Saturday, May 02, 2020

a pathogenic element in a passing glance

Don DeLillo's novel "Underworld" (c.2007) has walked with me for many days. I listen as I daily walk. Returning home I sit on deck outside porch and listen again to final chapter os Border Collie digs hole then races to where bird feeder hangs at edge of fallen tree limb wall across way.

I am taken by his writing.

I find article on Jstor that speaks about three of his novels. It includes this:
Sister Edgar's fear of contagion extends to broadcast television: "You touch a button and all the things concealed from you for cen- turies come flying into the remotest room. It's an epidemic of seeing. . . . And if you can see it, you can catch it. There's a pathogenic element in a passing glance." If television is an epidemic of seeing, the world wide web is an epidemic of knowing. But Sister Edgar is not yet on line. Quarantined by rote prayer and latex, her cloistered self is safe. Her faith, however, is calcified. She fears life.
And then a young girl, Esmeralda, is raped and murdered, thrown from a roof in the derelict neighborhood where Sister Edgar makes her rounds. Shortly thereafter, Esmeralda's face begins appearing on a local billboard. Wearing her latex gloves, Sister Edgar joins the mot- ley crowd gathered to watch for the apparition. A fleeting glimpse of the girl's face transforms the old nun. Sudden rapture makes her feel "inseparable from . . . the awestruck who stand in tidal traffic - she is nameless for a moment, lost to the details of personal history, a dis- embodied fact in liquid form, pouring into the crowd." Like Karen Janney, she allows herself to dissolve into a multitude. The experience is ecstatic: "An angelus of clearest joy."
Soon afterward, Sister Edgar dies, "passing peacefully in her sleep." She passes into the web, the no-place that is all connection, the linked, hyperlinked, infected (virus ridden) digital network. In this digital incarnation she is "open," "exposed," as she was during her blissful billboard vigil. The new media here figure as a pathway to salvation offering a redemptive transcendence of self.
(--from, Don DeLillo: Americana, Mao II, and Underworld, Author(s): ADAM BEGLEY, Source: Southwest Review, Vol. 82, No. 4 (1997), pp. 478-505)
I'm dizzied by his yarn.

By the times and correspondences.

By all the characters, street expressions, and ways we've not yet thought about to see, and know, the intricacies of connection, the illness surrounding us, the way through isolation into (his final word) -- peace. 

Friday, May 01, 2020

when eating a fruit

The three components and the three key goals seem to be chillingly present in today’s culture of politics practiced at the highest levels in our country.
With admirable clarity and deep erudition, Richardson suggests that like all terrorist movements, Al Qaeda requires three components: alienated individuals, a complicit society or community, and a legitimizing ideology. Its troops are motivated by some mixture of three key goals: revenge, renown and reaction from the enemy.  
 (—from, Threat Assessment, by Martin Walker, Sept. 10, 2006, commenting on Louise Richardson's book “ What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat” — New York Times article)
There are significant cautions to be raised about the upcoming nine months leading up to and following the United States election.

Rob McCall on Awanadjo Almanac this morning quotes a Vietnamese proverb: “When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.”

Thursday, April 30, 2020

don’t shoot

Do you wonder if one of those AR-15s will be discharged at one of those protest rallies advocating whatever it is they say they want?

Some lawmakers, we’re told,  wore bulletproof vests.

It’s the end of April.

As it began, it ends, with fools having their day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

suchness, shunyata, moksha, salvation, mitzvah, tat tvam asi

Stripped of all cultural accretion,

  • Buddha is compassionate awareness;

  • Christ is healing interrelationality;

  • Yahweh is being-itself;

  • Allah is merciful simplicity;

  • Brahma is vibrant creativity;

  • Satan is the stumbling blocks found on the way.

All of it is what we are.

With no addenda.

No disguise.

No kidding... 

again and again and again

Incense wafts.

Single candle flickers.

Blanket covers shoulders and legs.

Morning in meditation bookshed.
Listening to Adya in the studio and, later, editing the manuscript of this book, I began to see the ways in which these teachings close the gap between us and Jesus, between us and the divine. Just as Adya’s Jesus is a revolutionary book—one that challenges our conventional interpretations and confounds our expectations at every turn. The Jesus story as Adya shares it is a blueprint for the awakening process, a teaching that shows us how we might embody divine being in human form—just as Jesus did.
Yes, Adya teaches Jesus is the son of God—and in the same way, each of us is the son or daughter of God. Each of us is the word made flesh. So what does it mean to resurrect Jesus—to free him from the accretions of history, theology, and belief? What does it mean for the Jesus story to come alive in you? Find out! That’s the invitation of Resurrecting Jesus.
Excerpt from: "Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic" by Adyashanti. Scribd.

