Monday, June 24, 2019

having no function except communication

For Meetingbrook, winter ended at Sunday Evening Practice when we'd moved zafus and zabutons from Merton Bookshed Retreat (winter zendo) over to Dogen & Francis Chapel-Zendo. It wondered where we'd been. The reverberation against pitched rafters of the wooden fish (Japanese, Mokugyo; Korean, Moktak) during chanting of The Heart Sutra gave strong resonance to welcoming us back.

In Catholic tradition, Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, and Corpus Christi had wandered the esoteric fog of our psyches and settled on cushions as equinox twirls, stops, and rewinds both the planet and our thinking.

All in silence, all in quiet practice.
Very simply, the resurrection is the overcoming or surmounting of death. It is a reawakening or a rebirth; a change of mind about the meaning of the world. It is the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world’s purpose; the acceptance of the Atonement for oneself. It is the end of dreams of misery, and the glad awareness of the Holy Spirit’s final dream. It is the recognition of the gifts of God. It is the dream in which the body functions perfectly, having no function except communication. It is the lesson in which learning ends, for it is consummated and surpassed with this. It is the invitation to God to take His final step. It is the relinquishment of all other purposes, all other interests, all other wishes and all other concerns. It is the single desire of the Son for the Father.  
The resurrection is the denial of death, being the assertion of life. Thus is all the thinking of the world reversed entirely. Life is now recognized as salvation, and pain and misery of any kind perceived as hell. Love is no longer feared, but gladly welcomed. Idols have disappeared, and the remembrance of God shines unimpeded across the world. Christ’s face is seen in every living thing, and nothing is held in darkness, apart from the light of forgiveness. There is no sorrow still upon the earth. The joy of Heaven has come upon it.(--from, What is The Resurrection, Manual for Teachers, ACIM)
The women-of-the-flowers dig and prod and plant in various garden spots at the hermitage. The ne'er-do-well of the books finds table reading from Norman Fisher's The World Could Be Otherwise: Imagination and the Bodhisattva Path -- love at center of conflict, impermanence, patience as empty of patience -- during soup and bread we ponder these pointers sipping cheddar-veggie spoonfuls.

This morning, Gregorian chant from French monastery, day-old coffee, sunlight and road-noise along bamboo wind chime and mewing cat, I hear Kingsley say: 
"Theres nothing more dynamic than lying down." (--Peter. Kingsley, on sacred incubation, dying before you die)
These days I practice regularly this napping meditation alongside upright shikantaza. Sleeping and wakeful states intertwine like interrelated vines on climbing trellis. I'm offable in an instant, dreams are my alternate breaths, dissolving alertness into who-knows-where, drifting.

I see a man on hospice several times a week. The brooding incubation toward new hatching!

The little tyke at Hospice House in Rockport was leaving as I arrived on Saturday. His recent surgery and new shunt visible at top of head. He is called little angel, miracle, sweetheart by those attending his visits these eight months.

Joy Harjo is Poet Laureate. Three people read her poems at Friday's Poetry, Tea, and Thee at the Nursing/Retirement Quarry Hill. I find this beginning of her poem "Becoming Seventy" (for Marilyn Kallet):


when the days

grew legs of night.

Chocolates were offered.

We ate latkes for hours

to celebrate light and friends.

We will keep going despite dark
or a madman in a white house dream. 
Let’s talk about something else said the dog

who begs faithfully at the door of goodwill:

a biscuit will do, a voice of reason, meat sticks — 

I dreamed all of this I told her, you, me, and Paris — 

it was impossible to make it through the tragedy

without poetry. What are we without winds becoming words?

Becoming old children born to children born to sing us into

(--from, Becoming Seventy, by Joy Harjo)  
The men inside who drop into Friday morning meetingbrook conversations at Maine State Prison continue their bodhisattva persistence to awaken us into a useful practical knowledge and wisdom about what it means to be lovingly attentive to one another, to listen, and to laugh face to face. Last Friday we read from Richard Rohr's new book The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe. "The Christification of matter" resonated in our cinder-blocked room, through our fond hearts. Everything is the manifestation of body in God, with and as.
Saskia will be posting a GoFundMe page for her project Meetingbrook Healing Respite Sails. (What do people our age have any business doing something like this?) Same, I suppose, as the 98yr old planting a tree on a hill overlooking a wide and irrepressible vista. Something seen cannot be unseen.

