Saturday, April 18, 2020

so much depends

Granted, things have changed. The question is — in what way will they stay changed? And in what ways will our society and culture evolve and emerge and in whose image and ideology?
In the United States, we are in a similarly terrible predicament now, as a society, as I was as a person with a body. The measures we are taking to save ourselves from a global pandemic of the novel coronavirus are changing us in fundamental, possibly irreparable ways. By instituting lockdowns and deploying a variety of emergency powers across the country, we are destroying our economy, our social fabric, and our political system. We will never be the same. Whether we change for both the better and the worse, as opposed to the solely catastrophic, will depend on how mindful we remain of the damage we are doing as we attempt to save ourselves from the pandemic. 
(—from, In the Midst of the Coronavirus Crisis, We Must Start Envisioning the Future Now, by , March 25, 2020, The New Yorker)
Will income assist and guaranteed annual financial dispersement become a thing? Will all people receive guaranteed health care under a system of fairness and equality?

Will the polluting internal combustion engine give way to alternate propulsion mechanisms?

Will politics as practiced currently die? And will a less cynical and sinister mode of governance and effective decision making and action change for the good in our military, law creation and enforcement, and civic mind?

This conversation, I suspect, is taking place in many places. We had it at Friday evening conversation via zoom.

The hermitage becomes more of a hermitage. I have little to no desire to be anywhere else. When the societal sequestering is eased and lifted I will, I suspect, return to the way of volunteering at the prison, hospice, hospital, college classroom, and nursing home. But I have become more familiar with the prospect of none of these. Having been thrown into the briar-patch of withdrawal and solitude I am maneuvering the territory with familiarity.

I worry about the autocratic impulses of our president. I worry about the too-happy impulses of his devotees to mimic menace and threat of violence so easily at his instigation. I worry at how fragile and vulnerable the facade of democracy is — how the stealth protocols of swat-team, CIA disruptive politics, FBI eliding patriotic enthusiasm, simmering religious zealotry and apocalyptic pretensions of glory-to-come, how corporations replace individuals as concern of governance, and how persuasive manipulation of product advertisement seeps into every media minute between what we now call entertainment, celebrity, privilege, and the wealth-machine.

The citizenry arms itself. There appears to be reasonable arguments on left and right to do so. Guns and bullets, toilet paper and white rice, prophylactic gloves and face masks top buying lists. We are see-sawing between sorrow for the dead and strategies for killing people we fear or simply dislike.

Welcoming the stranger has been indefinitely tabled.

Depending how the phrase is read —  “prayer flags” or “prayer, flags”;— there is either an increase or decrease in authentic prayer.

Our so-called true nature is in a tossed coin turning near its apex and looking descending to alight itself on the ground of some definite indication of what exactly our true nature is. Predators or peacemakers? Hunters or huggers? Blood-suckers or blood donators? Power grabbers or power sharers? Cynical manipulators or cyclical evolutionaries? Revulsionists or resolution visionaries?

Perhaps it is simplistic analysis to think we are on the cusp of any significant alteration of our usual habits and mentality. How’s my transformative journey going? Not much; not far.


Not this - not that!

Matthew Fox proposed a while back that we are in a transition time. Here’s how he envisioned it :
And, of course, there is this poem:
The Red Wheelbarrow            
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white

Consider our task to be discerning the heart of being.

In this vision, the poem is being/written.

And, so it is and so it goes, the world turns again on its creative axis.

Friday, April 17, 2020

this is the day

I might never go off-property again. Off ragged mountain. Away from field, dirt parking area at snow bowl, anywhere else.

I hardly have enough time to do the nothing I do.

Underworld, by Don Dilello. Seven Story Mountain, by Thomas Merton. In the Dark Places of Wisdom, by Peter Kingsley. On the Mystery of Being: Contemporary Insights on the Convergence of Science and Spirituality, ed by Zaya Benazzo. Colbert, Noah, Meyers in morning YouTube. Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux, Universalis, and Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours on the go). Homeland series. MSNBC. New York Times. Washington Post. Twitter. Breathing. Silence. Solitude.

