Saturday, April 05, 2008

The nice elderly Catholic lady from Union wouldn't touch the dog because she was going to receive holy communion in an hour.

The dog didn't mind. He was looking up at her and wagging his tail at a holy communion.

It often escapes me when exactly it happened that Americans began fearing their leaders and hating their country.

An illusion of participatory governance has been shattered.

Only God feels the disappointment of it.

Forget the resurrection. Christians have never understood the incarnation.

Becoming human has never been of interest to the betters among us.

There's no one to lead. Don't follow.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Brian, visiting the prison conversation for the first time, said in final circle: "I am just here listening." Not that I heard this. Ryan did. He listened.
Sentient beings are really Buddha.
Like water and ice;
Apart from water, no ice;
Outside of sentient beings, no Buddha.
Not knowing it is near
They seek for it afar!
Just like being in water,
But crying for thirst!

- Hakuin
In Buddhist group a bowl of donuts, m&m's, chips, and cookies to celebrate H's release next week. Time magazine has the Dalai Lama on cover.
I rejoiced when the Lord listened
to the voice of my pleading;
I rejoiced for he turned his ear to me,
as I called to him day after day.

The ropes of death were around me,
the agonies of the underworld were upon me.
I came upon trouble and anguish,
and I called on the name of the Lord:
“Lord, free my soul”.

The Lord is kind and just,
our God takes pity on us.
The Lord guards the weak;
I am cast down, but he will save me.

Turn, my soul, to your rest,
for the Lord is kind to you.
He has torn my soul away from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from falling.

I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

--Psalm 114 (116A)
In Protective Custody a new drop-in to the table is making sure we understand what he understands about Romans. We tell him it's meant to be a conversation, no matter how good the words he persistently reads at us. We get into a little Marcos Borg and Dominic Crosson. I see a man I used to see in seg. He's walking wide circles around the pod. I greet him. He wondered why I stopped visiting him. I was only a temporary chaplain, I'm a volunteer now, I say. He figured I'd catch him up.

Two men reading Tolle provide the 3rd conversation with something from chapter 3. Ego says we're bad; ego says we're good. Forget both. We're just who we are.

We leave the sliding heavy clanking doors behind and introduce Diane to Rokpa. He is waggy tail and puppy cute. His fiddle hangs (only sometimes) outside the door to the house.

The fresh baked bread in Rockland's Atlantic Baking Company smells just right.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

People continue to talk about some bad times still to come.
April 4, 2008
81% in Poll Say Nation Is Headed on the Wrong Track

Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the New York Times/CBS News poll began asking about the subject in the early 1990s, according to the latest poll.

In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002.

Although the public mood has been darkening since the early days of the war in Iraq, it has taken a new turn for the worse in the last few months, as the economy has seemed to slip into recession. There is now nearly a national consensus that the country faces significant problems.

A majority of nearly every demographic and political group — Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school — say the United States is headed in the wrong direction. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was better off.
Robert the Trappist monk said again this year: "Cheer up! Things are going to get worse."

No doubt.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

They say a bicycle is best balanced by moving forward.
Kuei-shan asked Yun-yen,
“What is the seat of enlightenment?”
Yun-yen said,
“Freedom from artificiality.”

- Kuei-shan (771-854)
There's tires needing air.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's not easy being a fool. It's easy fooling myself.
If people are quiet,
They can be quiet anywhere.
If people aren’t quiet
They won’t be quiet in the mountains.
Everything depends on you.
Life is transient,
Like a flash of lightning in a dream.
Before we receive this form,
We had another face,
Our original face.
We can’t see it with our eyes.
We can only know it with wisdom.

- Chi-ch’eng
I'll try to make light of it -- my foolishness.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
(-Charles A. Beard)
There must be a lot of darkness tonight; there are (at least) a hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone.

This is our original face.

Wise up!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Watching Beyond Belief a documentary about two 9/11 widows who work to help widows in Afghanistan.

The very fact of life in Afghanistan for women.
The Tables Turned

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you'll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun above the mountain's head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There's more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless--
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:--
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

(- Poem by William Wordsworth)

There is much for us to watch and receive. All that is required is that we watch, and receive.
There's a way in which each us makes small choices every day. And after a period of time those choices develop into a pattern, and we might be thought of as choosing ourselves. ...It's like any one of us -- we choose our way to being ourselves."
(Spoken by brother of one of the American women).
Who do we choose to be?

In our life?


