Saturday, January 21, 2012

Received email:
Today is the two-year anniversary of the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. That case gave corporations like Exxon or Bank of America approval to spend millions of dollars buying elections.

It is already happening, and it is wrong.

Changing Supreme Court decisions can take decades. A better alternative is to pass a constitutional amendment.

A new campaign called United for the People is underway to do just that. And, since we don’t have time to waste, this effort needs support from the very highest levels. Today we're petitioning President Obama to support a constitutional amendment to boot big money out of elections.
Returning to contemplate email:
I have not grown sub-clauses and flow charts, nor have corporations grown lungs or hearts. Please help stop illusory legal metaphors such as "a corporation is a person."
Help return our country to real flesh and blood people away from corporate P&L spreadsheets.
If I was a political person, that's what I might say. As a religiously humanitarian person, this is my prayer.

Exactly and doubtlessly

Fire started in Wohnkuche wood stove. Temperature bumped in bookshed/retreat. Additional zafu and zabuton brought across snow covered wooden walkways from cabin to bookshed in faint blue nascent light rising behind bare limbs on Sally's land. Chairs moved in meditation area, incense lighted to welcome dawn -- the chores of Saturday morning preparation for practice. Like some Jikido lighting candles outside meditation hall and fires inside the enclosure, bare legged in calf boots and down vest, shuffling back and forth between buildings in inner silence with crunch underfoot, I carry out these dawning tasks grateful to be alive, walking, breathing, and about to brew coffee.
The Buddhas left their Sutras
Because people are hard to change
It's not just a matter of saintly or stupid
Each and every heart throws up its barricade
Each piles up his own mountain of karma
How could they guess that what they clasp so close
Is sorrow
Unwilling to ponder, as day and night
They do embrace the falsehood of the flesh

- Shih-te
Maybe not falsehood so much as only a fragment of the story. I look at my hand. Without understanding it to be servant of arm, trunk, neck, ears, brain, and mind, it would in it's forgetfulness think it is free without consequences to take what does not belong to it, hit what it thinks should be hit, and spend the whole day picking items from sale bins without any conversation with checkbook.

We are of a piece. We're asleep to this. Sometimes even snoring loudly in blissful unawareness of our enormous body and boundless spirit. Nothing in the universe is not part of our body. Our shutter-blink partitioning consciousness cannot extend the scope of lens wide enough to encompass the magnitude of our seen and unseen reality, so we sketch in miniature tiny canvases with delicate detail some limited acquiescence of our barrierless infinite Self.

There is no hope. Hope is a thought for some other time some other place. There is, however, profound unverifiable faith and love that what we are, although unknown, is exactly and doubtlessly what we are.

Home is where the odd and curmudgeonly truth dwells as a hermit in the forest eager for its solitude yet longing for a visit to pass an afternoon.

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

(~ John O'Donohue, in Echoes of Memory)
Ah, yes, let gentle poets leave footprints through fresh snow into that hidden place of eremitic dwelling where our belonging sits and converses with Truth of Self of an afternoon with few words awakening delight!

Friday, January 20, 2012

No, one owns; Christ

This is why I love the new interface of blogger: Everytime I navigate away and return there's nothing there. Everything I've written that morning is gone. I've lost hundreds of words. Started over dozens of times. Learned nothing, quite obviously, not saving.

Christ doesn't save.

Every instant is new.

Christ sits in cafe looking out as you approach crossing street entering shoppe slide into booth where Christ sits now looking out as another you glances at watch pays for coffee and wonders whether being Christ will ever become more obvious as you look over to tale and table and see Christ gone, you turn, exit door, look left and right, exhale, create the world, enter it, astonish it with your love and beauty, allow it to destroy illusions you carry as your identity papers, wander nameless and kindly through this next thought and this next one, until you realize the snow falling around you is where you've come from and to which you will return whether or not the sip from coffee cup raised to lips gets to where it naturally goes or if the dream we call our life will kiss the phantasmic companion by our side which waking will only deepen appreciation of the invitation.
15. The face of truth is hidden by your orb
Of gold, O sun. May you remove your orb
So that I, who adore the true, may see

16. The glory of truth. O nourishing sun,
Solitary traveler, controller,
Source of life for all creatures, spread your light
And subdue your dazzling splendor
So that I may see your blessed Self.
Even that very Self am I!

17. May my life merge in the Immortal
When my body is reduced to ashes.
O mind, meditate on the eternal Brahman.
Remember the deeds of the past.
Remember, O mind, remember.

(--from Isha Upanishad, Eknath Easwaran Translation)
Christ does not save creation, doesn't save us from creation, doesn't allow some contract killer to snuff his life for a grander payoff.

Christ is creation. Christ is you and me. There is no payoff. Live and work as Christ as this very place we are.

There is only what is. What is not is not.

No one owns Christ.

Christ is ownerless revelation of the reality we call Christ.

Half and half mixes well swirling cloud in fresh brew
morning awakening in snow over everything.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Remembering what; remains

No matter what -- One is behind it all. Not causing, not determining, not some know-it-all about to say "I told you so!" each time we scrape our shin against coffee tables in the dark. But "behind" as in present beyond and within.

Ya na -- you are not alone! How many ways can that be read?
All this is full. All that is full.
From fullness, fullness comes.
When fullness is taken from fullness,
Fullness still remains.

6. Those who see all creatures in themselves
And themselves in all creatures know no fear.
7. Those who see all creatures in themselves
And themselves in all creatures know no grief.
How can the multiplicity of life
Delude the one who sees its unity?

9-11. In dark night live those for whom
The world without alone is real; in night
Darker still, for whom the world within
Alone is real. The first leads to a life
Of action, the second to a life of meditation.
But those who combine action with meditation
Cross the sea of death through action
And enter into immortality
Through the practice of meditation.
So have we heard from the wise.

