Saturday, May 09, 2020

you are, silent

At Friday evening conversation two words were brought up — one from Belfast, “acedia,” and one from Florida, “anhedonia.”

The first — 
Acedia (/əˈsiːdiə/; also accidie or accedie /ˈæksɪdi/, from Latin acedĭa, and this from Greek ἀκηδία, "negligence", ἀ- "lack of" -κηδία "care") has been variously defined as a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one's position or condition in the world. In ancient Greece akidía literally meant an inert state without pain or care.[1] Early Christian monks used the term to define a spiritual state of listlessness and from there the term developed a markedly Christian moral tone. In modern times it has been taken up by literary figures and connected to depression.[2](Wikipedia)
 And the second —
Anhedonia is a diverse array of deficits in hedonic function, including reduced motivation or ability to experience pleasure.[1] While earlier definitions of anhedonia emphasized the inability to experience pleasure, anhedonia is used by researchers to refer to reduced motivation, reduced anticipatory pleasure (wanting), reduced consummatory pleasure (liking), and deficits in reinforcement learning.[2][3][4]  (Wikipedia)
They were spoken about primarily in reference to their relevance to the inner life of a spiritual practitioner, not in their DSM psychological diagnostic implication. 

Try to touch your index finger with that same index finger.

It would be similar to confronting the koan about the sound of one hand clapping.

Both ask for a new understanding of what we’ve called experience. Usually we understand experience as one thing encountering another thing. But your raised index finger, there on its own, represents itself alone without other to experience it. (But...what about its hand? Or the eye watching it?) 

The finger (along with hand, eye, foot, and elbow) are each, in themselves, themselves. There is no other to experience. There is only each thing in itself completely as itself in a world without distance or separation. 

It is only the mind, the dualistic mind, the making-other mind, that makes two without the intrinsic realization that mind is mind itself, not anything other.

(note: It is 9may, 9AM, and it is snowing in maine!)

(Poem #545) The Moving Finger Writes; and, Having Writ 

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, 
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit 
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, 
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
                                                                    -- Omar Khayyam
It is easier, after Friday conversation, to envision a reality wherein each being the whole. (Or, each-being/the whole.)

And I can’t help but wonder if acedia and anhedonia are inner descriptions of ‘spiritual’ aphasia wherein there is nothing to say, nothing to feel, no place to go, nothing to do. 

How so? Just so!

This morning, this scripture:
John 14:7-14
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” 
 I can imagine Jesus holding up his finger, saying: Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

And here’s the paradox — with nothing other to feel, you are feeling-itself. 

The woman in Warren spoke about the empath, the one who feels what is there in the room, in those gathered, usually, with much disconcerting distraction, a not always welcome experience.

I suspect the closer reality is that, fundamentally, we all feel one/another as foundational being. But that awareness is confusing and considered mystical, invasive, and useless. It is.

But consider this. If we are feeling-itself, and if all presence is inexperiencable, then our not-knowing becomes the freedom to be-who-we-are-without-coveting-animosity.

Each as whole and entire in itself.

Does this make us lonely?

No. Only alone. Or, capital “A” Alone.

The phrase “Alone with God” now becomes “Alone-with, God...”

The father and I are one, he said.

So, too, your finger and you...and the coffee cup, and dog and cats, the birds and rodents across dooryard, the millions of snowflakes falling, the passing car, the unexplainable reality of our being-in-the-world.

To rephrase something said at end of last night’s conversation, about what hospice has taught those there — helpless presence — to care is to be-with.

Gib deine Schönheit immer hin  
ohne Rechnen und Reden.  
Du schweigst. 
Sie sagt für dich: Ich bin.  
Und kommt in tausendfachem Sinn,  
kommt endlich über jeden.  

