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)