Thursday, March 29, 2007

The guide told me

I think my clumsy efforts at Haiku help my mind do what it does not want to do, simplify, instead of to elaborate upon elaboration. That got me to thinking, simply, of the cross. The cross as symbol. The cross barebones. Horizontal. Vertical. And then the what it's all about. The intersection of the horizontal with the vertical. Jesus. And the horizontal, the material plane, that we wake to and dwell in and get hungry in and think in and feel in and will in and touch in and sneeze in and are baffled in. And the vertical, the spiritual, that we may or may not even be aware of. The invisible. The immaterial. For some the great unknown, or the great un-thought of. For many life begins and ends on the horizontal plane of the cross. They never meet up with the intersection, that place where they must halt in their tracks and look up, either in awe, or fear, or in bafflement. For me Jesus was there. At the crossroads. At the intersection. A guide. If I dared. To leave the horizontal and venture into the vertical. Could I leave the comfort of the world of nouns and explore the world of verbs? And so that symbol, the barebones horizontal line drawn in the sand and then the simple vertical line drawn cross it in the sand. In my daily walk in the horizontal world my eye is ever on alert to create crosses whenever two lines cross. Two limbs intersect. Two roads intersect. The intersecting of the grout between the ceramic tiles, a field of crosses! Each a reminder from the guide that life is more than what takes place on the horizon, for even there, daily, the sun breaks the horizon in two, and rises. The lifegiver of the horizontal plane, the sun, rises to the vertical. Just as the guide told me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bro. Juniper says

I love magic. I could spend all day watching magic. Some people even pay to watch magic. Wouldn't it be great if God was a really, really, really good magician? I mean, more than just card tricks or spitting out an endless stream of ping pong balls from His mouth, or even the silver dollar behind the ear trick, but some really cool tricks, like hiding quarks inside hadrons!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lighting candles inside dark minds

I was mulling over the reality of what my senses tell me and how the inside of my skull can hold the entire night sky of countless stars and universes and these two cameras of eyes do the mechanical work of catching the onslaught of photons from distances that I can hardly imagine and through the mechanics of a camera actually create a picture within the two orbs, yet those physical pictures dissolve before the electro/chemical impulses begin their journey through the optic nerve and then this brain reads these impulses and recreates the entire night sky -- where? Wouldn't it be a relief to discover a tiny theater with a tiny CinemaScope screen hidden in the depths of that grey matter? But truth be told many a brain have been sliced and diced and nary a rumpus room with a Zenith, let alone a theater with a CinemaScope screen. But this doesn't make sense, for I visualize nothing behind my eyes, I visualize everything in front of my eyes! Like Bro. Clarence said, in a dark room I light a candle and those photons of light enter my eyeball and stop there, the projected image is translated into impulses that travel the optic nerve and end in some dark recess of my brain, and in total darkness my brain 'throws' a re-creation of that candle burning right through my bony skull and makes the re-created candle seem to burn brightly before my eyes in a place where that very real material candle is actually burning! Hmmm...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

God's thoughts?

It has been an interesting few days at the monastery, for many of the brothers have been pondering the thoughts of Lao Tzu, that is until Bro. Clarence asked to speak last evening after our meal. Perhaps I should wait until I can flesh this out a bit, but I think it more fun if I just copy some of the notes that I took last evening during Bro. Clarence's talk.

Our note found in the corked bottle seems to have touched each of us in a different way, for me I wish to say that the one quote by Lao Tzu, "To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders." did exactly that, for I didn't sleep that night, instead I meditated on the stillness of the darkness and I would guess that after three hours light began to illuminate my mind and this invisible light, for it was still hours before dawn, that these thoughts came to be.

A bell gongs and sends sound waves to my ears and the eardrum vibrates and these vibrations are sensed by the mechanisms of the inner ear which are translated to electro/chemical signals that are sent to the brain to be further processed and then inside that glob of grey matter the bell gongs in silence.

Likewise the candle is lit and the light waves strike my eyes and the rods and cones are stimulated and these stimulations are sensed by the optic nerve by electro/chemicals signals that are sent to the brain to be further processed and then inside my skull the candle is lit, in total darkness.

And in these two examples, the electro/chemical mix that transports both the bell's gong and the candle's light, are the exact same mix. The signal transporters are the same! For sound as for light! It is the mind that deciphers those signals and determines them to be sound or light. Now isn't that amazing?

Now hold that for a moment while I tell you about what Luis de Broglie discovered, a discovery now called de Broglie waves. First Einstein claimed that matter is really a form of energy, then de Broglie claimed that matter, all matter, is fundamentally wave lengths and frequency of that wave. Now when I say all matter, I mean everything, including me and you! So the floor and earth that I stand atop is really 99.9% empty space, and what isn't empty is de Broglie's waves. Now doesn't that boggle your minds? Well hold on for what's next.

If everything, except the 99.9% of nothing, is fundamentally waves, and the floor I'm standing on is but the .1% of matter ... I mean waves, and the floor atop the earth the same, and my sandals too! And me too! Now what am I saying? All the earth, we included, the stars overhead, everything ... are these de Broglie's waves? Which brings us back to the bell's gong and the candle's light ... that too! Brothers! I am not speaking metaphorically, I am not being poetic, we are talking science!

All existence is totally ethereal, in Hebrew is the word "emet" (truth) which means an all encompassing reality, the building blocks from which all is constructed, so are these de Broglie's waves in fact "emet" ... the building blocks of this all encompassing reality? I wonder.

Upon which Bro. Simon stated that Bro. Clarence's "wonder" was too in fact part of the woven fabric of "waves" that may all be simply God's thoughts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What is happiness?

Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.
--Maxim Gorky

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Remembering Gordon Hu

This afternoon Bro. Simon discovered a corked wine bottle and what is interesting is that he found it on a little used trail that meanders through the desert about two miles away. When he came upon the bottle, he said it appeared as a bottle bobbing atop the surface of a great ocean, then as he walked toward the bottle he said his eyes seemed to be playing tricks, the noon sun hit the bottle at such an angle that suddenly Bro. Simon had to raise his hand to shield his eyes from the bright glare. And it was only when he reached down to pick up that bottle that he saw the rolled paper inside. Holding the corked bottle at the dining table he raised it up for all to see, and sure enough, inside was a tight roll of paper, "A treasure map!" shouted Bro. Juniper, which only got the rest of us more excited, even I was urging Bro. Simon to cut with the theatrics and uncork the "blasted bottle" ... which he did, admitting that he held back from uncorking the bottle until we could all see that this was indeed an artifact, though it seemed not very old to me, for normally something found in the desert is bleached and pitted by sun and sand. Using Bro. Cecil's corkscrew, Bro. Simon uncorked the bottle and spent a good minute attempting to fish the rolled paper from the bottle, but at last he had it out and unrolled and with a broad smile he said, "A treasure it is ... a message from our guest of last year, Gordon Hu!" With that most of us turned to one another and the expressions on our faces revealed that we indeed still remember Gordon Hu, the young gentleman traveling the outback of America, finding our humble monastery in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and as he said, about as far from China as one can travel. Bro. Simon held up the curled paper while saying, quotations from Lao Tzu. That brought more than a few nods of our heads, with delight I recalled the many evenings discussion Jesus and Lao Tzu, and it was then that I presented Gordon Hu with an old leather-bound King James, a book he had never read, yet was eager to begin.

The message:

To see things in the seed, that is genius.

Nature is not human hearted.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.

Dear brothers, if you discover this bottle floating on this sea of sand, I tell you that these words of Lao Tzu are true. But I have a new book in my hand (that you know well) and this one I will not throw into the ocean until the words I have read and are with my heart, Gordon Hu.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Desert Epiphanies

It was a rocky trail that seemed to enchant me at the break of this morning's dawn, a trail I had never traveled before, an unknown destination it would take me, and there I found myself seated atop a large boulder, taking in the enormous silence as a star broke the eastern horizon in two -- the sun -- this ball of nuclear fusion that can never rest now sends its electromagnetic radiation over the now glare of a horizon and these funny waves hit me and the boulder and the yucca and the horned toad until we all take notice, dawn has broken. Enormous indeed is the sun, bright beyond the grasp of my eyeballs is its shine, yet insignificant it is in the grand scheme of the visible universe (or I think), and among them all, the boulder, the yucca, the horned toad, and even the sun itself, only I am privy to these thoughts.

John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Pure silence engulfs me until my ears perked up to the gentle breeze that undoubtedly that ball of nuclear fusion nudged into being, energy smacking all things with a 186,000 mi/s jolt, wakening tiny bits of air, sending them on their way, some becoming blusters, some chinooks, some dust devils, some gusts and gales, others Zephyrs or Santa Anas, and to think as one gazes at the night sky that light is the exception and darkness, that which doesn't comprehend or cannot be comprehended, is the rule.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

First things first

About midnight I heard a bit of a fuss outside my window and reluctantly I peeled back the blankets until the frosty desert air presented me with two options, pull up the blankets while a bit of warmth was left, or spring to my feet and move with haste to investigate the noises outside the window. My curiosity won out, but the coldness kept me in perpetual motion until I could get into my robe and atop that, my old army winter jacket. Seeing nothing out the window except flashes of red light, I continued to follow my curiosity, and outside I went. Not only were my thoughts, but my entire body seemed to feel and think only of the brutal cold night air, that is until I heard Bro. Clarence say, "Over here." And in the distance I saw the red of a tiny flashlight signaling me. I followed until I came upon Bro. Clarence setting up his telescope. At that point I could only think of warmth, warmth under my blankets, and I must confess that urge for warmth won out. But let me add that I was in my sandals, no socks, my feet were freezing, I was entirely unprepared for a lengthy stay, let alone a short stay, in the cold desert night. Sometimes the higher calling of the mind and soul must step aside and allow the body to seek at least a minimal state of comfort, and only then can the mind and soul continue on their journey.

In prison, Paul wrote:
The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. (2 Timothy 4.13)

In prison, William Tyndale wrote (1535):
I believe, most excellent Sir, that you are not unacquainted with the decision reached concerning me. On which account, I beseech your lordship, even by the Lord Jesus, that if I am to pass the winter here, to urge upon the lord commissary, if he will deign, to send me from my goods in his keeping a warmer cap, for I suffer greatly from cold in the head, being troubled with a continual catarrh, which is aggravated in this prison vault. A warmer coat also, for that which I have is very thin. Also cloth for repairing my leggings. My overcoat is worn out; the shirts also are worn out. He has a woolen shirt of mine, if he will please send it. I have also with him leggings of heavier cloth for overwear. He likewise has warmer nightcaps: I also ask for leave to use a lamp in the evening, for it is tiresome to sit alone in the dark.

But above all, I beg and entreat your clemency earnestly to intercede with the lord commissary, that he would deign to allow me the use of my Hebrew Bible, Hebrew Grammar, and Hebrew Lexicon, and that I might employ my time with that study. Thus likewise may you obtain what you most desire, saving that it further the salvation of your soul. But if, before the end of winter, a different decision be reached concerning me, I shall be patient, and submit to the will of God to the glory of the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord, whose spirit may ever direct your heart. Amen.

W. Tyndale