Wednesday, December 31, 2014

not divided

Listen up.
The real reason why human life can be so utterly exasperating and frustrating is not because there are facts called death, pain, fear, or hunger. The madness of the thing is that when such facts are present, we circle, buzz, writhe, and whirl, trying to get the “I” out of the experience. We pretend that we are amoebas, and try to protect ourselves from life by splitting in two. Sanity, wholeness, and integration lie in the realization that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate “I” or mind can be found.To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, “I am listening to this music,” you are not listening. 
(--from, The Wisdom of Insecurity" by Alan Watts)
As Wednesday becomes Thursday.
As 31 becomes 1.
As 14 becomes 15.
Become the hearing of listening.

cold night, firewood

Bangor Daily News after stoking wood stove at 3:30am. The many ways we encounter or cause suffering. Honoring our humanity, practicing compassion. Breathing in, breathing out. The silence of prayer.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

what is between; the word, “happy”

We say,  “I remember the time.” It’s a trick phrase. One the mind creates to soothe the worry that everything is right now, right here, all at once. It is a useful expedience.
One in All
All in One—
If only this is realized,
No more worry about your not being perfect!    
                                                         - Sosan Ganchi Zenji, "Shin Jin Mei
Yesterday, remembering Thomas Becket, I thought of T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral.” Which threw me to “Burnt Norton.” Hence, to Morris Weitz:
We must start with the temporal, the ever-changing experience; and come to see its dependence upon the Timeless: 
                                Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.
In the final movement of 'Burnt Norton', the distinction between the Timeless and the temporal becomes the distinction between The Word and words. Words lie, but it is only through words that we can conquer them, to express the truth which is The Word. And what we want to say we cannot say because words are always changing, being in the flux; but even with words we can suggest The Word: That God, Who is the Final
Cause, did initiate the first event and does determine the last event:
Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being.
The movement and the poem end with a concrete and visual return to the rose-garden with their contrast between the inadequate affirmation of the sole reality of the flux and the true recognition that there is something more, the Eternal, echoing in the laughter of the children. How ridiculous, then, the sole acceptance of 'the waste sad time Stretching before and after'. 
--Morris Weitz, from “T.S. Eliot: Time as a Mode of Salvation." Sewanee Review (1952).
2014 has a single day remaining. 2015 happens in a fraction of a second measured by an atomic clock.

Q: What happens in the interval between ‘before’ and 'after'?

A: The poem.
Hubble photo
The poem is un-being written, whose first word arrives as being . . . ‘happy'.

The between gives birth to what is ‘new'.

Some call it a 'year’.

no; getting away from it






Monday, December 29, 2014

while sitting with quakers

dios sola; ora sola

(god alone; only now)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

what role as actor do you long to disappear into?

I think Stephen would understand. So too John. As also the Holy Innocents. It is awareness itself of family.
your brightness is my darkness 
"Your brightness is my darkness.
I know nothing of You and, by myself,
I cannot even imagine how to go about knowing You.
If I imagine You, I am mistaken.
If I understand You, I am deluded.
If I am conscious and certain I know You, I am crazy.
The darkness is enough."
(—Thomas Merton, prayer before midnight mass at Christmas, 1941)
(--from louie, louie website)
"Night holds no terrors for me sleeping under God's wings."(Antiphon, compline)

Awareness itself knows nothing other.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

mute ontic nothingness only silence

The poetics of mythic narrative serves to move the mind through impossible leaps of assumption and investigation.

John, if there was a John, wrote some words, if these are a valid reconstruction, about origin, if pinpointing a speck of infinite eternity with semiological coordinates and reference bespeaks a transcendance of mute ontic nothingness only silence (monos).

Still, this:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.   (John 1, NIV)
We're biasd toward English, or Indo-European. And the human species. A decipherable, translatable communication. Not tree-talk, or drop-of-water speak. Certainly not vague utterance of sand grain.

