Saturday, December 03, 2011

Coming to: ad venire; 7

If Christ were to appear, silence would no longer seem to permeate everything, silence would be everything.

Who would consider breaking silence?

Once, when we knew nothing about silence, we broke it. Scattered shards of words, billions beyond billions of splintered syllables, fell pell mell to ground covering pure insight with unfocused debris of echolalic tintinnabulation masquerading as approximate meaning.

Cacophony came to be the noise of our cracked communication. And we became Man. And dwelt in the caustic chat of the unsound.
you shall above all things be glad and young

you shall above all things be glad and young
For if you're young,whatever life you wear

it will become you;and if you are glad
whatever's living will yourself become.
Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:
i can entirely her only love

whose any mystery makes every man's
flesh put space on;and his mind take off time

that you should ever think,may god forbid
and (in his mercy) your true lover spare:
for that way knowledge lies,the foetal grave
called progress,and negation's dead undoom.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

(poem by ee cummings)
A man in prison yesterday sang German lyrics from Schiller and Handel, his melodious bass draping the table with thick wool warmth in the center of chill cinderblock surround. His dazzling conversational wit and learning enough to frighten away. I was charmed. What trouble is sure to follow!

He spoke of the sweetness of seeing. How those who see will not cease presenting the seen to the unseeing. A missionary of the apparent, this wandering Jew arrived like some brooding Sephardim Eli Wiesel creation fallen from esoteric Nubian pages out of Legends of Our Time.

Are we still interested in looking for Christ?

It is useless.

We are being looked through.



the great advantage of being alive

the great advantage of being alive
(instead of undying) is not so much
that mind no more can disprove than prove
what heart may feel and soul may touch
--the great(my darling)happens to be
that love are in we,that love are in we

and here is a secret they never will share
for whom create is less than have
or one times one than when times where--
that we are in love,that we are in love:
with us they've nothing times nothing to do
(for love are in we am in i are in you)

this world(as timorous itsters all
to call their cowardice quite agree)
shall never discover our touch and feel
--for love are in we are in love are in we;
for you are and i am and we are(above
and under all possible worlds)in love

a billion brains may coax undeath
from fancied fact and spaceful time--
no heart can leap,no soul can breathe
but by the sizeless truth of a dream
whose sleep is the sky and the earth and the sea.
For love are in you am in i are in we

(poem by e. e. cummings)
Love is neither the answer nor the question.

Rather, love is the phenome/phoneme of silence in its selfsame original dwelling within...what is...all that is.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Coming to: ad venire; 6

One creation, many corrections.

Something in last night's Course in Miracles conversation at the hermitage brought home a 30 year riddle posed by a couple in Saco correcting my statement beginning with "We create..." with their "God creates, man invents."

I chewed on that these years until last night. Ellen was saying something about creating and the dusty riddle appeared, looked at me, and asked: Ready yet?

There's only one creation-- and this is it, we are it. We, in turn, take what is created and invent ways and doodads, fancy replications and unique objects-- whether from materials or colors or words.

Paul and Kerry would be unsurprised to know it took me all these years to get their words from that 2nd floor office overlooking fields of children living away from home. They thought, even then, 'Nice enough fellow, a little slow,' and they were right.

The Course says this:
What is a Miracle ?

A miracle is a correction. It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness. Thus it stays within time’s limits. Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love’s awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it gives.

A miracle contains the gift of grace, for it is given and received as one. And thus it illustrates the law of truth the world does not obey, because it fails entirely to understand its ways. A miracle inverts perception which was upside-down before, and thus it ends the strange distortions that were manifest. Now is perception open to the truth. Now is forgiveness seen as justified.

Forgiveness is the home of miracles. The eyes of Christ deliver them to all they look upon in mercy and in love. Perception stands corrected in His sight, and what was meant to curse has come to bless. Each lily of forgiveness offers all the world the silent miracle of love. And each is laid before the Word of God upon the universal altar to Creator and creation, in the Light of perfect purity and endless joy.

The miracle is taken first on faith, because to ask for it implies the mind has been made ready to conceive of what it cannot see and does not understand. Yet faith will bring its witnesses to show that what it rested on is really there. And thus the miracle will justify your faith in it, and show it rested on a world more real than what you saw before; a world redeemed from what you thought you saw.

Miracles fall like drops of healing rain from Heaven on a dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures came to die. Now they have water. Now the world is green. And everywhere the signs of life spring up, to show that what is born can never die, for what has life has immortality.
(from ACIM)
Throw in a response to the unasked question: "What is the now?" and the response embedded above is: " 'Now' is perception open to the truth. 'Now' is forgiveness seen as justified."

We are created as one. All of us. Everything. Nothing outside. Nothing beyond.

