Monday, February 08, 2016

morning prayer

O Lord, open my lips --

And my mouth shall declare your praise.

(For all, the suffering, the alone, the joyous, those who long for what is just, true, and good. For everyone and everything in the infinite multidimensional eternal here and now.)

With gratitude and quiet trust, in unknowing attentiveness, we watch for dawn.


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Pray always means feel always

To pray is to feel with surrounding environment, people, and all sentient beings.

To truly feel.

It's why so many do not live a life of prayer.

And also why compassion is such a wrapped yet unopened gift.

and then, nothing

In her early years, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the foundress of the Missionaries of Charity, enjoyed several mystical experiences of intense closeness with God. She also experienced that rarest of spiritual graces, a locution; she actually heard God’s voice. And then—nothing. For the last 50 or so years of her life, until her death, she felt a sense of emptiness in her prayer. At one point, she wrote to her confessor, “In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss—of God not wanting me—of God not being God—of God not really existing.”

When her journals and letters were published not long after her death in the book Come, Be My Light, some readers were shocked by these sentiments, finding it difficult to understand how she could continue as a believer and indeed flourish as a religious leader. But Mother Teresa was expressing some very human feelings of abandonment and speaking of what spiritual writers call the “dark night.” This state of emotion moves close to, but does not accept, despair. 

(-- James Martin sj)

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Orange juice and ice cream

New mantra from woman 
in hospital room:
Shut up,
And pray

Friday, February 05, 2016


Someone leaves for France tomorrow.

There is no someone. There is no France.

There is only the leaving and arriving.

Everything we think things are, nothing comes close.

Is intelligence and love that which completely surrounds us? And if we are present and attentive -- are we that?

   (by Charles Olson)

(down to my soul:

assume your nature as yourself
for the love of God

not even good enough

the possibility
of discrete

There is no intelligence 
the equal of
the situation

There are only
two ways:
create the situation
(and this is love)
or avoid it.
This also can be


(—pp.299,300, The Collected Poems of Charles Olson: Excluding the Maximus Poems, c.1987, by Charles Olson, 1910-1970)

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Odd weather

snow, they say
   at daybreak -- half
       foot  -- 45 degrees now

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


Drive through snow
Freezing rain, sleet, dark roads
Headlights blinding --
Yet here in bed
Safe -- no explanation

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

是 Shì

waking alone, no one
asks, "where is God?"
who is alone waking

Monday, February 01, 2016

solo dios

I have long considered God in silence. Which, I suspect, God mostly is.
The Tractatus consists of seven numbered propositions, with more or less extensive commentary – or rather, of six propositions with commentary and one without. The best-known of the seven propositions are the first and the last:
1. Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist. (“The world is everything, that happens to be the case.”)
7. Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen. (“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”)
(--from, Tractatus 7.1: Translation and Silence, by Peter Caws, in Philosophy Now) 
 I have long considered my odd life as that of a monk’s, a monastic exclaustration of sorts, with only an invisible habit of interiority
Contemplative prayer is, in a way, simply the preference for the desert, for emptiness, for poverty. One has begun to know the meaning of contemplation when he intuitivelyand spontaneously seeks the dark and unknown path of aridity in preference to every other way. 
(from The Climate of Monastic Prayer, by Thomas Merton) 
We are infants in the realm of God -- “infant,” from the Latin “infans” meaning “not able to speak.”
To the visitor or newcomer a day in the monastery may appear to have a seamless, uncluttered beauty and perfect orderliness. The monastery is beautiful and our day has a rhythm and formality. As monks we know that as we seek to be faithful in work, in prayer and in fraternal relationship, we very often arrive at a place of vulnerability born of a somewhat bitter self-knowledge. We learn that the monastic life is not about our achievement but about our readiness to make our weakness available to the mercy of God. Perhaps this is our most important work- to realize that we are in desperate need of this mercy. At best we become accustomed to letting things fall apart, noticing the fragmentation that is inevitable, unavoidable and ready to welcome it as opportunity. In the end the harmony and integrity that we seek as monks can be ours because God desires to transform all that is fractured and broken in us into something whole and beautiful. 
(--by a monk, St Joseph Abbey, 7Feb2012)  
There is no reason to go anywhere to be a monastic. The monastery of everydayness has no boundaries, walls, claustration, or barriers. Its patron saint may well be Benedict Joseph Labre. 

We are strangers in our own house.
If you are willing to bear in peace the trial of not being pleased with yourself, you will be offering the Lord Jesus a home in your heart. It is true you will suffer, for you will feel like a stranger in your own house. But do not fear, for the poorer you are, the more Christ will love you.
(--Saint Thérèse of Lisieux)
Unrecognized, mostly incognito, nearly transparent, the environment itself with nothing extraneous.