Outside our hearing, what does the urge-to-create sound like?

If we began to think about it, everything is alien to us. Even one another. It's a marvel anything is, and that the faintest semblance of sanity shows itself. So, we amble on tepidly assured ours is the prototype and apex. We shop at Walmart and Saks Fifth Avenue and turn our radios on after starting the car. If a prominent man embezzles 4 million dollars, we tsk tsk. If a street kid steals 50 dollars or some cigarillos we lock him up or shoot him dead. We're not fond of the not-wealthy or people a different skin-color. Our opinions are more important to us than God -- whatever ideas we have of that possibility.
What do you say to a space alien? This question might not be the foremost puzzle in your life, but it was the subject of a lively two-day conference at California's SETI Institute this week.
Here's why: A decade of research by astronomers now suggests that a trillion planets dot the Milky Way. It takes a real Debbie Downer to believe that they're all as dead as the Equal Rights Amendment. Unless Earth is special beyond reason, you can confidently assume there are plenty of societies out there.
But a linguist precipitated on this parade by noting that -- given the uncertainties about why Homo sapiens even has language (is it merely a talent conferred by a random genetic mutation that hit our species 150,000 years ago?), there's no guarantee that the extraterrestrials will be blessed with the gift of gab. They might not have language any more than we have a great sense of smell. 
(--from, Talking to Aliens, by Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute)Posted: 11/14/2014 12:13 pm
There's a simplicity to monos.

Someplace to reside thought after seeing no further reach toward sensible resolution of a given moment.

As if...prayer.

Ora sola.

Friday, December 26, 2014

think again; nothing to say -- the rare joy of unsaying

Now that word has entered voice, we must learn whether there is something to say.

How pronounce it, where to allow it to be said, and the skill to say it in silence.

All without any saying becoming attached to the one saying it. Emptiness.

If God is a success it is because this is God's open accomplishment.

God is before, because of, and beyond any words of God. 

As though hearing without hearer a wordless voice.

A glance, a mere gaze, through, unknowing.

The sound of what is being said.

A rustling of tree in wind.

An empty resonance.

A felt utterance.

Still, in all.

Gone by.





Thursday, December 25, 2014

And so, it is...


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

rain and mud

A single candle.

"When the sun rises in the morning sky, you will see the King of kings coming forth from the Father like a radiant bridegroom from the bridal chamber."
(--Antiphon, vespers)

Lighting what is near.

Faith, the zen master said, is "I am"

Will I?

Antiphon. “Today you will know the Lord is coming, and in the morning you will see his glory."              (--Invitatory, 24Dec2014)

Will we?
There is a wonderful Christian saying which says If faith, then faith. If you could penetrate that you would go right through to the bottom. If faith, what need of results? What need of changing things, getting things, getting rid of things? If faith, then faith. But so often faith is a bribe.   
We say to God, I’ll have faith in you, but you must deliver. And when he doesn’t deliver, we complain, saying, “I had faith in him so why is all this happening to me? Was my faith not strong enough?” If you have faith in the practice and this faith is that the practice is going to produce something for you, then you are a merchant trafficking in some kind of magical results for which you are prepared to pay what you call faith. But on the other hand, if faith then faith. If one prays to God and that comes out of faith, then nothing else matters.
(--from, A fountain of miracles, article by Albert Low)
Prayer is itself-faith.

