Saturday, December 16, 2023


 A friend is whatever shares presence in the moment.

prelude, postlude, to narrative nativity, this

slow down, don't panic --

the presence of God --simply

means Presence is what

is reality, no more

no less -- look around -- see this

showing where the earth was

A Quick Poem 

              by Adam Zagajewski

I was listening to Gregorian chants
in a speeding car
on a highway in France.
The trees rushed past. Monks’ voices
sang praises to an unseen god
(at dawn in a chapel trembling with cold).
Domine, exaudi orationem meum,
male voices pleaded calmly
as if salvation were just growing in the garden.
Where was I going? Where was the sun hiding?
My life lay tattered
on both sides of the road, brittle as a paper map.
With the sweet monks
I made my way toward the clouds, deep blue,
heavy, dense,
toward the future, the abyss,
gulping hard tears of hail.
Far from dawn. Far from home.
In place of walls — sheet metal.
Instead of a vigil — a flight.
Travel instead of remembrance.
A quick poem instead of a hymn.
A small, tired star raced
up ahead
and the highway’s asphalt shone,
showing where the earth was,
where the horizon’s razor lay in wait,
and the black spider of evening
and night, widow of so many dreams. 

(Poem by Adam Zagajewski (translated by Clare Cavanagh)! from Mysticism for Beginners, Poems, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, c.1997

as sun brightens sky, dimwittery


The degradation

Seemingly senseless adulation

A odd man intent on ravaging whatever he can

 CNN reporters today pulled together evidence from a number of sources to explain how “a binder containing highly classified information related to Russian election interference went missing at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency.” The missing collection of documents was ten inches thick and contained 2,700 pages of information from U.S. intelligence and that of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies about Russian efforts to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election. 

The binder went missing in the last days of the Trump presidency and has not been recovered. Its disappearance has raised “alarms among intelligence officials that some of the most closely guarded national security secrets from the US and its allies could be exposed.” 

(—Heather Cox Richardson, 15dec23)

Once I die

It will not matter

None of any opinion

Will carry over into that good night

Friday, December 15, 2023

cat-unadorable imperative

 Growl from hallway, cats

Do best imitation of

World’s political

Threats and posturing, scraping

Box demanding due doodoo 

Thursday, December 14, 2023

dubito ergo non sum

 Religion, not God, is the problem.


What is [Vincent] Brümmer’s view on philosophical theology and what alternative understandings of the enterprise and of philosophy of religion does he explicitly or implicitly reject? Brümmer maintains that the “task of philosophical theology is not to provide proofs of the truth (or falsity) of the Christian faith, or to find neutral rational grounds on which to justify accepting (or rejecting) the Christian, or any other, faith. Instead the philosophical theologian asks semantic and hermeneutical questions about the meaning and interpretation of the faith: what are the implications and presuppositions of the fundamental concepts of the faith, and how could the claims of the faith be interpreted in a coherent and relevant way? In this sense philosophical theology has an essential contribution to make in the theological quest of faith seeking

understanding” (1992:2).


It is not only philosophical theology that Brümmer seems to understand in this way. He explicitly says that: “Philosophical reflection aims at clarifying and limiting our conceptual options” (1992:27). Philosophers reflect on possible conceptual forms in order to establish whether or not they are coherent and relevant, and in order to see what the implications

would be if we were to accept them. Therefore the aim of philosophy is not necessarily to force conclusions but rather to limit and clarify our conceptual options and in this way to contribute to making progress in our thinking.


The extent of this limitation depends on the range of criteria that we use. Brümmer exemplifies three levels of reflection (1992:28):

1. Philosophical theology is the attempt to determine which conceptual forms, doctrines or religious beliefs can be accepted without contradiction and which, positively speaking, might be coherent.

2. Confessional theology is the attempt to determine which conceptual forms, doctrines or religious beliefs can be accepted without becoming untrue to the community of faith.

3. Personal theology or personal faith is each believer’s attempt to determine which conceptual forms, doctrines or religious beliefs he or she can embrace without losing his or her integrity.


Because the criteria used in philosophical theology (consistency and coherence) are accessible not solely to religious believers but to all members of the community of scholars, it has a proper place within the revered precincts of the university (2006:453).


Brümmer further contrasts philosophical theology to three other forms of theology (2006:454-57):

1. Revealed theology is the attempt to base religious beliefs and doctrines on divine revelation or grounds internal to faith.

2. Natural theology is the attempt to rationally prove religious beliefs by appealing to universally accepted or neutral grounds.

