Sunday, May 01, 2016

Fr Daniel Berrigan S.J. (May 9, 1921 – April 30, 2016)

In the wind
He won’t be missed.
Poet, prophet, philosopher of burnt draft records,
dented metal, and scorched oppressive scraps
and screeds of injustice.
He was annoying and he turned to and loved
annoying mystical simple liturgy.
He was an ex-con, wore handcuffs, did time, thought about God,
wrote about smelly fish and sour milk and failed promises
and those who let us down.
Nah, we can do without his kind.
Maybe not well, but we’ll adjust. No more attempting
to tell us what scripture really says. No more trying to tell us
with poetry what only poetry can divulge.
We won’t miss him.
We won’t.
Not me.
I’ll even forget I walked beside him
in Norristown PA. Ash Wednesday
in nineteen eighty one outside Court building.
Him carrying ashes in metal top of garbage can
Blowing away, uncontainable
Thirty five years later.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

“Why do you walk?” (Daniel Berrigan)

Dan Berrigan has died.
While he was known for his wry wit, there was a darkness in much of what Father Berrigan wrote and said, the burden of which was that one had to keep trying to do the right thing regardless of the near certainty that it would make no difference. In the withering of the pacifist movement and the country’s general support for the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, he saw proof that it was folly to expect lasting results. 
“This is the worst time of my long life,” he said in an interview with The Nation in 2008. “I have never had such meager expectations of the system.” 
What made it bearable, he wrote elsewhere, was a disciplined, implicitly difficult belief in God as the key to sanity and survival.
(Daniel J. Berrigan, Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism, Dies at 94,
Annoying poet and pacifist priest.

For whom I am grateful.
 (to the Plowshares 8, with love),                                                         
          by Daniel Berrigan 

Some stood up once, and sat down. 
Some walked a mile, and walked away. 

Some stood up twice, then sat down.
“It’s too much,” they cried.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
“I’ve had it,” they cried, 

Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools,
they were taken for being taken in. 

Some walked and walked and walked –
they walked the earth,
they walked the waters,
they walked the air. 

“Why do you stand?” they were asked, and
“Why do you walk?” 

“Because of the children,” they said, and
“Because of the heart, and
“Because of the bread,” 

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

Theme -- Nothing, what's with you?

“Thus each individual inherits a collective memory from past members of the species, and also contributes to the collective memory, affecting other members of the species in the future." 
      (--Rupert Sheldrake)

Perhaps all learning is relational. Maybe everything we learn is somehow offered to everyone else. Maybe the thoughts and memories of every person, every creature, are available to everyone of us once we enter into correct relationship with anything.

"An alternative assumption is that awareness goes all the way down the evolutionary tree. This leads to the conclusion that the cosmos is a vast field of information that is also aware, a field of knowing knowing itself." (--Peter Russell)

Someday I'll go and call up Rudy 
We worked together at the factory 
But what could I say if asks, "What's new?" 
Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do 

Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger 
And old rivers grow wilder every day 
Old people just grow lonesome 
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello" 

So if you're walking down the street sometime 
And spot some hollow ancient eyes 
Please don’t just pass ‘em by and stare   
As if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello”   
(excerpt, from  song, Hello In There, by John Prine

• Here is my philosophy of education for 30April2016:    
        Is education relational caring reflecting what is learning between us?  (--bh)

Note: “what is learning” is a trick theological and philosophical phrase. The magical structure of consciousness allows for a variety of       spacings          to pop up:
what           is learning
what-is            learning
what is learning
“what is” as God
“what is” as reality
“is learning” as the educative emergence of Being
“is” as between “what” (the so-called objective world) and “learning” (the act of relational caring)

In segregation unit visiting booth yesterday DB and I discussed Krishna and Arjuna’s relationship similarity to the LORD God walking in the Garden with Adam. We decided to call such mythic evocations “strolling friendships” depicting the relational caring mode of being necessary for mutual learning toward dwelling as now-being and moving toward becoming-future.

Prison is new monastery. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

There was a tree in front of the house


Of Siena.

And Bensonhurst.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

knowing knowing itself

Awareness is ground. Whatever steps onto the ground is held by awareness until it steps off.

There is nothing other than awareness, ground, and what steps thereon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

as if an opinion meant something

I don’t like obscenely rich anything

desserts, athletes, politicians, churches
banks, musicians, or actors.

And I don’t care that I don’t care
that I don’t like what I don’t like.

