Sunday, November 2, 2014

Late Autumn--Winter 2014 Hermitage Update


Theme: As snow flies, so too thoughts about hermitage

On All Souls Day, 2Nov 2014, the first snowstorm of the season knocks out electricity. Rural Maine acts like just what it is.

We start to think again about a place in the marketplace. Here's a dialogue with a student about the mind-set of age and growing old. It sideways began again the conversation meetingbrook has been sitting with for years:
J... T…. It's All in Your Head 
I truly am a believer of the saying, "you're only as old as you feel." That being said, I also believe that after you retire, you need to pick up a new hobby. If you do nothing you're essentially going to wilt away. Your mind won't be as sharp and your body will start to deteriorate. If you retire and you "feel old" because of it, yes, you're going to get old. I think it's a prerequisite in the US that after you retire you do mediocre things like play golf or even worse, sit around wondering what to do next. People get old because they get bored. They need something to focus on, like the plant. It's so simple, but it gave them something to do and they lived to keep that plant alive, it gave them purpose. People also need to remember what made them happy, like the older gentleman in the study who got to live like they were back in the 1950's, which was probably their heyday. Of course they came out looking younger, they were happy, they got to relive probably the best more simpler times in their lives. So, don't just retire, find you nitch and make it your "semi-retirement" job. Not sure what you would want to do? Get a plant, make it your goal to keep it alive for a year. ��
... 
Just now
William Halpin, RE: It's All in Your Head 
"People get old because they get bored. They need something to focus on, like the plant."(JT) 
...
I agree. I've been thinking about opening a shop in town. It would have a recessed center circle of sorts that remained open and clear. Surrounding it would be an upper cascade for tables, bookshelves, baking area, shelves for specific items for sale, art showings, crafts for sale, lounging chairs for musing and napping.  
In the center spot a multitude of activities would take place: yoga classes, zazen sitting, sufi dancing, tai chi, qi gong, walking meditation -- as well as, square dancing, folk or jazz playing, poetry reading, talks and lectures, AA meetings, Quaker Meetings, inter religious dialogue, environmental arguing, new notions of civil life, civic or spiritual discussion meetings, hospice support gatherings, a place of sanctuary and healing, and ongoing conversations on as many topics that can be thought of. 
Mostly it would be a place where young, middle age, and elderly connect to gather persons, recipies, and memory -- bake together at the salon (see below) and feature the product as a work of connective compassionate community to be sold or share with the featured "chef" taking the lion's share of money made from their work. (Simple stoves, not restaurant, just the kind you might have in your house, only with more burners. Nothing fancy.)  
Nursing homes, independent living residences, shut-ins, church and support groups, civic clubs, and others would be invited into the connecting process of active community creativity surrounding food and conversation. Of course the place is wheelchair accessible. It is also skeptic and non-joiner accessible. And it is accessible for those stepping through addictions, incarcerations, mortality, and the ordinary befuddlement of baits (being alive in today's society). It would struggle to embody presence and acceptance. 
The place would strive to be self-supporting with assistance from individual and group subscriptions, business organizations, grants, kindness of strangers, and simple passing love. 
We had a small place on a smaller scale like that for 13 years. Its been 5 years since we lost that lease. Instead of thinking "I'm too old for that headache again," I'm beginning to think...hummm...get me some plants to hang along the scorched timbers of the whole place! 
The 1959 film On the Beach ended with a banner fluttering, "There is Still Time ... Brother" [and Sister].  
The need for good places, community places, is vital for the health of people -- body, mind, soul, and spirit. 
Perhaps the place could have signage reading: 
The Last Chance Saloon Salon  
meetingbrook bookshop & bakery       
"A community engaging"   
 .............................................................................
Full Definition of SALON
1:  an elegant apartment or living room (as in a fashionable home)
2:  a fashionable assemblage of notables (as literary figures, artists, or statesmen) held by custom at the home of a prominent person
3a  :  a hall for exhibition of art
b  capitalized  :  an annual exhibition of works of art
4:  a stylish business establishment or shop salon>
  See salon defined for English-language learners »See salon defined for kids »--bh 
...
We are contemplating heating the cabin for weekend practices through the winter. A Buddhist group is thinking about a change of venue. Perhaps we  might help. 

