Thursday, August 13, 2020

leben ohne warum

 Do I want to understand why I am here and alive on this planet?

No.

Just the fact of it is enough.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

it becomes too much

The Republican Party might not be racist. But, “You have to be comfortable having a racist as president.” (—Stuart Stevens, author of It Was Always a Lie)

Something frightening is happening.

He’s skillful at mocking and insulting women. 

Especially women of color.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

heaven the whole daylong

Trailer for film “Zen For Nothing” ends with these words:  

whatever you may think

it’s gone already

I've been thinking about my life. 

Nothing seems good enough.

Clare of Assisi wanted the privilege of owning nothing. She mostly got it.

Then I remember George Gershwin, Louie Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald gave us "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin." 

Whatchoo got?

Monday, August 10, 2020

being is being-made

 Or, sat (Sanskrit for ‘being’) is sat-faction, (facio, facere, feci, factus: Latin for ‘to make‘, or ‘do’). Thus, sat-is-faction.

What this country needs:

1. An intelligent, compassionate leader.

2. Someone who refuses to cultivate acrimony and discord.

3. Anyone who will lift the cloud of despair and angry depression.

You can’t always get what you need, but, let’s just say it — we know what we want.

hiroshima and nagasaki wail

              (haiku after original child bomb)

America learned

Seventy five years ago

Watching heartless death

Sunday, August 09, 2020

no choice

 Love

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.”  —Thomas Merton 

 Truth 

muted mudra

            (a forlorn haiku)

No explanations

Suffice — Nagasaki bomb —

Abject cruelty

Saturday, August 08, 2020

in the silent hours of night

 Mantra found in cabin writing book from 13 years ago:

Francis, 

     Buddha, 

Dogen, 

     Christ —

See us 

     Through

This 

     Lovely 

Life

Nice to find what has long been here.

ordering intelligent preaching

           (a haiku after Osma and Caleruega)

Dominic prayed psalt-

er and rosary, Mary

a clear star for him

stepping through resemblance

               (a w-hole w-heat haiku)

Being born is trou-

blé. Who can stand by mirror

and not fall into 

Friday, August 07, 2020

brother, sister, origin

                 (haiku for radix, räis, ra’s, rosh)

Black, Brown, Red, Yellow,

White — we drink water, chew food

Walk road, greet each, one

Thursday, August 06, 2020

fallout

                (haiku after desolation)

Flash Hiroshima 

Everything gone, decency

Has no place no more

each as itself

This from Center for Action and Contemplation:

A Mirror Image
Thursday,  August 6, 2020

An image is not of itself, nor is it for itself. It rather springs from the thing whose reflection it is and belongs to it with all its being. It owes nothing to a thing other than that whose image it is; nothing else is at its origin. An image takes its being immediately from that of which it is the image and has one sole being with it, and it is that same being. —Meister Eckhart

Sometimes it takes a mystic to translate another mystic for the rest of us. My dear friend, CAC faculty member, and modern mystic James Finley helps us understand Eckhart’s words. A slow, prayerful reading of this brilliant text will deepen your own insight:

[Meister Eckhart] says that the generosity of the Infinite is infinite and [that God] gives [God’s self] away as the reality of all things. And he says that our sorrow is that we do not know that we are the generosity of God. . . .

This is a paraphrase of Eckhart: Imagine you’re standing before a full-length mirror, and imagine the image of you is conscious, that it can think. And this image of you has been through a lot of therapy; it’s taken a lot of courses on being an insightful image. And it has come to a point in which it informs you that it doesn’t need you.

You say to the image of you, “Well, you know, this is going to be rough, really, since you’re an image of me.”

“No,” the image says, [after a pause], “I’ve worked on this; I’ve come to this point.”

And so, to gently help the image out, you step halfway off the side of the mirror; and half the image disappears. The image has a panic attack and goes back into therapy and says to the therapist, “I’m not real! I’m not real! I was working on my affirmations. I bolstered up my confidence, but I don’t know where I went. I buckled!”

Now, the image was real, but the image wasn’t real in the way that it thought it was real. It was real, but not real without you. It was real as an image of you. See?

Eckhart says, “The image owes no allegiances to anything except that of which it is the image.”. . . There is nothing that has the authority to say what it is except that of which it is the image. And so it is with us, Eckhart says, that we are the image of God. Without God, we are nothing, absolutely nothing. In being the image of God, we owe no allegiances to anything but the Infinite Love in whose image we are made. And the idolatry of diversions of the heart where we wander off into cul-de-sacs with the imagined authority of anything less or other than Infinite Love to name who we are: this is the problem.

