Hold It All

Month: May, 2015

Tales of Munindra: “Be Happy, Be Peaceful, Be Liberated”

for Chris Wallach

Sometimes the loving-kindness he intoned emanated in such a compelling way that, as Lynne Bousfield says, “you just got hit by the metta.” David Hopkins recalls such an experience at Dhamma Giri when he and a friend were ready to leave after a retreat: “Munindra stood there and said, ‘Be happy, be peaceful, be liberated.’ He had his hand up and I could see he was like telegraphing it with his palm. He gave us this blast of metta that lasted the whole train ride to Bombay.”

Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra, edited by Mirka  Knaster

Munindra was a Bengali Buddhist who taught, among many others, Dipa Ma, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg.

Metta = loving-kindness

The Way to the Day of Mindfulness, Fenton, MO

Fenton Farmhouse Road

Anne Waldman on Allen Ginsberg’s Howl

It was a cri de coeur, an alarm, a vision. Its structure matched its energy, which seemed the voices of many, not one. It was a rhizomic collage, just like life, a pastiche of the experiences of many others, encompassing flashes of Blake’s “minute particulars.”

Getting Free

I randomly picked up a book of interviews with Noam Chomsky off my shelf, and turned to a random page therein and found this, from 1983–

There are a vast number of people who are uninformed and heavily propagandized, but fundamentally decent. The propaganda that inundates them is effective when unchallenged, but much of it goes only skin deep. If they can be brought to raise questions and apply their decent instincts and basic intelligence, many people quickly escape the confines of the doctrinal system and are willing to do something to help others who are really suffering and oppressed.

Email from Jaime in El Salvador

I have an internship in El Salvador this summer and was visiting the Casa during the beatification of Romero. The house was full of The Struggle is One books and I met a Nicaraguan volunteer who was very familiar with The Book of Mev.

The Essential Allen Ginsberg: Cafe Ventana Reading Group

“It occurs to me that I am America”
–Allen Ginsberg, America

Beat poet, antiwar activist, gay liberationist, free speech devotee, “First Thought, Best Thought” advocate, and cheerful Buddhist, Allen Ginsberg  has been a major influence on U.S. counterculture and culture from the mid-1950s and since his death in 1997.

The recent paperback publication of  Michael Schumacher’s The Essential Ginsberg  collects the variety of Ginsberg’s literary  production including poems, journals, essays, letters, photos, and interviews.  Lawrence Ferlinghetti, publisher of Ginsberg’s globally influential Howl and Other Poems, describes the book as “An intellectually impeccable selection, distilling Ginsberg as visionary mystic and dark prophet foretelling what people in power didn’t want to hear.”

I first read aloud Ginsberg’s Howl with Bellarmine College friends at the White Castle on Eastern Parkway in Louisville some autumn midnight 1980.  I heard him recite antiwar poetry at  1992 huge public gathering  while I was a doctoral student in Berkeley. I went on a binge of reading  all of his books (poetry and prose) winter spring 1996. While I love many of his poems (Yiddishe Kopf, Cosmopolitan Greetings, White Shroud, Death and Fame, Ego Confession, Why I Meditate, I am a Prisoner of Allen Ginsberg, I Love Old Whitman So), I find his essays and interviews equally illuminating and energizing.

This summer I invite you to join me in reading, discussing, and being answerable to The Essential Ginsberg:  We will spend 4 sessions meeting bi-weekly at Cafe Ventana (West Pine Boulevard)  from 7:00 to 8:30 on these Mondays:  July 20, August 3, 17, and 31.  Tuition is $60.

Message or email me (Markjchmiel@gmail.com) if you are interested!

“Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!”

–Allen Ginsberg, Footnote to Howl


The following passages are from Jane Kramer’s Allen Ginsberg in America:

He has been revered by thousands of heady, flower-wielding boys and girls as a combination guru and paterfamilias, and by a generation of students—who consider him a natural ally, if for no other reason than that he terrifies their parents with his elaborate and passionate friendliness—as a kind of ultimate faculty advisor.

“For a guy that ain’t straight at all,” the [Hell’s] Angel apparently said, “he’s the straightest sonofabitch I’ve ever seen. Man, you shoulda been there when he told Sonny he loved him…Sonny didn’t know what the hell to say.”

He enters the name, address, and phone number of anyone he meets who plays, or is apt to play, a part in what he thinks of as the new order—or has information that might be useful to it—in the address book that he always carries in his purple bag, and he goes to considerable trouble putting people he likes in touch with each other and with sympathetic and influential Establishment characters who might be helpful to them.

