The oracle resounds
across the public square --
across the public square --
"It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say, because I come to see who I am."Photograph by Brother Brian. Lines by Thomas MertonMerton reminds me there is, often, a wide difference between what words we choose to say about who we are and what we actually are once words look around and walk away.
* “I can have the feeling ‘self’ only in relations to, and by contrast with, the feeling ‘other.’ In the same way, I am what I am only in relation to what everything else is. The Japanese call this ji-ji-mu-ge, which means that between every thing-event (ji) and every other thing-event there is no (mu) barrier (ge). Each implies all, and all implies each.”
** On hearing this reply from his son, the father (Uddalaka) slowly explained to him using simple examples: "Son! Have you not seen the clay in front of the potter's house? It becomes a pot in the hands of the potter. If the clay is known, then all things made of clay are known! Similarly if you know gold, things made of gold like ornaments are known. If you know iron, all things made of iron are known. In the same way, if you know "Brahman" then all the things (the entire universe) that cannot exist without Him are also known." He continued his teaching and concluded with the statement, tat tvam asi. In very simple terms, tat represents brahman and tvam identifies the divine soul (Atman) that resides ‘within’ the jIva. asi is an affirmation equating Brahman and Atman. In very subtle terms, Uddalaka tells us that by knowing the SELF (Self-realization) we will be able to recognize the entire Universe because of the fact that the Universe cannot exist without the presence of Brahman. It is just like saying there will not be a pot without clay and there will be no more golden ring without the gold! Sri Adi Shankara interprets "tat tvam asi" to mean "The jIva and brahman are identical so that there is no difference between the Atman of jIva and Brahman. Sri Adi Shankara correctly assumes the "svarUpa aikyam" that is the absolute identity between the jIvAtman and the paramAtman (brahman).
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live
(Poem by Lynn Ungar, 3/11/20)
Whether we are writing poetry or constructing arguments, playing sports or baking cakes, we human beings are governed by laws we impose on ourselves. But of all the forms that self-government takes, one has been singled out for special philosophical attention, perhaps because it appears to underlie all the rest. This is the self-governed (and self-governing) activity we call “making up one’s own mind about how to act.” It is generally agreed that our capacity to do this is quite a marvelous evolutionary achievement. Indeed, many believe that being able to determine one’s own will is intrinsically valuable—an “end in itself” whose value does not depend on anything else. For this reason, they say, self-governing (“autonomous”) agency has deep moral signif-icance: autonomy is both the source of fundamental rights and the key to understanding what these rights are and what we must do to acknowledge them.1
The suggestion that there is a link between autonomy and morality is highly plausible. If we really do have a moral status that distinguishes us from all other animals, then on what can this status depend if not on the fact that we alone are not mere pawns of nature, at the mercy of our instincts? If we are especially worthy of respect, then mustn’t this be because we alone can and do decide for ourselves whether and how our inclinations are really worth satisfying? If there are limitations on how we can justifiably treat one another, then isn’t this, in part, because, independent of our more particular concerns, it is a good thing for each of us to determine our own will?
(--from, Valuing Autonomy and Respecting Persons: Manipulation, Seduction, and the Basis of Moral Constraints*, by Sarah Buss, Ethics 115 (January 2005): 195–235, 2005 by The University of Chicago.)
you can have it
I only ask
and to be
So let us not place any particular value on the city's name. Like all big cities it was made up of irregularity, change, forward spurts, failures to keep step, collisions of objects and interests, puncated by unfathomable silences; made up of pathways and untrodden ways, of one great rhythmic beat as well as the chronic discord and mutual displacement of all its contending rhythms. All in all, it was like a boiling bubble inside a pot made of the durable stuff of buildings, laws, regulations, and historical traditions.
