Thursday, December 31, 2020

fierce and freeing forms of compassion

First, the Abstract: 

This paper argues that effective compassionate action must address two kinds of human cause of suffering.The first kind, pointed out by Buddhist epistemology, are universal human tendencies of misperception and mis-reaction, tendencies of delusion, greed, and ill-will.The second kind of cause of suffering, pointed out by Christian liberation theologies, are socio-economic systems which incorporate individuals into structures of inequity that organize resources and ways of knowing in oppressive ways.Effective contemplative practice is essential to address the first cause of suffering: deluded misperception and reaction, since social analysis alone does not remove the pervasive, unconscious misperception that some persons matter more than others, a misperception that distorts anyone’s attempt to build better social systems.Contemplative practices (from various spiritual traditions) that deconstruct that delusive tendency can also empower human capacities of discernment, love, compassion, peace, courage and creative responsiveness essential for effective work for social change.On the other hand, social analysis is essential to address the second kind of cause of suffering, oppressive social structures, which, if not addressed, promulgate systemic patterns of harm while socially conditioning individuals into the first cause of suffering: delusion, greed and ill-will.Contemplative practice that lacks social analysis may also prop up oppressive structures, by improving people’s ability to tolerate, but not to challenge, those structures.The conclusion is that neither contemplative practice nor social analysis alone effectively addresses enough man-made causes of suffering.Each must inform and empower the other to provide what is necessary for effective compassionate action.


Then, from body:

This deluded habit of misperception is not solved by social analysis or activism alone, because the mind that engages in social analysis is the same mind that unconsciously mistakes everyone included in its analysis for its reductive thoughts of them, perpetuating habits of misperception that exclude many from genuine care and compassion, even when we think we are working for social justice. When those of us seeking to dismantle oppressive social systems remain unconsciously identified with our own patterns of deluded perception, those patterns become woven into whatever new social system we may create (Knitter 2009, 200). In recent history, this has been evident, for example, in the actions of communist regimes of Russia, China, Cambodia, and Eastern Europe, which came into power under high ideals of social equity, then instituted death-dealing policies against masses of people whose lives held little value within the new regime.

Another sign that this basic habit of misperception is operative when we work for social change is how often dysfunctional rage and anger are experienced by social justice activists, anger that lacks awareness of its own tendencies of misperception. Many social justice activists report that, over time, they become caught in recurrent feelings of painful rage and anger, making it difficult to work effectively, to attract support, and often contributing to burnout (Gross in Gross & Reuther 2001, 181; Knitter 2009, 175; Makransky 2016, 89-90). Such dysfunctional anger is supported by the habit of reification and misperception described above, which triggers endless reactions to our own fragmented images of ourselves and others. Such reactive habits of anger, in themselves, lack any means to stay in touch with the fuller humanity and potential of everyone involved, especially those who oppose our positions. Such habits prevent us from accessing our fuller capacities for discernment, more inclusive care, inner replenishment, inspiration, and energy (Dass & Gorman 1985, 159-160). 

By pointing out this tendency to mistake our reductive thoughts of persons for the persons, I am not arguing against the need to confront oppressive social systems and behaviors. Rather, to confront such things effectively we need a kind of knowing that can maintain awareness of the fuller personhood of everyone involved, including those we may confront, and for this a contemplative practice is essential. The Buddhist epistemology I draw on here assumes that there is much to be confronted in persons—all their ways of thinking and acting that are harmful to themselves and others. But in the moment that we confront others out of anger, even supposedly righteous anger, we tend not to sense their deep dignity and human potential beyond the single, reified image that our anger has made of them. And to declare our anger ‘righteous’ does nothing to correct that error. 

For this reason, the power to confront harmful persons in many traditional Buddhist stories is understood as a fierce form of compassion rather than any ordinary form of anger. This is exemplified in stories of bodhisattva figures that fiercely confront an individual or group, out of compassion for all involved, and is also imaged in wrathful tantric Buddhist images of enlightenment. Fierce compassion is a power forcefully to confront someone who thinks and acts harmfully, both on behalf of those he harms and on behalf of his own underlying potential, his fuller personhood or Buddha nature.2 

Finally, the conclusion: 

In sum, individual forms of delusion, greed and ill-will have been the focus of Buddhism as the main cause of suffering, while systemic forms of delusion, greed and ill- will have been the focus of Christian liberation theology as the main cause of suffering. Yet both of these causes of suffering, individual and systemic, are mutually conditioning and mutually reinforcing. Neither can be adequately addressed unless the other is also addressed. This means that neither contemplative practice and action alone, nor social analysis and activism alone, are sufficient to address the world’s man-made
suffering. Each such practice must inform and empower the other. Another conclusion is that neither classical Buddhist epistemology nor Christian liberation epistemology alone are enough to inform effective compassionate action in the world. Both are needed to effectively address man-made suffering, and to illumine critical elements of the process toward individual and social awakening and liberation. 

