Saturday, November 26, 2022

τι είναι αυτό (what is this)

 Consider this! It is always as it is, this is.

This is who I am. And where I am.

This is What Is appearing in the world.

Imagine this! 

Begin again, here with this!

This, this, is, the Only One

Showing Itself ten thousand ways

Friday, November 25, 2022

if you want to practice fourth noble truth

The Noble Eightfold Path

  1. Right understanding (Samma ditthi)
  2. Right thought (Samma sankappa)
  3. Right speech (Samma vaca)
  4. Right action (Samma kammanta)
  5. Right livelihood (Samma ajiva)
  6. Right effort (Samma vayama)
  7. Right mindfulness (Samma sati)
  8. Right concentration (Samma samadhi)

he's gonna get himself an ass-kicking

Tillie has something to say: 

 I don't know who God is but if I meet him anytime soon I'm going to get Him in the corner until he tells me the truth.

    I'm going to slap him stupid and push Him around until he can't run away. Until He's looking up at me and then I'll get Him to tell me why He's done what He done to me and what He done to Corrie and why do all the good ones die and where is Jazzlyn now and why she ended up there and how He allowed me to do what I done to her.

    He's going to come along on His pretty white cloud with all His pretty little angel's flapping their pretty white wings and I'm gonna out and say it formal. Why the fuck did you let me do it, God?

    And He's gonna drop His eyes and look to the ground and answer me. And if He says Jazz ain't in heaven, if He says she didn't make it through, He's gonna get himself an ass-kicking. That's what He's gonna get.

    An ass-kicking like none He ever got before.

(p.230, Let The Great World Spin, novel by Colum McCann)

 McCann doesn't capitalize the 'h' in himself in penultimate paragraph. What to make of that? And Tillie as character having all those references to He and Him and His. 

How quaint to want to box God's ears, force a confession, a relenting admission of errancy and lack of consideration, refusal to script an idyllic pasture for bucolic wandering. 

Rather, Tillie worked the stroll under the Major Deegan.

She's got enough of God to know how to give the what-for to the who's-that.

Something to think about when we're not sure what to think.


 There's a way through suffering.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

pills taken

 In the end, washing up, Apfelkuchen with whipped cream, all retire.


the first

 Yes, there is suffering in the world.

Be kind.

It could help someone through.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

the second

 If you want someone to be other than they are, you suffer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

aliis laetus, sibi sapiens

With a student at the Charleston Correctional Facility, during class on Jung and Philosophy, after Alain de Botton’s video on Nietzsche, “How to Find Yourself (Existentialism)”, we glance at Nietzsche on Schopenhauer as Educator:

 Schopenhauer has a second quality in common with Montaigne, as well as honesty: a cheerfulness that really cheers. Aliis laetus, sibi sapiens [cheerful for others, wise for himself]. For there are two very different kinds of cheerfulness. The true thinker always cheers and refreshes, whether he is being serious or humorous, expressing his human insight or his divine forbearance; without peevish gesturing, trembling hands, tear-filled eyes, but with certainty and simplicity, courage and strength, perhaps a little harshly and valiantly but in any case as a victor: and this it is—to behold the victorious god with all the monsters he has created—that cheers one most profoundly. The cheerfulness one sometimes encounters in mediocre writers and bluff and abrupt thinkers, on the other hand, makes us feel miserable when we read it: the effect produced upon me, for example, by David Strauss' cheerfulness. One feels downright ashamed to have such cheerful contemporaries, because they compromise our time and the people in it before posterity. This kind of cheerful thinker simply does not see the sufferings and the monsters he purports to see and combat; and his cheerfulness is vexing because he is deceiving us: he wants to make us believe that a victory has been fought and won. For at bottom there is cheerfulness only when there is a victory; and this applies to the works of true thinkers just as much as it does to any work of art. Let its content be as dreadful and as serious as the problem of life itself: the work will produce a depressing and painful effect only if the semi-thinker and semi-artist has exhaled over it the vapor of his inadequacy; while nothing better or happier can befall a man than to be in the proximity of one of those victors who, precisely because they have thought most deeply, must love what is most living and, as sages, incline in the end to the beautiful. They speak truly, they do not stammer, and do not chatter about what they have heard; they are active and live truly and not the uncanny masquerade men are accustomed to live: which is why in their proximity we for once feel human and natural and might exclaim with Goethe: "How glorious and precious a living thing is! how well adapted to the conditions it lives in, how true, how full of being!" [Goethe: Italienische Reise, Oct. 9, 1786.]

