Saturday, January 27, 2018

fleet foxes, white winter hymnal

collating suffering

Two responses, two students:
Just because one person is suffering doesn't mean two people have to suffer.” (CZ)
This is a good line. I agree with it. The sense I reflect on is that no one should have suffering forced on them by another. it is something we seem to do, namely, use our suffering to clobber others. Intentionally or unintentionally.
It makes me further reflect that — in ways I do not fully grasp — whenever anyone suffers, I too am part of their suffering, even if I am not being clobbered by it. It is this natural collation, one life shuffling through another's,  that fascinates me and keeps me wondering.
 I truly believe I am 'self defined' by how I reflect the world around me.” (EC)
Yeah, I do too. 
In some ways it’s like a hall of mirrors —everywhere you look, there you are. 
When Flip Wilson’s Geraldine would say, “What you see is what you get!”— it seemed a simple statement. Reading your above line, it now seems to take on a different meaning, namely, what we see in the world, the way we see it, the way we allow ourselves to be tutored by what we see, then, that is what we become.
No longer is it a matter of “This is what I get to possess,” but rather, “This is what I will become.” The world we see is the world that we will live in. So, my consciousness is asking me, “What do you see?”

Friday, January 26, 2018

an ugliness looms

If Robert Mueller continues to be trashed by Trump and republicans in Congress, and a series of firings and pardons follow, what then?

Then, I suspect, a people’s court will convene and move on those who have attempted to overthrow our democratic representative republic and, in a series of state and regional jurisdictions predicated on the US constitution, decisions will be made to activate local juridical authority and mobilize local national guard to stand by to stand up to those intent on destroying the laws and values of the land.

There is, beyond the drama of a lawless executive and complicit sycophants, an antidote.

The people, by and large, are decent. They know right and wrong. They will not, ultimately, permit criminal lawless self centered looters to run roughshod over the land and the citizens.

Justice will prevail.

If those responsible for protecting the country fail, the people of the country will, on their own, rise up and demand fairness, decency, justice and removal of those violating the constitution.

In this regard, I am optimistic.

The Trumps and irresponsible minions surrounding him will be taken down and replaced by law abiding leadership intent on serving and protecting our country from all threats, foreign or domestic.

This eventuality requires a new alertness.

Awareness demands attention.

For which, we must pay.

And pray for justice.

And mercy.

God help us!

An ugliness looms.

Thursday, January 25, 2018



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

will they help me to notice

This, from “Fragility and Repetition: On the Poetry of Robert Lowell,” by Katie Peterson, November 1, 2017, in American Poets:
The events of Lowell’s actual biography made him give up a sense that his life would be either healthy or straightforward. His imagination enabled him to create work that still matters to us, none of whose lives seem, at this point, to be easily recognizable as either. His poems about mental illness anticipate a twenty-first-century culture in which having a diagnosis has become as overstated and necessary as having a college degree. In the best of these, illness refuses to pigeonhole itself as a disability or dramatize itself as a privilege of the artist. “Notice,” from Day by Day, passes into the twenty-first century familiar to anyone who’s ever mistaken a medical professional for someone who can tell you the meaning of life:
The resident doctor said,
“We are not deep in ideas, imagination or enthusiasm—
how can we help you?”
I asked,
“These days of only poems and depression—
what can I do with them?
Will they help me to notice
what I cannot bear to look at?”
A poem like this doesn’t only anticipate a world in which no “normal” exists, either in psychological condition or in life plan: it imagines a world in which the idea of “the normal” has been almost forgotten. Nowhere is this understanding more moving than in Lowell’s treatment of his complicated family life, in NotebookFor Lizzie and Harriet, and especially The Dolphin, with his last two marriages braided together in time with children and stepchildren and across an ocean. Don’t we all wish we—or someone—could have planned our lives better? Lowell admits that feeling and lets it go. He stands vividly in the midst of experience, when all we’d thought we’d known demands to be known again. The final lines of “Notice” remind us how bravely Lowell stood in his own discomfort: “Then home—I can walk it blindfold. / But we must notice— / we are designed for the moment.”

This essay originally appeared in the Fall-Winter 2017 issue of American Poets, the biannual journal of the Academy of American Poets. Copyright © 2017 by the Academy of American Poets.

out of darkness











remembering Abbot Robert OCSO from Berryville Trappists

A year on since his death, I remember sitting in parlor across from Fr. Robert in the late 90’s when I stayed as guest in community. 

In our conversations he showed me a real monk — joy amid doubt, trust within discouragement, wisdom wandering edges of nescience. 

Reading James’ words reflects a clear black and white portrait.