There’s a reason cars pass
at night along country roads --

they’re going somewhere;
once you’re dead, you’re dead

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

in conversation with students

drawn between
A blackbird struts behind my car. I sit at Rockport Harbor. A young Russian girl holds out her hand saying, "It's snowing!" Her brother, a few inches taller than his sister, asks the parents ahead of them pushing a stroller, "How could it be snowing in Spring?" They drive away. And, yes, it is snowing!
I've been reading and reflecting on the writings so far on this epilogue. They are wonderful and evocative!
And I think of my friend who died forty years ago, the one I just learned about last week. His daughter, I discover, has written a book of poems, many of which give a glimpse of the experience 40 years ago.
Here's one:
The Door Flies Open
There’s my mother at the kitchen table
with a bowl of soup.
I’m around the doorframe
where she goes to talk on the phone, twisting
the cord into the other room.
My dad is upstairs with the nurse.
A thread of steam
pulls up from the soup. The spoon
stays on the table. Sometimes
you have to watch the icicles in the windows,
check for movement in the clouds.
We can hear the nurse walking on our ceiling,
the toilet flushing in the wall, the cuckoo clock
that my dad brought back from Florence.
See how my mother has pulled back, like a sticker?
The world keeps falling into her
like the trees in the car windows.
She loves the names of the streets here:
Cedar, Walnut, Ash, all going north to
Priest Lake where they spent the week
Nixon resigned, sat in the car to listen to the news,
said Why are we here in these evergreens,
one after another? This isn’t New York.
They don’t have to clomp their shoes down hard
on the sidewalks, carry sandwiches
and umbrellas. This is no longer
the blue-mountained future.
She dips her spoon in the soup, cool enough now.  
    (-- from, Instructions for My Mother's Funeral, by Laura Read, c.2012)

Truth be told, I don't understand death -- not what it is, nor the things that are said about it, what happens after it occurs, nor the thinking that suggests, either way, it is a good thing or it is a bad thing.
But this is what I am learning:
  • It is a fact.
  • Just about everything dies, eventually.
  • It is poignant.
  • We either think about it, or we don't think about it.
  • It evokes deep and profound feelings.
That's the learning. Now, I ask myself, what about the education? 
A few weeks ago I defined (for the 2000th attempt) what education might be: "To emerge out into presence."
Having watched Wit last week, I am struck again that perhaps it is the process itself of experiencing life that death is about. Said differently, death is less about the cessation of life than it is about the living of life as life unfolds itself.
What we call 'death' is the curtain drawn between what we know and what we don't know.
This wording suggests to me that what we don't know is what we are afraid of. And this, I suspect, is true. We do seem to fear what we don't know (e.g. the stranger, the foreigner, the immigrant, the different sex, gender, the unknown other). 
And yet, the unknown, and that which we don't know, are as much a part of us as our toes, the hair on top of our heads, and the thumb that scratches our chin. I wriggle my toes, I (used to) brush my hair, and I do a 'thumbs up' to express approval of this or that.
In other words, I engage what I don't know, I interact with it, I respect it for what it is -- the unknown. 
The snow falls heavier. I still have my snow tires on. The blackbird has flown off. I turn engine on to heat up car -- there's a chill.
 I've long wondered what it meant to dwell in the between. 
  • There's an easier version: to dwell within what is said or takes place between you and me. 
  • And there's a more difficult version: to dwell in the place between the known and the unknown. 
  • Then there's a meditative, reflective, contemplative version: to dwell in the veiled/unveiling space that is the curtain -- that revealing wonder -- crossing borders, straddling boundaries, stepping into the thin place between everything and everything.
Ranciere and Jacotot spoke of the panecastic vision -- everything in everything -- suggesting, it seems to me, that there remains yet a marvelous field of exploration that might diminish our hesitation and fear about the between place of life in death/death in life.
I'm going to think a little further about  'death' as curtain drawn between what we know and what we don't know. 
Aristotle began his writings on Metaphysics with:
Part 1 

"ALL men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things.
(--Metaphysics, By Aristotle, Written 350 B.C.E., Translated by W. D. Ross)
He might be right, that everyone of us desires to know. That we long to emerge out into the presence of what is true, good, just, loving, and real. That there seems to be a curtain we must put our hand to.
And draw it.
Inch by inch.
Letting light through. 
To see and feel what is there.
To share with one another.

Monday, April 25, 2016

truth is in the telling


my words

give  Christ a narrative

with which

to story the earth

with a way

of seeing

Sunday, April 24, 2016


"If you are grateful,
you are not fearful.
If you are not fearful,
you are not violent."
   (--David Steindl Rast, from TED talk, 2013)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Light a candle for safe travels

For the living and the dead.

Saturday afternoon.

Book from Hall street Brooklyn arrives referencing friend from Brooklyn who died four decades ago still hangs around in daughters poems.

