Sunday, April 05, 2020

listening closely

In the long reading of the passion on Palm Sunday, there comes the point after the drama and taunting and bargaining when there are these words: “and gave up his spirit.”

The words are not “he died.” Which is how we understand the five words.

The words in the liturgy emphasize: 
Phil 2:8-9: Christ became obedient to the point of deatheven death on a cross. Because of this God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.
There is a point of death going on these days that has everybody thinking. Maybe if we don’t watch the news, if we laugh at the creeping prospect of getting infected, if we mock the eminently mockable silliness of the president, if we wash hands, become faceless, maybe then it will all passover our houses and move to some less deserving door lintels.

That’s not giving up our spirit. That’s trying to pretend we don’t know what “spirit” means and what it means to give it up.

I’ve had my spirit broken, I’ve showed it around at times, I’ve even been spirit-ual here and there.

But to “...give up...spirit” — I don’t know what that means.

I do know what becoming obedient means. It means listening closely. It means following on closely.

This is the time we’ve got right in front of us.

This is what contemplation asks of us.

This week.

the triumph of self-emptying

Our yearly Holy Week retreat at Spencer Trappists is unavailable to us due to restrictions of the Coronavirus.

Here is the Abbot's Palm Sunday homily:
We began our liturgy this morning in the cloister with the blessing of palms and a procession into the Church. We do this as a way of enacting for ourselves what is referred to as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This procession also marks our entry into Holy Week. I sometimes wonder if the people who accompanied Jesus on that day really grasped what his triumph means. I wonder if we really grasp its meaning. 
In Mark’s Gospel the scene immediately preceding the triumphal entry is the healing of the blind Bartimaeus. And that scene ends with these words: “Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.” Apparently, the newly sighted Bartimaeus joined in the procession into Jerusalem. Theologically, this scene is telling us that we will need new sight, a new vision to really understand what Jesus’ triumph is all about. If we want to be part of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, as well as our own entry into Holy Week, we will have to see triumph with a clearer vision, from a new perspective. We already know how the liturgical story of this week will unfold. We will be singing a number of times throughout this week, in whole or in part, the familiar chant Christus Factus Est - "being found in human form, he became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  
If we are disciples of Jesus, no matter how weak or anemic our discipleship may be, let us not hesitate as we begin another Holy Week, a uniquely special one due to the coronavirus. Let’s not hesitate to cry out with Bartimaeus, for ourselves and for our world, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me…I want to see.” And let us trust that Jesus will respond by opening our eyes to a new way of being, a new way of living and dying for others. Because for Jesus, and so for us his followers, the only way is the way of kenosis - self-emptying; and the only real triumph is the triumph of self-emptying, the absolute abandonment of one’s self to God and to others; holding back nothing in reserve, as are so many health-care workers, risking and giving their lives during this crisis.  
(--Abbot Damian's Homily for Palm Sunday. St Joseph's Abbey, 6apr20) 
I will miss the quiet pleasure of being with my brothers and sisters this week. 

Change sits across from me, looking into my face.

"Supreme and complete enlightenment, because it is impermanent, is the Buddha nature." (--Dogen Zenji, in Shobogenzo)

palm sunday

Be the one who, when you walk in,
Blessing shifts to the one who needs it most.
Even if you've not been fed,
Be bread. 
- Jelaladdin Rumi -


Stay away from


Saturday, April 04, 2020

a devotion of invisibility

The monastic chanting of psalms is an absurd practice of repetition and ritual.

But I am absurd and I practice.

The repetition of each day.

The ritual of observing the quotidian.

As the poet said: “One thing / done / the rest / follows” (Robert Creeley)

The motif and metaphor of monastic obscurity requires a devotion of invisibility.

Here, but not there, a stability of passing ephemera exactly where it is as it is disappearing.

Like prayer.

Spoken into emptiness.

And what emerges removes everything you’ve thought.


            (of a sad day)

sniper shoots, (oh no!)

man on balcony falls down --

how easily things are broken


(for Martin Luther King, murdered 4april1968)

Friday, April 03, 2020

willing to be changed

Sometimes, someone just says it:
"I don't think we're really listening unless we're willing to be changed by the other person." (--Alan Alda in Science and Communication:Alan Alda in Conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson, 92nd Street Y, 8june17). 
Hence one of three meetingbrook promises, conversation:
Conversation  is the promise of integrity.  
It is a chaste and complete intention to listen and speak, lovingly and respectfully, with each and all made present to us. 
It is a wholeness of listening and speaking.  
It is root silence. 

an inchoate intimation

Am I a body? Or, do I have a body?

