Saturday, October 27, 2007

Philosophy doesn't answer questions. It merely questions.

Spirituality doesn't ensure holiness. It simply asks: Who are you?

Jesus doesn't think the question so many ask is that important -- namely, whether someone has accepted him as their personal lord and savior. He'd rather they accept themselves.

That's the truth.
The buddhas and Zen masters of all times and places have emerged only on account of search for truth. Present day seekers are also in search of truth. Only when you attain truth will you be done; until you have attained it, you will repeat your former ways.
- Lin Chi (d 867?)
And the truth, they say, sets us free.

First, it seems, we have to wrestle.

With it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Woman at shop looking at full moon says: "With this beauty, how could anyone think of war?"
In the still night by the vacant window,
Wrapped in monk’s robe I sit in meditation.
Navel and nostrils lines up straight;
Ears paired to the slope of the shoulders.
Window whitens – the moon comes up;
Rain’s stopped, but drops go on dripping.
Wonderful – the moon of this moment,
Distant, vast.

- Ryokan (1758–1831)
The men who think of war, who plan and inch toward another horrible incursion, have been lying about beauty.

That's what war is.

It is a lie.

A lie told beauty.

Making everything feel ugly.

As sin.







Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rowing skiff from dock in Rockport, passing between Indian Island and Beauchamp shore, out around coastline past lobster buoys, oak leaves, whitecaps, and swells, three and a half hours later between Curtis Island and Camden's shoreline, into harbor slipping by Richard's green boat, tie up, step to dock.

She is like white clouds rising from the mountains,
No-mind from the start.
She is like the roosting bird who feels no longing
For the woods of home.
Because this person of the Way happens to enjoy
The mountains and streams,
She wanders among them unconcerned about how deep
Into the lakeside mountain peaks she goes.
She has gone to the empty cliffs to pay respect to
The hundred thousand forms of the Buddha.

- Su Dongpo (1037–1101)

No time on water. Just dip, pull, lean, stroke, straighten, pause. Then all again.

Let's just try to tell one another something vital.

I will try to say who I am.

You too.

Be still.


Know that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The job is to be attentive.
It is the one who is without obsession who is noble. Just do not act in a contrived manner; simply be normal. When you go searching elsewhere outside yourself, your whole approach is already mistaken. You just try to seek buddhahood, but buddhahood is just a name, an expression. Do you know the one who is doing the searching?
- Lin Chi (d 867?)
Do you care to listen?

No defense needed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The world is far stranger than our perception or even our idea of it.

If we lead by aggression we will find ourselves in the fierce complexities of hell. If we follow the way of humility we will understand the simplicity of heaven.
Natural mind like the Autumn moon
Reflected on a clear jade lake.
Nothing like it
How to explain it?

- Han Shan (627–649)
It seems the stony minds and hearts of angry arrogant men will take the road to hell and drag the rest of us with them. (Cheer up, the monk told me, things are only going to get worse.) If we are going to hell, we might as well make the most of it. Hell needs cheerful people alongside the gleeful cynics who think they're going to be rewarded by some god for bringing about the desolation of earth and humanity. They are deluded. God has become human as earth has become the apparel of God. This is a joyful circularity not comprehended by ideological true believers who practice exclusion and derision.

At the moment, the world is asleep, suffering the dreams of humanity, which have become a nightmare of desecration and pollution. In our hubris we have forgotten that the world is more than our collective projections, that it is more mysterious and strange than our rational minds would like us to believe. Quantum physics has revealed a fluid and unpredictable world, in which consciousness and matter are not separate -- whether a photon of light behaves as a particle or wave depends upon the consciousness of the observer. But we remain within the images of Newtonian physics: matter that is dead, definable, and solid, and consciousness that is objective, safely divorced from the physical world. Matter and spirit remain split, and we continue in the patriarchal fantasy that we can have control over our world.

As we have already seen, the physical world was not always experienced as so isolated. Many cultures have been more concerned with the relationship between the worlds. In the medieval imagination the physical world was just one part of the Great Chain of Being. Medieval cathedrals imaged a symbolic and geometric relationship between the different parts, with the maze that symbolized our journey through this world, mirroring the rose window’s image of a higher reality of light. In the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabî, the worlds were seen as connected by the symbolic world of the imagination, which acts as a bridge or an “intermediary between the world of Mystery (‘alam al-ghayb) and the world of Visibility (‘alam al-shahadat).”

