You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Experience’ category.

“How full the days are, full of slow and quiet … Only here do I feel that my life is authentically human.

Thomas Merton

+ + +

Merton’s words in a journal entry of November 1964 when he moved into his hermitage – a place to dwell alone surrounded by nature.

In my solitude on the ridge I know what he means.  Never have I felt closer to reality, to God, to the ground of being … or more at peace.

I am away from disorder, chaos … and the flood of bad behavior, routine deceptions and the idiotic chatter – its self-destruction.

I think of ISIS.  North Korea.  The American Left.  The media, the press.  Iran. Russia’s global antics and Europe’s passivity and foolishness.

When good falls victim to evil has not the ground under you shifted?  Is it not wise to seek Eden once again?

In Eden there are no pagans, no herds of selfish people making unwise and suicidal demands.

Merton and the Ridge.

Shalom.

Technical knowledge is not enough.  One must transform techniques so that the art becomes artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

D. T. Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture

+ + +

How do you fully live?  Yes, how do you access and activate the unconscious – awaken the essence of the human legacy?  Same question really.

He met the conformity of culture as structured by man but never conceded its control over his breathing, his heartbeat, his life here – as it preceded him and stretched into eternity.

He always had one foot outside the box.  His wry comments and independent judgment kept him free and gave him a sharper vision than most.  He saw behind the silk scene – people, after all, were not clever in concealing their shallow and predictable motives.

He was not often fooled.

Having access to the unconscious, getting to know it in detail made his life art – artless art, a movie from birth to mortal death … and then the everlasting sequel, a seat above in the presence of a warm May sun.

He was never much for formulas.  A blank canvas was more his comfort. Something to write on, to scribble freehand what came to heart, mind, wrist and hand.  Free flowing.

Operating on the margin of the box – turning the rules into sources of amusement and dismemberment so to say: “You do not have me yet.”  Life in the present structures as a game of escape and evasion, lest he suffocate, dry up and become weak and brittle.

Victory.  Life as artless art in all its ease, in each breath, in listening, hearing and seeing.

The experience of experience in its full range – from joy to sorrow and back again, never a dark day in triumph over the warmth of the sun reflected in the others, the friends, the children, love, laughter, kindness, the beauty, the quiet, the memories, the experience in yesterday and today.

… artless art …

Shalom.

God works in history, therefore a contemplative who has no sense of history, no sense of historic responsibility … is not fully a Christian contemplative: he is gazing at God as a static essence … But we are face to face with the Lord of history and with Christ the King … light of the world … We must confront Him the awful paradoxes of our day …

Thomas Merton

+ + +

If there is one (and there is) central failure that puts us in the conflict, and confusion, and chaos … and danger and division, that we face today it is our failure to know and serve God as the Lord of History.

All of the immorality, hostility, bitterness, rancor, hatred and rank stupidity can be assigned to that one failure.

Likewise, the destructive behaviors we witness in special pleaders of unwise causes are the product of God’s exile, and in that absence – the geometric ignorance and needless destruction it produces.

Yesterday, I watched an episode of The Ozzie and Harriet Show and one of The Rockford Files.  The former from the 1950’s and the latter from the 1960’s.  Each was a delight. Each well-written, and nicely acted. Each told an engaging story – the former in a family context, the latter in a detective format.

In the former we saw truths about husbands and wives, men and women, family, brothers, neighbors, boys and girls and human nature.  It was fun to watch. Truth told in a gentle and amusing manner.  It was nice TV … it sat a tone, was believable – represented a reality that was and could be: a relaxed and kindly family environment.

In the latter, we had a “who done it” yarn with the focus being the work of a not-so-successful, and unflappable private detective whose status-life was that of living in a trailer parked on asphalt adjoining a stretch of California beach.

