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April 2006
Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update

Theme: What-is-called; To be Itself

Note: It is time for retreat and rest. Incarnation recollects resurrection as earth retrieves resurgence.
We're on retreat. For the next two weeks Saskia and I are taking refuge in quiet seclusion. This solitude will keep us away from the bookshop/bakery. Others might/may have it open. You'll have to call there to find out. (Sunday, April 02, 2006)


Holy Week approaches. Easter approaches.

What does silence call for? What does solitude look for? What-is-called itself?

Does it matter that Jesus be God? God and Man? Man only?

What matters is kindness. What also matters is seeing and treating each person, each sentient being, and each moment of creation as sacred moment, sacred being, sacred person.

Long ago, with a shift in consciousness, Jeremiah was led to realize and reveal:
Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I will be their God and they shall be my people. There will be no further need for neighbour to try to teach neighbour, or brother to say to brother, "Learn to know the Lord!" No, they will all know me, the least no less than the greatest -- it is the Lord who speaks -- since I will forgive their iniquity and never call their sin to mind. (from Jeremiah 31: 31 -)

Not to mind sin. If sin is separation, pay it no mind. The divisive, the worries, the fretting, goals and dreams, attachment to outcomes, the anxiety of grasping for security -- these are ways the mind refuses to trust. If we pay sin no mind, will trust, will faith emerge?

I sometimes look hard at this. The word "faith" needs reviewing. It is not owned, does belong to anyone or anything claiming sole rights. It belongs only to itself.

Sometimes I think I've faith but no belief. I'm not sure what to say when asked what I believe. I want to shift the conversation, the way Jeremiah did. I want to say it doesn't matter what I believe. Rather, call it what you will, what I'd call "faith" is an unknowing trust in the benevolence of life. This unknowing trust surrounds all and permeates all. Not one thing is excluded. Faith is open-handed. My faith doesn't cling to a particular set of beliefs, denomination, master, guru, bishop, administrator, or understanding of (what is called) God. This faith is what-is-called.

What-is-called by us -- by our presence? What-is-called by another -- by their presence? If not God -- why not...God?

"The kingdom of God comes...to the individual, by entering into his soul and laying hold of it. True, the kingdom of God is the rule of God; but it is the rule of the holy God in the hearts of individuals...." (Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930)from What is Christianity? c.1901; quoted in The First Coming, How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity, p.14, by Thomas Sheehan, c.1986)

God is either in the heart, the heart of everything, or there is no God. God in the heart of each piece of creation, each angle of face, each turn of phrase. Or, nowhere. It is hard to understand the thinking that puts God outside creation. It is equally difficult to comprehend how particular people, particular church, or particular individual(s) constitute the exclusive domain of God -- all others bow, genuflect, tithe, alms-give, sacrifice, revere, devote, surrender, deny themselves, defer, or allow themselves to be told (or believe) they are separated from that which they cannot be separated from.

Now my soul is troubled. (Jesus, in John 12)

He was troubled, the writer suggests, because he intuited his imminent death. He probably was frightened in the same way we all become frightened at the thought of our own death. Did the fear of separation suddenly enter his mind? Did he experience that fear which pervades the minds of so so many? Did he own it? Hold it? Did he realize that such a fear, and such a mind that welcomes and cultivates it, is a great death? Is that why, exhausted by the awful fear others scourged him with, he came to the dropping-off point, saying: "Your will, not mine;" saying, "Into your hands I commend my spirit."? He'd been completely human. At his dropping-off point (of mind, of body) Jesus realizes what-is-called God and lets-go wholly into that Itself.

So it is. The vague despondency that haunts us like sudden April wind crossing hillside passes. We go on, and/or, we die. What carries us through is an unknowing trust in the benevolence of existence and life that passes us on to the next thing we find ourselves doing, the next thing we choose to do. Anything. Like swaying trees in early afternoon breeze. Sunlight giving dignity to tired brown leaves on loosening soil. Or lives, like clouds, passing. We go on.

