Wednesday, January 26, 2022

final teaching of buddha


Take refuge on your own island of self.

where no idea but in practice itself

 Some monks and nuns chant

sounds across space, some let sound

no concept no thought

pervading the rising of 

itself as itself through sound

life kept calling

In response to the story: 

He Was in Witness Protection in Maine. But His Harlem Life Kept Calling,    (In Lewiston, Maine, a man who called himself Abraham helped his neighbors with the trash and rode dirt bikes with his friend. His old life in New York City got him killed.)   
By Ali Watkins, Jan. 25, 2022, NYTimes

I offered: 

Ama Nesciri
Camden Maine, Jan. 25

When Two Minus One Equals Nothing Left (a Waka for Abraham) 

Dirt bike through woods trail 

heroin packets through old 

Harlem streets -- hard choice -- 

lure of money flashing lights 

obviate quiet Maine nights


Then Tuesday became Wednesday.

Can you hear it? 

across the universe, d'ou parlez-vous

 Monastery bells

Clang into night air their call —

If you pray, do now

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

two religions in two words

 Practice compassion —

That’s what Buddhism is, and 


the real enemy in nh’ât hanh’s play cannot abide bodhisattva’s love

 From her paper about a play by Thich Nh’ât Hanh by Olivia Rawlings-Way in 2004:

At 12.30 a.m. on July 5, 1967, in the village of Binh Phuoc, Gia Dinh Province, a group of strangers abducted five young men, brought them to the bank of the Saigon River, and shot them. All five were volunteer workers in the School of Youth for Social Service, [the SYSS] a non-violent organisation that sought only to heal the wounds of war and reconstruct the villages. Their names were Tuan, Tho, Hy, Lanh, and Dinh. Tuan was a Buddhist novice.

Four died immediately. The fifth, Dinh, survived, but his clothes were soaked in blood and he lost consciousness. The strangers thought all five were dead, so they left.

Silence on the river. There are many stars in the sky, but no moon. A small sampan comes gently to the shore. Mai appears. The sampan is large enough to take the four, only four, because the fifth, Dinh, is still alive, and must stay behind. (9)4

This is where the play begins, just after the murders have taken place. Upon their raft, the five characters journey from the finite to the infinite, traversing the primordial waters of creation towards re- creation. Thus, the play unfolds as a metaphysical exploration of life beyond death; uniting the realm of the living with the realm of the dead, and offering assurance of the illusion of separation.

. . .

From the beginning of the play there is a sense of reconciliation and resolution in the dialogue. Upon the small boat that is to carry these spirits to ‘the other shore,’ the characters confront their deaths with serenity and acceptance. They laugh and banter, listen and remember, lucidly recalling the moment of their horrific deaths without sorrow or attachment and, most strikingly, with forgiveness. We are compelled to question how the murdered are able to forgive their murderers.

A principle teaching of Nh ́ât Hanh’s Engaged Buddhism, which is a pervasive theme in his poetry and this play, is the practice of ‘identifying the real enemy.’ Nh ́ât Chi Mai, one of the five characters in the play, was a young Buddhist nun who worked with the SYSS. In 1967, Sister Mai immolated herself for peace. She is also depicted as a bodhisattva. Throughout the play, Nh ́ât Hanh uses Mai’s voice as his own. She relates the notion of the ‘real enemy’:

Those who are shooting at this very moment do not know who they are fighting. All are victims...

Men kill because, on the one hand, they do not know their real enemy, and on the other, they are pushed into a position where they must kill…

So, men kill unjustly and in turn are killed unjustly, and it is their own countrymen who kill them...

Who is really killing us? It is fear, hatred, prejudice. (30-2)

The practice of ‘identifying the real enemy’ reflects the Engaged Buddhist emphasis on personal responsibility and inner transformation and it is grounded in the Buddhist belief in the non- duality of self and other. It is the false separation of self and other which causes suffering; ultimately, the true enemy is to be found in this fundamental delusion. Nh ́ât Hanh proposes that rather than objectifying our fear, hatred and prejudice onto the ‘other,’ we must transform the roots of violence within the self through spiritual practice. Our own inner enemies of fear, hatred and prejudice can be transformed and the non-duality of self and other can be realised. The Dalai Lama has called this ‘internal disarmament.’5 Nh ́ât Hanh’s essential teaching is that the only way to create peace is to ‘be peace.’ He further proposes that the realisation of the interdependence of self and other can induce the complete empathic identification with the perpetrator or the oppressor which gives rise to understanding and non-judgment. This practice of non-dual identification reveals that the perpetrators of suffering are in as much pain as their victims as they suffer from ignorance of their true selves and the true nature of reality. Such understanding gives rise to compassion and forgiveness.

