Archive for October, 2009


Such a wonderful crisp Fall day, spent visiting farm stands for fresh produce, warm muffins, and cakes. Then, off to our next stop at a local vineyard for a delightfully relaxed wine-tasting. We sampled a young but pleasant Merlot, a Cabernet Blanc, (a complex, dry red blend with hints of blackberry and overtones of oak), and a Riesling (not too sweet).

Leaving the winery, our laughter and novel sentence structures suggested the need for food. So, next to a favorite Greek restaurant. We dined, told stories, debated theological questions, shared tales of killer algae, opined about the excesses of high fructose corn syrup, the virtues of vegetarianism and the desperate need for insurance reform. Too many calories later, we blithely stepped out into the parking lot and discovered it was now getting quite dark. The gibbous moon lit up the southern sky and joined Jupiter’s light in casting a silvery glow over the pastoral landscape. On the way home, we pulled off the road into the parking area of a small municipal beach. The sea sparkled in the moonlight as if dusted with scintillating diamonds.

As we slid into a parking space, a visual illusion made it seem that we could drive right off the pavement into the sea, creating a magical moment at the end of a spectacular day. It was then we saw her, the luminous woman emerging from the surf, her features obscured in the shadows. A lonely silhouette, she walked slowly down by the water’s edge, tossing pebbles into the surf. The way the light played on the water’s surface, and not seeing the water’s edge, it appeared that she was not on the beach but walking on the surface of the water.

This was a night of strange illusions indeed, well-suited to All Hallows Eve.

Then, suddenly, as we fixed our gaze on her movements, a visage from which we could not break away, she began moving towards us. Our good friend, a Dominican Nun, commented that it was all just a bit menacing, and that set us off on wild associations and imagining. In the very next instant, when I thought the night could not get any more surreal, her whole head became luminous, surrounded all around by a soft blue glow. It was a Marian blue, I thought, the color of the maternal, the color of the Holy Mother  in so many paintings from the Renaissance.It was a captivating moment. We were silent. I felt like a little child. Something in me wanted to throw the car into reverse and leave, while another part, the one to which I listened, had no intentions of doing so. We were a little spooked but mesmerized, transfixed by this other-worldly scene.

Then, as she drew nearer, we saw more clearly, and with all the suddenness of a tumble down a flight of stairs, all our imaginings and musings went silent, our colorful images flat-lined,  in the flash of undeniable and anti-climactic realization.

She was talking on her cellphone: A thoroughly 2009 digital ending to an otherwise timeless and magical day.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Practitioners of meditation in all its guises, including your’s truly, often talk about the challenge of quieting the mind. The mind resists mightily. This perpetual motion machine does not warm to slowing down very much.

In Zen meditation, we often hear about “monkey mind,” an apt description of the “hyperactive” nature of these 24/7 circuits of light-speed processing. Following the breath, finding the quieter environment, candles, incense, subdued lighting, zafu and zabuton, Tibetan gongs, chant, mantra, and so many other related practices rest on the idea of changing the usual rhythm of thought and reducing it all down to a simpler, cleaner, less cluttered focus. We watch as ideas are born and pass away. Our coaches remind us to stay mindful and to stay in the moment. Distraction, or drifting into the stupor of waking-sleep, is the illness we are trying to treat. Nothing like a good bamboo stick crack on the back to wake you up (Japanese Zen style). It’s all useful practice and it all holds merit.

However, a moment’s reflection and then a different question pops up: So, if the human person evolved to consciousness where thought became primary, it must have been an adaptation to the real and a significant natural boon to survival. Evolution simply does not happen in response to fantasy. So, where is the problem? A player at devil’s advocacy might suggest: the brain/mind nature is precisely what makes us Human. If we evolved in this way, why so much struggling to make the mind behave counter to its true nature? If enlightenment means restoring the mind to its original pre-evolved state, I want none of it!

It pays to carry this heretical notion farther I think. Let us take some time to appreciate the brain/mind nature and consider it from the standpoint of the virtuous rather than the vicious cycles.

The mind is a time machine. We can map out scenarios from probable to possible and even the seemingly impossible. We can relive earlier times and project ourselves forward into diverse environments and circumstances. We can, as novelists do, invent whole worlds, plots, characters, all either based strongly or obliquely on historical fact, or not at all. Nonetheless, a lot of science fiction tends to later come true. Carl Jung spoke of our powers of “active imagination” through which we can positively and therapeutically dream our dreams forward from the point at which we left them upon awakening. We can intuit and tap into tacit knowledge.

Our minds engage in the mental gymnastics of higher mathematics with stunning agility and utility, and, through the squiggles and symbols on a piece of paper, we often predict what so often later we discover in the world. Through thought we can make ourselves ill, or we can stimulate the immune response and make ourselves well. Through metaphor and imagery we can affect others, bring joy, be inspired by the thoughts of others, experience things at depths quite extraordinary and look at our own condition. So finely evolved is the Mind, that we can invent technologies that save lives and advance the cause of community and outreach. We can put people on the moon and send devices to other worlds to study the universe of which we are a part. We love in action, in word, and in our prayerful intentions. How majestic, powerful, abundantly enaged and mysterious is the Mind.

