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Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update July 2001

Theme: Walking Along, Going Nowhere -- Love of Life Itself

Over the years I’ve learned that I don’t want to go anywhere or get anything. I just want to walk, sit, converse at times, be silent at times, and keep an eye and ear on what is there as I am there.


For three or four years
my eyes have been hazy,
                and my hair has turned to snow;
yet I’ve somehow managed to get along.
But now my feet hurt
                and I can’t walk;
I stay home all day, sitting like a Zen monk!

I drop my fan beside the desk,
                but I’m too lazy to pick it up;
I try reading by the window,
                but I can’t get anywhere.
People envy the immortals because they can fly;
for me, an immortal is a man who can walk.

                        (Yang Wan-li, in Heaven my Blanket, Earth My Pillow

I found a deflated soccer ball in a ditch up Barnestown Road after my morning walk…my first morning walk in a long time. The ball reminded me how not enough exercise inflates the waistline and deflates the spirit. I brought it home. I hope to bring home my former dedication to walking. One consequence of imbedded tardiness is the use of car and insufficiency of time. I turn to the four directions with this admission. They look at me, look away, and then back at me – in empty acknowledgement and with nothing other than flutter of leaves and sounding of wind-bells. I am accepted as I am. Is this love of life? 

Two walls are raised for the cabin with a third drilled, laid out and hammered in as I write. Jim and Paul sanctify this Saturday morning. Saskia bakes hazelnut schnitten and Topfen Kuchen for a catering request in the kitchen. Mini catnaps on green comforter near folded laundry. Sando supervises construction, her doggy disguise periodically snapping at too curious flies.

The hermitage harbor room over the shop is ready for use. Futon, chairs, zafu, statue of Francis and donated items give shape to the room. The room will be used daily for silence, solitude, soul-friend conversations when not being used for guest/retreat stays. There will be a range of suggested offering for guests, but mostly we’ll rely on donation and gift so that the rent can be paid and we can continue to provide a meditative space in town at the harbor.

Yang-li captures the spiritual life. The final two lines echoes the point of view that it is the ordinary, here and now, particular, and simple realities that contain and embody the “immortal.” The movement from mimesis to aseity  -- that is, the movement from imitation of others and the following of roadmaps, role models and recipes  --  to the acceptance and realization of our own distinctive, delightful, and undeniable reality; this is a way to become what we are, to remember what we’ve forgotten. What have we forgotten?

We are what the Buddha is. We are what Christ is. We are what we are. There’s no place to go, nothing to gain, no reward to get, no punishment to fear. For the heart, all is acceptance. Does this sound odd?

The soccer ball is no longer in the ditch; it is in the barn. The wind is no longer in the chimes; it is on its immortal way. Paul, Jim, Saskia, Mini, Sando, each one of you, each one everywhere – whatever we are doing, whether our feet our hearts hurt, or both are full of joy -- we are -- acceptance with love! Life itself!

With prayer for our immortal, ordinary life with each other,
, Sando , Mini and all who grace Meetingbrook


“…the patient sufferance…”    (phrase in paragraph 5, Declaration of Independence, 4July1776)

So long independent
this country, long suffering,

longs for new declaration
alongside independence --

we long for interdependence
as a formerly tyrannized child once longed

for freedom, now free, wishes for belonging
with the whole of her family, long waiting

for her awakening – ah yes! – long suffering
but now ready for belonging’s gift: forgiving love!

welcome all, welcome world, welcome long wary enemies
we’ll come to our true home when we no longer hate peace

(Poet’s note: how odd to end a mid-long poem with such a curious phrase
that we’ll never belong to each other until we change, and truly love peace

 I’d have thought freedom, economic safety, ownership of land and guns were enough –
but now, on this de-tyrannized day of representation by elected & almost-elected officials

the poem, growing longer, dares to suggest something greater than freedom & independence is what we’re ready for, now that we are maturing, growing up, no longer

what we were. You annoying poem! I’m nearly crying! What, what is greater than this country? What is better than the liberties and securities we own, we own, we own?)

I, the poem, will tell you the answer: The answer is “What-is.” The What-is that is better, is greater, is not owned, cannot be bartered, cannot be spent in marketplace, or invested,

The What-is … is you, is your true self, is the great truth of life … is Love Itself.
Under God. Indivisible. With Liberty. And Justice…for All, for All, for All, for All!

Have any been left out of your independence? Invite them in.
Have any been ignored with your freedom? Invite them in.

Have you stopped hating peace? Are you willing to sacrifice your hatred in order to find what used to be called the life of God: love, forgiveness, acceptance, now? You have to dwell in peace with contradiction.

(Stupid poem; telling me God is Now, God is Love, God is forgiveness, God is dwelling in the between – God is only in the between, between you & me, between we & they, between dependence & independence?

Hell’s bells, man, its July the fourth, the sun is out, the water is blue, and you…and you… Maybe…
maybe…is it true?…maybe we are not two?)

The poem is now unafraid. And continues: No one is outside, everyone belongs;
Nothing is missing; everything belongs

What makes you think the opposite makes sense? End that thinking. Begin to live this interdependence. (Between you & me? God help us!) (wfh, 4July01)



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