Saturday, January 10, 2015

surveillance spyware or assault gun -- this year we’ll all have one or the other aimed at us

To prison guards, airport security, police officers, intelligence agencies, immigration officials, military recon squads, or any school's vice principal, everyone is under suspicion. And the mistrust goes both ways.

It's a fact of life these days.
In response to recent announcements that Apple and Google have built into their new cell phones a default encryption that the companies themselves cannot decode, FBIDirector James Comey and GCHQ head Robert Hannigan have expressed concern that important information will not be available and called for public debate on terrorism and technology. It is disappointing, if not surprising, that they see a need for public debate only when new technologies may impair their ability to monitor us, and not when such technologies enhance their monitoring. A public debate is needed, but it cannot proceed without the kind of transparency that thus far the security agencies have obdurately resisted. 
Of course, transparency has costs as well as benefits, and secrecy is sometimes necessary. But secrecy has significant costs, too—not just to human rights, but to democracy itself. As US Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith warned in 2002, in a case involving secret immigration trials, “Democracy dies behind closed doors.” We won’t have a chance to arrive at defensible policies on surveillance and targeted killing if the questions are not fully and fairly debated. When the balance between individual rights and security is struck in secret one-sided determination, as has been the case with both drone killing and electronic surveillance, as well as the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program, it will inevitably be skewed. 
Increasingly, our governments seem to be insisting that our lives be transparent to them, while their policies remain hidden from us. For the sake of democracy itself, we must do all we can to resist that impulse. 
December 10, 2014 
(The New York Review of Books, Must Counterterrorism Cancel Democracy? By David ColeJANUARY 8, 2015 ISSUE )
Protection and security are vast obsessions of contemporary protectors and law enforcement. And now, with the political distribution of a particularly monied and elite ideology in place in Washington DC, it appears a new suspected class will be under greater scrutiny -- the poor, the middle class, and intelligent opposition to the unregulated use of power and money. A new set of battles will emerge, political and cultural. Most likely, militarized force will threaten to completely replace our moribund ability to converse, debate, disagree, and work out compromises.

We are going, in the words of the poet, into madness, "nobility of soul at odds with circumstance."

At least, thank goodness, there are poets:

In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see, 
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;   
I hear my echo in the echoing wood— 
A lord of nature weeping to a tree. 
I live between the heron and the wren,   
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den. 

What’s madness but nobility of soul 
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!   
I know the purity of pure despair, 
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.   
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,   
Or winding path? The edge is what I have. 

A steady storm of correspondences! 
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,   
And in broad day the midnight come again!   
A man goes far to find out what he is— 
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,   
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light. 

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.   
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,   
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.   
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,   
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.
(--Theodore Roethke, “In a Dark Time” from Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke, c.1963)


When not well, be not well.

Like dawn light, change arises --

Nothing has I

(to say)

I have nothing

to say
י  יִמְצָאֵהוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִדְבָּר,  {ס}  וּבְתֹהוּ יְלֵל יְשִׁמֹן;  {ר}  יְסֹבְבֶנְהוּ, יְבוֹנְנֵהוּ--  {ס}  יִצְּרֶנְהוּ, כְּאִישׁוֹן עֵינוֹ.  {ר}
10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste, a howling wilderness; He compassed him about, He cared for him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. 
יא  כְּנֶשֶׁר יָעִיר קִנּוֹ, עַל-גּוֹזָלָיו יְרַחֵף;  {ס}  יִפְרֹשׂ כְּנָפָיו יִקָּחֵהוּ, יִשָּׂאֵהוּ עַל-אֶבְרָתוֹ.  {ר}
11 As an eagle that stirreth up her nest, hovereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her pinions-- 
יב  יְהוָה, בָּדָד יַנְחֶנּוּ;  {ס}  וְאֵין עִמּוֹ, אֵל נֵכָר.  {ר}
12 The LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with Him. 
יג  יַרְכִּבֵהוּ עַל-במותי (בָּמֳתֵי) אָרֶץ,  {ס}  וַיֹּאכַל תְּנוּבֹת שָׂדָי;  {ר}  וַיֵּנִקֵהוּ דְבַשׁ מִסֶּלַע,  {ס}  וְשֶׁמֶן מֵחַלְמִישׁ צוּר.  {ר}
13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he did eat the fruitage of the field; and He made him to suck honey out of the crag, and oil out of the flinty rock; 
יד  חֶמְאַת בָּקָר וַחֲלֵב צֹאן,  {ס}  עִם-חֵלֶב כָּרִים וְאֵילִים  {ר}  בְּנֵי-בָשָׁן וְעַתּוּדִים,  {ס}  עִם-חֵלֶב, כִּלְיוֹת חִטָּה;  {ר}  וְדַם-עֵנָב, תִּשְׁתֶּה-חָמֶר.  {ס}
14 Curd of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and he-goats, with the kidney-fat of wheat; and of the blood of the grape thou drankest foaming wine. 
(--from Deuteronomy 32

