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Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update August 2001

Theme: Nothing Hidden, Nothing Pointed Out: What’s Doing?

A woman visiting the shop the other day lamented that she was in a hurry because her husband was waiting outside. She paused, then said that before she was married she was in control of her life, and now she feels she’s lost control. We looked at each other. We smiled. I suggested maybe that’s the problem. What, she asked? Maybe the problem is the illusion in thinking that once she was in control and thinking now that she’s not in control. Maybe she was never in control, nor is she now not in control. We laughed. I handed her change for her purchase. She handed me a change of view to the question -- what do we think we are doing in our lives? What’s doing in our life?

Rujing said: "Studying Zen is dropping off body and mind. Without depending on the burning of incense, bowing, chanting Buddha's names, repentance, or sutra reading, devote yourself to just sitting."
Dogen: "What is dropping off body and mind?"
Rujing said: "Dropping of body and mind is zazen. When you just sit, you are free from the five sense desires and the five hindrances."                                                 - dialogue between Dogen and Rujing

There are two forms of error now prevailing among followers of Zen, laymen as well as monks. The one thinks that there are wonderful things hidden in words and phrases, and those who hold this view try to learn many words and phrases. The second goes to the other extreme, forgetting that words are the pointing finger, showing one where to locate the moon... Only when these two erroneous views are done away with is there a chance for real advancement in the mastery of Zen.                                                     - D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966)

            I often have these two erroneous views. In the many conversations that take place at Meetingbrook I am coming to learn something that gives me a chance in the practice of Zen. Dick, one of our regular curmudgeons, was beginning to point out to me somethinghe considered a flaw in the building of our cabin with the words –“There are two ways to do something” – when I interrupted him with (another curmudgeon) Bob’s oft quoted retort, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think there are two kinds of people and those that don’t.” The mystery of Zen is not hidden nor does it have to be pointed out – rather, it is transparent in the observation “not two, not one.” What is not two and not one? My mind wishes to unearth the words & phrases; my body follows the pointing finger. Sometimes, only sometimes, I just stand and lean on the shovel, put down the hammer, look nowhere in particular, and do nothing other than sit and let the cat lick my fingers.

Inscription-Hui-neng’s tombstone   
According to his doctrine,
Non-doing is reality,
Emptiness is the truth,
And the ultimate meaning
Of things is vast and
He taught that human nature
In its beginning
As well as in the end
Is thoroughly good…
For it has its root
In that which is serene.
       (- Liu Tsung-yuan)

I take comfort that we have forgotten our root. It cheers me to suspect we might soon remember our ever-present origin (as Jean Gebser says) and enter that new/old place as if for the first time with serenity. Gebser in his The Ever-Present Origin suggests that as a new integrating consciousness emerges three criteria will be used to express this new awareness. Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle sums up these three in his Living in the New Consciousness:

      1)       time-freedom, that is, the attempt to overcome conceptual time;
      2)       transparency, which penetrates through concepts and words to the very
              essence of things and which is not the result of rational deduction;
      3)     holistic experience, which is to be constantly aware of the whole
              and thereby overcome the more extreme forms of dualism.

A similar puzzling question of numbers comes up in the Quicumque vult a Catholic creed:

This is what the catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.
Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance.
For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one divinity, equal glory, and coeternal majesty.
What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit is.
The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated.
The Father is boundless, the Son is boundless, and the Holy Spirit is boundless. The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal.
Nevertheless, there are not three eternal beings, but one eternal being.
So there are not three uncreated beings, nor three boundless beings, but one uncreated being and one boundless being.
Likewise, the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent.
Yet there are not three omnipotent beings, but one omnipotent being.
Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
However, there are not three gods, but one God.
The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord.
However, there as not three lords, but one Lord.
For as we are obliged by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person singly to be God and Lord, so too are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say that there are three Gods or Lords. 

{Excerpt from the Quicumque vult, one of the four authoritative Creeds of the Catholic Church. The Anglican Church and some Protestant Churches also hold it to be authoritative. The earliest known copy of the creed was included in a prefix to a collection of homilies by Caesarius of Arles (died 542).}

One? Three? Questions of numbers & words & the attempts to clarify what’s doing! Imbedded in the 2nd to last line quoted is a clue for us – to acknowledge every person singly. Singly, that is, by or with oneself.

All of us! We’ve forgotten we are not separate selves. None of us are doing our life alone. What is doing our life is what is building the cabin with Paul and Jim, what is helping raise funds with Georgiana, Brad and others, what is gathering a cookbook with Dana, what is bartering bookkeeping with Nancy, what is carrying on conversation with Susan and others nightly at the bookshop and hermitage, what is inspiring all who walk in and out the doors, friends, volunteers, visitors. And what is doing all this? The answer --Yes!

The Alchemy of Love

You come to us
from another world

From beyond the stars
and the void of space
Transcendent, Pure,
Of unimaginable beauty,
Bringing with you
the essence of love

You transform all
who are touched by you.

Mundane concerns,
Troubles and sorrows
dissolve in your presence,

Bringing joy
to ruler and ruled
To peasant and king

You bewilder us
with your grace.

All evils
transform into goodness.

You are the master alchemist.

You light the fire of love
in earth and sky
in heart and soul
of every being.

Through your loving
existence and nonexistence merge.

All opposites unite.

All that is profane
becomes sacred again.                        


Yes! to What Is…with love,
, Sando , Mini and all who grace Meetingbrook
, 1Aug2001



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