Saturday, July 13, 2024

in tune

Country music from Sony shortwave 

tucked next to Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion 

and  The Asian Journal

of Thomas Merton and in front of Bones of the Master

 Saturday evening between Ragged and Bald Mountains

Waking from nap, car pulls in dooryard, six bells, no place

I would rather be, as song says

"This is where I belong"

where shantideva meets franciscan nun

 shaking head

landscape blurs

birds and squirrels

stay away

chipmunk brought up

by cat from under porch

is netted and put out

favoring rear leg

cat complains catch

and release, goes to

food dish, finishes clumps

Saturday settles back

into itself, Wimbledon

a 30 for 30 Dennis Rodman 

everywhere on cable

trump/biden, biden/trump

the silliness of calculation

and intrigue

yesterday in prison, Ilia

Delio thoughts on Trinity

and mutation, hot room

inmate brings cups of water

sipping transforming love 

Friday, July 12, 2024

love dying to be loved

Of course we’ll want to look at this again.

So much depends on it. 

The Christian God was deflected two thousand years by the dominance of patriarchy, power, and politics. The distortion of God still prevails, and the earth is now suffering from abstract theological speculations that have led to an unemployed God. I do not think that Christianity has failed; rather, it is in the process of being born, not as the exceptional religion of truth, but as the personalizing process of building the earth into a community of justice and peace. Teilhard’s words ring true: “In the future, the only religion possible is the religion which will teach us, in the very first place, to recognize, love, and serve with passion the universe of which we form a part.” With our fragile earth imploding, it is time to reclaim the Christian mutation, an interpersonal God of love dying to be loved unto greater unity. (—Ilia.Delik, in The Unemployed Trinity and a Fragile Earth: Defocusing the Christian God, blog, March 2024)

 God is not what we think God to be.

God is the experiential energy becoming what God and we relationally mutate and transform ourselves into emergence with justice and peace.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

the supreme impiety is to make bad use of it

Much is made of disease. Worry, fear, depression.

Perhaps it is not so much disease that freezes and stiffens us when confronted with it. 

But, death.


Why does the prospect of ending this life that each of us knows appear so fretful and worrisome?

 Death is the most precious thing which has been given to man. That is why the supreme impiety is to make bad use of it. To die amiss.

--Simone Weil

Death, it seems, does not always mean the negation of life -- sometimes it has the paradoxical capacity of enhancing it, of intensifying it to the point of, yes, breathing new life into life. The presence of death can instill in the living a new appreciation of existence -- indeed, a deeper understanding of it. It would be fair to say, then, that life needs death. Should death be somehow outlawed, life would receive a devastating blow.

(--in Dying For Ideas, The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers, p.1, by Costica Bradatan, Bloomsbury, 2015)

After years as a hospice volunteer, I find, since last Fall, I have drifted away from volunteering. Perhaps the realization of my own mortality has become enough to contemplatively attend to. But, as it is, that's not an immanent occasion, despite the machines, pictures, biopsies, bloodwork, and frequent flyer visits to medical personnel. 

Spiritual practice has long kept death front and center. Every exhalation comes with no promise of subsequent inhalation. Every pill I take does not contain the promise -- Après moi, pas besoin d'autre chose.

Seven bells from ships clock. In thirty minutes, eight bells, another watch comes to end.

Soon after, new watch, in another thirty minutes, one bell.

And so the tolling of our watching continues.

We, for whom the bells toll, watch and listen.

Listen and watch.

Breath by breath.

for benedict

 So, what now?

Sending birds back to mountains

Dodging lethal bullets

Air  through windowless screen

These sleepy July muggy mornings

A dialogue of wavering leaf and leaf

Between ora et labora a pause

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

accidents of birth

 Why should we be moral?

Why would we want to be disinterested?

Fortune is not arbitrary 

and thus to live life as “play”

 Sometimes the words seem silly. The capitalizations, the references to aspects beyond our experience, the suggestion we might live through war with wit and wonder.

Spiritual writing sometimes seems like a plane of existence beyond our comprehension. 

Maybe it is.

 To live with the true consciousness of life centered in Another is to lose one’s self-important seriousness and thus to live life as “play” in Union with a Cosmic Player. It is He alone that one takes seriously. But to take Him seriously is to find joy and spontaneity in everything, for everything is gift and grace. In other words, to live selfishly is to bear life as an intolerable burden. To live selflessly is to live in joy, realizing by experience that life itself is love and gift. To be a lover and a giver is to be a channel through which the Supreme Giver manifests His love in the world.

(—p.350, Appendix IX, The Significance of the Bhagavad-Gita, by Thomas Merton, in The Asian Journal, 1968)

Emerging from the cylinder this morning I told the technician the experience was like a near-death episode in a submarine being fired on and diving forthwith.

It was a play I chose to do without music in my earphones as his voice alternately told me to hold my breath, then to breathe.

Submariners and firemen, he said, have the most difficult time. PTSD folks, what with the rat-a-tat machine gun echoes, seem to cope well.

Breakfast at the Offshore Restaurant next door was the perfect resurfacing.

A channel through which to sit and chat with supportive companion and surrounding elderly table-sitting cohort.

Why not overtip? 

Goodly refills.

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

you cannot be turned around

Tomorrow morning, zazen machine will whirl stillness looking for death.

This prospect, expensively magnetic, is not unnerving as it is unnecessary.  

