Saturday, December 31, 2011

In self-effacement and anonymity.

In the H'oponopono practice it is the expression of sorrow and love that reaches for mercy and forgiveness, saying, "I'm sorry," and, "I love you." It is mercy itself and forgiveness itself that you are serving for yourself and the other person.

No matter what.

In Tonglin practice the process of healing and transformation can be assisted with your breath by your allowing through you to the Buddha or Christ that which needs to be healed or transformed, allowing the return back through, the very healing and transforming grace.

In both practices, it is not you doing the forgiveness and love, healing and transformation -- you are only a conduit, a passageway to the source itself.

No matter what.

We are meant to be a passageway, and not in the way.

A Christian passage:
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
A Buddhist passage:
"To follow the path of wisdom has never been more urgent or more difficult. Our society is dedicated almost entirely to the celebration of ego, with all its sad fantasies about success and power, and it celebrates those very forces of greed and ignorance that are destroying the planet. It has never been more difficult to hear the unflattering voice of the truth, and never more difficult, once having heard it, to follow it: because there is nothing in the world around us that supports our choice, and the entire society in which we live seems to negate every idea of sacredness or eternal meaning. So at the time of our most acute danger, when our very future is in doubt, we as human beings find ourselves at our most bewildered, and trapped in a nightmare of our own creation."
(from, Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche)
To a living way:
The following notations have been gleaned from the commentary of the translator, Raymond Blakney, in 1955 ...
The identity of China's mystics is complicated by the rule that no true mystic would know himself to be such.

"Where there is no author, however, it is necessary to invent one; and by the time the Tao Te Ching had been put in form, legend had supplied Lao Tzu, and Ssu-ma Ch'ien incorporated the legend in his Historical Records (Chap.63). It presents Lao Tzu correctly enough as one who had given up civilised and is impatient with Confucian ideas and who accordingly departs for points unknown, presumably to live out life as a recluse."

"Confucius came to Chou to consult old Lao Tzu about ritual." [and spoke of the heroes of old ...]

"Lao Tzu said,
All those men of whom you speak have long since mouldered away with their bones.
Only their words remain.
When a capable man's time comes, he rises; if it does not, then he wanders wearily around.
I have heard that good merchants keep their goods buried deeply to make it look as if they had none,
and that a superior man whose character is perfected will feign stupidity.
Give up, sir, your proud airs, your many wishes, mannersims and extravagant claims.
They won't do you any good, sir!
That's all I have to tell you."
"Confucius went off and said to his students: 'I know that birds can fly and fish can swim and beasts can run. Snares can be set for things that run, nets for those that swim and arrows for whatever flies. But dragons! I shall never know how they ride the wind and cloud up into the sky. Today I saw Lao Tzu. What a dragon!'"

"Lao Tzu practiced the Way and its Virtue. He learned to do his work in self-effacement and anonymity. For a long time he lived in Chou, and when he saw that it was breaking up, he left. At the frontier, the official Yin Hsi said: 'Since, sir, you are retiring, I urge you to write me a book."

"So Lao Tzu wrote a book in two parts, explaining the Way and its Virtue in something over five thousand words.
Then he went away.
No one knows where he died."

(from, The Way of Life - "Tao Te Ching" ...
The Mystic Wisdom of Ancient China, Translators Notes ... 1955)
May no one know where we die!

And, not knowing, pray and practice for us a way of life: Way itself!

Thank you, old year!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Showing up where you are just this moment

Be. Here. Now.

Three good words.

Presence. Place. Present.

We watched film About Richard Alpert (Ram Das), "Fierce Grace," and had circle discussion at Rockland Public Library Thursday evening after shortened conversation at hermitage on year-end Course in Miracles text.

Judy choose from Teacher's Manuel a text to end with, a prayer to take us out. (I cannot find it just now, but in searching, find this):

Indeed, yes! No one can escape God's Final Judgment. Who could flee forever from the truth? But the Final Judgment will not come until it is no longer associated with fear. One day each one will welcome it, and on that very day it will be given him. He will hear his sinlessness proclaimed around and around the world, setting it free as God's Final Judgment on him is received. This is the Judgment in which salvation lies. This is the Judgment that will set him free. This is the Judgment in which all things are freed with him. Time pauses as eternity comes near, and silence lies across the world that everyone may hear this Judgment of the Son of God:

Holy are you, eternal, free and whole, at peace

forever in the Heart of God. Where is the world,

and where is sorrow now?

