Saturday, March 15, 2008

In class we've been thinking about a mutation of consciousness. Then a woman who likes the shop's Topfen Kuchen sent the following link about possibly using salt water to power automobiles among other myriad uses. It is naturally likely that an answer arises simply from mind attentive to earth.
"And what, monks, is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering? It is that craving which gives rise to rebirth, bound up with pleasure and lust, finding fresh delight now here, now there: that is to say sensual craving, craving for existence, and craving for non-existence. And where does this craving arise and establish itself? Wherever in the world there is anything agreeable and pleasurable, there this craving arises and establishes itself. And what is there in the world that is agreeable and pleasurable? The eye in the world is agreeable and pleasurable, the ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... the mind in the world is agreeable and pleasurable, and there this craving arises and establishes itself. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tangibles, mind-objects in the world are agreeable and pleasurable, and there this craving arises and establishes itself." (--Mahasatipatthana Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, in Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the Buddha, trans. by Maurice Walshe. From Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book)
I love being. Then being alive. As well as mind's awareness of being alive. Also loss -- reminding me that two relinquishes one and, through relative nihility, retrieves one by something falling away. Here, finally, the choice to fall into absolute emptiness -- where each is itself -- with, in, as, and through one another. This meditation is a gift that Keiji Nishitani via Taietsu Unno gave at a conference entitled Encounters with Emptiness (Smith/Amherst Colleges, 1984).
San Antonio Tonight I lingered over your name, the delicate assembly of vowels a voice inside my head. You were sleeping when I arrived. I stood by your bed and watched the sheets rise gently. I knew what slant of light would make you turn over. It was then I felt the highways slide out of my hands. I remembered the old men in the west side café, dealing dominoes like magical charms. It was then I knew, like a woman looking backward, I could not leave you, or find anyone I loved more. (--Poem: "San Antonio" by Naomi Shihab Nye from Is this Forever, or What? Poems and Paintings from Texas. Harper Collins Publishers, 2004.)
I find that love is a long looking. Without choosing nor discarding there is the arising and dissolving of all things with form. We appear and we disappear. In the interval we get to look in ways beyond explanation or description. We get to fall into and to be the interstice. It is in this place where dwells that which we call God. It is this invitation to look, to look around, that encapsulates the mystery unveiling in ritual this coming week. Looking into, and seeing through -- in loving silence, in conjoining solitude -- the mysterious mutation of incarnate resurrection, is a gift presenting nothing but what is. "Many arrivals" (indeed do, as the poet Roethke wrote) "make us live." There is no. Leaving. This. There is only allowing this its own way. As you, love.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Like a sine curve, pain ascends and descends as I breathe, watching. Face feels like brittle shards broken crashing to marble floor splintering further with each non-zero waveform, positive value, negative value. Pill. Pause. Sleep.
The Dharma of the Buddha is not found in books. If you want to really see for yourself what the Buddha was talking about you don't need to bother with books. Watch your own mind. Examine to see how feelings come and go, how thoughts come and go. Don't be attached to anything, just be mindful of whatever there is to see. This is the way to the truths of the Buddha. Be natural. Everything you do in your life is a chance to practice. It is all Dharma. When you do your chores try to be mindful. If you are emptying a spittoon or cleaning a toilet don't feel you are doing it as a favor for anyone else. There is Dharma in emptying spittoons. Don't feel you are practicing only when sitting still cross-legged. Some of you have complained that there is not enough time to meditate. Is there enough time to breathe? This is your meditation: mindfulness, naturalness in whatever you do.
(--Ajahn Chah, in Jack Kornfields Living Dharma, From Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book)
Ruminating in prison this morning the possibility of 200 billion galaxies each with 200 billion stars stretching from here to nowhere. We imagine the expanse of mind willing to enter into the vast pleroma beyond our ability to conceive.

In protective custody, name of Jesus comes to table. Was this one incarnating what we call God so as to take away confusion about body and spirit -- not two, but just completely human completely divine? Liberation for wholeness; release from egoic identifications; mere integrity void of separation?

In Buddhist group, knuckling moktak as Heart Sutra drones with bell interlude. The wood fish with open mouth and empty belly makes good sound, cheering us at finish -- all are enlightened -- so shy yet to realize gift.

