Sunday, December 04, 2022

seeing through what is there to be seen through.

Heraclitus begins our reflection:

 The dead and the living, those awake and those sleeping, the young and the old are one and the same in us; the one, moved from its place is the other, and the other returned to its place is the one.      (-Heraclitus)

(Excerpt from: "Time and Space: A Poetic Autobiography" by Juan Ramon Jimenez,  iUniverse. Scribd.)

Then Plato:

 In the dialogue Plato introduces the story by having Socrates explain to Glaucon that the soul must be immortal, and cannot be destroyed. Socrates tells Glaucon the "Myth of Er" to explain that the choices we make and the character we develop will have consequences after death. Earlier in Book II of the Republic, Socrates points out that even the gods can be tricked by a clever charlatan who appears just while unjust in his psyche, in that they would welcome the pious but false "man of the people" and would reject and punish the truly just but falsely accused man. In the Myth of Er the true characters of the falsely-pious and those who are immodest in some way are revealed when they are asked to choose another life and pick the lives of tyrants. Those who lived happy but middling lives in their previous life are most likely to choose the same for their future life, not necessarily because they are wise, but out of habit. Those who were treated with infinite injustice, despairing of the possibility of a good human life, choose the souls of animals for their future incarnation. The philosophic life — which identifies the types of lives that emerge from experience, character, and fate — allow men to make good choices when presented with options for a new life. Whereas success, fame, and power may provide temporary heavenly rewards or hellish punishments, philosophic virtues always work to one's advantage.
(Myth of Er, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Finally, suchness:

Sunyata, or Empty of Inherent, Enduring, Independent Self-Nature 

One of the keys to getting to be able to see and experience reality this way is to recognize that things are empty. The term for this is Sunyata; emptiness. I’ve also heard the translation boundlessness, which is kind of cool because it basically means all of these individual things that we usually think or who we usually think have inherent, essential, independent, enduring self nature. There’s something inherently, independently real about them, and that that’s not actually the case, that all individual beings arise interdependently with everything else. That’s where we focus on emptiness. If you see the emptiness of things, then you see their true nature.

Emptiness can sound a little negative, right? It’s about what things don’t have, but there’s another way of describing reality, describing the absolute aspect of reality, which is more positive and has been around since a few hundred years after the Buddha or maybe even earlier. That term is Tatātā or Tathātā. This is translated as suchness or thusness because emptiness doesn’t mean a nihilistic void. Once we let go of our mental map of reality, of our attachment to an idea that something or someone has an inherent, enduring self nature, reality doesn’t just disappear. It doesn’t become a nihilistic void, it just is what it is without our mental map of it. Everything is such. 

(-from suchness-things-as-it-is, zenstudiespodcast )

 Sometimes, I don't know what to think.

Then it occurs to me -- that "not knowing what" -- is to begin to think.

When we know, we are not thinking. When we don't know, we begin to think. 

Like the Korean zen monk who stayed with us a few years ago on his ten thousand mile bicycle ride criss-crossing through the US, Canada, and Latin America, to begin (always just the beginning) to think is to recite the kong-an/mantra with every turn of the wheel on the road, "What Is This?" "What Is This?" as he did the whole way.

We think that thinking is undesirable. It is a belief of ideologues and fundamentalist dogmatists, as well as incuriously-minded followers of autocrats everywhere. 

But to begin to think is to engage the practice of seeing through what is there to be seen through.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

theopoiesis gets rendered as God-making or becoming divine.

Creation is just occurring.

Just now.

And justice is its poet.

Creation is a poem.

          (Ernesto Cardinal, Cosmic Canticle)

Why is “making” considered a sacred activity for gods and mortals alike? Making something out of nothing. Making something in the image of something else. Creators making creatures while creatures in turn make their creators. Making out, making up, making and remaking worlds in one’s image and likeness. In shapes and songs, paintings and poems, dreams and crafts. From the beginning to the end of time. One great game of holy imagination played with hands, mouths, ears and eyes. With bodies and souls. Art as divine-human interplay, again and again.

Theopoetics names how the divine (theos) manifests itself as making (poiesis). The term dates back to the early centuries, meaning both the making human of the divine and the making divine of humanity. As the poet scholar, Ephrem of Syria, wrote: “He gave us divinity, we gave Him humanity.” Or as Athanasius said in the fourth century: “God became human so that the human could become divine.” Catherine Keller puts it succinctly: “The term theopoetics finds its ancestor in the ancient Greek theopoiesis. As poeisis means making or creation, so theopoiesis gets rendered as God-making or becoming divine.”1

Theopoetics carries an attendant claim that first creation calls for second creation— re-creation or creation again (ana): a double act where humanity and divinity collaborate in the coming of the Kingdom. This play of recreation goes by the name of “ana-theism.”

