Wednesday, June 29, 2016

That was then

Twenty years ago today

Bookshop and bakery

On camden harbor


Staying that way

For thirteen years

all of this is intertwined

There are phrases here,"binary, spectrum; post-truth politics" that feel new to my hearing. So, naturally, I hear them all over the place all at once. To wit:
Boris Johnson does not show up to the Commons; he is busy, presumably. But watch how the Tories are realigning. They can do this post-truth politics, where you say one thing and mean another; where you stab someone in the front as you do the old-boy handshake; where you are accountable to the few, not the many, and you don’t really pretend otherwise. There is a political agility here – some call it “Trumpism”, some psychosis – but recognise it if you want to understand it. It is unencumbered by “truth”, “authenticity” and “beliefs”, which is why the bloodletting over Jeremy Corbyn’s “leadership” is ever more sad. 
The left is still talking in a series of binaries that no longer apply and are no longer helpful. The referendum was, of course, the false binary that bust them. In or out of Europe. You couldn’t be a little bit in, as most now seem to want. It was always destined to be a protest against the life-sucking effects of globalisation. It has unleashed horrendous racism. To say we choose, somehow, between race and class is just dumb. All of this is intertwined and remains in play. 
Now, to see Labour re-enacting some Blair/Brown war a zillion years later is another totally dysfunctional binary. Most Labour MPs are on a spectrum. Most people are and, if we cannot move beyond that, we are, as children, forced to choose between warring parents for ever. The bile flows, the differences are irreconcilable, so we turn on ourselves with another false choice: the morally pure but unelectable against those who have committed vile sins of compromise. 
This is a crisis of all representative democracy – What is it? Who represents us? How is this achieved? – and it is being acted out in a gestalt psychodrama by Labour. In public. Who has a say? Corbyn and his cadre of public school revolutionaries who speak for the members, or the MPs, some of them elected by actual voters? Are the internal party rules more important than external reality? Beam me up, Scotty. Lost in this equation are the Labour voters, more than nine million of them the last time I looked. I guess Labour is doing post-truth after all. 
(--from, The bloodletting over Jeremy Corbyn is sad – the left is stuck in old binaries, by Suzanne Moore. The Guardian, 29June2016)
Indeed, who represents us?

And, how deep will the crisis pointed out by this question actually go?

mangia tutti

Strive always to preserve freedom of spirit, so that you need do nothing with the view of pleasing the world, and that no fear of displeasing it will have power to shake your good resolutions.  
(-- Venerable Louis de Blois, 1506-1566)
In the morning, early, there is a symphony of awakening birds conducted by misty fog through rising light. 

For this -- I am grateful.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

obtuse and unaware

Now Turkey.


It’s too late.

The barn door will stay open.

Monday, June 27, 2016

prêt à partir

Il n'y a pas de quoi.

Pas de tout!

After lengthy conversation, afterwords

I am too much a fatalist to be fond of words like control and demand.

I hear your situation, your thinking and your desire to experience good solid caring and respect from people whose professional duty is to provide these things.

You will continue to seek a level of competence and courtesy that their job and your need both require.

When I said we have to be careful not to crowd out others by filling the room with our opinions and judgments about them and their work, I was not disputing the legitimacy of your desires and rights as patient purchaser. Rather was I expressing sensitivity as to how -- in oppressive and infuriating experiences of unrecalcitrant obtuseness and perceived inattentiveness to proper good practice on the part of skill-set or normal human interaction -- one must transcend the inner rhetoric of blaming others or victim hood, and become partners-in-the-play. 

By this I mean that, as a fatalist, I recognize that we are determined in our rote and ritualized responses to reality as it pops up. But I hold that determinism is caused by absence of awareness. It is the default position of human behavior. If predominates when any individual fails to "show up" in their life at the moment for particular tasks or interactions of an intersubjective nature. 

In other words, we normally have been satisfied with the categories of subjective or objective when assessing acts or thoughts or ways of being in the world. But there are important new ways of seeing and acting in the world that no longer limit us to thinking we are being subjective or objective.

