Saturday, September 10, 2011

Naive innocence ends with 9/11.
The essential point in learning Zen is to make the roots deep and the stem firm. Twenty-four hours a day, be aware of where you are and what you do. When no thoughts have arisen and nothing at all is on your mind, you merge with the boundless and become wholly empty and still. Then your actions are not interrupted by doubt and hesitation. This is called the fundamental matter right at hand.

As soon as you produce any opinion or interpretation, and want to attain Zen and be a master, you have already fallen into psychological and material realms You have become trapped by ordinary senses and perceptions, by ideas of gain and loss, by ideas of right and wrong. Half drunk and half sober, you cannot manage effectively.

- Yuan wu (1063-1135)
If there is only God, then nothing exists beside God.

It is this nothing we remember.

"This", the mysterious one said a long time ago, "this is my body."

How do we see this reality?


Friday, September 09, 2011

Maybe the question isn't, "Where was God on 9/11?"
One instant is eternity;
When you see through this one instant,
You see through the one who sees.

- Wu-men (1183-1260)
Maybe the question is: "Who wants to know?"
On Prayer

You ask me how to pray to someone who is not.
All I know is that prayer constructs a velvet bridge
And walking it we are aloft, as on a springboard,
Above landscapes the color of ripe gold
Transformed by a magic stopping of the sun.
That bridge leads to the shore of Reversal
Where everything is just the opposite and the word 'is'
Unveils a meaning we hardly envisioned.
Notice: I say we; there, every one, separately,
Feels compassion for others entangled in the flesh
And knows that if there is no other shore
We will walk that aerial bridge all the same.

(Poem by Czeslaw Milosz)
Milosz has it in his poem.

Reverse 'is.'

Learn another language.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Mary, mother of Jesus, has a birthday.
The Lord God called to the man. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ (-Genesis 3:9-20)
No one is 'naked'. Forget shame, blame, sin. Forget what we've been told.

Mary knows this.

She prays we learn this.
- - - - - ==== + + + + + ==== - - - - -

Looking forward is looking back.

Washington Post reporter Dana Priest's Frontline examination of "Top Secret America" looks at the way the US government has responded to 9/11.

It is an impressive and scary study.
The Way is arrived at by enlightenment. The first priority is to establish resolve-it is no small matter to step directly from the bondage of the ordinary person into transcendent experience of the realm of sages. It requires that your mind be firm as steel to cut off the flow of birth and death, accept your original real nature, not see anything at all as existing inside or outside yourself, so all actions and endeavors emerge from the fundamental.
- Yuan wu (1063-1135)
It is a different America.

Hard to recognize it.

Fear is looking forward.

Disappointment, backward.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

It's that kind of night.
Do away with your
Throat and lips,
And let me hear
What you can say.

- Shih-tou (700-790)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The film about Mike Judge, Saint of 9/11, was made in 2006. I watched it today. The Franciscan friar, AA member, chaplain to the fire department, resource to AIDS sufferers, homeless street people's friend, gay celibate, kind and good man, the first listed casualty of 9/11.
Mind has no color,
Is neither long nor short,
Doesn't appear or disappear;
It is free from both purity and impurity;
It was never born and can never die;
It is utterly serene.
This is the form of our
Original mind,
Which is also our original body.

- Hui-hai (8th cent)
Traditional simple piety in complicated times.

Today, it seems, the root faith of Catholic Christianity goes through re-translation and reconfiguration until the concepts of early times bear some resemblance to contemporary thinking.

Or, are we still trying to imagine how elements of matter and nature are able by attentive word and recollection to become what they originally are -- the very stuff, material and spiritual, of that which we call God, Christ, Holy Spirit -- the inspiration of Oneness and Truth into Being experienced as Love?

Religious mystical reality is not for the faint-hearted, the frightened, the subservient. Rather, it is the feeling soul of innocence seen through degraded experience that longs for the wholeness it knows to be its true self. In other words, it is life keeping on with itself, moving through every experience, until it sees nothing else but the luminous very instant within which it stands completely on its own while completely embraced by a Love that cannot be grasped or explained.
Let go of your worries
and be completely clear-hearted,
like the face of a mirror
that contains no images.
If you want a clear mirror,
behold yourself
and see the shameless truth,
which the mirror reflects.
If metal can be polished
to a mirror-like finish,
what polishing might the mirror
of the heart require?
Between the mirror and the heart
is this single difference:
the heart conceals secrets,
while the mirror does not.

(--Rumi, The Divani Shamsi Tabriz, XIII)
In 1945 Isidore O'Brien wrote the book Mirror of Christ: St. Francis of Assisi.

I'm sure Mychal Judge read it.

I did.

And will again.

Monday, September 05, 2011

It's work, sorting.

It is difficult to sort truth from lie. We proffer the one to provoke the other. The thought occurs: It might not matter any longer whether is it truth or lie you think you are offering.