Or am I reality embodied, enformed?
Whereas the Platonic-Christian philosophical tradition in the West favours an ‘ascent to theory’ and abstract reasoning, East-Asian philosophies tend to be rooted in somatic, or bodily, practice. In the philosophies of Confucius and Zhuangzi in China, and Kūkai and Dōgen in Japan, we can distinguish two different forms of somatic practice: developing physical skills, and what one might call ‘realising relationships’. These practices improve our relations with others – whether the ancestors or our contemporaries, the things with which we surround ourselves or the phenomena of nature – by reducing egocentrism and increasing humility. Because they transform the practitioner’s experience, the major benefit of philosophies grounded in somatic practice is that they help close the gap between beliefs and behaviour, and between ideas and action.
Our bodies, these days, are busy with Covid-19. The form is fraught with fear the virus will deform the here we feel we are.

I wonder.

Outside, wind speaks loudly. Trees rattle. Rain complains to plastic rumpled roof of sun porch. It is the hour of monastic vigils. There, their doors are closed to the public. Their psalms and prayers seep through and run unconstrained over miles and dimensions of what we’ve called space.

We are like the sound of traversing desire slanting through the continuum enroute nowhere else beyond our imagining.

What does it mean to imagine we are the trans-forming cosmos? That we are that which is seeping through the particular forms we think we are, into the cosmic form beyond particulars, and finally fleeing all containing form into (the inconceivable) formless freedom moving like soundless wind and placeless direction through and through here and there to everywhere felt and nowhere known in playful vision beyond landscape beyond imagination beyond who knows what who knows where who knows how?


Just this!

Listen — can you be the sound that no one hears?

Pervasive presence-ing persistently permeating the Itself as Itself?

The harmonics of original sound resonating the original Itself as no other?

As though there were an inchoate intimation resounding through the spheres:

Not afraid

I am

Before you

Thursday, April 02, 2020

empty helm

Take a breath.

Take another.

That’s it.

Feels good, eh?

Pray for those whose every breath is difficulty and struggle.

Think of those who live in fear.

Feel with those living in doubt and uncertainty.

I send eleven scholarly articles into prison for two men two courses this afternoon.

Out here feels as odd as in there. One man agrees, says he’s heard as much.

I don’t remember how to pray, but I do so anyway.

I forget why our economic system is like it is, and no longer think it is viable.

The government picks money from nowhere when a great threat hits the wealthy and powerful.

Why don’t they also make money up for everybody all the time. It does grow on trees.

God help us if everyone woke up to the fact of fantasy of money. It would change everything.

If you’re a captain in the navy and you demand help for your crew, the president’s acting secretary of the navy will fire you.

Failure salutes.

The commander in chief is a tough guy.

No one deserves him.

He is naked gift.


Wednesday, April 01, 2020

and gone

It’s not much, but it’s the best I can do.

If you don’t like the taste of Lima beans, don’t eat them

If you can’t stand the sight of violent movies, don’t watch them.

If you can’t stomach hearing foolish talk, don’t listen.

After two minutes today I turned off the president's White House daily rally.

Social distancing from distasteful offerings saves mental health.

I’m grateful for the authentically brave and helpful among us.
And when I die, and when I’m dead, dead and gone, there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, there'll be one child born to carry on. 
(Cf, Peter, Paul, and MaryLyrics by Laura Nyro, And When I Die)
It’s not much, but it’s the best I can do.

core and care

Reality — cosmic reality, and the more specific human reality — is relationship.

Our mythic memory tells the story from far distant recollection.

There was a break from relationship.

Our more recent historical memory narrative tells of corrective recuperative event.