These ways consider the words intersubjectively, interactively, inter-connectively, and interbeing.

The essential difference appears to me to be that a core belief is challenged here, namely, that we are subjects doing things to objects. Rather, if we were to embrace a different understanding of both grammar and human agency, the subject-verb-object template would step aside in our minds and make way for a "between" template that acknowledges difference but behaves and acts with non-difference, or, no-separation. 

Hence, the nurse is not giving medication to you a patient, she is giving medication to her mother her daughter her husband herself.

In any conversation, I am not talking at you or even with you, I am speaking among the trees, my past, God, fears, fondness, and chocolate sprinkles. Every utterance is the act of creation, sustenance, and dissolution of the entire cosmos. 

The act/speech of no-separation does not mean no-difference. We are different. It means non-difference. Namely, we are no-other. As no-other we begin (always) to unravel and understand the marvelous complexity and beauty of being-in-the-world as who-we-are shall-we-be-there.

Pas-autres. No other.
Kein anderer. No other.
Ninguna otra. No other. 

Whether English, French, German, or Spanish, “no other” is a foundational re-construct of perception. I submit there's something here to talk about. I suspect there’s something useful here to work with.

listen, even woodpeckers are at work early

Can you hear them?

The birds?

Dawning songs?

Joyful noise?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

in passing

Such a simple profound plea. 

I wonder who's listening.
Arise, Lord; save me, my God (Ps.3)

βλέπω (vlépo̱)

Looking down

Everything is looking up

Saturday, June 25, 2016

As June nears end

Something's happening here.

Prepare for the worse.

Expect nothing.


Tao through and through again returning through the opposite


is where no

goes when it


what is 



Thursday, June 23, 2016

after leaving a cardboard coffee cup on windshield wiper of grey Saab in Rockland

I received an email.

I responded.
 About the cup, there was nothing in it for me. It took the poem. Wiped away a tear. Never said a word. Very French. I drove away wondering if it would notice how moved it would be when it rained. 
Nah, I figured, it was all about agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She (there, I admit it) was ... done with my lips, holding her, done with black pickups. 
Our morning snacking was over. I'd looked into her ... and felt an emptiness only Wednesday could reflect back.
About that, I had to finally come to terms with something nobody should have to face in the hours before noon, namely, I'd had no cereal, just coffee and -- (donut ask me to go on) -- this town is in my rear view.
You never know when poetry will distinguish or disappoint. Yves Bonnefoy's poem about Ceres, especially the final stanza, does not disappoint.

Still, one must be philosophical.
Once, in my youth, I took a graduate philosophy seminar I thought would be about law and justice: Instead we discussed the semantic implications of punctuation marks. After class, I found myself venting to a friend who’d been a literature professor. I told her I was unsatiated by the course—it felt like when I had discovered poetry and found, in practice, this most lyric of arts often meant writing about flowers or describing an epiphany in the grocery store checkout line. My friend laughed. “You know your problem?” she said. “You thought that philosophy would be Truth and poetry would be Beauty.”
Apparently, this is Ben Lerner’s problem too. In his new book, The Hatred of Poetry, the poet, novelist, and MacArthur “genius” argues that if you love poetry’s promise of transcendence, you must also hate poems for their failure to keep up their end of the bargain. “Poetry,” Lerner writes, “arises from the desire to get beyond the finite and the historical—the human world of violence and difference—and to reach the transcendent or divine.” The only problem? Poems are ultimately human rather than divine in character. “As soon as you move from that impulse to the actual poem,” he continues, “the song of the infinite is compromised by the finitude of its terms. In a dream your verses can defeat time… but when you wake… you’re back in the human world with its inflexible laws and logic.” 
 (--from, What's the Matter With Poetry?, by Ken Chen, The New Republic, 23June2016)
It is hard to tell anymore where words come from or go; whether they create what we call reality or merely try to describe what we'd like to think of as a factual verifiable world.

That falls away, the sorting and fascination with distinctions.

One is left with white clouds in blue sky through green leaves.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Just at dusk.

When thoughts of day begin to dim.

