Saturday, August 30, 2008

A monastic presence asks us the question: "Are we willing to investigate what is going on between us?" It is a life of simplicity, compassion, and faithful engagement.

Who can live such a life in today's world?
Illusion and enlightenment depend on each other,
Principle and actuality are ultimately the same.
All day long, sutras without words,
Through the night, Zen without sitting.
Warblers sing in the willow grove by the river,
A village dog barks at the moon.
I have no one to share my feelings
So I just write what is in my heart.

- Ryokan (1758-1831)
A writer late evening buying books at shop said tonight that once you have a "self" and "other" you have capitalism.

"No other" is a different kind of communal compassion and economic sharing.

I want everyone to have health and care for that health.

Friday, August 29, 2008

In prison today we wondered whether public remorse was a stage play. Given a mask, the saying goes, a man will tell the truth. Given a stage, we say, a man will playact. It is near impossible to figure out whether a man is telling or feeling the truth or if he is running his lines.
Let us sit together on a mat of reeds
And watch the mountains
Turn purple in the sunset.

- Rai San’yo
Fireworks over Camden Harbor for Windjammer Weekend. Pizza on patio.

Individual conscience is the measure of character. Informed and clear, the individual conscience is inviolable. The work is to inform and clarify.

We get old.

So it is!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

For a moment, consider how the heart of America has changed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

There is suffering in the world. One feels sorrow at the suffering. We try to help see one another through.
Talking about food won’t make you full,
Babbling about clothes won’t keep out the cold.
A bowl of rice is what fills the belly;
It takes a suit of clothing to make you warm.
And yet, without stopping to consider this,
You complain the Buddha is hard to find.
Turn your mind within! There he is!
Why look for him abroad?

--Han shan
Biden says his mother told him, "No one is better than you. Everyone is your equal. And you are the equal of everyone."

One plus one equals one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I don't know if it matters who becomes president.
The duality lies only in the skill
Or clumsiness, the honesty or
Dishonesty, of the person.
The content of the practices may vary,
But what difference is there in the goal
That is reached?

- Hakuin (1685-1769)
Dirt is dirt. Sight is sight.

Can we see what is right?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kitchen. Cat plays. Dog plays.
The middle way involves a willingness to accept either rebirth or no rebirth of consciousness in another life. But the problem of rebirth of craving is the most universal, as well as the most significant and most urgent, for it pertains to all times, regardless of whether it be this moment, this life, or future lives if there are to be future lives. If one has solved this problem and is freed from craving, then all other problems cease to be problems, for with respect to them he has ceased to crave.
- Dialogues of the Buddha
Not to want. Not to want to live. Not to want to die. Just not to want.
There is nothing else I can do;
I walk on and on.
(--Santoka Taneda, trans. John Stevens)
Visiting empty rooms where meetingbrook might want to or not want to move to.

Democrats feature Teddy and Michelle.

All we can do, until we can't, is to walk on, walk off, walk with.

For those born today, for those dead today, we pray.

Tom and Taneda practice their gate.

Gone walking.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

One Vietnam vet got hot with another Vietnam vet out on the shop's patio while a third Vietnam vet inside grumbled that being a blowhard or even a POW in Hanoi during that war, while excruciating, was not exactly a rationale for deciding the presidential race. Pain as the reason for exacting and prolonging more pain seems counter-intuitive.

Inexplicably, and dangerously, the metaphor is enacted by a woman falling and banging her face on concrete ground. Everyone assembles to help her -- medical nurse from restaurant, ambulance EMTs, a flurry of first aid -- and she is transported, alert, asking how she got on the ground, a hurting time to follow, to emergency room and another length of recovery. Inside the shop a mixture of emotions -- concern for the woman's well-being alongside the veterans' grousing about how anybody who's been in combat can retain a bellicose bravado.

At least one person is silently praying for wounded woman and wounded warriors.
In the Liang Imperial Palace
He would not explain who he was,
But crossed the river
With sealed lips and piercing eyes
Until he arrive at
Complete tranquility:
A single flower,
Five petals together in the spring.

- Shin’etsu (1639-1696)
No wonder Iraq and Afghanistan are so ignored these days by Americans -- they're still fighting the Vietnam war, still blaming Democrats or generic anti-war sentiment for pulling out, and still stuck with the point of view that any acts committed in the name of democracy, no matter how heinous or criminal, get a free pass.
Afghan Leader Assails Airstrike He Says Killed 95
Published: August 23, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned on Saturday a coalition airstrike that he said killed up to 95 Afghans — including 50 children — in a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, and said his government would be announcing measures to prevent the loss of civilian life in the future.

Government officials who traveled to the village of Azizabad in Herat Province on Saturday said the death toll had risen to 95 from 76, making it one of the deadliest airstrikes on civilians in nearly seven years of war.

The American military said Saturday it was investigating the attack.