In the afternoon of All Souls the 50mph gusts joined with the foot of wet heavy snow to split and fell the over-150yr cedar tree at northeast corner of house. It fell in three directions -- a triangle splaying out across driveway, gateway, and roadside front. Our shaded privacy from Barnestown Road is gone. Moreso, our twenty-two year friendship with that dear tree now enters new rites of departure.


It is hilarious to think we consider such a return to marketplace monasticism. 

And yet, and yet, and yet…

We think. And we continue to contemplate the poem we read at prison Friday (to tears) and again at Friday Evening Conversation with folks from Brunswick up for the circle:
Parkinson’s Disease
BY GALWAY KINNELL 
While spoon-feeding him with one hand  
she holds his hand with her other hand,  
or rather lets it rest on top of his,
which is permanently clenched shut.  
When he turns his head away, she reaches  
around and puts in the spoonful blind.  
He will not accept the next morsel
until he has completely chewed this one.  
His bright squint tells her he finds
the shrimp she has just put in delicious.
Next to the voice and touch of those we love,  
food may be our last pleasure on earth—
a man on death row takes his T-bone  
in small bites and swishes each sip
of the jug wine around in his mouth,  
tomorrow will be too late for them to jolt  
this supper out of him. She strokes
his head very slowly, as if to cheer up
each separate discomfited hair sticking up  
from its root in his stricken brain.
Standing behind him, she presses
her check to his, kisses his jowl,
and his eyes seem to stop seeing
and do nothing but emit light.
Could heaven be a time, after we are dead,  
of remembering the knowledge
flesh had from flesh? The flesh
of his face is hard, perhaps
from years spent facing down others
until they fell back, and harder
from years of being himself faced down
and falling back in his turn, and harder still  
from all the while frowning
and beaming and worrying and shouting  
and probably letting go in rages.  
His face softens into a kind
of quizzical wince, as if one
of the other animals were working at  
getting the knack of the human smile.  
When picking up a cookie he uses  
both thumbtips to grip it
and push it against an index finger  
to secure it so that he can lift it.
She takes him then to the bathroom,  
where she lowers his pants and removes
the wet diaper and holds the spout of the bottle
to his old penis until he pisses all he can,
then puts on the fresh diaper and pulls up his pants.  
When they come out, she is facing him,  
walking backwards in front of him  
and holding his hands, pulling him  
when he stops, reminding him to step  
when he forgets and starts to pitch forward.  
She is leading her old father into the future  
as far as they can go, and she is walking  
him back into her childhood, where she stood  
in bare feet on the toes of his shoes  
and they foxtrotted on this same rug.
I watch them closely: she could be teaching him  
the last steps that one day she may teach me.
At this moment, he glints and shines,
as if it will be only a small dislocation
for him to pass from this paradise into the next. 
(Poem by Galway Kinnell, “Parkinson’s Disease” from Imperfect Thirst. Copyright © 1994 by Galway Kinnell.)
Peace, and what is, good!

  Rokpa & Cody, (woof); 
Panta (Rhea), and (Bodhi) Chitta (meow)   
and all who grace Meetingbrook

2Nov2014
All Souls Day

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Summer 2014 Hermitage Update


Theme: "you can talk only about a great weariness"

Doris sends us Yehuda Amichai:
Wildpeace

Not the peace of a cease-fire
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
but rather
as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness.
I know that I know how to kill, that makes me an adult.
And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
how to open and close its eyes and say Mama.
A peace
without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares,
without words, without
the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be
light, floating, like lazy white foam.
A little rest for the wounds - who speaks of healing?
(And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation
to the next, as in a relay race:
the baton never falls.)

Let it come
like wildflowers,
suddenly, because the field
must have it: wildpeace.

~ Yehuda Amichai ~

(Panhala)

(The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai, translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell)

These are the days of the daze that is Israel and Gaza reminding us that strife is only a heartbeat away from death. These tribes, as one writer puts it, will forever be at one another. One side is penned in; one side is armed to the teeth. Their antagonism is bitter. Bitter still is the suffering of the ordinary people who wish to walk with their children, cook dinner, and sleep restfully through the nights of their lives. Theirs is no respite these days of dreadful and near terror crisscrossing the arbitrary borders of ethnicity, race, religion, and power.

