Saturday, May 05, 2018

mono no aware

This from Wikipedia:

Mono no aware (物の哀れ), literally "the pathos of things", and also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life. 
The phrase is derived from the Japanese word mono (), which means "thing", and aware (哀れ), which was a Heian period expression of measured surprise (similar to "ah" or "oh"), translating roughly as "pathos", "poignancy", "deep feeling", "sensitivity", or "awareness". Thus, mono no aware has frequently been translated as "the 'ahh-ness' of things", life, and love. Awareness of the transience of all things heightens appreciation of their beauty, and evokes a gentle sadness at their passing. In his criticism of The Tale of Genji Motoori noted that mono no aware is the crucial emotion that moves readers. Its scope was not limited to Japanese literature, and became associated with Japanese cultural tradition (see also sakura).[1] 

This from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

2.  Mono no aware: the Pathos of Things 
The meaning of the phrase mono no aware is complex and has changed over time, but it basically refers to a “pathos” (aware) of “things” (mono), deriving from their transience. In the classic anthology of Japanese poetry from the eighth century, the Manyōshū, the feeling of awareis typically triggered by the plaintive calls of birds or other animals. It also plays a major role in the world's first novel, Murasaki Shikibu's Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji), from the early eleventh century. The somewhat later Heike monogatari (The Tale of the Heike Clan) begins with these famous lines, which clearly show impermanence as the basis for the feeling of mono no aware
The sound of the Gion shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sōla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind. (McCullough 1988)
And here is Kenkō on the link between impermanence and beauty: “If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, how things would lose their power to move us! The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty” (Keene, 7). The acceptance and celebration of impermanence goes beyond all morbidity, and enables full enjoyment of life:
How is it possible for men not to rejoice each day over the pleasure of being alive? Foolish men, forgetting this pleasure, laboriously seek others; forgetting the wealth they possess, they risk their lives in their greed for new wealth. But their desires are never satisfied. While they live they do not rejoice in life, but, when faced with death, they fear it—what could be more illogical? (Keene, 79)
Insofar as we don't rejoice in life we fail to appreciate the pathos of the things with which we share our lives. For most of us, some of these things, impermanent as they are, will outlast us—and especially if they have been loved they will become sad things: “It is sad to think that a man's familiar possessions, indifferent to his death, should remain long after he is gone” (Keene, 30). 
The well known literary theorist Motoori Norinaga brought the idea of mono no aware to the forefront of literary theory with a study of The Tale of Genji that showed this phenomenon to be its central theme. He argues for a broader understanding of it as concerning a profound sensitivity to the emotional and affective dimensions of existence in general. The greatness of Lady Murasaki's achievement consists in her ability to portray characters with a profound sense of mono no aware in her writing, such that the reader is able to empathize with them in this feeling.

How we go on!

Axe Handles

          BY GARY SNYDER
One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
                 the pattern is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with—"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's Wên Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature"-—in the
Preface: "In making the handle
Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand."
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.

Gary Snyder, "Axe Handles" from Axe Handles. Copyright © 1983 by Gary Snyder. 

as we are being, created, in each instance

The bicyclist sipped tea and spoke of existentialism after morning meditation practice.

His cohorts have been wondering about the ground of ethics.

I told him the only ground of ethics was underfoot.

No signposts, maps, marching orders, or wishful thinking will give us a landscape of moral behavior we should or must follow.

Underfoot is the ground we walk.

What shows up as we step is what we are presented with -- to face and to respond to.

Our response is our ethical and moral ground.

Our relational response to what is presented before us is the practice of ethics.

Is there an ought? Only that we ought to respond from our inner compass of care and compassion.

Is there an absolute and relative criterion to our actions? Only a relational response to immediate appearance.

No concept. No ideology. No recipe for right versus wrong action. No normative checklist.

Only this, and this, and this. And our response to this, and this, and this.

Only our relational response to this, and this, and this -- attended to with care, attended to with compassion.

Attended to with our feet and eyes, ears and hands, internal organs and interior life  -- an ephemeral engagement, an existential immediacy -- in the face of which we seek to encounter the exhausting outcome of what is best for the moment, the situation, the personnel, and the sense of justice embedded in the manifest emergence of the surround-itself.

This, this, is our body.

This, this, is our cosmos.

This is also our Buddha.

This is also our Christ.

