Indra’s Net, The Word of the Lord, and Me, and You

Indra’s Net

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In Buddhism, one of the metaphors for the inter-connectedness of all things is found in Indra’s Net. In Vedic mythology, the net hangs over the palace of the god Indra. The net is held together by a jewel located at each intersection of the net’s fibers and when the sun shines on one jewel, the reflection of that jewel becomes a part of all the other jewels’ radiance. 

Indra’s Net is part of a Buddhist sutra- a teaching- which describes infinite realms of space within infinite realms of space, all connected, all dependent on the others. Developed in the 3rd century C.E., the metaphor attempts to explain not only the spaces which we can see because they are larger than we are, but also the spaces too small to be seen with the naked eye. Before microscopes, before telescopes, there was an understanding of the similarities of spatial realities, no matter what their size, that were only able to be confirmed with electron microscopes and Hubble and Cassini telescopes late in the 20th century!

Those microscopes and telescopes confirmed what the Vedics and other ancient peoples had begun to know: Jupiter is connected to Io is connected to the Milky Way is connected to Alpha Centauri is connected to the Atlantic Ocean is connected to oyster shells, fish gills, snake lungs, the Moon, the Sahara Desert, and human circulatory systems.

Now hear the word of the Lord..

Really. 1 Corinthian 12: 12,13- The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”

In the 13th century, Brother Francis wrote:

“We praise You, Lord, for all Your creatures,
especially for Brother Sun,
who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
of You Most High, he bears your likeness.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars,
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

We praise You, Lord, for Brothers Wind and Air,
fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Water..Brother Fire..Sister Earth..for Sister Death.”1.

The interconnectedness of all things. The Buddhists also call it the interpenetration of all things: the in-ness of all things within everything else. It is when we deny that wholeness, that completeness and dependency of each thing, each being, on the other, that we are able to conceive, condone, and conduct violence on that which is outside of our own small and self-defined circle of life. We are able to more easily discriminate, stereotype, deny, disregard, ignore, abuse, even destroy that from which we convince ourselves we are forever separate.

And that, as should be more and more apparent to more and more people, has become a frighteningly dangerous way to live. It has brought us to the edge of both nuclear and environmental disaster. And the only way to stop our slide into extinction will be to say with more frequency ,fervency, veracity, and sincerity:

Brother, Sister, Mother, Father..

1.from The Canticle of the Creatures, Saint Francis (1181-1226)

 

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What’s your real name, God?

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Can You Imagine?

For example, what the trees do
not only in lightening storms
or the watery dark of a summer’s night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now – whenever
we’re not looking.  Surely you can’t imagine
they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade – surely you can’t imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can’t imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.

© Mary Oliver

Can you imagine beyond the words, into midrash? Can you imagine beyond Sabbath, into eternity? Can you imagine beyond law, into gospel? Can you imagine beyond what you think you know about God, into what you think you know about yourself?

And then, can you imagine, as Hafiz asks, begging Reason to come outside and play?

But trees can’t dance! I’m not like God! Flowers don’t bloom in winter! That’s just the way I was brought up! There’s nothing good comes out of Nazareth!

Close your eyes and discover the fields of color lying between the black and white boundaries to which you’ve confined yourself. Close your eyes and listen to the ten thousand songs being sung by your heart instead of the rules and regulations being recited and repeated by your intellect.  Stop keeping God in that rough little box that is so awkward to carry around; take the lid and say this,

“Play with me, God. You’re it! Run with me! Beat you to that tree! Rock, Paper, Scissors- ha! I win! You wanna go to the store with me and get a Coke? Where do you live anyway? Oh, look at that dog..and those cats..and the birds up in the air! What’s your real name, God?”

Close your eyes, now. And listen for the answers..

© David Weber

A Great (and Final) Poem

from “An Encounter”

I confessed that I am afraid to die

with poems left unsaid inside me,                         

and he said, “You will.                                      

You’ll die with a great poem in your heart          

that will never see paper.”

We were quiet then. A bee buzzed             

perilously close to my sweaty thigh,                     

and I heard it: I heard                                          

the danger and sweetness inside everything.

(“An Encounter” © Alison Luterman in The Sun, January, 2010)

We suffer, wanting to make our mark, leave our mark, and be remembered. We suffer, because we think we must know what we won’t know will no longer be able to know cannot know. We suffer- too often- simply because we are unable to say so.

So. And our words tumble, in unknown tongues.

So. We mumble through sighs and groans.

So. And then we are breathed upon and it becomes clear that we are that great poem, the greatest poem, and it is being written by Both of Us in  languages that can’t be counted and it will always be written and it will always be read..

© David Weber

Your Love, This Love, A Silent Prayer

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place  in the family of things.

© Mary Oliver

And one day, when we expect it least, or when we need it most, we see. We see beyond the confines of our imaginations, we see past the accumulated knowledge that has blocked our seeing before this day, these moments.  We see, and we know. We know that Our Name and Your Name are are without end or beginning. We reach for the edges of our understanding and there are none; nor, we know now, will there ever be the need for them again.

