Saturday, August 25, 2007

A brief time in silence.

Nothing more.
Although the marvelous
Lines are difficult to trace,
Still I can make out
Several layers of mountains,
A jumble of peaks,
Like shell-spiraled locks of hair.
Faraway streams and mountains,
Peaks swathed in clouds,
Just like a painting,
Have captured the essence.
Gazing into emptiness,
I long to ask the monk about it.
If I don’t learn the meaning
Of the reclusive life,
I can but sigh with regret until the day I die!
- - Su Shih 1073
Merely without words.

Nothing less.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Enough of damnation and judgment.

Open the prison gates of self and free everyone.
It is inconceivable that the God who gives Himself in His Son to save us, should have created some people ordained to evil and damnation. There can only be one predestination to salvation. In and through Jesus Christ all people are predestined to be saved.
Our free choice is ruled out in this regard. God wants free people, except in relation to this last and definitive decision. We are not free to decide and choose to be damned." "Being saved or lost does not depend on our own free decision. An explicit confession of Jesus Christ is not the condition for salvation. Salvation is always for everyone, by grace. All people are included in the grace of God. A theology of grace implies universal salvation."

(-- on Universal Salvation, by JACQUES ELLUL, 1912-1994)
Whatever time remains, let's see it through.

Once seen through, greet one another -- for God's sake.

Or don't. But, no more lies.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Michael quoted the Sword of Zorro. Anything outside the circle is not our business. I argued. What could possibly be outside our circle? It's all our business.
If one has realized
Oneness which alone is
And which alone has always been,
It cannot be described in words.
One can be That.
We loosely call it
For want of a better term.
- Ramana Maharshi (d. 1950)
What is not my "self"?

Perhaps illusion is fragmentary perception. We make a mistake when we think illusions aren't real. They are. But they are only partial sight. Like the illusionist's trick of drawing our attention to a particular spot of attention while outside our focus he is readying the manifestation of that of which we've been unaware.

The character in the novel remembers her father telling her: "Paint the picture you want him to see." (in Outsourced, novel by R.J. Hillhouse)

In the Course in Miracles tonight there was the following:
Salvation is undoing in the sense that it does nothing, failing to support the world of dreams and malice. Thus it lets illusions go. By not supporting them, it merely lets them go quietly go down to dust.
(--from Part II, 2. What is Salvation?, p.407)
In Peru four hundred years ago a young woman tried to let fall everything that was not God to her.
Her days were filled with acts of charity and industry, her exquisite lace and embroidery helping to support her home, while her nights were devoted to prayer and penance. When her work permitted, she retired to a little grotto which she had built, with her brother's aid, in their small garden, and there passed her nights in solitude and prayer. Overcoming the opposition of her parents, and with the consent of her confessor, she was allowed later to become practically a recluse in this cell, save for her visits to the Blessed Sacrament.
( --about St. Rose of Lima, Virgin, patroness of America, born at Lima, Peru 20 April, 1586; died there 30 August, 1617. Feast celebrated today)
The earth turns. The earth trembles. Damage and grief accompany.
The 8.0 magnitude quake that struck the coast of Peru on August 15 killed at least 500 people and left tens of thousands homeless. In a vast disaster area surrounding the cities of Pisco and Ica, the survivors, many of them living on the streets, are now desperately waiting for help. Over 34,000 houses were destroyed by the quake and several powerful aftershocks. The damage to the infrastructure is so severe that many relief efforts are hampered and remote mountain communities are cut off from assistance.
(--from International Medical Corps, Help the Survivors of Peru’s Earthquake! August 20, 2007)
There is no outside to the circle of life.

Here we are.

Calling on.



Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Let's call every American soldier, killed or still alive, 'Jack.' We'll call every Iraqi 'Karim.' We won't give names to mercenaries killed -- they're on their own, aren't they?

In Sitka, because they are fond of them,
People have named the seals. Every seal
is named Earl because they are killed one
after another by the orca, the killer
whale; seal bodies tossed left and right
into the air. "At least he didn't get
Earl," someone says. And sure enough,
after a time, that same friendly,
bewhiskered face bobs to the surface.
It's Earl again. Well, how else are you
to live except by denial, by some
palatable fiction, some little song to
sing while the inevitable, the black and
white blindsiding fact, comes hurtling
toward you out of the deep?
(Poem:"Earl" by Louis Jenkins, from North of the Cities. Will o' the Wisp Books, 2007.)
Jack, be nimble.

Karim, be quick.

At least they didn't get Jack. And Karim can still smile.

We'll ignore, a while, those blindsiding facts.

Where is an immaculate heart when one is needed?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A friend and I sat in the sun side of the shop late this afternoon. He said something about Iraq. I mentioned I thought the point of view praising US accomplishment there was nonsense.
One week after a series of truck bombs hit two poor villages near the Syrian border, the known casualty toll has soared to more than 500 dead and 1,500 wounded, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, making them by far the worst coordinated attacks since the American-led invasion.

Dr. Said Hakki, director of the society, said Tuesday that local Red Crescent workers registering families for aid after the explosions in Qahtaniya and Jazeera had compiled the new numbers, which dwarf the earlier estimates that at least 250 people were killed.

