Thursday, May 24, 2018

on patch of island between two bridges where brook tumbles on either side, two people part ways

Trusting Continuance

1. Things have a beginning, a middle, and a continuance.

2.  We remember beginnings. We experience middles — (some delights, some difficulties).

3.  We don’t know what continuance will look like.

4.  We just step, and step; we flow, and flow.

5.  How do we continue when we don’t know, can’t know, where it goes?

6.  Look! (At branches of brook flowing by, going their way.)

7.  Our task — to let it go! To trust continuance, to

8.  Trust the mountain, the bridges, the fallen tree, and

9.  Trust ourselves as we go on with presence: boundaries of edges provided by earth’s natural sluice.     
          This —

10. Helping us go on,     trusting,    continuance. 
                                                                                                     (wfh/24may18, Parting Ways Ceremony,)

We stood with them as they moved toward silence.

don’t waste a moment

Morning twilight, woodpecker awakens at tree hits wooden Han* calling practitioners of zen to their practice.

Songbirds grumble their way into dawn zendo finding branch zabuton sprig green zafu measured anicca breath silently reciting: “The awakened way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.”

This Thursday morning.

No, thing, special — woodpecker stalwart in its invitation.

Surely our neighbors are meditating on impermanence.

*Han: A wooden block hit with a mallet to notify sitters that zazen is about to begin. On the back of the han appear the following words of the Buddha:
Great is the matter of birth and death
Life flows quickly by
Time waits for no one
Wake up! Wake up!
Don’t waste a moment!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

ex nihilo

I prayed today

I said: I don’t know

how to pray —

that was enough

to awaken god

and set the world

right. God loves

fools and unknowing

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

how words matter


am not

a poet

Monday, May 21, 2018

flip the coin

The president of the United States might be on his way out.

Or maybe it is merely the dissolution of the American experiment.

It was a nice try.

And it's a complicated political world.

But we no longer want flimflam or echolalia.

There will be no tears.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

money comes from: thin air.

Just when you think that we have money problems in the US, you have another
think coming.

Which changes everything.
In one of her most important academic papers, published in 2000, Kelton  
maintains that government doesn’t actually finance its activity by levying  
taxes or issuing bonds.  
Instead, it creates money by spending it into existence. If a government  
wants to build a road, it calls some contractors and puts money in their bank  
accounts to pay for it.  
Where does this money come from? The same place all money comes from:  
thin air. 
(--from, Stephanie Kelton Has The Biggest Idea In Washington, Once an outsider, her radical economic thinking 
won over Wall Street. Now she’s changing the Democratic Party. By Zach Carter, 05/20/2018 07:23 am ET, 
Huffington Post) 
We knew it all along, didn't we? All the economic, tax, and banking stress
played on ordinary working stiffs is and has been a ruse.

I'll have to sit and have a think on this.

psalms -- read them with your whole self, praying


Attraction and revulsion surround and interpenetrate each other like a sumie Ensō rolling at bottom of page with Four Vows of the Bodhisattva exploding where beginning and ending smash into one another as if surprised to learn they'd arrived where they departed and departed from where there was no point unarriving.

Who would use terms like wholeness or enlightenment when the startling point is a rereading of the maxim 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained.' No longer the 'Go do it!' interpretation but rather a sobering realization that nothing begins nothing ends.

We cannot understand this. It evades reason and hides in riddles. Like sitting with a dying woman as turkey walks back and forth outside patio door along split rail fence as dimming daylight hurries ground feeding songbirds sorting through broken open shells to wing back to night nest.

Psalms, as my dimness descends, attract and repulse.

Richard Rohr arrives this Sunday morning with his meditation:

The Psalms
Sunday, May 20, 2018

So much of our lives is dictated by our preferences, what we like and don’t like. We all naturally gravitate toward what we find attractive, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But we need to be aware that there are things deeper than our preferences. If we do not recognize that, we will follow them addictively and never uncover our soul’s deeper desires. Often the very things that don’t appeal to us have the most to teach us spiritually.
If you’re like me, you’d much rather spend time in the classical, medieval, or renaissance galleries than in modern exhibits. We tend to be attracted to whatever version of art makes us feel comfortable or reflects our worldview. We play this game of preference even in what we we’ve deemed the “sacred art” of the psalms. We prefer the calm bucolic scene of Psalm 23, but cringe when the psalmist mirrors back to us the messiness, violence, and confusion of being human. St. John Cassian (c. 360–c. 435) taught that the psalms carry in them “all the feelings of which human nature is capable.” [1]
Poet Kathleen Norris writes of her experience singing the psalms three times a day as a guest in a Benedictine monastery:
The psalms demand engagement, they ask you to read them with your whole self, praying, as St. Benedict says, “in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.” [2] . . . You come to the Bible’s great “book of praises” through all the moods and conditions of life, and while you may feel like hell, you sing anyway. To your surprise, you find that the psalms do not deny your true feelings but allow you to reflect on them. . . .
But to the modern reader the psalms can seem impenetrable: how in the world can we read, let alone pray, these angry and often violent poems from an ancient warrior culture? At a glance they seem overwhelmingly patriarchal, ill-tempered, moralistic, vengeful, and often seem to reflect precisely what is wrong with our world. And that’s the point, or part of it. As one reads the psalms every day, it becomes clear that the world they depict is not really so different from our own; the fourth-century monk Athanasius wrote that the psalms “become like a mirror to the person singing them.” [3] . . . The psalms remind us that the way we judge each other, with harsh words and acts of vengeance, constitutes injustice, and they remind us that it is the powerless in society who are overwhelmed when injustice becomes institutionalized. . . .
In expressing all the complexities and contradictions of human experience, the psalms act as good psychologists. They defeat our tendency to try to be holy without being human first. [4]
The Psalms—like all great art—lead us to a truer image of ourselves, reality, and God.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

two of our compañeros, two statements, both worth a hearing

One brother tells it stark: Christopher Hitchens was once asked where he gets his free will from. He answers "From the acceptance of my solitude, sole responsibility. I cannot refer my problems up to a dictator."
(42:10 into clip

As a counterbalance, here's a brother who knows how to preach:
Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. delivered an impassioned sermon at the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry."
You've got to love the freedom and ability to listen to, hear, and cogitate what our family is saying.

Friday, May 18, 2018

time's right

A friend will marry in Belize in June.

How kind of him to go where I will not.

My gift to them was Hitchens tonight.

Inchoate vs innate, daimonium throughout.

me, an I? (ng!)




omg, is that the right word





These people

From their 

Appointed tasks

And so


Wait to


How it

Will end


It will end


The bloodshed 




And you, 




In tack.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

non sum qualis eram (latin)

 Horace, translated as, "I am not as I was."
The title of Dowson’s poem is taken from the Roman poet Horace, and specifically from Book 4 of his Odes. It means ‘I am not as I was in the reign of good Cynara’. (Cynara, by the way, means ‘artichoke’ in Greek.) That phrase, ‘I am not as I was’, points up the poem’s speaker as somebody who is past his prime, whose best days are behind him. As we will discover, the speaker of the poem is lovesick: ruined by the hopeless love for a woman. 
(--from, A Short Analysis of Ernest Dowson’s ‘Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae’, in interesting literature)
I heard the Latin phrase while listening to Christopher Hitchens give a talk, his last public appearance.
On October 8 2011 Christopher Hitchens received the Richard Dawkins Award at the Texas Freethought Convention on behalf of Atheist Alliance of America, presented by Richard Dawkins. 
He died 15Dec2011. He was intelligent, and colorful.

Another Latin epigram has interested me. At times, to the consternation of some:

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Quotidie morior from the Mysterium Cosmographicum, 1621 edition.
Epigram attributed to Ptolemy
The commonplace of dying I admit 
but when I ponder Heaven's form close-knit, 
My feet don't touch the ground. 
Instead, with ZeusI taste ambrosia, sip celestial juice. 
               translation©2002 Leonard Cottrell

*Epigramma Ptolemaeo adscriptum 
Quotidie morior, fateorque—sed inter Olympi 
Dum tenet assiduas me mea cura vias, 
Non pedibus terram contingo, sed ante Tonantem 
Nectare, divina pascor et ambrosia.
...   ...   ...

This epigram has its use in a different metaphor, namely, I must decrease.

I tire of my and therefore the culture's insistence that puffery and bloviation, celebrity and notoriety are the crowning achievements of an individual. We seem to love the Royal family or presidential family pomp and drama. We marvel at the 25+million per year salaries of athletes and media personalities. We are attracted to the loudest and most outrageous person in the room.

I prefer decreasing and disappearing.

Death refers to life.

So death, i.e. pointing attention to life, especially life in its subtle origination in each moment and its passing away in the next, interests me.

I wish to assert nothing but life itself.

I am not as I was.

I am as I am.


all there is

We walk around in narratives.

Stories we tell ourselves.

Interpretations that seem reliable and familiar.

We've heard them before.

What if we dropped our narratives?

Stopped telling ourselves stories?

Ceased interpretations?

No longer listened to the voices in our head?

I don't know.

What would happen if everything was merely itself?

Would we walk around as itself?

In itself?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

difficulties and quicksand

Watching old debates between Christopher Hitchens and individuals aligned with religious faiths.

Listening to news shows telling latest breaking of ethical or legal precedents by the current president or his attendants.

Religion has its difficulties.

Politics is quicksand.

It is a task to try to maintain equilibrium in wobbly realms of religion and politics.

today is today

I wake up. It is Wednesday. Birdsong. Sunshine. Cool air comes in open windows. Foolish news from radio.

Silence now.

I look back on days where it mattered what priests or ministers rabbis or imans elders or pundits presidents or congresspeople ceo's or actors celebrities or athletes local cop or school principal loud knowitalls or experts of any stripe those who claim to know and those who don't know but have power to influence -- those days no longer exist.

Today is today. That's all we know.

No one knows anything other than whatever is emerging in the moment just now.



Your eyes.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

whatever vanishes


Whatever happens

Whatever you say

Whatever failures

Whatever vanishes



Monday, May 14, 2018

trying to de-fence the injustice they receive and the injustice they distribute.

Our smiling political first family are safe and sound in Jerusalem.

On the other hand:
"   Israeli forces killed 55 Palestinians on the boundary fence with Gaza on Monday...""More than 2,400 people were injured, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza, including 1,200 from live ammunition. " (Article, Washington Post, 14may18)

               (a proportional response) 
Ivanka, Jared 
are OK. They celebrate 
their new embassy

The inmates of Gaza Strip, and the inmates of the Trump administration, are trying to de-fence the injustice they receive and the injustice they distribute.  

'yes' is saying nothing other than presence

Someone at Friday Evening Conversation recently said they'd been watching a Netflix Documentary titled "Wild, Wild Country" about Rajneesh, Antelope Oregon, and Ma Anand Sheela, his secretary.

An interview with Sheela posted on Vulture:
Were you ever surprised by his requests? 
In the beginning, I was and I questioned him. His answer to me: the way you are on television, you will protect the community by deterrent. You will become the deterrent. 
He said also that outrageous performance will bring more interest from other television companies or television channels or news media. Media is very expensive, advertisement is very expensive, so every performance must bring new performances. Nowadays you see this on a daily basis with Trump. 
I was going to say that, yeah. 
He creates every day a new sensation and media gets exhausted what to do. Every day — five, ten breaking news. I think Trump is a better student of Bhagwan than me in that sense.
The Daily Beast compared you to Kellyanne Conway, but you didn’t seem to like that comparison. 
No I don’t like it. What I’m saying is a joke, and I’m not comparing Bhagwan and me to Trump under any circumstances. 
But the approach is similar. 
Because people only understand sensation. They don’t understand, other than negativity and sensation. People remain stuck in negativity. 
By appealing to that, aren’t you just propagating that quality? 
You can look at it that way. You can also look at it that the negative approach brings you more media, and you want to remain on the tubes for self-protection. 
I can tell you something. A small story. There was a man who goes to a master and says nobody pays attention to me, everybody ignores me. That hurts me very much. And master said: Next time somebody starts talking, you just say no. No to everything. It will create a counterreaction and then everybody will pay attention to you. The man tries this thing and suddenly he becomes a big important person from simple “no.” That is our mankind’s stupidity. When you say “yes” nobody listens to you.
(from, Wild Wild Country’s Ma Anand Sheela Did It All for LoveBy , Apr.23, 2018)
This recalls the line in "Man for All Seasons" where playwright Robert Bolt has Sir Thomas More, on trial for his life, say, "Qui tacit consentiri, the maxim of the law is, Qui tacit consentiri -- Silence means consent."

It suggests to me that all the news and hoopla about and from Rajneesh and Trump, the din and drumbeat, distractions and incessant caterwauling comprising our contemporary culture -- is our way of saying NO to what is true and beyond obvious, meaningful and nourishing to our lives.

Silence, the silence of mere moment within itself, is what YES sounds like -- affirming, forgiving, and allowing unadorned emergence of what is guileless humility to stand without pretense in the light of day and be unafraid of the womb of night.

May we be blessed with nobody listening to us!

Yes is saying nothing other than presence.

qui tacet consentiri

source silentium 
creative verbum 
listening actus

quies ab initio 
conversatio in creatio  
movere auscultare


Sunday, May 13, 2018


is no

         time --

like the


Saturday, May 12, 2018

inspiration and careful investigation

After reading opinion columnists of an evening:
Columns like this are becoming ledger sheets for tonnage of garbage carried to landfills. 
I wonder if there is any leftover value in the writings of the fourth or fifth estate to have any real effect on this morass of an administration currently occupying Washington DC and assorted golf courses frequented by drivers of the garbage. 
Where are the intelligent, skilled, prescient, witty, and biting commentators who might inspire us with genuine options of thought that could spark a tipping point response to the sludge-entrepreneurs  pouring stink on the people, constitution, and democracy once held in high esteem?  
We need more than descriptive snark. We long for inspiration and careful investigation lending pragmatic hope to a dismal landscape. 
Maybe the pen is no longer mighty. If so, we are left with the sword of insouciant mockery swinging with disdainful recklessness by chief and vice executive and cabinet sycophants unstoppably bloodying everyone within the wide arc of its grim thrust and grimy reaping.

saturday afternoon haiku

              for jo-ann



breeze --

she is

       in  bamboo


what silence does with itself while waiting

Morning after Friday Evening Conversation.

A trinity for meditation following Saturday Morning Practice:
  1. con-vivium    (to live with)
  2. com-patior    (to allow together)
  3. co-relatio      (to carry-back the story told to itself) 
...   ...   ...

(1) When we live with one another and all that is comprised of our being with whatever is with us, (2) and allow what longs for acceptance to belong to itself, (3) we practice retrieving the stories we tell ourselves during our everyday experiences and let them sit in silence until they realize that reality itself needs no story from us -- only whole sight and loving presence and compassionate listening.

...   ...   ...

They're only words, eh? 
"It's only words, and words are I have..." (Bee Gees) 
We are made of words.

Words are what silence does with itself while waiting for a deeper resting, and more stable rooting, in reality.

...   ...   ...
1. vivo, vivere, vixi, victus
  • conjugation3rd conjugation 
-- be alive, live
-- reside
-- survive
...   ...   ... 
2,  patior
patior, pati, passus
patior, pati, passusverb
  • conjugation3rd conjugation
  • voicedeponent 
-- allow
-- suffer
-- undergo, endure 
-- permit
                 (Latin Dictionary) 
...   ...   ... 
3.  (a) co-  
                    Origin and Etymology of co-
Middle English, from Latin, from com-; akin to Old English ge-, perfective and collective prefix, Old Irish com- with

     (b) relatio, relationis  noun
declension: 3rd declension
gender: feminine   
-- act of carrying back
-- figure of speech
-- narration, relating of events, recital 

Friday, May 11, 2018

what you get is to be changed.

Poetry helps.

Here's one:

Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by
minutest fractions the water’s downdrafts and upswirls, the
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into
itself (it has those layers), a real current though mostly
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
                                    motion that forces change—
this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by
each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,
also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something
at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through
in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is
what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen
now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only
something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.
I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.
It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.
PRAYER (“minnows”) was written as a turn-of-the-millennium poem for the New York Times Op-Ed page, and was originally dated 12.31.00 
Jorie Graham, “Prayer” from Never. Copyright © 2002 by Jorie Graham. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
These are good words:
This is the force of faith. Nobody gets  
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing 
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. 
I'll sit with them. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

each and all, as it is, within itself -- ascension

Second reading          
From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop
No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven 
Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies. 
Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food. 
Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love. 
He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. 
These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body. 
Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head. 
Or, the final sentence translated differently:
Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; [up and down, in and out are dualistic designations nullified by nondualism]; not [only] because there is no distinction between mind and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the mind. 
This, perhaps, is the real meaning of the story of the Ascension. The evolution of consciousness, the maturing of morality, and the realization transcending fragmented, partisan, and venal competitive control over persons and resources -- inaugurating a new vision, a new way of being, and a new embodiment of reality that has, metaphorically, been called 'heaven.'

Unity holds each and all, as it is, within itself. 

ascension thursday

In the morning
birdsong and sunshine

Nothing to do
nothing to say --

see yourself now

You the song
you the light

The silence --
inside everything

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

does anybody know how to pray

The president believes in torture. The nominee for the CIA believes in torture.

The Christian Right believes in the president. They believe God tortures.

I don't believe in any of them.

What remains of the idea of a loving God is something I continue to believe in.

And in good men and woman throughout time -- they have my respect and attention.

It's what prayer used to be.


This has been added as a meaningful signature.
Besiyata Dishmaya (Aramaicבסיעתא דשמיא) is an Aramaic phrase, meaning "with the help of Heaven". The acronym BS"D(Mostly written in Hebrewבס"ד) has become a popular term among Orthodox Jews, reproduced at the top of every written document (beginnings of correspondences, letters, notes, etc.) as a reminder to them that all comes from God, including the following content, and to contextualize what is really important in the text, that without God's help, nothing can be done successfully. BS"D is not derived from any religious law of the Halakha, but it is considered an old accepted tradition. 
B'ezrat HaShem (Hebrewבעזרת השם‎, "with God's help") is a similar phrase.[2] The acronym is B"H (Hebrewב"ה‎),[1] which is also often read as "Baruch HaShem".
The book "Toldot Yitzhak" (‘The Offspring of Isaac’), by Yitzhak Karo, Yosef Karo's uncle, offers the meaning of this custom of writing ב"ה (B"H), at the top of every letter, with accordance to the biblical verse: "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths" (Book of Proverbs 3:6)."
Aspiration, prayer stepping forward.

Sending it unknowing to unknown recipients in order to affirm an unknowable source.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

sir, no sir

Some think the corruption, lies, and deceit of this president make the American people corrupt, liars, and deceitful.

Either that, or America has decided to remake itself in an image it has been keeping in the closet.

Have we always been corrupt, mendacious, and without honor all along?

And is this president merely opening the closet door, taking off the disguise, and showing us ourselves at long last without camouflage?

Some ask -- is he merely the most corrupt, lying, and treacherous person to hold the office of president of the United States?

There is someone unwilling to salute.

This world
          by Ryokan

English version by John Stevens
Original Language Japanese

This world
A fading
Mountain echo
Void and

A light snow
Three Thousand Realms
Within those realms
Light snow falls

As the snow
Engulfs my hut
At dusk
My heart, too
Is completely consumed

-- from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan, Translated by John Stevens

Monday, May 07, 2018


Peanut butter on old saltines

water with remnant grapefruit juice

slice of pie, coconut ice cream sandwich --

between sounds, midnight silence

Sunday, May 06, 2018


Des zweiten Buches erster Teil

                                                      (The Second Book First Part)


Gib deine Schönheit immer hin 
ohne Rechnen und Reden.
Du schweigst. Sie sagt für dich: Ich bin. 
Und kommt in tausendfachem Sinn, 
kommt endlich über jeden.
                                          {-- Rainer Maria Rilke  (1875-1926)
       Aus: Das Buch der Bilder / Des zweiten Buches erster Teil (1906)}
Give your beauty always
without arithmetic and speech.
You are silent. She says for you: I am.
And comes in a thousand ways,
finally comes over everyone.
Beginning.                                         Simply give your beauty              without calculating or talking.                       You are silent. She says for you: I am. And comes in meaning thousandfold, at last comes over everyone. 

neither optimistic nor joyful

Sunday morning opinion columns are rife with Mr.Trump, ubiquitous and ridiculous. I respond to one of them:

I no longer worry that Mr.Trump is the problem. He, like all unpleasant, undesirable, and self-obsessed irritants, will always be a type that is ever with us.

But we are the problem. We. It is our response that is troublesome. We are not so much addicted as we are afflicted.

The pain and suffering coming at us and the world is a given. Our inauthentic response is both a disappointing and sobering diagnosis of what's to come.

The way we giggle and squirm, jump on the bus and careen down the twisted, dangerous, mountain road of blinding voyeurism, is a terrifying commentary on our intellectual unwillingness to think clearly in the face of vapid threat.

We miscalculated Osama bin Laden. We overlook the assault rifle infestation because we want to be able to shoot whomever we wish whenever we wish. We ignore the truth -- not because it will set us free, but because it will reveal the more disturbing reality that we love our chains and our torturers.

Mr.Trump is our blind spot. He is the perfect storm of latent ideological terror, tormented gunman in crowds of innocent people, and demented kidnapping of human slaves for underground pleasure and pornographic consumption.

This failure to understand what is happening in front of us is sad and tragic.

Contrary to Sir Kenneth Clark's partially hopeful ending words in the 1969 BBC "Civilization" series -- we might not be able to be optimistic nor joyful at the prospect before us.

We are sleepwalking toward a sheer drop.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

mono no aware

This from Wikipedia:

Mono no aware (物の哀れ), literally "the pathos of things", and also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life. 
The phrase is derived from the Japanese word mono (), which means "thing", and aware (哀れ), which was a Heian period expression of measured surprise (similar to "ah" or "oh"), translating roughly as "pathos", "poignancy", "deep feeling", "sensitivity", or "awareness". Thus, mono no aware has frequently been translated as "the 'ahh-ness' of things", life, and love. Awareness of the transience of all things heightens appreciation of their beauty, and evokes a gentle sadness at their passing. In his criticism of The Tale of Genji Motoori noted that mono no aware is the crucial emotion that moves readers. Its scope was not limited to Japanese literature, and became associated with Japanese cultural tradition (see also sakura).[1] 

This from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

2.  Mono no aware: the Pathos of Things 
The meaning of the phrase mono no aware is complex and has changed over time, but it basically refers to a “pathos” (aware) of “things” (mono), deriving from their transience. In the classic anthology of Japanese poetry from the eighth century, the Manyōshū, the feeling of awareis typically triggered by the plaintive calls of birds or other animals. It also plays a major role in the world's first novel, Murasaki Shikibu's Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji), from the early eleventh century. The somewhat later Heike monogatari (The Tale of the Heike Clan) begins with these famous lines, which clearly show impermanence as the basis for the feeling of mono no aware
The sound of the Gion shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sōla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind. (McCullough 1988)
And here is Kenkō on the link between impermanence and beauty: “If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, how things would lose their power to move us! The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty” (Keene, 7). The acceptance and celebration of impermanence goes beyond all morbidity, and enables full enjoyment of life:
How is it possible for men not to rejoice each day over the pleasure of being alive? Foolish men, forgetting this pleasure, laboriously seek others; forgetting the wealth they possess, they risk their lives in their greed for new wealth. But their desires are never satisfied. While they live they do not rejoice in life, but, when faced with death, they fear it—what could be more illogical? (Keene, 79)
Insofar as we don't rejoice in life we fail to appreciate the pathos of the things with which we share our lives. For most of us, some of these things, impermanent as they are, will outlast us—and especially if they have been loved they will become sad things: “It is sad to think that a man's familiar possessions, indifferent to his death, should remain long after he is gone” (Keene, 30). 
The well known literary theorist Motoori Norinaga brought the idea of mono no aware to the forefront of literary theory with a study of The Tale of Genji that showed this phenomenon to be its central theme. He argues for a broader understanding of it as concerning a profound sensitivity to the emotional and affective dimensions of existence in general. The greatness of Lady Murasaki's achievement consists in her ability to portray characters with a profound sense of mono no aware in her writing, such that the reader is able to empathize with them in this feeling.

How we ago on!

Axe Handles

          BY GARY SNYDER
One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
                 the pattern is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with—"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's Wên Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature"-—in the
Preface: "In making the handle
Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand."
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.

Gary Snyder, "Axe Handles" from Axe Handles. Copyright © 1983 by Gary Snyder.