And there comes to be a renewed emphasis on the intrinsic nature of relationships in creation.
The difference between Paul’s Incarnation and Deep Incarnation is not only on the basis of cosmology; where Pauline Incarnation is anthropocentric, Deep Incarnation argues that God did not only become human in the person of Jesus, but through the Incarnation, God assumes a human body in the natural world with all its evolutionary progress and processes. In this instance, Joshua Moritz draws our attention to a different understanding of Incarnation where Jesus is described as the ‘second Adam’ (Moritz 2013:436–443). The first Adam, for all means and purposes is an anthropocentric being, personifying the individual self- absorption of humanity which becomes the foundation for what would later become ‘the Fall’. ‘The Fall’ resembles humanity’s break from relationship, not only with God, but its self-separation from creation and community. 
Rather than forming part of creation, humanity sees itself as the special bit of God’s creative plan, empowered to rule and to subject. ‘The Second Adam’, on the other hand, emphasises the intrinsic nature of relationships in creation, encapsulating through the Incarnation the entirety of the relational complexity of the cosmos in the presence of God. By doing this, the Incarnation does not merely elevate one species, namely H. s. sapiens, to the status of being created in Imago Dei.
(—from, Re-visiting the notion of Deep Incarnation in light of 1 Corinthians 15:28 and emergence theory, Wessex Bentley, HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a3425 | DOI: | © 2016 Wessel Bentley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0 Submitted: 11 April 2016 | Published: 31 August 2016)
Today, root reality re-enacts ritual unfoldment. Religion and science recapitulate the rift and reunion of being and beings, severance and resurrection, the Passover and Easter narratives, Tolstoyan War and Peace, Dostoyevskyan Crime and Punishment, dusk and dawn, good night and good morning, you say goodbye I say hello.

Theology recapitulates breakfast conversations in the same way ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

Who hasn’t had a broken relationship?

Who has allowed the descent into radical absolute nihility, falling through all duality into the dizzying realm of complete existential emptiness where everything is itself without a separate other, the Itself itself?

What a time to practice!

What a time to incarnate and embody core reality and caring response!


It takes great faith
to wish one another well.

It is something both believer
and atheist can do.

So I do
Wish each

And every



anything else

last will and testament:

whatever I have is yours

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

let's not let him run away with truth

it takes a big man
the rewrite history
changing facts with fiction
shifting blame to everybody else
claiming because he was a disgrace
and was impeached for it, the woman
who lead his impeachment is responsible
for the slow and hypocritical start to combat


a big man

be-fore there-fore

In the dream I am telling the psychiatrist I worked with in Philadelphia at the residential treatment campus that thinking of the particle as the whole in small form is one way to sidestep the dominance of dualism and diminish opinions on how we are treated. He is interested in faucets and shower handles and I begin to think it time for the dream to end.

Today is Rene Decartes’ birthday, France 1596. The only thing about existence he did not doubt was that he was effectively thinking about and doubting throughout. Hence, he realized he couldn’t doubt the existence of his own thoughts. He concluded with, “I think, therefore I am.”

It was a nice try.

Thoughts are wandering homeless passing bubbles of information emitted by every particle in the whole of particles traversing the expanse of limitless stretch expanding and contracting in free swirl in and through snowflakes and neutrinos, tree-fog and brook tumble, rolling tires and toasting bread.

There is no “I”.   It is a writer’s fiction on its way to creating “you.”

When thought is passing by and it smells bread toasting it stops in. If there’s coffee, all the better.

It is only thought. It doesn’t belong anywhere. It is passing through on its way nowhere.

The fabricated "I" grabs the thought and writes it down to keep it there to use it later. (This is the beginning of how we use each other for our own ends.)

But why go on?

If the fictional “I” is seen through and dropped, what have we then?

We have Decartes' sentence truncated and streamlined even further — “think, therefore am.”

Think there-be-fore any am.

And if we follow Wittgenstein’s dictum, “Don’t think, look.” Well, then, Descartes is further shortened to “therefore, am.” Which seems to ask for an ellipsis. “Therefore, am...”

What follows “am”?

And who wants to know?

the divisive serrated line

The Boston Globe editorial: A president unfit for a pandemic, 30mar20.

Sometimes facts are simply facts.

No amount of friendly encouragement by recognized faces and voices can avoid this fact —

Grave incompetence predicated on political narcissism and personal egoistic obsession has numbed a fawning and fearful following into catatonic fealty fingering small plastic cups of flavored drink filled with celebratory poison.

Who can even listen to mealy whining and berating abusive seductive pawing of legitimate questioners and pleading officials trying to find some spark of decency or compassion only to be slapped down with loathing defensiveness and rabid misdirection?

