Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Contemplation & Resistance (3) - Accepting things

NHAT HANH: ... If you cut yourself off from something -- a tradition, a community -- the hope of things will be lost. Right at that moment. So it is not a problem of a word or a term -- it is the problem of life. And that problem of being simultaneously inside and outside yourself is a very wonderful idea. Not an idea but a way of life, a way that retain one's self and the link between one's self and the other part of one's self.

DAN: This was very much a part of the style of Merton -- the inside/outside. And it had very rich consequences, I think. For him and for others. He used to say that he would never become a monk again, but now that he was a monk, he would be a monk. Absolutely. Yes.

JIM FOREST:  A man playing hide and seek with tradition.

NHAT HANH: Anyway, being a monk or not being a monk, that is not the problem. The problem is the way you are a monk or the way you are a non-monk. I think if we greet events in that way, we can master the situation.

In China, they tell the story of a man who lost his horse. He was sad and he wept about it. But a few days later the horse returned with another horse. So the man was now very happy. His loss turns out to be lucky. But the next day his son tried the new horse and fell and broke one leg. So now it is not good luck any more, but bad luck. So he deserts the other horse and takes his son to the hospital and is content with what he has. So they say, if you greet these event with a calm mind, then you can make the most of these events for the sake of your happiness. That's not me, but the Chinese! (Laughter.)

-from a slightly edited transcript of a conversation recorded in Paris in 1973 by Jim Forest between Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Contemplation & Resistance (2) - meditation

DAN: So in a time when machine is claiming its victories over men and women, it seems to me that contemplation becomes a form of resistance -- and should lead to resistance in the world. And this to the point where one cannot claim he is in touch with God, and still is neutral toward the machine, toward the death of people. I mention this because this also is not clear, and in the derangement in our culture we see that people move toward contemplation in despair -- even though unrecognized. They meditate as a way of becoming neutral --  to put a guard between themselves and the horror around them, instead of allowing them to give themselves to people and to hope, instead of presenting something different, something new, to suffering people. We have a terrible kind of drug called "contemplation". The practitioners may call themselves Jesus freaks or followers of Krishna or Buddha; they may wear robes of some kind, be in the street, and beg, and pray, and live in communes, but they care nothing about the war. Nothing about the war. And they talk somewhat like Billy Graham, "Jesus saves". That is to say, it's not necessary to do anything. So they become another resource of the culture instead of a resource against the culture.

NHAT HANH: Also on the subject of meditation, I think most of us have been touched profoundly by our situation, the reality in which we live, and many of us need a kind of healing. A number of people, including myself and many of my friends -- we need a little bit of time, of space, of privacy, of meditation, in order to heal the wound that is very deep in ourselves. That does not mean that if sometimes I am absorbed in looking at a cloud and not thinking about Vietnam, that does not mean that I don't care. But I need the cloud to heal me and my deep wounds. Many of us are wounded, and we understand and support each other in our need for healing. 

-from a slightly edited transcript of a conversation recorded in Paris in 1973 by Jim Forest between Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan,

Contemplation & Resistance (1) - Time, "we ARE eternity"

 

[What follows are excerpts from a slightly edited transcript of a conversation recorded in Paris in 1973 by Jim Forest between Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan, the one a Buddhist monk and Zen master, the other a Catholic priest well known for animosity to draft  records and for failure to report for imprisonment on schedule. Published in WIN magazine in June 1973]

Dan Berrigan: ... When we were in prison I believe we had a very different sense of time, too. It was closer maybe to the truth.

Nhat Hanh: We tend to imagine that the lifetime of a person is something like using your pen in order to draw a line across a sheet of paper. A person appears on this earth and lives and dies. And we may think of the life of a person just like a line we trace across a sheet of paper. But I think that is not true. The life of a person is not confined to anything like a line you draw, because being alive you do not go in one direction - direction of the right side of a piece of paper, but you also go in other directions. So the image of that line crossing the sheet of paper is not correct. It goes in all directions. Not only four, or eight, or sixteen, but many, many. So if we can see through to that reality, our notion of time will change. That is why in meditation you can feel that you are not traveling in time but we are, we are eternity. We are not caught by death, by change. A few moments of being alive in that state of mind is a very good opportunity for self purification. Not only will it affect our being, but of course it affects our action -- our non-action.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Nagasaki: Midori's Rosary


Around 2:00 p.m. on Aug. 10. The atomic bomb had exploded about a third of a mile above this location, the Matsuyama-machi intersection. The remains of a private school is in the rear at right. The chimney, center rear, was part of the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Steel Works.
 

