Monday, December 31, 2012

Eluctable; an elocution with no "in" or "out"

The kabuki players screech to a halt at the preposterous cliff illusion of political theater and everyone is supposed to feel grateful.

There is no attempt to pretend that sham and subterfuge are not the year-end gimmicks permitting butchers' knives to slice away meat from sacred cow bone.

Everywhere anarchists, left and right, grind their teeth, toast the exiting and arriving year with bitter dregs from hollow barrel in damp cellars of the spirit.

Government is fatally compromised; long live the government!

Meanwhile, monks and nuns, hermits and solitaries, turn quietly to face the silence of a still and hospitable emptiness ascending from a cold and hardened ground under a dark and desolate sky reaching infinitely into nothing and nowhere named This Aware and Intimate Reality.

Once it was called "God."

Now it returns to its nameless ineffable indescribability, its clear gaze seeing everything as Itself.

Be at rest. Everything is falling apart. The center cannot fold.

What remains is your guess.

If I had to guess, I'd say "rum fruitcake" and be satisfied with such tasty elocution.

Our times

At end of year, a meditation about guns and preference:

Fear goes ballistic. Love is disarming.
We do not seem to be ready for the profound vulnerability love asks of us. Rather, we arm ourselves with the mistaken belief that murdering another satisfies fear. It doesn't. Fear is unsatisfiable, divisive, violent, and self-justifying. We recognize ourselves in these descriptions. We are a fearful nation poised on the brink of an all-out war waged against ourselves. Love sees this. Love weeps.
I implore the perpetrators of fear to consider their sorry success -- a frightened itchiness to close life in others.
I choose to live vulnerable and disarmed. The real success, I submit, is openness to life, no matter what.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cat wonders about birds in blowing storm

If nothing
There is this morning
Filled with snow
Warm fire, novel
Sweet lyrics that
Never grow old

Saturday, December 29, 2012

End of year confession

No longer interested in things I'm no longer interested in.

Sports. Finance. Politics. Conspiracies. Congratulatory religion. Being saved. Being lost. Lies. Blatant sincerity. Crude disdain. Mollifying coddling. Self doubt. Self confidence. Anything tinged with patent insincerity. Defensive fear. Blustery bravado. Deceptive shuffling. Smart alecks. Hustling competence. Overly compensated puppets.

It snows.

Mountain trees bend white with weight.

I am left alone.

Age alights.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Mountain outside window
At dusk
Looks in

Morning after

Ah, warmth in white wrap!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Grounding; departing where thought used to be

White wind carries snow into green cedar branch
Night silences...beyond
There is nothing other than this stillness anywhere

Brightness illumines our heart

Snow keeps quiet.
Furthermore, bringing forth the turning point by using a finger, a pole, a needle, or a mallet, or leading people to enlightenment with a whisk, a fist, a stick, or a shout cannot be understood by discriminatory thinking. How can it be understood by the use of supernatural powers? Zazen is an awesome presence outside form and color. How is it not the path preceding concept?
Thus, do not be concerned with who is wise and who is stupid. Do not discriminate the sharp from the dull. To practice whole-heartedly is the true endeavor of the way. Practice-realization is not defiled with specialness; it is a matter for every day.

- Dogen Kigen 1227
Stays everyone at home.
 This is what we have heard from him,and the message that we are announcing to you: God is light; there is no darkness in him at all. If we say that we are in union with God while we are living in darkness,we are lying because we are not living the truth. But if we live our lives in the light, as he is in the light,we are in union with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son,purifies us from all sin.
(--from Office of Readings, Feast of John the Evangelist)
Wind runs, alone, the mountain.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Break a leg

We rush about with pages of script and swatches of costume.
In the Parade interview, he recalled the hand-to-hand combat. “I was crossing a field somewhere in Belgium,” he said. “A German soldier ran toward me carrying a bayonet. He couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15. I didn’t see a soldier. I saw a boy. Even though he was coming at me, I couldn’t shoot. 
They grappled, he recounted later — he was stabbed seven or eight times — until finally he grasped a rock and made it a weapon. After killing the youth, he said, he held him in his arms and wept. 
Mr. Durning said the memories never left him, even when performing, even when he became, however briefly, someone else. 
“There are many secrets in us, in the depths of our souls, that we don’t want anyone to know about,” he told Parade. “There’s terror and repulsion in us, the terrible spot that we don’t talk about. That place that no one knows about — horrifying things we keep secret. A lot of that is released through acting.”( NYTimes, Charles Durning, Prolific Character Actor, Dies at 89, Published: December 25, 2012)
Let's have less talk. Most of what we say is foolish.

