Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday Evening Conversation reading John O'Donohue's Beauty.

Lola begins, and others contribute to, what we might say (right there, right then) 'beauty' is. We arrive at: Beauty is the longing for this moment to reveal itself -- and what is needed -- so to complete itself.
My mind is like an autumn moon,
Pure and transcendentally elegant.
It is impossible to compare
This mind with anything.
How could it be possible
For me to explain it to you?

- Unknown
When things reveal themselves, when someone shows up at a time of need -- we think: 'beautiful!' When early morning sunlight slants through silence, we experience beauty.
When some person appears and presents an unfiltered view of their own mere nature, without pretense or posturing, we share beauty. When that radiant peace that cannot be articulated visits, and we pause in the open place of grace, we have become for that instant and forevermore -- with beauty, beautiful.
Simply give away your beauty
without talk and reckoning.
You are still. She says for you; I am.
And comes in meaning thousandfold,
at last comes over everyone.
(-- Poem by Rainer Maria Rilke)
For 'You are still' the German also allows 'You are silent.'

Explanations, excuses, apologies, attacks and accusations are very often dull reminders we fail beauty.
The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

(--Poem by William Carlos Williams)

And weep.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Here's a solution to the rash lies being promulgated by certain members of the campaign for the American presidency: Do not vote for them. Lies have predominated civic discourse for years. It is time to stop lying. I'll start -- I'll stop.
Only the Things Themselves
What one thinks or reads is always qualified by the preposition "of,"or "about," and does not give us the thing itself. Not mere talk about water, nor the mere sight of a spring, but an actual mouthful of it gives the thirsty complete satisfaction.
(--D. T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism)
A visiting Baptist minister and his wife visited today. We had a good conversation as brownies baked upstairs. A strong hug said goodbye. We've disagreed over the years. Now none of that matters. We're just who we are.

Tommy and Michael bet a dime whether there'll be a draft by May. I'd lay a side bet their dime won't be worth 4 cents by that time.
"No ideas but in things"
(--William Carlos Williams,from his 1944 poem "A Sort of Song")
Here's the thing: a disaster looms as financial markets collapse and the same government that encouraged predatory lending is patting the failed lenders on the knee, offering their bruised egos some ice cream, and sending them home with a quarter of our future. Meanwhile, foreclosures abound, and the borrowers are out on the curb, no change, no ice cream, no assistance from their government. The scourge of free market socialism for the rich and old fashioned brushoff poverty for the rest of us!

There's scant better humor than Jon Stewart's over the foolishness and crisis.

I don't like the unkind ways the ads have turned.

Appeals to our stupidity are not pretty.

It's hard to laugh them off.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wall Street is bombed by blind pilots dropping good sense into shredding machines.
the moon's brightness
does it know
where the bombing will be?

(--Santoka Taneda)
The two women talked about their disappointment with the Catholic church and their delight to have made a retreat with Benedictine women. Of course it is strange that monastic spirituality would be deemed other than a Catholic experience.

Maybe it is.

Who else but profoundly contemplative prayerful people would understand the nothing and emptiness of any concept, any image of God.

We laugh together. They play with Rokpa. There is no God.



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What is good for us?
The wind is still, but blossoms fall,
Birds sing in the quiet of the mountain.
This is Kannon’s wondrous wisdom:

- Ryokan (1758-1831)
To be here, as who we are, shall we be here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last evening's Kabuki theater. Full moon rising seesaws with orange sun falling. Earth rolls with the tide and evening gives round white light in sky a black backdrop. Harvest light from harvest moon.

More and more I realize less and less. As it stands today, I am nobody.

You are the Light itself.
Rely on yourself,
Do not rely on others.
The Dharma is the Light,
Rely on the Dharma.
Do not rely on anything
Other than Dharma.
- Pali verse
I belong nowhere. I know nothing. And even that, I'm not too sure of. To most people, I am nothing. This is a glorious life!
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us--don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
(--Poem by Emily Dickinson)
A high school student snaps shutter pointing through window display. Her mother says thank you for the high contrast opportunity. It's what we do.

We'd like to think we're not owned. Not indebted. We are. We'd like to think we are free. Unfettered. Our own persons. We are. Strange to consider that true. Probably is.
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which I cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
(--Poem by E.E. Cummings)
Young woman taking side trip from college stops by. We talk a bit. She takes Thomas Merton tapes and says she'll be back.

I'm aware things seem tenuous. Nor does it matter. The sun is out. Peanut butter cookies are handed over. Coffee poured. Plum cake (Flammenkuchen) is cut. Two women ignore me as they come in, look at something, then leave. Such confirmation is rare.

Everything and everybody is intensely fragile.

Stocks and banks fall and fold.

