Voice

I’m searching for my voice, listen…is it here?

Mine is a voice of prosody, though sometimes of verse

It has rhythm that often falters, skipping, out of time

It meanders like a cat, its tail waving

I have seen my voice in print, I hope it sounds like me

I am looking for it here, it might be lying in a notebook

or a scrap of paper, a random scribble on a page

Impressions

You have heard it said that you are where you have been; you are, this is true

You are, and you are what you eat: gram by gram, ounce by ounce, pound by pound

Amino acids, proteins housing memories, engram by engram

Wraiths rush past me, reflections in the dirty-glass, reaching out for me

The rainfall pools, collected in the dirty-street, ghosts jump in the light

Places I have been, the trajectory of fate—weaving memories

Warped purpose, threads patterns on the loom, spindle fibers and neurons

Electrons repeat on the skein, loop in their circuit, strange and funny

Projections of the self, shuttled forward and backward, upside down through time

Lowly little worms emerging from the cocoon, butterflies with horns

Chrysalis in the milk-weed, monarchs in the street dressed in silk, burnt orange

Soft winds returning, lilac scents my garden, warm rains after winter

#Poetry

#Haiku

#Senryu

#Tanka

#Haibun

A Sequence in Blue

A powder-blue parallelogram, like an unplanted—field, broken

Blue-black ink flows from the pen

A string of sapphires, dawn’s bejeweled horizon, smoke curls off the tongue

The trumpet wails in mourning 

The azure summer, naked in the cloudless sky, a flight of sparrows composing

The poetry of shadows

#Poetry

#Haiku

#Senryu

#Tanka

#Haibun

#TheBookofSparrows

Saint Katherine of Alexandria – Patron Saint of Philosophers

As a Roman Catholic Theologian, and a student of philosophy, Saint Katherine of Alexandria is my patroness.

I have this image of her, painted by the renaissance master Raphael tattooed on my right arm.

Her legend tells us that she was born in Alexandria, Egypt around the year 287 CE, and that she died as a martyr during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maxentius c. 305.

She was broken on the wheel; she was tied to it, impaled on its spikes, and crushed beneath it as it was rolled through the streets.

Katherine was only eighteen years old but gifted with a rare intellect. She was from a wealthy family and used her fortune to hold salons where she invited pagan philosophers to debate with her and other Christian scholars on matters concerning the central tenets of the faith and the doctrines of the Church.

Katherine is always depicted in the saffron and ochre robes of the philosopher, which had been the tradition throughout the ancient Near East and Hellenistic Civilization since at least the time of Socrates (mid-fourth century BCE). It is likely that these colors, and their association with philosophy come from the Buddhist missionaries travelling west from as early as the sixth century BCE.

Given First 11.25.2020

Full title: Saint Catherine of Alexandria Artist: Raphael Date made: about 1507 Source: http://www.nationalgalleryimages.co.uk/ Contact: picture.library@nationalgallery.co.uk Copyright © The National Gallery, London

Dajian Huineng – The Sixth Ancestor of Zen

Huineng lived between the mid-seventh century and early eighth century CE. He is the author of the Platform Sutra and is the principle proponent of the doctrine of sudden enlightenment.

 

He was a Chinese Buddhist of the Southern Chan school, which became known as Zen Buddhism when it moved across the waters to Japan.

 

Huineng was a lay person, according to the legends which pertain to him, upon reading the Diamond Sutra he attained a state of perfect enlightenment and was able to expostulate his understanding of the teachings of the Buddha to Hongren, the Fifth Ancestor of Zen. Even though Huineng was considered to be an uneducated barbarian Hongren chose him as his successor over the monk who had been groomed to fulfil that role.

 

Huineng’s Platform Sutra recapitulates all the major teachings of Chan Buddhism including the Diamond Sutra, the Lotus Sutra and the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.

 

Huineng taught “no-thought” and the purity of the “unattached mind” which comes and goes freely, functioning fluently without any hindrance.

 

Be mindful!

 

The principle of “no-thought” does not mean that a person is not thinking, but that in the state of “no-though” the mind is a highly attentive to its immediate experience, unentangled by the exigencies of the past or the expectations of the future.

 

The state of ‘no-thought” is understood as a way of being, wherein the mind is open, non-conceptual, allowing the individual to experience reality directly, as it truly is.

 

Huineng criticized the formal understanding of Buddhism which suggests that the individual must devote themselves to a life of quiet contemplation, likening it to the same trap that the Gautama Siddhartha the Buddha sought to free people from when he taught them that they did not have to endure innumerable lifetimes and countless rebirths before they can be free from the wheel of life.

 

Huineng’s teaching on sudden enlightenment is a doctrine of liberation such as that taught by the Buddha when he instructed the people that they could experience immediate release by following the five-fold path.

 

The Buddha was a liberator and Huineng cast himself in the same mode.

Huineng taught this: When alive one keeps sitting without lying down. When dead, one lies without sitting up.

 

Observing that: In both cases, one is a set of stinking bones!

 

Asking the most important question: What has any of it to do with the great lesson of life?

 

When I was given my first Koan to meditate on, my teacher offered me the old cliché:

 

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

 

In the spirit of Huineng I understood the Koan to be meaningless and I replied: There is no sound.

 

He insisted that I answered to quickly, suggesting that I must meditate on the Koan further, which was unnecessary because in speaking from the immediacy of our experience we are able to understand that one hand does not clap.