(--from, The Need to Integrate Buddhist and Christian Liberation Epistemologies, by John Makransky, 2019, Buddhist-Christian Studies Journal)

As year ends, Thursday turns to see where it's been. Just so, Friday tidies its room wondering what welcome might wish to be extended to whatever could appear. 

In order to see things whole, you have to be seeing things whole. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

there we are

 The final Tuesday Evening Conversation of 2020 last night. 

Naturally we talked about death. Georgiana died in 2019 we learned earlier, a friend from bookshop days up from Charlottesville, a good woman, strong and confident.

D, at ninety two, talks freely about death. C, after multiple surgeries and years of hospital stays, also speaks openly.

With each breath, great teacher demonstrates, arrival and departure, coming and going, beginning and end.

Where are the dead? As with everything and everyone, the dead are within me as I am within them.


The great gift with hospice is listening. We listen things into existence. We listen things out of existence.

It strikes me that when someone does not listen it might indicate they are terrified of death, departure, disappearance. 

The interminable talker attempts to stay death by fending away silence and perpetuating opinion and disagreement.

Silence is the field of awareness where death, like birth and surrounding life, arrives and departs with each accompanying breath.

Be silent, be still, even in movement — and know — I am, God.

Of course we want to know God.

God is what is here and now. 

May God be with you!

And with your breath, in your breath, as your breath, coming, and going, inside and outside, with you and without you, near and far, on its way, here and not.

Poet and stonemason, John M. comes to mind and images in Martha’s Vineyard. His wife, Kristin, died in 2016 in Chilmark. I learned that today. I stare out window. 

Light over past three hours has come up Barnestown road. Trees feel me feeling la tristesse. She was born on 4Oct in Paris. Those visits just after they met in Cambridge. 

My traveling there for Robert Lowell and Richard Hugo. The apartment off Harvard square with Ezra Pound quote on refrigerator, something about never trust a poet who uses the word “cosmic” in a poem.

John, equally impressive, reciting his poem Last Call walking Mt. Auburn street, he doing all the voices.

I sent a telegram from Philadelphia in 1978 for their wedding: “May you be for one another a resting place for time to change hands.”

The western union operator asked:

"Who wrote those words?"

“I did.” 

”You’re kidding.” 

“Why would I lie to you, I don’t know you. We only lie to those we know.” 

(This is now a serious koan for me.)

As is, and seems to be, everything, for me, now.

There we are!

                                                               ... Love

everyone you can.  The list gets longer and shorter.

We're seldom better than weather.  We're nearly as good

as a woman we met in passing once at Invergarry.

Don't be sorry, for him or for self.  Love the last star

broken by storm. And love you.  You hold it together.


  (—from poem, Villager, by Richard Hugo, in The Right Madness on Skye)

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

in manus tuas, domine, commendo spiritum meum

 There's no bread and no wine in bookshop as I read the words in the 1964 red missale romanum found tucked in second floor acquisitions amid german and dutch language books: 

Hoc est enim corpus meum


Hic est enim calix sanguines mei.

I feel to be some reincarnated catholic priest as I turn pages of dates and seasons, liturgical rubrics and words of consecration.

This is where some place god in ritual and daily devotion. The transubstantiation of bread and wine into body and blood of christ.  

This unheated bookshed/retreat on 5th day of christmas, sun through glass door, wind roughing bird feathers landing on branches to crack open last season's sunflower seeds.

God, the trappist monk Matthew who died in 2018 is saying in concept film The Cloud of Unknowing, God is no thing.

Where is something when it is no thing?

Everywhere you look.

Seeing no—


Monday, December 28, 2020

that which is itself

Identity -- let's take a look at the word.

  • is, ea, id -- (demonstrative pronouns): (Latin), (id: neuter) -- that
  • entity: n that which is perceived or known or inferred to have its own distinct existence (living or nonliving)

So, we could say: That which is its own. Distinct existence. Perceived or known. To have that which is.

Identity doesn't have

to be 


It has that which is as a whole. (It is perhaps a misperception to see separation as a means to establishing a misinterpreted 'distinct' existence.) Yes, we are distinguishable. No, we are not separate.

Perhaps we need to issue a new kind of 'identity' card to all our fellow existents across, along, and actualizing this planet, galaxy, cosmos.

So, here we are.

Who are we?

 Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu had a dialogue:

Naturally, his first question to Bodhidharma was, “I have made so many monasteries, I am feeding thousands of scholars, I have opened a whole university for the studies of Gautam Buddha, I have put my whole empire and its treasures in the service of Gautam Buddha. What is going to be my reward?”

He was a little embarrassed seeing Bodhidharma, not thinking that the man would be like this. He looked very ferocious. He had very big eyes, but he had a very soft heart — just a lotus flower in his heart. But his face was almost as dangerous as you can conceive.

