Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ask, if you wish, of nothing else

Look through this and
Listen closely --
There is nothing else but this
About which
I am

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise"

Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. was 68, had a heart condition, and was shot and killed in his apartment by White Plains police after he inadvertently pressed his medical alert alarm and they responded along with an ambulance.
What Kind of Times Are These

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

(Poem, “What Kind of Times Are These”. © 2002, 1995 by Adrienne Rich, from The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001.)
Outside window by this desk, a tree stands in early spring cold and last night's light snow.

More details are revealed about the Trayvon Martin killing in Sanford, Florida.

It is becoming clearer that trees might be the only beings worth speaking about, or with.

People are disappearing.

Thank you, Adrienne, for your poetry!

And, nature with earth, for trees.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"tonight no poetry will serve"

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve
by Adrienne Rich

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon's eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force-feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb    disgraced    goes on doing

now diagram the sentence

(Poem by Adrienne Rich, 2007)
(May 16, 1929 -- March 28, 2012)

this news is not; overwhelming

The world is full of lies and greed. Ordinarily this news is not overwhelming. Then, at times, it feels it is.
To find a buddha,
all you have to do is see your nature.
Your nature is the buddha.
And the buddha is the person who's free,
free of plans, free of cares.
If you don't see your nature
and run around all day looking
somewhere else, you'll never find a buddha.

- Bodhidharma (d. 533)
A lie wants you to believe to be true what is not.

Greed wants you to take what is not needed.

Not true, not needed.

Not me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

coincidentally...of course

Cold, sunny, windy morning scolds those lulled into pre-summer fantasies. Maine's fierce independent unpredictable nature wanders into town after a short nap up in the hills.

I prefer the notion of panentheism. But, on second look, the dialogue between pantheism and panentheism is worth listening to.
Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that God exists, interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. Panentheism is differentiated from pantheism, which holds that God is not a distinct being but is synonymous with the universe.[1] 
Simply put, in pantheism, God is the whole; however, in panentheism, the whole is in God. This means that the universe in the first formulation is practically the whole itself. In the second formulation, the universe and God are not ontologically equivalent. In panentheism, God is viewed as the eternal animating force behind the universe. Some versions suggest that the universe is nothing more than the manifest part of God. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God.[2] Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism.[3]
Heraclitus (circa 500 BCE) contributes:
When Heraclitus speaks of God, he doesn't mean the Greek gods, neither a personal entity. Instead he thinks that God is living in every soul and even in every material thing on earth. The fiery element is the expression of God in everything, thus he is in every sense a pantheist.

Another of Heraclitus' main teachings can be called the "unity of opposites". The unity of opposites means that opposites cannot exist without each other - there is no day without night, no summer without winter, no warm without cold, no good without bad. To put it in his own words: "It is wise to agree that all things are one. In differing it agrees with itself, a backward-turning connection, like that of a bow and a lyre. The path up and down is one the same." Comparing the convergence of opposites with the contrary tension of a bow and a lyre is perfectly in harmony with his theory of flux and fire.

From a modern perspective it seems trivial to state that opposites are the same, yet to the Greek it was not entirely obvious. Hot and cold can both be expressed as a degree of temperature, dark and bright as a degree of light. Nonetheless, the Heraclitean theory of perpetual flux and universal transformation goes far beyond what was obvious to the ancients:

"Science, like philosophy, has sought to escape from the doctrine of perpetual flux by finding some permanent substratum amid changing phenomena. Chemistry seemed to satisfy this desire. It was found that fire, which appears to destroy, only transmutes: elements are recombined, but each atom that existed before combustion still exists when the process is completed.

