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 the viennese fellow has disappeared; comes back if ever for very short visits; but has been replaced by chuang tzu (sometimes merton, or sometimes chuang tzu in merton translation) who tells me other wisdoms: usually the wisdoms of abstinence & avoidance; of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.