Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

after sunday evening practice

deconstructing the accumulated
structure of self --
this is what life is doing,
what Dogen meant by “dropping
off mind and body” 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

looking, about

so much of the world

cannot remember what is

at root silence -- see

Sunday, October 26, 2014

no, wonder

There are no references to the word “contemplation” in the New Testament. There is one reference to the word “contemplate.”
2 Corinthians 3:18  
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 
New International Version (NIV)
No wonder there are so few contemplatives.

And, to think about it, “no wonder” is the absence of the desire for contemplation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

life preceding death

The following from "brain pickings," 17sept2014: 

How We Die: Sherwin Nuland on the Lifelong Art of Making Our Final Moments Meaningful

“The greatest dignity to be found in death is the dignity of the life that preceded it.”
But our greatest act of hope in dying, Nuland argues, is the dissolution of our illusion of separateness. He writes:
The real event taking place at the end of our life is our death, not the attempts to prevent it. We have somehow been so taken up with the wonders of modern science that our society puts the emphasis in the wrong place. It is the dying that is the important thing — the central player in the drama is the dying man: the dashing leader of that bustling squad of his would-be rescuers is only a spectator, and a groundling at that.
Reflecting on the commonly documented medical fact that the dying can often survive for weeks beyond their prognosis, sustained merely by the hope to live until a specific moment of significance — a daughter’s wedding, a grandchild’s graduation — Nuland calls to mind Rilke’s famous lines of verse (“Oh Lord, give each of us his own death / The dying, that issues forth out of the life / In which he had love, meaning and despair”) and considers the true source of hope:
For dying patients, the hope of cure will always be shown to be ultimately false, and even the hope of relief too often turns to ashes. When my time comes, I will seek hope in the knowledge that insofar as possible I will not be allowed to suffer or be subjected to needless attempts to maintain life; I will seek it in the certainty that I will not be abandoned to die alone; I am seeking it now, in the way I try to live my life, so that those who value what I am will have profited by my time on earth and be left with comforting recollections of what we have meant to one another… Whatever form it may take, each of us must find hope in his or her own way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

we used to say “Look” beginning each statement; now we say “So.”

We are fond of illusion. It is difficult to say goodbye to a friend. We would become disillusioned.

What would we look at?

This is what we long to know.

Perhaps we might look at this.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

expedient freedom

The koan of ‘expediency’ sat at table during Sunday Evening Practice. Jory said, ‘Acting within the constraints of the situation.’

Perhaps freedom is the recognition of necessity.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

ad majorem Dei gloriam

I let down green shade behind blue chair. Grey-brown cat stirs looking out window, steps through purple tent near white canvas bag under iron-legged table.

This is life on thursday morning.

White dog and brown dog in dooryard.

Egg and toast remains drift on plates in metal basin sink.

I read obituaries the ages of whom are my age or younger.

Every ailment is deadly.

On walk this morning at Still,Marbles we do our periodic enthuse about it being a final stay place for the dying, an interim practice place for the meditative, a beginning consciousness place for the contemplative.

As much of the world sniggers with political deviousness or inflamatory aggression -- we prefer to encircle a moribund property with imaginative thought.

Two cats on blue futon close eyes and take their rest. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

quies, presque silencio

Illness defines nothing. I suspect illness undefines. Falls everything apart.

The curious sensation of reading obituaries -- there I go, there I go!

What do we want from one another?

Enter quietly; visit briefly; leave with ease of back door closing quietly.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

See through?

Illness is temporary. It must be seen through.

Illusion is transitory. It must be seen through.

Illumination is terrific. We are frightened by it. And yet, without it not one thing is seen that must be seen through.

Still -- we are seeing through what is to be seen through. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

46 years after 1968

Drop, drop in our sleep, upon the heart sorrow falls, memory’s pain, and to us, though against our very will, even in our own despite, comes wisdom, by the awful grace of God.[3] 
(--in Edith Hamilton’s 1937 AESCHYLUS, Agamemnon 179-183)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

War is a way of declaring the absence of insight.

It is despair writ large. War is each murder and each greed lust ambition power taken to full height. It is deception and deviation as twin celebrities posing full face photos for mass consumption. Artifice as ascriptive achievement.

War is the failure of imagination to see the true relationship of me to myself, you to yourself, earth to ever-present-originator.
The God
Is near, and hard
to grasp.  
But where there is
A rescuing
element grows
as well  
— FRIEDRICH HÖLDERLEIN  (-- Epigraph, in Tomas Halik’s Night of the Confessor: Christian Faith in an Age of Uncertainty) 

In the face of such massive and irrefutable ignorance all we humans can do is cry and declare with pathetic prayer: jamais plus la guerre, jamais plus la guerre! 