(--from, Isha Upanishad, Translation by Eknath Easwaran, "The Inner Ruler",
What's it like to be without alone?
What's it like to be within alone?
If you are not put off
By the voice of the valley
And the starry peaks,
Why not walk through the shady cedars
And come see me?

- Ryokan Taigu (1758-1831)
And so we visit one another. Say, "Hello!" Sip tea or coffee. Tell news of recent days. Share gossip. Wonder and wander about the Alone and being alone with the Alone. Meditation retreat stands ready to catch fallout. Books ready to absorb attention. Mountainside ready to walk up our feet each lift and place of our shoes.

Thursday mornings are hospitality. Hermits visiting hermits. Asking: What's the world doing now? Heads shake. Hands tremble at dexterous tasks. Hearts busy looking around for what it is they feel. Goodbye. Next time. Go well. Here's your hat, there's the door, what's your hurry?

Epiphanies come and go. We are in the captive cold of deep January. Pond ice gone thick. Wiper fluid leaping to salty windshields. Toes growing used to wiggling at edge of frosty hug. Small animals only wanting seeds get caught in traps of insensitivity and freeze. Only profound faith in Brahman/Atman inseparability allows sorrow simply to be sorrow, joy joy, and move through each event and occurrence with ready unfrightened revelation.

Let me know how you are faring.

Keep me informed how things are nearing.





Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mostly unaware and asleep

Alone in Community is the title of a book by William Claasen, subtitled Journeys into Monastic Life Around the World.
mon·as·ter·y (mn-str)
n. pl. mon·as·ter·ies
1. A community of persons, especially monks, bound by vows to a religious life and often living in partial or complete seclusion.
2. The dwelling place of such a community.
[Middle English monasterie, from Old French monastere, from Late Latin monastrium, from Late Greek monastrion, from Greek monazein, to live alone, from monos, alone; see men-4 in Indo-European roots.]
monas·teri·al (mn-stîr-l, -str-) adj.

(-- from, Free Online Dictionary)
I've lived the monastic life since I was thirteen years old pilgrimaging each morning to Bensonhurst Brooklyn's Twentieth Avenue station Sea Beach Line to rumble north to Manhattan where, at Fourteenth Street Station I would descend stairs to the Canarsie Line to North Sixth Station back in Brooklyn where in a converted fire station I attended high school for four years. The pilgrimage of two hours daily as a mendicant through the urban countryside with great variety of companions taught me solitude, watchfulness, and contemplation. Subway Itinerant Spirituality meant learning the scriptures of passing places, impassive faces, and bodily balance. For five and a half decades I have relied on that early undergrounding, overgrounding, but mostly ungrounding monastic training to find paradoxical urgrund in arrivals and departures, saying and unseating, greeting and loss, prayerful practice and pragmatic wariness, settle and besetting -- the composite experience of finding way in world of strangers to an interior disposition and destination which only serves as a turnaround, a repetitive daily practice where nothing is ever the same and nothing is different. Zen mind was being formed with formlessness.

The first night at the monastery,
a moth lit on my sleeve by firelight,
long after the first frost.

A short stick of incense burns
thirty minutes, fresh thread of pine
rising through the old pine of the hours.

Summer is trapped under the thin
glass on the brook, making
the sound of an emptying bottle.

Before the long silence,
the monks make a long soft rustling,
adjusting their robes.

The deer are safe now. Their tracks
are made of snow. The wind has dragged
its branches over their history.
(poem, “Pine” by Chase Twichell from The Snow Watcher published by Ontario Review Press. © 1998 by Chase Twichell.)
I love being in this monastery. I love dwelling in this metaphor. So much that I've been taught has been a secret teaching (such as purchasing pretzels the size of a man's hand, squirting mustard on its meandering convex). Thousands of sutras have been pored over ("if u cn rd ths u cn gt a gd jb") above seats where women rustle shopping bags between ankles. Rituals of indelible import have been performed (holding sliding closing door for running passenger whose timing was seconds slow descending platform stairs). A way of life stamped on an impressionable soul in a faraway land full of mysterious teachings and odd characters, gurus of impeachable habits and troubling pedigree, a community now seen as the face of god gazing at infinite emptiness pronouncing my religious name "Noonehere Noplacetogo."
West Evening Mountain Talk
Part 3, Muso Soseki

The monk asked, “Zen masters these days give a koan to their disciples. This makes students study words, doesn’t it?”

The Master answered, “No it doesn’t. Yuan-wu said, ‘Students who have just started Zen practice have no idea about it. So out of compassion the masters give them a koan as a signpost, so that the disciples can devote themselves to discovering oneness and dispelling random illusions, and to realizing finally that Original Mind is not something that comes from outside. After that, all the koans turn out to be pieces of tile for knocking at the gate.’ (
Or, as Bob Dylan pronounced his vows: "Knock, knock, knocking at heaven's door." Where we dwell as community, each and all of us, mostly unaware and asleep, but good to go at any instant.

Alone, with and within, one another.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Seeing any,one

If you are racist, you're not alone.
In a frost-streaked robe.
Here there is no talk
Of the world's affairs—
Those matters that make
Wild the hearts of people
- Chia Tao (779-843)
If you consider not being racist, you're not alone.

But if you long to be loving and forgiving to those who hurt and harm and have no compunction, you are alone.

God is the Alone.

Turn around.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

For Martin: Gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā

Martin woke up from sleep. Woke into dream. Told us dream. Fear was gone. He was gone.

We will awake. We will dream. We will speak. Fear will go. We will be gone.
Laetificus Letificus!

Benigne ades! Benigne dicis!

Nihil est!
Just this, Martin, so it is!