Itself-faith is profound trust in what-is taking place, what-is showing up, right here right now, as it is.
Nisargadatta, in a conversation that he had with a visitor, said, ”Remember whatever happens, does so because ‘I am'”. You are the tenth person.* Everything is contained in you. To say, “I am everything” or “I am the whole world” is really redundant. ‘I am’ is “I am the whole world”. The whole world, at the moment, is the totality of your experience that is possible because ‘I am’. Even ‘I am’ is redundant. ‘The world’ is the result of being able to live without the sense of self, without the reflection back in a verbal way.   
The truth that the whole world is contained in ‘I am’ is fundamental. It is not something which we learn, nor is it a philosophy that we acquire. It is not something that we get hold of or get to know about. Everything, every philosophy, everything we get to know about, the whole division of experience in the multiplicity of words comes out of the most fundamental truth, the whole world is ‘I am’. Knowing is being. This is true whether you are conscious of it or not.
 Mu is non reflection. “From the beginning, not a thing is”, or, if you like, “True self is no self.” When Dogen said, “To know the self is to forget the self,” he too is saying no reflection. Let go of the reflection and then you are, as Bassui has pointed out, “one with the ten thousand things”. You must go directly towards simplicity. ‘Letting go,’ ‘non attachment’ is non reflection, non turning back. This takes great courage because in doing so you let go of the sense of self. It seems as though you are dying, because the sense of self gives the illusory sense of existing.   
All religions talk of thee need for the death of the old person and birth of the new. But all that is required is just an unfolding. For a long time we just don’t have the faith. We feel that we have to hang on, we cling, we struggle. But if we can see our practice as the self releasing its grip on the self, we will have the confidence that we are coming home. 
Wherever you are is real; you can never get outside yourself. Theoretically I could duplicate your body in every possible detail, but I cannot duplicate you. I cannot get you outside of yourself in anyway. There is no outside of you, nor is there an inside. 
Nisargadatta told his visitor, “Whatever happens, happens because ‘I am’. All reminds you that you are.” Everything is your face. He went on to say that to experience, you must be.  
When Nisargadatta says that you are, he don’t mean that you are ‘something.’ All that I can say is that you are; I cannot say what you are. I sometimes say that you are pure awareness, or that you are knowing. But this is saying far too much. I say it because I want to direct your orientation away from things and objects. But what you are is truly inexpressible. When I ask, “Who walks?” some people still sit and think about this. And yet I ring the bell, and up they leap and off they go without a thought. Now, who responded to the bell? Who walks? Who bows? Who eats?  
(--from Thoughts Along the WayZen Master of the Montreal Zen Center Albert Low’s articles about life, The Spasm of the Mind, by Albert Low 2Oct2014)

*Note: I thought , perhaps, there was a misprint with this word “tenth.” After research I came upon this interesting reference:
In the 2013 film, World War Z, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is riding through the streets of Jerusalem as Jurgen Warmbrunn (Ludi Boeken) explains how the city was able to avoid the zombie apocalypse: 
 The tenth man. If nine of us look at the same information and arrive at the exact same conclusion, it’s the duty of the tenth man to disagree. No matter how improbable it may seem, the tenth man has to start thinking with the assumption that the other nine are wrong.  
While Hollywood may have simplified the idea a bit for the screen, this is apparently a very real tactic which Israel has used in the past. Their military has a unit often referred to as the “devil’s advocate office” [PDF]. And yes, the goal is simply to avoid falling prey to group think.
(from, THE 10TH MAN THEORY, GOD OF DEVIL’S ADVOCATEJuly 28, 2014, 5 minute read, by Anoop Rajiv)   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

nobody’s side

WIth us. A strange name, “With us.”
“O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.”(--antiphon, vespers)
Are you with us? someone asks.

You’re either with us or against us, another says. And it becomes clearer.

This side-taking talk is all about God.

With us in no side-taking.

Against us is side-taking.

a, b, c, d, -- the tremendous challenge of being;lettered

Who needs poetry?


What does poetry need?

"Poetry needs the breath. It needs the voice. It needs the body. It needs the mind."
(-- Anne Waldman, "Radical Presence")

OK. Now substitute spelling the word "God" for "poetry."

Now do you see why so few give themselves completely to either one of those spellings?

Monday, December 22, 2014


Silence means consent.
“O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.”
(--antiphon, Vespers)
Dust, the consonants of God. Vowels are God’s breath.

