Saturday, January 28, 2012

Establish no; religion

When Christopher Hitchens died where was God? When little girls go missing, long searches turning up nothing, until one afternoon, a passerby, sees something out of place, unusual, in wooded patch. When a man sits down to dinner with new friend, dabs lips as waitress asks about dessert, looks at companion, smiles, furrows brow, collapses, dies. When teenage boy feels mocking bullying is more than he can stand, can think of no way to ease out of the humiliating pressure of unrelenting belittling, tightens rope, let's fall body, ends breath.
When Ryonen was about to pass from this
world, she wrote another poem:

Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the
changing scene of autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars
when no wind stirs.

(--Zen Death Poem)
I ask no more of God. It no longer matters whether someone says they believe in God or another says there is no God. A theist and atheist walk into a barrier. The theist is glad to meet God. The atheist walks around it.

At 4:44 this morning the question arrived: what's the difference between alertness and fear? Someone was saying yesterday that animals live in constant alertness for danger and threat. Similarly, the prevailing method of controlling the behavior of humans is to encourage them to be afraid. Fear, not love, keeps order.

To see clearly or think clearly is to be alert.
To be anxious about the outcome, an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that something is dangerous or threatening to well-being, is fear.
When a man knows God

"When a man knows God, he is free: his sorrows have an end,
and birth and death are no more. When in inner union he is
beyond the world of the body, then the third world, the world
of the Spirit, is found, where the power of the All is, and man
has all: for he is one with the ONE."

From: Svetasvatara Upanishad
When "no" is established, religion forms as fear arises.

Nor is it necessarily to be thought that "yes" originates an alert response to what reveals itself to us. Yes is open acknowledgement that what is there is what is there. Nothing more.

Can we love what is there? Can we live without fear?

Is Hitchen's clarity about the perversity of belief, the sorrow of family at child's remains, the shock of companion's sudden collapse, the still body of teenage boy -- are these things even dared spoken about in the context of alertness or fear?

Alert sorrow (or joy), yes; dread fear (or cowering reverence), no.

I prefer my yes or no to be yes and no. Not an absolute stand sealed in cement, but a step along a path then another step moving forward as moving is called for.

No religion need establish itself. "Itself" is disorganized, fluid, free, and always unique when it appears-- or when it remains hidden from our eyes. Still, there is only "Itself."

Only Itself is, Nothing Else is.

What, I wonder, is there to fear?
A Parable of Immortality

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "

Gone where?

Gone from my sight . . . that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "
there are other eyes watching her coming . . .
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout . . .

" Here she comes! "

~Henry Van Dyke
The name the Buddha used to refer to himself in scriptures is Tathagata. It means: "one who has thus gone, one who has thus come." It sounds paradoxical. It probably means one is beyond coming or going, one seeing truth.

Perhaps ours isn't to establish truth. Perhaps there is a humbler task, namely, to see what is there as it is there so shall it be there as it moves beyond to where it will next be seen.

We'd have to learn how to dwell for a while in a run-on sentence.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Remember, watch your steps

God, it is said, is love.

Has anyone ever seen God?
Her written words were the expression of her lived, personalized experience of poverty: "Have confidence and strong faith that God will assist you in everything." And, she counsels her followers: "You must be convinced that God will never fail to provide for all your needs, material and spiritual alike... They will never be abandoned in their needs."
(--from website of Ursuline Sisters of Cincinnati, about St. Angela Merici, 1770@-1802)
We do not see our eye. The eye sees for us. God is that eye. No one sees God. We see what God sees. We are God's eye. Seeing the world is our vision. Whatever happens in the world we can choose to see things with the mind of God seeing things, as we say, differently, that is, carrying away with love whatever is however it is presented.

As Kali said in circle last evening, "I feel I am being present." Yes, sheer gift. Seen through. God's love.
The path to Han-shan's place is laughable,
A path, but no sign of cart or horse.
Converging gorges - hard to trace their twists
Jumbled cliffs - unbelievably rugged.
A thousand grasses bend with dew,
A hill of pines hums in the wind.
And now I've lost the shortcut home,
Body asking shadow, how do you keep up?