A practitioner at sitting practice asks if we will foster-care the Han he had made in Japan. Will it reside awhile on the porch of the zendo, he wondered? I'd seen it once. It is beautiful, and sharp-loud. If it comes, we will announce with it the completing of each sitting and the sending out both blessing and the admonition to wake up, stay awake, life is short, benefit all beings!
Looking back over this piece, it occurs that if I had a dharma name it would probably be ne'er-do-well. It would serve as good reminder that here is no originating person, nothing special, nothing to see, no being of any merit -- but only that which is given and received, with humility and gratefulness.

And so -- Itadakimasu -- everything is received from on high! A soul-friend taught me that -- for which I am profoundly grateful.

Trusting in your well-being --
Saskia, Rokpa, Panta, Chitta, Bill &
all who grace Meetingbrook Hermitage

Sunday, June 23, 2019

on end

Earth is earth. It belongs to itself. So too galaxies; they belong to themselves. And you; you belong to yourself.
Isn't it a pity?
Now, isn't it a shame
How we break each others hearts
And cause each other pain?
How we take each others love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity?
(--George Harrison)
To use another metaphor: Christ is Christ. It belongs to itself. Creation is creation; it belongs to itself. All matter and all energy are not other than Christ.

Today is Corpus Christi.

It is the feast of the Body of Christ.

It is creation's birthday.

Energy and matter -- seen and unseen -- the body of creation itself.

But we don't see it, do we?

Isn’t it a pity?

Not seeing one-self?

The ding an sich:
The thing-in-itself (German: Ding an sich) is a concept introduced by Immanuel Kant. Things-in-themselves would be objects as they are, independent of observation.              (-Wikipedia)
Keep on going.

On end.

It's today.

Consider the metaphor.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

cheers, sir

Fathers die

We remember

As best

We can

Friday, June 21, 2019

soon enuff

Let the days begin to shorten.

I’m ready for winter.

It’s Maine.

Summer is a chore for us.

Soon enough, snow.

Soon enough, war.

Thursday, June 20, 2019


hermit’s life 

lives alone 



the persian camel

Do we have any straw remaining? 

Bellicose rhetoric, hostilities, and escalation against Iran are leading reasonable people to step inside sanity’s barn door. 

What they see there, desolate and dangerously alone on America’s barn floor, the last straw.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

no relief coming

Trump will not be president in January 2021. 

Why not? 

Because American voters, like a good hitter in baseball, will not be fooled twice by a change up slider. 

With only junk fastballs and tired predictable curveballs, his throwing arm has nothing but memory of a lucky pitch against a hobbled hitter two years ago, 

The bullpen remains seated. There’s no relief coming. 

Fans are heading for the exits. TV cuts to commercial. The juice is gone. 

The franchise is taking no more questions.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

a pathless land

In passing, quotes from Jiddu Krishnamurti:
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
We all want to be famous people, and the moment we want to be something we are no longer free.
When one loses the deep intimate relationship with nature, then temples, mosques and churches become important.
I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.
Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem.

Truth is something you cannot experience. It cannot be told to you, the word is not that. But if you live on words, it is that.
(~ J. krishnamurti)

Observing the question itself, there is no time.

Just watching, no thought, no time.

you cannot mention everything

Sun on new leaves.

Silence of the dead.

Bugbite on back of arm. 
“As soon as you look at the world through an ideology you are finished. No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that. That is why people are always searching for a meaning to life. But life has no meaning; it cannot have meaning because meaning is a formula; meaning is something that makes sense to the mind. Every time you make sense out of reality, you bump into something that destroys the sense you made. Meaning is only found when you go beyond meaning.” 
(~ Anthony de Mello)
Mitch McConnell and the principle of one man running the legislative car into a tree.

Donald Trump and the absence of conscience.


China looking at the United States and wondering how to teach a toddler not to strike matches.
BECKETT ON THE EPHEMERAL “And if I failed to mention this detail in its proper place, it is because you cannot mention everything in its proper place, you must choose between the things not worth mentioning and those even less so. . . . And if all muck is the same muck that doesn’t matter, it’s good to have a change of muck, to move from one heap to another a little further on, from time to time, fluttering you might say, like a butterfly, as if you were ephemeral.” 
(~ Beckett, Molloy)
Sometimes negative phrasing makes the wisdom more emphatic. Indeed we are forced to choose between “the things not worth mentioning and those even less so. . . .”A friend’s remark, “It’s only a poem,” which first made me want to strangle her, eventually became a life-saver.  
And the moment when I understood, truly understood, that we ARE ephemeral was life-changing. I was finally able to cease living for the future. It even became possible to feel happy 
(—oriana-poetry, blogspot)
The way time has no shape.

Or money has no idea why so many love it. 

When absurdity realizes no one recognizes it.

Or cares.

Two day old coffee is exactly what is wanted.

