we sat in silence
then chanted prajnaparamita --
in circle of poetry back in house
wide gaps of listening
then chanted prajnaparamita --
in circle of poetry back in house
wide gaps of listening
December 30th, 2018
Meeting an old Monk in deep Mountains- Guanxiu (832-912) dailyzen.com
A cassock of coarse threads
A mind of moonlike kind;
A short mattock in his hand
To hew the sticks he finds.
By dark stones on the streamside
Over fallen leaves he goes;
A few wisps of cloud
Trail two brows of snow.
Ever since we heard this we have been praying for you unceasingly and asking that you may attain full knowledge of his will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight. Then you will lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way. You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God. By the might of his glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully whatever may come, giving thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. Through him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.
—from letter of Paul to Colossions 1, 1-14
The goodness and humanity of God our Savior have appeared in our midst. We thank God for the many consolations he has given us during this sad exile of our pilgrimage here on earth. Before the Son of God became man his goodness was hidden, for God’s mercy is eternal, but how could such goodness be recognized? It was promised, but it was not experienced, and as a result few have believed in it. Often and in many ways the Lord used to speak through the prophets. Among other things, God said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. But what did men respond, thinking thoughts of affliction and knowing nothing of peace? They said: Peace, peace, there is no peace. This response made the angels of peace weep bitterly, saying: Lord, who has believed our message? But now men believe because they see with their own eyes, and because God’s testimony has now become even more credible. He has gone so far as to pitch his tent in the sun so even the dimmest eyes see him.
—from a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot (Sermo 1, in Epiphania Domini, 1-2: PL 133, 141-143)We breathe together.
I heard a Fly buzz - when I died - (591). BY EMILY DICKINSON
I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air -
Between the Heaves of Storm -
The Eyes around - had wrung them dry -
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset - when the King
Be witnessed - in the Room -
I willed my Keepsakes - Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable - and then it was
There interposed a Fly -
With Blue - uncertain - stumbling Buzz -
Between the light - and me -
And then the Windows failed - and then
I could not see to see -
Ant. When the sun rises in the morning sky, you will see the King of kings coming forth from the Father like a radiant bridegroom from the bridal chamber.
MS. TIPPETT: Right. Very interesting. I would love for you just to read a little bit more a psalm that you love right now.
MR. BRUEGGEMANN: The Book of Psalms ends with these outrageous doxologies. “Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire, hail, snow, frost, stirring wind filling his command, mountains and all hills, fruit trees and cedars, wild animals and cattle, creeping things and flying birds, kings of the earth, princes and all rulers, young men and women, all old and young together.”
It’s an image of all creatures joining in doxology. I love that, to think that sea monsters — I don’t know how sea monsters howl or how they express their faith, but it’s an early form of [sings] “All creatures of our God and King.” The whole world is coming in doxology, and I just think it’s so wonderful.
I just read a book recently, and I don’t know whether it’s right, but it says that Socrates said that all true speech ends in doxology to God. I hope he said that. If he didn’t, he should’ve. [laughs]
(--from OnBeing, The Prophetic Imagination,)As good a Sunday service as I might've attended.
Visualization of the whole observable universe. The scale is such that the fine grains represent collections of large numbers of superclusters. The Virgo Supercluster—home of Milky Way—is marked at the center, but is too small to be seen.
|Diameter||8.8×1026 m (28.5 Gpc or 93 Gly)|
|Mass (ordinary matter)||4.5 x 10 51 kg |
|Density (of total energy)||9.9×10−27 kg/m3 (equivalent to 6 protons per cubic meter of space)|
|Age||13.799±0.021 billion years|
|Average temperature||2.72548 K|
|Contents||Ordinary (baryonic) matter (4.9%)|
Dark matter (26.8%)
Dark energy (68.3%) 
Everything is quiet,- Daegak Euchon (1055-1101) daily zen.com
And the night is clear:
The perfect time to raise your pillow
And cultivate your mind.
“We are asleep. Our Life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know that we are dreaming.” (― Ludwig Wittgenstein)Mind me this --
For this reason the Lord himself gave as the sign of our salvation, the one who was born of the Virgin, Emmanuel. It was the Lord himself who saved them, for of themselves they had no power to be saved. For this reason Paul speaks of the weakness of man, and says: I know that no good dwells in my flesh, meaning that the blessing of our salvation comes not from us but from God. Again, he says: I am a wretched man; who will free me from this body doomed to die? Then he speaks of a liberator, thanks to Jesus Christ our Lord.
(—from, Second reading, From a treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop, Office of Readings, Wednesday)
December 17th, 2018
From dawn to dusk- Rengetsu (1791-1875), daily zen
Spending the day
Gathering clay for my pottery:
Surely Buddha would not
Think this a trifling matter.