(--from THE COLD MOUNTAIN POEMS of Han Shan, tr. Gary Snyder)
Walking the grounds of the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor yesterday talking with someone slowly preparing to leave to return home, we are accompanied by all our shadows. They manage to keep up. There are simple words and encouraging that speak us over patches of ice on hard ground weaving through open field.

It's not simply that God is love. It's that we are what God is looking through seeing love.

So maybe the question isn't, "Have you ever seen God?" -- but rather, "Am I seeing what God is seeing?"

Rosie wondered if God even knows we're here -- which is a terrific wonder.

Presence doesn't make of itself something other than itself. It is itself seeing itself as no other nor anything else as other. Not separate. Not object. Not somewhere else.

Our need is to be what is seeing along the laughably rugged path to the hermit poet's place, the place we are never abandoned never failing to make our way with a different way of seeing.

God's way, body and shadow, keeping up.

Seeing nothing but what is there with love.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

No longer looked for; present

I don't wish to tell students about East Asian Philosophy; I'd like us to experience it.

So, we spend time with May Sarton last night.
Now I Become Myself

Now I become myself. It's taken 
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
"Hurry, you will be dead before--"
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

    (Poem by May Sarton)
The movement from here to here, from subject/object to subjectless object and objectless subject, from me and you to (oh my word!) You! -- is as arduous as allowing breath to be felt, seen, breathed without a breather.

In other words, there are no other words.

The sun no longer moves. You no longer move.

The sun is the tree -- deep within with no without -- astronomical immensity in a single dendrochronical sliver rounding itself as itself in its instant of becoming itself.
All so vague:
The reasons why in autumn
All fade away
And there's just this
Inexplicable sadness.

- Saigyo (1118-1190)
Gifts are presents.

You can't give someone an experience. You can only present it.

You can moment it.

In the present.

Hence: Gifts are presents.

Occupy the present!

Be the moment!

Gift yourself!

As light.

Mary Oliver's first line in her poem "The Buddha's Last Instruction" is:
"Make of yourself a light".

The Buddha's Last Instruction

"Make of yourself a light,"
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal--a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire--
clearly I'm not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
He raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

(Poem by Mary Oliver)
What we love about poetry is what we love within the experience of poetry -- namely, the present it gifts.

Bringing our frightened faces right here, inexplicably sad when sad, inextricably amazed when amazed.

That which is looked for, in the looking, no longer looked for.

Not needed.

Value valued valuing!

Looking itself.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quarrels cease at once.

What do you think?



   1. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.

   2. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.

   3. 'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,'--in those who harbour such thoughts hatred will never cease.

   4. 'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,'--in those who do not harbour such thoughts hatred will cease.

   5. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.

   6. The world does not know that we must all come to an end here;--but those who know it, their quarrels cease at once.

   7. He who lives looking for pleasures only, his senses uncontrolled, immoderate in his food, idle, and weak, Mâra (the tempter) will certainly overthrow him, as the wind throws down a weak tree.

   8. He who lives without looking for pleasures, his senses well controlled, moderate in his food, faithful and strong, him Mâra will certainly not overthrow, any more than the wind throws down a rocky mountain.
Because what we think is the world for us.
There's a story in one of the Buddhist scriptures about a king who, in a state of acute depression took a drive one day through a park filled with huge tropical trees. He dismounted from his carriage and walked among their great roots, which were themselves as tall as an ordinary man, and noticed the way that they "inspired trust and confidence." "They were quiet; no discordant voices disturbed their peace; they gave out a sense of being apart from the ordinary world, a place where one could take refuge from people" and find a retreat from the cruelties of life. Looking at those wonderful old trees, the king was reminded immediately of the Buddha, jumped into his carriage and drove for miles until he reached the house where the Buddha was staying.[3]

In the Buddha, the king found the same thing he found in the stand of great trees: peace, quiet, serenity, refuge. This is what the Buddha was like: a stand of great, old trees. Metaphors like this work better to describe him than the usual array of words we use to describe humans. Rather than calling him wise or insightful or revolutionary, we say he was like a stand of old trees
I think a stand of old trees is a good place for a good story.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Yes; learning to read