With great fear, Emperor Wu asked the question, and Bodhidharma said, “Nothing, no reward. On the contrary, be ready to fall into the seventh hell.”

The emperor said, “But I have not done anything wrong — why the seventh hell? I have been doing everything that the Buddhist monks have been telling me”.

Bodhidharma said, “Unless you start hearing your own voice, nobody can help you, Buddhist or non-Buddhist. And you have not yet heard your inner voice. If you had heard it, you would not have asked such a stupid question.

“On the path of Gautam Buddha there is no reward because the very desire for reward comes from a greedy mind. The whole teaching of Gautam Buddha is desirelessness and if you are doing all these so-called virtuous acts, making temples and monasteries and feeding thousands of monks, with a desire in your mind, you are preparing your way towards hell. If you are doing these things out of joy, to share your joy with the whole empire, and there is not even a slight desire anywhere for any reward, the very act is a reward unto itself. Otherwise you have missed the whole point.”

Emperor Wu said, “My mind is so full of thoughts. I have been trying to create some peace of mind, but I have failed and because of these thoughts and their noise, I cannot hear what you are calling the inner voice. I don’t know anything about it”.

(--in,  This and That, There and Here, Observations, feelings and emotions of a Dame Quixote)

Elsewhere, Bodhidharma's responses to Wu were: "No merit"; "nothing holy, vast emptiness"; and, (responding to the question 'Who are you?'), "I don't know."

The apparent difficulty of hearing the inner voice derives from the mistaken belief that it comes from elsewhere to be heard by someone. 

Perhaps the inner voice belongs no where else to no one other.

And, suddenly, the sound of --

That which is itself!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

every morning

Looking at brook

Seeing water tumbling

Meditation hike

Along mountain

Saturday, December 26, 2020

first take

What if creation were incarnation?

Hypostasis of before and beyond.

The union of divinity, humanity, and cosmos.

One thing.

What if it came about by and of itself? 



And we are the mythology of christogenesis.

Unitive regenerative love.

Would you think it worth your while to be what you are for the moment experiencing everything as itself being itself?

I would think


Friday, December 25, 2020

giving way worth following

 As a child I was astounded there was news on the tv my father watched on Christmas night.

Today I am amazed there is Christmas amid all the news filling airways tonight.

That divinity is fully incarnated in humanity is an act of faith that only a mystic in dark direct unknowing experience could affirm.

It rains.

This day gives way.

It is worth following.

whence, joy


The Christ-child is 


In you

To you —

For heaven’s sake —

Listen to his cries

Attend and celebrate —

Become what Christ is

Here and


As it is



Christic Trinity)

Oneself, Yourself, Itself

Thursday, December 24, 2020

let him out

Christ will be born to us.

 "You don't believe in God," he added, speaking this time very sorrowfully. He fancied besides that his brother was looking at him ironically. "How does your poem end?" he asked, suddenly looking down. "Or was it the end?" 

"I meant to end it like this. When the Inquisitor ceased speaking he waited some time for his Prisoner to answer him. His silence weighed down upon him. He saw that the Prisoner had listened intently all the time, looking gently in his face and evidently not wishing to reply. The old man longed for him to say something, however bitter and terrible. But He suddenly approached the old man in silence and softly kissed him on his bloodless aged lips. That was all his answer. The old man shuddered. His lips moved. He went to the door, opened it, and said to Him: 'Go, and come no more... come not at all, never, never!' And he let Him out into the dark alleys of the town. The Prisoner went away." 

"And the old man?" 

"The kiss glows in his heart, but the old man adheres to his idea."

(—from:  THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. By Fydor Dostoevsky and translated by Constance Garnett. 1879)

But not until he is released from prison.

Our terrifying beliefs and ideas about some distant God, pinched morality, and personal privilege.

Let Christ be.



By acts of love.

Unveiling truth.

what is given us

America is surprised its top executive can do anything it wishes without accountability or consequence.

Each American will claim that privilege for themselves.

Forget the coronavirus —

The upcoming devastation will be spectacular.

It is Christmas Eve.

Manger? Bethlehem of mythic lore? Angels and shepherds?

Love your life.

Take small steps across kitchen.

Open fridge.

Breathe one breath at a time.

Of course there are very dodgy people wreaking havoc from their Florida quarters and elected chicanery.

They might even love their families.

The planet turns.

Saturn whisks away from Jupiter.

God hardly notices the foolishness of the vain and arrogant.

A dog barks somewhere down the road.

Through open window, across morning, winter shuffles it’s feet.

Live your own


Look for what is good.

See what is true.

Time is, they say, an illusion.

It’s still a good Invitatiry antiphon for 24December:

     Today you will know the Lord is coming, and in the morning you will see [its] glory.

Try to see it this way.

No, do, see it this way.