It is memorial day in this morally ravaged country. The dead lay silent in their ground. On town streets bands and cars and marching children put a face on helpless celebration of sorrow for the things done, lives lost, souls and psyches stunned and devastated.
People sometimes come to a confessor, at least to the confessor whose confession this book is, in situations in which their entire “religious system”— their thinking, their experience , and their behavior— is in a greater or lesser state of crisis. They feel themselves to be in a “blind alley” and are often unaware whether it happened as the result of some more or less conscious or self-confessed moral failing or “sin,” or whether it is to do with some other changes in their personal life and relationships , or whether they have only now realized the outcome of some long and unperceived process during which their faith dwindled and guttered out. Sometimes they feel a void, because in spite of their sincere endeavors and often long years of spiritual search they have not found a sufficiently convincing answer in the places they have looked so far, or what had so far been their spiritual home has started to seem constricted or spurious. Despite the uniqueness of individual human stories, after years of practice as a confessor one discovers certain recurrent themes. And that is the second aspect of the confessor’s experience to which this book seeks to provide a testimony. Through the multitude of individual confessions, which are protected, as has been said, by the seal of absolute discretion, the confessor comes into contact with something that is more general and common to all, something that lies beneath the surface of individual lives and belongs to a kind of “hidden face of the times,” to their “inner turning.” 
(--Halik, Tomas (2012-01-10). Night of the Confessor: Christian Faith in an Age of Uncertainty, Kindle Locations 125-135). 
Will we relent? Change our mind? Come to senses? See what is real and true?

One can hope.

Without optimism.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Remove the sandals from your feet

There's a resistance to opening oneself to an alternative reality. So says Avivah Zornberg — The Transformation of Pharaoh, Moses, and God,  On Being. Radio interview with Krista Tippett (originally, from 2005).

Obdurate and closed to appeals from the outside world. A hardened heart; Pharaoh. A slow and heavy mouth; Moses. A dull and uncomprehending mind; us.

This story, as with all stories, is ours. Right here and right now, ours.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. From now on you'll be travelling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey." 
(~~father writing to his daughter, Amelia, in the movie, "The Princess Diaries," script by Gina Wendkos, from the novel by Meg Cabot)
Adam and Eve are expelled. Moses and Aaron are expelled. You and I are expelled.

Into the unknown.

Our true home.

Prospective Immigrants Please Note                   
                        by Adrienne Rich 
Either you will 
go through this door 
or you will not go through. 

If you go through 
there is always the risk 
of remembering your name. 

Things look at you doubly 
and you must look back 
and let them happen. 

If you do not go through 
it is possible 
to live worthily 

to maintain your attitudes 
to hold your position 
to die bravely 

but much will blind you, 
much will evade you, 
at what cost who knows? 

The door itself makes no promises. 
It is only a door.
                               (Poem by Adrienne Rich) 
The possibilities of story, the endlessly open possibilities of our leaving, our exodus from the known toward the infinite and curious unveiling of what-is unfolding from the nothing we know into the nothing we don't know which sets in motion the nothing we are.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

just one look

If “love” is a fundamental ground of human desire and existence, then is it any wonder that we have adopted the belief that “God is love” or “Compassion is enlightenment”?

If Thomas Merton is correct that “love” has no opposite -- that there is only love and the perversion of love -- then our attitude toward love and compassion mirrors or determines our attitudes about God or the perversion of God.

If you are looking at me and I am looking at you, then is there only one looking?

A friend writes that his ticket has been punched by a conductor and the timetable for his departure is posted on the big board. I suggest that he “fool ‘em and ride on top of the coach.”

What vehicle is the coach? What rails are being travelled? What whistle at crossings is being sounded?

Who knows?

Tonight begins March Madness.

Here’s looking at you, kid!

(For, indeed: “Here” is looking at (or rather “as” you.)

Without you, I’m nothing.

Just one all it takes.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

ergo, igitur

Not knowing is not bad.

It presupposes not treating.

Knowing this is good.

Monday, March 10, 2014

visiting Kali

Solace, the singing group, sang for Kali Sunday afternoon.

She moved to the music in her bed.

The sound of everyone being told they are, indeed, beautiful.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

way; spare

Listening to Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. He spoke about dignifying difference. 

 I am happy living simply 

I am happy living simply: 
like a clock, or a calendar. 
Worldly pilgrim, thin, 
wise—as any creature. To know 
the spirit is my beloved. To come to things—swift 
as a ray of light, or a look. 
To live as I write: spare—the way 
God asks me—and friends do not.  
(Poem by Marina Tsvetaeva, {1892–1941} 1919, Source: Poetry, March 2012).

