Saturday, March 05, 2022

tears come as one understands

 From letter from friend at Maine State Prison:

  • “I lay here in the dark letting the realities of spirituality and life play through my mind, but then as I try to write it up the veil closes in until it is muddied up by reason.   I know, I really do know, but life in its attempt to evade death will have little to do with that which does not belong to it.”
  • “I have always been and remain a haunted person.”

  • “Me in the pulpit? I would spend most of my time crying. When one truly touches the divine the tears come as one understands they themselves have never been alone.”
Included in my response:

    • Poet Francis Thompson wrote the poem “The Hound of Heaven.” He might just as well titled it “The Haunt of Heaven.” 
    • An excerpt: 

Heaven and I wept together,

And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine; 

Against the red throb of its sunset-heart

I laid my own to beat,

And share commingling heat;

But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart. 

In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek.

 For ah! we know not what each other says,

These things and I; in sound I speak---

Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.

 Is God walking in the world? What about the person passing you? Maybe not that that’s God — but that God is walking past. 

(Do you get the distinction? I’m trying to.) 

Friday, March 04, 2022

the word “chaos” as the greeks once used

Sent by sangha member (AB):

In response to a question about how difficult life can be, one dharma teacher once replied that “chaos is good news.” He used the word “chaos” as the Greeks once did to indicate a wide-open space, or emptiness, the space before forms appear, whether as new possibilities, concepts, solutions, and so on.


This statement echoes a pivotal teaching of Seung Sahn: his phrase “don’t know mind” refers to that openness of mind/heart that brings us immediately into the present moment. Though counter-intuitive, not knowing is a precious gift, pulling us away from repetitive thinking about past or future, the two places where suffering inevitably resides. We’ve heard it thousands of times: now is the only moment, the only certainty we have.

(-in "The Wisdom of Not Knowing" by CIMC Teacher Olivia Hoblitzelle)

late snow will also melt

as age raveges

body piece by piece breaks down

falls closed into dirt

look around, snow covers ground

you will not feel cleats or poles


Sent by sangha member (EB):  

 Limitless Life 

by Thich Nhat Hanh

Excerpted from Thich Nhat Hanh, “Touching the Earth: Intimate Conversations with the Buddha” (2017 Rev. Ed.) 

I see that this body made of the four elements is not really me and I am not limited by this body. I am the whole of the river of life of blood and spiritual ancestors that has been continuously flowing for thousands of years and flows on for thousands of years into the future. I am one with my ancestors and my descendants. I am life that is manifest in countless different forms. I am one with all species whether they are peaceful and joyful or suffering and afraid. 

I am present everywhere in this world. I have been present in the past and will be there in the future. The disintegration of this body does not touch me, just as when the petals of the plum blossom fall it does not mean the end of the plum tree. 

I see that I am like a wave on the surface of the ocean. I see myself in all the other waves, and all the other waves in myself. The manifestation or the disappearance of the wave does not lessen the presence of the ocean. 

My Dharma body and spiritual life are unborn and undying. I am able to see the presence of myself before this body manifested and after this body has disintegrated. 

I am able to see the presence of myself outside of this body, even in the present moment. Eighty or ninety years is not my lifetime. 

My lifetime, like that of a leaf or of a Buddha, is immeasurable. I am able to go beyond the idea that I am a body separate from all other manifestations of life, in time and in space.

...   ...   ...

interrupt this program

 Wood stove and furnace

This cold night — snow piled high. Do

you think war will come?

Voices on news sound sober

Comics and their jokes fall flat

Thursday, March 03, 2022

grandmothers take up kalashnakovs

 It seems so ordinary, the end of the world.

So matter of fact, lighting fuse on nuclear weapon threat.

We say, “oh that Putin!” As though talking about a naughty child.

It is the end of the world as we’ve known it.

And I’ve just purchased a 5 lb bag of Pascha Java coffee from Mystic Monks in Wyoming.

Damn the timing!

No fly.

No kidding!

A US Senator says “Take him out!”

If I live until morning I’ll brew coffee just for the hell of it.

that vast country


I dream

I dream of God


There’s nothing

There’s nothing else 






In silentio

Like Ensō

On mountain

Still, watching

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

the near-impossible task

It’s ash wednesday.

Earlier on twitter: 
9:31 AM · Mar 2, 2022 
I once thought having an opinion was important. Now I don’t. What‘s important is the near-impossible task of having no opinion, just seeing clearly, feeling deeply what is taking place, practicing compassion with everyone. Then: help, relieve suffering, assist healing.


Remember, my brothers and sisters, that we are earth. 