 

HuiNeng 

 

Given First – 2020.08.28

Saint Romuald of Ravenna

Today we celebrate the life Saint Romuald, I lift up his memory for one reason in particular, and that is this:

The man was a realist and he encouraged a sense of realism among his followers.

He was an outspoken critic of the way the lives of the saints were written about and disseminated, he could not tolerate the popular tradition of the hagiography, replete with their embellishments, miracle stories which he flatly called out for the lies that they were.

His criticism of the tradition merits our respect.

Romuald was a member of an aristocratic family, he lived between the mid tenth and early eleventh century CE. He was the founder of the Camaldolese order, in the Benedictine tradition.

He had a wild youth and was said to have given himself over to the sins of the flesh, but later he became credited for breathing new life into eremitical and aesthetic monasticism.

He became a hermit.

He is said to have founded and or reformed many monastic institutions, though not all of his work was successful.

Through the promulgation of his rule he encouraged monks under his care to lead solitary lives, engaged in mediation and the interior reflection on the self. He was interested in the process of a person’s inner thoughts. He encouraged his followers to watch and be mindful of their thoughts as if they were watching fish in a stream.

In this way he was like a Zen master.

Romuald was heavily influenced by the Orthodox practice of hesychasm, which has also been associated with quietism, both of which highlight the long standing practice of deep mediation in the Christian tradition, which puts it his teaching on par with the practices of Buddhist monks in the Himalayas and Japan.

Tell no lies about him, he was an ordinary man.

Romuald

A Homily – The Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4, 8, 10, 12-13 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
Alternative Acclamation – 1 John 2:5
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5:38 – 48 ©

(NJB)

The Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
Listen to the word of God and know that there is no justice without mercy.

Give thanks to God, the creator of the universe. Give thanks for the peace of God’s blessing, the blessing of life, and of freedom, of self-determination and every other aspect of our being that allows us to be persons.

Give thanks to those who are loving, to the peacemakers and bless them as you are able.

Bless all of God’s children, as God does, love them all, both the good and the bad, the helpful and the harmful, the just and the unjust.

Remember this, God is not a king, God is not a Lord. God does not favor one group over another. God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings.

God has made everyone free.

The living God dwells within the living you, and in the living I. God, the creator of the universe dwells in everyone, in all beings, at all times, in all places.

God dwells in you, and I, and your enemy (whoever that might be), and where God is present, God is present fully.

Be mindful!

Wisdom is wisdom, and folly is folly, and you are not special except insofar as you are loved.

You are loved no-more and no-less than any other.

You are no-more and no-less wise.

You are no-more and no-less a fool.

We are all journeying in the way, and the way leads to God.

Be Mindful!

The grace of God is not transactional.

Love fosters love, but there is always love and God is always with you.

God dwells in all people, regardless of their character and the quality of the life they have lived.

Some people bear witness through the quality of their lives the love that Jesus showed us and asked us to emulate. In others we are confronted with the need to be merciful, and to demonstrate through our own choices the qualities of mercy and forgiveness Jesus asked us to show.

Remember this!

God is present in every person. Some express the love of God, while others call for a loving response.

Consider the Gospel for today, and be mindful.

The old law was the law of retribution. In it, there was no room for mercy. Under the old law it was thought that whether you do good deeds or bad deeds you are paid back in kind, and you are paid back in equal measure.

Most of the religious systems in the world adhere to a view of justice based on this concept. The laws of Karma articulated in Hinduism, are the most succinctly articulated and concisely conceptualized.

Every religion that points its believers to some kind of afterlife, has some variant of a mythology that shows the individual being weighed or measured on the scales of justice, before receiving their eternal reward, or punishment, as the case might be.

In the aforementioned Hindu system of beliefs, the individual remains on the wheel of life until the scales are balanced, and then they are released.

The Jains, the Sikhs and the Baha’i, all imagine something very much the same. They imagine that the soul enters the world in a state of purity and light, but life in the flesh entangles them in the dirty business of existence.

They become soiled.

The task then is to move toward the light, avoiding all things that contaminate the soul. Until, at the end they are once again burning pure and bright.

The old law was a law of retribution.

It was only one stage better than the law of terror which read:

Not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but a head for an eye and a tribe for a head.

Jesus instructed us in the divine law, and the divine law is reflected in the way of mercy; to sacrifice is to forgive, and this is the path to holiness.

Jesus taught us to go beyond what is ordinary, surpass the conventions, teach love and mercy, by being loving and merciful, even to those you would shun or fear.

This is the way and there is no other.

Both Jesus and the Buddha believed that a person could balance the scales in a moment. It did not take lifetimes, we are not in bondage to our past, to our history, to our station, or to our ancestors.

We are good when we are doing good, we burn brightly when we are on fire with compassion.
First Reading – Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 ©

You Must Love Your Neighbour as Yourself

The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:

‘“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

‘“You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4, 8, 10, 12-13 ©

The Lord is compassion and love.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.

The Lord is compassion and love.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion.

The Lord is compassion and love.

The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.

The Lord is compassion and love.

As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.
As a father has compassion on his sons,
the Lord has pity on those who fear him.

The Lord is compassion and love.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 ©

You Belong to Christ and Christ Belongs to God

Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.

Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are; or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 1 John 2:5

Alleluia, alleluia!

Whenever anyone obeys what Christ has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5:38 – 48 ©

Love Your Enemies

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
The Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)