There! Blessed be fictionalized yoda and every child and newborn since beginningless beginning to apparently rebegun endless transformation of known universe.

We go on doing what is given us to do.

We go on being what is given us to be.

Do the next thing!

Be the next possibility!

Brew coffee.

(Or tea...if you must.)

Make toast.





What is



Wednesday, December 23, 2020

continual attunement

 What’s a monk for during this time?

As monks, it is our duty and privilege to become attuned to the Lord's continual advent. For if it is true, as we believe, that one day the Lord will return once and for all to gather us all together and bring us home to the Father in the end time, we also know that his coming toward us is a relentless, already-happening reality. And we are meant to be experts-- experts at waiting, attentiveness; experts at emptiness, the emptiness that is constantly clearing a space for him. In Christ Jesus, our Emmanuel, God has made a giant leap towards us. Jesus our Lord is always drawing near. And attentiveness to his presence is the secret we were made for.          (—from Abbey Diary, 23dec20, St. Joseph’s Abbey) 

 I’ll wait here.

To see.

lovers of the place

My calendar says I am away on retreat at Trappist monastery today until sunday.

Then came COVID.

Silly thing, isn’t it, believing we are one place when, ipso facto, we are everyplace at once!

Tell me — where are you, really?

we breathe, there is breath, we are breathed, we come and go

Last night two poems at Tuesday Evening Conversation:


Midwinter spring is its own season

Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,

Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.

When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,

The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,

In windless cold that is the heart’s heat,

Reflecting in a watery mirror

A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.

And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,

Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire

In the dark time of the year…..


What we call the beginning is often the end

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from…


Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning…


(from “Little Gidding”  by T.S.Eliot)


"The worst thing we ever did

was put God in the sky

out of reach

pulling the divinity

from the leaf,

sifting out the holy from our bones,

insisting God isn’t bursting dazzlement 

through everything we’ve made 

a hard commitment to see as ordinary, 

stripping the sacred from everywhere 

to put in a cloud man elsewhere,

prying closeness from your heart.

The worst thing we ever did

was take the dance and the song

out of prayer

made it sit up straight 

and cross its legs

removed it of rejoicing

wiped clean its hip sway, 

its questions, 

its ecstatic yowl,

its tears.

The worst thing we ever did is pretend 

God isn’t the easiest thing 

in this Universe 

available to every soul 

in every breath”

(—Chelan Harkin, from her poetry book 'Susceptible to Light’j

Reading poems together is contemporary koan study honoring the premis we are one body living one life in the one verse (universe).

Like singers in a choir, we are brought in, and reserved back, in the performance of breathing beings appearing and disappearing for particular phrases and notes, phases and noticings. 

Spirit, ruach, pneuma, prana, breath — this is the foundation of Being — no beginning, no end. 

We, each so-called individual, are undulations of understanding, intimations of compassion, arising and falling, into and out of the magnificent in-breath and out-breath of dream-song, melodic-presence, and easing-divinity embracing with intimacy the incarnational christification of inchoate and unceasing creation.

World within, and

World without,




Tuesday, December 22, 2020


Nothing comes between you and me. Nothing, that is, no barrier.

You may recall Simone Weil’s essay ‘Metaxu,’ in ‘Gravity and Grace’: ‘The essence of created things is to be intermediaries. They are intermediaries leading from one thing to the other, and there is no end to this. They are intermediaries leading to God. We have to experience them as such.’

In the definition provided in the Glossary of ‘The Intimate Universal’ (2016)— see below— Desmond provides a useful short definition of Metaxology. Based on his fourfold sense of being—-univocal, equivocal, dialectical, and metaxological—-he argues that all is in relation. The four senses don’t cancel each other out. In poems, the narrative moves from univocal to metaxological, from determined clarity to the full relativity of the between. In this definition Desmond indicates the narrative as moving through the senses to a truer account. The between, he says, is ‘open to the poetics of the trans-systematic.’ But the goal of the poetic narrative is not a dialectical whole. Though the narrative moves through the senses of being dialectically, it concludes on the threshold of an open whole. The poet nothing affirmeth, but the poem reveals the form of metaxological being. 

The between is plurivocal. The popular American poet Mary Oliver had mastered the four senses of being so that her poems could flow in the patterns of the between. We see this flow, which concludes with an image of the ‘intimate universsl’—- ‘the family of things.’

(—from ,The Poem as Metaxu with a Poem by Mary Oliver,by Tom D’Evelyn, April 4, 2020 in VoegelinView)

Let’s keep it this way. 

alternate christmas mulling, metaxology

Irish philosopher William Desmond writes about metaxology.

Wikipedia tries its hand to clarify it for us.

