So tired seeing
face of, stories about,
Look forward to
back into shadows
where abberance and
antipathy lurk and
I'd long tried to track down something I remember reading a half century ago, but it eluded me. I recall it as best I can as "Not to conclude is the sign of a creative mind." I remember it being a French writer. Today I think I've neared it
There is this in final chapter of book I read this morning:
IN HIS CRITIQUE OF AUGUSTE COMTE’S POSITIVISTIC STUPIDITY ( bêtise ), Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) lamented that “ineptitude consists in wanting to conclude. . . . It is not understanding twilight, it’s wanting only noon or midnight. . . . Yes, bêtise consists in wanting to conclude.” ¹
¹ (Quoted in Jacques Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, vol. 1, trans. Geoffrey Bennington (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 161. )
--From CONCLUDING THOUGHTS Pure Experience and Philosophy after Comparative Philosophy in NIETZSCHE AND OTHER BUDDHAS Philosophy after Comparative Philosophy by Jason M. Wirth
Stillness of a Sunday morning. Cold and still. Sound of truck going through gears. Stubborn fire in Waterford box is more promise than deliverance. The liturgical Festo Christi Regis this last week before Advent is not a concept that attracts. Kings and royalty, whether in the narrative realms of earthly or heavenly reference, are chilly like the morning.
The journey from nihilism to nihility begins with a singular step.
Dostoevsky and Nietzsche, among others, opened new paths towards nihilism, where things no longer stand firm on the basis on things human: The path towards Christ, the God-man, or the Übermensch, the man-God. While they by no means solved everything, there is no doubt that through their struggle they turned the European spirit in the direction of what is its profoundest dimension.
However, the attempt to preserve the self from nothingness at all costs, means that the process of meaninglessness is not allowed into the self. It is cocooned from it, avoiding reality. We become self-enclosed and all our experiences relate back to the self. Thus, when we encounter nihility, we see it as eroding the very meaning of our life, and we try to resist it with our self, only to sink further into it, like quicksand.
One of Nishitani’s deepest insights is that we haven’t been able to take nihilism deep enough so that it overcomes itself. Nishitani wants to achieve a radicalisation of nihility whereby nihilism overcomes itself. The awakening of the Great Doubt is the conversion to śūnyatā or “emptiness”, which is the deepest layer of being.
Nihility is as part of the fabric of reality as Being is. On this new field of emptiness, you have the paradoxical coexistence of things, where nihility constitutes the realness of being. This interdependent co-arising is a key notion in Buddhism.
Until one accepts nihility as part of the self, there is a lack of relationship with oneself and complete lack of contact. Nishitani traverses nihilism in a much more existential mode where it is not always relating back to the self as an external event, but is actually part of the self. Things can then be encountered on their own home ground, as Nishitani puts it. One doesn’t know something by representing it, willing it or expressing it, but by becoming it.
(--Nihilism | Encounter with Nothingness, Eternalised, March 11, 2022)
In this end of liturgical year I wonder if christ-reality is the end of searching. Is it the end of self?
Is christ-reality the breakdown and breakthrough of "what-is/no-self"? Is christ-reality the emptying out of that which is not me into all that is presence/transparency beyond any notion of "me"?
"Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to "die before you die" - and find that there is no death." (-- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now)
The realization of life/death is the revelation of what-is/no-self. We think it is something else. It is not something else. There is no something else.
Adult: Is there life after death?
Thay: Life is always with death at the same time, not only before. Life cannot be separated by death. Where there is life, there is death; and where there is death, there is life. This needs some meditation to understand. In Buddhism we speak of interbeing, which means that you cannot be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with the other side. It’s like the left and the right. If the right is not there, the left cannot be. If the left is not there, the right cannot be. It’s not possible to take the left away from the right. It’s not possible to take the right away from the left.
Suppose I ask one of you to bring the left to the Lower Hamlet, and one of you to bring the right to the New Hamlet. It’s impossible. The right and the left want to be together, because without the other you cannot be. It’s very clear. Like the above and the below. The above cannot be there if there’s no below. That is what, in Buddhism, we call interbeing. They have to be there at the same time.
So when God said, “Let the light be,” the light said, “I have to wait, my God, I have to wait.” God asked, “Why are you waiting?” And light replied, “I am waiting for darkness to manifest together with me.” Because light and darkness inter-are. Then God said, “Darkness is already there.” And light said, “In that case, I’m already there.”
That is true of good and evil, before and after, here and there, you and I. I cannot be there without you. The lotus flower cannot be there without the mud. Without the mud, a lotus is not possible. There is no happiness without suffering. There is no life without death.
When biologists observe the body of a human being, they see that life and death happen at the same time. In this very moment, thousands of cells are dying. When you scratch your skin like this, many dry cells fall down. They have died. Many cells die every moment of our daily life. Because you are so busy, you don’t notice that you are dying. If they die, you are dying. You think that you don’t die yet. You think that you have fifty or seventy years more before you die: that’s not true. Death is not down the road. Death is right here and right now.
