Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update
Alternate Theme: Dwelling One Continuous
Is there a monastic view of war?
Living as monastics in the world we are asked to begin, end, and
dwell one continuous now the reality of God.
We’re not necessarily here to know what is here. We’re here to be,
transparently, what is here.
By such being, by such life, we end mistaken belief that makes other
what is no other.
There is a need to see the interior of war with the same thorough
investigation we dare look into our personal interior life. If we
know war, we know the roots of hell and despair. If we are to be the
reality of God, we live the longing of life itself to appear as what
it is, love as no other, here and now.
We go on unwinding the woof
From the web of their meaning.
Words of the Sutras
Day by day leap forth.
Head-on we’ve chased the miracle
Here are no mere scholars
- Hui Yung (332- 414) (dailyzen)
There are those willing to consider the word/reality of “God” as
the reason for war. What does this war foreshadow? What appearance
is urging itself into lucidity?
What are we seeing?
- Is there a rush to jumpstart, with noisy violence and chaotic
turmoil, fundamentalist agitation, what some religious believers
call the end-time apocalypse and siege of victorious heaven?
- Or is there a slow gathering of quiet contemplative peaceful monastics,
what some spiritual practitioners call the transforming transfiguration
of sentient beings and emergence of true earth?
Some believe war is the thing to capture the attention of the king,
unbending ruler, and potentate God.
Monastics, on the contrary, hold emptying and surrendering to be
very appearance of what is the most fragile reality of all, the one
we call God.
How think through this tension between fighting militantly to bring
into existence the mighty arm of God’s warrior judgment, or, alternatively,
disarming oneself with abnegating prayer to let reveal itself the
already present heart of divine love?
There are stories, philosophies, and strategies for either way. How
do we understand appearance and the process formulating what we call
reality? Is there a competing and conflicting dichotomy in the soul
of being that demands periodic purging bloodshed to balance existence
itself? Can you say your preference in this matter?
My preference is engaged emptiness of monastic spirituality. But
let us think on this.
A myth is a likely but luring story for a
segment of mankind. Philosophy is myth sobered and universalized,
allowing one to see how, despite their irreducible differences,
realities are always together, and could be together in better ways
than they are now.
- Appearances are constituted by exhibitions of realities. These
exhibitions are not distinguished in the appearances, but they also
are not confined to them. The exhibitions fringe, and thereby coursen
the appearances as well as constitute them. The realities do not
release their exhibitions, even while they are being allowed to
mesh with the counteracting exhibitions of other realities. As a
consequence, appearances have textures and roughings,
grains and grits, and are possessed and grounded.
Textures, grains, and possessions are adumbratives which
root an appearance in an actuality; roughings, grits and groundings
are lucidatives, rooting an appearance in a finality.
[Adumbrate, i.e. to give a vague sign or indication of ahead
of time; foreshadow.
Lucid, i.e. easy to understand; articulate; clear, transparent]
Adumbratives and lucidatives lead into the recesses of the realities
that appear. Those realities prevent the appearances from being
subtracted from them. It is because of them that the appearances
are able to stand away, not only from one type of reality but also
from us and the boundaries that we impose.
(p. 89, Weiss)
- Finalities are present in all actualities, but are not noticed
until one is able to wonder appreciatively. This is at the beginning
of a lucidative move into the finality as it is by itself,
The more one penetrates into a finality the richer and richer
is the content, the freer and purer become the luciditives, and
the greater the resistance encountered. The process has no predetermined
first or last stage: wherever one begins is later than where one
could have begun; wherever one ends is earlier than where one could
have ended. Wherever we end can be conceptualized at the same time
that we experience a pull and become aware of details not envisaged
in the concept.
(- p260, chapter “Transcendence,” in Beyond All
Appearances, c.1974, by Paul Weiss)
What finality does war infer? What boundaries do we impose killing
This April the finalities of war confuse us. The mulch of war covers
dormant suffering ground. How awaken seeds of flowering consciousness?
Where do we look to verify monastic invitation to engage God Alone
in our world? What gives itself to ground in order to draw out deeper
No one doubts United States munitions have the ability to pound and
pulverize a Middle East country, re-enacting on their soil New York
City’s experience of collapsing World Trade Center into dust and cremation.
