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)

A Homily – The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily

2019.03.03 – (The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time) C

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 27:5-8 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 91(92):2-3,13-16 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14
Alternative Acclamation – Philadelphians 2:15-16
The Gospel of Luke – 6:39-45 ©
(NJB)
This is the way of things.

Our words go out from us like seeds, and return bearing fruit. They are the product of our thoughts, they reflect what is in our hearts. Even when we try to use our words to conceal our feelings, they tell the story without our consent.

The truth will out; like fractal geometry, the pattern will carry forward.

The things we say matter as much as the things we do. Our words are actions, they can move mountains.

Discretion is the hallmark of wisdom, and circumspection, is its ally.

Be mindful!

How you speak matters as much as what you say.

Listen to the psalmist.

It is good to give thanks to the creator, and to be mindful of God’s eternal mercy.

God is merciful to everyone; to those who have God’s name on their lips, to those who speak no word of God at all, even to those who curse God.

God loves each and every one of us, both in our humility and in our folly, the wise and the ignorant alike; God loves us.

If you sing praises to God in recognition of all God’s works, and give thanks for them as the psalmist does, know this; among God’s works are all of those with whom we quarrel.

God does not have any favorite children, nor does God love any one person above another.

Be mindful.

When you are reaping the rewards of the blessed, it is not because you have been blessed. There is no guarantee that that the just will flourish, and no guarantee that the unjust will perish. God does not interfere in our lives, the rain fall on the just and the unjust alike.

Though God does not intervene in the course of human events, not directly, God does promise to right all wrongs and to do so with justice in one hand and mercy in the other.

God’s correction comes in the spirit of love, and never to the detriment of any of God’s children.

The works of the wicked will pass away, but the wicked themselves (by that I mean all of us) we will be reborn as servants of God; as brothers and sisters in Christ.

No one is lost.

Listen!

Sin is not the cause of death. The death of our bodies is a part of God’s plan.

God is the author of death. God made us mortal and death is a natural part of life. Do not fear death. Fear of death is a function of a lack of faith.

The apostle blames the law as the cause of sin. He is wrong. It is not laws that cause us to sin, it is desire. We sin on account of our brokenness, we sin because we fear.

Be mindful of what the apostle teaches, he is often wrong, and he is wrong on this.

Though we cannot see into the next world, we feel it. We know the next world is there, we were made for it, we continue in it according to the will God.

Everyone continues.

The death of our bodies is not the death of ourselves. There is no finality in it, there is no judgement that leads to our destruction. It is a passage, like a mist, we pierce the veil and find ourselves renewed.

Never forget; God hears you, God will make the journey with you.

Having set aside fear, take joy in the work that is in front of you. Be content that you have found purpose today; purpose in carrying out the mission of divine love, in fulfilling the ministry of Jesus, following in his way.

If the service you give the world, is not a service to your sisters and brothers, to the widow and the orphan, or to the stranger among you, then it is not God’s work you are doing, it is an exercise in vanity.

God’s work is always in the service of the living.

Listen to the words Luke ascribes to Jesus, and know this: the blind can lead the blind that is what we do hear earth. We are all walking in the dark. Be humble, the truth eludes us all, teacher and disciple alike.

None of us are the equal to Jesus the Messiah, to Moses the Lawgiver, to Mohammed the Prophet, none of us are equal to Gottama the enlightened one.

Our stories cannot match theirs. We are ordinary women and men, they are figures of myth, the archetypes we aspire to, our stories will never equal theirs, we are not meant to live up to their epic example.

They are meant to lead us, we are meant to hear their call. All of us will fail at some point or another, most of will fail many times over, even daily through the course of our lives, that does not mean we are meant to stop trying,

Do not shun the hypocrite as much as your own hypocrisy.

Be mindful.

If it falls to you to correct your sisters or brothers, do so with a spirit of love, and humility in full cognizance of your own errors.

Listen!

Luke recalls the teaching of Ecclesiasticus.

Our words go out from us like seeds, and return bearing fruit.

Our words are the product of our thoughts, they reflect what is in our hearts. Even when we try to use our words to conceal our feelings.

The truth will out; like fractal geometry, the pattern of our words, both what we hoped they would reveal and what we hoped they would conceal will carry forward.

Discretion is the hallmark of wisdom, and circumspection, is its ally.

Be mindful!

How you speak matters just as much as much as what you say.
First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 27:5-8 ©

The Test Of a Man is in His Conversation

In a shaken sieve the rubbish is left behind, so too the defects of a man appear in his talk.

The kiln tests the work of the potter, the test of a man is in his conversation.

The orchard where a tree grows is judged on the quality of its fruit, similarly a man’s words betray what he feels.

Do not praise a man before he has spoken, since this is the test of men.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 91(92):2-3,13-16 ©

It is good to give you thanks, O Lord.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your truth in the watches of the night.

It is good to give you thanks, O Lord.

The just will flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a Lebanon cedar.

It is good to give you thanks, O Lord.

Planted in the house of the Lord
they will flourish in the courts of our God,
still bearing fruit when they are old,
still full of sap, still green,
to proclaim that the Lord is just.
In him, my rock, there is no wrong.

It is good to give you thanks, O Lord.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 ©

Death is Swallowed Up in Victory

When this perishable nature has put on imperishability, and when this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the words of scripture will come true: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. So let us thank God for giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Never give in then, my dear brothers, never admit defeat; keep on working at the Lord’s work always, knowing that, in the Lord, you cannot be labouring in vain.
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – Philadelphians 2:15-16

Alleluia, alleluia!

You will shine in the world like bright stars
because you are offering it the word of life.

Alleluia!
The Gospel of Luke – 6:39-45 ©

Can the Blind Lead the Blind?

Jesus told a parable to his disciples: ‘Can one blind man guide another? Surely both will fall into a pit? The disciple is not superior to his teacher; the fully trained disciple will always be like his teacher. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,” when you cannot see the plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.

‘There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. For every tree can be told by its own fruit: people do not pick figs from thorns, nor gather grapes from brambles. A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart; a bad man draws what is bad from the store of badness. For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.’
The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lost

Silver in moonlight

The still sea reflects the stars

Hope, love’s bright mirror

 

Keeper of dreams, witch

Calypso whispers softly

Come sleep on my shore

 

Eat the wild fruit, live

Drink the lotus nectar, rest

In the sweet perfume

 

Step into heaven

The deep green horizon, pure

Beneath the banyan

 

While Penelope

Waits, and the light slips away

Crashing on the shoals

Cycles

Have no anxiety about the future, it will always be there.

Seize the moment, and you will have it in your hand.

Reflect on your experience at every turn.

Put your feelings before the analysis.

Analyze, and adapt.

Listen.

Look.

Breath.

Prepare for change.

Change is inevitable, the only constant.

Foresight is a mirage, a vision of potentials.

Portents of probability churning in the trough.

Look into the crest, tension becomes meaningless.

The rolling foam and the spray, fly free from the main.

Loosed from the curling body of the rolling wave.

Launched into weightlessness, and empty space.

Born like the Atman, of the Universal Spirit.

Each ascending in its natural arch.

Each falling just the same.