Thursday, November 20, 2014
Man from down the road at coffee this morning tells me of his flight returning from Japan ten days ago. There was very strong turbulence for well over ten minutes. Everyone had to fasten in. He had left his assigned seat to nap stretched-out strapped-in across an empty three seats up front.
The shaking and rumbling of the plane increased. He experienced concern, then fright, then fear. It was then that a mantra came to him. He repeated it again and again. Something shifted for him.
Here’s the mantra:
This is singingCuriously, he was ok after his recitation.
There’s nothing to fear
We are all
His mind was not turbulent. Or, perhaps, it was not separated from the outside turbulence.
When he got up and ricocheted down the aisle the fastened flight attendants scolded him his movement.
He returned to his seat next to his wife.
He took her hand.
The plane continued to Chicago.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Fresh shapes at dawn.
"Art in time opens the soul to the numinous light of receiving the vision of the unjudged, with it comes compassion and well-being." (--Robert Hake, from Art in Time, a Clarity blog), http://clarityposts.blogspot.com/2014/11/art-in-time.html
Monday, November 17, 2014
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Love learning. (A phrase to be read a variety of ways.)
(See how "a variety of ways" becomes "read in many ways".)
Seneca wrote, “Toti se inserens mundo,” a phrase translated by Hadot as “plunging oneself into the totality of the world.” Taking this plunge could be understood as the heart of active presence, of “being here now.” The Tibetan lama Tarthang Tulku writes in Love of Knowledge (1987) that the self lives in the world like an illegal alien, always afraid that its identity will be questioned. “Taking the plunge” is the exact opposite. It means fearless presence, total involvement, holding nothing back. If it is difficult for the self to do this, if it clings to and defends its own positions and wants, that only underscores the need to challenge the self and the conditions it imposes on experience.
Those who question the contemporary mindfulness movement ask whether it does justice to the Buddha’s revolutionary call to transform both self and world. But we do not have to conclude from this that the only alternative is to stay within the tradition, though for some that will clearly be the right response. Active presence does justice to the Buddha’s revolutionary impulse on a wholly different basis. Not holding back, fearlessly questioning, always going beyond what we know, active presence offers a way into the deeper existential and universal concerns that the Buddha raised through his teachings.
(--from The Present Moment, by Jack Petranker, Tricycle Magazine, Winter 2014) http://www.tricycle.com/feature/present-momentLike the phrase "being read in" wherein we do become signs that are read within the great reality (called "being") which is an open book unbeginning and unfinishable.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Thursday, November 13, 2014
To all Plum Village Practice Centers,
To all Practice Centers and Sanghas World Wide, To our Dear Beloved Friends,
Plum Village, November 12, 2014
Re: Thay’s present health condition and how to support Thay’s recovery
With a deep mindful breath we announce to the world the news that yesterday, the 11th of November 2014, Thay, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh experienced a severe brain hemorrhage. Thay is receiving 24 hour intensive care from specialist doctors, nurses and from his monastic disciples.
At present, Thay is still very responsive and shows every indication of being aware of the presence of those around him. He is able to move his feet, hands and eyes. There are signs that a full recovery may be possible.
For the last two months, Thay’s health had already been fragile due to his advance age. He was hospitalized in Bordeaux on the 1st of November. He was gaining strength day by day until this sudden and unexpected change in his condition.
All the monasteries in the tradition of Plum Village are organizing practice sessions to generate the energy of mindfulness and to send Thay this healing and loving energy. We would like to ask the whole worldwide community of meditation practitioners to participate and support us in this critical moment. We know and trust that Thay will receive all your energy and that this will be a big support in his healing and recovery.
Our practice of stability and peace in this very moment is the best support we can offer to Thay. Let us all around the world take refuge in our practice, going together as a river to offer Thay our powerful collective energy. We are all cells of the great Sangha Body that Thay has manifested in his lifetime.
Future reports on Thay health and recovery will be posted officially at www.plumvillage.org, langmai.org, villagedespruniers.net, and www.facebook.com/thichnhathanh.
On behalf of the Monastic Dharma Teacher Council of Plum Village,
Bhikkhu Thich Chan Phap Dang Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Chan Khong Nghiem
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
Sunday, November 09, 2014
James Carroll in his opinion piece in the NYT writes:
And, speaking of God, in what way, actually, can Jesus be said to be divine? A scientifically minded believer wants to discard that notion, but before he does, he should remember that if Jesus were not regarded as somehow divine almost from the start of his movement, we would never have heard of him. And if faith in the divinity of Jesus is left behind because it fails the test of contemporary thought, Jesus will ultimately be forgotten. Is it possible that contemporary thought can learn from this old article of faith? What if the so-called divinity of Jesus lays bare not so much the mystery of God as the majesty of what it is to be human?