Sits awhile in Maine.

The way life should be.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Terra incognita

Buddha touched the earth to witness his enlightenment.

Jesus said lets get down to earth.

Dogen said forget the self to study self.

Francis embraced brother sun and sister moon from deep stance on earth.

Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

no ego, no thinking

Anger, courage, and wrath.

Ego as being pissed off.
The Mental Structure: The Ego 
In the Ever-Present Origin (1985), as the deficient
form of the mythological structure of consciousness with its imaginal constructions of the world collapsed and mutated under the pressing emergence of origin, a new intensity of self-awareness began to become manifest. Among the importantly cited evidence for this emergence was, in the West, the Iliad of Homer and in the East, the Bhagavad Gita. This structure of consciousness is termed by Gebser the “mental”; a term which is a derivative of “menis”, whose accusative form is “menin”. To quote Gebser’s dramatic pronouncement, “[menin] is the first word of the first verse of the first canto of the first major Western utterance... the opening word of the Iliad” (p. 74). This word meaning “wrath” and “courage” comes from the same stem as the word “menos” which means “resolve”, “anger”, “courage”, and “power”. To again quote Gebser, “what is fundamental here is already evident in the substance of these words: it is the first intimation of the emergence of directed or discursive thought” (p. 75).
Gebser thus claims to “have discovered the link between thinking and wrath” (p. 76). He explains that it (i.e., mental consciousness) is “anger -- not blind wrath, but ‘thinking’ wrath [which] gives thought and action its direction. It is ruthless and inconsiderate,... that is, it does not look backwards; it turns man away from his previous world of mythical enclosure and aims forward... It individualizes man from his previously valid world, emphasizing his singu- larity and making his ego possible” (p. 76). Assuming a correct understanding of Gebser here, we are left to conclude that anger plays a central role in the birth and maintenance of ego consciousness. As will be discussed shortly, Gebser’s assertion that the ego is founded upon anger is in close alignment with the view of ego as advanced by ACIM. 
(--from, Gebser’s Integral Consciousness and Living in the Real World: Facilitating its Emergence Using A Course In Miracles, by, Cornelius J. Holland,Douglas A. MacDonald
Thinking and wrath.

I’ll think about that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

क्षेत्र • (kṣetra)*

I’ve just found out.

I’m slow to learn.

We’ve stood on the same ground.

I am pleased we did so.
Richard Cefalu, d. 12/12/1976, age 32 
Rick Curry S.J., d. 12/19/2015, age 72
In that field of smart and good Jesuits (and near-Jesuits) I become क्षपणीभूत. **

* क्षेत्र (kṣetra) m (Urdu spelling کشيتر) 1 field, land, enclosed plot of ground पौधे इस क्षेत्र में उगते हैं। 

**  क्षपणीभूत [ kṣapaṇībhūta ] one who takes on the garb of a mendicant

riktatā रिक्तता

Monk with no affiliation 
no attachment to anything 
nor nothing -- sees only 
this passing alone


is what
I know
about death

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Friend I've been looking for several years, 
so it seems, died 40 yrs ago at 32.

I buy his daughter's book of poems
She'll say more about it. 