3. Descriptive theology is the attempt to describe religious beliefs and practices and test the truth of these descriptions (and not the beliefs and practices themselves).


Unlike revealed theology, philosophical theology treats revelatory or doctrinal claims merely as assumptions (and not as truths) when testing their coherence, implications and connection to other revelatory or doctrinal claims. Unlike natural theology, philosophical theology seeks

to analyze the meaning of doctrine rather than attempting to prove its truth. And, unlike descriptive theology, philosophical theology tries to make an innovative contribution to the conceptualization of a religious tradition. However, like descriptive theology and religious studies,

philosophical theology takes not God but religion, and in particular the doctrinal conceptions of God or faith, as its object of inquiry.

(--from, Philosophical Theology and Rational Theology, by Mikael Stenmark, Academia)

 God, not religion, is our inquiry.

Does that make us theological philosophers of poetics and religious thinking?

I doubt, therefore, I am not; nor am I what I might think I am.

when thomas Keating couldn't find another word

 now after now, now

after now, now  -- Trappist monk

talks presence of God

(--first 70 seconds,

nothing to find, the stillness to be

 A saint is one

In world of two

Full of flaws

Full of grace

Ambiguous life

Encased in death

Look look

No there here

Presence is

Itself unshown

Unfelt, unseen

— fully here

from diamond sutra

December 13, 2023

Selections from the Diamond Sutra


Conventional Truth Should be Cut Off

Subhuti, if anyone should say that Buddha declares any conception of egoity do you consider he would understand my teaching aright?

No, World-Honored One, such a person would not have any sound understanding of the Tathagata’s teaching because the World-Honored One declares notions of selfhood, personality, entity, and separate individuality, as really existing, are erroneous—these terms are merely figures of speech.

Subhuti, those who aspire to the consummation of incomparable enlightenment should recognize and understand all varieties of things in the same way and cut off the arising of views that are mere aspects. As regards aspects, the Tathagata declares that in reality, they are not such. They are merely called “aspects.”

The Delusion of Appearances

Subhuti, someone might fill innumerable worlds with the seven treasures and give all away in gifts of alms, but if any good man or any good woman awakens the thought of enlightenment and takes even only four lines from this discourse reciting, using, receiving, retaining, and spreading them abroad and explaining them for the benefit of others, it will be far more meritorious.

Now in what manner should one explain them to others? By detachment from appearances—abiding in the real truth. So I tell you:

Thus shall ye think of this fleeting world: 
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream; 
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud, 
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

When Buddha finished this discourse the venerable Subhuti, together with the bhikshus, bhikshunis, lay brothers and sisters, and the whole realms of gods, men, and titans were filled with joy by his teaching and, taking it sincerely to heart, they went their ways.

Thus ends the Diamond Sutra


Excerpted from The Diamond Sutra and The Sutra of Hui-neng trans. by A. F. Price and Wong Mou-lam 199

  —dailyzen journal

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

un petit novella

The day didn't know what to do with itself. It began. It went on. It ended.

It became yesterday. It shook its head. It didn't know what to say. It was not itself any more.

It turned to look at where it had been. Seeing nothing, it shook its head, put hand to face covering eyes.

If there was a bath, it would draw it.

Deciding there was,  it drew a bath, stepped in, and listened to end of an obscure novel.


¿escuchaste la historia de los tres huevos? dos malos

 rooster crows 

in el salvador

government takes


anyone they

want to

there will

be eggs

they will

be broken

when one's soul morns

 I attend a wake

It is my own, I have died

day by day morning

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

measuring tape

 I’m unsure why death

Has not yet taken me, I 

Fade inch by each inch 

Monday, December 11, 2023

though i may know nothing about it

 At yearly re-pronouncing of meetingbrook promises last evening the10th of December, we included this:

 It is the anniversary of Thomas Merton's death. Here the well-known Merton prayer.


My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though

I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

The Merton Prayer” from Thoughts in Solitude Copyright © 1956, 1958 by The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani. 

...   ...   ...


Followed by our speaking the promises and others reading the quotes this 25th year:

Three promises, Sunday, December 10, 2023


each 10december, remembering thomas merton, we renew our promises … happily so


 Three promises:   

Contemplation, Conversation, Correspondence. held by Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage “m.o.n.o.” (monastics of no other).

1. Contemplation  is the promise of simplicity.

It is a gift of poverty inviting open waiting, receptive trust, attention, and watchful presence. It is a simple Being-With. 
It is attentive presence.