In Maine, we are so fortunate not to be proximate to such disorder. Green hills, blue water, light rain over backroads and wood fences. The battles here are not nearly as fierce as our Middle East brothers and sisters. Here squirrel and chipmunk scurry feeder flotsam outside glass doors where two cats twitch tails following natural desire to catch and quiet anything moving in their vicinity. Alas, they do not transgress the translucent barrier to the outside! The mountain outback is resculpted by large-mouthed orange earth movers. Trees are taken. These zen teachers are intent to teach impermanence. Everything is chewed by change. It remains difficult to digest what has already passed through.

Don't worry. Be Happy. Thanks Bobby!

This morning at practice we read about Larry's parents visiting with his zen master in Ambivalent Zen, One Man's Adventures on the Dharma Path (1997). We laugh and cry at the humor of the encounter, thinking of our own parents, the wistfulness of memory of early stages of encounter with both new practices and familial connections.

Elsewhere in his book, Lawrence Shainberg writes:
My father points his fork at the book he has brought to the table and taps it sharply with the prongs. It’s a small thin book with a turquoise cover and several pages folded at the corners: The Wisdom of Insecurity. “Alan Watts,” he says, “is the wisest man who ever lived.” “But who is he?” “Well, I guess you’d call him a philosopher. A teacher of Zen.” Mother looks at him quizzically. After all, this is 1951, nearly two decades before Zen will become a buzzword of the “Human Potential” movement; before the publication of Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, Zen and the Art of Archery, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Zen of Running, and dozens of other such books; before the Beat Generation has made Zen its rallying cry; before there is such a thing as Zen perfume, and long before anyone other than those who practice with him is aware that Nyogen Senzaki, the only Zen master now in the United States, has begun to teach the meditation practice around which, in Japan and China, for nearly fourteen hundred years, the vision of Zen has been centered. “Zen?” she says. “What’s that?”  
Without a word, Dad stands, leaves the room and returns a moment later with another book by Watts. Opening to a passage he has marked, he reads:
“Zen Buddhism. . . is not religion or philosophy; it is not a psychology or a type of science. It is an example of what is known in India and China as "a way of liberation’. . . a way of liberation can have no positive definition. It has to be suggested by saying what it is not, somewhat as a sculptor reveals an image by the act of removing pieces of stone from a block.”
He looks at Mother to see if she is satisfied. Her smile is almost imperceptible, but I know what she is thinking. As long as we can remember, he’s been subject to these infatuations. He quit school when he was fifteen and did not read a book until he was thirty-five, but ever since then he’s been racing to catch up. Nowadays, he reads every morning from six until he goes to work at eight-thirty, and every evening after dinner until he goes to bed. Not infrequently, a book becomes transcendent for him, the answer to all his questions. And since he is by nature a proselytizer, convinced beyond a doubt that what is good for him is good for others, the book of the moment quickly appears at our dining table. Riding the waves of his enthusiasms, we have been through The Story of Philosophy by Will and Ariel Durant, The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang, Henrik van Loon’s Story of Mankind, and in recent months, now that he’s interested in psychoanalysis, books by Freud, Karen Horney, and Erich Fromm. Closing The Way of Zen, he takes up The Wisdom of Insecurity again and reads aloud in a solemn voice:
“I have always been fascinated by the law of reversed effort. Sometimes I call it the 'Backwards Law.’ When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink you float. When you hold your breath you lose it - which immediately calls to mind an ancient and much neglected saying, 'Whosoever would save his soul shall lose it.’”
The reading continues for several minutes, but I hear nothing more. Indeed, the fact that I have heard this much is a kind of miracle. I am none too alert at the best of times, but usually, when Dad begins to read, I don’t hear words but pounding, a droning sound, like the hum you get with defective loudspeakers. But this time is different. The odd, reverse reasoning of the Backwards Law permeates my mind before I actually understand it. It is less a matter of thought than ventilation. Like a window has opened and a breeze is circulating in my brain. In a sudden, blinding flash, it seems to me, I have been offered my diagnosis and my cure. How can I doubt that the Backwards Law is the story of my life?
 Dad’s eyes are riveted on me. “Well?” he says. “What’s your response to that?”  
“To what?” I say. 
“Shall I read it again?”  
Without waiting for my reply, he points the book at me, crying, “For God’s sake, Larry, wake up! What is Watts talking about? Effort! Compulsion! Tension! Anxiety! Doesn’t it ring a bell for you? Don’t you realize how anxious and confused you are? How much you need to be liked, please everybody, no, don’t turn away, you know what I mean. All these hours you spend on the basketball court. Are you enjoying yourself? Having fun? Hell, no! Anyone can see that! You’re tortured! Driven by insecurity! But why? I’ll tell you why! You’re trying to make yourself secure! And it’s just that need that Watts is getting at. The need that defeats you right from the start! Don’t you see? The need for security makes you insecure!” 
* * *  http://www.tricycle.com/feature/ambivalent-zen 
Israel wants security. Gaza wants freedom. America wants to own everything and protect everyone from minutest deviation from security or freedom. The United States sees everything  -- and knows more than it will ever understand.