(—from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations, 6Aug2020)

...   ...   ...

The Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn wrote:

“Your mind is like the sea. When the wind comes, there are very big waves. When the wind dies down, the waves become smaller and smaller, until finally the wind disappears altogether and the sea is like a clear mirror. Then mountains, trees and all things are reflected on the surface of the sea. There are many thought-waves in your mind. But if you continue to practice don’t know mind, this thinking will become gradually smaller, until finally your mind will always be clear. When the mind becomes clear, it is like a mirror: red comes and the mirror is red; yellow comes and the mirror is yellow; a mountain comes and the mirror is a mountain. Your mind is the mountain; the mountain is your mind. They are not two. So it is very important not to be attached either to thinking or to not thinking. You mustn’t be upset by anything that goes on in your mind. Only don’t worry and keep don’t know mind.”
(—from Three Letters to a Beginner, by Seung Sahn)

...   ...   ...


As we think about what we call “God” — as we think with what we call “mind” —there are premises and templates applied to the inquiry. 


If there is only “itself” rippling and reverberating across the expanse of “itself” — then all talk of something “other” looking “at” something other than itself is rhetorical flourish. 


Rather, the itself looking “as” itself into itself is self-reflection or self-inquiry with no-other as manifestation of what-is and what-is-coming-to-be within the field of emptiness that is Being-Itself.


Today is, in the Christian metaphor, the feast of Transfiguration. It is there, in a diaphaneity of clear sight, a transparent and traceless movement reveals the whole of things in omnipresence and infinite variety, each as itself, all as no-other.


A koan meetingbrook has held for its meditation has been:

Here is One-

Another Itself

(wfh) 

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

what about that

Before we become aware, there is nothing. 
“Because man thinks, I am, says the universe.” (Hannah Arendt, in Life of the Mind)
Once we embrace satori, there is nothing. 

warm afternoon

                 (helping someone haiku)

Entering numbers

Excel spreadsheet — Do people

Get paid to do this

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

anaphora

Where in God’s name am

I now? God’s name is now. Hear

Sound of what’s here now...

Monday, August 03, 2020

draw each other close and be kind

Poetry as tsunami of restitution. (Just a phrase that comes to mind.) 


This from a paper, Philosophy of Nothingness and Love:

Even though later Heidegger's poems touched existential matters, as they were detached in their form from a structured philosophy, they did not get recognition as such in Europe; moreover, they had become a proof, that Heidegger abandoned philosophy for good. Their content would include 'holy things', 'inspiration', 'holy chaos', 'pure heart', etc, and are filled with transparent, mysterious and lofty ideas. Obviously Heidegger did not do poetry for the sake of art, but he used it as a vehicle to reveal basic, grave and deep notions regarding existence. In summary, here are the main points from it.  

1. The essence of fine arts lies not in their beauty, but in their power to convey truth about existence.

2. A human can but put into a frame of an existential model by words. Poetry is the highest form of art.

3. Even though poetry might look pure and naive, in reality it is the most dangerous and difficult work. A poet is exposed to an existential storm and God sent lightnings.

4. Poetry has the power to start the whole history all over again, save and establish awakening truth for the fallen humanity; it's the deepest gift one can ever get. (based on Heidegger's ontologic thought by Jiro Watanabe, Keiso Shobo, Tokyo 1985)  

(--in Philosophy of Nothingness and Love, by Kiyokaza Nakatomi )

This  poem by the New Zealand writer Nadine Anne Hura,

Rest now, e Papatūānuku

Breathe easy and settle

Right here where you are

We’ll not move upon you

For awhile

We’ll stop, we’ll cease

We’ll slow down and stay home

Draw each other close and be kind 

Kinder than we’ve ever been. 

I wish we could say we were doing it for you

as much as ourselves

But hei aha

We’re doing it anyway

It’s right. It’s time. 

Time to return

Time to remember

Time to listen and forgive 

Time to withhold judgment

Time to cry

Time to think

About others

Remove our shoes

Press hands to soil

Sift grains between fingers

Gentle palms

Time to plant

Time to wait

Time to notice

To whom we belong

For now it’s just you 

And the wind

And the forests and the oceans and the sky full of rain

Finally, it’s raining!

Ka turuturu te wai kamo o Rangi ki runga i a koe

Embrace it

This sacrifice of solitude we have carved out for you

He iti noaiho — a small offering

People always said it wasn’t possible

To ground flights and stay home and stop our habits of consumption 

But it was

It always was. 