Breath and earth fashion the form of human comprising the word God is.

Cosmos opens its mouth.

It has something to say.


Start with bread where you are.

Now, go straight.

No need to know where you go.

Roethke tells us, we learn by going where we have to go. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

if God wanted to become human, why not our wanting to become human

“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”
(--antiphon, Vespers)

Humans aren’t certain.

Often befuddled.

Only unhumans are certain and convinced beyond doubt.

toot, toot, toot -- train comes;train goes

Doris writes. She includes poem. 

                                                    Everywhere, everywhere, snow sifting down,
                                                    a world becoming white, no more sounds,
                                                    no longer possible to find the heart of the day,
                                                    the sun is gone, the sky is nowhere, and of all
                                                    I wanted in life – so be it – whatever it is 
                                                    that brought me here, chance, fortune, whatever
                                                    blessing each flake is the hint of, I am
                                                    grateful, I bear witness, I hold out my arms,
                                                    palms up, I know it is impossible to hold 
                                                    for long what we love of the world, but look
                                                    at me, is it foolish, shameful, arrogant to say this,
                                                    see how the snow drifts down, look how happy
                                                    I am.
                                                                                                         (--poem by Joseph Stroud)

The men in prison miss her. In her mid-eighties, she has moved from Maine closer to Hudson River and family member. They called her 'old cow' with affection after she told them the story about the zen woman.

Deano says again he'll soon write her after he finds her letter he misplaced. 

Not much was said about Christmas when we were there for final time this year. We did an experiment passing around in silence, person to person, some 16+ orbits, the exquisite & subtle book, Marla Frazee’s “The Farmer and the Clown”. This artistic, near wordless (but for "toot, toot, toot") book, engrossed and engaged a roomful of unlikely 'readers' gazing at a "for ages 3 to 9" masterpiece of visual poetry while the white border collie pursued a blue handball around feet and chairs.

It was a morning of smiles and handshakes and gratefulness (near;wordless) with our prison sangha.

Chris, Saskia, Bill, rokpa, Armin, Reed, Deano, Doug, Rory, Everett, Tony, Charlie, Greg, and all the others who looked in, stopped in, smiled at Rokie or rubbed his appreciated doggy presence. 

And the larger sangha from years gone by, some still there, or transferred to another prison, or released: Joseph, Sonny, Dennis, Douglas, Brandon, Dale, Ricky, Mark, John, Antonio, Pat, Olin, Ryan, Joe-Pete, Peter, Kevin, Wesley, Chris, Andre, Kyle, Tree, Danny, Sean, Chris, Darren, Josh, Stephen, Ed, Chip, Mike, Lamarr, Kyle, Matthew,  Brian, Artie, Jon, Nick, boots and gloves guy, Tony’s posse, Jonathan, Vann, Scott, Jose, and the ones whose faces & shoes I recall but names evade. The volunteers who joined us inside or visited in visiting room -- Erica, Jean, Gail, Cheryl, Seth, Doris, Chris. And dear friends who came in with us who've died - Janet, David, and Richard. To each and all, thank you! Plus the staff and guards who periodically sat in. Meetingbrook all.

Look how happy I am!

May all beings, in and out of prison, be happy, safe, free, and come to dwell in their true home!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

prison;weekly walking the mile

"O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”
(--antiphon, vespers)

where are we;to look: at/as creative creating creativity

Q. Is there God?

A. Oh yes.

Q. Did God create everything?

A. God is the creative creating creativity.
Comment:  ‘What is’ comes to be seen via the urge to be. The urge to be -- whatever wherever whenever whoever -- is the constant changing, itself into itself, with forms upon form moving through emptiness toward creative appearance creating beings whose inner being is creativity longing to become itself creative.

Q. Any other questions?

Q. What is, how is, when is, why is, who is -- One, Alone?



[time passes]

[then...fingers touch pewter attached to doorframe, then touch lips]]

A. (quietly)

Sh'ma Yis'ra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.  

