Saturday, March 11, 2023

the practice of god

It is a striking phrase, "participation in the practice of God."

"Christian practices are not activities we do to make something spiritual happen in our lives. Nor are they duties we undertake to be obedient to God. Rather, they are patterns of communal action that create openings in our lives where the grace, mercy, and presence of God may be made known to us. They are places where the power of God is experienced. In the end, these are not ultimately our practices but forms of participation in the practice of God." (— Craig Dykstra)

I read Gabriel Marcel's book "The Mystery of Being." I remember fondly studying him fifty plus years ago and thinking what a delight to read such a person on such a theme, Christian Existentialism.

In it, this:

VII. My Life  


The question: who am I? remains.  


Since it is not possible to count on a friend, a party, or a collec- 

tivity to decide it for me, the question becomes an appeal (call), 

who am I? Shall I not find the answer by enquiring into my own 



My life can be considered from two standpoints, that of:  


1. The past. 

2. That of the present, the fact that I am still living it.  


1. In the past. My life appears to me as something that 

can, by reason of its very essence, be narrated. 

But to narrate is to unfold.  


It is also to summarize, i.e., to totalize schematically. 

My life cannot then be reproduced by a narrative; in as 

much as it has been actually lived, it lies without the 

scope of my present concrete thought and can only be 

recaptured as particles irradiated by flashes of memory. 

Nor is my life in the notes jotted down day by day and 

making up my diary; when I re-read them they have for 

the most part lost their meaning, and I do not recognize 

myself in them.  


Nor is my work to be identified with my life; what judge 

could sift from my work that which truly expresses me? 

Finally, my acts, in as much as they are recorded in objec- 

tive reality, do not tell of that within me which lies beyond 



My life, in so far as already lived, is not then an inalterable 

deposit or a finished whole.  


2. In so far as I am still living it, my life appears to me as 

something I can consecrate or sacrifice, and the more I 

feel that I am striving towards an end, or serving a cause, 

the more alive (living) I feel. It is therefore essential to life 

that it be articulated on a reality which gives it a meaning 

and a trend, and, as it were, justifies it; this does not sig- 

nify that life is an available asset.  


To give one’s life is neither to part with one’s self nor to 

do away with one’s self, it is to respond to a certain call. 

Death can then be life, in the supreme sense. 

My life is infinitely beyond the consciousness I have of it 

at any given moment; it is essentially unequal in itself, 

and transcendent of the account that I am led to keep of 

its elements. Secondary reflection alone can recuperate 

that which inhabits my life and which my life does not ex- 


                (--pp.24-25, The Mystery of Being, by Gabriel Marcel, 1951, Translated by G.S. Fraser, 1971) 

To listen.

"Death can then be life, in the supreme sense."

To respond to a certain call.

And, again -- To listen.

My life is infinitely beyond the consciousness I have of it 

at any given moment; it is essentially unequal in itself, 

and transcendent of the account that I am led to keep of 

its elements. Secondary reflection alone can recuperate 

that which inhabits my life and which my life does not ex- 


Returning to Dykstra, I love the way his words suggest that we are involved in a "participation in the practice of God."

Good sangha to be sitting in!

And with!

how once we described ourselves

"Place of collation

and recollection, Ragged

Mountain" -- meetingbrook --

a phrasing once a tagline

remembered, reading, light meal 

reserving yes or no,

 When sitting, just watch

Don’t conclude — let everything

Reveal what it is

Good and evil do not take 

You — not unless you assent

presence is not something (to be) seen

 Don’t talk to me of

Jesus Christ, or anything

Not seen  —  not if you

Don’t want what is here to be

What it is — in itself — hah!

sound of han not being hit

Two friends at morning

Practice, cars pass, psalms from France —

At ragged mountain 

It’s not hard to practice zen

Only include everything

Friday, March 10, 2023

reminder it is where we are

 Short shrift in prison 

this morning, stark commotion. 

Ride out, until next 

Thursday, March 09, 2023

vigil near where she once was

 Her last breath must be

Somewhere in this room — I sit

Next to where she lived

through, what we call, life — religious and spiritual

Anything that holds us together is religio. It is the willingness, however hesitantly, “to go through again”(relegere).