Is this your judgment on yourself, teacher of God? Do you believe that this is wholly true? No; not yet, not yet. But this is still your goal; why you are here. It is your function to prepare yourself to hear this Judgment and to recognize that it is true. One instant of complete belief in this, and you will go beyond belief to Certainty. One instant out of time can bring time's end. Judge not, for you but judge yourself, and thus delay this Final Judgment. What is your judgment of the world, teacher of God? Have you yet learned to stand aside and hear the Voice of Judgment in yourself? Or do you still attempt to take His role from Him? Learn to be quiet, for His Voice is heard in stillness. And His Judgment comes to all who stand aside in quiet listening, and wait for Him.

You who are sometimes sad and sometimes angry; who sometimes feel your just due is not given you, and your best efforts meet with lack of appreciation and even contempt; give up these foolish thoughts! They are too small and meaningless to occupy your holy mind an instant longer. God's Judgment waits for you to set you free. What can the world hold out to you, regardless of your judgments on its gifts, that you would rather have? You will be judged, and judged in fairness and in honesty. There is no deceit in God. His promises are sure. Only remember that. His promises have guaranteed His Judgment, and His alone, will be accepted in the end. It is your function to make that end be soon. It is your function to hold it to your heart, and offer it to all the world to keep it safe.

(from, A Course in Miracles)
Never fond of traditional definition of the word 'judge' -- it appears to me this morning as the Japanese word 'mu-ge,' which translates as 'no-barrier.'
[2] Suzuki-roshi discusses ri and ji extensively in the Sandokai lectures: "When you practice zazen more, you can accept things as your own, whatever it is, you know. That is actually the teaching of, you know, famous teaching of Kegon-jiji-muge.[2] Jiji-muge means 'being has no,' you know, 'no barrier, no disturbance.' It-it, you know-interrelated closely. And it is difficult to say, 'This is bird, and this is me,' because it is interrelated very closely. So it is difficult to separate bluejay from me. That is jiji-muge." [From fourth Sandokai lecture, SR-70-06-03, p. 3.] (--from Suzuki Roshi Transcripts, San Francisco Zen Center)
God's final judgment is no-barrier -- the revelation and realization of no-separation (presence), no-distance (place), no-time (present).

God's promises are sure: Be; Here; Now!

The barriers and beliefs constructed by the mind have fallen to earth where Christ is found in each grain of soil, each gain of soul, each refrain of the song of God.

I'd buy a ticket for this show! Except that -- it's free, it's me, it's thee!

Want to go for a ride?


Thursday, December 29, 2011

What is to follow what?

Working as surgeon with humanitarian hands, "Completely present with unclouded mind." That's what James Orbinski said he had to do as the killing took place around him -- about doctoring during the genocide in Rwanda in 2009 documentary film "Triage, Dr. James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma."

Orbinski, former head of the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) was also there in Somalia, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Sudan in humanitarian stark and terrible times when human cruelty and indifference was met with particular, specific, and concrete attentive response.
The tallest peaks
North of the district—
Cliffs so high
The road is lost in clouds.
At dawn,
I climb the tower for a look,
Gradually feeling
Their serene effect.
In smoke-blue haze,
Massed peaks
Appear as if joined.
When will I climb
And set foot there,
And gaze on all
Creation below?

- Chia Tao (779-843)
With a man like Orbinski there is only solid ground and real flesh. No gazing on what's below or lofty distance from which to pontificate or speculate. Science and service brook no metaphoric substitution. Horror and terror are real and awful weapons alongside machetes, Kalashnikovs, and withholding food.
Sharp desolation walks with dull consolation in the wrenching things his eyes have seen.
Never Forget!
by Saado Cabdi Amarre

If you're elected as an impartial judge
But you tend to stick close to your clan
Corruption will be rooted in your mind
If you sell property behind the owner's back
You'll find yourself playing a dangerous game
Deception and fraud are the enemies of justice
There's a clear line between them
If you shun responsibility and turn your back on the law
If justice is muddied then confusion will reign.

