“ ‘Chad Gadya’ (also) teaches us the importance of small acts...”
“ ‘Chad Gadya’ teaches us that even a small act of violence can lead all the way to God. So, too, can a small act of love...In Judaism-as in “Chad Gadya”- the path to God is marked by small steps rather than giant leaps. We cannot reach God through the grandest gesture, yet we cannot avoid reaching him through humblest acts.”
“ ‘Chad Gadya’ begins with 'one little goat' and ends with the One God.” -from New American Haggadah edited by Jonathan Safran Foer
(photo: antelope, Safari West, Santa Rosa,CA 2012)
“There is an inner dynamic in the evolution of all true love that leds to level of communication ‘too deep for words.’ There the lover becomes inarticulate, falls silent, and the beloved receives the silence as eloquence.”
-Thelma Hall,r.c. ,Too Deep For Words, Rediscovering Lectio Divina
(photo: on of the statues on the grounds of San Damiano Retreat House, Danville, CA)
Yesterday I picked up from a used book store an old book-Philosophy, Something to Believe In by Richard Paul Janaro (1975). 2 years ago I read Existentialism, A Guide for the Perplexed by Steven Earnshaw (2006). Many years ago I read Camus and Nietzsche after Thomas Merton mentioned them in his journals. Then I met a colleague who suggested Nietzsche when I asked him which philosopher I should read.
Years before and in between years I became acquainted with Plato and Aristotle. I’m just a student fascinated by philosophical ideas. Very slowly, I think, I’m learning. (photo: chairs with yellow cushions at the Charles M. Schulz Museum)
“When men die, they die in fear", he said. "They take everything they need from you, and as a doctor it is your job to give it, to comfort them, to hold their hand. But children die how they have been living - in hope. They don't know what's happening, so they expect nothing, they don't ask you to hold their hand - but you end up needing them to hold yours. With children, you're on your own. Do you understand?”
“When Thomas Merton first encountered the Abbey of Gethsemani, where he was later to live as a monk, he wrote, “I had wondered what was holding the country together, what has been keeping the universe from cracking in pieces and falling apart. . . This is the only city in America — and it is by itself, in the wilderness . . .” A monastery is a city in the ancient meaning of the word, as “civitas,” a place which stands for human culture in the largest sense, and exists to serve the common good.
I have often had the odd feeling that the monastery is the real world, while the dog-eat-dog world that most people call “real” is in fact an artifice, an illusion that we cling to because it seems to be in our best interest to do so. The true city, the holy one, allows us, in the words of Paul Philibert, an alternative “vision of human relationships where beauty is more desirable than financial profit, friendship more precious than advantage, and solidarity in a common vision of human dignity more compelling than self-fulfillment.” a simple paraphrase of Dorotheus of Gaza — I’d much rather do things with others and have them come out wrong than do them by myself to make sure they come out right — demonstrates the distance between a monastic perspective and the modern American individualism that allows us to ignore a basic reality: human beings are remarkably dependent on one another."
-Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk (photo: The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New Mexico)
"Throughout the inhabited world, in all times and under every circumstance, the myths of man have flourished; and they have been the living inspiration of whatever else may have appeared out of the activities of the human body and mind. It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation. Religions, philosophies, arts, the social forms of primitive and historic man, prime discoveries in science and technology, the very dreams that blister sleep, boil up from the basic, magic ring of myth."
Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces
The photo is the rock formations called “fairy chimneys” in Cappadocia, Turkey. Cheri and I visited the place in September, 2011.
“There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus which says: 'The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing'. Scholars have differed about the correct interpretation of these dark words, which may mean no more than that the fox, for all his cunning, is defeated by the hedgehog's one defense. But, taken figuratively, the words can be made to yield a sense in which they mark one of the deepest differences which divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general. For there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel-a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance-and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related by no moral or aesthetic principle; these last lead lives, perform acts, and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal, their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for what they are in themselves, without consciously or unconsciously, seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision. The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes; and without insisting on a rigid classification, we may, without too much fear of contradiction, say that, in this sense, Dante belongs to the first category, Shakespeare to the second; Plato, Lucretius, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Proust are, in varying degrees, hedgehogs; Herodotus, Aristotle, Montaigne, Erasmus, Molière, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzak, Joyce are foxes.”
"The symphony is a musical epic.We might compare it to a journey leading through the boundless reaches of the external world, on and on, farther and farther. Variations also constitute a journey, but not through the external world. You recall Pascal's pensée about how man lives between the abyss of the infinitely large and the infinitely small. The journey of the variation form leads to that second infinity, the infinity of internal variety concealed in all things.
“...Man knows he cannot embrace the universe with all its suns and stars.But he finds it unbearable to be condemned to lose the second infinity as well, the one so close, the one so nearly within reach."
-Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
"The inner self is as secret as God and, like Him, it evades every concept that tries to seize hold of it with full possession. It is a life that cannot be held and studied as object, because it is not "a thing." It is not reached and coaxed forth from hiding by any process under the sun, including meditation. All that we can do with any spiritual discipline is produce within ourselves something of the silence, the humility, the detachment, the purity of heart and the indifference which are required if the inner self is to make some shy, unpredictable manifestation of his Presence."
