There are days when darkness arrives too early.
There’s a very bright moon tonight.
I notice that
Still, the darkness
What if each word were an angel?
Each book a covey of temporary residence for messages ready to light up minds upon opening?
Would we cease our foolish antagonism toward truth and fall in love with what is revealed to our heart?
Cor mundum crea in me, Deus.
Redde mihi lætítiam salutáris tui.(A pure heart create for me, O God.Give me again the joy of your help.)
(Ps 50, 12a. 14a)
Stay right here
See, hear, now
Don’t tell stories
You’re finally as you are
Fine as such.
(I’m kidding about the stories.
Tell another one.
I’ve plenty of time.)
And when you stop
I’ll still be listening
Just like this
As a last line of a short story
What comes next
It seems right that a chair would have its own feast day.
Feast Of The Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle
“‘And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah,” (Mt. 16:17-19).
Also, seems right that “no one” is to be told he’s the messiah. “No one” (is this a Chinese name No-Wan?) doesn’t seem to know who they are.
Tell them! Tell them!
Such a thoughtful, provocative, and meditative wording, “die and become.” Or, “die and so to grow.”
poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.
Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven't experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.
Translated from the German by Robert Bly
It’s a long and varied trail from being no one to realizing who you are with everyone. In a paroxysm of infinite discovery we come to markers showing way up mountain and through wooded turns.
“How do you make love to a physicist? With your whole self, quivering, lush, unafraid.” So concludes Deesha Philyaw in her short story in The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, 2020.
When we practice, we are enlightened. When we are enlightened, we practice. That's what Dogen Zenji tells us.
To be enlightened, as far as I can surmise, is to see things as they are.
And that's good.
So, let go. And become what we, at heart, are -- quivering, lush, unafraid.
Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion
or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up
from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,
am not an entity in this world or in the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any
origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.
I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,
first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.
In this time of COVID-19 we are all sages.
Are we not?
Hence the sage is like an empty hollow. He
cherishes no knowledge. He dwells in the
world of change and utility, yet holds himself
to the realm of non-activity (wu wei). He rests
within the walls of the nameable, yet lives in
the open country of what transcends speech.
He is silent and alone, void and open, where
his state of being cannot be clothed in
language. Nothing more can be said of him.
(--p.56, Zen in Plain English, Experience the
Essence of Zen, by Stephan Schuhmacher, 2009;
from p.268, Fung Yu-lan: A History of Chinese
Philosophy, Vol. II, 'The Period of Classical
What can we say?
What can be said of us?
And 1500 years from now, who, really, will recognize our difficulty of understanding?
Though we say we live in the 'real world' -- do we?
And what are "saturated phenomena".*
Bedazzlement and overwhelmingness are marks of saturated phenomena, especially those that are "unbearable according to quantity" such as the painting as idol. It is in just this context that Marion gives the transfiguration as an example. But in the very same passage, he gives the teaching of Jesus as another example, citing John 16.12: "I still have many things to say to you, but you do not yet have the power to bear them."8 Marion might as easily have turned to the gospel of Mark. There we find people amazed when Jesus cast out an unclean spirit (Mark 1.23-27) and when he healed the paralyzed man let down through the roof (Mark 2.3-12) but also at Jesus’ teaching: "They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark1.22). The phenomenologist can and should take note of the fact that such teaching and the faith that receives it can be and have been experienced as a supernatural gift of supernatural grace. But that does not make Jesus’ teaching miraculous in the sense in which casting out demons and healing the sick are miraculous. In short, the phenomena of revelation need not be miracles.
It might be helpful here to recall Mary Magdalene as portrayed in Jesus Christ, Superstar. She sings, "I don’t know how to love him . . . He scares me so." While Jesus was unquestionably a saturated phenomenon in her experience, it would be a strange reading to assume that what scared her about him was the healings and the exorcisms. Quite clearly, what bedazzled, overwhelmed, and even scared her was the way he loved her, and there is nothing of magical realism in the implicit narrative of her relation to Jesus that underlies her portrayal in the musical.
That which exceeds what our intention can grasp. An intuition beyond verification or full comprehension.
Where fully foolish sages loiter in contemplative repose while less foolish insurgents run to tackle fabricated meaning fully geared with zip-ties tiptoeing alongside at their ready.
