Saturday, June 06, 2020

rare commodities

Film watched reminding how Bush and Blair lied the United States and Great Britain into an illegal war invading Iraq.

The dangerous mechanism of duplicity and faux uninformed patriotism.

It is discouraging and depressing.

The rare commodities of courage and truth seldom illuminate the dark and cynical machinations of delusional power.

It’s a lot to look at.

So little to see.



matins in trees —

creation celebrating


Friday, June 05, 2020

a glance

Began listening to Zen and Now: On the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Mark Richardson.Link opens in new window

Then in Philosophy Now magazinethis:
Pirsig was generally a recluse, so, for instance, he never answered a phone. He explained his behaviour thus: “The Buddhist monk has a precept against indulging in idle conversation, and I think the basis of that precept is what motivates me” (Letter from Robert Pirsig to Bodvar Skutvik, 17th August 1997).  
The beginnings of his Metaphysics of Quality can be traced back to 1959 when Pirsig was an English teacher at Montana State College, in the American mid-West. As a new lecturer, he noticed that he was under legal contract to teach ‘quality’ to his students, even though it was not made clear by the college authorities what was meant by this term. Pirsig soon realised that teachers had been passing and failing students on the quality of their work for centurieswithout any viable definition of what ‘quality’ actually was. It was this unsatisfactory state of affairs which gave Pirsig the inspiration to start his particular line of philosophical inquiry. 
In Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig first explored the history of the term ‘Quality’, or what the Ancient Greeks called arête, tracing it all the way back to Plato (428-348 BCE). He concluded that the strange position of Quality in today’s West originated with Plato’s division of the human soul into its reason and emotion aspects, in his dialogue the Phaedrus. In this dialogue, Plato gave primary place to reason over emotion. Soon afterwards Aristotle was similarily emphasizing analysis over rhetoric. And as Hugh Lawson-Tancred confirms in the Introduction to his 1991 translation of Aristotle’s Rhetoric: “There are few things that are more to be deplored in Greek culture, and notably in the legacy of Plato, than the wholly forced and unnatural division between… [the] two sister studies” of rhetoric and philosophy (p.57). Eventually this division grew into the ‘subjective versus objective’ way of thinking now largely dominant in the West. So now in the West we have objectivity, reason, logic, and dialectic on the one hand; and subjectivity, emotion, imagination, intuition, and rhetoric on the other. The former terms suggest scientific respectability, while the latter are often assumed to be artistic terms, having little place in science or rationality. It is this Platonic conception of rationality that Pirsig sought to challenge by reconciling the spiritual (for example, Zen), artistic (for example, art) and scientific (for example, motorcycle maintenance) realms within the unifying paradigm of the Metaphysics of Quality. 
(--from, Robert Pirsig & His Metaphysics of Quality, by Anthony McWatt, Philosophy Now, Issue 122, October/November 2017)