....     ......     .......     ......
Shema Yisrael (or Sh'ma YisraelHebrew: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל; "Hear, [O] Israel") are the first two words of a section of the Torah, and is the title (sometimes shortened to simply Shema) of a prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services. The first verse encapsulates the monotheistic essence of Judaism: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one", found in Deuteronomy 6:4, sometime alternately translated as "The LORD is our God, the LORD alone." Observant Jews consider the Shema to be the most important part of the prayer service in Judaism, and its twice-daily recitation as a mitzvah (religious commandment). It is traditional for Jews to say the Shema as their last words, and for parents to teach their children to say it before they go to sleep at night.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Nothing; keeps you

“O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”
(--Antiphon, Vespers)

what's your name

Pope Francis turned 78 on the 17th. "I want a church which is poor and for the poor," he has said.
"People who know nothing of God and whose lives are centered on themselves, imagine that they can only find themselves by asserting their own desires and ambitions and appetites in a struggle with the rest of the world. They try to become real by imposing themselves on other people, by appropriating for themselves some share of the limited supply of created good and thus emphasizing the difference between themselves and the other men and women who have less then they, or nothing at all. 
(~Thomas Merton)
Chris sends nytimes video of Slomo. This unusual man radiates such a sense of joy in his glide. We end our Science, Technology, and Ethics course with it last night. The students were enchanted as well.

Robert Lowell ends his poem Epilogue with these lines:
We are poor passing facts
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.
What is your living name?

What's mine?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

whispering light

"O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.”

(--Antiphon, Vespers)


We've fallen asleep before falling asleep. 

Sitting with man after bringing soup we touch on buddhist notion of no birth, no death. We'd both like to leave fear out of our diminishing time. I sit on wood bench with boots on in his living room close to dooryard entrance.
More and more clearly it appeared who this unique man was and who he presented himself to be. The climax of his life, the cresting of its saving course, comes with a week of utmost challenge and ultimate rejection, only then to be vindicated by the God who was (and is) his Father. “As with all of us,” writes Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., “the mystery of his person was never totally expressed...until the time of his death, when he transcends this world and is raised from the dead. Then his ultimate identity burst upon him in all clarity.” Then he is the fully human and fully divine person he was meant to be, the startling, suffering Savior once born in utter helplessness and now raised as “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep."
(--from, Becoming Human, December 22-29, 2014 IssueLeo J. O'DonovanThe Incarnation calls us to a new life. America Magazine)
Appearance and disappearance, form and emptiness -- soup stop and go. This is all I can muster. I grow shy and shyer in visiting anyone, mustier in my cell of a room tucked away upstairs, where solitude goes to get away from itself.

I let dogs out at 2am. Cats downstairs are mousing noisily and setting dogs' eyes wider at side of bed. I read. I pray. I diminish.

The joy of being alive (instead of undead, eh, mr cummings?) is reflection and contemplation of what is taking place. Place is an awareness punctuating time.

Monks and nuns worldover place their feet on floor and ready for vigils. I turn out light and let baton move off down track running into next dream.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

hold all things; together

"O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth."
(--Antiphon for Vespers)

(a) solitary ('s) appreciation

Watched town select board meeting on live streaming last night. 

Hurt pond, torn mountain, vested interests.

Differences of perception, opinion, emotion, alliance and allegiance.

The prospect of remaining both passionately involved, and, nonattached, has got to be major-league meditation practice.