Bird song.

Begins to say good night.

Soup warms.

Last drops of earlier rain fall from roof to porch mainsail.

                         . Armando Spadini .

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


So silent they stand.

So still they peekaboo with sky and water sun and reflection.

So may we be for one another a place of silence, stillness, and reflective inquiry.

Monday, June 20, 2016

If you ever change your mind


It arranges itself surrounding solitude.

A yurt near brook.


Day quiets. 

Trees watch.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday evening transitions

Millionaires play basketball tonight. 

Others end zen practice with the words, 

"May all beings come to dwell in their true home.”

 Moon is bright --

 wind blows 

 spring away

Saturday, June 18, 2016

No really, I do

In the United States there are many lies. It's hard to figure out which ones are the worse. 

Simple jealousy? Abuse of power? Weak wills?

I have a simple answer.

Pretending to care. The cynical correctness that carries with it no substance.

It is so close to sincerity it is seldom noticed.

It insinuates.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Why do you come in here? Because you're here.

What do we learn in prison?

We learn that we are one another in prison.

A realization so punishing it requires us to forget who we are.

Which is cruel and inhuman.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

embracing both extremes of a contradiction

It becomes increasingly curious/silly the distinctive/divisive sorting that accompanies looking at religions/traditions with an eye to distinguishing a hierarchy of better/best for so-called spiritual seekers. More to the point, the contemporary lexical chic distinction between religious/spiritual promises to obliterate interest in traditional religion in favor of irreligion and any individual quest for the liberating/holy might take an idiorhythmic non-institutional direction.

Put differently, similar to current attitudes toward any retrievable dignity of government, there is a corresponding trending toward a view noting the irrelevance and impertinence of religion.

I understand both these attitudes. It has been said that today's young adults do not look to change government; they seek to change that which government is either incapable or unwilling to change, namely, the situation itself or the mindset that contributes toward unacceptable situations. So too the church. There is a bypassing of the authority and authoritativeness of the church -- catholic and protestant -- for a more direct and personal practice of what once the church attempted to represent, namely, encountering God with no barriers.
This discovery of Christ is never genuine if it is nothing but a flight from ourselves. On the contrary, it cannot be an escape. It must be a fulfillment. I cannot discover God in myself and myself in Him unless I have the courage to face myself exactly as I am, with all my limitations, and to accept others as they are, with all their limitations. The religious answer is not religious if it is not fully real. Evasion is the answer of superstition.  
This matter of “salvation” is, when seen intuitively, a very simple thing. But when we analyze it, it turns into a complex tangle of paradoxes. We become ourselves by dying to ourselves. We gain only what we give up, and if we give up everything we gain everything. We cannot find ourselves within ourselves, but only in others, yet at the same time before we can go out to others we must first find ourselves. We must forget ourselves in order to truly become conscious of who we are. The best way to love ourselves it to love others, yet we cannot love others unless we love ourselves since it is written, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” But if we love ourselves in the wrong way, we become incapable of loving anybody else. And indeed, when we love ourselves wrongly we hate ourselves; if we hate ourselves we cannot help hating others. Yet there is a sense in which we must hate others and leave them in order to find God. Jesus said: “If any man come to me and hate not his father and his mother … yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:26). As for this “finding” of God, we cannot even look for Him unless we have already found Him, and we cannot find Him unless he has first found us. We cannot begin to seek Him without a special gift of His grace, yet if we wait for grace to move us, before beginning to seek Him, we will probably never begin.  
The only effective answer to the problem of salvation must therefore be to reach out to embrace both extremes of a contradiction at the same time. Hence that answer must be supernatural.  
(--pp.12-13, Thomas Merton, in, No Man is an Island, 1955) 
The dictionary has supernatural as "(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature." (apple dictionary) 

This "beyond" suggests there is a ungraspable continuity between what we call natural and that which is beyond-natural, i.e. meta-scientific or meta-law.

What is this 'beyond'? Perhaps, like the ending of the prajnaparamita, after one has gone completely beyond, there is the awake and rejoicing gratefulness -- just this!