We are without words and so we look beseechingly to the sky, the geese, the summer winds for syntax and syllable, for punctuation and paragraph, and we hear instead the trees laughing and the clouds remembering when they, too, sought to reduce love, This Love, to language.

© David Weber

Alzheimers 2010: the Noise

It’s been almost fifteen days since I’ve been to the Care Center to see Mom. There are two primary truths about the guilt I experienced while waiting that long between visits:

  1. The guilt was increasing even though seven of those days were spent in Mexico which precluded any possibility of a visit.
  2. The guilt was all self-inflicted. There was not one guilt-laden word, nor a single critically raised eyebrow from anyone aimed at me for missing two weeks of visiting.

I could skip the next month, it turns out, if Mom’s condition today is indicative of what is to come and we know it is of course it is. She wouldn’t even come out of the room. She was waiting “right here until they get done.”

Who, Mom, who are you waiting for?

Shut the door.

No, Mom, leave it open.

(fighting my arms, raising her voice a little) Shut the door!

So we shut it and then she lays down on her bed and the door is pushed open by another woman, about the same age as Mom, dressed in a pink sweat suit, who says she is looking for her children.

They’re not here today, I tell her.

Oh, they’re here (she’s looking in the dresser drawers) they’re goddam hiding because it’s so goddam cold outside and their things are laying everywhere and they’re hiding.

Why don’t you sit down here and we’ll wait for them to get here? (I aim her toward the rocking chair in the room and hold her hand for a minute until she calms down.)

Mmmmrrrnnnnn, Mom is groaning now. It’s kind of a snore, kind of a snarl. Mmmmmmmmrrrrnnnn..

it is part of her breathing, backround racket. And there’s more to come.

The goddam kids never pick their stuff and I have to clean it up..(she is smacking the rocking chair handles) goddam cold outside goddam cold outside, did they tell you they were coming?

Yes.

And- amazingly- at that moment, there is a car in the hallway except it isn’t a car it is a man in a wheelchair making the same kind of car noises a five year old on the kitchen floor makes as he pushes shoes around chair legs..it is a trilling noise, which changes with the gears:

lllllll…LLLLLLL….//////////….llllllllllllllllllll..llllllllllll..lllllllllll

Mmmmmrrmmnnnnn……Mmmmmmmmmrrrrnnnnn

goddamkids are no there andwhenaretheygettinghere goddamit

llll..LLLLLL….lllllll..LLLLL….llllllllllllllll…llllllllllllll

HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME! The woman who is always in need of help is hollering now, in her wheelchair, hollering as she does for hours everyday HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP!

Llllllllll…LLLLL….///////..llllllllllllll

Another player, Mom’s roommate, Ethel, is now standing in the doorway looking in at the human cacophony of sound in her room while avoiding the car in the hallway, and she smells. Badly. I can see the stains in the front of her also-pink sweatsuit, and so, giving her as wide a berth as possible I go to find a nurses’ aide because there are things I can’t, won’t do. Near the nurses station there is a woman lying on something like an overstuffed chaise lounge, who sounds EXACTLY like a three month old infant crying. Only she isn’t crying. The nurses aide, seeing my dumbfoundedness, says the woman is imitating her baby girl of many decades ago. Good Lord.

I let Nurses Aide lead the way back so that I may penetrate the Wall of Sound one last time without getting someone’s smell on me, and I bend over and kiss Mom/ Not Mom on the forehead and tell her I’ll be back in a few hours. I don’t know if she hears me or if anyone hears me because her groans (or whatever they are) have resumed, the car in the hallway is spinning doughnuts, the goddam kids are still missing, and HELP is still being sought.

* * *

Someday soon I will write of the saints who call this their workplace.

Saints. If you’ve been reading me for awhile you know it’s a word I use sparingly.

Saints. When I say it, I mean it..\

* * *

I feel no guilt anymore. I feel kind of a nothing. It is time to be gotten through. There’s nothing I can do except wait. That’s all…

View from a Texas Pasture

Life teems.

From my perspective

(a single breath in the winds

of the Universe)

what is, was; and what will be,

is now.

But that is illusion,

a vagary of the glimpse I have

of these moments, of this Now

in eternity.

Life teems, and thrusts-

asserting itself into generations

of which it is unaware

but, nonetheless, bidden.

Driven by upward forces

toward the sun,

pushed across barren soils

toward rivers and seas,

called by the future

toward a presence

in the harmonic symphony

that is always being written.

I am

in the midst of it

Now.

I am the teeming desires

of my ancestors to see

what they would not see,

to touch what would be

beyond their grasp,

and to feel the wind, the warmth,

the wonder of it all,

which they had known.

I am their thrusting, lusting,

desiring need for

presence in the panorama

of continuing Creation.

I am the accumulated starstuff

of dying suns, ocean tides, volcanic eruptions,

thunder, lightning, simmering summers,

melting glaciers, and rivered canyons.

I am part of the meandering tapestry

of the Earth’s green response

to planetary cataclysms; and

I am part of the hungry, crawling,

expanding and replicating,

movement of consciousness through time.

I am their resurrection.

I am their Life.

I am.

David Weber, July ’08