Saturday, March 15, 2014

no other place to go

War is proof of insanity. 
The Last Laugh
'O Jesus Christ! I'm hit,' he said; and died. 
Whether he vainly cursed, or prayed indeed, 
The Bullets chirped—In vain! vain! vain! 
Machine-guns chuckled,—Tut-tut! Tut-tut! 
And the Big Gun guffawed.  

Another sighed,—'O Mother, mother! Dad!'
Then smiled, at nothing, childlike, being dead.
          And the lofty Shrapnel-cloud
          Leisurely gestured,—Fool!
          And the falling splinters tittered. 
'My Love!' one moaned. Love-languid seemed his mood,
Till, slowly lowered, his whole face kissed the mud.
          And the Bayonets' long teeth grinned;
          Rabbles of Shells hooted and groaned;
          And the Gas hissed. 
(--Poem by Wilfred Owen, {1893-1918}, fromThe Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1965)
The world we see is distressing and dismaying.

The one we do not see is unread communion, unopened communication. 

What  news?
My heart rouses 
thinking to bring you news 
of something 
that concerns you 
and concerns many men. Look at 
what passes for the new. 
You will not find it there but in 
despised poems. 
It is difficult 
to get the news from poems 
yet men die miserably every day 
for lack 
of what is found there. 
Hear me out 
for I too am concerned 
and every man 
who wants to die at peace in his bed 
(—from poem, Asphodel, That Greeny Flower, by William Carlos Williams)
Poets are the way we remember being. 

The way words feel us.

And from Louise Erdrich’s short story “The Red Convertible” (in her book of short stories by the same name). Stephan went to Khe Sanh in 1968. It was at least two years before he came home again. 
    “My boots are filling,” he says.    He says this in a normal voice, like he just noticed and he doesn’t know what to think of it. Then he’s gone. A branch comes by. Another branch. By the time I get out of the river, off the snag I pulled myself onto, the sun is down. I walk back to the car, turn on the high beams, and drive it up the bank. I put it in first gear and then I take my foot off the clutch. I get out, close the door, and watch it plow softly into the water. The headlights reach in as they go down, searching, still lighted even after the water swirls over the back end. I wait. The wires short out. It is all finally dark. And then there’s only the water, the sound of it going and running and going and running and running.     (--Erdrich, The Red Convertible, p.10)
Feeling the fact.

Perhaps there’s no other place to go.

So, let’s.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Whatever is at hand

Proper movement, correct relationship.

Pen writes. Cup tilts for sipping.

The human is the open field disclosing what arrives there to what is already there.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The more you know, the more you don’t

Reading about Pelagius and Augustine.

Feels different decades later.
If you want to complete the unsurpassable Buddha Way, you must first vow to save each and every sentient being, whose numbers are infinite. If you want to save all sentient beings, you must arouse a spirit of dauntless courage and push yourself forward mercilessly until you can see your true nature as if you are looking at it in the palm of your hand. (- Hakuin)
They didn’t know any more than we know.

You’ve got to hand it to the unknown.

Infinite possibilities.

Thursday snow; a quietness

                                              When sitting alone

                                        I have often thought

        the quiet

           is things, beings,

                                                         just as they are

                                                                                      with nothing added


taken away.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Rain over Portland.

Domeniche e Ultime, Aspiciens; Adventus Domine. Chant plays.

Out of season.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014




breaking home

Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel through morning front room.

Bald Mountain across road in light snow.

Scent of toast from kitchen.
...Sir John Davies was confident that a poem on the soul written as a discursive appeal to reason could be written alongside an imaginative celebration of the cosmos as a love-led dance, because for Davies the Light of Reason is also the Love who dances at the heart of all things. Cosmology and ‘spirituality’ were in harmony because they were understood to spring from the same source. (p.142, see below) 
In the midst of this ruinous divorce between reason and imagination, poets and scientists were asked, as our own children so often are, to take sides. The scientists were asked to live with their father, ‘reason’, and to hate and deny their mother ‘imagination’. The poets were expected to cling to the skirts of ‘imagination’ and never dare to walk in the objective world described by ‘reason’. (p.143) 
(--from chapter titled “Holy Light and Human Blindness: Visions of the Invisible in the Poetry of Henry Vaughan and Milton,” in, Faith, Hope, and Poetry, Theology and the Poetic Imagination, by Malcolm Guite, c.2010)
Tabula Rasa, by Arvo Part, Alfred Schnittke, piano, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, plays as sunlight peaks through, violin and cello strings arching swing falling like remnant snow between here and mountain.