Our hero detective was an anti-hero – an earnest man (yet not beyond employing a street-smart trick now and again) who was resigned to the riff-raff of life without losing his kind and understanding nature.  He was, indeed, an everyman with the wonderful grace to live life as it presented – without scorning what he saw.

Yes, in the 50’s and the early 60’s we effortlessly lived with God the Lord of History and in so doing, we were not out-of-control, frantic, required to “get-our-own-way.”  We were then, sublime, without anxiety or fits anger, public or otherwise … better yet there was no need for intolerant crusaders.  Social justice had yet to emerge to anoint any and all mediocre C-minus-minus people into obnoxious “know-it-all” crusaders.  In short, looking back you see that when God is recognized as the Lord of History … our life is easier and our relationships much more pleasant.

I’ll pass on the very unfunny bores of late night TV, and the likes of Chuckie Schumer and the talking heads of CNN, MSNBC, et al, the vacuous celebrities who have opinions about all manner of things never thoroughly considered, and on the minor leaguers of The Times, The Post etc.

Today we are so dumb and uninformed we don’t realize life (properly considered and experienced) is so much easier … death-defying anxiety and hostility is not mandatory.

Try thinking of God as essential – as the Lord of History … ignore those who speak as if God is either dead or indifferent to us … Such people are as common as a penny and just as valuable.

Shalom.

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

+ + +

Salvation.  The heart + reflection + meekness + responsibility.  So observes Vaclav Havel.

Don’t see much of this around Washington these days.  Salvation is a word rarely heard since we began barring God from public conversation.  We can thank the marshmallow middle and the strident Left for that basic act of dislocation – as to the latter their inevitable preference for error.

Heart, reflection, meekness, responsibility.  Little of this here today.  Heartless is more the form.  Reflection, like thoughts of salvation, appears permanently shelved in favor of the instant news cycle where comments issue as frequently as pulse beats as politicos and “talking heads” tommy-gun out the “latest inside scoop” replete with “unnamed sources” (a delightful name for twins today, by the way).

Meekness, my God!  None of that here.  Washington is more a mob at Filene’s Basement tearing the bargain “name brand” apparel from one another in a melee resembling Wrestle-Mania gone mad.  Meekness, it seems, is too orderly and vulnerable for Washington today.  Gone is the obvious power of a calm and measured voice.

It follows there are few signs of responsibility – at least among the those who daily carp and complain, and report and exploit.

We could use some Vaclav Havel.  Inmates running an asylum never works well.

Shalom.

Footnote – Vaclav Havel is among the most interesting figures of the late last century and early 21st century.  A writer, philosopher, political dissident and politician who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1902) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1903-2003).  A widely-esteemed and admired man or faith, courage, talent, heart, thoughtfulness, insight, humility, service and responsibility.  Don’t you wish we had such a presence here today. ‘Tis time to tell the children to be quiet.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s civilize men and society.  My Mother saved my life.  I think of her everyday.  Maybe someday women will come to understand and cherish this: as birth-givers they are more important than men.  Seeking equality with men is a step down.  We have lesser gifts.  God bless Moms!

# # #

There is a deep malaise in society … in our families and neighborhoods we do not speak to each other … There is … a vacuum inside us …

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

+ + +

Today I read an article about how parents of young men and women offer obituaries of their sons and daughters that candidly acknowledge the opiate use which took their life in the hope that with an honest statement about a very tragic and very serious national problem we might awaken to this deadly addiction.

Where might we begin?

There are many strands to this epidemic.  Of course, we have been very lax in   proscribing the use of painkillers.

Indeed, three months ago when I was being discharged from the hospital after knee replacement surgery, the nurse overseeing my discharge informed me I was to get a prescription for a powerful and potentially addictive painkiller even though I had had no pain and required no pain medicine after the operation.  I refused the offer over the nurse’s suggestion that I take the prescription “just in case.”

Yes, we routinely throw drugs into the mix for just about anything that “ails” us.