Monday, June 17, 2019

doing nothing, day after day

Reading Mosab Hassan Yousef’s Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices, written with the assistance of Ron Brackin, published in March 2010

He writes about time in prison.

The struggle with Israel.

The beatings.

Odd and hard choices.

The life there.

“God, the creator, show me the truth. I’m lost. I’m confused, And I don’t know which way to go.” (Mosab Hassan Yousef)

all around dying well

Sunday Evening Practice table reading led us to consider art, suffering, despair, and hope.  

Theater, opera and television director Peter Sellars, interviewed in 2004 for thePBS series The Question of God, had this to say: 
For me the 20th century was most profoundly witnessed by Simone Weil in the heart of France, during the Nazi occupation. And in the tradition of the women mystics — whether it's Hildegard of Bingen, or Theresa, right through our own period with Weil, women are the ones asking the question of — What are we really doing? Who is starving? What are the conditions of the workers all over the world? These are the proper questions for theology. These are the proper questions about how we are doing, as humanity. 
And it took a woman like Weil to say — I'm not just going to correspond with my colleagues in the philosophy department. I'm going out to this Renault factory, and I'm going to work on the assembly line. — Simone Weil trying to teach Plato in the Renault factories, in 1930s France. And it took a woman intellectual to say in 1943 — Yes, I'm living here in London. It's comfortable. There's enough food. But I will not eat one more bit of food than my fellow citizens are eating in the camps at this moment. — Recognizing that our fates are that intertwined. Recognizing there's no backstage and forestage. We're all one picture. 
That penetration, that courage, and that willingness to put the suffering of others into your own body, and experience it in your own body — that is a particularly feminine spirituality. And a spirituality that comes from cooking for people, caring for people. Being with the helpless, and helping. So the 21st century is about that — community building at the grassroots, setting aside our institutional thinking, and just starting to take care of each other much more attentively.  
You're very much an optimist. In the 21st century, what is going to cause a shift away from self-absorption? 
SELLARS: Despair. When people search and search, and feel empty and betrayed and hopeless, through their own vulnerability and desperation, they finally are broken.God is fond of a contrite spirit. And sometimes the only way to get past the ego is when it's finally, horribly, violently crushed. And you feel like nothing. And you can take your first honest steps. So, "optimism" is not the word I would use. I would say "hope."It's no accident that societies that have the most material advantage have the least hope. If you spend your life in parts of the world like Bangladesh, or central Africa, where people should not still be alive, how can they be alive one more day? It can't be possible. And yet, they're alive, again, today. That's about hope.
(--from, Peter Sellers,  The Question of God, Other Voices, PBS, 2004) 
I related a dream I'd had the prior night in which a man helped me look for something mislaid. He wes kind. It wasn't until hours after awaking it occurred to me who it was -- a man, Rob, who'd attended practice with us for a month or two. We received news of his death. We were saddened. It sounded like a despairing death. Few or no details. In the dream he looked good. Perhaps some added weight. When recognition came I was pleased. At table it was pointed out that it was around the anniversary of Rob's death. We were pleased with his visits then, and his visit now. Sorrow and joy.

So, with all that you believe, how do you deal with the loss of someone that you love? Or the pain, the grief, and the suffering of seeing friends ill. How do you deal with that pain?  
SELLARS: The great Muslim philosopher, al-Ghazzali, has a beautiful sentence in his book, The Alchemy of Happiness, where he describes pain and sickness as a chord of love by which God draws those closer to himself that he wants to be with. 
Sickness takes you out of the affairs of the world, out of all these petty things that you think are so important every day. And the pain itself sharpens your focus. I mean, it's very moving, because I think a lot of physicians in terminal wards are recognizing the limits of science. And that actually science, technology can't help you with a good death. What does it mean to die well? It's the science of the heart. And in the long view, the absence is as important as the presence. Who's still with us, really, and how we live for them still. 
You know, in most cultures, theater, dance, and music were never intended for the living. They were always for the dead. In Korea, in Africa, in aboriginal Australia, you danced for the spirits of the dead. To let them know you're still thinking of them, you still care about them, you still cherish them. And if they died in pain, if they died in unhappiness, if they died with something incomplete, or in the midst of injustice, you spend those years making it up to them. And letting them know that your life won't be in balance either, until it's made up for them.  
Most of the history of art, over and over again, is about death. We're a society that can't really deal with it, but most of Bach's music is about dying and how to die, and the meaning of death. The culture in Tibet is all around dying well. The science of the heart, in Central Asia, is totally understanding every day of your life in terms of death, because it's your meditation on death that empowers your life. As soon as you acknowledge that you may not be here five minutes from now, or five days from now, you ask yourself, "What is important to do?" Death is the best guarantee against wasting time.
 Our lives are intertwined. We dance for one another. We dream each other into awareness of presence.