When we do 'go beyond' we see this truth -- there's nothing there -- all is here, each and all included. When that 'nothing' is fully experienced an enlightenment takes place with the realization that wholeness is all there is and that even nothing is included. The experience of nothing is the awakening that something and nothing are not two things-- one is the other, the

But without this touch of nothingness in our lives our perceptions remain incomplete and wander off into dichotomy and fragmentation, judgments of separation and belief in the detachment of one thing from the other, one people from other people. Our whole belief in the current dissociative insanity of modern life, political state, and religious exceptualism is based on our inaccurate perception and inauthentic belief.

Something sweeter and more loving, kinder and simpler awaits our entering into it. One could say 'God' awaits our arrival at nothing-other than God.

The miracle is a correction, not a change. We've never left the one creation we are. When our perceptions to the contrary find their correction, finding their way back from wrong-turning thought and misdirected-actions through nothing-doing, we stand corrected, returning to our source-being as who-we-are, here, and now.

One creation; many corrections.

When Saskia comes down, I ask her, without her knowing what I am writing, for a last line. She says:
"Upon awakening there's sadness realizing a whole generation is gone and I arrive downstairs to burning candles, hint of incense, and sacred sounds enveloping ancestry."

Thursday, December 01, 2011

To a Quaker minister

Thank you,
For helping us
With silence to
Voice our love

Coming to: ad venire; 5

Thanks. To November. Welcome December. Ninth meets tenth under effective guise of eleven and twelve.
By John Repp

The first year, I grated potatoes, chopped onions
& watched. The second year, I fed all but the eggs

into the machine & said I'll do the latkes & did,
my pile of crisp delights borne to the feast by the wife

who baffled me, our books closed, banter hushed,
money useless in the apartment—house, my in-laws called it,

new-wave thump at one end, ganja reek at the other—
in which she'd knelt to tell the no one who listened

no more no no more no a three-year-old mouthing
the essential prayer. The uncle made rich by a song

stacked three & dug in, talking critics & Koch—
everyone crunching now, slathering applesauce, slurping tea—

talking Rabin & Mehitabel, radio & Durrell,
how a song is a poem or it isn't a song

& vice-versa. Done, he pointed a greasy finger
at me, said You can't be a goy. You—I say it

for all to hear—are an honorary Jew!
which, impossible dream, my latkes lived up to

for five more years. Then the wailing.
Then the dust.

(from The Poetry Foundation)
I've begun to feel like an old Jew in a crowd of young Christians and Muslims. They are civil enough, but I'm cautious. Even YHWH (bend my knee, peace be upon him) has gestured that waving dismissal at me like a hand dispassionately pulling the lever of slot machine no longer expecting anything from it.

As an old Jew I walk my childhood Brooklyn neighborhood past 70th street Herskowitz and 69th street Birdovitch grocery stores. PS 205 on 68th street where Goldberg shot his never-failing driving left handed fading layup in the gym decades before his television series became popular, and Blyberg schlepped stickball broom handle to inner courtyard white chalked strike zone on brick wall for our daily ritual.

I look like Martin Landau in Mitch Albom's Hallmark drama of his book Have a Little Faith about an old rabbi blessing the world with weary resolve and steadfast reminiscence. Like Herb Fink's hand falling forward similar to YHWH's after being asked how he was, saying "Don't ask!" even though you had. I'm the old church with hole in roof the black preacher labors beneath.

Faith! The perfectly absurd response to a perfectly absurd world. To luxuriate in recollection is gift of daydream. The realm of daily life is a mitzvah of daily prayer sent into vacant sanctuaries where, on Saturdays across from schoolyard stickball games, only a goy could throw light switches for temple service. It was my first ecumenical sermon-- lighting up the 67th street minyan. Was "goy" contraction for "good boy" -- what the yamulka'd old man with wispy long white beard said each time after?

Reminisce and Return was the theme in last night's class at university. "Erinnerung Schweigen" -- to luxuriate in recollection, is more: memory of silence, or, to bring through mind through silence. Afterward we watched Kieslowski's "Bleu" to deepen our peregrination.