Thursday, June 04, 2020

a transcendent and honorable purpose

Something posted on Spencer Trappist's website:  
In solidarity with those who feel voiceless, sick and tired of prejudice of any kind, sick and tired of sickness and separation and quarantine and hopelessnesss, we pray and pray. Now is not the time to hide from one another. It is a time to be vigilant and come together, for our King beckons us and leads us forth into battle. On one side are those forces within us and without that sow division, discord, and isolation. On the other side there are all those forces that nurture attachment, connection, and solidarity. And that’s where Jesus wants us to be, that’s where his kingdom is going to happen. It’s a showdown between cynics and optimists, a war between “rippers and weavers,” (David Brooks) that runs down the middle of every heart. With Jesus we need to be weavers, creating a tapestry of loving relatedness and bonds of trust. We must keep connecting and reconnecting and deferring to one another out of love.  
God is with us, God among us; God like us in everything but our accusing and self-absorption. His sovereignty is realized in his littleness, his nothingness, his emptying out, his self-forgetful love, his sin-bearing. He only wants to be loved, and he desperately wants us to go and do likewise; our promise to compassion and mercy one another is our pledge of devotion to him. Life in the kingdom does not tolerate individuals, anybody on the fringes. His mercy always gathers, binds up, heals, and connects; it never excludes. That is his truth. God always wants to wash our feet and entice us to go and do likewise. And so, we live and rejoice in the “hard truth and ridiculous grace” (Tauren Wells) that abusers and abused, demagogues and peacemakers, well-heeled, solid citizens and weary refugees and migrants, black and white and brown and all colors and hues, bigots and oppressors and terrorists along with their victims, the sick and the healthy-for-now are all being invited with us to have a change of heart and come together for the feast in the kingdom.            
(--"Now", POSTED BY THE MONKS 7:27 AM;   St Joseph's Abbey Diary, 3June 2020) 
 Elsewhere, on The Center for Appreciative Education website, more about our social fabric: 
Recently, David Brooks, our favorite New York Times columnist, wrote on our collective social fabric—as well as its “weavers” and “rippers.” “Every time you assault and stereotype a person,” he argues, “you’ve ripped the social fabric. Every time you see that person deeply and make her or him feel known, you’ve woven it.” He notes that our society has been living with sixty years of hyper-individualism, of an emphasis on “personal freedom, self-interest, self-expression, the idea that life is an individual journey toward personal fulfillment” (Brooks 2019).   
The whole concept of a “social fabric” is a very relevant one—both for us as people but also for us as educators. And it’s worth asking ourselves: How and to what extent do schools weave rather than rip the social fabrics of their local communities? And also: How do schools overcome the harmful effects of the premium our society places on hyper-individualism—particularly in light of heightened economic and social inequalities?  This all connects to Neil Postman’s (1996) urging that we think of schools as an end—rather than as a means—to making a living. In other words, he suggests that schools and educators should pursue their profession as a way to actually make a life—rather than simply making a living. Such an enterprise, he is careful to warn us, is not, of course, a walk in the park—“since our politicians rarely speak of it, our technology is indifferent to it, and our commerce despises it. Nevertheless, it is the weightiest and most important thing to write about” (x). In Postman’s view, schooling needs to be about creating a transcendent and honorable purpose so that education itself “becomes the central institution through which the young may find reasons for continuing to educate themselves” (xi). (--from On Weavers and Rippers, Transformative Narratives Blog, 3/6/19) 
The COVID-19, the protests following the killing of George Floyd, and the increasing fragility of the  occupant of the White House, combine to present us with an extraordinary opportunity to die to and let die what was; and ascend with and rise to a new way of thinking and being with one another. 

Either that, or stagger into the first sentence John Fowles began his novel Daniel Martin: "WHOLE SIGHT; OR ALL THE REST IS DESOLATION." 

That one sentence, that invitation, that one warning, should be enough to set us pondering long and hard during these troubling days.

Educate yourself; and so, we will all be educated. Listen to each story.
Mr Stratis Thalassinos Describes a Man   
But what’s wrong with that man? 
All afternoon (yesterday the day before yesterday and 
today) he’s been sitting there staring at a flame 
he bumped into me at evening as he went downstairs 
he said to me: 
   ‘The body dies the water clouds the soul hesitates 
and the wind forgets always forgets 
but the flame doesn’t change. ’
'You know I love a woman who's gone away perhaps to the           
nether world; that’s not why I seem so deserted 
I try to keep myself going with a flame                                                                                  
because it doesn’t change. ’ 
Then he told me the story of his life.   
(--from,  Mr Stratis Thalassinos Describes a Man, by George Seferis, in Collected Poems, c.1995)

reintegration and celebration

There is a measured tone and balanced pace in a piece a meditating shakuhachi compañero sends from Augusta. It is called The Coronation, an essay by Charles Eisenstein.