(--from, Heraclitus [Ephesus, around 500 BC]

Then, Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464):
Nicholas held that the Absolute Infinite cannot be conceived by finite thought. Hence, in theology, only negations can be assumed as true. Although positive theological statements are inevitable in order to think about God, they are inadequate. Paradoxically, one can reach the incomprehensible God only by knowing his incomprehensibility. This is the meaning of the term “learned ignorance.” In the end, both negative and positive theology must be dissolved into inexpressibility; God is ineffable beyond all affirmations and negations. This is the extreme climax of a philosophical theology where the infinite distance between God and the finite has come to a head. More exactly, human beings cannot touch God through knowledge at all, but at the very most only by our yearning for Him. 
Nicholas of Cusa calls infinity “absolute,” as it must be understood in a full and unrestrained sense. Hence, the sphere of an independent and self-sufficient finite cannot exist beside it, otherwise infinity itself would actually be finite and restricted. “There cannot be an opposite to the ineffable Infinite,” says Nicholas. “It is also not the whole, to whom a part could be opposed, nor can it be a part… The Infinite is above all that.” (De Visione Dei, VIII[1]) Above all opposites, the Infinite—God—is beyond all multitude as well. Thus, Nicholas calls Him the “Absolute Unity and Oneness,” which is prior to all and includes all. In this sense, he speaks of God as the “coincidence of opposites.” 
Everything is enveloped in God and developed in the universe, though God must not become mingled with the finite reality in any way. “You, O God, are the antithesis of opposites, because you are infinite; and because you are infinite, you are infinity. In infinity, the antithesis of opposites is without antithesis… Infinity does not tolerate any otherness beside itself; for, as it is infinity, nothing is external to it. The Absolute Infinite includes all and encompasses all.” (De Visione Dei, VIII)

(--from, Nicholas of Cusa: His Idea of the Coincidence of Opposites and the Concept of Unity in Unification Thought, Written by Klaus Rohmann, Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 3, 1999-2000 - Page 117)
There's something attractive thinking about God as Coincidentia Oppositorum (coincidence of opposites, or, unity of opposites). It brings to mind the Middle Way of Buddhism, and "In medio stat virtus" (Virtue stands in the middle) of Horace and Aristotle.

Season change sets me on edge. Everything reconsiders the relative benefit of living long or dying short when seasons change. It is the nature of seasons to invite our attention to the fluctuations of creative and destructive impulse.

Fragile, provisional, it comes unbidden
as evening: the children on the block
called in to dinner that for tonight
is plentiful, as if it had cost nothing
either in money or worry about money.

Then evening deepens and the street
turns silent. There may be disasters
idling in driveways, and countless distresses
sharpening, but all that matters
most that must be done is done.
(Poem, "Contentment" by Michael Ryan, from This Morning. © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.)
Truth be told, I am interested in God. Perhaps, more, I am interested with God. "Interest," to be between, in the middle of, coincidentally -- of course.

The most difficult hazard of being interested are the believers who laboriously and tediously put God here or there in opposition to others' putting God there or here.

As for me,
this morning,
I know not where...

I am.

Monday, March 26, 2012

" speak from God's eternal birth"

Then, this, by Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948), Russian Religious Philosopher, an excerpt:
"Im Wasser lebt der Fisch, die Pflanzen in der Erden,
Der Vogel in der Luft, die Sonn im Firmament,
Der Salamander muss mit Feur erhalten werden:
Und Gottes Herz ist Jakob Boehmens Element".

["In water lives the fish, the plant in the ground,
The bird in the sky, the sun in the firmament,
The salamander must with fire be sustained,
And God's Heart is Jacob Boehme's element".]
Angelus Silesius