Sunlight through glass door.

Breathing practice with mantra vibration.

Wind ruffles Tibetan prayer flags across green doors.

Of a Wednesday morning.

So much of nothing to do.

Doing it as best I can.

I sound bell again and again and again for the dead. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

step into it

Let’s imagine for a moment that the heart of man is dark and unreliable.

How does that feel?

Now, for another moment, imagine man’s heart is good and longing for what is good.

How does that feel?

You know, I suspect, that both are true.

To feel that knowledge is the dizzying aporia of our situation.

There is no advance default to rely on.

We have to look into one another’s eyes. To listen to the timbre and tone of voice.

Every time. To discern which heart has shown up.

Then act accordingly in response to what appears.

There’s no easy given.

It is all uncovered.

On the spot.

In each occasion.


Are you?



This is your life.

This is your practice.

Step into it.

of questionable provenance

Finishing rereading his autobiography:
“That you may become the brother of God and learn to know the Christ of the burnt men.”

(—final lines: "The Seven Storey Mountain" by Thomas Merton, c.1948)
Rumor has it he was electrocuted in Bangkok Thailand, found on floor with fallen standing fan across his chest, burnt flesh and no longer breathing, December 10, 1968.

That account has been called into question in recent years.

Every account of nearly everything is of questionable provenance.

Too many words; too little knowledge; much less wisdom!

Monday, April 27, 2020

a mixture of gullibility and cynicism

It is truly disconcerting
The political theorist Hannah Arendt once wrote that the most successful totalitarian leaders of the 20th century instilled in their followers “a mixture of gullibility and cynicism.” When they were lied to, they chose to believe it. When a lie was debunked, they claimed they’d known all along—and would then “admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” Over time, Arendt wrote, the onslaught of propaganda conditioned people to “believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.” Leaving the rally, I thought about Arendt, and the swaths of the country that are already gripped by the ethos she described. Should it prevail in 2020, the election’s legacy will be clear—not a choice between parties or candidates or policy platforms, but a referendum on reality itself. 
 (—from, The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President, How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election, Story by  McKay Coppins, The Atlantic, March 2020 issue)
It is truly disconcerting, terrifying, and remarkably dangerous how unaware and numb so many of us have become during this time of Trump. 

even of sticks and stones

Andrew Sullivan, writing in Intelligencer:
The previously unimaginable levels of unemployment and the massive debt-fueled outlays to lessen the blow simply cannot continue indefinitely. We have already, in just two months, wiped out all the job gains since the Great Recession. In six months? The wreckage boggles the mind. All of this is why, one some days, I can barely get out of bed. It is why protests against our total shutdown, while puny now, will doubtless grow. The psychological damage — not counting the physical toll — caused by this deeply unnatural way of life is going to intensify. We remain human beings, a quintessentially social mammal, and we orient ourselves in time, looking forward to the future. When that future has been suspended, humans come undone. Damon Linker put it beautifully this week: “A life without forward momentum is to a considerable extent a life without purpose — or at least the kind of purpose that lifts our spirits and enlivens our steps as we traverse time. Without the momentum and purpose, we flounder. A present without a future is a life that feels less worth living, because it’s a life haunted by a shadow of futility.” Or, in the words of the brilliant Freddie deBoer: “The human cost of the disease and those it will kill is enormous. The cost of our prevention efforts are high as well. You’re losing something. You’re losing so much. So you should mourn. We’ve lost the world. Mourn for it.”        (--from, INTERESTING TIMES APR. 24, 2020, We Can’t Go on Like This Much Longer, By AndrewSullivan )
 Thomas Piketty began his book Capital in the Twenty First Century with:
“Social distinctions can be based only on common utility.”  (—Declaration of  the Rights of Man and the Citizen, article 1, 1789)    
The distribution of wealth is one of today’s most widely discussed and controversial issues. But what do we really know about its evolution over the long term? Do the dynamics of private capital accumulation inevitably lead to the concentration of wealth in ever fewer hands, as Karl Marx believed in the nineteenth century? Or do the balancing forces of growth, competition, and technological progress lead in later stages of development to reduced inequality and greater harmony among the classes, as Simon Kuznets thought in the twentieth century? What do we really know about how wealth and income have evolved since the eighteenth century, and what lessons can we derive from that knowledge for the century now under way?    (--Thomas Piketty, Introduction,  Capital in the Twenty First Century, c.2014)
The way we have chosen to live and the way we finance that life are both up for review.

