Saturday, January 07, 2017

between traditions -- an unteaching

zen haiku


direct experience; dropping reactivity -- to explore, to test, to search out, to examine

final poem:
if you watch snow 
you see nothing 

Friday, January 06, 2017

what is showing through


So many are afraid.

What is it that moves toward power in Washington DC against which no antidote is known?

No wise men from the East.

No wise women from Palestine.

No hope from anyone. All are impotent.

It is Epiphany.

What is showing through?

And why is there so much fear?

Thursday, January 05, 2017

"believe me" he says. "No" the rejoinder

America is a weary land.
work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations.-- Paul Valéry
No poet will be its ruler.

We'll have a blank where wise words should have been.

thinking into new feeling

This is a good read about the mind of voters in the recent presidential election:
Why Rural America Voted For Trump! By Robert Leonard, Jan.5, 2017, NYTimes,
It made me think the following:

Dualistic good/bad thinking will continue to divide and make enemies of one another.

Nondualist thinking will begin a dialogue that transforms old thinking into new feeling. 

Our brothers and sisters, far too many of us, are stuck in the familiar survival oppositional enemy other rational mind. It is killing us.

The change we need, the change we seek, is not dominance bullying and beating. 

No, we need a change of thinking, of consciousness, of heart. Such change is not political, nor religious -- both of which are steeped in dualistic mind.

Perhaps it is the poet and philosopher of equanimity and feeling for one another that we need to allow to emerge through us with a more wholesome mind.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

the more I live the more I die; a contemplative culture of interiority

She said she wanted to be a nun after hearing women chanting an antiphon in The Sound of Music. But she wasn’t Catholic nor wanted to be.

Merton, I recently heard, told his fellow monks in Gethsemane that they weren’t contemplatives, merely introverts. They disliked him his observation.

I think it is the contemplative culture of interiority that locates the monk or nun -- not their religiosity, piety, or affiliation. I suspect there have been many who’d ceased thinking themselves ‘catholic’ but remained as monks and nuns practicing their interior unknowing with humility and obedience to the exterior observances.

Here’s Willis Barnstone’s translation of John of the Cross:

I Live yet do not Live in Me 

I live yet do not live in me,
am waiting as my life goes by,
and die because I do not die.
No longer do I live in me,
and without God I cannot live;
to him or me I cannot give
my self, so what can living be?
A thousand deaths my agony
waiting as my life goes by,
dying because I do not die.
This life I live alone I view
as robbery of life, and so
it is a constant death — with no
way out until I live with you.
God, hear me, what I say is true:
I do not want this life of mine,
and die because I do not die.
Being so removed from you I say
what kind of life can I have here
but death so ugly and severe
and worse than any form of pain?
I pity me — and yet my fate
is that I must keep up this lie,
and die because I do not die.
The fish taken out of the sea
is not without a consolation:
his dying is of brief duration
and ultimately brings relief.
Yet what convulsive death can be
as bad as my pathetic life?
The more I live the more I die.
When I begin to feel relief
on seeing you in the sacrament,
I sink in deeper discontent,
deprived of your sweet company.
Now everything compels my grief:
I want — yet can’t — see you nearby,
and die because I do not die.
Although I find my pleasure, Sir,
in hope of someday seeing you,
I see that I can lose you too,
which makes my pain doubly severe,
and so I live in darkest fear,
and hope, wait as life goes by,
dying because I do not die.
Deliver me from death, my God,
and give me life; now you have wound
a rope about me; harshly bound
I ask you to release the cord.
See how I die to see you, Lord,
and I am shattered where I lie,
dying because I do not die.
My death will trigger tears in me,
and I shall mourn my life: a day
annihilated by the way
I fail and sin relentlessly.
O Father God, when will it be
that I can say without a lie:
I live because I do not die?
  •  Translated by Willis Barnstone
Thing about January -- the looking back and the looking forward -- it makes where you are feel a little . . . cloudy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

to disclose

The notion that God dwells in our soul is not a quaint medieval theological construct. Perhaps it was their insight in their vocabulary that ‘God’ or ‘real wisdom’ is not out-there, but profoundly embedded in the very matter of tree and bird and ground and flesh and concomitant awareness of everything that exists in this realm of existence/being as we experience it.

If we were paying attention, it might become clear that the artificial divisions and false antagonisms so many of us perpetuate are solipsistic self-aggrandizement perpetrated at the expense of fabricated ‘others’ -- a habit of mind that might have no basis in reality.

If ‘God’ is in us, and our egoism blinds us to that reality, what, then, are we?