Jacob Boehme has to be termed the greatest of Christian gnostics. The word gnosis I employ here not in the sense of the heresies of the first centuries of Christianity,2 but in the sense of knowledge basic to revelation and dealing not with concepts, but with symbols and myths; contemplative knowledge, and not discursive knowledge. This is also a religious philosophy or theosophy. Characteristic for J. Boehme is that he had a great simplicity of heart, a child-like purity of soul. Therefore before death he could exclaim: "Nun fahre ich in's Paradeis" {"Now I journey on into Paradise"}. He was not learned, not bookish, not schooled a man, but rather a simple craftsman, a shoemaker. He belonged to the type of the wise-seers from amongst the people. He did not know Aristotle, he did not know Pseudo-Dionysios the Areopagite, he did not know the Medieval Scholasticism and mysticism. In him it is impossible, just as it is for the larger part of Christian mystics, to discern any direct influences of Neo-Platonism. He found his sustenance first of all in the Bible3 and beyond this he read Paracelsus, Sebast. Franck, Weigel, Schwenckfeld. He lived within the atmosphere of the German mystico-theosophic currents of his time. Boehme was not a philosopher in the academic school sense of this word, he was first of all a theosophist, a visionary and myth-creator, but his influence on German philosophy was enormous. His thinking was not by calculated and clear concepts, but by symbols and myths. He was convinced, that Christianity had become distorted by the learned and by the theologians, by the popes and the cardinals. Boehme by faith-confession was a Lutheran and he died with the final unction of a pastor. But the Lutheran clergy vexed and harassed him, and forbade him to publish his works. This is a phenomenon typical to all faith-confessions. And just like with the greater part of mystics and theosophists, he was supra-confessional. It is possible to discern in him strong Catholic elements, despite his extreme hostility to papism. The origin from which the knowledge of Boehme derived -- is a very complex problem. This problem involves the possibility of a personal gnostic revelation and enlightening, by a special cognitive charism. At present they tend to think, that Boehme was more widely read, than earlier was thought, but certainly least of all can the teachings of Boehme be explained by borrowings and influences (an explanation unbecoming for such an original and remarkable thinker). Eckhardt was a man learned and bookish, he knew Aristotle, Pseudo-Dionysios the Areopagite, Thomas Aquinas, the Medieval Scholasticism and mysticism. Boehme however was self-made, and with him undoubtedly were primal intuitions. Boehme himself says about the sources of his cognition: "Ich brauche ihrer Art und Weise und ihrer Formeln nicht, weil ich es von ihnen nicht gelernt habe; ich habe einen andern Lehrmeister, und der ist die ganze Natur. Von dieser ganzen Natur mit ihrer instehenden Geburt habe ich meine Philosophie, Astrologie und Theologie studirt und gelernt, und nicht von oder durch Menschen" {"I use not their art and wisdom and their formulas, since from them I have learned nothing; I have an other Master-Teacher, and this is the whole of nature. From this whole of nature with innate birth I have studied and learned my philosophy, astrology and theology, and nothing from or through man"}.4 There is here a sense of the Renaissance reaction against the Scholastics and a reorientation towards nature itself. Moreover, Boehme was convinced, that his knowing was not by his own human powers, but with the help of the Holy Spirit. "In meinen eigenen Kraeften bin ich so ein blinder Mensch, als irgend einer ist, und vermag nichts, aber im Geiste Gottes siehet mein eingeborner Geist durch Alles, aber nicht immer beharrlich; sondern wenn der Geist der Liebe Gottes durch meinen Geist durchbricht, alsdann ist die animalische Geburt und die Gottheit ein Wesen, eine Begreiflichkeit und ein Licht" {"In mine own ability I am as blind a man, as is anyone, and am capable of nothing, but in the Spirit of God throughout all stands my inborn spirit, but not always unwaveringly; but when the Spirit of the love of God is focused through my spirit, then is the creaturely birth and the Godhead one essence, one understanding and one light"}.5 Sophia assists him in the perception of the very mystery of God. He believes, that God "wird dich zum lieben Kinde annehmen und dir ein neu Kleid der edeln Jungfrauen Sophiae anziehen, und einen Siegelring (Mysterii Magni) an deine Hand des Gemueths stecken; und in demselben Kleide (der neuen Wiedergeburt) hast du allein Macht, von der ewigen Geburt Gottes zu reden" {"wilt adopt thee as a beloved child and clothe thee in the new garb of the nobly virginal Sophia, and a signet-ring (Mysterii Magni) upon thine hand of mind wilt set; and in the selfsame garb (the new birth-anew) hast thou alone the power, to speak from God's eternal birth"}.6

Etude I. The Teaching about the Ungrund and Freedom
(1939 - #349)
© 2002 by translator Fr. S. Janos -- with the great and gracious assist of Fr Michael Knechten in correction of the German portions of the original Put' text, and his intensive review with the translation from German.

In its own way, the Christian Church calendar celebrates today the feast of The Annunciation, a calling to mind "the new birth-anew" (der neuer Wiedergeburt) announced nine months (giving mythic time it's temporal due) prior to Feast of Nativity.

There are so many riches of contemplative invitation for us to respond to with our widening heart!

So, let it be unto us according to your Word-widening-wonder!

And we, wonderers of generative silence -- may we return by way of falling forward to your piety, pieta, and provocative promise begun in our rendezvous with time, today, with gracefulness!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Looking this way

At Quaker Meeting I am looking at rug in Merton Retreat.

