Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Month: April, 2013

Does the Buddha Smile in Hell?

Does the Buddha smile in hell?
Many devoted practitioners would immediately say
“Yes, of course, he is the Buddha after all”

Equanimity
Detachment
Vast knowledge of the chain of cause and effect

Would he smile as he watched Sam Ybarra
Leading the battle cry while wearing a necklace of human ears
He sliced off from his Vietnamese victims? Read the rest of this entry »

Mark Chmiel is Made of Non-Mark Chmiel Elements

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches out of the Buddhist tradition:
There is no separate self capable of existing on its own
One thing is connected to so much else

The sheet of paper is made of non-paper elements
Like the tree, sunshine, rain, and soil
Like the logger, the logger’s parents, the wheat that fed the logger

If you look deeply, he says
You can see an ordinary sheet of paper is marvelous
It contains the universe!

In our culture we have such a strong sense of the “I”
The independent, unto itself “I”
The “I” who alone wins the academic or athletic prizes Read the rest of this entry »

Passing through Boca Raton and Joining the Buddhist Sangha for an Evening

This Jewish-looking Buddhist
Serenely sitting seven feet away from me
Her long braided black hair a mindful marvel and work of art
Her half-smile that could make Thich Nhat Hanh himself weak in the knees
Her eyes that could disarm the Burmese junta
While I’m thinking about her
She’s concentrating like Shantideva moving full steam ahead toward samadhi

Read the rest of this entry »

Questions about the War Dead

When the statisticians in the Armed Services
Tally up the war dead-
Most recently
In Iraq and Afghanistan-
Do they include
The veterans who commit suicide
In country or back at home?

How long in meters
Would another black granite memorial wall have to be
To carry the names of all the Vietnam veterans
Who took their lives
Whether in 1976
1983 or
2002?

How many decades would it take
To raise the money
To erect such a memorial?
How many official papers
On the monthly suicide totals
Of Iraq war veterans
Will find their place

In the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Memorial?

What You Won’t Read in USA Today

Yesterday I noticed a headline from USA Today:
“In Israel, staying alert for terror is a way of life”

The article was one in a series
On the Boston Marathon explosions

Don’t expect anytime soon
Or go looking in the archives for

USA Today articles
With titles like these:

“In Gaza, staying alert for Israeli war crimes
Is a way of life” Read the rest of this entry »

What Should Be Boldly Engraved in Stone at the New George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas

A Mighty Fortress
Is Our Lie

Miss Lonely & Napoleon in Rags

Dear Shimmelstoy
Whew!

I’ve never done anything
Like what we did tonight

I can’t believe you actually just showed up
(Do you go on excursions like this with everyone?)

IT HAD NEVER OCCURRED TO ME
TO GO OUT DRIVING AT MIDNIGHT

AND LISTEN TO ALL OF
Bringing it All Back Home

Highway 61Revisited
Blonde on Blonde Read the rest of this entry »

After Last Night’s Bhagavad Gita Discussion

Daniel Berrigan once said to us
About trying to lead a nonviolent life:

“We do it because it’s the right thing to do
Not because it’s going to get us anywhere”

How deeply this cuts us!
Is the Jesuit priest crazy?

Because in these United States of Amnesia
We so want to get somewhere

We want success!
We want to know that we made a difference! Read the rest of this entry »

Right down to the Bone

They had to be college graduates
Upwardly mobile
If you’ve got a problem

They’ll find the solution
That’s their business
Overcoming obstacles

Given our implacable enemies
There’s no lollygagging
This is serious business

A U.S. pilot commented on them back in the 1960s
“We sure are pleased with those backroom boys
At Dow [Chemical Company] Read the rest of this entry »

Dorothee Sölle Collage

Why had I never noticed the number of sick people who appear in the Gospels? Who or what made them sick?

It was not theologians who invented the cross, rather, the Roman Empire thought up this method of deterring people who heard the cry for liberation by slowly and publicly torturing to death those who cried out. Anyone who has ever read reports of torture, for example, from Guatemala, anyone who has seen a film like Two Worlds about South Africa knows that it is not a matter of something exotic but of the normality of imperial suppression which now presents a slow method of torture as “low intensity conflict” for whole regions.

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Our pattern was to provide political information integrated with biblical texts, a brief address, calls for action, and finally, discussion with the gathered congregation. The basic elements of all subsequent Evensongs were information, meditations, and action.

I use the gospel, or other religious traditions, to say something that is vital to me. Read the rest of this entry »