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Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update
July 2002

Theme:The Surprise of Prayer and Emptiness

When prayer finds me I am always surprised. I'm not always aware I'm lost. Like a friend appearing in a summer morning's playful tag, prayer taps shoulder with "you're it" and scoots away behind birdcall.

       I found my way up
       Yoshino’s precipice-hung
       Path and into its
       Past, seeing there the blossoms
       I sought that spring – ages ago.      
(-Saigyo 1118 – 1190)

Ages ago there was only linear time. Long straight extension from an unimaginable past stretching to an unimaginable future. Slowly arrives awareness. Then arrives prayer. And prayer arrives in emptiness.

Prayer encircles. It enfolds. What seemed once to be a line straight and narrow becomes a round return, origin to origin.

If I pray for happy life and/or happy death for those who come to mind, I am praying for their happy life and death at the very moment of their life and death. It doesn't matter that they've been dead in linear time's measurement for 30 years or 3 days. Prayer reaches into the instant of that person's life, the instant of their death, and touches them there.

Prayer is eternal presence. This eternal presence consists of the one praying, the one prayed for, and the One Presence encircling and enfolding each in prayerful round return. 

Each and any prayer is eternally real. It is, as well, felt presence in time. Prayer acknowledges and participates in creating life of a whole family of Being -- humanity, all sentient beings, matter itself, divinity itself. Is non-divinity, non-being - (what some call evil) - a separating and non-inclusive fragmenting, an othering?  Divisive intent & activity avoids and denies what is whole, causing suffering.

Prayer heals and wholes that which has been broken by those of us not yet ready for love, not-yet ready to be Love's dwelling place. When prayer tags me in my forgetting, touched by presence when I'm lost, suddenly I remember -- Be prayer, say prayer, long for what I am.

God is the longing that inspires prayer. We are God's prayer to inhabit and transform this sacred family.

In The Heart of Understanding (Commentaries on the Heart Sutra), Thich Nhat Hanh writes,

Form is the wave and emptiness is the water. …‘Emptiness’ means empty of a separate self. It is full of everything, full of life. The word emptiness should not scare us. It is a wonderful word. To be empty does not mean non-existent. If the sheet of paper is not empty, how could the sunshine, the logger, and the forest come into it? How could it be a sheet of paper? …Emptiness is the ground of everything. Thanks to emptiness, everything is possible. (pp.15-17)

If we are empty of a separate self, if God and emptiness are not separate, and if prayer is longing for realization and actualization of what is in fact real, true, and loving  – then, we’re in for a surprise when we enter prayer, when prayer enters us.

Prayer is surprising. Let's surprise each other!

, Sando , Cisco , Mini and all who grace Meetingbrook,

(p.s. We’re staying where & who we are at Barnestown Rd. Thanks to all for the wonder and prayer you entered into with us. It is good to return home.)


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

June 2002 Update
May 2002 Update
April 2002 Update
March 2002 Update
February 2002 Update
January 2002 Update
December 2001 Update
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August 2001 Uptate
July 2001 Update
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December 2000 Update
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December 99 Update 
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Meetingbrook Hermitage
64 Barnstown Rd.,
Camden, Maine USA 04843
Meetingbrook Bookshop & Bakery
50 Bayview St. (Cape on the harbor)
Camden, Maine USA 04843
e-mail: mono@meetingbrook.org

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