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Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update
April 2003

Alternate Theme: Dwelling One Continuous Now

Is there a monastic view of war?

Living as monastics in the world we are asked to begin, end, and dwell one continuous now the reality of God.

We’re not necessarily here to know what is here. We’re here to be, transparently, what is here.

By such being, by such life, we end mistaken belief that makes other what is no other.

There is a need to see the interior of war with the same thorough investigation we dare look into our personal interior life. If we know war, we know the roots of hell and despair. If we are to be the reality of God, we live the longing of life itself to appear as what it is, love as no other, here and now.

Translating Sutras
We go on unwinding the woof
From the web of their meaning.
Words of the Sutras
Day by day leap forth.
Head-on we’ve chased the miracle
Of Dharma:
Here are no mere scholars

- Hui Yung (332- 414) (dailyzen)

There are those willing to consider the word/reality of “God” as the reason for war. What does this war foreshadow? What appearance is urging itself into lucidity?

What are we seeing?

  1. Is there a rush to jumpstart, with noisy violence and chaotic turmoil, fundamentalist agitation, what some religious believers call the end-time apocalypse and siege of victorious heaven?
  2. Or is there a slow gathering of quiet contemplative peaceful monastics, what some spiritual practitioners call the transforming transfiguration of sentient beings and emergence of true earth?

Some believe war is the thing to capture the attention of the king, unbending ruler, and potentate God.

Monastics, on the contrary, hold emptying and surrendering to be very appearance of what is the most fragile reality of all, the one we call God.

How think through this tension between fighting militantly to bring into existence the mighty arm of God’s warrior judgment, or, alternatively, disarming oneself with abnegating prayer to let reveal itself the already present heart of divine love?

There are stories, philosophies, and strategies for either way. How do we understand appearance and the process formulating what we call reality? Is there a competing and conflicting dichotomy in the soul of being that demands periodic purging bloodshed to balance existence itself? Can you say your preference in this matter?

My preference is engaged emptiness of monastic spirituality. But let us think on this.

  1. A myth is a likely but luring story for a segment of mankind. Philosophy is myth sobered and universalized, allowing one to see how, despite their irreducible differences, realities are always together, and could be together in better ways than they are now.
    (p.xviii, Weiss)
  1. Appearances are constituted by exhibitions of realities. These exhibitions are not distinguished in the appearances, but they also are not confined to them. The exhibitions fringe, and thereby coursen the appearances as well as constitute them. The realities do not release their exhibitions, even while they are being allowed to mesh with the counteracting exhibitions of other realities. As a consequence, appearances have textures and roughings, grains and grits, and are possessed and grounded.  Textures, grains, and possessions are adumbratives which root an appearance in an actuality; roughings, grits and groundings are lucidatives, rooting an appearance in a finality. 

    [Adumbrate, i.e. to give a vague sign or indication of ahead of time; foreshadow.
    Lucid, i.e. easy to understand; articulate; clear, transparent]

    Adumbratives and lucidatives lead into the recesses of the realities that appear. Those realities prevent the appearances from being subtracted from them. It is because of them that the appearances are able to stand away, not only from one type of reality but also from us and the boundaries that we impose.
    (p. 89, Weiss)
  1. Finalities are present in all actualities, but are not noticed until one is able to wonder appreciatively. This is at the beginning of a lucidative move into the finality as it is by itself,

    The more one penetrates into a finality the richer and richer is the content, the freer and purer become the luciditives, and the greater the resistance encountered. The process has no predetermined first or last stage: wherever one begins is later than where one could have begun; wherever one ends is earlier than where one could have ended. Wherever we end can be conceptualized at the same time that we experience a pull and become aware of details not envisaged in the concept.
    (- p260, chapter “Transcendence,” in Beyond All Appearances, c.1974, by Paul Weiss)

What finality does war infer? What boundaries do we impose killing to justify?

This April the finalities of war confuse us. The mulch of war covers dormant suffering ground. How awaken seeds of flowering consciousness? Where do we look to verify monastic invitation to engage God Alone in our world? What gives itself to ground in order to draw out deeper wisdom? 

