Friday, December 31, 2010

Breathing in, I notice the old year fade.
Closed out the old year
And held a dream of spring behind
Eyes shut, till now
This morning I open them to see
It's really come into the world

- Saigyo (1118-1190)
Breathing out, everything begins anew.

Love, understanding, wisdom, and compassion arrive all at once.

How lovely the night!

How lovely the morning!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Suse spoke the phrase tonight and I think I will adopt it whenever I have to fill out more forms asking my occupation. I will write: retiring.
The Way transcends any aspect of
Going or coming,
Movement or quiescence,
So one cannot realize satori by
Waiting for it.

- Daito (1282-1334)
A retiring personality. Retiring from the world.
The end is certain, and the means as well. To this we say “Amen.”We will be told exactly what God wills for us each time there is a choice to make. And He will speak for God and for your Self, thus making sure that hell will claim you not, and that each choice you make brings Heaven nearer to your reach. And so we walk with Him from this time on, and turn to Him for guidance and for peace and right direction. Joy attends our way. For we go homeward to an open door which God has held unclosed to welcome us.
(--from Epilogue, in A Course in Miracles)
Retiring to bed.

I'm glad I dwell in a hermitage.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Intuition, creativity, vision, soul.
Beyond the point where the rivers
End and the mountains vanish
You have kept on walking
Originally the treasure lies
Just under one's feet
You made the mistake of thinking
That now you would be able
To retire in peace
Look: in your own hut the
Meditation mat has never been warm.

- Muso Soseki (1275-1351)
Thinking, listening, looking, connecting.

If we want to know what is lacking and what is needed to heal this bedraggled planet from the backward inanity of a number of its occupants, take a minute, ponder.

Ready yet?

How about now?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Once I thought I was missing out on something.
Stop searching for phrases and chasing after words.
Take the backward step and turn the light inward.
Your body-mind of itself will drop
off and your original face will appear.
If you want to attain just this,
immediately practice just this.

- Dogen (1200-1253)
Now I don't think that way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

If I am not here, where am I?

And if I were to manage to sense what and where here is, what would I be doing here?

Diane's calligraphy over mud room door says, "God spoken here...".

On back of new hermitage business/calling card facing out to walkway approaching glass sliding door is written: "Here is God." Whoever approaches is looked at through these words.

Blizzard allows me to stay put. Anonymous 4 sing from "Noel" composite album. Rokie snoozes on futon. Mu-ge is asleep on bed upstairs. The car that went off the road into snowdrift across from driveway has been yanked out and the flashing lights have gone.

How often in my life have I been absent, not there? I hear the echoing inquiry: Are you there?

I don't mind being there or not being there. Heidegger and Feuerbach and Jaspers used the German word da-sein, (there-being/being-there), to mean human "existence" or "presence" or "authentic being." (cf. Wikipedia, These phrases and considerations are at the heart of what it means to be here, as humans, in this existence, within Being itself.
If you desire to meet the real Buddha,
you must see your True-nature.
Unless you see your True-nature,
even if you recite the Buddha's name,
read sutras, and uphold the precepts,
you will just be wasting your time.

- Daito (1282-1334)
We have to be it and see it. Sometimes it happens. Most times it takes practice just to realize there is a question about one's presence that is vital.

What are we to do?

Daniel Ladinsky frames two fragments from Francis of Assisi:

God came to my house and asked for charity.
And I fell on my knees and
cried, “Beloved,

what may I

“Just love,’ He said.
“Just love.”

(--St Francis of Assisi, p.33, Ladinsky)

Joy is the greatest cleanser, and it is
the greatest testimony to our

“Toil with happiness,” my Lord once
said to me.

God sent a servant on an errand
through a dangerous part
of the world.

The servant, having received in hand
what God wanted

turned to the Holy and said,
My Beloved Master, do you have a final instruction?"
and God replied,

“A kind face is a
(P.34, Ladinsky Daniel, 2002. in, Love Poems from God. Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West. Penguin Group.)
Let's face it.

Let's be kind.
Here is
where there

(--Robert Creeley, in Collected Poems, p.547)
One imagines hearing the following:

"Where will you be?"

"I'll be right over...


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blizzard, they say.

Everywhere blowing snow.

It is ours to look and listen, not know.

I now can say. "I love you, I love God, I love life," and not be concerned that I don't know anything about you, God, or life.

What is born is what will die.

In the meantime, it is now/time seen.
Note: In anticipation of the coming snow, there will be no Sunday Evening Practice this evening.
Stay home, stay warm, stay safe!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

With Rokie in the bow of Matinicus Peapod, we round Curtis Island this afternoon heading back to harbor. Near Dillingham Point to the northwest of Curtis just below the channel we come upon Sam and Susan Manning in their Grand Banks Dory rowing toward island. It is 26 degrees on Christmas afternoon and two traditional small craft come within 20 yards of each other in a wide swath of water. We greet each other as Rokie stands to gauge the distance, happily deciding it too far to leap, and after wishing each other blessings of the day, we continue our ways lengthening distance between. It was nearing 3:30pm. Back at dock another man whose dog, after bounding dangerously with Rokie on the wooden float, jumped into stern as he began to row the sailing double-ender out in front of the Grace Bailey and Mercantile, but not before saying, “You get credit for being out on the ocean today.” I wished him good credit and reflected on our small community of Christmas Day rowing folk. I sponge-bailed very cold water from the hidden-away keel/keelson which the rock salt kept liquid, checked lines, then climbed ramp back to VW Beetle. Someone stopped me to ask if I’d indeed rowed out to the island as Rokie leaned against his companion’s legs -- which she thought was just fine. I told the truth -- yes, it was cold, and yes it is fun -- try it some day.

