Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Seelsorge! Care/cure of souls.


I've been thinking about the chaplain's position at Maine State Prison in Warren Maine. It's open.

What kind of chaplain would work well there?

No doubt the one chosen for the job.
[Emmanuel] Levinas was, notoriously, a severe critic of Simone Weil, whom he evidently never met despite their being contemporaries. Levinas’s criticisms, however, were not aimed explicitly at Weil’s notion of decreation, nor even at any aspect of her thought that could conceivably be characterized as philosophical. Instead he condemned her inability, as he saw it, to understand the Judaism into which she was born (but not formally raised)1 and which she seemed evidently determined to reject. Her desire for mystical union with God struck Levinas as merely a selfish pursuit of personal salvation. He was dismissive of her hatred of the Old Testament Jehovah, who could order the extermination of entire peoples, pointing out that she herself—all too true, unfortunately—had strangely little to say about the crimes committed in her own era against Jews, often in the name of Christianity.2 These disagreements, serious as they are, nonetheless conceal a deeper resonance. For Weil, the main form God’s love takes in this world is ordinary human compassion, the neighbor love we show for one another as fellow creatures infinitely removed from their creator. Weil’s God is surprisingly limited, a God “absent from the world, except in the existence in this world of those in whom His love is alive”—those whose “compassion is the visible presence of God here below.”3 As we shall see, the compassion she speaks of is essentially a form of self-denying openness to the other that could easily be characterized in Levinas’s terms as “being divesting itself of being.” 
More problematic might seem to be the similarities in the criticisms often leveled at Levinas’s and Weil’s understandings of ethical agency and selfhood. Each has been faulted for proposing an ethical passivity that makes responsible action by a free moral agent impossible. Here it is important to realize, however, that Levinas is not primarily interested in offering moral guidance but is attempting to ground normativity—in fact, the very meaning of human life—in the face-to-face encounter. What is new in Levinas is not a new ethics, but the idea that subjectivity itself is “ethical” in a foundational sense we normally do not notice. Hence the goal of this essay is not to prove that Simone Weil’s is a Levinasian ethics, but to show how Levinas’s fundamental approach to human existence clarifies certain aspects of decreation that many have considered questionable or extreme—such as Weil’s claim that we should desire nonbeing precisely in order to confirm our neighbor’s being. In turning to Levinas, we should not make the mistake of assuming that we are confronted with essentially the same paradox again when he proposes that we are fundamentally passive before we are free moral agents—for as we shall see, Levinas is making a different type of claim altogether: a metaphysical one about the nature of human agency, not an ethical one about how we would best orient or structure our lives. This metaphysical claim, particularly in the form of Levinas’s concept of substitution, seems to provide a plausible philosophical foundation for Weil’s notion of decreation. 
I 
Decreation, frequently mentioned in Simone Weil’s late writings, is not always referred to by name. In the New York notebook (1942), for example, there are many passages such as the following in which the word never occurs:
Every man, seeing himself from the point of view of God the creator, should regard his own existence as a sacrifice made by God. I am God’s abdication. The more I exist, the more God abdicates. So if I take God’s side rather than my own I ought to regard my existence as a diminution, a decrease. 
When anyone succeeds in doing this, Christ comes to dwell in his soul.  
As regards myself, I ought to repeat in the opposite sense the abdication of God, I ought to refuse the existence that has been given me, to refuse it because God is good. As regards other people, I ought to imitate God’s abdication itself, to consent not to be in order that they may be; and this in spite of the fact that they are bad. (FLN 213)
 Abdication, eh?

Why not try this: Seelsorge!

Yes, care/cure of souls.


As in meetingbrook's view: Embodying the dwelling-place of the Alone; Stepping aside to make room for Another

Friday, June 07, 2013

Jitai = Itself

It rains.

Have you noticed that "I" before"T" becomes "IT."

I on a cross becomes It-self.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

resting where glance falls

"Language is the best thing we've ever invented." (--David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, at City Arts and Lecturers, 6May2013)


Read! That's what Remnick wants us to do. Not just the "great" works of literature. Just read.

Today I am reading Being and Time by Martin Heidegger. Also Basic Writings, by Heidegger. Over on the chair by the black futon is Area 51, An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base, by Annie Jacobsen. On the brown blanket on the single bed along north wall of bookshed retreat is Clouds Without Rain, An Amish Country Mystery, by P.L. Gaus. Covered in plain brown grocery bag cover on desk is Chain of Command, The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, By Seymour M Hersh. In briefcase is The History of Western Philosophy of Religion, Volume 5, Twentieth-Century Philosophy of Religion, Edited by Graham Oppy and Nick Trakakis (2009).

