Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saskia speaks new mantra

"Be it. Do it. Shut up."

Thus endeth Saturday Morning Practice.

Exeunt omnes.


Start here for first pre-winter storm.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Poetics just-eyes

Poetry sees itself in words.

What words say

Before dawn.

They say: We are awareness which is . . . not read.

Look at us.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Eternity is...

Space without time.

Still, it is cold tonight.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stay with inspiration

A story I first heard today.
A young man was taking a religious studies exam at Oxford nearly two centuries ago. He and his fellow classmates had been asked to write about the spiritual significance in the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine. For two hours all the other students busily filled page after page with their thoughts. However, the young man just gazed out of the classroom window through most of his allotted time. Nearing the end of the period the examiner came over to him and insisted that he start writing or fail the exam. The young man, who happened to be Lord Byron, took up his pen and wrote only one line: “The water met its master and blushed.”   (As told by Catherine Ingram in Passionate Presence, Gotham Books, 2003, page 129.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

let God live in us

 From “a theological essay by Sheila T. Harty --
Merton told a story about a Tibetan lama who escaped his country to save his life. Before leaving, when still faced with the decision of whether or not to go, he sent a message to an abbot friend, asking: “What do we do?” The answer that came back was: “From now on, Brother, everyone stands on his own feet.” Merton thought that an extremely important monastic statement. What Buddhist or Christian monasticism is about, he said, is that we can no longer rely on support by social, political, or economic structures, which may be destroyed at any moment by the dominant forces in the world. Truly, standing on your own is reliance on God. 
Toward the end of his talk, Merton referred to a traditional representation of the Buddha seated in the lotus position with one hand pointing to the earth and the other hand holding a begging bowl. This image is relevant for monasticism, Merton said. The begging bowl represents the ultimate theological belief in the interdependence of all living things. This concept is the most central to Mahayana Buddhism. The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of this mutual interdependence. 
Merton said that beyond monasticism, Buddhism, Marxism, or even student revolution is a kind of freedom and transcendence that is attainable. 
If you once penetrate, by detachment and purity of heart, to the inner secret of the ground of your ordinary experience, you attain to a liberty that nobody can touch, that nobody can affect, that no political change of circumstances can do anything to. 
Buddhist tradition uses spiritual masters to help people attain this. But this transcendent kind of monasticism, Merton said, represents an instinct of the human heart, a charisma given by God to man that is available to all. That is what the young French student revolutionary meant when he said: “We are monks too.” 
Merton ended his talk in deference to the Buddhist and Hindu traditions that have gone much deeper into this than in the West. From them, we could learn how to reach that full and transcendent liberty beyond mere cultural differences and externals. Then, with a remark reflecting that he knew questions for the morning lectures would be held until the evening session, Merton said: “So I will disappear from view and maybe we can all have a coke or something.”23 And by midday he was dead.  
(--from Thomas Mertons Last Talk: Bangkok 1968, a theological essay by Sheila T. Harty.)
...   ...   ...