The future is not where some thought it might be.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Among the sorrows that tear a mother's heart, disrespect toward her child by inattentive and neglectful others is particularly hurtful. Mary knows a mother's sorrow.
"Buddhist teachings say that every being has been our mother in the past."
( --from Women of Wisdom, by Tsultrim Allione.)
So much room for sorrow!
49. As the bee takes the essence of a flower and flies away without destroying its beauty and perfume, so let the sage wander in this life. . . .

54. The perfume of flowers goes not against the wind, not even the perfume of sandalwood, of rose-bay, or of jasmine; but the perfume of virtue travels against the wind and reaches unto the ends of the world. . .

58. Even as on a heap of rubbish thrown away by the side of the road a lotus flower may grow and blossom with its pure perfume giving joy to the soul, in the same way among the blind multitudes shines the pure light of wisdom of the student who follows the Buddha, the one who is truly awake.
(from - The Dhammapada, trans. by Juan Murasco from Everyday Mind)
The sorrow Mary experiences now is the tendency of our civilization not to see whole, the denial of whole-sight. There exists, rather, a vapid unwillingness to assent to and confirm all that is, all that is needfully alive, and all that is alive and intimately part of us.
One of the endless fascinations for me in studying Shakespeare's texts is the fact that he does not content himself with one view of any given problem. In Romeo and Juliet, for instance, he does not settle for a simple look at the evils of those who engage in feuding, but he factors in many variations on the theme: people who actively engage in feuding die, people who condone feuding suffer, and people who claim that they do not approve of feuding but who lack the courage or strength to actively oppose or stop it also pay the price for their folly. Romeo and Juliet die for their rashness. The Montagues lose two family members for their feuding, as do the Capulets. Even the Prince suffers the loss of family members because, he says, he ignored the wrong-doing. All are punished. Similarly, in Julius Caesar, an even-handed justice is meted out to a number of people who fail to live up to an appropriate standard of loyalty to others.
(--from "All are Punished": Studying Varying Loyalties in Julius Caesar, by Carolyn P. Henley,
In Stonington today a once lovely converted sardine carrier lists to port dishevelled and peeling, hardware tossed haphazardly on upper deck, tied to dock like a disoriented mad-woman in a bad movie lashed to her bunk by her feuding offspring.

Financial institutions that sailed fast and devil-may-care, saddled by an inattentive and dry-rotted non-regulatory administration, come crashing down on ledges at low tide threatening to sink many, a dry-drunk executive unable to connect the dots of forecast, frantic profits, and fiscal folly.

The neglected ship of state and state of ship are two sad sights on a financially sad day.

Still, the sun and brisk wind on a warm September day brought us along the peninsula in good cheer. Visiting wharves and churches, Renys and Good Will, donut shop and small cafe, we eat our way into the middle of the ninth month smelling the fragrance of seaweed in low tide and whitecaps on blustery bay.

There is a way to counter sorrow.

Don't be other than it.

Sorrowful situations demand sorrowful attention.

Then -- move through and beyond it as best you can.

Our mothers wish us well.
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve!
(Our life, our sweetness, and our hope, greetings!)
(--from anthem, Salve Regina)
Greet well one another.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The cross is the transition from ignorance and harmfulness to true aliveness and wakefulness. To die on the cross is to awaken here and now.

So, when Christians celebrate Jesus' death on the cross, it is not some gruesome murder that is the mystery. Rather the mystery is the transition from unconsciousness to consciousness, from mindless reactive impulse to mindful active feeling. The mystery is that anyone could make that transition given the deceit and misdirection that tries to pass for leadership in this country today.
In spring, hundreds of flowers,
In summer, refreshing breeze.
In autumn, harvest moon,
In winter, snowflakes accompany you.
If useless things do not hang in your mind,
Every season is a good season.

- Mumon (1183-1260)
On the feast of the Holy Cross we celebrate this transition. We die to separation and awake to community. We die to arrogance and wake to genuine inquiry. We die to fragmentary interpretations and awaken to integral realization -- we are one another, we are the earth, we are that of God awakening in this existence.

The corpus is not -- neither dead nor alive. The body is transition.

We are crossing over.

Today we crossed the footbridge in Belfast to visit Alden. We like him. We talk of boats, politics, loved ones gone beyond, and the need to vote intelligently.

Jim loaded his skiff for bay crossing to island.

We cross paths with one another -- enriched by realizations experienced therein and within.

It is a fool's errand to try to nail the world to the cross. Only the individual, voluntarily and free of any duress, can step into or onto the transition -- step openly through awareness transitioning into love, justice, and wholesome equality.

Would that there were one or two of us willing and able to put off false self and take up true self full of grace and wisdom.

Accept no substitutes.