We were just afraid of how much it was going to hurt 

— and it IS hurting and it will hurt and continue to hurt

But not as much as you have been hurt. 

So be still now

Wrap your hills around our absence

Loosen the concrete belt cinched tight at your waist

Rest. 

Breathe. 

Recover. 

Heal —

And we will do the same


(--In Parabola article, The Natural Order of Things, by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, July 2020,  )

There are so many ways to avoid what is true and starkly in front of us. Suchness calls out from its rooted manifesting hiddenness. What is, as it is, coming to be.


HAIKU


        (for foggy Monday morning)



A harbor wave. The 


restoration of something 


lost. Sly poetry.  

Sunday, August 02, 2020

as it passes

Sunrise through window

It doesn’t matter what’s left —

Night, a life, dreams, breath

Saturday, August 01, 2020

harbor pipe

at dory thwart lines

two pennies pushed under knots

for friend gone abaft 

respected and impressive

          (eighth origin haiku)


morning deer wanders

between green fence and green yurt

august first zazen

Friday, July 31, 2020

lone individuals in acts of prayerful supplication

My footprint is smaller than before. A walk down dooryard to wood gate with hiking stick seems like an outing. Or stepping into fenced enclosure where bookshed sits quietly, then across wood walkway to chapel-zendo which sits even quieter. I light candle inside. Sit a brief while, breathing. Chant morning anthem about rising sun to setting, prayer like incense rising up and lovingkindness descending upon all.

No deer today, unlike last two days. But I've not been here long yet. Canopy of green overhangs height of trees as birdsong is midday refrain from unseen monastic stalls. Sun bows behind clouds beyond my observation from screened porch. Dog barks from snowbowl.

 It is Friday. Its been five months since we've been to Maine state prison to have conversations with inmates. (A university course might begin there in early September). Same with Quarry Hill assisted living for poetry — no gatherings. So too Sussman Hospice House to sit with the dying. As well no Pen Bay Medical Center Hospital to visit with those occupying the rooms there.

I'm getting used to the little I do. I'm content with the nowhere I go. I hear cars go up and down to and from Hope. Except for food and medcine trips to town, or the infrequent task elsewhere, I stay here. The rare walk in Rockport cemetary, I stay on this side of Ragged Mountain. I walk parking lot and playing field of town recreation area as frequent path below and along wellborn trails on the mountain.

I am happy being no-one going nowhere.

It is the feast of Ignatius of Loyola.

I look up Woodstock Library at Georgetown University and view The Beauty of Solitude:
One of the works used in our most recent exhibition, Demons, Death and the Damned: The Underworld of Woodstock Library, is a beautiful exploration of the hermetic life of the early saints, titled Sylvae Sacrae. The collection of engravings, originally published in 1594 by the Flemish printmaker Marten de Vos, depicts the early ascetic saints of the church each in his hermitage. For our exhibition we chose to showcase a print in which a hermit is shown contemplating skeletal remains, however, most are not nearly so morbid, but are beautifully rendered scenes of lone individuals in acts of prayerful supplication, pious repose, or zealous action. 
These days you don't have to travel anywhere to go far for research and thought. And poetry. And politics.

Watched some of the talks at John Lewis' funeral on C-Span. The loveliness of formal public speech! 

The dignity and beauty of such an event deepens the sorrow of the loss of dignity and loveliness in our current public and political discourse and the aberrations therein.

Death has a way of quieting unsavory rancor and awakening taste for judicious and nurishing words.

Lord knows we are crawling through a desert of discourteous utterance these days.

Aaron Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man rivets.

As it must.

So we pray.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

through interstellar fields

James Lawson began his remarks at the funeral for The Honorable John Lewis today with this poem by Cheslaw Milosz:

Meaning

              

When I die, I will see the lining of the world.

The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.

The true meaning, ready to be decoded.

What never added up will add Up,

What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

– And if there is no lining to the world?

If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,

But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day

Make no sense following each other?

And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?

– Even if that is so, there will remain

A word wakened by lips that perish,

A tireless messenger who runs and runs

Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,

And calls out, protests, screams.

         

                                               (poem by Czeslaw Milosz1911-2004)


 That’s the way to send off such a good, kind, man.

windless in late july

                (a haiku for ocean’s keep)

Five schooners shrink-wrapped,

Harbor ghost mausoleum — 

Moored, masked, unmoving

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

who is to come

Where is the not yet?

