Saturday, March 03, 2018

Evagrius for Saturday morning practice

As it was, it just seemed time to read some Evagrius Ponticus (345 - 399) after zazen.
Indeed, I urge you to welcome exile. It frees you from all the entanglements of your own locality, and allows you to enjoy the blessings of stillness undistracted. Do not stay in a town, but persevere in the wilderness. ‘Lo,' says the Psalm, 'then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness' (Ps. 55:7). If possible, do not visit a town at all. For you will find there nothing of benefit, nothing useful, nothing profitable for your way of life. To quote the Psalm again, 'I have seen violence and strife in the city' (Ps. 55:9). So seek out places that are free from distraction, and solitary. Do not be afraid of the noises you may hear. Even if you should see some demonic fantasy, do not be terrified or flee from the training ground so apt for your progress. Endure fearlessly, and you will see the great things of God, His help. His care, and all the other assurances of salvation. For as the Psalm says, 'I waited for Him who delivers me from distress of spirit and the tempest' (Ps. 55:8. LXX). 
 (Excerpts from The Philokalia, Evagrios the Solitary, (345/6-399), VOLUME 1: Page 31. Outline Teaching on Asceticism and Stillness in the Solitary Life)
 Theres this:
Introduction    Evagrius Ponticus (b. 345 in Ibora; d. 399 in Egypt), a monastic theologian, was one of the most talented intellects of the fourth century. Circulating in elite ecclesiastical circles of Cappadocia and Asia Minor, he began his career under Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus, serving with the latter in Constantinople through a stormy tenure that culminated in the Second Ecumenical Council (381). Known then as a brilliant heresiologist, Evagrius seemed destined for a successful ecclesiastical career. He chose a different course, and fled to Jerusalem, where he took vows in the monastic communities of Rufinus and Melania. From there he traveled to Egypt and lived in monasteries in Nitria and Kellia. In Egypt he wrote extensively in a variety of genres—letters, proverbs, brief sayings (chapters), and treatises—nearly all geared toward explaining and analyzing vice and virtue, demons and angels, psychological and psychosomatic phenomena—in sum, the life of the ascetic. His accounts are set, sometimes explicitly, oftentimes pensively, within a well-developed metaphysical system that responded to both classical philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism) and the theology of some of the most accomplished Christian intellectuals (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nazianzus).
 Then this:
Evagrius’ understanding of the spiritual life has been succinctly summarized as ‘the mind’s long journey to the Holy Trinity’.[1] This journey can be envisioned as a helix, a geometrical form which combines both linear direction and circular movement.[2] The linear motion consists of ‘progress’ (προκοπή) or ‘ascent’ (anabasis /ἀνάβασις) towards God which is at the same time characterized by a ‘circular’ movement between the poles of praktiké (ἡ πρακτική) and theoretiké (ἡ θεωρητική): that is, between the ascetical (‘ethical’ or ‘practical’) life and the contemplative life. Fundamental to Evagrius’ model of spiritual progress is his conviction that the Christian praktikos πρακτικός or ascetic should mature into a γνωστικός, a ‘knower’ or ‘sage’ skilled in contemplation and capable of imparting spiritual knowledge. He describes sequential levels or stages of spiritual progress, but he does not thereby imply that it is possible to completely rise above the praktiké and ‘graduate’ from the quest for virtue. As the praktikos makes progress he learns to perceive the work of asceticism from an increasingly contemplative perspective.[3] And since the struggle against certain passions continues until the very moment of death,[4] even the mature gnostikos must continually advance in virtue, practicing ascetical vigilance.[5] Thus the journey towards God is not a simply a movement beyond praktiké into theoretiké: spiritual progress includes a gentle oscillation between these two poles in such a way that continuing attention to the changing demands of praktiké yields ever greater contemplative refreshment.

There’s a lot to sort through for spirituality to drown you in its depth. 

Friday, March 02, 2018

Thread: I’ll start. I wrote this after a Friday morning conversation with several inmates at maine state prison, and a final conversation with a co-monastic (with gratitude to them and to the student who sparked the conversation)

After a student said “there will always be evil”

Perhaps we’d have to ask “What is evil?”

Without objectifying evil into a demonic being, or relying on ancient mythological stories, what can we say about evil that describes evil in our experience?

Let’s try this:
Evil is the cold, fearful, separation of oneself from others, from the authentic reality of interrelationality, and opting for objectifying, reactive, angry, harmful, and unfeeling behavior toward the other or others.

If evil were to be countered and possibly overcome, it would be by means of compassionate, involved, relational, intersubjective, kind and caring response to each person and persons within the circumstance and surround of immediate and distant experience.

If, at root, every sentient being longs to avoid suffering and experience aware happiness (in whatever form within which it comes) then, no one consciously would seek to harm or hurt another in ways that we would call evil.

This would entail becoming conscious, deepening and expanding that consciousness, until nothing is left out of our identifying surround, that which we might call kin, family, neighbor, community, divinity, cosmos, humanity — the  circumincessional interpenetration* and the dancing interconnectivity of cosmotheandric** reality.

