Saturday, August 29, 2020

about which, at friday evening conversation, we spoke


The earth said
remember me.
The earth said
don’t let go,

said it one day
when I was
listening, I

heard it, I felt it
like temperature,
all said in a
whisper—build to-

morrow, make right be-
fall, you are not
free, other scenes
are not taking

place, time is not filled,
time is not late, there is
a thing the emptiness
needs as you need

emptiness, it
shrinks from light again &
again, although all things
are present, a

fact a day a
bird that warps the
arithmetic of per-
fection with its

arc, passing again &
again in the evening
air, in the pre-
vailing wind, making no

mistake—yr in-
difference is yr
principal beauty
the mind says all the

time—I hear it—I
hear it every-
where. The earth
said remember

me. I am the
earth it said. Re-
member me.

(—from, Poetry, January 2020)

troweling words

Comings and goings. Surrounding what we think of as home. A former president and his wife, hammer in hand, the measured activity of building houses. The poet, archeologist of soul’s home-ground, troweling words from hidden origination, revealing artifact and symbology.

What we call ‘ourselves’ is home.

We dig.

 For me, one of the most important messages from Gebser is, that the arational structure of consciousness, which in his opinion has been in the process of “constellating” itself since the turn of the century, does indeed depend for its full emergence on each individual person. We all have to do  the work of self-transcendence which, as Gebser freely admits, is the most difficult of all human tasks.  He said:

All work, the genuine work which we must achieve, is that which is most difficult and painful: the work on ourselves. If we do not freely take upon ourselves this “acceptance” of the pain and torment, they will be visited upon us in otherwise individual and universal collapse.” (Kulturphilosophie als Methode und Wagnis, p. 409)

 (—from piece about The Ever Present Origin by Jean Gebser, in spirituality, consciousness, and me)

A friend’s brother has entered Sussman House, an end of life hospice facility. Some would say he is going home.

Where is home?

A second question is necessary:

Where are you?

Werde du selbst!

Friday, August 28, 2020

quiet gaze of reality looking in on itself

We don't know God. We can't. God is unknowable. 

But we can pray. Even though awareness of what prayer is or what prayer does remains shrouded in a magical or mythical mind considering how to made things appear or disappear, how to please or assuage that in whose direction prayers are dispensed.

Why do we pray? We might think that if we do the Buddha, or God, or the deity will look kindly upon us, bestow blessings, protect us. We might believe that if we don’t, the deity won’t like us, might even punish us. But the purpose of prayer is not to win the approval or avert the wrath of an exterior God.

To the extent that we understand Buddha, God, the deity, to be an expression of ultimate reality, to that extent we receive blessings when we pray. To the extent that we have faith in the boundless qualities of the deity’s love and compassion, to that extent we receive the blessings of those qualities.

Sometimes we project human characteristics onto things that aren’t human. For example, if we sentimentally think, “My dog is meditating with me,” we’re only attributing that behavior to the dog; we’re imagining what it’s doing. When we anthropomorphize God, we project our own faults and limitations, imagining they’re God’s as well. This is why many people believe that God either likes or dislikes them depending on their behavior. “I won’t be able to have this or that because God doesn’t like me—I forgot to pray.” Or worse, “If God doesn’t like me, I’ll end up in hell.”

If God feels happy or sad because we do or do not offer prayer, then God is not flawless, not an embodiment of perfect compassion and love. Any manifestation of the absolute truth, by its very nature, has neither attachment to our prayers nor aversion to our lack of them. Such attributes are projections of our own mind.

To understand how prayer works, consider the sun, which shines everywhere without hesitation or hindrance. Like God or Buddha, it continuously radiates all its power, warmth, and light without differentiation. When the earth turns, it appears to us that the sun no longer shines. But that has nothing to do with the sun; it’s due to our own position on the shadow side of the earth. If we inhabit a deep, dark mine shaft, it’s not the sun’s fault that we feel cold. Or if we live on the earth’s surface but keep our eyes closed, it’s not the sun’s fault that we don’t see light. The sun’s blessings are all-pervasive, whether we are open to them or not. Through prayer, we come out of the mine shaft, open our eyes, become receptive to enlightened presence, the omnipotent love and compassion that exist for all beings.  