I can stop looking. Wm Carlos Wms
would be pleased to hear

Sometimes you can get the news 
from poems; still, men die daily

understanding the mistakes

I was looking for an example of how one honors the individual. Even as atrocities are committed and you might only be able to watch, not able to do anything to intervene or forestall. How, in their presence, some redemption is possible. How someone, for example, in a prison-camp or in a helping profession, is helpless in the face of cruelty or circumstances of impossible alteration.
There is of course the "practical" approach. You can say that "Nature" erases from existence the species (nations, cultural groups) which-are unable to adapt to the forward course of evolution. You can say (adopting Lawrence's analysis) that the Japanese failed to respond to "the twentieth-century call for greater and more precise individual differentiation" (the democratic way), and could not, therefore, survive. This way you cast the military machine of the United States in the role of Nature's scavenging operations, with the atom bomb as a kind of climactic triumph of natural law. You admit that people get hurt in the unfolding of the evolutionary struggle, but add that this can't really be helped. (And if you say this, you will of course be willing to die as heroically as Hara, when your time comes, because the black men, or the yellow men, have become the avant-garde in the evolutionary struggle.) 
But if you don't like this argument, or are unwilling to make it openly and press it to a logical conclusion, you have serious problems. These can be got at by taking into account the two kinds of moral authorities the world has known: the spiritual teachers and the law-makers. 
From the spiritual teachers we have what are sometimes called "counsels of perfection." Both Buddha and Jesus give instruction according to the sublime ideal of human perfection. You don't find any talk of the "lesser of two evils" in what they say. They don't seem to recognize any extenuations in the pressure of practical affairs. The only compromise they allow is in the service of the weak. Self-interest is simply not permitted as a basis of action. In the case of Jesus, not even the higher self-interest of preserving the person of the Teacher would allow the wrong of violence. When Jesus was arrested, as Matthew relates, "one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." And earlier in Matthew, when Peter asks: "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him: till seven times seven?" Jesus makes answer: "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." 
Plainly, the great teachers were not legislators. They did not deal in "equity." Their doctrines seem not to have included any solutions for the problems of practical men. These were left to the Manus, the Solons, the authors of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and all the constitution-makers of history. One wonders why. 
In any event, it seems possible to say that the law-makers, whether from ignorance or knowledge, undertook something far more difficult than repeating the counsels of perfection. They attempted to codify the compromises that would be necessary to make the social community a going concern. For men of conscience and human sympathy, this must have been an extremely painful task. You might even wonder if they had to drug themselves with some kind of moral blindness in order to do it at all. 
Whatever the explanation, let us take this "moral blindness" hypothesis as the basis for understanding the mistakes—if they are mistakes—of the law-makers. 
(--from, WHAT IS A MAN TO DO?, MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE , VOLUME XVII, NO. 23 JUNE 3, 1964 
Note: MANAS was an eight-page philosophical weekly written, edited, and published by Henry Geiger from 1948 until December 1988. Each issue typically contained several short essays that reflected on the human condition, examining in particular environmental and ethical concerns from a global perspective. E. F. Schumacher's influential essay on Buddhist economics was published in the journal. 
 Then there is the Dalai Lama, who always seems to help:
A central teaching in most spiritual traditions is: What you wish to experience, provide for another. 
Look to see, now, what it is you wish to experience--in your own life, and in the world. Then see if there is another for whom you may be the source of that. 
If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another. If you wish to know that you are safe, cause [others] to know that they are safe. If you wish to better understand seemingly incomprehensible things, help another to better understand. 
If you wish to heal your own sadness or anger, seek to heal the sadness or anger of another. 
Those others are waiting for you now. They are looking to you for guidance, for help, for courage, for strength, for understanding, and for assurance at this hour. Most of all, they are looking to you for love. 
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. 
Dalai Lama

That helps.

Monday, April 18, 2016

rain at midnight

I don’t plan to read much once I’m dead --

Words have so little interest

once they have

no one there

just when you think you have nothing to say

Talking to Ourselves

          by Philip Schultz

A woman in my doctor’s office last week
couldn’t stop talking about Niagara Falls,
the difference between dog and deer ticks,
how her oldest boy, killed in Iraq, would lie
with her at night in the summer grass, singing
Puccini.  Her eyes looked at me but saw only
the saffron swirls of the quivering heavens.
Yesterday, Mr. Miller, our tidy neighbor,
stopped under our lopsided maple to explain
how his wife of sixty years died last month
of Alzheimer’s.  I stood there, listening to
his longing reach across the darkness with
each bruised breath of his eloquent singing.
This morning my five-year-old asked himself
why he’d come into the kitchen.  I understood
he was thinking out loud, personifying himself,
but the intimacy of his small voice was surprising.
When my father’s vending business was failing,
he’d talk to himself while driving, his lips
silently moving, his black eyes deliquescent.
He didn’t care that I was there, listening,
what he was saying was too important.
“Too important,” I hear myself saying
in the kitchen, putting the dishes away,
and my wife looks up from her reading
and asks, “What’s that you said?”
-from Failure

(Thanks to Walt at Quarry Hill for bringing to group and reading this on Friday.)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

rigpa* (the word)

Time nears.

When it arrives we’ll know what we need to know.

Like the dwelling place of silence.

Where no one ever has to explain anything.

Where it doesn’t matter what we think.

Only the sound of breath.


*  Rigpa is a Tibetan word, which in general means ‘intelligence’ or ‘awareness’. In Dzogchen, however, the highest teachings in the Buddhist tradition of Tibet, rigpa has a deeper connotation, ‘the innermost nature of the mind’. The whole of the teaching of Buddha is directed towards realizing this, our ultimate nature, the state of omniscience or enlightenment—a truth so universal, so primordial that it goes beyond all limits, and beyond even religion itself.Rigpa (Skt. vidyā; Tib. རིག་པ་, Wyl. rig pa);  Added: 02.Oct.2011 | Rigpa Shedra: An Online Encyclopedia of Tibetan Buddhism

Friday, April 15, 2016

minutes, 14Apr2016, class #11

Theme, The light between: versions and margins