Christmas Haiku

If I were you I’d
Wonder why I’d written this
To someone I am
(wfh, 23dec10)









. . . As




Friday, December 24, 2010

Observe this.

Listen to this.

Be this.

It is Christmas -- a silent, holy, and ordinary night.

Being born.

The words say: "Our use for words is almost over now."
"Now is he redeemed. And as he sees the gate of Heaven stand open before him, he will enter in and disappear into the Heart of God." (ACIM)
How to think about this prefacing morning? Cat purrs on chest. Last night's embers rekindled in woodstove as dawn stars guide dog and cat out Wohnkuche sliding door to morning pee. The night was giving way. We are its quiet remains.

In his poem "Ten Years Later," David Whyte writes:
Every year the sea breeze
ruffles the cold and lovely pearls
hidden in the center of the flowers

as if remembering them
by touch alone.

A calm and lonely, trembling beauty
that frightened me in youth.

Now their loneliness
feels familiar, one small thing
I've learned these years,

how to be alone,
and at the edge of aloneness
how to be found by the world.

Innocence is what we allow
to be gifted back to us
once we've given ourselves away.

There is one world only,
the one to which we gave ourselves
utterly, and to which one day

we are blessed to return.

(~ David Whyte ~ from, House of Belonging)

Perhaps this is a nativity reflection for this morning. There is one. World. Only.

Is Jesus, called Christ, one through which we listen, see, and have awareness of being-itself?

Is this the invitation?

To arrive. To listen and to see. To completely feel with what-is-here. Then disappear. Into the heart. Of God.

Alone with.



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cold wind blows through moonlight over this morning’s snow.

Just as sound of existence is heard through Christ-Mind over din of world’s erroneous perceptions.

Still, we listen for light. We look for harmony. We cry freedom.
A curtain of cloud hangs
Before the meditation seat
An ice wheel of moonlight
Turns through the railing
Don't say I have erased
All trace of attainment
Behind me there are still
Heaven and earth.

- Muso Soseki (1275-1351)
Still, heaven and earth.

Today was Thursday. Tomorrow Friday.

Then comes Saturday.

God itself is what is sounding through.

I write:
Christmas Haiku:

If I were you I’d
wonder why I’d written this
to someone I am
Cat and dog are in. Saskia gone to family. Cold wind passing through.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last minute legislation in Congress. Applause.

So many words. Too many.
Our use for words is almost over now. Yet in the final days of this one year we gave to God together, you and I, we found a single purpose that we shared. And thus you joined with me, so what I am are you as well. The truth of what we are is not for words to speak of nor describe. Yet we can realize our function here, and words can speak of this and teach it, too, if we exemplify the words in us.
(--from December 20th - Lesson 354, A Course in Miracles))
What happens when the words become exemplification?

What do we see when the word becomes flesh?
Zen-sitting is the way of perfect tranquility:
Inwardly not a shadow of perception,
Outwardly not a shade of difference
Between phenomena.
Identified with yourself,
You no longer think,
Nor do you seek enlightenment
Of the mind or disburdenment of illusions.
You are a flying bird with
No mind to twitter, a mountain
Unconscious of the others rising around it.

- Meiho (1277–1350)
Twitterless un-con-consciousness without illusions -- sign me up!

Some silence saves even what is lost.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter! Solstice!

Light will return.

First, the cold. Then, throughout, returning light.
The Original Self

Even those who have set aside all judgments of right and wrong and do not view people in terms of self and other cannot be said to be truly on the Way as long as they have not seen the original state before personal history.

- Muso Kokushi (1275-1351)
A few days to Christmas. Today, I am alive.

There's nothing else.

And nothing to fear.

We are not going home. We are home.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The moon will eclipse tonight. I will be eclipsed by the time it happens.

I will try to remain still and silent.
Death and life are looked on
As but transformations;
The myriad creation is all of a kind,
There is a kinship through all.

- Huai Nan Tzu (2nd c. BCE)
A student writes:
"I tried to think logically about how the story could be the way it was but if you just let it be… it is. Being transcnds reason. Being allows for everything to be at once.”
-- Melyssa K, 15dec2010
She sees something here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I am with you.

God is with us.

Be with one another.

Advent draws into its evening and final days.
Then Isaiah said:
‘Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’

(-from Isaiah 7:10-14)
All obedience is contained in the phrase: "Listen now."

All spirituality is rooted in listening now to what is now.

What do we hear?
He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel...
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

(-from Matthew1:18-24)
We are, it feels. far from home as we listen to the fears and frustrations, savaging and sycophanting, noisily clanking though the streets and hallways of our collective sleep and disturbing dreams.

We long to find, to return, to be -- home.

(Angelus, or, Abendbebet, (1857-59), by Jean-Francois Millet, Public Domain)

Joseph, listening, heard, took Mary to his home. Mary was home to her new listening within her. The time was now. What had been time was no more. What would be time would not occur. Everything, from origin to completion, was now.