(—from, ‘The Path of Return Continues the Journey’ – Engaged Buddhism and the Prajñāpāramitā Heart Sūtra in the Popular Theatre of Thích Nh ́ât Hanh! By Olivia Rawlings-Way, conference paper, January 2004)

 The author concludes her paper with the following:

Nh ́ât Hanh has spoken of his initial response to the deaths:

I was in Paris when I heard about the assassination of four students of the School of Youth for Social Services, a school I had helped start. I cried. A friend said, ‘Thây, you should not cry. You are a general leading an army of nonviolent soldiers. It is natural that you suffer casualties.’ I said, ‘No, I am not a general. I am just a human being. It is I who summoned them for service, and now they have lost their lives. I need to cry.’21

The idea that artistic creation can function as religious praxis is prevalent in many schools of Buddhism. To repeat Mai’s comment: ‘Every artist is capable, through his art, of reaching the supreme objective of life itself.’ (33) This line can be read as an instance of authorial intrusion. With regard to Nh ́ât Hanh, his art is the art of narrative creation inspired by spiritual practice, and the supreme objective is love. For the author, the play embodies the transformation of individual suffering into an offering of forgiveness, reconciliation, hope and compassion. Thus, I would suggest that the play is as much a personal spiritual rite and a profession of faith and love, as it is an expression of grief. Understood in this context, the play becomes an act of communion with the dead. Ultimately, it reads as a celebration of life, an act of worship; homage to those who died, a poetic eulogy of praise.


 21 Nh ́ât Hanh: Call Me By My True Names, op cit, 25.


                     ‘The Path of Return Continues the Journey’

Initially, The Path of Return Continues the Journey appears to be a simplistic poetic drama, a quiet meditation upon life and death. However, penetration and analysis reveal an elucidation of the teachings of Engaged Buddhism and the metaphysics and dialectic of the Prajñāpāramitā teachings, profound in its theological insight and authentic in its dramatic expression. The skill of the bodhisattva, the upāya, is the ability to convey the teachings in ways that are suitable and understandable to whoever is being addressed. Thích Nh ́ât Hanh’s ability to translate the complexities of Buddhist philosophy through metaphoric and symbolic mediums deems him the exemplar of a bodhisattva, or indeed, a ‘Buddha of Suburbia.’ 


Read with gratitude! 

Monday, January 24, 2022

sad or plain crazy

 Cranky impatient

Frigid cold season catches

up with me, I sulk

let us row slowly, and very, very quietly

For some, a very few I suspect, that which separates is that which joins. 

“Love enables us to see things which those who are without love cannot see. Who will be gone and who will stay? Where do we come from and where shall we go? Are the other shore and this shore one or two? Is there a river that separates the two sides, a river which no boat can cross? Is such an absurdly complete separation possible? Please come over to my boat. I will show you that there is a river, but there is no separation. Do not hesitate: I will row the boat myself. You can join me in rowing, too, but let us row slowly, and very, very quietly.”

-- Thich Nhat Hanh, 
from the introduction to his play, 
“The Path of Return Continues the Journey"  

Either oar will move the boat. But it takes two oars to set the passage straight. 

It is the passage through the water that makes the river whole with both shores.

one being written

There’s something we’ve got 

to come to terms with — namely,

we’re not imposters

it only feels that way

We’re actors in a play

a story being written by us

one step — one word

one surrendering 


at a time

rites, chants, and wonder

 Body on bier

Still — looks a lot like Thây — monks

vigil — wait and see

something’s going on here

 Let the dead bury

the dead. For those who see now —


Sunday, January 23, 2022

just saying

 It doesn’t matter

Who wins the football games, they

End, then all go home

instead of

We come to believe the stories thrown at us over and over.

The film Under Suspicion (2000) is a study in such narrative absorption. It startles. After all, we are stories being told. Who shapes and determines the narrative?

So too, the difficulty with those controlling the narrative of our religious ethos and understanding.

 Many elements of the Bible seem lifeless and unbelievable because they have been regarded as historical facts instead of metaphorical representations of spiritual realities. 
(Eugene Kennedy, in Introduction to Joseph Campbell's Tat Tvam Asi: Transforming Religious Metaphor

Metaphors confuse us.  