Cat basks in sun on cat tower.
Dog scrunches beside me on futon by glass wohnküche doors.
This is where I am.
I have nowhere else to be.
Leben ohne warum, wrote Meister Eckhart, Life without why.
From the Symposium with the European Academy of Sciences and Arts
Leben ohne Warum
—Der Ursprung des Lebens in der Theologie Meister Eckharts
Brief summary of this “Life Without Why: The Origin of Life in Eckhart’s Theology” is as follows:
Meister Eckhart expresses frequently the opinion that there is actually no reason in living itself and the life is »without why«, as the origin of a life is God who is the why (quare) of all beings. The thought is justified biblically through the interpretation of the Chapter of the Gospel according to John. And it is drawn from this interpretation that all beings exist in God as the life which is not to be created. The proper name of God »I am what I am« (ego sum qui sum) describes according to Eckhart the divine life which is boiling up in itself. He explains the boil as the divine emanation of the Son and the Holy Sprit from the Father and the overflow which comes after the boil as the creation. On the basis of the relationship of the emanation to the creation, Eckhart places the incarnation (incarnatio) these two ones. The incarnation is the grace for grace (gratia pro gratia) which enables us to be the sons of God and with which God gives birth to his son in human nature (natura humana).
(--Institute of Oriental Philosophy, http://www.iop.or.jp/Documents/0818/yamazaki.pdf)
In prison Monday we looked at Meister Eckhart after some words about Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Turgenev. (This, after wondering if self-proclaiming of one's Christian identity was enough, or, whether an external verification is also necessary.
Rilke's poem was recited:
(Gieb deine Schönheit immer hin
ohne Rechnen und Reden.
Du schweigst. Sie sagt für dich: Ich bin.
Und kommt in tausendfachem Sinn,
kommt endlich über jeden.)”
“Let your beauty manifest itself
without talking and calculation.
You are silent. It says for you: I am.
And comes in meaning thousandfold,
comes at long last over everyone.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Images
We sipped black coffee. "It says for you: I am." We don't say it. It says it for us.
Since Monday I've wondered about Eckhart's words. Originally we discussed the invitation to go beyond rational distinctions and analysis, rather leaning into a more existential "rising up as itself" appearing without calculation.
Then it occurred to me that ohne (without) could have a hermeneutic that means that life without (i.e. outside the interior mind) is one of constantly asking 'why', a continual rationalizing, calculating, analyzing, comparing, and judging.
Whereas, innerhalb (within), suggests something else. Perhaps contemplative. Not looking for reasons. Rather attempting to dwell within the mystery of unexplainable manifestation.That which is beyond the facts and explanations, below the surface of accountings and speculations.
The fact of things. The arising into realization with no obvious preface or prediction.
Whereas the without of things asks why, the within of things looks with silence.
The revelation is, always, "I am." Things say it, plants, trees, and animals say it. Humans say it. And according to inchoate apophatic event-utterance, God says it.
There's no accounting of it, no accounting for it.
It is, what is, as it is.
Essentially, the underlying ungraspable mystery of things, the impenetrable reality of being-here, of Being-Itself.
And we are asked, not to look at it and analyze it, but to look as it and become it.
What shall it be called? An immediacy of intimacy? An intimacy of immediacy?
Or as Rilke said elsewhere about whatever it is:
from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
(--last lines of poem, Archaic Torso of Apollo, by Rainer Maria Rilke)
Gratia pro gratia.
BY W. S. MERWIN
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is
(—W.S. Merwin, "Thanks" from Migration: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by W.S. Merwin. )
Merwin was once asked what social role a poet plays—if any—in America. He commented: “I think there’s a kind of desperate hope built into poetry now that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world. One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time. I think that’s a social role, don’t you? ... We keep expressing our anger and our love, and we hope, hopelessly perhaps, that it will have some effect. But I certainly have moved beyond the despair, or the searing, dumb vision that I felt after writing The Lice; one can’t live only in despair and anger without eventually destroying the thing one is angry in defense of. The world is still here, and there are aspects of human life that are not purely destructive, and there is a need to pay attention to the things around us while they are still around us. And you know, in a way, if you don’t pay that attention, the anger is just bitterness.”
Merwin died in March 2019 at the age of 91.
Today is Thursday
One breath after
Do you love me
Nor do I
Inside & inside
Steel ring dawns
Whole of it all
I cannot tell
If I am
Alive or dead
I suppose there was once a time when people thought they knew what to believe.
"If you wish to seek peace of mind and happiness then believe. If you wish to be a disciple of truth, then investigate" Friedrich Nietzsche, in letter to his sister, 1865
That was then.