(—Aus: Das Buch der Bilder, Rainer Maria Rilke)

Friday, May 08, 2020


            (a fond near-haiku)

Compline bells

For man with whom I worked

Five decades ago

A kind man whose death

53 weeks gone

I learned tonight —

One of his orphans

Thursday, May 07, 2020

just the fact of it, 2100 dead today

It is a serious time

For the country

For the world

For the future

I wish you well

after failure

When all else pales, try this
Only he who is capable of a genuine encounter with the other is capable of an authentic encounter with himself, and the converse is equally true...From this perspective, every spiritual exercise is a dialogue, insofar as it is an exercise of authentic presence, to oneself and to others.  Pierre Hadot 
Every person - whether Greek or Barbarian - who is in training for wisdom, leading a blameless, irreproachable life, chooses neither to commit injustice nor return it unto others, but to avoid the company of busybodies, and hold in contempt the places where they spend their time - courts, councils, marketplaces, assemblies - in short, every kind of meeting or reunion of thoughtless people. ... People such as these, who find their joy in virtue, celebrate a festival their whole life long.  Pierre Hadot
When the absurd words and mindless acts of political goons leave you catatonic with incredulity and blind with directionless insanity, there might be something that helps:
To be nobody-but-yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.  e. e. cummings  
The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility.  e. e. cummings
If you are lost and falling out of hope that being found is far far away, then, at least, be lost with those who’ve no desire to be found.

Try philosophy. Become a philosopher, Think.

When that fails, try poetry. Become a poet. Feel.

and silence

The man in his eighties who winters in Florida says he doesn’t wear any mask, plays golf, and goes to the beach. He doesn’t care about the coronavirus. He has Parkinson’s. He can’t be bothered.

It is a puzzling time.

May buds in maine, and buds begin to open. Green appears. Black flies arrive. Warm afternoons.

I wear a mask when shopping. Gloves too. I don’t go to the beach. I don’t golf.

I hike mountain.

I nap.

I read.


Look through words looking at me looking into words.

I am grateful for novels, poems, political writing.

And silence.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

an experience, dancing

Her name was familiar. She died Monday, 4may2020. Her obituary in the NYTimes today:
Jean Erdman, a modern dancer, choreographer and theater director whose work was suffused with the dreamlike aura of myth and legend, died on Monday in Kailua, Hawaii.  She was 104.Her death, in a nursing facility, was announced by Nola Hague, a friend.
A former principal dancer for Martha Graham, Ms. Erdman first came to wide notice as a choreographer in the 1940s, and she remained in the vanguard of the field for decades. She later created performance pieces for the Theater of the Open Eye, an avant-garde New York stage she founded in 1972 with her husband, Joseph Campbell, the scholar of literature and myth.
Ms. Erdman was among the first choreographers to exploit the inherent theatricality of dance, melding it with drama, poetry, music and visual art to form a seamless whole, or “total theater,” as it was known then. Today it might be described as performance art.   (— excerpt)
When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you're sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship.” (—Joseph Campbell)

“I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.“ ” (—Joseph Campbell”)

Joseph Campbell died in 1987.


          (ar son na fírinne)

Each death heartbreaking

We mourn, grieving each person

Lost — Where is our mind?


You cannot look at this crisis in America and not see the hands of incompetence all over it.

But there’s a greater sorrow than incompetence. And that is intentional treachery. The sacrifice of lives and safety for personal and ideological gain.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to recognize someone uninterested in the good of others.

The Irish journalist, Fintan O’Toole, in a scathing piece Donald Trump has destroyed the country he promised to make great again (Irish Times 25.4.2020)  In it O’Toole says the world pities us our embarrassing lack of leadership.
The grotesque spectacle of the president openly inciting people (some of them armed) to take to the streets to oppose the restrictions that save lives is the manifestation of a political death wish. What are supposed to be daily briefings on the crisis, demonstrative of national unity in the face of a shared challenge, have been used by Trump merely to sow confusion and division. They provide a recurring horror show in which all the neuroses that haunt the American subconscious dance naked on live TV. 
If the plague is a test, its ruling political nexus ensured that the US would fail it at a terrible cost in human lives. In the process, the idea of the US as the world’s leading nation – an idea that has shaped the past century – has all but evaporated.
(—Fintan O’Toole, article originally published in The Irish Times) 
The cadre of Trump supporters stay with him because he’s a big shot with a big mouth and swats detractors with a big bat.