In front bathroom, Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive, by John Eldredge. 

Of course there is the Collected Poems of Jack Gilbert, and the several (5) books by Ilia Delio scattered about the house and picked up regularly and shared: 1. The Emergent Christ; 2. The Unbearable Wholeness of Being, God, Evolution, and the Power of Love;  3. Christ in Evolution; 4. Franciscan Prayer; and, 5. Care For Creation, A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth.


Christian Wiman's books are regularly read as well: 1. My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer; 2. Every Riven Thing: Poems; 3. Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet. I've just finished (Science Fiction) Neverness, by David Zindell and have begun War in Heaven . When I rouse it from its hiddenness I will complete The American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Also finished is Christopher Hayes' Twilight of the Elites, America After Meritocracy; and, curiously, Rachel Maddow's Drift, The Unmooring of American Military Power has drifted somewhere out of sight.

That's it for what I am reading. Except for daily Liturgy of the Hours; and tonight for practice Zen Contemplation for Christians, A Bridge of Living Waters, by Elaine Macinnes; finally, (over and over) Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Such is my first few weeks of not teaching. This short window of open reading before going back into required reading for fall semester.

And I am learning the language of nature. The language of solitude.

The language of silence.

Of faces.

Of eyes.

The alphabet of glance resting where it falls.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

where to begin


Take the earth, for example.

It has no ideology. There is only experience.

There's something there to ponder.
 I bring an unprotected heart to our meeting place 
I hold no cherished outcome 
I will not negotiate by withholding 
I am not subject to disappointment      
            (From a Druid Vow of Friendship)
 Biomass, the woman said. Biomass loss is hurting the air, water, and humus. And... humans.
"Centering Prayer, when it reaches the full consent to our nothingness is a perfect preparation for death, because it is death – death to the false self in the Night of Sense and the Night of Spirit and to the ego in the Night of No Self. Even the True Self has been transcended.... 
 "The dying process is designed to create a non-possessive attitude where one gives up all of one’s possessions, including one’s body and loved ones ... and enters into the flow of divine life eternal ... unity with God that sees God in everything and, in a sense, that ultimately everything is God."     
(-Thomas Keating, from the new Gift of Life Series:  Death & Dying, Life and Living)
If you don't feel for anything, if you don't believe in anything right under your feet, then there is no God for you. Here is where atheism has its sting.

Everything, the monk says, is God.

Let's start there.

That's something.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Tree soon to topple; schooner below

Breeze over Penobscot Bay.


Tree keeps good watch.

                       

I approve this meditation.


Some object (i.e. are opposed) to meditation,

                              

I side with Descartes, Marcus Aurelius, Maimonides, Han Shan, and Chuang Tzu.

Look carefully, they say.

See well.

Meditate on this, here, now.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Do not fear death

There's no need to urge anyone into whatever religion or belief system you hold.

Invite them, instead, to be free.
"1. Accept everything just the way it is. 2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake. 3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling. 4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world. 5. Be detached from desire your whole life long. 6. Do not regret what you have done. 7. Never be jealous. 8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation. 9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others. 10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love. 11. In all things have no preferences. 12. Be indifferent to where you live. 13. Do not pursue the taste of good food. 14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need. 15. Do not act following customary beliefs. 16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful. 17. Do not fear death. 18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age. 19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help. 20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour. 21. Never stray from the Way.”                 ― Miyamoto Musashi,. (c.1584 – June 13, 1645)
Once free, a person will become and remain exactly what and who they are.

Without fear, freedom allows each to be themselves.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

by their sweet questionings

Complacencies of Morning Call Yurt, and slumbering sounds of Ragged Mountain and Meetingbrook's tumbling waters turning east at big tree by front door toward Hosmer Pond, rising sun, and miles to sea through Goose River into Rockport Harbor, Penobscot Bay, Atlantic Ocean.


Prayer is, for now, coming between, and interesting.

If prayer, interim, intervening, and inter-esse; then nothingness. 

To be temporary and to be between is to be not-a-thing. It is to be passing through.

And so I pray for your passing through whatever it is you are passing through.

That you not get stuck. And if you do, that you move again through.

That you remain fluid and soft able to take the curves and turns with grace and ease. That you start again if you get jammed up.

That you remain no-thing, nobody's fool, not property not object not means to someone else's something else.
Amen, I say to you: Whatever you ask for in prayer,believe you will receive it, and it will be yours, says the Lord.(--Mk 11: 23, 24)
                     

Let's keep watch for one another. Over time, over distance, over disappearances. Over death.

We are windows.

To be seen through.

See well.

See far.

                                              

This Sunday morning, my prayer, is one, questioning, what is, going on.