We practice this intertwining, dance, dream.

If there is hope, we love one another.

Sunday, June 16, 2019





I’m gonna count to three.




is where

one and two

go to disappear)



Saturday, June 15, 2019

numberless reality






Friday, June 14, 2019



Wednesday, June 12, 2019

us you near

Birthday Haiku 
            (for Saskia)

Earth knows when spring comes
Flowers break through edge of soil
Feeding beauty light

Thank you for your light to all of us you near!
With love,

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

may be enlightened

A professional basketball player hurts his leg. Commentators speculate how it will affect a four year 140 million contract.

A friend has been given three months to live. Over rhubarb pie and water he tells us the story of his life. His wife looks tired and sad.

Monks in France chant Lauds this feast of Barnabas.

It rains.

Everything matters.
Consequently, that brilliant lamp which was lit for the sake of our salvation should always shine in us. For we have the lamp of the heavenly commandment and spiritual grace, to which David referred: Your law is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Solomon also says this about it: For the command of the law is a lamp. 
Therefore, we must not hide this lamp of law and faith. Rather, we must set it up in the Church, as on a lamp-stand, for the salvation of many, so that we may enjoy the light of truth itself and all believers may be enlightened. 
Second reading, (From a treatise on the Gospel of Saint Matthew by Saint Chromatius, bishop. Office of Readings, Feast of St Barnabas, Apostle)
Nothing -- the place where no separate thing can be -- attends the light of truth itself.

In this solitude resides the sound of earth transforming itself.

As once and forever, what we call the incarnation, is transforming itself in never ceasing manifestation.

If itself is now what we've called God, let each being become itself by being nothing other than what is emerging through this creation.

Such is

the law, the dharma

a lamp guiding

through darkness

Monday, June 10, 2019

אֶשְׁכָּר — gift, present

If you are sitting by window, light breeze mixed with tire sound, bird song, beep from answering machine, breathing dog on rug with scattered seed husks from under feeder, weightless thought with eyesight scanning room, book titles that sit and wait for dust to be brushed off.

There is an unhurried inevitability. 

I am a visitor here.

There is no place I call my own other than reverie without purpose.

Japan and Argentina are nil-nil at end of women’s World Cup match. Auburn scores 13 runs in first inning over Carolina in college baseball. Judiciary committee gavels hearing into mueller report. Helicopter crashes into 7th Avenue Manhattan.

On hospice Saturday night I sit with woman who, at end of string of breath, does not drop it as cna’s moisten mouth and model hand washing leaving room.
Like the confluence of great rivers, our lives are a series of different moments, joining together to give the im- pression of one continuous flow. We move from cause to effect, event to event, one point to another, one state of existence to another—which gives an outward impression that our lives are one continuous and unified movement. In reality, they are not. The river of yes- terday is not the same as the river of today. It is like the sages say: “We can’t step into the same river twice.” 
Each moment is born and dies. And in a very real way, we are born and die with it. There is a beauty to all this impermanence. In Japan, people cele- brate the brief but abundant blooming   .of the cherry blossoms each spring. In Idaho, outside the cabin where I teach, blue flax flowers live for a single day. Why do such flowers appear so much more magnificent than plastic ones? The fragility, the brevity, and the uncertainty of their lives captivate us, invite us into beauty, wonder, and gratitude.
(Excerpt from: "The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully" by Frank Ostaseski)
It is Monday. Passing thought of trip to Canada has passed and gone. No desire to go anywhere. Put differently, where I am is enough. The stillness of every movement. The curious emptiness of any intention. Buddha on wood zabuton. Christ on bronze cross. Green on everything growing across mountain.

I am born and die in this quiet and radical revelation of ordinary reality.

Bicycle wizzes down barnestown road. 

If someone were to ask what to do in the face of sorrow, anger, or frustration — say, in the face of death and accompanying turmoil with family difficulties — I would not be much help. 

Daniel Berrigan, in Consequences, Truth And... wrote these words: “the point at which one can do nothing — the point of truth.”

I feel near that point.

Moreover, it feels like אֶשְׁכָּר (eshkar) — gift, present.

As if — the gift is present, the present is gift.

What we are...

For and with —

One another.

sunflower seed casings on back

Clink clink clink clink clink
Spoon against metal bowl —
Morning food for border collie 

Sunday, June 09, 2019

manifesting what is interconnecting

When we say "Come Holy Spirit" we invite something unseen but in its being experienced.