In their retorts and crucibles the alchemists were working not just with chemical substances but also with the inner energies of life. Their symbolic writings describe both the mixture of tinctures and the marriage of the king and queen, the union of sun and moon. The alchemists took their work seriously, knowing the real responsibility involved. They knew that they were working with a secret substance in life, “mercury” or “quicksilver,” a catalyst that can transform whatever it touches. The way their chemicals changed and transformed imaged how life can be changed with the correct mixture of ingredients. They knew that matter and spirit are not separate. Modern science is now revealing the same thing to us. Yet how the inner and outer worlds relate, and how our consciousness affects the physical world, remain for us still a great mystery.

Once we surrender our safe concept of a separate, static, and defined world, we open to a more dynamic reality in which life is an energy field with which our consciousness and unconscious interact: a pulsating Indra’s Net being continually woven by the soul, through which our consciousness takes on form, our dreams come into being.

(from article by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, "Anima Mundi: Awakening the Soul of the World", Published in Sufi Journal, Issue 67, Autumn 2005)
Sophists who claim certitude and prescience about divine deterioration of this world are busy gloating and mocking anyone not on board with them. They are unutterably fixated in their monomaniacal control and possession of the world and its resources. There is no coming home for them. They are far away from their source.

What is needed is a transforming view of this earth, this creation we name matter and humankind. The belief that this world is a mistake must be challenged. The belief that matter is antithetical to divinity must be challenged. The belief that this world is evil and bad must be challenged. These beliefs, and the men holding them, are dangerous. They are dangerous and they are misguided.

We need to know the mysteries of creation as celebrated in the most sacred text of the alchemists, the Emerald Tablet, attributed to Hermes Trismegistos:

"What is below is like that which is above, and what is above is like that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the one thing."
The light hidden in matter is the one light experienced within the mystery of creation, the hidden treasure revealed through the dance of multiplicity. The creation of the manifest world is a revelation of the hidden nature of the divine, as expressed in the hadith, “I was a hidden treasure and I longed to be known, so I created the world.” But we can only experience the wonder and know the true nature of this revelation through the light hidden within it. Just as He has hidden His secret within us -- “Man is My secret and I am his secret”-- so has He hidden Himself within His creation. Sometimes, in moments amidst the beauty or glory of nature, in the vastness of the stars or the perfection of the early morning dew on a flower, we glimpse this wonder. The light hidden in matter breaks through and we stand in awe before our Creator, as reflected in the words of the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins:
"The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil."
Through this light we can awaken to the divine nature of life and experience the real beauty of His revelation. There is only one light -- “as above so below” -- and yet in His creation He reveals Himself in a way that is not revealed by His transcendent light, the Lumen Dei. What is true for the Creator is also true for us who are “made in His image.” The light that is discovered in the depths of the psyche, through the work on the shadow and the inner alchemical opus, reveals part of our divine nature that is hidden from a purely transcendent consciousness. We come to know ourself and our Beloved in a new way. For each of us this revelation is unique. Part of the wonder of creation is how she offers a different experience to each of us; even the same apple tasted by two people will be a different experience. Through His light we can see life as it really is, in the uniqueness of our own experience of it and not just through the veils of our projections, and so taste the divine uniqueness of each moment. At the same time we experience this uniqueness as part of a greater oneness. We see the threads that connect together all of life; we see how each part reflects the whole.

"Whoever can’t see the whole in every part plays at blind man’s bluff;
A wise man tastes the Tigris in every sip." (
Ghalib) (--ibid, Vaughan-Lee)

At essay end Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee quotes poet e.e.cummings awakening us to the simple joy of what is:
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

(19 E.E Cummings, Selected Poems 1923-1958, “i thank You God for most this amazing.”)
Night Prayer ends this way this Tuesday:
Let us pray.
Of your kindness, Lord, dispel the darkness of this night, so that we your servants may go to sleep in peace and wake to the light of the new day, rejoicing in your name.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

May the almighty Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.
Let's not go to hell with the hell-goers, unless, of course, it is to visit there to bring back all those not wanting to be there.

That would be heavenly!

Right here.

On earth.


As it is.

In heaven.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I've been reading about Colonel Ted Westhusing.

Op-Ed Columnist Frank Rich introduced his story to me. ("Suicide Is Not Painless", NYTimes Published: October 21, 2007,

The story is reminiscent of Socrates.

What is it about virtue and deceiving greed in the battleground of this world?