Hey you, Xaashi! Look at the children robbed clean of everything
Look at the pleas of those women the judge ignored
An astonishing arrogance that now goes unnoticed
A nation of evil-doers will never progress
When lawyers themselves corrupt the law
When people are bribed and imprisoned for nothing
Wrong-doing in this life will be paid for after death
Peace is impossible unless evil is confronted

It's irrelevant that this man comes from my neighbourhood
It doesn't matter to the case if you are close to him
The trial doesn't concern any of these issues
Hey you, judge, focus on the facts and on justice
You've got blood on your hands, you're tainted with deception
You hide poison at the bottom of the bowl
Here justice is as pointless as a poorly-tied camel-halter
Because all the judges are so easily bought
Those who can't bribe are forced to walk through a thorn thicket
My heart breaks at the suffering of so many people
It's an outrage if we can't bring justice into line
It's a disgrace if we don't all campaign for change

If the judge breaks the law and says robbery's legal
If the judge makes friends with greed and wealth
Never forget the true judgement of the grave!
Never forget there's a grave with your name on it!
Never forget hell and its punishments!
Never forget heaven and its blessings!
Never forget Allah records all your deeds!
Never forget the Day of Judgement!
Never forget that God is Chief Justice!

(The literal translation of this Somali poem was made by Maxamed Xasan 'Alto'
The final translated version of the poem is by Sarah Maguire)!
How we long for justice! How often is it's absence felt. Still, to go on, during no exterior verification of a fierce interior comprehension...

How puny I feel viewing these recent historical circumstances. Only a vague hope the feeling might turn into a sobering beginning from which to evolve.

This political and chaotic world needs sorting through with specific, detailed, particular, and felt acts of human decency so that insanity and inanity do not rot the roots of becoming human in the world.
"To See a World..."
(Fragments from "Auguries of Innocence")

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A Dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fiber from the Brain does tear.

He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar’s Dog and Widow’s Cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer song
Poison gets from Slander’s tongue.
The poison of the Snake and Newt
Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot.

A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy and Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the World we safely go.

Every Night and every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight.
Some are Born to sweet delight,
Some are Born to Endless Night.

(by William Blake, 1757-1827)
The task, as Dr. Orbinski points out, is to become completely present with unclouded mind for as long as we can to each person in whichever circumstance we arrive at.

Are we up to it? Am I? The onslaught of anti-humanitarian cynicism and profit-hungry rhetoric in the political theaters on this country's and world's stage alarms my naïveté. Christian charity and Buddhist compassion along with universal notions of justice and kindness might be inadequate antidote to greed, power, indifference, and smug elitism. What do you occupy to engender love in fearful places?
Somalia has been steadily worn down by decades of conflict and chaos, its cities in ruins and its people starving. Just this year, tens of thousands have died from famine, with countless others cut down in relentless combat. Now Somalis face yet another widespread terror: an alarming increase in rapes and sexual abuse of women and girls.

The Shabab militant group, which presents itself as a morally righteous rebel force and the defender of pure Islam, is seizing women and girls as spoils of war, gang-raping and abusing them as part of its reign of terror in southern Somalia, according to victims, aid workers and United Nations officials. Short of cash and losing ground, the militants are also forcing families to hand over girls for arranged marriages that often last no more than a few weeks and are essentially sexual slavery, a cheap way to bolster their ranks’ flagging morale.

But it is not just the Shabab. In the past few months, aid workers and victims say, there has been a free-for-all of armed men preying upon women and girls displaced by Somalia’s famine, who often trek hundreds of miles searching for food and end up in crowded, lawless refugee camps where Islamist militants, rogue militiamen and even government soldiers rape, rob and kill with impunity.

With the famine putting hundreds of thousands of women on the move — severing them from their traditional protection mechanism, the clan — aid workers say more Somali women are being raped right now than at any time in recent memory. In some areas, they say, women are being used as chits at roadblocks, surrendered to the gunmen staffing the barrier in the road so that a group of desperate refugees can pass.

