Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mary brings Lalla to read at Poetry Tea and Literature.

Who is awake and who asleep?

What is this lake that is continually

oozing back into the earth?

What can a human being offer to God?

What do we most deeply want?


The mind is what sleeps.

What recognizes itself

as God is awake.

This always-disappearing lake

is made of our appetites,

these moving-about,

this talking and listening.

The only offering you can make to God

is your increasing awareness.

And the last desire is

to be God in human form.
(--Lalla's Four Questions.)
(Lalla lived in Kashmir during the first part of the 1300s. In that period, Kashmir was home to devotees of Shiva and devotees of Vishnu, to Islamic Sufis and to followers of Tantric Buddhism. Lalla's poems reflect all she learned from these, but synthesized to become the expression of her own devotion in colloquial Kashmiri, rather than the Sanskrit of contemporary philosophical writing. The variety of her names reflects the wide appeal of her poems: In Hindi, she is Lal Ded (grandmother Lal); in Sanskrit, Lalleshwari (Lalla the yogini); while to Muslims, she is Lal Arifa.

Lalla was apparently from a family of Brahmins near Pampore; her poetry shows her knowledge of Sanskrit and of the Hindu scriptures. Tradition says that she left her husband after some years of an unhappy marriage to become a student of Hindu and Sufi teachers. Then she became an itinerant preacher throughout the Kashmir Valley, singing her vakhs (songs) of Shiva and of the search for truth, through an inner spirituality rather than dogma and ritual.
Lalla's first answer sounds just right this Saturday. "The mind is what sleeps. What recognizes itself as God is awake."

The evening cools
. Rokpa went for his first sail with Saskia and two crew. I cut two Yews, one to near ground. Old and strong. Remarkably strong. Demolition of ell between kitchen and barn introduces daylight and emptiness. Roof stands with pastiche supports. Four barn skunks find their way the last three days to peanut butter bait in hav-a-heart and are transported to parts away. I feel like a bomb demolition technician as I move step by step through the process with each skunk -- staying out of sight, covering trap, carrying, driving, uncovering, lifting release, waiting for exit, then making my way back home. That two go to one place and two to another worries my heart about breaking up family. I stay with the discomfort.
When you see yourself
and someone else
as one being,
when you know the most joyful day
and the most terrible night as one moment,
then awareness is alone with it's Lord.
(--Lalla Ishwari, trans. Coleman Barks.)
We are all losing the familiar in favor of the creating seeing of life.

Polyphonic chant plays. Folks drift through. Things are bought.

Car door closes. The sailors are home from the sea.

Who is awake? And who is asleep?

This ordinary day is grace.

A gift of increasing awareness.



Friday, July 04, 2008

In Maine last week a priest committed suicide. We talk to a Poor Clare hermit tonight. She knew him.

Suffering looks at many ways to solve its problem. But when we suffer strongly, every solution is blinded by our grief that we are as we are. Suffering grief fails to realize it is not a problem to be as we are.
Somewhere in this process, you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and hopeless. No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday. It has always been this way, and you just never noticed. You also are no crazier than anybody else around you. The real difference is that you have confronted the situation; they have not. So they still feel relatively comfortable. That does not mean that they are better off. Ignorance may be bliss, but it does not lead to Liberation. So don’t let this realization unsettle you. It is a milestone actually, a sign of real progress. The very fact that you have looked at the problem straight in the eye means that you are on your way up and out of it.
-Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English

I like the notion that we are free.

There are flags everywhere today.

We are on our way up and out of this sorry state of these United States, aren't we? Let the poor be poor. Let those without health care stay without health care. Let our money and human resources go to war and the pitiful murderous acquisition of oil.

False pride is unwillingness to say aloud what you are. I don't understand false pride.

Especially mine.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Doubt was Thomas' path to trust.

Walk carefully that path.
No one can find that which was never lost.


Tangible truth is good.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Is it naive to expect truth be told?
Repeatedly undergoing birth and death is just due to grasping at objects. When we reflect back on the mind that grasps at objects, we see that the real identity of mind is originally pure. Within this purity, grasping mind does not exist. Within nirvana, fundamentally there are no thoughts moving; the movement is ever still. Being still, there is no seeking.
(-- Records of the Lanka)
How about truth be known?
Or felt?
On top of it all, our bank crisis is not over. Two weeks ago, Goldman Sachs analysts said that U.S. banks may need another $65 billion to cover more write-downs of bad mortgage-related instruments and potential new losses if consumer loans start to buckle. Since President Bush came to office, our national savings have gone from 6 percent of gross domestic product to 1 percent, and consumer debt has climbed from $8 trillion to $14 trillion.

My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.

I continue to be appalled at the gap between what is clearly going to be the next great global industry — renewable energy and clean power — and the inability of Congress and the administration to put in place the bold policies we need to ensure that America leads that industry.

(--Op-Ed Column, Anxious in America, By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, Published: June 29, 2008, The New York Times)
Truth isn't what we think it is, not what we'd like it to be. Truth is, we've lost interest in truth. We prefer expedience, or spin, or even truthiness.
truthiness (noun)
1 : "truth that comes from the gut, not books" (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," October 2005)
2 : "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true" (American Dialect Society, January 2006)

(--Merriam-Webster, online)
One will set you free.

The other will enslave you to dangerous people.

Avoid preference or wishes.

Choose what is just like this.

Just this.

See it differently.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sit in cabin. Chant Compline. It's Canada Day!
Those who would take over the earth
And shape it to their will
Never, I notice, succeed.
The earth is like a vessel so sacred
That at the mere approach of the profane
It is marred
And when they reach out their fingers
It is gone.
For a time in the world some
Force themselves ahead
And some are left behind,
For a time in the world some make a great noise
And some are held silent,
For a time in the world some are puffed fat
And some are kept hungry,
For a time in the world some push aboard
And some are tipped out;
At no time in the world will a person who is sane
Over-reach himself,
Over-spend himself,
Over-rate himself.

