Saturday, March 26, 2016

something's happening here

Second reading
From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday

The Lord descends into hell

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.
Our shepherd, the source of the water of life, has died. The sun was darkened when he passed away. But now man’s captor is made captive.
 This is the day when our Savior broke through the gates of death.
He has destroyed the barricades of hell, overthrown the sovereignty of the devil.
 This is the day when our Savior broke through the gates of death.
(--from  Office of Readings for Holy Saturday)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Précis; triduum

A good man died.

Whatever else is said about who he was, what he was seems clear.

A good man.


For Robert, this good day

I'll not get another Good Friday poem from Fr Robert the Trappist. 

Since he died, he shows no apparent interest in poems.

But what do I know. 

Surely there are coyotes and worms in every metaphor.

Home bound

Rainy icy Friday.

Drab and blah.

As befits our religious and global malady.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Theme: What is the Real Teacher? (A search for a simple unambiguousdefinition)

    1. Intelligent life requests a new willingness to become trustworthy.
     2. "In the Reith Lectures I outline a much more practical view of trust. The lectures are not about attitudes of trust, but about actively placing and refusing trust and the sorts of evidence we need if we are to place trust well. Far from suggesting that we should trust blindly, I argue that we should place trust with care and discrimination, and that this means that we need to pay more attention to the accuracy of information provided to the public. Placing trust well can never guarantee immunity from breaches of trust: life does not provide guarantees. There is no total answer to the old question ‘Who shall guard the guardians?’, and there is no way of eliminating all risk of disappointment. Nevertheless, many of us would agree with Samuel Johnson “it is better to be sometimes cheated than never to have trusted”." (--Onora O'Neill, philosopher and politician)
     3. If beliefs are stairways to knowledge, what do we say happens at the door at top of stairs? Is it meant to open to what is beyond belief? When the raft crosses the river and reaches the other shore, do we step off the raft? How do we think on these matters?

(ex post facto: The answer to the theme question (might be/is) in the very question. ‘What is’ is the Real Teacher.)

smoke, swirling

The day, Thursday, in hermitage, preparing for class, smoke from wood fire.

Quiet joy learning!

integral Thursday

We look out.

And what we see, we become.

When that occurs, we disappear.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

a radical alternative

Why terrorism?

We have made people other.

This makes people insane.

Because there is no other.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

someone else's good

And I, of you, am fond, as well.

Still, bombs, unminded destruction, blow in Brussels.

Murder, everywhere, reminds we are small passing things.

Small passing things that someone's idea thinks unnecessary.

This is the way life on earth goes these days.

This is the sorrow -- that political gain sacrifices everyone.

Bombs blow in Brussels. 

The usual words are said.

Is there evil? No. Only someone else's good.

What good are you? What good am I?

If to be a Holy Week, we must ask. And ask again.

Who made of God someone else? Of Jesus an other?

The flaw, the terrible flaw, of thinking there's someone else

to eliminate, to desecrate, to use for our good.

sun and snow capture shadow of tree

 His son, then six, would be eighteen now.
“The task approached in tenderness
and faith is to hold up unquestioningly,
without choice and without fear, the
rescued fragment.” 
(--quote by Joseph Conrad used in preface to Pure Act, The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax, by Michael N. McGregor)
On Foss Road, Lewiston,  down from a beverage distributor, in July 2004, a young man of 27 tried a second gear wheelie on his motorbike and went over backwards. He had no helmet on. He died. There's a memorial with bedpost, photo, cross, flowers, and flag. Twelve years later.

Where I park, up and away from that moment, sun and snow capture shadow of tree.

La vie est drôle -- this week, coming upon his roadside shrine, remembrance of Corey Sturgis’ death comes during week remembrance of Jesus’ death liturgized in churches, convents, and monasteries worldwide.  I suspect the comparative vigils and prayers, sermons and rituals, will be extraordinarily incommensurate between these two men. The man who died on Foss Road, someone might say, was not Jesus.

There’s the flaw.