But I turn to Thich Naht Hanh’s point.  We do not stand on spiritual ground; we have little understanding of spirituality and, in this, life seems to lack meaning. We float or stumble about without a secure base, the inner strength and the resolve.

Hanh’s concern is that the elders in culture do not convey, do not project – values that display and confirm spiritual existence.

He notes that even priests do not  “embody the living tradition” of their professed faith. When this is so, ritual loses meaning – and worship seems thin – more ceremony than deep, lasting experience.

The elders of our culture had best renew their faith and renew it at depth, so they might daily convey its presence in all that they do, how they conduct their affairs and how determinative spiritual existence is to all they think and do.

The malaise has taken a huge toll on us – from opiate addiction, to broken marriages, abortion, coarse public behavior, gender and sexual confusion, political hostility and division, crass self-promotion and selfishness, the crude quest for money and status … All this while we neglect the spirit and our spiritual needs and development.

We are far less than we once were and can be.  Hanh is right.  Starting with spiritual existence is fundamental to our welfare, and survival.  Elders must show the way. Parents must lead, faith be restored.

Shalom.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called to one body; and be thankful.

Col 3:15

+ + +

We live in a hyperbaric environment.  Such are the doings of a highly politicized, secular mass communication culture.

Yes, the “news” is instant and almost inescapable.  And, yes – this keeps us ginned-up, on edge – involved in things we have, frankly, no control over on a day to day basis.

We are, to be honest, cranked up and riled by the daily news – a savage murder here, a major government screw-up there, a celebrity meltdown next, then a grotesque dishonesty, and the sprinkling of partisan name-calling and calamity here and there, oddball advocacy and opinions on top of it all.

My point?  We are apt to forfeit the peace of Christ that is our gift as Christians. Yet, we need not be swept up in the confusion, sin, shame, actions of others, foolishness and the anxiety and doubt that others create.

We can be at peace.  Yes, rest in Christ.  Stay in the peace of Christ.  That is your constant, your stability, your present and your future – here and for all time.

Quiet down.  Stay in Christ.  Stay in the stability that is that peace.

Shalom.

May Saturday 7:40 a.m.  The pale, faint gray-blue sky provides a autumn presence and a cool wind.  Yo Yo Ma keeps me company.  The pastures and the forest are green from rain and the cows and newborn calves slowly eat their way down the slope.  

# # #

… the tradition of Christian spirituality and mystical wisdom needs to be presented today …

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

+ + +

When I look around the world, when I observe or interact with others in America today – I see, hear and experience flatness.  That is to say, I see people and hear discourse that is blunt, without depth or texture, message or coherence, insight or worth.  Yes, the human voice is reduced to superficial chirping and chatter, childish whining and predictable ideologically-formed complaint and carping.

This: the voice of those who have not integrated life – come to know and experience reality seen and unseen.  For them any thought of human experience itself as transcendent and immanent is lost or at least forgotten.  I conclude in this that Keating is right: we need to attend to our spiritual growth and its implicit depth and access to wisdom – and particularly that which is mystical in nature – that which exceeds scientific materialism or a lust for power, celebrity, status or identity tied to gender, sexuality, politics, grievance, class, race, economic measure or government “benefit” which always defines us down, reduces our dignity and sacred value.

We are not, at present, close to being a nation of integrated, whole, wise, meaningful and purposeful human beings.  Rather we are flat and unflattering in this flatness.

To be flat is to be without curve, of one plane, shallow and without depth, unvarying, uninteresting, dull, vapid, stale, deflated, monotonous.  And I add mundane.

We are (and have been for some time) inclined in the wrong direction – living on the surface and tilted toward mere material and self-centered existence and far, far from spiritual experience and the depth, insight and contentment it alone provides.

In affluence we have lost our value, access to ourself and divine experience.  Our health and survival requires that this must change.  Our present circumstances starve the soul and lead to extinction.  Any wonder that homicides, suicides, addictions, broken families, and a range of pagan pursuits prevail as they do today?