There's no place to go beyond here.

There is only this, the realization of this, and the complete transcendent joy of bordering, protecting, and greeting this.

Such it is; such we are.

Such as it is; such as we are.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Here we are; what is here

When the words are spoken, remain silent.


When silence is heard, you are home.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

what we do when we do what we do

This is what we have to face today.
I believe that we are lost here in America, but I believe we shall be found. And this belief, which mounts now to the catharsis of knowledge and conviction, is for me -- and I think for all of us -- not only our own hope, but America's everlasting, living dream.                   
(--from, You Can’t Go Home Again, by Thomas Wolfe)                 
If we don't care, it doesn't matter. Then, let there be wars, let there be warriors who continue to suffer life, kill back home, and commit suicide.

But if we care -- alongside medical research, rehabilitative therapy, and compassionate attention -- why not consider no longer fomenting war, no longer responding to that childish mantra of -- “I want that, it’s mine, give it to me!” -- whenever we petulantly, arrogantly, mindlessly decide that our wants and perceived needs come first and foremost, everyone else be damned.
Perl’s findings, published in the scientific journal The Lancet Neurology, may represent the key to a medical mystery first glimpsed a century ago in the trenches of World War I. It was first known as shell shock, then combat fatigue and finally PTSD, and in each case, it was almost universally understood as a psychic rather than a physical affliction. Only in the past decade or so did an elite group of neurologists, physicists and senior officers begin pushing back at a military leadership that had long told recruits with these wounds to “deal with it,” fed them pills and sent them back into battle.  
If Perl’s discovery is confirmed by other scientists — and if one of blast’s short-term signatures is indeed a pattern of scarring in the brain — then the implications for the military and for society at large could be vast. Much of what has passed for emotional trauma may be reinterpreted, and many veterans may step forward to demand recognition of an injury that cannot be definitively diagnosed until after death. There will be calls for more research, for drug trials, for better helmets and for expanded veteran care. But these palliatives are unlikely to erase the crude message that lurks, unavoidable, behind Perl’s discovery: Modern warfare destroys your brain.
(--from, What if PTSD Is More Physical Than Psychological? By ROBERT F. WORTH, Jun 10, 2016, NYTimes)
War is demented.

There still are choices to be made.

I will not rape.

I will not shoot people. 

I will not descend into cynicism.

I merely sorrow for what we do to one another.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

no trace

There’s only one thing that matters in life: Arriving here, where we are, fully aware who we are where we are.

And there’s only one difficulty in life: We don’t want to be here. And yet here we are. 

Therefore there’s only one problem we have in life: We are a reluctant community, a reluctant community try to figure out what to do, how to be, here. 

Tea and Rice, bZen Master Dogen 
When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves. Similarly, if you examine myriad things with a confused body and mind, you might suppose that your mind and essence are permanent. When you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that nothing at all has unchanging self.  
--To study the way of enlightenment is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.  
–If you attain unsurpassable, complete enlightenment, all sentient beings also attain it. The reason is that all sentient beings are aspects of enlightenment.  
–Great enlightenment right at this moment is not self, not other.  
–If you speak of “achieving enlightenment,” you may think that you don’t usually have enlightenment. If you say, “Enlightenment comes,” you may wonder where it comes from. If you say, “I have become enlightened,” you may suppose that enlightenment has a beginning.  
–Great enlightenment is the tea and rice of daily activity. 

From The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt © 2013. Reprinted with permission of Shambhala Publications. 
Here we are.

We are here.

Why is it we pretend not to know who we are? 

They push each other around; these millionaires shoot baskets

No, this is not really about basketball.

Yes, we are beyond religion. 

Instead we are merely religious, with no structure able to coalesce the longing for truth that rises from each person.

Now what?

As an individual, become the thing itself you long for.

Become, religiously. without structure,  the empty wholeness of solitary communion.

Alone together.

Alone with others.

Alone within community.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Comma period exclamation point question mark


The article said that punctuation was coming to its end

How silly is that

How would we know when to upwardly inflect

Or whether to pause before

Going on

Thursday, June 09, 2016

I don't know why

What is giving self away?