Richard Rohr in his Daily Meditation two weeks ago wrote:
One God, One LoveTuesday, December 13, 2016
Lady Julian of Norwich (c. 1342-c.1416) is one of my favorite mystics. Julian experienced her showings, as she called them, all on one night, probably May 8, 1373. It was such a profound experience that she asked the bishop to enclose her in a small anchor-hold built onto St. Julian’s Church in Norwich, England. (We don’t know Julian’s real name; we call her by the name of this church.) From a window that looked into the sanctuary she would attend mass; from another window she would counsel people who came to visit her. Julian lived in the anchor-hold for perhaps twenty years and spent this time trying to communicate what she experienced in one night. 
For me, Chapter 54 of Julian’s Showings is the best description I have read of the union of the soul within the Trinity. The mystics always go to the Trinitarian level because here God is a verb more than a noun, God is a flow more than a substance, God is an experience more than an old man sitting on a throne. And we are inside that flow of love. Julian writes: 
Greatly ought we to rejoice that God dwells in our soul; and more greatly ought we to rejoice that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is created to be God’s dwelling place, and the dwelling of our soul is God. . . . [This is what some call inter-being.] It is a great understanding to see and know inwardly that God, who is our creator, dwells in our soul, and it is a far greater understanding to see and know inwardly that our soul, which is created, dwells in God in substance, of which substance, through God, we are what we are. [We share in the same substantial, ontological, and metaphysical unity.] And I saw no difference between God and our substance, but, as it were, all God; and still my understanding accepted that our substance is in God. [1]
Intimacy implies twoness, but twoness overcome and enjoyed. Julian preserves differentiation, the dance of partners. She is not a pantheist; she is not saying everything is God. She is saying everything is in God and God is in everything— which is panentheism. Mirabai Starr gives a fresh translation of Julian’s words:
The all-powerful truth of the Trinity is the Father, who created us and keeps us within him. The deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, in whom we all are enfolded. The exalted goodness of the Trinity is our beloved Lord: we are held in him and he is held in us. We are enclosed in the Father, we are enclosed in the Son, and we are enclosed in the Holy Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are enclosed in us. All Power. All Goodness. All Wisdom. One God. One Love. [2]
Gateway to Silence:We are already in union with God. 
References:[1] Julian of Norwich, “The Fifty-Fourth Chapter,” Showings, trans. Edmund Colledge and James Walsh (Paulist Press: 1978), 285.
[2] Julian of Norwich, The Showings of Julian of Norwich, trans. Mirabai Starr (Hampton Roads: 2013), 149-150.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Intimacy: The Divine AmbushCDMP3 download (CAC: 2013), disc 7.

Now, the task, to disclose. 

Monday, January 02, 2017

woodshed, "Mu"

Perhaps what is being asked is the first zen koan question of 2017: "Does Donald Trump hove president-nature?" The response bellows out from the woodshed of January's new arrival wearing swaddling garb of hope and fear, "Mu!"

We don't know what that response means. We don't know -- not yet, not really -- what Trump means.

Robert Pirsig, in his 1996 work of literature, gives us a glimpse of “Mu” that might help us decide whether to step out of the woodshed hoping to help shape a living response, or hunker down with fear for long cold winter.

He writes:
Mu means "no thing." Like "quality" it points outside the process of dualistic discrimination. Mu simply says, "no class: not one, not zero, not yes, not no." It states that the context of the question is such  
that a yes and a no answer is in error and should not be given. "Unask the question" is what it says.
Mu becomes appropriate when the context of the question becomes too small for the truth of the answer.
  (--Robert Pirsig, in, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Having several cord of wood will help weather the ordeal.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

It’s simply your love for life.

Sunday Evening Practice was full.

And from the table reading, featuring Joanna Macy and Rainer Maria Rilke, this:
And so we keep moving forward, holding the vision of a life-sustaining world in our minds: 
No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth, lest we remain unused.
(II, 25)
(--from Rilke’s Book of Hours, Love Poems to God)
Only in our doing can we grasp you.
Only with our hands can we illumine you.
The mind is but a visitor:
it thinks us out of our world.
Each mind fabricates itself.
We sense its limits, for we have made them.
(I, 51) 
On the last day of the retreat, I thanked Macy. I told her how much the week gave me to think and learn more about, and that she had given a permission I didn’t know I’d lacked: the permission to long for a thriving world that included human life. This was a sensation I felt in my chest more than a thought. 
“Who are you to tell life that it won’t go on?” she said, waving her thin wrinkled hands in air the between us as if she could clear it of lingering misconceptions. “The Buddha said not to be attached to your ego—not to life. It’s life that wants to live through you. It’s simply your love for life.” 
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not ever complete the last one,
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, that primordial tower.
I have been circling for thousands of years,
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
(I, 2)

(--from Rilke’s Book of Hours as Portent and Guide, Joanna Macy’s reading of Rilke offers a Middle Way in an era of ecological devastation. By Marie Scarles, DEC 27, 2016  Tricycle.)
And a heartfelt final circle.

And a good slide into the new year.

welcome to celebritoxicity

Perhaps the media and the populace share a similar disadvantage -- simpleminded, uninformed, remarkable lack of intelligent grasp of what needs to be known to be an effective and useful citizen.

In other words, we celebrate and revere ignorance and the ignorant.

There is a rising idea that only the knowledgeable should be voters. It's called epistocracy (see

No one forced Mr Trump on us. We walked on to the circus fairgrounds and he was the glitziest, loudest, most intimidating barker on the fairway.

We bought the con.

Democracy might not yield to epistocracy (voting and rule by those who know and are informed), but it might continue to give itself away to cynical manipulation and mindless self-promotion (on the part of celebrity candidates and the over-eager paparazzi pretending to be serious journalists) until we know nothing and grin like besotted fans over every pose presented as something of value.

 Let's call it celebritoxicity!

But that's just a New Year's morning view.