God is silence through act.

Exeunt omnes!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Might, I have this dance, with you

An ordinary day... Christ is
Born in each branch holding
Winter's light... slow return

Word is spoken in each silent act

December 25, light before light.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Grace is silence passing through night

Just us. Just as.
Christmas Poem 
Says a country legend told every year:
Go to the barn on Christmas Eve and see
what the creatures do as that long night tips over.
Down on their knees they will go, the fire
of an old memory whistling through their minds! 
So I went. Wrapped to my eyes against the cold
I creaked back the barn door and peered in.
From town the church bells spilled their midnight music,
and the beasts listened – yet they lay in their stalls like stone. 
Oh the heretics!
Not to remember Bethlehem,
or the star as bright as a sun,
or the child born on a bed of straw!
To know only of the dissolving Now! 
Still they drowsed on –
citizens of the pure, the physical world
they loomed in the dark: powerful
of body, peaceful of mind, innocent of history. 
Brothers! I whispered. It is Christmas!
And you are no heretics, but a miracle,
immaculate still as when you thundered forth
on the morning of creation!
As for Bethlehem, that blazing star 
still sailed the dark, but only looked for me.
Caught in its light, listening again to its story,
I curled against some sleepy beast, who nuzzled
my hair as though I were a child, and warmed me
the best it could all night. 
(Poem by Mary Oliver)
The justice of it; mere solitude of fire in Waterford. Two cats dozing. Tree outside lighted beyond barn circle of light.


This is church enough.

We do the best we could.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It is time; nearing

Hold off on Santa and Jesus. Just another day. Think of it as earth touching ground. Imagine awareness letting itself be found in everything everywhere.

It is very simple, really.

When we awake we will remember everything.

December 25 is as good a day as any to fall into our ever-present, infinite, and eternal beingness with loving attention given to all.

The ground is frozen. It is winter. 

A woman sang to me from her hospital bed this afternoon. Finnish songs she learnt in school. Now 90, she teaches me a phrase or two so I can say goodbye.

Always goodbye. Always hello. 

This time, Christmas. At another time, a Friday, a sad drama.

Make your way through.

It is time.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

If we choose to act

A radical embodiment is needed. Of peace. And sanity.

Not guns. Not fear. Not arrogant shilling for cynicism.

But someone to engage and enflesh what god would be if god were in the world.

No more ideals, ideas, concepts, or plans of action.

Rather, act itself.

Causing to be.



Serving love.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Still, in all...

Perfect is permeable.

It does not mean flawless and finished.

One can move through the perfect. There's a plasticity.

We're all perfect. Moving forward. Causing to be.

Alive for now.

You, you, you, I'm in love with you, you, you

The past is where we are when we are in the present.

Past is prologue, present is logos. Everything is mythos. Voila! It is one-word, creative sound, resonating, music of and as, the spheres, dancing, us, with, in, and through, one-another. Going nowhere; staying now here!

This is an interesting time travel story because it focuses not so much on going back in order to change the past as returning to change the present because you understand the past.(--from book review of An Angel for May by Melvin Burgess,1992)
When we are In the past, no one is present.

Without time where would we be?

If, as the non-dualist says, god is eternal present awareness, then let god be what god is.

Why do we fuss so much about "my" god?

"You" is the name of god.




Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nothing ends

Ends the teaching for this semester. Ends Wednesday. Ends too many hours awake.

Ends nothing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Living will

Kefir with pills.

If the world ends Friday, I want to be as healthy as possible.

No more cookies.