We come from and will return to -- earth. 

using a language of gesture — epistrophi

 This in The Christian Century this month:

Parables of Luke triptych, by Charalambos Epaminonda

As exemplars of selfless compassion, the father welcoming home his wayward son in the left panel and the Samaritan dressing the wounds of the waylaid Jew in the right panel incline their heads with reverence toward the central image of Christ, depicted as the sower of seed, spreading the good news of the coming reign of God in justice and love. Epaminonda uses the Greek term epistrophi, meaning both “return” and “restoration,” to describe the central theme of the triptych. He wants us to see the threefold image as more than an illustration of the coming together of estranged families and nations. Christ occupies the pivotal place in a visually busy universe, where humanity must share space with a variety of flora and fauna. As the giver and sustainer of all life, Christ is actively engaged in “reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). 
(-art selection and comment by John Kohan, The Christian Century, February 17, 2022 )

our phantasmic future

 I am my republican friends. I am my democrat friends.

I am russian premier causing pain in Ukraine and his own country. I am american president trying to ease pain there and here.

It is exhausting being one person in time of multiple personality disorders.

In the novel’s opening chapter, the stage is littered with prop plastic snow granules askew around the body of actor fallen dead during performance of King Lear. 

Fiction formulates our phantasmic future.

Our true self is a self in communion. It is a self that subsists in God’s eternal love. Likewise, the false self is the self that stands outside this created subsisting communion with God that forms our very identity. As Merton puts it,

When we seem to possess and use our being and natural faculties in a completely autonomous manner, as if our individual ego were the pure source and end of our own acts, then we are in illusion and our acts, however spontaneous they may seem to be, lack spiritual meaning and authenticity. [1]

(- from, Week Nine: Transformation and the True Self, Letting Go of the False Sel, Richard Rohr)

As an inauthentic autonomous actor slipping my lines during failure of heart falling to stage, I wonder the efficacy of communion with emergency medical technician’s frantic and forceful compressions yielding no response from retired bloodflow through chambers of unyielding stillness.

We are being pronounced even before the script is completed.

the difficulty watching the state of the union

 (It must be something I consumed, causing these impertinent words.)

A decent, thoughtful, compassionate man, Biden attracts the venom and cynicism of the current batch of self-serving republican publicity-drunk ham-fisted bullies. 

We need a Dostoevsky to word the grotesque facial snark worn by the cowards and snide poseurs in the chamber attending the Myshkin-esque heartfelt attempt to buoy the state of our fractured union.

The fever-addled brains of Rogozhin republicans encircle a Natasya Filipovna cult base and lure them away into dark rooms and unpleasant outcomes.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

enhance our circumstances

Let's face it. 

 It seems to me, though, that meditation isn’t about anything: meditation is meditation. Any attempt to define it in terms of something else simply confuses the issue, making it vulnerable to being treated like any other self-improvement system. Lord knows, these days we are offered enough ways to be better people, get closer to God, find ourselves, and enhance our circumstances. We’re swamped with therapies, self-help books, and techniques—what musician and activist Bob Geldof called “the thriving economy of psychotherapists, designer religions, and spiritual boutiques”—which treat our lives as projects to be tweaked and fixed. Isn’t meditation (if it’s anything at all) a relief from all this? Isn’t it the opposite of repairing and adjusting and striving and perpetually wanting things to be different? 


For me, meditation is a haven away from the ubiquitous world of self-improvement. It’s not just that there’s no such thing as “bad” meditation, but there’s no such thing as “good” meditation either. It is what it is. So when I hear words like “effort” and “discipline” and phrases like “deepening one’s practice” and “advancing along the spiritual path” spoken in the same breath as the word “meditation,” I wince. Just sitting (shikantaza)—doing and wanting nothing, breath coming and going unbidden, eyes seeing, ears hearing—in this effortless state, thoughts flurry like falling leaves.

(-from, The Myth of the Experienced Meditator, by Barry Evans, Spring 2008, Tricycle) 

The sprawling leaves, drifting into March.

When spring will soon wake and think buds on limbs of trees and unfrozen plantings. 

blessing be on your people

At times, a psalm says it well. 

Psalm 3

Lord, how many are my foes!

    How many rise up against me!

Many are saying of me,

    “God will not deliver him.”

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,

    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

I call out to the Lord,

    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;

    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

I will not fear though tens of thousands

    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!

    Deliver me, my God!

Strike all my enemies on the jaw;

    break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.

    May your blessing be on your people.

(New International Version)


For you, my brothers and sisters of Ukraine! 

peut-être, mai être, mоже бути

May be.

May to be.


"Richard Kearney...writes in The God Who May Be, God neither is nor is not, but may be."
(from, Ideas: The God Who May Be, CBC Ideas transcripts)

God may be in Ukraine today.

Or Russia.

Possibly both.

God is not in Mar-a-Lago.

Not in the cloakroom of republican congress.