Some Clouds

Now that I've unplugged the phone
no one can reach me --
At least for this one afternoon
they will have to get by without my advice or opinion.
Now nobody else is going to call
& ask in a tentative voice
if I haven't yet heard that she's dead,
that woman I once loved --
nothing but ashes scattered over a city
that barely itself any longer exists.
Yes, thank you, I've heard.
It had been too lovely a morning.
That in itself should have warned me.
The sun lit up the tangerines
& the blazing poinsettias
like so many candles.
For one afternoon they will have to forgive me.
I am busy watching things happen again
that happened a long time ago,
as I lean back in Josephine's lawn chair
under a sky of incredible blue,
broken -- if that is the word for it --
by a few billowing clouds,
all white & unspeakably lovely,
drifting out of one nothingness into another.

(Poem: "Some Clouds" by Steve Kowit from The Dumbbell Nebula. The Roundhouse Press.)

Part of taking time for a retreat is loosening oneself from the tight freezing survival demands of winter. Retrieving resurgence of spirit. The heart longs to rest away from the cacophony of dissident views about who's right who's wrong; who's a disgrace, who's going to triumph; whose God is more powerful, whose God is really truly God?

I like this piece. It is Krishnamurti's secret.

There's a story about J. Krishnamurti that speaks reams about what it means to be free of this limiting, fear-based pattern of thinking. Every spring he used to give talks in a beautiful oak grove in Ojai, in southern California. He had been speaking there for over sixty years. On this particular occasion when I went to hear him, in the late nineteen-seventies, there must have been close to two thousand people in attendance, sitting on the grass, or in their folding chairs.

It was always an extraordinary experience, hearing Krishnamurti in person. Aldous Huxley, who was a friend of Krishnamurti's, described it as: "Like listening to a discourse of the Buddha—such authority, such intrinsic power."

Part way through this particular talk, Krishnamurti suddenly paused, leaned forward, and said, almost conspiratorially, "Do you want to know what my secret is?" Almost as though we were one body we sat up, even more alert than we had been, if that was possible. I could see people all around me lean forward, their ears straining and their mouths slowly opening in hushed anticipation.

Krishnamurti rarely ever talked about himself or his own process, and now he was about to give us his secret! He was in many ways a mountaintop teacher—somewhat distant, aloof, seemingly unapproachable, unless you were part of his inner circle. Yet that's why we came to Ojai every spring, to see if we could find out just what his secret was. We wanted to know how he managed to be so aware and enlightened, while we struggled with conflict and our numerous problems.

There was a silence. Then he said in a soft, almost shy voice, "You see, I don't mind what happens."

I don't mind what happens. That is the essence of inner freedom. It is a timeless spiritual truth: release attachment to outcomes, and—deep inside yourself—you'll feel good no matter what. You’ll feel good because you are connected to, one with, the energy of the universe, the beauty and power of creation itself. Or, as Krishnamurti himself put it:
‘When you live with this awareness, this sensitivity, life has an astonishing way of taking care of you. Then there is no problem of security, of what people say or do not say, and that is the beauty of life.’

(c. Jim Dreaver, 2005, www.jimdreaver.com, http://www.geocities.com/thereisonlynow/kirishnamurtissecret.html)

And so, we're on retreat. We're following winter, going off into spring, thawing in solitude, stopping a while, turning off the engine, walking out back -- watching, contemplating, and engaging whatever service the authentic will reveal.

We're not waiting. Waiting implies expectation. We aren't expecting anything.

Does it matter that God is not found separate from creation?

Itself. Each is called to be itself. Is this another side of the mystery of resurrection?

Such a beautiful day!


Go on!

With love,

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



Please see http://www.meetingbrook.org/updates/05SepUpdate.htm for continuing support.

Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage is a Schola Gratiae et Contemplationis, i.e., a School of Gratefulness and Contemplation. Bookshop and Bakery opened 29 June1996. Hermitage was formed as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization in 1998 for the purpose of serving as a place of collation and recollection for the side-by-side practice and study of Buddhist Zen Meditation, Christian Contemplative Prayer, and the Engaged Service flowing from each. Central to Meetingbrook is its Laura Common – dedicated to a forum for individuals sharing practice with others, and its Schola -- dedicated to Interreligious & Interdependent Dialogue —Unveiling and Practicing Peace Between Ways. Donations are always gratefully accepted for the continuance and deepening of Meetingbrook.              

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