Saturday, October 20, 2018

bitte für uns

 Mechthild of Magdeburg writes of the oddness of presence and absence. 
God’s Absence  
Ah blessed absence of God,
How lovingly I am bound to you!
You strengthen my will in its pain
And make dear to me
The long hard wait in my poor body.
The nearer I come to you,
The more wonderfully and abundantly
God comes upon me.
In pride, alas, I can easily lose you,
But in the depths of pure humility, O Lord,
I cannot fall away from you.
For the deeper I fall, the sweeter you taste.

- Mechthild of Magdeburg
Translated by Oliver Davies. From Beguine Spirituality: Mystical Writings of Mechthild of Magdeburg, Beatrice of Nazareth, and Hadewijch of Brahant.
How sweet the falling away!

How bitte für uns the arrival!


nineteen years ago
I fell asleep —

has been the same
nor changed

Friday, October 19, 2018

into fresh air

I left prison today

A better man
For having

Been there

Thursday, October 18, 2018

worst of all possible worlds


Kant would say human dignity is compromised.

America will have to decide.

The future is behind us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

nothing to do but see

In waiting room waiting for surgery and wound healing to empty chairs where 87 year old man in orange baseball cap runs commentary on who comes in who goes out, his red suspenders and red Nike sneakers matching, his impatience toned a little by 77 year old wife whose walker is parked before them as when he told his sitting neighbor she has something not curable, now 10 minutes to eleven (tsk tsking) “we’re still here” as receptionist opens door, looks around, goes back in alone.
Another Elegy ["This is what our dying looks like"]
This is what our dying looks like.
You believe in the sun. I believe
I can't love you. Always be closing,
Said our favorite professor before
He let the gun go off in his mouth.
I turned 29 the way any man turns
In his sleep, unaware of the earth
Moving beneath him, its plates in
Their places, a dated disagreement.
Let's fight it out, baby. You have
Only so long left—a man turning
In his sleep—so I take a picture.
I won't look at it, of course. It's
His bad side, his Mr. Hyde, the hole
In a husband's head, the O
Of his wife's mouth. Every night,
I take a pill. Miss one, and I'm gone.
Miss two, and we're through. Hotels
Bore me, unless I get a mountain view,
A room in which my cell won't work,
And there's nothing to do but see
The sun go down into the ground
That cradles us as any coffin can. 
Jericho Brown, "Another Elegy (”This is what our dying looks like”)" from The New Testament. Copyright © 2014 by Jericho Brown.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.Source: The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014)
These interior offices without windows.

These doors opening.

These elderly folk just sitting facing another door that says, 
Not An Exit 
For Privacy

Please keep door closed 
Thank you.
“I don’t know,” he says, not so happy as someone else goes in they have not been taken.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

see truth in fragments

If truth is what is, then to be post-truth is to not exist.
Satyagraha, literally translated as “holding fast to truth,” obliged protesters to “always keep an open mind and be ever ready to find that what we believed to be truth was, after all, untruth.” Gandhi recognized early on that societies with diverse populations inhabit a post-truth age. “We will never all think alike and we shall always see truth in fragments and from different angles of vision,” he wrote. And even Gandhi’s harshest detractors do not deny that he steadfastly defended, and eventually sacrificed his life for, many values under assault today—fellow-feeling for the weak, and solidarity and sympathy between people of different nations, religions, and races.   
(— from,  Gandhi for the Post-Truth Age, by By Pankaj Mishra, the New Yorker, 22oct18)
There are many who run from truth.
Who flee existence.
These dwell is delusion.
With no place to stand, sit, or walk calmly away.

Monday, October 15, 2018

because they are me also

“Jesus didn’t come to make us rich.” says Chris Hedges.

He mentions Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). I find the following:

In the voluminous writings he composed during his eleven years imprisonment under the fascist regime, Antonio Gramsci repeatedly cites the aphorism, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” (which he ascribed to the novelist Romain Rolland). In one of his letters, he expanded the idea: “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned … I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” In the context of Gramsci’s life and work, the phrase had a particular resonance. He was suffering isolation and deprivation in prison, from which he had no hope of release. The left, and with it, for Gramsci, the prospects for humanity, had suffered terrible reverses. In these conditions the aphorism was a formula for survival. It also has to be seen in relation to the major concerns of his prison writings: the connection between theory and practise, the role of intellectuals, the dialectic of subjective and objective factors.
 Pessimistic intellect, optimistic will.

I despair of all things Republican and all things Trump. It feels like so much baloney, bluster, and balderdash. Yet, it is serious. A turn has occurred. These are trivial people, still the consequences of their rampage are not trivial.

It’s harder these days to figure out what matters Jesus. Some fellow from two thousand years ago Palestine. Much written about, narratised, mythologized, usurped, and purloined.

My mystical antenna seems to have been blown down in some onshore gale as I slept in a drafty room some years ago. A remnant of ritual remains. Hoc est enim corpus meum is as current as morning waves on Monday harbor. Kernels of syllables seeking somewhere to land, somewhere to burrow into new furrow to rest through another winter of bleak expectation for meaningful. flowering.

Jesus might not have come to teach us how to get rich but many do get rich off his name with the help of trenchant syrupy CEO’s and sappy prosperity preachers. Like Gramsci, Jesus’ prospects for humanity has suffered terrible reverses.

Clouds roll in. The folksinger offloads houseboat at dock. Lobstermen zip in from bay, skid to float, unburden deck, power out again against wind and swells. Yachts unbuckle spars and fold up sails as mid-October sits at end of docklines.

This is my true home. At harbor, by wharf, sipping coffee, watching arrivals and departures, contemplating the absence of God.

Everyone is affected by the everything done up and down coastlines and inland roadsides by the everybody we are.

When Thich Nhat Hahn was asked: What is the role of a teacher in spiritual practice? He responded:

A friend can be a teacher, a fellow practitioner can be a teacher, and you yourself can be a teacher. A teacher is anyone who helps you practice and find more freedom—even freedom from your teacher.
You have to be intelligent and not be dependent on your teacher. If you follow him or her with blind faith, it’s not good. There is no perfect teacher. You can learn the good things from him or her, and you can also help your teacher to be better. Very soon there will be a teacher within you, and you can follow that teacher. 
So a good teacher is someone who helps you not depend on him or her all your life. That is why the Buddha said before he died, “Go back to yourself. Take refuge in the island within you.” 
You are not lost when your teacher is no longer in human form, because your teacher is always alive in you and in his disciples. When I practice calligraphy, sometimes I invite my late teacher to join me, so as teacher and disciple we do it together. Breathing in, half the circle. Breathing out, the other half. When I smile, my teacher smiles.
I invite all teachers of the past to do a circle with me, and I know that my hand is not my hand. My hand is also my father’s hand and my mother’s hand. Sometimes I invite all my friends to do it with me, because they are me also.
There you are!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

What now

Q: Who’s your teacher?

A: This moment.

Q: Do you follow carefully your teacher’s teaching?

A: No. I disappear into it. No following; no leading.