Crossing yard, a Muslim friend approaches with open arms. Joyful embrace. The sweetness of simple connection!
"One of the greatest charms of the Catholic Church for the Chinese soul is its monastic tradition. The Chinese people are on the whole more attached to the world; but they have a secret admiration for those who have heroically sacrificed all their worldly pleasures and relations in order to devote themselves to a life of union with God. At the bottom of their heart, the Chinese realize that all honors and riches will soon pass without leaving a trace; and therefore they admire those who abandon what is temporary in singlehearted pursuit of what is eternal.... When the love of God reigns supreme in a family, the family itself becomes a cloister and the duties of vocation constitute a cell for each member of the family. If one performs one's domestic, professional, and social duties for the love of God, one is a monk or nun in spirit."
(--by John C.H. Wu, author of Beyond East and West, a spiritual autobiography)
Some metaphors wear well. At home, in prison.





Thursday, March 13, 2008

Maybe there is a tree called the tree of life.
Enlightenment has no tree,
It would be an error to expect
It in a peach blossom.
Discard whatever is held in the hands
As an external aid to enlightenment,
For the monk is clothed
In the universe itself

- Takuan
On the mountain, deep snow gives circle of respect to tree trunk -- a hollow forms.
In 2001, Potter climbed the famous Nose route on El Capitan, a 3,000-foot vertical wall with a fierce overhang, in 3 hours 24 minutes. It was a feat stunning in its economy, considering that, in 1958, the renowned climber Warren J. Harding led the first team up the route in 45 days. Often, Potter has climbed thousands of feet carrying no ropes at all, nothing to aid his grip but shoes and a bag of chalk.

“Sport is all about being in the zone, when time and space stop and everything goes away,” said Beaver Theodosakis, the founder and president of prAna, the climbing apparel company that sponsors Potter. “Dean holds that zone for hours on end, when the mind can’t wander, when you can’t second-guess, when you have to be so confident and deliberate in your moves. Imagine in everyday life, if we could go to the office like that and not be distracted.”

(About climber Dean Potter, in article, 900 Feet Up With Nowhere to Go but Down
By JERÉ LONGMAN, Published: March 14, 2008, MOAB, Utah, in New York Times Online)
I don't want to second-guess someone seemingly fearless.

Maybe there is no place to fall. No death, as we know it, to catch us up.

Or just maybe hard frozen ice/snow this March will one day begin to soften and melt.

Late winter feels like a tiring hand grip and foot fastening over a deep cavern with no sign of end.

The universe itself reaches us.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When a message is not understood, and the response is not understandable, we are left with a rhetorical nightmare. As Robert Lowell wrote in his poem Epilogue,
All's misalliance.
Yet why not say what happened?
There are days when it all seems nuts, when nothing fits, and no explanation comes close to clarifying anything.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun's illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.

(Lowell, from Epilogue)
We've yet to give each one his or her living name. We seem stuck in making objects and categories of each other.

When the Man of Tao left the mountain,
The mountain turned as gray as ashes;
The white clouds hid away their smiles,
And the blue pines were filled with grief.
Suddenly came news of the Man of Tao’s return,
And bird’s song burst open the mountain valleys.
A divine light radiates from his precious temples,
And a dharma rain washes away the swirling dust.

- Su Shih (1073)
It takes one person to tell the truth. It takes many of us to accomplish and allow falsity.
Why asking “Why?” Makes No Sense and Also Makes Sense:
The Difficulty of the Mental–Rational in Comprehending the Act
We can apply this theory to a complex rhetorical piece of communication. The
destruction of the World Trade Center and the damage to the Pentagon can be
viewed as rhetorical, demonstrating a clear presence of a message. In addition to
the material destruction and the loss of life, the rhetorical message of the attack
was used technologically to inflict damage through influence. Of particular
interest here is the way in which this piece of communication obliterates the
sender–receiver model that has been popular in communication scholarship. This
model can say almost nothing about this communication. As noted below, the
absence of a self–proclaimed sender precludes the ground from which encoding can
be said to take place. In addition, because of complications arising from the
presence of multiple modes of awareness the decoding process is also impossible to
force into existence from a description of the communication. Likewise, the
“message” is ambiguous when cast in the form of the signitive or even the
argumentative. The result is that after the attack, most Westerners find
themselves asking, “Why do they hate us so much? Why did they do this? What
are they trying to tell us?” The answer has since been elaborated to some extent
and for various propagandistic and plainly rhetorical purposes. What is of concern
here is the immediate message, that of the act of crashing the planes into the
If philosophy deals with concepts, rhetoric is the technology that enacts or expresses those concepts. Thus rhetoric is inherently tied to abstraction. The technological exercise of will and power, a consequence of the ego and of atomization and sectorization, is a mental rational phenomenon with its roots in magical consciousness. This form of expression is used to exert power over all aspects of the world (Mickunas, 1992). Rhetorical communication is a form of exercise of power and will.
History clearly demonstrates, and Gebser notes, that when civilizations fail to understand messages that work from very different forms of expressivity, from different communicative outlooks, the result is almost inevitably disaster. A response that treats this message as disputative in nature will fail in its purported intent of ending conflict. Instead, it will result in a failure to comprehend the self– examination necessary to be a receiver of such a message. Without this, there can be no appropriate response.

