Saturday, August 01, 2020

harbor pipe

at dory thwart lines

two pennies pushed under knots

for friend gone abaft 

respected and impressive

          (eighth origin haiku)

morning deer wanders

between green fence and green yurt

august first zazen

Friday, July 31, 2020

lone individuals in acts of prayerful supplication

My footprint is smaller than before. A walk down dooryard to wood gate with hiking stick seems like an outing. Or stepping into fenced enclosure where bookshed sits quietly, then across wood walkway to chapel-zendo which sits even quieter. I light candle inside. Sit a brief while, breathing. Chant morning anthem about rising sun to setting, prayer like incense rising up and lovingkindness descending upon all.

No deer today, unlike last two days. But I've not been here long yet. Canopy of green overhangs height of trees as birdsong is midday refrain from unseen monastic stalls. Sun bows behind clouds beyond my observation from screened porch. Dog barks from snowbowl.

 It is Friday. Its been five months since we've been to Maine state prison to have conversations with inmates. (A university course might begin there in early September). Same with Quarry Hill assisted living for poetry — no gatherings. So too Sussman Hospice House to sit with the dying. As well no Pen Bay Medical Center Hospital to visit with those occupying the rooms there.

I'm getting used to the little I do. I'm content with the nowhere I go. I hear cars go up and down to and from Hope. Except for food and medcine trips to town, or the infrequent task elsewhere, I stay here. The rare walk in Rockport cemetary, I stay on this side of Ragged Mountain. I walk parking lot and playing field of town recreation area as frequent path below and along wellborn trails on the mountain.

I am happy being no-one going nowhere.

It is the feast of Ignatius of Loyola.

I look up Woodstock Library at Georgetown University and view The Beauty of Solitude:
One of the works used in our most recent exhibition, Demons, Death and the Damned: The Underworld of Woodstock Library, is a beautiful exploration of the hermetic life of the early saints, titled Sylvae Sacrae. The collection of engravings, originally published in 1594 by the Flemish printmaker Marten de Vos, depicts the early ascetic saints of the church each in his hermitage. For our exhibition we chose to showcase a print in which a hermit is shown contemplating skeletal remains, however, most are not nearly so morbid, but are beautifully rendered scenes of lone individuals in acts of prayerful supplication, pious repose, or zealous action. 
These days you don't have to travel anywhere to go far for research and thought. And poetry. And politics.

Watched some of the talks at John Lewis' funeral on C-Span. The loveliness of formal public speech! 

The dignity and beauty of such an event deepens the sorrow of the loss of dignity and loveliness in our current public and political discourse and the aberrations therein.

Death has a way of quieting unsavory rancor and awakening taste for judicious and nurishing words.

Lord knows we are crawling through a desert of discourteous utterance these days.

Aaron Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man rivets.

As it must.

So we pray.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

through interstellar fields

James Lawson began his remarks at the funeral for The Honorable John Lewis today with this poem by Cheslaw Milosz:



When I die, I will see the lining of the world.

The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.

The true meaning, ready to be decoded.

What never added up will add Up,

What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

– And if there is no lining to the world?

If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,

But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day

Make no sense following each other?

And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?

– Even if that is so, there will remain

A word wakened by lips that perish,

A tireless messenger who runs and runs

Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,

And calls out, protests, screams.


                                               (poem by Czeslaw Milosz1911-2004)

 That’s the way to send off such a good, kind, man.

windless in late july

                (a haiku for ocean’s keep)

Five schooners shrink-wrapped,

Harbor ghost mausoleum — 

Moored, masked, unmoving

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

who is to come

Where is the not yet?

Maybe we’re not the not yet.

But, what is the not yet there? Maybe it’s not a question, rather: what is [is] the not yet there.

Maybe that which we call God is the not yet there.

Martha said to Jesus: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God: he who is to come into the world. 
(Antiphon to Canticle of Zechariah, Morning Prayer, Feast of Martha) 
Are Martha’s words an unveiling of part of the continuous mystery of humanity’s continual search for the realization of God in human history?

Was Jesus the breakthrough manifestation of  “who is to come” into the evolving consciousness of humankind, he appearing at a particular point in history in a particular geographical location during a particular political strife circumscribed by a particular ethnic and religious tradition?

This “who is to come” some refer to as God? 

Is there something about Jesus that emanated a recognizable longing and necessity resonant with the evolutionary urging of humanity on planet earth?

Is Martha’s statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God: he who is to come into the world.” — a descriptive proleptic that resonates even unto now of the not yet there?

If God is not yet there, or not yet here, what are we to think of that?

We think that the “not yet” will always be the “not yet” and both here and there.

That God is perennially in the future which is the basis for the now.

You cannot grasp the now. You can only live through it. 

And if God’s name is unspeakable, perhaps it is because the future is not yet here. And what can possibly be said about ...

What is

Not yet


I sit on screened porch of meditation cabin. Dog lays on circle rug in front of lighted candle in front of seated Buddha below wood cross with rounded circles radiating out and up from center.

I am looking through what is looking through this place.

on this seeded planet

Poetry filled Tuesday Evening Conversation.