- Lao Tzu
Prayer is simple. Open mouth. Open mind.

Open heart.

Bow. 183 days in; 183 days to go.

Reside in God.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Taking tooth, it felt like dentist was taking jaw. Millimeter by millimeter I am fading away.
The birds have vanished into the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

- Li Po (701-762)
Daylight dims. White dog looks through screen on cabin porch up trail, alert at some movement. He is still, paw resting on sill. The stone painted with words "Be still and know that I am God" from Gale is just to left of paw.
The Lord, support of the just
I trust in the Lord, so why do you say to me:
“Fly up to the mountain like a sparrow”?

“For the wicked have drawn their bows, fitted the arrow to the string, to shoot in darkness at the upright of heart.
When the foundations are being overthrown, what are the just to do?”
(--from Psalm 10 (11))
It's good practice for this young Border Collie with sweet temperament -- watching alertly through dusk for movement; listening intently for evening emergence from earth.

These silent monks of tree monastery hold their positions of prayer. The twilight zabuton is ankle rich in meditation.
"In the course of epic events, matter was distilled out of radiant energy, segregated into galaxies, collapsed into stars, fused into atoms, swirled into planets, spliced into molecules, captured into cells, mutated into species, compromised into thought, and cajoled into cultures. All of this (and much more) is what matter has done as systems upon systems of organization have emerged over thirteen billion years of creative natural history."
(— Loyal Rue, philosopher at Loyola College)
Tonight, matter arranges itself on zendo zafu, and sits with measuring breath.

Prayer, this stillness of descending night, presences all.

Vacate your thinking; become the place.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Perhaps it is not so much that God is with us. Rather, this: God is with-us.
-- causa PREP GEN = for sake/purpose of (preceded by GEN.), on account/behalf of, with a view to.
-- usus, usus
N M = use, enjoyment; experience, skill, advantage; custom.
(-- from Latin Dictionary, online, University of Notre Dame)
Is God -- Causa Usus -- with a view to use, to be useful, at your service?

And if we are to be of God, are we to be "Deus usus"? Are we to enter "The enjoyment, the experience, the custom of God"?
'Mindfulness, or awareness, does not mean that you should think and be conscious "I am doing this" or "I am doing that." No. Just the contrary. The moment you think "I am doing this," you become self-conscious, and then you do not live in the action, but you live in the idea "I am," and consequently your work too is spoiled.

You should forget yourself completely, and lose yourself in what you do. The moment a speaker becomes self-conscious and thinks "I am addressing an audience," his speech is distributed and his trend of thought broken. But when he forgets himself in his speech, in his subject, then he is at his best, he speaks well and explains things clearly.

All great work--artistic, poetic, intellectual or spiritual--is produced at those moments when its creators are lost completely in their actions, when they forget themselves altogether, and are free from self-consciousness.
(-- Walpola Rahula, in What the Buddha Taught)
What is wanted of us? Is it to be usus?

Are we ready to move through "I am" to "Us is"?

Concluding Prayer
O God, you have given us this holy day so that we may have the joy of venerating the apostles Peter and Paul.
Grant that your Church may follow their example in all things,
for it was from them that her life began.

(--from Office of Readings, Sunday 29 June 2008, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, Solemnity)
Through "Us is" to "This is what and who we are"?


We are for the use of, in the service of, one another. In and through and with...God. Freely, mindfully, healing wounds.
unus, una, unum (gen -ius) ADJ [uncommon] = alone, a single/sole; some, some one; only (pl.)
alius, alia, aliud ADJ = other, another; different, changed; [alii...alii => some...others].
(-- Latin Dictionary, University of Notre Dame, etc)
Are we to be unus alius -- another alone? a single another? some one(s) changed? only different? one another?

At Sunday Evening Practice we read from Matthew Fox on Thomas Berry:
Another dimension where Thomas Berry and Aquinas link up – of course Berry is carrying us into new arenas – is Aquinas’ observation that every human person is “carpax universi” – capable of the universe. That’s who we are as a species. That’s how big we are, and neither our souls, nor our hearts nor our minds will be satisfied and therefore relieved of temptations to greed, until we are re-set in the context of cosmology of the universe itself. In this regard, this exciting teaching in our time, that reflect and support the powerful work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, and others in recovering a Universe Story.

Speaking, for example, about Otto Rank, the great psychologist, father of humanistic psychology, he broke with Freud over many things. But Rank came to the conclusion that the number one problem for human beings is our feeling of separation. This feeling begins with our leaving the womb, which was our universe for 9 months and he thinks the rest of life is about trying to find reunion with the cosmos. He says: “ we surrender ourselves, in art or in love, to a potential restoration of the union with the cosmos which once existed and was then lost.” He talks about the ‘original wound’, which is a much happier term than ‘original sin’, that haunts our species.

And this is the wound: that we feel separated from the cosmos.

He says the only solution is the "unio mystica" – the mystical union – our being one with the All, in tune with the cosmos, and this he points out, is something that indigenous people all know about. Rank says: “This identification is the echo of an original identity, not merely of child and mother but of everything living. Witness the reverence of the primitive for animals. In humans, identification aims at re-establishing a lost identity with the cosmic process, which has to be surrendered and continuously re-established in the course of self-development. Thomas Berry’s work is a profound work of human healing,because it restores that lost identity, that lost relationship, that lost passion – between the human and the cosmos.

(--from Matthew Fox Tribute to Thomas Berry – November 3rd 2002, )

We begin today our 13th year of the bookshop/bakery at the harbor.

Grateful is a good word. It's what we are.

With-us, bless us, all!