Then we die.

(So it seems.)
Trappist burial.
 And earth becomes us, as we do it.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday, (a) musing

Are things looking up, Robert?

Merton words, Franciscan image; perfect for Louie!

Two trappists

I learn today a friend died three days ago:
January 28, 2016: Father Robert Morhous was born in 1932 in Albany, New York (USA). He entered Spencer in 1954, made his solemn profession in 1959 and was also ordained a priest in 1959. Father was 83 years old, had been in monastic vows for 59 years and 56 years a priest when the Lord called him.
(image from Upaya Zen Center, Santa Fe NM)
Another mentor, Thomas Merton (amicus in spiritu) who was a Trappist was born 101 years ago today:
We stumble and fall constantly even when we are most enlightened. But when we are in true spiritual darkness, we do not even know that we have fallen.
(-- Thomas Merton)
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.”
(― Thomas Merton, Love and Living )
The koan Fr. Robert gave me sitting together a decade ago at the monastery where he lived has become a mantra, “Cheer up, Bill, things are only going to get worse.”

His was the first zafu I ever sat on in his retreat master’s office in early 1970s -- (“Be careful, there’s a lot of electricity still in there!")

Such cheer today!
(image from St Joseph Abbey, Spencer MA)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

grateful gathering

In prison Friday morning, sitting in silence with Buddhist group, I hear, twice, from outside room, someone say, “Monks don’t speak." Then, as things are in prison, a rarified silence temporarily visits, as Yao, Saskia, Tree, Doug, Matthew, Chris, Reed, Rokie, and I entertained the visitor.

After bowing and circling walking mindfully arriving back and bowing again, we sit ready for words. And  a response to the outside-room koan spoken by patrolling koan-master arises: "monks don't speak, they are spoken through."

Later, the ping pong playfulness of dialogue moves side to side as Rokie follows blue handball from foot to foot along charcoal blankets over purple yoga mats. It is a sine-wave of perspectives rollercoastering from dammapada verses to survivalist strategies, from words written by former group member now serving time in federal prison to thoughts of anthropocene age approaching, from Jim Morrison lyric "break on through to the other side," to the humor of how to continue suffering.

If we are not long to remain here (in existence, as a human species, as particular human beings) what, someone ask, can we do now? It is suggested that, with compassion and love, as community and sangha, we can help one another to new view through death-in-life/life-in-death with grace and peace and fearlessness. And in this doula-like reverse transition, to consider and practice the possibilities of "passing on through to the other side" of which we have no evidentiary experience, except for glimpses of transformation and transcendance as fleeting as a dog's single bark heard over a wide open pasture.

There is a still and quiet shiver of sympathique that visits the zendo holding all of us as if in training to realize a new commission to be companions-interior, walkers-alongside, sitters-with, a new kind (kindness?) of counterintuitive hospice, walkers-into-life, assisting one another to see-feel touch-heal each and all we encounter toward and through the door named suffering into the open pasture of unspeaking sound in deep bow surrounding the sanctity of presence without barrier or boundary.

The shakuhachi teaches by example at end. It let's pass through what does not belong to it. Breath, temporarily diverted, released through small openings, sounding itself in a grateful gathering.

We are spoken through.

We are spoken for.

We are spoken with.

A unity of presence-silence breathing emptiness into deeper practice.





Thursday, January 28, 2016


There’s no telling.
Asked about the "greatest myth about poetry that has been perpetrated upon the readers of poetry" in an interview with the literary journal Crazy Horse in 1972, the poet Charles Simic answers, that this myth "must be the idea that a poem can be fully explicated, and in prose. I sense an immense terror behind that need. Get rid of mystery, out with complexity and imagination! A totalitarian impulse (UC 9).(--from, Orphan of Silence: The Poetry of Charles Simic, By Goran Mijuk
 Nor is anyone listening.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

dancing Greek and mellow Sorn*

Each time is the first time.

Why do anything twice?

(Nikos Kazantzakis and C.S. Lewis)
The séroni (singular sorn; the plural is sometimes given as sorns) are thin, fifteen-foot-high humanoids having coats of pale feathers and seven-fingered hands.[b] They live in mountain caves of the high country (harandra in the speech of the eldila), though they often descend into the handramit where they raise giraffe-like livestock. They are the scholars and thinkers of Malacandra, specializing in science and abstract learning. Their technical level is high, and they design machinery, which is built by the pfifltriggi. Although they can write, they do not compose written works of history or fiction as they feel the hrossa are superior at it. Their sense of humor "seldom got beyond irony" (Chap. 18) .

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

no time now

All is in all.