I find the situation, I find him, sickening. And his sycophants in the republican ranks — pitiful.

Our current skill seems to be appeasement.

It is midnight.

It is dark.


Tuesday, May 05, 2020

his welfare is my concern

Grief is about loss.
The hospice was in lockdown, but it allowed immediate family members to visit at the end of life. A mercy, and a privilege: my father wouldn’t die alone. On his last afternoon, my mother and brother sat at his bedside, occasionally putting an iPhone close to his right ear, the good one, so that I could talk to him. This was a warm moment, the best simulacrum of togetherness that we could create. But it was also distressing for me, because my father wasn’t responding, and my mother and brother couldn’t tell when I was done trying to communicate. I listened while Dad gasped for breath, waiting for someone to reclaim the phone. The ethics of attending to the dying by device are still being written. Do you mute something like that if you can? 
(--in, Reinventing Grief in an Era of Enforced Isolation, by Lauren Collins, May 4, 2020 The New Yorker)
Loss is the one constant.
An article in Le Monde about the phenomenon quoted Émile Durkheim saying that “any communion of consciousness, in whatever form it takes place, enhances social vitality.”  (Ibid)
Grief is constant these days.

Monday, May 04, 2020

as to that, we'll see

 Antonio Machado writes:
   Reason says:
Let's seek the truth.           
The heart replies: What's the use?
We already have the truth.
Reason: Ah, to have truth
in one's grasp!
The heart: What's the use?
Truth is in hoping.
Says reason: You lie.
Comes the heart's reply:
It's you that is lying, reason,
saying things you don't believe.
Reason: Between you and me
there can be no understanding, heart.
The heart: As to that, we'll see.
(--from, Antonio Machado: Selected Poems, c.1982, in Poem 35, tr by Alan S Trueblood)
Saying things we don't believe we go on prattling down spurs and trails deeper and deeper into the thick forest lost and disorientated. So the mind hailing reason configures excuses for behaviors, opinions and blurting proclamation.

Unsaying what urges itself into words constructed by mind before they reach the vibration of sound and exit into open air -- this is restraint. This is second look. Before starting gate is rung open.

Belief is its own reticence. It stays within behind words and holds fast to unsaying. If belief in not moving gesture it is nothing at all.

Don't ask me my beliefs.

Beliefs are mute aphasia. An aphonia only silence cures. Beliefs hide behind dark matter. They prod dark energy to expand the contours of the universe inflating the unnecessary into the inopportune.

A hymn from days gone by:
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,  
and with fear and trembling stand;  
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
 And then the final three lines from first stanza:
for with blessing in his hand, 
Christ our God to earth descendeth,  
our full homage to demand. 
(--Hymn, Let all mortal flesh keep silenceParaphraser: Gerard Moultrie (1864) )
God, whoever and however conceived, is annoying. What is this descending? And what is this homage demanded? (From medieval Latin hominaticum, from Latin homo, homin- ‘man’ -- of a man). (cf Wiktionary)

Are we to focus on what is human? Is our "full homage" meant to suggest our humanity in its fullness, nothing less? And is humanity in its fullness the interweaving thread stitching together what we call cosmos with what we call God?


Unless what we call God is that which is the foundational reality of all matter and form. The inarticulately unspeakable (read, unknowable) thusness that pervades and permeates what is perceived as being there in dark apprehension by there-being.

And Christ?

Is Christ the interrelational pass-through that invisibly stitches and holds together the intractable difference and diversity that what we call the created cosmos dances and swirls in perennial movement in, with, and through all that is, now and forever, until there is no further until?

As to that, we'll see.

without name or form

Is there a price to be paid for believing in what is not here? 

Even in the Christian metaphor — is Christ the reality of what is here? 

And when we turn from what is here we, in a sense, are not following Christ who is what is here?

Sunday, May 03, 2020

no prior referent

The confusion over the relationship between history and myth is important to confront.