There is no comparison because no comparison is exactly what is called for.

Let’s say Jesus was who many say he was -- the incarnated son of the Creator of the universe. No matter what theology or doctrinal articulation follows, the belief that the no-name, never-seen, complete-in-itself, ultimate and loving Reality entered the creation as a human being, lived and died, then disappeared from view -- is a pretty interesting story.

And Corey, his brother, element of element, flesh of flesh, story of story -- died on 7July2004 on Foss Road.

As did John Murphy, Brother Patrick Murphy osf, die on 7Dec2013 fifty two years after saying goodbye at high school graduation in Brooklyn NY.

So it is.

I hear sound of flags whipped by wind over silver car as dog breathes in back seat after running sticks in snowy field. 

Trucks slow and turn and drive to loading docks alongside long building. The day is bright. 

These holy ordinary men, like the men and women killed by terrorist bombs in Brussels this morning, make up the story of this Tuesday under sunny sky.

It is a good story. (‘Good’ is not compared to anything other than itself -- it is breathing heart and seeing mind holding everything in prayerful narrative -- this is our life, happening throughout!)

We can read it either way:
good is what is good. 

With no comparison and no choice, we approach in tenderness and faith the rescued fragment of this morning’s liturgy as enormous truck carrying ‘The Great American Lager’ turns left onto Rt 196 going north-northwest.

Monday, March 21, 2016

ירושלים -- looking, seeing whole


Feel and find way through.

Disappear and re-pair.

It is Holy Week.

The word means "looking, seeing whole."

ירושלים is Hebrew for Jerusalem. Perhaps words matter. 
The forms ירה (yrh) and ירא (yr') are officially unrelated but their basic mechanisms appear to overlap somewhat. Both reflect an exchange of energy from a higher, dispensing level to a lower, receiving level. It appears that the form ירה (yrh) mostly describes the sending of the energy; either the exchange viewed from the perspective of the dispensing side, or else the shock-free absorption of the energy on the receiving side. The form ירא (yr') appears to deal mostly with the receiving of the energy; the exchange viewed from the perspective of the receiving side, and that usually with the anticipation of intense alteration.
Note that one of the two verbs ירא (yara') is a by-form of ירה (yara), and also note the similarity between these forms and the verb ראה (ra'a), meaning to see or look at:
The general meaning of the graceful root-verb שלם (shalem) is that of wholeness, completeness or "unbrokenness" (and see for the opposite the verb רעעra'a). Our verb is used to characterize the uncut stones of the altar (Deuteronomy 27:6) and the temple (1 Kings 6:7). It tells of a "full" or perhaps "righteous" wage (Ruth 1:12), and the entirety of a population (Amos 1:6). It also tells of "full" and just weights, which are God's delight (Deuteronomy 25:15 and Proverbs 11:1), and of "whole" hearts devoted to the Lord (1 Kings 8:61). This verb may even denote the completeness of sin (Genesis 15:16), and in some rare cases it may denote friendship (Jeremiah 20:10, Psalm 41:10). 
In the Hebrew language it's quite simple to indicate not only a condition (like shalem), but also the means to get there (to "shalemize"). The usage of this shalemize form in Scriptures is quite revealing. Wholeness is achieved or restored most often by some kind of restitutory payment or covenant: God pays a man according to his work (Job 34:11), but the wicked borrows and does not pay back (Psalm 37:21). The owner of an accidentally killed ox is paid restitution (Exodus 21:36); oil is sold to pay off a debt (2 Kings 4:7); and the Gibeonites swindle Joshua into making a covenant with them (Joshua 10:1). Likewise, shalem is used when vows are to be paid to the Most High, or when days of mourning are to be completed (Isaiah 60:20), and ties in directly to the Messiah and his salvific work (Joel 2:25).
And another source:
The name Jerusalem is divided between two root words: Yara (pronounced as yahr-ah) and shalem. We already know what shalem means. Yara means: dual, as related to the two hills on which Jerusalem sits. And it also means: founded peacefully, to flow as water (i.e. rain), to shoot as an arrow, to point out (as if by aiming a finger), to teach.
Feel and find way through.

