Saturday, February 25, 2012

without blinking -- (a Saturday haiku)


solitude begins --
morning practice done -- drip, drip,
melting overhead
(wfh, nunc ipsum)

(What a wise attitude, this sweet Border Collie!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

what’s actually going on

The work of Buddhism is to awaken, to come out of the sleepy dreams and notions of reality that we hold to be true and replace them with a direct experience of what is more accurately occurring. To awaken in this way, we need to become conscious of what’s actually going on at the very depths of our experience.
(-- Will Johnson, "Full Body, Empty Mind")
In prison today sitting zazen.

Tonight, off one cushion, on another pillow.

Awake to sleep.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

feelers of earth, peripatetic and paraphasiac

Dinner was pistachios, tangerine,  banana, carrots and celery dipped into spinach and artichoke hummus between Bangor and Searsport on 1A coming down from Millenocket on 95 where the speed limit is an unfamiliar 75 after some 600 miles in three days. We are listening to the book on cd Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup.

To those who ask the Warden Service Chaplain where God is in all the difficult gone-missings, drownings, suicides, broke through the ice calls to which the Fish and Game Wardens are called out to the woods, Braestrup says, "...if you want to know where God is in this or in anything, look for love."

Many people want a God of church pew, or one found between covers of Bible, Koran, or some other scripture, or maybe the God of proclamations made that you have found God and are either born again in Jesus or will die a glorious blazing martyrs' death for Allah. Between 'Have you accepted Jesus into your heart?' and 'God is Great!' is a very wide and spacious open space where most of us in the world live without the worrisome proclamations or chapters and verses some feel are the only membership cards recognized for their club or clubs. Someone is either checking your ID at club door or preparing to bash your head with God-issued clubs for not belonging to the club.
Within the Way there are no obstacles at all, not even a pinpoint of obstruction. There are, however, obstacles in training. These are all self-created and due to the grasping nature of our practice. The coarse obstacles we create are doubt, fear, and taking the Way to exist objectively. The more subtle are the concepts of attainment and various levels. The Way avoids nothing at all, so we may be grateful even for obstacles. Apart from obstacles, there is no training.
(- Anon, DailyZen)
Snowshoeing in the woods outside Millenocket with faithful walking companion Border Collie I follow a narrow stretch of cross-country ski tracks around turns on tired snow on an abandoned narrow bed of road through the woods. Looking down I notice that it seems whoever was skiing stepped off their skis and walked with large footprint in the moderately deep snow for a stretch, a perception that was at odds with the fact that the ski ruts were uninterrupted. Then the footprints turned off to the right and down the embankment into the brush. Of a sudden the realization that an enormous moose had tracked the route I travelled brought me up cautiously as we walked on deeper into the woods. I soon decided I was tired from yesterday's treks, consulted my iPhone as to what to do if I met a moose, and concluded it would be a good plan to return to car, grab a snooze, and ready myself for the drive south.
Imaginary Number

The mountain that remains when the universe is destroyed
is not big and is not small.
Big and small are

comparative categories, and to what
could the mountain that remains when the universe is destroyed
be compared?

Consciousness observes and is appeased.
The soul scrambles across the screes.
The soul,

like the square root of minus 1,
is an impossibility that has its uses.

(-Poem by Vijay Seshadri, in, Poetry, February 2012).
When Kate Braestrup tells the stories of little girl, ice fisherman, hiker, destraught woman, wardens that search and find, and herself, also searching and finding -- we are recipients of the use of soul to glance on souls coming and going on this mountainside of deep feeling.

We are nobler, in a morning store-bought coffee in plastic lined cardboard cup sort of way.

The earth is our witness. Our task is to see what the earth sees, unflinching, ready to respond to the language of earth with the heart and soul of what we are -- feelers of earth, peripatetic and paraphasiac, attempting to walk with and pronounce accurately what we see, what we are, seeing.
The Crossing

The snail at the edge of the road
inches forward, a trim gray finger
of a fellow in pinstripe suit.
He’s burdened by his house
that has to follow
where he goes. Every inch,
he pulls together
all he is,
all he owns,
all he was given.

The road is wide
but he is called
by something
that knows him
on the other side.

(Poem by Ruth Moose, 2004)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Empty church; remnant ashes; lovely earth

Presque Isle is quiet. The library at UMPI is quiet. The windmill unturning. My mind/body weary after long snowshoeing twice yesterday.

Whenever I weary of the perceptions of my fellow residents on this earth I take solace in silence. Simple silence, not the kind betokening displeasure or exasperation. Just surcease.