I sit in support of such good effort.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

truth of a different kind -- Maria Popova on Margaret Mead on “fact” and “poetic truth” about Santa Claus

The following from Maria Popova’s  Brain Pickings, :
Happy Birthday, Margaret Mead: The Legendary Anthropologist on Myth vs. Deception and What to Tell Kids about Santa ClausBy: How to instill an appreciation of the difference between “fact” and “poetic truth,” in kids and grownups alike.
From the wonderful out-of-print volume Margaret Mead: Some Personal Views(public library) — the same compendium of Mead’s answers to audience questions from her long career as a public speaker and lecturer, which also gave us her remarkably timely thoughts on racism and law enforcement and equality in parenting — comes an answer to a question she was asked in December of 1964: “Were your children brought up to believe in Santa Claus? If so, what did you tell them when they discovered he didn’t exist?”
Mead’s response, which calls to mind Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit, is a masterwork of celebrating rational, critical thinking without sacrificing magic to reason:
Belief in Santa Claus becomes a problem mainly when parents simultaneously feel they are telling their children a lie and insist on the literal belief in a jolly little man in a red suit who keeps tabs on them all year, reads their letters and comes down the chimney after landing his sleigh on the roof. Parents who enjoy Santa Claus — who feel that it is more fun talk about what Santa Claus will bring than what Daddy will buy you for Christmas and who speak of Santa Claus in a voice that tells no lie but instead conveys to children something about Christmas itself — can give children a sense of continuity as they discover the sense in which Santa is and is not “real.”
With her great gift for nuance, Mead adds:
Disillusionment about the existence of a mythical and wholly implausible Santa Claus has come to be a synonym for many kinds of disillusionment with what parents have told children about birth and death and sex and the glory of their ancestors. Instead, learning about Santa Claus can help give children a sense of the difference between a “fact” — something you can take a picture of or make a tape recording of, something all those present can agree exists — and poetic truth, in which man’s feelings about the universe or his fellow men is expressed in a symbol.
Recalling her own experience both as a child and as a parent, Mead offers an inclusive alternative to the narrow Santa Claus myth, inviting parents to use the commercial Western holiday as an opportunity to introduce kids to different folkloric traditions and value systems:
One thing my parents did — and I did for my own child — was to tell stories about the different kinds of Santa Claus figures known in different countries. The story I especially loved was the Russian legend of the little grandmother, the babushka, at whose home the Wise Men stopped on their journey. They invited her to come with them, but she had no gift fit for the Christ child and she stayed behind to prepare it. Later she set out after the Wise Men but she never caught up with them, and so even today she wanders around the world, and each Christmas she stops to leave gifts for sleeping children.
But Mead’s most important, most poetic point affirms the idea that children stories shouldn’t protect kids from the dark:
Children who have been told the truth about birth and death will know, when they hear about Kris Kringle and Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas and the little babushka, that this is a truth of a different kind.


Lite snow.

Two cats nestling after long night mousing.

Prayer for friends’ son critical after morning car accident.

(from Camden Public Library website)
Jootje is turned over near woodpile by meditation cabin. All three rest preparing for winter’s slow sail toward spring. I can only see harbor from solid ground, not the groundlessness of lapstrake inboard hull.

Waning decrease of darkness.

Late autumn stillness.

Solo candle vigils.

no longer; remains

Impermanence, it will be pointed out, doesn't last.
The historical Buddha, like you and me, had physical form, was born, and was destined to die. But the content of his being did not die and continues to live. And that is immeasurable life. And not only life. Because it brings us to awakening, it is also immeasurable light.
- Taitetsu Unno, "Even Dewdrops Fall"
Taitetsu Unno died three days ago on the 13th. He was 85. I recall his talk at the Nishitani conference "Encounters with Emptiness" at Amherst/Smith in 1984. I have an annotated copy of his notes.
Tricycle: Can you talk a little bit about how you understand surrender in Buddhist practice? 
Taitetsu Unno: In the first place, surrender is a Western religious category. In Buddhism, surrender is at the core of giving up the ego-self; but we don’t use a special term for it, because the whole thrust of Buddhist life revolves around surrender, giving up the ego.
Here there is a cultural difference—I can use the example of the martial arts. In this country, martial arts are described as “self-defense.” In the martial arts in East Asia, the aim is to train oneself to such an extent that there is no “self” to defend. That’s very hard for people to understand. I find the same problem in American Buddhism. For example, recently I read an article in which an American Zen Buddhist described visiting Japan, and I realized that American Buddhism is “psychotherapeutic” Buddhism, whereas in Japan, Buddhism is “faith” Buddhism. The core of faith is surrender, the giving up of the small-minded ego-self.  (Ibid) 
Who is giving up this ego-self?