Breathing through each moment with alert presence is spiritus.

For our purposes, in everyday ways of speaking, we are both religious and spiritual —
  • We go through each moment, again and again. 
  • We breathe through everything, again and again.

 This from the Online Etymological Dictionary:

religion (n.)
Origin and meaning of religion

c. 1200, religioun, "state of life bound by monastic vows," also "action or conduct indicating a belief in a divine power and reverence for and desire to please it," from Anglo-French religiun (11c.), Old French religionrelegion "piety, devotion; religious community," and directly from Latin religionem (nominative religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods; conscientiousness, sense of right, moral obligation; fear of the gods; divine service, religious observance; a religion, a faith, a mode of worship, cult; sanctity, holiness," in Late Latin "monastic life" (5c.).

This noun of action was derived by Cicero from relegere "go through again" (in reading or in thought), from re- "again" (see re-) + legere "read" (see lecture (n.)). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (Servius, Lactantius, Augustine) and the interpretation of many modern writers connects it with religare "to bind fast" (see rely), via the notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans and gods." In that case, the re- would be intensive. Another possible origin is religiens "careful," opposite of negligens.

In English, the meaning "particular system of faith in the worship of a divine being or beings" is by c. 1300; the sense of "recognition of and allegiance in manner of life (perceived as justly due) to a higher, unseen power or powers" is from 1530s.

spirit (n.)
Origin and meaning of spirit

mid-13c., "animating or vital principle in man and animals," from Anglo-French spirit, Old French espirit "spirit, soul" (12c., Modern French esprit) and directly from Latin spiritus "a breathing (respiration, and of the wind), breath; breath of a god," hence "inspiration; breath of life," hence "life;" also "disposition, character; high spirit, vigor, courage; pride, arrogance," related to spirare "to breathe," perhaps from PIE *(s)peis- "to blow" (source also of Old Church Slavonic pisto "to play on the flute"). But de Vaan says "Possibly an onomatopoeic formation imitating the sound of breathing. There are no direct cognates." 

According to Barnhart and OED, originally in English mainly from passages in Vulgate, where the Latin word translates Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah. Distinction between "soul" and "spirit" (as "seat of emotions") became current in Christian terminology (such as Greek psykhe vs. pneuma, Latin anima vs. spiritus) but "is without significance for earlier periods" [Buck]. Latin spiritus, usually in classical Latin "breath," replaces animus in the sense "spirit" in the imperial period and appears in Christian writings as the usual equivalent of Greek pneumaSpirit-rappingis from 1852

The word itself, words themselves — this is our focus. 

If we let words speak, preferably in silence, they — like every given situation we encounter — carry with them, replete and with integrity, all that is needed for us to engage, move through, and breathe with alert presence, what is there, as it is there, with our being there.

Remember — no one owns the words religious or spiritual.

They belong to themselves.

They offer themselves to us for our consideration and use.

(There are those, however, who might claim to own these words, build structures and institutions around them, and manufacture rules and regulations, beliefs and dogmas, imposed on anyone they usher into their confines.)

For the rest of creation, for those among us who pilgrimage back to original sound and inner silence, the creative encounter with sound and silence reveals, always, new and liberating relationship and movement to journey within (our source adventure) through (what we call) life.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

guímid ar son a anama *

                (* Gaelic: we pray for his soul)

 Calendar says it's 

Tommy's birthday. It took me 

about a year to 

learn of his death.  I liked him. 

He was cranky, kind, faithful 

to be released from

Cynicism, in the face of absurd and cruel distortion of what we’d come to call factual, true, or obvious, is a crippling attitude that strikes, firstly and bitterly, the hearts and minds, bodies and souls, of those articulating and enacting themselves as cynics. 

It is firing a handgun with thumb on trigger, barrel pointed at oneself, a suicide leaving a tortured note saying — ”You made me do this” — or, perhaps, “You made me. Do this!”

Finally, I ask all of us to pray for the freedom to be released from cynicism and judgment. We’re going to encounter people who do and say things differently. If we move into “sophistication,” we will lose the childlike spirit that Jesus talks about. A pilgrim must be like a child who can approach everything with an attitude of wonder and awe and faith. Let’s pray for wonder. Let’s pray for awe. Let’s pray for desire, or better “the desire to desire,” and ask God to take away our cynicism. 