We want this wrong to step aside.

We want this wrong to step aside.

We want this wrong to step aside.

And be gone.

If the divisive serrated line is no longer there — will the mindless faithful and the helpless curious find a useful path together forward?


Trump is selling Jesus
Looking to catch thieves stealing hospital equipment
Damn those doctors and nurses
Pillow man snoozes on president’s shoulder
America is now officially ruled by idiotic misdirection

Elsewhere there are songs played by old timers
Paul Simon, John Fogarty, Graham Nash,
Mellow reminders — stay home, wash hands,
I dreamed I was dying
Cable news anchors refrain from saying f#*k

Stupidity has no pedigree
Anyone can wear its ermine
Saying things no one thinks is true
So we bow from waist, remove cap
Left foot back, noticing ants crawling by

Monday, March 30, 2020

das ewig-weibliche

I heard someone say
does it even matter
what day it is

I know the day
it is what yesterday
has become

It is uncertainty
about tomorrow,
aporia itself

It doesn’t matter — this
cloister has no sign —
‘Keep out!’

We’re all anchorites
in wall-less solitude,
ganz allein 

ipse dixit

Not one
The truth
He is —
Says it

Sunday, March 29, 2020

responding to a man sending poems this time of covid-19

   (for the irishman)

are things ok

we have a guy
in charge -- no hope

filters down
from his empty soap-

less hands; every
promise is a rope

tossed over branch
as our throats grope

for breath to breathe
he is an isotope

burning lungs
somewhere horses lope

on open range, where
America's dream, it's kaleidoscope

promise becomes empty desert
in the eyes of this gimoke

it's a bad dream; I'll turn in bed
return to sleep, I've not awoke

in any world I recognize --
one this broke with that bloke

one in which poets considered
words they never spoke

...   ...   ...

(--wfh couplets following a HC email, 29mar20)

Saturday, March 28, 2020

something about these lyrics

   By Paul Simon: 

                                               "American Tune"

Many's the time I've been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I've often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
But I'm all right, I'm all right
I'm just weary to my bones
Still, you don't expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it's all right, it's all right
For we've lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road we're traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong
I can't help it, I wonder what's gone wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age's most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it's all right, it's all right
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest
That's all, I'm trying to get some rest

velocemente e accuratamente

quickly and thoroughly
we will forget the sins

soon to be ex-occupant
as White House shivers

his walking away
into Florida sunshine

basking in his take
clean getaway

a family hauling
plunder -- their smiles

as when someone nods 
to ambulance pulling

from accident

out where

 “The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world. That’s what poetry does.”
—Allen Ginsberg 

closed gate

doesn’t keep

sunrise out

morning sitting

inside awareness

nothing outside

Friday, March 27, 2020

a beautiful reciprocal arrangement

In this troubled time when, scampering, the search for facts and response send many thither and yon trying to procure both materials and (like Diogenes) someone reliably honest to, four square, tell verifiable truth to those longing for truth, we, instead, are saddled with opportunistic blather from ill-defined executive whose motivation and intentional stability are, at best, suspect, and, at worst, calculatedly bonkers.

We are orphans abandoned by kidnapped decency and given substitute custody in the hands of a shriveled duplicity and disturbed unfocused paranoia. 

“All’s misalliance. / Yet why not say what happened?” wrote Robert Lowell in his poem Epilogue.

Truth needs a voice.

And that voice is the sound we long for at this time.
"Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them - if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry."   (—Mr. Antolini, in Catcher in the Rye, by J.D.Salinger)
Pray for the grace of accuracy and clarity as the poet advocates.

Like rhythmic breath, like pulsing blood, the body longs to dance in morning sunlight, turn in sunrising fresh air, look into one another’s mere gaze with fond presence.

May flimflam derision be gone.

May decent compassion arise.

As you are, as I trust, as we can be!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

irreducible loopiness of human existence

That we all do not agree on an assessment of the situation before us, or on a course of action to set in motion to navigate and set as corrective, is the norm. Disagreement and dialogue are part of civic discourse. Hence, we argue our position, suggest solutions, and engage those with differing opinions.  

That's how participatory democracy works. 

