Mozart's Requium in D minor at Camden Opera House yesterday, Memorial Day afternoon, was preceded by America the Beautiful.
Down East Singers, musicians, conducted by Tony Antolini.
Bellissimo e profundo!
Every day, it seems, some verifiably intelligent person tells us that we don’t know what consciousness is. The nature of consciousness, they say, is an awesome mystery. It’s the ultimate hard problem. The current Wikipedia entry is typical: Consciousness “is the most mysterious aspect of our lives”; philosophers “have struggled to comprehend the nature of consciousness.”
I find this odd because we know exactly what consciousness is — where by “consciousness” I mean what most people mean in this debate: experience of any kind whatever. It’s the most familiar thing there is, whether it’s experience of emotion, pain, understanding what someone is saying, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting or feeling. It is in fact the only thing in the universe whose ultimate intrinsic nature we can claim to know. It is utterly unmysterious.
The nature of physical stuff, by contrast, is deeply mysterious, and physics grows stranger by the hour. (Richard Feynman’s remark about quantum theory — “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics” — seems as true as ever.) Or rather, more carefully: The nature of physical stuff is mysterious except insofar as consciousness is itself a form of physical stuff. This point, which is at first extremely startling, was well put by Bertrand Russell in the 1950s in his essay “Mind and Matter”: “We know nothing about the intrinsic quality of physical events,” he wrote, “except when these are mental events that we directly experience.” In having conscious experience, he claims, we learn something about the intrinsic nature of physical stuff, for conscious experience is itself a form of physical stuff.
(--from, Consciousness Isn’t a Mystery. It’s Matter, by http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/opinion/consciousness-isnt-a-mystery-its-matter.html
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, one of the great Tibetan Dzogchen masters of the last century, spoke frequently of recognizing the nature of mind—its empty, aware nature, free of any clinging to anything—for short moments many times. This can become a framework for understanding our own practice of letting go of craving: short moments, many times. As we do this, we learn to recognize and increasingly trust this place of ease.
Although there are different methods, vocabularies, and even metaphysical descriptions for the nature of ultimate freedom among the various Buddhist traditions, there is one common understanding of what frees the mind: liberation through non-clinging. This phrase is found throughout the Pali discourses and also in many of the teachings of the great Tibetan lamas and Chinese and Japanese Zen masters.
Patrul Rinpoche, a 19th-century wandering Dzogchen master of eastern Tibet, was much beloved by the ordinary Tibetans and known as “the enlightened vagabond.” He had some useful words about nonclinging in a teaching called “Advice from Me to Myself”:
(- from, The End of Suffering, by Joseph Goldstein)
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? ”Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. (--from Mark 10:17-27)
“We started a fire, good effects.” ...
“The investigation concluded that the personnel involved did not know they were striking a medical facility,” Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of the military’s Central Command, said at a news conference. “They were absolutely trying to do the right thing.”
(--from, Doctors With Enemies: Did Afghan Forces Target the M.S.F. Hospital?) http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/22/magazine/doctors-with-enemies-did-afghan-forces-target-the-msf-hospital.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fmagazine&action=click&contentCollection=magazine®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0Yeah, the right thing. Shooting and bombing and killing.
God is everywhere. He is immeasurably vast and yet everywhere he is close at hand, as he himself bears witness: I am a God close at hand, and not a God who is distant. It is not a God who is far away that we are seeking, since (if we deserve it) he is within us. For he lives in us as the soul lives in the body – if only we are healthy limbs of his, if we are dead to sin. Then indeed he lives within us, he who has said: And I will live in them and walk among them. If we are worthy for him to be in us then in truth he gives us life, makes us his living limbs. As St Paul says, In him we live and move and have our being.
Given his indescribable and incomprehensible essence, who will explore the Most High? Who can examine the depths of God? Who will take pride in knowing the infinite God who fills all things and surrounds all things, who pervades all things and transcends all things, who takes possession of all things but is not himself possessed by any thing? The infinite God whom no-one has seen as he is? Therefore let no-one try to penetrate the secrets of God, what he was, how he was, who he was. These things cannot be described, examined, explored. Simply – simply but strongly – believe that God is as God was, that God will be as God has always been, for God cannot be changed.