Was now listening.

Being with.

Is with.

Your life.

My life.

Life itself.

Coming to be-with us.

Bewithing the world as-it-is.

Origin...Present...Holy Wholeness.

Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum!

(Allow it to be-with me as-is your word!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stacking wood by moonlight. Rowing to bell buoy #2 in middle afternoon. Sitting zazen in morning.
Nature may be compared to a vast ocean. Thousands and millions of changes are taking place in it. Crocodiles and fish are essentially of the same substance as the water in which they live. People are crowded together with the myriad other things in the Great Changingness, and their nature is one with that of all other natural things. Knowing that I am of the same nature as all other natural things, I know that there is really no separate self, no separate personality, no absolute death and no absolute life.
- T'ien T'ung-Hsu (8th c.)
It is the ordinary that sustains us.

No need for miracles.

Just someone being born.

Just someone dying.

Just life between.

Friday, December 17, 2010

In prison today three men took the 14 precepts. I said yes to each one from my chair in the back of the room. Indirection suits me.
If you miss the mark even by a strand of hair,
You are as distant as heaven from earth.
If the slightest discrimination occurs,
You will be lost in confusion.
You could be proud of your understanding;
Have abundant realization, or acquire
Outstanding wisdom and attain the way
By clarifying the mind. Still, if you
Are wandering about in your head,
You may miss the vital path of letting your body leap.

- Dogen (1200-1253)
Maggie turned 90 today. Gertrude read the same poem twice and recited her quote twice. She's 91.

Prison and nursing home. Both, gifts.

Tonight we finish Anam Cara for the second time and complete our four year Friday night with John O'Donohue's three books.

We've got to listen to one another.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gravel in dooryard grips tightly recently sodden earth now frozen hard.

Why live an open life, unfettered by concealing fear and resentful, revenging rage?

Because we are beings of the open who’ve mistakenly been hiding from who and what we are.

Denial attracts oppositional accusatory energy, blocking forward movement, makes barriers, imprisons, and isolates.

Acceptance allows what is real to be what it is, and frees motion within and without us to be a vibrant stillness that is continuous and diaphanous.
let me cleanse
in your brief,
sweet waters
these dark hands of life.

- Basho (1644-1694)

Ethics is concerned to free individuals and communities to a set of actions that are transparent and moving toward healthy, truthful, and liberating presence.

Teaching, especially ethics, is a humbling and uncertain activity.

So it is the semester ends.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cold night. They're making snow on the mountain. Last class for the semester, over.
Coming or going,
Day or night,
You must just strive to
Face the incomprehensible.

- Daito (1282-1334)
Just presence. Only presence.

Is all.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If you love
God you
will be

If you know
kindness you
see with God

Be this

Monday, December 13, 2010

You speak, I listen. I speak, you listen. Then we confer.

It takes work. But the opposite of this art is cultivation of dissuasion and aversion.
Dialogue is important for Panikkar but not purely mechanical or informative dialogue but rather what he calls “dialogical dialogue” which leads to recognizing difference but also to what we have in common, which in the end produces mutual fecondation. Dialogue is not a luxury for mankind, it is something absolutely necessary and inter-religious dialogue plays an important role. By this Panikkar does not mean an abstract theoretical dialogue, a dialogue about beliefs, he means a deep-reaching human dialogue in which one seeks the collaboration of the other for mutual realization since wisdom consists in being able to listen. Religion is not an experiment for him, it is an experience, an experience of life through which one is part of the cosmic adventure, with neither worry nor anxiety. This, for example, leads him to put forward the notion of “identity”. He was once asked during an interview: “Where do you find your identity?” His answer was:” By losing it rather than looking for it: by not wanting to hold onto an identity which has not yet been fulfilled and therefore is impossible to find in the past because it would only be a copy of something old. Life is a risk; adventure is radical innovation; creation comes about day after day, it is something absolutely new and unforeseeable”.
(-- from Laudatio of Raimon Panikkar Alemany, during the solemn academic ceremony of his investiture as Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Girona. Presented by Prof. Josep-Maria Terricabras, sponsor of the new Doctor.)
This is what a vocation is: to listen, and by listening to call out from concealment that which longs for communion, commonality, and commensurability.

There are so many brothers and sisters waiting for us to pray with them.

Are you listening?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm not waiting for Jesus to be born. I'm not waiting for his resurrection. I'm not waiting for the second coming.

What then? It is Advent. What am I doing?
The real way circulates everywhere;
How could it require
Practice or enlightenment?
The essential teaching is fully available;
How could effort be necessary?
Furthermore, the entire mirror is
Free of dust; why take steps to polish it?
Nothing is separate from this
Very place; why journey away?

- Dogen (1200-1253)
I'm dwelling in this very place.

Here is birth. Here is resurrection. Here the eternal return.

There's nothing to wait for this Advent.

Become what you are.

Be yourself!

Soon to realize:


Christus est.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Merton felt monasticism was the only venue for Marxism. From each according to their ability; to each according to their need.

Pema Chodron might agree. We are alone, she says. Merton agrees. So does the Buddha. We're on our own. (Our own what?)
Trying to find a buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It's not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can't grab it. Beyond this mind you'll never see a buddha. The buddha is a product of your mind. Why look for a buddha beyond this mind?
- Bodhidharma (d. 533)
I will be staying closer to home. I suspect the return home nears. I find little reason to leave home.

