Saturday, May 30, 2009

It makes a good story. Suddenly, the wind blows. Who knows from where? Who knows where to?

It comes. It goes. Look and look and look -- ghostly arrival, ghostly departure -- you see nothing.

Some of those it touches in passing, wake up.
All of them look to you
to give them their food when they need it.
You give it to them, and they gather;
you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
But turn away, and they are dismayed;
take away their breath, and they die,
once more they will turn into dust.
You will send forth your breath, they will come to life;
you will renew the face of the earth.
(--from Psalm 104)
The face of the earth is being created.

Take a look.

Do you see your face?

God help you!

There's nothing... now... you can do.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The poet Richard Hugo is right, "We're seldom better than weather."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

None of the words have anything to say to him. He's losing his balance. That attracts his attention. He falls. No words stop that. He and his wife know something is happening. It doesn't make them happy.
You should not consider the mind to be that which reflects upon
visual forms, sounds, tastes, and tactile sensations. Many people think
that the mind is simply that which reflects upon what is seen and heard
and is able to distinguish between good, bad, and so forth. Thus they
regard the sixth sense, the intellect, to be the mind. But such views
are just delusive thinking. Before seeing, before feeling, and before
thinking: what is the mind? This alone is what you have to search for
and awaken to.

–Kusan Sunim, translated by Martine Batchelor, from The Way of Korean Zen (Weatherhill)
Sixteen of us sat in circle around wood burning stove this evening.

One dog and one cat makes eighteen.

We are more articulate when in community.

Holy, they say.

Spirit emerges.

Through word.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

There's such a desperate desire to rid our world of mistakes. To eliminate disease. End suffering. Right wrongs.

Surely, we think, there's a pill. Or a program. Maybe torture. Or religion.
It is sometimes difficult to see and understand that changing conditions are not mistakes. They feel that way because we sometimes think that if we were only smart enough or careful enough, we could avoid all unpleasantness—that we wouldn’t fall ill or have misfortune. In fact, we usually haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just what happens. The Buddha talked of the eight great vicissitudes of life: pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, and fame and disrepute. These changes happen to everyone. It’s just what happens. One of the great laws of the Dharma that I find myself often rediscovering is, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”
–Joseph Goldstein, from "One Dharma",
When we come to the end of a story, thank the storyteller. When the film ends, leave your seat. When the meditation bell rings, enter the dharma space. Be silent. Stay present.

The world might never be rid of wrong.

But what's right will be recognized with love.

Do that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ryan's paper evokes the thought that no matter what we choose to be or do, we are merely creating our notion of God. God will be what God will be. And we are the creators of what will be for us.
We are in
the process
of what is
being created
as is

These days of sitting through, of moving across this place, are the stuff of transition.

In prison, fear is norm. Mistrust is the only constant. How, when, and why to even consider trust is cloaked in wariness.
I don't go out to wander around
I stay at home here in Miura
While time flows on through
The unbounded world
In the awakened eye
Mountains and rivers completely
The eye of delusion looks out upon
Deep fog and clouds.

- Muso Soseki (1275-1351)
I read final papers slowly. It's not like regular end of semester grading. These papers reveal a more profound search and hide, reveal and watch cautiously the reply. Some of these men have another 10, 20, 30, 40 years behind prison walls. More than a grade is at issue here. So I read slowly and with care the words and thoughts and experiences they share.

A Tendency To Shine
by Adyashanti
If you prefer smoke over fire
then get up now and leave.
For I do not intend to perfume
your mind's clothing
with more sooty knowledge.

No, I have something else in mind.
Today I hold a flame in my left hand
and a sword in my right.
There will be no damage control today.

For God is in a mood
to plunder your riches and
fling you nakedly
into such breathtaking poverty
that all that will be left of you
will be a tendency to shine.

So don't just sit around this flame
choking on your mind.
For this is no campfire song
to mindlessly mantra yourself to sleep with.

Jump now into the space
between thoughts
and exit this dream
before I burn the damn place down.

(--Poem, A Tendency To Shine, by Adyashanti, b.1962-)
Sometimes in their papers there's more than I'd want to know; sometimes more I'd like to know. Mostly it is the Heideggerian revealing and concealing function of the same phrase in the same sentence. Language might speak, but words conceal as much as they reveal.

There's a way of praying that does not use words. Only ears. Only eyes.

This is my prayer with these my fellow learners.

Monday, May 25, 2009

We arrive at Mountain Street as the Lincolnville Town Band on flatbed truck played passing us. The Memorial Day parade was arriving at its end.

I think of sandlot schoolyard boyhood friend Vinnie today as Taps played at Mountain View Cemetery. He died in Vietnam in 1968. We cannot escape from the truth of impermanence.

We visit Tommy. He says Gene is doing poorly. We see Sam and Susan at Camden town landing as they install cleat beside ramp near new restaurant on wharf.

In Rockport we tie new seat to frame of ceder strip canoe at harbor. We'd come back from walking far side of harbor with Rokie. We are grateful for being alive in Maine by the water this beautiful day. We paddle into the swirling wind hugging the coast in gusting embrace.

Ananda wept saying he was only a beginner as the Buddha was dying. Separation is the law of life. "Keep trying," the Buddha said to Ananda.

We come back to the hermitage. Someone had been here and left us cut apple tree branches. We don't need a special teacher. We're given everything that we need. Joan Halifax is telling the story of the Buddha's death. I'm listening.

So many die in war. Some of these wars are waged in the quiet fields of our human hearts. So many die away from home. So many think it is not the right time to die. Still, everyone dies. Everybody is somebody. In my myth I am nobody. This myth is right and not right at the same time. In Buddhist emptiness I am part of the inseparate whole. (These are not Joan's words. They're the wind blowing through this hermitage window.) Rather, Roshi Joan Halifax reads a Milosz poem:

Late Ripeness

by Czeslaw Milosz

Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
Like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.

I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget -- I kept saying -- that we are all children of
the King.

For where we come from there is no division
Into Yes and No, into is, was, and it will be.

We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.

Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago --
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef -- they dwell in us,
waiting for a fulfillment.

I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not.

The earth is quiet underfoot. Ragged Mountain takes sun behind her to the west. So many birds!

In the silence, the wind. Gusts of sound. The gate is closed. The dog is safe from the speeding cars coming down long mountain pass from Hope.

When his young daughter died, the Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) wrote the following poem:

Tsuyu no yo wa tsuyu no yo nagara sari nagara
The world of dew --
A world of dew it is indeed,
And yet, and yet . . .
Remembering those dead and deadened, today by war...each of us on one of these days.

We grieve.

Some tears.

One by one disappearing.

And yet...
Until we are able to update our primary website, here's the Hermitage Update and Events at Meetingbrook placed on Google site:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How can you see what is not there?
No one has ever seen God;
but as long as we love one another
God will live in us
and his love will be complete in us.

(--from 1John 4:11-16)
Be here.

God is not there.

God is where you are.

With God, nobody knows what they are talking about.

Be with God.