Friday, October 19, 2018

into fresh air

I left prison today
A better man
For having been there

Thursday, October 18, 2018

worst of all possible worlds


Kant would say human dignity is compromised.

America will have to decide.

The future is behind us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

nothing to do but see

In waiting room waiting for surgery and wound healing to empty chairs where 87 year old man in orange baseball cap runs commentary on who comes in who goes out, his red suspenders and red Nike sneakers matching, his impatience toned a little by 77 year old wife whose walker is parked before them as when he told his sitting neighbor she has something not curable, now 10 minutes to eleven (tsk tsking) “we’re still here” as receptionist opens door, looks around, goes back in alone.
Another Elegy ["This is what our dying looks like"]
This is what our dying looks like.
You believe in the sun. I believe
I can't love you. Always be closing,
Said our favorite professor before
He let the gun go off in his mouth.
I turned 29 the way any man turns
In his sleep, unaware of the earth
Moving beneath him, its plates in
Their places, a dated disagreement.
Let's fight it out, baby. You have
Only so long left—a man turning
In his sleep—so I take a picture.
I won't look at it, of course. It's
His bad side, his Mr. Hyde, the hole
In a husband's head, the O
Of his wife's mouth. Every night,
I take a pill. Miss one, and I'm gone.
Miss two, and we're through. Hotels
Bore me, unless I get a mountain view,
A room in which my cell won't work,
And there's nothing to do but see
The sun go down into the ground
That cradles us as any coffin can. 
Jericho Brown, "Another Elegy (”This is what our dying looks like”)" from The New Testament. Copyright © 2014 by Jericho Brown.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.Source: The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014)
These interior offices without windows.

These doors opening.

These elderly folk just sitting facing another door that says, 
Not An Exit 
For Privacy

Please keep door closed 
Thank you.
“I don’t know,” he says, not so happy as someone else goes in they have not been taken.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

see truth in fragments

If truth is what is, then to be post-truth is to not exist.
Satyagraha, literally translated as “holding fast to truth,” obliged protesters to “always keep an open mind and be ever ready to find that what we believed to be truth was, after all, untruth.” Gandhi recognized early on that societies with diverse populations inhabit a post-truth age. “We will never all think alike and we shall always see truth in fragments and from different angles of vision,” he wrote. And even Gandhi’s harshest detractors do not deny that he steadfastly defended, and eventually sacrificed his life for, many values under assault today—fellow-feeling for the weak, and solidarity and sympathy between people of different nations, religions, and races.   
(— from,  Gandhi for the Post-Truth Age, by By Pankaj Mishra, the New Yorker, 22oct18)
There are many who run from truth.
Who flee existence.
These dwell is delusion.
With no place to stand, sit, or walk calmly away.

Monday, October 15, 2018

because they are me also

“Jesus didn’t come to make us rich.” says Chris Hedges.

He mentions Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). I find the following:

In the voluminous writings he composed during his eleven years imprisonment under the fascist regime, Antonio Gramsci repeatedly cites the aphorism, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” (which he ascribed to the novelist Romain Rolland). In one of his letters, he expanded the idea: “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned … I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” In the context of Gramsci’s life and work, the phrase had a particular resonance. He was suffering isolation and deprivation in prison, from which he had no hope of release. The left, and with it, for Gramsci, the prospects for humanity, had suffered terrible reverses. In these conditions the aphorism was a formula for survival. It also has to be seen in relation to the major concerns of his prison writings: the connection between theory and practise, the role of intellectuals, the dialectic of subjective and objective factors.
 Pessimistic intellect, optimistic will.

I despair of all things Republican and all things Trump. It feels like so much baloney, bluster, and balderdash. Yet, it is serious. A turn has occurred. These are trivial people, still the consequences of their rampage are not trivial.

It’s harder these days to figure out what matters Jesus. Some fellow from two thousand years ago Palestine. Much written about, narratised, mythologized, usurped, and purloined.

My mystical antenna seems to have been blown down in some onshore gale as I slept in a drafty room some years ago. A remnant of ritual remains. Hoc est enim corpus meum is as current as morning waves on Monday harbor. Kernels of syllables seeking somewhere to land, somewhere to burrow into new furrow to rest through another winter of bleak expectation for meaningful. flowering.

Jesus might not have come to teach us how to get rich but many do get rich off his name with the help of trenchant syrupy CEO’s and sappy prosperity preachers. Like Gramsci, Jesus’ prospects for humanity has suffered terrible reverses.