We’re uncertain about the story told about our lives. About life itself.

It is time to look at what story we are living.



A time.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

it’s what the teacher taught

 It’s an idea 

that makes one pause — no birth, no

death, just continue

Hard to imagine what that

means, how to live with such thought

in lee of winter mountain

 sun disappears, shade

lays on dooryard ice brown salt

sand newly scattered

what are we, becoming

 There is, they say, a mental health crisis in the United States, one that is related to frustration and fear about democracy and freedom in the country.

You can hear it in the voices telling of their anger, mistrust, and lack of comprehension at the divisive points of view coupled with rancor, cynicism, and personal vindictive hostility toward those holding views different from each other.

There's a fatalism in the air.

Friday Evening Conversation swirled around the fact of change. Buddhists call it anicca, impermanence.

Impermanence, also known as the philosophical problem of change, is a philosophical concept addressed in a variety of religions and philosophies. In Eastern philosophy it is notable for its role in the Buddhist three marks of existence. It is also an element of Hinduism. In Western philosophy it is most famously known through its first appearance in Greek philosophy in the writings of Heraclitus and in his doctrine of panta rhei (everything flows). In Western philosophy the concept is also referred to as becoming.  (-wikipedia)

 Things change. We are ambivalent about that. 

Things don't always, or even most often, change easily. 

Change is our common experience, but our minds and emotions hesitate and balk.

There's no pushing back an incoming tide.

Anicca is intimately associated with the doctrine of anatta, according to which things have no essence, permanent self, or unchanging soul.[13][14] The Buddha taught that because no physical or mental object is permanent, desires for or attachments to either causes suffering (dukkha). Understanding Anicca and Anatta are steps in the Buddhist's spiritual progress toward enlightenment.[15][7][16]

Everything, whether physical or mental, is a formation (Saṅkhāra), has a dependent origination and is impermanent. It arises, changes and disappears.[17][18] According to Buddhism, everything in human life, all objects, as well as all beings whether in heavenly or hellish or earthly realms in Buddhist cosmology, is always changing, inconstant, undergoes rebirth and redeath (Samsara).[11][12] This impermanence is a source of dukkha. This is in contrast to nirvana, the reality that is nicca, or knows no change, decay or death.[1]

Rupert Gethin on Four Noble Truths says:[19]

As long as there is attachment to things that are 

unstable, unreliable, changing and impermanent,

there will be suffering –

when they change, when they cease to be

what we want them to be.


If craving is the cause of suffering, then the cessation

of suffering will surely follow from 'the complete

fading away and ceasing of that very craving':

its abandoning, relinquishing, releasing, letting go.


We've been attached to the ways thing were. 

We grow attached to the way things are. 

But now is always becoming not-now. 

We have no idea where things are until, for a fleeting instant, they flash present to our grasp and then flit away from our comprehension.

Death certainly does that.

Change does that.

What, therefore, is "this"?

"This" is what is becoming -- wherein, throughout, and within which -- we are becoming.

What are we, becoming?

yes, thank you

 about death

I have nothing to add —

three syllables short

Friday, January 21, 2022

cảm ơn, dear thây

 Learning of Thich Nhat Hanh's death today.

We are blest to have had him in out midst and time.

Gassho! And cảm ơn (thank you)!

….  …   …

From Plum Village: 

Thich Nhat Hanh, 11.10.1926 -- 22.01.2022

This morning, the 22 of January 2022 Thay, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, has passed away peacefully at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, at the age of 95

to be what we see through to sight-itself.

I dust off the book. In flannel pajamas with wool sportjacket lined with thinsulate, buttoned to neck, wool docker Sterkowski cap on head, cold fingers across from stubborn wood stove, coffee cup empty on bookcase near cat tower, dog at feet, cars going by, I open Mattheissen.

Soon the child's clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions, and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers.

(-Peter Matthiessen (1998). “Nine-Headed Dragon River: Zen Journals 1969-1982”, p.8, Shambhala Publications) 

If I read further, will I come to a passage saying that we are not meant to be seekers, but seers, someone not looking for something, rather, someone seeing through what is there?

These days, what is there feels wobbly and out of focus. Maybe a bit hopeless.

A friend sends me article about Aquinas. In it:

Hope is an act of will. One chooses to be hopeful. Hope insists that though the task is difficult, even daunting, change remains possible. It therefore sustains all who take up the work that must be done.