Power prevails. The architects of war know power prevails. There
is no need for faith once you know. We know war once again. We will
remain consumed by war and conquest until we come to see through the
gruesome blindness of power. Power is fire. We must learn, once again,
the right measure of fire.
It ever was, and is, and shall be, ever-living Fire, in measures
being kindled and in measures going out. (- Heraclitus)
We cannot know what cannot be known. We don’t even know what we do
not know. A monastic longs for faith rather than knowledge. Faith,
this longing, is engagement with no other. It is Isaiah’s no other,
as in, “I am the Lord your God, there is no other.” This engagement
with no other brings us home, not with certain knowledge, but with
uncertain faith. It is an engagement that both empties and completes
us. We are willing to engage uncertainty with open heart and open
mind. Some call this engagement prayer, contemplation, or mystical
I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who
would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the
night and land on my chest. I’d half awaken. He’d stick his skull
under my nose and purr, stinking of urine and blood. Some nights he
kneaded my bare chest with, powerfully, arching his back, as if sharpening
his claws, or pummeling a mother for milk. And some mornings I’d wake
in daylight to find my body covered with paw prints in blood; I looked
as though I’d been painted with roses.
It was hot, so hot the mirror felt
warm. I washed before the mirror in a daze; my twisted summer sleep
still hung about me like sea kelp. What blood was this, and what roses?
It could have been the rose of union, the blood of murder, or the
rose of beauty bare and the blood of some unspeakable sacrifice or
birth. The sign on my body could have been an emblem or a stain, the
keys to the kingdom or the mark of Cain. I never knew. I never knew
as I washed, and the blood streaked, faded, and finally disappeared,
whether I’d purified myself or ruined the blood sign of the Passover.
We wake, if we ever wake at all, to mystery, rumors of death, beauty,
violence…. “Seem like we’re just set down here,” a woman said to me
recently, “and don’t nobody know why.”
(--p.281, The Annie Dillard Reader, from
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
We’re not necessarily here to know what is here. We’re here to be,
transparently, what is here.
In war, as with tomcats, there are ways to stay alive those not in
war cannot understand. The description of what appears to be routine
killing is chilling.
“Either Take a Shot or Take a Chance,” By DEXTER FILKINS
IWANIYA, Iraq, March 28 (New York Times)
But in the heat of a firefight, both men conceded,
when the calculus often warps, a shot not taken in one set of circumstances
may suddenly present itself as a life-or-death necessity.
"We dropped a few civilians," Sergeant
S. [name here edited] said, "but what do you do?"
To illustrate, the sergeant offered a pair of
examples from earlier in the week.
"There was one Iraqi soldier, and 25 women
and children," he said, "I didn't take the shot."
But more than once, Sergeant S. said, he faced
a different choice: one Iraqi soldier standing among two or three
civilians. He recalled one such incident, in which he and other men
in his unit opened fire. He recalled watching one of the women standing
near the Iraqi soldier go down.
"I'm sorry," the sergeant said. "But
the chick was in the way."
What does war foreshadow? What will we come to see clearly?
What if Jesus truly saw clearly; what if he actually embodied what
he was saying:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming,
and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and
those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so
he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given
him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do
not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the
tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good,
to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the
resurrection of judgment.
“I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my
judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him
who sent me”.
(--John 5 25-30)
War sickens. It should, and it does.
Politics sees the benefits of war. Philosophy looks at war and longs
to see something better. Repeating Weiss:
Philosophy is myth sobered and universalized, allowing
one to see how, despite their irreducible differences, realities are
always together, and could be together in better ways than they are
What is the one
continuous reality of this world? If it is war, a future of facts
devoid of compassion is foreshadowed. If it is God, a transparence,
unforeseen and unable to be seen, is suddenly possible as what-is
for a life where reflection and prayer never cease. They are no mere
scholars. Chasing the miracle of Dharma, the chaste wholeness of transparence,
God in every movement, every glance, and every moment – monastic life
is one with presence.
Here is the monastic
view of war: We must stop war. We must end belief in war.
Living as monastics
in the world we are asked to begin, end, and dwell one continuous
now the reality of God.
, Sando , Cesco , Mu-ge
, and all who grace Meetingbrook,