All in is all

as if prayer is arriving at itself

In solitude, world says nothing perfectly.

Earth passing through empty space. Cat watching passing morning cars up hill down hill.

Each instant in this monastic dimension, waiting as new wood on last night's coals, breath-rest and heart-fond sitting. 

As prayer itself, with no other place to be, takes everything in, holding each in reverence, signs an ancient mudra -- in nomine patris, et filii, et spiritus sancti -- gassho, namaste, shalom, salaam -- arigato!

Fire catches.

Monday, January 25, 2016

oremus pro invicem

In this monastery

No that

In open hermitage

No closed

In everyday grace

No recompense -- nothing owed nothing owned

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Evening Practice

Buddha didn't say to destroy the self.

He said there was no self.

Christ didn't say to condemn those who've done wrong.

He said they are already forgiven.

It is we humans who destroy and condemn.

Let those realizing no self and practicing mercy first come to inspire deluded views.

Responding faithfully to essential goodness; engaging completely causes and conditions.

One there

Saturday, January 23, 2016

salve; parasamgate; ¡Hola!

Monks chant for same reason full moon glows on frozen snow.



Let us listen to the voice of God, let us enter into his rest.


Friday, January 22, 2016

clear signals, look for them

A tall inmate in prison this morning said that freedom is exchanged for security.

Leads me to think that insecurity is a better chance for freedom.

Tonight an ex-inmate visits hermitage. He’s just completed his MFA Degree, will be married within the month, and is delivering a lecture at his former place of incarceration. He teaches poetry, works for justice, and advocates for inmates.

No security, only hope.
Those looking for security in the midst of radical change become easy pickings for those trying to benefit from the roaring troubles of this world. Those who believe that life should be predictable or that their security should be guaranteed wind up caught in the teeth of blind anger or debilitating fear. As an Irish poet once said, “ A false sense of security is the only kind there is.” 
We ended tonight’s conversation listening to William Stafford’s poem,

A Ritual to Read to Each Other
                                     BY WILLIAM E. STAFFORD 
If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the
and following the wrong god home we may miss
           our star. 
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of
storming out to play through the broken dike. 
And as elephants parade holding each
          elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact. 
And so I appeal to a voice, to something
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

(--William Stafford, “A Ritual to Read to Each Other” from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. 1998 by Graywolf Press.)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

errant errand

In the dream I am living another chance as, it seems, administrator of large and diversified agency school for what now seems to me to be for a population needing to be somewhere for the time being.

My basketball rolls away. My bicycle has no battery nor gearshift. I sit at an executive desk in an office being asked if I'll be attending the festival with the several oral history, literary presentations. I look around room. It is large and I feel like a reincarnated wraith of self, oh no, about to repeat the death scene of Hamlet or Hemingway novel.

I try to find friend and kindly mentor -- for what -- to resign? To not take job? To turn right on Pennsylvania turnpike, turn left on Jersey turnpike, head northeast until the corner edge of US land, look at North Atlantic and, do what, wonder?

Yeah, wonder.

I suspect there's nothing else I'm qualified to do. Just non-controlled, seemingly unrelated, arisings of the moment fleetingly seen, suddenly felt and -- wondered about.

Perhaps this world belongs to the organized, the motivated, the skillful. I have no mailbox there. (In the dream I find messages and mail in top right cubby hole that had been squirreled there for a long time.)

Wander, wonder, you itinerant mendicant! Notice, feel, and move through. I don't know what this place is, what this dream is, but it is not a fixed place, not for you.

It is a broken place. And you are no fixer. You are the broken wandering off in a wooded path. You are retreating tide in narrow harbor off to join the swirling recollections of an evolving uncertainty.

Old age, shattered understanding, disconsolate ambition.

Orphan emptiness masquerading as clown vagabond replete with red nose and bowler hat by scratching fire hole making do with little or nothing.

But wonder.

And impertinence.


Idiorhythmic fool on errant errand.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Home is with you


(No use pretending some voice is calling out to me.)


(There it isn't again.)

Who's there?

(It's a ritual, like liturgical movements, this trying to identify what isn't there.)

Et cum spiritu tuo.



Someone we know is suffering. Nowhere she turns does she see a way through. What can be done?

The fragile circumference of unknowing.

Maybe, as the zen master says, only don't know. Go straight. See what emerges.

With attentive presence and loving awareness listening to the situation and acting with clear and empty engagement toward the wellbeing of the one in midst of the many.

The echo:
(As in -- it's all in the details.)
By misemphasizing 'as in' the world has been plagued by 'a sin.'
Learning how to pause and where to break is a delicate learning. 
(As in -- it's all in the details.)
By misemphasizing 'as in' the world has been plagued by 'a sin.'
Learning how to pause and where to break is a delicate learning.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016



(As in -- it's all in the details.)