(--from Opinion, NYT, Jesus and the Modern Man, By JAMES CARROL, NOV. 7, 2014)Barack Obama isn’t Jesus. He is himself.
"In the teachings of Christ, religion is completely present tense: Jesus is the prototype and our task is to imitate him, become a disciple. But then through Paul came a basic alteration. Paul draws attention away from imitating Christ and fixes attention on the death of Christ The Atoner. What Martin Luther, in his reformation, failed to realize is that even before Catholicism, Christianity had become degenerate at the hands of Paul. Paul made Christianity the religion of Paul, not of Christ. Paul threw the Christianity of Christ away, completely turning it upside down, making it just the opposite of the original proclamation of Christ"
(-- Soren Kierkegaard, in The Journals)The Republican Party has become Obama’s Paul, casting a pall over everything about him. They darken him and sidestep any intimation of racial motivation.
People hold on to Obama as they hold on to Jesus -- often out of misplaced perception and distorted belief.
That’s the trouble with humankind.
We’re often not.
Saturday, November 08, 2014
Friday, November 07, 2014
Thursday, November 06, 2014
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Snow melts. Trees at corner of house continue to be chainsawed. Body tired. Pain in head. Tom Magliozzi dies. (The laughing spirit of click and clack and Car Talk. That’s notably sad.)
Generator fuel has not run out yet. No electricity yet.
Yawns through the room. Hard work all day.
Pizza box on center island.
One day, they say, all pain will end.
Election was painful. The Supreme Court and Citizens United money took the election to new distance from ordinary people. Democracy, sorry Leonard Cohen, is leaving the USA.
There’s got to be a better way.
What would that way be?
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Monday, November 03, 2014
Sunday, November 02, 2014
Saturday, November 01, 2014
"Today is the Solemnity of All Saints, a holy day of obligation. The Church honors all those who are with God, the innumerable men and women who chose fidelity to Christ." (--from Divine Office, About Today, Feast of All Saints)
"Christ" is the creative, loving, assisting manifestation of God.
This is what a saint is, one who is with God.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Domestic violence, men drugging women then sexually taking advantage, or, punching and bullying, these are indicators something is very wrong with our men, our culture, our way of life.
Frankly, I think it is high time that these violent crimes begin to cost men something. And that might mean that it has to cost those of us who love them something as well. I have shared in these pages before that I do not romanticize patriarchal families because I did not grow up in one. My father was a complicated, brilliant, hilarious and violent man, and my home life and childhood were infinitely better after he left our home. His leaving and his alcoholism cost me a father. But it saved me a mother.
It is high time that we decide as a nation that the symbolic slaying (and perhaps the actual locking up) of some of our most beloved men is an entirely reasonable price to pay for creating a world safe for women and children, a world where we don’t accede to narratives that convince us yet again that predators are really “good guys.”
(-- in Salon, by Brittney Cooper, The Terrible Truth About Bill Cosby, October 29, 2014.) http://www.alternet.org/terrible-truth-about-bill-cosby?page=0%2C0&akid=12419.268057.TpRu90&rd=1&src=newsletter1025176&t=10Wealthy athletes, politicians, corporate bigwigs, and celebrities can pay off the offended parties or prey on the pass given to the notorious and famous so as to avoid career ending penalties. But the majority of women are left to cower under threat and indifference.
Stupidity is one thing. Ignorance, another. But society’s belief in the untoward and unkind as a matter of course is an arrogance of significant weight leaning heavily on the fragile bridge of authentic connection between one another.
When that falls, we will hear the fading calls for help disappear in a deep darkness we have created.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
There's an election next week.
Telephone rings with long messages touting candidates who either want to combat those currently in office, or, become the focus of next disenchanting election.
So many words.
