Saturday, January 23, 2010

We're mistaken.

When we realize our absence, we'll want to return.

Only presence is no mistake.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nothing else.



God is.
Bird tracks among towering snow clad peaks;
With the master's passing away,
Who will embody Ch'an?
Dust on the table has gathered
Since he entered Nirvana;
The color of the trees is different
From the time when he was alive.
The storied pagoda faces the wind
Blowing through the pines;
Traces of his presence linger
By the deserted spring. I sigh only for the tiger listening to sutras,
As time and again it comes by the side
Of the dilapidated hermitages.

- Chia Tao (779-843)
If you wish to know God, know what God knows.

What does God know?

I don't know.

Know yourself.

God helps us.

Who knows...


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Icy roads. Men with nefarious plans. Corporations spending their will on legalized bribery.

Count on nature to run its course.
What's white is cloud, and blue, mountain.
Carefree, she enjoys noble leisure.
The crane nesting in the pine tree,
In the world outside,
Is her only companion,
Oblivious to time passing.

--Daegak Euchon (1055-1101)
Step by step things find their way creating place.

But that was yesterday.

And as we know, yesterday's gone.

Unless, of course, you know something... I don't.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How lovely
the snow up-
on the mountain!
Not a single soul
Knows why he is born
Or his real dwelling place;
We go back to our origin,
We become earth again.

- Ikkyu (1394-1481)
At origin
we are in-

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Heads roll. Democrats lose Massachusetts. Maybe they'll find a backbone. Republicans put some concrete into their cackle.

Late night TV is awash with multimillionaire comedians trying to find better hours for their trade. Health Care Reform, deformed over the past few months -- forget it being about people and care -- becomes again an assassin's bullet aiming for anyone in favor of it.

The Trappist monk was right: "Cheer up," he said, "things are only going to get worse." He wasn't being gloomy. Seeing absurdity he calls it absurdity.

It's time to go to the mattresses. Put on a pot for spaghetti. It might pass. If we wait long enough.
Everything is quiet, and the night is clear:
The perfect time to raise your pillow
And cultivate your mind.
The shadow of a cold lonely lamp
On the pine window,
And the sound of leaves falling
In the windy yard.
The forest stream flowing
Around the beams stirs
A noble taste
And the birds flitting
By the door are the friends
Of my calm heart.
After long wandering, I settled
At Hongryun Temple;
The splendor of the world
Weighs less than a grain of straw.

- Daegak Euchon (1055-1101)
The 360 degree spin out today in slick fresh snow doing 33mph ending slamming backwards into snowbank between two trees, not hitting either of them, then starting engine again, pulling out, driving home -- reminds me that not all accidents are accidents. Not a scrape on car nor myself. The snow continues to fall.
The Song

It still makes sense
to know the song after all.

My wiseness I wear
in despair of something better.

I am all beggar,
I am all ears.

Soon everything will be sold
and I can go back home

by myself again
and try to be a man.

(Poem by Robert Creeley)
Maybe we are alone. It's not a problem. We seem to be frightened to be alone. The monastic wording is: To be alone with the Alone. The "Alone" doesn't want company -- rather, it is sufficient to be in the company of none other.

Unity, someone said, not union.

It's a hard distinction for us. We hear it. Still...
It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can't sing
I can't help listening

(--from "For a Dancer," lyrics by Jackson Browne)
Sure, we're one family. But we easily forget. And, sure, we're members of a community. but we still prefer to consider ourselves superior or better or more in the know. That we obscure our true nature and veil the longings of our hearts seems part of the price of admission to this desolate time.

Mostly, though, we are alone.
And yet, and yet, and yet...
Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don't let the uncertainty turn you around
(the world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound

(--Browne, ibid)
I greet you there.

Even if the sound is silence.

Go on ahead, make it!

"Alone" is not what we think it is.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm grateful for Martin Luther King Jr.'s gifts to this culture. I like the fact that he was persistent, courageous, skillful, and flawed. I'm ok with flaws. I've several. Martin Luther King was exactly the way he was, did extraordinary things, and helped diminish the unkindness and blinding prejudice permeating our society and rotting our psyche.
If you break open
The cherry tree,
There is not a single flower.
But the skies of spring
Bring forth the blossoms!