* Jean-Luc Marion's claims about givenness and the self of the phenomenon culminate in his new category of “saturated” phenomena. According to Marion, some phenomena give more intuition than is needed to fill a subject's intention. Such phenomena are “saturated” with intention, and exceed any concepts or limiting horizons that a constituting subject could impose upon them. Marion describes five possible types of saturated phenomenon, and then presents a “figure” as an example of each type. Marion develops his concept of saturated phenomenon across three main texts. In Marion's early texts, saturated phenomena are introduced as a way of making space in philosophy for specifically religious phenomena. Even in his later texts where Marion omits this religious context, the examples of saturated phenomena that he chooses are somewhat obscure, and might be regarded as no more than interesting curiosities.
(--The Theory of Saturated Phenomena, Shane Mackinlay, Fordham Scholarship Online)
It makes me wonder whether what we refer to as 'higher dimensions' and 'miracles' are the fields of intuition and mystical glimpse that resemble and reside in uncategorizable experiences.
“He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a verb in the past tense.” (― James Joyce, Dubliners)
May we all dwell well where we are!
And not be afraid of the turn, either in the road, or in our consciousness!
From his poem AshWednesday, by T.S.Eliot, an excerpt:
Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn
Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth
This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.
Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit
of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee.
(—from, Ash Wednesday, by T.S. Eliot)
I’ve been thinking about our practice.
We sit zazen.
We read someone’s writing.
We converse from what has gotten our attention.
We take a brief silence
We have a final circle.
We recite the bodhisattva vows.
We pronounce a metta blessing.
We say goodnight.
Post-impeachment, we can say this: Trump's presidency has amended the Constitution. Not formally, of course, but informally...which matters just as much. Here are the five Trump amendments. 1/9
1. "No president shall be removed from office for treason, bribery, or any other crime or misdemeanor provided a partisan minority of the Senate will protect him (which is always). Impeachment is thus a nullity and presidents can expect impunity." 2/9
2. "Congressional oversight shall be optional. No congressional subpoena or investigative demand shall be binding on a president who chooses to ignore it." 3/9
3. "Congressional appropriations shall be suggestions. The president may choose whether or not to conform with congressional spending laws, and Congress shall have no recourse should a president declare that his own priorities supersede Congress's express will." 4/9
4. "The president shall have authority to make appointments as he sees fit, without the advice and consent of the Senate, provided he deems his appointees to be acting, temporary, or otherwise exempt from the ordinary confirmation process." 5/9
5. "The president shall have unconstrained authority to dangle and issue pardons for the purpose of obstructing justice, tampering with witnesses, and forestalling investigations. There is nothing anyone can do about this (see Amendment 1 above)." 6/9
Let's count our blessings. Had Trump won a second term, he'd have put through a 6th amendment: "The president may ignore or violate court orders." 7/9
Still, the existing Trump amendments give the president WAY more discretion and impunity than the Founders intended. After Trump, we're more dependent than ever on the president's character to prevent a quasi-monarchy. 8/9
And more than ever, there's a howling void at the center of the Constitution...one called Congress. 9/9
“It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah!” (Leonard Cohen)
As cynicism and darkness
sit shivering and dissipated
in near obsolescent
obscurity. . .
A page is turned.
Singing . . .)
Forty years I endured that generation.
I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray
and they do not know my ways.”
So I swore in my anger,
“They shall not enter into my rest.”
Justice will walk out from the alley where it has slept the night
Walk to front door of mansion where willful depravity has lounged in silk and gold all night
When door opens, face to face for that brief archeology of trawling recognition
Will nod to the other
Shut door, turn, walk together down to river as light begins to stretch
Sit, look out side by side, begin to talk
Our attention pulls slowly away
Back up the hill
Up over tree tops and building roofs
Far out into distant spacious emptiness
Off beyond what we can possibly understand
Blinking dim distance
Out of sight
Beholding itself what is within without
Nothing isn’t something. It can’t be placed on your mantel. It is not something hiding just behind something. Rather nothing is what is both within and beyond everything we call something, which, in itself, is nothing.
But this realization isn’t nihilism. It is nihility.
We might get away with saying that, rather than being something or nothing, we are appearing. We are temporary emergence out of and into “Way.” This transient and impermanent manifestation is the constant surprise of what we call “existence” “world” or “my life.”
Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu - chapter 25
Something mysteriously formed,
Born before heaven and earth.
In the silence and the void,
Standing alone and unchanging,
Ever present and in motion.
Perhaps it is the mother of ten thousand things..
I do not know its name.
Call it Tao.
For lack of a better word, I call it great.
Being great, it flows.
It flows far away.