Earlier in his book Guite writes:
In fact, the fallenness of our mental capacities may rest precisely in the disordering or imbalance of relations between our capacities of reason and imagination. The idea that the fall results in a disordering of relations between our own capacities, leading to loss of vision and paralysis of will, is a central part of Christian tradition expressed most clearly by St Augustine, rendered famously in English verse by Milton and more succinctly, though less famously, by Sir John Davies in Nosce Teipsum
Even so by tasting that Fruit forbid
    Where they sought knowledge, they did error find; 
    Ill they desir'd to know, and ill they did ; 
    And to give Passion eyes, made Reason blind. 
For then their minds did first in Passion see 
    Those wretched shapes of Misery and Woe
    Of Nakedness, of Shame, of Poverty
    Which then their own experience made them know. 
But then grew Reason dark, that she no more 
    Could the faire Forms of Good2 and Truth discern ; 
    Bats they became, that Eagles were before: 
    And this they got by their desire to learn.
(pp.11-12, ibid) (see also: for entire poem)
 I listen to octogenarian Eido Roshi interviewed by Eliose King (, cf. Soul Sessions). Someone refers to him in comments section as  “One of the many great, yet flawed, teachers.” I remember going to his New York Zendo in 1970 to sit of an evening.

What time remains, remains.

What am I...



If form is emptiness, 

and emptiness form -- 

what is silent stillness




Monday, March 10, 2014

let learning learn us

The role of teaching is not to teach something to someone. Authentic teaching is lernen lassen, to let learning happen.(Heidegger, Was Heisst Denken).

Students forget almost everything from the courses they take except what they have awoken to -- a bit of themselves emerging from hiding.

We remember the flashes of awareness that surround and burst forth from moments and situations revealing themselves in our gaze and hearing.

The job of the learning person is to be present and open.

Teachers who are themselves learners help us be present. They help us open eyes and ears, heart and mind.
A teacher, out of compassion and love, seeing that somebody is suffering, gives a path. But each individual has to walk on the path. There is no magical miracle with the teacher. Totally out of the question. He only shows the path. That is the only role of the teacher, nothing else. (-- S. N. Goenka, Superscience")
No agenda but that. No curriculum but this. No grade but the ascent to insight.

I slept, methinks, and woke,     115  
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep. 
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
  I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—          120
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
  Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;                          125
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
  Ah! is Thy love indeed                                                    130
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
  Ah! must—
  Designer infinite!—
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
(--from poem, The Hound of Heaven, by Francis Thompson, 1859-1907) 
My father would recite pieces of this poem. He knew char. It was his guru. Things like failure, fear, addiction, family alienation can each be guru.

One writer puts it this way:
To be clear, I’m not discounting things we can learn from others. That’s part of the beauty of life—we can learn from so many sources. For me, sources like Eckhart Tolle, David Hawkins, and Anthony DeMello led me to the epiphany I want to share with you now.
My problem wasn’t the fact that I looked to others for ideas; it was that I became attached and dependent. I gave away my power. I had lost sight of the fact I already had my own gurus. And you do too. Let’s get re-acquainted with the world’s top 7 gurus now. Here’s the kicker: we’ve never known them as gurus. But, this new perspective changed my life and I believe it can do the same for you.
Let’s meet them and understand them for the life-changing gurus they really are.
We’re reluctant learners.

We think we know how to learn.

We don’t.

What we need to do is let learning learn us.

No kidding --

Lernen lassen = Let learning happen! 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

really / the biggest

At Sunday Evening Practice we read from Tony Parsons book, As It Is, The Open Secret of Spiritual Awakening.

His words wove through candlelight. They sat us down where we were.

Then cummings:
let it go 
let it go – the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to
let them go – the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
were born
to go 
let all go – the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go
so comes love
   (--poem by, e.e. cummings, in Complete Poems, 1904-1962) 
There’s no guru but life.

No subject, no object.

Gazing through.

What is. 

écoutez bien

The Christian metaphor begins Lent.

Mystics long to listen to God.

Sun shines. 
Faith, says a rabbi, is the willingness to live with uncertainty.
Time changes.