In Maine, I shoot baskets remembering how important and defining such activity was 50-60 years ago  in gymnasiums and schoolyards throughout city streets. I weary early these sessions, barely leave my feet, and surprisingly sink four in a row the same experimental two-handed overhead set shot gleaned from Larry Costello, Karl Braun, Dolph Shayes, and Richie Guerin. Maybe, like Pete Maravich, I'm looking to collapse and die on the court right after another missed shot rolls to a chain link fence further away than I might prefer to walk. It's just fine. We're forever on the free throw line after a foul is called. Its the world as it is.

Our zen practice doesn't dress up as Zen. It is tee shirt and cargo shorts with idiorhythmic bell and mokta rhythm in a meditation hall bedecked with world religions symbols and droppings of mice as well as flecks of insulation fallen from excavated ceiling by cloistered creatures doing their own practice in our absence.


It is Maine. 


And summer.


All is well.


Besides, it's all zen now.


Peace, and what is, good!

  Rokpa & Cody, (woof); 
Panta (Rhea), and (Bodhi) Chitta (meow)   

and all who grace Meetingbrook

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hermitage Update, Spring 2014


Theme: Real Time


So many die this time: Betty, Barbara, Cynthia, Dirk, David.

So it is we sit, silently, in solitude, as winter gives spring its release.

We’ll do it with Marie Howe’s poem:


          Magdelene--The Seven Devils"
                                           —by Marie Howe
           
                               Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven devils had been cast out" —Luke 8:2.

The first was that I was very busy.

The second — I was different from you: whatever happened to you could

not happen to me, not like that.

The third — I worried.
The fourth — envy, disguised as compassion.
The fifth was that I refused to consider the quality of life of the aphid,

The aphid disgusted me. But I couldn't stop thinking about it.

The mosquito too — its face. And the ant — its bifurcated body.

Ok the first was that I was so busy.
The second that I might make the wrong choice,
because I had decided to take that plane that day,

that flight, before noon, so as to arrive early

and, I shouldn't have wanted that.
The third was that if I walked past the certain place on the street
the house would blow up.
The fourth was that I was made of guts and blood with a thin layer
of skin lightly thrown over the whole thing.

The fifth was that the dead seemed more alive to me than the living


The sixth — if I touched my right arm I had to touch my left arm, and if I

touched the left arm a little harder than I'd first touched the right then I
had
to retouch the left and then touch the right again so it would be even.

The seventh — I knew I was breathing the expelled breath of everything that
was alive and I couldn't stand it,

I wanted a sieve, a mask, a, I hate this word — cheesecloth —

to breath through that would trap it — whatever was inside everyone else that

entered me when I breathed in

No. That was the first one.

The second was that I was so busy. I had no time. How had this happened?
How had our lives gotten like this?

