Hold It All

Month: March, 2014

The Poet’s Work and the War’s Work


I first came across the poetry of Dunya Mikhail in Eliot Weinberger’s New Directions anthology, World Beat. An Iraqi Christian who speaks Arabic, Aramaic, and English, Mikhail ran afoul of the Iraqi authorities because of her writing and left in the 1990s. Her first book in English came out from New Directions in 2005, The War Works Hard. It contains poems translated by Elizabeth Winslow from 2004 as well as Mikhail’s earlier Arabic editions from 1997 and 1993. Born in 1965, Mikhail covers the cataclysms of recent Iraqi history from the Iraq-Iran war and Operation Desert Storm through the years of the sanctions and the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime. According to Saadi Samawe’s introduction, Mikhail’s “imagination is so immense that it embraces and synthesizes layers of literary traditions from ancient Mesopotamian mythology, to Biblical and Qur’anic poetics, to the latest techniques of Western modernism.” Read the rest of this entry »

Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Et Alia

To hear the big fellows talk, they wage war from fear of God and for all things bright and beautiful, but just look into it, and you’ll see they’re not so silly: they want a good profit out of it, or else the little fellows like you and me wouldn’t back ‘em up.

–Mother Courage

The Varieties of Roots and Fruits

The following selections are from Thích Nhất Hạnh, Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses to Life’s Burning Questions:

It’s possible for us to have several spiritual roots. To me, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and all religions belong to the spiritual heritage of humankind. We can profit from all of these traditions. We should not confine ourselves to just one tradition.

There are many Christians who do not call themselves Buddhist, but they are more Buddhist than the “Buddhists.”

It’s possible to enjoy two traditions, to take the best of two traditions and live with them. That’s what I envision for the future, that we remove the barriers between different spiritual traditions.

Many of us enjoy the teachings and the practice of Buddhism, but we also enjoy the teachings and the practice of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and so on. We can learn from other traditions. Those who say that theirs is the only tradition are like people who eat only one kind of fruit.


If I do not love myself, I cannot love others also. If we really love ourselves, we cannot think wrongly, cannot talk wrongly, cannot act wrongly. If you know how to love yourself, then you do not bring hatred anywhere. Mind is the forerunner of all good and evil. When mind becomes purified, it creates good karma. When mind is nonpolluted, then your action will be pure, the world will be pure. When you talk, it will be wise, nice, friendly. If you do not understand your anger and mind is influenced by anger, it becomes poisonous, and you suffer physically. When you act, it will create tension. It is the same for everybody.

Mettā brings loving-kindness, makes you healthy. If you do anything good for others, it is good for you. Hatred never ceases through hatred in this world. Through love alone it ceases. This is an eternal law. There is no American love, Indian love–no difference. The mind is a wonderful force. Pervade your whole being with loving thoughts, from your pure heart. If you love your enemies, you will have no enemies. This is the only way, so you can be helpful to the universe.

–Munindra from Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra, edited by Mirka Knaster, foreword by Joseph Goldstein.


dipa ma and munindra


Lecture by one of the septuagenarian luminaries of liberation theology
The unforeseen, ultra-disturbing developments in House of Cards
Spiff gala after the Oaks on May 2
The renowned pianist sponsored by one of our generous corporate benefactors
“She knows someone who knows someone who knows what Hilary’s really planning for 2016, wanna come?”
The relentlessly riveting drama of the NCAA tournament
Another white male messiah to speak about how we can save Africa (standing room only)
The Thursday night drink specials on Washington
A staggering amount for this week’s Powerball

–Ah, the joy of missing out

To My Friends by Primo Levi

Dear friends, and here I say friends
the broad sense of the word:
Wife, sister, associates, relatives,
Schoolmates of both sexes,
People seen only once
Or frequented all my life;
Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
A line has been stretched,
A well-defined bond. Read the rest of this entry »

Texting through the Tears

When there’s midnight silence
She can hear his voice

When she closes her eyes
She can see him coming up the stairs

I ask her to tell me
Some of the nicknames he had for her Read the rest of this entry »

Metta Meditation/17

May Dr. Nima Sheth  be filled with loving-kindness.
May she be well.
May she be peaceful and at ease.
May she be happy. Read the rest of this entry »

Reminder on a 3 by 5 Index Card

If you face obloquy
You’ve got to practice

If you face applause
You’ve got to practice

If you face indifference
You’ve got to practice

If you face heartbreak
You’ve got to practice

Reckoning with War

Dear Friends of Saint Louis Mindfulness Sangha,

The first of the five wonderful mindfulness trainings emphasizes cultivating reverence for life. The original version of the 12th precept of the Order of Interbeing reads: “Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.” For a U.S.-based sangha, these teachings are particularly challenging. In her sobering new book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars–the Untold Story, journalist Ann Jones explains why: “No other nation on the planet makes war as often, as long, as forcefully, as expensively, as destructively, as wastefully, as senselessly, or as unsuccessfully as the United States. No other nation makes war its business.” How do we, both as citizens of this nation and as followers of Thich Nhat Hanh’s path of compassion and mindfulness, respond to this obsession with war? Read the rest of this entry »