The potencies of being

Within the ethos there are seven potencies of being. This "enabling repertoire of self becoming" has the "character of an endowment", and is thus seen as a gift. The potencies are not a program to follow; they simply are all together the powers from which ethical selvings, expressed through particular senses of being, take their endowment. The seven potencies are:

  1.  The Idiotic: By definition something which cannot be defined specifically. Related closely to the aesthetic, the idiotic potency is always with us as we dwell in the ethos. It is the potency of being present before all dianoetic reduction or understanding. As incarnate beings (thus related to the aesthetic potency) the idiotic concerns our pre-determined being. It is the original intimation of the good of the "to be". Dwelling in the ethos we generally expect being to be good. This is seen in the immediate expectation of newborns to be healthy; when we see an unhealthy baby we are shocked and sad. Our original expectation of being is goodness. 
  2. The Aesthetic: Our being in the world is always incarnate. We live through our bodies and basic to our being is our embodied relationship with the world. The aesthetic is the idiotic incarnate. In beauty and the sublime we get physical intimations of the good of the to be. The aesthetic potency refers to much more than the "Kantian" purified realm of the aesthetic. The aesthetic potency deals with our embodied sensual communication and interaction with the world. In the experience of the sublime, for instance-again not taken in the Kantian sense-we get an intimation of the overdetermination of the origin. The exceeding power and force of being is intimated aesthetically to us through the sublime; our reaction is a sensual one through which we come to know the overdetermined power of the "to be". Our relationship with the ethos is always communicative.
  3. The Dianoetic: The rational potency of lawmaking and determination. The dianoetic potency looks at the world through laws and determinate formulas. Within the equivocity of the ethos and the interplay of sameness and difference there emerge some subtle constancies which we can determine through the dianoetic potency. There are some regularities which prove helpful to live in the ethos, and these are determined by this potency. The dianoetic are constancies always already at work in forms of being together. 
  4. The Transcendental: The potency of a binding universality or condition of possibility. Some constancies in the ethos are so prevalent so as to be called transcendental. The transcendental potency is that which empowers us within the ethos to look for the more general and unconditional condition of possibility. Taken in a Platonic sense, as opposed to Kantian, this condition of possibility is something more akin to the original "good" that always qualifies the ethos. We come to the realisation of the 'agapeic origin' thanks to the transcendental potency. Itself not free of equivocities, the search for the unconditioned condition of possibility must include evil and death in whatever condition of possibility it finds. The origin that gives the 'to be' is thus itself not free of equivocities. To see the transcendental we must die. The transcendental is not a metaphysical qualification but rather ontological as referring to the Good itself. The origin as the agapeic good that gives all being has an ontological determination as Good. There are two transcendental relationships: 1) that between the origin and the ethos: having the characteristic of agapeic; and 2) that between the self and other: having the characteristic of being metaxological 
  5. The Eudaimonistic: The sense of wholeness of how we are in the world. This potency, calling up the 'daimon' as the between is the potency of the possibility for a more general wholeness that calls up the idiotic and aesthetic as well as the dianoetic and transcendental. Seen metaxologically, eudaimonic wholeness in this sense might be made concrete by either the "erotic sovereign" (Nietzsche) or the "agapeic servant" (Jesus). Desmond finds it problematic whether the erotic sovereign can be regarded as being truly whole, given that it doesn't fully consider the otherness of the ethos, which is overdetermined. The erotic sovereign is in the end transcendence without transcendence, because it only transcends again into itself, even if as a higher form, and there is never another involved. The eudaimonistic, calling up Aristotle's original conception of a man of phronesis as happy, is the potency that can take both the dianoetic and transcendental as constancies and law, and apply them to specific instances within the chiaroscuro involved in the idiotic and aesthetic. This being in between of the daimon correlates to a higher sense of wholeness being both involved in and transcending the ethos. 
  6. The Transcending: This is the potency of the "between" itself; the mystery of self-surpassing and the excess of the overdetermined milieu itself. The transcending potency can only be seen metaxologically because it is itself a move towards the open overdeterminate, which is only seen thus. A movement towards the agapeic cannot be done dialectically or univocally because both narrow and define, nor equivocally since transcending requires movement in the between, not mere equivocity.
  7. The Transcendent: The ultimate power that itself allows for the possibility of all transcending. "For this we have the extraordinary word God." The Good itself, the power behind everything, is what is always intimated in the between. It allows for self-development and transcending to the Good.
(—from William Desmond, philosopher, Wikipedia)
Good be between ye!

This week, and all the ways we are weak and needing of something strong between us, may it be so!

Monday, December 21, 2020

it is time for light, peace, and all good

Francis looks to Earth

for Incarnation,

Resurrection, and


This Solstice,

this Christmas

let's incarnate


Bronze of Francis from Upper Basilica in Assisi,



Sunday, December 20, 2020

incarnating through no other

Remember, you are earth. 

Then, become earth. 

That’s where God is.

Dirt. Water. Fire. Breath.

Entering no other, through no other born.