So who is God? God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God. Do not demand to know more of God. Those who want to see into the depths must first consider the natural world, for knowledge of the Trinity is rightly compared to knowledge of the depths of the sea: as Ecclesiastes says, And the great depths, who shall fathom them? Just as the depths of the sea are invisible to human sight, so the godhead of the Trinity is beyond human sense and understanding. Thus, I say, if anyone wants to know what he should believe, let him not think that he will understand better through speech than through belief: if he does that, the wisdom of God will be further from him than before. (--from The Instruction of St Columbanus, abbot, The immeasurable depths of God), Second Reading , Office of Readings, Thursday 19May2016) http://www.universalis.com/-400/readings.htmAnything to say?
In response to God's call, Moses quickly comes up with five objections: 1) "Who am I?" 2) "Who are you?" 3) "What if they do not believe me?" 4) "I stutter." 5) "Why not send someone else?" If it were not the classic biblical text, I would assume this exchange to be a cartoon in the New Yorker! In each case, God stays in the dialogue, answering Moses respectfully and even intimately, offering a promise of personal Presence and an ever-sustaining glimpse into who God is--Being Itself, Existence Itself, a nameless God beyond all names, a formless God previous to all forms, a liberator God who is utterly liberated. God asserts God's ultimate freedom from human attempts to capture God in concepts and words by saying, "I am who I am" (Exodus 3:14). Over the course of his story we see that Moses slowly absorbs this same daring freedom.
(--Richard Rohr, Face to Face Knowing, Sunday, May 15, 2016)
He once was. Now,
No more. Nothing
Much to think about
Being dead. Who
Knows. That's it.
To think about God is to the human soul what breathing is to the human body.
I say to think about God, not necessarily to believe in God -- that may or may not may not come later.
I say: to think about God.
I clearly remember the moment something deep inside me started breathing for the first time. Something behind my thoughts and my desires and my fears, something behind my self, something behind “Jerry," which was and is my name, the name of me, from my earliest childhood.
I can say this now, more than sixty years after my first conscious experience of this second breathing, this first breathing of the soul.
(--from chapter one, My Father’s God, in What is God, by Jacob Needleman, c.2009)
See something, say something?
An economics professor said his flight from Philadelphia to Syracuse was delayed because a passenger thought the mathematical equations he was writing might be a sign he was a terrorist.
Last month, a college student was removed from a flight after a passenger reported him for speaking Arabic.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. (--from John 17)
Better worlds (I suggest) are born,not made; and their birthdays are the birthdays of individuals. Let us pray always for individuals; never for worlds. (--from i: six nonlectures, by e.e.cummings)
A poet must never make a statement simply because it sounds poetically exciting; he must also believe it to be true. This does not mean, of course, that one can only appreciate a poet whose beliefs happen to coincide with one’s own. It does mean, whoever, that one must be convinced that the poet really believes what he says, however odd the belief may seem to oneself.
What the poet has to convey is not “self-expression,” but a view of a reality common to all, seen from a unique perspective, which it is his duty as well as his pleasure to share with others. To small truths as well as great, St. Augustine’s words apply.
Poetry stands mute before the ways the world divides the world against itself.“The truth is neither mine nor his nor another’s but belongs to us all whom Thou callest to partake of it, warning us terribly, not to account in private to ourselves, lest we be deprived of it.”(--from A Certain World: A Commonplace Book, by W.H. Auden)
But the challenge is, most of the people who are passing through that system don't have the money either. So what we see is that people get assessed fines and fees, all of these fines and fees, they can't pay them, and that can end up driving them back into jail, which only increases the pressure on the jail system and the justice system overall and makes it more costly. So it's ultimately kind of a vicious circle.
On traffic violations being a major driver of jail admissions It was interesting, we just did some work in Oklahoma City, and we looked at just a week's worth of booking into the jail from the Oklahoma City Police Department, and fully a third of the people who were booked into jail were booked on traffic violations, and not DUI — everything but DUI, we took DUI out of the mix. We're talking about just violations — broken taillight, driving on a suspended license, failure to make a turn signal — most people got three or four of them, some of them had, again, warrants for not having paid other fines and fees, and that's sweeping them in.Seventy-five percent of the people in that one week of admissions were being booked into the jail for misdemeanors or lower. ... And only 5 percent of them were for any crimes against the person; in other words, not necessarily violent crimes, but maybe something involved hitting another person, etc.
On the cost of being in jail In addition to having to pay bail, they are assessed a cost for their housing, so it's as if they're in a hotel. ... There's a daily rate that they are responsible for. They will have to pay the cost of any lab tests associated with their case. They will have to pay the cost of drug testing.If they apply for a public defender, a lot of places actually have a fee. You have to actually pay money to apply for a public defender who you get because you can't afford to be represented.There are other costs — people get referred into programs, drug treatment programs, or they're required to be drug tested when they're out, they have to pay for those. They will often pay for the cost of probation supervision.