(--from Magic, Will, and Discourse: Rhetoric as Technology, by David Worth,
University of Oklahoma in Integrative Explorations (Vol. 1-8), The Jean Gebser Society)
We are slow to self-examination.

Slower yet to apply justice to those with power.

(Unless, of course, sex or fraud grabs headlines. Then we receive the message, still befuddled as to who sends it.)

We long for the return of the person of Tao, when bird song will burst open, divine light radiates throughout, and a dharma rain washes away the swirling dust.

As receiving responders we will practice heartfelt understanding -- becoming a clear presence of communion and integral action.



Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sun comes through bedroom window.

Re-rendering traditional prayer.
Prayer Of The One We Call God

Our origin, dwelling between us, sacred is this presence.
May just-this truth be our home.
Engaging wholeness be our longing, everywhere, with each and all.

Allow us today embracing union.
Calling one another with true names so too we are remembered as truly we are.
And when we miss the point of this existence, grace us with original ever-presence.

For this loving reality is true dwelling, creative energy, and what-is-itself, nowhere else.

With grateful awareness, we move and remain still, within and through...
One Another.
(-wfh, 11mar08)
For now.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What is being done is being done by what is itself. (That's what was said at table Sunday Evening Practice.) We say we are sitting. But then again, sitting is what is being done. With reciprocity, wholeness.

Breathe away. Is death a breath away?
Time is passing every moment;
How can you be complacent and waste it,
Seeing death is but a breath away?

- Kuei-Shan (771-854)
And as for seeing death, that too is a breath. We must first stand still; then, away!
Moment of Inertia

It's what makes the pancake hold still
while you slip the spatula under it
so fast it doesn't move, my father said
standing by the stove.

All motion stopped when he died.
With his last breath the earth
lurched to a halt and hung still on its axis,
the atoms in the air
coming to rest within their molecules,
and in that moment
something slid beneath me
so fast I couldn't move.

(Poem: "Moment of Inertia" by Debra Spencer from Pomegranate. Hummingbird Press, 2004.)
A woman writes her mother died. I write this haiku:
(for s)

i heard in passing
only light and love remain --
through this nowhere else

(--wfh, 10mar08) 1.
1. It occurs to me these days that nothing is real until it is whole -- and that each of us holds the other in the throes of wholeness by our willingness to complete the wholeness.
I like this notion that darkness isn't dark. It is at the edge of light seeking itself wholly involved with light. When light pushes darkness away each remains half and opposed. In their embrace, light/dark is what-is-in-itself, well, rounded, and presentable for morning tea or coffee.

Perhaps, as some will say, "There is no death." There can't be death apart from life. One needs the other to have meaning, meaning being the whole, if it we long for. So too -- life with death. One embracing the other until there is no other.
one's not half two. It's two are halves of one:

one's not half two. It's two are halves of one:
which halves reintegrating,shall occur
no death and any quantity;but than
all numerable mosts the actual more

minds ignorant of stern miraculous
this every truth-beware of heartless them
(given the scalpel,they dissect a kiss;
or,sold the reason,they undream a dream)

one is the song which fiends and angels sing:
all murdering lies by mortals told make two.
Let liars wilt,repaying life they're loaned;
we(by a gift called dying born)must grow

deep in dark least ourselves remembering
love only rides his year.
All lose,whole find
(Poem by e.e. cummings)
There are times I think I'm ready to lose all.

Breath. Partiality. Ego.

Moving still.

Away. Far, far away.

And near. Nearer. Nearest.

To nowhere else.