Saturday, February 16, 2019

let's change the direction this country


our paralyzed stare

Having just finished Unspeakable: Talks with David Talbot about the Most Forbidden Topics in America, By Chris Hedges and David Talbot, (2016), I am again cast into that penumbral space that Chris Hedges, Daniel Berrigan, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton toss me. 

Richard Rohr lights this place a bit in his words:
If you pay attention to the text, you’ll see that the Apostle John offers a very evolutionary notion of the Christ message. Note the active verb that is used here: “The true light that enlightens every person was coming (erxomenon) into the world” (John 1:9). In other words, we’re talking not about a one-time Big Bang in nature or a one-time Incarnation in Jesus, but an ongoing, progressive movement continuing in the ever-unfolding creation. Incarnation did not just happen two thousand years ago. It has been working throughout the entire arc of time and will continue. This is expressed in the common phrase the “Second Coming of Christ.” Unfortunately, this was often heard as a threat (“Wait till your Dad gets home!”). It could more accurately be spoken of as the “Forever Coming of Christ,” the ongoing promise of eternal resurrection and the evolution of consciousness into the mind of Christ.   (from, Seeing Christ EverywhereWednesday, February 13, 2019, Richard Rohr)
Rohr, the day before, asked:
What if Christ is a name for the transcendent within of every “thing” in the universe?
There's a shadow over my comprehension. The sound of it rings true. But where is it calling me to?

Annie Applebaum in The Washington Post, writes about this penumbra for me:
In truth, we know far more about these camps, and about the accompanying repression, than anyone in 1933 knew about the famine in Ukraine. They have been extensively described in the world’s media, including the New York Times and The Post . Government bodies have studied them, too. Canada’s Parliament recently produced an account of the suppression of the Uighurs that is far more comprehensive than anything Jones ever wrote. The report is one of many to describe the massive surveillance program that China has imposed in Xinjiang, using not only old-fashioned informers and police checkpoints, but artificial intelligence, phone spyware and biometric data. Every tool that a future, larger totalitarian state may use to control citizens is currently being tested in Xinjiang.
Under “terrorist” legislation in Xinjiang, anyone can be arrested for anything — for expressing an allegiance to Uighur culture, for example, or for reading the Koran. Once inside the “re-education” camps, arrestees are forced to speak in Mandarin Chinese and made to recite praises of the Communist Party. Those who break the rules receive punishments no different from those meted out to prisoners in the Soviet Gulag: “They put me in a small solitary confinement cell,” said one former prisoner cited in the Canadian report, “in a space of about two by two meters. I was not given any food or drink, my hands were handcuffed in the back, and I had to stand for 24 hours without sleep.”
As in the 1930s, there are explanations for the world’s lack of outrage. Newspaper editors are distracted by bigger, more immediate stories. Politicians and foreign policy “realists” would say there are more important issues we need to discuss with China: Business is business. Xinjiang is a distant place for people in Europe and North America; it seems alien and uninteresting. None of that changes the fact that in a distant corner of China, a totalitarian state — of the kind we all now denounce and condemn — has emerged in a new form. “Never again?” I don’t think so: It’s already happening.
Earlier in the opinion piece, Applebaum wrote:
The audiences I speak to are sometimes unsatisfied with these answers. They want to talk about the perfidy of the Left or the New York Times, or they want to blame the U.S. president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt. But blame is easy. Far more difficult, both for them and for me, is to admit something more profound: That precisely the same indifference, and the same cynicism, exist today. (from, ‘Never again?’ It’s already happening. -- By Annie Applebaum, The Washington Post, Feb.15,2019) 
This indifference and cynicism, what Hedges and his cadre write about, is the obfuscating shadow lingering over awareness of what is happening, what is the truth, and what is our paralyzed stare into the headlights.

I love these writers. They disturb me. In that disturbance, the sound of a horn, the need to leap immediately from the crushing crash of ignorance and ignominy -- to the side, the side leading to the woods, warned and frightened, signaling what has to be done not to be someone else's catch.

Friday, February 15, 2019


No practice gatherings will be held this weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

the world itself was pure

Thinking about Shinkichi Takahashi, poems and zen:
In his 50th year he was married and finally achieved a period of great happiness and serenity as he lived out a quiet life with his wife and two daughters. Such a state of peace seemed unlikely in his younger days. In 1985 he produced what is probably considered to be his most famous piece of work – Triumph of the Sparrow: Zen Poems of Shinkichi Takahashi – and this was translated into English and published in the year 2000, thus giving people all over the world the chance to appreciate the art of Zenist poetry. Here is an extract from one of his poems:
 His work was known much earlier though in both the United States and England. One American art critic, writing in the Hudson Review in the 1970s, wrote the following about Takahashi:
 The poet had a view, typical of a Zenist, that the world itself was pure and was only “fouled by our dripping mind-stuff”. Art and life, for him, where one and the same. His early years of turbulence taught him the valuable lessons from which he learned to write in a unique way. 
Shinkichi Takahashi died in June 1987 at the age of 86. 
What we listen for.

What we look for.

final uneasiness

I bought his book of poems at the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal in the 1960s.