The third was that I couldn't eat food if I really saw it — distinct, separate
from me in a bowl or on a plate.
Ok. The first was that I could never get to the end of the list.

The second was that the laundry was never finally done.


The third was that no one knew me, although they thought they did.

And that if people thought of me as little as I thought of them then what was
love?

The fourth was I didn't belong to anyone. I wouldn't allow myself to belong
to anyone.

The fifth was that I knew none of us could ever know what we didn't know.

The sixth was that I projected onto others what I myself was feeling.


The seventh was the way my mother looked when she was dying—her mouth wrenched into an O so as to take in as much air…

The sound she made — the gurgling sound — so loud we had to speak louder 
to hear each other over it.


And that I couldn't stop hearing it—years later—

grocery shopping, crossing the street —


No, not the sound — it was her body's hunger

finally evident.
—what our mother had hidden all her life.

For months I dreamt of knucklebones and roots,
the slabs of sidewalk pushed up like crooked teeth by what grew underneath.

The underneath —that was the first devil.
It was always with me.
And that I didnt think you — if I told you — would understand any of this —

(Poem, Magdelene, The Seven Devils, by Marie Howe)

Friends get out of prison. One goes in. Water rolls down mountain. Time takes toll. Nobody thinks there’s another way. We celebrated resurrection. An old Trappist monk sends a poem about an old coyote and worms on good friday.

We look across the road. Walk through old dreams. Then recross and return home. There’s nothing else to do but what we are, doing.

Friday nights were two independent courses at the hermitage on Heidegger and Nishitani, Existentialists and Nothingness. We came through ok.

We scrape hull of matinicus pea pod for season rowing. We place Buddha in middle of zendo. We watch buds break open.

Everything is coming into its own.

It is May.

Where attention is given, mothering is born.

Peace, and what is, good!

  Rokpa & Cody, (woof); 

Panta (Rhea), and (Bodhi) Chitta (meow)   
and all who grace Meetingbrook

12May2014

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hermitage Update, Fall 2013


Theme: Idiorrhythmy
It is time to be old, /  To take in sail  (R.W. Emerson, from poem "Terminus")
Judy asked might Lady Jane cat be buried with meetingbrook's animals up past yurt by brook in hillside cemetery. She brought the small long haired 22 year old just from vetenarian's office in green box with red and yellow flowers, green lemongrass, and tears. We asked the current residents of angel-ground to welcome, protect, and accompany this sweet companion from love to love, Judy to earth, placing candle, incense stick, and circle of stones. Rokie and Cody attended. We bow to mystery, carry shovels, pickax, and empty box back down path to Friday Evening Conversation.

Saskia arrives back at mooring Saturday afternoon from Mark Island encirclement on final sail of season with three women who, she said, sang, laughed, and happily drank the thermos of coffee sent with them. The big working schooners are moored and wrapped. Some docks hauled. Dinghies lean akimbo on hard earth. Leaves overrun gangplanks and autumnal completion of tie up.

Quakers return from summer open chapel in Rockport to Merton Bookshed/Retreat on Sunday mornings. 

Meetingbrook surrenders to its nature and idiorrhythmic practice of aware silent presence. Resident rodent continues to gnaw roof insulation of meditation cabin leaving piles of blue, brown, and assorted detritus on floor between circle rug and square zabuton. We celebrated 10 year anniversary dedication of chapel/zendo with gathering on 4October, feast of Francis. The kindness and generosity of Jim and Paul shelter much quiet and wonder within the walls and between them. Friend Joseph attends celebration and reads poem commemorating reentry from double decade walled life -- his Brunswick angels holding hands as he tells his story to a full silent hearing.

Doctors tell us we both will die, and give us proximate likelihood of cause. We say "thank you," and go on with life. I tell Saskia to tell others after I die that I died doing the thing I loved the best -- breathing!

Canadian Thanksgiving was spent dockside in Saint Andrews by the Sea, New Brunswick in a small corner unit between long hikes on various trails in Charlotte County. Rokie was good company, Cody stayed with workman who installed windows before rotted ones fell out.

"Umwelt" travels on used jetta wagon which joined community and diesel'd us across border.

No hard frost to date.

All is well so far.