Now, we wander.
They say our mind is in deficient decline
We no longer just dislike something and get on with it
Now we dislike and want to eliminate whatever or whomever we dislike
This is the deficiency of our rational mentality -- destroy what we dislike
This trend is troubling
We have guns
We demean and denigrate
Denounce and shoot in the face
We do not suffer dissatisfaction
We make others suffer our dissatisfaction
Cancel and castigate, imprison and impugn
Cross off the list, consign to depletion and dirt
Patience no longer a virtue
Compassion is for fools
Fidelity is for suckers
The meek will be run off
The mind is compromised
The heart terrified
Men want their way
Doors close with strong locks
In for a penny in for a pound.
Don’t start by trying to love God, or even people; love elements and rocks first, move to trees, then animals, and then humans. Angels will soon seem like a real possibility, and God is then just a short leap away. It works. In fact, it might be the only way to love, because how we do anything is how we do everything. In the end, either we love everything or there is reason to doubt that we love anything. This one love and one loveliness was described by many medieval theologians as the “great chain of being.” (Richard Rohr, Building on a First Love, Daily Meditation)
There’s something we do not yet understand.
Microcosm is macrocosm.
Inch is mile.
Mind is universe.
I am you are me.
No matter, never mind.
No mind, never matter.
Either way, it works
- Ram Dass.
Face it, all of it!
It works, either way.
She doesn’t know where she is, or why. She wants to go home, to family, whoever or wherever they are, she doesn’t know.
Nor do I, but I only visit, sit with her, not knowing anything myself.
There we sit, the two of us, in the special wing, of a Sunday morning.
Until I get to go home.
Not knowing why.
The thing about non-dual consciousness is you must hear everything with a mind that is able to hear everything.
The repeating Israeli airstrikes on the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza are beyond my own comprehension. For at least 10 of the last 40 days, missiles have rained down on the most densely populated refugee camp in all of Gaza.
And it is not just the days; it is also the nights. The bombing is done in the dark, when the power is off and the only light is from the fires that burn. It is done when the internet is cut, when the journalists are shot dead, to hide their crimes, the burning of children.
I have a long history and strong connection to the people in this camp. My friends, former coworkers, patients, and people I have known for decades through my work as a doctor at Gaza’s Al-Awda hospital are living in this camp.
(--From Gaza with Rage: You Must Stop the Genocide, by Mona El-Farra, 18nov2023) https://www.palestinechronicle.com/from-gaza-with-rage-you-must-stop-the-genocide/
That is, with compassion and courage.
As if your life depended on it.
We think we know courage.
Truck dashcam footage shows farmer dodging bullets as he saved 120 from music festival
As someone coming up to 80, I can't imagine why anyone would want to be so active surrounded by so many crazy problems.
On the other hand, The Republican frontrunner is truly off his rocker and wandering the desolate hallways of spooky ideology and mega-lomaniac fantasy.
If Biden is the only one to put the other guy away as he did last time, I say go.
He will be the wounded lawman in the not-ok corral sequel who we suspect isn't going to make it to the end of the film, but who got rid of the bad guys threatening the people and the peace.
America will carry on. It's what we have to do. It's a vote for decency while we still can.
How well they sit together.
His reputation for gentleness was sometimes carried to comical extremes. A tale is told that, one day when Ryokan returned to his hut he discovered a robber who had broken in and was in the process of stealing the impoverished monk's few possessions. In the thief's haste to leave, he left behind a cushion. Ryokan grabbed the cushion and ran after the thief to give it to him. This event prompted Ryokan to compose one of his best known poems:
The thief left it behind:
at my window.
When Ryokan was 70 and nearing the end of his life, he met a young nun and poet named Teishin. Though Teishin was only 28, they fell in love. They exchanged several beautiful love poems.
As Ryokan was dying, Teishin came to him and held him at his moment of death. It was Teishin who collected and published Ryokan's poetry after his death.
Ryokan, Japan (1758 - 1831)
Once the phrase “ monastics of no other” (m.o.n.o.) seemed to capture the gist of why bother waking up in the morning — along with the appellation “dottore nulla e niente” as an academic credential. But now I am an old man with nothing to show and still less I actually know.
All that remains is faint sound drifting across small distances as we converse with one another again and again like tenured archeologists and insouciant degree candidates brushing off dirt from articulated exploration of deeply hidden remnants of our true self with several others attending the dig with their own trawls and two inch paint brushes.
Today, Royokan is uncovered and swept clean and makes himself clear:
English version by John Stevens
Original Language Japanese
A light snow
Three Thousand Realms
Within those realms
Light snow falls
As the snow
Engulfs my hut
My heart, too
Is completely consumed
-- from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan, Translated by John Stevens
And Teishin (1798-1873)
(Believed to be her last poem written before she died in 1873)