Saturday, April 04, 2009

Until we can edit again on this website, for Hermitage Update and Events at Meetingbrook go to

This is what is there now:

April 2009, Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update

Theme:  Not Something To Be Grasped

The Bookshop and Bakery will be ending it's stay where it has been these 13 years. The new owner of the building on harbor edge wants the place for himself. So, on the 30th of April, we'll exit and he'll have it. 

Paul in Philippians, said:
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, 
Who,  though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. 
Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. 
                (--New American Bible, from Philippians 2)
The Palm Sunday reading is good reminder.  We no longer grasp what will become of our market face. We look about for another site. We think about a bookmobile. We concede the backup plan -- to fold back into the Barnestown Road hermitage site. It all seems possible, and impossible. It's out of our grasp.

Still, the longing is there to continue a life of prayer, meditation, hospitality and service. That we'll do. What form it will take, where we will locate ourselves, what we will look like -- all this is unknown. When thought about, it resembles the mythological problem confronting the psyche face to face with the Jesus story and Christ event.

What form after death of body? Where will Christ be found? What will the resurrected Jesus look like? 

Our mythic journey is not in the same category as the one beginning with the narrative of Palm Sunday through Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and culminating Easter Sunday. But the narrative of our lives, all our lives, is not separated from each other. We are companions on the journey.

So, keep in touch. More information when it reveals itself.

There's not much we can hold on to, not much to be grasped.

We'll just fall into the empty, into the service of our human family, and all nature, humbled to have been able to be anywhere for so long.

With love,

, Rokpa ,  & Mu-ge ,

and all who grace Meetingbrook,
  4 April 2009

Friday, April 03, 2009

Rain and mountain melt begin to flood basement. The hole-through under Barnestown Road cannot let the volume pass. We connect sump pump hose out basement window. Two years dry and unplugged in submerged laundry basket and it springs to life, sucking our personal Bay of Fundy tide back from bottom of wooden stairs near new furnace.
I let mind and body go
And gained a life of freedom
My old age is taking place
Among ten thousand peaks
I don't let white clouds
Leave the valley lightly
I escort the moon as far
As my closed gate.

- Han-shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623)
Turns out I do have retreat booked at Trappist monastery two states from here for Holy Week. And will go. Two films for two classes next Wednesday. A needed hiatus. A quiet look at what to do as current incarnation of meetingbrook prepares to die. What will be?

Which myth will prevail? Resurrection or Rebirth? Oblivion and Emptiness?
A Father’s Pain
by Larry Smith

My father ignored his pain,
rode it out without complaint—
high threshold they call it now.

He worked as a brakeman in snow and rain.
Once he pulled his own back tooth,
held the pain in his side one time
till it burst his appendix, then
lay in a hospital bed for days.

He wasn’t hard on us kids,
never struck us, took us to
doctors and dentists when needed.
He used to sing in the car
bought us root beers along the road.
He loved us with his deeds.

The day he died, he played golf
in the morning, came home,
muffling the pain in his arm,
went upstairs and lay down.

"A Father's Pain" by Larry Smith, from A River Remains. WordTech Press, 2006
Caring is good. Even in the pain. It's not an impossible teaching -- that suffering is redemptive.

John O'Donohue wrote: "Your capacity to care is God; it is your beauty." (p.225, in Beauty)

The gate is tied open tonight.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Maria says it is our humanity, not egoity, we should focus on. Tom says we should rise to what is unknown, not focusing on the minutiae of analysis and judgment. Saskia says the body has it's limits and is to be respected. Jory says we are meant to remain aware and concerned about the hurting, the poor, the unfortunate.

Humankind, in our weakness, is the doorway through which God, in strength, passes through to be of service.
Some people, not knowing the essential emptiness of good and evil, think practical cultivation of mind means to sit rigidly immobile, subduing mind and body, like a rock placed on top of grass. This is ludicrous. That is why it is said that followers cut off confusion in every state of mind, yet the mind that does the cutting off is a brigand.
- Master Chinul (1158-1210)
Spirituality isn't rising above the human, earthly, and fragile weakness of this existence. Spirituality is serving strength through weakness.

When what is wrong is seen, do not judge it. Serve God through it.

And don't think you have to save the world. That you have to martyr yourself. That because Jesus was crucified, you have to be. The ego likes to accuse you of not doing, nor being, enough.

Enough. You are enough. Because of you, because of Jesus, because of God -- we trust that all will be transformed, forgiven, and accepted with love.
Give Yourself a Break

Give yourself a break. That doesn’t mean to say that you should drive to the closest bar and have lots to drink or go to a movie. Just enjoy the day, your normal existence. Allow yourself to sit in your home or take a drive into the mountains. Park your car somewhere; just sit; just be. It sounds very simplistic, but it has a lot of magic. You begin to pick up on clouds, sunshine, and weather; the mountains, your past, your chatter with your grandmother and your grandfather, your own mother, your own father. You begin to pick up on a lot of things. Just let them pass like the chatter of a brook as it hits the rocks. We have to give ourselves some time to be.

(–Chogyam Trungpa, Ocean of Dharma)
To be.


What is.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

There's a new window in front room, our winter zendo
Those who wear the patched robe of a Zen wayfarer should be completely serious about taking death and birth as their business. You should work to melt away the obstructions caused by conditioned knowledge and views and interpretive understanding, and penetrate through to a realizations of the great causal condition communicated and bequeathed by the buddhas and ancestral teachers. Don't covet name and fame. Step back and turn to reality, until your practical understanding and virtue are fully actualized. - Yuanwu (1063-1135)
The better to see you with.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Even discouragement has its place.
From high above, the river steadily plunges.
Three thousand feet of sparkling water,
The Milky Way pouring down from heaven.