The most articulated value in Greek culture is areté. Translated as "virtue," the word actually means something closer to "being the best you can be," or "reaching your highest human potential." The term from Homeric times onwards is not gender specific. Homer applies the term of both the Greek and Trojan heroes as well as major female figures, such as Penelope, the wife of the Greek hero, Odysseus. In the Homeric poems, areté is frequently associated with bravery, but more often, with effectiveness. The man or woman of areté is a person of the highest effectiveness; they use all their faculties: strength, bravery, wit, and deceptiveness, to achieve real results. In the Homeric world, then, areté involves all of the abilities and potentialities available to humans. We can, through the frequent use of this term in Homer's poems, make some tentative conclusions about the early Greek world view. The concept implies a human-centered universe in which human actions are of paramount importance; the world is a place of conflict and difficulty, and human value and meaning is measured against individual effectiveness in the world. (--by Richard Hooker,
When the Christ-Reality became human, something shifted in the ontological realm of existence. And yet, the epistemological realm remained dull and uncomprehending. We couldn't see the change. Still can't.

When believers of particular religious doctrines emphasize that all people have to do is accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior, they are advocating an affirmation that bypasses the epistemological realm and settles into the realm of dogmatic belief. This might be a comforting bypass (knowing and knowledge being oftentimes so troubling) -- still, there's something elemental about wanting to know. Aristotle began his Metaphysics with the words: "ALL men by nature desire to know."

While there were some odd details about his death, the Army's investigation quickly concluded that it was a suicide. An Army psychologist who looked into Westhusing's case concluded that despite his superior intellect, his ability to accept the fact that some Americans were only in Iraq for the money was "surprisingly limited. He could not shift his mindset from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses."
(--from 'I Am Sullied – No More', Col. Ted Westhusing chose death over dishonor in Iraq, by Robert Bryce, in The Austin Chronicle," )

Belief is not knowledge. Nor is knowledge faith. To know is to be. When we know, really know, it has nothing necessarily to do with head or brain. To know is to embody what is known.

A display of intellectual knowledge is very often used as a substitute for the act of incarnational manifestation.

Mahatma Gandhi, when asked: What do you think of Christianity? Did you consider becoming a Christian? responded:

Please do not flatter yourselves with the belief that a mere recital of that celebrated verse in St. John makes a man Christian. If I have read the Bible correctly, I know many men who have never known the name of Jesus Christ, men who have even rejected the official interpretations of Christianity, but would nevertheless, if Jesus came in our midst today in the flesh, be probably owned by him more than many of us. My position is that it does not matter what faith you practice, as long as the soul longs for truth.
(--Derived from Millie Graham Polak's book Gandhi, The Man. by Jyotsna Kamat)
Something breaks through into existence, this bodily existence, when longing for what is true reaches throughout.

Gaston Bachelard, the French philosopher, wrote about "epistemological rupture."

Epistemology, from the Greek words episteme (knowledge) and logos (word/speech) is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature, origin and scope of knowledge. Rupture, from Old French ""rupture"" or Latin ""ruptura"" is defined as an instance of breaking or bursting suddenly and completely, as well as a breach of a harmonious link in a figurative way.

The notion of epistemological rupture was introduced by Gaston Bachelard. He proposed that the history of science is replete with "epistemological obstacles"--or unthought/unconscious structures that were immanent within the realm of the sciences, such as principles of division (e.g. mind/body). The history of science, Bachelard asserted, consisted in the formation and establishment of these epistemological obstacles, and then the subsequent tearing down of the obstacles. This latter stage is an epistemological rupture--where an unconscious obstacle to scientific thought is thoroughly ruptured or broken away.
(-- from,, )
There's a terrible torture to not being able to stomach the non-virtuous behavior of companions in war, military, business, corporations, schools, monasteries, governments, marriages, and on the streets of our neighborhoods. The idea of virtue is so attractive. Yet, men and women, all of us, disappointingly fall short of any ideal. Some don't even bother to glance in the direction of virtue.

"Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris."

(Now this bell tolling softly for another,
says to me, Thou must die
(--from John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, MEDITATION XVII.)
This beautiful October day in Maine, full of warmth and color, is gift.

I think of Col. Ted Westhusing and enter prayer with him. With and for all of us.

Maybe, soon, truth will be "immanent within the realm."


We will know.

And be.




Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Holy Spirit is that which is between us,

Without rehearsal, without script, without precedent.

Surprise! The intelligence and revelation of each situation in and of itself.
Far, faraway, steep mountain paths,
Treacherous and narrow, ten thousand feet up;
Over boulders and bridges, lichens of green,
White clouds are often seen soaring,
A cascade suspends in mid-air like a bolt of silk;
The moon’s reflection falls on a deep pool, glittering.
I shall climb up the magnificent mountain peak,
To await the arrival of a solitary crane.

- Shide (8th century)
Union with -- communion -- is the middle wholeness we've come to call the Holy Spirit.

We must not separate ourselves from what-is between us.

Only speak truth through silence.