The two people who were walking up one of its wide, bustling avenues naturally were not thinking along these lines. They clearly belonged to a privileged social class, with their distinguished bearing, style of dress, and conversation, the initials of their names embroidered on their underwear, and just as discreetly, which is to say not for outward show but in the fine underwear of their minds, they knew who they were and that they belonged in a European capital city and imperial residence. Their names might have been Er- melinda.Tuzzi and Amheim-but then, they couldn't be, because in August Frau Tuzzi was still in Bad Aussee with her husband and Dr. Amheim was still in Constantinople; so we are left to wonder who they were. People who take a lively interest in what goes on often wonder about such puzzling sights on the street, but they soon forget them again, unless they happen to remember during their next few steps where they have seen those other two before. The pair now came to a sudden stop when they saw a rapidly gathering crowd in front of them. Just. a moment earlier something there had broken ranks; falling sideways with a crash, something had spun around and come to a skidding halt - a heavy truck, as it turned out, which had braked so sharply that it was now stranded with one wheel on the curb. Like bees clustering around the entrance to their hive people had instantly surrounded a small spot on the pavement, which they left open in their midst. paper, clumsily waving his arms as he tried to explain the accident. The glances of the newcomers turned to him, then warily dropped to the bottom of the hole where a man who lay there as if dead had been bedded against the curb. It was by his own carelessness that he had come to grief, as everyone agreed. People took turns kneeling beside him, vaguely wanting to help; unbuttoning his jacket, then closing it again; trying to prop him up, then laying him down again. They were really only marking time while waiting for the ambulance to bring someone who would know what to do and have the right to do it.
(—p.4-5, part I, THE MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES, by Robert Musil)We must wonder about the truck driver, the couple, the awaited ambulance, and, of course, the man down whose carelessness consisted in being where he was when Herr Uncertain appeared to say ”hello, I’m here, do you mind, no need to bother, yes, I’ll stay awhile, then, you know, go.”
Assassinations are troubling and abhorrent. I'm glad this didn't happen. Still, the aftermath and the mentality of those empowered to exercise so-called justice resonates recognizably. In real politics Cheney was frightening in his single-minded obsession. And while Bush has become again the country boy regular fella with Texas charm, it is a reminder of the anguish and disbelief of a vanity war with its sorrowful deaths and ruined psyches of veterans. We remain a nation of profoundly skeptical and deeply distrustful people. Witness the current example of political meshugana in Washington DC.The Iraq incursion, the Afghanistan never-ending debacle, the protests, the troubling deaths there and returning suffering here, the industry of mercenary killing and defense bonanza -- these have entered our national bloodstream like a slow and deadly virus effectuating a lack of confidence and bizarre behavior in leaders and political posturing.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.
(--from poem, Epilogue, by Robert Lowell)
All things love each other. All nature is oriented toward a thou. All beings are alive in communion with each other. All plants, all animals, all beings are fraternally united by the phenomenon of mimesis. There are insects which mimic flowers and flowers which act like insects, animals which resemble water or rocks or desert sand or snow or woodlands or certain other animals. And thus all beings love each other and feed each other, and are united in a gigantic process of birth and growth and reproduction and death. In nature everything undergoes mutation, transformation, and change, everything embraces, caresses, and kisses. And the laws which rule all animate beings and to which inert nature is also subject (for nature, too, is alive and animated by a life that is imperceptible to us) are variants of the one law of love. All physical phenomena are likewise manifestations of the identical phenomenon of love. The cohesion of a snowflake and the explosion of a nova, the tumble-bug that clings to a heap of dung, and the lover who embraces his beloved, manifest the same phenomenon of love. Everything in nature seeks to transcend its own limits, to go beyond the barriers of its individuality, to meet with a thou to which it can give itself, an “other” into which it can transform itself. The laws of thermodynamics and electrodynamics, the laws of the propulsion of light, and the universal law of gravity are all manifestations of the one law of Love
(—Ernesto Cardenal, Excerpt from: "From the Monastery to the World: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Ernesto Cardenal" by Thomas Merton. Scribd.Down road neighbor cuts logs for later splitting. At Snow Bowl skiers sound enjoyment and excitement.