Not yet dawn. Rambling recall through hazy memory on streets and faces of childhood haunts.
Sh'ma Yis'ra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
I am this haunted prayer.
Or, as poem:
I Am

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Coming to: ad venire; 4

What is there to look forward to?
Till now you seriously considered yourself to be the body and to have a form. That is the primal ignorance which is the root cause of all trouble.
- Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950)
The Heart Sutra says form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Which makes, of course, everything clear. My murky mind has difficulty seeing this through. Trouble is resident companion of murky mind.
If the racial Other aspires to equal footing on the socioeconomic playing field, he is tasked with forcing his way out of the categorical cul-de-sac that his name and appearance otherwise squeeze him into. We call the process by which he does this “assimilation.” Though the Latin root here—shared with the other word “similar”—implies that the process is one of becoming absorbed or incorporated, it is a process that relies first on the negation of one identity in order to adopt another. In this sense, assimilation is a destructive rather than constructive process. It isn’t a come-as-you-are proposition, a simple matter of being integrated into the American milieu because there exists a standing invitation to do so. Rather, assimilation first requires refuting assumptions the culture makes about the immigrant based on race, and in this sense assimilation requires the erasure of one’s preexisting cultural identity even though that identity wasn’t contingent upon race in the first place.
(from, Writing Like a White Guy, On language, race, and poetry. By Jaswinder Bolina, Poetry Foundation,
The phrasing isn't form is 'similar' to emptiness, emptiness 'similar' to form.

One is the other.

If one is the other, then there is no other. If this is true, there is no one either.

No one; no other.

Each is itself as it is.

What does this mean for us?

Thich Nhat Hanh might quietly smile and say, "Interbeing!" We inter-are.

If so, then here is there, and there is here.

Spirituality and Corporeality are now interchangeably one-another with unmurky mind.

O God! What are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zazen in Merton Retreat.
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)
After practice we leave in silence.

Teachers arrive then depart.

Barn door is open.

Coming to: ad venire; 3

Empty watch. Nothing to see. You and me.

Are we coming to?
The Pasture

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha'n't be gone long.—You come too.

I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha'n't be gone long.—You come too.
Advent, coming to, is harder than it seems. The narrative isn't about happily ever after. The narrative is about reality always here.

Walk out with me.

"There's a birthing into awareness of what the reality is right now." (Saskia says this, in from meditation cabin, going up stairs, white Border Collie crouching over green tennis ball, morning light remarkably simply there at window squares.)

I totter these days.

I sha'n't be in breath long.

You'll find this too.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Once during slender crescent light
I wanted to be a poet
When dawn disappeared into daylight
I found I was merely a word
Waiting to be pronounced
Within an image
Of night
New moon
And thus
Not there

Coming to: ad venire; 2

One is the loveliest number. Nothing is left out.

Yet, when one and nothing appear together, perfection is tickled..

Not everyone feels that way. So it is the profession of assassin proliferates today. Literally in the corridors of power and governance, figuratively in the hearts and minds of non-Buddhists and unintelligent problem solvers. 'Kill,' they say, 'rid me of these bothersome others!'

(Thich Nhat Hanh says you are a Buddhist if you practice awareness, concentration, and insight. He feels there are many who do not consider themselves Buddhists who are.)
21 The faithful city, what a harlot she has become! Zion, once full of fair judgement, where saving justice used to dwell, but now assassins!
(New Jerusalem Bible, Isaiah 1: 21)
'Now-assassins' murder what they consider 'other' to them. Drones and scope-rifles, IEDs and injected poisons, calculating security and ambitious prosecutors -- combine to wage war on 'now' by eliminating it, leaving in their minds only revenged past and ravaged future.
By Franco Fortini

Far away, far away, men making wars.
Other folk's blood spilt on other folk's floors.

Only this morning I wounded my finger:
a thorn on my rosebush pierced like a stinger.

Sucking that finger, I thought of the war.
Sad is the earth! And those people, so poor!

I'm of no help, being here and not there,
nor can I reach them, by sea or by air.

And what if I could—what good could I do?
My Arabic's terrible! My English is, too!

What, should I stroll through the fields of the dead
leaving sheaves of my verses under each head?

No. Enough of this wretched irony-fest.
Let's put on a coat. The sun's low in the west.

(— Translated by Geoffrey Brock)
Christ looks out from the place of this moment.

Christ now has a coat around slumping shoulders.

To be born or not to be born?

This is what is -- coming to -- be the question.
A Postmortem Guide
For my eulogist, in advance

Do not praise me for my exceptional serenity.
Can't you see I've turned away
from the large excitements,
and have accepted all the troubles?

Go down to the old cemetery; you'll see
there's nothing definitive to be said.
The dead once were all kinds---
boundary breakers and scalawags,
martyrs of the flesh, and so many
dumb bunnies of duty, unbearably nice.

I've been a little of each.

And, please, resist the temptation
of speaking about virtue.
The seldom-tempted are too fond
of that word, the small-
spirited, the unburdened.
Know that I've admired in others
only the fraught straining
to be good.

Adam's my man and Eve's not to blame.
He bit in; it made no sense to stop.

Still, for accuracy's sake you might say
I oftened stopped,
that I rarely went as far as I dreamed.

And since you know my hardships,
understand that they're mere bump and setback
against history's horror.
Remind those seated, perhaps weeping,
how obscene it is
for some of us to complain.