And the wholly unknown source of our very being.

As we are being, created, in each instance.

Friday, May 04, 2018

at twig, at tree, at earth

Cat arrives on morning schedule, rasping throat signaling some rhetoric my semiotic awareness does not translate, turns and takes measure of brown blanket, crook of knee, potential of duration, and settles.

Friday morning. Will to prison. Fog along road. Warm temperature. It will not snow. 

Student last evening connected non-acceptance with greed.

Another suggests evil is greed paying for happiness.

A third says we have to live in the grey where black and white overlap and good and evil are not separated.
The crow has flown away: 
swaying in the evening sun, 
a leafless tree                          
             (-- Natsume Soseki)
At alarm cat gets up and goes off to her chores.

Morning news is all about circus act in nation's capital.

Rolling chime of insistent watch rolls over Irish tweed cap beside bedside.

As Rilke wrote, "Simply give away your beauty / without talk or reckoning".

An undivided self, an integral soul, an accepting gaze -- buds look out at twig, at tree, at earth, at entirety of itself through morning awakening.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

after Parmenides* and Majjhima-Nikaya**

we are here

as is

the world

whatever else
you think 
remember this 

no one --

no one else --

sees this

as you
...   ...   ...
...   ...   ...


From, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, On Parmenides:

* "You must needs learn all things,/ both the unshaken heart of well-rounded reality/ and the notions of mortals, in which there is no genuine trustworthiness./ Nonetheless these things too will you learn, how what they resolved/ had actually to be, all through all pervading." (Fr. 1.28b-32)
The governing motif of the goddess’ revelation is that of the “ways of inquiry.” In the all-important fragment 2, she specifies two such ways:
Come now, I shall tell—and convey home the tale once you have heard—/just which ways of inquiry alone there are for understanding:/ the one, that [it] is and that [it] is not not to be,/ is the path of conviction, for it attends upon true reality,/ but the other, that [it] is not and that [it] must not be,/ this, I tell you, is a path wholly without report:/ for neither could you apprehend what is not, for it is not to be accomplished,/ nor could you indicate it. (Fr. 2)
The second way of inquiry is here set aside virtually as soon as it is introduced. The goddess goes on to refer back to the first way of inquiry and then speaks of another way as characteristic of mortal inquiry:
It is necessary to say and to think that What Is is; for it is to be,/ but nothing it is not. These things I bid you ponder./ For I shall begin for you from this first way of inquiry,/ then yet again from that along which mortals who know nothing/ wander two-headed: for haplessness in their/ breasts directs wandering understanding. They are borne along/ deaf and blind at once, bedazzled, undiscriminating hordes,/ who have supposed that it is and is not the same/ and not the same; but the path of all these turns back on itself. (Fr. 6, supplementing the lacuna at the end of verse 3 with arxô and taking s’ earlier in the verse as an elision of soi, as per Nehamas 1981, 103–5; cf. the similar proposal at Cordero 1984, ch. 3, expanding parts of Cordero 1979.) 

...   ...   ...

From, The Majjhima Nikaya, or "Middle-length Discourses" of the Buddha, is the second of the five nikayas (collections) of the Sutta Pitaka

** Mahamati, the buddhas of the past, present, and the future teach that all that exists does not come about of itself. The reason for this, according to the buddhas' view, is that there is no existence or nonexsistence and there is no coming into being or becoming extinct. On the other hand the unenlightened and ignorant tend to distinguish between existence and nonexistence, and furthermore, become attached to them. Majjhima-nikaya,

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

as without light

It's hard to know what to pray for.

Harder to know where to send the prayer.

Clearly we have come upon disturbing times.
It is time for the invocation: 
Kali, be with us.
Violence, destruction, receive our homage.
Help us to bring darkness into the light,
To lift out the pain, the anger,
Where it can be seen for what it is—
The balance-wheel for our vulnerable, aching love.
Put the wild hunger where it belongs,
Within the act of creation,
Crude power that forges a balance
Between hate and love. 
Help us to be the always hopeful
Gardeners of the spirit
Who know that without darkness
Nothing comes to birth
As without light
Nothing flowers. 
Bear the roots in mind,
You, the dark one, Kali,
Awesome power.
(--from poem, The Invocation to Kali,  by May Sarton)
Kali seems the right one to invoke for these times.
Kali, (Sanskrit: “She Who Is Black” or “She Who Is Death”) in Hinduism, goddess of time, doomsday, and death, or the black goddess (the feminine form of Sanskrit kala, “time-doomsday-death” or “black”). Kali’s origins can be traced to the deities of the village, tribal, and mountain cultures of South Asia who were gradually appropriated and transformed, if never quite tamed, by the Sanskritic traditions. She makes her first major appearance in Sanskrit culture in the Devi Mahatmya (“The Glorifications of the Goddess,” c. 6th century CE). Kali’s iconography, cult, and mythology commonly associate her not only with death but also with sexuality, violence, and, paradoxically, in some later traditions, with motherly love. 