We linger over the final poem we read:



              by Anna Belle Kaufman


When my mother died, 

one of her honey cakes remained in the freezer.

I couldn’t bear to see it vanish,

so it waited, pardoned,

in its ice cave behind the metal trays

for two more years.


On my forty-first birthday

I chipped it out,

a rectangular resurrection,

hefted the dead weight in my palm.


Before it thawed,

I sawed, with serrated knife,

the thinnest of slices —

Jewish Eucharist.


The amber squares

with their translucent panes of walnuts

tasted — even toasted — of freezer,

of frost,

a raisined delicacy delivered up

from a deli in the underworld.


I yearned to recall life, not death —

the still body in her pink nightgown on the bed,

how I lay in the shallow cradle of the scattered sheets

after they took it away,

inhaling her scent one last time.


I close my eyes, savor a wafer of

sacred cake on my tongue and

try to taste my mother, to discern

the message she baked in these loaves

when she was too ill to eat them:


I love you.

It will end.

Leave something of sweetness

and substance

in the mouth of the world.

                   (Poem by Anna Belle Kaufman in Brain Pickings)

Our 91 yr old friend zooming from NY is encouraged by us to contemplate baking some Viennese treats for her daughter’s family and placing them in freezer wrapped in this poem so as to “leave something of sweetness” along with the dharma gifts scattered throughout the years along her steps on this seeded planet.

The taste of it!

swaying still

                (a haiku loosening grip)

July dying dawns —

He stares at bamboo slats, fan

Turning in hallway

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

no listening in hearing, the paralysis of government

             (a groaning haiku)

Tried to listen to

House hearing — nausea ensues —

Hard to nail jello

faith comes by hearing

(a haiku for śruti)

There is no way we

Right the wrong that harms us all —

Perceive world sound — OM (ॐ)

Monday, July 27, 2020

until you free yourself

 Sitting still.

Cut off what you’re holding on to: the attachment to your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, the residue of your discriminating, egocentric consciousness. As Yasutani Roshi said, “Most people place a high value on abstract thought, but Buddhism has clearly demonstrated that discriminative thinking lies at the root of delusion.”

Thoughts—and feelings triggered by thoughts—are mutable and impermanent, and yet because we humans incorrectly identify our being with our thinking, we construct a false notion of ourselves out of ideas and memories that have no actual substance. No wonder the ego is called “the false self.” The false self—the thinking mind—is continuously talking to itself, disturbing itself, even lying to itself. Reimagining the past or fantasizing about the future. Setting up expectations that aren’t met, then casting judgment and blame. Struggling every step of the way to stop struggling. Naturally, it doesn’t work.

This realization is a critical departure from the methods of modern psychology or self-help. Buddhism in general, and Zen in particular, is not concerned with the content of thoughts or feelings, except to recognize that they are the cause of confusion, emotional paralysis, and pain. In and of themselves, thoughts are no big deal, except when we make a big deal out of them, creating a dualistic separation from reality, which is a wordy way to say “a problem.”

“Emotionally we have many problems, but these problems are not actual problems; they are something created; they are problems pointed out by our self-centered ideas or views,” Suzuki Roshi said.

Easy for a Zen master to say, but hard to believe until you see it for yourself. Such is the kindness of Bodhidharma in this koan. Out of boundless compassion, he doesn’t give you what you ask for, but he tells you how to find it yourself. Until you free yourself, you won’t realize that there is no self to free. You are imprisoned by nothing and no one but your own thoughts, which self-liberate the moment you stop thinking about them.

 (—from How to Look at a Wall, by 


            (as rain falls)

Turning around, you

Sense surrounding everything,

Love — no name, no form

Sunday, July 26, 2020

sunday evening practice reading

First, its beginning:
Book I

Lead me from the unreal to the real! 
Lead me from darkness to light! 
Lead me from death to immortality!

Then, its end:

Hence this Self is the goal of all creatures. As long as man makes offerings and sacrifices, he pleases the gods; as long as he studies the Wedas, he pleases the wise; as long as he offers libations and desires chil- dren, he pleases the fathers; as long as he gives food and shelter, he pleases mankind; as long as he gives fodder and water the beasts are pleased; if birds and beasts down to the ants are fed in his house, they are pleased. But everybody wishes good to the man who has this knowledge; everybody is good to the man who is good to him.
In the beginning there was the Self, one and sole. He thought: 'Let me have a wife that I may have chil- dren; let me have wealth that I may do something in the world,' Thus far desire can go; even if man wants more, he cannot get it.
A lonely man thinks of a wife and children, of wealth and work; and so long as he does not get any of these, he thinks he is incomplete. Yet he is already complete; his mind is himself; speech his wife; life his offspring; eyes are his human wealth, for through eyes he gets it; ears his divine wealth, for through ears he gets it; body his work, for through body he works. This is the fivefold sacrifice; it applies to man, animal, every- thing. Who knows this, gets everything.
(Ibid, p.124)
There seems, in all Origin myths, a continual oscillation between wholeness and fragmentation. A stepping away from true Self, and the sacrifices needed to drop away what is not true Self.

Hence, our lives.