(--from, Prayer: Chagdud Tulku RinpocheA Tibetan master explains that using deities in prayer is a method intended to eliminate duality. By Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, Tricycle, Spring 2000)


Earth is the galaxy, the universe, underfoot.

We humans are the earth, galaxy, and universe in the shoes feet ankles legs hips sternum shoulders eyes nose mouth and ears -- hats on heads and quiet gaze of reality looking in on itself.

Which is what prayer is -- quiet gaze of reality looking in on itself.

And seeing nothing there, breathes in and out that nothing, thanking God for what is passing through, even as we look at/as this.

Love, as it is, our prayer.

light enough to pass for breath


                           (by Carolyn Forché) 

A peacock on an olive branch looks beyond
the grove to the road, beyond the road to the sea,
blank-lit, where a sailboat anchors to a cove.
As it is morning, below deck a man is pouring water into a cup,
listening to the radio-talk of the ships: barges dead
in the calms awaiting port call, pleasure boats whose lights
hours ago went out, fishermen setting their nets for mullet,
as summer tavernas hang octopus to dry on their lines,
whisper smoke into wood ovens, sweep the terraces
clear of night, putting the music out with morning
light, and for the breath of an hour it is possible
to consider the waters of this sea wine-dark, to remember
that there was no word for blue among the ancients,
but there was the whirring sound before the oars
of the great triremes sang out of the seam of world,
through pine-sieved winds silvered by salt flats until
they were light enough to pass for breath from the heavens,
troubled enough to fell ships and darken thought — 
then as now the clouds pass, roosters sleep in their huts,
the sea flattens under glass air, but there is nothing to hold us there:
not the quiet of marble nor the luff of sail, fields of thyme,
a vineyard at harvest, and the sea filled with the bones of those
in flight from wars east and south, our wars, their remains
scavenged on the seafloor and in its caves, belongings now
a flotsam washed to the rocks. Stand here and look
into the distant haze, there where the holy mountain
with its thousand monks wraps itself in shawls of rain,
then look to the west, where the rubber boats tipped
into the tough waves. Rest your eyes there, remembering the words
of Anacreon, himself a refugee of war, who appears
in the writings of Herodotus:
I love and do not love, I am mad and I am not mad.
Like you he thought himself not better,
nor worse than anyone else.
(Hear Carolyn Forché read her poem at Source: Poetry, October 2016)

Thursday, August 27, 2020

what we came to see

small tea candle flame

lights hillside midnight visit

passing felled branches

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

the luminous interval

Surely some celestial event off in distant part of galaxy. A bright light suddenly expansive, then gone. Standing by road in pre-midnight darkness, looking skyward north by northeast, it shone then disappeared. No satellite, no plane, nothing resembling something I’d seen before. An exploding star? Perhaps a million light-years away come to where my glance happened by accident.


WE COME from a dark abyss, we end in a dark abyss, and we call the luminous interval life. As soon as we are born the return begins, at once the setting forth and the coming back; we die in every moment. Because of this many have cried out: The goal of life is death! But as soon as we are born we begin the struggle to create, to compose, to turn matter into life; we are born in every moment. Because of this many have cried out: The goal of ephemeral life is immortality! In the temporary living organism these two streams collide: (a) the ascent toward composition, toward life, toward immortality; (b) the descent toward decomposition, toward matter, toward death. Both streams well up from the depths of primordial essence. Life startles us at first; it seems somewhat beyond the law, somewhat contrary to nature, somewhat like a transitory counteraction to the dark eternal fountains; but deeper down we feel that Life is itself without beginning, an indestructible force of the Universe. Otherwise, from where did that superhuman strength come which hurls us from the unborn to the born and gives us - plants, animals, men - courage for the struggle? But both opposing forces are holy. It is our duty, therefore, to grasp that vision which can embrace and harmonize these two enormous, timeless, and indestructible forces, and with this vision to modulate our thinking and our action.

 (—from, THE SAVIOURS OF GOD, Spiritual Exercises by Nikos Kazantzakis Translated by Kimon Friar)

To grasp that vision, and harmonize.