His friends prefer to think of [Ginsberg} as a sort of latter-day Hebrew prophet, roaming raggedy, exhortative, and penitential among the idol-worshippers.  Ginsberg himself apparently never wasted much time wondering why he enjoyed being poor.

He is a funny, eloquent teacher, and an admitted ham. As a reader, he is by rapid turns rapturous, weepy, plaintive, outraged, comical, heartbreaking and then rapturous again.

On Ivan Ilyich

ahamkara [aham, “I”; kara, “maker”] Self-will, the ego mask, the principle in people which makes them feel separate from others.
— Diana Morrison, A Glossary of Sanskrit from The Spiritual Tradition of India

The Death of Ivan Ilyich is simply about the way not to live. And which way is that? That way is the hell that is self-absorption, captured succinctly in that late Beatles’ song, I Me Mine. Or, in today’s idiom, “It’s all about me, all the time.” The way that every religion has taught, to our own discomfort (we know they’re right and wish they weren’t), because we want things ourway. Ivan Ilyich became the successful lawyer/judge who played by the rules, followed conventional wisdom and taste, and accumulated the prizes and the goodies of the upwardly mobile of Russian society. But really, he was just a self-absorbed “I-maker,” like everybody else in his crowd. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Chris Wallach

If you want to understand your mind, sit down and observe it.
–Munindra, Bengali Buddhist

At the end of March, Chris  Wallach spent a week on silent retreat at the Insight Meditation Society retreat center in Barre, Massachusetts (started by Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and Jack Kornfield in 1975).  She will share her understandings, musings, perspectives, wonderings, and thoughts on the experience and why she would do it again in a heartbeat.

This Sunday 31 May
Potluck begins at 6:00 p.m
Chris begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Rose McCarty
730 Leland Avenue
Apartment #3N
University City


Chris Wallach STW May 2015

Power Branding, American Style

Early morning walk
on Naperville-Wheaton Road
I see this collection of signs:
Power Litany Naperville
One caught my eye
Power Yoga
Power Yoga?
Of course
Power Yoga!
This is branding, American-Style
What’s next?
What else is out there
Or on the horizon?
Power Vipassana?
Power Heart Sutra Chanting?
Power Samadhi?
Power Interbeing?
Power Mindfulness Sangha of Fenton?
Power Mussar?
Power Bhagavad Gita Reading Group?
Power Writing to Wake Up Classes?
Power Mev Puleo Scholarship?
Power Men and Women for Others?
Power Share the Wealth?
Power Partners in Health?
Power Smoothies?
Power Brussels Sprouts?
Power Lunch to Drive Your Competitors into the Ground?
Power Elie Wiesel Speaking Praise to Power?
Power Psychiatrists Who Soothe the Powerful?
Power Front Yard Flags?
Power More Righteous Wars Coming Right Up?
Power Local News Association of Comforting the Comfortable?
Power National News Association of Afflicting the Afflicted?
Power Business as Usual, LLC?
Power Whatever It Takes, Inc.?
Power U.S. War Crimes for Hell of It?
Power Über Alles?

Nocturnal Thoughts after Reading Julia Esquivel, A Guatemalan Poet in Exile

Dear Bella Levenshteyn

Remember how last January
You read all the Yiddish works you could find
Of Yankev Glatshteyn for almost all of three weeks?

Rob Renaud S.J. is on a similar binge —
Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Belizean, Guatemalan poets
He sent me the following last night

Perry Schimmel


Nocturnal Thoughts after Reading Julia Esquivel, A Guatemalan Poet in Exile

Philosophers, theologians, poets
Should write so as to be read
By ordinary people
In their communities
To remind them
To inspire them
To console them
To shake them

Philosophers, theologians, poets
Shouldn’t write so as to be read
By only elites
Or the few who know the jargon
While innocents are being slaughtered
While the commissars are telling lies and praising power
While U.S. wages overt and covert wars
While people starve and the Fortune 500 flourish

If our comfort zone is the U.S. academy or its equivalent
It will be easy to miss such Central American poets
Who have witnessed the terror
Founded and funded in El Norte
Upward mobility costs its U.S. travelers (don’t the Jesuits know this!)—
How the soul can wither!
The displaced Guatemalan unknown here—
How, in spite of so many losses, her soul glows!

—work-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris