Tuesday, October 06, 2015


Neils Harrit says of the Goddess of Justice, with blindfold, sword in one hand, and scales in other, the meaning is only hard evidence, not personal opinion, should matter. “You can say that science is blind, and justice is blind, but we are not dumb.”          
 ( from, 9/11 - Uncovering Ten Years Of Deception, Episode 4/5) 
Delusion is a big problem.

By the time we realize we are delusive, what once was considered real has become obtuse apology, followed by the exhortative, “now let’s move on.”

It’s enough to make you wish for better myths and fantasies.

Or that God would remain what God is -- silent and unseen.

It is the feast of Bruno. He cultivated the silent and the unseen, the Carthusian way of life.

Gott sei dank!

Monday, October 05, 2015

harbor joys

Steve rows out.

Lobster boat circles before heading out.

Jon rows out.

I read students’ papers at harbor.

Monday morning rituals.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

so many rivulets –

White dog rapprochement with wily grey cat the morning of St. Francis' feast day.

Also, happy birthday Rokie!

Eight terrific years!

What a gift!

“He savored in each and every creature –

as in so many rivulets –

that Goodness which is their fountain-source.” 
                                      (–Bonaventure, about Francis)

Saturday, October 03, 2015

saying it becomes it

Transitus --

Il poverello of Assisi,

fell asleep in God, they say --

Transitioning into these words;

language a new form of life

and what is today's practice?

Doctors Without Borders hospital hit by US drone in Afghanistan. Many killed and injured.

Nine shot to death on college campus in Oregon.

Ship with two dozen crew lost in waters under hurricane off Bermuda.

Necrologies for brown cloth ofm and white and black wool ocso indicate old friars and monks are dying daily.

OK, I get it.

I too will die.

I'll just sneak this nap as temporary practice.

Friday, October 02, 2015

nepsis and prosoche

Watchfulness and the practice of the art of attention, nepsis and prosoche. These are good words to name a new rowing dinghy if one were to name such a boat what one’s life (sei ikiru) presents itself as come  October.
For the ancient fathers, a basic prerequisite for genuine growth in the spiritual life involves a constant attitude of nepsis or watchfulness.  The word nepsis (νήψις)in antiquity literally meant to drink no wine, but by extension it also included the metaphorical sense of being sober-minded, sane, alert, and finally vigilant.  If one desires to not be under the influence of the passions, if one wishes to not be drunk with anger, with envy, or with desire, one must spiritually speaking drink no wine. The ascetic fathers are also referred to as the neptic fathers. This watchfulness is paramount because as Saint Peter warns in his epistle, “Be sober (νήψατε), be vigilant (γρηγορήσατε meaning stay awake); because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”  If you are drunk or asleep, you are obviously defenseless in the face of an attack. 
In chapter eight of Ancient Christian Wisdom, I note that Saint Hesychius the Presbyter distinguishes between four types of watchfulness or of not drinking the fermented juices of the passions: (1) calling out to Christ for help, (2) remaining silent and still in prayer, (3) ruminating on the thought of death, and (4) scrutinizing the thoughts of fanciful notions.
(--from, The Therapeutic Strategy of Nepsis, in, Ancient Christian Wisdom), http://ancientchristianwisdom.com/2012/11/06/the-therapeutic-strategy-of-nepsis/

We are poor passing facts” wrote Robert Lowell in his poem Epilogue, “warned by that to give / each figure in the photograph / his living name

And then:
The non-dualist elements in Stoicism appear to be primarily related to the prevalence of spiritual exercises in Hellenistic philosophy in general, of which [Pierre] Hadot gives a detailed account. Important among these exercises as they appeared in Stoicism was prosoche or mindfulness, preparation for death, and the flight of the soul, all of which can suggest a non- dualist perspective.
Prosoche seems to have been very similar to the Buddhist practice of mindfulness (sati) (though not nearly so fully developed), involving a deliberate and systematic cultivation of awareness of the present moment. Hadot quotes from Marcus Aurelius:

Everywhere and at all times, it is up to you to rejoice piously at what is occurring at the present moment, to conduct yourself with justice towards the people who are present here and now, and to apply rules of discernment to your present representations, so that nothing slips in that is not objective.1
Hadot goes on to explain the ways in which prosoche is a fundamental preparation for other practices: it frees us from passions associated with the past or future, increases vigilance, and “allows us to accede to cosmic consciousness”2. As I shall argue later, this type of practice may work on a psychological level to reduce identification with the ego, provided it is performed in a balanced fashion, avoiding alienation3: but it is impossible to tell from purely textual or historical evidence whether or not this was the case. 
(--from, p.77, in, A Buddhist theory of moral objectivity, by Robert Ellis, 2001)
What are we looking at? Looking for? Looking as?