Then, from,  louie, louieExploring contemplative awareness in daily life, drawing from and with much discussion of the writings of Thomas Merton, aka “Father Louie”.
If there is a feast day for Father Louie, December 10th is it. This is the day, in 1941, that he arrived at the Abby of Our Lady of Gethsemane to begin his life as a Trappist monk. Twenty seven years later, on this day, he died in Bangkok Thailand while participating in a monastic conference. 
This year I would like to share Sr. Luke's telling of Merton's last words.  The passage is transcribed from a talk that she gave.  I believe that it gives a great deal of insight into the person of Merton from someone who knew and understood him. 
I want to conclude by telling you about Merton's last words.  Merton gave a talk in Bangkok, a final contribution, and he talked quite a bit about alienation, the separation of ourselves, tearing ourselves into parts: that which somebody else tells us we are, and that which we know ourselves to be as a center where God is present.  Now if we choose from that center, as Merton continually instructed his novices, then we are choosing according to a unified sense of self.  If we choose from what other people tell us we are or tell us we should do, or tell us anything else that we should do, or have or whatever, we have broken ourselves into two.  That's alienation.  And that's what Merton talked bout so much in his last days, that alienated self, brought all the way over to what others say we should be rather than choosing from one's center.  That is what I think was the great message of prayer and everything else that Merton taught.  At the end of it he asked for the blessing of God for himself and for all these others that are there. 
 In the very last of his life, he gave this final talk in Bangkok.  I went to the place in Bangkok, and I visited the room where he gave the final talk, and I visited the little bungalow where he died.  I remember then what I heard about his last words.  Merton, as you know, gave his talk, and then sat down and said. "We are going to have the questions tonight.  Now I will disappear."  Many people repeat that as a prophecy.  I think Merton meant he'd leave.  And we'll have the questions tonight. 
 So then he went from there to the lunchroom and had the lunch they had prepared, and then he walked over to his room accompanied by a French monk who talked to him as they walked along to Merton's room and said to him, "Well, thank you for the talk you gave this morning.  Everybody didn't exactly appreciate it, though.  We had some question."  And I thought to myself, "Yes, this is the way it always is.  Yes, I know they said some good things BUT."  There's always that little part, and Merton was experiencing that there.  Actually, it was a nun that said that, but usually I don't say that because we have a bad enough press as it is, so I don't usually set up the nun as the one who said that.  Anyone could have.  She happened to say it, and what she said was repeated to Merton: "I thought he would talk more about converting people to Christianity.  I thought that's what he was going to be talking about."  She enlarged on that.  This is a pagan area where we are working, and we're missionaries, and it's a pagan area, and here he's talking about something else and alienation, whatever.  But I thought he'd talk about bringing people to Christ. 
 Merton, when he heard that, instead of getting upset the way many of us would get upset, said simply, "Well, I don't think that is what we are asked to do today.  All the preaching we get on television telling us who God is -- honestly, you wonder what the word 'God' is to mean in all of that."  Merton has it better.  "today I don't think it is what we are asked to do.  I think today it's more important for us to so let God live in us that others may feel God and come to believe in God because they feel how God lives in us."  These were Merton's last words that we know anything about and were said right before Francois de Grunne took him to his room where he tragically died, tragically for us, in any case.  Certainly he had completed what was his journey.  In other words, so let God live in us, so allow God to be the center where we make our decisions, where we live our lives, so let God live in us that others may find God by seeing how God lives in us, by somehow grasping how God lives in us.  Better than any long television explanation of who God is.  A beautiful last message, and I'd like to leave that with you as we conclude the talk on prayer because prayer, that presence of God, that reality of God, which each of us possesses, is our good fortune, "All love's luck."  We have achieved it.  Thank you very much.  -- Sr. Mary Luke Tobin SL  
(from, Monday, December 10, 2012, Merton’s last words, from website: louie, louie, Exploring contemplative awareness in daily life, drawing from and with much discussion of the writings of Thomas Merton, aka “Father Louie”.) 
Thank you both.

And you, Thomas. We sat in silence then reaffirmed promises in our Merton Bookshed Retreat this evening.

Happily so!

Promises and Considerations for meetingbrook monastics

Each year on 10December, the anniversary of Thomas Merton’s death, we reaffirm our three promises. This is our 15th year since first pronouncing them in public in 1998.

Three promises: 

Contemplation,  Conversation,  Correspondence. held by Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage “m.o.n.o" (monastics of no other).

Contemplation  is
 the promise of simplicity. It is a gift of poverty inviting open waiting, receptive trust, attention, and watchful presence. It is a simple Being-With. 
It is attentive presence.

Conversation  is the promise of integrity. It is a chaste and complete intention to listen and speak, lovingly and respectfully, with each and all made present to us. It is a wholeness of listening and speaking. 

It is root silence.

is the promise of faithful engagement.  It is responsible attention and intention offered obediently to the Source of all Being, to the Human Family, to Nature. It is a faithful engagement with all sentient beings, with this present world, with existence with all its needs & joys, sorrows & hope.

It is transparent service.

MeetingbrookDogen & FrancisHermitage invites & welcomes individuals interested in the practice of these 3 promises in their life. Whether the interest is in conversing, praying, deepening, learning, or even holding these 3 promises, we invite you to enter the inquiry and stillness. May the loving light and the compassionate peace of the Christ and the Bodhisattva accompany and support the efforts of each one.


1.  We are going to have to create a new language of prayer.  (Thomas Merton, Calcutta 1968)
2.   When you go apart to be alone for prayer…see that nothing remains in your consciousness mind save a naked intent stretching out toward God. Leave it stripped of every particular idea about God (what he is like in himself or in his works) and keep only the awareness that he is as he is. Let him be thus, I pray you, and force him not to be otherwise.   (Anonymous)
3.   I long for a great lake of ale. / I long for the men of heaven in my house. / I long for cheerfulness in their drinking. / And I long for Jesus to be there among them. (Brigid, Celtic saint)
4.   It is not by closing your eyes that you see your own nature. On the contrary, you must open your eyes wide and wake up to the real situation in the world to see completely your whole Dharma Treasure, your whole Dharma Body. The bombs, the hunger, the pursuit of wealth and power - these are not separate from your nature….You will suffer, but your pain will not come from your own worries and fears. You will suffer because of your kinship with all beings, because you have the compassion of an awakened one, a Bodhisattva. (Thich Nhat Hanh)    
5.   He who truly attains awakening knows that deliverance is to be found right where he is. There is no need to retire to the mountain cave. If he is a fisherman he becomes a real fisherman. If he is a butcher he becomes a real butcher. The farmer becomes a real farmer and the merchant a real merchant. He lives his daily life in awakened awareness. His every act from morning to night is his religion.  (Sokei-an)