(--from, Toll in Iraq Bombings Is Raised to More Than 500, By DAMIEN CAVE and JAMES GLANZ, New York Times, Published: August 22, 2007)
At Buddhist conversation we read Shantideva with commentary by Pema Chodron.

We talked about anger. Teresa quoted Nin:
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
(--by Anais Nin )
To eliminate any one feeling jeopardizes them all. We're meant to feel all of it -- even if the world doesn't notice.
Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

(--Poem by W.H. Auden, 1940 )
Anyone else's suffering isn't spectacular to anyone else. Not for long, if it is.

Unless, of course, you care.

And if you care, it's yours.




Monday, August 20, 2007

I'm not interested in the idea of God.

Either God is or God is not. No amount of explanation or defense, rhetoric or apologetic satisfies. If God is; fine. If God is not; also fine.

Determining the shape of human society -- who's worthy and who's not, or what form of government is best reflective of the will of God -- has been an iffy, if not miserable, effort.

Another thing -- whether using God talk or in political analysis, puppet-metaphors and explanations based on puppetry, strings, or manipulation -- these modes fail to satisfy. I cannot comprehend the religious tension promulgated through history based on the question whether proper human action is dictated by God, or, human action is best determined by acuity of reason.

It seems God, church, believers, or state -- in their attempt to determine and control how human behavior should be in the face of the notion of God's revelation as to how human behavior should be -- have caused mischief and suffering, war and hatred in their haste to posit the source of salvation outside the person, place, or thing we know as the 'individual', or, the undivided.
The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes tried to find a way out of this labyrinth. Traditionally, political theology had interpreted a set of revealed divine commands and applied them to social life. In his great treatise “Leviathan” (1651), Hobbes simply ignored the substance of those commands and talked instead about how and why human beings believed God revealed them. He did the most revolutionary thing a thinker can ever do — he changed the subject, from God and his commands to man and his beliefs. If we do that, Hobbes reasoned, we can begin to understand why religious convictions so often lead to political conflicts and then perhaps find a way to contain the potential for violence.
Rousseau spoke of religion in terms of human needs, not divine truths, and had his Savoyard vicar declare, “I believe all particular religions are good when one serves God usefully in them.” For that, he was hounded by pious Christians.
...Hobbes’s iron law: Messianic theology eventually breeds messianic politics. The idea of redemption is among the most powerful forces shaping human existence in all those societies touched by the biblical tradition.
(--from The Politics of God, New York Times Magazine, Published: August 19, 2007. Mark Lilla is professor of the humanities at Columbia University. This essay is adapted from his book “The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics and the Modern West.”)
Here's what I hold as true:
  • silence is lovely.
  • breakfast is gift.
  • water is life.
  • companionship is best when free of cant. (main entry 6, noun, in Merriam-Webster online)
  • walks and naps are de rigueur.
We need to spare one another from religious or spiritual encumbrance. Also political claptrap invoking deity and specialized moral imperative.

I opt for clear thinking and inclusive consideration of each being's well being.
Devote yourself to Absolute Emptiness;
Contemplate earnestly in Quiescence.
All things are together in Action,
But I look into their Non-action,
For things are continuously moving, restless,
Yet each is proceeding back to its origin.
Proceeding back to the origin means Quiescence.
To be in Quiescence is to see Being-for-itself.
- Lao tzu
If I shut up now...

Will you?

If I open up now...

Will we?

William Carlos Williams summarized his poetic method in the phrase "No ideas but in things" (from his 1944 poem "A Sort of a Song").
A Sort of a Song

Let the snake wait under
his weed
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait,
-- through metaphor to reconcile
the people and the stones.
Compose. (No ideas
but in things) Invent!
Saxifrage is my flower that splits
the rocks.

(--Poem by William Carlos Williams)
Particulars, he said. A poetry of particulars.
His familiar, repeated tag phrase 'no ideas but in things' means that statements grow from, and report back to, local particulars. 'The Poet and His Poems' (1939) strings together several slogans until it arrives at this:
It should
be a song - made of
particulars, wasps,
a gentian - something
immediate, open
scissors, a lady's
eyes - the particulars
of a song waking
upon a bed of sound.
Surprise, specificity, ordinariness, new aural shapes, a bit of household detritus: such a verse-manifesto portrays much of what Williams tried to do. It attempts, too, to show order emerging from a neglected realm - the emergence, not the final synthesis.

(--from London Review of Books, Vol. 24 No. 5,dated 7 March 2002 , "Chicory and Daisies," by Stephen Burt)
Let's be particular about one another.

Let's be particular about God.

Compose this way.

Each day.

A way.

Of life.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I'm thinking about death.

The simplest of bridges, a promise
that you will go forward,

that you can come back.
So you cross over.

It says you can come back.
So you go forward.

But even if you come back
then you must go forward.

I am always either going back
or coming forward. There is always

something I have to carry,
something I leave behind.

I am a figure in a logic problem,
standing on one shore

with the things I cannot leave,
looking across at what I cannot have.

(--Poem: "Girder" by Nan Cohen, from Rope Bridge. Cherry Grove Collection.
There's not much else to say about death.

Except, like the comic, I hope not to be there when it happens.

Not being there -- that's another way of saying self diminishes.

I don't quite feel anywhere.

Am I dead yet?