What do I know of death?  Because it is inevitable does it diminish my belief in life?
“. . . inability to explain is no ground for disbelief. Not as long as the sense of God persists” (p.236, in "Mr. Sammler’s Planet, by Saul Bellow)
What is the “sense of God”?

I’ll go, for now, with Tsvetaeva’s phrasing: “spare—the way.”

I’ll sit with it. Attempt to see it from all sides. With all feeling. And all meaning.


The way.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

studded snow tires

 The 70 yr old woman said she was ready for death. She doesn’t want pain. The way her brother knew pain.

sometimes, i have conversations with an imaginary guru, naturally one who lives inside me. he used to be a psychiatrist: at least in the old days a lot of my conversations were started with, & a lot of my problems heard out or resolved by, an imaginary viennese who listened carefully, often accusingly, & showed me with a few apt technical phrases how far i had erred in my thinking, or behavior. the viennese fellow has disappeared; comes back if ever for very short visits; but has been replaced by chuang tzu (sometimes merton, or sometimes chuang tzu in merton translation) who tells me other wisdoms: usually the wisdoms of abstinence & avoidance; of retreat, prayer & preparation, of non-attachment, of “sitting quietly doing nothing,” of seeking smallness, not greatness, or of seeking nothing at all.  
as i don’t think i really understood the “psychiatrist” half of the time, i'm not sure i really understand “chuang tzu.” i respect him though, don’t resent him, as i often did the psychiatrist; feel that he knows i don’t know but that little by little there’ll be things i can learn. i picture him with shaved head, a listener (& yet a practical man), a listener who appreciates, a listener with humor; a storehouse-—but very light storehouse—-of wisdom; made like modern electronic ears of light, light materials, but of great receiving strength. 
what he promotes is wisdom, what he promises is grace. zen wisdom, perhaps; zen grace, but certainly wisdom & grace.  
one feels that all philosophies, zen, & yoga are ways of approaching wisdom & “enlightenment”—they are ways of approaching an enlightened state in which one’s behavior is always or almost always “spontaneously” right.  
to be “enlightened” is not to shine; nor to bring multitudes to the hill where one sits cross-legged, to listen.  
it is rather to know what one is doing (& even, perhaps, to enjoy it). 
(--Robert Lax, {1915-2000}, from his journals) 

I walk her through last night’s snow to her car. I watch for cars coming down hill. She backs out. Heads for town. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What to do in the face of the unimaginable

You go on.

That’s how existentialist stories seem to end.

Carrying on.

Until something strange and unknown takes you away.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

bad companion, congenial companion

It seems useless to decide beforehand what will help and what won’t. 
Cry, and the Lord will answer; 
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’  
The “Lord” is not what you think he is. Nor are you what you think you are.

 It is necessary to allow what is right for the moment be right, and what is wrong, wrong.
“Y por que el sol es tan mal amigo 
del caminante en el desierto?  

Y por que el sol es tan simpatico 
en el jardin del hospital? 

And why is the sun such a bad companion 
to the traveler in the desert? 

And why is the sun so congenial  
in the hospital garden?”  
― Pablo Neruda

 Sufficient for the day is the determination made of the usefulness of anything for that day.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What is death?

"Measurement," the father said.

In Sanskrit the word is "Maya."


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stay, non-turned

Cat knocks over Buddha.

Doesn't care.

German Shepherd sleeps through it.

    Musee des Beaux Arts  

About suffering they were never wrong, 
The old Masters: how well they understood 
Its human position: how it takes place 
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along; 
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting 
For the miraculous birth, there always must be 
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating 
On a pond at the edge of the wood:  
They never forgot 
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot 
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse 
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away 
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may 
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, 
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone 
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green 
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen 
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, 
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on. 
(Poem by W. H. Auden)

Cat, dog, and Buddha are also (seldom) wrong.

We, however, need not turn away.

Let's not.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

silent gaze

Dukkha -- dissatisfaction, trauma, or suffering --  arrives uninvited.

Someone writes saying cancer has spread, he’s in pain, feels heartbroken.

I take it in and reflect with haiku:
(a haiku for D.) 
when heart sees itself —
enormous chunks of ice fall
to flowing water
This seems to be how we find our experience as time continues.

It has its limits.

As we do.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014


The illusion is we're alone.

We're never alone.

Illumination is inseparate.

" All lose,whole find" wrote e.e. cummings

No romanticizing illness. Illness is illness.

Begin there.

Then --

Become whole with any halves within (reach).

No one is none the wiser.


No, one is none, the wiser.

They know this, the wiser.

Which is what you are!