I’m waiting for you to answer me.

Angels help us! Keep us safe along this inquiry!

Thursday, October 01, 2015


La petite fleur des Lisieux.


Priez pour nous!

a good universe next door?

Philosophy entails questioning what we don’t know to see if there is any confession forthcoming.

Such as -- I don’t know this, but I learned something yesterday that suggests this is that.

Nietzsche writes under the heading “Types of my disciples”:
To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities — I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not — that one endures.  
(--in brainpickings.org, Maria Popova), https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/10/15/nietzsche-on-difficulty/
 William Faulkner, in his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 made these comments at his Banquet Speech (1950):
He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.  
Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.    
I listen to Vladimir Putin speak about Libya and Iraq falling apart after their strongmen leaders were toppled. He says this should not happen in Syria, where a massive proxy war rages.

The United States feels like the Republican right wing Congress in its efforts to dismantle governance in favor of private capitalist corporate grabfests. Russia wants Bashar al-Assad to stay in place. It is hard to imagine what will happen next in Syria, in Palestine, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Yemen, in the halls of Congress.

The solution proposed by Congress seems to be to destroy Planned Parenthood and women’s health opportunities so that...so that...er...so that women would not take away the presumed right of men to control women’s bodies. If men can continue to do that, then the Middle East will be safe for...for...ah...men to control women. (Logic demands we arrive carefully at reasonable conclusions to  rational problems. Women, apparently, are rational problems for Republican men.)
One could say that in case of need, every normal and healthy woman is able to hold a position. And there is no profession which cannot be practiced by a woman. (--Edith Stein)
 What do Republican men need?

What profession do they prefer women to practice?

What, beside embarrassment and disgust, can one think about the congressional hearings by
the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and their questioning of CEO Cecile Richards?  http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/29/444528541/6-clips-of-audio-you-should-hear-from-the-planned-parenthood-hearing  

Cheer up. There are antidotes.


One of them is poet e.e.cummings.

I like his suggestion.

    'pity this busy monster, manunkind'

pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
--- electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
                          A world of made
is not a world of born --- pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if --- listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go

-- E. E. Cummings

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

really...I am

Something there is about Angels.

The...unknown of it, of them. 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “…the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.” John Paul II, in a General Audience, reminds us that the name of each Archangel reflects a facet of the nature of God. St. Michael’s name means ‘Who is like God?,’ St. Gabriel’s ‘power of God,’ and St. Raphael’s ‘God heals.’ To angels, God has entrusted a special mission with human beings at the center.  
(--from, Divine Office, September 29, Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels, Feast)
If God is the hidden power of love, and Angels are the unseen conveyance of caring, then...I'm good with God and Angels.


I am.

neither rhyme nor reason

They say it will rain
I'll say it again, they say it will rain
But I'm not concerned -- 
I've nothing to lose,
I don't drink booze
There's a silver umbrella in barn

something calls from high in tree

Same sky east rises moon

Same sky east rises sun --

No, not true. This window

Facing east spins towards

View of everything out there

Seen from silence

In here

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Perhaps, here.

When all have gone.


After walking.

In stillness.

And silence.

Just after noon.

Perhaps God visits.


Pope arrives. 

Pope departs. 

Just like you. Just like me. 

He says: be faithful, generous, and kind. 

We say: we will, some day. 

We will. 


Saturday, September 26, 2015

did you hear

While sitting zazen

As breeze brushes branch and leaf

Earth alive whispers

Friday, September 25, 2015

give me a minute, I’m thinking

What if each person said yes to friend and family?

Said yes to stranger and enemy?

Would transformation effectuate resurrection, rebirth, reincarnation?

I say...


Thursday, September 24, 2015

without cause, without why, without guile

Actuality is inexperienceable. Reality is experienceable. But the interpretations and opinions formed around reality are often delusory and erroneous. Actuality, being beyond appearance and formulation of thought, merely gives itself.