And yet, I have no home.

Just feet. And boots. Along with what remains of breath.

Thomas Merton had a way of annoying some people and enchanting others:
His visit with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan monks impressed Merton more than all other Asian encounters. Of course, these Tibetans have experienced Marxism as a force that destroyed much of their monastic structure. And Merton is confronting Marxism also as a political force that destroyed all structures. What happens when these structures are destroyed? In the future, he says, we will not rely on structures. We cannot be sure whether any of the structures with which we are familiar will outlast even our lifetime. What then are we supposed to do? What is the essence of monastic life?
Here is the high point of his whole Bangkok talk, the background of which is the story of Trungpa Rimpoche, who moved to the U.S. and founded a number of lively, prospering meditation centers. Merton met him on his Asian journey and was impressed. When the communists invaded Tibet, Trungpa Rimpoche was abbot of a large monastery, but was out on a visitation and got caught by the invasion at some farmhouse. Now the question was, what should he do? Should he go back to his own monastery, or should be flee across the border? He sent a message to a nearby abbot-friend to ask, “What shall we do?” The abbot sent back a message which Merton found most significant: “From now on, Brother, everybody stands on his own feet.”

Merton goes on to say, “To my mind, this is an extremely important monastic statement.” (Remember, this man is now speaking in the last hours of his life!) “If you forget everything else that has been said, I would suggests that you remember this for the future: ‘From now on, each one will have to stand on his own feet.’” He throws everything back on each monk personally: “Don’t rely on structure; stand on your own feet.” Then Merton expresses his relationship to structures: “Yes, we do need structures; we are supported by structures. But they may be destroyed at any moment by a political power or a political force. We cannot rely on structures. Use structures, but do not rely on structures.”

The moment we stand on our own two feet, the moment we find contemplative life at the root of monastic life, deep down in our own hearts, in our own center, we go beyond division. That is the third essential that Merton sifts out in facing the monastic identity crisis: that the Christian monastic calling is one that unites us with all monks. There again is this crack where he breaks out from the enclosed shell of a Trappist, Christian, monastic structure into universal monasticism. Monks East and West share the same quest, the contemplative quest of the human heart, in which we are all united. We go beyond division to an inner liberty which no one can touch.

Merton sees the essence: “What is essential in the monastic life is not embedded in buildings, not in a habit, not necessarily even in a rule.” (That must sound like enormous heresy to some.) “It is somewhere along the line of something deeper than a rule. It is concerned with this business of total inner transformation.” Once we have reached that last quest for total inner transformation, to quote Saint Paul, “there is no longer slave or free-born, there is no longer Jew or Gentile,” there is no longer Asian or European, but we have transcended these divisions. “This kind of monasticism,” Merton said in his last talk, “this kind of monasticism cannot be extinguished. It is imperishable; it represents an instinct of the human heart.
(from, Thomas Merton, Now at the Crack of Dawn, by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB,
The Heart Sutra, chanted at this morning's practice, has a section that says:
Therefore, O Sariputra,

in emptiness there is no form nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness ;

No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind ; No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind ; No sight-organ element, and so forth, until we come to :

No mind-consciousness element ; There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so forth, until we come to : There is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death. There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path.

There is no cognition, no attainment and no non-attainment.

(trans. by E. Conze)

In emptiness, where do I belong?

Where are you?

Friday, December 10, 2010

I think of Thomas Merton's death the way I experience the 9th stanza of the poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens:
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles
We renew our promises, watch film biography, and eat pizza.
On Going to see a Taoist master
A dog barks
Amid the sound of water;
A heavy dew stains
Peach blossoms.
In these deep woods,
I see several deer;
At noon along the stream,
I hear no temple bell.
Wild bamboo
Divides grey clouds;
Waterfalls hang
From blue peaks.
No way to tell
Where you've gone;
Disheartened, I lean
Against a second, now a third pine.

- Li Po (701-762)
I lean on the realization that Merton is so right for Meetingbrook.

Love has no opposite.

Only itself nowhere not.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Viewed Hamlet from London to Rockland screen this afternoon.
To search for enlightenment or nirvana beyond this mind is impossible. The reality of your own self-nature, the absence of cause and effect, is what's meant by mind. Your mind is nirvana. You might think you can find a buddha or enlightenment somewhere beyond the mind, but such a place doesn't exist.
- Bodhidharma (d. 533)
Rory Kinnear as Hamlet was felt through and through.
There ’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’t is not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all. Since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is ’t to leave betimes?
(--Hamlet. Act v. Sc. 2. by William Shakespeare)
Thoroughly felt.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I saw no morning star this morning. Back to shuffling feet.
Wondering if it's a winter shower,
I wake in my bed
And hear them:
The leaves that
Couldn't withstand the storm.
- Saigyo (1118-1190)
If I was born immaculately whole, something broke afterwards.

I can't imagine there's nothing to live or die for.

I've tried. It's not easy.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

There is, some say, a beginning, a middle, and an end. Those who say it are in the middle. We don't hear much from before the beginning or after the end.

I'm not saying that beginnings or endings are what we call them. I like the idea that there is no beginning, only origin. I like the idea that there is no ending, only disappearance.