 ...   ...   ...   ...   ...

Considerations for a life
a lay monastic meditation

Be With God Alone. What we know of God is revealed by God’s creation, all of creation. Therefore, attend to creation.
Be wholeheartedly listening. God is nameless. Listen in silence for the sound and presence of God.
Every voice, every sound, every face is our contemplation & attention of God.

Be still, and pray continuously, with each being and all creation. Receive grace and truth with simplicity and humility. Let the loving light & the compassionate attention of the Christ and the Bodhisattva surround & shine through you.
Be gratefully with what is near. We suffer each other, and we love each other.
Here is God’s home. Be what is here. Become God’s presence.
Be Alone With God. Solitude is how we engage What-Is-God.
When with God we are with everyone.


       . 1. Be still and know that I am God.  (Psalm 46:10)
         2. For the Great Spirit is everywhere; he hears whatever is in our minds and hearts, and it is not necessary to speak to Him in a loud voice.    (Black Elk)
         3. Have the courage to be alone - for once try to endure your own company for a while. Don’t speak, then, not even with yourself nor with the others with whom we dispute even when they are not there. Wait. Listen. Endure yourself! (Karl Rahner)
          4. Praying is not about asking; it is about listening. It is just opening your eyes to see what was there all along.   (Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche)
          5. It is as if in creating us God asked a question, and in awakening us to contemplation He answered the question, so that the contemplative is at the same time, question and answer. We become contemplatives when God discovers Himself in us. “I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Thomas Merton)

Learning to read

In prison last week we asked the question: What will the dharma come to look like in the 21st century?

We'd have to learn to read. Read fiction. Read fact. Read one another. Read the world. Read one self.

And as Francis of Assisi pointed out about preaching at all times, sometimes reading entails reading words.

By reading we mean allowing what is being written in our surround to be seen with our being as it is presented.

Not judged, not interpreted, not compared nor contrasted, not evaluated, not assessed, not made negative nor positive.

Not anything else nor other.

Only witnessed.

Faithfully witnessed, that is, seen in its own place, on its own terms, as it is being created by itself.

In our presence. composed, decomposed, recomposed, co-composed.

To learn to read is to comprehend the poetics of expression wherein each of us is writing the other, or, put differently, each of us is the other being illumined in creative composure in the movement of witnessing gaze.

The everyday ordinary revelation of truth will look like this.

And this will be the 21st century coming of the dharma/gospel between us -- no barrier, no boundary, no fooling!

Now, let’s open to the first page and begin reading one another authentically.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Eagle Lake

Snow begins.

Prayer continues,

Life, only and alone.

Opens here.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

In New York the expression is,"Hey, I'm only askin'!" And, "I'm just sayin'!"

Is the Palestinian Jewish woman Miriam really the hollow barrierless conduit for the messiah to find form in word-laden humanity?

Is the Shakya regal Indian Siddhartha really the initial spark lighting up human consciousness to finally see through everything?
All my life, until today, I have been content to ask questions. All the while knowing that the real questions, those that concern the Creator and His creation, have no answers. I'd even go farther and say there is a level at which only the questions are eternal; the answers never are.
And so, the patient that I am, more charitable, repeats, "Since God is, He is to be found in the questions as well as in the answers."

(--p.69, in Open Heart, by Elie Wiesel)
What do we really know about God?

Is anyone who thinks they're enlightened really not?

Are you and I really not about God?

Time, Stone, Sound, Scent, Enlightenment, Openness

Be, yourself, that which is, open!

"allowing access, passage, or a view through an empty space; not closed or blocked up:”

Imagine, living life as one

They stand about and ponder the arrival that is sunrise.

Walter Kaufmann and Thomas Berry turn each to own version of Lauds.

It is Bodhi Day, Buddha’s Enlightenment Day!

It is Immaculate Conception Day, Mary begins form in the world with no obstruction no abstraction   -- only open heart open mind open body.