Is it any longer sustainable for the population of the world to try to negotiate unlimited economic growth on a finite terrestrial resource with an ever-increasing rate of human birth growth in a system of economic inequality that more and more divides the haves from have-nots, the takers from the givers?

Climate change is one thing. Pandemic virol infection is another thing. The effects and ramifications of economic disparity and social-cultural alienation is something else.

Daniel Berrigan wrote this poem:
More Like The Sea   
    A man is more than two sticks crossed: he is more like the sea, bringing up God  knows what at any  moment.    (—CONRAD)   

Nail him to sticks  
he stands free and makes sense 
 even of agony, even of sticks and stones.  
No grafting him on: his fruits  
are free, and other: eyes  
rounding worlds, more men loved, 
more years’ intensities. He ranges and rejoices  
the horizon agony lifts him to. 

Look how hands refuse  
all but their own gift. That blood will flow  
red, red, against bitter hemlock,  
maple sweet. Blood writes  
what heart provides: God knows what 
 that sea brings up. 

God bring that sea safe—  
safe is no word for him—but a 
 surf home, shuddering its coast  
crying hoarse in its falling  
(--Poem by Daniel Berrigan) 
The storm, some say, is not far off-shore.

The hefty cat kneads my tired cocoa fleece vest as I sit in blue chair near old but sturdy brown waterford woodstove on a gray afternoon under overcast spirts with sound of bamboo wind-chime surrounding Monday exsequor.

secluded (he wrote about the word) umbrātilium




umbrātilis (neuter umbrātile); third-declension two-termination adjective
  1. remaining in the shade
  2. privateretiredcontemplative


Third-declension two-termination adjective.
Case / GenderMasc./Fem.NeuterMasc./Fem.Neuter
(Wiktionary) re Thomas Merton’s words about contemplative life.

And this from Glosbe:

Automatic translation:

Example sentences with "umbratilis", translation memory

add example
Ac primum quidem Basilianorum monachorum ac sanctimonialium coenobia commemorare libet, quae, quamvis Iosephi II Austriae Imperatoris tempore, civilem potestatem in res suas non sine iniuria nec sine detrimento invadentem tolérassent, postea tamen, anno nempe MDCCCLXXXII et insequentibus, reformatione illa, quam Dobromiliensem vocant, ad suum tandem fuere restituta decus; et cum umbratilis vitae amore supernoque afflatu, qui ex S. Conditoris normis exemplisque hauritur, incensum iungunt apostolatus studium.

We will speak first of the monasteries of Basilian monks and nuns. In the time of the emperor Joseph II of Austria they had suffered great harm from the invasion of the civil power into their affairs, but later, in 1882 and the following years, they were restored to their glory by the reform of Dobromil, as it is called; they join an ardent apostolic zeal to the love of the life of seclusion and the inspiration from on high which they draw from the rules and example of their holy founder.

here is something sobering

Free for viewing, Michael Moore presents, Planet of the Humans, released 21April 2020, Documentary, Directed by Jeff Gibbs.
Or, at their website.

No one’s ever asked me if I’m scared, said the environmental scientist.
Are you?
Yes, he answered.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

a strange feeling comes over you

The line from the song went, “You can’t have one without the other.”