After his final talk on 10Dec1968 Thomas Merton said he would just disappear. And he did. By electrocution. His words remain. Lots of them. But he...has disappeared.

There's a koan question asking to see the person's original face -- the one they had before their mother and father were born.

We usually stare at the questioner when this question is asked.
"Sweep away thoughts!" means one must do zazen. Once thoughts are quieted, the Original Face appears. Thoughts can be compared to clouds. When clouds vanish, the moon appears. The moon of suchness is the Original Face. Thoughts are also like the fogging of a mirror. When you wipe away all condensation, a mirror reflects clearly. Quiet your thoughts and behold your Original Face before you were born!
- Daito (1282-1334)
When death nears, there's a question asked: "What happens at the end, what happens after death?"

I don't know.

That's what happens: "I don't know.”

Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell,

Receive thy new possessor—one who brings

A mind not to be changed by place or time.

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

What matter where, if I be still the same

. . . Here at least/ We shall be free . . .

we may reign secure; and, in my choice,

To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:

Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. (I:251-263)

— John Milton (Paradise Lost)

So says the mind. Does the heart feel a different last line? The mind has reigned in a hell of war and carnage. The heart longs to serve peace with kindness and attention.

Robert Thurman says that only monasticism is an antidote to militarism. Either you empty the mind of egoistic grasping or you attack others with a mind to possess what they possess.

I choose a lay monastic attentive life.

Monasticism sees no end. Militarism is the beginning of the end.

Right now -- ask the most important question: "What is the most important question?"

That's it!

December 8th is about us.

Happy Buddha's Enlightenment Day!

Happy Immaculate Conception of Mary!

Happy sorrow at the assassination of John Lennon!

Dogen Zenji said: “Life Is One Continuous Mistake.”

Find yourself in the middle of it. Extend your mistake.

It's alright.

Monday, December 06, 2010

We're not barbaric. We're afraid. And people afraid do the bidding of their intimidators. These are difficult times. Many fearful people will do many awful things.
“Each time society, through unemployment, frustrates the small man in his normal functioning and normal self-respect,” Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1945 essay “Organized Guilt and Universal Responsibility,” “it trains him for that last stage in which he will willingly undertake any function, even that of hangman. (-- Chris Hedges, Happy as a Hangman, Truthdig, 6Dec2010)
We have good reason to be wary. There seems to be, oddly, a concerted effort to widen the imbalance of those who have far more than they need and those who have far less than they need.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his book “The Gulag Archipelago” writes about a close friend who served with him in World War II. Solzhenitsyn’s defiance of the Communist regime after the war saw him sent to the Soviet gulags. His friend, loyal to the state, was sent there as an interrogator. Solzhenitsyn was forced to articulate a painful truth. The mass of those who serve systems of terrible oppression and state crime are not evil. They are weak.

“If only there were vile people ... committing evil deeds, and if it were only necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them,” Solzhenitsyn wrote. “But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

(--from, Happy as a Hangman, by Chris Hedges, on Truthdig, Posted on Dec 6, 2010,
I'm confounded by the way the economic institutions in our country and world operate with such ease of function to reap enormous profits while, at the same time, finding new ways to extract money and encourage debt from so many ordinary citizens who have no resources to counterbalance the system or money brokers in our midst.

My face feels frown furrowed, my mind incredulous, my spirit deflated. The way I live does not feel holy.
To drink up the ocean and turn a mountain
Upside down is an ordinary affair for a Zennist.
Zen seekers should sit on the site of universal
Enlightenment right in the midst of all the thorny
Situations in life,
And recognize their original face while mixing
With the ordinary world.

- Huanglong
I look at the mountain full of falling snow and ask it about its original face. It looks back at me -- frowning, furrowing, befuddled, and dispirited.

I sit on the site of universal unknowing and find the holy questioning me about what it should do.

I say nothing.

At every hand there are moments we
cannot quite grasp or understand. Free

to decide, to interpret, we watch rain
streaking down the window, the drain

emptying, leaves blown by a cold wind.
At least we sense a continuity in

such falling away. But not with snow.
It is forgetfulness, what does not know,

has nothing to remember in the first place.
Its purpose is to cover, to leave no trace

of anything. Whatever was there before—
the worn broom leaned against the door

and almost buried now, the pile of brick,
the bushel basket filling up with thick,

gathering whiteness, half sunk in a drift—
all these things are lost in the slow sift

of the snow's falling. Now someone asks
if you can remember—such a simple task—

the time before you were born. Of course
you cannot, nor can I. Snow is the horse

that would never dream of running away,
that plods on, pulling the empty sleigh

while the tracks behind it fill, and soon
everything is smooth again. No moon,

no stars, to guide your way. No light.
Climb up, get in. Be drawn into the night.
(--Poem, Snow, by Jared Carter, from Poetry, c.1999, 2003)
The mountain continues to fill with snow.

The black and white cat scratches and grooms.

I will make no noose.

Nor noise.

Near, a sigh of sorrow.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

And if the doctor says: You have a disease that will kill you." Say back: "Thank you!"
Now, in this world and in other worlds, in India and China, buddha ancestors equally carry the buddha seal and teach the practice of sitting immersed in steadfastness. Although circumstances may vary in a thousand ways, whole-heartedly practice Zen, giving yourself fully to the Way. Why give up the sitting platform of your own house and wander uselessly in the dust of a remote land?
- Dogen (1200-1253)
I consider myself a wanderer.

