Saturday, January 14, 2012

"As" Is

Help is on the way

What we need to do is find way to help and be helped.

On way, help is, near.

Near as true Self.

As you to me. As me to you.

Not to, with.

Nearer, my love, with you.

Nearer, my Lord, to thee. And with thee.

Approaching (heretical, to some minds, not merely to, not merely with, but) 'as.'
Kena Upanishad
Translated by F. Max Müller

First Khanda

1. The Pupil asks: 'At whose wish does the mind sent forth proceed on its errand? At whose command does the first breath go forth? At whose wish do we utter this speech? What god directs the eye, or the ear?'

2. The Teacher replies: 'It is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of speech, the breath of breath, and the eye of the eye. When freed (from the senses) the wise, on departing from this world, become immortal.

3. 'The eye does not go thither, nor speech, nor mind. We do not know, we do not understand, how any one can teach it.

4. 'It is different from the known, it is also above the unknown, thus we have heard from those of old, who taught us this.

5. 'That which is not expressed by speech and by which speech is expressed, that alone know as Brahman, not that which people here adore.

6. 'That which does not think by mind, and by which, they say, mind is thought, that alone know as Brahman, not that which people here adore.

7. 'That which does not see by the eye, and by which one sees (the work of) the eyes, that alone know as Brahman, not that which people here adore.

8. 'That which does not hear by the ear, and by which the ear is heard, that alone know as Brahman, not that which people here adore.

9. 'That which does not breathe by breath, and by which breath is drawn, that alone know as Brahman, not that which people here adore.'

(First Khanda from Kena Upanishad,Translated by F. Max Müller)
That alone.

And that, we are coming to see, thou art!

As is.

Wonderfully, as, is!

Friday, January 13, 2012

It is all and only gift; each

What does it mean to surrender oneself to God?

returning silence
moonlight on fresh snow -- one look
still empty cloister

(wfh/nunc ipsum)
It is to present itself with what is itself.


As simple

As this



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Which one brings one to itself

There is nonviolence. And there is ignorance.

Only one of the above brings us to our true home.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's that

Subtle. Not the thing but the thing itself. Back behind and far beyond our ability to see or hear, but that which is ground of seeing and hearing itself occurring.

OM! May He protect us both together. May He give us enjoyment. May we exert ourselves through our radiance. May there never be differences between us in understanding. OM peace from heaven, peace from the earth, peace from the body!

OM! May my limbs, speech and prana grow. May my eyes, ears and the strength of the sense grow too. Everything is Brahman described in the Upanishads. Brahman never refuses to accept me. May I never refuse to accept Brahman. Let my Atman show interest in me and may all the virtues described in the Upanishads reside in me!
Chapter 1

By whose commands this mind works? By whose will the life's breath circulates? Who is responsible for man's speech? What intelligence does lead the eyes and the ears?

It is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of the speech. Also the life of all life, and the eye of the eye. The wise abandon the sensory world and become immortal.

There the eyes cannot travel, nor speech nor mind. Nor do we know how to explain it to the disciples. It is other than the known and beyond the unknown. So were we taught by our ancients.

That which the speech cannot reveal, but causes the speech to flow, know that alone to be Brahman, not this whom people worship here (through mantras
(-- beginning of Kena Upanishad, translation by Jayaram V)
Love that.

And that which that becomes.

To, finally, disappear.

There is no other way.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Playing with sand; forgetting why

Poetry is word for
Word an incomplete
Sentence for

On Amazon, this book description for Wabi-Sabi, which we will contemplate this semester:
Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete . . .
. . . wabi-sabi could even be called the “Zen of things,” as it exemplifies many of Zen’s core spiritual-philosophical tenets ...
Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of what we think of as traditional Japanese beauty. It occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West . . .
Wabi-sabi, in its purest, most idealized form, is precisely about the delicate traces, the faint evidence, at the borders of nothingness . .

(-- book by author Leonard Koren)
I've never understood the notion of 'perfection' except in an ironic tone, someone's explicative, "Oh, perfect!"

Even when described as "making one's way through," (a phrasing used for years), 'perfect' has a quality of not being there, always en route, an approximate glimpse, a glancing show of ephemeral fade.
Consider the world light,
And the spirit is not burdened;
Consider the myriad things slight,
And the mind is not confused.
Consider life and death equal,
And the intellect is not afraid;
Consider change as sameness,

And clarity is not obscured.
- Lao-tzu
Wandering the edges of scholarship is close enough horseshoes for my recess mind. Glance and glimpse is preferred optic over stare and glare.
We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness and call that handful of sand the world. Once we have the handful of sand, the world of which we are conscious, a process of discrimination goes to work on it. We divide the sand into parts. This and that. Here and there. Black and white. Now and then.
(--Robert Pirsig, from his Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).
On Kwan Um School of Zen website it is good to look at photo of Zen Master standing this past December at ceremony table Buddha's Enlightenment Day in grey robe. I sat across from her at interview time one retreat as we swam together on our zafus that day almost forty years ago in Heidegger's surf before bowing and leaving to be elsewhere and otherwise.

A rich inquiry, then.

And now?

It is always a good time.

No knowing why.

Monday, January 09, 2012

So bright; so full

In zendo I ask silently: Why am I doing this?

It could be the final tug of rounded moon jerking open mouth setting hook this deep water of winter night in fresh snowless new year.

I am beside myself no longer recognizing reflection in image shattered by piercing sharp white.

I send dogs out to investigate bladder and bowel as snow bowl churns water through blower spraying makeshift snow for dry runways until nature ceases demure pouting.