(December 27, 2011, For Somali Women, Pain of Being a Spoil of War, By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, The New York Times)

The dilemma is active hope in the midst of staggering numbness.

Even in my inadequacy and embarrassing smallness I affirm impossible human decency wherever enacted in the midst of frightening realization of what we are capable of -- what we must face in order order to...what?

In order to...what?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This being the between we are

As a Catholic Christian and a Zen Buddhist I find no difficulty. It's a non-difficult middlemost.

The continual exchange of center and circumference finds me in the middle of this dance of perception and actuality.

Difficulty arises when the thought arises that there is a decision to be made between two options. When you reside in the between there is no decision. What is there is what is there. One? Other? Not two things: just one-an-other. Which is another way of saying there is no other, only this, where you are/who you are.

I'm never not who and where I have been. I will always be where and who I am.

What is there to be cut away with the blade of decision? What 'two' is perceived as needing excision and extrication in or from our mind?

To dwell in the middle of the world, of existence, of my life, is to dwell in the middle of the question: Which would you prefer to cut away -- your inhaling or your exhaling?

There is no decision required. I stand between the options and, for now, right here, practice both inhaling and exhaling -- with great delight and happy realization of the gift.

I practice accepting simplicity, anonymous service, accommodating silence. (asasas)
In its most non-dualistic form, existential freedom comes only from realization of the "true man":
"If you want to freely live or die, go or stay, to take off or put on [your clothes], then right now recognize the man who is listening to my discourse. He is without form, without characteristics, without root, without source, and without any dwelling place, yet is brisk and lively." (Discourse XIV)
Freedom arises when we recognize who we really are -- and in our normal way of being, it is shattered when we think, speak, and act from habitual identification with body/mind phenomena. The process of such identification, this "thirst for becoming" (a deeply insightful teaching of the Buddha himself), is manifest in the endless stream of our personal tendencies, divided neatly by Buddhists into the triad of desire, aggression, and ignorance. When we realize ourselves to actually be this free inner agent, then we become that freedom itself.

In the chronicle of Lin-chi's rugged teaching, we see a beautiful example of action without hesitation. His wild ways -- shouting, beating, knocking over tables, and so on — is but skillful means in accordance with clarity, without fixed root. The true man, ever and always, is free and unperturbed. In Discourse XVIII, we hear a teaching which sounds curiously like the Chinese Taoist, Chuang Tzu:
"Only you, the follower of the Way right now before my eyes listening to my discourse, [only you] enter fire and are not burned, enter water and are not drowned, enter the three hells as though strolling in a pleasure gardens, enter the realms of the hungry ghosts and the beasts without suffering their fate. How can this be? There are no dharmas [genuine objective phenomena] to be disliked."
(from, "Lin-chi and the True Man without Rank"
by Scott Mandelker, Ph.D.
This time of year I note Jesus, Stephen, John, the Holy Innocents, Mary, Joseph, Angels, Animals, Francis, Story, Imagination, Hopes, Longings, Christ-Mind, and New Beginnings.

I also note Siddhartha, Tathagata, Kuan Yin, Dogen, Bodhidharma, Lin-chi, Layman Pang, Bankai, Ryokan, Meditation Bell, Zafu, Only-Don't-Know, InterBeing, Buddha-Mind, and Incense.

Mostly, I note that everywhere I look, in whatever direction gaze falls, the middle of everything seems to surround and sustain the no-effort no-choice no-other... presence of perfection which is what is. This 'what is' (as you know) has been known by and called by different names. You'll be able to recollect the name or names most familiar to you. For me, these days, like in Faust, I have no names, for: “Names are but noise and smoke, obscuring heavenly light.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

We have poets. We are fortunate. Even in their attempts to convey a point of view they are blessedly circumflex.
13. Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; 5
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 10
Praise him.

(Poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844–89. Poems. 1918)
This dappling stippling adazzling -- this being the between we are -- with asasas gratefulness!

Wind blows, water flows, nobody knows.