Yoghurt, coffee, pbj. Happy for cancellations. Putting up prayer flags, resurrection bronze, strung with strings of small white bulbs. Adrift. Diffident. Watching. Attending what wanders through.

One wonders about the enormity of interruption this time of virus brings. It is the stuff that changes culture. The smallness of politics seems so irrelevant. The possibilities of radical social change looks out from wooded blinds of quiet potential.

Soon enough a verdict of death will be spoken into the courtroom of my consciousness.

Cat comes back to open window at foot of bed. 

I have nowhere to go.

Nothing to do.

May your loving kindness embrace us now and forever!

All of you.

Whoever you are.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

to make our practice real, reinventing it

Adding to a prior link, here is part of the commentary on Case 1, by Norman Fischer, Ruiyan Calls the Master
Practice is just a matter of being present with our lives, whatever they are, deep or shallow, interesting or boring. It's a great mistake to think that something, and not something else, marks our practice. The reason for this is that as soon as we define and identify we are creating the conditions for nostalgia- for holding onto the moment that we want and running away from the moment that we don't want. And that's death to practice. 
Master Wumen talks about this in his commentary to the case: "Old Ruiyan sells himself and buys himself, playing out so many spirit heads and ghost faces. Why? Listen: one who calls, one who answers, one who is alert, one who is not fooled by others: If you cling to recognition as before you are not sound. And if you imitate another, everything is wild foxy interpretation." 
Old Ruiyan sells himself and buys himself, playing so many spirit heads and ghost faces. one who calls, one who answers, one who is alert, one who is not fooled by others: If you cling to recognition as before you are not sound. These lines are pointing out that one has to be very careful with such practices. The one who calls and the one who answers are both limitations- ghosts and spirits buying and selling reality. To be fooled or not to be fooled, to be alert or not to be alert- it makes no difference. If you cling to recognition, Wumen warns us, you are sunk. In other words, if you cling to definitions and distinctions you are sunk. Just remember where you are and what you are doing, that's all. Don't make up standards of good or bad. Don't think you're anyone when you call yourself. Recognize your you as who it is and let go right there. As I said before, the limitless self, the original self, and the limited self, the discriminated self, are not different yet they are also not the same. You appreciate your discriminated self as it is, recognizing it as the only way the limitless self can appear where you are: so you honor it, you cherish it, you take care of it, but you don't overestimate it or mistake it. 
Gertrude Stein said, "I am I because my little dog knows me. " And I am I because you know me and my wife knows me and my little dog knows me. Because I was born at such and such a place and was educated in such and such a way and read such and such books and lived in such and such temples so on. I am a wide network of relationships and events swirling around and recreating me every moment. If I look for anything in that that is mine, that I can have and hoard and clearly define I'll never find it. My me is something fluid and ungraspable. It is unique in all the world. You could never be me- and I could never be you. So you better not try to imitate me, and neither of us should try to imitate Master Ruiyan. If we want to do the practice he does we had better do it as our own, from our own ground, not his. Each one of us has to make our practice real, reinventing it again and again. 
Those who search for the way do not realize truth They only know their old discriminating consciousness This is the cause of the endless cycle of birth and death Yet stupid people take it for Original Self 
All we will ever actually know is our old discriminating consciousness. That's because our knowing is only through discrimination, through separation. We long for unity, all of us do, we know in our hearts that we are in exile, lost in the endless round of birth and death, and we long to come home. We can come home and we do come home, but not in the way we'd like to. Once we grow up our mommy will never be able to hold us in her arms again as when we were children. But if we work with our practice we can be touched by oneness, we can have a real sense of it not only in our exalted transcendent moments but in our ordinary moments too. The issue is not that we only know ordinary discriminating consciousness and we want to know something else. It's that we take that discriminating consciousness for all that we are, not recognizing that the original self both is that and is much more than that: without any boundary at all. Once we appreciate this- not as a thought or a belief but as a daily felt experience, something we can absolutely rely on, without defining it or possessing it, then we understand and embrace this practice of calling and answering that dear old Master Ruiyan teaches.
(--Norman Fischer, Commentary on Mumonkan case 1By Zoketsu Norman Fischer | Jan 11, 2003, Location: Loon LakeIn topic: Koan Studies 

don't be fooled

The president of the United States seems to think that his thoughts and opinions matter. They don’t.