Maybe we’re not the not yet.

But, what is the not yet there? Maybe it’s not a question, rather: what is [is] the not yet there.

Maybe that which we call God is the not yet there.

Martha said to Jesus: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God: he who is to come into the world. 
(Antiphon to Canticle of Zechariah, Morning Prayer, Feast of Martha) 
 
Are Martha’s words an unveiling of part of the continuous mystery of humanity’s continual search for the realization of God in human history?

Was Jesus the breakthrough manifestation of  “who is to come” into the evolving consciousness of humankind, he appearing at a particular point in history in a particular geographical location during a particular political strife circumscribed by a particular ethnic and religious tradition?

This “who is to come” some refer to as God? 

Is there something about Jesus that emanated a recognizable longing and necessity resonant with the evolutionary urging of humanity on planet earth?

Is Martha’s statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God: he who is to come into the world.” — a descriptive proleptic that resonates even unto now of the not yet there?

If God is not yet there, or not yet here, what are we to think of that?

We think that the “not yet” will always be the “not yet” and both here and there.

That God is perennially in the future which is the basis for the now.

You cannot grasp the now. You can only live through it. 

And if God’s name is unspeakable, perhaps it is because the future is not yet here. And what can possibly be said about ...

What is

Not yet

Here?

I sit on screened porch of meditation cabin. Dog lays on circle rug in front of lighted candle in front of seated Buddha below wood cross with rounded circles radiating out and up from center.

I am looking through what is looking through this place.

on this seeded planet

Poetry filled Tuesday Evening Conversation.

We linger over the final poem we read:

 

COLD SOLACE

              by Anna Belle Kaufman

 

When my mother died, 

one of her honey cakes remained in the freezer.

I couldn’t bear to see it vanish,

so it waited, pardoned,

in its ice cave behind the metal trays

for two more years.


 

On my forty-first birthday

I chipped it out,

a rectangular resurrection,

hefted the dead weight in my palm.


 

Before it thawed,

I sawed, with serrated knife,

the thinnest of slices —

Jewish Eucharist.


 

The amber squares

with their translucent panes of walnuts

tasted — even toasted — of freezer,

of frost,

a raisined delicacy delivered up

from a deli in the underworld.


 

I yearned to recall life, not death —

the still body in her pink nightgown on the bed,

how I lay in the shallow cradle of the scattered sheets

after they took it away,

inhaling her scent one last time.


 

I close my eyes, savor a wafer of

sacred cake on my tongue and

try to taste my mother, to discern

the message she baked in these loaves

when she was too ill to eat them:


 

I love you.

It will end.

Leave something of sweetness

and substance

in the mouth of the world.


                   (Poem by Anna Belle Kaufman in Brain Pickings)


Our 91 yr old friend zooming from NY is encouraged by us to contemplate baking some Viennese treats for her daughter’s family and placing them in freezer wrapped in this poem so as to “leave something of sweetness” along with the dharma gifts scattered throughout the years along her steps on this seeded planet.

The taste of it!

swaying still

                (a haiku loosening grip)


July dying dawns —

He stares at bamboo slats, fan

Turning in hallway

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

no listening in hearing, the paralysis of government

             (a groaning haiku)

Tried to listen to

House hearing — nausea ensues —

Hard to nail jello

faith comes by hearing

(a haiku for śruti)

There is no way we

Right the wrong that harms us all —

Perceive world sound — OM (ॐ)

Monday, July 27, 2020

until you free yourself

 Sitting still.

Cut off what you’re holding on to: the attachment to your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, the residue of your discriminating, egocentric consciousness. As Yasutani Roshi said, “Most people place a high value on abstract thought, but Buddhism has clearly demonstrated that discriminative thinking lies at the root of delusion.”

Thoughts—and feelings triggered by thoughts—are mutable and impermanent, and yet because we humans incorrectly identify our being with our thinking, we construct a false notion of ourselves out of ideas and memories that have no actual substance. No wonder the ego is called “the false self.” The false self—the thinking mind—is continuously talking to itself, disturbing itself, even lying to itself. Reimagining the past or fantasizing about the future. Setting up expectations that aren’t met, then casting judgment and blame. Struggling every step of the way to stop struggling. Naturally, it doesn’t work.

This realization is a critical departure from the methods of modern psychology or self-help. Buddhism in general, and Zen in particular, is not concerned with the content of thoughts or feelings, except to recognize that they are the cause of confusion, emotional paralysis, and pain. In and of themselves, thoughts are no big deal, except when we make a big deal out of them, creating a dualistic separation from reality, which is a wordy way to say “a problem.”