Say it: Ain't life grand?!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Where no-one-else is

It's not so bad being alone.

The poem/video starts off with: "If you are at first lonely, be patient. If you've not been alone much, or if when you were, you weren't okay with it, then just wait. You'll find it's fine to be alone once you're embracing it."

Society is afraid of alone though. Like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements. Like people must have problems if after awhile nobody is dating them.

But lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it.

You can stand swathed by groups and mobs or hands with your partner, look both further and farther in the endless quest for company.

But no one is in your head. And by the time you translate your thoughts an essence of them maybe lost or perhaps it is just kept. Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those “sappy slogans” from pre-school over to high school groaning, were tokens for holding the lonely at bay.

Cause if you’re happy in your head, then solitude is blessed, and alone is okay.

It’s okay if no one believes like you, all experiences unique, no one has the same synapses, can’t think like you, for this be relived, keeps things interesting, life’s magic things in reach, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t connected, and the community is not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it.

Take silence and respect it.

If you have an art that needs a practice, stop neglecting it, if your family doesn’t get you or a religious sect is not meant for you, don’t obsess about it.

You could be in an instant surrounded if you need it.

If your heart is bleeding, make the best of it.

There is heat in freezing, be a testament.

(-- from poem by Tanya Davis – "How To Be Alone"
Being alone could even be when no one else is there.

Consider being no one else.

Be there where no-one-else is.

A work of art. Happily so.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The world disappears. Only sounds remain of a world evanescing. No need to remember it or wish it return. Only attend the sound of what is worlding said. Of that sound, heard through silence, comes to be what we need to see.

The Grace of Night Solitude

George the Golden sleeps in mud room. Mice forage in cabinets. Saskia visits family with our two dogs. I stay on futon alongside mudroom to keep George company. He complains. I tell him if he hadn't immediately peed on rug when his caretaker brought him in during the pipes-bursting emergency on Christmas night, maybe he'd be on this side of the glass door instead of on the many tiered bedding cushion and towels beside winter boots. He's content to watch the firestove orange flames and feel the up swoop ceiling fan drop warmth over partition to foyer flophouse in strange residence until morning.

I've had more luck than Han-Shan:
Late at night I sit alone
And work on deadwood zen
I stir the lifeless ashes
The fire won't relight
Suddenly I hear the tower
Chimes resound.
Its sound of clarity
Fills the winter sky.

- Han-shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623)
We walk out to soft snow at 3:00am and feel the grace of night solitude, me in red shorts and Baffin boots and down vest, George in happy 5 inch snow peeing freely under white lighted wreath behind block and tackle hanging from bookshed ridge pole.

I bow to snow blanketed Christmas Buddha and Celtic Cross stalwart in new-found alliance in welcoming view to drop-by friends.

Surrounded by medical faces last week their greatest interest (aside from physical hearts) was the monastic hermit vocation in response to their questions wanting to know 'What do you do?' (as in: what does your heart do with it's erratic and restricted beats?

A seminar on surgical asymptomatic symbolism right there and then which was, at the time, here and now.

Life is life, all of it -- no choosing between this and that; mere acceptance of this and that and life in the between.

Still, we muse:

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

(Poem, "When You Are Old" is reprinted from The Rose. W.B. Yeats. 1893.)
Fondly so, for we are a frail and fragile recollecting family making way day by day.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Venite adoremus

Jesus, like Buddha before him, longed for us to transcend greed, anger, and ignorance. He wished to reintroduce generosity, compassion, and wisdom.

We live and die between this and that.

As visitors here and there let's opt for genuine peace, presence, and everyday kindness.
When ice on the pond is three feet thick
And white snow stretches a thousand miles,
My heart will still be like the pine and cypress,
But your heart, what will it be?

- Ziye (265-420)
Snow settles quietly on bronze Celtic cross and stone Buddha at outside corner of bookshed/retreat. nobis

Merry Christmas!

Note: There will be no Sunday Evening Practice on Christmas Day.

Christus Natus Est...

Nothing is without God

Word is, nor are we

Without God, that is --

Nor is nothing not

Within silence, everything is