What matters is what the people of this land, the US House and Senate, and US Supreme Court does or does not do with those thoughts and opinions.

When these people make his thoughts into law and money and exclusions and his opinions into personal reelection strategies and fund raising donation letters — then, appearance wears concrete shoes and stands behind neon lecterns with bold letters spelling ME, NOT YOU.
Like waves, all the activities of this life have rolled endless on, yet they have left us empty-handed. Myriads of thoughts have run through our minds, but all they have done is increase our confusion and dissatisfaction. 
Normally we operate under the deluded assumption that everything has some sort of true, substantial reality. But when we look more carefully, we find that the phenomenal world is like a rainbow—vivid and colorful, but without any tangible existence. 
When a rainbow appears we see many beautiful colors—yet a rainbow is not something we can clothe ourselves with, or wear as an ornament; it simply appears through the conjunction of various conditions. Thoughts arise in the mind in just the same way. They have no tangible reality or intrinsic existence at all. There is therefore no logical reason why thoughts should have so much power over us, nor any reason why we should be enslaved by them. 
Mind creates both samsara and nirvana. Yet there is nothing much to it – it is just thoughts. Once we recognize that thoughts are empty, the mind will no longer have the power to deceive us. But as long as we take our deluded thoughts as real, they will continue to torment us mercilessly, as they have been doing throughout countless past lives. To gain control over the mind, we need to be vigilant, constantly examining all our thoughts, words, and actions.  
To cut through the mind’s clinging, it is important to understand that all appearances are void, like the appearance of water in a mirage. Beautiful forms are of no benefit to the mind, nor can ugly forms harm it in any way. Sever the ties of hope and fear, attraction and repulsion, and remain in equanimity in the understanding that all phenomena are nothing more than projections of your own mind.  
To realize that appearance and voidness are one is what is called simplicity, or freedom from conceptual limitations. 
 (—from, Teachings on the Nature of Mind and Practice, By Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Winter, 1991, Tricycle) 
In a time of harsh and painful worrisome loss this tension between thoughts and actions takes center stage.

Real actors know it is the body that matters. The way it moves or is still, the way the face and eyes and mouth actuate words lifted from script filtered with emotion and embodied in physicality moving into shared space and common experience.

Charlatans, in contrast, present a dead body syringed with synthetic egoistic narcissism, laced with inert opportunism, and clothed with buttoned cynicism spewing dangerous spittle of thought and opinion into foolish minds with ideological cotton candy for brains and rabid enthusiasm for chasmic cliffs launching lemming feet into desolate delusion.

This country is deeply in dangerous territory.

The mind of the president is full of desolate delusion that sees only himself, his ego, his craven self-promotion, bank statements with his name affixed, and ugly anger toward all perceived enemies — of which there are legion.

No simplicity there.

No freedom there.

But...we need not be there.

We need to be here.

With one another.

Even at a distance.

Here are some words we might find helpful:
The Case:  
Every day Ruiyan would call to himself, "Master, Master!"  
And every day he would respond, "Yes, yes."  
Then he would say, "Be awake! Be alert!"  
"From now on, don't be fooled by anything."  
"No, I won't be!" 
(--Ruiyan Calls the Master, Everyday Zen Foundation)
 Let's practice.


prayer flags

Walking Snow Bowl in solitude

Mountain, sky, water, ground

In distance cars curl hosmer pond

Move along barnestown road

A sole skiff fishing near two loons

I love the quiet, the aloneness

Nature residing in its surrounding

Stillness. Rain, snow shower, wind

Just walking ground

Words turning narrative in ear

Nowhere to go

Nor wanting to

One breath in

One out

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

kaons and koans

When a young boy my father would ask, “If I told you the story of the red stocking, would you have it?