In this being experienced, what we call the Holy Spirit is the unexplainable cooperative interrelationality that appears between one and the other in the moment of felt need and realized connection.

In essence, it is that which allows us to feel our being in the presence of other beings, a feeling relationality of well-being and gratitude in the midst of whatever is happening -- a trust that all is well and all shall be well.

It is hidden undifferentiated suchness coming to be where once we thought emptiness was impossible.

Here, today, emptiness reveals our true nature as one-another.

This, from introduction to todays feast from
Last Sunday of the Easter Season, Pentecost, Solemnity 
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly, a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together…” [1]Acts 2:1-6 
Pentecost Sunday is one of the principal celebrations in the liturgical life of the Church. It marks the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the end of Eastertide, and it falls 50 days after the Resurrection of Our Lord. 
In ancient Jewish tradition, Pentecost was ‘the feast of weeks’ where Israelites offered ‘first fruits’ to God in thanksgiving of the full harvest which was to come. Also traditionally, Jewish Pentecost came to honor the day Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai. On that day, God spoke to His chosen race through Moses with thunder, lightning and trumpet blasts, guiding his people with the Law of the Ten Commandments. [2][3] 
Christian Pentecost, with the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, builds on the Old Law but brings new meaning to it. In this Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is trumpeted and the New Law is Great News; Christ has been crowned in Heaven and he desires for us to join Him. He gives us the birth of the Church and shows us how to be united in faith. Modeling Jesus Christ and aligning with God’s Spirit produces in us rich fruits including; “…charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.” In these twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit, we are shown how to live in union with God and with our brothers and sisters. [4][5][6] 
Written by Sarah Ciotti., 
 Let's get more fruits into our typical diet!

not going beyond

Looking into mirror
The narcissist
Seeing only himself

Is surprised
Mirror no longer
Shows anything

Outside itself

For narcissist
Reflection is lost
In flat surface

We are only what
Present abounds

Not fixed nor final

Saturday, June 08, 2019

to hear ‘yes’

These are depressing times in the US. Mr Trump is erratic and untrustworthy in executive responsibility.. Mr McConnell is cynical and obstructive to legislative integrity. Republicans dismantle protections for the people in matters of health care, women’s autonomy, and electoral fairness. And Democrats are like a football team refusing to leave the huddle while endlessly deliberating the calculus of the next play.

Our president in Normandy was a robotic speech without anyone believable presenting the words.  We so long for inspirational and genuine representation on the world stage. Instead we see someone who fails to comprehend the play, the lines, the role, and the art of representational interior empathy.

I am neither optimistic nor joyful about our prospects to effectively serve either our own population’s needs or attend to the sorrows of the world. Where do we turn? And, more to the point, can we?

I would love to hear ‘yes’ — to say, ‘we can.’

room 2, 7:18

You might say she is


I rather think she is being


Spring leaves arriving

We both breathe

Our last breath —

This one, this one

Never certain


To follow

Thursday, June 06, 2019

all those deaths

I cannot imagine the terror felt by those troops landing on Normandy Beach in 1944.

They prepared my birth.

I salute them.

I fear those who do not remember nor comprehend the insanity that leads to such irrational approaches to the world as exemplified from 1939 to 1945 — will mindlessly ignore and thereby exacerbate a tone and atmosphere of belligerent ignorance dangerously undermining law and civil relationships.

War is terrible.

The disturbed minds and distorted emotions causing war are equally terrible.

On this 75th anniversary of D-Day I pray for enlightened minds and healthy emotions going forward in this fragile time of the world.

Prayer, heartfelt appeal to open wholeness underlying existence, is a way of life worth traveling.

In a world of nonduality, authentic prayer is the realization of God moving into what is to be.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

jamais plus

Remembering Robert Kennedy who died by assassin’s gunshots, 5June68.

Aeschylus wrote the following, said Robert Kennedy the night Martin Luther King was assassinated, 4April68:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.
51 years ago.

Such sadness.

Jamais  plus!

anywhere -- where Thich Nhat Hanh might be

Neighbor stops by hermitage. Brings rhubarb and daffodils. She and Saskia speak on wood deck about Thich Nhat Hanh.

He remains a light and blessing to this world.