Professor Unno shared an insight thirty years ago. It wasn't in the paper. It travelled with me for years. It showed up in conversations and classes when I did.

And then -- it disappeared. As things do.


Let the giving-up be what no longer remains when disappearance itself surrenders.

Monday, December 15, 2014

from still,marbles, after sunday evening practice

deconstructing the accumulated

structure of self --

this is what life is doing,

what Dogen meant by “dropping

off mind and body” 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

not 17, 23, haiku

my studio, today,

solitude colored with silence --

look -- smoke from chimney

blowing southeast

off to east, down road, up melvin heights, a single light, seen through trees

If You Want

you want
the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy
and say,

“I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,
my time is so close.”

Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime
intimacy, the divine, the Christ
taking birth

as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us
is the midwife of God, each of us.

Yes there, under the dome of your being does creation
come into existence externally, through your womb, dear pilgrim—
the sacred womb of your soul,

as God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is
His beloved servant

If you want, the Virgin will come walking
down the street pregnant
with Light and
sing . . .

“If You Want” by St. John of the Cross, translated by Daniel Ladinsky,

Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West

(used with permission)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

as snow gently falls

Morning light under cloudy skies, the ritual of placing oneself in prayer.
Notre Père qui es aux cieux, que Ton nom soit sanctifié, que Ton règne vienne, que Ta volonté soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel. Donne-nous aujourd'hui notre pain de ce jour, pardonne-nous nos offenses comme nous pardonnons aussi à ceux qui nous ont offensés ; et ne nous soumets pas à la tentation mais délivre-nous du mal par le Christ, Jésus notre Seigneur, car à Toi appartiennent le règne, la puissance et la gloire, à jamais. Amen
Zafu in merton retreat will serve as that place at 7:30am.

Emptiness of everything -- surround and infuse -- with silence.

With everyone.

And everything.

Within, and, 


Friday, December 12, 2014

Nuestra Señora -- Tan vacío de todo

I can imagine Juan Diego thanking the Aztec woman for the cape and the lovely flowers.


De nada, she says.

De nadait's nothing, says Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe,


Ah, what happened in that trusting engagement of beneficial outcome for them and for many in their surround?

Nothing? Si!

Nothing? Hola!

Nothing? Yo creo!

Tan lleno de nada. Tan vacio de todo.  So full of nothing. So empty all.

The new world ...

of faith.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I bet Michael Brown would have paid back the cost of cigarillos taken.
I bet Eric Garner would have paid back taxes on the “loosies” he’d sold.
Would that all were given the consideration to pay back what they (allegedly) took.
Would that justice were non-violent, non-punitive, and rooted in compassion.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

simplicity, integrity, faithful engagement

We renew our promises as meetingbrook monastics: contemplation, conversation, correspondence.

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.”
― Thomas MertonLove and Living

we meet you there

Maria writes: “Tom is in his final days -- as far as we know. Maybe God has other plans, but we are prepared for his departure to God’s loving arms.”

We write:

maria and tom in cosmos             
and our hearts

we speak by listening; 
we love by quiet 

Our prayer & practice these days is silent sitting with both Quaker Friends & Zen Buddhist Companions. 

It is the silence.           We meet you there.

“Ashes do not come back to firewood.’ If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do.” 
(Dogen Zenji) 

Dogen suggested we “Leave no trace.” We leave to the other, completely, one-self.

And so, we sit in silence with you, Maria, and Tom, with your love, and ours. 

This is what we offer one another. 

This traceless presence.