Shalom.

Christianity is not a matter of opinion, but an external fact, entering into, carried out in, indivisible from, the history of the world.

John Henry Newman, in Difficulties of the Anglicans

+ + +

From the first Eucharist to now there has not been one hour in the history of the world that someone, somewhere has not been receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

I have recently been watching the recorded conversations between William Buckley and Malcolm Muggeridge, each Christian – each Catholic.  The conversations date back to the 1970’s and 1980’s.  They are fascinating.  They probe, in part, the dismissal of belief and of Christianity by many.  They lament its loss and deplore the consequences that result.

I, too, have been alarmed and actually surprised how many in the United States and in Europe can dismiss Christianity and pin their hopes on collectivism, socialism – two impulses, and schemes, that nowhere have shown success, or produced excellence of any sort.  Gulags, yes – they have done well to imprison their charge, produce totalitarian regimes and execute millions when it proved “necessary” in order for one man or small group to retain power.  But success, harmony and wellbeing it has not furthered.

I think we do not know and appreciate the gifts of Christianity.  Likewise, I think that when we dismiss Christianity, we cancel what is unique and humanizing in the history of the world, what orders reality to the Truth about humans, and human existence and excellence.

I give but one example and it comes from Plato.  Plato, whose thoughts are infused into Christianity, opined that one was not to look to the immediate and the everyday but rather to focus on the universal and the ultimate.  He shifted human focus to a larger spectrum.  In this, Plato shifted our view of reality to the soul where excellence and virtue resided.  He saw this as the way to the Supreme Soul that is God – the ultimate in excellence and virtue.

Plato also envision that God’s nature was oneness and goodness.  In this, human life was linked to morality and to divinity, to God.

Each of these propositions are housed in Christianity.  Yet, can you imagine how easily we come to dismiss Christianity (actually oppose it) without anyone posing competent inquiry to those who blithely deny Christianity and the existence of God?  This seems to me a scandal and a reflection of widespread ignorance and the abject failure of our educational system.  Indeed, better to have no schools given what they produce.

We are, it seems to me, reckless and ignorant at the present moment.

Today, one longs for an intelligent and fervent defense of Christ, Christianity, our heritage, and the existence of God … but in its place we talk of access to “potties” and fixate on trivia and sexual fetishes, government subsidizes and this or that bacchanal.

Having seen all my life the lunacy of institutions and those who are apt to command them, even I am amazed at what I now see as the disordered nonsense of most public conversation and politics.  Where, oh where, is there a hint of Plato or Newman???

Shalom.

Dear Friend’s Correction – My Dear (and very bright and truly lovely) Friend Carol commented that I may not (in the text) be correct in saying the Eucharist has been shared hourly somewhere since its inception.  She may be right.  (I am always willing to defer to smart people who are earnest and very nice – I’d be a fool to rely on my our limitations.)  FYI – in my comment in the text, I rely on a point made by Malcolm Muggeridge in his conversation with Bill Buckley on Firing Line – a comment that went unimpeached.  By regard for Carol and my assessment of my own limitations allow me to place Carol above Buckley and Muggeridge.  Tally ho!

(In) Adam’s fall … Man fell … into the multiplicity, complication and distraction of an active worldly existence … man’s mind is enslaved … with all that is exterior, transient, illusory, and trivial.  He is utterly exiled from God and from his own self. (Emphasis added.)

He … seek(s) God and happiness outside himself … his quest … becomes … a flight that takes him further and further away from reality. (Emphasis added.)

William Shannon, in Thomas Merton’s Dark Path

+ + +

William Shannon”s book explores contemplation and its role in Thomas Merton’s life.  In the above passage Shannon makes the point that Adam’s fall from grace was a departure from a contemplative disposition into the complications of worldly existence and the circumstances and condition which enslave us and our consciousness.  Yes, he contends that worldly existence, unlike Eden, take us away from God and our true self.