Oh, that's what is called Christ.

What generous love is, giving oneself away.

And where is away?

It is where your self was.

You say hello, I say goodbye.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

It's nothing, really

I go to daily mass in order to meditate on the mystery of someone attending daily mass in coastal Maine late May early June after teaching is done and afterward, for $3 even, a 24 ounce coffee and chocolate donut which feels as holy as thin white wafer and minitaste of altar wine.

Which is that and isn't that at same time.

Which just might be nothing other than anything else only completely itself -- a reconciliation, you might say, of everything with everything else, as god is no judge, only itself among us.

It is structures of consciousness elbowing each other for seat in final pew then going silent while something repeats itself from front of church. A 10 year old boy, Schwinn bicycle leaning on iron fence in Bensonhurst, answering first line with ad deum qui laetificat juventutum meum.

Then, the falling into nothing I knew nor know.

As it is now.

And, no doubt, ever will be.

World without end.


ex opere operato

Sun between top of window and top of trees.

Red vigil candle recognizes, if you will, its source.

PantaRhea moves from east to north window.

It is one thing to wake up of a morning, and another thing to not know anything else.

Not the idea of the room but the room itself.

Out of the work the work itself.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

are and are not

I glanced at a job description for a position in the local parish. I looked up. When I looked back at it four and a half decades had passed. I realized there are things inside things, dolls inside dolls, and as morning unfolds, sun rising, Gregorian chant playing, my glance turns to natura
Eriugena's theology centers on the notion of an infinite, incomprehensible, transcendent God --"the immovable self-identical one" -- whose freely willed theophanies (divine manifestations) alone can be apprehended by created intellects such as angels and human beings.
Natura is defined as universitas rerum, the 'totality of all things' that are (ea quae sunt) and are not (ea quae non sunt).
(--Dermot Moran, Johannes Scottus Eriugena, in The History of Western Philosophy of Relinion, ed. by Oppy & Trakakis, c.2009)
I'm glad to have walked within and circumambulated the Catholic Church. I have done so as an idiorhythmic monastic mendicant.
Something I have come to understand slowly over my lifetime is that nature, earth, the world—whatever you call it—is not simply something I am on but something I am. It is not outside of me: it is me, and I am it. There is no outside.
(—Paul Kingsnorth, "The Witness")
The outside makes me lonely. The inside finds me alone.

The mystery and mysticism silently surround the place I pass through.

I belong nowhere.

I am content as, Camus suggests, was Sisyphus.

Monday, June 06, 2016

ama nesciri

The foolish want perfection.

The ordinary person wants to get through.

The empty minded says "thanks for this" -- and steps aside.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

unminding me

Looking back, I thought I missed the liturgical celebrations of the Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, doing prison, nursing home, helping with a woman needing medical/support help.

On reflection, these hearts beat without me.

negotiating for release

Prison is both concrete and metaphorical.

