Saturday, May 16, 2020

sorrow without borders

Kabul hospital attack: "They came for the mothers."

On the morning of May 12, unknown attackers opened fire on our maternity ward at Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 24 people and wounding at least 20 more—most of them patients. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams around the world are devastated by this horrific attack. “No one could believe they would attack a maternity ward,” said Frederic Bonnot, MSF’s head of programs in Afghanistan, who survived the attack. “They came to kill the mothers.” Of the 26 women who were hospitalized at the time, eleven were killed—three of them in the delivery room with their unborn babies. An MSF midwife was also among the dead. Bonnot returned to the hospital the day after the massacre to piece together what happened. Read more.

this worthiness of our full attention

What might we do with our eyes? Let them look without interference of opinion or judgment.

Cantáte Dómino, mementóte mirabílium eius quæ fecit, allelúia.

What shall we do with our voice? Let it tell what is seen with a song of present awareness.

Cantáte Dómino, mementóte mirabílium eius quæ fecit, allelúia.

What shall we do with our heart? Let it wonder in the midst of incessant gifting appearance.

Cantáte Dómino, mementóte mirabílium eius quæ fecit, allelúia.

Silence sings within sound as sunlight passes through woodland. Each, silence and sunlight, are genesis of what is still to appear with attentive presence.

Sing to the Lord; tell all his wonderful works, Alleluia.

What is “the Lord” — this Dom, this dignity, this worthiness of our full attention? 
Sing to this worthiness appearing before our attentive presence, this wonderful manifestation of earth, creatures, fellow beings, mysterious appearances, and unnamable mystery.

I think about what Christ means.

Christ is the manifestation of the inner dignity of everything and everyone.

There are too few practicing awareness of the inner dignity of all being, each being.

To be Christian has little to do with dogma, belief, ritual, denomination, doctrine, membership, headship, signing on a line, or costumes of compliance.

A Christian is one who is Christ.

That is...

The revelation of reality as it is with the love that is inherent and inchoate in each expression in each moment in each possibility presenting itself, within you, as you, with and without 
all that is this unfathomable manifestation. 

Eyes, voice, heart — deep within the emergence of dignity, recognized and appreciated, 
the presence and the coming to be of what we are in the face of 
what is looking 
back at us, through us, with us, as us, 
what is yet to be

Cantáte Dómino, mementóte mirabílium eius quæ fecit, allelúia.
(—Antiphon to Psalm 104 (105), Office of Readings, Saturday, 16May2020)

Friday, May 15, 2020

perpetual defining

Reading final paper at a distance, and commenting without conversation over a long separation, a dialogue (of sorts) attempts to encircle how it is we come to be what we are becoming.

Had we been face-to-face in the prison education meeting room, would such language be used?
Heidegger’s argument of the inauthentic self suggests that the self, which a person identifies him or herself as, is inauthentic because their definition of themselves is incongruent with their actual nature and purpose of being. The self to which they subscribe is an artificial, constructed one, created by conceptual references and abstractions that correspond to how society wants a person to be.  (ml)
Is that incongruence, that incompatibility, a noncompliance of material facticity? Or, intentional difference?
That we construct our nature by choosing that which we wish to be in and through particular situations and circumstances — and, given, no blueprint for conformity with Platonic Ideas of Perfection — are we talking about the tension between inner and outer determination of outcome?
Is our situational intelligence, operating moment to moment,  the evolving coming-to-be of the individual in conformity with the inchoately manifesting urge-to-become?  (wfh)
Contrary to what the critics of this philosophy believe, existentialism is more than a philosophy propounding the nothingness of life or the absurdity of the human existence. It is a philosophy of a demanding freedom predicated upon a responsibility, and this responsibility entails the perpetual defining of what man is.  (ml) 
“defining” is an interesting word: 
“late Middle English (also in the sense ‘bring to an end’): from Old French definer, from a variant of Latin definire, from de- (expressing completion) + finire ‘finish’ (from finis ‘end’).” (
It suggests, in your phrasing, that “perpetual defining” might turn out to be a conundrum of not-yet-finished proclamations that masquerade as completed statements that immediately fall apart so as to allow the next iteration of emergence. 
A woman who was intensely artistic and mystical said to me some fifty years ago (apropos of nothing) that “Christ is emergence.” Her words caught my attention then. They reappear today. (wfh)
(--for Independent Study course, Existentialism: East and West) 
The poet, as you might expect, says it better:

The Waking
                 BY THEODORE ROETHKE 
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go. 
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. 
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go. 
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. 
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go. 
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go. 
Theodore Roethke, "The Waking" from Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. Copyright 1953


Silence holds truth until truth is ready to sound itself openly.

Prayer is where silence goes when truth cannot discern the sound of its own voice.