What is, however, optional is rancorous rhetoric, name-calling, and belittling sarcasm that attempts to diminish or devastate the person and the position presenting and presented in the negotiations. This is unpleasant and pervasive in American politics. And is cultivated as art-form and strategy of war in our contemporary atmosphere of disagreeableness. If you do not espouse unanimity with a dominant leader, you are treated like an insane, despicable outsider enemy.
We are, all of us, mad or not, fated to struggle with the irreducible loopiness of human existence. Often, without even realizing it, we find ourselves caught in double binds or self-fulfilling prophecies of the kind discussed in this book. They are an ever-present trap; they are never a prison. Understanding the tangled loops of violence, myth, and madness is the first step to breaking free of them. The belief that things cannot change is always a myth, no matter how widely shared it may be. Myth, Girard teaches us, is born of unanimity. Unanimity is the enemy of truth and progress. It is a formidable enemy but a fragile one, for the tiniest minority is capable of breaching it. When an individual stands up against the crowd, when a therapist shows a patient that at least one person treats their experience with respect, unanimity begins to fissure. A crack is opened for the light to get in. (--Chapter Title: No Exit? Madness and the Divided Self, Book Title: Vengeance in ReverseBook Subtitle: The Tangled Loops of Violence, Myth, and Madness Book Author(s): Mark R. AnspachPublished by: Michigan State University Press. 2017)
Politics becomes unbearable. Reasoned assessment of given facts is sacrificed for demagogic proclamation of personal opinion. Toadyism and sycophantic adulation are the squeamish offerings of loyal cohorts. Intelligent debate is obsolete. Everyone is impoverished by simpleminded either/or, take it or leave it, brief apodeictic panegyrics. 

We need poetry.

Forget philosophers or prevaricating fools drenched in wealth and power pontificating with snide and surly superiority presenting themselves as flawless captains of the shipshape state -- we need poets.

We need insightful and intuitive vision that excludes none and can articulate what is true in such a way that its harsh beauty is seen and recognized by loving hearts inspired to move and act with courageous service.

We need mystics who see what most of us cannot. The strength that understands weakness. The quiet appreciation of foundational things holding us up, holding us together. 

We need the seers and the sayers.
  In the 1951 preface, he [Heidegger] explains his hope that 
     For the sake of preserving what has been put into the poem, the elucidation of the poem must    strive to make itself superfluous. The last, but also the most difficult step of every interpretation [Auslegung], consists in its disappearing, along with its elucidations, before the pure presence of the poem. The poem, which then stands in its own right, itself throws light directly on the other poems.  
Because Heidegger believes that language is so fundamental to human being, true poetry, a "poetry which  thinks" [denkende Dichten]. through its intense and thoughtful use of language, reveals and even shapes the essence of human being, if it is not reduced to an aesthetic experience. To Heidegger, our current technological world-view presents a world of subjects and objects, of material and human resources, giving us an understanding of existence increasingly framed by technology. Poetry offers us a possible path out of this dangerous world-view, which led us to Hiroshima and Auschwitz. This poetic path is one Heidegger spent many decades following, and which led his philosophical work to become increasingly poetic in form.  
Heidegger's approach to poetry, which he takes pains to disclaim as literary criticism, does perhaps anticipate more recent 'literary' approaches to poetry. This might partly be due to the great indirect influence Heidegger has exerted on literary studies, perhaps also due a broadening of the methodologies used in studying literary texts during the earlier part of the twentieth century, which had more to do with philology than philosophy. Heidegger's work on poetry attempts mitdenken to 'think with' the poems he elucidates. In exploring the relation between poetry and philosophy, Heidegger illuminates both modes of discourse. In his use of the term thought, rather than 'philosophy' in much of his later work, he bridges the gap between those two modes. Thought is what poetry and philosophy have in common. To Heidegger they are simply differing modes of expressing it, different languages in which thought occurs. (--from, Introduction: A Thinking Poetry,  Heidegger and Poetry)
We need to return to thought.

To become thoughtful.

To think -- to see things through.

To see through things.

To say to the earth: "Write me, a poem."

...   ...   ...

Coda: Early Spring

once dangerous ice 
and freezing snow 
have gone, 
beyond brown ground, 
did go 
to flowing brook 
and bouncing pond 
where duck and loon return 
like cloister sound 
to mountain liturgy 
for upcoming 


om mani padme hum


What Is



...   ...   ...