So saying, ends the world, as previously known.
Self Portrait 
It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.
(-- David Whyte, from Fire in the Earth, ©1992 Many Rivers Press)

Enjoy yourself, it's never what you think

Rupert Spira ends his writing, "The True Nature of Experience" with the following:

Postscript – Knowledge and LoveTrue knowledge is the experiential understanding that there is only ever-present, unlimited Awareness or Knowing. Nothing other than this is ever known even when it seems that a mind, body and world are known. This ever-present, unlimited Awareness, which is simply the intimacy of our own being, is the fundamental nature of the apparently inside self and its corollary, the apparently outside object, other or world.All religions are founded upon this understanding. In Christianity it is expressed as, “I and my Father are one.” That is, I, Awareness, and the ultimate reality of the universe are one and the same reality. In Buddhism, “Nirvana and Samsara are identical.” That is, the transparent, open, empty light of Awareness which is not made out of any kind of a thing – nothing – is the substance of all appearances – everything. Nothing taking the shape of everything. In Hinduism, “Atman and Param-Atman are one.” That is, the individual self, when divested of superimposed beliefs and feelings of limitation, stands revealed as the true and only self of eternal, infinite Awareness. And in Sufism, “Wherever the eye falls, there is the face of God.” All that is seen is God’s face and it is God that sees it.All these phrases are conditioned by the culture in which they appeared but they all point towards the same unconditional truth – the reality of all experience.The realization of this truth dissolves the beliefs in distance, separation and otherness. The common name we give to this absence of distance, separation and otherness is love and beauty. It is that for which everyone longs – not just those of us that are interested in non-duality but all seven billion of us.In this realization true knowledge and love are revealed to be one and the same – the experiential realization that the true nature of the apparently inside self and the apparently outside world are one single reality made out of the transparent light of Awareness, that is, made out of the intimacy of our own being.This revelation of understanding and love strikes at the heart of the fundamental presumption upon which our world culture is founded, the presumption of duality – I, the separate inside self, and you or it, the separate outside object, other or world. All conflicts within ourselves and between individuals, communities and nations are based upon this presumption alone and all psychological suffering proceeds from it.Any approach to these conflicts that does not go to the heart of the matter will postpone but not solve the problem of conflict and suffering. Sooner or later as individuals and as a culture we have to have the courage, the humility, the honesty and the love to face this fact.The highest purpose of all art, philosophy, religion and science is to reveal this truth in an experiential manner although all these disciplines have temporarily forgotten this in our culture. However, it may not be long. As the painter Paul Cezanne said, “A time is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will trigger a revolution”.This is the only true revolution, the revolution in which our view of reality is turned upside down. Awareness – pure Knowing – is not just the witness of experience. It is its substance, its very nature. Everything changes when we begin to live from this point of view. We realize that what we have always longed for in life was present all along in the depths of our own being. It is always available, never truly veiled. To begin with it is often felt as peace in the background of experience but it cannot be contained and before long it begins to flow out into the world as joy, freedom, love and creativity.

The blade of grass, as the blade of grass, knows nothing other than itself as blade of grass.

And, we presume, is happy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"There is no other..." (Isaiah)

Let the conversation begin, again! 
In her book “The Human Condition,” the philosopher Hannah Arendt states that “violence is mute.” According to Arendt, speech dominates and distinguishes the polis, the highest form of human association, which is devoted to the freedom and equality of its component members. Violence — and the threat of it — is a pre-political manner of communication and control, characteristic of undemocratic organizations and hierarchical relationships. For the ancient Athenians who practiced an incipient, albeit limited form of democracy (one that we surely aim to surpass), violence was characteristic of the master-slave relationship, not that of free citizens.
Liberty entails precisely the freedom to offend. A gun in every pocket would stifle that.
Arendt offers two points that are salient to our thinking about guns: for one, they insert a hierarchy of some kind, but fundamental nonetheless, and thereby undermine equality. But furthermore, guns pose a monumental challenge to freedom, and particular, the liberty that is the hallmark of any democracy worthy of the name — that is, freedom of speech. Guns do communicate, after all, but in a way that is contrary to free speech aspirations: for, guns chasten speech.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holding one another in heart

We want a name for it, the deaths in Newtown Connecticut.

We are restless. we want to place fault somewhere. We want to blame some policy, some concept of chaos. We want, we want, we want.

The quarrels and arguments will take shape.

Here, for now, only stillness in the face of such sorrow.

A Sunday afternoon.

