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Yesterday during the evening meal a whale kept leaping up out of the water not too far out at sea. Hurling its tail violently into the air (a distinctly forked tail, not sure what kind of whale, it didn’t seem very large but hard to tell at the distance), over and over again, maybe a dozen or more times, mostly thrashing the surface of the water, but a few times sinking gracefully back in, without disturbance. Then a pause, then going through the same thing again. Lasted a while. I’ve never seen such a thing. There were some murmurs among us at the tables, but mostly everyone watched in silence. Then in the evening, doing my exercise walk up and down the beach, the sunset: huge, outlandishly, unnaturally huge, bright red sun, a perfect dish against the blue green horizon, slowly sinking...

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Major Douglas on “social credit” and why Pound was so interested in it, and was therefore a confirmed anti-Semite: International bankers (ie. Jews) were the ruination of the world, of all culture. Douglas’ radical system was right up Pound’s alley: why should these bankers decide who gets money and therefore who does what in society – that people must do only what the bankers will profit from, not quirky, daring, culturally valuable things, but things that are safe, and have maximum resale value. Instead of this, governments should be the bankers, loaning money on the basis of and for the furtherance of “social credit,” which is the natural wealth all members of a society (not just the bankers, who happen to have amassed “capital”) automatically possess by virtue of their association, the abundance of the earth they inhabit, and the cultural heritage they nourish.

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… So many events, presentations, retreats, comings and goings in the last week or so really I can hardly remember them. I’d need to check the calendar to determine where I’ve been, what I’ve been talking about, to whom.

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… emptiness teachings of Ashta hard for people to appreciate. It’s pleasant to think of emptiness (sunyatta) as interconnection. Then emptiness means we belong to everything, which is a comfort. But emptiness as void, as illusion, as nothing’srealinthewaywethinkitis is less comforting – or so it seems. Why not take delight in disappearing? “Gone” is only a disaster in terms of our being here – as we believe. So there is no “gone.” Just as there is no “emptiness.” Emptiness and goneness are just projections of our fear. And to really and truly disappear may be quite delightful.

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Abbot’s Journal Vol 61, September 10, 2007 By Norman Fischer | 2/08/2008 @ 9:41 am Muir Beach … Saturday, Company Time retreat all day (subject: “focus”) then benefit for Hartford Street Zen Center that night. With David Schneider. Hadn’t seen him in maybe twenty-five years. He looks almost the same, lean and lithe in his neat suit, one hardly notices the thinning hair and the gray. We sat up on stage reminiscing about Issan and Phil (Whalen). I’d come prepared to read stuff by and about Phil, figuring I had little else to say (couldn’t remember any amusing anecdotes) but then, in the event, I did remember. Seeing Del’s “Tassajara Bread Book” drawings on the wall at Hartford Street, I remembered once driving Del and Issan up from Tassajara and we’d stopped at Del’s place in Palo Alto for dinner. Del and Issan drinking gin and gossiping about the old days in the San Francisco gay community, long before it was safe to come out: all the suffering, all the outrageous, if secret, behavior. I sat listening with shock and delight. It was as if an historical period long gone and long submerged were springing to life before my eyes.

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Answers to questions

Sep 06, 2007

Answers to questions posed by Kelly Tarnow, La Lumiere Scool, LaPorte, Indiana on nirvana.

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Finished Hank’s “Lyric & Spirit.” Interesting discussions of Jabes, Arakawa and Gins, Creeley, Rae, and a very long section in one of the essays on my work as one of the major instances of what Hank calls “spirit” in contemporary innovative poetry. Unfortunately the essay was written before either Slowly But Dearly or I Was Blown Back had come out – and these I think advance my work quite a lot, new directions and more depth. (Anyway, I hope so). Still, I was pleased to read the essay (I think I had not seen it – is it possible he’d not sent it to me before?) The Jabes stuff come in an essay on Rosemary Waldrop’s book on Jabes, “A Lavish Absence.” Many clarifying quotations from informal conversations with Jabes.

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Reading Hank Lazer’s “Lyric & Spirit,” his critical volume (essays of last ten years) he’d asked me to blurb. It’s absorbing. A sort of pastiche of sources, quotations. He’s saying that the real juice of writing, what drives it, makes it real, important, is sound, that the lyric is sound, not the nostalgic yammering of the sensitive poet having an epiphany. (Though in arguing for this he pronounces the conventional lyric “dead,” in fact the conventional lyric is exactly what the public and a lot of the professional lit world think of as poetry).

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Event with Novo Nordisk executives, the first day of their “Lighthouse Program.” In which they take thirty top executives from around the world (including the CEO, Lars) on a secret leadership development program. They are told what to bring, and are given some gear appropriate to the occasion, in this case outdoor jackets and Northface backpacks, but not told where they will be going or what they will be doing. I spent the day with them out at the Noetic Sciences site near Petaluma teaching them zazen and walking meditation and talking to them about the relationship of classical Buddhist mindfulness practice to leadership. I used more or less the same thoughts I’d presented to the Metta Institute students, who are concerned with being better caregivers for the dying – because the issue is the same in the end, how to cultivate a deeper sense of presence with yourself and with others.

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… at Johanneshof in Germany I tried to work into our Dogen seminar as much as I could of the Heidegger works I’d been reading in “Poetry, Language, Thought.” This was because Eugenie and Laurent, Dominique’s daughter and her boyfriend, both students of Heidegger thought in Paris, were at the retreat, as were Dominique and Paul Kahn. I’m not so sure how well the Heidegger worked out, but I enjoyed it. At one point one of the Germans reacted with some hostility. He had been himself a serious student of Heidegger in German (he said Heidegger had changed his life) and now he was hearing the Master several steps removed – so far removed that the work was unrecognizable: an English translation from the German that I was interpreting and paraphrasing, and Ottmar was then re-translating into German! But, I told the man, I am making no attempt to reproduce H.’s original meaning or intent, Rather only to present “my” Heidegger, as I take him, through and for a reading of Dogen. This seemed to satisfy the man, and according to Eugenie and Laurent, to be very Heideggerian!

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