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Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update
July 2004

Theme – When In Doubt: “follow no path”...whirl...”transfigurations up and down”

An antidote to feeling stuck where you are is to reframe the picture.

If you endeavor to embrace the Way through much learning, the Way will not be understood. If you observe the Way with simplicity of heart, great indeed is this Way.
- Sutra of Forty Two Chapters

Staying in the one place we are, do we find ourselves by sheer stillness?

seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here

(poem by e.e.cummings)

Like Wallace Steven’s jar on a hill in Tennessee, does one become a compass point simply by placing oneself where one is? (Yesterday Lloyd spoke about a magnetic centering place. I felt I was due nowhere.)


She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, "The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay."
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
(from poem, "Sunday Morning" by Wallace Stevens

Perhaps religion falls away in July. The mysteries of Christianity, so celebrated at Christmas and Easter, seem unsponsored and ambiguous. In America the 4th of July feels like broken straw from a broom on floor following sweep-up after barroom brawl. It is the combination of secular polity gone cynical and sacred religion gone impertinent that colors summer solitude.

It’s not that nothing satisfies, nor that hopes and expectations seem fizzled, but rather it feels like both religion and politics are sinking “downward to darkness on extended wings “ Not only is there nothing to hold on to, there is no place to escape to.

all ignorance toboggans into know
and trudges up to ignorance again:
but winter's not forever,even snow
melts;and if spring should spoil the game,what then?

all history's a winter sport or three:
but were it five,i'd still insist that all
history is too small for even me;
for me and you,exceedingly too small.

Swoop(shrill collective myth)into thy grave
merely to toil the scale to shrillerness
per every madge and mabel dick and dave
--tomorrow is our permanent address

and there they'll scarcely find us(if they do,
we'll move away still further:into now
(poem by e.e.cummings)

The thought of escaping into now has a delicious ironic summer drowse to it. Is it possible to be here and not here at the same time? Is now the end of then and beginning of when? Or is now a sliver of emptiness without comparative reference or promise of retrieving temporal measurement?


I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I'll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is

magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:

at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!
(poem by A.R. Ammons)

If we admit that nothing is lowly, will we also allow as how nothing is above another – except, maybe, in the evaluative calculations of measuring minds intent on securing a higher place for themselves by dint of their assessments?

pity this busy monster,manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim(death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
-electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange;lenses extend

unwish through curving wherewhen until unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born-pity poor flesh

and trees,poor stars and stones,but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if-listen:there's a hell
of a good universe next door;let's go
(poem by e. e. cummings)

If our religion becomes kindness, such as the Dalai Lama’s statement of his religion, will we practice kindness the way leaves play with the wind? Whenever the wind shows up, leaves practice correct relationship with it. They move and turn, sway with unresisting accompaniment. And when it is ripe, they fall to earth and find themselves there for another transfiguration.

Let’s fall to what is now here.

Let others believe the beliefs they hold and follow the paths they follow. Let others decry and deny, dissemble and resemble the images they hold to be true. Let others condemn and expel, contemn and resell their version of grand divine plan.

If what is here and what is now is not imbued with the fullness of what some call God and others call True Reality – then, I’ll have no part of here and now. I’ll take the whole of it by no other name than what appears as how and where and when and with what face it appears.

Religion and politics be shelved for July. It is the season of a switch.

The picture is of itself.


As it is.


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


Itself Interdependence Day

Email (mono@meetingbrook.org) or mail to
Meetingbrook, 50 Bayview St. Camden, Maine 04843.



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