No prayer but poetry.
To see the Way with your own eyes 
quit agreeing and disagreeing. 
The battling of likes and dislikes 
that's the disease of the mind. 
                       - Seng-ts'an (606) (Dailyzen) 
Like John Cage composition, the unregulated cacophony of everyday noises rising and lowering is the unexpected score played without notes or musical instrument. A cat stretching on red rug.

No prayer visits.

Just silence.

I enter here. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

would you like a cup of tea

If and when I reach his age, I'd probably like to say "Enough!" as well.
“I greatly regret having reached that age. I would much prefer to be 20 or 30 years younger,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. When asked whether he had a nice birthday, he told the news organization: “No, I’m not happy. I want to die. ... It’s not sad, particularly. What is sad is if one is prevented.” 
“My feeling is that an old person like myself should have full citizenship rights, including the right of assisted suicide,” the 104-year-old added. 
Goodall is set to travel more than 8,000 miles this week to Switzerland. That country, like most others, has not passed legislation legalizing assisted suicide, but under some circumstances its laws do not forbid it. 
It’s there, in northwestern Switzerland, where Goodall plans to die. 
(--from,A scientist just turned 104. His birthday wish is to die.Washington Post,    
If the mystery of existence ever walks the road by my front porch, I hope it looks through the open gate and sees an empty rocking chair under prayer flags just above sleeping cat alongside tea cup.

Then, this:
My whole life long I've sharpened my sword 
And now, face to face with death 
I unsheathe it, and lo -- 
The blade is broken -- 
(Poem by Dairin Soto. Died on the twenty-seventh day of the first month, 1568, at the age of eighty-nine. p.94, Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death,by Yoel Hoffmann, c1986

Monday, April 30, 2018

I am because you are

The beauty of the whole is contrasted with the troublesome fragmentation of our divisions.
In our world of scientism, smartness rules and wisdom is neglected. Pallas Athena (or her early Eastern Christian counterpart, Sophia) is either dead or sleeping, We, the living, prefer to think with Dr. Stern that "the heart open to infused wisdom remains the heart of immutable virginity” and hope that this essential, eternal femininity is only sleeping behind the seemingly impenetrable thorny walls of aggressive intolerance, im- personal power struggle and poisonous indifference. The question for us, the living,and for the future of humanity is this: Will the miracle recur? Will the mystery be re- enacted? Will Prince Charming come in the glory of his strength and tenderness and cut through the thicket to kiss Sophia, the sleeping beauty, into awakening?    
Will Kalokaguthia rise again?                
Reviewed by Z. JOHN LEVAY M.D. --from, Man, Woman, and Person, The Flight from Woman, by Karl Stern, M. D., New York: Farrar, Straus GirOUZ, 1965. 310 pp. $4.95.  In, Modern Age, A Conservative Review, WINTER 1966-67 - VOL. 11, NO. 1 
Stern, in The Fright from Woman, wrote, "All being is nuptial." It occurs to me, only now, how important that observation.

I am because you are.


  1. Platonic teaching based on philosophy of a bodilymoral and spiritual whole.
Origin, From Ancient Greek καλοκαγαθία (kalokagathia, “nobility, goodness”), from καλός (kalos, “beautiful”) και (kai, “and”) ἀγαθός (agathos, “good”).

Sunday, April 29, 2018

what are we I am

Here's who we are.

Awareness and realization of interrelation reality in response to the questions 'Who am I?' and 'Who are we?'

We are relational being.

We are not so much a being, as we are relational being.

The fog is our attempt to define ourselves as distinct and separate beings over against other distinct and separate beings.

So, to the question:
Who am I? 
Is the response:
I am what we are!