An excerpt:
A life saved actually means a death postponed.  
The ultimate fulfillment of civilization’s program of control would be to triumph over death itself. Failing that, modern society settles for a facsimile of that triumph: denial rather than conquest. Ours is a society of death denial, from its hiding away of corpses, to its fetish for youthfulness, to its warehousing of old people in nursing homes. Even its obsession with money and property – extensions of the self, as the word “mine” indicates – expresses the delusion that the impermanent self can be made permanent through its attachments. All this is inevitable given the story-of-self that modernity offers: the separate individual in a world of Other. Surrounded by genetic, social, and economic competitors, that self must protect and dominate in order to thrive. It must do everything it can to forestall death, which (in the story of separation) is total annihilation. Biological science has even taught us that our very nature is to maximize our chances of surviving and reproducing.  
I asked a friend, a medical doctor who has spent time with the Q’ero in Peru, whether the Q’ero would (if they could) intubate someone to prolong their life. “Of course not,” she said. “They would summon the shaman to help him die well.” Dying well (which isn’t necessarily the same as dying painlessly) is not much in today’s medical vocabulary. No hospital records are kept on whether patients die well. That would not be counted as a positive outcome. In the world of the separate self, death is the ultimate catastrophe. But is it? Consider this perspective from Dr. Lissa Rankin: “Not all of us would want to be in an ICU, isolated from loved ones with a machine breathing for us, at risk of dying alone- even if it means they might increase their chance of survival. Some of us might rather be held in the arms of loved ones at home, even if that means our time has come.... Remember, death is no ending. Death is going home.”  
When the self is understood as relational, interdependent, even inter-existent, then it bleeds over into the other, and the other bleeds over into the self. Understanding the self as a locus of consciousness in a matrix of relationship, one no longer searches for an enemy as the key to understanding every problem, but looks instead for imbalances in relationships. The War on Death gives way to the quest to live well and fully, and we see that fear of death is actually fear of life. How much of life will we forego to stay safe? Totalitarianism – the perfection of control – is the inevitable end product of the mythology of the separate self. What else but a threat to life, like a war, would merit total control? Thus Orwell identified perpetual war as a crucial component of the Party’s rule. 
What I will say next is relevant whether or not SARS-CoV2 is a genetically engineered bioweapon, is related to 5G rollout, is being used to prevent “disclosure,” is a Trojan horse for totalitarian world government, is more deadly than we’ve been told, is less deadly than we’ve been told, originated in a Wuhan biolab, originated at Fort Detrick, or is exactly as the CDC and WHO have been telling us. It applies even if everyone is totally wrong about the role of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the current epidemic. I have my opinions, but if there is one thing I have learned through the course of this emergency is that I don’t really know what is happening. I don’t see how anyone can, amidst the seething farrago of news, fake news, rumors, suppressed information, conspiracy theories, propaganda, and politicized narratives that fill the Internet. I wish a lot more people would embrace not knowing. I say that both to those who embrace the dominant narrative, as well as to those who hew to dissenting ones. What information might we be blocking out, in order to maintain the integrity of our viewpoints? Let’s be humble in our beliefs: it is a matter of life and death.  
(--from, The Coronation, by Charles Eisenstein) 
Eisensteins next two sections (The War on Death) and (Life is Community) are wonderfully evocative.

When you've exhausted yourself on that, you might like to hear him read it as well as voice recordings of The Coronation. Afterwards, on the Rich Roll Podcast, a thoughtful conversation with Charles Eisenstein about standing in our fear and considering the bright side of what change is actualizing.

Systems change, narrative change, and mythology change concerning separation and the ways we have been urged into separative thinking and structures.

Had my friend just stayed with the shakuhachi, I would value him fondly. But now, thankfully, he's thrown me into this deeper reflective encounter.


conditional prayer of protester

If you shoot me I

Will die. If you shoot me I

Will die. If you shoot

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

with deep attention

Someone asked what I really thought.

In my mind I have asked for peaceful gatherings protesting racism and fascism; tried to comfort the sorrowing hurt and wronged; attempted to figure what it is about donald trump that evokes combined loyality, rage, and apathy; worried about the possibility violent reaction to protestors, both peaceful and provocative citizens.

Are we a racist country?
Do the poor not count?
Is trust in God an addictive narcotic sedating human repression?

What do I think?

I think the protests are good. There is far too much inequity and racism.
I think there is a small percentage of people intent on looting and causing trouble.

I think there are intentional provocateurs whose goal is chaos, disinformation, and misdirection.
I think that the executive, legislature, senate and judiciary are cowardly burying their heads in self-interest.

I think power does indeed corrupt those who pick it up and thrill to be holding it as a weapon.
I think these united states are threatened by an insidious ideology of unequality and superiority.

Winter was long and cold. It is now June. Winter has passed.

We're here in the path of insistent and irrepressible water.

We're unsure what will emerge.

I'd like to trust it will be something worthy of each individual, something responsive to the heartfelt desire for healthy and respectful community engaging one another with deep attention.

Everything watches.

Do not be deceived.

reckless aesthetic theology

non-theo, non-tokos                      
                    (a haiku)  

marking end of Christ-  
ian iconography, two   
faces non-reflect

(re. photo from washington dc on twitter) 

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

chaos or cosmos

Tell me, O muse
About what shoes

To wear
To outrun fear

To get far away
From raw dismay

This time so strange —
It’s got to change

This awful slump
Go, run, exeunt

Monday, June 01, 2020


streets tell a story

no-one wants to hear; my love,

sit a while, listen

it’s the experience that matters.