Having gone far, it returns.
Therefore, "Tao is great;
Heaven is great;
Earth is great;
The king is also great."
These are the four great powers of the universe,
And the king is one of them.
Man follows the earth.
Earth follows heaven.
Heaven follows the Tao.
Tao follows what is natural.
(translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)
What is this “what is natural”?
According to chapter 25 of Tao Te Ching, before any form or substance comes to exist, there is chaos. It has no voice or shape and because of that it is beyond any explanation or description with words.
It is nothingness itself. Its enormous size exceeds any human categories, does not depend on anything and conducts all the processes taking place in the universe. For this reason it is called 'Big' or 'Dai' after the Chinese character. The 'Dai' keeps on spreading and advancing the universe. There are no limits to the expansion of nothingness, 'Dai' or the Way. In other words the Way and nothingness are the transcendental beings. For the reason of being transcendental, they embrace all things. Things distant from them as well as close to them such as self; all is included. Because all things are filled with those transcendental beings, it can be said that they include those things and for that reason they can be called 'encompassing' or 'Umgreifende' of Karl Jaspers and as such, they undoubtedly reveal the principles governing nature: four seasons, sunrise and sunset, birth and death. Our limited perception doesn't allow us to see the Way itself, but through comprehending the nature and its rules, we have the ability to experience the Way as the transcendental being. When we reach that state, in front of our eyes there stands the true essence of nature, undistorted and real. This experience brings about a change in us and shows us how to live. But please make no mistake about this; Lao-tzu does not mean doing nothing, but living in accordance with the principles of nothingness. Lao-tzu's nothingness is also called absolute nothingness
According to chapter 21 of Tao Te Ching, the Way is ecstatic and undefined. Only after you calm down and free your heart from ambitions and care, you can feel its subtle, pure and unadulterated nature. It's total and complete and only through impartial attitude we are able to know it, that is by getting rid of the knowledge and concepts we have learned so far in our lives. Nothing can be understood about the Way by linguistic analysis and breaking down concepts. The only way is the direct, intuitive experience and unity with the Way. However, there is the problem of expressing that intuitive experience with words. Naturally, the Way is a being that exceeds human languages; so describing it in a comprehensible manner poses quite a challenge. Still more, its appropriate description is not any form of compendium or a theory, but rather it should take a form close to poetry. Here, it is the source of Lao- tzu's mysticism, which was later on taken over by Chuang-tzu and developed further
(—p.67, PHILOSOPHY OF NOTHINGNESS AND LOVE Kiyokazu NAKATOMI1, in BIOCOSMOLOGY – NEO-ARISTOTELISM Vol. 6, Nos. 3&4, Summer/Autumn 2016)
For those who look to the Bible, perhaps it might be said that God is what is moving.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Genesis 1:2-3, the Bible) ibid
What does this nothing, this absolute nothingness, have to do with love?
Last night's Friday Evening Conversation heard a woman tell of a chance meeting with a former schoolmate. He’d had a difficult life. She listened to him. She was sad. She brought that meeting and conversation to us. She cried. We were quiet throughout.
The moving recounting.
The feel of it.
I am and have been a stalwart watcher of the House Managers' presentations.
Not only thoroughly thoughtful and pertinent, but a record for historical reference.
Can't see anything but cold recalcitrance should Republicans fail to to concede the clarity and urgency of the case presented against the former president.
We are all strangers.
All monks, as is well known, are unmarried, and hermits more unmarried than the rest of them. Not that I have anything against women. I see no reason why a man can’t love God and a woman at the same time. If God was going to regard women with a jealous eye, why did he go and make them in the first place? There is a lot of talk about a married clergy. Interesting. So far there has not been a great deal said about married hermits. Well, anyway, I have the place full of ikons of the Holy Virgin.
One might say I had decided to marry the silence of the forest. The sweet dark warmth of the whole world will have to be my wife. Out of the heart of that dark warmth comes the secret that is heard only in silence, but it is the root of all the secrets that are whispered by all the lovers in their beds all over the world. So perhaps I have an obligation to preserve the stillness, the silence, the poverty, the virginal point of pure nothingness which is at the center of all other loves. I attempt to cultivate this plant without comment in the middle of the night and water it with psalms and prophecies in silence. It becomes the most rare of all the trees in the garden, at once the primordial paradise tree, the axis mundi, the cosmic axle, and the Cross. Nulla silva talem profert. There is only one such tree. It cannot be multiplied. It is not interesting.