“Emotionally we have many problems, but these problems are not actual problems; they are something created; they are problems pointed out by our self-centered ideas or views,” Suzuki Roshi said.

Easy for a Zen master to say, but hard to believe until you see it for yourself. Such is the kindness of Bodhidharma in this koan. Out of boundless compassion, he doesn’t give you what you ask for, but he tells you how to find it yourself. Until you free yourself, you won’t realize that there is no self to free. You are imprisoned by nothing and no one but your own thoughts, which self-liberate the moment you stop thinking about them.

 (—from How to Look at a Wall, by 
Watching.

haiku

            (as rain falls)

Turning around, you

Sense surrounding everything,

Love — no name, no form

Sunday, July 26, 2020

sunday evening practice reading

First, its beginning:
 
(Brihadāranyaka-Upanishad)
Book I

Lead me from the unreal to the real! 
Lead me from darkness to light! 
Lead me from death to immortality!


Then, its end:

Hence this Self is the goal of all creatures. As long as man makes offerings and sacrifices, he pleases the gods; as long as he studies the Wedas, he pleases the wise; as long as he offers libations and desires chil- dren, he pleases the fathers; as long as he gives food and shelter, he pleases mankind; as long as he gives fodder and water the beasts are pleased; if birds and beasts down to the ants are fed in his house, they are pleased. But everybody wishes good to the man who has this knowledge; everybody is good to the man who is good to him.
 
In the beginning there was the Self, one and sole. He thought: 'Let me have a wife that I may have chil- dren; let me have wealth that I may do something in the world,' Thus far desire can go; even if man wants more, he cannot get it.
 
A lonely man thinks of a wife and children, of wealth and work; and so long as he does not get any of these, he thinks he is incomplete. Yet he is already complete; his mind is himself; speech his wife; life his offspring; eyes are his human wealth, for through eyes he gets it; ears his divine wealth, for through ears he gets it; body his work, for through body he works. This is the fivefold sacrifice; it applies to man, animal, every- thing. Who knows this, gets everything.
(Ibid, p.124)
There seems, in all Origin myths, a continual oscillation between wholeness and fragmentation. A stepping away from true Self, and the sacrifices needed to drop away what is not true Self.

Hence, our lives. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

the falling of dusk after a warm day.

Listening to lecture about Martin Buber and Martin Heidegger in Dialogue by Paul Mendes-Flohr (University of Chicago Divinity School, 2012), I am taken by the issue of language and the notion of forgiveness or reconciliation.

Heidegger’s understanding of language was an ontological one. Buber’s idea was more the inter-subjective humanistic aspect of language.

Considering the area of great harm of thought, e.g. Nazism and the Third Reich, the idea of which Heidegger in the early thirties was in sympathy with, what would one expect as an expression of contrition? If Heidegger was so inclined, what stance would Buber, the Jewish thinker, take toward it?

“Stillness,” perhaps a long stillness? Would words be enough, or even matter? Is “being” apologetic about something that “being” enfolded within itself?

Or, would intersubjective dialogue eventuate a humanistic creation of a new relationship between the two men as representatives of two experiences of the presented historical reality?

I’m uncertain I heard whether the lecturer narrowed to resolve what he thought of this potential. He seemed to be saying that Buber avoided the followup conversations that might have brought the matter to a clearer resolution. That Heidegger might have wanted some theater of engagement on the matter.

Some wrongs require silence and stillness, no facile locutions to seem to conclude the issue with rhetorical definitude.

Hence, it is being itself that abides the contrition.

And an intersubjective solitude that allows recollection to stand aphasiac in one another’s presence.

No easy conclusion.

No cheap closure.

More the falling of dusk after a warm day.

Friday, July 24, 2020

we lack the ability to attend

           Ogbón ríbí-ríbí

Ni a fi gbà ogbón ríbí-ríbí.
Bí a ò bá ní ogbón ríbí-ríbí nínú Àì kó oògùn ríbí-ríbí.

Bí a ò bá kó oògùn ríbí-ríbí, Àì wò àrùn ríbí-ríbí.

Bí a ò bá wò àrùn ríbí-ríbí,

Àì gbà owó ríbí-ríbí.
Bí a ò bá gbà owó ríbí-ríbí, Àì rí nkan ríbí-ríbí gbé se.