(—Richard Rohr,  in Spiritual Disciplines of Pilgrimage, 8mar23)

Listening to cynicism is a visit to the morgue.

Promulgating cynicism is pouring poison into the orange juice you serve your children.

Assuming a blasé world-weary “that’s the way things are” pseudo-philosophical shoulder-shrug fatalism as to the prevalence of morbid impugning of motives and intentions of anyone in the cynical perimeter, is the open door, open gate, open invitation issued to sadistic and cruel intruders with assault weapons into your house, heart, and hope.

It is time for pilgrimage.

Out into the open.

With truth and wisdom.

One step at a time.

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

it’s all about the prepositions

We want to live on

The earth, but we don’t wish to

Live with and as earth

and if the wind is right you can find the joy / of innocence again *

          * (from song, Sailing, by Christopher Cross)

Here, in the eastern-most state of the US, I keep waiting for someone to saw along the border of our one contiguous state and allow us to drift into the ambiance of New Brunswick Province, the coastline of Nova Scotia, and the saner-feeling land of Canada.

Things have become strange and dangerous in our non-united ideology compounds nicknamed red-and-blue and other notably insulting names soapboxed everyday by "watch me/watch me" characters whose primary talent consists in being loud, snide, and obnoxious.

Do not lend them your ears.

Get out your oars.     

nothing comes from nothing —- nothing ever could

Table wonders if

Soon there will be Sunday

Evening Practice 

Morning, cross, tramp

And Buddha behind bamboo —

This is what is true

I am not a man

Of great faith, great doubt, deter-

mination — unsaying — MU

of universal emptiness of inherent natures (svabhāva-śūnyatā)

Man in prison suggests we do an independent study on Madhyamaka, Nargarjuna, Yogācāra, Sāṃkhya and Vaiśeṣika schools.

He has been teaching himself Sanskrit. 


The Madhyamaka school of Buddhism, the followers of which are called Mādhyamikas, was one of the two principal schools of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India, the other school being the Yogācāra. The name of the school is a reference to the claim made of Buddhism in general that it is a middle path (madhyamā pratipad) that avoids the two extremes of eternalism—the doctrine that all things exist because of an eternal essence—and annihilationism—the doctrine that things have essences while they exist but that these essences are annihilated just when the things themselves go out of existence. The conviction of the Madhyamaka school, which can be called the Centrist school in English, is that this middle path is best achieved by a denial that things have any inherent natures at all. All things are, in other words, empty of inherent natures. This doctrine of universal emptiness of inherent natures (svabhāva-śūnyatā) is the hallmark of the school, which places the school solidly in the tradition associated with the Perfection of Wisdom (prajñāpāramitā) literature of Mahāyāna Buddhism.

The key texts of the school comprised commentaries to the writings of Nāgārjuna—the works of Nāgārjuna most often commented upon are the Mūla-madhyamaka-kārikā (MMK) and Vigraha-vyāvartanī (VV)—and a number of independent works that expanded on ideas found in Nāgārjuna’s writings. A few of the Sanskrit treatises of the early Madhyamaka school were translated into Chinese and became the basis of a short-lived school of Chinese Buddhism. A significant number of Sanskrit Madhyamaka texts were eventually translated into Tibetan and exerted considerable influence on the intellectual heritage of Tibetan Buddhism. This article will deal only with the Madhyamaka school in India from the fifth through the eighth centuries, during which time the school underwent most of its evolution.

Prison is where I go to meet my teachers.

Thây is right. The sangha community is the next Buddha.

empty space, no time, dropping mind

 Taillights moving east

Then empty road again — how

Odd — passing through — space

And time — what was — no longer

Here — but for our holding mind

near and soon unseen

 Each breath is the last

The one that was or the one

Arriving — shudders —

It’s possible there are things

Right here that we’ll never see 

Monday, March 06, 2023

and so on, ad infinitum

In prison conversation one man shared a prayer he’d said when attending Wiccan gatherings.

I find an explication:

"As above, So Below, As within, So without" is a saying in Wicca. This phrase comes from the beginning of The Emerald Tablet and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic which was inscribed upon the tablet in cryptic wording by Hermes Trismegistus. 