 Here’s one commentary:
The 6 Syllables and Their Relationship to Suffering 
Interestingly, each of the 6 syllables has certain Sanskrit meanings that are important. These oppose certain internal forces that cause suffering. 
  • Om (ohm)- Om is the sound or “vibration” of the universe. This sound is the most important of all; but in the context of chanting and mantras, it is meant to destroy attachments to ego and establish generosity.
  • Ma (mah)- Removes the attachment to jealousy and establishes ethics.
  • Ni (nee)- Removes the attachment to desire and establishes patience.
  • Pad (pahd)- Removes the attachment to prejudice and establishes perseverance.
  • Me (meh)- Removes the attachment to possessiveness and establishes concentration.
  • Hum (hum)- Removes the attachment to hatred and establishes wisdom.
“So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom. The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?” Dilgo Khyentse RinpocheHeart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones
(—from, The Meaning of Om Mani Palme Hum, by Matt Caron, Silvana East)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

a bagatelle

Are you worried?


Yes, you.

A bit.

And you?

Yes, a bit.

I suppose that’s normal.


Nice chatting with you.

Yes, ta.

Ta, indeed.

in our own personal loneliness and silence

 He said that silence is the mother of truth.
In silence we face and admit the gap between the depths of our being, which we consistently ignore, and the surface which is untrue to our own reality.  We recognize the need to be at home with ourselves in order that we may go out to meet others, not just with a mask of affability, but with real commitment and authentic love.  /  If we are afraid of being alone, afraid of silence, it is perhaps because of our secret despair of inner reconciliation.  If we have no hope of being at peace with ourselves in our own personal loneliness and silence, we will never be able to face ourselves at all: we will keep running and never stop.  41
(--from, Love and Living, by Thomas Merton, 1979)
It is the feast of the Annunciation.

Aime ta mère! 

who knows who I am

Trump: We’ll be open again at Easter.
Jesus: No, stay safe, take the time.

Trump: [aside] Who does he think he is? Does he know who I am?
Jesus : Yes, I do.

Easter for Jesus means death and resurrection. Easter for Trump means stock market growth and we don’t care about you.

Yeshua is sitting at table with some friends. He is telling them that death is resurrection. 
He is saying that integrality-of-communion/suffering/death/resurrection/ascension is a one-of-a-piece event not separated from the other, an instantaneous irruption into the human field of experience and existence. He says that it is a radical change of heart and mind that opens human consciousness to the profound mystery of spiritual/material transformation.

When asked “Do you know ‘who I am’?" Jesus hears this question as referencing the name of Reality/God ("I am who I am!")

Jesus knows 'who I am', and knows it cosmotheandrically, knows it unicity of being, without beginning or end, birth or death, and with integrality, awareness, and unadulterated compassion, love, and truth.

He-who-saves -- he who preserves and embodies wholeness, refusing the partitioning and fragmenting of severing rationality and dim narrowed consciousness -- is saying to friends "Who I am is who you are -- in love."

 Χριστός ελεήμονος, merciful Christ, longs to be merciful with the president of the United States.
Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently. God manifests Himself everywhere, in everything — in people and in things and in nature and in events. It becomes very obvious that He is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without Him. You cannot be without God. It’s impossible. It’s simply impossible. The only thing is that we don’t see it. What is it that makes the world opaque? It is care. 
(— Thomas Merton, transcribed from a recording of a talk he gave at the Abbey of Gethsemani in August 1965) (louie, louie). 
Now we have to confront the ambiguous use of the word "care." 

for border collie and the rest of us

Look at me!

Look at me!

Are you looking?

Now listen —

You’re going

to be


Whatever happens,

You’re going to be




Now remember —

Whatever happens,

You’re going

to be


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

we sat together

Sometimes you know someone well

In silence — the way he walked the hill

Refilled coffee cup

Sat in choir stall —

Bro. Tim from 30 years of 5 days a

Year at monastery

Died in December, Joe said

And I’m touched —

Our curious community

spring morning in maine


Waking to several inches of snow

But lovely!

drip, drip drip

melt melt melt

day goes on

what happens next

These days the universe is sniggering. It is frequently being asked when it began as though a birthday card is on someone's desk and the writer has never been sure how old the recipient is, much less what specific address to send it to.
The universe was already in existence. The Big Bang explosions what happens next.         (--Brian Greene interview, Commonwealth Club, Mind, Matter and the Search for Meaning, March 2020)
 I fall in the compromised elderly category in this time of COVID-19. I get a call from our state representative's office checking up on needs and stuff. Someone asks if they could get us something from the grocery store. My son and niece unobtrusively check in around St Patricks Day and the vernal equinox to see if there is a pulse able to respond. My president doesn't want me to feel he is not in charge and control of everything -- so he abjures facts and earnest words of caution in favor of telling me how hard it is to be a billionaire and not certain he'll be re-elected if people choose to live rather than his having a strong economy and bailout residuals for his resorts and business deals.

