Friday, August 08, 2008

Note: There will be no regular Saturday Morning or Sunday Evening Practice this weekend (9th-10th Aug). The chapel/zendo, as usual, is available for use.

So much to do in so little time. Arrive for Eucharist as woman invites our considering not being worthy. (I’m not, yet am.)

The New York Times from market on road from Westfield. Mrs Murphy’s dozen donuts at quite a reasonable price. Breakfast with the mother/daughter leaving for wedding seven hours away. Settling into dog-sitting, crows cawing, thunder darkening cool breeze after raising American and Canadian flags up pole.
Friday Afternoon of a Birthday
Purple finch on barn red rail jumps to vacant feeder's green.
Hops to metal edge, looks in sliding door. Back to railing. Up again
to wooden bar's empty container. Looks in room. “Where? What?”
Calls once, whistles once, chirps then flies away.

(--wfh, 08.08.08, Southwick)
All eights. Variations of fours, eights, beetles song, and hermitage address calculate this respite retreat with doggy solitudes up a rain ravaged driveway under canopy of tree in August.
Philippe Aries, in a series of lectures he delivered at Johns Hopkins in 1973, and later published as Western Attitudes toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present, noted that beginning about 1930 there had been in most Western countries and particularly in the United States a revolution in accepted attitudes toward death.
“Death,” he wrote, “so omnipresent in the past that it was familiar, would be effaced, would disappear. It would become shameful and forbidden.”

(p.60, in The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, c.2006)
The use of mere detail enlivens.
Halley's Comet
by Stanley Kunitz

Miss Murphy in first grade
wrote its name in chalk
across the board and told us
it was roaring down the stormtracks
of the Milky Way at frightful speed
and if it wandered off its course
and smashed into the earth
there'd be no school tomorrow.
A red-bearded preacher from the hills
with a wild look in his eyes
stood in the public square
at the playground's edge
proclaiming he was sent by God
to save every one of us,
even the little children.
"Repent, ye sinners!" he shouted,
waving his hand-lettered sign.
At supper I felt sad to think
that it was probably
the last meal I'd share
with my mother and my sisters;
but I felt excited too
and scarcely touched my plate.
So mother scolded me
and sent me early to my room.
The whole family's asleep
except for me. They never heard me steal
into the stairwell hall and climb
the ladder to the fresh night air.

Look for me, Father, on the roof
of the red brick building
at the foot of Green Street—
that's where we live, you know, on the top floor.
I'm the boy in the white flannel gown
sprawled on this coarse gravel bed
searching the starry sky,
waiting for the world to end.

(Poem "Halley's Comet" by Stanley Kunitz, from Passing Through, W.W. Norton & Co., 1997.)
Everything red and green details our coming and going. Today, gratitude I've been here and not yet gone.
So Take a Look at Me Now
Sitting is essentially a simplified space. Our daily life is in constant movement: lots of things going on, lots of people talking, lots of events taking place. In the middle of that, it's very difficult to sense that we are in our life. When we simplify the situation, when we take away the externals and remove ourselves from the ringing phone, the television, the people who visit us, the dog who needs a walk, we get a chance--which is absolutely the most valuable thing there is--to face ourselves. Meditation is not about some state, but about the meditator. It's not about some activity or about fixing something. It's about ourselves. If we don't simplify the situation the chance of taking a good look at ourselves is very small--because what we tend to look at isn't ourselves but everything else. If something goes wrong, what do we look at? We look at what's going wrong. We're looking out there all the time, and not at ourselves.

(--Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen)
The quiet today is about nothing out there.

Here today.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Note: There will be no regular Saturday Morning or Sunday Evening Practice this weekend (9th-10th Aug). The chapel/zendo, as usual, is available for use.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Transfiguration of Christ. Nuclear attack on Hiroshima. What connection?