If this act of will seems beyond your ability right now, consider this. Aquinas said that “we hope chiefly in our friends.” It is easier to be hopeful when others love us, support us, and share our hopes. This is why, he says, Christians need a community of fellow believers.

For Americans faced with the current democratic crisis, community can include anybody who is likewise ready to embrace the hope that American democracy can endure. That community, as well, is better able to overcome the inclination to despair, and more able to achieve the desired outcome.

Understood the way Aquinas suggests, hope emerges as a distinctively democratic virtue. Without willful, realistic hope, and without a coalition of hopeful people working together, Jim Crow does not end, the Berlin Wall does not fall and marriage for gay couples remains impossible. 

That history, as well, ought to inspire us to find the hope we need right now.

(--What 13th-century Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas can teach us about hope in times of despair, January 19, 2022 8.46am EST Christopher Beem) 

Hope is such a difficult notion -- as is love. 

Let me clarify.

"As is" love means that things as they are must be within the embrace of our love. Yes, that means the idiocy, bigotry, cruelty, and duplicity we find in front of us.

Only then, within that circumspection of love, can we intimately insinuate our presence as beings willing to see through what is there to that which needs to be there.

This seeing, done by seers, goes beyond criticism, opposition, and confrontation. Rather, call it loving hope, individuals embody and personify what is most desired -- fairness, equality, respect, dignity, inclusion, and recognition of each and all as oneself.

Yes, this process takes time and work. 

And, yes, it is easier to make other, opposition, righteous belief, and cynical commentary.

Aquinas saw that the essence of Reality is Good. He called this Sight the beatific vision.

Hope sees such a Reality and wants it to be what the world longs for and accomplishes. 

We are meant to be what we see through to Sight-Itself.

friday morning on the hard

 in dark cave without

nothing, within sparks faint light --

soft crackle, wood stove

there’s no now, only near-side of now

 Everyone dies, there’s

No denying it, come sit,

This near-side of now

downstairs to kitchen

 It is 2° degrees

It will soon be one, fingers 

smell of burnt firewood

Thursday, January 20, 2022

no one can know

The POT (party of trump) formerly called the Republican Party, is proving itself to be antithetical to some traditional values of the United States. 

Let's try that again.

The POT exemplifies the racism and elitism, the white power agenda to devalue black, brown, red, and yellow. 

That said, there's still room for deeper skepticism and doubt about the facade of politeness and collegiality, the dressing up of hate in the costume of smooth gentility and manners.

I used to think the way preachers would talk of depravity and sin was overblown rhetoric serving religion-based domination over the emotional lives of followers. It did.

Now it seems, the asking of donations and tithes belongs to political parties who use the flaws and faults of opposing politicians as collection plates for some new crusade tent at edge of town.

Our new preachers and pastors are politicians spouting drivel and desperate delusion to instill chaos yank money and fear from deceived flock.

The midlands, coastlands, and southlands belong to a red menace armed with righteousness packing handguns, bibles, and AR15s.

Surely some rough beast is slouching.

Surely the second civil conflagration is afoot.

Moral philosophy and ethics give way to excel spreadsheets and computer programming. Theology and the epic classics are shelved and Winning Personality and Popular Enhancing become the curriculum.

The Buddha told us: 

“Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of stress, disappointment, unhappiness and suffering: birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful; separation from the loved is stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.”


Bahiya was right to understand the immediacy of needing to awaken through the Dhamma. No one can know when sickness, aging and death will arise and this is why the Buddha gave these final instructions moments before he himself passed:                                     

“Impermanence and decay are relentless. Strive diligently for your own salvation.”  (-Ibid)

Maybe he's right.

Salvation is "preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss."

I suppose it's hard to lose what you've never had. To be delivered from where you've never been. To be healed within the place you cannot be touched. To be un-devastated in one's pristine wholeness.

Upstairs, one cat jumps from windowsill. Downstairs another cat on chair raises head to look around. On green mat, St Bernard/Border Collie doesn't move. 

Just because you experience loss, it doesn't mean anything was there then, nor gone now.

Do you want to know?

Have you ever seen the rain?

Wednesday, January 19, 2022


 Things learned and kept in mind.

I don’t learn of deaths in real time, but months later.

The dead, it seems to me, know no time. They are always just on the near-side of now, where there is no time.

I greet you, old friend.

My numbness at your disappearance into now is compounded by the obliviousness of my brothers and sisters toward their brothers and sisters.

In the end, I suspect, with waning of health and life, much drops away and equally as much doesn’t mean much any more.

