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Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update
March 2004

Theme: Three Signs of New Form of Religious Life in the World Today




Thirty-five years ago in a paper written while studying Religion I remember writing something like, “Never say you are living a religious life in the world.” The reasons I gave were unimportant – “If to some you seem not to be, you’ll be one more source of disappointment, impertinence, and scandal.” More important, I recall, was the feeling that anything of value lived in the name of sacred integration would have to be full of watchful appreciative presence, skeptical poetic inquiry, and natural flowing retrievable source that transcended time and history.

Wonder. Word. Water.

Break open
A cherry tree
And there are no flowers,
But the spring breeze
Brings forth a myriad of blossoms!

- Ikkyu (1394-1481)

This March is no different.

We continue to watch, and pray. We practice deep listening and loving speech. The tension continues between splash and stillness. Yet water is the source.

Bantu tribesmen, it is said, sneak into the rooms of their children as they sleep and whisper into their ears, "Become what you are!" (p.2, in Taking Our Places, The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up, by Norman Fischer, c.2003)

We continue to wonder what Jesus meant by bringing a sword, yet dying by gentle forgiveness. We’re intrigued by the Gateless Gate wherein, when looking carefully, what is seen has always been there, and you are not only on one side of your face. We rise and fall with the tide, with yes and no, as we remain, as it were, unattached nonmembers of religious groups yet interconnected and interdependent appreciators of them. Neither groupies (as a woman said of herself recently) nor leaders, we find ourselves praying and practicing a religious life in the marketplace without title or entitlement.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

So shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:10 – 11)

We watch and wonder about what we are seeing. We listen to the Word in silence; we listen in silence to words presenting the person speaking. We attempt to steep and be steeped in whatever reality appears before us, to let it go where it wishes to go, and to settle at the depth it chooses – following the wisdom of water.

Walking, then, with Courage
and Kindness,
never ceasing to walk in Wonder,
we follow our ancient path.
For the Way of the sword is
folded two;
Like the rose we have thorns,
and like the rose, we unfold.
- Ji Aoi Isshi (dailyzen)

We have no idea what it would look like to live a new form of religious life in the world today. We contemplate, converse, and correspond – this is our practice. We attend to the Christ and Bodhisattva – in whatever sound or appearance they appear. We show up, or don’t show up, and make neither big deal nor excuse about it.

The new form of religious life is emptiness. And emptiness is form. We must disappear. John the Baptist knew this – “I must decrease, he must increase.” The Heart Sutra knows this –“Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond. Awake. Rejoice.”

Haiku on Prayer

Still &
Silent --

When called to

Be what is
Being said...


Wonder. Word. Water.

This, this, and this!

Do we know this?

This is our life.

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

8 March 2004

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



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Camden, Maine USA 04843
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