Sunday, April 9, 2017

New Poetry


The little time that we have left
Before our mortal race, I fear,
Renders planet Earth bereft
Of us, grows shorter every year.

Heretic's Testament

“Yet contemplation is not vision, because it sees 'without seeing' and knows 'without knowing.' It is a more profound depth of faith, a knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words, or even in clear concepts. It can be suggested by words, by symbols, but in the very moment of trying to indicate what it knows, the contemplative mind takes back what it has said, and denies what it has affirmed. For in contemplation we know by 'unknowing.' Or, better, we know beyond all knowing or 'unknowing.’”Thomas Merton, from New Seeds of Contemplation

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Present Moment, Horrible Moment: When Mindfulness Becomes Idolatry

There was an opinion piece in last Sunday’s New York Times entitled “Actually, Let’s Not Be in the Moment.” Its author, Ruth Whippman, is critical of the modern mindfulness movement and suspicious of the fact that the practice of bringing one’s attention to the present moment is being promoted as some sort of miraculous cure-all, a remedy for all suffering, and that four billion dollars is said to be spent each year on “mindfulness products.” She’s not the first to regard the phenomenon with suspicion, and she rightly notes that mindfulness as it’s often presented is “a philosophy likely more rewarding for those whose lives contain more privileged moments than grinding, humiliating, or exhausting ones.” I take her point.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New Poetry

When grief wakes me up in the morning
I vow with all beings
Not to look away from this painful awakening
And to wish for it to become a seed of kindness.

Monday, September 5, 2016

New Poetry, September 2016

Song of Zazen
In thinking-not-thinking it’s
Suddenly revealed: all the 
heartbreak of the world.
Followed by the arising
Of the urgent need to
Recall to myself the
Names of all the
Thin Man movies,
In chronological 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Recent Poetry, July 2106

The Next-Best Thing
Upon seeing through
To your unkindness,
Despair only modestly,
For that seeing-through
Happens to be
The next best thing
To kindness itself.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Burnin' Down the House

A while back I posted a reflection on sex, using as a jumping-off point for the discussion the well-known  Zen koan about  a widow who burns down a monk’s hut.1 The story, basically, goes like this: