselves beyond duality. The meditation on "no separate self" is one way to pass through the gate of birth and death.

Your hand proves that you have never been born and you will never die. The thread of life has never been interrupted from time without beginning until now. Previous generations, all the way back to single cell beings, are present in your hand at this moment. You can observe and experience this. Your hand is always available as a subject for meditation.

(-- Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment)
Once our hand is touched with kindness things come to light.

Through the gateless gate we pass.

Heart of Christ. Mind of Buddha. Mind of Christ. Heart of Buddha.

The trouble with being born is the forgetting of heart and mind.

Until we begin to lose both.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

What's the worse thing that could happen?

Don't ask!
The hermit practices the
Bleached Bones Meditation,
The Mahasattva vanishes into the void
Like sweet dew, each of the six senses
Is completely clean and pure,
Both the mind and the world
Are out of the ordinary.
For me, the True Source has
Not yet completely matured,
And the residue of unrooted
Habits still lingers on.
It is like the falcon who although set free,
Still feels the tug of the midnight leash.

- Su Shih (1075)
To ask is to extend from what is within the desire to be connected with what is without.

Any questions?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stack cord of wood. Listen to Dogma Free America on ipod while carrying and fitting wood. There is no end to the awful things done in the name of dogma.

What will thaw us from the fearful clutch of rigid thinking?
Although we know that a
Frozen pond is entirely water,
The sun’s heat is necessary to melt it.
Although we awaken to the fact
That an ordinary person is Buddha,
The power of dharma is necessary
To make it permeate our cultivation.
When the pond has melted,
The water flows freely.
When falsity is extinguished,
The mind will be numinous
And dynamic and then its function
Of penetrating brightness will manifest.
- Kuei-feng
The notion of king is not attractive. Royalty is not a metaphor I pronounce. I prefer presence.
And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in his turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.
(--1 Corinthians 15:28)
Better to table the king talk and ask what "all in all" really means. It might change everything if that phrase were understood.

Everyone would be intimately present to the inner reality of Reality Itself.
And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did it to me.”
(--from Matthew 25:31-46)
I never know who is in front of me. I often disappoint with lack of awareness. I'll have to look into a new way of seeing what is there, seeing through to what is behind what is there, and seeing light even in the darkest dimness in myself and others.

When I meet someone who knows better than anyone, whose criticisms are stored in a dim understanding of our mutuality, who fears that no one is as good as they are -- I have to learn to see.

Metaphors of dominion and dominance are unpronounceable to me. I stutter when they demand to be uttered in the open away from their boxed storage in musty closets.

I look away. I go elsewhere. I'm looking for a way to say a world without comparison.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two conversation circles with inmates in prison followed by deliberations about teaching a college course on Aesthetics in there, then finding out at security desk I had some other guy's driver's license since two days ago leaving prison security window.

I've been someone else for two days. No wonder I couldn't think straight.
Good and evil all arise from one’s own mind.
But tell me, besides your activities,
thoughts, and discrimination,
What do you call your own mind?
Where does your mind come from?
If you can discern where your own mind comes from,
Then boundless karmic obstruction
Will be cleared away instantly,
And all sorts of marvels will come of themselves
Without being sought.

- Ta Hui (1089-1163)
Being someone else isn't anything you know about. It just happens, as one would look down at the picture on a license you begin to recognize is not yours. How long have I not been me? Not just this time, but at any time?

Stanley Kunitz believed, wrote Sven Birkerts in his essay Clarity and Obscurity in Poetry , "that poems can contain 'moments of wilderness' — lines that don't necessarily themselves make sense but which, when taken away, impoverish the work."

So too with our lives -- events or behavior that make no sense in the general intention of living sanely, but if left out, diminish the life.

Everything is the longing of the most intimate itself for relationality expressing the oneness within.

Chances are there is a progression something like the following: the reverential is the referential is the relational.

What is holy-real is self-referential in its relationality.

What is occurring below and beyond awareness is face to face encounter with who we are within the other. We look, but might not see. We listen, not hearing. Touch, without sensing. Become, and feel, but no comprehension.

What today is called "spiritual" is the web of life in its wholeness inviting and revealing itself to each one of us.
  • Prayer, the kind that sits in generous oneness in the surround of the holy (the wholly-other/not-other), helps.
  • Meditation, the kind that simply attends what is with gracious openness, helps.
  • Service, the kind that proffers hand and time, presence and attentiveness, to whomever and whatever at the door of our being, helps.
Help, as they say, is on the way.
  • When we bow we seem to be bowing to someone or something outside us, but we are bowing to that within ourselves reflecting what is holy-real.
  • When we seem to be referencing someone or something outside ourselves, we are directing the energy of bringing back home what longs to belong where it belongs.
  • When we surrender illusory autonomy and no longer cultivate separateness we retell original narrative of union and communion.
What is most intimate is that which is within us -- a oneness belonging to each and all.

Hide and Seek

It's hard not

to jump out

instead of

waiting to be

found. It's

hard to be

alone so long

and then hear

someone come

around. It's

like some form

of skin's developed

in the air

that, rather

than have torn,

you tear.

(--Poem "Hide and Seek" by Kay Ryan)

If I forget who I am, no need to remind me. I'll settle for a benign exchange, a kindly nod, a wave in passing.

The way falls lightly from the one within the intimacy of no-name presence.

Each way, found this way, is the way.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kiewslowski, in Dialogue VII suggests we steal ourselves when we lie about or deny right relationship. This is sudden thought.

If correct relationship is the most intimate encounter with what is one within, we steal the wholeness from itself and deprive ourselves what we are

Nonviolence belongs to a continuum from the personal to the global, and from the global to the personal. One of the most significant Buddhist interpretations of nonviolence concerns the application of this ideal to daily life. Nonviolence is not some exalted regimen that can be practiced only by a monk or a master; it also pertains to the way one interacts with a child, vacuums a carpet, or waits in line. Besides the more obvious forms of violence, whenever we separate ourselves from a given situation (for example, through inattentiveness, negative judgments, or impatience), we "kill" something valuable. However subtle it may be, such violence actually leaves victims in its wake: people, things, one's own composure, the moment itself. According to the Buddhist reckoning, these small-scale incidences of violence accumulate relentlessly, are multiplied on a social level, and become a source of the large-scale violence that can sweep down upon us so suddenly. . . . One need not wait until war is declared and bullets are flying to work for peace, Buddhism teaches. A more constant and equally urgent battle must be waged each day against the forces of one's own anger, carelessness, and self-absorption.

(- Kenneth Kraft, Inner Peace, World Peace)
We live and die in silent, oftentimes unknown, expression of the longing welling from within.

God is this longing for itself.

There is no path to God.

One's own way is what is longing for itself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cold arrives.
Under the trees, among the rocks, a thatched hut:
Verses and sacred commentaries live there together.
I’ll burn the books I carry in my bag,
But how can I forget the verses written in my gut?

- Ikkyu (1394-1481)
Just in time.

Lecture in prison today: Spirituality -- A Personal Way To What Is Within.

The most intimate is within us we are one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hay lay rolled by outer trees off field in Dover-Foxcroft.

Sun slant cold with flutter of flurry a November reminder of what she keeps at bay.
All of the hundreds and thousands of
Dharma doors return to the mind.
The immeasurable subtle virtues
are in the source of mind.
All the doors of perception,
meditation, wisdom,
spiritual penetration,
and transformation are
contained in one’s mind.

- Fa-yung (593-657)
The drive on backroad Maine was worth the winding hills.

There's nowhere, really, to go. And no end in sight.

It is the prayer of passing seconds and horses standing by fence that keeps us sane.

A new furnace and finished kitchen window trim inside as 20 degree dark outside keeps silence.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Are the dead as real as the living?

Moon quarters stretching cloud over cold mountain. At root, we are all homeless.
Sitting Alone

Meditating deeply upon Dharma
Reach the depth of the source.
Branching streams cannot compare to this source!
Sitting alone in a great silence
Even though the heavens turn and the earth is upset,
You will not even wink.

