Saturday, January 12, 2013

Translation, thou art our fate!

Is it: "Peace and good will to men"?

Or is it: "Peace to men of good will"?

The wording of the story from christian scripture (Luke2:14) of the angels announcing to shepherds the news of a birth, the way you translate it, determines your understanding of god, your attitude to other people, and the way you see yourself.

One translation implies that those lacking good will are not wished peace. They are outside the "glory" wished to god or the extension of its reach.

The other translation invites all into peace and good will. No one is outside the "glory" of god, which reaches to embrace everyone in their present and potential condition.

One pericope, two theologies; two versions of god and those who communicate god to humanity.

With one, you are either in or out. With the other, all surround and are surrounded by the invitation to inclusive intimacy.

God is either a rewarding/punishing god right from the get go; or god is gloriously accepting, patient, and suffering of everyone no matter their understanding, behavior, or belief.

The sentence that formed itself in the following expression last month for me arrives again here this morning: God is any act engaged upon with care, compassion, love, concern, or creativity in service to life.

As Christmas slides from consciousness with the ice and thaw of January, we are still busy trying to figure whether Santa Claus and Jesus are fictions of the good-or-bad mental mechanical exclusionary divisive mind; or if they are mythic multipliers of story creating community and inculcating inclusive benevolent compassionate heart.

The whole world is poised on the teetering edge of Luke two fourteen: concordances and dictionaries in hand, Talmudic scholars and Greek etymologists pondering, preachers and poets poring over fragments of feeling, police and politicians preparing arrest and legislation, courts and prisons polishing shackles for transport, psyches and memories lingering ladened with tortured ambivalence.

Meanwhile -- new coffee pot stands on kitchen stove waiting for first run spewing boiling water up through slender tube to saturate grounds dripping back down in an ever deepening fragrant brown nectar for whatever god you have chosen to sit and sip with you.

May your coffee be strong, your coffee klatch be companionable, and your god be the story the world needs!

Meanwhile -- zafu and zabuton prepare for silent conversation with emptiness in preparation for followup pouring of cup into stillness.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Nothing's gonna change . . . my world

Nada Brahman; God is sound.

What is heard is God.

The rest is interpretation and opinion.

Listen, then.

Listen to the sound of what is being heard.

There, there, is God.

The eternal, infinite, ever-present, originally aware reality moving through the cosmos with every aspect of the manifest and unmanifest . . . presence . . . Itself!
The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.
(--Galileo Galilei)
Nada Brahman; sound is God.

This is what is...


If we could only

Hear, Here, Hari

Jai guru deva!

Aum. . .

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Looking through itself; intimacy, connected-with: compassion

Sam read Mary Oliver and a spate of Romans. "Interplay" was a word he used. Cosmos' evolution and human evolution interplay with one another.
If there were nothing beyond the psychological, all the saints from Simon Stylites to the Poverello, to Benedict Joseph Labre, to Therese of Lisieux, would indeed make up a fools' parade. Yet there is no area in which the "nothing but," the reductive principle, is more absurd than the life of the spirit. Under that aspect the spirit evaporates, and life itself becomes reduced to a desiccated specimen.
Pascal has said: "Knowledge has two end points which touch one another: one is the pure, natural ignorance which all men have when they come into this world. At the other end are the great men who, after having traversed all human knowledge, know that they do not know, and who come back to their original state of ignorance; this, however, is a knowing ignorance, an ignorance which looks through itself. Those who have abandoned the first state of ignorance, and never reached the second one, have a varnish of saturated wisdom. They play the role of the initiated ones. They are the people who obscure the world. Their judgment is falser than anybody else's." These words are so appropriate whenever one comes across a study in which something which is of the supernatural order is boiled down to its psychological substrate. With few exceptions, most psychological studies which deal with the supernatural bear that stigma. Nevertheless, we have to admit one thing: the psychological plane and the spiritual plane are not independent of each other. On the contrary, they are most intimately connected.

(--pp. 165-166, in The Third Revolution, A Study of Psychiatry and Religion, by Karl Stern, c.1954)
We have to learn to play

With, not against, one another,

On the field of stillness.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

When Francis and Dogen lived apart together

To allow. To say "yes." To fall into compassion.

Heart to heart.

Drops away mind.

And body.

No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves. 
(--Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226)

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water. Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.
(--Dogen Zenji, 1200-1253)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What is emerging; now

 Perhaps the time for institutions of spirituality has drawn short. If not in general, then, for specific individuals. Remnant and dominant minorities, said Toynbee, exert powerful retentive and retaliatory power.

The clench of no-option grasp has loosened and falls away. A cultural change is underway. Over-worked and under-enriched priests laden with mop-up/patch-up duties try to remember their original calling, and are drenched with waters from Lethe. 

Will there be an aggiornamento, a spirit of change and open-mindedness, that visits the people, bypassing the caste created to run the institution, and weaving a course fresh and fluid down the hill from the contemporary calvary of snuffed inspiration? Is it even necessary to contemplate continuance? 
Or will a mutating creativity launch new phylums of φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom"?