A focused few remain meaningful.

I trust you, however and wherever and whether you are, are well within.

I recall fondly the years we spent out here.

The ambiguity and ambivalence of achievement and ambition.

The simplicity of friendship that does not hold on to anything outside itself.

haiku, in memorium

           (for David Austin, RIP 22oct2021, upon learning today)

Once he told me that

Friendship belonged to the young —

Ah, we were young once

bare charms, rhyme psalms, sound alarms

Hermits and poets

Are taking up arms —either

To pray or to pose —

Let us stand against the foe

Lift your limbs, roll sleeves, let’s go

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

do you, yes

 Now is the time for all good friends to come to the aides of their country.

My dear senators, are you friends of democracy, voting rights, and fairness of representation?

Don’t let political maniacal power-lust cloud your ability to do the right thing.

There, my ask.

Call it a prayer.

Or a suicide note.

Not really.

It’s a prayer.

To an unknown deity, a silent divinity, a not-yet humanity.

If I knew how to, I’d pray.

I do, 

I do, and

I do.

dissipating the mist

Old cow sends the rest of the story: 

Thank you for posting one of my all-time favorite Zen stories. Here’s a bit more- the best part!

Hung-yen/Hongren quickly saw how angry the monks would be that this illiterate kitchen hand was to become their master, so he personally rowed him across a river and took him to a hiding place in the mountains. He gave him the bowl and robe that signaled his succession as Sixth Zen Ancestor. Hui- neng hung the robe over a rock and  awaited developments.It didn’t take long, however, for the monks to find out where he was hiding. A monk named Ming pursued him and tried to take the robe, but he was unable to lift it off the rock. Frightened, he stammered: I..l.. l came for the teaching, not for  the robe..Master teach me.

Hui-neng said: Think neither good, nor evil. At this very moment what is the original face of Ming the monk?

         (—from Robert Aiken’s translation and commentary. Gateless Barrier Case 23)

Our Old Cow, at meetingbrook conversation one Friday in Maine State Prison, parried playfully with one of the residents this appellation amid smiles and laughter. Here’s the case:

Case 24, Blue Cliff Record

Iron Grindstone Liu went to Guishan.
Might as well gather together, touching the difficult. Playing her part, this experienced old woman does not play by the rules.
Shan said, “Old cow, you’ve come!”
Point—search the grass shadows with a probing pole. It’s hard to say who you meet when turning in that place. 
Grindstone said, “There’s going to be a great assembly at Mount Tai, will you go too?”
The arrow did not miss the target. In Tang Dynasty, beat a drum; in Korea, dance. The release was most rapid; coming to acceptance was the slowest.
Guishan lay down.
Strike—yes! Who turns thus to face Guishan, knows to distance herself, dissipating the mist, having other fine considerations.
Grindstone went out.
Celebration—yes! Meeting the pivot and acting.
Iron Grindstone Liu!
           (-Translation from the Chinese by Dosho Port and friends)

Just because she closes in to middle nineties in age, she is not hidden in mist, but looms clearly visible with poems and variable wisdom from her hollow in the Hudson Valley.



having none, call me yours

 What if

Imbedded in

Each particular

Growing thing

Or anything

Is God

How would

We know

This —

Tell me

Again, what

Is your


Monday, January 17, 2022

reconcile the diffidence

 Ice in dooryard drive

Fifty degrees swing from five 

below to forty-

five above — this climate change

(denying diffident dolts)

from the inside out

 Janis Ian ended her Berklee College keynote April 9, 2010 with this:

 There's a Zen parable that sums up my feelings about art. Years ago, a noted young painter went to a Zen master and requested training, hoping to leap from being a good artist to a great one, with all the wealth and notoriety that entailed.

Without a word, the master walked him to a nearby creek and handed him a fishing pole. The boy soon landed a fish, which the master removed from the hook and tucked into the folds of his robe.

He walked our young painter to a room on the grounds, placed the fish on a table, indicated a pile of paper, brushes, and ink, and said his first and only words: "Draw the fish".

The young artist watched as his master left, and then proceeded to paint a stunning picture of the fish – every drop of water shining, every scale in place. And when he was satisfied, he brought it to the master, who glanced at it, then ripped it in half. Dropping the pieces to the floor, he smiled, bowed, and said "Draw it again tomorrow." 


The next day the young painter arrived, drew the fish, brought it to the master, and watched as the same thing happened. For six months he drew the fish every day, and for six months the master threw away his drawings. 