Meiho sounds cranky. Then again, he did get bounced around in the Daijoji's Abbotship following Gikai's death.
Zen-sitting has nothing to do with the doctrine of "teaching, practice, and elucidation" or with the exercise of "commandments, contemplation, and wisdom." You are like a fish with no particular design of remaining in the sea. Nor do you bother with sutras or ideas. To control and pacify the mind is the concern of lessor men. Still less can you hold an idea of Buddha and Dharma. If you attempt to do so, if you train improperly, you are like one who, intending to voyage west, moves east. You must not stray.

- Meiho (1277–1350)
I spend my life in the stray. Meiho would look at me askance. I'm hardly ever in the right place. I email someone whose perceptions about something that occurred in their life seem to stray from the actual cause that preceded it. A presidential candidate expresses views about the current president that appear to stray from any semblance to what we used to call 'truth.' Catholic politician doesn't believe that earth itself is included in sanctification and redemption and salvific sight of God. The church wants to remind him today that we are earth and to earth we shall return.

2. We have forgotten that the revelation found in the natural world and in the wider universe around us is the primary divine revelation.
Revelation is the awakening in us of a sense of divine mystery and power; it is the way the divine communicates. God's revelation to us lies in the scriptures, but also primarily in the story of how our universe began, evolved and brought us humans forth. Berry's namesake, Thomas Aquinas, wrote: "A mistake about creation means a mistake about God."
Since we have learned so much in the past two centuries about the universe and how it unfolded life, then it follows that we have new insight into that primary revelation, an increased understanding of God. We must take this new story of the universe seriously in order to fully understand both God and ourselves.
Spirituality, for Berry, was about enchantment. Awe and wonder are the primary spiritual qualities, the cure for our spiritual autism. Seeing the universe and the earth that gave us birth as sacred mysteries is key to turning the world around.
"If this fascination, this entrancement with life isn't evoked," Berry said, "then our children won't have the energies needed to sustain the sorrows inherent in our condition. They might never discover their true place in the vast world of time and space."

(-- from, Thomas Berry 101, National Catholic Reporter, Some key ideas from the work of Fr. Thomas Berry, Jun.1, 2009, by Rich Heffern)
Religious faith and politics corrupt each other. Greed and ambition often baptize each other and preach crusades to honor their newfound purse.

I feel cranky too. Hardly anything seems to be what it really is. Besotted illusion wanders into our living rooms and disheveled imagination crying out, "I am the awaited one! Listen to me!"

I prefer silence. Simple silence. Muted gesture. Soundless kindness with no expectation of in-kind response. Apophatic glance wanting nothing. Benevolent gaze, Kieslowski's character in Dekalog, there, wordless, willing to witness with good will.

I stray.

I am willing to ponder that the only reality is love present quiet and unadorned.

If I wander away I do so knowing full well there is nowhere else to go, and I will return to where love present quiet and unadorned, like earth itself come to God as God itself come to earth, embraces us all wherever we are as we are aware of itself.

Itself alone.

Earth's origination, heaven's destination.

Here and now!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

not-two; itself

If Buddha, then you.

I'd rather walk three miles on frozen Mattanawcook Pond in Lincoln Maine, sharp wind slicing through brown scarf, and listen to commentary on Mumonkan, white dog ranging far and wide over ridged surface carved by undercarriage of snowmobiles.

If Christ, then you.

After dark walking shoveled stretches of UMFK campus with bundled workerscomp auditor and ever-willing Border Collie, the vacated buildings and unlighted dorms granting solitude  and exodus this week of winter closedown, top of Maine with unthick snow scarf around its neck.

If you, then all of us
Creative Energy --
Spirit Intimate Relational Interdependence

(nunc ipsum; wfh)
In the name of the Father (the Nameless) and of the Son (Creative Energy) and of the Holy Ghost (Spirit Intimate Relational Interdependence)!

It is foolish to think that anything lasts forever. It does, but not the way we think. Nothing doesn't go anywhere else. Nothing stays right here. Just don't expect 40 days of something special,

One breath at a time.
There is no difference between
The mind,
The Buddha,
And all sentient beings.
- Lotus Sutra
One glance.

We are not one; we are not-two.

Crisp, cold morning in Fort Kent.

Vive la difference!

Monday, February 20, 2012

return home, laughing

This is all I need. This is all that is. This, our being-with one another, each of us with each of us, with no other notion, is home even without a home, radically reliant trust, in what is, found here.

