Saturday, June 01, 2019

room 4

We are

only here for a short time.

These bodies wear out. Organs run down.

Cancers take over. Brain loses electric connections.

We die.

And before death our systems fail.

So it is.

In the meantime we wait. And watch.

We nap. Sip hot chocolate.

Read studies of history and religious thought.

Bide time.

One breath after another.


Friday, May 31, 2019

questioning this

Yesterday was Ascension Thursday. The invitation arises to consider what location means, what dimensions overlap with our space/time dimensionality, what it means to say ‘I am here.’

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) speaks of the physics and spirituality in a sermon:
Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love. 
He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. 
These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God.
(—from,  Second reading, From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop, office of readings, Solemnity of the Ascension)
I remember hearing the phrase in my youth coming from my mother saying, “that’s neither here nor there.”  With yesterday’s solemnity, forty days after Easter, a variation is suggested — “this is both here and there.”

Branes, in the vocabulary of physicists,
The central idea is that the visible, three-dimensional universe is restricted to a brane inside a higher-dimensional space, called the "bulk" (also known as "hyperspace"). If the additional dimensions are compact, then the observed universe contains the extra dimension, and then no reference to the bulk is appropriate. In the bulk model, at least some of the extra dimensions are extensive (possibly infinite), and other branes may be moving through this bulk. Interactions with the bulk, and possibly with other branes, can influence our brane and thus introduce effects not seen in more standard cosmological models. (Wikipedia, Branes)
The way we think, the philosophical system or categories we choose to be familiar with, influence what we hold as our spirituality.
Many, many people have been influence by Plato’s philosophy in fact -everyone who thinks that spirituality is nothing more than a means to escape from this world – are Platonic in their thinking. People who think that when they die  they will be forever free of their bodies in Heaven where they will become angels  are Platonic in their thought. They are also wrong too to think that a human becomes an angel when they die,  is the same as thinking that a frog becomes a human when they die. The point here is that this kind of dualistic thinking has more to do with Platonic thought, than it has to do with the revealed truth in the Bible. When we think about anthropology and cosmology from a biblical perspective we find a unity between the spiritual and material,  that the spiritual flows into the material and the material responds and is elevated.
From a biblical perspective, Heaven or the spiritual realm is where God and Angels dwell. Earth, or the material realm, is where humanity and animals dwell. The two touched each other, they penetrated and influenced one another, and they are never separated.  (—from, The Ascension: Why are you looking up to heaven?) 
Today, Friday, is the celebration of the Visitation, when Mary visited Elizabeth while both were pregnant, one with Jesus, one with John. It is said they both realized something was different about their pregnancies, some new understanding was at hand.

How thin is the veil between worlds?  Between dimensions? Between what we call heaven and earth?

And do we, or, should we, traverse and awaken to the infinite belonging inferred by our participatory residence in a multitude of manifestations interpenetrating this place under our feet and surrounding our shoulders?

What does it mean to be ‘here’ — to be anywhere?

And if we were to ever be ‘here’ — what revelation about presence and the boundless everything would we awaken to?

Will transparency, in time and space, be our liberation, our release from a restricted thinking and limited belief about our true nature, freeing us into our true Self within and without, whole and entire...

Into a new appreciation of who we are as family, community, friends, one another?

Yes, question this!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

ordinary zen

Poet Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) wrote:
Napped half the day;   
     no one         
punished me!

Ah — the art of it! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

as we learn how to sing

Some words at Hospice Volunteers luncheon:
Definition: impede | imˈpēd |verb [with object]delay or prevent (someone or something) by obstructing them; hinder: the sap causes swelling that can impede breathing.ORIGINlate 16th century: from Latin impedire ‘shackle the feet of’, based on pes, ped- ‘foot’. Compare with impeach.
….  ….  ….  

     1. Quote:  Rainer Maria Rilke: “Love and death are the great gifts that are given to us; mostly, they are passed on unopened.”

     2. Quote: Life and death are a package deal. You cannot pull them apart. In Japanese zen, the term shoji translates as “birth-death.” There is no separation between life and death other than a small hyphen, a thin line… 
(—from introduction to the book The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully by Frank Ostaseski, founder of the Zen Hospice Project and the Metta Institute, is a Buddhist teacher, international lecturer and a leading voice in contemplative end-of-life care.
This is similar to the phrase ji-ji-mu-ge, meaning "between one thing/event and another thing/event there is no barrier (no impediment)."