Choose life.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

To be desolate it is not necessary to despair. We might feel abandoned and alone; we might be abandoned and alone -- but if that is where we are, then that is what we have to work with.
desolate -- 1: devoid of inhabitants and visitors : deserted
2: joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one
3 a: showing the effects of abandonment and neglect : dilapidated b: barren, lifeless c: devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope : gloomy
The Writer's Almanac points out that today is the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh:
His brother Theo was an art dealer, and for years he had supplied Van Gogh with a small monthly stipend. In return, Van Gogh gave his brother every canvas he painted. He wrote thousands of letters to Theo. "How much sadness there is in life," he wrote. "The right thing is to work." He moved to a small town north of Paris and painted feverishly until insanity overtook him. He cut off part of his own ear and was placed in an asylum at St. Rémy. One of his greatest paintings, Starry Night (1889), was painted while he was confined there. He left the asylum for good in the spring of 1890. In July, just as he was starting to receive favorable attention for his work, he committed suicide. Shortly before he died, he wrote "I feel a failure."
(--Garrison Keillor, 30March2008 The Writer's Almanac)
Monastics know desolation and attempt to live through it. They attend to Philippians 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." There is an attitude of prayer that sees and accepts troubles as material for building one's life.

There's nothing wrong with easy. There's nothing right with difficult. What happens is what happens. We have to face what happens, deal with it, and make our way through.
To practice Zen, you need deep roots.
People with deep roots are rare.
In the past anyone could practice Zen.
But not now.
Zen depends completely on yourself.
It’s much harder, especially now.

- Sheng-hi
What's harder, I suppose, is a mind that comprehends that none of us are abandoned, none of us alone. That mind, not often attained, sees and comprehends that the words "Love your neighbor as yourself" are as simple and direct a revelation as any Zen Master might present in a koan. Our neighbor is our self.
If ye wonder whether evil karma can be neutralized or not,
Then know that it is neutralized by desire for goodness.
But they who knowingly do evil deeds,
Exchange a mouthful of food for infamy.
They who knowing not whither they themselves are bound,
Yet presume to pose as guides for others,
Do injury both to themselves and others.
If pain and sorrow ye desire sincerely to avoid,
Avoid, then, doing harm to others.
(- W.Y. Evans-Wentz, Tibets Great Yogi Milarepa , from Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith)
I don't often see nor comprehend this truth. Emotions, blindness, unwillingness to confront demons of divisiveness all trip me up. Sometimes I depart. I abandon the work of deconstructing a self that wants to dominate any particular landscape it thinks it can. I absent myself from the congregate and imagine they are cause of my disconsolation.On bookshelf of Hermitage Library is a title Try Giving Yourself Away, by David Dunn. He ends the book with the words:
It takes all kinds of people to make an interesting world, and it takes all kinds of experiences to make an interesting life.
We can never escape from people; and we will never cease having experiences. The art of truly successful living is to mix the people and the experiences that make up our individual lives in such fashion that they produce the greatest possible harvest of happiness, for ourselves and those around us.
The surest way I know to do this is by giving ourselves away, not just as a
hobby -- though there is no possible objection to starting it on a hobby basis-- but on a day-in-and-day-day-out way of life. It calls for god will toward everybody with whom we rub elbows -- in or family life (where assuredly it should start), in our daily work, even our fleeting contacts with strangers.
At times it will require all the kindliness, understanding and tolerance we can muster, and a firm determination not to be discouraged by the occasional repulses we will suffer or the times when our giving will be met with suspicious cynicism. But if we persist in sowing seeds of friendliness, helpfulness and good will all along the way, we will find ourselves traveling a Happy Road in the company of a host of wonderful friends, and hugely enjoying life in spite of its troubles and vicissitudes. What is more, we will be sowing a rich harvest for our later years.
(--pp.127,128 in Try Giving Yourself Away, by David Dunn, Prentice Hall, 1947)
Anyone doing anything affects everyone. Thus, Dunn's "we" and "our" in his final sentence refers to all of us. In a desolate time the prayer for good harvest is heartfelt.

Economic scarcity, war's expanding cancer, the isolation of so many brothers and sisters, and the worry that any refreshing light will itself be extinguished -- these are contributors to what increasingly seems like a dark time. More difficult still is the perception that some revel in the desolation visited upon others.

Theodore Roethke wrote in this poem for us:
In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

(--Poem by Theodore Roethke)
It's time.

To give our self.

A Way.


(Greet God!)