With all this having been said, all this being undeniably true, how might we look differently ( or, perhaps, more precisely) at the work of meditation?

In contemplative states, all the above converge when the worlds of imagining and the ideas of possibility create transformation and conversion in a mystical alchemy. This is the alchemical marriage through which all the separate capacities combine to produce a wave of creative indwelling that reaches into infinity and connects to the Heart of the Cosmos. There is a point of singularity and, as we approach the event horizon, we don’t reduce or subtract from the rich faculties of mind.  We bring its faculties into direct contact with the world-mind, the soul of creation, the collective consciousness, and release the even deeper reservoir of knowledge that resides in the collective unconscious.

Through this convergence of the Mind’s n-dimensional faculties, we bend time, warp space, and travel to the stars without ever leaving our seated place on the cushion. So, it’s not about stilling the mind to a hollowed out shell in anti-intellectual fervor, and a primitive stillness. Quite the contrary, it’s about bringing clarity and precision in applying psychic energy to exploring the deepest mysteries.

It’s not about stepping the Mind down but stepping it up. It’s not about eliminating thought, but achieving crystalline sight; not closing one’s eyes, but having them fully opened.

“Now we see through a glass darkly, then we shall see face to face?” – St. Paul

When is “then”?

How about right now?

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Oblique light brings the slide to shorter days, and clothes get gradually thicker,

Words are said of days now past, and people report being sicker.


Electoral heat replaces warmth of the sun,

While pumpkins and ghouls sporting candy have fun.


On hay-rides,  in corn mazes, and alongside the streets,

Our children are laughing, and seeking their treats.


Vineyards in harvest and tastings abound,

A hunt for fine notes, soft, buttery and round.


Spirit imbues everything, grapes, air, food and fire,

Listen very softly to the Orphean Lyre.


We are called every second to embrace and breath deep,

Into warm arms and tenderness, we are invited to leap.


Joy’s on the wind, all souls being fed,

Mums all around me, white, yellow, and red.


Purple, amber, blends familiar, and some exceedingly  rare,

Bouquets of consolation, imagination’s holy fare.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Leaves and pools don’t mix:

Time is now quick-moving and the pool is opened still. Now swamp-like, assuming late-season “pondness,”  it is all looking quite chillingly ill.

I meant to …., well, you know. It’s a good idea to beat the leaves to the water, but crucial dates come and go.

So, today’s the day, I’ll churn and sweep it, suck out the debris, make it healthy, make it  fit.

The gods of clean living and suburban propriety, can then again take heart as I avoid notoriety. There is work to do, and do it I will, or the cleaning becomes too great, too much, a great “pill,” a millennium’s-worth of leaves to distill. The cure, once that happens, is knee-deeping in Spring, bathing in a leaf-soup of stench that can sting.

This is all a great lesson, a message surely it must be, for all the beauty on the branches of that yonder tree, will soon become nothing more than great piles of debris.

This is the way of the cycle, the way of what is, when is-ness becomes no more, and the light-bright colors become the dark-night microbes of soil we soon abhor. From manure comes great vegetables, flowers, grasses, and trees, so what we hold onto, what we think is so dear,  bows deeply to that which we otherwise fear.

All things that are passing go to where they once were, back home to the essence, where things first occur: mourning becomes morning, earth becomes birth, dark to spark, duller to color, and then all back again. So goes the wheel of universes, and interverses, and inverses. Right, left, up, down: all things trade places, positions, orientations.

Positive flips negative, and the other way around. Whatever we think we know today, will likely the other way soon astound.

We open pools with fanfare and close them in toil, and time we jealously measure for the things that give us pleasure. Oh, to dance naked in wildflower meadows, pretending no end to the reds, blues, and yellows. Ah, what a dancing dunce is Man, always clinging and singing of loss he can’t stand.

Ignore finality, then superficiality.

The Marianas Trench is deep indeed, an Everest of mind-numbing fathoms, yet the cave inside has many more crevasses and unexplored chasms.

The last true adventure is into the abyssal zone of Mind, odder creatures than in “Sphere,”  “20,000 Leagues,” and “Journey to the Center … ” we shall there most surely find. Imagination is our chariot, our way to inquire, our transporting glider for a mind set-afire.

No reason to fear it; the dark-other and deep. It is wisdom we”ll gather, insight we’ll reap.

We intuit the One who penned this great play, arranged the sets, works the lights, and gave us words we could say. Our task is not abstract, our mandate quite clear, join in the dance, be bold, there’s nothing to fear.

Practice, practice, and we’ll get it right. First the foot on the left, then the one on the right. Now step back, and bow, deliver the lines, you know how, and do so from the heart, and the performance will be smart.

All minstrels we, mandolins in hand, as we do the cosmic cha-cha upon the shifting sand. The flamenco, tango, and rumba too, each step giving birth, each moment something new.