A profound bow to all in deep distress!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Putting oars up

The air is cold. The ground hard. Snow is being made on the mountain ski runs.

The peapod comes out of the harbor after 18 months and is turned on her gunnels on wooden horses by cabin.

It is an ordinary day in December.

Except for the killings yesterday.

The cold feels here to stay.

Friday, December 14, 2012

For the children, for the teachers, for the families this day inConnecticut

Here is stark news, listen carefully:
This sorrow is beyond understanding --
Feel it, just feel it...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Settling in

When tired, nap.
Nice big white dog pillow.

Still time

Not yet light.

The state of being most of us occupy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

ninkû, hokkû -- 12.12.12

Ten Ox-herding Pictures Stage5
    Once thoughts rise up even slightly, they are followed by other thoughts.
    Through enlightenment, they become true; in delusion, they become false.
    It is not due to our surroundings that they are there;
        they are only produced by our mind.
    We must pull the Ox firmly by his tether and not allow any doubts to enter.
Whipping does not depart from the body at any moment.
Lest he follow his own whim, entering the dust and dirt.
If you devotedly tame him, he will be pure and gentle.
Without bridle and chains, he will follow you of his own accord.

       Once you have reached the point of "seizing" the ox, which is the true self, you must not rest on your laurels but continue to practice with all your strength and go on to the next stage. It is the stage of taming the ox, a very important process by which you make your own that which has been realized.

       As I mentioned previously, seizing the ox is grasping clearly the fact that the essence of your self is completely empty [ninkû] and at the same time all things in the universe are also completely empty [hokkû]. But to have attained such an enlightenment does not mean that our concepts and delusions automatically all disappear. With the re-appearance of just a minor conceptualization, the delusive concepts come back again one after another without end. In fact, it is the case that the clearer your experience of seizing the ox, the harder it is to escape the delusion of having understood this whole world and to avoid the proud thoughts which ensue one after another. You boast of the experience, talk proudly of Zen, and fall prey to the reckless desire to want to direct and lead others.

       Of course, if you should ask what is the essence of these delusive and discriminatory thoughts that arise continually. They are in themselves totally empty and without reality. If you can really rest assured in that fact, each of them, one by one, becomes the true self as it is. But we humans, unfortunately, always cling to what we have experienced and have the habit of not letting go. This is especially true in the case of the seizing of the ox, a feat that most people have a difficult time achieving. Once we have made it, we boast that no one has had such a wonderful experience. We cling to the delusive and proud thoughts that arise one after another, such as, "Perhaps even Shakyamuni Buddha himself did not have such an experience as I." And these thoughts themselves become a new reason for delusion.

       We always can see only the oppositional world of dualism, subject and object, but the concept that the objective world "is" appears not because the objective world is really there. Only because in our hearts we recognize "The objective world is," it is. This means that this "is-ness" is, in reality, only in our mind. Therefore, there arises in the mind the idea of "I" which has experienced seizing the ox, so the world corresponding to that "I" also appears, with the result that the objective world is conjured up by the proud "I". In the true world of seizing the ox, the objective world as well as the subjective world is totally empty; there is no room for being and non-being to appear at all. To be always at rest securely in such a world, it is necessary by all means to put the halter through the nose of the ox and pull it firmly. If the ox starts to eat the grass of discriminatory delusion, tell him "No, no!", never neglecting the due training, and continue in hard practice to the end. The practical means to that end is that single sharp spear, MU. This is the practice for post-enlightenment, and you must say that, in a sense, it is endlessly more difficult than the pre-enlightenment practice. 
(from:  Ten Ox-herding Pictures with the Verses Composed by KAKUAN ZenjiBy KUBOTA Ji'un