Clouds roll in. The folksinger offloads houseboat at dock. Lobstermen zip in from bay, skid to float, unburden deck, power out again against wind and swells. Yachts unbuckle spars and fold up sails as mid-October sits at end of docklines.

This is my true home. At harbor, by wharf, sipping coffee, watching arrivals and departures, contemplating the absence of God.

Everyone is affected by the everything done up and down coastlines and inland roadsides by the everybody we are.

When Thich Nhat Hahn was asked: What is the role of a teacher in spiritual practice? He responded:

A friend can be a teacher, a fellow practitioner can be a teacher, and you yourself can be a teacher. A teacher is anyone who helps you practice and find more freedom—even freedom from your teacher.
You have to be intelligent and not be dependent on your teacher. If you follow him or her with blind faith, it’s not good. There is no perfect teacher. You can learn the good things from him or her, and you can also help your teacher to be better. Very soon there will be a teacher within you, and you can follow that teacher. 
So a good teacher is someone who helps you not depend on him or her all your life. That is why the Buddha said before he died, “Go back to yourself. Take refuge in the island within you.” 
You are not lost when your teacher is no longer in human form, because your teacher is always alive in you and in his disciples. When I practice calligraphy, sometimes I invite my late teacher to join me, so as teacher and disciple we do it together. Breathing in, half the circle. Breathing out, the other half. When I smile, my teacher smiles.
I invite all teachers of the past to do a circle with me, and I know that my hand is not my hand. My hand is also my father’s hand and my mother’s hand. Sometimes I invite all my friends to do it with me, because they are me also.
There you are!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

What now

Q: Who’s your teacher?

A: This moment.

Q: Do you follow carefully your teacher’s teaching?

A: No. I disappear into it. No following; no leading. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

hovering over the surface

They go through the doors, the visitors attending loved ones

To where the dying keep on their way to their dying

Sometimes pushing the door open with elbow, a brownie in one hand, ginger ale in another

Walking left down corridor to second room on right October darkness at patio window

Friday, October 12, 2018

that which is known by not-knowing

This, from Richard Rohr:
No matter how sacred, no thought can ever promise to help you in the work of contemplative prayer, because only love—not knowledge—can help us reach God. . . . 
Become blind during contemplative prayer and cut yourself off from needing to know things. Knowledge hinders, not helps you in contemplation. Be content feeling moved in a delightful, loving way by something mysterious and unknown, leaving you focused entirely on God, with no other thought than of [God] alone. Let your naked desire rest there. . . . 
It doesn’t matter how much profound wisdom we possess about created spiritual beings; our understanding cannot help us gain knowledge about any uncreated spiritual being, who is God alone. But the failure of our understanding can help us. When we reach the end of what we know, that’s where we find God. That’s why St. Dionysius [5th/6th century] said that the best, most divine knowledge of God is that which is known by not-knowing. 
Friends, you just received a post graduate course in Christian spirituality, a course which very few are ever taught.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

What will no reveal

If you are looking 

for God

Look no further

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

are we evolved enough to trustworthily feel

In dialogue with a student’s writing, I ask this question: Are we evolved enough to trustworthily feel?

Feeling first, prior to opinion, judgment, calculating thought, or categorizing analysis.

Building on E.E. Cummings’ words: “Not to completely feel is thinking.” (—from nonlecture five)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

ipse dixit

Buddhism is Buddhism. Christianity is Christianity. As is Judaism Judaism, Islam Islam, Hinduism Hinduism, Taoism Taoism, Paganism Paganism, Humanism Humanism, and Phenomenology Phenomenology.

It’s all about appearances and hermeneutics.

What you see and what you say about it.

As a practitioner of zen, it is direct experience that interests me.

If something, something. If nothing, nothing.

Just that. Just this.

And the breeze of an October night.

ainsi soit-il

Three Bells, Three Bells. Three Bells!

Are we listening?

Monks chant

Morning is called into being

Nothing else appears

now I lay me down to sleep

I pray, O Lord, my soul to keep

If I should die before I wake

I’ll come right back

To correct that mistake

Monday, October 08, 2018

no fooling

Knowing has little to do with knowledge.

 What did Jeremiah (1:5 NIV) mean by “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”?

Is there a knowing that means a new intimacy of incarnate relationality that recognizes nothing is unattached from anything else — a Buddhist understanding that my “self” is where I am, what I am looking at, what is taking place? This knowing is unknowing. 
Strangely enough, this unknowing is a new kind of understanding. We do have a word for it: the old word faith. Faith is a kind of knowing that doesn’t need to know for certain and yet doesn’t dismiss knowledge either. With faith, we don’t need to obtain or hold all knowledge because we know that we are being held inside a Much Larger Frame and Perspective. As Paul puts it, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known myself” (1 Corinthians 13:12). It is a knowing by participation with—instead of an observation of from a position of separation. It is knowing subject to subject instead of subject to object.  
It took me years to understand this, even though this is straight from the Franciscan school of philosophy. Love must always precede knowledge. The mind alone cannot get us there (which is the great arrogance of most Western religion). Prayer in my later years has become letting myself be nakedly known, exactly as I am, in all my ordinariness and shadow, face to face, without any masks or religious makeup. Such nakedness is a falling into the unified field underneath reality, what Thomas Merton called “a hidden wholeness,” [2] where we know in a different way and from a different source. This is the contemplative’s unique access point: knowing by union with a thing, where we can enjoy an intuitive grasp of wholeness, a truth beyond words, beyond any need or capacity to prove anything right or wrong. This is the contemplative mind which religion should have directly taught, but which it largely lost.
(—from, Richard Rohr, Week Forty-one, Unknowing  Knowing that We Don't Know, Monday, October 8, 2018
This contemplative mind sees no-other.
“Do not be concerned with the faults of other persons. Do not see others' faults with a hateful mind. There is an old saying that if you stop seeing others' faults, then naturally seniors are venerated and juniors are revered. Do not imitate others' faults; just cultivate virtue. Buddha prohibited unwholesome actions, but did not tell us to hate those who practice unwholesome actions.” Zen Master Dogen
Something new and  unfathomable is encroaching our epistemology with an unknowing simplicity.
“A fool sees himself as another, but a wise man sees others as himself.” Dōgen, How to Cook Your Life: From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment
In a time of fools, in a time when bombastic belief in the foolish tenets that winning is everything and losers are ludicrous, the experience of non-separation and sympathetic joy recommends our undiluted attentiveness into new dimensions of integrity and wholeness.

We are being invited to be born into a profound yet troubling intimacy of not-knowing.

No fooling!

becoming one, another

All things are empty

We share the emptiness between us when we reach out with attention to another

That relationslity is our connective interstice

Christians call it kenotic love

Buddhists, shared shunyata

The emptiness between us is the love between us

Step out from where you were, enter into where you become one another

Sunday, October 07, 2018

sent to ms. Collins of maine

Disappointed with your speech and vote.
But a person, I suspect, has got to provide for their future.
I wish you well in the private sector.
Now I will trust a more ingenuous person will take your place in the senate from our lovely state.

this is enough

I have nothing bad to say about religion. Some of my best friends (if I had any) are religious.
Religion, in the accepted sense of that word, has now become a matter of propaganda, of vested interest, with much property, with a great hierarchical, bureaucratic system of `spirituality. Religion has become a matter of dogma, belief and ritual, something which is totally divorced from daily living. You may, or you may not, believe in God, but that belief has very little meaning in daily life, where you cheat, where you destroy, are ambitious, greedy, jealous, violent. You believe in God or in a saviour, or in some guru, yet keep that far away so that it does not actually touch your daily life. 
Religion, as it is now, has become an extraordinary phenomenon which has no validity at all. The Christian, for the last two thousand years, has been conditioned to believe. Please observe in yourself, not criticizing, not condemning, just observing. One may not like it, but one must face the fact that one is, if one is a Christian, as conditioned as the Communist or the atheist. The believer and the non-believer are both conditioned by the culture of their time, by society, by the extraordinary process of propaganda. It has also been going on in Asia for thousands of years.
 (—from, Krishnamurti: On Religion
When I think of religion, and if someone asks me if I am religious, my response these days is, “ I only have this to say.”

This is my thought. This is my body. This is my blood.

The interrogatory “What is this?” is both question and responsorial descriptive at the same time.

This is what is.

Our engaged response and present awareness of what is taking place is the contemporary religious sense of life most interesting to me.

May we observe well! Be well observing.

Becoming observant to this as it reveals itself is spirituality incarnational and transformative filled with humility and nescience.

This is enough!

Saturday, October 06, 2018

buenas noches

Not long now the day will end. 

Between Bruno the Carthusian and Brett the new Justice, I choose the contemplative. 