And useless.

Sit well.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Do I have a clear mind? Is my heart open and responsive?

It is not for me to know. If they are so it will show.
The knowledge of the pure clean mind
Is as yellow gold to the world;
The spiritual treasury of wisdom is
All in the body and mind.
The uncreated spiritual treasury
Is neither shallow nor deep.
The buddhas and bodhisattvas
Understand this basic mind;
For those who have the chance
To encounter it, it is not
Past, future, or present.

- Fu Shan-hui (487-659)
The good thing about rowing around Curtis Island in middle afternoon is that the light fades and when there is a northerly wind the exercise you get is not an elective choice. Rather you are rowing against exhaustion to get back to inner harbor and not get blown out across the bay or slump over thwart with heart failure.

You just pull and lean, pull and lean, pull and lean all the way back.

There is no choice.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

I would like to speak with what is holy.

What is holy is imageless and soundless.

Nothing to do.

But be.


Silence is invitatory prayer of Holy Spirit.

Here only silence.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

For 8 days our winter zendo will be an inviting place to practice zazen in preparation for Rohatsu, the December 8 celebration of the Buddha's enlightenment.

No fuss, no set schedule. Just come and use as you wish.
He cried:

That's it! That's it! That's it. That's me! That's me that's shining so brilliantly!

How deeply he was moved and what wonder he felt. From this comes all of the Buddha's dharma. From within this state of mind the Buddha said:

How wondrous, how wondrous! All beings are endowed with this pure nature! What a wondrous, astonishing thing has been realized! All the ten thousand things, all the flowers, all the trees, all the rocks, all things everywhere are shining brilliantly! What an amazing thing! It's the same landscape, but how brilliantly it is illuminated! What freshness is everything!

From within this deep illumination of the mind of the Buddha, all the Buddha's wisdom was born. All of Zen is held within the deep impression of the Buddha's mind at that moment.

People vow to experience this very same experience of the Buddha as they approach the rohatsu sesshin. In every single Zen dojo, people put their lives on the line to be able to experience the exact same state of mind, on the eighth of December, as that of the Buddha. This is the firm vow with which they come to the rohatsu sesshin.

(--from Morning Dewdrops of the Mind: Teachings of a Contemporary Zen Master, by Roy Tribelhorn, Shodo Harada Roshi, c.1993)
That's it.

Sit well!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Watching planes land and take off at Bangor airport this afternoon. The marvels of flight!

Everyone we pass might be the only person who knows the truth.
Instead, our meeting is so brief and accidental,
unnoticed by the monocled eye of History,
you could be the man I held the door for
this morning at the bank or post office
or the one who wrapped my speckled fish.
You could be someone I passed on the street
or the face behind the wheel of an oncoming car.

(--from poem, Dear Reader, by Billy Collins)
How fortunate we smile on each other.

Monday, November 29, 2010

No contrivance.
Do not say the mind monarch is empty
In having no essential nature;
It can cause the physical body to do
Wrong or do right.
Neither being nor nonbeing,
It is concealed and revealed
Without fixation.
Although the essence of mind is empty,
It can be ordinary and can be saintly:
Therefore I urge you to guard it yourself
Carefully; a moment of contrivance,
And you back to bobbing and sinking.

- Fu Shan-hui (487-659)
No bobbing and sinking.

No fixation.

There, that settles it!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I pass Harp Seal on way out to Curtis Island as sun spent last half hour before setting. Past it again as dusk darkened everything and only oarlocks made sounds an hour later. Pretty far south from Newfoundland, Greenland, and Russia.

We're all far from home.
Study the Way and never grow old
Distrust emotions; truth will emerge
Sweep away your worries
Set even your body aside

Autumn drives off the yellow leaves
Yet spring renews every green bud
Quietly contemplate the pattern of things
Nothing here to make us sad

- Shih-shu (17th-early 18th c.)
Video of Anthony de Mello at table portion of practice tonight. Good words.

We're not tied.

Walk away.

We are free are we!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Where to look?
To you my eyes are turned
(from Psalm 140)
Are you good looking?
May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
No one is good. No one is bad.

We are, in fact, perfect and holy.

It's your call.

It's Advent.

Stay awake!

Friday, November 26, 2010

If these are the last words I write, they are pleasure to write.
‘You thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything. So I thought, once. So did we all. And the truth is that as a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do . . .’ (--from, A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin, 1968)
I choose see things in God's view.
‘It is no secret. All power is one in source and end, I think. Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man’s hand and the wisdom in a tree’s root: they all arise together. My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name.’

Staying his knife on the carved wood, Murre asked, ‘What of death?’

The girl listened, her shining black head bent down.

‘For a word to be spoken,’ Ged answered slowly, ‘there must be silence. Before, and after.’

(--from, A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin, 1968)
The great word "that" is.

Is that all I have to say?

Then, that's that!
Against the gently flowing spring morning
The arrogant rattle of a passing coach
Peach blossoms beckon from the distant village
Willow branches caress the shoulder of the pond

As bream and carp flash their golden scales
And mated ducks link embroidered wings
The poet stares about; this way, then that
Caught in a web beyond all speaking.

- Shih-shu (17th-early 18th c.)
Beyond all.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Three ways of viewing what meditation practice on Thanksgiving morning might suggest:
1. What is not the ego is what is revealing God as being with us.