An excerpt of an interview with Phap Dung -- [a senior disciple of the Buddhist monk and author, in interview with Eliza Barclay of Vox]
Phap Dung: 
We are aware that one day we are all going to deteriorate and die — our neurons, our arms, our flesh and bones. But if our practice and our awareness is strong enough, we can see beyond the dying body and pay attention also to the spiritual body. We continue through the spirit of our speech, our thinking, and our actions. These three aspects of body, speech, and mind continues. 
In Buddhism, we call this the nature of no birth and no death. It is the other dimension of the ultimate. It’s not something idealized, or clean. The body has to do what it does, and the mind as well.  
But in the ultimate dimension, there is continuation. We can cultivate this awareness of this nature of no birth and no death, this way of living in the ultimate dimension; then slowly our fear of death will lessen.  
This awareness also helps us be more mindful in our daily life, to cherish every moment and everyone in our life. 
One of the most powerful teachings that he shared with us before he got sick was about not building a stupa [shrine for his remains] for him and putting his ashes in an urn for us to pray to. He strongly commanded us not to do this. I will paraphrase his message: 
“Please do not build a stupa for me. Please do not put my ashes in a vase, lock me inside, and limit who I am. I know this will be difficult for some of you. If you must build a stupa though, please make sure that you put a sign on it that says, ‘I am not in here.’ In addition, you can also put another sign that says, ‘I am not out there either,’ and a third sign that says, ‘If I am anywhere, it is in your mindful breathing and in your peaceful steps.’”
(--Thich Nhat Hanh’s final mindfulness lesson: how to die peacefully, By 
I read.

And listen.

This Wednesday.

standing out, knowing wonder

Wondering what it would be like if I wasn’t here.

If  I wasn’t here.

What it — the world, existence — would be like.

Wondering, what it would be like if I wasn’t here.

What wondering would be like if I wasn’t here.

Wondering would be like if.

Here itself.

No I, knowing it.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

evening prayer

 I don’t know.




be over


we’ll see

Monday, June 03, 2019

time of our culture

Men?  Or






down to earth

Does it matter that the mythic God is dead?

Look under your feet --

The grieving period is vast and long

in the morning

no luck

kitchen window open all night


nestled between embroidered

pillow and bed cover


gone beyond

Sunday, June 02, 2019

cat in bathroom overnight

in kitchen

flies from beam to picture frame to globe --

visiting bird

Saturday, June 01, 2019

room 4

We are

only here for a short time.

These bodies wear out. Organs run down.

Cancers take over. Brain loses electric connections.

We die.

And before death our systems fail.

So it is.

In the meantime we wait. And watch.

We nap. Sip hot chocolate.

Read studies of history and religious thought.

Bide time.

One breath after another.


Friday, May 31, 2019

questioning this

Yesterday was Ascension Thursday. The invitation arises to consider what location means, what dimensions overlap with our space/time dimensionality, what it means to say ‘I am here.’

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) speaks of the physics and spirituality in a sermon:
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.
(—from,  Second reading, From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop, office of readings, Solemnity of the Ascension)
I remember hearing the phrase in my youth coming from my mother saying, “that’s neither here nor there.”  With yesterday’s solemnity, forty days after Easter, a variation is suggested — “this is both here and there.”

Branes, in the vocabulary of physicists,
The central idea is that the visible, three-dimensional universe is restricted to a brane inside a higher-dimensional space, called the "bulk" (also known as "hyperspace"). If the additional dimensions are compact, then the observed universe contains the extra dimension, and then no reference to the bulk is appropriate. In the bulk model, at least some of the extra dimensions are extensive (possibly infinite), and other branes may be moving through this bulk. Interactions with the bulk, and possibly with other branes, can influence our brane and thus introduce effects not seen in more standard cosmological models. (Wikipedia, Branes)
The way we think, the philosophical system or categories we choose to be familiar with, influence what we hold as our spirituality.
Many, many people have been influence by Plato’s philosophy in fact -everyone who thinks that spirituality is nothing more than a means to escape from this world – are Platonic in their thinking. People who think that when they die  they will be forever free of their bodies in Heaven where they will become angels  are Platonic in their thought. They are also wrong too to think that a human becomes an angel when they die,  is the same as thinking that a frog becomes a human when they die. The point here is that this kind of dualistic thinking has more to do with Platonic thought, than it has to do with the revealed truth in the Bible. When we think about anthropology and cosmology from a biblical perspective we find a unity between the spiritual and material,  that the spiritual flows into the material and the material responds and is elevated.
From a biblical perspective, Heaven or the spiritual realm is where God and Angels dwell. Earth, or the material realm, is where humanity and animals dwell. The two touched each other, they penetrated and influenced one another, and they are never separated.  (—from, The Ascension: Why are you looking up to heaven?) 
Today, Friday, is the celebration of the Visitation, when Mary visited Elizabeth while both were pregnant, one with Jesus, one with John. It is said they both realized something was different about their pregnancies, some new understanding was at hand.

How thin is the veil between worlds?  Between dimensions? Between what we call heaven and earth?