It’s harder to look at truth than it is to become what you are not.

alone only alone

Bruno, today


Sit in cell of silence

God is what is taking place here, there, and in between.

no cynicism, no depression

Friday, October 05, 2018

noise and smoke

Devil: No one has made a deal with me.

Donald: I have never done anything wrong, ever, not once. Nor has my man Brett. We are wonderful men.

Devil: No, the FBI has no authorization where I am.

Donald: You’re a good man, the best.

Devil: Thank you!

Donald: You’re welcome here!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

4 October -- a good day

Rokpa's birthday.

This Francis Day.

Two beings worth knowing!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018


I am tired



the politics

of belittling


spirit out



one thing alone is certain

One thing, and one thing alone, is certain: things are always the way they are. 

Not as they seem to be, nor wished to be. 

Ethical life for us is to see through what seems to be, to penetrate & relinquish how we want things to be. 

Then, face and embody what is real, fearlessly.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

look; no, more

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I'm looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.”       
 (― from Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values)

there’s a message here

I remember Iggy asking me fifty four years ago if I knew the name of my guardian angel. I didn’t, I said. He suggested I ask, and learn it.

“I forget to pray for the angels / and then the angels forget to pray for us.”                  (—from song, So Long Marianne, by Leonard Cohen)

Today is the feast of the angels.
And so, that nothing in heaven should be wanting in your concern for us, you send those blessed spirits to serve us, assigning them as our guardians and our teachers. 
He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection. And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need. 
So let us be devoted and grateful to such great protectors; let us return their love and honor them as much as we can and should. Yet all our love and honor must go to him, for it is from him that they receive all that makes them worthy of our love and respect.
(—from, Second readingFrom a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot
That they might guard you in all your ways, 2Oct, Feast of the Guardian Angels)
There is much I forget.

I remember this prayer from my past:
Angel of God my guardian dear
To whom God’s love commits me here
Ever this day (or night) be at my side
To light and guard, to rule and guide,
 Just ask, Iggy said, your angel will tell you it’s name.

There’s a message here.

Monday, October 01, 2018

small things

Little Flower


Sweet morning drizzle






Sunday, September 30, 2018

where not knowing resides

It is here


We know one


Most intimate



flight of the alone to the alone

The volunteer at desk looked. She was trying to figure whether the man eating a chocolate muffin with coffee icing was serious.

“I am serious,” he said.

He was telling her that he was always alone. Even, in the words of the song, with someone he loved.

She was doubtful.

He mulled these words, wondering himself — what does it mean to say one is alone with the Alone?

Then, there is this entry from Rowan University referencing aesthetics:
A main channel through whom Plato's ideas influenced the middle ages, Plotinus (204-270 CE) and his disciple Porphyry combined Plato's rationalism with mysticism to produce a powerfully influential version of neo-Platonism. Plotinus' works were edited and collected by Porphyry into six books of nine chapters each, known as the Enneads (Greek for "The Nines").  
Plato had suggested, in Book VI of the Republic, that the Form of the Good was supreme in the world of the Forms. In fact, he said, 
What gives truth to the objects of knowledge, and to the knowing mind the power to know, is the Form of the Good. As it is the cause of knowledge and truth, think of it also as being the object of knowledge. Both knowledge and truth are beautiful, but you will be right to think of the Good as other and more beautiful than they. As in the visible world light and sight are rightly considered sunlike, but it is wrong to think of them as the sun, so here it is right to think of knowledge and truth as Good-like, but wrong to think of either as the Good, for the Good must be honored even more than they. ... [A]s for the objects of knowledge, not only is their being known due to the Good, but also their real being, though the Good is not being but superior to and beyond being in dignity and power" (Republic 508e-509c). 
Plotinus' philosophy may be seen as a set of variations on this Platonic theme. He refers to the Supreme Form more frequently as The One than as The Good, and emphasizes its aspects of Unity, Intelligence, and Soul or Life. Everything that is emantes from the One, and is drawn back toward it. For humans, the "flight of the alone to the alone," as Plotinus called it, is marked by rational inquiry (since the forms are rational and known by the rational mind). but it is also marked by a mystical experience which transcends reason, as the soul goes into itself and returns to Unity with its source. This element of mysticism in Plotinus was a major source of inspiration for medieval Christian mystics and theologians. Recent scholars like Jules Brehier have speculated that Plotinus may have been influenced by direct acquaintance with Hindu mysticism. Whether he was or not, his mystical teachings are certainly similar to those of the Upanisads, and seem to reflect a similar mystical experience. 
The Enneads contain a chapter on Beauty (I.6) which was highly influential in the Middle Ages. After considering other theories of what beauty is, Plotinus concludes that it is formal Unity. When diverse or similar parts are unified by one form, the Soul recognizes and takes pleasure in the form of Unity. This may happen when we view a painting or a sculpture, listen to a piece of music, or follow an elegant mathematical proof. In all these cases, we are drawn toward Unity, and the form of Beauty Itself. We must get there by stages: like people emerging from a dark cave into sunlight, we must become accustomed to the light. In the following passage, Plotinus combines ideas from Plato's allegory of the Cave with themes from the Symposium
Like anyone just awakened the soul cannot look at bright objects. It must be persuaded to look first at beautiful habits, then the works of beauty produced not by craftsmen's skill but by the virtue of men known for their goodness, then the souls of those known for beautiful deeds . . . Only the mind's eye can contemplate this mighty beauty . . . So ascending, the soul will come to Mind . . . and to the intelligible realm where Beauty dwells (Enneads I.6.9). 
Bibliography: John Haldane, entry in A Companion to Aesthetics, ed. David Cooper, Blackwell, 1992, 1995