Monday, December 10, 2012

A version of Merton's last words

From blog, "louie, louie":
This year I would like to share Sr. Luke's telling of Merton's last words.  The passage is transcribed from a talk that she gave.  I believe that it gives a great deal of insight into the person of Merton from someone who knew and understood him.
 In the very last of his life, he gave this final talk in Bangkok.  I went to the place in Bangkok, and I visited the room where he gave the final talk, and I visited the little bungalow where he died.  I remember then what I heard about his last words.  Merton, as you know, gave his talk, and then sat down and said. "We are going to have the questions tonight.  Now I will disappear."  Many people repeat that as a prophecy.  I think Merton meant he'd leave.  And we'll have the questions tonight. 
 So then he went from there to the lunchroom and had the lunch they had prepared, and then he walked over to his room accompanied by a French monk who talked to him as they walked along to Merton's room and said to him, "Well, thank you for the talk you gave this morning.  Everybody didn't exactly appreciate it, though.  We had some question."  And I thought to myself, "Yes, this is the way it always is.  Yes, I know they said some good things BUT."  There's always that little part, and Merton was experiencing that there.  Actually, it was a nun that said that, but usually I don't say that because we have a bad enough press as it is, so I don't usually set up the nun as the one who said that.  Anyone could have.  She happened to say it, and what she said was repeated to Merton: "I thought he would talk more about converting people to Christianity.  I thought that's what he was going to be talking about."  She enlarged on that.  This is a pagan area where we are working, and we're missionaries, and it's a pagan area, and here he's talking about something else and alienation, whatever.  But I thought he'd talk about bringing people to Christ. 
 Merton, when he heard that, instead of getting upset the way many of us would get upset, said simply, "Well, I don't think that is what we are asked to do today.  All the preaching we get on television telling us who God is -- honestly, you wonder what the word 'God' is to mean in all of that."  Merton has it better.      "[T]oday I don't think it is what we are asked to do.  I think today it's more important for us to so let God live in us that others may feel God and come to believe in God because they feel how God lives in us."  These were Merton's last words that we know anything about and were said right before Francois de Grunne took him to his room where he tragically died, tragically for us, in any case.  Certainly he had completed what was his journey.  In other words, so let God live in us, so allow God to be the center where we make our decisions, where we live our lives, so let God live in us that others may find God by seeing how God lives in us, by somehow grasping how God lives in us.  Better than any long television explanation of who God is.  A beautiful last message, and I'd like to leave that with you as we conclude the talk on prayer because prayer, that presence of God, that reality of God, which each of us possesses, is our good fortune, "All love's luck."  We have achieved it.  Thank you very much.  -- Sr. Mary Luke Tobin SL

Sitting with Thomas Merton -- Joy; blessed solitude: You are alone;with God

Forty four years ago today Thomas Merton took a shower, touched a faulty wired stand-up fan, was electrocuted, and died in a cottage of a conference center in suburban Bangkok Thailand at a conference on Interreligious Monasticism.

He was immersing himself at this point of his life with Zen.
In keeping with Merton's idea that non-Christian faiths had much to offer Christianity in terms of experience and perspective and little or nothing in terms of doctrine, Merton distinguished between Zen Buddhism, an expression of history and culture, and Zen.[32] What Merton meant by Zen Buddhism was the religion that began in China and spread to Japan as well as the rituals and institutions that accompanied it. By Zen, Merton meant something not bound by culture, religion or belief. In this capacity, Merton was influenced by the book Zen Catholicism.[34] With this idea in mind, Merton's later writings about Zen may be understood to be coming more and more from within an evolving and broadening tradition of Zen which is not particularly Buddhist but informed by Merton's monastic training within the Christian tradition.[35]
He would have liked the article and 'Jules' response to it in Truthout:
On the other hand, sociopathy/psychopathy is a character disorder which is simply an intentional choice of how someone lives and interacts with others. People with sociopathy/psychopathy create an alternate reality by willfully manipulating others and their environment. Their tactics and behaviors are at the pathological level, and yet are being normalized every day by media and media personalities: projection, denial, distortion, splitting (black-and-white thinking), magical thinking. 
Sociopaths, through a lifetime of conditioning by their family and the larger social structure, learn to see other people not as human beings who have a right to self-determination, but only as objects to moved around like pieces on a chessboard. They see things like empathy and justice and reason as something that only "saps" waste their time on. All their time is spent gaining control - on anything and everything that they value - which is always something material: wealth, fame, and power over others. 
We are experiencing such a rapid decline in character in America that we as a nation are bordering on the pathological - and yet it is barely being noticed by anyone. The APA (American Psychological Association), which is "in charge" of developing diagnostics and treatment for mental illness, is too busy colluding with BigPharma on inventing diseases that can be treated by newly invented drugs. Studies that show our rapidly declining mental health (9% of all American teenagers can be classified as having Narcissistic personality disorder, as opposed to 3% of people in their 60's or 6% of people in their 40's, conducted by NIMH) have been all but swept under the rug. 
No society can function for long at a pathological level, it will eventually break down. And yet that is where we are right now. And no one is talking about it, especially not in a way where it can be tackled as an issue.
(--From response by 'Jules,' to article, Schizophrenics, Psychopaths Holding America Hostage, Wednesday, 05 December 2012 00:00, By Dr Brian Moench, Truthout | Op-Ed
Merton was annoying like that -- he found what was deleterious to human harmony and spiritual integrity, and wrote about it. His superiors in the organizational church wished a vow of silence would gag him -- but he was a poet -- and poets speak through silence with words that carry the depths of silence with them.
“Be good, keep your feet dry,
your eyes open, your heart at peace
and your soul in the joy of Christ.”
(--Thomas Merton)
As much as bombs and drones and assassinations of 'enemies' do -- so, too, the deceptions, manipulation of truth, false claims, and blatant lies rife today -- all mangle and tear apart the heart of human goodness creating fear, greed, dominance, and insidious mistrust between us.