Living alone together is a moment to moment awareness of itself
Immortal Longings  
Inside the silver body 
Slowing as it banks through veils of cloud 
We float separately in our seats  
Like the cells or atoms of one 
Creature, needs 
And states of a shuddering god. 
Under him, a thirsty brilliance. 
Pulsing or steady, 
The fixed lights of the city  
And the flood of carlights coursing 
Through the grid: Delivery, 
Arrival, Departure. Whim. Entering  
And entered. Touching 
And touched: down 
The lit boulevards, over the bridges  
And the river like an arm of night. 
Book, cigarette. Bathroom. 
Thirst. Some of us are asleep. 
We tilt roaring 
Over the glittering 
Zodiac of intentions. 
 ("Immortal Longings" by Robert Pinsky, from The Figured Wheel. The Noonday Press, 1996.) 
For this and all that comes with it, our gratitude!

As it rains  Sunday morning, remembering 14 years gone my sister's passing.


Peace, and what is, good!

  Rokpa & Cody, (woof); 

Panta (Rhea), and (Bodhi) Chitta (meow)   
and all who grace Meetingbrook

20Oct2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hermitage Update, Spring 2013

Theme: Greening Mountain Trails

It happened of an afternoon. We walked up to yurt to do some work in morning. Later, we walked down. Buds leafing, ground sprouting, sun dancing. All of a sudden -- spring!

Practice proceeds apace.

Rokpa, Cody, Panta Rhea and Bodhi Chitta have made their accommodations, adjusting their dogness and catness to one another, and each seems sweeter in so doing.

The Hibernian bicyclist painter, carpenter, designer, plumber plies his skills on wohnkuche ceiling and upstairs bedroom and bathroom. Chaos haunts the stairway in four-footed and two-footed trespass.

Practice is back in Cabin, which also was tinkered with, as was the yurt, now available for solitude/respite, furnished and warm enough to bask in the song of tumbling brook water.

We change Thursday evenings. A partialing of concentration between A Course in Miracles and other Western lectio options are divided into 2nd, 4th and 1st, 3rd, 5th Thursdays.

Final class taught last evening at college for this semester. A good stretch.

Bicycle out and about again. Patient visiting at hospital returns. Garden put in. A broader stillness watches from Bald Mountain.

We sit in silence with and for all our sentient and existential kin. We pray for those ill, suffering, and dying. We speak with one another about whatever shows up for conversation.

This is good. And, for now, enough.

Peace, and what is, good!

  Rokpa and Cody, (woof); 

Panta (Rhea), and (Bodhi) Chitta (meow)   
and all who grace Meetingbrook

9May2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Feb, March 2013 Hermitage Update


After the blizzard, day by day, snow melts.

We've been on the road around Maine with Saskia's work.

Prison, with dust-up and replacement of key personnel, is on hiatus. We're thinking of combining with Buddhist Group volunteers to inaugurate Mindfulness, Meetingbrook, and Mashugana. 

Conversations and meditation practice at hermitage. We like the non-duality of Rupert Spira, the intelligent inclusion of Raimon Panikkar, the silence of God, and the don't-know mind of Zen. Of course, all poetry is uncertain gift.

We look forward to the final month of winter. Snowshoes have been useful. Grippers are great inventions. Ski poles serve through all seasons.

Finally, a word about shifting translation and hermeneutic interpretation. Everything that is heard these days must go through a straining process of re-translation and re-interpretation. Quelle est la difference? This question is the resonant echo whenever anything is heard or read. Lesson 21 of ACIM reminds us: "I am determined to see things differently."

Along with what the Dalai Lama's teaches in his Ethics for the New Millennium about kun long:
Kun Long --In Tibetan, the term for what is considered to be of the greatest significance in determining the ethical value of a given action is the individual's kun long. Translated literally, the participle kun means "thoroughly" or "from the depths," and long (wa) denotes the act of causing something to stand up, to arise, or to awaken.  But in the sense in which it's used here, kun long is understood as that which drives or inspires our actions--both those we intend directly and those which are in a sense involuntary.  It therefore denotes the individual's overall state of heart and mind.  When this is wholesome, it follows that our actions themselves will be (ethically) wholesome. 
It is a winter's storm of despair and desperation we face with the shenanigans of politicians, potentates, and professional embezzlers. Most everything becomes militarized: corporations, public safety police, banks, government, and the myopic watchdogs going blind -- the media. "Wholesome" is a drifting slog through blowing misinformation. I think everyone is frightened. Aporia, difficulty and uncertainty, settles over everything.