(—from  GOD MAKING: AN ESSAY IN THEOPOETIC IMAGINATION, For Bill Richardson SJ, in Memoriam, by Richard Kearney, 2017)

When we complain about God we are complaining about ourselves. 

When we pray, (if prayer retains any elasticity for us), we are construction workers laying foundation for spiritual, corporeal, rational and imaginative living quarters to be habituated by us, our progeny, and all our relations.

God is coming to be in our becoming what God is coming to be.

you don’t say

During Friday Evening Conversation the thought arose: “How different are we?”

This morning the thought arises: “We’re no different.”


1 of 2


dif·​fer·​ent ˈdi-f(ə-)rənt  
partly or totally unlike in nature, form, or quality DISSIMILAR
could hardly be more different
often followed by from, than, or chiefly British to
small, neat hand, very different from the captain's tottery characters R. L. Stevensonvastly different in size than it was twenty-five years ago N. M. Puseya very different situation to the … one under which we live Sir Winston Churchill
not the same: such as
different age groups
different members of the class
switched to a different TV program
she was different and superior
differentness noun
 Is it different than or different from?: Usage Guide 

Numerous commentators have condemned different than in spite of its use since the 17th century by many of the best-known names in English literature. It is nevertheless standard and is even recommended in many handbooks when followed by a clause, because insisting on from in such instances often produces clumsy or wordy formulations. Different from, the generally safe choice, is more common especially when it is followed by a noun or pronoun.

Being “no different” means that MU arrives in our perspective vision and becomes the cardboard paper towel holder through which our particular viewing of the world takes shape and place.

What do we see when we look through?

MU has the quality of undoing.

Sort of like saying, “Unask that question!” Or,  “Unsay those words!” Or even, “unthink that thought”, “untake that stance”, “uninterpret that interpretation.”

And there we stand, or sit, or walk around in circles. We are left in the uncertainty and ignorance of not-knowing. 

Why is that?

Because we don’t…

Know …

Hardly ever, mostly always, seldom without dissonance and a residual bafflement’s interior command to stand down, stand back, stand still!

And there we stand.

Or sit.

Maybe turn or twirl in circles.

And here’s the thing — there’s nothing wrong with that after-action, after-thought, after-all.

Being “no-different” is a deep realization.

It makes all the distinctions, realizations, explanations, and opinions we might have become a bowl of pistachios.

One by one, shells opened, ready to be devoured. 

And we are…devoured.

To the last molecule.

Taken in.


Finally seen… MU…more.

And all is as it is

Like monastery bells after Lauds tolling in themselves, for thee, to see, what-is-there, what-is-here.

Friday, December 02, 2022

the narrow hearth of a peasant's hut

Where do you live? 

“It is, therefore, a great source of virtue for the practiced mind to learn, bit by bit, first to change about in visible and transitory things, so that afterwards it may be possible to leave them behind altogether. The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world; the strong man has extended his love to all places; the perfect man has extinguished his. From boyhood I have dwelt on foreign soil and I know with what grief sometimes the mind takes leave of the narrow hearth of a peasant's hut, and I know too how frankly it afterwards disdains marble firesides and panelled halls.”

(― Hugh of Saint Victor, The Didascalicon of Hugh of Saint Victor: A Medieval Guide to the Arts)

The incarcerated man, his first visit to meetingbrook conversations, asked for his survey "what, for you, is the simplest thing?"

I answered, "this."

I'd like to think it is where and how I live.  

Whereas, "to think" means to look into and through, to listen carefully and caringly, and to allow what is there to be there, as it is, with attending attentive presence nearby.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

we are one, in the field, of emptiness

all die

some wrote songs

friend in prison

is telling

he tried to take

his life

when life is insane

you exhale

come closer to death





now telling 


to be a person of one’s word

Count me in

Brook flowing strong

Bridge remains unreassembled

Still, we cross to other side

nur einmal bitte

 I know why

We do not see

Transcendent God

We are not



Looking with

Everything at


Take this to

Heart — there

Unseeing apprehends

Nothing other

Once being

Only one

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

every pain and warning sign

 Michelob ultra empty can

Marlboro mint empty pack

Roadside on Barnestown

Thrown, no doubt, from cars

The profligacy of mindless tossing

Who are these people

From littering alcohol and tobacco

To polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans

To pornography of the mind and spirit

To power sluttiness of corporate profits —

I pick them up

And put one in redemption bag

One in trash for dump

Cast my vote for decency and sanity

Then sit in silence and stillness breathing

Noting every pain and warning sign

De-escalation and defenestration

As ground rises to stop the falling

Ending what we cannot sustain or fix

We disappear

Not to be

Seen nor




the ability to keep their leaves yearlong and with special healing powers

Co-monastic brings sprig of  green into room down from mountain during zoom class with student at Charleston Correctional Facility as we talk about Carl Gustave Jung, Keiji Nishitani, Jean Gebser, and Juan Ramon Jimenez. 

