Saturday, August 20, 2011

As a hermit, socializing in crowds is not my favorite activity. Nothing personal. Just awkward.
Bahá’u’lláh urges that Houses of Worship be made "as perfect as is possible in the world of being" and that they be befittingly adorned. The House of Worship has three prerequisites: it is to be circular shape, to have nine sides, and to be surrounded by nine gardens with walkways. The emphasis on the number nine comes from the understanding that this number, the largest single digit, symbolizes perfection, comprehensiveness, and unity. Nine is also the numerical value of the Arabic word bahá (light, glory) according to the ancient abjad system, in which each letter of the alphabet is accorded numerical significance.
(--from Mashriqu’l-Adhkár (Arabic: "Dawning Place of the Praise of God"), Term used primarily to refer to a Bahá’í House of Worship, also known as a Temple, and its surrounding dependencies.
One of the useful things about being a hermit is recognizing that solitude is a metier sans doute.

Without doubt one is alone in this thought.

Still, welcoming light.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Make it appropriate.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from late Latin appropriatus, past participle of appropriare ‘make one's own,’ from ad- ‘to’ + proprius ‘own, proper.’
Make it your own.
The world is unstable, like a house on fire. This is not a place where you stay long. The murderous haunt of impermanence comes upon you in a flash, no matter whether you are rich or poor, old or young. If you want to be no different from a Zen master or a buddha, just do not seek outwardly.
- Lin Chi (d 867?)
Because there's nothing out there.


In here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

See? Sea? Si!

Fog hides nearly everything at Rockland Harbor. Boat horn sounds rhythmically, probably ferry to Vinalhaven.

She "came out", the text says, "dancing to the sound of timbrels." Two months later, lamenting her virginity, she was gone, a casualty of a vow her father made for the Lord's help in defeating an enemy,
As Jephthah returned to his house at Mizpah, his daughter came out from it to meet him; she was dancing to the sound of timbrels. This was his only child; apart from her he had neither son nor daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and exclaimed, ‘Oh my daughter, what sorrow you are bringing me! Must it be you, the cause of my ill-fortune! I have given a promise to the Lord, and I cannot unsay what I have said.’ (--from Judges 11:29-39)
As the fog lifts, the Breakwater Light shows itself, lobster boat slowing after fast crossing,

In second reading the guy without wedding garment is tossed on his ear.
“How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’ (--from Matthew 22: 1-14)
This might not be a punishment. Nonconformity may be the kingdom. We have to be tossed into it.

Silence offers no explanation.

Comments, not commentary. There are questions. Such as: Why is virginity such a powerful notion in religious literature? Are we to suppose that not-being-born is a purer state that being-born? Or is remaining intact a metaphor for not buying into the fragmentation of dissolution and disintegration? Are we being tossed to Layman Pang’s thoughts about the ‘unborn’ --

The world over:

Men without wives

Women without husbands

Face to face,

Speaking of what is unborn.

(The Sayings of Layman Pang, #3: "One Gulp")

Which notion is artificial, and which authentic?

Kuei-shan asked Yun-yen,

“What is the seat of enlightenment?"

Yun-yen said,

"Freedom from artificiality.”

- Kuei-shan (771-854)

And then there is the wedding garment. Is a free meal a legal contract? Either it is a free meal or it is a legal contract. I’m leery of the King’s attitude. No one wanted to come in the first place, then those drafted have to conform to his dress code, resulting in an ignominious booting to someone garbed as an outsider. I’m glad the text prefaced the story with the word ‘may’ when it said: Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. [Emphasis added]

Or, maybe not!

When the Blessed Sacrament is placed in monstrance after mass on Thursdays, the invitation is to look -- to look, perchance to see.

Dance, child, you are never not whole!

Be tossed, man, nothing defines you from outside!

Not a single one of you people at this meeting is unenlightened. Right now, you're all sitting before me as Buddhas. Each of you received the Buddha-mind from your mothers when you were born, and nothing else. This inherited Buddha-mind is beyond any doubt unborn, with a marvelously bright illuminative wisdom.

In the Unborn, all things are perfectly resolved.

(-Bankei Yotaku, 17th century Zen Master, 1622-93).

Fog bank rolls out to see.

Good white dog with black spot saddle snoozes on linoleum floor next to Waterford 103.

Then moves to sunlit door when he hears the sound of a car stopping on the road, wondering...

What may appear?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where do the dead go? Some into a box into the ground. Some into a crematorium and out as ash. Some would say that's only where their bodies go, That 'they' go to some spiritual place to begin a new kind of existence.
Names of the Dead
Last Updated: 12:20 AM ET
The Department of Defense has identified 1,723 American service members who have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations. It confirmed the death of the following American this week:

CUNNINGHAM, Joe L., 27, Second Lt., Army; Kingston, Okla.; 179th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard.
(source: NewYork Times, 17aug2011)
I don't know.
Thus it is that we should not fear the arising of thoughts, just fear being slow to notice. It is also said, "When thoughts arise, immediately notice them; once you become aware of them, they are no longer there."
- Master Chinul (1158-1210
I notice my thoughts want to take me elsewhere and pronounce other words.


I wish this soldier God. And his family, also, God.

This embrace of disappearance!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reading all day.

The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

( - Poem by Jim Harrison, from Poetry, September 2008).
Except for mass in the morning.