No one doubts United States munitions have the ability to pound and pulverize a Middle East country, re-enacting on their soil New York City’s experience of collapsing World Trade Center into dust and cremation.

Power prevails. The architects of war know power prevails. There is no need for faith once you know. We know war once again. We will remain consumed by war and conquest until we come to see through the gruesome blindness of power. Power is fire. We must learn, once again, the right measure of fire.

It ever was, and is, and shall be, ever-living Fire, in measures being kindled and in measures going out.  (- Heraclitus)

We cannot know what cannot be known. We don’t even know what we do not know. A monastic longs for faith rather than knowledge. Faith, this longing, is engagement with no other. It is Isaiah’s no other, as in, “I am the Lord your God, there is no other.” This engagement with no other brings us home, not with certain knowledge, but with uncertain faith. It is an engagement that both empties and completes us. We are willing to engage uncertainty with open heart and open mind. Some call this engagement prayer, contemplation, or mystical union. 

I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest. I’d half awaken. He’d stick his skull under my nose and purr, stinking of urine and blood. Some nights he kneaded my bare chest with, powerfully, arching his back, as if sharpening his claws, or pummeling a mother for milk. And some mornings I’d wake in daylight to find my body covered with paw prints in blood; I looked as though I’d been painted with roses.
            It was hot, so hot the mirror felt warm. I washed before the mirror in a daze; my twisted summer sleep still hung about me like sea kelp. What blood was this, and what roses? It could have been the rose of union, the blood of murder, or the rose of beauty bare and the blood of some unspeakable sacrifice or birth. The sign on my body could have been an emblem or a stain, the keys to the kingdom or the mark of Cain. I never knew. I never knew as I washed, and the blood streaked, faded, and finally disappeared, whether I’d purified myself or ruined the blood sign of the Passover. We wake, if we ever wake at all, to mystery, rumors of death, beauty, violence…. “Seem like we’re just set down here,” a woman said to me recently, “and don’t nobody know why.”
(--p.281, The Annie Dillard Reader, from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)

We’re not necessarily here to know what is here. We’re here to be, transparently, what is here.

In war, as with tomcats, there are ways to stay alive those not in war cannot understand. The description of what appears to be routine killing is chilling.

“Either Take a Shot or Take a Chance,” By DEXTER FILKINS
IWANIYA, Iraq, March 28 (New York Times)

But in the heat of a firefight, both men conceded, when the calculus often warps, a shot not taken in one set of circumstances may suddenly present itself as a life-or-death necessity.
"We dropped a few civilians," Sergeant S. [name here edited] said, "but what do you do?"
To illustrate, the sergeant offered a pair of examples from earlier in the week.
"There was one Iraqi soldier, and 25 women and children," he said, "I didn't take the shot."
But more than once, Sergeant S. said, he faced a different choice: one Iraqi soldier standing among two or three civilians. He recalled one such incident, in which he and other men in his unit opened fire. He recalled watching one of the women standing near the Iraqi soldier go down.
"I'm sorry," the sergeant said. "But the chick was in the way."

What does war foreshadow? What will we come to see clearly?

What if Jesus truly saw clearly; what if he actually embodied what he was saying:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.
“I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me”.

(--John 5 25-30)

War sickens. It should, and it does.

Politics sees the benefits of war. Philosophy looks at war and longs to see something better. Repeating Weiss:

Philosophy is myth sobered and universalized, allowing one to see how, despite their irreducible differences, realities are always together, and could be together in better ways than they are now.

What is the one continuous reality of this world? If it is war, a future of facts devoid of compassion is foreshadowed. If it is God, a transparence, unforeseen and unable to be seen, is suddenly possible as what-is seeing itself.

Monastics long for a life where reflection and prayer never cease. They are no mere scholars. Chasing the miracle of Dharma, the chaste wholeness of transparence, God in every movement, every glance, and every moment – monastic life is one with presence.

Here is the monastic view of war: We must stop war. We must end belief in war.

Living as monastics in the world we are asked to begin, end, and dwell one continuous now the reality of God.

, Sando , Cesco , Mu-ge , and all who grace Meetingbrook,




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