     3. Quote: Jackson Browne, in the second stanza of his song “For a Dancer” wrote:                
I don't know what happens when people die / Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try / It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear / That I can't sing / I can't help listening

….   ….   … 

Here’s the poem: It was sent me about 8 years ago by Carol, our former director of volunteers, during the planning for a training session on spirituality for new volunteers:
The Real Work           
          by Wendell Berry 
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work, 
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey. 
The mind that is not baffled is not employed. 
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
         (—by Wendell Berry, from Collected Poems, 1987)

….   ….   …

Conclusion: And so, however baffled our minds might be about death and dying, and our work in that journey —

may we learn from the stream — making its way over and through difficulties and impediments — may we learn how to sing !

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

the end of the month

Donald Trump isn't alone. It's a world-wide phenomena. To ignore it is to miss the big picture.
The common thread here isn’t just right-wing populism. It’s contempt for the ideology of them before us: of the immigrant before the native-born; of the global or transnational interest before the national or local one; of racial or ethnic or sexual minorities before the majority; of the transgressive before the normal. It’s a revolt against the people who say: Pay an immediate and visible price for a long-term and invisible good. It’s hatred of those who think they can define that good, while expecting someone else to pay for it. 
When protests erupted last year in France over Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise gas prices for the sake of the climate, one gilets jaunes slogan captured the core complaint: “Macron is concerned with the end of the world,” it went, while “we are concerned with the end of the month.”  
This is a potent form of politics, and it’s why I suspect Trump will be re-elected next year barring an economic meltdown or foreign-policy shock. You may think (as I often do) that the administration is a daily carnival of shame. You may also think that conservatives are even guiltier than liberals and progressives of them-before-us politics: the 1-percenters before the 99 percent; the big corporations before the little guy, and so on. 
But the left has the deeper problem. That’s partly because it self-consciously approaches politics as a struggle against selfishness, and partly because it has invested itself so deeply, and increasingly inflexibly, on issues such as climate change or immigration. Whatever else might be said about this, it’s a recipe for nonstop political defeat leavened only by a sensation of moral superiority.
(--from, How Trump Wins Next Year, What’s happened in India and Australia is a warning to the left. ByBrett Stephens, OpEd, NYTimes, 24Masy19) 
  Ayn Rand framed the debate which continues.
Selfishness — a virtue? Ayn Rand chose this book’s provocative title because she was on a mission to overcome centuries of demonization. “In popular usage,” Rand writes, “the word ‘selfishness’ is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends . . . and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment. 
“Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word ‘selfishness’ is: concern with one’s own interests
“This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions.” 
In this collection of articles, Rand offers a “new concept of egoism” based on reason as man’s means of survival and opposed to all forms of sacrifice. 
It is commonly believed that morality demands we choose between sacrificing other people to ourselves (which is deemed “selfish” and therefore immoral) and sacrificing our own values to satisfy others’ needs (which is deemed unselfish and therefore moral). In this book, Rand rejects both options as forms of selflessness, and offers a new concept of egoism — an ethics of rational selfishness that rejects sacrifice in all its forms. 
Selfishness, however, does not mean “doing whatever you please.” Moral principles are not a matter of personal opinion — they are based in the facts of reality, in man’s nature as a rational being, who must think and act successfully in order to live and be happy. 
Morality’s task is to identify the kinds of action that in fact benefit oneself. These virtues (productivity, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, pride) are all applications of the basic virtue, rationality. Rand’s moral ideal is a life of reason, purpose and self-esteem.
(--about The Virtue of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand, 1964) 
Mr Trump is such an obvious picture, and hard to avert eyes from -- but he is merely close to our eyes. Spanning the globe, nationalism and self-interest, self-identity and me-first, take a more prominent role in the minds of the people. Ideas and ideals, intellectual or ethical, seem an unnecessary elective in the arising core areas of attention.

When an elephant shifts its weight and starts to lean its gait across the road, best be out of its way until it passes.

What sidestep, what shelter, is available during this passage?

It is the end of the month.

Monday, May 27, 2019

decoration day

Vinney died in Vietnam.

It was 1968.

I think of him today.

memorial day -- awaiting within eye and heart

We remember

and pray for

all those


and deadened

by war

All for whom

war and

its sorrowing

does not go away

The day

belongs to the memory

of those for whom


without coming home

awaiting within eye

and heart an



And so...

we bow, profoundly,

to our brothers and


this day

Sunday, May 26, 2019

die sprache spricht*

          (On writing message when I might have meant 
                            massage — a reconstruction haiku)

What is the message?
   Touch me, one flesh, practicing
Unicity — me/you nique** — a trinity of
   Touching comfort, speaking

... ... ...

* die sprache spricht 
** The numerical value of nique in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3