One poem,  since then, has chagrined: 

The Warning
For love—I would
split open your head and put
a candle in
behind the eyes. 
Love is dead in us
if we forget
the virtues of an amulet
and quick surprise.
Where was I going that day spanning Hudson River between Washington Heights and Fort Lee? Invariably, as lost-in-place then as now.

The book of poems, For Love: Poems 1950-1960, by Robert Creeley, still with me somewhere in my mess of books, was published in 1962 by Scribner.

Attending poetry readings in Manhattan during the 60s and 70s, the voices of Waldman, Levertov, Snyder, Hecht, Ginsberg, Strand, Kinnell, Corso, Edson, Ferlinghetti, Berrigan, Rich, Lowell, Stryk, Paston, Mariani, Berry, Everson (Bro. Antoninus), Gregg, Harjo, Koch, Merrill, Olds, Pinsky, Ashbury, O'Gorman, and Hazo. Delighted, I listened.

Then there is this:
The Rain 
All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.
Robert Creeley, “The Rain” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley. Copyright © 1991 by the Regents of the University of California. Reprinted with the permission of the University of California Press.
Somewhere along the line, the words came for me, pointing out that:


is being


toxic loops


we want things

to be


in accordance

with fact

or reality

Once so


as "just

like this"

what is true

is breath to




toxic loops



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

hearing an old word new

This new understanding of 'kin-dom' is well worth the price of a recent subscription to Sojourners.

I've never been comfortable with the concept/metaphor of 'kingdom.'
In the 37 times that Jesus describes the reign of God in the Gospels, not once is the kingdom of God like a kingdom of earth. Thirty-seven times Jesus reshapes the imaginations of his followers. Thirty-seven times Jesus tells them a story to help them remake the only world they know. 
The world of the disciples is one of domination and violence. Their world is one in which the wealthy and powerful rule over the weak, take advantage of that weakness, crush it under the boot, and lash it with the whip. It is a world in which Caesar is both king and god, a cruel, irrational tyrant who takes vengeance against his enemies.
Ada María Isasi-Díaz was visiting her friend, a Franciscan nun name Georgene Wilson, when she heard the word for the first time: kin-dom rather than kingdom. I imagine that as she sat with this word, turning it over in her mind, something clicked about her own life. For Latinas, she would go on to write, kin-dom offered a description of liberation that was “self-determining” within an interconnected community, seeing God’s movement emerge from la familia, from the family God makes. 
Kin-dom became the language she used to describe God’s libertad, the liberation of God at work among people, the good news for those who suffer at the hands of kings. Isasi-Díaz dedicated her life to the work of mujerista theology, where the center of theological study is borne from the experience of Latinas. She wrote that, for Latinas, this liberation emerges from opening up space where love invites us into kinship, invites us to join others at a table that grows. Liberation is found not in hope deferred to another world, to life after death, but what can be created now.
(--from, The Kin-dom of Christ, in Sojourners, COMMENTARYBy Melissa Florer-Bixler 11-20-2018) 
New relationship, with one another, with God.


With gratitude to Ada María Isasi-Díaz (1943-2012).


Can we be sure if anyone has ever existed?
Though we can’t be sure if he truly existed, Bodhidharma is the legendary founder of Zen Buddhism in China. He is said to have arrived in China about 520. (Buddhism had by then been known in China for about 400 years.) He was soon summoned to the emperor, who had questions for him. 
“According to the teachings, how do I understand the merit I have accrued in building temples and making donations to monks?” the emperor asked. 
Bodhidharma, usually depicted as a scowling, hooded, bearded figure, shot back, “There is no merit.” 
“What then is the meaning of the Buddha’s Holy Truths?” the emperor asked. 
“Empty, nothing holy,” Bodhidharma replied. 
Shocked, the emperor imperiously asked, “Who addresses me thus?” 
“I don’t know,” Bodhidharma replied, turned on his heel and left the court, to which he never returned. He repaired to a distant monastery, where, it is said, he sat facing a wall for nine years, in constant meditation. 
(--from, What Is Zen Buddhism and How Do You Practice It?  BY  
Seems to me that constant meditation is where you go when existence is called into question. 

desperate times, desperate measures

I take refuge in West Wing on Netflix..

Balm for a troubled spirit.

niege matin


comes daylight

veiled white

viper's poison seeping toward heart

I've never liked the point of view that the world is corrupt. That 'sin' and 'evil' prowl and slerk, seeking the ruin of souls.

Easier to understand is ignorance, not-yet-awake or not-free from narrow self-absorbed and self-limited myopia, intentional and willful narcissism intent on defining the world as one's specific orbit, detached from what is the reality, namely, the overlapping interconnection of each thing/being with all things/beings.

Yet, the word corrupt applies. As does sin. So too evil.

Even if they are not considered as supernatural tropes evoking battle narratives of good versus evil, God versus Satan, or whatever other antipathies come to mind -- there is a common recognition that something binary and antithetical is actively at issue.

I see the current president of the United States as perpetuating falsehood and divisive antipathy. He cannot, it seems, help himself out of his sullen, mocking, crude, bullying, intemperate post-truth attempts to actively destroy good-will, compassion, and kindness in the populace he influences.