I cite this excerpt for the impact of his last statement: that we are in our exile taken further and further away from reality.

There is plenty of evidence today to support Shannon’s words.  Take for instance the daily reports of multiple parties being murdered somewhat randomly.  Or the random murders and assaults on police officers.  Or the opiate addictions that are widespread and growing – and the deaths they yield.  Or the unnecessary conflict generated between women and men and the division of “identity politics.” Or the stubborn and childish obstructionism of the sore-loser, shrinking Democrat Party. Or the focus on the tiny number of “transgendered” psychologically confused.  Or the pathetic behavior of faux federal District Court judges who write windy political opinions ripe for reversal on appeal.  Or the fascist Left which seeks to destroy free speech.  Or Planned Parenthood which expects large infusions of federal tax dollars to continue baby killing.  … further and further from reality is just about right.

The problem, of course, is that we have fallen, departed from our true self, sought happiness in all things exterior and futile.

Make no mistake even Church elders have joined the ranks of the fallen and misguided – in search of heaven on earth.  One rather hoped that their faith was stronger and, just perhaps, they were wiser.  But Pharisees are Pharisees, after all.

Today I live a quasi-monastic life.  I live in the quiet of the forest and the mountain.  In this I have no part of the herd of confused and under-developed crowd – each, unfortunately, seeking happiness in all things exterior, fleeting and now.

When others abandon their true self disorder takes reign and displeasure is their product, harm too – even murder, but surely division, chaos and foolishness.

Our loss is a spiritual loss – nothing else can explain the collapse of a culture such as we are seeing.  

Back to Eden, Friends.  There is no other option, nor path to be had if health, contentment and meaning is your desire.

Shalom.

Postscript – The vacuity of Barack O. and the corruption and apparent psychological disorder of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton ought to be sufficient to suggest we are collectively due for a rebirth and restoration.  Indeed, nothing comes to mind so quickly as this: we are in the First Century of Christianity once again.  Yes, calamity brings opportunity in our drama as the cycles reappear.  And to the point – even though the Left does not see nor understand this: Caesar in concentration (i.e., totalitarianism) is no cure nor way to freedom, prosperity or happiness. Nirvana is not earthly.

 

“Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”  And he said to them, “What things?”

Lk 24: 18, 19

+ + +

This is an exchange between Jesus and one of two men he encountered on the road to Emmaus after his crucifixion.  Neither of the two men recognized Jesus. They were both down trodden.  They had hoped that Jesus was the Messiah who would redeem Israel.

The interesting thing about this exchange is how Jesus approached it.  Having been the subject of the crucifixion, he said “What things?”

Why is this important and interesting?  It is an example of two things: one – He uses words to prepare them to recognize Him when they sit and break bread together.  That is, He prepares them for a remarkable and hopeful and reassuring experience – the experience of His Truth and their hope fulfilled.

Secondly, it illustrates that what is said cannot always be taken literally – for the apparent meaning it would seem to profess.  “What things” in this instance does not seek knowledge of what had transpired but “sets the table” (literally) for Jesus revealing Himself to them in the Eucharist.

Why would I explore this?  One reason: we are too literal … we hear in a very narrow way and as a result we lose access to the story of life, to the essence of what is revealed by the words we choose and the underlying meaning of those words.  In such a state, we are easily influenced by those who command communications – we are easily managed and our impressions easily formed by others who seek control over us.  In the above case – the authorities sought to dash the hopes and beliefs of others for fear that Believers would diminish the power of those in positions of authority.

We had best listen more clearly.  We are missing life, its depth, and forfeit access to its wholeness and its expansiveness.  In the above, Jesus is using “What things” to bring these two men to a greater understanding, life’s full experience. Do not be too literal – meaning often exceeds the words we hear.

Shalom.

Welcome Message

Categories

Log In

%d bloggers like this: