Thursday, April 18, 2024

what is behind nothing

Kerry Ellen, 

Becca & Megan, 

and Lisa Jean

in Rockport Harbor

of a Thursday

After coffee milk

And blueberry lemon


Next to white van

Topped with green canoe

Driver listening

To some audio novel

As I do to Dr No

by Percival Everett 

It occurs to me

We are each


As if from


What is in front

Nothing Being written 

by the nothing that is

And the nothing

That is not — call it

Creatio ex nihilio

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

and that's that

winter is winter
spring is spring

each belongs
to itself

and one-

if there are 
no questions

I'll say 

in this dreamworld


At the sound of the bell

in the silent night, 

I wake from my dream 

in this dreamworld of ours. 

Gazing at the reflection 

of the moon in a clear pool, 

I see, beyond my form, my real form.

—Kojisei (circa 1600) 


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

by their sweet questionings

Chris at Tuesday Evening Conversation brought up revealed truth.

Perhaps, that which can’t be reached by ordinary thought or logical inference.

What is it?

Try this . . .

If Reality is a unified extension of Being, (or vice versa) and if what is whole is the background Source of What Is, do things emerge out into appearance as surprising isomorphic realizations of already inter-existing relational phenomena whose form and formlessness blink on-and-off, in-and-out, throughout time and space, dimensions and imagination revealing Itself by means of Attention and/or Ritual Faith?

Theologians have their word, transubstantiation. One thing becomes another thing even as appearance seems to indicate it is what it was, and (let’s call it) faith seems to hold that it is now what it really is.

“Hocus Pocus” is a diminutive phrase coming from “Hoc est enim corpus meum,”  the words traditionally used at the consecration in Catholic liturgy. One level of reasoning, however incomprehensible, is that bread is no longer bread, wine no longer wine, but, now, body and blood of Jesus the Christ. This contention, patently absurd on its surface, haunts the imagination of nonduality and non-separative wholeness of being.

Perhaps, in effect, the reality of transubstantiation is not really about change, but rather, about pointing to the very nature/fact of what something is.

We acknowledge ordinary temporal and spatial change. Winter becomes spring. Bare trees flower. Youthful bodies become aged bodies.

But what of non-temporal and non-spatial metamorphosis? “Form is emptiness, emptiness form.” The Heart Sutra also claims there is “no old age and death and also no extinction of them.” 

Night becomes day, day becomes night. Things change, we say. 

Woodpecker dismantles tree trunk. Dozens of cars occupy the same space only seconds apart. The 18 year old who rebounded and jump shot is now the 80 year old watching the Warriors end their season with bad shooting losing to the Kings with Klay Thompson 0 for 10 and scoreless in defeat.

But let's re-translate plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, an epigram by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in the January 1849 issue of his journal Les Guêpes (“The Wasps”).(wiktionary) -- usually translated "the more things change, the more they stay the same"

Let's put forward this translation: "The more a thing changes, the more it becomes itself."

Hundreds of thoughts and emotions occupy the same physical emotional intellectual space only milliseconds appending in tandem.

Cats are hungry and watchful at same time. Dog stares and pees at same time. What we call (in ignorant appellation) human and divine, matter and form, one and many, this and that, mine and yours — are separative words for one reality done distinct and believed to be different.

Which brings me back to transubstantiation. Our personal preference hubris makes of one two. (See e.e. cumming’s poem.) Still, I am confounded as to how singularity, morphic resonance, and quantum entanglement figure with the notion that each thing is each thing — and yet each thing is part of and belongs to Itself-as-Itself, one thing as another, another as one thing.

Separation is a great excuse for war, injustice, crime, and punishment. 

Metaphors abound. Is “the body of Christ” a metaphor for what is whole, entire, without beginning or end,  eternal (no time), infinite (without boundary) and non-imaginal (without an image)? 

Our imagination creates worlds. God’s, we say, created this world. (Explain that to someone sitting in a cafe with a New York Times.)

Let Wallace Stevens have his stanza:

She says, “I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?”

(From poem, Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens)

The mystic looks without discrimination. 

Mystics see what is there to be seen.

Is that awkward word "transubstantiation" a finger pointing to what is, being, revealed?

settling arrears

 Do I think

There’s anything

After death?

I won’t know

So why


Lights out

Fire ashes


If I owe you

Five bucks

Check coin can

Monday, April 15, 2024

where to live

Dwell here

Go nowhere





it comin’, رِدَّة (ridda).

Let’s consider

Nobody cares

In 100 years

Earth be ridda 


Shaken off

Sunday, April 14, 2024

de die in diem *

We dwell from day to day. *

Word is brought back about a gathering at Camden Opera House for Dean J. this afternoon.

Images and music, videos of his singing opera pieces, incidences of his theatre work, stories by those who knew him. It was lovely, I'm told.

What is it about those who sing? Even if, when asked, say nothing about the religious implications of their song?

I suspect the very act of song is value dispersed and dispensed throughout, over, and within those surrounding that which is sung.

Dean was an aspergent.

Earlier the contemplative nuns from Neumz set out this Missa--Coommunio:

Cantáte Dómino, allelúia:
            Sing to the Lord, alleluia:

cantáte Dómino, benedícite nomen ejus:
            sing to the Lord and bless his name: 

bene nuntiáte de die in diem salutáre ejus,
            Announce his salvation from day to day,

allelúia, allelúia.
            alleluia, alleluia.

Had they sung it at his memorial, he'd nod his head at their art. 


Altar ego 

Lives in monastery

Coming and going

To chant of hours

Clumping of feet

Into wooden stalls

Each of us

An occursus

Of who we are and

Who we really are

persistent inquiry

Woodpecker telephones 

from tree

It rings and rings 

through morning light

brrdrrdrr brrdrrdrr brrdrrdrr

Does not go 

to answering machine

No one home 

No one

wishes to pickup 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

ecpc -- "e contrario-poetica-cogitatio" --welcome to american zen

At Friday Evening Conversation, this:


God give you pardon from gratitude

and other mild forms of servitude—

and make peace for all of us

with what is easy.

(—poem by Robert Creeley, {1926-2005} p.186, The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 2008; originally in For Love, Poems 1950-1960)

From time to time, usually at Tuesday Evening Conversation, the question has been raised as to what American "Zen" will ultimately come to look like. We know Indian Buddhist meditation (dhyana), Chinese (chan), Japanese (zen), Korean (seon).

After last night’s (wonderful) conversation I’m beginning to think it will resemble something like 

"e contrario-poetica-cogitatio" (ie, on the contrary-poetic-thought) —or, as the acronym of the Latin  

"e contrario-poetica-cogitatio" would look like “ecpc” — (phonetically: easy-peasy).

Friday, April 12, 2024

Thursday, April 11, 2024

what comes this way will stay

In 1971 this date was Easter.

Outside NYU chapel in Greenwich Village a street person smiled from a small group on their way back to Brooklyn -- and then, fewer, on to highway west. 

It was spring.

Bend down and there it is:
No need to wrest it from others.
With the Way in complete agreement,
The mere touch of a hand is spring:
The way we come upon blooming flowers,
The way we see the year renew itself.
What comes this way will stay;
What is gotten by force will drain away.
A secluded person on an empty mountain,
While rain falls, picks some blades of duckweed.
Freely feeling the flash of dawn:
Leisurely, within the celestial balance.

–Ssu-k’ung T’u (837-908)

Life together.

Curious, isn't it?

It's less a promise than a fact.

That's what life is -- even when seeming separation tries to convince the opposite.

What seems to be is no substitute for the depth of what is.

one thing / done, the / rest follows. (creeley)

Cats fed

Now look around

Where morning nap

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

no sound from bamboo chime

rain again

sitting alone

dusk lowering

cracked open

sunflower shells

on wood walk

when sound is heard with the eye

Trying to see.

Where would I go?

Anywhere, everywhere, is a teacher pointing to something worth considering, a deepening of the dharma, a telling of the gospel, a recitation of torah, a poetry of creativity, one final glimpse of a vanishing cosmos whispering sweet melody through empty space.

How amazing, how amazing!
Hard to comprehend that
Nonsentient beings expound Dharma.
It simply cannot be heard with the ear,
But when sound is heard with the eye,
Then it is understood.

—Tung-shan (807-869)

Whoosh of cars passing along Barnestown Road.

In the dream two dinghies swept under waterfront (my childhood church?) are suddenly gone as I try to figure how to get them up and out to be used again. 

Then they’re not there. My socks wet and torn in the grisly bottom of receding water trying to avoid shards of iron, glass, and ragged stone now exposed.

There’s no floating away. No air pump to inflate the no longer there green edged inflatable.

The childhood wooden church was torn down leaving demolition site between 61st and 62nd street just up from Bay Parkway. I’d spent many hours in silence in that creaky snap-settling building after shutting it down evenings after working answering door and phones in rectory during school years.

The red candle in sanctuary.

The bicycle ride home in the dark along 21st avenue.

The smell of Lima beans from Nana’s stove lingering up basement stairs.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

instanding near

 too visible

I lose interest

looking up names

I've known

everyone wants

to be known 

it's the ones

not found


near, undetected

time to dash off

What is


This is

What is

Taking place

Between us…





now that moon blocked out sun, rebound

 I’m nearly ready

To die

All I have

To do

Is pick up

Pile of

Laundry from

Behind door

Clear off

Desk in room

Where no

Poems litter

Old pens

Dried ink in

Dusty cans

Pistachio shells

Vacant abandoned

Behind unread book

Body checking

Out going off

Across road

Where crumpled

Debris in ditch


By house with

No letterbox

Monday, April 08, 2024

askance sighting

 With back to sun

dooryard sumie strokes

high trees on gravel-dirt

don't look at god

look at what god is

looking at

tell me when it’s happened

Someone said there will be an eclipse of the sun.

I wonder if it’s ok not to care…

Wonder is good.

least ourselves remembering

Math is not my strong suit.

Hardly anything adds up.

Here's e e cummings: 

one's not half two. It's two are halves of one:

one's not half two.  It's two are halves of one:

which halves reintegrating,shall occur

no death and any quantity;but than

all numerable mosts the actual more

minds ignorant of stern miraculous

this every truth-beware of heartless them

(given the scalpel,they dissect a kiss;

or,sold the reason,they undream a dream)

one is the song which fiends and angels sing:

all murdering lies by mortals told make two.

Let liars wilt,repaying life they're loaned;

we(by a gift called dying born)must grow

deep in dark least ourselves remembering

love only rides his year.

                          All lose,whole find

(Poem by e.e.cummings) 

Last line cheers. 

Lose it all, find the whole. Lose all, find whole. When everybody loses, the whole is found.

In prison today, gelassenheit.

A good word.

Sunday, April 07, 2024

non et sic

No, I don’t believe in god.

Yes, I do dwell in god.

without words, it snows

 God is

What is


No belief




Bless you —

Thank you




home is never left

The church I attend

Has no walls

Has no preacher

Nor takes collection

The church I attend

Is the earth

Each step each bird

Each tree in the wind

Saturday, April 06, 2024


Rabbi Aaron is on to something.

 They asked Rabbi Aaron what he had learned from his teacher, the Great Maggid. 

“Nothing at all,” he said. 

And when they pressed him to explain what he meant by that, he added: “The Nothing-At-All is what I learned. 

I learned the meaning of nothingness. I learned that I am nothing at all, and that I Am, notwithstanding.”

 [1:198] Tales of the Hasidim, Rabbi Aaron of Karlin (1736 – 1772)

I stand by him, or not far from him, maybe, closer than I think.


the universal body of reality

Last night's conversation touched on forgiveness.

Maybe I was cranky, but the thought occurred, what forgiveness? We don't forgive. It's not ours to do. Forget-about-it!