Mystics see whole what we only partially suspect. It must be disconcerting.
The nearest way to God
Leads through love's open door;
The path of knowledge is
Too slow for evermore
. (Angelus Silesius)
It is 46degrees and raining. Odd weather, January. From zero to 46, from crystal scrunch underfoot to foggy mist surrounding tree.
God never did exist
Nor ever will, yet aye
He was ere worlds began, and
When they're gone he'll stay.
On treadmill and rowing machine some mornings the paces of rehabilitation prepare one for healthier days as well as day's end. It is good effort, staying alive. It is good prayer, saying goodbye to what is going nowhere. Blood pressure and finger pulse, monitors and stretching, I join the small community of those reminded that to look back or look ahead are two confusing directions -- that being in place, actively going nowhere, is the curious momentum of each moment.

by Paul Carus



Devoted to the Science of Religion, the Religion of Science, and the Extension of the Religious Parliament Idea.

Volume XXII




{Reduced to HTML by Christopher M. Weimer, August 2002}

p. 291



   MYSTICISM is, as it were, a short cut of sentiment to reach a truth otherwise inaccessible under given conditions, and since writing an article on the subject for a recent number of The Monist, I have devoted more time to a renewed perusal of one of the most prominent and interesting mystics of Germany, Johannes Scheffler, or as he is better known by his adopted name, Angelus Silesius, who was born in 1624 at Breslau, and died in 1677. While mystics of the type of Jacob Boehme and Swedenborg present their views in long essays of a philosophical nature which read like the dreams (or if you prefer, the vagaries) of a prophet, Angelus Silesius condenses his views in short apothegms, written in a somewhat archaic style, mostly in simple verse, and often with crude rhymes.

   For an explanation of my view of mysticism, I refer my readers to the above-mentioned editorial article published in The Monist of January, 1908, pages 75-110. I have there attempted to translate of the lines of Angelus Silesius (on pages 104-109). Since this mystical thinker is little known in the countries of English speech, and since only a few of his verses have been translated, we present here to our readers an additional selection which will serve as instances of the peculiar God-conception of the mystics, so much like Buddhistic Nirvana; also the mystic ethics of quietism, the mystic psychology and mystic religion which teach man to seek salvation through breaking down the limits of the ego. By overcoming egoity it is promised that man shall attain divinity. Peculiarly noteworthy is the mystic's sensual conception of piety, and the representation of the soul's relation to God as a kind of mystic marriage. All this is typical of a certain kind of mysticism which exercised such a powerful influence at the end of the Middle Ages, but has now entirely lost its influence on mankind.
Ruffage, nuts, odd seeds in system, pink pills and oval pills, various shades of bluegreen pills, gurgling plumbing, laboring furnace, cooling wood stove, snoring dog, industrious mice, defiant squirrels, rolling cars passing in dark, unfathomable galaxies and universes out and about, rocksalt in crevices of peapod floorboards, creaking ceiling as occupant turns in bed, coughs, and gauges how much time remains to sleep.
What you for others wish,
You for yourself suggest.
If you don't wish them well,
Your own death you request.

A soul redeemed and blessed
No more knows otherhood.
It is with God one light
And one beatitude.

In Heaven life is good:
No-one has aught alone.
What one possesses, there
All others too will own.
It is humorous to consider most of our proprietary gathering unto ourselves here in the little-seeing world has been silly-stalking senselessness in the bemused eyes of infinite simplicity-sallying spirituality of the naught alone.
"Where is my residence?"'
Where I nor you can stand.
"Where is the final end
Where I at last shall land?"
'T is where no end is found.
"And whither must I press.
Above God I must pass.
Into the wilderness.
Morning begins arising light. Everywhere in town feet meet floor. Mind adjusts to flood of tasks. We are lucky to love what is here!
Friend it is now enough.
In case thou more wilt read:
Thou must the Scriptures be,
The essence eke, indeed.
Lucky to be learning to read.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Open the sack; look for hat

We row lighthouse keeper to Curtis Island. She needed to pick up some things for an upcoming trip. Smooth and calm waters, sunlight steady, skim ice covering inner harbor. On return from island we pass Sam and Susan rowing out. Susan was reciting soundly something about Spain and water sovereignty across our bow as they diminished steadily to a green dot on a distant fading tack. Mean temperature was 14degrees. Back at house, after walking with dogs around turtle islands on frozen Hosmer Pond, the thermometer said 7degrees. Sitting zazen in Merton Retreat the small gas fireplace tried its best to push back seeping cold. Chicken soup, hot, hale, and hearty, helped afterwards.
If you want to catch a rat
You don't need a fancy cat
If you want to learn the principles
Don't study fine bound books
The True Pearl's in a hemp sack
The Buddha nature rests in huts
Many grasp the sack
But few open it.