Translucence. Carnage. "We won!" says the military man. We've won in Iraq. We'll win in Iran. There's no arguing with that kind of assessing championing. No wrong can be done. It's white hats all over the place.
Wisdom replaces ignorance in our minds when we realize that happiness does not lie in the accumulation of more and more pleasant feelings, that gratifying craving does not bring us a feeling of wholeness or completeness. It simply leads to more craving and more aversion. When we realize in our own experience that happiness comes not from reaching out but from letting go, not from seeking pleasurable experience but from opening in the moment to what is true, this transformation of understanding then frees the energy of compassion within us. Our minds are no longer bound up in pushing away pain or holding on to pleasure. Compassion becomes the natural response of an open heart.
--Joseph Goldstein, in Seeking the Heart of Wisdom
When Jesus showed through all faces and every formless aspect of himself, he suggested no one tell anyone else of what they saw.

Good advice.

See for yourself, he was saying.

The thing about carnage is how convenient it is. What is inconvenient about translucence is how it reveals everything. No place to hide, nothing to hide.

There's no doubt everything will find itself faced with light of truth.

Might as well begin now.

Let's invite ourselves to be seen shone through.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What if everything shone through one thing.

What would that one thng be?
As mind is, so is the Buddha;
As the Buddha is, so are living beings.
One should know that the Buddha’s and mind’s
Essential nature is boundless.

- Avatamsaka Sutra
Belief is impossible. Drop belief.

Seeing is what remains when everything else falls away. in immediately apprehended without discourse.

Walking town without a word.

Only each thing.

By itself.

Shone through.

Monday, August 04, 2008

At times we forget that we are not that important. Not outside everything else. That's where everything is what it is. It's a shame when some things or some people are not what they are meant to be.

The soldiers stuck in Iraq are targets of a people who no longer, (if ever they did), want them there. The oil companies decorate their offices. New bank accounts are opened. The current-to-be-former president and vice president figure they, like their predecessors, will make ten million minimum a year on speeches, paybacks, and profits from their time as quardians of public trust.
Two Sides of a Coin that does not Exist

All things reflect, interpenetrate, and indeed contain all other things. This is the organic nature of the universe, and is called mutual interdependence in classical Buddhism. Affinity and coincidence are its surface manifestations . . . the other is no other than myself. This is the foundation of the precepts and the inspiration for genuine human behavior.

To acknowledge one's own dark side with a smile and to acknowledge the shining side of the other person with a smile--this is practice. Keeping the shining side of one's self always in view and holding fast to the dark side of the other--this is not practice.,

(--Robert Aitken, Encouraging Words)
Every day one of us dies. We ask these men and women to go to Iraq, prepare the ground for oil companies, work with the prospect of IED's, and to come home again and redirect their fear and hatred of enemies to less violent battles. Or they could go into politics and become snipers as do candidates for high office.
U.S. Confirmed Deaths:
Reported Deaths: 4132
Confirmed Deaths: 4129
Pending Confirmation: 3

(As of 4Aug08,
There's a sickness hereabouts that hasn't been named yet. I'll try. Let's call it shame on us. It is hard to come to terms with shameful behavior. In prison the child molesters are treated like garbage. In politics shameless molesters of trust and purveyors of personal preference are given pensions, privilege, and libraries to house their redacted papers.

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

(--Song, lyrics by Leonard Cohen)
If we forgive our leaders their awful acts, is that a sign we are mature? Or merely impotent?

I favor a middle path. Let's inquire and investigate the thinking, rationale, behavior, and implications of what the American leaders have wreaked these last six years.

And if a clean assessment says all was as it had to be, no lies, no wrongdoing, no shameful acts -- then I shall be content.

Inquiry is a comforting promise.

Forgiveness is willing to wait.

Rotten fruit gathers flies.

Shamefulness, ultimately, wants to be caught out.

Light longs to be let in!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The thunderclap and lightning flash were simultaneous. Everyone for a half mile thought they'd been hit by the end of life. Instead, for an instant, perfect awe.
When he chews on “Mu,” even his teeth disappear,
Biting on its suchness, there is an inexhaustible store.
A koan like “Buddha is Mind” is a million miles away
Like the wind blowing on a horse’s ear,
Or a painted plum fragrance.

- Isshi Bunshu (1608-1646)
Reading Nouwen on Transfiguration at Sunday Evening Practice. Folks from Connecticut stop by. We wonder how you forget Tabor in Gethsemane. Then we remember how hard it would be to embrace all joy and all sorrow. And not separate them with preference.
A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.
(--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)
The Russian novelist dies.

He is excused.