Great wisdom
Is what we use to acquire profound wisdom
Without these penetrating sensibilities
We are incapable of producing potent healing therapeutic
If we lack the capacity to make powerful medicines We will be unable to mitigate deep suffering, profound illness and destruction
If we lack the ability to attend to these forms of extreme disruption
We will not achieve wealth and prosperity
Without wealth and prosperity
We cannot make significant contributions to the health and well being of our community.

(Ifá verse (from Ológbón Méjì, the source of deep wisdom)

Words that might have resonance in our own country's sounding-through its medical and spiritual crises.

Abstract

Incorporating Divine Presence, Orchestrating Medical Worlds: Cultivating Corporeal Capacities of Therapeutic Power and Transcendence in Ifá Everyday Practice
by

Amy Harriet Gardner
Joint Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Anthropology with the University of California, San Francisco University of California, Berkeley Professor Laurence Cohen, Chair

This dissertation focuses on the cultivation of specialized corporeal capacities of therapeutic power and transcendence among Ifá medical-ritual specialists in Yorùbá communities in contemporary Nigeria (and the resonance and implications of their practices within a global context). Rather than interrogate “medical (and/or religious) knowledge” as the object of inquiry, this project explores the power of the learning process –– as a practice of everyday living –– to cultivate, within student-apprentice and healer-sage alike, a distinctive (sonically and spiritually informed) somatic mode of being-in, perceiving, interpreting, and attending-to-the-world, and thus, to orchestrate Ifá’s distinctive medical and religious life-world. In so doing, this dissertation seeks to redress the historical stigmatization of African and Diasporic religions, subjectivities, and knowledges within the scholarly and popular imaginations and to contribute to recent scholarship on sensuous and sacred ways of knowing.

An ethnography of embodiment, the senses, and practices of everyday living, this work is fundamentally informed, methodologically and theoretically, by a phenomenological approach and the author’s embodied experiences (as a professionally trained dancer; as a physician; and –– in her extensive training and continuous, on-going learning process –– as an Ifá healer- specialist). Focusing on the embodied and the sensorial as formative principles in, respectively, the mundane and specialized medical-devotional (Ifá) life-worlds of the Yorùbá, this project explores the ways in which the sonically-informed sensorium of Yorùbá society –– as articulated through common and specialized practices of everyday living –– cultivates (and naturalizes) particular ways of being-in, attending-to, and making-sense-of intersubjective experience and the phenomenally given world for the populace at large and for Ifá specialists, in particular. 
The sound of no hands clapping these days for our country's obtuse response to genuine need is sorrowful and agonizing.

itself through itself

Question arose at last evenings conversation: Is the personna of the poet to create a personna that says the poet is pretending not to be that which they are writing about?

Are literary shenanigans, created to insinuate that we are not that which we write about, a ruse that enables the poet to take on visions, themes, and imaginings while still reserving the narrative that they are only fabulists inventing something through their creative skills that is not them?

What silly questions, eh?

Yes. And fraught with troublesome implications.

There are those that say when the barriers in the mind collapse, what remains is merely open mind -- outside of which there is nothing, inside of which there is nothing, but only a useless distinction of inside and outside no longer useful or accurate.

If so, then, at that point your story is my story, as mine is yours, as is every depiction of every creature, situation, hope, and fear yours, mine, and everyones'.

At that point, there is only the saying of what is seen. In plain or artful words. In simple or complex images. In soothing or disturbing feelings. In clear or muddy rendering. In transparent or opaque intent.

I love poetry. And poets.

I wonder how many of us prefer the dualistic and standard template of the mind, namely, 'I' am writing about 'that', as subject writes about object?

What, if anything, changes if a non-dual and different template were to be utilized, namely, 'this' is being written by 'this'?

A form of writing from inside out, or perhaps, from itself through itself?

An inmate friend says he hates poetry. He says he also hates bullshit. It makes me wonder if he sees poetry as bullshit. And if so, why so?

Is there something in his awareness that intuits that, by not owning their intrinsic non-separation, poets try to convince you that what is really happening of itself, isn't; but that the cleverness of poets is fabricating or manufacturing a piece of work that is theirs, owned and created out of nothing but their activated imagination, powers of description, and copyrighted style?

This is, perhaps, a bullshit reflection on my part. An example of chaotic social unrest searching through inner unrest in a restless environment for something that belongs to itself.

Haiku
 
       (from cereal bowl)
 
 
Friday twenty forth

washing machine twists, splashes

sheets from boat and bed 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

point worth contemplating

 Yes.

Evening conversation on *bullshit*.