Joy is an endangered way of being.

Don't buy their smearing and sneering demands to cross over to discrimination and exclusionary behavior, those purveyors of political penury and posturing patronizing pissant pedantry!

That being said, here are words about Merton's death from a Rob Pollack blog:
International Thomas Merton Society President Donald Grayston provides the following reflection on Merton's death... 
Merton dies at Suwanganiwas, the Red Cross Centre at Samut Prakan, 30 km outside Bangkok, accidentally electrocuted. It is 27 years to the day since he entered Gethsemani, and a mere eight days after his deep experience at Polonnaruwa. 
His Christian identity was expressed and symbolized for us by the fact that he said mass in Bangkok on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary in the Roman Catholic calendar, two days before his death. I mention this because some commentators have said that towards the end of his life he abandoned Christian faith and became a Buddhist. On the contrary, he opened himself fully to Buddhist experience and understanding, which he much valued, as a fully-formed Catholic Christian. 
Death of the Master
Both east and west share four kinds of death—natural causes, accident, murder, suicide. But in the east there is a fifth category, the death of the master. This involves the master gathering his disciples around him, giving them his last words, doing or saying something absurd, and then dying. 
So I Will Disappear
The example of this with which we are most familiar is that of Jesus at the last supper, the “absurd” element being his strange words about the bread and wine of the meal being his body and blood. At the conference Merton was attending, all the Catholic participants had read Merton’s books, and were eagerly awaiting his words (pp. 326-43), at the end of which he said “So I will disappear”—this much in the AJTM (p. 343), and followed this with a classically Mertonian comment—“and we can all get a Coke or something” (not included in the AJTM, but clearly audible in the film of his talk). 
The Great Compassion
The other monks and nuns who held a vigil after his death said that “In death Father Louis’ [his monastic name] face was set in a great and deep peace ….” (p. 346). He had fulfilled the intention with which he set out on his Asian pilgrimage. He had settled the Great Affair, and had found also the Great Compassion, mahakaruna (see p. 4).
A Merton quote ends the post:
"Death is someone you see very clearly with eyes in the center of your heart: eyes that see not by reacting to light, but by reacting to a kind of a chill from within the marrow of your own life." (--Thomas Merton)
The rest of the quote, found in The Seven Story Mountain (p.107) says: "And, with those eyes, those interior eyes, open upon that coldness, I lay half asleep and look at that visitor, death." He was 17, ill with gangrene in a hospital, he recounts his apathy, not caring if death took him.