The fish began to rot. The flesh fell from the bones. At times the stench was so bad that the young man painted with a handkerchief over his face to keep from gagging. He became demoralized, outraged at the futility of his effort. Yet he persisted, through the maggots, through the creeping flesh, though his own stomach rebelled and his eyes could barely stand to look any longer. Until one day, only bones remained. 


Exhausted by his efforts, confused by the \ silence of his master, the young painter began to cry. Tears fell from his eyes onto the paper, and he had to take several new sheets before he could begin. Wiping his eyes on a sleeve, he watched as a shaft of sunlight lit upon the skeleton that had so recently housed life. Through the water of his tears, the bones were magnified, bigger than real, an entity unto themselves. 


And at that moment, his relationship to the fish-that-had-been changed completely. Instead of painting in the hope of gaining fame, or fortune, he began to paint from his hopelessness, his fatigue, his confusion. He began to try and make sense of the chaos that had trapped him in a small room with only a carcass for company. He began to paint the fish from the inside out -- first the bone, then the muscle, and finally, the flesh. The fish came alive under his hands – and when he brought it to his master, the master smiled and said "Now, you are an artist. I can teach you no more."

I have always tried to draw the fish from the inside out, and to live my life accordingly. Yet no matter how hard I try, that story tells it more eloquently than I ever could.

 Her talk was such a marvel. 

when there is a power outage

You might read PHILO.  

θεός θεραπεία (theos therapeia) = god healing or divine service.

Philo, in first century, ascribed to Moses as a prophetic priest such 

“divine service by means of which he was to avert evil from the people and to attain good for them, and by means of which also he was to bring the thanksgivings of the people when they did well and their prayers and supplications when they were sinful. This quite obviously corresponds exactly to the propitiatory function of the prophet as described in Scripture, and to the second type of frenzy as described by Plato.

(—p19, vol 2, PHILO, Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, by Harry Austryn Woodson. 1948)

How do we think of such divine service today? 

Who heals in therapeutic service the hearts, minds, and souls of we the hurting, disorientated, and treacherous?

Maybe the power will be restored to Barnestown road soon. 

And I will look away, I’m sure, again.

all life is interrelated

Remember Christmas?

Remember Martin Luthor King Jr.?

Remember who and what you are? 

Now, let me suggest first that, if we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. . . . We must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone; no nation can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world. . . .

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. [1] 

[1] Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Christmas Sermon on Peace,” in The Trumpet of Conscience (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010), 70, 71. Sermon delivered in 1967

Recall the Christological source of all being.

Recall the good doctor's valiant moral leadership.

Recall the interrelated structure of reality.


We perish in a whirlwind of ignorance and obtuse isolated rigidity.  

Richard Rohr quotes Victoria Loorz as she writes:

The new story is emerging, and I cannot pretend to know all the layers. Yet one aspect that seems essential relates to the worldview of belonging—a way of being human that acts as if we belong to a community larger than our own family, race, class, and culture, and larger even than our own species. The apocalyptic unveiling happening in our world right now makes it difficult even for those who have been sheltered in privilege to look away from the reality, both tragic and beautiful, that we are all deeply interconnected. Humans, trees, oceans, deer, viruses, bees. God.

Many people, whether they go to church regularly or avoid it, feel closest to God while they are in nature. Even a simple gaze at a full moon can be a spiritual experience if you are mindful enough. And a glorious sunset can summon hallelujahs from deep in your soul. Humans are made to engage in life-affirming conversation with the whole, holy web of life. . . .

Mystical experience in nature—those moments when you sense your interconnection with all things—are more than just interesting encounters. They are invitations into relationship. Beyond caring for creation or stewarding Earth’s “resources,” it is entering into an actual relationship with particular places and beings of the living world that can provide an embodied, rooted foundation for transformation. The global shift necessary to actually survive the crises we’ve created depends on a deep inner change. [2]

[2] Adapted from Victoria Loorz, Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2021), 19–20, 21. 

Procedamus in Pace!

monday morning storm

blowing slanting smoosh 

smashing asplat front window 

Bald Mountain slant gust

ah, hot oatmeal blueberries

yogurt, walnut, cinnamom 


 Dalai Lama 


We can learn from the great achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. to recognize that non-violence is the best long-term approach to redressing injustice. If the twentieth century was a century of violence, let us make the twenty-first a century of dialogue.