(— from, Day of a Stranger by Thomas Merton)
Why not call one another by each one’s living name?
Senate republicans move toward jury nullification.
That’s when you know the defendant is guilty, but you don’t care.
Something very disturbing about their strategy.
For those who value truth and action predicated on truth...
Deep desolation, followed by antagonistic anarchy.
He was a ghost standing in Chase’s Daily that morning (how many years ago?) stopping for coffee and muffins driving north, when driving somewhere to do something was a thing being done. He’d been in a coma for months, he said, heart.
One of the problems of discussing kokoro in English is that by linking words—heart and spirit and mind—with “and,” we imply divisions that simply don’t exist in Japanese. But in this Eastern culture, the three aren’t intrinsically linked as one: They are one.
Researchers are beginning to break down conceptual barriers and explore what artists, writers, mystics, and dreamers of many cultures have long acknowledged: the mysterious tie between heart and mind, a.k.a., kokoro. For example, scientists in Japan consider this concept while working on computer simulations, robotics, primatology, and more; it has allowed Japanese researchers to explore and discuss spiritual matters in a way that’s otherwise impossible in an academic environment.
“Are the familiar Western (and some distinctively English) concepts of mind, heart, spirit, will, consciousness, soul…the best way to describe and divide human experience?” asks Paul Swanson, a professor of humanities at Nanzan University in Japan. “Or is a broader and more inclusive concept useful for understanding how humans think and feel?”
Swanson is a permanent fellow at the Nanzan Institute of Religion and Culture (NIRC), which in 1993 began bringing together experts in religion, philosophy, and the sciences. They aim to break down barriers and connect like-minded areas of knowledge that other academics consider distinct, ultimately attempting to understand the ineffable, the mystery of humanness. “Thoughts, feelings, and desires, or will, are all interrelated aspects of what it means to be human, and we would be wise to take all of them, and their interrelationship, into account in order to understand human experience,” he says.
(— from, This Japanese word connecting mind, body, and spirit is also driving scientific discover by Ephrat Livni, 2017
It was his heart, he said.
It was good to talk with him, there, smells of baking and coffee throughout.
Next we knew, he’d died.
His artwork and calligraphy throughout our house across from Bald Mountain.
The view of which we’ve not grown bored.
My heart recalls.
Sadako Sasaki was a two year old girl when the atomic bomb was dropped. She is remembered for attempting to fold a thousand paper cranes before her death of cancer.
Published: Jun 11, 2011
a thousand paper
cranes carried her prayers for peace
lay with her in sleep
in her almond eyes
the flash of a smile spoke love
folded into death
yet her mother held her hand
recalling heavens of ash
When will we clear the skies that the cranes may fly and little girls may live?
There is a longing to enter into and comprehend what it means to share in the body of Christ.
An emerging mystical consciousness surrounds a grounding creation spirituality that begins to recognize the embodied reality throughout all of nature and material manifestation of a permeating reality of Christ-nature, an underlying essential and existential trueness and goodness that is our bodily and spiritual home with what is called God, with what-is love itself.
Abhishiktananda (Henri le Saux)3 is quoted:
“The discovery of Christ’s I AM is the ruin of any Christian theology, for all notions are burnt within the fire of experience.”4
Then Richard Kearney writes:
Though Abhishiktananda was the chief celebrant, he himself seems to have written little about this event—yet there are some telling hints in diary entries which I shall consider below. It was the host, Sara Grant, who provided the best account, describing the Vigil as a genuinely “trans-cultural celebration” which was much more than a “preparatory para-liturgy.” And while the sharing of scriptures from different biblical and Vedic sources was central, what was most striking for her personally was the “bodily aspect of the being and the fact that we experienced it as community.” She explains: “suddenly we realized that until his death, Jesus was bound by history and its limitations, but through his death and resurrection he had burst the bonds of space and time and could be recognized as not only Lord and Christ but as Sat purusha, the archetypal Man of Vedic tradition in whom every member of the human race can recognize the truth of his or her being” (Grant 2002: 72)
(—Ch.2, pp.140-141, TOWARD AN OPEN EUCHARIST, Richard Kearney, in Ritual Participation and Interreligious Dialogue Boundaries, Transgressions and Innovations, Edited by Marianne Moyaert and Joris Geldhof, 2015)
The world longs for unity.
Unity is the root reality of Being.
Why are we so slow to notice?
Why is it such a struggle to practice what we know in our bones and in our sight to be true?