I am describing nothing but the first, as it were physiological, impression Schopenhauer produced upon me, that magical outpouring of the inner strength of one natural creature on to another that follows the first and most fleeting encounter; and when I subsequently analyze that impression I discover it to be compounded of three elements, the elements of his honesty, his cheerfulness and his steadfastness. He is honest because he speaks and writes to himself and for himself, cheerful because he has conquered the hardest task by thinking, and steadfast because he has to be. His strength rises straight and calmly upwards like a flame when there is no wind, imperturbably, without restless wavering. He finds his way every time before we have so much noticed that he has been seeking it; as though compelled by a law of gravity he runs on ahead,

Untimely Meditations, Third Part 1874 Schopenhauer as Educator* (Selected Text) by Friedrich Nietzsche,

Honesty, cheerfulness, and steadfast imperturbability -- the law of gravity bringing us to poetry as we read Ellen Bass poem:

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you down like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

- Poem by Ellen Bass

From Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems 

Then, talking about Nietzsche's Amor fati,  we finish with poem by Mary Oliver:

When Death Comes

     by Mary Oliver

When death comes 
like the hungry bear in autumn; 
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut; 
when death comes 
like the measle-pox

when death comes 
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: 
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything 
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, 
and I look upon time as no more than an idea, 
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common 
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth, 
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something 
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life 
I was a bride married to amazement. 
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder 
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, 
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

( Poem by Mary Oliver)

We think about Buddha's first Noble Truth, that there is suffering.

We also think about Jesus' taking on suffering, not eliminating it.

And we're grateful to think about all this together.

Cheerfulness and wisdom. for ourselves, for others, this week of gratefulness! 

Monday, November 21, 2022

a collaborator, an accomplice

Reading discussion with Prison Education Partnership Fellows.

"If we really wish to know how justice is administered," James Baldwin tells us in No Name in the Street, we must "go to the unprotected-those, precisely, who need the law's protection most!-and listen to their testimony.... Ask the wretched how they fare in the halls of justice," he writes, "and then you will know, not whether or not the country is just, but whether or not it has any love for justice, or any concept of it."   (in Halfway Home, Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, by Reuben Jonathan Miller

We must become creators of personal story.

Because the story being sold these days by sorry narrators telling bad stories is too discouraging to live by.    

 It's not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yoursel£ You become a collaborator, an accomplice of your own murderersbecause you believe the same things they do.      (-James Baldwin, Dialogue)


        (for conversation)


Tell me

        a story

worth hearing

        full of wonder

where each

        is Itself

Sunday, November 20, 2022

only one

If someone says, “You are the ‘only one’ for me,” what have we heard?

“Only One” as a universal, and “only one” as a particular, might come closer for me to clarify this final celebration of the liturgical year in the Christian calendar which is called Christ the King, a designation I’ve not (as yet) warmed to, the notion of king making no impression on my metaphoric sensibilities which feel drawn more to “Only One” in its place.

Richard Kearney writes about Abhishiktananda (Henri le Saux) and his sense of inclusion and (in my words) undifferentiated suchness.

But there is more. As death approaches, Abhi’s interreligious convictions become even clearer. He has moved from being a Christian guest to his Hindu host to becoming a host in his own right. In the Spirit, guest and host become interchangeable. he timeless I AM of Christ and Purusha traverse historical divisions. On February 17, 1973, he claims that:

The mythos of the Purusha (Spirit) is wider than that of Christos; not only does it include the cosmic and metacosmic aspect of the mystery, but it is also free from the attachment to time entailed by the mythos of Christ. Rather it recognizes all the symbolic value contained in the mystery of Time, but refuses to compress the absolute separately into a particular point of time.