2. Conversation  is the promise of integrity.  

It is a chaste and complete intention to listen and speak, lovingly and respectfully, with each and all made present to us. It is a wholeness of listening and speaking. 
It is root silence. 

3. Correspondence  is the promise of faithful engagement.   

It is responsible attention and intention offered obediently to the Source of all Being, to the Human Family, to Nature. It is a faithful engagement with all sentient beings, with this present world, with existence with all its needs & joys, sorrows & hope.
It is transparent service


Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage invites & welcomes individuals interested in the practice of these 3 promises in their life. Whether the interest is in conversing, praying, deepening, learning, or even holding these 3 promises, we invite you to enter the inquiry and stillness. May the loving light and the compassionate peace of the Christ and the Bodhisattva accompany and support the efforts of each one. 



1.  We are going to have to create a new language of prayer.  (Thomas Merton, Calcutta 1968)

2.   When you go apart to be alone for prayer…see that nothing remains in your consciousness mind save a naked intent stretching out toward God. Leave it stripped of every particular idea about God (what he is like in himself or in his works) and keep only the awareness that he is as he is. Let him be thus, I pray you, and force him not to be otherwise.   (Anonymous)

3.   I long for a great lake of ale. / I long for the men of heaven in my house. / I long for cheerfulness in their drinking. / And I long for Jesus to be there among them. (Brigid, Celtic saint)

4.   It is not by closing your eyes that you see your own nature. On the contrary, you must open your eyes wide and wake up to the real situation in the world to see completely your whole Dharma Treasure, your whole Dharma Body. The bombs, the hunger, the pursuit of wealth and power - these are not separate from your nature….You will suffer, but your pain will not come from your own worries and fears. You will suffer because of your kinship with all beings, because you have the compassion of an awakened one, a Bodhisattva. (Thich Nhat Hanh)     

5.   He who truly attains awakening knows that deliverance is to be found right where he is. There is no need to retire to the mountain cave. If he is a fisherman he becomes a real fisherman. If he is a butcher he becomes a real butcher. The farmer becomes a real farmer and the merchant a real merchant. He lives his daily life in awakened awareness. His every act from morning to night is his religion.  (Sokei-an)

the measure

Rainy Night in Soho

I've been loving you a long time
Down all the years, down all the days
And I've cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways

We watched our friends grow up together
And we saw them as they fell
Some of them fell into Heaven
Some of them fell into Hell

I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho
The wind was whistling all its charms

I sang you all my sorrows
You told me all your joys
Whatever happened to that old song
To all those little girls and boys

Sometimes I wake up in the morning
The ginger lady by my bed
Covered in a cloak of silence
I hear you talking in my head

I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the first time
I never think about the last

Now, the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
Still there's a light I hold before me
You're the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

--song by Shane MacGowan, Pogues, sung at Shane's funeral, (with elision) by Nick Cave 

Sunday, December 10, 2023

of true and undifferentiated oneness

At times, the question comes down to God and the soul.

As in: which is which? Is one in the other? Is there no-other? Is realizing one's soul realizing God? 

Is there, so to speak, a creating of the world from within oneself when the undifferentiated suchness of isomorphic existentiality emerges into and onto the visible, tangible and cosmic plane of the ontotheologic landscape/horizon? (cf. International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol.8(3), 297–327; 2000, Ontotheology? Understanding Heidegger’s Destruktion of Metaphysics * Iain Thomson

Have we not understood the nature of reality, the nature of self, the nature of God?

     God and the soul -- that too is what Eckhart desired to know. Nothing more, but nothing less either. At one place in the fifty-third of the German sermons the Meister summarizes the content of his preaching in terms of four general themes that are really aspects of the correlative mysteries of God and the soul: 12 "When I preach I always speak of detachment (abegescheidenheit) and that man shall be free of himself and of all things. Second, that man shall be formed anew (ingebildet) in the simple goodness that is God. Third, that man shall think of the great nobility that God has bestowed on the soul in order that he miraculously come to God. Fourth, [I speak of] the purity of the divine nature -- any brightness that is in the divine nature is ineffable. God is a word, a word that is not spoken."13 Eckhart's proclamation of the necessity of inner detachment from the self and from all created things is a necessary precondition to union with God because only a totally naked soul can receive the naked hidden God -- "the greater the nudity, the greater the union."14 Man must make a pilgrimage into the desert with him in order to encounter the wilderness (einoede, wüestunge) of the hidden Godhead.15. Perfect union with God on the one hand is a reformation, a recreation, a remaking (inbilden) of man back into the simple ground of God; on the other, it is a recognition of the Godlike nobility that the soul never loses, an intellectual conversion to the noble part of the soul that Eckhart speaks of as the vünkelin,  the bürgelin, or the grunt.16 Finally, since the soul is truly divine in its innermost ground, and since the goal of life is the attainment not just of similarity and unity but of true and undifferentiated oneness with God,17  the pure ineffability of the divine nature will always be the most fundamental theme of the mystical preacher's message. 