Tell them I had second chances.
I knew joy.
I was burned by books early
and kept sidling up to the flame.

Tell them that at the end I had no need
for God, who'd become just a story
I once loved, one of many
with concealments and late-night rescues,
high sentence and pomp. The truth is
I learned to live without hope
as well as I could, almost happily,
in the despoiled and radiant now.

You who are one of them, say that I loved
my companions most of all.
In all sincerity, say that they provided
a better way to be alone.

(From Different Hours by Stephen Dunn published by W. W. Norton & Company 2000)
The now-assassins have never seen the likes of Christ.

It makes no sense to stop.

Not now.

The assassins are never convinced.

Christ, you and the assassins and I, are each now wondering how to be here alone.

(Or, as a poem:)

(you and the assassins and I)

are each
how to be

To be alone is to be (complete-ly) with everyone.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Coming to: ad venire; 1


There's nothing to be none.
Enter Vladimir.
(giving up again). Nothing to be done.
(advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart). I'm beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I've tried to put it from me, saying Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Estragon.) So there you are again.
Am I?
I'm glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.
Me too.
Together again at last! We'll have to celebrate this. But how? (He reflects.) Get up till I embrace you.
(irritably). Not now, not now.
(hurt, coldly). May one inquire where His Highness spent the night?
In a ditch.
(admiringly). A ditch! Where?
(without gesture). Over there.
And they didn't beat you?
Beat me? Certainly they beat me.
The same lot as usual?
The same? I don't know.
When I think of it . . . all these years . . . but for me . . . where would you be . . . (Decisively.) You'd be nothing more than a little heap of bones at the present minute, no doubt about it.
And what of it?
(gloomily). It's too much for one man. (Pause. Cheerfully.) On the other hand what's the good of losing heart now, that's what I say. We should have thought of it a million years ago, in the nineties.

(from Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, Act 1, opening lines)
What is? What is the good? What is the good of losing heart?

You, Lord, yourself are our Father,
‘Our Redeemer’ is your ancient name.
Why, Lord, leave us to stray from your ways
and harden our hearts against fearing you?
Return, for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your inheritance.

Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down!
– at your Presence the mountains would melt.

No ear has heard,
no eye has seen
any god but you act like this
for those who trust him.
You guide those who act with integrity
and keep your ways in mind.

(First reading, 1st Advent, Isaiah 63:16-17,64:1,3-8)
Has the Lord strayed from his ways? Or have we strayed? From our ways? From his ways?

Are these 'ways' one or two?
When you are free and independent, you are not bound by anything, so you do not seek liberation. Consummating the process of Zen, you become unified. Then there are no mundane things outside of Buddhism, and there is no Buddhism outside of mundane things.
- Yuan wu (1063-1135)
We think, or want to think Act 2 will be better, will resolve absence and expectation, will reveal all that will be revealed. We are, not mistaken, rather, expect-taken. 'Expect-taken' is 1st cousin once-removed of expectation.
Expectations of well-being

Richard Lazarus asserts that people become accustomed to positive or negative life experiences which lead to favorable or unfavorable expectations of their present and near-future circumstances. Lazarus notes the widely accepted philosophical principle that "happiness depends on the background psychological status of the person...and cannot be well predicted without reference to" one's expectations.[1]
With regard to happiness or unhappiness, Lazarus notes that "people whose objective conditions of life are those of hardship and deprivation often make a positive assessment of their well-being," while "people who are objectively well off...often make a negative assessment of their well-being." Lazarus argues that "the most sensible explanation of this apparent paradox is that people...develop favorable or unfavorable expectations" that guide such assessments.[1]

Expectations Impact on Beliefs

The famous sociologist, Robert K. Merton, wrote that a person's expectation is directly linked to the Self-fulfilling Prophecy. Whether or not such an expectation was truthful or not has little or no effect on the outcome. If a person believes what they are told or convinces himself/herself of the fact, chances are this person will see the expectation to its' inevitable conclusion. There is an inherent danger in this kind of labeling especially for the educator. Since children are easily convinced of certain tenants [sic;cf. tenets] especially when told to them by an authority figure like a parent or teacher, they may believe whatever is taught to them even if what is taught has no factual basis. If the student or child were to act on false information, certain positive or negative unintended consequences could result. If overly positive or elevated expectations were used to describe or manipulate a person's self-image and execution falls short, the results could be a total reversal of that person's self-confidence. If thought of in terms of causality or cause and effect, the higher a person's expectation and the lower the execution, the higher the frustration level may become. This in turn could cause a total cessation of effort and motivate the person to quit.

(--Expectation (epistemic), From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
I have the near-cousin companioning this new liturgical season.

Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.
Just One.

No Act 2.

Just one.


Of two dropped down.

There's nothing to be none.

Empty waiting presence.