I am thinking: What is silence is what God is seeing.

I am thinking: Silence is intersection.

I am thinking: There is denseness and there is diaphaneity.
-- Christ is diaphaneity.
-- Everything else is denseness.

When we practice together we practice the intersection of silence and diaphaneity, seeing through denseness, listening into the soundless.

Jakob Boehme comes to mind:
One of Boehme's most daring conceptions was that God's emergence out of pure Oneness into differentiated actuality required a confrontation with contrariety and opposition. It was out of this creative struggle that the sensible universe issued forth. Boehme held that it was inevitable and even desirable that conflict and suffering should have arisen. These negative elements were the motivating spurs that stimulated the production of all the manifold phenomena of nature. Moreover, it was solely through the struggle with negativity that the minds of finite creatures could become aware of themselves, their world, and ultimately God:
If the natural life had no opposition (Widerwaertigkeit), and were without a goal, then it would never ask for its own ground, from which it came; then the hidden God would remain unknown to the natural life . . . there would be no sensation, nor will, nor activity, nor understanding (SS, vol. 4, Weg zu Christo, "Von Goettlicher Beschaulichkeit," ch. 1, #9; cf. Way to Christ 196).
If the hidden God, who is but a Single Essence and Will, had not of his own will gone forth out of himself, if he had not issued out of the eternal knowing . . . into a divisibility of the will (Schiedlichkeit des Willens), and had not the same divisibility into comprehensibility (Infasslichkeit) conducted to a natural and creaturely life, and were it not the case that this same divisibility in life consisted in strife -- how else then could he have wanted the hidden will of God, who in himself is but One, to be revealed? How might a will within a Single Unity be a knowledge of himself (Erkenntnis seiner selber)? (ibid., #10)
In God's quest for self-manifestation, however, there lurked an implicit dilemma. On the one hand, his eternal purity and freedom consisted in the condition of the Ungrund, which transcended all limitations. On the other hand, the very absence of oppositions within this Ungrund meant that it was incapable of either manifesting or apprehending itself -- it was, in fact, a "nothingness" (ein Nichts).

Then, further in the writing:

Boehme's speculations led him to the idea that the first schism within the will of God had to materialize in the form of a concrete self-alienation. He argued (in effect) that there must be a transition between (1) the potential polarity involved in positing an unmanifest non-being's need to become manifest to itself, and (2) the coming-into-existence of a being that was manifest, and yet also contrary to itself. The unmanifest Godhead was prior to all existence and as such absolutely homogeneous; and yet -- this was the first paradox -- it included an inherent tendency to differentiate itself into contraries. Thus the undifferentiated unity passed into the self-differentiating unity. The latter, like the Logos of Heraklitus, contained 'in posse' the germs of a balance of opposites, whose hypothetical contrariety was of such a kind -- and this was the second paradox -- that their transition into concrete actuality was necessary. In this way, the hidden dialectic of God issued forth into the manifest dialectic of nature, and with that, the sensible universe was created.


If one makes allowances for the fanciful quality of Boehme's modes of expression, one can see him wrestling with a classic philosophical problem: namely, how to understand the relationship between God's timeless unity and the multiplicity of the actual universe. Part of what made this problem so formidable was that it involved trying, in a way, to "conceive" of a connection between the conceivable and that which (by hypothesis) is inconceivable.

Since God was the inconceivable essence par excellence, it was a riddle to comprehend how or why this essence could have rendered itself understandable, even if only to a degree. The question was, why should the Deity not far rather remain inscrutable, forever wrapped in absolute mystery? The originality of Boehme's approach consisted in giving the problem a self-referential twist -- in the claim that God would have no knowledge of himself if he did not reveal himself to himself. Inasmuch as revelation consists in a kind of experience, it must require a structural subject-object polarity. Hence, it would follow that God's self-revelation simultaneously implied the existence of a creation and creatures to whom, and through whom, the revelation would take place.

(-- Excerpted from article about Jacob Boehme, Copyright © 1995, by Edward A. Beach. See,)
At Evening Practice we read Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche on meditation.

Each direction we look is only one turn in a compass of many indicating directions we look. There are so many ways to turn and look.