It is beyond frustrating to watch him. It is, rather, the experience of decadent fiction and designer falsehood become mainstream normalcy.

It unnerves.

And enervates.

A viper's poison seeping toward heart.

While we watch.

And wait.


what cannot be


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

rethink the day

A post-truth presidency. No objective facts. Only emotion and belief and opinion based on self-interest and self-aggrandizement.

It dawns on us.

the transcendent within

It's time for this emergent thought: 
What if Christ is a name for the transcendent within of every “thing” in the universe?        (--Richard Rohr,, Another Name for Every Thing, Tuesday, February 12, 2019)
Now ... 

we're listening! 

and may your loving kindness descend upon us

It's 6° outside

At barn door I chant morning invitatory

Firewood and far stars in antiphonal stillness

Monday, February 11, 2019

for no one's benefit

In imagination, the journey is to sylvan monastic solitude, the arc of day and night following itself (Itself?) through demarcations the human mind has made of cycles of gravity and motion.

In fact, the biopic is plebeian, inconsequential, the transcript of failure and impertinence.

And yet, here I am typing these words to an empty space in a meaningless construct recording nothing of value for no one's benefit.

It is a great joy to be so doing.
“Numquam se plus agere quam nihil cum ageret, nunquam minus solum esse quam cum solus esset.” 
“Never is he more active than when he does nothing, never is he less alone than when he is by himself” 
(Cicero, attributing Cato, in Arendt The Life of the Mind, p.8 1971, 1981))
I finish the book Doing Time With Charlie by Kay Page. I knew him at Maine State Prison in 2006. I liked him. He allowed as how no one had ever asked publicly what he or others thought about matters of scripture or theology or spirituality in the context of a Saturday Service. I suspect the notion of dialoguing is unpopular among those whose certainty and proselytismic reflex urge unquestioning following of the proselytiser's set and doctrinaire message. He was pleased to have been asked.

We were thinking together.
Thinking does not bring knowledge as do the sciences 
Thinking does not produce usable practical wisdom. 
Thinking does not solve the riddles of the universe. 
Thinking does not endow us directly with the power to act. 
(--MARTIN HEIDEGGER, in What is Called Thinking, p.168))
It's no surprise so few find thinking attractive. Easier to bask in opinion and belief.

Of course, I don't know what thinking is. It has something to do with presencing.

Manifesting the coming-to-be of what is most real.

Without engaging in opinion or belief, what is most real?

I remember reading Sertillanges (1863-1948) in school:

“Friendship is an obstetric art; it draws out our richest and deepest resources; it unfolds the wings of our dreams and hidden indeterminate thoughts; it serves as a check on our judgements, tries out our new ideas, keeps up our ardor, and inflames our enthusiasm.”
― Antonin Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods 
“It is a painful thing to say to oneself: by choosing one road I am turning my back on a thousand others. Everything is interesting; everything might be useful; everything attracts and charms a noble mind; but death is before us; mind and matter make their demands; willy-nilly we must submit and rest content as to things that time and wisdom deny us, with a glance of sympathy which is another act of our homage to the truth.”
― Antonin Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods
Doing nothing.

By oneself.

Finally, Jean Anouilh's words toward end of his play Becket:


BECKET. [ . . . . ] It is not for me to win you round. I have only to say no to you.  
KING. But you must be logical, Becket!  
BECKET. No. That isn't necessary, my Liege. We must only do—absurdly—what we have been given to do—right to the end.  
KING. Yet I know you well enough, God knows. Ten years we spent together, little Saxon! At the hunt, at the whorehouse, at war; carousing all night long the two of us; in the same girl's bed, sometimes . . . and at work in the Council Chamber too. Absurdly. That word isn't like you.  
BECKET. Perhaps. I am no longer like myself.  
KING. Have you been touched by grace?  
BECKET. Not by the one you think. I am not worthy of it.  
KING. Did you feel the Saxon in you coming out, despite Papa's good collaborator's sentiments?  
BECKET. No. Not that either.  
KING. What then?  
BECKET. I felt for the first time that I was being entrusted with something, that's all—there in that empty cathedral, somewhere in France, that day when you ordered me to take up this burden. I was a man without honor. And suddenly I found it—one I never imagined would ever become mine—the honor of God. A frail, incomprehensible honor, vulnerable as a boy‑King fleeing from danger.  
 [p. 112]

SOURCE: Anouilh, Jean. Becket; or, The Honor of God. Translated by Lucienne Hill. New York: Coward-McCann, 1960. 128 pp.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

note: no practice, Sunday 10feb19 & 17feb19

Email sent today to those whose emails we have:
Our dooryard is just too hard-ice to walk or drive on.
Hence, we will not be having practice tonight.
Also, we will be away next weekend. Hence no practice the 17th.
The next Sunday Evening Practice will be 24feb19.
Thanks, and good cheer!
See you on the 24th. 

white cup, V8 juice

Our wonderful conversation —

He breathes, I breathe, he breathes.

Perfect understanding, simply, there