- Li T'ai-po (701-?)
What is it runs in kitchen ceiling? We look at each other.

New window inserted in front room.

The question, Saskia said, was asked at Congregational church whether one could be Jewish and Buddhist, Christian and Buddhist. What did they say, I asked. Good responses, she said. Concepts are only concepts.

Were I there, which, being a reformed hermit, I wasn't, I'd have added: Only God is God. We don't have to think that way anymore -- the way of this or that, one or other.

Call yourself what you want. Only, love, serve, forgive, and avoid doing what you'd not have done to you.

I call it before and beyond.

Before you dwells Another. Beyond you dwells the Alone.

Within each, what once called you dwells nameless and formless.

Still, there's room for discouragement.

Monday, March 30, 2009

We created a new way of life for Tibetan monks who no longer wear the robes. Nor are they monks, in their minds. I bow to the one I meet in Belfast. Coffee cup in one hand, thus one handed bow one handed coffee.
In the ultimate stillness
Light penetrates the whole realm;
In the still illumination,
There pervades pure emptiness.
When I look back on the
Phenomenal world,
Everything is just
Like a dream.

(- Han-Shan Te-Ch'in
We will found a lay monastic refuge for all expressions of reverence and wonder. We'll call it EW-- for East West, Engaging Wonder!

We'll occupy the Duck Trap Monastic Refuge and Hospitality.
Then our eggs and blueberry pancakes came.

We still want to be part of this wonderful engagement.
When we bow to open up the ego to the whole universe we are ordinary students practicing Zen. When the universe expresses itself through the body as a bow, that is the awakened perspective.
(--Shunryu Suzuki)
But we are nobodies.

With little imagination.

Less money.

And growing older each day.

I bow to you.

Orange marmalade?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The kind people at end of harbor said no to our inquiry about a space for meetingbrook. It is not always easy to smile back at God.
Our death is our wedding with eternity.
What is the secret? "God is One."
The sunlight splits when entering the windows of the house.
This multiplicity exists in the cluster of grapes;
It is not in the juice made from the grapes.
For he who is living in the Light of God,
The death of the carnal soul is a blessing.
Regarding him, say neither bad nor good,
For he is gone beyond the good and the bad.
Fix your eyes on God and do not talk about what is invisible,
So that he may place another look in your eyes.
It is in the vision of the physical eyes
That no invisible or secret thing exists.
But when the eye is turned toward the Light of God
What thing could remain hidden under such a Light?
Although all lights emanate from the Divine Light
Don't call all these lights "the Light of God";
It is the eternal light which is the Light of God,
The ephemeral light is an attribute of the body and the flesh.
...Oh God who gives the grace of vision!
The bird of vision is flying towards You with the wings of desire.

(Rumi, Mystic Odes 833)
One by one they come in and say how badly they feel we are losing our lease. Like the uncertainty of a wake there's an awkwardness -- even if you consider the one dead to have been foolish and irresponsible, you realize that someone in earshot might have loved them. We're chastened by the unexplainable aspect of love. 
The Guests
by Leonard Cohen
One by one, the guests arrive
The guests are coming through
The open-hearted many
The broken-hearted few
And no one knows where the night is going
And no one knows why the wine is flowing
Oh love I need you
I need you
I need you
I need you
Oh . . . I need you now

And those who dance, begin to dance
Those who weep begin
And "Welcome, welcome" cries a voice
"Let all my guests come in."

And no one knows where the night is going ...

And all go stumbling through that house
in lonely secrecy
Saying "Do reveal yourself"
or "Why has thou forsaken me?"

And no one knows where the night is going ...

All at once the torches flare
The inner door flies open
One by one they enter there
In every style of passion

And no one knows where the night is going ...

And here they take their sweet repast
While house and grounds dissolve
And one by one the guests are cast
Beyond the garden wall

And no one knows where the night is going ...

Those who dance, begin to dance
Those who weep begin
Those who earnestly are lost
Are lost and lost again

And no one knows where the night is going ...

One by one the guests arrive
The guests are coming through
The broken-hearted many
The open-hearted few

And no one knows where the night is going ...

(--Poem/song, The Guests, music and lyrics by Leonard Cohen)
Saskia says maybe we should contact the brother of our landlord who lives down under who's buying the cape and setting us loose. We laugh. Another deathbed conversion? We remember Nishitani's observation that when loss occurs the immediate response of the Western dualistic mind is to find substitute and replacement and go running back instead of allowing the all into radical emptiness, absolute nihility, and the becoming itself of itself.

A woman by back door sketched a woodblock depiction of three crosses as five of us read Rumi, Yeats, Rilke, Oliver, Strand, and personal creations.

A woman taking Catholic instruction says it was the Benedictine hospitality and open acceptance of the place that inched her to consider the path she is on.

A man who lives in war stories talks when no one else is around about the closer issues of his life. No footlights, only bare bulb on empty stage.

We'll be fine.

All of us.

For a while.

But then...

That's all there is.

Unless, of course, you consider the invisible to be the visible hiding in plain sight.
Fog drips from everything
I love
this morning in Maine.

The woman turns to ascend the stair. She is singing the words, "Now is the time!"

We drive to Belfast to see what Fr. Joe has to say about the miracle and the guest no one understands nor anyone doesn't see.