As no other.

in the film, the word was

assythment :

-- satisfaction for an injury done; compensation, reparation, indemnification.

the location of dreams, of friendship

 You said they weren’t your kind of people. Manhattan, 1962, straggly sandlot baseball guys stepping into a party a subway ride from Brooklyn.

Nor were they mine, Vinnie. You were clearer. 

Six years later in Vietnam five days before Christmas an explosion stepped into and torn through sent you back from Southeast Asia 

A left handed catcher. A kind kid. A casualty of unconscionable war.

I think of you these 52 years later. In my dream I was suddenly aware that I had been in Vietnam, that I had been part of a unit of soldiers, a battlefield fellowship. As I opened my mouth to tell this arisen belief...I realized it wasn’t true. I hadn’t been a soldier. I’d not been in Vietnam. I stopped speaking.

This morning, back in silent breath, waking from dream, seeing calendar noting Vincent Thomas Daiello, (SGT.), died 12/20/1968, my dream turns to look at me, waiting for me to see it standing in green imagination.

If Vinnie was there, I was there. If men served, I was not absent to their service. If men died, I could not go on living the person I was. War changes everything.

This from Vietnam War Facts, Stats and Myths:


9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975.

2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam.

240 men were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.

Of Those Lost

The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1961. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. The Davis Station in Saigon was named for him.

Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.

The oldest man killed was 62 years old.

58,148 were killed in Vietnam, 75,000 severely disabled, 23,214 were 100% disabled, 5,283 lost limbs and 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.

Of those killed, 61% were younger than 21 years old.

11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.

Of those killed, 17,539 were married.

The average age of the men killed: 23.1 years.

Veteran Successes

Vietnam Veterans represented 9.7% of their generation.

They have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups.

Their personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.

87% of Americans hold Vietnam Veterans in high esteem.

There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study).

Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison – only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes.

85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.

97% of Vietnam Veterans were honorably discharged.

91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they served.

74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.

Many Still Missing

As of April 14, 2017, there are 1,611 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War across Vietnam (1,258), Laos(297), Cambodia(49), and China(7).

Vietnam Combat Area Casualty File

The Statistics in the Combat Area Casualty File (CACF 11/93) show an average age of death much higher than that of news reports.

The average age of the 58,148 killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years (Although 58,169 names are in the Nov. 93 database, only 58,148 have both event date and birth date. Event date is used instead of declared dead date for some of those who were listed as missing in action).

Deaths Average Age

  • Enlisted: 50,274, 22.37 years
  • Officers: 6,598, 28.43 years
  • Warrants: 1,276, 24.73 years
  • E1 525, 20.34 years
  • 11B MOS: 18,465, 22.55 years
  • Totals: 58,148, 23.11 years

...   ...   ...








Nears our breath

Nears us 

To everything

With everyone.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

living now, affirmed

What if confirmation was the experience of being affirmed, recognized, and accepted in our very existential facticity, our simply being-here with what-is-here?

 Resurrection is Now

Dom Aelred Watkin

Preparation for Death: Confirmation

The life given to us at Baptism is strengthened and made more active by Confirmation. Or, to put it another way, as Baptism initiates new and growing life, Confirmation gives that life fresh strength and force. The Holy Spirit given in this Sacrament is the Personification of love, love existing not as a quality in God but an actual divine Person. The Holy Spirit first came to Our Lady and the apostles under the appearance of tongues of flame and accompanied by the roar of wind. Fire and wind express the work of the Spirit in man. 

Fire gives light and heat. Without the sun the world would be a frozen waste lying in endless night and without our man-made fires we should be at the mercy of darkness and winter’s cold. Fire not only is the source of what is warm and what illuminates, but it has also the mysterious quality of multiplying itself: no matter how many fires we light from the source of flame that source is in no way lessened. It is easy to see why fire was chosen to symbolise the Holy Spirit: the Spirit gives light in the form of truth, but the light it gives is not the cold glare of some abstract proposition but a truth that is warm and related to living experience. It is the nature of what is hot to communicate its heat to whatever comes close to it and the truth given by the Holy Spirit leads on to that warm love from whence it came. Through it we warm others and are warmed by them; yet, like fire, what we give we do not lose; what we receive we do not take away.

Confirmation is especially the Sacrament of that love ‘which is stronger than death’. This love, coming from its divine source, cannot be destroyed by death, for it reaches out beyond time. Our own physical death cannot end it, nor can the death of others. We grieve for the death of others and feel separated from them, but we have within us a hidden flame which can lighten the darkness of the grave and warm the coldness of the tomb, while we, ourselves, lighted and warmed by those now incandescent with God’s love, join our flame with theirs to illuminate the night. We have no need to repeat our Confirmation, for it ignites a living flame, forever burning and warming, always a source of light as it glows through the darkness that separates time from eternity.