 Not the way Francis of Assisi-inspired prayer would prefer to be heard:
Charles Pearce, writing in Esquire, gets it right when pointing to Trump, states: “Where there is hatred, he sows anger. Where there is injury, resentment. Where there is doubt, uncertainty. Where there is despair, poison. Where there is darkness, destruction. And where there is sadness, desperation. There’s something that feeds his soul in feeding the soul of the country to the flames. He has nothing else. He can’t conceive of another way to live. He belongs to another entirely different species of parasite.” Put differently, Trump’s administration has become an engine of social misery, a punitive machine that accelerates the death of those considered excess, valueless, and unwanted. Trump’s regime of wealth extraction, ecological violence, economic shock doctrines, ideological fundamentalism, anti-intellectualism, and government of hypocrisy has turned politics, and language into a racist weapon, and state sanctioned violence against black people a signpost for rationalizing a fascist politics.
Racial Domestic Terrorism and the Legacy of State Violence,  
But this is a topsy-turvy time. Up is down, in is out, good is bad, and bad...bad is the default both for the chief executive of the United States, his administration, majority senate party, justice department, cabinet, and loyalists whose critical assessment of the prevailing situation is befuddling.

I would not want to be black in America. Nor would I want to be police in America.

I certainly would prefer a different administration in Washington DC.

But mostly, if prayer ever entered my distracted mind, I would pray for serial awakening to cascade down streets and roads throughout this land.

Some words from Adyashanti we mulled at Sunday Evening Practice:
As  with  any  good  adventure,  I felt excited that a new vista of my life had opened up, full of possibility and mystery, but also I had a little bit of fear, because I realized that I had no control over what had happened. I didn’t make the calling happen, I couldn’t pretend it didn’t happen, and I couldn’t have turned it off even if I’d wanted to. It was disconcerting.   
And sure enough, my intuition was true: the entire trajectory of my life had changed at that instant. That’s the calling. Mine was pretty obvious, while for others it’s more subtle. It occurs within each person in a unique way, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be felt as a big event: it can just be that moment when you open to the transcendent quality of life. Then, you often find yourself drawn to some sort of spiritual path. In my case, I found a Zen teacher and spent the next fourteen years with her, meditating and studying.   
The next phase of one’s spiritual life is the awakening, and the word awakening is quite accurate. When you have a dream in the middle of the night, at the moment you wake from your dream, you suddenly realize, “Oh, it was a dream!” Yet the moment before you woke up, the dream was entirely real to you. It was as real as this moment. You wake up from the reality of the dream space to the reality of your everyday life, your waking mindset.   
In the same way, spiritual awakening occurs when you awaken from what you think of as  your normal state of consciousness—awake, eyes open, moving about in the world—to  your deep, essential, true nature. It literally feels like waking from a dream. It’s as if you wake up from the dream of thinking that you’re already awake in your ordinary waking state. When you are spiritually awakened, what you thought was an awake state now seems like a dream.   
There’s a shift from one order of reality to another. In a certain sense, the center of your regard shifts from yourself as a separate person to that which unifies us all. That’s really what spiritual awakening is: a shift from seeing yourself as a limited, isolated, separate person to realizing you are essentially that which all beings partake of, that which all beings essentially and truly are. After awakening, that deeper sense of reality is available to you and your sense of who you are, your identity has undergone a transformation. 
The esoteric, inner spiritual disciplines of all traditions are means of bringing about this awakening or of opening one to awakening. This is what occurs at the very beginning of the Gospel of Mark, when John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the River of Jordan. “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the spirit descending on him like a dove.” [Mark 1:10, NIV] When you awaken, when spirit descends, the veil of your dream state is torn apart, and all of a sudden you’re awakened to a new reality. 
The words used to describe the spirit descending into Jesus after his baptism correspond very closely with one of my own experiences. Often, this awakening is a transcendent experience; you awaken up and out of your identity with body and mind. In my case, I had that experience too, a very powerful experience of moving up and out. Spirit or consciousness literally moved up and out of the body and the mind, and for a period of time there was absolutely no experience of anything. The body was gone. The mind was gone. I had no perception of the world or my surroundings; I had moved into a total void. 
From that state of voidness, after a while a download of insight began—literally hundreds of insights per second downloaded into my system. Just as you download a program on your computer, spirit or divine being was downloading insights into me, many more than I could actually keep up with. This descent of spirit was just as depicted in the Jesus story. 
As I said, I’m reading the Jesus story as a metaphor for spiritual awakening. If you have experienced the descent of spirit, you know exactly what this passage in Mark is talking about. You don’t need anybody to confirm it; you know. You know that the story tells of the descent of spirit in as clear a way as it can be told, that the metaphor mirrors the actual experience. 
There are many degrees of awakening, but all awakening has as its common denominator a shift from seeing ourselves as a separated, isolated human being to seeing ourselves as that which we all share. You can call it consciousness, divine being, spirit, God. Many words can be used, but it’s the experience that matters.  
(--from, Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mysticby , c.2014)
Yeah, we're probably not awake yet.

But the alarm clock is ringing.

And the alarming realities occurring, screech.