There's nothing to forgive. There's no past. Come to think about it, there's no separate self. What's to forgive? 

 The universal body of reality

Is so subtle that you do not

Hear it when you deliberately listen for it,

And you do not see it when you look at it.

As for the pure knowledge

That has no teacher,

How can it be attained by thought or study?

--Huanglong, 1002-1069

We live in a curious time.

We become a nation of victims. 

Our Grand Poobah Victim wants to become Number One Chief of Everything. His platform and credentials list himself as the greatest victim of all time, greatest savior of all time, greatest man of all time. We are lucky to be living during his exalted suffering and undeservedly generous accumulation of money.

I'll stick with Huanglong.

Where is he? Where is he?

theology in not so many words

Where did you see 

Jesus? I didn't.

Neither did I.

Do you think

that means anything?

No, I don't.

Does that mean I'm

not christian?

No, it doesn't.

I would like to be


What would that be?

Human, I'd be


Ok, then be that.

I will, I'll

be human.

Yes, human.

Do that. To become

human was Jesus' 

vocation, human

and he did that.

You do that too.

Is that what it takes

to be christian, to be-

come human?

Yes, that's what it takes.

Friday, April 05, 2024

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

it’s the storm made me say it

 Wind then rain then snow then fierce wind

Electricity goes out then comes back then

(Undoubtedly) will go out soon again.

bathtubs filled with water, jugs and dozens 

of used juice half gallons filled at the ready

In time to remember MLK’s assassination


That awful year of war and murder

When we were younger and full of failure

The country in psychosis ammunition and hate

Something broke within so many forgetting

Why go on why not despair why not give up

Tonight it is just a snowstorm with gale winds

The darkness different the man who is a fool

Might become president again his handlers

Planning mischief and mayhem again theft

Of sucker’s money, right wing ideology

Roughshod over everyone, all skimmed

Money funneled into his accounts, sneers

And snark, disdain and denigration, a moral

Bankruptcy while stealing your money and 


I get ahead of myself

I must remember no one

Takes anything away

From us — we always

Give it up

We must not want dignity

And compassion, not want

Justice and democracy, not want

Community and common weal

it localizes

The prospect that universal, infinite, and eternal reality might be localized in an individual, an instant, or a particular yard of earth, is both intriguing and mind-boggling.

If so, if true, then a career of teaching ethics at university wants a do-over.

On second thought, who'd affirm such an outlandish proposition?  

We all want resurrection in some form. Jesus’ resurrection is a potent, focused, and compelling statement about what God is still and forever doing with the universe and with humanity. Science strongly confirms this statement using its own terms: metamorphosis, condensation, evaporation, seasonal changes, and the life cycles of everything from butterflies to stars. The natural world is constantly dying and being reborn in different forms. God appears to be resurrecting everything all the time and everywhere. It is not something to “believe in” as much as it is something to observe and be taught by.  

I choose to believe in Jesus’ bodily resurrection because it localizes the whole Mystery in this material and earthly world and in our own bodies too—the only world we know and the world that God created and loves and in which God chose to incarnate. (Read all of 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul keeps saying this in many ways.) [1] 

If the original divine incarnation was and is true, then resurrection is both inevitable and irreversible. If the Big Bang was the external starting point of the eternal Christ Mystery, then we know this eternal logos is leading creation somewhere good, and the universe is not chaotic or meaningless. Alpha and Omega are in fact one and the same. [3]  

--Richard Rohr, CAC, Resurrection and Incarnation, 3apr24

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 86–88.  

At last night's Tuesday Evening Conversation, Chris, Tina, Asha, Saskia and I circled around Jean Gebser and Ken Wilber's takes on the structures of consciousness and the indications of mutation into the (upcoming) integral  structure and the concretion of the spiritual

Gebser writes: 

What happens to the earth - and the earth is nothing but an event which in materialization has become progressively slower - originates in more encompassing and spatio-temporally non-localizable interconnections. (ibid)

We'll have to re-visit the whole-within-the-whole conversation, the localized and non-localizable, the spooky notion of quantum entanglement.