- Ikkyu (1394-1481)
Where is Martin now? If you say, "He's dead," or "He's still alive," you are right, but partially. If you say, "He is in heaven," you are again only partially right. If you suggest, "He's in the ground, nowhere else," you are still only half right.

In the photo on Huffington Post, Martin is linked-arms with Dr. Benjamin Spock on one of the marches, (Eunice Kennedy and Rosie Greer alongside). It occurs to me, in that Ben Spock used to attend silent sittings at our shop the year before his passing, that through his handshake and presence, Saskia and I have been "in touch" with Dr King.

Martin is hic et nunc, here and now: alive/dead, heaven/ground. He's where we least suspect.
In its physical reality there is only the total system; as far as its real operations and structure, all and each of the psychic notes are “of” the organic notes, and each one of the organic notes is a note “of” the psychic notes. Therefore, man does not “have” psyche and organism, but “is” psycho-organic, because neither organism nor psyche, each by itself, has any substantivity; only the system has it. Because of this I think we cannot talk about a psyche without an organism. Let us say in passing, that when Christianity for example, talks about surviving and immortality the one that survives and is immortal is not the soul, but man, that is, the whole human substantivity. Anything else is not of faith. Man is not psyche “and” organism, but rather his psyche is formally and constitutively “psyche-of” this organism, and this organism is formally and constitutively “organism-of” this psyche. The psyche is organic by itself and the organism is psychic by itself. This moment of the “of” is numerically “identical” in the psyche and the organism, furthermore it incorporates a “physical” characteristic. This numerical and physical identity of the “of” is what formally constitutes the systematic unity of human substantivity. It is a structural unity; structure is precisely and formally the unity of an “of” in its notes. Hence, human substantivity {108} is “one” by itself and from itself. The moments of this substantive system codetermine each other, but not as potency and act (as the Aristotelians might put it) of a hylomorphic substantial unity, but as realities in act and ex aequo whose codetermination consists in each being “of” all the rest. The “of” is a unity of the metaphysical type superior to the unity of potency and act. Moreover, in this “of” not only the radical unity of human substantivity consists, but also the very sameness during its entire life, a sameness that is entirely different from the numerical persistence of all the notes, something perfectly inexistent. Consequently, man is a psychorganic substantivity.
(MAN AND HIS BODY, by XAVIER ZUBIRI, From ESCRITOS MENORES (1953-1983), Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 2006, pp. 103-116, (Original article El hombre y su cuerpo, appeared in the journal Asclepio, No. 25, 1973, pp. 9-19), Translated by Joaquín A. Redondo, M.E., M.A. (Phil.) 2008)
The snow in Maine this morning is light and nearing 4-6 inches. I finish nailing off the wood ceiling on 2nd floor of bookshed. Rokie is relentlessly dropping tennis ball under chair in Wohnkuche. I'm growing adept at tossing it across kitchen up through louvered doors on far upper wall and through to upstairs hallway. It's a necessary skill to occupy the Border Collie. (Oops...I missed. Three for seven now! ... Four for fifteen -- just like my sandlot batting average -- 'adept' was, as usual, inaccurate.)
The Edges Of Time

It is at the edges
that time thins.
Time which had been
dense and viscous
as amber suspending
intentions like bees
unseizes them. A
humming begins,
apparently coming
from stacks of
put–off things or
just in back. A
racket of claims now,
as time flattens. A
glittering fan of things
competing to happen,
brilliant and urgent
as fish when seas

(Poem, The Edges of Time, by Kay Ryan)
I climb Tom's ladder to dust blades of overhead fan. It stops wobbling.

Bald Mountain is serene in white snow across the way. Chickadee take seed. Cape Breton dory rower keeps his back to the wind atop vane. The pain in my head abates. It is all a matter of time and earth.

It is a good pericope for Martin -- "brilliant and urgent."

