Saturday, December 30, 2017

coldest before dawn

Wood fire went out by time I come down at 4:50AM 

Two hours to practice.

Citta steals a sit on lap.

Red glow from brown wood-stove.

It, too, practices.

Friday, December 29, 2017

without ideals or violence

Two car batteries frozen at -4°F this morning. 

AAA arrives. He says I’ll be needing a new battery, rather than his returning daily this cold snap.  (He didn’t say that last thing, I did.)

You wonder how the trees stand it.
Winter Trees
     by, William Carlos Williams1883 - 1963 
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

Couldn’t go into prison today, nor did I plan to, but couldn’t if I wanted to. A vacation day. Submitted three change-of-grades for last spring’s students yesterday. Felt like I did something. Read a bunch of papers that reminded me how students make the best of questionable teaching.

The slim cat is bored. She jumps on my stretched legs. Her throwing up exercise is over. The dog won’t play with her. The cellar door is closed.  The porch is now at 6° and is off limits except for the tree with white lights standing stiffly.

End of year nears. The post Christmas feasts I used to note carefully (Stephen, John, Innocents, Becket) arrive and depart with cold appraisal. Faces and artwork of deceased compañeros glance desultorily onto the room. From dining room repeated beep of voiceless message perseverates its meaningless notification.

I’ve been up since before dawn. I learn the drug war is endlessly promulgating itself, the political do-si-do spins tirelessly across landscape, and song birds seem grateful for sunflower seeds on bitter days at foot of mountain.

A four-line stanza attributed to the founder of Chinese Zen, Bodhidharma (6th century A.D.),  tells of Zen:
A special transmission outside the scriptures
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing at the soul of man;
Seeing into one’s own nature and the attainment of Buddha-hood.  
Merton, in Mystics and Zen Masters, tells:
A disciple once asked a Zen master: “I wish to read the sutras, and what would you advise me to do about it?” The master replied: “Do you think a merchant who deals in millions would bother about making a few pennies?” (p.220) 
When I think of current tax legislation and the millionaires authoring it, there’s not much confidence they care about the nickel and dime constituents to whom they pander, but rather, seek their own gold-bar relief and that of their patrons dealing from the top of the deck with Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Aces.
My love she speaks like silence / Without ideals or violence                                                                                (--from, Love Minus Zero/No Limit,WRITTEN BY: BOB DYLAN)
That’s closer to it.

Maybe Satchmo Armstrong playing blues. He’s got a right to sing the blues. Like the men and women selling and shooting heroin in Baltimore and Oakland, the ones preying and praying on each other. The off-rhythm of our lives.

What do you think we’d see once direct pointing at the soul realized its aim?

Woodpile diminishes.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

from Greek, monos, alone

Political, the word, is rooted in Greek polisa Greek city-state;  broadly  a state or society especially when characterized by a sense of community. (Dictionary)

When used as a derogatory epithet, is it because someone is attempting to speak for a particular segment of the community and not the particular segment of community someone else wishes to represent? 

And who speaks for the community as a whole?

We are not attentive to the whole.

Fragments are easier to attend to. It is easier to fragment than it is to whole.

The first line in John Fowle’s novel, Daniel Martin, is WHOLE SIGHT; OR ALL THE REST IS DESOLATION. It has been a koan for me. 


In Daniel Martin Fowles explores the concept of “whole sight” in a variety of ways. Sometimes he uses direct discourse. At one point the character Anthony tells Daniel,

"I'm still defeated by the conundrum of God. But I have the Devil clear."
"And what's he?"
"Not seeing whole."

From this we might infer that “seeing whole” can be linked to God, godliness, or the divine


If such an interpretation is valid, it could be argued that the majority of people might not be interested in seeing things whole. We might not be interested, therefore, in God. God as wholeness. Not the “God” appropriated and trademarked by established religions as mandated focus of fragmented doctrine and moral positioning.