- Jakushitsu Genko Zenji (1290–1368)
I would find a boat with wood burning stove, enough room to turn around, sit and read, place words next to another, and let stars converse in vast aloneness.

"What one writes is merely the ashes of one's experience." (--Franz Kafka)

Black cat stealths to foot of bed. Night passes time playing with falling temperatures. New furnace arrives tomorrow. We burn paper money for warmth.

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” (--Gilbert Chesterton)

Chesterton is ambiguous. Read him both ways.

Be found gone.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

White dog comes into room, looks at me, turns, leaves.

The French poet who edited Mythologies looks at words and wants them silent.
Buddhas and ordinary men are equally illusions.
If you go looking for the true form,
it is a speck of dust in the eye.
The burnt bones of this old monk
embrace heaven and earth;
Do no scatter the cold ashes to mountain and sky.

(- Bukko, d. 1286)
I have wandered far from the monastery of silent awareness. Then, tonight, in chapel/zendo, sitting. And walking. Then chanting compline by candlelight. When moon came through new glass wall not even clouds had a word in mind.
Passer-By, These Are Words

Passer-by, these are words. But instead of reading
I want you to listen: to this frail
Voice like that of letters eaten by grass.

Lend an ear, hear first of all the happy bee
Foraging in our almost rubbed-out names.
It flits between two sprays of leaves,
Carrying the sound of branches that are real
To those that filigree the still unseen.

Then know an even fainter sound, and let it be
The endless murmuring of all our shades.
Their whisper rises from beneath the stones
To fuse into a single heat with that blind
Light you are as yet, who can still gaze.

May your listening be good! Silence
Is a threshold where a twig breaks in your hand,
Imperceptibly, as you attempt to disengage
A name upon a stone:

And so our absent names untangle your alarms.
And for you who move away, pensively,
Here becomes there without ceasing to be.

(--Poem by Yves Bonnefoy)
We're not quite sure how to exist without form. Nor if it is wanted.

November today was desolate. Empty. So my soul spilt itself into no container.

All over.

The sense of impending news with formless silence deep enough to remain unsaid.

As we become absent names.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let him have his money back.
Stop Clenching

The moment we want happiness, we start to cling to it in our mind. First, we cling to our own idea of happiness. We relate to the outside world as a source of satisfaction and look outward for the things we normally associate with happiness--accumulating wealth, success, fame or power. As soon as we become attached to any idea--happiness, success or whatever--there is already some stress. Clinging is itself a stressful state, and everything that derives from it is also stressful. For example, try to clench your hand to make a fist. As soon as you start to clench your hand, you have to use energy to keep your fingers clenched tightly. When you let go of the clenching, your hand is free again.

So it is with the mind. When it is in such a state of clenching, it can never be free. It can never experience peace or happiness, even if one has all the wealth, fame and power in the world.

(-Thynn Thynn, Living Meditation, Living Insight)
Rather, give nothing back.
“Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’
(--from Matthew 25)
Don't vote for the bailout.

If a capitalist, a king, or a god wants a return on his money experiment, let him find someone else to kowtow to him.

I'm off the bus.

I'm walking.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"When they said REPENT REPENT, I wonder what they meant." It's a Leonard Cohen lyric.
Immovable as mountains,
single-mindedly seeking true awakening,
with a mind inspired to effort
cultivate the path of concentration,
practice diligently for countless eons
with never any regression or digression.
- Avatamsaka Sutra
"There is a crack, a crack in everything
that's how the light gets in."

Another song. Another Cohen meditation.

Friday night foggy mist.

Fire in wood stove.

Comes midnight.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Alaska, Georgia, and Minnesota still await an elected senator.

William P. Young's The Shack has been read and listened to.

