Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mr Bush goes to Camp David for his final weekend as president. Mr. Obama rides the train to Washington DC for his inauguration in three days. Change, as always, takes place, no matter what.
The joy of living in seclusion deepens as I grow older,
For a new poem is born wherever I turn my eyes.
Flowers that withstood the wind
Fall of their own accord;
Thin rain left by clouds has not yet cleared.
The frail butterfly over the fence
Has left the twig where it sat,
And the silken dove has flown
From the eave to sing in the woods.
To attain a vision transcending the here and now
Is not my concern:
What I see is much too clear,
As in a mirror

- Yi Saek (1328-1396)
Snow on the way. Harbor frozen across. The United States poises. A great uncertainty is moderated by a quiet joy.
There's an old Zen story: a student said to Master Ichu, "Please write for me something of great wisdom." Master Ichu picked up his brush and wrote one word: "Attention." The student said, "Is that all?" The master wrote, "Attention Attention."...

For "attention" we could substitute the word "awareness." Attention or awareness is the secret of life and the heart of practice....[E]very moment in life is absolute itself. That's all there is. There is nothing other than this present moment; there is no past, there is no future; there is nothing but this. So when we don't pay attention to every little this, we miss the whole thing. And the contents of this can be anything. This can be straightening our sitting mats, chopping an onion, visiting one we don't want to visit. It doesn't matter what the contents of the moment are; each moment is absolute. That's all there is, and all there ever will be. If we could totally pay attention, we would never be upset. If we're upset, it's axiomatic that we're not paying attention.If we miss not just one moment, but one moment after another, we're in trouble.

(--Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special: Living Zen)
I bet on an open consciousness. That's what counts. Open consciousness suggests the cult of frivolity is preparing to change. However uncertain we are, the profundity of hope overrides addictive fear. Those who supply fear are vanishing from the street corners of delusion and arrogance. A broom sweeps.
The Gospels are full of wise sayings of Jesus that seem to be ignored, and one of the most poignant of these was in his meeting with that young man who asked over and over again, insistently, “What must I do to have eternal life?.” When, in the end, Jesus told him that if he wanted to be perfect he would have to sell all that he had and give the money to the poor, the young man went away, sorrowing; because he was very rich. What could be more of a waste than that? You tell someone what he has to do, and he is afraid to do it. And yet... 250 years later, St Antony hears the story, and does give away all that he has, and becomes the founder of monasticism. And then again, over 1,000 years later, St Francis of Assisi hears the story, and gives away his possessions (and some of his father’s) and revolutionises Christianity again.
Not all the words that we speak are forgotten, even though we cannot see their effects ourselves. Let us pray that those unknown effects may always be good ones.

(, on Feast of St Antony, Abbot, 251 - 356)
For a penny you can purchase The Catholic Worker paper.

For a song you can see into the heart of wisdom and compassion.

For a change we can see our way clear to trust someone who asks for it.

For now, I can say "I'm glad to be here."



Friday, January 16, 2009

After a few dozen tosses of chuck-it ball across enormous parking lot in Bangor following long hike through woods with white dog in 7 degree temperature, I enter 67 degree room to record numbers. Icicles on moustache and ruddy face behind white beard.
If you do decide to start meditating, there's no need to tell other people about it, or talk about why you are doing it or what it's doing for you. In fact, there is no better way to waste your nascent energy and enthusiasm for practice and thwart your efforts so they will be unable to gather momentum. Best to meditate without advertising it.

Every time you get a strong impulse to talk about meditation and how wonderful it is, or how hard it is, or what it's doing for you these days, or what it's not, or you want to convince someone else how wonderful it would be for them, just look at it as more thinking and go meditate some more. The impulse will pass and everybody will be better off--especially you.
(--Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are)
Harbor is frozen.

Nothing moves.



Well below zero.
Note: Shop closed for most of day. Doing other work in Bangor. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

President Bush says goodbye on TV. Plane ditches in Hudson River and 155 people walk off the sinking plane. Something unusual is taking place.
Shunryu Suzuki on Zazen

When we practice zazen [Zen Meditation] our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say "inner world" or "outer world," but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door. If you think, "I breathe," the "I" is extra. There is no you to say "I." What we call "I" is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no "I," no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door.

--Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

The door swings. Somehow a plane crash does not kill anyone.

The door swings. An anti-intellectual man and a second secretive manipulating man leave war, cynicism, and destruction behind them.

The door swings. Two bright, competent men will come to office in five days to re-establish the rule of law, constitution, and civility to the Executive Branch of this land.
Having Confessed
by Patrick Kavanagh

Having confessed he feels
That he should go down on his knees and pray
For forgiveness for his pride, for having
Dared to view his soul from the outside.
Lie at the heart of the emotion, time
Has its own work to do. We must not anticipate
Or awaken for a moment. God cannot catch us
Unless we stay in the unconscious room
Of our hearts. We must be nothing,
Nothing that God may make us something.
We must not touch the immortal material
We must not daydream to-morrow's judgment—
God must be allowed to surprise us.
We have sinned, sinned like Lucifer
By this anticipation. Let us lie down again
Deep in anonymous humility and God
May find us worthy material for His hand.

(Poem, "Having Confessed" by Patrick Kavanagh, from Collected Poems. W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.)
While I accept the possibility that our perception might be limited, not seeing the enormity of what-is-whole, thereby not comprehending the divine mystery suffusing what we call 'reality' -- I am consoled by the opinion that something very wrong has been at work in this country the past six, twelve, eighteen, twenty four, heck, twenty nine years.

Some worry (and some glee) that nothing will change.

I'm willing to be surprised.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Very cold night.
When I find you again,
It will be in mountains;
This morning I lose you
Once more to farewell.
Free of attachment
In heart and mind
Is that why you can go
Ten thousand li alone?
Traveling without disciples,
You have only
A white dog
For company.

- Chia Tao (779-843)
-19 to -29 below in St John Valley.

White dog sleeps.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

For two days straight, care of dog, closed shop, and creation of two courses of study -- aesthetics, and mythology.

The joy of being open to the moment is an equal realization that the moment, not yet arrived, is unopen.
A mind full of light is like a blue sky found in a somber room.
- Hung Ying-ming 1596
Walkng Bayview street at night with reflector vest, snow in park soft and unfrozen -- the desolate streets of January, a man, woman, and dog.
“Man believes the world itself to be overloaded with beauty--and he forgets himself as the cause of this. He alone has presented the world with beauty--alas! only with a very human, all-too-human beauty. At bottom, man mirrors himself in things; he considers everything beautiful that reflects his own image: the judgment "beautiful" is the vanity of his species. For a little suspicion may whisper this question into the skeptic's ear: Is the world really beautified by the fact that man thinks it beautiful? He has humanized it, that is all. But nothing, absolutely nothing, guarantees that man should be the model of beauty. Who knows what he looks like in the eyes of a higher judge of beauty? Daring perhaps? Perhaps even amusing? Perhaps a little arbitrary?
(--from #19, Skirmishes of an Untimely Man, in TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS, -- Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844 - 1900)
Like some ghost mountain illumined by faint glow of snow seen from Dellingham Point, Mt Battie wafts behind winter lights of Camden.

Beauty is neither in nor out.

The eye.



Note: It's a week of other work -- thus the bookshop/bakery is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Check back for Thursday.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's changed?

A small room. Winter. Solitude. Sunday night solitude. Frank Sinatra songs of loneliness solitude first listened to fifty years ago.

But I'm not lonely. Not really. (Earlier woman pronounced 'real' as 're-al' -- as if the real is the 'thing or matter of God.')
A green pine is in the east garden,
But the many grasses obscure it.
A frost wipes out all the other species,
And then I see its magnificent tall branches.
In a forest people do not notice it, but
Standing alone, it is a miracle.
I hang a jug of wine on a cold branch;
Then stand back, and look again and again.
My life spins with dreams and illusions.
Why then be fastened to the world?

- T’ao Ch’ien
Morning snow group with Course in Miracles. Then breakfast at Mariners. Begin prelude to final push to course syllabi information.

Walk Bayview with ski poles listening to Grace Paley stories under full moon on fresh snow while elsewhere sitting practice at Ragged Mountain.

Afghanistan Frontline The War Briefing (30Dec2008) readying for sleep.

Nothing changes.

At all.
Note: The lovely snow! The bookshop/bakery will be closed today, Sunday, so as to do other necessary work.