E. M. Forester in Howard’s End is quoted:

  • She might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the grey, sober against the fire. Happy the man who sees from either aspect the glory of these outspread wings. The roads of his soul lie clear, and he and his friends shall find easy-going.

    • Ch. 22
    • Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.
    • Ch. 22
    • In these English farms, if anywhere, one might see life steadily and see it whole, group in one vision its transitoriness and its eternal youth, connect — connect without bitterness until all men are brothers.
    Mono, in Greek, means one. (From Greek, monos, alone).

    It is a choice, some say, to be alone. Alone by oneself, alone with others, alone with the Alone.

    At meetingbrook the descriptive we use is “monastics of no other.

    Perhaps we should add: alone with all the fragmented.

    Wednesday, December 27, 2017


    Obama: Made America Greet Again

    Hillary: Meets America’s Groans Again

    Trump: Makes America Grate Again

    if you must weep

    Then there are the days the bear eats you.

    Not often, but sometimes, it feels like something large and unstoppable fills the trail ahead.

    The blustering and mendacious president and his obsequious opportunistic Republican Congress feel like looming bear who’s caught scent of traveler in middle of forest as last daylight looks to crawl behind darkening trees.

    Night arrives. Whiff of fear like cold weather carbon monoxide spreads.

    He is, it appears, a rapacious devouring golemesque anomaly. His devotees fill the public square with smug menace. Names like Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Hatch, Pence, Nunes, McConnell, Bannon, and other voices make you want to follow Lao Tzu out gate of despondency into obscurity.

    A poem by Stanley Kunitz offers sanctuary:

    God banish from your house
    The fly, the roach, the mouse 
    That riots in the walls
    Until the plaster falls; 
    Admonish from your door
    The hypocrite and liar; 
    No shy, soft, tigrish fear
    Permit upon your stair, 
    Nor agents of your doubt.
    God drive them whistling out. 
    Let nothing touched with evil,
    Let nothing that can shrivel 
    Heart's tenderest frond, intrude
    Upon your still, deep blood. 
    Against the drip of night
    God keep all windows tight, 
    Protect your mirrors from
    Surprise, delirium, 
    Admit no trailing wind
    Into your shuttered mind 
    To plume the lake of sleep
    With dreams. If you must weep 
    God give you tears, but leave
    You secrecy to grieve, 
    And islands for your pride,
    And love to nest in your side. 
    --Stanley Kunitz, “Benediction” from The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz.Copyright © 2002
    Suddenly, after long meandering, again listening to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest this morning. 

    He cheers.

    The gritty Boston AA descriptive, prose raw and melodic, a hand on slumping shoulder, balm to terrible time. 

    Tuesday, December 26, 2017

    don't mind me

    It is the inner, contained, space for which we have no name.
    Eventually I came to understand that the Runa do not have vocabulary for the edges that we perceive separating one element from another. This reflects their social structure and their perceptions of the physical world and even their political status. (from novel, The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell page 233)
    We know edges, and we traverse edges. Walls, ceilings, floors -- these we name and dwell between. Gates, borders, property boundaries -- these we guard and protect with fierce determination.

    It seems to be how we are. It seems our vocabulary shapes our mental and physical space.

    Now that there is nothing left to say, perhaps everything will disappear.

    Where did I leave my mind?

    Monday, December 25, 2017

    what is between silence and poetry

    When words become real they are known as acts.

    If words sound true enough they likely become facts.

    Ultimately for a word to become a body it must be what it attracts.

    When it is time to create and realize what it means to be human, God, with silence and poetry, interacts.

    one body at a time through now into here.

    The one who is to come is the one that is here. Source moving forward and beyond what we can think.
    Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into a prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all.   ~ from THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE  by Thomas Merton"  

    At Sunday Evening Practice last night, after video excerpt from Ilia Delio, Catholicity, Cosmology and Consciousness: Why Wholeness Matters, followed by fish and linguini, and chocolate lovers torte, someone caught the thread of conversation with the observation — “We are source looking back at itself.”

