Hold It All

Month: November, 2018

Dr. Sheth, How Many Poems Do You Prescribe Each Day?

Sometimes the world is too much with me—
The Trump world
The I-Me-Mine world
The seemingly gleaming samsara world—

But then I remember I need a dose of poems
Like the following from Ko Un’s book This Side of Time
Translated by Clare You and Richard Silberg…

The autumn leaves fall dancing.
I’ll dance my way out too
when it’s time to leave this world. 26

Do I have a love
to wash away people’s hate?
I opened an umbrella
then closed it, and
let the rain fall down on me. 27

I love August.
I love the August sun.
I remember ten billion years ago.

Ah, my body is smeared with primeval light. 52 Read the rest of this entry »

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Not So Random Entries, Commonplace Moleskine/9

400.  If a man reads a book because it interests him and reads in all directions for the same reason, his reading is pure and interests me.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

500.  The poor play a crucial role in the world. They are the ones who really tell us what the world is.
–Pedro Casaldáliga and Jose-Maria Vigil

600. Military occupation is taken as an acceptable given and is scarcely mentioned; Palestinian terrorism becomes the cause, not the effect, of violence, even though one side possesses a modern military arsenal (unconditionally supplied by the United States), the other is stateless, virtually defenseless, savagely persecuted at will, and herded inside 160 little cantons, schools closed, life made impossible.
–Edward Said Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Share the Wealth with Barbara and Suzy–Turning Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones: Friendship Soul Partnering

Suzy Shepard and Barbara Sheets met in 1975 at a play-in start-up group for newborns and their mothers. Nothing could have prepared Suzy and Barb more for coping in life than what followed – leaving the formal play-in group and deciding to meet together weekly for forty-three years and counting. Suzy became a social worker and mother of four and Barbara a yoga instructor and mother of five. Through humor and tears, they tell the story of true love friendship soul partnering — the heroes’ tale of coping with career, parenting, marriage, politics and death. Bring your funny bone, Kleenex and seat belt to this meeting about turning life’s stumbling blocks into stepping stones and doing this through a friendship soul partnering. The model may be worth copying.

Join us
SATURDAY 1 December
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Barbara and Suzy begin sharing at 6:45
At the home of Christine Wallach
5 E. Lake Road
Fenton, MO
63026 Read the rest of this entry »

For PG, on Her 68th Birthday

I celebrate yourself
And sing yourself
And what I absorb from the Western canon you can absorb from the Western canon,
For every classic belonging to me as good belongs to you

Exchange

“But how come those Palestinians can’t be like Dr. King?”

Well then…

“So, Rabin, did he make it even through a third of Gandhi’s Collected Works?

And did Shimon Peres invite Gene Sharp to give workshops to the IDF elite, with handouts  for all on the  198 methods of nonviolent action?

And when Begin came to the U.S. did he arrange a tête-à-tête with Diane Nash? 

And does Netanyahu take practical  inspiration from the life of Badshah Khan?

And do the teachings of the Besht get ample time in the training of the paratroopers?

And the Air Force pilots, do they learn to recite gathas from Thich Nhat Hanh?

And for the Palestinians did  Dov Weinglas cultivate compassion like  Aung San Suu Kyi?

Wait a second, scratch that last one”

“Scribbled Secret Notebooks, and Wild Typewritten Pages, for Yr Own Joy”

Inspired by Diana Raab, Writers and Their Notebooks

I read Raab’s book right about the end of my time at SLU. Moving on to Maryville University, I found a way to assign Natalie Goldberg’s Bones book in my Humanities classes—mandatory composition (wide-ruled) notebooks. I also started teaching my own classes off-campus, typically with a writing (hence, notebook) theme.

1.
How can we imagine a notebook?

Some possibilities—
Warehouse (not a museum)
Treasure chest of thoughts and anecdotes
Place to collect ideas
Place to practice writing
Place to overcome writer’s block
Laboratory
Mirror
Icebreaker
Wailing wall
Junk drawer
Confessional
Postcard to oneself
Playground for mind
Jump-start cable
Memory aid
Archive
Anthology
Snooping device
Role-playing arena
Observation-sharpener
Survival kit
Meditation practice
Witness Stand
Therapist
Spiritual Advisor
Sound-board
Friend Read the rest of this entry »

“Every Moment Forever”

I shared the following earlier today with my friend Rob Trousdale, who lives at the Duluth Catholic Worker. These Katagiri Roshi passages are from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

“Why do you come to sit meditation? Why don’t you make writing your practice? If you go deep enough in writing, it will take you everyplace.”

