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Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update,
February 2001

Devote yourself to the absolute emptiness; contemplate earnestly in Quiescence. All things are together in action, but I look into their non-action, for things are continuously moving, restless, yet each is proceeding back to its origin. Proceeding back to the origin means Quiescence. To be in Quiescence is to see "Being-for-itself."  - Lao tzu


The experience itself is most telling. All becomes quiet when some truth appears. 

Sitting in the back of the Camden library I listen to the voice of Geshe Chodak Gyatso, Tibetan monk, leader and teacher of the visiting monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery and its North American Institute. It is his third talk in three nights of the weeklong visit. The first was on “Opening the Heart: Arousing the Mind of Universal Kindness;” second, “The Ancient Art of Healing: The Tibetan Buddhist Approach;” third, “Tibet Today: The Story of a Diaspora".

He speaks and his translator, Dakpa Kalden, translates. The now familiar story --of the destruction of the monasteries in Tibet, the trekking to India for refuge, the hardships and sufferings of the people escaping persecution, the relocation in exile -- is told in measured tones recounting the history, politics, religion, and personal experiences.

Kalden was invited by the monk to tell of his own experiences when he worked at the reception center for refugees arriving from their crossing of the Himalaya’s from Tibet to India. He began by telling of the suffering he saw, the children, mothers, old people, their arrival, the pains, the frostbite, the losses, the amputations…, the many amputations…

Suddenly, there is a simple, sudden, and profound silence that comes to where I sit so far back and unable to see the speakers. It is quiescence, the becoming quiet, that tells me something has changed. Immediately and profoundly the room has changed.

In the telling of the story something broke through -- the raw experience of the reality itself visited the room. The Tibetan man translating for the monk faced the experience in a surprise of sorrow, profound tears, and inability to continue the external telling of the story. No more mere telling in words. Kalden the translator presents the experience itself. He waves off the need to find voice, words, narrative. He is in the time transcending raw reality of the devastating experience itself.

After some minutes he manages to say, “Tomorrow…maybe I can say more.” But for tonight, no more words. All who are attending must go their way in this manner of quiescence.


Geshe Chodak Gyatso on the first night spoke of the Tibetan belief that all sentient beings are our mother. Now, then, or to be – all sentient beings give us kindness and compassion, give us life, and deserve our response in kind.

In the library the final night, Geshe Chodak gave us the words, Kalden gave us the experience, and the sangha attending gave the support to see each other as mothering the Now as a community of growing compassion.


I’ve been wondering what it is to see "Being-for-itself."

We’ve been reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle on Wednesdays. In the early chapters he is telling how the egoic mind does not like the present moment. Rather it prefers to race ahead to the future and retreat back to the past, to gather pain and doubt, fear and guilt, anxiety and recrimination – creating an illusory construct to chew on, anguish over and generate a never-stopping tearing limb from limb of the host that entertains its monkey frenzy. Ultimately the parasite feeding on our pain-body seems to seek to destroy its host. By returning to the Now we rest from that exhausting activity of mind. In the Now, by observing the activity and realizing we are not that activity, we are able to be ourselves, our true self. There we can act or not act, do or not do -- this time, free and clear and open to the reality that is right there. Not an easy accomplishment. But a worthy practice. 

I suspect “to see Being-for-itself” involves seeing things as they are. “What-is” or “God” or “the Ground of our being” or “True Self” – are ways of wording the experience of seeing Being-for-itself.

Instead of creating or buying into illusions, we are invited to face what is there and either act or not act. Instead of hiding in a cloud of self-medication and wishful thinking, we are invited into a clear-eyed watchfulness that is willing to call things by their true names. And instead of holding tightly constricting opinions on how we prefer the world to be, we are invited to approach the world with open mind, open heart, open handed hospitality to welcome and participate in the transformation of all creation into a place of wholeness, sacred dwelling, and warm community. 

Speaking truth to power, or, speaking from our core reality are ways of practice and taking action that cuts through busy mindless activity. So too, becoming quiet, resting for a while in the center of our Being, allowing what is Itself to see and be seen – these are the other half of the practice of meditation and contemplation.

Alone or together, wherever we are, let us practice everyday ordinariness, quiet hospitality, and simple accepting mothering compassion.

May all beings be happy! May all beings be safe!

, Sando and Mini

Feast of the Presentation,
Groundhog’s Day,
21 days until Losar, Tibetan New Year of the Iron Snake

January 2001 Update
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March 2000 Update
February 2000 Update
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December 99 Update 
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