The only question more important than "Does faith help you die?" is: "Is faith life itself?"

Thus, being a person of faith means the willingness to consider and accept life.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. It's a good feast.

One definition of "assumption" is: "Taking to or upon oneself."
In India two persons meet. In English they say, "How do you do?" The Indian greeting is, "Are you upon yourself?" The moment you stand upon something else, you run the risk of being miserable. This is what I mean by meditation — the soul trying to stand upon itself. That state must surely be the healthiest state of the soul, when it is thinking of itself, residing in its own glory. No, all the other methods that we have — by exciting emotions, prayers, and all that — really have that one end in view. In deep emotional excitement the soul tries to stand upon itself. Although the emotion may arise from anything external, there is concentration of mind.
(-- from "Meditation," talk by Swami Vivekananda; Delivered at the Washington Hall, San Francisco, April 3, 1900*)
I remember many people today -- the death of Jim's mom, the death of Heather's dad, the religious vows of a dear friend. Happily, death is not what we think it is. It is an uncharted mystery calling us through it. And canceling vows is a deep understanding of how life moves in mysterious ways through the years. Each year on High Holy Days we are called into a reflection about "All the vows" taken or to be taken in our lives. I've fallen through this cancellation.

We don't know. Perhaps we can't know. Our epistemology is a fluctuating wave and an uncertain footing. I, personally, do not know -- hardly anything, if anything.

And so, what seems paradoxical sits comfortably alongside.

As a Catholic I love Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha.

As a Buddhist I love Jesus of Nazareth the Christ.

Individuals, both. Not archetypes, not myths, not institutions. Individuals. As each of us is, or, could be.
If you can see a thought as it arises
This awareness will at once destroy it.
Whatever state of mind should come,
Sweep it away, put it down.

Both good and evil states
Can be transformed by mind.
Sacred and profane appear
In accordance with thoughts.

- Han Shan Te Ch'ing (1546-1623)
I no longer
feel the need to defend -- (as if I ever needed to defend) -- religion against critics conflating or extrapolating disappointing details or dramas into wholesale condemnation or denigration. There are, it is undeniable, stupid, evil, unkind, and misdirected behaviors that reside within the structures grown up around the religious insights of ordinary or unusual people.

Today the thought arises that Max Muller's dictum "Whoever knows one [religion], knows none." -- might be expanded, I submit, to 'the only one religion is none of the above -- true religion is love and kindness,' and that all religions together are only a small attempt to penetrate that truth and translate it into everyday action by means of thought, prayer, and service.

It seems to me there is religion, and there is perversion of religion. 'Religion' is the response to the question, "What hold us and everything together?" To this question, the responses 'love' and 'kindness' arise. It is possible to suggest that anything not embodying the template and behavior of love and kindness falls short of 'religion' and doesn't hold together. Anything that purports to be religion yet offends and perverts the common understanding of love and kindness could easily be seen as the perversion of religion.

I suspect that the vast majority of people are dissatisfied with, and often shun completely, the 'perversion of religion' when they experience it. I also suspect that authentic 'religion' -- love and kindness-- whether done in the name of God, humankind, truth, earth, commonsense, or the appellations of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Shintoism, Paganism, Islam, New Age, or None of the Above Agnosticism and Atheism -- is recognized and felt by any and everyone who has come into its presence.
The Broken

The spiders started out to go with the wind on its pilgrimage. At that time

They were honored among the invisibles -- more sensitive than glass, lighter

than water, purer than ice. Even the lighting spoke well of them, and it

seemed as though they could go anywhere. But as they were traveling

between cold and heat, cracks appeared in them, appeared in their limbs,

and they stopped, it seemed they had to stop, had to leave the company of

the wind for a while and stay in one place until they got better, moving

carefully, hiding, trusting to nothing. It was not long before they gave up

trying to become whole again, and instead undertook to mend the air.

Neither life nor death, they said, would slip through it any more.

After that they were numbered among the dust -- makers of ghosts.

The wind never missed them. There were still the clouds.

(--Poem by W. S. Merwin)

We might not be able to "mend the air" -- but we can honor the effort to see things as of a piece, whole and entire, even as the moving, flowing dispersion of forms into emptiness, nothingness moving through matter, and human understanding diminishing in the face of ungraspable mystery and mystagogy -- still, we long for a unified seeing wherein everyone and everything holds together.

We know that things fall apart. That's common to us. And yet -- and yet -- there is an ease with which what has fallen apart comes to itself again -- there is an intuitive and organic recollection and healing engendered by what we call love and what we call kindness.

I aspire to be what I am, a religious person. Even when religions fail, or the perversion of religion predominates, I trust that religion itself, in whatever form it might emerge, urges us through our yearning for love and kindness to the simple practice of love and kindness.

One breath at a time.

One person present.

Body, spirit, assumption -- the act of taking to or upon oneself.

To or upon.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Barn at dusk.

Dog on gravel at dusk.

No need to fabricate concepts. What we are looking for is right before us.
In the silence of this “night of faith” we return to simplicity and sincerity of heart. We learn recollection which consists in listening for God’s will, in direct and simple attention to reality. Recollection is awareness of the unconditional.
(--p.92, The Climate of Monastic Prayer, by Thomas Merton, c.1969)
Solitude is being-alone.

Community is being-with-others.

Between them, the conversation.