Saturday, April 27, 2024

after low energy mountain walk

 Sitting by flowing

brook as white-streaked head bird jumped

branch to branch above


 A friend used to say "As I always say." 

Someone else would say "As I always do."

As long as you are subject
To a life bound by force of habit,
You are not free from the
Burden of the body.

Kuei-Shan (771-854)

When I realized I was an idiorhythmic christian eremite and buddhist recluse it surprised me that routine and scheduled practice were not my forte. 

I embraced the conceit that practice was every step, breath, and glance. Then the conceit fell away and practice became every step, breath, and glance.

I'm glad others practice with each other. I know the benefits of group practice. I've done so.  

Then when I realized that I, too, will die, a more pronounced solitary meditative and contemplative attitude came to the fore and stayed.

The Buddhists call it Maraṇasati.

Maraṇasati (mindfulness of death, death awareness) is a Buddhist meditation practice of remembering (frequently keeping in mind) that death can strike at any time (AN 6.20), and that we should practice assiduously (appamada) and with urgency in every moment, even in the time it takes to draw one breath. Not being diligent every moment is called negligence by the Buddha (AN 6.19). In the earliest discourses of the Buddha, the term 'Maranasati' is only explicitly defined twice, in the two suttas AN 6.19 and AN 6.20.  (-wikipedia)

Catholics and others call it Memento Mori. An article in the NYTimes Meet the Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Will Die tells story of one woman who took on the task of reminding us.

These practices cheer me. The five remembrances of buddhism. The hundreds of funeral masses I served as an altar boy. The many years as hospice volunteer. The silent empty shikantaza sittings. 

In 1999 when I visited my sister when she of a sudden went to hospital with diagnosis of late stage lung cancer and left it after her death eight weeks later she quipped "You always would remark "We're all going to die, we're just uncertain when and of what." Then she added, "I guess I know of what."

I've long liked the saying (of uncertain attribution): "If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

I know I'm going to die.

When and how might soon become clearer. On one hand it doesn't matter to me. On the other, the prospect pleases me. I've been lucky. I might make it to eighty. My son likes the idea that I've pushed the edge forward by more than a decade of his four grandparent's deaths. He also roots, soberly, for the Red Sox. So there's that.

And cheers for Woody: 

“I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens.” 

― Woody Allen

Looking out glass door of Wohnkűche, Sparrow kicks at ground for seed just out of sight. Yellow Finch takes flight just as Red Squirrel jumps to hanging feeder. Yew Bush spreads with craggy indifference to all using it for transport, seed cracking, or respite.

It is Saturday morning.

Like flock of Juncos, I am passing through.

cat looks at cushion

 Zazen waking breath

Moving in moving out each

Moment each moment

prayer isn’t difficult, don’t ask

 Morning sun

Empty road

Going nowhere

If you want

Peace of mind

Breathe in, out

Friday, April 26, 2024

benign anarchy with good faith

 Dog pees on leaf pile

Moon nowhere to be seen — let’s

Pretend world is safe

no immunity

Been thinking of nap

after morning at prison 

tuckered, supremely

off with heads

Time to reflect. 

 “[W]here, say some, is the King of America?” Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, the 1776 pamphlet that convinced British colonists in North America to cut ties with their king and start a new nation. “[I]n America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”

—in a Letters from an American, 25april24, Heather Cox Richardson

 Democracy or tyranny?

Justice or absolute immunity?

Should not be a hard decision.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

full moon slightly with color

“Nature rests by changing” said Heraclitus.

I think of that when I read Luke chapter 4, the story where Jesus goes out into the wilderness for forty days. The idea we’ve been taught is that he is tempted for forty days, but everybody knows that you can’t be tempted for forty days. Let’s say the temptations took up ten days—well, what about the other thirty? What was he doing? Jesus was watching creation. He was observing what was going on around him. He was listening. The reason that we know that is because when he comes back, he talks about creation for the rest of his life. He talks about flowers and birds and trees and seeds and crops and the earth, and the soil. He could have talked about all kinds of things—Roman chariots and their power and aqueducts and the ingenuity involved—but that’s not what we have a record of. What we have a record of is someone who seemed to be at peace with the quietness of creation.… 
The Spirit is so contrary to what we might think or desire sometimes. At one time in my life, it was like every time I wanted to hear from God, God would speak through some person. And every time I wanted wisdom from a person, I couldn’t get it, and I could only hear it in silence from God…. When I go out and I listen in creation and I’m listening to the birds, then all of a sudden the Spirit speaks in my heart. It’s not necessarily always silence. Engaged listening is such a sacred thing, and the Spirit works through that so often.

—in Where the Spirit Speaks, by Randy Woodley, CAC

Change is what the mind does while paying attention.

We hear in silence. 

Each sound of every creature a teaching. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

meeting it everywhere

You might consider it a vacant realization. 

Something to stare at out into a gray dusk.

Something like that.

But different.

Just don’t seek from another
Or you’ll be far estranged from the Way.
I now go on alone
Meeting it everywhere
It now is just what I am
I now am one with it.
You must comprehend in this way
To merge with thusness.

