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Showing posts from August, 2018

Wasted Effort

Lectionary Reading: Job 9:1-15; Job 9:32-35
Redacted verses:
16 If I summoned him, and he answered me,
I still can’t believe he would listen to my plea.
17 He could break me with a storm;
he could multiply my wounds for no reason,
18 to the point where I couldn’t even breathe —
with such bitterness he could fill me!
19 If it’s a matter of force, look how mighty he is;
if justice, who can summon him to court?
20 Even if I’m right, my own mouth will condemn me;
if I’m innocent, it would pronounce me guilty.
21 “I am innocent. Don’t I know myself?
But I’ve had enough of this life of mine!
22 So I say it’s all the same —
he destroys innocent and wicked alike.
23 When disaster brings sudden death,
he laughs at the plight of the innocent.
24 The earth has been given to the power of the wicked;
he covers the faces of its judges —
if it isn’t he, then who is it?
25 My days pass on more swiftly than a runner;
they flee without seeing anything good.
26 They skim by like skiffs built of reeds,
like an eagle…

The Book of Job

Job 5:1-11— Job 5:17-21
Below are the redacted verses from the Daily Lectionary reading for today:
12 He frustrates the schemes of the cunning, so that they achieve no success; 13 trapping the crafty in their own tricks and foiling quickly the plans of the false. 14 They meet with darkness during the day, groping at noon like at night. 15 But he saves the poor from the sword, their mouth, and from the clutches of the strong; 16 so the poor can hope again; and injustice shuts its mouth.
22you’ll be able to laugh at destruction and famine. Also you won’t have to fear wild animals, 23 for you will be in league with the stones in the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. 24 You will know that your tent is safe; you will look round your home and miss nothing. 25 You will know that your descendants are many, your offspring like grass [growing thick] in the fields.
I have two problems with the idea of censoring the Bible. First of all, it’s an arrogant thing to do. Second, it re…

Wild Trust

John 5:30-47
44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (ESV)
44 How can you trust? You’re busy collecting praise from each other, instead of seeking praise from God only. (CJB)
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”— (Rabbi Rami Shapiro paraphrasing Rabbi Tarfon in Pirkei Avot)
“Begin your inquiry with something about which you have no doubt.” — (Pasanna)
Oh, it’s all a marvelous mish-mash right now!
Grief, loneliness, and praise-seeking—
The lack of obligation, and the absence of freedom—
Not to mention the nuances of translation— How can there be such an enormous and profound difference between, “from the only God” and, “from God only” ? Or between, “How can you believe?” and, “How can you trust?” ?
Oh yes, and what a wonderful word “daunted” is! It comes fr…

The Time That Is Given Us

Readings from Sunday 8-19-2018
THE BREAD OF LIFE
Proverbs 9:1-6
To those without sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.

I’m all over the map today. At first I thought my role might be that of Wisdom, building a house and calling to “those without sense” to come in. Then vertigo set in, the world whirled sideways, and there I was standing there stupidly trying to figure out where the voice came from that was calling to me. How about this?— “Without sense” might mean someone “who’s got no sense” but it might just as well mean someone who just can’t make sense of anything. How many times have we heard someone say that “nothing makes sense anymore”? Hello.


Psalm 34:9-14
13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking *
and your lips from lying words.

But what if my words aren’t a lie? What if my words are not evil in intent, but instead lay bare the truth of an evil? Is that what I’ve been doing, shutting my teeth on honest words for no better reason than because I do…

Solitaries & The Lindisfarne Rule

Amma Beth, our Prioress (of the solitaries) suggested that we take a look at the Community Rule "through the lens of the solitary life" and share our reflections. So...here goes.

Solitaries and the Lindisfarne Rule:

I thought that I could tackle this incrementally, which is my usual method. I set out to do that, intending to start with the summary “to love, to serve, to forgive” but I suddenly realized that my method wasn’t working at all well. I took a step back and tried to put my finger on why that might be happening.
Then I felt God reminding me that there is a great paradox inherent in the call to be a solitary within the context of a community. For a moment I felt overwhelmed; as though I were trying to speak in a high wind. You know that feeling, when the wind steals the breath out of you the moment you open your mouth? Like that. I laughed to myself when it occurred to me that the metaphor in Hebrew for the Holy Spirit is “Ruach,” which means Wind or Breath.

How is it …

Of God

Acts 5:27-42
“…if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail;
 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.”




“Just sitting” is enlightenment.

“Just trusting” is eternal life.


“Just loving” is delight.




While you turn away into make-believe worlds of distraction;

While you seek out disturbance and confusion;


While you insist on walking in desolation;


While you pretend that power is imperative;


While you run and yearn after the mayflies of wishfulness—


I’ll be here.




Waiting for you is no trouble—

Really.

Invitation of Mountains

More from Shobogenzo:

“I say, Remember, among Buddhists we do not argue about superiority and inferiority of philosophies, or choose between shallowness and profundity in the Dharma; we need only know if the practice is genuine or artificial.  Some have entered into the stream of the Buddha’s truth at the invitation of grass, flowers, mountains, and rivers.  Some have received and maintained the stamp of Buddha by grasping soil, stones, sand, and pebbles.  Furthermore the Vast and Great Word is even more abundant than the myriad phenomena.  And the turning of the great Dharma-wheel is contained in every molecule.  This being so, the words “Mind here and now is buddha” are only the moon in water, and the idea “Just to sit is to become buddha” is also a reflection in a mirror.  We should not be caught by the skillfulness of the words.  Now, in recommending the practice in which bodhi is directly experienced, I hope to demonstrate the subtle truth that the Buddhist patriarchs have transm…

The Straight Path

John 1:19-28 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
20 he was very straightforward and stated clearly, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 “Then who are you?” they asked him. “Are you Eliyahu?” “No, I am not,” he said. “Are you ‘the prophet,’ the one we’re expecting?” “No,” he replied. 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? — so that we can give an answer to the people who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” 23 He answered in the words of Yesha‘yahu the prophet,  “I am  'The voice of someone crying out:
‘In the desert make the way of Adonai straight!’”  (Isaiah 40:3)
English Standard Version (ESV)
23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight *the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
*Or ‘crying out, ‘In the wilderness make straight’


I was caught by the difference between “A voice crying out in the wilderness,” and “a voice crying out, “in the wilderness make straight”.”
I thought, “What difference does it make?” but I kept feeling that somehow it did.

This One Moment

Bendowa continued— (emphases in bold are mine.)

The world of self-consciousness, and [the world] of consciousness of external objects, lack nothing—they are already furnished with the concrete form of real experience. The standard state of real experience, when activated, allows no idle moment. Zazen, even if it is only one human being sitting for one moment, thus enters into mystical co-operation with all dharmas, and completely penetrates all times; and it there performs, within the limitless Universe, the eternal work of the Buddha’s guiding influence in the past, future, and present.
For everyone it is completely the same practice and the same experience. The practice is not confined to the sitting itself; it strikes space and resonates, [like] ringing that continues before and after a bell. How could [the practice] be limited to this place? All concrete things possess original practice as their original features; It is beyond comprehension.
Remember, even if the countless buddhas …