Write this down, Brother Leo!

twelve beat

May be gone
June she here

Don’t do wrong
Have no fear

Sunday, May 31, 2020

becoming what is to be

It’s hard to hear what is being said.
℣. Repléti sunt omnes Spíritu Sancto,  (They were all filled with the Holy Spirit)
℟. Et cœpérunt loqui. (And they began to speak)
It is a language of fire.

They are faces of masks, masks that say I will not infect you; masks that say you will not recognize me.

Black faces, black hands and arms, like novices at sign language, try to spell out an inner sorrow, an inner rage at those who kill them and imprison their bodies.

Riot police, wearing black kevlar, hard black plastic helmets, elbow, knee, ankle and foot protection, carrying shields, batons, tear gas, rubber bullet firearms, zipties, face shields, looking like some Darth Vader storm troopers, line streets and step forward in sync with one another.

And the cell phones, the cameras, the tv crews, the reporters and commentators, the spectacle of it, the language experts deciphering a dead language with analysis of a foreign culture with species indecipherable to each other.

It is Pentecost.

We are meant to be able to speak one another’s language.

Maybe we are. The language of rage and violence. I kill you. I burn down your buildings. Fluent translations.

Let’s not talk about god. That’s too easy and irrelevant. God is something we know nothing about. So stop talking trash about what you don’t know.
10) Jesus says:
     “I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes.” 
(11) Jesus says:
     (1) “This heaven will pass away, and the (heaven) above it will pass away.
     (2) And the dead are not alive, and the living will not die. 
     (3) In the days when you consumed what was dead, you made it alive. When you are in the light, what will you do?     
     (4) On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?”
(— In “The Gospel of Thomas: Jesus Said What?” in the July/August 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review)
Outside, wind swirls through trees swaying new green at edges of branches, white clouds against blue sky with bright sunlight. Birds chirp and sing, a riot of new growth during a time of uncertain outcomes.

Don’t talk of the Holy Spirit or a small band of men two thousand years ago. Rather, let's talk with each other.

No God is going to descend to turn us all around.

We're here alone.

Here alone.

(A phrase that points out the empty present absence that captures the uncomprehending vacant gaze that looks out at the world through veils of confused unknowing.)

Here, Alone!

(A different phrase that implores The Alone (די אַליין, di aleyn) to be for us that which Alone is -- Here! A clear mind of don't-know.)

We are not here. And if not, neither is The Alone Here. There's a reciprocity of co-equality in this equation: If we are here, the Alone is Here.

But we are not here. We murder those we do not care for. We battle those whose care cannot find the sanity of reciprocal care.

Then, everything is up for grabs. Then, what is not real bursts onto our landscape with rage, retaliation, regret, and repugnant revenge.

Don't talk to me of some liturgical Pentecost with rhetorical Holy Spirit.

I have disappeared into the sudden stillness of windless desolation wandering charnel ground.

27. It is as though we had buried Someone we thought dead, and now hear him calling in the night: Help me! Heaving and panting, he raises the gravestone of our soul and body higher and still higher, breathing more freely at every moment.  
28. Every word, every deed, every thought is the heavy gravestone he is forever trying to lift. And my own body and all the visible world, all heaven and earth, are the gravestone which God is struggling to heave upward. 
(--from, THE SAVIOURS OF GODSpiritual Exercises, by Nikos Kazantzakis, Translated by Kimon Friar) 
There is no easy religious piety remaining.

The streets are becoming our via dolorosa. Tear gas and inadequate rhetoric from public officials are the tattered shredded pages of Torah, Gospel, Dhammapada, and Koran. Excited anguish and polymorphous grief are contemporary demonstrations, the prostrations, bowing, sitting shiva, and bardos of our current impromptu ceremonies.

No one knows what to do.

No one recites the saving words.

No one knows what to do with the bodies of our deadening prejudices.


A quiet murmur.

A child's whisper.

Is heard.

Veni Creator Spiritus! Veni Creator Spiritus! Veni Creator Spiritus!

וועני באשעפער ספּיריטוס!
ونی خالق اسپیروس!

Come, Breath of Original, Imaginative, Visionary Presence -- Find us Here with One No-Other, One Another!

Come, let us leave this place where we have erected and cultivated desolate vacuity! Let us arrive at this same place with feet standing in conscious manifestation of what is at root here.

Come, let us be what we have been from the ground of our being -- life growing with one another here.

Here, Alone, as One-Another, becoming what is to be, Shalom, Shanti, Salam, Pax!

שלום.    سلام.    शांति

For years meetingbrook has meditated on its early motto:
Here is One- 
              Another Itself
It is time.