Wind is another symbol for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Both the Greek and Latin languages often use the same word to mean ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ and, indeed, one is a very apt symbol for the other. We do not see or hear the wind, we know it by its effects alone. We imagine that we can hear it, but in fact we do not hear it, for it makes no sound in itself; what we hear is the sound of that which it meets in its passage. The wind makes all things vocal; each, however, speaks with a different voice: the sound of the wind in one kind of tree differs markedly from that made in another, the sigh of the wind in the grass differs much from the roar of the gale round a building. The wind speaks through a thousand tongues making all of them audible, but [of] itself it is silent.

Again, the wind is invisible and we can see it by its effects alone. We can watch water move with its gusts, see the very pattern of its blowing in the long grass of the field, but we cannot see it. ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, no man knows whence it cometh nor whither it goeth, so are they that are born of the Spirit’: these words of Our Lord express the working of the Holy Spirit in us. Coming from the spacious skies of eternity to us, we neither see nor hear it in itself, but it surrounds us invisibly; we breathe it, it blows away what is stale, sterile and stagnant and makes all fresh and new, it gives movement and sound to what was still and silent, it makes itself heard differently in each and makes each to speak in a unique tongue, it brings to us the very essence of God just as scent is borne invisibly on the breeze.

This wind of the Spirit that blows through and about the reborn is that which gives life. ‘My words are spirit and life’, Our Lord assured us, and it was the prophet Ezekiel who saw in his vision the Spirit coming from the four winds and making the dead live again.

Christ further told us, ‘it is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing’: the Holy Spirit we receive in Confirmation bestows that life which overcomes unprofitable death. The flesh as we know it will go, the Spirit is even now at work re-creating and re-inspiring that flesh so that it will be transformed into the ‘spiritual body’ which will endure in eternity. ‘Can these dry bones live?’ we ask with the prophet: not only will they live, but they are living now. (—

We long to live.

It need not be forever.


Now is a good timeless duration, an atemporal realization of presence.

Let’s live now!

o antiphon, saturday 19dec2029

 O radix Iesse!

O radix Iesse, 

qui stas in signum populórum, 

super quem continébunt reges os suum, 

quem gentes deprecabúntur: 

veni ad liberándum nos, iam noli tardáre.

“O stock of Jesse, who stand as a sign for the nations; before whom kings fall silent; whom the peoples acclaim – come come to deliver us, do not delay any more.”

frequent change

Epigraph by William Blake 

 The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way . . . to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination Nature is Imagination itself.       —William Blake

Then, this:

 If no one [nemo] asks of me, I know; if I want to explain it to someone asking, I do not know.”2 This nemo (from ne + homo) is the inhumanity of a too-close vision that touches, plant-like, what it cannot see precisely by simply seeing it. It is an order of understanding requiring precisely that no one ask the question, a non-asking asker ‘who’ is the presence of imagination itself, its species. So we find in Michael Marder’s fortuitous formulation of our blindness to plant intelligence the perfect corollary to Blake’s tree of imagination: “Imagine a being capable of processing, remembering, and sharing information—a being with potentialities proper to it and a world of its own . . . most of us will think of a human person, some will associate it with an animal, and virtually no one’s imagination will conjure up a plant.”3

Species: image-growth of the entity, face of an essence, appearance of true self-imitation—the spice of being. Image (from the root *aim- ‘copy’) and greenness (from the root *ghre- ‘grow’) converge in the auto-mimetic nature of growth. Thus Goethe begins The Metamorphosis of Plants: “Anyone who has paid even a little attention to plant growth will readily see that certain external parts of the plant undergo frequent change and take on the shape of the adjacent parts—sometimes fully, sometimes more, and sometimes less.”4 Green is the species of imagination,

(2) “Quid est ergo tempus? Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio” (Augustine, Confessions, 11.14.17, jod/conf/).

(3) Michael Marder, Grafts: Writings on Plants (Minneapolis: Univocal, 2016), 41, italics mine. 

(4) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Metamorphosis of Plants, trans. Douglas Miller (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 5.

(—from GREEN IMAGINATION, by Nicola Masciandaro)

This season is imagination itself lighting up where it has been and where it wishes us to go, what invitation into experience it gestures.

A candelabra. A boy. A gathering into family. A nostalgia for where we wish to be.

Let’s have plants!

Let’s plant ourselves alongside curve and contour of shuddering earth coated in recent snowfall holding everything in place!

We are no distant stranger.

Imagination is Nature itself.

Nature is Imagination itself.

A season to become what we are.

Friday, December 18, 2020

watch, and, pray

To be Christian is to inquire into and be astonished by truth and compassion. 

Let’s take care who we call Christian.

It would be so easy to call it wrong.

this is what I am — (this is...what?...I am)

 Have we been missing the obvious?

Is the yearly ritual of advent and christmas, the lights and sharing of gifts, the biblical readings and perennial carols — are these things merely a stage onto which a less obvious revelation quietly steps and goes about its business acting and dramatizing itself in a play beneath a play always there but seldom observed?