And do we, or, should we, traverse and awaken to the infinite belonging inferred by our participatory residence in a multitude of manifestations interpenetrating this place under our feet and surrounding our shoulders?

What does it mean to be ‘here’ — to be anywhere?

And if we were to ever be ‘here’ — what revelation about presence and the boundless everything would we awaken to?

Will transparency, in time and space, be our liberation, our release from a restricted thinking and limited belief about our true nature, freeing us into our true Self within and without, whole and entire...

Into a new appreciation of who we are as family, community, friends, one another?

Yes, question this!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

ordinary zen

Poet Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) wrote:
Napped half the day;   
     no one         
punished me!

Ah — the art of it! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

as we learn how to sing

Some words at Hospice Volunteers luncheon:
Definition: impede | imˈpēd |verb [with object]delay or prevent (someone or something) by obstructing them; hinder: the sap causes swelling that can impede breathing.ORIGINlate 16th century: from Latin impedire ‘shackle the feet of’, based on pes, ped- ‘foot’. Compare with impeach.
….  ….  ….  

     1. Quote:  Rainer Maria Rilke: “Love and death are the great gifts that are given to us; mostly, they are passed on unopened.”

     2. Quote: Life and death are a package deal. You cannot pull them apart. In Japanese zen, the term shoji translates as “birth-death.” There is no separation between life and death other than a small hyphen, a thin line… 
(—from introduction to the book The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully by Frank Ostaseski, founder of the Zen Hospice Project and the Metta Institute, is a Buddhist teacher, international lecturer and a leading voice in contemplative end-of-life care.
This is similar to the phrase ji-ji-mu-ge, meaning "between one thing/event and another thing/event there is no barrier (no impediment)."

     3. Quote: Jackson Browne, in the second stanza of his song “For a Dancer” wrote:                
I don't know what happens when people die / Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try / It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear / That I can't sing / I can't help listening

….   ….   … 

Here’s the poem: It was sent me about 8 years ago by Carol, our former director of volunteers, during the planning for a training session on spirituality for new volunteers:
The Real Work           
          by Wendell Berry 
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work, 
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey. 
The mind that is not baffled is not employed. 
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
         (—by Wendell Berry, from Collected Poems, 1987)

….   ….   …

Conclusion: And so, however baffled our minds might be about death and dying, and our work in that journey —

may we learn from the stream — making its way over and through difficulties and impediments — may we learn how to sing !

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

the end of the month

Donald Trump isn't alone. It's a world-wide phenomena. To ignore it is to miss the big picture.
The common thread here isn’t just right-wing populism. It’s contempt for the ideology of them before us: of the immigrant before the native-born; of the global or transnational interest before the national or local one; of racial or ethnic or sexual minorities before the majority; of the transgressive before the normal. It’s a revolt against the people who say: Pay an immediate and visible price for a long-term and invisible good. It’s hatred of those who think they can define that good, while expecting someone else to pay for it. 
When protests erupted last year in France over Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise gas prices for the sake of the climate, one gilets jaunes slogan captured the core complaint: “Macron is concerned with the end of the world,” it went, while “we are concerned with the end of the month.”  
This is a potent form of politics, and it’s why I suspect Trump will be re-elected next year barring an economic meltdown or foreign-policy shock. You may think (as I often do) that the administration is a daily carnival of shame. You may also think that conservatives are even guiltier than liberals and progressives of them-before-us politics: the 1-percenters before the 99 percent; the big corporations before the little guy, and so on. 
But the left has the deeper problem. That’s partly because it self-consciously approaches politics as a struggle against selfishness, and partly because it has invested itself so deeply, and increasingly inflexibly, on issues such as climate change or immigration. Whatever else might be said about this, it’s a recipe for nonstop political defeat leavened only by a sensation of moral superiority.
(--from, How Trump Wins Next Year, What’s happened in India and Australia is a warning to the left. ByBrett Stephens, OpEd, NYTimes, 24Masy19) 
  Ayn Rand framed the debate which continues.
Selfishness — a virtue? Ayn Rand chose this book’s provocative title because she was on a mission to overcome centuries of demonization. “In popular usage,” Rand writes, “the word ‘selfishness’ is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends . . . and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment. 
“Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word ‘selfishness’ is: concern with one’s own interests
“This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions.” 
In this collection of articles, Rand offers a “new concept of egoism” based on reason as man’s means of survival and opposed to all forms of sacrifice. 
It is commonly believed that morality demands we choose between sacrificing other people to ourselves (which is deemed “selfish” and therefore immoral) and sacrificing our own values to satisfy others’ needs (which is deemed unselfish and therefore moral). In this book, Rand rejects both options as forms of selflessness, and offers a new concept of egoism — an ethics of rational selfishness that rejects sacrifice in all its forms. 
Selfishness, however, does not mean “doing whatever you please.” Moral principles are not a matter of personal opinion — they are based in the facts of reality, in man’s nature as a rational being, who must think and act successfully in order to live and be happy. 
Morality’s task is to identify the kinds of action that in fact benefit oneself. These virtues (productivity, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, pride) are all applications of the basic virtue, rationality. Rand’s moral ideal is a life of reason, purpose and self-esteem.
(--about The Virtue of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand, 1964) 
Mr Trump is such an obvious picture, and hard to avert eyes from -- but he is merely close to our eyes. Spanning the globe, nationalism and self-interest, self-identity and me-first, take a more prominent role in the minds of the people. Ideas and ideals, intellectual or ethical, seem an unnecessary elective in the arising core areas of attention.