Disappear and re-pair.

It is Holy Week.

Looking, seeing whole.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

MU, a stochastic beginning to Holy Week

Sometimes a word makes visible what hides in non-diaphoneity.
stochastic |stəˈkastikadjective --randomly determined; having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely (from Greek stokhastikos, from stokhazesthai ‘aim at, guess,’ from στόχος stokhos ‘aim.’) (Apple Dictionary) 
At Sunday Morning Practice, meetingbrook monastics, in stay-at-home hermit wohnkuche readings-and-response this first day of Spring and Palm Sunday, jot down thoughts arising and expressed:
  1. Everybody already knows the truth, is enlightened -- hence, no need to point out the truth to anyone -- by doing so we might only seem to be showing vindictiveness.
  2. Jesus might be seen as an embodiment of the saying “If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him!” 
  3. If “God” -- he is rejoiced, tortured, killed, and rises -- only to disappear into, among, through the people, the creation, the everyday.
  4. Perhaps God is dead. (Dead, perhaps, gone, vanished, no-place-else.) Not other than; reality.
  5. We are this...unveiling
  6. We do nothing. We are to merely respond to the call of reality, to respond to it, faithfully, with compassion.
  7. The edge is the continual thinking into the opening. 
  8. Is the Christian Metaphor a radical retelling of the reality of our existence?
  9. It is a distinct possibility we never were apart, there was never a separation; only our belief in it.
  10. Perhaps the dramatic story of Holy Week is an invitation imploring: Drop that belief!
Revisiting Robert Pirsig:
Yes and no…this or that…one or zero. In the basis of this elementary two-term discrimination, all human knowledge is built up. The demonstration of this is the computer memory that stores all knowledge in the form of binary information. It contains ones and zeroes, that's all. 
- See more at:  Robert Pirsig, on, The Japanese Word MU
It does not follow that just because our digital computers are so primitive to have to use binary logic that our brains are digital. (6) Human brains appear to act more like Artificial Neural Networks, (7) these functioning as analogue circuits. With the, at present long-off, advent of Quantum computing we will no doubt believe that human brains are miniature mirrors of the cosmos; with events and thoughts being determined by stochastic quantum sub-atomic processes [see 18]. This may well become a more dominant metaphor, but will the eventual dominance of quantum computers mean that we will begin to think differently after exposure to this distant possibility? A future ‘definition’ of Pirsig’s Quality could be the undecided state of a quantum computer (or possibly quantum processes in the human mind). On the 60th Anniversary of ‘Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ maybe Pirsig’s vision will finally come to full fruition.
(6).  it has been claimed that our DNA and even our brains are binary but...”The language of DNA is digital, but not binary. Where binary encoding has 0 and 1 to work with (2 - hence the 'bi'nary), DNA has 4 positions, T, C, G and A. Whereas a digital byte is mostly 8 binary digits, a DNA 'byte' (called a 'codon') has three digits. Because each digit can have 4 values instead of 2, a DNA codon has 64 possible values, compared to a binary byte which has 256.
(7).  “Neural networks take a different approach to problem solving than that of conventional computers. Conventional computers use an algorithmic approach i.e. the computer follows a set of instructions in order to solve a problem. Unless the specific steps that the computer needs to follow are known the computer cannot solve the problem. That restricts the problem solving capability of conventional computers to problems that we already understand and know how to solve. But computers would be so much more useful if they could do things that we don't exactly know how to do.”
(from, Pirsig’s ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’: Quality, reason and binary oppositesAlistair JP Brudenell, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London).                               (see also, Robert Pirsig’s ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’:)
What is it about the story of Jesus that has not computed yet?

Watch: Quantum computing explained in less than 2 minutes

 That’s the thing about our metaphor of Holy Week. Like Quantum computers, the reality of belief-less in-separability stochastic (i.e. bliss) might already be here, we just don’t know it yet.