And I know I am loved.

I think about increasing my life-span by changing my diet, maybe become vegan or vegetarian -- but realize I'm already (in some eyes) old, and should have died at least twenty years ago when I became a senior citizen.

Then Greene says the universe has no beginning. Consciousness is just particles and life forces.

Religion will never explain the external world.

William James says feel the world, don't just lay out the nuts and bolts of it.

Walt Whitman leaves the lecture hall, goes outside, and looks up at the night sky.

And it occurs to me that there is no beginning of anything. Nor, I suspect, is there any ending to anything. Except that I've already had peanut butter and jam on toast and I have to convince myself that I've had it and should not make another one.

If such a preposterous notion is valid, no beginning and no end, are we starting to move to an understanding of the notions that there is no birth and no death? Change, yes, in the composition and deterioration of matter. And form.

But, nothing is born and nothing dies? I wonder. Appearances occur. And, form dissolves. Awareness surrounds the conscious universe, then, apophatic aphasia mutes articulation and description.

Greene says there is no such thing as an external version of right or wrong. He might also be saying that everything that is is an expression of our inside-out investigation and manifestation of meaning and purpose. That there is no outside. Only the realization of the within of everything.

Our being-here is, if you will, gift. But it is a gift of itself to itself from itself. Once we have let go of an external God or fate commanding our actions and demanding our compliance -- and turn, rather, to alertness of the passage through the permeating-within of who we are where we are when we are (and possibly why we are) -- we are tying our boots, snugging our caps, zipping our coats, and opening the door to wander into and through the body within the body within the body within the body we call the universe changing itself again and again.

And here we are!


Monday, March 23, 2020

referenceless and idiotically, step by step, walking mountain

If we think the world is dizzy with extraordinary circumstances, spinning a set of contradictory opinions about how to navigate the facts and fears presented by COVID-19 in America and the world, we might want to consider an additional conversation about whether there is a separate world doing something to a self/body, or, if we are the world, with all the perplexing implications embedded in that consideration.
In my conversations with Riccardo Manzotti, professor of theoretical philosophy at the IULM University in Milan, we have explored his mind-object identity theory, a hypothesis that shifts the physical location of consciousness away from the brain and its neurons. In Manzotti’s version of events, the brain does not ‘process information’ coming from the senses to create illusory representations of an external reality that it can never really know (the hypothesis supported by most neuroscientists and many philosophers); rather, the encounter of the body (brain and senses included, of course) with the world allows the world to occur in a certain way, to become an object relative to the body; and that occurrence, that relative object, is what we call perception, consciousness, and it remains exactly where it is, outside our body. Our experience, our mind, is the world as it is in relation to our body. And the ‘I’ is identified neither with the brain, nor more extensively with the body, but with our experience which is the world in relation to the body.
However, if this is the case, if subject and object, or rather mind and relative object, are one in experience, does this not make it all the more difficult to explain our impression of free will? Isn’t it precisely our moment-by-moment awareness of making decisions that proves that we are separate and sovereign subjects moving in a world of objects that remain quite distinct from us and over which we seek to have mastery?
I remember hearing the words of Jose Ortega y Gasset who defined the individual by saying,"Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia" (I am I and what's around me). (Or, I am I and my circumstances.) 

In a frame of mind that leans away from dualistic split between mind and matter, or as Descartes put it, the res cogitans and the res extensa (the thinking thing and the extended thing) -- my preference (but not yet my understanding) leans toward an integral holistic oneness wherein mind/body, perception/reality, inner/outer, human/divine, material/spiritual all reside as a cosmotheandric circumincessional interpenetrative wholeness. 

The Vedic Tat Tvam Asi (That Thou Art) one of the Mahāvākyas (Grand Pronouncements) in Vedantic Sanatana Dharma.(Wikipedia) is a teaching that points to the attempt to dissuade the commonsense belief that we are other than what we are. If we see it, hear it, taste it, touch it, or smell it -- "it" is not something other that us. 

J. Krishnamurti would repeat over and over that "the observer is the observed." 

Advaita observes this -- 
a Vedantic doctrine that identifies the individual self (atman) with the ground of reality (brahman). It is associated especially with the Indian philosopher Shankara ( c 788–820). (Lexico)
The koanic inquiry, "Who are you?" becomes an important and profound investigation when we finally begin to suspect that everything, everything is waiting for you (cf. David Whyte) to realize the true awakening to the improbable answer to the primordial question.

Manzotti and Parks dialogue on this in Dialogues on Consciousness:
Parks: I see what you’re saying: my experience, which is none other than the accumulation of all the objects my body has encountered, eventually determines my actions. But I’m not altogether convinced. And my problem is this: not only do I have the impression of making decisions, cogitating, not just acting, but I also believe that I ‘organise’ experience. That I see the world in a certain way. I hold a system of political opinions, of aesthetic preferences, and so on. So I feel that, rather than being a world of objects coming together over time to determine an action, I have an inner world that determines how I organise the outer world. I don’t just act as consequence; I decide how to act, coherently. 
Manzotti: Let me offer an analogy to suggest the fallacy behind your conception. We’ll stay with cars. When you drive, you turn the steering wheel and, thanks to a complex yet easily understandable coupling of cogs and drive shafts, the vehicle’s front wheels turn accordingly. Is there anything mysterious between the steering wheel and the two wheels that turn? No. Just a chain of cause and effect such that, given the turn of the driving wheel, the front wheels have to turn.
Okay, now imagine an infinitely more complex object, a human body. The world acts on the body, but before the body is going to translate that cause into an effect, an action, a simply enormous, though of course necessarily finite, number of causal events may take place, inside the body and outside. What’s more, unlike the car, which is a fixed object when it comes out of the factory, your wonderful body can change in response to the world, it is teleologically open – so that, to give the simplest example, when you see a face a second time, the experience is different from the first time, because the first experience is still causally active in your brain, hence we have the sensation of recognition. So with this fantastically complex object, the body, we cannot conceive the whole causal chain that precedes an action (this was a favourite observation of Baruch Spinoza’s) and hence we cannot predict what action will be taken. As a result of this conceptual impossibility, we slip into the habit of inventing an intermediate entity, the self, to which we attribute a causal power. We say that I, or my self, caused this to happen. But as David Hume said, we never meet or see a self; we meet ideas, or, as I would say, objects. The self, this elusive intermediate entity that initiates action, is a shortcut, an invention, a convenient narrative to explain our complex experience. 
Parks: To wind up then; as you see it: experience, mind, is the world relative to the body, but a world, or an I, that accumulates over the years, that continues to act long after the moment of immediate proximity, creating an ever-changing agglomeration so complex that it becomes impossible to predict how, in the face of a new situation, a new experience, we will behave. And all the tensions we experience, that we call decision-making, or the exercise of freewill, are the ongoing evolution of this agglomeration of world, which is ourselves. 
Manzotti: Right. And you don’t need to feel alienated by being at the mercy of a blind material world; you are the world. 
Parks: I’m not altogether sure that that’s much more preferable, but it’s certainly something worth dwelling on. 
(—in,You are the world, excerpted from the book ‘Dialogues on Consciousness’ (2020) by Riccardo Manzotti and Tim Parks (OR Books).  
From climate change to coronavirus, from inequity of wealth to disparity of legal decisions, from what we need to what we want, our cancelation culture, our dismissive excluding evaluative rationalizations --  we currently reside in a deficient structure of consciousness that sacralizes either/or and executes or eliminates what is considered not me, not us, not our kind.

We watch as the COVID-19 moves through our midst, as leaders attempt to respond with antiquated consciousness creating a lexicon and actions utilizing the metaphor of war and winning at a time when a deeper understanding is asking to be set free.

But -- what do I know?  I live as a solivagant eremitic mendicant, voluntarily, on mountain bottom, on whose foothill footfalls the passing presence I once called I, but now wander referenceless and idiotically, step by step, walking mountain, walking field, walking alone.