Saturday, September 18, 2004


If Hashem, (what is called 'God'), is Reality, what are we waiting for?

Step back on your own to look into reality long enough to attain an unequivocally true and real experience of enlightenment. Then with every thought you are consulting infinite teachers.
- Yuan wu (1063-1135)

We spoke of martyrs at Friday Evening Conversation. Not those committing suicide, nor those committing murder -- but those who give up their life for their faith in God. Put in other words -- those who are willing to relinquish their current form so as not to deny Reality, which is that within which, for which, and as which we live our lives.

Jesus Christ, although he shared God’s nature [though he was in the form of God], did not try to seize equality with God for himself; but emptied himself, took on the form of a slave, and became like a man – not in appearance only, for he humbled himself by accepting death – even death on a cross.
For this, God has raised him high, and given him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bend, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue will proclaim “Jesus Christ is Lord”, to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2)

As with most things in this existence, we are not well informed.

Martyrs are the ones who witness Infinite Wholeness and surrender their lives to authentic and compassionate relationship with all formed therein. (We must not confuse murderers and destructive suicides with the term 'martyr.')

It is a task to encounter one's being in Being.

...If man "is" anything at all, he is Nietzsche's "undefined animal," whose infinite scope and possibility consist precisely in the knowledge of his own temporal limitation, in the knowledge that he will die, and in his power to endure and transcend such knowledge...
(in Commentary, Vol. 7 • April 1949 • No. 4, Simon, Ernst, What Price Israel's "Normalcy"?translated from the German by Ralph Manheim)

We are not who and what we think we are. We are, rather, who and what we are. To see with the light of Reality is to witness Reality Itself, or Sacred Being, or, What Is -- called Enlightenment.

Enlightenment means rising above thought, not falling back to a level below thought, the level of an animal or a plant. In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before. You use it mostly for practical purposes, but you are free of the involuntary internal dialogue, and there is inner stillness. When you do use your mind, and particularly when a creative solution is needed, you oscillate every few minutes or so between thought and stillness, between mind and no-mind. No-mind is consciousness without thought. Only in that way is it possible to think creatively, because only in that way does thought have any real power. Thought alone, when it is no longer connected with the much vaster realm of consciousness, quickly becomes barren, insane, destructive.
(from Chapter 1, "You are not your mind," in The Power of Now, By Eckhart Tolle)

Jesus didn't try to grasp with the mind what he was. Nor should we, what we are.

Being is the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death. However, Being is not only beyond but also deep within every form as its innermost invisible and indestructible essence. This means that it is accessible to you now as your own deepest self, your true nature. But don't seek to grasp it with your mind. Don't try to understand it. You can know it only when the mind is still. When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally. To regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of "feeling-realization" is enlightenment.

Being what we are is a place to dwell in peace. It is only there we dwell in compassionate relationship with everyone and everything,.

No waiting. No invading other lands and nations. No destroying real or perceived enemies. No reducing one another to laughing-stock or lifeless-corpse.


No more.

One's own name is no name.


Thursday, September 16, 2004




Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Rosh Hashana, 5765.

Barukh atah Adonai, Elohaynu, melekh ha-olam,
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe,

asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu
who sanctifies us with his commandments, and commands us

l’had’lik neir shel [shabbat v'shel] yom tov (Amein)
to light the candles of [Shabbat and of] the holiday (Amen)

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

("Hashem" means "the name." Traditional Jews use the name "Hashem" instead of "God" to show their respect to God by not taking his name lightly and only using the proper name God in prayers.)

HaShem is the Hebrew transliteration of the yod-hey-vav-hey (v - u - v - h) name, and literally means "The Name" This name is normally not written together, i.e. Without the dashes. "HaShem" is used 7484 times in the TaNaK (the old testament). Neither HaShem, nor it's Greek equivalent is ever used in the Apostolic Writings. The first use, of HaShem, is in:

Bereshit (Genesis) 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When HaShem God made the earth and the heavens--

HaShem means "self existent" or "eternal", according to Strong’s (3068).


Hashem is Reality.

We must face Reality.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Learning is difficult. More than that, it is a joy.

We need a new and formal context to understand what education is becoming.

My answer attempts to renew a dialogically-grounded humanism, an old educational ideal that finds the beginnings of a compelling and novel defense in the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer. Gadamer’s writings present a theoretical framework for articulating a case for education as such against those who would justify it on narrowly utilitarian grounds. But that is not all. Gadamer argues that we miss the phenomenon completely when we think of education [Bildung] as something we use for our own private (or even collective) purposes, whether these be judged good or ill — or that we exactly use it at all. Rather, if the same categories even apply, it would be more correct to say that education uses us. Consequently, although we may be said to allow it to happen in certain ways, education as Bildung eludes us when we obtrude too severely on its proper sphere. In what follows, I will attempt to show how Gadamer makes sense of these bizarre claims.

To learn, we speak through what is before us. This “dialogue”, this speaking through, passes through that which is between us.