By misemphasizing 'as in' the world has been plagued by 'a sin.'

Learning how to pause and where to break is a delicate learning.

pan. en. theism/anthropos

Correspondingly, it might be said God is in everything and everything is in God.

After saying this, one might add, so what? 

I'll tell you what: if such a formulation is indicative of a reality worth our attention, we might find ourselves inside God, or God inside us.

And where this possibility exists, then chocolate donuts, diabetes, and cervical cancer are merely chocolate donuts, diabetes, and cervical cancer.

Have I made myself clear?




Monday, January 18, 2016


Revisiting Ranciere and Jacotot.
[Joseph Jacotot’s] emancipatory or panecastic (Frenchpanécastique “everything in each” from Greek πᾶν and ἕκαστον) method was not only adopted in several institutions in Belgium, but also met with some approval in France, England, Germany, and Russia. It was based on four principles:
  1. all men have equal intelligence;
  2. every man has received from God the faculty of being able to instruct himself;
  3. we can teach what we don't know; 
  4. everything is in everything.
Regarding the first principle, he maintained that it is only in the will to use their intelligence that men differ.

To use.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

bernie glassman resting, wife says, after stroke

a haiku dialogue:

“Other times 
he subsides into 
a tired silence,” (-EM)

at this time
revive out to
restful sound (-bh)

We listen, and watch, revered attention, for you both!

Om shanti

Seekers of God
Follow no path
For no will re-mind you
To yes here and there

With apologies and gratitude to 
e e cummings:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

don't and don't

The war that is going on is not just Iraq and Afghanistan. No, more than that.

And it's not just good versus evil. Our christian and muslim friends don't own the patent.

So, what is the war?

Damned if I know.

If I knew I'd share what I knew.

I don't so I don't.

It's just us. And we don't know.

So, we look through silence as one might pray if they knew how to pray and what to pray for.

We don't and don't.

Friday, January 15, 2016

five word glimpse

Everything is as I am.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I know nothing of supernatural powers

I put old brown cover from grocery market bag on book by Daniel Berrigan.

Then find Maurin quote.
Chesterton says:
"The Christian ideal
has not been tried
and found wanting.
It has been found difficult
and left untried."
Christianity has not been tried
because people thought
it was impractical.
And men have tried everything
except Christianity.
And everything
that men have tried
has failed. 
~Peter Maurin
Then find one of Berrigan’s poems.

Zen Poem

How I long for supernatural powers! 
said the novice mornfully to the holy one. 
I see a dead child 
and I long to say, Arise!
 I see a sick man 
I long to say, Be healed!
 I see a bent old woman 
I long to say, Walk straight! 
Alas, I feel like a dead stick in paradise. 
Master, can you confer on me 
supernatural powers?
The old man shook his head fretfully
How long have I been with you
and you know nothing?
How long have you known me
and learned nothing?
Listen; I have walked the earth for 80 years
I have never raised a dead child
I have never healed a sick man
I have never straightened an old woman's spine
Children die
men grow sick
the aged fall
under a stigma of frost
And what is that to you or me
but the turn of the wheel
but the way of the world
but the gateway to paradise?
Supernatural powers!
Then you would play God
would spin the thread of life and measure the thread
5 years, 50 years, 80 years
and cut the thread?
Supernatural powers!
I have wandered the earth for 80 years
I confess to you,
sprout without root
root without flower
I know nothing of supernatural powers
I have yet to perfect my natural powers!
to see and not be seduced
to hear and not be deafened
to taste and not be eaten
to touch and not be bought
But you-
would you walk on water
would you master the air
would you swallow fire?
Go talk with the dolphins
they will teach you glibly
how to grow gills
Go listen to eagles
they will hatch you, nest you
eaglet and airman
Go join the circus
those tricksters will train you
in deception for dimes-
Bird man, bag man, poor fish
spouting fire, moon crawling
at sea forever-
supernatural powers!
Do you seek miracles?
listen- go
draw water, hew wood
break stones-
how miraculous!
Listen; blessed is the one
who walks the earth 5 year, 50 years, 80 years
and deceives no one
and curses no one
and kills no one
On such a one
the angels whisper in wonder,
behold the irresistible power
of natural powers-
of height, of joy, of soul, of non belittling!
You dry stick-
in the crude soil of this world
spring, root, leaf, flower!
around and around
and around-
an inch, a mile, the world's green extent,-
a liberated zone
of paradise!

(Poem by Dan Berrigan, in And the Risen Bread: Selected Poems, 1957-1997,  By Daniel Berrigan, John Dear)