No answer I gave would suffice. He’d ask the question again and again. What ever i said in respinse, he’d repeat my words and add “ not the answer.” “ If I told you the story...?

That was my first koan. As far as I recall, I did not come close to solving it.
Hints of a discrepancy between matter and antimatter have since been found in the behavior of other particles called B mesons, in experiments at CERN and elsewhere.   
“In the larger picture, CP violation [*] is a big deal,” Dr. Turner said. “It is why we are here!”  
Both kaons and B mesons are made of quarks, the same kinds of particles that make up protons and neutrons, the building blocks of ordinary matter. But so far there is not enough of a violation on the part of quarks, by a factor of a billion, to account for the existence of the universe today.  
Neutrinos could change that. “Many theorists believe that finding CP violation and studying its properties in the neutrino sector could be important for understanding one of the great cosmological mysteries,” said Guy Wilkinson, a physicist at Oxford who works on CERN’s LHCb experiment, which is devoted to the antimatter problem. Chief among those mysteries, he said: “Why didn’t all matter and antimatter annihilate in the Big Bang?” 
(—from, Why the Big Bang Produced Something Rather Than Nothing, by Dennis Overbye, NYTimes, 15apr20) 
[*] CP violation In particle physics, CP violation is a violation of CP-symmetry: the combination of C-symmetry and P-symmetry. CP-symmetry states that the laws of physics should be the same if a particle is interchanged with its antiparticle while its spatial coordinates are inverted.(--Wikipedia)
When I think of the red stocking question, I'm grateful for the absurdity of it.

When I wonder why there is something rather than nothing, I’m confronted by the ridiculous infinite potentialities of the deliberation.

When I look at the president's response to the exigencies of this health crisis, I am sickened by the buffoonery of the sideshow performed every day.

But this is where we are today.

At sea.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

reading trappist obituaries

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done.

Beginning date and ending date are the facts that alone remain without interpretation or debate.

custodiat animam tuam

I would like to offer Donald Trump a place to retreat and be quiet for a few days. I know he is suffering, doesn’t know what to do, frets over his failures. I have a 16’ yurt near a brook with convenient outhouse. There’s bread, peanut butter and jam, a wood stove. And silence.

see, listen

There is so much to see...

When we learn to listen.

This, the conclusion of an interview with Jack Kornfield conducted by David Marchese:

When you mentioned the serenity prayer just now, it made me think of recovery programs and the idea of taking things one day at a time. The uncertainty about how long the pandemic and the social distancing and the quarantining will last is a big part of what’s so unsettling. It’s hard to imagine Month No. 3 of this, you know? Let me ask you a question.
OK. When you live in speculative thoughts — “How long is it going to last?” “Will I make it through three more days or three more months?” — how does that make you feel?
I know where this is going. Is that thinking helpful in some way?
Nope. All right. We’re just trying to be human and practical and wise in this interview, right? So you can either spend your time worrying, which you just noted doesn’t actually help, or you can say: “I don’t know how long it will be, but let me do the most magnificent work I can do. Let me hone my interviews. Let me be there for my wife and children. Let me live in this life fully.” That’s what one day at a time means. It’s important to know that you don’t have to believe all your thoughts. You can choose the ones that are helpful.
You once spent more than a year at a monastery in silence. That was volitional, obviously, but can you share anything about how to adapt to disconnection and solitude? I wouldn’t want to set any ideal, because temperaments are very different. Instead I would say, in the solitude or in the sequestering, let yourself find ways that nurture you. It may be listening to music or watching old movies or reading. And people will find that they might feel stir-crazy, but if they look closely, there will be moments that get more still. Moments of presence or contentment that come unbidden because we have been quiet. And if you can, pause before you distract yourself with a video and acknowledge, “I’m getting stir-crazy.” Take a breath, and hold that restlessness. Allow it to be held with some kindness, and it will start to settle down. Doing that will open you to something more mysterious. Which is that you’ve realized: “I can tolerate this. Maybe I can live a little easier.” This kind of attention is what neuroscientists call widening the window of tolerance.
Are you finding it more difficult to practice mindfulness these days? Although I guess you’re probably long past having that problem. Give me a break, David. I worry about dying. I’m almost 75 years old. I’ve had many blessings, and in a lot of ways I feel I’m ready to die, but I know I don’t want to leave my daughter, my grandchildren, my wife. But when the time comes, I will let go. So nobody’s past anything. We all are exactly where we are.