What is this?

What is this, indeed.

This is my beloved child, listen to it!

And looking at all that had been made, said:

This is very good!

This, this, is Christ the lord.

“This is my body.”

“This is my blood.”

Do this in memory of me.

See this, feel this, touch this, heal this!

Be this and you will be this forever without end, beginningless and cessationless.. 

 What we are looking for is right here hidden in plain sight within what we are looking at. We’ve listened to and looked at the story as told and presented, and yet remain slow, very slow, to realize and embody the root reality telling and showing us what it is.




This is what is 

revealing itself 


forever and always 

from the beginning and 

until the fullness, 

from creatio to pleroma,

revealing each instant and 

infinite atemporality 

as self-same identity and 

no-self diversity, 




And maybe, just maybe, the ultimate question to listen for in all life and existence is: Will you help me with this? 

Be still

                 and know


                  I am...


Thursday, December 17, 2020

last class


Eight inches.

Then it stopped.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

what idiosyncratic consequence or collaborative outcome

Within oneself? Or, between one another?

Is real resolution a solitary awareness? Or, a social reconciliation?

 From a different perspective, however, the sudden shift from argument and discussion to vision and surrender should come as no surprise. In his dissertation and two outstanding articles, one comparing Greek and Indian epics, the other comparing Greek and Indian architecture, Gregory D. Alles offers valuable insights into two different concepts of “power” and “the power of persuasion” that may be applicable here (Alles 1994: esp. 77-106; 1988-89: 1-36; 1988: 293- 309).

In Homer’s Iliad, Alles argues, persuasive speeches presuppose a different image of what constitutes effective persuasion from those in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Ancient Greek and Indian images of the power of persuasion differ because their concepts of power differ. In the Iliad, the power of persuasion is a social power that depends on and extends only to successful interaction among humans and between humans and the gods; it is systemic or organic in the sense that it gains force as small units like arguments and other devices “combine to form an interconnected web, an organically functioning speech” (Alles 1988: 297). The power of persuasion is also relational in the sense of residing in the social relationships that have to be mobilized in order to be obligingly influenial, and it is economical in the sense that exact repetition and elaborate additions would spoil the effect of integrating all parts into an efficient whole.

In the Ramayana, Alles explains, power is natural and generative rather than social, like the unrestrained irruption of a hidden source into the visible realm of a variety of manifestations; power is “dividuated” like seeds, concentrated in separate, isolated and opaque but dense units of solid mass radiating below the surface and applied in isolated “spurts,” rather than systemic or organic. Power is also like a ritual or magic force, “concerned with generation and destruction” (Alles 1988: 298), mobilizing and spending itself in a creative or destructive way, rather than residing in social relationships, and it is cumulative and repetitive in the sense that each addition to the impressive variety of its visible manifestations, honouring it by repetition, enhances its persuasive effectiveness.

Viewed in that light, Krishna’s power of persuasion, can be understood as an accumulation of isolated arguments that gain force precisely because they are accumulated and repeated and because they draw from a hidden, esoteric knowledge of divine origin, a massive, transcendent power that mobilizes itself by irrupting into the visible realm as the overwhelming vision of a destructive force devouring all the manifestations of the manifold universe. Krishna’s power of persuasion starts on the level of words and arguments but it is only logical that the eruption of his divine power on the level of logos be continued on the level of mythos. That is how the power of persuasion operates effectively from an ancient Indian point of view. It is the literal illustration of Krishna’s claim: “I am the logic of those who debate” (10.32). Krishna addresses a socially sensitive but mentally isolated individual, Arjuna, on the battlefield but ignores the social setting, focusing instead on Arjuna’s separate Self and preaching an intrapersonal solution to the interpersonal problem of social order, justice, and duty, appealing to Arjuna’s asocial inner nature and its spiritual potential instead of appealing to the potentially (anti-)social results of his morally intended actions. Removed from all social pressures, everything about Krishna’s dialogue with Arjuna seems personal, not social, mobilizing the intrapersonal powers of their respective natures, not the interpersonal powers of their respective social networks. This dialogue turns out to be persuasive in the classical Indian context for reasons that are not valid in the classical Greek context. The Indian concept of dialogue is not a human universal. Neither is the Western concept of dialogue.

(--from,‘One Dialogue—Four Relationships: The Different Layers of Meaning in the Dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavadgita’, in: Studies in Interreligious Dialogue 21/1 (2011), 96-111. by )

 Intrapersonal or interpersonal?

The question asks us to consider whether moral investigation is an inner realization or an external accommodation.

Whether we are one inseparable person, or, a separated collection of disparate individuals.

Ask yourself this question in contemplation.

Or, gather colleagues for conversation.

Observe what correspondence reveals as itself.

See what idiosyncratic consequence or collaborative outcome emerges.