“Your little mind can’t do anything. It takes Great Determination. Great Determination doesn’t just mean you making an effort. It means the whole universe is behind you and with you–the birds, trees, sky, moon, and ten directions.”

“Have kind consideration for all sentient beings.”

“It is very deep to have a cup of tea.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wherever We Are Useful

Katharina Mommsen, Goethe’s Art of Living
Trafford, 2003
Translators: John Crosetto, John Whaley, Renee M. Schell

A teacher who can awaken a sense of a single good deed or a single good poem accomplishes more than one who simply coveys an entire catalog of natural phenomena categorized by form and name.  
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,  143 

Drawing extensively on her grasp of Goethe’s vast oeuvre, Katharina Mommsen fills her book with many passages from Goethe’s works and offers some helpful commentary. The book has the following sections:  Facing the World, Nature, Joy of Being Active, Art of Life and Living, Fundamental Joys of Life, Enthusiasm for the Young, and Reflections.

____________________

While reading her book, I thought several times of Sri  Eknath Easwaran, whose neo-Hinduism dovetails at times with Goethe’s strongly secular orientation, particularly about relations with the young and concentrated work and productivity— 

“Day and night is not an empty phrase; many nighttime hours, which I spend sleeplessly as befits the fate of my age, are dedicated not to vague and general thoughts, but to precise contemplation of what to do the following day, which in the morning I dutifully begin as far as possible to carry out. And so I perhaps do more and cleverly  accomplish in the allotted days, what once was wasted time in which one justifiably thought or imagined that there was always another tomorrow.” Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Is Not Enough

Hilene Flanzbaum, The Americanization of the Holocaust
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999

The following  note is from summer 1999 when I was reworking my dissertation to what would become my first book, Elie Wiesel and the Politics of Moral Leadership (Temple University Press, 2001).   Hedy Epstein’s Erinnern Ist Nicht Genug: Autobiographie appeared in Germany in 1999. Norman Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust  Industry came out in 2000. 

This collection of essays doesn’t have much in the way of political relevance to my project, but there are good cultural analyses, particularly the editor’s overview to the subject (e.g., Wiesel at the Mets’ game),  Steinweiss’s remarks on Wiesel in Nebraska, Greenspan’s  studies of the evolving reception and discourses of survivors (stigmatizing vs. celebratory), and Young’s remarks on the politics of identity.  

Indeed, it is easier to talk about cultural shifts and Americanization rather than take the more controversial  and critical view that  elites are happy to focus on the Nazi crimes rather than our own.   Those people speaking out — more than 50 years later! — against Nazism may think of themselves, proudly, as moral beacons, say,  Christian “Holocaust scholars.”  But this reminds me of what Chomsky said, “You can tell the truth about Ghengis Khan, but it doesn’t rank very high on the moral scale.”  People got agitated about the Reagan Bitburg scandal of 1985, but not about Reagan’s  aiding and abetting the bloodbaths in Central America at the same time.  

Share the Wealth with Wendy Lee & Xavier Vincent: On China, Minimalism, and World Travel

Wendy, a Saint Louis University alum, and Xavier, a French native, met in Shanghai, a metropolis that has gained importance on the world stage over the last decade. The two met in this city while pursuing their corporate careers. After over a year of practice to live a more simplistic life, Wendy and Xavier bid farewell to both their corporate jobs and lives in China, after 6 and 14 years, respectively. They will share their insights on life in Shanghai, on their journey to pare down their life possessions to a suitcase and a backpack each, and their journey around the world, including traveling on the Trans-Siberian rail.

Join us
Sunday 11 November
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Wendy and Xavier begin sharing at 6:45
At the home of Sari Althubyani
12365 Cross Creek Cove
Apartment K, top floor
Creve Coeur, MO
63141