2. What is,
not the ego,
is what is revealing
God as being with

3. What is not,
the ego,
is what is
revealing God
as being
with us.
I like facts and gratitude.

A good Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Only answer the question asked.
The rich worry about getting poor
For me poverty would be a good year
I followed fate into these myriad peaks
You don't need a penny here
Thatched eaves beside a racing brook
Cragflowers draping the bamboo fence
In winter, I turn my back to the sun
Come summer, park myself at water's edge.
- Shih-shu (17th-early 18th c)
If I want to know more, I'll ask.

Gratitude is its own accomplishment.

Really, there is nothing.

To accomplish...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

After yesterday in Oxford and Norway, today in St Albans and Hartland Maine -- drizzle. fog and rain throughout -- we return to Tuesday Evening Practice in bookshed. And the question: Is the only 'trap' the one wherein we repeat the habits and patterns of ego's fears until we cannot take one further step with our lives?

To be is to become.
Yes, I will try to be. Because I believe that not being is arrogant. (~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin)
Many years ago, I recall writing: "We marry ourselves and are shocked by the inevitable divorce."
If you want to attain buddhahood,
Don't be stained by anything.
Though the essence of mind is empty,
The substance of greed and anger is solid.
To enter this door to the source,
Sit straight and be Buddha.
Once you've arrived at the other shore,
You will attain the perfections.

- Fu Shan-hui (487-659
I'd like to be a saint and nobody knowing about it.

Not knowing is a grace.

My gratitude for not knowing what or who I am!

Why or how this came to be.

Becoming itself.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Icy rain in Oxford Maine this morning.

I see perfect winter zendo chairs for bookshed/retreat in discount store there.
My long white hair is framed by
Green mountains
My body is surrounded
By a thousand cliffs and gorges
The pine gate is silent
No one passes by
The only ones who visit
Are the drifting clouds.

- Han-shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623)
For silence and silent sitting practice -- with apologies to the original lyrics: All we need is a room somewhere. Between barn and cabin in cold night air. Warm space with two new chairs. Wouldn’t that be? Love her. See!
All I want is a room somewhere,
Far away from the cold night air,
With one enormous chair.
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?

Lots of chocolate for me to eat.
Lots of coal makin' lots of 'eat.
Warm face, warm 'ands, warm feet.
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?

Oh, so loverly sittin' absobloominlutely still.
I would never budge 'till spring
Crept over the windowsill.

Someone's 'ead restin' on my knee,
Warm an' tender as 'e can be,
Who takes good care of me.
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?
Loverly, loverly, loverly, loverly.

(Song, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" from My Fair Lady, music by Frederick Loewe; lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, 1964)
We watch Book of Eli and find it stark and interesting. Makes me want to read again novel read in the 1960s, A Canticle for Liebowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

What will prevail when our civilization derails?

The First Book of Moses, called Genesis

1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

(Beginning, King James Bible)

From there. To here. No departure. No arrival.

Dwells the Source.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

We adjourn to winter zendo in bookshed/retreat next to barn for its warmth and sweetness to house our meditation and prayer practice from now through winter.
After late fall rain
The falling leaves swirl
Weightlessly; celestial scent
Covers my patched robe
A simple vacant mind
Has no place to go
Resting on the peak
I watch the clouds return.

- Han-shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623)
I love prayer and meditation.

You’ll find me there for the winter.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fear is only the ego's doorkeeper. All fear wants us to do is carefully observe what is presenting itself.

Careful awareness of what is presenting itself is the beginning of wisdom.
Like salt in water,
Like adhesive in coloring,
It is certainly there,
But you don't see its form;
So is the monarch of mind.
Dwelling inside the body,
Going in and out the senses,
It responds freely to beings,
According to conditions,
Without hindrance, succeeding,
At all it does.

- Fu Shan-hui (487-659)
In prison today there was a presentation of a conversation entitled: "Let's just see how it goes!" This is a phrase used by Maezumi Roshi whenever a student wanted to try to accomplish something. The gathering was a forum for the emotional needs and stress related aspects of prisoner release.
Five Points for Conversation

The way you feel now is how you’re going to feel.
(feel, acknowledge, free)

See your way through, don’t be distracted by expectations.
(your or others; rather, focus on what you are doing)

“Don’t think: Look!” (--Ludwig Wittgenstein)
(avoid explanations, rationalizations, excuses, blaming, targeting, or trying to fix.)
(Rather: look clearly and carefully, feel, and free)

“Man is defined by that which disturbs him.” (--Elie Wiesel)
(be aware of what disturbs, pisses you off, makes you angry, makes you crazy.)
You are not that. Find a way to move through. Movement, not explanation.)

Revelation of non-illusory reality is initially terrifying.
(while illusory existence might be comfortable, true reality is liberating)
Illusions will end.

As we become sane we will take off masks, stop telling covering stories about everything, and we will no longer fear to see what we see, hear what we hear, and become again what we truly are.

Free in and through the practice of seeing where this goes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Dalai Lama says meditation will help arrive at universal ethics with peaceful calm mind.
Today I sat before the cliffs
Sat until the mist drew off
A rambling clear stream shore
A towering green ridge crest
Cloud's dawn shadows still
Moon's night light adrift
Body free of dust
Mind without a care.