So is birth and death.
 The Incarnation announces the radical particularity of each individual and the radical particularity of the things in the world, and that the metaphysical cause of that condition of things is the birth and death and resurrection of Christ who, while being the universal God, took it upon himself to become a radical particular. This fact instigates, progressively, our transformation from being mere copies of eternal paradigms to being fully existent identities. Radical particularity applies universally: it delivers to all particulars their status as particulars; it imparts to each thing the condition of its identity, granting to it what in the past it only had as it were on loan from its eternal original. And yet the Incarnation is able to become a universal cause by becoming a particular fact. What for Platonic thought, for instance, belonged to a realm of atemporal forms or ideas, has entered history. The forms are in the world as the schemata for the things of the world, fully existing only as those things.  
(--from, History and “The Thinking Now Occurring” by Charles Stein)
I’ve begun to think of my visits to prison these twenty seven years as a succession of three hour sentences I serve with a bevy of cellmates with whom I meet in enclosed rooms and open areas to discuss terms, negotiating for release.
Radical Particularity Outside of the West 
Humanity did not have to wait for the Christian epoch to attend and appreciate particular existence, however the course of Western thought appears, at least in one major stream of its history, to have been determined by the need to shake off the Platonic hypostatization of a realm of ideal forms supervenient upon concrete experience. Zen Buddhism, the Taoist tradition deriving from Chuang Tzu, the Dzogchen tradition in Tibetan Buddhism, and countless examples from animist peoples all give ample evidence of an anchoring of Being in the radically particular that, in terms of precise practice, far exceeds anything propounded in this regard in the West. From the perspective of these practices as spiritual perspectives, the radical particularism of the Thinking Now Occurring appears a bit like too little too late.These traditions offer many and varied forms of practice geared to explore what there is every reason to view as ontological possibilities unknown in the West. (Much of Buddhist thought, of course, abrogates ontological speculation as such. 
In general, it does not seek to deny or affirm the existence of objects or the truth of concepts but seeks rather to transform our relation to that ground in our sentience from which ontological concern arises. But that does not imply the irrelevance of Buddhist experience and practice to our ontological concerns.) The cartoon version of Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu traditions as involving the subsumption of the individual by a supra- or sub-venient continuum, begs the question of the value and nature of the ontological territory these practices open. One does not know what the Buddhist means by his nirvana without undergoing the initiation that reveals it. Gautama Buddha, for instance, refused to answer questions which to us would be essentially ontological ones, including whether there exists an individual entity that survives from birth to birth and which undergoes enlightenment—presumably because he understood that the nature of existence as experienced once the enlightenment process has been undergone is no longer what it was experienced to be prior to this. We need to be as wise as a Buddha in this respect and not exclude from our polyontology the ontological perspectives that these practices quite plausibly might open. Many of the essential practices the Buddhist practitioner masters involve a radical attention to the minute particulars of sensory and mental experience, so that experiential regions which for the Western thinker are matters of speculation, for the Buddhist are open in depth to empirical exploration. In this regard, the attention to the concrete, and in that sense the historical, is far more advanced in the East than it is in the West in spite of the fact that Buddhism does not take a full-blown interest in what we call history. What we think of as history in the sense of a running narrative of the concrete appears to the Buddhist as the run-away elaboration of mental construction. 
(--from, History and “The Thinking Now Occurring” by Charles Stein)
 Friday’s bid was full of good-time.

Every time I walk in and out the twelve locked and clanging doors to open walkway to parked car I get to experience restorative freedom, the gift of particular gratefulness, nonrestrictive movement, the invitation to arrive, to depart, and to wonder about it all.

The minute particulars.

The radical particularity of being-with one another. 

in the opinion of the judges

The victory goes to the heavyweight champion, and still an example of thoughtful kindness and innocent presence, the one, the only, Muhammad Ali!

[The crowd roars~]

("Yay... Yeah...Yah")

Thanks Champ!

Saturday, June 04, 2016

a split decision

Of course we love him.
He was irrepressible, Muhammad Ali.
Still, the violence to brains and psyches by bashing bodies for sport.
It is a worrisome glory that courts debility.

Friday, June 03, 2016

this thinking now occurring

In prison this morning the drama players performed pieces of dialogue from Dead Poets, Hamlet, King Richard, Goodfellas, Glass Menagerie, and Purple Rain.

At same time, in back row, sitting between myself (the volunteer) and warden, the tall man (inmate) with goatee passed me articles on Leahy and Heidegger -- intellectual work he is doing now that he is out of segregation after "ten months, this time" (he says).

Like monks in scriptorium during dark ages we eke out fragments of illumination in pericopes of passing phrases during background discourse.

"I'm dying here," he says, as purple rain falls.

This thinking now occurring surrounding us.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

...and in the end

This is the way we are. The statistical probability of screwing up is fixed (but not final) and fluctuates between often and far too often.

Some call it the law of averages. Or Murphy's law. Some the human condition. Some weave the notion of sin with its need for redemption into the mix.

Whatever we call it, we know what it is.

The good is not the enemy of the perfect.

The good is a pragmatic and possible goal.

No matter what precedes it.