Saturday, August 05, 2023

if wishes were horses

 It doesn’t matter what I think about Donald J.Trump. But he should not be president again.

I don’t care whether he gets away with his crimes and unsupportable attacks on law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, citizenry, anyone who doesn’t kowtow to him, or someone who thinks for themselves and finds him repugnant.

I wish he’d go away.

I’d like our country to be decent, kind, thoughtful, and believable. He’s not.

If prayer has any purchase or validity, I pray he stops being so unbelievably disingenuous.

without nothingness, within emptiness —- (where/what god is)

 The nothingness


Is not

The emptiness





Friday, August 04, 2023

for a second the severed head does not realize

When brash thuggery

Mocks and derides and insults

Everyone suffers

Look at a dangerous man

Krishna as time sharpens sword

at end of friday evening conversation she said the words

Are you





You Being,


been outside (so long)

 the dying are go-

ing within as God is with-

in -- make of it what 

you will -- no need to believe

we're outside now -- looking in

a hundred and two year old compañera

 We time together

she sleeping, bed, me in chair

listening, Richter,

as light descends out from room

I get up to go, say bye

Thursday, August 03, 2023

ένας (one) ... νας (you)

 One has

No inside

No outside


Is merely, wholly


are in we

Creating inside out. 

Where nothing ever was ... comes what is now ... becoming that which is.

 Something seen and felt — but still -- within, nothing there.

“Real?” You ask.

As real as real is, yes, of course, real. But don’t be fooled. Real is what mind is ... making through ... imagination. 

Nothing at core. Everything with care. A longing to cure.

Here’s Browning and Sayers:

 But here is the will of God, a flash of the will that can,

Existent behind all laws, that made them, and lo, they are! 

And I know not if, save in this, such gift be allowed to man, 

That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, but a star.


Consider it well: each tone of our scale in itself is nought, 

It is everywhere in the world-loud, soft, and all is said: 

Give it to me to use! I mix it with two in my thought: 

And there! Ye have heard and seen: consider and bow the head!' 

... Robert Browning: Abt Vogler.

"I mix it with two in my thought"; this is the statement of the fact of universal experience that the work of art has real existence apart from its translation into material form. Without the thought, though the material parts already exist, the form does not and cannot. The "creation" is not a product of the matter, and is not simply a rearrangement of the matter. The amount of matter in the universe is limited, and its possible rearrangements, though the sum of them would amount to astronomical figures, is also limited. But no such limitation of numbers applies to the creation of works of art. The poet is not obliged, as it were, to destroy the material of a Hamlet in order to create a Falstaff, as a carpenter must destroy a tree - form to create a table -form. The components of the material world are fixed; those of the world of imagination increase by a continuous and irreversible process, without any destruction or rearrangement of what went before. This represents the nearest approach we experience to "creation out of nothing", and we conceive of the act of absolute creation as being an act analogous to that of the creative artist. Thus Berdyaev is able to say: "God created the world by imagination."

This experience of the creative imagination in the common man or woman and in the artist is the only thing we have to go upon in entertaining and formulating the concept of creation. Outside our own experience of procreation and creation we can form no notion of how anything comes into being. The expressions "God the Father" and "God the Creator" are thus seen to belong to the same category — that is, of analogies based on human experience, and limited or extended by a similar mental process in either case.

(—from, The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers (Published 1941)

 I cannot imagine God. My mind would prefer to put something there. Some image. Some thought. Some narrative.

God has no place there. That’s ok, mind says, we’ll create a place called God. Churches, philosophies, theologies, and even secular savants, all create a place for God. Admission fees are charged. Rules promulgated. Sanctions applied. Apparel approved.

Rare is the inchoate imagination fixing no place to reside, no place to hide.

the great advantage of being alive 

                                                                     by e.e. cummings

the great advantage of being alive

(instead of undying)is not so much

that mind no more can disprove than prove

what heart may feel and soul may touch

— the great (my darling)happens to be

that love are in we, that love are in we


and here is a secret they never will share for 

whom create is less than have

or one times one than when times where —

that we are in love,that we are in love:

with us they’ve nothing times nothing to do

(for love are in we am in i are in you)


this world(as timorous itsters all

to call their cowardice quite agree)

shall never discover our touch and feel

–for love are in we are in love are in we;

for you are and i am and we are(above

and under all possible worlds)in love


a billion brains may coax undeath

from fancied fact and spaceful time–

no heart can leap,no soul can breathe

but by the sizeless truth of a dream

whose sleep is the sky and the earth and the sea.