     Our task and our responsibility are to assimilate the wisdom of bygone traditions and, having made it our own, to allow it to grow. Life is neither repetition nor continuation. It is growth, which implies at once rupture and continuity. Life is creation.
     If creation is an act of contemplation, as Plotinus says, real growth would be to reenact  in a contemplative way our partnership in the very creative activity of reality:
And Nature, asked why it brings forth its works, might answer, if it cared to listen [to our queries] and to speak: It would have been better not to ask but to understand and to be silent just as I myself am silent and have no habit of talking.*
The philosopher goes on, questioning Nature and answering in her name:
And what have we to understand? This; that whatsoever comes into being is my vision, seen in my silence. . . . The geometricians from their vision draw their figures: but I draw nothing: I just contemplate [θεωρoυσης] and the figures of the material world take being as if they fell from my contemplation.*           (*Plotinus, Enneads, III, 8, 4) 
(--from Preface, p.xxvii, The Rhythm of Being, by Raimon Panikkar) 
It's not that I seldom enter a church these days. It's more that there's an empty space beyond those doors  when the worshipful gather in their liturgy of repetitive continuation. Curiously, that same space, when not occupied by the faithfully assembled, serves a different field of emptiness that is rich, still, silent, and profound.

The emptiness of church is an equivocal evocation. It cuts dyadically. Where nothing happens; or, where nothing happens. "Nothing," or emptiness, happens when all expectations of something "other" drop. In that dropping comes connection with ground. Ground of being. Original awareness. Some call it "God." A good word. Especially when not co-opted or patented by any group claiming proprietary exclusivity.

I salute the men and women working to prolong, revive, or serve the structure that has long served and recently dis-served the public. A lengthy failing seems to be stretching onto an unclear horizon. 

I'm not sure those who say it is an unChristian slide and nefarious suggestion that the church grows empty in an unprofound manner. I prefer the possibility that it is an invitation into profundity itself beckoning. The new realization of emptiness signals new readiness to abandon the divisions and divisiveness of duality for a new thing -- for non-dual awareness of origin permeating time and eternity toward realization of non-triadic union: divinity, humanity, and cosmos -- dancing in and out, within and through one another in a compassionate creativity of concern and care, love in service to life. Any act engaged upon with such abandon is the movement of God through, with, and in this emerging now.

This is our life together.

This is our contemplation.

Our correlative conversation.

Activity of creative presence!

Monday, January 07, 2013


Evening descends. Light crawls under ground snow.

Someone, in conversation, allows as how they'd never heard of Building 7 collapsing on 9/11. Curiously, this does not surprise me. I tell the facts, the fantastic explanations, and the phenomenal ambiguation following the event.

Something unsettling lingers. But time stretches, as they say, forward. There is a dark shadow shading our souls. Disambiguation is drunk and despondent in a dark corner of our mental barroom. It cannot focus. It slurs its thought. It is unsightly.

Time will come when light will illumine the ashes and resurrect our longing for a more coherent conversation about that stumbling September Tuesday.

Darker, still, our civic psyche grows into night.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Epiphany: That which is; showing-through appearance

Long hours of conversation with S and C (recuperating former student, when they return from Tolle talk shown in Camden library), about retrieving original awareness down through ascending accretions of experience, words, concepts, context, conditioning and slanted interpretation, societal and cultural trending, chaotic diffusic survival daily necessity. It is an archeological dig undertaken by remnant of true self looking for its wholeness covered by layers of time, space, and forgetfulness.

Can what is originally there be retrieved? Is wisdom the willingness to see and retrieve what is there?
"What Is, There."
Before the puzzle was boxed and readdressed
To the puzzle shop in the mid-Sixties,
Something tells me that one piece contrived
To stay in the boy’s pocket. How do I know?
I know because so many later puzzles
Had missing pieces—Maggie Teyte’s high notes
Gone at the war’s end, end of the vogue for collies,
A house torn down; and hadn’t Mademoiselle
Kept back her pitiful bit of truth as well?
I’ve spent the last days, furthermore,
Ransacking Athens for that translation of “Palme.”
Neither the Goethehaus nor the National Library
Seems able to unearth it. Yet I can’t
Just be imagining. I’ve seen it. Know
How much of the sun-ripe original
Felicity Rilke made himself forego
(Who loved French words—verger, mûr, parfumer)
In order to render its underlying sense.
Know already in that tongue of his
What Pains, what monolithic Truths
Shadow stanza to stanza’s symmetrical
Rhyme-rutted pavement. Know that ground plan left
Sublime and barren, where the warm Romance
Stone by stone faded, cooled; the fluted nouns
Made taller, lonelier than life
By leaf-carved capitals in the afterglow.
The owlet umlaut peeps and hoots
Above the open vowel. And after rain
A deep reverberation fills with stars.

Lost, is it, buried? One more missing piece?

But nothing’s lost. Or else: all is translation
And every bit of us is lost in it
(Or found—I wander through the ruin of S
Now and then, wondering at the peacefulness)
And in that loss a self-effacing tree,
Color of context, imperceptibly
Rustling with its angel, turns the waste
To shade and fiber, milk and memory.
(--from poem, Lost in Translation, by James Merrill
Nothing's lost. "Nothing" is all there is.

From which creation.

With which emptiness.

Through which movement.
Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced - even a proverb is not a proverb till your life has illustrated it. (John Keats)
About which more later. That "more" being our reaching into original awareness to retrieve the vibrating élan vital of originating dream emergent presence itself.



Nowhere else.