There's a lot to be enthusiastic about.
The moon’s appearance, a river of stars,
snow-clad pines, clouds hovering on mountain peaks.
In darkness, they glow with brightness.
In shadows, they shine with a splendid light.
Like the dreaming of a crane flying in empty space,
like the clear, still water of an autumn pool,
endless eons dissolve into nothingness,
each indistinguishable from the other.
In this illumination all striving is forgotten.
- Hung Chih Cheng Chueh (1092-1157)
An American aide worker was killed in Pakistan.

Two American soldiers were killed in Iraq.

Executive signing statements and executive privilege are being tied into a tight unraveling knot.

There's much to be wary about, much to lament.

It rains in Maine tonight.

A good conversation at the shop.

We must be vigilant.

Cynicism is afoot.

Let's change.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What do we value?
Practice is nothing other than the
capacity to arouse fearless energy.
Without this energy,
whatever practices you perform,
whatever virtuous feelings you have,
all are without substance.
Without this energy,
will you be prepared when
you come face to face with death
in your ordinary state of mind?
How then will you persevere over other hardships?
- Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655)
The furnace is gone in the house. It will fall to 25 degrees under the full white moon. Wood stove in kitchen glows through glass doors.

We spoke of animals tonight. Peter Singer's ethic of all animals are equal:
Many philosophers have proposed the principle of equal consideration of interests, in some form or other, as a basic moral principle; but, as we shall see in more detail shortly, not many of them have recognized that this principle applies to members of other species as well as to our own. Bentham was one of the few who did realize this. In a forward-looking passage, written at a time when black slaves in the British dominions were still being treated much as we now treat nonhuman animals, Bentham wrote:

The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sarrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason, nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?

The light is as midday at midnight.

That we might see.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wind blows from northwest rippling water as tide begins to fall.

Not drawing the dichotomy between humans and nature, we are not other than nature. Thus we think about how best live in nature considering our needs, animal needs, and the rest of this planet. That's what I'm listening to as ethics philosopher Peter Singer responds to a question about a morally defensible position regarding environment, animals, and nature.

Walking town, living an ethical life suggests mindful appreciation of all of Being along with caring ways of behaving with and within Nature and Being. One zen teacher calls it 100% correct relationship. Responsible and respectful engagement/interaction calls forth from us a new way of being-in-the-world. Awareness invites compassion and forgiveness.

A lord asked Takuan, a Zen Teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others. Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man:

Not twice this day
Inch time foot gem
This day will not come again.
Each minute is worth a priceless gem.

- Master Takuan (1573-1645)
It is a question of how are we to be with one another. John Rawls' theory of justice contract formulated behind a wall of ignorance suggests the rules and standards we develop will be fairer and more just if the possibility exists that it would be applied equally to us whether we were black or white, male or female, Arab or Italian, Jew or Hindu, rich or poor, very intelligent or not so intelligent.

We are capable of a just society.
A Wonderful Painting

A wonderful painting is the result of feeling in your fingers. If you have the feeling of the thickness of the ink in your brush, the painting is already there before you paint. When you dip your brush into the ink you already know the result of your drawing, or else you cannot paint. So before you do something, "being" is there, the result is there. Even though you look as if you were sitting quietly, all your activity, past and present, is included; and the result of your sitting is also already there. You are not resting at all. All the activity is included within you. That is your being. So all results of your practice are included in your sitting. This is our practice, our zazen.

-Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
To turn our attention to what is already there within us, we participate in the creation of a wonderful society, a wonderful world within which to live in peace and justice for all.

This Veteran's Day, elsewhere in the world the 11th month, 11th day, 11th hour of the signing of the Armistice ending World War I -- we might consider ending all war.

Even the war within our minds.

The war in our hearts.

The physical wars everywhere.

But how?
...we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.
­(--Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation)
The Buddha said everything has Buddha nature. That's a first step. That, and then we have to solve the 1st koan:
Chao-chou's Dog
The Case
A monk asked Chao-chou, "Has the dog Buddha nature or not?" Chao-chou said, "Mu."

Wu-Men's Verse

Dog, buddha nature--
the full presentation of the whole;
with a a bit of "has" or "has not"
body is lost, life is lost.
Take your time.

Start now.

It's 11, 11, 11.