Maybe in the streets of Aleppo.

(Wait a second -- God is in the cloakroom.

Was seen cruising in Florida.

God wears an elephant on suit lapel.)

God understands us.

God waits for us to see truth underlying the sham and defect of personal and political opinion.

God sits zazen, walks meditatively whenever God hears our stupidity spoken out loud.

Sometimes, God wears suspenders 

Sometimes ice-grippers.

Sometimes blue cashmere zippered sweater when brewing tea after walking her dog.

the world on edge

minus -2 degrees

first of March, Ukraine one more

day -- may they come through 

Monday, February 28, 2022

acquiescence of spirit.

 Think “conatus” —

In early philosophies of psychology and metaphysics, conatus (/koʊˈneɪtəs/;[1]Latin for "effort; endeavor; impulse, inclination, tendency; undertaking; striving") is an innate inclination of a thing to continue to exist and enhance itself.[2] This "thing" may be mind, matter, or a combination of both. 


 Spinoza did: 

Note.—I have thus completed all I wished to set forth touching the mind's power over the emotions and the mind's freedom. Whence it appears, how potent is the wise man, and how much he surpasses the ignorant man, who is driven only by his lusts. For the ignorant man is not only distracted in various ways by external causes without ever gaining the true acquiescence of his spirit, but moreover lives, as it were unwitting of himself, and of God, and of things, and as soon as he ceases to suffer, ceases also to be. 


Whereas the wise man, in so far as he is regarded as such, is scarcely at all disturbed in spirit, but, being conscious of himself, and of God, and of things, by a certain eternal necessity, never ceases to be, but always possesses true acquiescence of his spirit.    


 If the way which I have pointed out as leading to this result seems exceedingly hard, it may nevertheless be discovered. Needs must it be hard, since it is so seldom found. How would it be possible, if salvation were ready to our hand, and could without great labour be found, that it should be by almost all men neglected? But all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.

 (-final lines of the Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza, 24 November 1632 - 21 February 1677) 

It is difficult to be where we are.

Nature as it is.

We as we are.

Rare, as well.

zendo snooze, pillow zafu

 Silent sitting seems

Such a simple thing to do —

Feel full still alert

Sunday, February 27, 2022

not two

 If you wish to be

a saint, be one. Look around.

Everyone sees you

entirely, entirety, a gift

We do not want to know who we are. We prefer someone telling us who they prefer us to be, what they’ve determined we are. So often we belong to advertisers, anyone with something to sell, repositories of another’s agenda, desire, or ambition.

Hence, lostness. Amnesiac trance walking in our shoes. Vacant gaze. Greed, anger, and delusion in torn sweatshirt.

All this time, waiting to be recognized, the stranger lingers just outside of view, quietly watching for any sign of an awakening awareness, ready to reveal the true nature residing within and without, surrounding and intuiting one’s true reality.

The True Self is the Divine Indwelling, the Holy Spirit within you. I would say that the True Self is precisely the divine part of you that is great enough, deep enough, gracious enough to fully accept the human part of you. If you are merely human, you will tend to reject your embarrassingly limited humanity. Think on that!

Paradoxically, immense humility, not arrogance, characterizes someone who lives in this True Self. You simultaneously know you are a child of God, but you also know that you didn’t earn it and you are not worthy of it. You know it’s entirely a gift (see Ephesians 2:8–9 and throughout the Pauline writings). All you can do is thank Somebody Else, occasionally weep with joy, and kneel without any hesitation.

The true purpose of mature religion is to lead you to ever new experiences of your True Self. If religion does not do this, it is junk religion. Every sacrament, every Bible story, every church service, every sermon, every hymn, every bit of priesthood, ministry, or liturgy is for one purpose: to allow you to experience your True Self—who you are in God and who God is in you—and to live a generous life from that Infinite Source.

(-from, Trusting Our Essential Self, by Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 27feb2022) 

The false self wants what is not his or hers. It invades, usurps, denigrates, humiliates, punishes.

The true self allows, suffers, permits, accepts, works to liberate, comforts the oppressed, listens to what is being said, responds faithfully with humble gentleness and fierce justice.

The brevity and the impermanence of it all.


The peach petals would like to stay,

But moon and wind blow them on.

You won’t find those ancient men,

Those dynasties are dead and gone.

Day by day the blossoms fall,

Year by year the people go.

Where the dust blows through these heights,

There once shone a silent sea.


You know me.

You see me.

You love me.

Teach me, O true guest, where real home is, right here, all encompassing, including everything, complete in itself.

waka for waking 

On this Sunday morn

Psalmody and sunlight, cat

tears through cardboard box,

dog offers body to touch —

If you pray, nunc et semper 


Now and always  — that’s where prayer dwells — with you.

There’s no other place. Start there!