The Karzai government has expressed outrage over recent airstrikes that have led to civilian deaths, as popular support for the coalition presence in Afghanistan dwindles. The tension comes at a delicate time for the American-led coalition, which is facing a resurgent Taliban with a perceived shortage of troops, leading it to rely more on air power to battle militants.

Mr. Karzai also denounced the coalition after an airstrike on July 6 killed 27 people in a wedding party — most of them women and children, including the bride — in eastern Afghanistan.
War, the war-makers like to say, is sloppy. That's shorthand for an assumed permission to shoot and kill anyone proximate to a suspected mark or targeted asset. In war only enemy kills or destroyed targets count. A good soldier or fighting force is forgiven much in the name of a nice try, sorry for the mess, but it was for the good guys, and we are ok.

Pinning the tail on the terrorist is not as easy as we once thought. There's a lot to the narcissus myth.

In the tale told by Ovid, Echo, a nymph, falls in love with a vain youth named Narcissus, who was the son of the blue Nymph Leirope of Thespia. The river god Cephisus had once encircled Leirope with the windings of his streams, and thus trapping her, had raped ("seduced") the nymph. Concerned about the baby's welfare, Leirope went to consult the prophet Teiresias regarding her son's future. Teiresias told the nymph that Narcissus "would live to a ripe old age, as long as he never knew himself."

One day when Narcissus was out hunting stags, Echo stealthily followed the handsome youth through the woods, longing to address him but unable to speak first. When Narcissus finally heard footsteps and shouted "Who's there?", Echo answered "Who's there?" And so it went, until finally Echo showed herself and rushed to embrace the lovely youth. He pulled away from the nymph and vainly told her to leave him alone. Narcissus left Echo heartbroken and she spent the rest of her life in lonely glens, pining away for the love she never knew, until only her voice remained.

Eventually he became thirsty and went to drink from a stream. As he saw his reflection, he fell in love with it, not knowing that it was him. As he bent down to kiss it, it seemed to "run away" and he was heart broken. He grew thirstier but he wouldn't touch the water for fear of damaging his reflection, so he eventually died of thirst and self love, staring at his own reflection. The narcissus flower grew where he died.

We are in danger of never knowing ourselves.
To a Terrorist

For the historical ache, the ache passed down
which finds its circumstance and becomes
the present ache, I offer this poem

without hope, knowing there's nothing,
not even revenge, which alleviates
a life like yours. I offer it as one

might offer his father's ashes
to the wind, a gesture
when there's nothing else to do.

Still, I must say to you:
I hate your good reasons.
I hate the hatefulness that makes you fall

in love with death, your own included.
Perhaps you're hating me now,
I who own my own house

and live in a country so muscular,
so smug, it thinks its terror is meant
only to mean well, and to protect.

Christ turned his singular cheek,
one man's holiness another's absurdity.
Like you, the rest of us obey the sting,

the surge. I'm just speaking out loud
to cancel my silence. Consider it an old impulse,
doomed to become mere words.

The first poet probably spoke to thunder
and, for a while, believed
thunder had an ear and a choice.

(--Poem: "To a Terrorist," by Stephen Dunn, from Between Angels, Norton).
There's no choice in war once war has begun its lumbering crushing roll over human life and human decency. War-makers, like wrecking balls, know only one thing.

Absurdity and holiness vie for our attention.

I cannot imagine any outcome of war other than devastation and revenge. War does not bring peace. Disgust with war and disillusionment with destruction are merely prelude to the proposition of peace.

Forget about Iraq and Afghanistan. Forget about patriotic words proclaiming victory and honor and noble causes. Forget about ever forgetting the insane experience of hateful war.

We're meant to remember the folly foisted on us by depraved minds during a deprived time.

We're meant to attend all of it -- the aftermath of one woman's unexplainable fall, one man's terrible torture, a foreign country's tenacious fight, and a home nation's bitter memories.

Healing begins contemporaneously with the immediate experience and realization of harm. It only remains painful suffering when recovery, understanding, and forgiveness are not practiced wholeheartedly. You would think that consolation and prolongation of healthful care and careful health would be the order of the day, every day.

A counter-intuitive proposition is one that does not seem likely to be true when assessed using intuition or gut feelings.

Scientifically discovered, objective truths are often called counter-intuitive when intuition, emotions, and other cognitive processes outside of deductive rationality interpret them to be wrong. However, the subjective nature of intuition limits the objectivity of what to call counter-intuitive because what is counter-intuitive for one may be intuitive for another.

Flawed understanding of a problem may lead to counter-productive behavior with undesirable outcomes.
(-- from Wikipedia,

A face is a fragile thing. Face, in a different metaphor, is equally vulnerable. Our prayers and attention are given to the woman who recovers from this fall. So, too, to the men who try to adjust their minds to the experiences that have harmed their body and mind. Included in this prayer are those who do not completely comprehend how and why we fall, who throw themselves headlong into unaware and painful devastation, and consequently make bloody and terrified those nearby when they hit hard unyielding reality.

How is it any of us survives to another day?