My time with Robert and the community was sufficient to ease me into renewed life as hermit in the world and monastic in service to fellow and sister sannyasa in hospital, hospice, nursing home, prison, and house of prayer.

I remain fond of Robert, Benedict, Mark OCSO’s— each gone beyond — and all the Trappists met. 


Tuesday, January 23, 2018


when it

is time

tell me

your name

and I

will tell

you mine

Monday, January 22, 2018

it falls apart at end

it is




yet it


what is

from our



let’s pay attention

If you think funding and economic capitalism is merely a kabuki dance, remember:
The First World War ... 1914–18. In those years, more than 15 million men of the major nation-states massacred each other in the interests of their respective capitalisms.   
(—in, Introducing  Heidegger, A Graphic Guide, by Jeff Collins)
There’s more at issue here than the posturing rhetoric suggests.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

in process, étude-en-silence

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha  (from Heart Sutra)

Traditionally translated: gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, awake, oh joy!

Conversation with J in reception area, mango-peach walls surrounding the quiet of large room with center fireplace on Saturday night, speaking about death, heaven, what we hold as true (for now) where we think of what happens with death.

Every conversation is open invitation to go beyond what we know. It is revelation of what is within what appears to be.

We so often think of death as a going somewhere, somewhere else, without body, no longer in time, to what some call heaven. We say we leave the body, going out, rising to celestial embrace, returning home, with the Lord, or, in the bardo, free from mortal core, released and at peace, enroute new beginning.

This morning, yule tree still on sun porch, still lighted, electric candles yet in windows, recent snowfall dripping from roof, house quiet, humming choir in ear, breathing at ease, something occurs to me.

Perhaps there is no out there.

What we call body is the exterior expression of interior manifestation.

Breath is connective energy keeping inner and outer in same place. As a lamp gives light when plugged in and switched on, so too, breath is how our body lights physical space for particular moments of time.

Breath, (spiritus, pneuma, prāṇa, rûaħ), is the invisible energy (except in freezing Maine mornings, when seeing ones breath means put your good wool hat on). 

Breath makes visible that through which it breathes.

And here we are!

But when breath ceases to breathe the exterior expression of interior manifestation, where does it go? Where does body go? And where does the invented or formulated “I” that has become associated with that bodily expression go?

Can we say that everything returns to the completely within?

Breath, (spiritus, pneuma, prāṇa, rûaħ), is the manifesting origination of everything that is, everything that has come to be, the creating touch moving out into existence.

And when we ‘die’ — what happens?

Perhaps return to inner source.

Breath unbreathes us from visibility. We return to invisibility, our senses or skandas disappear from view. 

We go within.

We go completely within.

And am “I” there?

“I” has been the particular form consciousness of the undivided and original awareness that resides nowhere with nothing outside itself. In death the “I” -- the external particular thinking feeling form -- goes, and is gone, beyond. 

Beyond, at or to the further side, or what Keiji Nishitani called, the absolute near-side. This beyond is the nothing we do not know. Buddhists call this emptiness, itself. In Hebrew scripture, I submit, it was called the ’no other.’ (How often is it read: “I am the Lord, and, there, is -- ’no other’.”

Contemplatives abandon themselves to the interior life. Zen practitioners sit in silence, as do Quakers, Sufis, and poets at the revelation of word-at-source.

Monks, monastics, mystics and other fools for wholeness, somehow understand the paradoxical call to die daily, to live with death as invitation to the radiant silence of the wholly other near side within which all belongs to itself, and nothing else is.

Nothing else is.

I don’t think we can easily (or hardly) grasp this. Hence the prayerful mantra/koan, “What Is This?”

J and I finished our conversation in the grand room of Sussman House, the peach-mango walls quietly surrounding, she behind desk, I in rocking chair, as both nurse and cna pass by and smile.

I return through corridor, pass to other side of swinging doors, and chat awhile at nurses’ station. 

The two patients I’d sat with, my teachers in breath, were now with family or friend. The unexplainable admixture, sorrow of heart and peace of mind, rapt me.

The hours or our holy étude-en-silence together tonite yields a deep quiet that walks out front door through refreshing cold to black truck parked under two flagpoles at edge of trees.

I turn and deep bow gasshō* toward the sacred space and holy individuals within.

It is a silent drive, a left, two rights, and straight northeast.

The zen master’s words background: only go straight -- don’t know!

...   ...   ...

gassho A position used for greeting, with the palms together and fingers pointing upwards in prayer position; used in various Buddhist traditions, but also used in numerous cultures throughout Asia. It expresses greeting, request, thankfulnessreverence and prayer.