Saturday, November 21, 2009

At dawn chiming gong on porch of meditation cabin. After dusk, after darkened cabin chanting compline, gong again. The gong is prelude. Silence follows.

What if every sound is the sound of awakening earth?
If you are spiritually sharp,
you can open your eyes and
see as soon as you hear me
tell you about this.
Have not people of immeasurable
greatness said this truth
is not comprehensible by thought,
and that it is where
knowledge does not reach?
Were it not like this,
how could it be called
enlightened truth?
Nowadays, however, people
just present interpretations and views,
making up rationalizations;
they have never learned to be thus,
and have never reached this state.

- Foyan (1067–1120)
Once we wanted to be a different kind of hermit monastic Buddhist Christian whose only faith was eco-spiritual wholeness.

It is no longer wanted.

This moment.

Is it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"We are poor passing facts," wrote Robert Lowell in his poem "Epilogue."

Jack wanted to show me a paragraph from The Course in Miracles.
Words will mean little now. We use them but as guides on which we do not now depend. For now we seek direct experience of truth alone. The lessons that remain are merely introductions to the times in which we leave the world of pain, and go to enter peace. Now we begin to reach the goal this course has set, and find the end toward which our practising was always geared.
(ACIM, Introduction Part II, Workbook for students)
I tell him I am so pleased that words (will) mean the "little-now." There's so much emphasis these days on the big Now. I delight in words and I delight in the little-now, the particular, specific and immediate place and time wherein we dwell.
Body impermanent like spring mist;
Mind insubstantial like empty sky;
Thoughts unestablished like breezes in space.
Think about these three points over and over.

- Godrakpa (1170-1249)
Even so, this body, this mind, this thought place me here in this little-now.
Farmhouses, Iowa

Invariably, a family in each one
And someone opening the fridge to fetch
A carton of milk, someone sitting in
A chair and shelling peas, someone looking

Out a window at a barn, two willow trees.
Solitude broods like a pursuing shadow;
A radio fades in and out -the voice
Eager yet eerie. Three ages anchor

The oaken dinner table: Mom and Dad
Up-before-dawn weary, Grandma perturbed
About half-thawed rolls, the children recounting
School stories, then silent. In the parlor
A whiskey tumbler rests beside a Bible.
The old collie whimpers when a car goes by.

"Farmhouses, Iowa" by Baron Wormser, from Scattered Chapters. Sarabande Books, 2008.
Whiskey gone. Bible closed.

Collie prays for each passing.

The 90 year old woman at nursing home, after reading several poems of hers, remembers as she leaves room that she had been a librarian and helped young students to write poems.

She'd forgotten for a while what she'd done in her life.

A passing forgetfulness.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

During conversation tonight my mind drifted to an eleven syllable haiku:
What is real?
How silly!
Who are you? I

Visitors in the recovering community speak about how they broke. How they asked for help. And connect to God, higher power, or by some other name a truth that changes.
Who enters this door, who studies this teaching
Has to be thorough and push to the end.
Empty your body, and reason remains;
Blank your mind, and the world is void.
Cloud-draped trees form a sheet of white;
In a mountain's mouth the sun' s a red slice.
The flag moves or is it the wind?
It isn't the wind or the flag.

- Stonehouse
Cleaning up old roofing from grass into pickup on tarps.

Work slows to molasses on a cold day.

Last night in class, Chu-Tsi (12th C.), Wang Yang-Ming (15th-16th C.) and Jill Bolte Taylor (20th-21st C.) combine to point out rational and ideal Neo-Confucian philosophy, and the miracle of narrative following a stroke. Her stroke of insight sums up all philosophy.

Ingrid made sticky buns for the class. Four students gave presentations.

The trip to the dump and back was a meeting in itself.
Who are
am I
We tidy as best we can.

The rest stays where it falls.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I feel like the middle of November.
Whatever you are doing, twenty-four hours a day, in all your various activities, there is something that transcends the Buddhas and Zen Masters; but as soon as you want to understand it, it's not there. As soon as you try to gather your attention on it, you have already turned away from it. That is why I say you see but cannot do anything about it.
- Foyan (1067–1120)
I try to find my mind.

It' not there.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For Events, see

There was a young man that went into the wild in Alaska. He came upon a bus. There he stayed.

Reminds me of a friend who died 30 years ago asking someone not to steal his money in Mexico.

It's the way things happen sometimes.
"Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this living

Is just a hard way to go"

(--from song, Angel From Montgomery,"lyrics by John Prine)
We end conversation tonight saying: Live the mystery, investigate it, and stop worrying about it.

Nothing to it. Just give up everything that isn't real and present.
All of the river boat gamblers are losing their shirts
All of the brave union soldier boys sleep in the dirt
But you know and I know, there never was reason to hurt
All of our lives were entwined to begin with,
Here in spoon river.