It was a day of responses to challenges that determine the staying power on democracy, civilization, and decency in our midst. 

We look for light to move through darkness.

 While the jury was handing down its verdict in the case of Stewart Rhodes, who said on tape that he would “hang f*ckin’ Pelosi from the lamppost,” Speaker Pelosi was lighting the Capitol Christmas tree with fourth-grader Catcuce Micco Tiger, who is a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and has ancestry from the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

Tiger won the role of youth tree lighter with an essay sharing the Cherokee origin story for evergreen trees. “After creating all plants and animals,” Pelosi explained, “our Creator asked them to fast, pray, and stay awake for seven nights. But at the end, only a few were awake. The trees that stayed awake were rewarded with the ability to keep their leaves yearlong and with special healing powers. It is a story of faith and gratitude—of hope enduring through the dark night.”

“And,” Pelosi added, “it is hope that we celebrate each holiday season—that through the cold and dark winter, spring will someday come.”  

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who defended the Capitol against the Oath Keepers on January 6, heard the jury’s verdict, then watched the tree lighting.

Heather Cox Richardson, 29nov2022  

As dawn quietly presents itself for our consideration.

One inch at a time. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

nothing else is

 “Trust no one,” is what the incarcerated man said.

A zen practitioner might say, “Trust? MU! One.”

Only One Is; “nothing else” is.

There is so much to unlearn.

Monday, November 28, 2022

i am this one

 Three poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez, first two translated by Robert Bly:



  I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.
                    And nothing
happens! Nothing...Silence...Waves...

    --Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?


I Am Not I

I am not I.
              I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
the one who remains silent while I talk,
the one who forgives, sweet, when I hate,
the one who takes a walk when I am indoors,
the one who will remain standing when I die.



New Voice

Whose is this voice? Whence sounds
this voice, celestial and silvery,
which with delicate leaf pierces lightly
the iron silence of my pain!

   Tell me, blue whiteness of the lily,
tell me, light of the morning star,
tell me, coolness of water flowing at evening,
what do you know of this good and simple voice?

   …Voice that bids me turn my eyes, sad
and joyful, upon what golden crystal of glory
in which the angel sings his alleluia!

   …That is from no mouth or lute that there is,
that has come from out of no story…
Whose, whose are you, voice that are not your own?

(Poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez, 1881-1958)

Sunday, November 27, 2022

προανάκρουσμα είναι διαχρονικό*

 What are you doing?

      I’m waiting.

Waiting for what?

      I don’t know.

Well, look out for yourself.

      I am.

(Looking precedes

essence and existence)

Will I see you again?


*(prelude is 


Saturday, November 26, 2022

τι είναι αυτό (what is this)

 Consider this! It is always as it is, this is.

This is who I am. And where I am.

This is What Is appearing in the world.

Imagine this! 

Begin again, here with this!

This, this, is, the Only One

Showing Itself ten thousand ways

Friday, November 25, 2022

if you want to practice fourth noble truth

The Noble Eightfold Path

  1. Right understanding (Samma ditthi)
  2. Right thought (Samma sankappa)
  3. Right speech (Samma vaca)
  4. Right action (Samma kammanta)
  5. Right livelihood (Samma ajiva)
  6. Right effort (Samma vayama)
  7. Right mindfulness (Samma sati)
  8. Right concentration (Samma samadhi)

he's gonna get himself an ass-kicking

Tillie has something to say: 

 I don't know who God is but if I meet him anytime soon I'm going to get Him in the corner until he tells me the truth.

    I'm going to slap him stupid and push Him around until he can't run away. Until He's looking up at me and then I'll get Him to tell me why He's done what He done to me and what He done to Corrie and why do all the good ones die and where is Jazzlyn now and why she ended up there and how He allowed me to do what I done to her.

    He's going to come along on His pretty white cloud with all His pretty little angel's flapping their pretty white wings and I'm gonna out and say it formal. Why the fuck did you let me do it, God?

    And He's gonna drop His eyes and look to the ground and answer me. And if He says Jazz ain't in heaven, if He says she didn't make it through, He's gonna get himself an ass-kicking. That's what He's gonna get.