--Dongshan Liangjie (807-869) 

 Thusness isn't a vacant dusk, even though you might think it so.

It is that which we move through, ever moving through, coming to no other side.

Like Pema wrote about not worrying about falling, falling, falling -- because there's no bottom to hit.

Or turtles all the way down.

No time. No end. Nothing of concern.

Way! -- Ha!

Who's kidding whom?

Still, I'm good with it.

As Chris Y. said, something that's true but never happened.

Imagine -- something that's true but never happened.

Appearance, disappearance, reappearance; 

Integration, disintegration, reintegration; 

Embodiment, human life, divine presence.

Is that bread you have there?

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

old cow in hudson valley hollow

full moon 

cool air

in maine dooryard

dog foursquare

pees by leaf pile

the boys together

I've never found

God anywhere

I am just here

I don't know God

don't know (as Doris

says) is most intimate 

circus is in town

Sometimes it’s silly

carnivals of opinion

elephant droppings

brooms sweep the poop right away

wagons cart up to news desks

Monday, April 22, 2024

the ritual of bondage and accusation

 We live in the prison of our enclosed mind. We are our own jailers. We set the sentence, the emotions, and the conditions of our incarceration.

No one has put us there. We walk in and lock the door. We sit and stew. We plead guilty.

Tonight is a good night. To release the prisoner we have only to shut up, do not confess, step away from the scene and conditions of the crime we commit against ourself, and go home.

We imprison ourselves.

Come clean.

Don’t rat yourself out.

Don’t be a patsy.

Rehabilitate yourself.

Get out of jail, free.

earth day — the body serves, entering the earth

Heather Cox Richardson on the background of Earth Day. 

I look out window and there it is. Earth! What a joy!

I’ll add my ashes to this beautiful home. This body knows where it belongs.

Last evening at practice we read  “Water the earth with the tears of your joy”: An Earth Day Reflection from 2020 by Jim Friedrich. Wonderful piece. (Be sure to watch the 2.5 minute YouTube piece at end.)

That piece and this poem by Wendell Berry capped an intimate meditation into our incorporative participation with what is going on with Earth.

        Enriching the Earth

                by Wendell Berry

To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass

to grow and die. I have plowed in the seeds
of winter grains and various legumes,
their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth.
I have stirred into the ground the offal
and the decay of the growth of past seasons
and so mended the earth and made its yield increase.
All this serves the dark. Against the shadow
of veiled possibility my workdays stand
in a most asking light. I am slowly falling
into the fund of things. And yet to serve the earth,
not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness
and a delight to the air, and my days
do not wholly pass. It is the mind's service,
for when the will fails so do the hands
and one lives at the expense of life.
After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.

-- from The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982, by Wendell Berry

There's something worth our undivided attention to attend to our very nature emerging from and as Earth.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

first things first


Is where

God has gone


Until you and I

Become human

We don’t need

To find God

We need

To find out 

what being 

human means




writing home every day

I have
run out
of words

stone silent

Africa is a

hard to 

There is
outside of

this looking

to do, absurdly, that which we are, given, to do

Prayer becomes the subtle intake and outflow of breathe. 

It becomes a simple dedication of intention for the wellbeing of others.

 It becomes difficult to pick a goal -- do good and avoid evil, pray for the salvation of souls, the end of terrorism, the diminishment of hate, the cessation of war and violence. 

All worthy of prayer.

But prayer to whom? To implore God to assist good and eliminate evil? Does God need such prodding?

Given the way the world is, perhaps to pray that my fellow humans choose well. Choose between thoughtless unkindness and thoughtful compassion.

It feels a little ridiculous that we human beings have to beg some all-powerful divine being to activate their attention and assist in the diminishment of cruelty, hateful acts, dishonest manipulation of others, and violent acts one upon another.

What kind of divinity requires subservient imploring of intervention?


As long as I continue to breathe I can hold such activity as prayer focused upon my fellow beings to choose well between good and evil.

I don't think the traditional Judeo-Christian God is measuring whether the scale of prayer is tipping enough for heavenly response and intervention.

I suspect, rather, that if I were to understand prayer, it would be a desire for our attentive presence toward one another. A vibrational energy of interconnection evoking a longing for the wellbeing of each and every being in this existence.

Perhaps gratitude.

For being-alive.

Toward being-here.

I do not comprehend the notion of "God". Unless, God is that which is. Unless God is that which is coming to be.

Are we essentially praying toward that which we long to be with one another?

To be with one another in wholeness?

Is God the longing for attentive presence and compassionate wholeness? Not "out there" somewhere, but on its way up from within those beings intent on realizing the emerging wholeness that encompasses and serves all-being in its evolving into what it is meant to be in this realm of appearance?

Meetingbrook is an absurd intention to contribute to the emergence and awareness of those with whom we share the journey through this awkward experience of existence and consciousness.

We try to do, absurdly, that which we are, given, to do.

And so, we pray for each other, for one-another, intending our common breathe and breathing to be beneficial, benevolent, and sufficient for this time.