The significance of this phrase is that it is believed to hold the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula. "'That which is above is the same as that which is below'...Macrocosmos is the same as microcosmos. The universe is the same as the God and Goddess, The God and Goddess is the same as man, man is the same as the cell, the cell is the same as the atom, the atom is the same as...and so on, ad infinitum. It means everything is connected.

"As within, so without" It means we have a divine creation inside of us and outside of us, it is our connection with nature and the universe. It is like the saying 'as you sow, so shall you reap'. This is also known as the Law of Cause and Effect or Karma. Whatever we put out in the Universe is what comes back to us. If what we want is happiness, peace, friendship, love…Then we should BE happy, peaceful, loving, a friend. Negative energy sent out to others will come back to you.

There’s so much to consider. 

why politics will give way to terror

 Right and Left repulse 

Show me center sanity —

We disintegrate

Punishing everyone not

Our tribe, our sect, our cult, us

with each of you, winter zen

 “...and inside and out  

will naturally become  

one“* — Each step in snow, 

the snow underfoot, walking  

itself! — Lovely to move through

. . .

 Great Faith, Great Doubt, Great Determination, The three essential conditions for Zen practice, bKoun YamadaSummer 2015, Tricycle,

Sunday, March 05, 2023

revere right relationship, embrace wholeness

 What do the words say? 

Not what you think they mean. Rather, they present their own meaning if you allow them to be themselves, where they were, as they were, in the use they put themselves to.

Language idiosyncrasies used in the  passage. Language changes over centuries. For example, when the Bible uses the phrase fear of the Lord, fear back then does not mean what fear today means. Today fear means to be afraid. Fear then meant to revere. It is inconceivable that a loving and compassionate God would want you to be afraid of God. Rather, the word is encouraging you to revere God, to hallow God’s name, to praise God, and to glorify God. 

Modern translation understandings.

Some key words in the Bible are translated in ways that can lead to a misunderstanding of the message. For example, the word righteousness in its best translation means right relationships. It is not about right moral behavior. Miss that understanding and you could miss the message. Or, the word for saved, sozo in Greek, means to be made whole. It does not mean uttering some order of words on earth so that your soul is “saved” to go to heaven. Rather, Jesus came so that you might be made whole.”

(Excerpt From, Rabbouni: Twelve Teaching Methods of Jesus, by

John Zehring, 2022)

 Die Sprache spricht wrote Heidegger. “Language speaks.”

What a joy it is to listen to the sound of what is being said.

What is.



Perhaps that is why the “Word” of God, both language and person, is articulated and embodied, as such.

Such as it is.

In related expression, this;

Tathātā (/ˌtætəˈtɑː/; Sanskrit: तथाता; Pali: tathatā) is a Buddhist term variously translated as "thusness" or "suchness," referring to the nature of reality free from conceptual elaborations and the subject–object distinction.[1] While also used in Theravada, it is a significant concept in Mahayana Buddhism.[2][3] 

The Buddha

The Buddha referred to himself as the Tathāgata, which can mean either "One who has thus come" or "One who has thus gone",[4] and can also be interpreted as "One who has arrived at suchness". 

Theravada Buddhism

In Theravada, this term designates the nature of existence (bhāva), the truth which applies to things. According to the Kathavatthutathātā is not an unconditioned or un-constructed (asankhata) phenomenon.[5] The only phenomena which is un-constructed in Theravada is Nibbana.[6] 

According to Buddhadasa Bhikkhutathātā is merely the way things are, the truth of all things: "When tathātā is seen, the three characteristics of anicca [impermanence], dukkha [suffering], and anatta [not-self] are seen, sunnata [emptiness] is seen, and idappaccayata [specific conditionality] is seen. Tathātā is the summary of them all -- merely thus, only thus, not-otherness."[7]


 When we speak to one another, we are doing just this -- speaking to One-Another.

deerprints outside barn before bed

 Cat yawns on blanket

As monks chant Prime in France — last

Evening’s snowy dusk


Earlier yesterday:

Ah! Snow on branches
Birds land feeding
Creation, adorned


when a ludicrous charicature publicly perseverates

 Insanity is

Not something to laugh about —

The poor man needs help