Of a night in August. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

as earth receives


                                                             (a haiku coming to rest alongside tree and brook)

after giving up 

heavy stones from brown rich depths

earth embraces Max

seeing with heart

                                       (haiku for max manjushri)

looking through window --

no one here but what once was 

as love passes through


Sunday, August 23, 2020

the morning max manjushri ran out of fear

The visitors waved goodbye, blew the horn twice, turned right just after the gate opened for their departure. Saskia‘s family were leaving. She held Max until they were gone.

Such a sweet boy. Easily spooked easily stimulated. During thunderstorms he would jump on top of desk, television tables, bathroom windows, anything to escape the terror evoked in him. When someone shot a gun in the distance he would run frantically. 

The yard was fenced by some caring women working with Saskia. She had put in for the last eight months enormous time and effort trying to make him less fearful and more at home. And she has been successful. He was at home. He was calmer, this sweet boy. The vet still had him on anti-anxiety drugs. He was being given natural remedies, rescue remedies, and he was in a loving environment.

Still, fireworks, a gun firing from other side of Hosmer pond in the hills, the clang of dump truck tail slamming, or nail gun pounding from a distance — all would trigger him spontaneously sending him on a mission up and out, to get up higher, to get out of himself, terror in his eyes, beyond consolation — until soothing words, Saskia’s untiring ministrations, and the cats’ bewildered edgy watchfulness — in his own time — he’d come through.

Before we could get to the gate at bottom of dooryard, some loud report from some unidentifiable direction, jarred him and set him, fast as the wind, down dooryard, deaf and racing God knows where. We stepping after, loudly calling, at that point helpless as he sprinted in his blind fear through the gate, into Barnestown road. The loud and sickening bang, thud, crash hit of the downhill passenger car stopped everything. 

We were there and he…he was breathing his last. Saskia knelt at his side, the final look, the final heartbeat, then stillness. The man from the car that hit him was distraught. Another couple stopped to see if they could help.

Just like that. After eight months of opening and closing the enclosed space built for him by loving hands, keeping the dooryard gate closed for eight months making the hermitage more of an enclosure than ever before, eight months of unceasing patience and energy by Saskia to train, and care, and going for hikes, and vets, and special foods, anxiety meds, socializing with humans and other dogs, even a rapprochement with his two cat-mates, a ten second opening and a sudden sharp sound sent him away.

We are deeply saddened.

He is in the chapel/zendo surrounded by candles, incense, flowers, and vigil-keepers.

This four year old rescue Border Collie had a rough go of it in three or four homes before coming to us. We added the name Manjushri to the name Max he came with. Mañjuśrī is a bodhisattva associated with prajñā in Mahāyāna Buddhism. His name means "Gentle Glory" in Sanskrit.

His wisdom came hard. It had to travel through great fears. 

We love him.

We are grieving.

wash out a word

In world of dream I visit with man with whom I worked in New York and Philadelphia.

In world of dream he remains kind and non-assuming, easy to moment easy to word.

The thinker was saying in conversation from podcast that form is the activity of formlessness. 

He said the universe is the activity of consciousness. (—Rupert Spira)

We believe that something occurred forty years ago but it is only a belief. There is no duration able to sit across table with you. 

No accumulation of fragments of time to place on mantel.

His name, John. I was looking for a cork to stick fishing hook into. Then sitting with his staff.

There are no forty years. They are a story we tell to try to explain emptiness of mind.

It doesn’t matter, the story. It remains oblique and memorized lines for proscenium.

Scenes are set behind curtain, narrative spills from formulation of mind into overt script.

The dead are dead. Someone with Nietzschean mustache is carved into sentence with John.

I am seldom where I am, unremarkable void surrounding surfeiting role, mere improvisation.

As nobody, slipping through what must have been conjured history, I have never left this room; dawn lighting appears.

Just photos and letters, extant characterization — these are wisps of morning fog foraging shape.

There is nothing here. Shapeless lines of plucked words calling costumed actors to mythic stage — gestures and turns.

Awareness a screen colored by images of moving faces telling passing stories imagining consequence.

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit 

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.” (Omar Khayyám)


We are this morning.

We arrive only to depart.

No night follows.

No night precedes.

Exeunt omnes —

Se iam advenit!