These days, we’re all wandering hermits listening to trees — those still standing, and those in repose returning to humus.

In an op-ed David Brooks writes a piece titled Ordinary People Are Leading the Leaders, that America looks better from the bottom up. 

Like the border collie running around trees playing peek-a-boo, I’m uncertain whether it’s an exercise of fun, or, trying to spin out of one’s anxieties by racing around in circles.

In the evenings we watch a spy series. The way everything is manipulated and the way what we think is real is turned every which way in service of self-interest or ideology is maddening. The code of silence is excruciating as we cry out “Tell him, tell him.”

Our affect these days is somewhere between the lethal silence of explosive secrecy and the healing silence of healthy acceptance and surrender to an underlying interconnection of authentic love.

My concern these days is that we’re more frightened than optimistic. Of course the virus worries us. But the real fear is the ever increasing creep of fabricated dis-mis-information and cynical manipulation of both history and tomorrow.

The people, like the kids, are alright. 

But the big and undeniable danger is the triumvirate lock on our government by Trump, Barr, and McConnell.

Fear arises with the realization there is no exit and no help as flood waters rise or fire licks at the door. These three men are using escape boats for their own safety. They are throwing gasoline on the flames of our distrust.


Listening to everything

Predawn light

Hears only Itself

Thursday, May 14, 2020

often disguised

The argument seems to be be drawn between science and politics.

Dr. Rick Bright testifies before Congress. He has become a Whistleblower after being removed from his position at BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority). 

The argument -- let's be generous and call it a conversation -- is testy and sometimes snarky. As with everything else in this time of American political conflict, the line is drawn as to whether you are trying to get Trump reelected or you want to subvert the presidency and ruin the Republic.

While a simplistic assessment, this is the landscape of simplistic thinking. That we are in a parallel time of a deadly virus with an equally dangerous economic impact is a complicating dynamic. They are not equally deliberated, they are not easily separated.

This in The Daily Beast:
President Trump was wary of making preparations for the coronavirus pandemic because he was concerned doing so would sent the stock market into a panic, the Financial Times reports. In a quote attributed to an unnamed Trump confidant who is said to speak to the president frequently, it’s claimed: “Jared [Kushner] had been arguing that testing too many people, or ordering too many ventilators, would spook the markets and so we just shouldn’t do it... That advice worked far more powerfully on [Trump] than what the scientists were saying. He thinks they always exaggerate.” Elsewhere in the FT investigation into Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, an unnamed administration official is reported to have told the paper that trying to advise the president is like “bringing fruits to the volcano... You’re trying to appease a great force that’s impervious to reason.”
"Unnamed" is always suspect. But in this time of retaliation and revenge, the impulse to remain stealth when offering opinion or analysis takes shape more and more frequently. Bashing by tweet,  public shaming at press rallies, and cable tv stations with scurrilous ad hominem attacks, makes unveiling and truth telling itself an act of bravery and courage.
“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu 
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca
I'd prefer my cowardice not become a defining characteristic.

I look forward to a time when civil discourse, equitable listening, and thoughtful analysis become the rule. A time when dialogue is preferred over serial monologues, and respectful appreciation extends a welcome that is accepted by a majority of citizens seeking successful life together in a complex world.  

nothing to see here

sunrise over desk

sees closed folders, ninety three 

millions miles away

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

no other than

It is 47 degrees in dooryard. Sunporch thermometer reads 94 degrees. Laundry hangs behind prayer flags in gathered heat for short work of drying.

They say it is May.
春有百花秋有月  Spring comes with its flowers, autumn with the                                       moon,  
夏有涼風冬有雪  summer with breezes, winter with snow; 
若無閑事挂心頭  when useless things don't stick in the mind,  
更是人間好時節  that is your best season.  
(--Wu-men Huai-kai (無門慧開 Mumon Ekai), from Wu-men kuan (Mumonkan) case 19 (The Light Inside the Dark 97)
This time of seclusion and mindful awareness of everything passing, within and without -- what a curious gift!

Some of us die, some get sick; some of us live with questions the only visitors.  There are many suggestions, but nowhere to go for reliable answers. Some try to obfuscate and confuse. Some to clarify and counsel. So many tugs on our attention. So much cause for wariness.

Wisdom, I suspect, wanders solitary on mountain trails.

Here is Tung-Shan's (807-869 CE) gatha:
Earnestly avoid seeking without, lest it recede far from you. 
Today I am walking alone, yet everywhere I meet him. 
He is now no other than myself, but I am not now him. 
It must be understood in this way in order to merge with Suchness. 
(--from, The Record of Tung-Shan, Buddhism Now, 6oct14) 
Another translation of one of the lines heard on a podcast -- Now I am all alone going on.