We are exploring here a new ethic and spirituality of being present in existence — and beyond — with one-another.

With this awareness and ongoing intelligent inquiry, we very likely could arrive at a condition of heart and mind which would be happy to help one-another to experience happiness and dwell compassionately in the midst of others, or no-others, surrounding.

What we call evil begins to disappear when any individual chooses to enter a compassionate and thoughtful interaction with any one individual within the sphere of their presence.

Thursday, March 01, 2018


Q: If you had the opportunity, would you join the current administration in the White House?

A: No!

Q: I have no further questions.

there, there


is yesterday


is here

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Χριστός-Μεσσίας is the nature of the universe.

No church, no temple, no mosque, no scripture contains this nature.

Each breath is the liturgy of the cosmos.

first thing this morning, Richard Rohr’s daily meditation

An Unfolding Future
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

To fight the concept of evolution is to fight the core meaning of biblical faith, which is a generous balancing act between knowing and not knowing. Unbelief is to insist on total knowing now—by myself! As people of faith, we believe that God is guiding this mysterious universe, although much is hidden from us, both in the past and the future. “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and the human heart has not conceived, what God has prepared for those who love God” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Judeo-Christian believers, in particular, should have been the first to understand and promote a philosophy of progress because they had an Absolute Source and Goal to ground the trajectory.

In 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) published his findings that revealed the universe was expanding. Many began to imagine that if the biggest frame of reference—the cosmos—was still unfolding, then maybe that is the pattern of everything. The latest evidence shows that this expansion is even happening at an ever-increasing rate! It seems to mirror the increasing rate of change with each new technological and scientific breakthrough. This rapid change is scary and unsettling. I can see why people are panicking and trying to find some solid ground, a fixed point to the turning world. 

Fundamentalist religion and identity politics seem to be running the show now, and I can even understand that. But God has never “circled the wagons” to regain control and stability. God only moves in every larger spheres and orbits, which is what we mean by calling God infinite, eternal, or almighty.

I have no knowledge of where the universe story might be fully or finally heading, but I can see what it has already revealed with great clarity—that knowledge builds on itself, is cumulative, and is always moving outward toward ever-greater discovery. People who cling to the past and resist change have a hard time participating in God’s and their own future. Perhaps this is an appropriate application of Jesus’ somewhat problematic words, “Anyone who has will be given more . . . but anyone who has not, will lose what little he has” (see Matthew 25:29). This is only true in the realm of spirit and wisdom which increase and evolve with use. Material reality decreases with usage, which is why our consumer worldview is unsustainable.

In the words of Thomas Keating,
There seems to be an intent or a plan in creation to bring into manifestations revelations of the Unknowable One that awaken in us the greater and greater capacity to love. . . . Evolutionary consciousness is extremely important . . . and science has vastly increased the understanding of how the immensity of the universe continues to expand and how its infinitesimal quality continues to unfold.God is more and more trying to move the human race to the next stage of consciousness beyond the rational, technological, dominating worldview . . . recognizing the truth that there is only one self ultimately and this is God manifesting in us. [1]
Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

[1] Thomas Keating with Carl J. Arico, God Is Love: The Heart of All Creation Guidebook (Contemplative Outreach: 2016), 22,
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Evolution Is Another Name for Growth,” “Evolutionary Thinking,” Oneing, vol. 4, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2016), 111-112.

Monday, February 26, 2018

god skips church

The dream and fantasy

called life in this world carries on.

Things feel less and less solid.

A disappearing night.

Everything is prayer.

Earth as zafu, zabuton.

Hands poised


Sunday, February 25, 2018


The video asked whether Jesus was a Buddhist.

Where was he from age 14 to 30?

And did he go to Kashmir after the crucifixion event and subsequent recovery?

Plausible? Or mere fancy?

Last night I sat with someone’s grandmother for an hour in a hospice room. A vase of flowers and two small carafes of water and juice on table traversing bed.

She was there. I was there. Granddaughter and friend arrived and stayed a while.

From adjacent room guitar and voices played and sang.

Listening in letting inside.

Grandmother and I had our quiet listen to the brief concert. A bass voice, some harmony, then laughter, returning to silence.

Who was it once spoke about the “real realization of reality”? A new 3r’s for pedagogy.

A rooting and recollecting responsivity.

Where rest and return to restorative emptiness is the sole scripture capable of being read with no sound, no interruption, no-other awareness.

Mere mother, grandmother, there, going no-where, the unborn and undying, here.

Our unarticulated, nameless movement, through and through.

Water brothers, water sisters, wending way, together.

Asperges me, Domine,
Hyssopo, et mundabor:
Lavabis me,
Et super nivem dealbabor.

Miserere mei, Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.

Cleanse me, O Lord, With hyssop, and I shall be made clean: Wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

Have mercy on me, O God, According to Your great mercy.