Friday, January 09, 2015


Today I am Hikikomori.
Hikikomori (ひきこもり or 引き籠もり Hikikomori?, literally "pulling inward, being confined", i.e., "acute social withdrawal") is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive adolescents or adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. The term hikikomori refers to both the sociological phenomenon in general as well as to people belonging to this societal group. Hikikomori have been described as recluses, loners, or "modern-day hermits."[1].  (--Wikipedia)
All day in room. In bed. With books.

Under weather.

As Paris streets settle for night.

alors, in France, Je suis

Je suis, "I am", is the phrasing of identity, connection, non-separation. 

The Jewish, Muslim, and Christian God self-identified as "I Am." 

As difficult as many of us find it, it is likely true that poet Thich Nhat Hanh's "Please Call Me By My True Names" poem is our fate, and that he would suggest: 
  • We are those who were slain; 
  • We are those who murdered them; 
  • We are those engaged in their capture. 
It sometimes seems we delight in separative, divisive, uncompassionate exclusion. 

Which is why, I suspect, we choose political stance over spiritual surrender.

unknowing (that which appears) remains

Sometimes koans...

Would dying be here? 
Never go anywhere you        
         can't live. 
                     (--Robert Creeley, in his book of poems,"Pieces")

just show up.

As these did...

Things come and go--
then let them. 

in 1969

as did (an unknowing) I

read them.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

weather warning

Minus nine (-9) degrees in dooryard. Wind-chill as low as twenty nine below (-29).

Like new parent, get up every two hours to feed wood stove.

Furnace doesn't know off.

Between weather and men shooting what they refuse, acting to eliminate what threatens their opinions, it is a very cold, dark, and apprehensive night we find around us.

"Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire." 
               (--Theodore Roethke, from poem, in a Dark Time.) 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

monos, (Gk. alone)

I am shot dead in France.

I am shot dead in America.

I am shot dead in Yemen.

... ( silence ) ...

and, maybe, the chocolate donut

In dialogue someone is suggesting Jesus might not have existed. It is a curious choice for Tuesday Evening Practice, an advaita gnostic epiphany piece on an abandoned 6th in a secular age when no one knows what to do with fact or fiction. 

We sit through it. We do our teisho circle. Time out of joint. Still, it is ours to consider.

I think: the question of Jesus is the question of you and me. Who, without laughing, would say "I do not exist!" We are. No doubt jesus was. As with each of us it is a matter of death and resurrection, coming to end, continuing by saying "I am ended, my saying so indicates I am continuing in my overview of my declarative ending."

I am not interested in speculative death or resurrection. I am not interested in speculative me,or Jesus. It is the real and present I find interesting. Like the man in Tarkovsky's ending of 1972 Solaris, arriving at frozen pond, running dog, looking through window to room dripping wet on books on another man (father?) water dripping on shoulder in kitchen -- there is an embracing gratitude pointed to yet isolated by narrative as camera withdraws perspective up and away suggesting it is a dream sequence emanating from consciousness itself surrounding the enactment of what we call our lives.

And if Jesus did not exist? Would that change my desire to see through this dream sequence into a continuation wherein I tell of my dream as epilogue to enfolding narrative?

We are Jesus. In the dream we are each character, and each situation scene by scene. We are cameraman and we are director. We are also audience popcorning it's way through the dramatic unfolding.

Did Jesus exist? Do I exist? Go ahead, make my day, give answer!

This, the psalmist says, is the day the lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it!

If this is a dream, it is my dream. Let me be ironic and act through it! 

Perhaps "the real" is beyond fathoming. There is enough to do stepping into and through what presents itself each moment of our manifestation.

We show up. In dream and in middle of night, we show up. We pee, stock wood stove, sip green juice, climb stairs, re-enter bed and wonder about one and two, two and one, two and two, one and one.

"In dialogue..." We begin to write. All the time knowing, like lungs sounding their own moan with each breath, there is a conversation taking place that has no beginning no end. In this conversation sounds come to fore then return to rest.

We ask, "what is this?"

We look around, continuing to ask,"what is this?"

All is, as God is, good.

There, just there, is where I am, we are, Jesus and Tom Reardon (who died, his beloved Maria calls to inform us, at 4:39 pm Sunday the 4th, Three King's Day) is, the frozen pond at another Tom's birthday will be in a few hours.

There's a chocolate donut, I think, on counter in brown waxed bag.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

ina rusu

No being away from home. Japanese, ina = no; rusu = absent, being away from home.

