On first reading Adorno

“I can see the necessity for applying a negative dialectic to all religious thought and practice. It’s necessary to keep things honest. In order to have some faith, you absolutely have to doubt. You have to wonder whether yesterday’s truth still applies today. You have to ask if it does or not. Be willing to tear down today’s truth to find something, if anything, behind it. This makes life—and religion—alive.”

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Year End Letter 2014

“It is easy enough to practice generosity and kindness, not to speak act or think in ways that are harmful to and disrespectful of others. This is something I have been committed to for a long time and work on every day. But it is more difficult to know what to do about suffering in the world. Racism, sexism, national and religious hatreds. Terrible social injustice which seems ingrained in the economic and political systems we are living under. Environmental uncertainty and dread. A general sense of hopelessness prevails, underneath our frenetic shopping and doing. We can’t ignore this...”

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On Stories

“When you study a koan you make it your own, see it personally - and yet not personally. That is, you have to take it personally and seriously - not see it as abstract or theoretical - and yet the whole point is that you see past yourself and your concerns to deeper realms of existence without, at the same time, ignoring your story, your own human problems that are the occasion for the deeper point to arise. This seems to be the whole trick of zen practice - to stay with your actual experience, your own personal story, and yet to see through it at the same time to something more.”

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On the Death of Peter Muryo Matthiessen

“I was at sesshin at Mar de Jade in Mexico when I learned of the death of Peter Matthiessen. I knew him as Muryo, Zen priest. Sad. I am sorry I won’t see him again. As always you think 'why didn’t I call or write or visit that one last time?' Now I can't. But Peter was 86, had had a good full long life, had cancer, was battling with it, knew what was in store for him and was OK with it. So as these things go, he was lucky, and there is nothing to regret.”

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