So far, the independent judiciary has still not faltered, despite the GOP’s efforts to pack it with unqualified right-wing hacks. The special counsel and the U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York, as well as attorneys general in several states, are systematically investigating and prosecuting those who sold out America to enrich the criminal enterprise surrounding Donald Trump. And the press has begun to dig, dig, dig, especially as it comes to grips with the threat Trump poses to journalists and the First Amendment.
Democracy will take its country back. After experiencing the corruption, brutality, and amorality of this regime, the people and their duly elected representatives will put in the safeguards to ensure that this nation never faces this kind of perfidy and darkness again.
(—from, The Russians meddled in our Democracy, but they had All-American Help, by Carol Anderson, HuffPost, 13dec2018)There’s much remaining to recommend optimism.
The traditional East has always held that solutions to practical problems are the only ones that can be worked out through theoretical reasoning at the level of consciousness. True thinking, which is “moral thinking,” i.e. finding answers to fundamental questions, such as the meaning of life, our responsibilities towards others, and so on, is existential thinking, and takes place in the context of particular circumstances, which are my own circumstances, my place in society, the people I know, the country I live in. Obviously, what I can do about the environment or racism, for instance, is not the same, whether I am a social worker, or a farmer, or the Prime Minister, and whether I am in the UK, or the US, or Brazil, or whatever. Reason works out answers by applying an intellectual grid of causes and effects on a representation of the general problem on the field of consciousness. Such representation is an abstraction which more often than not pro- vides an excellent description of the issues, but do not even begin to suggest solutions. Einstein famously said “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” and “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” In real life situations, there are specific problems which we encounter, and a need for a personal response to them: actions we should take and, possibly more often, actions we should refrain from. Critics of Nishitani have alleged that he does not provide a concrete ethical system comparable to what we find in Kant’s philosophy. For Bud- dhists both problems and answers are “contextualised” and, apart from the basic pre- cepts given to beginners, no Buddhist master will ever tell his/her disciples what they should do. Instead he/she shows them how to realise the mode of emptiness where they will find their own answers.
Emptiness, then, is the teacher. Once fully appropriated, emptiness is experi- enced not only as a state of clarity where you are “enlightened” by all things, but also as a wellspring of goodwill toward all beings. Because Sartre did not extend nothingness to the self, he missed the experience of nothingness as spontaneous altruistic concern which would have transformed his existentialist philosophy into a genuine humanism. In the Buddhist mode of emptiness, I feel compassion toward all beings, I wish them well. It is only when, on the field of consciousness, I (i.e., my representation of myself) feel threatened that I may be resentful of others, and this is a state where no one enjoys dwelling. But when I (which is really non-I at that point) dwell in the mode of emptiness, I experience an all-embracing loving kindness and an unconditional wish to do what is good for others. I treat them with re- spect and reverence, not because they have “rights,” but because this is what I spontaneously want to do. “In religious Love or Compassion, the highest standpoint of all comes into view.” (Ibid, 281)
(--from, THE FIELD OF EMPTINESS AS THE FIELD OF THE GREAT AFFIRMATION, The Kyoto School of Philosophy, Nick Bea)
Ach du meine Güte!
For years I've worried that something stupid would unseat the thoughtful and considered rule of law and common sense holding up this country.When the Republican Party dissolved into the "What, me stupid?" method of governing by nonsense and narcissism, I began to breathe the new atmosphere as one does stale air in an abandoned mineshaft. The Republican Gemeinshaft has become dark and dank. Worry gives way to reality. They have been coal in our stocking.
Ah, Christmas!(My dear friend, Richard, departed farmer from Warren, would cluck and shake his head over such public comment on such low intelligence politics.)
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning
(--from poem, Epilogue, by Robert Lowell)But we live, simultaneously, in both.
10. The tilma upon which the Virgin's image is imprinted is held to be miraculous by devotees.
Some scientists claim an absence of brush strokes on the cloak while others report that the coloration contains no animal or mineral elements. Perhaps the most spectacular miracle, according to devotees, is the tilma emerging unscathed from a bomb blast.
In 1921 an anti-clerical radical detonated 29 sticks of dynamite in a pot of roses beneath the cloak. The blast destroyed a marble rail, twisted a metal crucifix and shattered windows throughout the old basilica but the tilma itself was untouched. (article)We tell the stories and the implications with the ambivalent fascination we relate dreams after waking up from sleep.
There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/more-things-in-heaven-and-earth--horatioGracias el amigo!
Centering Prayer is a method designed to facilitate the development of contemplative prayer by preparing our faculties to receive this gift. . . . It is at the same time a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. This method of prayer is a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him. 
Centering Prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:6): “If you want to pray, enter your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Notice that “Father” refers to a personal relationship, whether you call it father, mother, brother, soul-friend, spouse or anything else.
The first step in Centering Prayer is to enter your inner room, which is symbolized by the heart in most traditions; that is, your innermost self beyond the senses and beyond thinking. . . .