4:30 AM · Jan 17, 2022·Twitter Web App

where could there be dust

 Axe, and you shall receive. 

 Huineng worked throughout his childhood to support his family by cutting wood. One day when he was a young man, he overheard a man reciting a phrase from the Diamond Sutra and at once he experienced an initial awakening. With his mother’s permission he left home and devoted himself to religious life. 


Huineng spent his next years wandering, ending up with a Buddhist nun who was devoted to the Nirvana Sutra. After reciting passages from it one day she asked him to take a turn reading it aloud only to find that he was illiterate. Incredulous, she asked how he intended to learn Buddha’s truth if he could not read the sutras. The youth replied that the nature of Buddha does not depend on words and letters so what need was there to read texts? Amazed at his insight, she suggested he take up monastic life. At this point he declined, but went on to train under a meditation master. 


After three years of meditating in a mountain cave, Huineng went to Dongshan (East Mountain) monastery in Hubei, where he met Master Hongren, the “Fifth Patriarch.” Glaring at this supplicant, Hongren asked where he was from and why he was there. Huineng answered simply that he was from the south and had come to learn the dharma (Buddhist doctrine) from him. Hongren retorted that as a southerner, Huineng was a mere “barbarian,” adding, “How could you become Buddha?” Unfazed by the insult, Huineng replied, “Although my ‘barbarian’ body and yours differ, what difference is there in our buddha-nature?”      (—Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Hui-neng, 638-713) 

For dharma transmission Shenxin wrote his understanding for Hongren on the wall.

The body is the bodhi tree.

The heart-mind is like a mirror.

Moment by moment wipe and polish it,

Not allowing dust to collect

Hui-neng had it read to him, then secretly made reply. His poem surprised. He couldn’t write, so someone wrote it for him on the wall.

Bodhi originally has no tree. 

The clear and bright mirror also has no support. 

Buddha-nature is constantly purifying and clearing. 

Where could there be dust? 

His verse overcame. He secretly was given the robe and bowl of succession, but he had to run and hide for his life. 

practice lesson from zen-zoom master

When I mute my self, 

no one can hear anything.

Hear this, dear Hui-neng?

Sunday, January 16, 2022

sunday wood stove complacencies

 Morning frigid read 

A. Schopenhauer's Studies 

in Pessimism --

and it cheers me, sun now through

trees and minus two degrees

implement leaning still

 What do you mean “do 

I have faith?” In what? In in-

Visible absence?

No, I have no such sight, no

Reaching around old barn door

a dangerous beauty

 The image shutters

            Brings home

What is setting there

                Sea smoke 

By light house

Saturday, January 15, 2022

when thinking goes, bad

 Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.” (― Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil)

listening to House

Republican (so-called) lead-

no-shift,  no thinking 

no one woke me

after all night watch

reading and writing I dozed —

eleven thirty

zero minus searing windchill

 ice inside windows

orange sun through cedar tree

furnace, wood stove, puff

loosening our grip on it all

 Can I tell you a story?

(Isn’t that all that I does?)

Buddhism’s critical insight, though, is that those personal stories are just stories, as opposed to nonnegotiable, objective reality; that the selves to which they occur are much less substantial than we tend to assume — and that freedom lies ultimately not in understanding what happened to us, but in loosening our grip on it all, so that “things that feel fixed, set, permanent and unchanging” can start to shift. The goal, in a refreshing counterpoint to the excesses of a certain way of thinking about therapy, isn’t to reach the state of feeling glowingly positive about yourself and your life. It’s to become less entangled with that whole question, so that you get to spend your time on more meaningful things instead.  

(—from,What Unites Buddhism and Psychotherapy? One Therapist Has the Answer,Jan. 11, 2022 nytimes)

If you disentangle a length of line, you’ve done a great deal for what it will, eventually, tie together down the road.

longevity has its place

 Yes, Martin, yes we

can love one another, watch

us, ninety three years

Friday, January 14, 2022

he was, she says, a gentle man

 Blows cold night wind through

zero degrees wood stove holds fire

as friend’s dad leaves life


 Are things collapsing around us? David Brooks asks.

Yep! I respond.

Jean Gebser (1905-1973) called this kind of destabilized structure of rational wobbliness "deficient mental consciousness." It signals the collapse of the structure of consciousness marked by duality, oppositional binary thinking, and elimination of anyone/anything perceived as foreign or enemy. We are clearly there now. The only escape is to allow a change of consciousness. Sort of a herd-community-alterity. (wfh)

There it is.