For love are in you am in i are in we

          (poem, the great advantage of being alive,  by e.e. cummings)

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

hold life like a face

At Tuesday Evening Conversation someone asked about confession. 

It still seems to me that each person knows what is right what is wrong -- emotional distress or lack of loving upbringing not to the contrary.

If so, each person wishes to unburden themselves following promulgation of unseemly, unkind, or unhealthy behavior or thought intentions.

There's a grounded balance of equality of forces that resides within and around each individual. Quite likely, said ground also exists within and around each corporate institution however many officers or administrative personnel engage issues under consideration affecting multiple individuals or general public.

I think we know.

And we want to say what we know.

To be equitably, freely, and refreshingly, there where we are.

Poet Ellen Bass:

         The Thing Is

              BY ELLEN BASS

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 ©2002 Ellen Bass, "The Thing Is," from Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, (Grayson Books, 2017).

Is that the desired outcome following confession -- "to love you, again"? 

The eremitic impulse is to shy away from entangling proximity in favor of solitary attentiveness just off to the side. 

Even there, once a clearing of geographical collectivity has been made, there arises a sense of vacuity, an awareness of one without two, a stillness of ding-an-zich

In Kantian philosophy, the thing-in-itself (German: Ding an sich) is the status of objects as they are, independent of representation and observation. The concept of the thing-in-itself was introduced by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, and over the following centuries was met with controversy among later philosophers.[1] It is closely related to Kant's concept of noumena or the object of inquiry, as opposed to phenomenon, its manifestations. (wikipedia)

Sometimes grief sits with you like reticent friend knowing that to remain wordless is to approximate (or to proximate) presence in a different metaphysic.

Everything, one assumes, is within everything else. What we experience as separateness is our reluctance to see what is there in ways that ordinarily cannot be seen. 

Some say that God is within. I think they want to say, but restrain themselves, that God is the within.

When I hermeneutically translated for my own prayerfulness the mantra -- here explicated by the Dalai Lama A Talk On Om Mani Padme Hum, "Om Mani Padme Hum" (Sanskrit pronunciation) or "Om Mani Peme Hung" (Tibetan pronunciation) -- I did it in idiorhythmic fashion.

For me it worded itself as: 

    Behold what is within without; Behold what is without within.

It is this translation (if you will) of the mantra that stays with me. It suggests for me non-duality, a "don't make two; don't make one" admonishment, an experience of wholeness that eludes definition, categorization, and division.

It is, at times, an experience that nears loneliness. But there is a concomitant realization that aloneness is not necessarily loneliness. 

Maybe Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson came close in the chorus of their rendition of Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys.

We greet one another in passing. No need to make anything more, nor less, than that. 

Perhaps we've missed the meaning of forgiveness, of sacrifice, of confession, of the teachings of the Buddha, of the revelation of the Christ. 

It's an inside job. The external world is perceptual gymnastic parallel bars against and around which we fling our bodies in twirling awkwardness round and round toward dismount and dismantlement.

The words try to tell us. They say:

Be still

and know

that/this --

I am


Love, again. 

yes your honor, swear me in

 I'm moving back to

Washington DC, try to

get jury duty

today's headlines tomorrow's joke

 cartoon characters

laugh at their audience, take

their money and run

realizing the errors of my thinking

 Never buy a new computer the morning after a former president is (again) indicted for criminality.

He was.

I don’t.

The United States ponders folly with fierce foray into no-nonsense justice.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

a fabric of silence so fine and old that even a breath could tear it

Maybe choice-less life is best. At least, a few-choices life. I still have sport jackets from early 1970s. They currently hang from line on sunporch taken from dark closet and waiting for sun to burn dampness, dust, and time from recesses of corduroy and wool.

A new wood-appearing vinyl flooring upset every inch of accumulation moving into boxes that lean against boxes against turned-over chairs and to-be-sorted-later piles of disturbed inessential but squatting residents of shelves and coffee table. They squint on bright porch. They know I'd just as soon leave them there and forage my way through their languid insouciance for the next five years.

Still, at 6:45am practice this morning, I pretend there's nothing else to do and sit zazen, chant heart sutra, pronounce four vows of the bodhisattva, mention names to be prayed for, then listen to one co-practitioner snort on round rug in middle of chapel/zendo and another co-practitioner pronounce a meta blessing for all relations all beings all for the greater glory of what is before us.