When an elephant shifts its weight and starts to lean its gait across the road, best be out of its way until it passes.

What sidestep, what shelter, is available during this passage?

It is the end of the month.

Monday, May 27, 2019

decoration day

Vinney died in Vietnam.

It was 1968.

I think of him today.

memorial day -- awaiting within eye and heart

We remember

and pray for

all those


and deadened

by war

All for whom

war and

its sorrowing

does not go away

The day

belongs to the memory

of those for whom


without coming home

awaiting within eye

and heart an



And so...

we bow, profoundly,

to our brothers and


this day

Sunday, May 26, 2019

die sprache spricht*

          (On writing message when I might have meant 
                            massage — a reconstruction haiku)

What is the message?
   Touch me, one flesh, practicing
Unicity — me/you nique** — a trinity of
   Touching comfort, speaking

... ... ...

* die sprache spricht 
** The numerical value of nique in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Saturday, May 25, 2019

without understanding

Or, we might consider Meister Eckhart:
Like other great minds of his time, Eckhart thus considered the question, “Does God exist?” to be meaningless. How can one question whether existence exists? Instead, he counseled, “every word that we can say of it is more a denial of what God is not than a declaration of what He is … the finest thing one can say about God is to be silent from the wisdom of inner riches.” Arguing for what was later called “learned ignorance,” Eckhart claimed, “If I had a God I could understand, I would no longer consider him God.” 
We must accept, in other words, that God is fundamentally unknowable, at least in terms of human language and thought. This was an unsettling, even threatening, idea for many of Eckhart’s contemporaries and it remains so in our own time. Eckhart, however, did not fear this central mystery of existence, of God. Instead, in mid-life he abandoned his own attempts to define God and instead dedicated himself to teaching others how to gain a heightened awareness of the divine presence within themselves. The transcendental nature of reality, he believed, had to be “known” intuitively and subjectively from within, not “objectively” from without. 
Eckhart’s approach challenges us to stop projecting our own concepts and agendas onto “God” and instead focus on an experience of the divine that leads to lives of love and service. It is a profoundly unsettling message. Yet it is one based on a more thorough familiarity with scripture than most modern Christians possess and a more profound philosophical grounding than most contemporary atheists can boast. Unlike many believing and unbelieving proponents of “God talk,” Meister Eckhart recognized all human language as metaphorical. He chose to know his God directly. Is there room for such a radical perspective in the pro- and anti-God debates of twenty-first-century America? 
Almost seven hundred years after his death, Meister Eckhart just might be the man for our moment.
What we project, we protect.

Neither president nor God needs either our projection nor our protection.

Things rise or fall of their own weight.

Friday, May 24, 2019

because I do not hope to turn

It is hard not to appreciate this observation by Robert W. Funk:
8. I believe  in original sin, but I take original sin to mean the innate infinate capacity of human beings to deceive themselves.  (—in Honest to Jesus, p11)
It is harder not to think we are experiencing such a blatant, obvious, and intentional manipulation of original sin by the president and chief uninspiring embarrassing person to degrade that position.

I wish to confess my inclination to unforgive such sad pharisaical intentional deception promulgated by such a disappointing crew of illegitimate office holders.

Many will die in the wake of such ignorance.

And, worse, many more will live in the hopeless depravity of cynicism and bad faith irradiated by these poseurs.

It is, conceivably, a horrible time ahead.

Let’s not conceive of such a future.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

悲しい (かなしい)

Kanashii -- Japanese, 悲しい (かなしい)-- translates as sad, sorrowful.

More and more, looking at the president of the United States, a feeling of kanashii arises.

I'm not sure how this unsettling reality will play out.

As he often says, it is sad. 

Not as he means it, but that everyone must face, in his, their disturbed self.