A newly lettered project.


Herd Community Alterity.

Don't wait for me to sign up.

I'm off somewhere in an irreparable solitude where nothing matters as much as mutated consciousness and a shunyata of absolute nihility suffused with compassionate inclusivity within eremetic spirituality.

Worn with a grouchy gaze in hooded sweatshirt under brown watch cap.

invite a story

 Their hearts gone astray

(Is God’s great love without end?)

No entering rest

from a sangha heard

 Some keep faith, propose

Prayers for Buddhist liturgy —

Refreshing to hear

the day j’accuse thrives

 Hypocrisy is 

Full bore in senate, Mitch, Krys,

Joe, republicans —

The divide is permanent

The cynicism complete

Thursday, January 13, 2022

plato today in conversation

 forget poetry

phenomenology is

how we see things through

η ίδια η αναπνοή*

 breath itself* is, yes,

sufficient, yes, this moment

Yes, this one itself

Wednesday, January 12, 2022


Whose earth is it? And how serious is the belief you can own the ground, buy and sell parcels, shoot and kill someone trespassing?

And will there begin a tax-mapping of the air, the sky, the heavens, deep space?

…Europe and the UK seem to have settled on “a narrow strip of ground.” One proposed name for the next top official of UK Migration is “President for Protecting Our Way of Life,” and the EU commissioner speaks of the need for a “Europe That Defends and Protects”—referring, of course, to the protection of existing members of the European Community, not to migrants who seek refuge there. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was even less equivocal about immigrants in his defense of a little England for Little Englanders. And the America that Trump wished to make “great again” was one that excluded what he called Mexican “rapists and murders” and Africans from “shithole countries.”

(Excerpt from: "Radical Hospitality: From Thought to Action" by Richard Kearney. Scribd.)

Reading book (The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future, by Stephen Marche) about the de-facto divorce and soon-enough sovereignty-secessions within the United States. How our divisions are beyond healing and the political antagonisms becoming bloodthirsty threats loading their guns and manipulating voting systems, burning down birth-control clinics, spraying swastikas on synagogues, refusing to accept legitimate elections, and cultivating obdurate obtuseness over civility and dialogue.

What does it mean to be host (hôte) to one another?

Has hospitality been abdicated and given over to the renting-rooms industry?

Can we receive 'communion' as if it were some human sacrament?

Has our ability to welcome been worn out?

I am not worthy to receive the guest love in this divisive state.

Say the word.

And I

shall be


epistasthai — "know how to do, understand,"

 If you want me dead

you’ll have to kill yourself first —

Then I die, you see

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

do the loving thing

 Sacred interstice

We dwell between ourselves, find

Mystery unveiled

to the things themselves

 realizing joy 

this being unrecognized --

poetry itself

feels like minus one

 feeding wood stove, cold

night grips hard ground ice clear stars

deep space flickering

Monday, January 10, 2022

sole or soul

 Even if you lie

and cheat — good for you, it is 

sole prayer I know

ten days in, a reminder

 Begin again. 

A New Year’s Blessing

The New Year is a powerful time in our lives, and by that I mean in our practice. Through no effort of our own, we arrive at a point of culmination. A moment of reflection and renewal. In this span between what we think of as the old and the new, regret can stir. We may be more aware of our stubborn habits and shortcomings, our losses and the never-ending ache of unfulfillment. Another year gone, and all those things we were going to do! All those changes we were going to make!

This recognition is a rare and momentous blessing, and one to be used. Recognition is all any of us needs to make a change.

My teacher Nyogen Roshi is fond of quoting his teacher, Maezumi Roshi, who said something like, “It is impossible not to do your best. You just don’t think it’s your best.” Every moment arises pure and perfect from conditions as they are. From you, as you are. Our judgment alone, our ego mind, distinguishes best from less, gain from loss and new from old. Judgment alone separates us from the fulfillment we think lies just beyond the precipice of time.

And so I seize this moment to wish you all the best.

I wish you less of what you can live without and more of what you’ve always wanted. Less anger, and less quickness to anger. Less greed, and more open-mindedness. Less judgment, doubt and cynicism, and less of the pain and confusion they create. Less hurry.

Less fear. More of the compassionate love that can only arise in the absence of fear.

I would wish you more time, but you already have it. It only takes a moment to transform your life. A moment of undefiled, nonjudgmental awareness. A moment of practice, and everything everywhere is new again.

Only you can make it so, but I will wish it just the same: your best new year


Well, said!