 It is important to remember that there is no “right” breath. If you carry with you the idea that your breath should be deep and full when in reality it is shallow, you immediately get into trouble. At times the breath is deep, at times shallow, at times freely flowing, and at other times it can feel blocked. Your practice is to be with your breath as it is, learning to let go of how you think things “should be.” Mindfulness of breathing is a practice of learning to harmonize your attention with what is, in this moment. Short, long, deep, shallow are all fine breaths. Trust your body; it knows what is needed.

 (--from, Receiving the Breath! A meditation Q&A with Christina FeldmanBy Christina Feldman SUMMER 2003, tricycle)

It is August. July has slipped beneath the heat, torrential rains, perennial fog, and its overall dyspeptic thirty-one day stay around mid-coast Maine. I bid farewell, thank you for your efforts, see you next year (if either of us is yet continuing in the circling repetition of calendar reappearance.

In the unshelfing process, Adam Zagajewski's book of poems "Mysticism for Beginners" shows up and beckons:

On Swimming 

The rivers of this country are sweet
as a troubador’s song,
the heavy sun wanders westward
on yellow circus wagons.
Little village churches
hold a fabric of silence so fine
and old that even a breath
could tear it.
I love to swim in the sea, which keeps
talking to itself
in the monotone of a vagabond
who no longer recalls
exactly how long he’s been on the road.
Swimming is like prayer:
palms join and part,
join and part,
almost without end.

(Poem by Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021) from Mysticism for Beginners, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1997)

These breaths. There's one. There's one. And another. I'll be darned!

Darned, yes, the unfulfilled wish of dozens of socks in other hermit caverns in other rooms unfound and mostly forgotten.

Like my breath. A companionship that is always arriving always leaving sometimes staggering sometimes unbearably joyful, loved and let be.

Almost without end. 

Ainsi soit-il! 

Monday, July 31, 2023

the line which follows it

 At Sunday Evening Practice, mistakes and uncertainty. How do these inform practice of prayer and meditation?

We read about how Dogen spoke of One Continuous Mistake. Elsewhere, an article about What God, Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Have in Common. Therein we wondered what might be the benefit of agnosticism?

Certainty eludes me. Not that I look for it. That search stopped a long time ago. 

I do not look for certainty.

I merely look.

I am convinced by very little, not much of anything, perhaps nothing.

What joy there is, and there is much, is the looking. Looking into. Looking at. Looking with. Looking as.

Whatever is seen is acknowledged. Appreciated. Attributed. Accessed, as best as possible.

I am a mendicant of affirmation -- I say yes to what appears. 

Skepticism does not obviate affirmation, it gives it shape and cautious approval. The yes is both wary and worrisome -- but it is also accommodating. 

The skepticism is not a judgment. It is a cautious consent to continue on.

Is it possible to say 'yes' to everything even when 'no' abides just out of sight waiting to see if it need appear when properly summoned?

In prison this morning, after talk of Tolstoy, Fitzgerald, Wiesel, Vonnegut and Herbert -- we touch on e.e.cummings who also quoted Blake:

Better worlds (I suggest) are born, not made; and their birthdays are the birthdays of individuals. Let us pray always for individuals; never for worlds. "He who would do good to another" cries the poet and painter William Blake "must do it in Minute Particulars"—and probably many of you are familiar with this greatly pitying line. But I'll wager that not three of you could quote me the line which follows it

     General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, &flatterer

for that deeply terrible line spells the doom of all unworlds; whatever their slogans and their strategies, whoever their heroes or their villains.

(--from, six non-lectures, by e.e.cummings) 

Ideas and ideologies, whether religious, philosophical, or political are the stuff skepticism walks around giving respectable distance.

Individuals, though, are a place to step closer to, to move more inquiringly near, and to invite into a shared turning of both words and dos y dos circumnavigation.

It is a dance.

Imagination steps into the room and asks 'why are you here?'

Sunday, July 30, 2023

look who shows up

 Two sneezes

Before bed

Sudden chill

Thây’s all


the day I died while yet remaining still

 Who stands in a bathtub filled with water in desert mission

Who reaches over to move space heater closer to the tub

Who is thrown against wall saying “I’m still alive, I’m still alive”

This is how one becomes a zen Buddhist contemplative Catholic 

Alive, for now, I am, for now, still, for now

A member of the non-order of thomas merton and pseudo-death by

Electrical appliances and mortal electrocution watered against beatless heart  

Two years after Bangkok fabled shower story where Trappist monk lay dead after talk

Of Marxism and Monasticism in 1968 during the lie called Vietnam War

The saint of skeptical transcending vision 

smiling sardonic simplicity (dear annoying Tommy Merton)

zen masterful monk meandering this Sunday through breezy airwaves