On the Music Box: Cluster – Sowieso…
Remember, remember the fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, twas his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England’s overthrow.
By God’s mercy he was catched
With a dark lantern and lighted match.
Holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the King.
well… here is a bit for your Sunday. I hope to have a few more essays soon, but it seems the more I look on the web, the deeper it goes, and I become… entranced.
On The Menu
Vas – The Promise
Sunday Koans: How Grass & Trees Become Enlightened / The Tunnel
Your New Browser!
Sacred Poetry: Mechthild of Magdeburg
Biography: Mechthild of Magdeburg
Brian Eno: Plateaux of Mirrors…
Have a good day!
Vas – Promise
When the War Comes Home
How Grass & Trees Become Enlightened
During the Kamakura period, Shinkan studied Tendai six years and then studied Zen seven years; then he went to China and contemplated Zen for thirteen years more.
When he returned to Japan many desired to interview him and asked obscure questions. But when Shinkan received visitors, which was infrequently, he seldom answered their questions.
One day a fifty-year-old student of enlightenment said to Shinkan: “I have studied the Tendai school of thought since I was a little boy, but one thing in it I cannot understand. Tendai claims that even the grass and trees will become enlightened. To me this eems very strange.”
“Of what use is it to discuss how grass and trees become enlightened?” asked Shinkan. “The question is how you yourself can become so. Did you ever consider that?”
“I never thought of it in that way,” marveled the old man.
“Then go home and think it over,” finished Shinkan.
Zenkai, the son of a samurai, journeyed to Edo and there became the retainer of a high official. He fell in love with the official’s wife and was discovered. In self-defense, he slew the official. Then he ran away with the wife.
Both of them later became thieves. But the woman was so greedy that Zenkai grew disgusted. Finally, leaving her, he journeyed far away to the province of Buzen, where he became a wandering mendicant.
To atone for his past, Zenkai resolved to accomplish some good deed in his lifetime. Knowing of a dangerous road over a cliff that had caused the death and injury of many persons, he resolved to cut a tunnel through the mountain there.
Begging food in the daytime, Zenkai worked at night digging his tunnel. When thirty years had gone by, the tunnel was 2,280 feet long, 20 feet high, and 30 feet wide.
Two years before the work was completed, the son of the official he had slain, who was a skillful swordsman, found Zenkai out and came to kill him in revenge.
“I will give you my life willingly,” said Zenkai. “Only let me finish this work. On the day it is completed, then you may kill me.”
So the son awaited the day. Several months passed and Zendai kept on digging. The son grew tired of doing nothing and began to help with the digging. After he had helped for more than a year, he came to admire Zenkai’s strong will and character.
At last the tunnel was completed and the people could use it and travel in safety.
“Now cut off my head,” said Zenkai. “My work is done.”
“How can I cut off my own teacher’s head?” asked the younger man with tears in his eyes.
Sacred Poetry: Mechthild of Magdeburg
The desert has many teachings
In the desert,
Turn toward emptiness,
Fleeing the self.
Ask no ones help,
And your being will quiet,
Free from the bondage of things.
Those who cling to the world,
Endeavor to free them;
Those who are free, praise.
Care for the sick,
But live alone,
Happy to drink from the waters of sorrow,
To kindle Loves fire
With the twigs of a simple life.
Thus you will live in the desert
I cannot Dance
I cannot dance, Lord, unless you lead me.
If you want me to leap with abandon,
You must intone the song.
Then I shall leap into love,
From love into knowledge,
From knowledge into enjoyment,
And from enjoyment beyond all human sensations.
There I want to remain, yet want also to circle higher still.
God speaks to the Soul
And God said to the soul:
I desired you before the world began.
I desire you now
As you desire me.
And where the desires of two come together
There love is perfected
HOW THE SOUL SPEAKS TO THE SOUL
Lord, you are my lover,
My flowing stream,
And I am your reflection.
HOW GOD ANSWERS THE SOUL
It is my nature that makes me love you often,
For I am love itself.
It is my longin that makes me love you intensely,
For I yearn to be loved from the heart.
It is my eternity that makes me love you long,
For I have no end.
Most of what is known of Mechthild of Magdeburg comes from her book: references to court custom and courtly literature suggest she was from an educated family, as does the fact that she could read and write German (although she tells us that she does not know Latin). She had at least one brother who became a Dominican. In her early 20s, she left her home to go to Magdeburg (on the Elbe River); she appears to have lived most of her life there as a beguine, apparently in a community, perhaps as a superior. Near the end of her life, about 1270, she entered a monastery at Helfta which followed Cistercian custom.
She may have gone to Helfta because of the increasing restrictions being placed on beguines in Germany and the Low Countries. The women had received statements of papal approval in 1215 and 1233, but with approval went a requirement for clerical direction and eventually for control. In 1261, a synod meeting in Magdeburg ordered the local beguines to obey their parish priests, rather than relying on the mendicant orders for spiritual advice.
When she was in her mid-30s, on the advice of her Dominican confessor, Mechthild had begun to write down her love songs and visionary experiences. We know that some of these writings were quickly circulated because she speaks of the harsh criticism she received, as a woman writing about spiritual matters. But she continued to write until her death.
Fliessende licht der Gottheit (Flowing light of the Godhead) is divided into seven books: Books 1-5 were written during the 1250s, Book 6 in the 1260s, and Book 7 in the 1270s at Helfta. Within the seven books are 267 sections, from a few lines to several pages long. They include not only Mechthild’s visionary experiences, but also letters of advice and criticism, allegories, reflections, and prayers; they use prose and verse, dramatic dialogue and lyric.
Mechthild wrote in the dialect used in the north of Germany; fragments remain of this original, but our complete text is a translation made in the language of southern German about 60 years after her death. Yet scholars assume that the text as we have it reflects Mechthild’s words and, for the first six books, an organization determined by her and her confessor.
And Now For a bit of Brian Eno…