Heidegger's Es Gibt arises
Heidegger begins his “Letter on Humanism” by noting that our notion of action is too often narrowly thought in terms of cause and effect. Consequently, the human being is conceived as only an acting agent.  By action or activity one simply means the power to cause an effect—i.e., a causality.  As such, the value we attach to any being or activity is construed only in terms of utility, that is to say, what an act does or can do for a particular end or purpose.  Action in this  sense is merely a means toward the actualization of mechanical, utilitarian ends.  According to Heidegger, we are in the habit of thinking of action within the heteronomy of means-ends, a habit whose genealogy can be traced in the evolution of the idea of making-actual from ενεργεια (energeia) to actualitas to Wirklichkeit, and so forth.  One recalls here Hegel’s famous dictum:  “Action is the clearest revelation of the individual, of his temperament as well as his aims—what a man is at bottom and in his inmost being comes into actuality only by his action” (See Hegel, Aesthetics, Vol 1, p. 219). 
 (--from, Be Late. A blog by Paul Nadal, Thinking Being Human: Notes on Heidegger’s “Letter on Humanism" https://belate.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/heidegger-letter-on-humanism/ 
 Whatever the explanation, I'm tired. I understand the Pope is in the United States. I hope he has a good time. He seems a thoughtful and kindly fellow.

I wish the country he visits would ease up on killing people -- in foreign countries, in this country, in prisons, in an economic/political thought that some people are undeserving of life in an abundant society because they have little to contribute to its expansion.
In the realm of reality we have so much to strive for, so much conflict, so much complexity. In actuality we have nothing, there is nothing to achieve, there is the simplicity of nonexistence. 
Where we have the illusion of living is in reality, and where we appear to have nonexistence is in actuality, but where we have actual life is in what is next. We are neither the construction of the relative reality nor the nonexistence of the actual, but the crackling release of quantum potential, the fact of manifestation, the relentless energetic movement of becoming. 
The quantum expression is the actual come alive, an acausal, aqualitative occurrence. If we are to live fully in this new actualism, we must first abandon any belief in reality as we have known it by abandoning belief itself, and our belief in belief is anchored in the superstition that the known tells us what is next. This belief in the known is reinforced because we reside in reality, which is known, and in reality, the known informs us what is next, because what is next is more of what we know. The belief in the known, the belief in belief, cannot step outside what it knows. Once outside the known, we must face that all our beliefs and all of what we know tell us nothing at all about an acausal universe.
(--p.66, in What's Next After Now? Post-Spirituality and the Creative Life, by Steven Harrison) 
Pope Francis talked about Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton.

Four hopeful people.

Nice going, Papa Francis.

Thanks for your visit!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015




Looking around.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


"Do not hide your face from me, in you I put my trust."

Before sleep, verse.


Re-examining “parasite.”

Better the Greek parásītos:
(in ancient Greece) a person who received  
free meals in return for amusing or impudent  
conversation, flattering remarks, etc. 1530-40;  
Latin parasītus < Greek parásītos one who 
eats at another’s table, orig. adj.:  
feeding beside, equivalent to para-  
para-1+ sît (os) grain,food + -os adj. suffix         
How we go on.

(cf poem “Axe Handles” by Gary Snyder.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

monday beyond twilight

I just realized I might not want anything anymore.

Music plays from front room.

A door closes from barn.

Daylight faded.

Moon over shoulder.

Dog by side.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

It's time

There really are too many people in prison.

Surely you know that.

Don't you?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

as near as near can be

The elderly man is growing afraid of more and more things. He doesn't leave home. His wife is unsure she can care for hisself without exhausting herself. Their longtime house guest pitches in. There's only so much can be done. Full Alzheimer's is near as noon to morning.

This is everyday. Everywhere. With so many.

Loving God means trusting what is taking place.

Trusting what is taking place is near to God.

Not far.


An old man's love of dogs near.

Friday, September 18, 2015

he says there's a straight line from schools to prisons

A man I know worries that police are acting out the fear that underlies the current insecurities of this country.

He thinks we no longer believe our best interests are important to law enforcement and political/corporate types who are acting from their own fears and ambitions.

I tell him he might be right.

And there we are.

Stuck in the middle of a sinking boat far from shore in a turbulent sea.

It is night.

Dawn, a long way off.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

And in the end...

