Reading David Cay Johnston’s book The Big Cheat on Trump and his family, their schemes, frauds, and unethical dealings while in office.
How curious their deceits and illegal shenanigans.
Some day, it is said, justice might prevail.
Leben ohne warum, wrote Meister Eckhart, Life without why.
From the Symposium with the European Academy of Sciences and Arts
Leben ohne Warum
—Der Ursprung des Lebens in der Theologie Meister Eckharts
Brief summary of this “Life Without Why: The Origin of Life in Eckhart’s Theology” is as follows:
Meister Eckhart expresses frequently the opinion that there is actually no reason in living itself and the life is »without why«, as the origin of a life is God who is the why (quare) of all beings. The thought is justified biblically through the interpretation of the Chapter of the Gospel according to John. And it is drawn from this interpretation that all beings exist in God as the life which is not to be created. The proper name of God »I am what I am« (ego sum qui sum) describes according to Eckhart the divine life which is boiling up in itself. He explains the boil as the divine emanation of the Son and the Holy Sprit from the Father and the overflow which comes after the boil as the creation. On the basis of the relationship of the emanation to the creation, Eckhart places the incarnation (incarnatio) these two ones. The incarnation is the grace for grace (gratia pro gratia) which enables us to be the sons of God and with which God gives birth to his son in human nature (natura humana).
(--Institute of Oriental Philosophy, http://www.iop.or.jp/Documents/0818/yamazaki.pdf)
In prison Monday we looked at Meister Eckhart after some words about Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Turgenev. (This, after wondering if self-proclaiming of one's Christian identity was enough, or, whether an external verification is also necessary.
Rilke's poem was recited:
(Gieb deine Schönheit immer hin
ohne Rechnen und Reden.
Du schweigst. Sie sagt für dich: Ich bin.
Und kommt in tausendfachem Sinn,
kommt endlich über jeden.)”
“Let your beauty manifest itself
without talking and calculation.
You are silent. It says for you: I am.
And comes in meaning thousandfold,
comes at long last over everyone.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Images
We sipped black coffee. "It says for you: I am." We don't say it. It says it for us.
Since Monday I've wondered about Eckhart's words. Originally we discussed the invitation to go beyond rational distinctions and analysis, rather leaning into a more existential "rising up as itself" appearing without calculation.
Then it occurred to me that ohne (without) could have a hermeneutic that means that life without (i.e. outside the interior mind) is one of constantly asking 'why', a continual rationalizing, calculating, analyzing, comparing, and judging.
Whereas, innerhalb (within), suggests something else. Perhaps contemplative. Not looking for reasons. Rather attempting to dwell within the mystery of unexplainable manifestation.That which is beyond the facts and explanations, below the surface of accountings and speculations.
The fact of things. The arising into realization with no obvious preface or prediction.
Whereas the without of things asks why, the within of things looks with silence.
The revelation is, always, "I am." Things say it, plants, trees, and animals say it. Humans say it. And according to inchoate apophatic event-utterance, God says it.
There's no accounting of it, no accounting for it.
It is, what is, as it is.
Essentially, the underlying ungraspable mystery of things, the impenetrable reality of being-here, of Being-Itself.
And we are asked, not to look at it and analyze it, but to look as it and become it.
What shall it be called? An immediacy of intimacy? An intimacy of immediacy?
Or as Rilke said elsewhere about whatever it is:
from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
(--last lines of poem, Archaic Torso of Apollo, by Rainer Maria Rilke)
Gratia pro gratia.
BY W. S. MERWIN
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is
(—W.S. Merwin, "Thanks" from Migration: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by W.S. Merwin. )
Merwin was once asked what social role a poet plays—if any—in America. He commented: “I think there’s a kind of desperate hope built into poetry now that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world. One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time. I think that’s a social role, don’t you? ... We keep expressing our anger and our love, and we hope, hopelessly perhaps, that it will have some effect. But I certainly have moved beyond the despair, or the searing, dumb vision that I felt after writing The Lice; one can’t live only in despair and anger without eventually destroying the thing one is angry in defense of. The world is still here, and there are aspects of human life that are not purely destructive, and there is a need to pay attention to the things around us while they are still around us. And you know, in a way, if you don’t pay that attention, the anger is just bitterness.”
Merwin died in March 2019 at the age of 91.
Today is Thursday
One breath after
Do you love me
Nor do I
Inside & inside
Steel ring dawns
Whole of it all
I cannot tell
If I am
Alive or dead
I suppose there was once a time when people thought they knew what to believe.
"If you wish to seek peace of mind and happiness then believe. If you wish to be a disciple of truth, then investigate" Friedrich Nietzsche, in letter to his sister, 1865
That was then.
Now, we wander.
They say our mind is in deficient decline
We no longer just dislike something and get on with it
Now we dislike and want to eliminate whatever or whomever we dislike
This is the deficiency of our rational mentality -- destroy what we dislike
This trend is troubling
We have guns
We demean and denigrate
Denounce and shoot in the face
We do not suffer dissatisfaction
We make others suffer our dissatisfaction
Cancel and castigate, imprison and impugn
Cross off the list, consign to depletion and dirt
Patience no longer a virtue
Compassion is for fools
Fidelity is for suckers
The meek will be run off
The mind is compromised
The heart terrified
Men want their way
Doors close with strong locks
In for a penny in for a pound.
Don’t start by trying to love God, or even people; love elements and rocks first, move to trees, then animals, and then humans. Angels will soon seem like a real possibility, and God is then just a short leap away. It works. In fact, it might be the only way to love, because how we do anything is how we do everything. In the end, either we love everything or there is reason to doubt that we love anything. This one love and one loveliness was described by many medieval theologians as the “great chain of being.” (Richard Rohr, Building on a First Love, Daily Meditation)
There’s something we do not yet understand.
Microcosm is macrocosm.
Inch is mile.
Mind is universe.
I am you are me.
No matter, never mind.
No mind, never matter.
Either way, it works
- Ram Dass.
Face it, all of it!
It works, either way.
She doesn’t know where she is, or why. She wants to go home, to family, whoever or wherever they are, she doesn’t know.
Nor do I, but I only visit, sit with her, not knowing anything myself.
There we sit, the two of us, in the special wing, of a Sunday morning.
Until I get to go home.
Not knowing why.