Many years later, in the final chapter and penultimate page of his autobiography, he recounts a different viewpoint:
I do not make a big drama of this business. I do not say: "you have asked me for everything, and I have renounced all." Because I no longer desire to see anything that implies a distance between You and me: and if I stand back and consider myself and You as if something had passed between us, from me to you, I will inevitably see the gap between us and remember the distance between us. 
My God, it is that gap and that distance which kill me. 
That is the only reason why I desire solitude -- to be lost to all created things, to die to them and to the knowledge of them, for they remind me of my distance from You. They tell me something about You: that You are far from them, even though You are in them. You have made them and Your presence sustains their being, and they hide You from me. And I would live alone, and out of them. "O beata solitudo!"
For I knew that it was only by leaving them that I could come to You: and that is why I have been so unhappy when You seemed to be condemning me to remain in them. Now my sorrow is over, and my joy is about to begin: the joy that rejoices in the deepest sorrows. For I am beginning to understand. You have taught me, and have consoled me, and I have begun to hope and learn. 
(p.461, The Seven Story Mountain, by Thomas Merton,

You are alone; with-God!

(Oh, and Robert Lowell!)

Sunday, December 09, 2012


David Steindl-Rast said the name of God might be "you."

Or "surprise."

Are you surprised by this turn of events?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Because you're looking you see

We're not supposed to choose. We're not wise enough. David Whyte speaks of the conversational nature of reality. You can't predict it or control it.

John Lennon with no barrier in his departure speaks with Mother Mary Immaculately Conceived with no barrier in her arrival.

Siddhartha Gautama speaks with the Bodhi tree sitting with dropped off body and mind in light of morning star.

It is the 8th of December.

Come to ground in just the right place.

Friday, December 07, 2012

There is no place that does not see you

Finally, it dawns. Creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing, is not a vague speculative philosophical premise.

"Nothing" is the very being of Being. It is a being, or the being of Being-Itself.

To create out of being is to emerge from oneself into the expanse of extension.

God creates the world ex nihilo, out of itself extending out.

We are not created out of the matter of the universe. The universe is created out of us, mattering through mind and spirit the felt metaphor of transcending.

Robert Frost became acquainted with the night.

"Night" is a being as is "Day" a being.

Or, as Seth ended the final circle tonight, "Being is no-thing."

Buddhists point to sunyata, emptiness. Dogen became enlightened hearing Ju-Ching say 'dropping off mind and body.'

Jesus worded the linkage between here and there -- becoming sweet suffering stitching all through with loving presence.

Buddha silences the distracting opinions and theories of judging mind, settling into compassionate listening and stillness attentive to all passing beings.

Any time you exclude anyone or anything from your home ground in the field of emptiness, you are not there yourself.

All are welcome. Even those who detest being there, are welcome to be here.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Afternoon detente

Mostly at the window

Billy Collins tells it wry and dry.

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed. 

               (Poem by Billy Collins)

After zazen in bookshed, reaching into bookshelf, comes this:
 To put pana'i, or reciprocal rebound, into your daily life, criticize as little as possible. Criticism sends out what Polynesians call bad mana, and that energy wii come back at you sooner or later. Criticism is a personal attack that never leads to pleasure; it almost always leads to feelings of withdrawal, anger, dread and disguise. Polynesians believe that "criticism creates," meaning that the more we disparage others, the more they behave as and become that for which we castigate them. Complaining, on the other hand, can be very helpful. Complaints focus on actions and can help make persons aware of and more able to correct behavioral problems. 

A complaint is not a whine of victimization or misery. It never accuses, only identifies problems. It is a statement of willingness to invest time and effort into making a relationship better for both partners."I wish we travelled more. We have to figure out something to do about this together," is a complaint. "You don't take me anywhere," is a criticism that leads to more trouble than problem solving. Current research shows that constructive complaints that point out non personalized problems in a relationship lead to the best and most enduring relationships. 
(--pp. 166-167' in The Pleasure Prescription, To love, to work, to play -- Life in the Balance, by Paul Pearsall, PH.D)
Some slashes take longer to heal. Scars are visible.

It takes a little while getting used to it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Great doubt

Poetry is the new koan.

Only the educated are confused.

The uneducated are never confused.

That's the danger of it.

Not to be confused.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Near midnight

Even the unmoving room
Knows it is time
To become
More still

Monday, December 03, 2012

At your service

Shikantaza is just sitting. No goal. Nothing to attain. Just this. Everyday as everyday.

To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe. To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever.   --Dogen Zenji in his "Genjōkōan" (現成公案)
What was, was. What is, is. What will be, will be.

 Egg Nog, 1%, with final pills.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


The whole is broken into us.