Monday, April 13, 2020

by the way



Thank you

Medical staffs

Grocery workers

Pharmacy workers.

Delivery people

Thank you



a chaotic or nonlinear dynamical cosmogenesis

Then, this:
In Whitehead’s scheme there is no equivalence with regard to the temporal ontology of past and future. There is no space-time block. There are multiple timelines in Whitehead’s relativistic pluriverse. His metaphysical scheme is perspectival, meaning that any statement about the cosmos must be situated in some actual occasion (this is Whitehead’s “Ontological Principle”). There is no view from nowhere. Each actual occasion brings forth its own space and time. Each occasion has its own world-line (to use the Einsteinian term), and these lineages or historical routes of becoming are complexly interwoven with one another. There is no “cosmic now” that moves like a sheet of glass out of a single past into a single future. There is no cosmic calendar that tracks the linear progression of a single system from beginning to end. Whitehead’s is a chaotic or nonlinear dynamical cosmogenesis rather than a closed mechanical universe.   
Each occasion is individual, self-creating, atomically arising out of its past and launching itself into its future. Each occasion must appropriate time for itself, and it must do so in relation to every other occasion’s appropriations. We become individually without being divided, and we need divine help to do so, even though not even God knows where we are going. There is an eternal intention, a perfect “real potentiality” forming a virtual continuum and granting spatiotemporal solidarity between all occasions (Whitehead calls it “the extensive continuum” on PR 286), but this continuum’s holy character is always incomplete and forever in process, jointly realized by the decisions of the democracy of creaturely occasions composing the pluriverse, rather than being imposed upon them from beyond. The single, unified whole is never finished but is continually made whole again and again with each concrescent pulse of creativity occurring within it. 
 (—from, Prayers to a Process-Relational God, by Matthew T. Segall, in FOOTNOTES2PLATO) 

it’s a lot to ask for

I can understand the point of view. Encourage, yes. But, damn, what pains in the ass some of them can be!
Ps 94 (95) 
Adhortamini vosmetipsos per singulos dies, donec illud «hodie» vocatur” (Hebr 3, 13). 
11 Et ipsi non cognovérunt vias meas; ídeo iurávi in ira mea: Non introíbunt in réquiem meam». 
Psalm 94 (95) 
“Every day, as long as this ‘today’ lasts, keep encouraging one another” (Heb 3:13). 
These péople do not knów my wáys.”Thén I took an óath in my ánger: * “Néver shall they énter my rést.”’
It is a restless world.

On Easter — after three days of no electricity, candles, hauling water from brook, catching melting snow from barn roof in buckets, reading by clip on book lite, untoasted bread with peanut butter and strawberry jam, boxed soup, and half foot of heavy wet windy snow bringing down tree limbs and power lines — in early afternoon, utility trucks from Canada after rendezvousing with Maine and out of state crews in snow bowl parking area, fix the fallen flow of vitalizing energy through wires to our dooryard to wall receptacles to on/off switches, to gadgets and waterpump and lightbulbs and thermostat.