What changes when we free the monastic vocation from the attitude of mono-cultural dominance? Nothing and everything. Let me give three examples of traditional values of the religious, East and West, that can be reinvigorated by the encounter of monks in dialogue qua monks. Paradoxically enough, the first, the classical contemptus mundi of the monk, today takes a new and more subtle turn: not abandoning the world (which is practically impossible), but swimming against the current, like living fish in the rivers, without rage or violence, but with poise and elegance, that is, with love and patience. “La paciencia todo lo alcanza,” used to say Teresa of Avila. Patience does not give up, rather, it perseveres and insists. It never gets discouraged, because it does not believe that a single individual, system, doctrine, or religion has the total answer. Humility, to me, means the courage to be imperfect, not finished.Secondly, the monastic vocation has meant “solitude.” But solitude does not mean isolation. On the contrary, solitude demands that I be truly myself so that I may share without encumbrances solidarity with the entire reality: Buddhakaya, karma, mystical Body, universal love. The greatest scandal of human history is religious wars—be they explicitly or implicitly religious. Even the fact that sometimes they can disguise themselves under the cloak of religion shows our responsibility: “Not of the world,” but in the world—which the “Father” loved so much.Thirdly, the monastic “calling” is ever new. It does not repeat itself, and it has no blueprint; it is not prescribed by any law. It needs to be not just discovered, but created by our cooperation with the very dynamism of reality, by holy “obedience,” that is, by attentive listening (obaudire) to the “divine” Voice—which is the Hindu name for revelation (sruti). It is not enough to “imitate” the Buddha, Christ, God. We have to become the Buddha, Christ, God—without asking like Peter, “What about John?” “You follow me” was the answer.
(--From “The New Monk” by Raimon Panikkar)
The first thing to realize is silence.
After that realization, the eloquent emptiness will approach and introduce you to no meaning beyond the origin of meaning -- the ever present origin without parallel or perimeter.
Rowing around Curtis Island today, Saskia speaking on phone with woman several states away about the troubles she tries to navigate in her life. A maritime colloquy replete with passing tugboat and wind-pushed swells. The phonecall ends as we come into territory of no channel buoys, empty moorings, and floats on the hard.
The woman several states away has the answer already.
What must follow is courage to live it in her own life.
We tie up at dock, the only small boat remaining on the expanse of empty length.
Home from the sea.
Home is for all to see.
Prayer for her and all like her in troubled waters.
Insisting silence, persisting, persevering prayer.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Monday, October 27, 2014
Tires role Barnestown Road. Winds chant late October. Chimes tell their fidelity sounding what passes through them.
I will sit in zendo. Last night compline was sung in candlelight. That’s what occurs.
Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski ([kɔˈʐɨpski]; July 3, 1879 – March 1, 1950) was a Polish-American independent scholar who developed a field called general semantics, which he viewed as both distinct from, and more encompassing than, just the field of semantics. He argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed, and thus no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain's responses to reality. His best known dictum is “The map is not the territory”.We follow clues. They call us nearer what we think we are looking at. Our mind jumps to opinion, conclusion, and sets up rules regarding what appears to threaten our temporary belief. We become miserable with held opinions.
“The map is not the territory"
The expression "the map is not the territory" first appeared in print in a paper that Alfred Korzybski gave at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1931: In Science and Sanity, Korzybski acknowledges his debt to mathematician Eric Temple Bell, whose epigram "the map is not the thing mapped" was published in Numerology.
Downstairs, yesterday’s coffee will do.
- A) A map may have a structure similar or dissimilar to the structure of the territory...
The Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte illustrated the concept of "perception always intercedes between reality and ourselves" in a number of paintings including a famous work entitled The Treachery of Images, which consists of a drawing of a pipe with the caption, Ceci n'est pas une pipe ("This is not a pipe"). In The Medium is the Message, Marshall McLuhan rehashed the argument— that all media are "extensions" of our human senses, bodies and minds.
- B) A map is not the territory.
This concept occurs in the discussion of exoteric and esoteric religions. Exoteric concepts are concepts which can be fully conveyed using descriptors and languageconstructs, such as mathematics. Esoteric concepts are concepts which cannot be fully conveyed except by direct experience. For example, a person who has never tasted an apple will never fully understand through language what the taste of an apple is. Only through direct experience (eating an apple) can that experience be fully understood.
Lewis Carroll, in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893), made the point humorously with his description of a fictional map that had "the scale of a mile to the mile". A character notes some practical difficulties with such a map and states that "we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well."
Laura Riding, in her poem "The Map of Places" (1927), deals with this relation: "The map of places passes. The reality of paper tears."
Wood is stacked solidly out by cabin.
God is the silence beneath silence.
Neither map, nor territory, God is the saying of such and such, thus and so, without space, without end, without and within.
Saying with and without words or sound.
I love God.
And, now, through and through.