--Thomas Merton "The Inner Experience"
March, 2011 I attended a week-end spiritual retreat in San Damiano Retreat House in Danville,CA.
Early this morning before the heat becomes heavy like number 98, while the fog lingers around, I walked to the river. The breeze was cool.2 fisherman were watching the low tide flows down towards the sea while their casts lines rest on Y-top stick. My friendly fisherman was not there.
I watched people left their dwellings and drove to work. The shopping center parking lot was almost empty except for 2-3 cars.
I greeted a woman who was standing outside her house, on her driveway, "good morning". “It is a good morning,” she replied back.
It’s indeed a good morning. The sound of traffic on the bridge was getting louder. The sun has not started to assert itself yet.
When I return home I will find the book Tiger’s Wife on the table.
The Church of the Holy Wisdom, known as Hagia Sophia (Άγια Σοφία) in Greek, Sancta Sophia in Latin, and Ayasofya or Aya Sofya in Turkish, is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Now a museum, Hagia Sophia is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world.
(text from: www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/istanbul-hagia-sophia) (photo: taken in September, 2011, when Cheri and I visited Istanbul)
"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . ."
“...Here, then, is a great mystery. For you who also love the little prince, and for me, nothing in the universe can be the same if somewhere, we do not know where, a sheep that we never saw has-- yes or no?-- eaten a rose... Look up at the sky. Ask yourselves: is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And you will see how everything changes... And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!
This is, to me, the loveliest and saddest landscape in the world. It is the same as that on the preceding page, but I have drawn it again to impress it on your memory. It is here that the little prince appeared on Earth, and disappeared.
Look at it carefully so that you will be sure to recognize it in case you travel some day to the African desert. And, if you should come upon this spot, please do not hurry on. Wait for a time, exactly under the star. Then, if a little man appears who laughs, who has golden hair and who refuses to answer questions, you will know who he is. If this should happen, please comfort me. Send me word that he has come back.”
-from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
The photo is one of the sculptures, titled The World is Mine, in the downtown of St. George, Utah, part of the Art Walk. I took this photo when Cheri and I visited St. George, October,2010. I have shown this photo in my previous blog.
Minerva visits the Muses ...Urania led the goddess To the sacred water, and Minerva stood there, Admiring long, and looked at woods and grottoes And lawns, bejeweled with unnumbered flowers, And said that Memory’s daughters must be happy In both their home and calling. -text taken from Ovid Metamorphoses translated by Rolfe Humphries
(Cheri's photo of the Fallen Leaf Lake in South Tahoe)
My 24 hours Today I walked for 2 hours which started from our condo, over the bridge across Napa River to the river walk trail in Kennedy Park and back. It was early morning, the sun was already bright and with a cool breeze. I met kids riding their bicycles, mothers with children in strollers, walkers with their dogs, couples and 3-4 walker-groups enjoying the walk along the river. The devotees of model airplanes were flying their airplanes.
We greeted each other with hello, good morning. Each one with their own stories of the morning experience.
In the early afternoon Cheri and I attended a funeral. Later in the evening I attended my club meeting. Will listen to a lullaby in a little while.
4 years ago an architect-artist did a sand sculpture of Domaine Carneros, a vineyard and winery that makes sparkling wine, in the Carneros region in Napa Valley, California. It was on exhibit for several days in the parking lot of the winery. One afternoon Cheri and I and a couple of friends passed by the winery to see the sculpture and took some photos.
Beauty even so temporary as this sand sculpture is still beauty. “What’s art but praise,” writes Ruskin.
“There is some advantage, intellectually and spiritually, in taking wide views with the bodily eye and not pursuing an occupation which holds the body prone.
There is some advantage, perhaps, in attending to the general features of the landscape over studying the particular plants and animals which inhabit it. One may walk abroad and no more see the sky than if one walked under a shed.
The poet is more in the air than the naturalist, though they may walk side by side. Granted that you are out-of-doors; but what if the outer door is open, if the inner door is shut!
You must walk sometimes perfectly free, not prying nor inquisitive, not bent upon seeing things. Throw away a whole day for a single expansion, a single inspiration of air.” August 21st, 1851 - Henry Thoreau
from The Heart of Thoreau’s Journals-edited by Odell Shepard
I walked to the library this afternoon and selected 3 books to read: Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Prisoner of Heaven, Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver and Teju Cole’s Open City.
The Prisoner of Heaven is part of the trilogy with The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game. The setting is Barcelona and the stories deal with literature and passions and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
I’m reading Teju Cole and Tove Jansson for the first time.
Busy week for reading with visits with the grandchildren.And if I add time to watch the Olympics I will be deprived of sleep. But time is always describe as now. I can dream in the now and not lose sleep.
Today we went to the Safari West in Santa Rosa. Th aviary has plenty of birds from flamingo to ibises, herons and guinea fowls. Different kinds of monkeys and lemurs and wild animals-cheetah, antelopes, cape buffalo,zebra and giraffes. Tour of 400 acres of country in special open safari vehicle. An adventure.