What we think might not matter. That thought alone seems a little much.

Yuan wu's remedy seems too much:
Let go of all your previous imaginings, opinions, interpretations, worldly knowledge, intellectualism, egotism, and competitiveness; become like a dead tree, like cold ashes. When you reach the point where feelings are ended, views are gone, and your mind is clean and naked, you open up to Zen realization.

After that it is also necessary to develop consistency, keeping the mind pure and free from adulteration at all times. If there is the slightest fluctuation, there is no hope of transcending the world.

Cut through resolutely, and then your state will be peaceful. When you cannot be included in any stage, whether of sages or of ordinary people, then you are like a bird freed from its cage.

- Yuan wu (1063-1135)
Those who suggest to just become aware, then do the next thing there to do, offer a stark suggestion. But, aware of what?

How long ago the day is
when at last I look at it
with the time it has taken
to be there still in it
now in the transparent light
with the flight in the voices
the beginning in the leaves
everything I remember
and before it before me
present at the speed of light
in the distance that I am
who keep reaching out to it
seeing all the time faster
where it has never stirred from
before there is anything
the darkness thinking the light

(Poem by W.S. Merwin)
We leave some place expecting to return. We follow a thought to tiredness of mind, then let it fall to the side. Something we cannot follow carrying baggage beckons us onward.

Thomas Merton wrote the following words on October 15, 1968 aboard a plane bound for Asia:
Joy. We left the ground--I with Christian mantras and a great sense of destiny, of being at last on my true way after years of waiting and wondering and fooling around. ... May I not come back without having settled the great affair. And found also the great compassion, mahakaruna… I am going home, to the home where I have never been in this body. (Asian Journal, pages 4-5).
He did not come back, at least not in the body he left with -- he died in Bangkok on Dec. 10.
The home "where I have never been in this body" might have been Asia, or, it could be wherever he is without his body (to so allude).

More Merton:
“If nothing that can be seen can either be God or represent Him to us as He is, then to find God we must pass beyond everything that can be seen and enter into darkness. Since nothing that can be heard is God, to find Him we must enter into silence.” (Thomas Merton in Seeds of Contemplation, p. 131)

“It is in deep solitude and silence that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brother and sister.”
(Thomas Merton)
These days are solitary. So much of the outside -- politics, economy, business, media, opinion, processes of expression, and religious belief -- seems ubiquitous and uninteresting.

Finally, Merton:
Everything I think or do enters into the construction of a mandala. It is the balancing of experience over the void, not the censorship of experience. And no duality of experience—void. Experience is full because it is inexhaustible void. It is not mine. It is “uninterrupted exchange”. It is dance . . . . Word. Utterance and return. “Myself”. No-self. The self is merely a locus in which the dance of the universe is aware of itself as complete from beginning to end—and returning to the void. Gladly. Praising, giving thanks, with all beings. Christ light—spirit—grace—gift. (Bodhicitta). (p.68, Thomas Merton, The Asian Journal, New York: New Directions, 1973)

Raimon Panikkar builds on this:
Contemplation does not seek to understand rationally, nor is it an act of the imagination or a product of fantasy; it does not ignore or despise the life of matter, of the senses and of reason (for it is based on them), but transcends them; it is actual participation in the reality one contemplates, real sharing in the things one “sees,” dynamic identification with the truth one realizes. Contemplation is [thus] not merely an act of mind, but is “touch,” real existential contact, to use a metaphor not only precious to Plotinus in the Western tradition but also to the early Tamil bhakti poet-saints of South India. Contemplation, to further trace this line of thought, implies an “eating” of the object and also a “being eaten;” it discloses the absolute mutual transparency of subject and object. Seen another way, contemplation is the actual building of the temple of reality, wherein the onlooker is equally part and parcel of the whole construction. This may be the reason why “concentration,” i.e., the ontic crystallization of what is, the condensation of reality in the self above and beyond the mere psychological state, is in all traditions one of the most important features of the contemplative mood. It is a vision of totality through the discovery of the center within: as above, so below, as the ancient hermetic formula put it. Nothing is then more obvious than that contemplation does not exclusively depend on the will of Man or the “nature of things.” It requires a higher harmony as an integrating force. Contemplation is an ontological phenomenon.
(pp.27, 28, Raimon Panikkar, Invisible Harmony: Essays on Contemplation and Responsibility, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995)
I'm ready to be spat out, or, digested.

It is that kind of Labor Day!


What sort of oneness is it we contemplate?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Everybody is called to wholeness.

These days, the call is out over the northern skies.
You cannot describe it or draw it,
You cannot praise it enough or perceive it.
No place can be found in which
To put the Original Face;
It will not disappear even
When the universe is destroyed.

- Mumon (13th cent)
I'm not interested in joining the visionaries pointing to the end of the world as we know it.

Still, something is changing.

Even Jay has taken on O2, successor to Oscar the Dog.

The night sea journey will give way to a dawn without darkness.