- Shih-te
Primary season scurries in and out of dark nests bringing pesty ideas into light of day best left in walls and crevices out of sight of pandering politicos dripping money from overripe financiers testing the traps of democracy with pungent cheese of plutocratic oligarchy. Or, as the fisherman on the dock might say: Rotten bait is only good for soon dead fish. And there's something fishy these days about the wharves of congress and supreme court and even the executive launch. With global warming and stinking pails of potash fertilizing money stuffed in ambitious gills it is no surprise the oxygen levels necessary to sustain life under and above water are diminishing. Sucking any sustaining nourishment out of weakening bodies, corruptive venture entrepreneurs prop up facsimile figures to postulate and gesticulate guppy mouthing of stale and rotting ideas that do not bode well for healthy civic and spiritual life. The political fishing grounds are badly and sadly polluted.

Gregory Corso stepped out of his attic to give us the following:
America Politica Historia, In Spontaneity

O this political air so heavy with the bells
and motors of a slow night, and no place to rest
but rain to walk—How it rings the Washington streets!
The umbrella’d congressmen; the rapping tires
of big black cars, the shoulders of lobbyists
caught under canopies and in doorways,
and it rains, it will not let up,
and meanwhile lame futurists weep into Spengler’s
prophecy, will the world be over before the races blend color?
All color must be one or let the world be done—
There’ll be a chance, we’ll all be orange!
I don’t want to be orange!
Nothing about God’s color to complain;
and there is a beauty in yellow, the old Lama
in his robe the color of Cathay;
in black a strong & vital beauty,
Thelonious Monk in his robe of Norman charcoal—
And if Western Civilization comes to an end
(though I doubt it, for the prophet has not
executed his prophecy) surely the Eastern child
will sit by a window, and wonder
the old statues, the ornamented doors;
the decorated banquet of the West—
Inflamed by futurists I too weep in rain at night
at the midnight of Western Civilization;
Dante’s step into Hell will never be forgotten by Hell;
the Gods’ adoption of Homer will never be forgotten by the Gods;
the books of France are on God’s bookshelf;
no civil war will take place on the fields of God;
and I don’t doubt the egg of the East its glory—
Yet it rains and the motors go
and continued when I slept by that wall in Washington
which separated the motors in the death-parlor
where Joe McCarthy lay, lean and stilled,
ten blocks from the Capitol—
I could never understand Uncle Sam
his red & white striped pants his funny whiskers his starry hat:
how surreal Yankee Doodle Dandy, goof!
American history has a way of making you feel
George Washington is still around, that is
when I think of Washington I do not think of Death—
Of all Presidents I have been under
Hoover is the most unreal
and FDR is the most President-looking
and Truman the most Jewish-looking
and Eisenhower the miscast of Time into Space—
Hoover is another America, Mr. 1930
and what must he be thinking now?
FDR was my youth, and how strange to still see
his wife around.
Truman is still in Presidential time.
I saw Eisenhower helicopter over Athens
and he looked at the Acropolis like only Zeus could.
OF THE PEOPLE is fortunate and select.
FOR THE PEOPLE has never happened in America or elsewhere.
BY THE PEOPLE is the sadness of America.
I am not politic.
I am not patriotic.
I am nationalistic!
I boast well the beauty of America to all the people in Europe.
In me they do not see their vision of America.
O whenever I pass an American Embassy I don’t know what to feel!
Sometimes I want to rush in and scream: “I’m American!”
but instead go a few paces down to the American Bar
get drunk and cry: “I’m no American!”
The men of politics I love are but youth’s fantasy:
The fine profile of Washington on coins stamps & tobacco wraps
The handsomeness and death-in-the-snow of Hamilton.
The eyeglasses shoe-buckles kites & keys of Ben Franklin.
The sweet melancholy of Lincoln.
The way I see Christ, as something romantic & unreal, is the way I see them.
An American is unique among peoples.
He looks and acts like a boyman.
He never looks cruel in uniform.
He is rednecked portly rich and jolly.
White-haired serious Harvard, kind and wry.
A convention man a family man a rotary man & practical joker.
He is moonfaced cunning well-meaning & righteously mean.
He is Madison Avenue, handsome, in-the-know, and superstitious.
He is odd, happy, quicker than light, shameless, and heroic
Great yawn of youth!
The young don’t seem interested in politics anymore.
Politics has lost its romance!
The “bloody kitchen” has drowned!
And all that is left are those granite
façades of Pentagon, Justice, and Department—
Politicians do not know youth!
They depend on the old
and the old depend on them
and lo! this has given youth a chance
to think of heaven in their independence.
No need to give them liberty or freedom
where they’re at—
When Stevenson in 1956 came to San Francisco
he campaigned in what he thought was an Italian section!
He spoke of Italy and Joe DiMaggio and spaghetti,
but all who were there, all for him,
were young beatniks! and when his car drove off
Ginsberg & I ran up to him and yelled:
“When are you going to free the poets from their attics!”
Great yawn of youth!
Mad beautiful oldyoung America has no candidate
the craziest wildest greatest country of them all!
and not one candidate—
Nixon arrives ever so temporal, self-made,
frontways sideways and backways,
could he be America’s against? Detour to vehicle?
Mast to wind? Shore to sea? Death to life?
The last President?