Was history ‘then’?

Is myth ‘now’?
We begin to ask, “What do the metaphors mean for me? What does Jesus stand for in me?” If we don’t view Jesus merely as a historical figure who was born, lived, walked on the earth, taught, brought forth his message, and then died on the cross, and if instead, we look at Jesus also as a timeless living presence, as a metaphor for eternity within us, we can begin to step into that place inside where we become the sons and daughters of God. Then the story is revitalized. Then the Jesus story can come to life in a way that’s truly meaningful for us.
When I really listen to what the stories have to say, it’s as if Jesus is saying, “Come, come into the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven exists on the face of the earth, and men and women do not understand it.” It seems to me that the presence of Jesus is a living embodiment of eternity, an embodiment of what exists within our own selves.
(Excerpt from: "Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic" by Adyashanti, 2014)
As Easter season walks slowly along the road, there seems to be an invitation to look again, try to newly, differently understand what we once thought we did, and enter a new and pulsing reality with no prior referent. 

reality's foundations within one's-self

Woman sends Shoshana Zuboff on surveillance capitalism | VPRO Documentary. She wonders if I'd seen it. No, I say. Then watch.

Elsewhere, interviewed about her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, this exchange:
GAZETTE: You warn that our very humanity and our ability to function as a democracy is in some ways at risk.
ZUBOFF: The competitive dynamics of surveillance capitalism have created some really powerful economic imperatives that are driving these firms to produce better and better behavioral-prediction products. Ultimately they’ve discovered that this requires not only amassing huge volumes of data, but actually intervening in our behavior. The shift is from monitoring to what the data scientists call “actuating.” Surveillance capitalists now develop “economies of action,” as they learn to tune, herd, and condition our behavior with subtle and subliminal cues, rewards, and punishments that shunt us toward their most profitable outcomes.
What is abrogated here is our right to the future tense, which is the essence of free will, the idea that I can project myself into the future and thus make it a meaningful aspect of my present. This is the essence of autonomy and human agency. Surveillance capitalism’s “means of behavioral modification” at scale erodes democracy from within because, without autonomy in action and in thought, we have little capacity for the moral judgment and critical thinking necessary for a democratic society. Democracy is also eroded from without, as surveillance capitalism represents an unprecedented concentration of knowledge and the power that accrues to such knowledge. They know everything about us, but we know little about them. They predict our futures, but for the sake of others’ gain. Their knowledge extends far beyond the compilation of the information we gave them. It’s the knowledge that they have produced from that information that constitutes their competitive advantage, and they will never give that up. These knowledge asymmetries introduce wholly new axes of social inequality and injustice.
(-- from, High Tech is Watching You, Interview, The Harvard Gazette,  Q&A with Shoshana Zuboff BY John Laidler, Harvard Correspondent, March 4, 2019)
Autonomy and the future tense -- ingredients for democracy.

What to think?

Unless and until there is a realization of reality's foundations within one's-self (i.e. autonomy), thereby establishing the core of our current present/presence, we will continue to be misdirected to a potential future instead of residing in the foundational presence of the ever-present origin, the mere nowness of all being/becoming in its circumspect sitz-im-leben: where it is, as it is, who it is, here and now.

Which, you might say, is all there is here.

What if there is no future?

I suspect what we are really struggling with is the question of whether or not we can exist in and experience a present, rather than focusing on a future that remains an imaginative projection of an ambitious hope for a time beyond what is under our feet.

The woman who sent the link is concerned about surveillance and privacy. Understandably so.

To the question: Are we being watched?
The response: Yes, we are being, watching and watched.

What is it we do not yet realize?

Don't ask me.

Ask the Border Collie, nudging my arm.

He knows how absent I am.

watch alarm for perked coffee sounds

we sit
we sit and wonder
where this is all going

the distancing
the distancing from who
we were when we didn't know

but now
but now we know
who we are in center of solitude

we are the room
we are the ground underfoot
tree branch with slight breeze flicking

then we're quiet
we're quiet again in quiet room
where nothing goes on without anouncement