(--from song "Spoon River", lyrics by Michael Smith
What do I long for? Here it is: the open, loving, with trust, natural, and present.
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

(--from song "Imagine", lyrics by John Lennon)
The stars are dancing. That's what Saskia said. I go out through the barn.

There they were.


Monday, November 16, 2009

I look around and through what stands around me and you.

Cabin was like a sweat lodge at Sunday Evening Practice. The wood-stove cranked hotter than the moderate outside temperature called for. And the candles went out one by one. The cardiologist from Antigonish and the homeopath from Rockport sat beside the artist from Vermont and the carpenter now living in Illinois, the lay monastic auditor/baker from Toronto and the mendicant with motto 'ama nesciri' from the country of Brooklyn rounded out the meditation cabin with white dog with black spot with herding stock from Pennsylvania and New York.
A man of the Way comes rapping
At my brushwood gate,
Wants to discuss the essentials of Zen experience.
Don't take it wrong if this mountain monk's
Too lazy to open his mouth:
Late spring warblers singing their heart out,
A village of drifting petals.

- Jakushitsu Genko (1290-1367)
Table reading was Sharon Salzberg's dharma talk "A More Complete Attention" in current issue of Tricycle. It seemed just right. As did the lentil soup (with or without sausage and beef). Rokie did his weekly plaintive wail for the lost ball deep under bookshelf in corner of dining room.

Poet Charles Olson wrote, "There is no intelligence the equal of the situation." Jacque Ranciere wrote that, "All have equal intelligence." The idea seemed right that intelligence and compassion are less a matter of who has them, but more a matter of who responds to them as they present themselves within each situation. Thus, what a person is to do is to show up in each situation, attend to the reality revealing itself, respond to/with the intelligence and compassion found there, and cease considering yourself 'other' than the situation.

We are standing around what is standing around with and for us. Circumstance -- of which we are not-other.

Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) wrote, "Jo soy jo y mi circunstancia."

For Ortega y Gasset, philosophy has a critical duty to lay siege to beliefs in order to promote new ideas and to explain reality. In order to accomplish such task the philosopher must, as Husserl proposed, leave behind prejudices and previously existing beliefs and investigate the essential reality of the universe. Ortega proposes that philosophy must, as Hegel proposed, overcome both the lack of idealism (in which reality gravitated around the ego) and ancient-medieval realism (which is for him an undeveloped point of view in which the subject is located outside the world) in order to focus in the only truthful reality (i.e. life). He suggests that there is no me without things and things are nothing without me, I (human being) can not be detached from my circumstances (world). This led Ortega to pronounce his famous maxim "Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia" ("I am myself and my circumstance") which he always situated in the core of his philosophy. For Ortega, as for Husserl, the Cartesian 'cogito ergo sum' is insufficient to explain reality"therefore the Spanish philosopher proposes a system where life is the sum of the ego and circumstance. This circunstancia is oppressive; therefore, there is a continual dialectical exchange of forces between the person and his or her circumstances and, as a result, life is a drama that exists between necessity and freedom. In this sense Ortega wrote that life is at the same time fate and freedom, and that freedom "is being free inside of a given fate. Fate gives us an inexorable repertory of determinate possibilities, that is, it gives us different destinies. We accept fate and within it we choose one destiny." In this tied down fate we must therefore be active, decide and create a "project of life" -- thus not be like those who live a conventional life of customs and given structures who prefer an unconcerned and imperturbable life because they are afraid of the duty of choosing a project
(from AllExperts,, Free Encyclopedia)é_ortega_y_gasset.htm
"I am myself and my circumstance." (Ortega y Gasset)

(Question): Where do we find ourselves?
(Response): Where are you?

Who am I?
What are you doing?

Am I free?
You choose!

The rain has stopped. We had flooded celler and leaky roof (which is not quite finished being re-shingled). The Irish workman left the west side of dormer completely unprotected last season. The Scot temporarily cut and nailed an obtuse triangular temporary cover of plywood earlier this season. The roofer from Hope hadn't gotten to it yet last week. But the torrential rain coming from southwest did get to it. For hours of slashing downpour. The upstairs and downstairs bathrooms danced with dripping water through wall and ceiling. Pots and pans and multicolored towels bravely stood their ground during the deluge. Saskia fortified the troops. The battle subsides. All is well. And wet.

The brook roared and edged its limits under our footbridges. Big stones grumbled under water-falls. The sluice dug two months ago took runoff down Ragged Mountain that would have hit barn off to the other side of septic mound and across the road. I build make-shift earthen diverter dams to help water go away from new gambrel bookshed being built askew barn. Hosmer Pond was profoundly beyond its normal limits, flooding fields and backing toward road by 20-30 feet. Where we keep the green canoe on wood frame by pond was two feet too deep for our boots to approach -- so we turned back with life jackets hanging from paddles over shoulders.

November is warm this week. Many dogs ran the Snow Bowl. Color has fallen from trees to mountain mulching. Dawn gives light. I wake up early.


All of this.

And you.

This is what I am.

Thank you.

With heartfelt gratitude!