(Poem by Gregory Corso, “America Politica Historia, in Spontaneity” from Elegiac Feelings American. Copyright © 1970 by Gregory Corso.)
Source: Mindfield: New and Selected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1989)
No poets need apply this election year. Poets shape metaphor and seedling word, politicians mold fear and into needling absurd, smiling thousand dollar smiles, tossing pennies at paupers.

I'd rather row a lighthouse keeper telling stories on stern thwart to Tanzania to help with medical healing than listen to one more sorrowful syllable from rue-ling class Lotharios breaking hearts and hopes with magnificent cons and swindles paid for by

Enough, this Monday morning rant.

I look outside.
A cold rain starting

A cold rain starting
And no hat --

(poem by Matsuo Basho)
The stark sanity of poetry!

Balm to current craze and personal maze madness!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

At origin of all: that; is

Ha! Ha! Here! Ha! Ha!

I've got plenty of nothing here.

Sometimes it gets me down. For so long I've been elsewhere, there, mistaken. It is a relief to be turning a corner, bumping into here as though a mistake, a wrong navigation; and dangerous, each turning is, disconcerting.
Sermons there are, must be a million
Too many to read in a hurry
If you want a friend
Just come to T'ien T'ai mountain
Sit deep among the crags
We'll talk about the Principles
And chat about dark Mysteries
If you don't come to my mountain
Your view will be blocked
By the others.

- Shih-te
Snowshoeing Hosmer Pond with Saskia, Cody, and Rokie in light falling flakes we realize again the joy of being in this gift of mountain, pond, sky, and cold. Around edges thick with ice the steady lift and thump of wide attachments to winter boots create new paths through recent snow. There's nothing like it. Naturally, we love it as it is, here, for now.
Second reading 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Brothers [and Sisters]: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.
"Now" never passes away. "Now" is what we used to spell "Deus," "Brahman," "Adonai," "Allah," "Abba," "Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi" (Unexcelled perfect enlightenment), and "Divine Mother."

No matter how you turn it, ("now, mou, won"), this present and only moment is here, mine, victorious, and nothing special. It is also nowhere, noone's, nothing to gain, and profoundly circumincessionally interpenetrating.

Only now is; nothing else is.

Now, then, what is there to do?

however hard I think
still its the same
walking on fallen leaves

(--Santoka Taneda)
Nothing is growing short, Paul, except the obscure and illusory thought that there is an extension of time for us to durate.

For this morning, the counter-impression occurs.

Each face at each instant is the whole of creation present at origin of all that is.

Oh, look, here you are!

Another name for God.

How nice to see you!