Goodbye Florida; fraud

One can only wonder -- shouldn't someone be doing something about this admission? Or are we just happy to hear the admission? Has it become just political to investigate and prosecute something like subverting the constitution for personal/partisan purposes?

Why Florida Really Changed Its Voting Rules, By DAVID FIRESTONE 
It’s common knowledge that Florida cut back on early voting in 2011 to reduce the turnout of blacks and other groups likely to vote for Democrats. But it’s refreshing to see that former top Republicans in the state are now saying so out loud. 
In an interview with The Palm Beach Post published on Sunday, the former chairman of the Florida Republican Party said voter suppression was the sole reason for the change to the election rules. Jim Greer, the party chairman in from 2006 to 2010, said he went to several meetings during which Republican officials discussed the damage that early voting — which brought an unprecedented number of black voters to the polls in 2008 — had done to the party. 
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Mr. Greer said. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. 
He made it clear the stated reason for the change, to reduce voter fraud, was nonsense.“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a fraud issue,” he told The Post. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”It’s true that Mr. Greer is under indictment — charged with stealing money from the party — and Republican officials have dismissed his comments as motivated by bitterness. But other party officials and consultants, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, confirmed his observations in the Post article. 
What they’re admitting has long been self-evident, since there is no connection between early voting and fraud. But their publicly admitting this illuminates how the Republican Party reacted after President Obama’s election in 2008, in Florida and many other states. The cry of “voter fraud” was used to justify a range of sins against democracy, from cutting back on early voting and registration drives to unnecessary photo ID cards.Fraud was never a problem that required such restrictions, which were only intended to solve the Republican Party’s larger problem of widespread rejection by minority groups. 
Now that these “anti-fraud” measures failed to do their job in preventing Mr. Obama’s re-election in states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio (thanks, in part, to the courts), the party has a chance to make itself more appealing to a broader range of voters.The first place to start that effort would be in repealing these laws and making it clear that all voters are welcome in the party and in the voting booth. 
[A version of this article appeared in print on 12/02/2012, on page SR10 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Florida’s Fake Fraud Claims.]
If not only in the name of fairness and decency, shouldn't a new fraud investigation investigating anti-fraud investigations and fraudulent rule promulgation be launched?

Has it come to: deny it, admit it, forget it?

The echo of the Trappist monk reaches me again: "Cheer up, Bill, things are only going to get worse!"

Which we are, whence, we have come

At Episcopal Service this first Advent, priest lifts circular host, breaks it, widens his arms to display the extension, and I think:

The whole is broken into us!

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Circle of lights on side of barn.

Full moon over Ragged Mountain at 5:43am.

Candlelight, 11:33pm. For all suffering AIDS.

Is everything real-
ly within me?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Speak nothing clearly

The hour and the moment -- blessed.

Tonight piercing cold.

Long hours on the road.

Comes tomorrow, December.

Keating follows up Rumi:
Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.           — Rumi 
Silence is God's first language; everything else is a poor translation. In order to hear that language, we must learn to be still and to rest in God.
— Thomas Keating
I've nothing to say.

Would that it be said eloquently! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A working formula

Shut up.
Go to bed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where have you been?


On My Way Home
I should never have learned words

how much better off I’d be
if I lived in a world 
where meanings didn’t matter,
the world with no words

If beautiful words take revenge against you
it’s none of my concern
If quiet meanings make you bleed
it also is none of my concern

The tears in your gentle eyes
the pain that drips from your silent tongue –
I’d simply gaze at them and walk away
if our world had no words

In your tears
is there meaning like the core of a fruit?
In a drop of your blood
is there a shimmering resonance of the evening glow
of this world’s sunset?

I should never have learned words
Simply because I know Japanese and bits of a foreign tongue
I stand still inside your tears 
I come back alone into your blood 

(Poem by Ryuichi Tamura)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Wabi Sabi

Sit still and touch the work of Truth/Being/God -- self moving through self -- I am yours

"With minds as dim as ponds," said Merton, "how long we wait."

All of philosophy is the waiting for self to appear as it is.

All knowledge is self-knowledge.

And not-knowing?

True not-knowing is complete immersion within the reality of self, work of God, emergent creativity threading opposites into one whole and vast seeing heart.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Start again

The circle of morning

Includes everything

Excluding no one