No retreat!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I wonder where we think we are? I wonder what we think we are doing here?
No worldly dust in Chongmyung Temple,
Among the clean mountains and streams.
A monk whose hair is turning grey
Lives there, forgetting the din of the world.

Daegak Euchon (1055-1101)
It's hard to forget the din of the world, even if some suggest doing so in the name of a disengaging spiritual purity pretending we are not living in this illusory madness called by many "the world." But here we live. I suspect our task is not to blink twice, tap our heels, and set off to a home free from the suffering and chaos of the world, landing in a heavon of transcendence and reward for our cleverness. While here, our task is to be here.
“There are thefts everywhere,” said Joel Querette, 23, a college student camped out at a park near the airport. “People have guns and knives, and they are stealing and looting the stores.”

As night fell, the police brought a man to Pétionville in the back of a pickup and informed a gathering crowd that he had been caught looting in another neighborhood, witnesses said. While the police officers stood by, an angry mob pulled the man from the truck.

The mob stripped the accused looter, then began beating him. They dragged him up the street while pummeling him, then threw him on a trash heap, where he lay vomiting and bleeding.

One man began piling trash on top of him and set it on fire. As the firelight flickered on an art gallery and a church on opposite sides of the street, dozens gathered to watch the man burn to death.

(--from, Looting Flares Where Authority Breaks Down, By SIMON ROMERO and MARC LACEY, Published: January 16, 2010, NY Times)
Does he get beaten and burned to death because he was looting? Or, because some misguided impulse of vigilantly justice says he has transgressed the ethos of earthquake survival wherein you are guiltless until the police say you are bait for the desperation of traumatized frenzy?

Ce coeur obsédant, qui ne correspond
Pas à mon langage ou à mes costumes
Et sur lequel mordent, comme un crampon,
Des sentiments d’emprunt et des coutumes
D’Europe, sentez-vous cette souffrance
Et ce désespoir à nul autre égal
D’apprivoiser, avec des mots de France,
Ce coeur qui m’est venu du Sénégal?

—Léon Laleau


This unrelenting heart, whose rhythm suits
Neither my language nor my clothing
And into which bite, like jaws of a trap,
Borrowed sentiments and European
Customs—Do you feel this suffering
This despair unlike any other
Of domesticating, with words from France,
This heart that came to me from Senegal?

( Poem by Léon Laleau (1892-19??) who was a Haitian diplomat, intellectual and poet.)
And then:

Nouveau sermon nègre (extrait)

Ils ont craché sur Ta Face noire

Seigneur, notre ami, notre camarade

Toi qui écartas du visage de la prostituée

Comme un rideau de roseaux ses longs cheveux sur la source de ses larmes

Ils ont fait

les riches les pharisiens les propriétaires fonciers les banquiers

Ils ont fait de l’homme saignant le dieu sanglant

Oh Judas ricane

Oh Judas ricane:

Christ entre deux voleurs comme une flamme déchirée au sommet du monde

Allumait la révolte des esclaves

Mais Christ aujourd’hui est dans la maison des voleurs

Et ses bras déploient dans les cathédrales l’ombre étendue du vautour

Et dans les caves des monastères le prêtre compte les interêts des trente deniers

Et les clochers des églises crachent la mort sur les multitudes affamées

Nous ne leur pardonnerons pas, car ils savent ce qu’ils font

Ils ont lynché John qui organisait le syndicat

Ils l’ont chassé comme un loup hagard avec des chiens à travers bois

Ils l’ont pendu en riant au tronc du vieux sycomore

Non, frères, camarades

Nous ne prierons plus

Notre révolte s’élève comme le cri de l’oiseau de tempête au-dessus du clapotement pourri des marécages

Nous ne chanterons plus les tristes spirituals désespérés

Un autre chant jaillit de nos gorges

Nous déployons nos rouges drapeaux

Tachés du sang de nos justes

Sous ce signe nous marcherons

Sous ce signe nous marchons

Debout les damnés de la terre

Debout les forçats de la faim.