The practice of true reality
Is simply to sit serenely
In silent introspection.
When you have fathomed this,
You cannot be turned around
By external causes and conditions.
This empty, wide-open mind
Is subtly and correctly

—Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157) dailyzen

The intervals between breaths remain infinitesimally constant but for that last one when the cosmos somersaults and what was inside flips into the outside and what had a name becomes nameless.

Death isn’t the problem.

Nor is the cosmos the problem.

Let’s posit the premise there is no problem.

What-is is solved within-itself, interval by interval, stillness dismounting uneven bars, arriving without landing anywhere. 

Monday, July 08, 2024

amen, alleluia

 I pray

May all be well

Dead or alive

afterwards, yes, afterwards

 If you want to know

The mind of God, say nothing

Think nothing, be still

no individual has the right to cling to the principle of their restriction

Listening to Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, by Susan Neiman. She writes, citing Adorno, "There's no right way to live when everything is wrong. What remains is only the moral imperative not to deceive ourselves about the magnitude of the modern catastrophe."

In prison today that phrasing sat with us around the table after the conversation went through the scope and implications of micro- and macro-economics that two of the men are studying. Finance and economics are foreign galaxies to me, replete with the hundred million miles distancing where I dwell and the white star my eyes detect that somehow is not really other than me. But, yes, completely beyond my ken.

  Elsewhere, writing about Adorno's Minima Moralia, under “Wrong Life Cannot Be Lived Rightly”, JM Bernstein summarizes:

Minima Moralia's subtitle is Reflections from Damaged Life. Adorno's concept of “life” is equivocal: “reflections from damaged life” is certainly intended as the contemporary fate and an ironic inversion of what once was regarded as the true field of philosophy, “the teaching of the good life” (MM, 15); but “life” here equally means to connote the evaluative sense of organic life, the sense of “life” that gives on to vitalism; finally, Adorno intends the Hegelian notion of “ethical life,” Sittlichkeit, with its conception of social practices, customs, and institutions being the necessary mediums and supports in virtue of which individuals can possess the life they do. To assert that our ethical life is damaged is to claim that for us the good life is no longer possible, and hence that now all philosophy can do is to survey the damage, to read the ruins of ethical life as a negative expression of what has been lost and/or what we intend and hope for. Thus Adorno conceives of Minima Moralia as a “melancholy science” (MM, 15) – far removed from Nietzsche's “joyful science” (fröhliche Wissenschaft). The dominant leitmotif of Minima Moralia, the title itself an inversion of Aristotle's Magna Moralia, is the condition of damage; hence Adorno's reiterated expressions of our damaged condition:

Bernstein JM. Wrong Life Cannot Be Lived Rightly.” In: Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics. Modern European Philosophy. Cambridge University Press; 2001:40-74.

One of the men will be leaving "The Farm" in two weeks to enter home confinement for a few years. He's been good company. The conversation among the seven of us touched on home ownership, mortgages, credit, remote employment, what felons can and cannot do, insurance policies, careers, and Golden Retrievers, one of which played with Enso during the roundtable.

The private life and property, as well as spirituality and the cosmos were spoken of.

The best conduct in regards to all this still appears to be a nonbinding, suspending one: to lead a private life, so long as the social order of society and one’s one needs will allow nothing else, but not to put weight on such, as if it were still socially substantial and individually appropriate. “It is one of my joys, not to be a house-owner,” wrote Nietzsche as early as The Gay Science. To this should be added: ethics today means not being at home in one’s house. This illustrates something of the difficult relationship which individual persons have vis-à-vis their property, so long as they still own anything at all. The trick consists of certifying and expressing the fact that private property no longer belongs to one person, in the sense that the abundance of consumer goods has become potentially so great, that no individual [Individuum] has the right to cling to the principle of their restriction; that nevertheless one must have property, if one does not wish to land in that dependence and privation, which perpetuates the blind continuation of the relations of ownership. But the thesis of this paradox leads to destruction, a loveless lack of attention for things, which necessarily turns against human beings too; and the antithesis is already, the moment one expresses it, an ideology for those who want to keep what is theirs with a bad conscience. There is no right life in the wrong one.

(in Minima Moralia, Reflections from the damaged life, by Theodor Adorno, Part One, 1944)

Adorno words his last sentence differently than quoted in the book I read. That's ok. It's terrifying to remember what one has said and to quote it correctly. My mother, whose birthdate is today, and forty three years gone, said I was cruel because I remembered what people said, and, on occasion, reminded them

Maybe that's why I so enjoy conversation. It is a spiritual practice. The holy scripture of passing phrasing. The sacred disguised as ordinary speech that is extemporaneous. Allowing the spontaneous to be accompanied by intuitions of skillful speech.

In his piece "What is Freedom?" in Spirituality & Health, Joa Janakoayas writes 

Politically, we supposedly live in a free world. Instead of debating that, I suggest we embrace the spiritual principle:

“Outer world experience is a reflection of inner reality.” 

In other words, freedom begins within.

Perhaps that's why a mantra I'm fond of (which is my bastardized translation of Om Mane Padme Hum) is 

"Behold what-is within without; Behold what-is without within.

country in danger

One is slow, feebled

Other morally depraved —

Who should be let go?

trillions of miles from here

 Woodpecker takes break

As sun comes over hill — in

Dream I’m still confused

I never know what job is

Truck towed, words stumble, old man

Sunday, July 07, 2024

no time like the present

 That white spot in sky

Trillions of miles away, I

am there here within

accepting age is optional

 Maturity is

Watching Wimbledon and not 

Thinking “I’d do that!”

off the sandlot

 It’s a little odd

Why I do not choose between

Yankees and Red Sox