(--pp.4-5 The God beyond God: Theology and Mysticism in the Thought of Meister Eckhart, by Bernard McGinn, in The Journal of Religion, Jan.,1981, Vol 61, Mo.1, {Jan.1981} pp.1-19, The University of Chicago Press), or,

We wonder. We wonder about our origin, about the origins of all that is, about the process of emergence, from where? and into what? 

We look everywhere, with telescopes and satellites, meditation and contemplation, colloquy and wordless silence in the face of what is presenting itself.

3. Lebemeister or Lesemeister? Eckhart as Mystic, Theologian, and Philosopher

In much contemporary spiritual literature, various popular new-age tomes, and not a little academic scholarship, Meister Eckhart has been characterized first and foremost as a mystic—and only secondarily as a theologian or philosopher. This characterization has to do, in part, with the recovery of Eckhart’s vernacular works by nineteenth-century Romantic and Idealist movements in Germany for whom the so-called “mystics” symbolized the representatives and custodians of “true” religion (Schmidt 2003). (Eckhart’s more “scholarly” Latin writings were not discovered until the second half of the nineteenth century by which time he had already been claimed for mysticism.) Relatedly, Eckhart’s vernacular works lent themselves well to a growing interest in religious perennialism and a desire in the burgeoning fields of religious studies, philosophy of religion, and religious psychology to locate parallels between the attitudes, experiences, and ideas found in Christianity and those of other religious and spiritual traditions (Griffioen 2021: 9–12). Already in Volume 2 of The World as Will and Representation (1844), Schopenhauer compared Eckhart’s ideas with those found in Buddhism, Sufism, and the Upanishads (Schopenhauer 1844 [2018]), and Rudolf Otto compared the Meister to Shankara in his influential 1926 Mysticism East and West (Otto 1926 [1932]). Since then, Eckhart has often been set alongside other figures sometimes claimed for mysticism—e.g., Abraham Abulafia, Ibn ‘Arabi, Rumi, Zhuangzi, and Zhu Xi, to name just a few—and his work has been compared to traditions as wide ranging as Advaita Vedanta, Confucianism, Sufism, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and Zoharic Kabbalism, among others. Indeed, Eckhart remains a significant touchstone for scholars of comparative mysticism today. --Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

This morning, rain. Firebox and portable heaters stand in vigil for expired furnace. Chocolate milk and Mrs. Dunster's Crunch Nuggets attend this time before dawn. Bodhi-Chitta, the cat, wonders, if I am sitting here on the wohnküche futon, why hasn't her breakfast appeared?

These days I am aware of entropy, the gradual decline into disorder that is my physical and mental disestablishment.

I'm not looking for God. (Unless, in effect, I might be doing the looking for God?)

Still, it is the season of Advent, the slide of December, that mostly commercial selling time of materials for presents and celebratory occasions that seamlessly coincide with religious holidays and natural cycles having to do with light, inner and outer, mehr licht, enlightenment, and eternal return in all its aspects.

I open the winter drapes. I step outside to feel the morning mist and fog, the quiet scrunch underfoot. 

It is the time of prayer. Laudes and Prime chanting from France. Cats are given their morning bowls. Donuts and milk are put away. Two logs placed into firebox.

I think of the Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn. One of the dharma teachers in his school writes:

For many of us, answering the big questions and developing a “spiritual” connection or–what we would call in our tradition–finding your “True Self” or “Big I” seems to take a certain amount of effort and dedication over years. That is why it is so often said that the time to start is now. “Hurry, hurry. Soon dead.” You might have read some words like from our founding teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn.

It is actually a cheerful meditation "Hurry, hurry, Soon dead."

Faint light appears outside windows in dooryard. Snow on ground and branches give definition. 

It is the anniversary of Thomas Merton's death. Here the well-known Merton prayer.

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

“The Merton Prayer” from Thoughts in Solitude Copyright © 1956, 1958 by The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani. 

We are grateful for his life.