That said, our spirits are good. Saddened and wary, but good. The reasons we'd cultivated for being alive and remaining loyal to institutions, both civic and religious, have weakened and fall apart. Now we must rely on experience and revealing feeling to negotiate what lies before us in a complicated and phantasmagorical world.

So we sit. Pray. Converse. Attempt to be of service. Read. Watch. Learn. And cultivate a trust which is near, intimate, and willing to endure a skeptical eye.
Things
come and go. 
Then
let them.
Having to --
what do I think
to say now. 
Nothing but
comes and goes
in a moment. 
(--from poem, A Step, in Pieces, by Robert Creeley)
Robert Creeley is quoted as saying, "form is never more than an extension of content," in Charles Olson's essay on poetics, "Projective Verse."

Here, a hermitage is a place that recognizes aloneness.

Solitude.

(Given, we might be alone-together, or, alone with others.)

Here is lived the paradox and contradiction -- there is no other.

Alone we are profoundly, intimately, with-one-another!



Peace, and what is, good!

,   Rokpa & Cody, (woof); 
Panta (Rhea), & (Bodhi) Chitta (meow)   
and all who grace Meetingbrook
15Feb2013

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summer 2012, Update Theme: the Paragraph Refusing to Become Two

The old saw is that there are only two seasons in Maine -- winter, and the 4th of July. Today, therefore, is not winter. Time to write the summer update! The day is gray and green. Rain, visiting early, might return this afternoon. Parades are safe for now. Fred donates his 16 foot yurt to the hermitage. It was disassembled from Appleton and resides under tarp in trailer until platform can be brought from old site and reassembled here. Volunteer labor has been gift as well. Jay and I talk of meditation and Claude Anshin Thomas as we drove around Monday morning to purchase right bits for DeWalt and Makita drills. What we do buy does not fit, but the trip back and forth to Belfast was for the conversing company and not simply the hardware. At practice Tuesday evening we read "Sound of Wood Preaching Deep Underwater Words," Transmission Thirty-Eight, Yun-yen to Tungsten-Shan, from Living Buddha Zen, Lex Hixon's commentary on Zen Master Keizan's Denkoroku: The Record of Transmitting the Light. The final line of closing poem goes: "No way to enter here." And this sounds perfect. It takes no way to enter here, and, there is no way to enter here -- we are here! So it is with meetingbrook hermitage. Saskia sails this week, giving lessons to her 9 year old niece, native of Africa, bundle of energy visiting for the week. I begin volunteering at Pen Bay Medical Center, walking miles the first 4 hour shift with 77 year old woman training me. Jack is back leading Thursday Evening's A Course in Miracles, bringing his deep history with it and great desire to communicate it. Friday Evenings remain vibrant as we explore spirituality in what mystics, ecologists, artists, poets, scientists, and other creative thinkers are musing these days. Recently we've engaged Ray Kurzweil, Juan Enriquez, Gilles Deleuze, Forrest Gamble, Teilhard de Chardin, Ilia Delio, David Abram. German Shepherd Cody settles in, now devoted to Saskia since Erika's passing. Rokie likes the company, continues to come rowing with me, and is himself devoted to every round ball within eyesight. Saturday morning practice remains lovely and focused on mindfulness. So too Sunday Evening Practice, our two hour practice replete with soup and bread, dessert and conversation following sitting, walking, and chanting. As a hermitage we are just that, a hermitage. People drop in to use the chapel/zendo or the bookshed. They come and go, no one bothers them, the place is free, open, and informal. Summer is halfway over. Noon approaches. All is good. So is God, good. As is, you. Remain in good spirits! Peace, and what is, good!

, Rokpa , Cody

and all who grace Meetingbrook
4July2012