This phrase and commentary appeared:

HUMANKIND CANNOT BEAR VERY MUCH REALITY”

That from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartetshis “answer” to the problems he raised in The Wasteland. Or at least I think it is.  I didn’t understand The Wasteland the first time I read it, and my comprehension hasn’t improved much since.

Few lines capture the central neurosis of our age better. Our relationship to reality is not an uncompromised one.  It is tarnished, marked by sin, and the refusal to bear responsibility for our actions in it.  At the end of C.S. Lewis’s The Great DivorceLewis wakes in a fit of horror because he has seen a glimpse of the reality beneath the shadows, the fixed eternal that is the accumulation of a million choices distended through time, and he cannot bear the sight.  God, we hear in those pages, is the Fact to whom the universe answers, and the Fact on which all other facts depend.  It is a point worth contemplating.          (—from Mere Orthodoxy

It is a point worth contemplating

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

so who knows truly whence it has arisen

I think it matters what is thought about the origins of things. The possibility that the origin is ever-present — even unto now — is an invitation to consider our then and now.

Three thousand years ago, from the Indus Valley, a meditation on the creation of the world:

Rig Veda, Mandala 10, hymn CXXIX. Creation.

 Nasadiya Sukta ("Not the non-existent")


Then even nothingness was not, nor existence.
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?

Then there were neither death nor immortality,
nor was there then the torch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.

At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness.
All this was only unillumined water.
That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,
arose at last, born of the power of heat.

In the beginning desire descended on it -
that was the primal seed, born of the mind.
The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom
know that which is, is kin to that which is not.

And they have stretched their cord across the void,
and know what was above, and what below.
Seminal powers made fertile mighty forces.
Below was strength, and over it was impulse.

But, after all, who knows, and who can say
whence it all came, and how creation happened?
The gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?

Whence all creation had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows - or maybe even he does not know. 

(—The Creation in Rig Veda 10:129A. L. Basham's Translation)

(See also: Seven English Versions of Rig Veda 10:129)

What we think of our origins might be what we think of our present.

And the understanding of what myths we hold as prelude contributes to our making way through the continuity of present and presence in our lives.

We are never that far from where we’ve been, nor from where we shall be.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

loosely knit association

A Laura of hermits

Where wandering hillside you

Cross no path one walks

Monday, July 20, 2020

send in the troopers

Fairness falls at feet

When arrogant power stands

Without a conscience

what is that sound

We listened to this Zen Priest at Sunday Evening Practice (by Zoom) last night.

There's something both gentle and intriguing about his eight minute talk.


Zazen is Good for Nothing, by Shohaku Okumura


Sunday, July 19, 2020

history tries to speak

No monument is 

equal to one human life --

let's tell the story

Saturday, July 18, 2020

that whole sense of holiness

An interview in Parabola four years ago with Roshi Robert Kennedy S.J. (b. 1933).

This:

P: In your book Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit, you quote an Emily Dickinson poem that sums up this movement of faith: “Finding is the first Act/The second, loss,/Third, Expedition for/The “Golden Fleece”/Fourth, no Discovery/Fifth, no crew/Finally, no Golden Fleece/Jason—sham—too.”
RK: All her spiritual life is in that poem, I think. Finding happiness, then loss, then charging around the world looking for the truth, then discovering what we weren’t looking for.

P: Is there a point at which the demarcation between meditation and prayer disappears?
RK: I think Zen has great resonance with Christianity at the point where Christians realize that all images of God are just our projections, really. We imagine the most beautiful and the best things we can think of, and that of course is not God. Meister Eckhart says, leave God for God. It’s a mistake to talk too quickly about love. The danger is that we imagine what Jesus is, say, and then we try to fall in love with what we’ve just imagined. It’s not a very solid foundation for our life. It’s not only a question of love but of attention, of being present without the distractions of these images, putting ourselves in the presence of a reality that we do not know, being silent but not drifting, trying to be wide awake, not in a “spiritual” world, but in this world. Can we be awake to where we are, where we sit, without giving it a name, or a judgement about it? Zen says do not judge by any standards. And that is a wonderful place. But there’s another step too, when we realize that this eternal truth, in whose presence we are sitting, is not an object in front of our gaze but experienced as our very self. The faithful practitioner must finally stop hero-worshipping and act out of a center of confidence—and live that way, becoming useful. Silence can be tremendously fruitful in bringing us to these different stages of life.

And this:

P: And when you sit down in stillness, how do you know yourself?
RK: I just sit until the self falls off. No Roshi, no Father, no Bob. When we first experience this emptiness, it can be frightening. It seems a very lonely place. But this is a temporary stage. Finally, it’s not that we’ve lost everything, but that we’ve gained everything. All that we see is our very selves. And there is no final step. There couldn’t be a final step in Zen. Zen is life, and it’s always opening up.

P: Zen is particularly good at letting you know that there’s nowhere to get to, nothing to get.
RK: Zen strips away that whole sense of holiness. One Chinese Zen teacher told me, “Its so hard to deal with Catholics, because they love their spiritual life. “ And Zen is trying to show them that there is no “spiritual life.” There’s just one life, with different aspects. I was always touched by that.

P: Do you have a way of being Zen that is your own?
RK: I was a Jesuit priest before I came to Zen, so I feel that my own path is to try to introduce Zen to the Catholic people. I think it would be a great gift to bring to so many people who are trying to learn to live and to pray, honestly. And I think we can learn from the whole world as Catholics, and certainly from Zen. That they are not our enemies, even though intellectually they are different—that difference can be enriching and lead to light and to friendship and to common work with like-minded people.

(--from To  Live With  Gratitude, an Interview with Robert Kennedy, S.J., Roshi, by Tracy Cochran, Parabola, March 15, 2016)
 I defer to difference.

(If it's all the same to you.)

chicanery

Owl calls from not-yet-dawn. 

Drops of water from eave to porch roof clunk, clunk, clunk.

The year's at the spring, 
And day's at the morn; 
Morning's at seven; 
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd; 
The lark's on the wing; 
The snail's on the thorn; 
God's in His heaven-- 
All's right with the world! 

(Robert Browning, 1812-1889, Pippa’s Song)
The Honorable John Lewis dies. (You have inspired us with your life. Thank you.)

The disingenuous Donald Trump is president. (You have not inspired us with your lack of leadership.)

There are some contrasts that seem obscene to place near one another.

God is not in his heaven.

Nor are things right in the world.

Let’s not pretend — we are awful people for allowing the chicanery to go on.

Friday, July 17, 2020

to be happy is to stop

 Stop?

Losing a loved one, uncertainty about what we are, these are deprivations that give rise to our worst suffering. We may be idealists, but we need what is tangible. It is by the presence of persons and things that we believe we recognize certainty. And though we may not like it, at least we live with this necessity.  

But the astonishing or unfortunate thing is that these deprivations bring us the cure at the same time that they give rise to pain. Once we have accepted the fact of loss,.we understand that the loved one obstructed a whole corner of the possible, pure now as sky washed by rain. Freedom emerges from weariness. To be happy is to stop. We are not here in order to stop; Free, we seek anew, enriched by pain. And the perpetual impulse forward always falls back again to gather new strength. The fall is brutal, but we set out again.

(—from, Losing a Loved One, by Albert Camus, in The New York Times, March 16, 1976)

 Happiness is not something else. Not something in addition to the everyday things we do. 

We incorporate.

Wherever anything is, we are.

To be happy, enter where you are, do what you are doing.

There’s nothing else.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

everywhere, nowhere

Bonaventure, yesterday’s feast, said:
8. Recapitulating, let us say: Because, then, Being is most pure and absolute, that which is Being simply is first and last and, therefore, the origin and the final cause of all. Because eternal and most present, therefore it encompasses and penetrates all duration, existing at once as their center and circumference. Because most simple and greatest, therefore it is entirely within and entirely without all things and, therefore, is an intelligible sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference nowhere. Because most actual and most immutable, then "remaining stable it causes the universe to move" [Boethius, Cons. III, met. 9]. Because most perfect and immense, therefore within all, though not included in them; beyond all, but not excluded from them; above all, but not transported beyond them; below all, and yet not cast down beneath them. Because most highly one and all-inclusive, therefore all in all, armed.although all things are many and it is only one. And this is so since through most simple unity, clearest truth, and most sincere goodness there is in it all power, all exemplary causality, and all communicability. And therefore from it and by it and in it are all things. And this is so since it is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-good. And to see this perfectly is to be blessed. As was said to Moses, "I will show thee all good" [Exod. 33:19].
(—from Mind’s Road to God, Bonaventure, OFM, born Giovanni di Fidanza 1221-1274)
And then there is Mount Carmel, which has such varied history:

Hermits and monastics, mystics and religious seekers, have responded to the call to look and listen deeper.

There’s a rich history to look at.

Such varied  stories to listen to.

The concealed unconcealed, then hidden again.