    An ass-kicking like none He ever got before.

(p.230, Let The Great World Spin, novel by Colum McCann)

 McCann doesn't capitalize the 'h' in himself in penultimate paragraph. What to make of that? And Tillie as character having all those references to He and Him and His. 

How quaint to want to box God's ears, force a confession, a relenting admission of errancy and lack of consideration, refusal to script an idyllic pasture for bucolic wandering. 

Rather, Tillie worked the stroll under the Major Deegan.

She's got enough of God to know how to give the what-for to the who's-that.

Something to think about when we're not sure what to think.


 There's a way through suffering.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

pills taken

 In the end, washing up, Apfelkuchen with whipped cream, all retire.


the first

 Yes, there is suffering in the world.

Be kind.

It could help someone through.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

the second

 If you want someone to be other than they are, you suffer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

aliis laetus, sibi sapiens

With a student at the Charleston Correctional Facility, during class on Jung and Philosophy, after Alain de Botton’s video on Nietzsche, “How to Find Yourself (Existentialism)”, we glance at Nietzsche on Schopenhauer as Educator:

 Schopenhauer has a second quality in common with Montaigne, as well as honesty: a cheerfulness that really cheers. Aliis laetus, sibi sapiens [cheerful for others, wise for himself]. For there are two very different kinds of cheerfulness. The true thinker always cheers and refreshes, whether he is being serious or humorous, expressing his human insight or his divine forbearance; without peevish gesturing, trembling hands, tear-filled eyes, but with certainty and simplicity, courage and strength, perhaps a little harshly and valiantly but in any case as a victor: and this it is—to behold the victorious god with all the monsters he has created—that cheers one most profoundly. The cheerfulness one sometimes encounters in mediocre writers and bluff and abrupt thinkers, on the other hand, makes us feel miserable when we read it: the effect produced upon me, for example, by David Strauss' cheerfulness. One feels downright ashamed to have such cheerful contemporaries, because they compromise our time and the people in it before posterity. This kind of cheerful thinker simply does not see the sufferings and the monsters he purports to see and combat; and his cheerfulness is vexing because he is deceiving us: he wants to make us believe that a victory has been fought and won. For at bottom there is cheerfulness only when there is a victory; and this applies to the works of true thinkers just as much as it does to any work of art. Let its content be as dreadful and as serious as the problem of life itself: the work will produce a depressing and painful effect only if the semi-thinker and semi-artist has exhaled over it the vapor of his inadequacy; while nothing better or happier can befall a man than to be in the proximity of one of those victors who, precisely because they have thought most deeply, must love what is most living and, as sages, incline in the end to the beautiful. They speak truly, they do not stammer, and do not chatter about what they have heard; they are active and live truly and not the uncanny masquerade men are accustomed to live: which is why in their proximity we for once feel human and natural and might exclaim with Goethe: "How glorious and precious a living thing is! how well adapted to the conditions it lives in, how true, how full of being!" [Goethe: Italienische Reise, Oct. 9, 1786.]

I am describing nothing but the first, as it were physiological, impression Schopenhauer produced upon me, that magical outpouring of the inner strength of one natural creature on to another that follows the first and most fleeting encounter; and when I subsequently analyze that impression I discover it to be compounded of three elements, the elements of his honesty, his cheerfulness and his steadfastness. He is honest because he speaks and writes to himself and for himself, cheerful because he has conquered the hardest task by thinking, and steadfast because he has to be. His strength rises straight and calmly upwards like a flame when there is no wind, imperturbably, without restless wavering. He finds his way every time before we have so much noticed that he has been seeking it; as though compelled by a law of gravity he runs on ahead,

Untimely Meditations, Third Part 1874 Schopenhauer as Educator* (Selected Text) by Friedrich Nietzsche,

Honesty, cheerfulness, and steadfast imperturbability -- the law of gravity bringing us to poetry as we read Ellen Bass poem:

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you down like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

- Poem by Ellen Bass

From Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems 

Then, talking about Nietzsche's Amor fati,  we finish with poem by Mary Oliver:

When Death Comes

     by Mary Oliver

When death comes 
like the hungry bear in autumn; 
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut; 
when death comes 
like the measle-pox

when death comes 
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: 
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything 
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, 
and I look upon time as no more than an idea, 
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common 
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth, 
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something 
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life 
I was a bride married to amazement. 
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder 
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, 
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

( Poem by Mary Oliver)

We think about Buddha's first Noble Truth, that there is suffering.

We also think about Jesus' taking on suffering, not eliminating it.

And we're grateful to think about all this together.

Cheerfulness and wisdom. for ourselves, for others, this week of gratefulness!