We'll stand on the tippy top of Maine at Fort Kent in a few hours and try not to fall off. If we were to fall, Canada would catch us.
To train in the fullest sense of the word, one needs an awareness of the impermanence of all phenomena, including our own lives, and an eye that isn't blind to cause and effect; emotionally speaking, great compassion and courage on behalf of all beings; practically speaking, a firm faith in the Way and a firm resolve to actualize the Way through practice. If there is even a speck of any one of these present when beginning to train, that is enough. All will then become manifest through practice.
(- Anon)
I'm not looking for anything else. Not any more.
Closing poem

Early summer morning,
gentle rain falling.
Zen Temple locked, waiting,
friendly dog inside barking,
no practitioner appearing,
nothing to do but return home,

(-- closing poem of LIGHT CAN BE POURED ONLY INTO LIGHT, Transmission Thirty-Two, Tao-Hsin to Hung-Jen, in Living Buddha Zen, by Lex Hixon, c.1995)
Zen is what is happening while we're busy making 'other' -- so much flimflam nonsense! We could, instead, laugh at our radical homelessness, such loving living dwelling as wonderful silence.

Morning light has given shape to window.

Time to load ice grippers and snowshoes, walking poles and readiness to change. Itineracy and mendicancy with reheated coffee and chocolate chip peanut butter muffin.

Is there anything else?

Luckily Hixon prepared us last night at practice when he wrote: "Freedom from something else, not absence of thought or sound, is what constitutes the wonderful silence of zen."

Nothing to do.

Than this.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

See this is new; no remembrance

Rowing winter dusk. Northwest wind. Left arm pulling hard to keep line, drop keel off cleat. Nothing in outer harbor, winter mooring buoys at ease -- I need not look back over bow as 15.5 foot Matinicus Peapod labors to lee of Curtis island, no boats to watch for, just the traditional wave to empty porch where Connie used to sit and wave as I rounded southeast corner before he died two summers ago.
Knowing that sentient beings
All have a thousand desires
Gripping the depths of their minds, 
The Buddha teaches them
In accordance with their characters
And conditions. 
With stories, words, and skillful means
He teaches them the truth.

- Lotus Sutra
What is missing will not be supplied. 

At Saturday Morning practice we read from Robert Kennedy SJ's Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit: The Place of Zen in Christian Life. Something he wrote, about being saved by what ignores us, that God is indifferent, that this indifference is a good thing.

This is what he actually says:
 I suggest that nature is teaching us that we are saved by that which ignores us, and that nature's indifference to our designs can be a source of our joy. Nature's disinterest in us mirrors God's disinterest in us that frees us from all our precious prayers and pieties. Nature's silence mirrors God's silence, and awakens silence in us. Nature's indifference to us brings us to awareness of God's indifference and refreshes our courage with the purity of his detachment. Does not our own experience of life suggest the truth that God is indifferent to our plans? How could we worship a God who paid any attention to all our everlasting whining? It is not the purpose of God to glorify us. Is it not rather that we are made to glorify God, to pour ourselves out in darkness and silence, until the heart breaks? Is it not true that we are saved by that which ignores us?
(--p.97, Kennedy)
I'll sit with this awhile.
The words of Qoheleth son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, Qoheleth says. Vanity of vanities. All is vanity! For all his toil, his toil under the sun, what does man gain by it?
A generation goes, a generation comes, yet the earth stands firm for ever. The sun rises, the sun sets; then to its place it speeds and there it rises. Southward goes the wind, then turns to the north; it turns and turns again; back then to its circling goes the wind. Into the sea all the rivers go, and yet the sea is never filled, and still to their goal the rivers go. All things are wearisome. No man can say that eyes have not had enough of seeing, ears their fill of hearing. What was will be again; what has been done will be done again; and there is nothing new under the sun. Take anything of which it may be said, ‘Look now, this is new.’ Already, long before our time, it existed. Only no memory remains of earlier times, just as in times to come next year itself will not be remembered.
I, Qoheleth, have reigned in Jerusalem over Israel. With the help of wisdom I have been at pains to study all that is done under heaven; oh, what a weary task God has given mankind to labour at! I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and what vanity it all is, what chasing of the wind!
What is twisted cannot be straightened,
what is not there cannot be counted.
I thought to myself, ‘I have acquired a greater stock of wisdom than any of my predecessors in Jerusalem. I have great experience of wisdom and learning. Wisdom has been my careful study; stupidity, too, and folly. And now I have come to recognise that even this is chasing of the wind.
Much wisdom, much grief,
the more knowledge, the more sorrow.

(--from Office of Readings, Sunday, Ecclesiastes 1:1-18)
Not much out there on the water. But what is there is enough. 

The rounding sweep of vulnerability.