GNL number 53

a report of doings at meeting #53, Sunday, October 9, 2011
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends

INVOCATION

“Peace is the marriage of the people and the planet, with all attendant vows.” —Anonymous

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
—Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)


THEME

This was not our ordinary Skippy meeting, if there has ever been one,  but a field trip we — Ann, Anna, Vijaya, Sue, Gail, Virginia, and Nancy — made to the Peace Pagoda in Grafton, New York. No surprise, with the grace we’ve come to know these Sundays and a lot of nice gestures from individual Skippys, we had not only a beautiful, moving visit, but a beautiful little meeting among the greenery surrounding the great white Peace Pagoda.

First — that is after we’d come through miles of gorgeous fall colors and landed at the well-hidden site — we spent some time getting acquainted with the Pagoda and its grounds. The building itself, a glowing white globe topped by a golden tower, is ringed by panels of relief sculpture depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha, and below, a smaller series of plaques showing four major Native American clan symbols. There is no entrance, just empty space inside; it is actually not a house, but a stupa — a shrine, to the Buddha, yes, but also to peace among all people.

At the foot of the Pagoda, there is a little frog pond; and between this and the tall pagoda staircase, we also encountered dozens of grasshoppers, some not even an inch long, most of whom Virginia caught and befriended. One tiny guy she held so gently in her hand with his little face and front legs poking out, that we looked him right in the eyes, and he didn’t seem alarmed, just curious like us.

Then we had our picnic lunch out in the wooded yard, a fabulous buffet. (Though we were all going to bring bag lunches, we had forgotten how.)  And we were so outdoors that even the benches we used for table and chairs had legs growing maple leaves!

And while we were there in this lovely space, Vijaya rang the singing bowl to start our meeting. Then Sue gave us some very peace-full readings, first, the Benediction above, followed by two readings from a book on Rumi, that we reproduce in Afterwords. We talked about these, and the place, and about other things on our minds, like the way our modern way of life has been so shaped by a left-brained, linear-minded, techno-culture as to lose our connection with Nature, and recent and not so new books on left and right brain differences — for which also see Afterwords. Sue closed the meeting with a most fitting Benediction quote from Black Elk, below. Then we visited the other simple but very impressive main building, the Temple. Here, occupying one whole end, was an enormous, ornate, red and gold altar dedicated to the Buddha, and along a side wall, Vijaya and Virginia found a basket that beckoned to them. They each took a turn playing a drum they found there, and it seemed to us truly like they’d left a thankyou gift, a blessing.

And as we got ready to leave, we had to note the outhouse showed the same lovingcare (and the same charming handmade signs) as the other holy buildings. A most fine day.

For our offering, we decided the recipient should again be the SCCAP Flood Victims Relief Fund, since clearly many Schoharie County residents are still in need of this help.


BENEDICTION

 “The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” —Black Elk (1863-1950)


NEXT TIME

Sunday, November 13, 2011 (1030), at Ann Adams’ house in Sharon Springs. The topic, suggested by Virginia, is DANCE. (And we can’t just TALK about it, of course, so bring favorite music, and/or dazzling accessories of your choice.)


AFTERWORDS

From Sue:

Readings from Introduction to Open Secret, Versions of Rumi, by John Moyne & Coleman Barks, Threshold Books, 1984

  • “The generosity of all these words [in Rumi’s work] reminds one of the devotion of the 17th Century Zen monk, Enku, who wanted to carve 120,000 Buddhas in his lifetime and did.  He never wasted a scrap of wood.  Presented with an enormous block of cypress and asked to carve two guardian figures for a temple gate, he soon completed those with his hatchet and went on, carving thousands of large and small Buddhas, some no bigger than a finger, from the leftover pieces.  Koppa-butsu, “chip Buddhas,” they became known as…..Enku once went up to a raftsman who had tied up his raft on the riverbank, asking for some wood to carve Buddha figures to dedicate to the river.  “Certainly, you can take the whole raft if you want.”  The next morning the raftsman couldn’t find his raft.  He went to the temple and asked.  “Oh, I accepted your kind offer.  I carved a thousand images and floated them down the river.” —p. xii
  • God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
    from cell to cell.  As rainwater, down into flowerbed,
    As roses, up from ground.
    Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
    now a cliff covered with vines,
    now a horse being saddled.
    It hides within these,
    till one day it cracks them open
    p. xiii
  • The book about the brain is The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Modern World, by Iain McGilchrist, Yale U. Press, 2009

From Nancy

Two books from 30-40 years ago on the split brain subject are: The Psychology of Consciousness, by Robert Ornstein, and The Nature of Human Consciousness, A Book of Readings, edited by Ornstein.

Google says there are many more writings, and more recent, available on this topic.

 




A few days later, on October 14, after a brave, 7-months long struggle with cancer and other afflictions, our dear friend Christine passed peacefully at home, minutes into her 64th birthday.

We will miss our vibrant, generous, funny, thoughtful, courageous Chris greatly.

Love you, Chris.

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