On the irony of bail The irony of bail is that its initial purpose was to make it possible for people to get out of jail, right? You couldn't be held in jail without a finding of guilt, or prior to a finding of guilt, without having an opportunity to get out. But the irony is that now bail really functions to hold people in. .... This means that if you have money to pay bail, you can get out no matter how dangerous you are, whereas if you are poor and all you've committed is a traffic violation, which is one of biggest drivers, frankly, of jail admissions in most places, you are going to sit in jail because $500 is a lot of money to you.
On alternatives to bail It seems remarkably simple, which is [that] one of the best ways of increasing the likelihood that people will show up to court once they're released is to send them a reminder. I think that's the first piece. A lot of people with community ties can be released without bail, and they will show up to court if you are providing reminders to do it.The other thing to remember is that, in fact, most people, the majority of people, do show up to court dates, and when people don't show up to court, this is not El Chapo sitting in the tunnels waiting for Sean Penn and the cameras to show up. These are people who live in the community, and the reasons why people don't show up to court are they can't get of work, they have child care agreements, they forgot the appointment, they never got proper notice of the appointment, the appointment was changed, their address was changed. And there are mechanisms that we can put in place that are actually focused on getting people back to court that don't necessarily involve bail.
(--from, Is America Engaged In A 'Vicious Circle' Of Jailing The Poor? 35:50, Heard on Fresh Air http://www.npr.org/2016/05/11/477547366/is-america-engaged-in-a-vicious-cycle-of-jailing-the-poorPoetry is what being is written.
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
‘Father, the hour has come:
glorify your Son
so that your Son may glorify you;
and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him,
let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this:
to know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth
and finished the work that you gave me to do.
Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me
with that glory I had with you
before ever the world was.
I have made your name known
to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now at last they know
that all you have given me comes indeed from you;
for I have given them the teaching you gave to me,
and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you,
and have believed that it was you who sent me.
I pray for them;
I am not praying for the world
but for those you have given me,
because they belong to you:
all I have is yours
and all you have is mine,
and in them I am glorified.
I am not in the world any longer,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to you.’
(--reading at mass, Tuesday)
Nowadays there is a great loss of religiosity, of religious feeling. Many people have turned their backs on religion. Why is this so?
Well, we speak of everybody as if the world consists solely of ourselves, the people of Europe and America, when in fact there are many places in the world where there is much religiosity and much fervor, a great sense of God. Now, in the West this absence of religiosity is real. I think this is due, on the one hand, to the excessive value placed on material things, to comfort, to money, and, on the other hand, to the excessive value put upon the discursive capacity of rational intelligence without considering, truly considering, the actual results. This leads to great intellectual and technical development that could bring about grand benefits but its results are as if in the hands of an irresponsible child. I refer, for example, to atomic energy, which has been used in a completely irrational manner to manufacture weapons. Fear of the enemy has led to an arming to the teeth, creating the potential for enormous destruction. Not very intelligent, eh? This is what happens when people live superficially, as they do today. Everything should be in proportion. There is no interior without exterior, no depths without surface, no surface without depths. What is terrible is to live on the surface without being aware of the depths, just as it would be terrible to be aware of the depths without being aware of the surface. Likewise, religion can be lived at a superficial level, for many barbarities have been committed in the name of religion.
Do you think that religion needs to evolve?
No, it needs to deepen. In religion nothing should evolve. What should evolve is people, who should discover their roots, the roots of the self, their origin, the source ...
What should change in society in order for it to improve, to become more just?
The heart of man. Nothing else. It's that simple. But it is so hard for most people, troubled by an almost insurmountable inertia.
Can there be a spiritual renewal in the West?
Yes, certainly. To the degree that men disillusion themselves. Disillusionment is a very positive thing. If one lives deluded, then disillusionment is a liberation. I recommend complete disillusionment, for everyone, for as a person becomes disillusioned so arises enlightenment. Disillusion in the positive sense, eh? In order to discover the negative of illusion and in order that what remains be real.
(--from, “Disillusionment is Positive”: Conversation with Basili Girbau, hermit of Montserrat, on Hermitary), http://www.hermitary.com/articles/interview.htmlAttention must attend to everything.
Better worlds (I suggest) are born,
not made; and their birthdays are
the birthdays of individuals. Let us
pray always for individuals; never
(—e.e.cummings, in i & their son, NONLECTURE TWO, from i: six nonlectures, Harvard University Press, 1953. the Charles Eliot Norton lectures in poetry, delivered 1952)