Kitchen Zen

Who was he? I don’t remember his name, but I know he had come to this church basement to teach a course in zen and he said something I have never forgotten. He was trying to explain a way of being  in everything  – not of sitting down at a certain time or saying certain words but of being present  in whatever you were doing.  And I could see he wasn’t convinced his audience understood. I too had the feeling no one had the faintest idea what he was talking about. Then he paused for a moment, clearly seeking a way to get his message across and  turning (alas) to a group of women he said when you are doing the dishes, imagine you are bathing baby Jesus. Well, he tetanized those christian ladies, I can assure you, but being pagan me, I laughed outloud… not in disrespect, no, I thought it an awesome allusion…

What made me laugh, I think was partly just the idea that here was this slight oriental bouddhist – accent confirming his belonging to a completely different culture – chosing baby Jesus as the highest standard bearer he could possibly think of to explain what is worthy of attention, to communicate in a semi-religious setting what was meant by the practice of zen.

So let me pass it on to you for good measure: when you do the dishes imagine that you are bathing baby Jesus. Good for your soul – if you see yourself as having one – good for your mind – assuming you have one of those too – good for your blood pressure… and maybe even good for the dishes.



More Money

More Money ain’t never gonna give you whatever it is, you think you need to plug the dike; no, money won’t keep the end from washing over you and spilling you down the other side of The Grand Coulee Dam into oblivion.

More Money won’t never deliver the tang of a berry you just happened on all by your lonesome in a cool wild wood on a hot summer day, and More ain’t never gonna buy another Monday or a Sunday that ain’t a Tuesday or some other day in all of your
born days.

Funny how a lotta money is never enough – or maybe not so funny, come to think of it. The only thing that lotsa Money is ever gonna give you is a taste for More – while it’s stealing from you the next word…as in, more what?

Before the common market bankers chewed up and spit out the stupendous land of Socrates and Aristotle, a Greek man defined poverty for me as being too poor to offer a gift, adding that that was why there was always a pot of basil beside the front door of nearly every greek cottage.



agnosticism 101

I think I know which end is up
but it’s not always easy
to live by what you know –
unless you are Fearless Fosdick
or some other cartoon hero.

Indeed I believe it’s a viable assumption
that most of us just haven’t figured out
how to live without dreams
in which case: who in their right mind
would trade a dream of orange blossoms and honey,
for a dream of a black bottomless pit? 

In the dream department, I’ll have the former please,
and throw in a few harps and wings if you can.
It’s just a dream and hopefully recognized as such.

In broad daylight, when I’m up to it,
I try not to get lost in dreams, 
try to leave tomorrow for those hooked on absolutes –
tomorrow and all, and all the tomorrows after that – 
because in the end, however tomorrow resonates. . .
minutes…hours…days…years…eternities. . .
the future can be resumed in the shape
of shepherd’s crook above a large 8-ball.


If I mention in passing that I wrote this decades ago,
it is to reinforce the idea
that I haven’t given it up as a modus vivendi 🙂



sabbath syllables

To disobey god’s will is sin.
The definition of sin is this.
All that is not this is not sin –
got that?
If not
repeat until melted
like hard candy
swallowed like a syrup…

Words – any – all – transcribed
are not pure or even proper
expression of god’s will
only in all languages
could the expression
in words
even approach
divine will.

Fred does not speak
a language
in particular.

[greek, pali, hebrew
latin, arabic, mandarin
xhosa…et cetera]

The supposed – imagined – deity
[if he or she existed] could
of course
speak all languages

would be the least
of Fred’s capacities.

Decoding anything
worth decoding –
understanding anything
worth understanding
may be arrived at
in contemplation of the yellow tonsils
of the purple-throated tulip
soundtracked in one of several
Beethoven sonatas.

Such moments
may even resemble
genuine communication
with one [or another]
Supreme Being.

Conjecture which leads to
contradiction of
might possibly
be sinful.

Beyond that:
you know in your heart
what’s right and what’s wrong
don’t you…?
At least on an individual
level – right? And besides
that is all there is
or ever can be
since the gods
are not inclined
to e-mail copies.
Bulk mail.
Dear occupant.

The message
is always utterly


as is the rhetoric
of snowflakes.



This is what happens when you die

This is what happens when you  die
This is wat   happen   wen  you  die
This is   at    appen     en     u  die
  th     s   a       pen      n         d
    t       a        pen                d
                 a      en            d
                              e n d


I will not make of death a fear-marrowed sequel to Jaws

I am older now than those who were sure
I’d change my mind when I grew old.
Now a foot in the grave [not especially brave]
those fairytale afterlives still leave me cold!

Not a model of poise – I do make joyful noise
daily…. as night shrinks in power.
One day sun will die and, of course, so will I
so I do try to celebrate each sunlit hour

My heart truly leaps up…delight fills my teacup –
life and the cosmos fill me with awe.
I need no deities [except maybe birch trees]
the empirical strikes me as having no flaw

Let them grovel and pray [they were brought up that way]
dreaming of Paradise – a sop for the proles.
Parents pass on the lie [pitchforks terrify]
obey mom or your soul might get roasted on coals!

Only a sap would believe in such crap –
but they see no way clear to dispell long-held fear
since mom was the one who passed the lies on
and she is the person we each hold most dear


hints of Wordsworth and The Book of Psalms.  Should I have added more? I would rather leave you to do the summing up.


. .

Don’t believe scientists…

science is a process
revising again and again –
western religion is simply
rigor mortis of the brain

…and the irony is
that the Abrahamic creeds
are fundamentally in denial
of a creative – living – god



and because I hold with the view
that agnosticism has a right to rejoice in good music 🙂

listen and you will hear, from Psalm 84,
yea for the living god
what audacity that any mortal man
even hints at a claim to fathoming
an ever-living creator