Saturday, September 29, 2018

four points of view

Sitting with one who’s died on Saturday night.

There are no others, only the Other Itself.

Whatever he’s done, he’s done with it now.

Where goes anyone going when they are gone?

Friday, September 28, 2018

sudden change

amid cold words

flake falls to ground

not melting

investigate, for everyone’s health

The US Senate website reads (7am)


Normal service will return soon.

My message to Senator Collins went into nowhere.

I asked her to vote no until further FBI investigation clarifies issues so vital to both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.

Good Lord, it’s the Supreme Court and the US Senate!

Allegations need professional investigation. Loud denunciations are not evidence.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

the hearing

the hearing is over.

what did you hear?

white men yelling to shut up

with rage and putdown

women, quietly listening

remembering in the open

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

a delight

Reading The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry to a man with difficulty stringing words together into coherent sentences. We both agree the book is a delight. His wife brings in flowers. Light leaves earlier by the week. 

ethical analysis in a snapshot

R: "Why do things have to be so hard?"
F: "It's never going to get easier. We just have to get better."
(Dialogue at end of police drama episode)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I have nothing I want you to see.

A woman I know is hesitant to turn on her computer. She worries about surveillance, hacking, and the copying of files she deems personal and important.

Perhaps we have passed the threshhold that wonders if such universal surveillance is possible. More likely, it is rampant, concern is justified.

A film is afoot (whose title I will not identify here) that speaks of this issue.
The mind-fuckery continues up until the film's closing moments, when Seyfried's hacker confronts Owen's cop on the waterfront. Sal has clearly changed, and his understanding of how his information-gathering system works has been completely upended, leading to the type of larger philosophical crisis that often faces the protagonists of Niccol's films. How do you continue to live when your sense of reality has been so warped by technology? 
For Seyfried's character -- and perhaps for Niccol himself -- the answers begin with rethinking our conception of privacy. "It's not that I have something to hide," she tells Sal before walking away at the end of the film. "I have nothing I want you to see." It's a familiar line of criticism that's been articulated by activists, politicians, and writers regarding a wide range of cyber-security scandals from Edward Snowden to Cambridge Analytica. "That's the punch in the gut at the end of the film, hopefully," says Niccol. "That's the false choice we're always given: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."
So much depends on the word "nothing."

We need to see nothing.

The nothing beyond something. 

leave it there

In the dream I am in a library jotting notes from book . I tell the Dude, when he asks me about moose hunting (I think) that I will be returning to Amherst. He goes out door, I get up from chair to say something to him, but he is out on the sidewalk blended invisible among the crowd.
Inside, I see Diane K and we talk about scissors, how they are placed and exchanged outside door by at least three people.
Then, back at her house after returnng three books to shelf at library closing time. It is a quiet place. In other room it seems Myles is typing on small portable typewriter, which, when I approach, appears to be a folding portfolio of electronic communications equipment. (Is it M or is it David who flies from Spain today?)
I notice another man is on the porch, where, I realize, is where I stayed thirty five years ago when attending Berlin Alexanderplatz at 10 Exchange. D tells me his name is Nick. A tv is on with football game. I help move chairs from sliding door to porch as we speak. I realize I am grateful for her kindness. The place is quiet, spacious, neat, and I am a guest. I wake.

...   ...   ...

The past is not the past.
Leave it there.