Yeah, you can.
Practically anyone who realizes the existence of the debate can tell you that Saint   Thomas taught that there were three vocations: that to the active life, that to the contemplative, and a third to the mixture of both, and that this last is superior to the other two. The mixed life is, of course, the vocation of Saint Thomas’s own order, the Friars Preachers.  ...
Contemplation means rest, suspension of activity, withdrawal into the mysterious interior solitude in which the soul is absorbed in the immense and fruitful silence of God and learns something of the secret of His perfections less by seeing than by fruitive love.
Yet to stop here would be to fall short of perfection. According to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux it is the comparatively weak soul that arrives at contemplation but does not overflow with a love that must communicate what it knows of God to other men. For all the great Christian mystics without exception, Saint Bernard, Saint Gregory, Saint Theresa, Saint John of the Cross, Blessed John Ruysbroeck, Saint Bonaventure, the peak of the mystical life is a marriage of the soul with God which gives the saints a miraculous power, a smooth and tireless energy in working for God and for souls, which bears fruits in the sanctity of thousands and changes the course of religious and even secular history.
(—Excerpt from: "The Seven Storey Mountain" by Thomas Merton. Scribd.)
What does the contemplative do?

The contemplative does whatever is there to be done. What-is-there is the continual continuity of continuance without partitioning or partializing.

It is the unicity of being, in, the, world, wherein the active and contemplative interact what-is-there as whole being itself doing itself without artificial separation or difference — but, also, honoring distinctive appearance and individual existence within the field of emptiness and circumincessional interpenetration and uninterruptive becoming.

Someone recently asked for a brief bio for an upcoming panel. I wrote that I was a hermit practicing in the world.

In the same way today I was walking-the-mountain.

A student in prison studying existentialism is focused on Heidegger’s In-der-Welt-sein (Being-in-the-world).

To practice Being-in-the-world is to take special notice of  “in-the-world.”

Seems obvious, no? Where else might we be?
Well, for one . . . Not always there.
It requires a seeing that goes beyond seeing.

“In-the-world” is the foot, the shoe, the step, and the ground.

It is the eye, the seeing, the tree, and the surround.

There are many, I submit, who are not yet “in-the-world.”

Perhaps, because of that, there is diminished appreciation or insight into what it means to embody or incarnate, to set foot in the world.

Is it possible we are not yet in-the-world?

Here is Goethe:

The Holy Longing

poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven't experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.

(Translated from the German by Robert Bly)

where is that place

I have found the shadow of standing tree on not yet spring lawn where rodents, squirrels, chipmunks, and songbirds forage to be sundial crossing dooryard measuring these weeks of stay at home by increments of inches swinging morning into cedar tree and remaining firewood moving up to meditation cabin and fenced enclosure up to yurt, brook, and mountain trail.
Beat Zen and Square Zen. 
But the Westerner who is attracted to Zen and who would understand it deeply must have one indispensable qualification: he must understand his own culture so thoroughly that he is no longer swayed by its premises unconsciously.
He must really have come to terms with the Lord God Jehovah and with his Hebrew-Christian conscience so that he can take it or leave it without fear or rebellion. He must be free of the itch to justify himself
Lacking this, his Zen will be either "beat" or "square," either a revolt from the culture and social order or a new form of stuffiness and respectability. For Zen is above all the liberation of the mind from conventional thought, and this is something different from rebellion against convention, on the one hand, or adapting foreign conventions, on the other.
Living beyond anxiety. 
At this level, human life is beyond anxiety, for it can never make a mistake. If we live, we live; if we die, we die; if we suffer, we suffer; if we are terrified, we are terrified. There is no problem about it.
A Zen master was once asked, "It is terribly hot, and how shall we escape the heat?" "Why not," he answered, "go to the place where it is neither hot nor cold?" "Where is that place?" "In summer we sweat; in winter we shiver."
In Zen one does not feel guilty about dying, or being afraid, or disliking the heat. At the same time, Zen does not insist upon this point of view as something which one ought to adopt; it does not preach it as an ideal. 
For if you don't understand it, your very not-understanding is also IT. There would be no bright stars without dim stars, and, without the surrounding darkness, no stars at all.
(--from Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen, essay by Alan Watts, in Church of the Churchless website) 
It is a swaying time of droning music, chirping birds, and passing tires.

April moves close to saying goodbye.

It is a different world but same earth.

Hare Krishna is chanted from soundbox. Ramadan finds its footing. The Sabbath rolls on with empty synagogues and cathedrals. Zendos find stillness easier without restless knees on zabutons.

Walking nature is the devotion of universal choice.

All seeking ceases.

One foot

In front of

The other.

Stay ahead of the other and there is no other to catch up to.


Traversing our solitude with




Setting eager mouse outside after b&b night trap catch full of seeds from front room, after yesterday’s drop off from cat up from dirt cellar.