Golden Slumbers,  Carry that Weight, The End
Once there was a way,
to get back homeward,
Once there was a way,
to get back home

Sleep pretty darling do not cry,
and I will sing a lullaby
Golden slumbers fill your eyes,
smiles awake you when you rise

Sleep pretty darling do not cry,
and I will sing a lullaby

Once there was a way,
to get back homeward,
Once there was a way,
to get back home

Sleep pretty darling do not cry,
and I will sing a lullaby

Boy you're gonna carry that weight,
carry that weight for a long time
Boy you're gonna carry that weight,
carry that weight for a long time

I never give you my pillow,
I only send you my invitations
And in the middle of the celebrations,
I break down

Boy you're gonna carry that weight,
carry that weight for a long time
Boy you're gonna carry that weight,
carry that weight for a long time

Oh yeah, all right,
are you gonna be in my dreams tonight?

Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you

And in the end,
the love you take,
is equal to the love you make,

cf. video: Song, Paul McCartney, Golden Slumbers , Carry That Weight , The End

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

questioning...what you are...seeing

We all look.

Some come close to seeing what they are looking at.

A rare few see what is actually there.
Question: Is it within my power to discover something new? 
Erwin Schrödinger replies: “The task is . . . not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.”   
(--from, Irish Times, Unthinkable: Are there truths that can’t be spoken? Cultivating ‘a sense of wonder that the world exists’ is central to Wittgenstein’s philosophy)   http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/unthinkable-are-there-truths-that-can-t-be-spoken-1.2347315  
 This is practice and mystery worth contemplating.

Monday, September 14, 2015

as water through the best-laid roofs

Paschal Foley ofm in 1966 was right to interrupt his peregrinating peripatetic philosophy lecture a block from the beach in New Hampshire to tell us that when all else fails in life, "Try philosophy."

This Franciscan priest alluded to faith failing, relationships failing, career failing, and inevitably, health failing. He suggested, like Camus of Sisyphus, it is the pauses of thought thinking itself in the midst of numbing senseless world-wearying shenanigans that we might find an oasis insight of passing sanity in the parched sands of contemporary culture.

I liked him for that. Then. And now.
People often wonder why there appears to be no progress in philosophy, unlike in natural science, and why it is that after some three millenniums of philosophical activity no dramatic changes seem to have been made to the questions philosophers ask. The reason is because people keep asking the same questions and perplexed by the same difficulties. Wittgenstein puts the point rather directly: “Philosophy hasn’t made any progress? If somebody scratches the spot where he has an itch, do we have to see some progress?” Philosophy scratches at the various itches we have, not in order that we might find some cure for what ails us, but in order to scratch in the right place and begin to understand why we engage in such apparently irritating activity. Philosophy is not Neosporin. It is not some healing balm. It is an irritant, which is why Socrates described himself as a gadfly. 
This is one way of approaching the question of life’s meaning. Human beings have been asking the same kinds of questions for millenniums and this is not an error. It testifies to the fact that human being are rightly perplexed by their lives. The mistake is to believe that there is an answer to the question of life’s meaning. As Douglas Adams established quite some time ago, the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything will always be “42” or some variation of 42. Namely, it will be something really rather disappointing.  
The point, then, is not to seek an answer to the meaning of life, but to continue to ask the question. This is what Frank did in his life and teaching. David Ellis tells a story of when Frank was in hospital, and a friend came to visit him. When the friend could not find Frank’s room, he asked a nurse where he might find Professor Cioffi. “Oh,” the nurse replied, “you mean the patient that knows all the answers.” At which point, a voice was heard from under some nearby bedclothes, “No, I know all the questions.”  
We don’t need an answer to the question of life’s meaning, just as we don’t need a theory of everything. What we need are multifarious descriptions of many things, further descriptions of phenomena that change the aspect under which they are seen, that light them up and let us see them anew. That is what Frank was doing with his quotations, with his rich variety of particulars. They allow us to momentarily clarify and focus the bewilderment that is often what passes for our “inner life” and give us an overview on things. We might feel refreshed and illuminated, even slightly transformed, but it doesn’t mean we are going to stop scratching that itch. In 1948, Wittgenstein wrote, “When you are philosophizing you have to descend into primeval chaos and feel at home there.” 
(--from, THE STONEThere Is No Theory of Everything, By http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/12/there-is-no-theory-of-everything/?emc=eta1&_r=0 
On Friday we had the final forum of our course on Philosophy and Code of the Warrior with men at Maine State Prison. Chris' shakuhachi flute opened the session toward silence. Four men presented their thoughts and findings. Discussion and personal experience followed.