No absence.

It is the traditional date for the celebration of Epiphany.
Epiphany (Koine Greek: ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation", "striking appearance") or Theophany (Ancient Greek (ἡ) Θεοφάνεια, Τheophaneia meaning "vision of God."       (--Wikipedia)
We celebrate not being away from home, ina rusu, no absence. Why is this wording chosen? 

It matters where we think we are. It matters whether we feel separate. It matters if we think God is somewhere else inattentive or violently judgmental.

What does it say when we say ina rusu? It says God is no absence. God is not being away from home.
(I can see in future ages theologians arguing over that last sentence. Some will read it "not-being, away from home" to argue God is not, we are desolate and abandoned, away from any home we imagine ourselves to have)

Rather, as bastardized poet nicking foreign words, I submit intention to have it read "not being away from home." There. Here. Whoever. Whenever. Wherever.

Today is that feast.

Epiphany is the celebration of non-duality. It is holistic integrality wherein all is included in one reality, distinct and diverse, shining through our thinking, feeling, imagination.

We imagine this so.

It matters to do so.

Moreso, it matters to be so.

Hai...  (Yes!)

God is zen seeing itself

God is looking.

Is listening.

Not at.

But as.



This itself.


If I pray silently, what can I lose?

Noise. Explanation. Rationalization. Opinion.

Sounds, right?

Sounds right!

Monday, January 05, 2015

in your hands

Gust rattles chimes hanging by barn in dooryard. Moonlight, bright on snow through cold air, slides downhill along Barnestown Road. It is January. It is Maine. Winter has awoken.
Psalm 30 (31)
Lord, let your face shine on your servant. 
Take pity on me, Lord, for I am troubled:    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,    the very centre of my being is disturbed.For my life is worn out with distress,    my years with groaning;my strength becomes weakness,    my bones melt away. 
I am a scandal and a disgrace,    so many are my enemies;to my friends and neighbours,    I am a thing to fear.When they see me in the street,    they run from me. 
I have vanished fro their minds as though I were dead,    or like a pot that is broken.I know this – for I have heard the scolding of the crowd.    There is terror all around,for when they come together against me    it is my life they are resolved to take. 
But I put my trust in you, Lord;    I say: “You are my God,    my fate is in your hands.”Tear me from the grip of my enemies,    from those who hound me;let your face shine upon your servant,    in your kindness, save me. 
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,    as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,    world without end.Amen.
Lord, let your face shine on your servant.

At table Sunday Evening Practice we read Taitetsu Unno’s piece, “Jesus Prayer and the Nembutsu,” in Buddhist-Christian Studies #22 (2002). The Pure Land Buddhism tradition made clearer in juxtaposition. He writes:

Buddhist meditative practice may also begin in a dualistic mode with personal benefits as the goal, but ultimately it becomes a nondualistic experience, whereby conceptual distinctions of subject and object disappear, so that a deeper reality is realized. The Soto Zen teacher Kosho Uchiyama sums up this awareness:
In our zazen, it is precisely at the point where our small, foolish self remains unsatisfied, or completely bewildered, that immeasurable natural life beyond the thought of the self functions. It is precisely at the point where we become completely lost that life operates and the power of Buddha is realized. 
The metaphors of this journey pass like early morning motorcar heading east on wet road. Lost to be found. Gone to be awake. Drop mind and body to arrive where you are.

The passing car has passed. Gone to someone else’s temporary perception. Maybe the friend on Willey Road just back from Boston after aggressive cancer treatment.  Dan, his name.

Even with passing facts, Robert Lowell writes at end of his poem “Epilogue”, there is a gift of accuracy:
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.
There is, the psalmist says, “terror all around.”

In God’s kindness, it is asked, that there be safety.  

There must be many prayers like this today.

The world being what it is. So distracted with greed, hatred, and delusion.

May grateful generosity, encompassing love, and clear-sighted mind be words falling into action from our language as petals fall from ripe flower.

Grounding themselves.

The fleeting “yes” acknowledging presence.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

imaginable, palpable, embraceable.

Draw close.
Many popular medieval contemplative works were guided imaginative meditations, particularly on the life and sufferings of Christ (a technique later taken up by St Ignatius for his Spiritual Exercises). By imagining oneself into Christ's life, one actually went there, and could connect to Christ, and receive healing, wisdom and grace from him. Christ is God drawn close and made imaginable, palpable, embraceable. From the 11th century on, contemplative practices try to make him more and more real and present, to connect to him in love and sensual imagery. 
(--from,  Politics of Well-Being, 3Jan2015, "What can we recover from medival contemplative culture?")
The real and present connects.

Let's, quietly, think of this.