- Han shan
Live free and die.

I’m having no part of it.

But all of it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It is amazing anything that is said makes any sense. Sometimes it feels like chaos is the only thing there is.
What I teach people just
Requires you not to take
On the confusion of others.
Act when necessary,
Without further hesitation or doubt.
When students today do not attain this,
Wherein lies their sickness?
The sickness is in not
Trusting yourself.
If your inner trust is insufficient,
Then you will frantically go along
With changes in situations,
And will be influenced and
Affected by myriad objects,
Unable to be independent.
If you can stop the mentality
Of constant frantic seeking,
Then you are no different
From Zen masters and Buddhas.

- Linji (d. 866)
I prefer being...


Which, I sense, is what I am.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I leave two pennies on red and white channel marker. Not one boat is in the outer harbor. No one passes me as I row out in the bay. I am alone. With seals. And loons.
In human life, if you feel that you have made a mistake, you don’t try to undo the past or the present, but you just accept where you are and work from there. Tremendous openness as to where you are is necessary. This also applies to the practice of meditation, for instance. A person should learn to meditate on the spot, in the given moment, rather than thinking, “. . . When I reach pension age, I’m going to retire and receive a pension, and I’m going to build my house in Hawaii or the middle of India, or maybe the Gobi Desert, and THEN I’m going to enjoy myself. I’ll live a life of solitude and then I’ll really meditate.” Things never happen that way.
(—Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Transcending Madness , From "Your Life Is Your Practice" by Glenna Olmstead)
At evening practice we listen to Pema Chodron on Maitri.
Maitri is translated in a lot of ways, maybe most commonly as love, but the way Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche translated it was unconditional friendliness and in particular unconditional friendliness to oneself. (Pema Chodron, in Shambhala Sun, )
Let's do that.

Be unconditionally friendly.

To ourselves.

In another.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

At times someone says, “I cannot pray.” I hear their words as, “What I think is prayer I cannot do. I can only do what I am doing, saying, ‘I cannot pray.’”

Whenever we do what we are doing, we are praying. Paying attention to our life is having faith in life. Faith is attention seeking insight.

We wonder about life. We wonder about God. We wander about life. We wander about God.

Saturday morning practice today included silent sitting, reading (today from Shambhala Sun article by Karen Maezen Miller: “Do Dishes, Rake Leaves -- And Don’t Forget the Endless Loads of Laundry”), followed by a circle reflection by each attending, then metta blessing. It was a lovely morning and lovely practice.

This afternoon, rowing around Curtis and out around R2 bell buoy. Not a ripple. Slightest of swells. Slack tide. Rokie in stern. No boats in outer harbor. Only mooring balls to bump into. Warm afternoon. We meet Mannings just north of island, coming alongside -- they in their large dory, I in Anna’s good-sized peapod. Rokie jumps into dory, greets Sam and Susan fore to aft, then jumps back to peapod to resume our passage. Three sets of oars pull away from the rendezvous. Saskia is at wharf taking in the warm sun in wheelchair a month into her broken ankle.

We pray just by being in the world. Our very being is prayer. God is the open expanse of wholeness within which all things live and breathe and have their being. To acknowledge this reality is what some call gratefulness, some call the contemplative life, and some call prayer.

Vespers is spoken in quiet kitchen. Kali calls and does healing silence over phone with Saskia.

A Ken Follett series on Netflix, The Pillars of the Earth, dark and brooding treachery of court and church in middle ages. Power, ambition, and greed seem a staple of human nature. We pray, if we do, because it is a staple. Prayer is a fast. Or so it was. Reducing our obsessions.

But now, prayer is not wanting anything. Not from God, not from man, not from earth.

Left bereft, we pray to see through the emptiness what is permeating the emptiness. There's nothing there.

We are this nothingness seeking what we are.

This prayer is the longing of the presence of God to realize itself/himself/herself in the self-emptying place of receptivity and weakness.The Northumbrian Community of Ireland uses the words availability and vulnerability.
Names of the unified mind are
True suchness, the hidden essence,
The pure spiritual body,
The pedestal of awareness,
The innocent, universal round mirrorlike knowledge,
The open source, the ultimate truth,
And pure consciousness.
The enlightened ones of the past, present, and future,
And all of their discourses,
Are all in your fundamental nature, inherently complete.
You do not need to seek,
But you must save yourself;
No one can do it for you.
- Xuefeng (822–908)
I left two pennies on base of bobbing bell buoy in the bay.

You never know who might need change.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It is Remembrance Day. Armistice Day. Veteran's Day.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
(-- 3rd and 4th verses from For The Fallen, poem by LAURENCE BINYON. Originally published in The Times on 21 September 1914)
For those, everywhere, who have served to protect and secure life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, their fellows in combat, their families and friends at home, and the natural inheritance of respect and revering all life, all existence -- on this day, we express gratitude.

Many are dead or deadened by war, world-wide. For all veterans of the horror and unkindness of the awful experience of war with its implications and consequences -- our prayers and thoughts for a continuation that is filled, in whatever form, with kindness, compassion, and loving embrace.

We will remember them.

We will remember you.

Grateful for gift extended.

Thank you!
In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

If we must quarrel, let it be without war and other forms of unkindness. Let us converse, however spirited or full of disagreement, with the intention of peace and compassion shown one another.