Including, from Pierre Hadot's Philosophy as a Way of Life (1995), this fragment:
Spiritual exercises are required for the healing of the soul. Like the Stoics, the Epicurians advise us to meditate upon and assimilate, "day and night," brief aphorisms or summaries which will allow us to keep the fundamental dogmas "at hand." For instance, there is the well-known tetrapharmakos. or four-fold healing formula: "God presents no fears, death no worries. And while good is readily attainable, evil is readily endurable."                             (Hadot, p.87)
Philosophy is not the knowing of truth; it is the love of wisdom.

Wisdom goes through uncertainty and failure as water through the best-laid roofs, until it comes to rest on our willingness to speak to one another with an open trying to find our own way through everything we see.

No theory.

Just our experience of everything.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

reading zen master on prayer at practice tonight




What comes to mind

Now and forever

Happy New Year!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

dialogue with a student

re mindfulness and reincarnation
1. "I pass someone on the street, or in a store and we make eye contact, and these is a feeling of connection that we experience that goes deeper than acknowledgment of each other's presence."
2. What could someone have possibly done to be born into some of the horrendous suffering that exists in this world? (KO)
re 1: That kind of experience is riveting. You just “know" there's a connection, but unsure how, where, when. It is a ponderable moment.
re 2: Also a perplexing consideration.
I prefer (reading your words) to think of it this way: If pleasure/pain, joy/sorrow, safe/endangered are mirror images of one another, the front/back of hand -- you might argue that our ordinary preference for one over the other is a natural (and quite reasonable) preference.
And yet, we might be viewing karma in a narrow manner -- as punishment or reward. If karma, as defined, is: 
karma |ˈkärmənoun(in Hinduism and Buddhismthe sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.• informal destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.
...then we might look at the words "sum" and "person" for perspective.
Sum suggests whole. Person suggests "sounding through" (its literal translation from Latin 'per' 'sona'.) 
By limiting the effects of karma to only "my" limited experience, my life, my circumstance -- I am in a quandary as to why I am suffering unpleasant effects from what causes -- what in heaven's name did I do? 
Is it possible that we are too narrowly defining "I, my, me" and missing a wider plausibility? That plausibility asks: Is there not meanness in the world? Do not some individuals choose to hurt other individuals? Are not some of us mostly insensitive to the dignity and honor due to each individual? 
What I am suggesting is that the karma any individual does experience might be the result of the participatory and interconnected nature of existence, a quality of existence we are mostly unaware of, and that I am experiencing not only my karmic effects but also the karmic effects of others.
And here's the kicker: If we choose to hold that somehow God or Karma have a hand in our lives, is it possible that there is a portioning out of difficult effects to those deemed ready or strong enough to take on troubling circumstances (poverty, illness, mistreatment) so as to transform the ill-effects of these factors into beneficial effects going forward? Do we have a hand in the ongoing transformation or purification of existence for the benefit of all? Is there some complicity on our part as individuals to (consciously? unconsciously?) take on some of what the "world" dishes out as dirt and hurt for the purpose of hearing and helping?
To push the metaphor further: Is this what Christ in his way, or Buddha in his, or Edith Stein in her way, or Rachel Corrie in hers -- were doing, taking on, embodying, transforming, and moving through for others?
If Jose Ortega y Gassett is right ("I am I and my circumstances,") -- might there be many among us who by their awareness, affirmation, and attentive presence are carrying burdens that seem too large for their personal well-being, but suggesting of a grace and dignity and generosity that fills us with compassion and the desire to serve?
I don't know. Just asking.
(Thanks for prompting me into this philosophical meditation!)

prescinding after the whole

poetry is 

what is






and full 

with feeling

Friday, September 11, 2015

who wants to know?

So many were murdered 14 years ago today.

By whom?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

they're ok

"Nothing is itself taken alone. Things are because of interrelations or interactions." (Wallace Stevens, in Adagia)

Itself, taken alone, is nothing. 


Emptiness, shunyata, is itself nothing alone.

How is it we fear God?

How is it we fear nothingness?

How are things?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Un fathom able

Of a sudden

Slips away

Here nor there

talking with friend on porch after midnight

The mind is complicated. There is no out-smarting it. Only, ask for what is within your whole being to see clearly, acknowledge simply, and forgive kindly what mind manipulates.