    In Maine, snow.

    We wonder about this incarnation.

    With gratefulness.

    As wood stove needs feeding and coffee heating, white dog jumping up to abandoned bed.

    And from the future God draws us forward one body at a time through now into here.

    in quiet silence

    Just about now.
    14] For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, [15] Thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne, as a fierce conqueror into the midst of the land of destruction.  
    (—Book of Wisdom, Chapter 18).
    Here and here and here.

    So it is.

    So it goes.

    So are we . . . in the midst.

    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    well-trodden paths from house to house

    We are a Laura of Hermits.


    Of No Other

    Each wanders in, idiorhythmically, from houses and apartments scattered about midcoast and environs. No one, particularly, avows any kind of allegiance or stability to anything meetingbrook, except they wander in or follow trail to door, stop in, and pass through.

    We are mendicant ephemerals practicing impermanence with each passing face in each fleeting moment in each imagined existence we call ourselves.

    Krista Tibbett and Brother David Steindl-Rast converse on the radio:
    Br. Steindl-Rast: At the very core, because the core of every religion is the religion of the heart, and that is the monastic life. Of course, as an institution, and monasteries are also institutions, it also, again and again, hardens and becomes decadent, has to be renewed. But as an idea, the monastic life — all the different monasteries are a network of networks. Every monastery is a little network of monks and all the ones that belong to it.
    It’s interesting, for instance, that today, when the number of monks in most monasteries — not everywhere. In other parts of the world, like in Africa and in Southeast Asia, Benedictine monasticism… 
    Ms. Tippett: They’re growing. 
    Br. Steindl-Rast: Is growing, growing. 
    Ms. Tippett: Right, right. And they have many young people entering.  
    Br. Steindl-Rast: Yeah, they are growing. But in the West, it’s getting smaller and smaller as far as monks are concerned, but so many more lay people as oblates, as we call them, as extended family members, that the monasteries, if you count the oblates, are bigger now than they were before. And for these lay people who live their own lives every day, but in the spirit, somehow, of monastic life, because there’s a monk in each of us — for them, this is really a great help in their lives, and a help, also, to live gratefully. So, yes, I think monasteries have a real special vocation in our time to work as a model.
    Ms. Tippett: They have a new vocation, a renewed vocation. It’s a vocation that has evolved. 
    Br. Steindl-Rast: Yes, it has evolved, because this power pyramid that has characterized our society, our whole civilization from the very beginning, for 5,000 years now — this pyramid of power, where even all our admirable culture and music and inventions and science, is all bought at the price of oppression and exploitation. It’s very sad, but this power pyramid is in process of collapsing. 
    That’s what’s happening in our times. And if you speak to people who are close to the top, and I have been privileged to speak to people pretty high up in politics, in economy, in science, in all the different fields, medicine and so forth, and everybody says we have come to the end of the rope, things are breaking down — people who really have an insight — because this pyramid has no future. 
    Ms. Tippett: Right, the whole — the form and the structure of how we did power and created …  
    Br. Steindl-Rast: It has to be replaced by network. And everybody knows that. And every group — monks are by no means the only ones. There are many, many communes and other groups out there that live network: a network of friends; a network of women who serve. These networks, they are the future.
    Raimundo Panikkar — you probably came across him, one of the great minds of the 20th century — said the future will not be a new, big tower of power. Our hope in the future is the hope into well-trodden paths from house to house, these well-trodden paths from house to house. That is the image that holds a lot of promise for our future.
    We visit one another. Whether in hospital beds or hospice beds, nursing home chairs or prison chairs, wohnkuche seats or porch seats, zafus or kneeling benches — we visit one another.

    The future is of God.

    Now is God’s sight.

    If I say “I am here,” then, where are you?

    It is time to embody what we see.