Second, “close the door,” symbolizing your intention of letting go of all thoughts, preoccupations, memories and plans during this time. As soon as you are overtaken by thoughts, which is inevitable in the beginning, return to your original intention to let go of all thinking. You can do this in a very simple and extremely gently way, like saying a sacred word briefly, noticing your breath, or turning to God with a brief glance of faith in His presence.
Finally, you pray in secret to the Father who speaks to you beyond words and who invites you to ever deeper silence. . . .
 Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart, 20th anniversary edition (Bloomsbury: 2006), 175.
(—from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation,Week Fifty, Contemplation, Centering Prayer, Wednesday, December 12, 2018)And what then?
"What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: 'I will send My messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'" (Luke 7:24-27)Jesus is speaking here of John the Baptist. He could as easily been speaking of different messanger — silence.
The Penguin Book of Hell, edited by the Fordham history professor Scott Bruce, is an anthology of sadistic fantasies that for millions of people over many centuries laid a claim to sober truth. Not all people in all cultures have embraced such fantasies. Though the ancient Egyptians were obsessively focused on the afterlife, it was not suffering in the Kingdom of the Dead that most frightened them but rather ceasing altogether to exist.
At the other extreme, in ancient Greece the Epicureans positively welcomed the idea that when it was over it was over: after death, the atoms that make up body and soul simply come apart, and there is nothing further either to fear or to crave. Epicurus was not alone in thinking that ethical behavior should not have to depend on threats and promises: Aristotle’s great Nicomachean Ethics investigates the sources of moral virtue, happiness, and justice without for a moment invoking the support of postmortem punishments or rewards.
The Hebrews wrote their entire Bible without mentioning hell. They had a realm they called sheol, but it was merely the place of darkness and silence where all the dead—the just as well as the wicked—wound up. For the ancient rabbis, heaven was a place where you could study the Torah all the time. Its opposite was not a place of torture; it was more like a state of depression so deep that you could not even open a book.
In the Odyssey, Homer bequeathed to the world a much more elaborate vision of the afterlife than the Hebrews ever imagined, one in which Sisyphus ceaselessly attempts to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down again, and Tantalus, standing in a pool, reaches for fruit that forever eludes his grasp and thirsts for water that he can never drink. Yet notwithstanding these isolated examples of exemplary punishment, the land of the dead visited by Odysseus is notable not for the meting out of just deserts, whether pleasure or pain, but for a general sadness, more akin to sheol than to the Christian hell. “There’s not a man in the world more blest than you,” Odysseus congratulates the ghost of the great Achilles. “Time was, when you were alive, we Argives/honored you as a god, and now down here, I see,/you lord it over the dead in all your power.” But Achilles contemptuously dismisses the facile compliment:No winning words about death to me, shining Odysseus!By god, I’d rather slave on earth for another man—some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive—than rule down here over all the breathless dead.
Though life, as Homer’s great poem shows, can be excruciatingly difficult, it is still preferable to even the most honored place in the underworld.
https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/12/20/damn-it-all-book-of-hell/?printpage=trueFor my personal philosophy, the following proposition applies: Get the hell out of here!
The cross, Cone reminded us, is not an abstraction; it is the instrument of death used by the oppressor to crucify the oppressed. And the cross is all around us. He writes in “The Cross and the Lynching Tree”:
The cross is a paradoxical religious symbol because it invertsthe world’s value system, proclaiming that hope comes by way of defeat, that suffering and death do not have the last word, that the last shall be first and the first last. Secular intellectuals find this idea absurd, but it is profoundly real in the spiritual life of black folk. For many who were tortured and lynched, the crucified Christ often manifested God’s loving and liberating presence within the great contradictions of black life. The cross of Jesus is what empowered black Christians to believe, ultimately, that they would not be defeated by the “troubles of the world,” no matter how great and painful their suffering. Only people stripped of power could understand this absurd claim of faith. The cross was God’s critique of power—white power—with powerless love, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Present-day Christians misinterpret the cross when they make it a nonoffensive religious symbol, a decorative object in their homes and churches. The cross, therefore, needs the lynching tree to remind us what it means when we say that God is revealed in Jesus at Golgotha, the place of the skull, on the cross where criminals and rebels against the Roman state were executed. The lynching tree is America’s cross. What happened to Jesus in Jerusalem happened to blacks in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Kentucky. Lynched black bodies are symbols of Christ’s body. If we want to understand what the crucifixion means for Americans today, we must view it through the lens of mutilated black bodies whose lives are destroyed in the criminal justice system. Jesus continues to be lynched before our eyes. He is crucified wherever people are tormented. That is why I say Christ is black.
(—from, The Heresy of White Christianity, by Chris Hedges, truthdig, 10dec18) https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-heresy-of-white-christianity/