Jacques Roumain

A New Black Sermon (excerpt)

They have spit on the blackness of Your Face,

Lord, our friend, our comrade,

You who parted the locks of the prostitute's face

Like a curtain of reeds covering the spring of her tears

They have made

the rich the pharisees the landowners the bankers

They have made of the bleeding man the bloodthirsty god

Oh, Judas, laugh,

Oh, Judas, laugh,

Christ between two thieves like a torn flame at the height of the world

Set fire to the slaves' revolt

But Christ is today in the house of the thieves

And his arms spread out like the vast wings of a vulture in the cathedrals

And the priest in the monastery's winecellar counts the interest on thirty pieces of silver

And the church steeples spit death onto the famished multitudes

We will not pardon them, for they know what they do

They have lynched John who organized the trade union

They hunted him with dogs like a weary wolf in the woods

Laughing they hung him from the old sycamore's trunk

No, brothers, comrades,

We will pray no more

Our revolt rises up like the cry of the storm bird over the lapping waters of the stinking swamps

We will no longer sing our despairing spirituals

A different song springs from our mouth

We will spread our red flags

Stained with the blood of our just

Under this banner we will march

Under this banner we are marching

Arise ye wretched of the earth

Arise ye prisoners of starvation

Jacques Roumain (1907-1944) was a Haitian intellectual and author. As a founder of the Haitian Communist Party, he was imprisoned early in his career for his political activities, then became active in the government after the end of the American occupation of Haiti
(--from, Oregon Literary Review, Vol. 2, No.1, Winter/Spring 2007)
The belly of the Mother known as Earth has shaken loose the world's attention on a small, very poor, island to the southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, and attached to the Dominican Republic.
The two small nations are linked by geography and destiny. They share the island of Hispaniola and have similar histories of tyrannical governments and foreign invasions.

Yet a gulf of historical resentment and prejudice divides them. Even today, Haiti's occupation of Santo Domingo during the 19th century is still a source of mistrust.

But after the apocalyptic devastation and death inflicted on Haiti by the quake, the historical mistrust has given way among many Dominicans - both on the island and in New York - to an overwhelming sense of pained solidarity.

"We are family; we are brothers and sisters. We live side by side," a middle-aged Dominican woman in Washington Heights told Univision, the Spanish language TV network. "We have to lend a hand, to help in any way we can."
Although Dominican President Leonel Fernández has offered aid to Haiti, his military has been sent to the border to halt desperate refugees from crossing.

(--from, Earthquake closes gulf between Haiti and Dominican Republic, ALBOR RUIZ - NY LOCAL, Sunday, January 17th 2010, 4:00 AM, NY Daily News, 17Jan2010)
A televangelist fundamentalist preacher, Pat Robinson, has suggested the suffering and earthquake was a result of "a pact with the devil" made by Haiti to get free from France, the colonial power of the time. It could be the ramblings of demented belief.
The native leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines – long an ally and general of Toussaint l'Ouverture – defeated French troops led by Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau, at the Battle of Vertières. At the end of the double battle for emancipation and independence, former slaves proclaimed the independence of Saint-Domingue on 1 January 1804,[20] declaring the new nation be named Haïti, to honor one of the indigenous Taíno names for the island. Haiti is the only nation born of a slave revolt. [14] Historians have estimated the slave rebellion resulted in the death of 100,000 blacks and 24,000 of the 40,000 white colonists.
(--from Wikipedia, Haiti)
We sometimes don't know what we are saying or doing nor why we say or do it.

I grieve this ignorance.

I grieve the man burned to death in a street between a church and an art gallery. And all who suffer the shaking earth.

Enter the heart.

Dispel false notions.

Oremus pro invicem -- which translates, Let us pray for each other.
The Zen Master said, "Just like this," when asked for a definition of truth.

The poet places it here:
Seeker of Truth
seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here
(Poem by E.E. Cummings)

It's late. And dark.

There are, however, quiet illuminations. Scratches like guest animal/rodent in walls.

Like truth.

For the time/being

So it is.