What a wonderful poem it makes:
I am 
going on  
Perhaps, whether alert to it or not, we are no other than 'all' -- 'alone,' 'going on.'

We think of one-another.

By doing so, we are intimately praying for one-another.

All of us.

Going on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

nature monastery

Drips from eaves, Tuesday

early darkness still-grip night,

Mountain sound scares dog

Monday, May 11, 2020


I have no time. Nor does time wait for me, not anywhere. Your love might be timeless, but the bus leaves at 8:10. I’ll let you go this time, but next time you might not be so lucky.
  Thy reign come
  —Matthew 6:10 
Is there conceivable any positive relation between the concept of eternity and the spatio-temporal structure of the physical universe? . . . This is one of the most arduous, but also one of the most important questions in the dialogue between theology and natural science. . . . Without an answer to the question regarding time and eternity, the relation of God to this world remains inconceivable.
  —Wolfhart Pannenberg, “Theological Questions to Scientists”
(—Excerpt from: "Time in Eternity: Pannenberg, Physics, and Eschatology in Creative Mutual Interaction" by Robert John Russell. Scribd.)

      (for this beyond that)

Eternity waits

A shapeless embrace, prayer —

Single bell calling 

Sunday, May 10, 2020


                   (for mothering)

You mother us, poems

Thrown through distance; a look, breath—

Words to flesh — Fiat


            (for this hermit time)

Inside aloneness

How confusing — you’ve become

Simply normal life

nf f ns nc

On many tombstones in Ancient Rome, a seven letter epitaph:
  “nf f ns nc”.

It’s from the philosophical point of view of Epicurus.
“I was not, I was, I am not, I care not. (Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo)”              ( Epicurus)
To which, I add:
igwt idk idc lib jbw pce tft
(I’m good with this, I don’t know, I don’t care, let it be, just be with, practice complete emptiness, thanks for this)
Brevity might be the soul of wit, I’m not.

Concerning what some refer to as the afterlife —

Why go on when nothing’s there as nothing’s here?
wgo wnt anh
 I’ll have some coffee and toast. After all, it is Sunday morning, nowhere seen a complacent peignoir, as
wakened birds, 
Before they fly, test the reality 
Of misty fields,

parénklisis and ataraxia

Epicurus, 341bc—270bc, on a Sunday morning:
For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to help people attain a happy, tranquil life characterized by ataraxia (peace and freedom from fear) and aponia (the absence of pain). He advocated that people were best able to pursue philosophy by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that the root of all human neurosis is death denial and the tendency for human beings to assume that death will be horrific and painful, which he claimed causes unnecessary anxiety, selfish self-protective behaviors, and hypocrisy. According to Epicurus, death is the end of both the body and the soul and therefore should not be feared. Epicurus taught that although the gods exist, they have no involvement in human affairs. He taught that people should behave ethically not because the gods punish or reward people for their actions, but because amoral behavior will burden them with guilt and prevent them from attaining ataraxia
Epicurus taught that the motion of atoms is constant, eternal, and without beginning or end.[98] He held that there are two kinds of motion: the motion of atoms and the motion of visible objects.[98] Both kinds of motion are real and not illusory.[99]Democritus had described atoms as not only eternally moving, but also eternally flying through space, colliding, coalescing, and separating from each other as necessary.[100] In a rare departure from Democritus's physics, Epicurus posited the idea of atomic "swerve" (παρέγκλισις parénklisisLatinclinamen), one of his best-known original ideas.[101][b] According to this idea, atoms, as they are travelling through space, may deviate slightly from the course they would ordinarily be expected to follow.[101] Epicurus's reason for introducing this doctrine was because he wanted to preserve the concepts of free will and ethical responsibility while still maintaining the deterministic physical model of atomism.[102] Lucretius describes it, saying, "It is this slight deviation of primal bodies, at indeterminate times and places, which keeps the mind as such from experiencing an inner compulsion in doing everything it does and from being forced to endure and suffer like a captive in chains."[103] 
Epicurus was first to assert human freedom as a result of the fundamental indeterminism in the motion of atoms. This has led some philosophers to think that, for Epicurus, free will was caused directly by chance. In his On the Nature of ThingsLucretius appears to suggest this in the best-known passage on Epicurus' position.[104] In his Letter to Menoeceus, however, Epicurus follows Aristotle and clearly identifies three possible causes: "some things happen of necessity, others by chance, others through our own agency." Aristotle said some things "depend on us" (eph'hemin). Epicurus agreed, and said it is to these last things that praise and blame naturally attach. For Epicurus, the "swerve" of the atoms simply defeated determinism to leave room for autonomous agency.[105]       (—Wikipedia
Swerve well, compañeros!