“The Purusha,” Abhi insists, “is simply there, like the Atman, Sat, Brahman, once the human being awakes to himself. ‘Before Abraham was, I am’.” In short, the mystery of the divine is greater than any particular confessional mythos in time, place, and history. It is transconfessional and transhistorical, without denying the indispensable need for symbolic, ritual instantiations. In the same entry, Abhi goes on to see the “symbols of Christ” as “bearers of universality” and ofers this explanation: “They radiate their Catholicity (ecumenism = universality). The hey exist ad (toward) the totality, pros (toward) the totality = sarvam prati!” And he follows this immediately with one of his most radical claims for interreligious communion—a key statement for my case: “A restricted Eucharist is false. ‘Leave your offering before the altar!’... Whoever ‘loves’ his brother has a right to the Eucharist.” To host the stranger from other religions has now become the ultimate meaning of the Communion Host.

These end-of-life insights into interconfessional hospitality were accompanied by some of Abhi’s most acute theological reflections. Several weeks later, struggling with illness as he prepared a series of lectures for the Jesuit faculty at Delhi (Vidyajyoti) on Christology, Abhi penned some extremely subtle journal entries on the question of the “unicity” and “uniqueness” of Christ. The singularity of Christ becomes the very basis of his university. In one particular entry, he suggests that the most elective “only one” contains the most expansive “only one.” The ostensible paradox, he insists, contains a sacred mystery, calling for a delicate balance between unique election and inclusive embrace. He offers the following articulation of this astonishing insight:

If Christ is the “only one” for me ... may I discover in him the glory of the Only One. And what does it matter if I discover the glory of the Only One in whatever created form there may be! For the glory of the Only One is in all one. his alone is important: that Christ should be Everything for me. ... Let every human being be the only one for me, my everything to whom I give myself totally. In this alone I will have the experience of the Only One. (March 22, 1973)

(pp 142-143 in Chapter 11 TOWARD AN OPEN EUCHARIST by Richard Kearney, from Ritual Participation and Interreligious Dialogue Boundaries, Transgressions and Innovations, Edited by Marianne Moyaert and Joris Geldhof, 2016

Just as the relationship between samsara and nirvana has a unicity about them, so too the relative and the absolute, as well as the particular and the whole.

As the earth turns, light returns. Light and dark are in one another. Our philology invites us to unfragment our mind and encircle what is presenting itself.

This, from  139 – Suchness: Awakening to the Preciousness of Things-As-It-Is! by  | Jun 22, 2020 | Buddhist Teachings:

. In the same way, everything we perceive has relative aspects, has time, space, causation, individuality, good and bad, but there’s another way to perceive reality. Reality has another aspect in which we recognize that all of these things, good and bad, the boundaries we draw between individuals, in a way these are all just ideas. When we let go of those ideas, we just see everything as one in its essential being. Sometimes I’ll say things like: in the absolute there is no good or bad; in the relative, there’s good and bad; in the absolute there’s no self or other good or bad. Sometimes saying in the absolute, in the relative, it sounds like there are two different places, and that most of the time I’m in the relative, but sometimes I’m in the absolute. The limitations of language definitely show up there.

Lately I’ve been testing a different way to describe it, which is: Reality has two natures, the particular versus the whole. The particular, of course, it’s true that reality has individuals and individuals interact. There are positive and negative repercussions of actions. This is the way that we usually experience reality. At the same time, reality is a seamless whole, if you will. It’s just as it is. When experienced that way, the particulars can be true, but they don’t ruin the wholeness. Everything is included. 

This is kind of a strange analogy, but I kind of imagine this is like if you were caught up in a drama and you were concerned about your well-being and who was doing what and what was going to happen next. It could be full of angst or excitement, but if you somehow realized that all of this was part of a movie or a novel and this novel or this movie has a point, has an artistic arc, and when you stood back, you could see it was just all part of the story. When we’re watching a movie, for instance, we don’t think, “Oh, no, how could that happen to that person?” The happening is just all just part of the story. It’s a very difficult concept to get across, but in any case, what we usually call the absolute aspect of reality, the essential, the wholeness, the things as it is, how we perceive things directly, when we’re not interpreting them through our mental map or our self interest, we just see things in this whole way

Perhaps, as so many suggest, it comes down to (or rises up to) only love.

Which version speaks best to us? (Neil Young) (Gene Pitney)

Or is it easier to say

Having no preferences

Only One