Until then, I'll sneak in the question -- Is any act, is every act -- is any thought, is every thought -- a non-localized impression on every other place, time, and being in the cosmos?

If we are, indeed, interconnected in ways we have not yet begun to consider, is the two thousand year old story/mythology of one man's transcendence of the there-to-fore limitations of human existence and its spiritual/material contours meant to be, for us, here and now, a meditation and contemplation whose significance exceeds our current structure of consciousness as we stare into the bottom of our coffee cups and empty box of donuts?  

Bring on the nor'easter snow storm!

Let's go out into the gale and drift away!

folding up tent


of mourning dove cool air through open window

Not everything is contained in three dimensions

There is, they say, a great deal more beyond us

It is beyond me, this doll within doll universe

My eyes close, sleeping life proscenium  prior to word

Presentation sans parole, aphasia sine sensus 

speculation without seeing, 

I am no longer able to comment

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

new hiking stick

Snowstorm coming

Big winds, staying

Power failing

Maine springing

Three-legged singing

amicus, brief


says to death 

'thank you'


says to Jesus

'going so soon'

veni, vidi, evanui

 curious, eh, that we think we look out at things

as if I am looking out at the room

as if I am in the room looking out at the room

some would say there is only looking

no inside no outside

no one here making this observation

Monday, April 01, 2024

easter monday, sprinkling water



nothing else



lets that




silently into



life passes inexorably, where arising is itself

These days the easter meditation remains a metaphoric and mythological mystery to me.

The possibility that the traditional occurrence-set of passion/death/resurrection/ascension/pentecost in its historical/theological telling is not five distinct occurrences  --  but one remembrance, one activity, one thought-fact -- intrigues me.

In the midst of suffering and death there is an overcoming and a surrender, a releasing and an arising into what can never be comprehended, but only passed through.

Like the torrent that rushes to the sea,

Like the sun and moon that glide towards

The western mountains;

Like the flight of days and nights,

Hours and seconds,

Human life passes inexorably.

--Padmasambhava (717-762), Tibet

I am aware that human life passes.

I am aware of little else beyond that fact.

whence contemporary resurrection

As good a thought on Easter Monday as you might find in scripture: 

[Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg often quoted Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous line, “The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people,” and she advised people to “fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” 

(—Heather Cox Richardson, in Letters From An American, 31mar2024)

From inert to moving and awake.

A splash of fresh water this morning. 

Sunday, March 31, 2024

the facticity of it

Today is a good day to be alive.

Today is a good day to die.

Such is the blessing of Easter.

what is risen -- what is rising through us -- a sober celebration -- today

 Might not seem like an Easter poem, but here it is anyway:

      The Second Coming 

                    BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   

The darkness drops again; but now I know   

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?   


(--1919, in The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989) 

Maybe for too long we've thought a theos ek mēkhanēs (deus ex machina) would appear from the heavens or at least from the fly loft. Yeats seems to suggest that such thoughts of rescue might need to be grounded closer to earth, closer to the complexities of human perception, psychology, and existential ethical maturity.

Mythology is the skin of meaning. The sinews and bones, blood and inner interrelationalities are ours to activate and engage. It might be the rough beast of our indelicate desire to finally cut through the posturing bullshit of errancy and embrace redemptive truth of compassionate belonging.

It is Easter.

What is arising through our reluctance and fears? What is longing to move through moribund hesitancy into break-ground appearance (think crocus and daffodil) in this transitional time?

  • It is as though we had buried Someone we thought dead, and now hear him calling in the night: Help me! Heaving and panting, he raises the gravestone of our soul and body higher and still higher, breathing more freely at every moment. 

  • Every word, every deed, every thought is the heavy gravestone he is forever trying to lift. And my own body and all the visible world, all heaven and earth, are the gravestone which God is struggling to heave upward.
            (Nikos Kazantzakis, in The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises, The Vision, 1923)

What is risen  

What is rising through us

A sober celebration