The dead are over 22 thousand in the US to date. Face masks, social distancing, shut shops, curb services for pharmacy and bread and pet food, the new methodology and rubric of daily life turns us around and we stare at our solitude as one stares at a stranger no one recognizes.

Early assemblage of facts chronicling the slow and mismanaged response of the Trump administration to the US coronavirus pandemic response is pointing out how tone deaf and Ideologically political the president and his cohorts have been.

Medical professionals, immunologists and epidemiologists have been giving solid analysis of the virus and it’s effects. But they have to battle the recalcitrance of a seriously flawed man who obsessively panders to appearance and aspiration rather than facts, strategy, and testing. Testing for the disease has been abominably deficient. Why the testing response has been so dismal is perplexing. One cannot look to the president for truth or responsible leadership. It remains a frightening reality — not only the virus, but the fractious thinking of the man elected to be our executive to guide us through this dangerous time.

This morning it rains. The weekend snow easily melts. Lockdown continues. People are getting tired of the schools, gyms, shops, theaters, restaurants, pubs, churches, and other venues all being closed. The economy is deeply wounded. (Don’t worry about the wealthy, they’re ok.)

It is Easter Monday. Throw water at someone. It’s a tradition in Poland.
Pouring water on one another is a Polish Easter tradition called Śmigus-dyngus. On Easter Monday, boys try to drench other people with buckets of water, squirt guns or anything they can get their hands on. Legend says girls who get soaked will marry within the year. The refreshing tradition has its origins in the baptism of Polish Prince Mieszko on Easter Monday in 966 AD.  (Woman’s Day) (Dyngus Day) (Hungarian Custom)
The sky is participating this morning. Step out of barn door or kitchen door. Get splashed. What the heck.

We still have no idea what resurrection means.

It’s a lot to ask for.


And intuition.

About the very nature of existence, reality, and being-in-the-world.

Oremus pro invicem!

(Let us pray for each other!)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

not me, not you, not they, but us

Hiking Camden Hills State Park

With mantra of the day

Step by step:
Lord Jesus Christ
Risen today
Be merciful with us
Show us the way
Just a bit of prayer

Just wondering if “us”

is way risen today

morning lauding creation surrounding

Canticle, Daniel 3:

O all you works of the Lord, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, angels of the Lord, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, the heavens of the Lord, O bless the Lord. *
 And you, clouds of the sky, O bless the Lord.
And you, all armies of the Lord, O bless the Lord.
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, sun and moon, O bless the Lord. *
 And you, the stars of the heavens, O bless the Lord.
And you, showers and rain, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, all you breezes and winds, O bless the Lord. *
 And you, fire and heat, O bless the Lord.
And you, cold and heat, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, showers and dew, O bless the Lord. *
 And you, frosts and cold, O bless the Lord.
And you, frost and snow, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, night-time and day, O bless the Lord. *
 And you, darkness and light, O bless the Lord.
And you, lightning and clouds, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
O let the earth bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, mountains and hills, O bless the Lord. *
 And you, all plants of the earth, O bless the Lord.
And you, fountains and springs, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, rivers and seas, O bless the Lord. *
 And you, creatures of the sea, O bless the Lord.
And you, every bird in the sky, O bless the Lord. †
 And you, wild beasts and tame, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, children of men, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
O Israel, bless the Lord, O bless the Lord. *
 And you, priests of the Lord, O bless the Lord.
And you, servants of the Lord, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
And you, spirits and souls of the just, O bless the Lord. *
 And you, holy and humble of heart, O bless the Lord.
Ananias, Azarias, Mizael, O bless the Lord. *
 To him be highest glory and praise for ever.
Let us praise the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit: *
 To you be highest glory and praise for ever.
May you be blessed, O Lord, in the heavens: *
 To you be highest glory and praise for ever.

αλλά δεν είναι εδώ *

Can you hear it?

I am.

Can you hear it?

Are you listening?
I am.

...   ...   ...

  * he is not here   (cf. Matthew 28:1-10)