Her voice is a roundness. On full moon days, she talks about
renouncing meat but the butcher has his routine. And blood.

M’s wisdom. Still reliable.

There are sounds we cannot hear but understand in motion.
Slicing of air with hips. Crushing grass, saying these are my feet.
I want my feet in my shadow. Suffice to meet desires halfway.

Quiet. We say her chakras are in place.

When the thermos shatters, she knows the direction of its spill.
She knows how to lead and follow. Know her from this.

Sounds we cannot hear. The wind blows and we say it is cool.

Night slips under the door. We are tucked into bed and kissed
a fleeting one. Through the curtains, her voice loosens like thread
from an old blanket, row upon row. We watch her teeth in the
dark and read her words. She speaks in perfect order, facing where
the breeze can tug it towards canals stretching for sound.

Her faith abides by the cycle of the moon. See how perfect she is.

(Poem by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, “She is” from Rules of the House. 2003)
At table after reading sends silence and soup from tureen, mindful spoonfuls, it seems I might know why the bother to sit so long on zafu without knowing raises itself.

Ignorance: That if I wake, even a little bit, less of it would haunt the world.

Sipping soup -- tomato, leeks, and cauliflower -- under Wolf Moon, Old Moon, Moon After Yule, the pressure finally breaks, bread steeps, water tilts from glass, companions at ready.

The night watches.

Full moon at attention.

Cedars dripping soundless glow.

There is nothing I can do to alleviate suffering. Only wake. To it. And where it visits. Moonlight stepping through mountain trees no snapping twig.

What use waking?


It is a sound we cannot hear.

So, we listen; it is our koan, night practice, on pillow, sleeping or awake.

Dogs return through open slider. One back upstairs, one to white sofa in front room on other side of Mutti's rocking chair. Red blanket and red stitching on throw pillows keeping vigil still.
1. "Wake, awake, for night is flying,"
The watchmen on the heights are crying;
"Awake, Jerusalem, arise!"
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices:
"Oh, where are ye, ye virgins wise?
The Bridegroom comes, awake!
Your lamps with gladness take!
With bridal care Yourselves prepare
To meet the Bridegroom, who is near."

(-- from, "Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying"
by Philipp Nicolai, 1556-1608
Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1829-1878)
Faint trombone treading notation slope, from deep upland animal moan, the reduction is complete.

I return.

To sleep.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Walls have occupants

Scratching. Do they want through into this room? Or just a ruffled sleeping place safe for duration? Being franciscan and buddhist is impetus for wonder about wall-dwellers rather than assassination planning.

That narrow cot, hardly any bigger than a child’s, is where Droste died
(it’s there in her museum in Meersburg),
on that sofa Hölderlin in his tower room at the carpenter’s,
Rilke and George in hospital beds presumably, in Switzerland,
in Weimar, Nietzsche’s great black eyes
rested on white pillows
till they looked their last—
all of it junk now, or no longer extant,
unattributable, anonymous
in its insentient and continual disintegration.

We bear within us the seeds of all the gods,
the gene of death and the gene of love—
who separated them, the words and things,
who blended them, the torments and the place where they come to an end,
the few boards and the floods of tears,
home for a few wretched hours.

Can be no sorrow. Too distant, too remote,
bed and tears too impalpable,
no No, no Yes,
birth and bodily pain and faith
an undefinable surge, a lurch,
a power stirring in its sleep
moved bed and tears—
sleep well!

-- Poem by Gottfried Benn
— Translated by Michael Hofmann
There are times when ruffled beds are sole narrative of disengaging memory. Those glance-backs when crossing carpet stepping from back room body to kitchen mind already down stairs left turn traffic light straight ahead not late the whole complicated array of Noh characters kabuki akimbo hallways and desks, pens and pads, treatment plans and system flaws as thistle and fairy tale weave through morning toward lunch.

Even here
I Am
Still there.
Rather than break my vow to plum blossoms
I have settled here in this disheveled hut
Grey sleet seeps through briars at my window
Plumes of snow dance around its papered panes

Steep scarps loom above frozen woods
Deep clouds conceal the pool's icy stones
Such weather; I stoke up a few charcoal twigs
Wish for a way south, to Chiang-nan's shore.

( - Shih-shu (17th c-early 18th) -- from The clouds should know me by now: Buddhist poet monks of China
By Red Pine, Mike O'Connor)
I love when moon illumines night erasing importance of daylight scurrying. When present moment arises to remind that no other moment is real, that we live in illusion. That all the words spoken and heard are scrapings in walls bedding down for duration restless for clarification like junkies thinking shooting up meaning will dispense with formalities and usher in understanding laced with cream and honey.

Empty beds are artifacts of ancient civilizations replete with shards and sipping bowls for the journey.

Epiphany or Baptism? Churches wrestle with weekends as safeguards of canon celebration texts as pickup trucks with cardboard coffee cups finish Barnestown hill without a spill in new narrative of worship recorded and repeated daily with signs and symbols easily recognizable by all the faithful arriving at and passing beyond stop signs turning into convenience counters where liturgical greeting is monosyllabic and passing unstrange smile.

We love to be alone. It is heretical to want to be alone. Only love allows it. The crowd prays for assembly and receives assurance that the gathered that stays together displays together profession of affiliation and belief in sentences of faith signed and sealed boarding tickets pass-porting angelic checkpoints to foreign concepts welcomed as home.

The walls are silent. Resting time. Moon pulls Ragged Mountain over shoulder. Furnace takes night shift seriously. Pictures fastened to hooks vigil front room.

I love you.

Take that!

Sleep well!