Credit...Yosuke Yamahata, courtesy Shogo Yamahata

Nagasaki: Midori’s Rosary


By Rowan Williams 

 

The air is full of blurred words. Something
has changed in the war’s weather. The children
(whose children will show me this) have been sent
to the country. In the radiology lab,
Takashi fiddles, listening to the ticking bomb
in his blood cells, thinks, once, piercingly,
of her hands and small mouth, knotting him in
to the long recital of silent lives
under the city’s surface, the ripple of blurred Latin,
changing nothing in the weather of death and confession,
thinks once, in mid-morning, of a kitchen floor, flash-frozen.

When, in the starburst’s centre,
the little black mouth opens, then clenches,
and the flaying wind smoothes down the grass 
and prints its news black on bright blinding
walls, when it sucks back the milk
and breath and skin, and all the world’s vowels
drown in flayed throats, the hard things,
bone and tooth, fuse into consonants of stone,
Midori’s beads melt in a single mass
around the shadow with its blackened hands
carved with their little weeping lips.

Days earlier, in Hiroshima, in what was left
of the clinic chapel, little Don Pedro, turning
from the altar to say, The Lord be with you,
heard, suddenly, what he was about to claim,
seeing the black lips, the melted bones,
and so, he said, he stood, his small mouth
open, he never knew how long, his hands
out like a starburst, while the dialogue
of stony voiceless consonants ground across
the floor, like gravel in the wind, and the two
black mouths opened against each other,

Nobody knowing for a while 
which one would swallow which.

 

* * *

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Original Child Bomb


 

Poet-monk, Thomas Merton, wrote a poem, “Original Child Bomb,” the title being an exact translation of the Japanese word for the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

The poem is a short history written in numbered, laconic sentences about the development and first use of nuclear weapons, despite the appeal of some of the bomb’s makers that it not be used without prior warning. Nonetheless, the bomb was dropped on a city considered of minor military importance.

“The people who were near the center became nothing. The whole city was blown to bits and the ruins caught fire instantly everywhere, burning briskly. 70,000 people were killed right away or died within a few hours. Those who did not die at once suffered great pain. Few of them were soldiers.”

Merton noted the odd way that religious terms had been used by those associated with the bomb. Its first test was called Trinity. The mission to drop the Hiroshima bomb returned to Papacy, the code name for Tinian.
 
The poem is posted below:
___

Hibakusha, those who were bombed

 


Seventy-five years ago today Nagasaki was destroyed with an atomic bomb.

At the end of World War II, 2 Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were obliterated. 

On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress bomber named after the pilot's mother, dropped Little Boy, a five-ton uranium explosion bomb, on Hiroshima.

Three days later another plane, jokingly named Bock's Car (after the plane's original pilot), dropped
Fat Man (a moniker supposedly given it in honor of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill), a more complex plutonium implosion bomb, on Nagasaki. 

In Hiroshima, Little Boy's huge fireball and explosion killed 70,000 to 80,000 people instantly. Another 70,000 were seriously injured. As Joseph Siracusa, author of Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction, writes: "In one terrible moment, 60% of Hiroshima... was destroyed. The blast temperature was estimated to reach over a million degrees Celsius, which ignited the surrounding air, forming a fireball some 840 feet in diameter."

Three days later, Fat Man exploded 1,840 feet above Nagasaki, with the force of 22,000 tons of TNT. According to "Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered," a web resource on the bombings developed for young people and educators, 286,000 people lived in Nagasaki before the bomb was dropped; 74,000 of them were killed instantly and another 75,000 were seriously injured.

Those who somehow managed to survive call themselves Hibakusha, which literally means "those who were bombed." 

[ extracted from Frida Berrigan's Reflections on Hiroshima and Nagasaki published on August 3, 2009 in TRUTHOUT ]

The photo above is the front cover of a New Directions book containing the poem, "Original Child Bomb", by Thomas Merton. The book was designed and illustrated by Emil Antonucci and published in 1961

For most of the years of this louie blog, I have in some way remembered and noted these days of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. These posts can be found HERE

Other louie postings on Nagasaki & Hiroshima are here:




Nagasaki (2018)












___

As of July 8, 2017, the United States has 6,800 warheads, according to data from Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris at the Federation of American scientists. 2,800 of them are retired, 4,000 are stockpiled, and 1,800 are deployed. The total number of U.S. warheads is second only to Russia, which currently has 7,000 of them.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

PAX

 

 “I may be wrong about Pax, but keep feeling that through good poems and pictures, peace can travel.”
–Robert Lax to Thomas Merton, 1953

The image here is from the third issue of Robert Lax’s broadsheet Pax, which he published sporadically between 1956 and 1962, adding three new issues in 1985. 

Contemplation & Resistance (3) - Accepting things

NHAT HANH: ... If you cut yourself off from something -- a tradition, a community -- the hope of things will be lost. Right at that moment. ...