At Becky's Piano Recital

She screws her face up as she nears the hard parts,
Then beams with relief as she makes it through,
Just as she did listening on the edge of her chair
To the children who played before her,
Wincing and smiling for them
As if she doesn't regard them as competitors
And is free of the need to be first
That vexes many all their lives.
I hope she stays like this,
Her windows open on all sides to a breeze
Pungent with sea spray or meadow pollen.
Maybe her patience this morning at the pond
Was another good sign,
The way she waited for the frog to croak again
So she could find its hiding place and admire it.
There it was, in the reeds, to any casual passerby
Only a fist-sized speckled stone.
All the way home she wondered out loud
What kind of enemies a frog must have
To make it live so hidden, so disguised.
Whatever enemies follow her when she's grown,
Whatever worry or anger drives her at night from her room
To walk in the gutsy rain past the town edge,
Her spirit, after an hour, will do what it can
To be distracted by the light of a farmhouse.
What are they doing up there so late,
She'll wonder, then watch in her mind's eye
As the family huddles in the kitchen
To worry if the bank will be satisfied
This month with only half a payment,
If the letter from the wandering son
Really means he's coming home soon.
Even old age won't cramp her
If she loses herself on her evening walk
In piano music drifting from a house
And imagines the upright in the parlor
And the girl working up the same hard passages.

Poem: "At Becky's Piano Recital" by Carl Dennis, from New and Selected Poems © Penguin.

Each passage we traverse is our education. How do we “hold together” that which passes through us? Is confusion the passageway of education toward learning?
Some students recently noted a “confusion” with what they were hearing. They worried their “understanding” was in jeopardy. Would I please “focus” more clearly.

I am sympathetic with their experience. I have always found philosophy, or thinking about what is real, present, and available to us, to be a stretching confusion -- from where we are to where we suppose truth resides. So much of learning is a journeying between things. This journeying between might be the back and forth of dialogue in disagreement with another or the mind-walk to and from some idea hidden in the dark shadows of absent comprehension. Soon enough we come to suspect that the “between” is the actual residing place of understanding – not a fixed place with stone foundation, but a moveable feast of solitude romancing community for a brief tryst.

Under these conditions, Gadamer argues, this phenomenon of play may provide a “clue to ontological explanation”; in the interpretive dialogue hermeneutic understanding establishes with its object, something comes about which is to a degree independent of both of them. In other words, as the prejudices of the interpreting consciousness are put into play with those of the object — as their horizons are “fused” — a common living language emerges.4 This symbolic meeting ground of tradition, which both depends upon individuals and structures their being-in-the-world, is largely what Hegel had in mind by Spirit, which comes to know itself through a process of Bildung (i.e., culture, development, education — the latter in what Dewey would call its “honorific” sense). As David Ingram describes the process:

"Gadamer compares Bildung to a progressive fusion of horizons in which interpreter and tradition are elevated to participation in a higher universality. This fusion is at once the cancellation of both the parochial prejudices of the interpreter which impede access to the unique message of the tradition and the dead anachronisms implicit in the latter as well as the preservation and extension of what is common to both of them. The moment of cancellation results in a dual negation whereby both the being of the interpreter and the being of the tradition are altered.5"

Unlike Hegel, however, Gadamer does not posit an end-state of absolute knowledge in which Spirit comes to know itself in toto. His concept of experience is much more open-ended than Hegel’s; it does not “progress” through the undergoing of stages but rather renders itself ever more open to new experiences. This is the true meaning of education for Gadamer; Bildung is a never-ending process of openness and a perpetual fusion of horizons, arising through dialogue, in which the ideal is never to stop learning.

As Gadamer famously concludes the “Afterword” to Truth and Method (after some 579 pages!): “the ongoing dialogue permits no final conclusion. It would be a poor hermeneuticist who thought he could have, or had to have, the last word.”6 The truly educated person — the true “hemeneuticist” — then, is “radically undogmatic” and ever open to the “experience that is made possible by experience itself.” (355) Such a person is open for education through intercourse with others as he or she undergoes a “continually recurring temptation to engage oneself in something or to become involved with someone.”7 The educated person is so “dialogically sensitive” that the mere presence of the other (perhaps even to mind only) can help break up her biases and enlarge her vision.

To make the notion of Bildung more concrete, then, Gadamer recasts it as a dialogue between interpreter and tradition in which the latter is experienced as a Thou. This point must be stressed: he is not saying that individuals like teachers and students in every case ought to engage in an intersubjective give-and-take. (In fact, he argues explicitly against erecting dialogue as a model for pedagogy.) Accordingly, sharing in this historically-constituted conversation does not mean that I experience tradition as the opinion of some person or other, but that I am able to enter into it as into a game made up of myself and other persons but not reducible to any of us. In this edifying tradition-forming, revising and conserving dialogue taking place in language — Hegelian Spirit conversing with itself — arises Bildung, which I see as the normative dimension of philosophical hermeneutics

(from EDUCATION AS THE NORMATIVE DIMENSION OF PHILOSOPHICAL HERMENEUTICS, by David Blacker University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign )

Open, and present, dialogically sensitive, and radically undogmatic – we welcome that which holds us together.

We learn by conversing in the thin place between ourselves and everything else.

Are we willing?

To learn?


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Silence is the true friend that never betrays. (Confucius)

Interdependence Day! John Duffy's composition at Camden Opera House. Later, Compline at St. Thomas'.

This country says it is at war. It's not.

War demands sacrifice and wholeness of effort on the part of all the country. Not here. Here we send money, guns, and corporate accountants to manage the business transactions while young military personnel get shot at, wounded, and killed.

It is turning out badly.

But, by some magical talking trick of rhetoric the vast majority of Americans believe all is well and we are in good hands with the conjurers in charge.

We'll have to sing with more heart. Make better harmony. Lift melody to loftier lilt.
That's what John Duffy, Glen Jenks, and Anthony Antolini said and performed today.

And the rest of us?

Learn deep, seeing, silence.