Let us dance. Let us sing. Eternity is ours. We are not lost within it, for we are surely the stars.

Are we angels fallen reborn as mortal, or mortals still earning our wings?

The answer is in closing the pool, raking and vacuuming, adding the chemicals with a laugh and a smile, allowing the mystery to warm and beguile.

The Spirit awaits us in the next chore we do, in the next hollow thing we’d rather eschew, in the muck and mire of the enigma right here, and not not-being anywhere.

I guess, leaves and pools do mix after all. Time is a-wasting, let me no longer stall.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Prayerful Sitting;

In these dizzy times of digital living, in clouds of twits and tweets, it is ever more precious to just sit. There is no agenda, no goal, no outcome, no measure of return, no one to answer to for results, no big reward, no fame, nor notoriety;

just sit.

I breath and look around without need to think over this or that, analyze, categorize, synthesize, or harmonize;

just sit.

Of a sudden, I feel a pain in muscles in my upper arm, discomfort around my middle, and stiffness in neck and back, and so I straighten up, stretch a bit and go right back;

just sit.

As I rest, my eyes lightly close, and I first see dancing shades of color on my inner lids. I watch them until I don’t, and then I listen out. My ears reach deep and wide all about, and I hear things I didn’t know were there. I hear a clock on the wall ticking, my heart beating in my ears, a high pitched sound nearby, electrical, other muffled sounds of the house and a T.V. on the second floor. I think about how I am sitting – Is it the zen way, I wonder? Back straight enough, feet squarely planted flat on the floor? Would it be better if I could sit in a half-lotus?

All inevitable, all unsurprising given history, all totally useless. Who cares, comes the answer from the best of me, and so I continue;

just sit.

Thoughts get more still, the air moves in and out of me even now a bit more quietly. I let objects in view separate and merge, and all becomes just wallpaper for the dancing mind. I feel warm in places, cold in others. Wishes rise up – need a drink, a piece of fruit, a good book, maybe I should write, and then thoughts fall back and stop their maddening prattle.

I once again go back to where it all began;

just sit.

And, in all this justness, all this space, I still have a sense that there’s a race to an undisclosed finish line. So thick are the mind-games and the pull of the self sense in me. Slowly and without much thought, a word appears before me – “Listen”.

And, then, from out of the same stillness another word – “Abandon”.

Once more, I breath into  the breach between thought and stillness and the words replay – “Listen-Abandon”.

I take in a deep, fresh breath, and two more words leap up – “Let Go”!

A reverie of Three: “Listen-Abandon-Let Go” !

It’s all good. It makes sense. It sounds wise.  I think to myself  “could this be what happens in the mind of Monty Python’s Flying Circus?”

It makes me laugh aloud.

[Oh, such irreverence. Such a lack of prayerful and contemplative decorum!]

Well, it’s all interesting, it’s all fun, but who cares? It doesn’t really matter you see.

So, now, and at last, back to the real we must go, we must be:

There is no goal, no outcome, no measure of return, no one to answer to for results, no big reward, no fame nor notoriety:

Just Sit!


© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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nowhere to go;

a monsoon-like day, awash in drip-spray tides, just seeping,

if only I were a fern, a moss, or an evergreen soaking before that cold-dry sleeping,

well, then the day of celestial tears would be a boon, a gift, a lift, a blessed reaping.


deep saturation;

inside leaks, dreadful-time, stresses and strains of an aged man whining,

oh, if only I were a blade of grass, or a bird at  table at the worm-feast dining,

then bring on the rush, the abundant bath, there, on the  large branch I’d be shining.


abyssal boredom;

and old ideas, those mildewed showers,  shadow-mind’s needful framing,

but oh, if I were a water-fowl, on aquatic-wings, or a young child gaming,

then imagined worlds opened, a sea-dweller I could be, and swift like a dolphin, I’d  leap,

head-long, fearless,

and be free.


best place to be!



© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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we make ripples, pebble tossing into gentle ponds,

little splashes with widening arcs of tiny waves.

with each force,  the counter-forces play, Newtonian truth undeniable,

but toward what end our little waves, do shores know all about them?

all  resonance, patterns converge, a small thing here tips tides over there,

and a gentle push on  gathering heaps of stone may launch the avalanche.

small distractions sum together and then, an accident, a misplaced item, opportunity lost,

each day our little moves, our micro-sins and microbial graces, forgetting and remembering.

our small commissions, omissions too,  flitting thoughts about one who needs us,

light speed glances at those who sit alone, toward people sick,  hungry children, and the littlest things, authentic smiles.

an  outstretched hand, a few moments away from our importance, seconds for such trifling things,

a nano-pulse,  heartbeat,  gesture,  look, attention, listening, and the chance to heal.

all the little things making the smallest ripples, ripples that combine on infinite seas,

and rise up, the soul’s tsunamis, adding charge to air, altering textures, shapes and bending time.

When next we ripple in a so-small way, just maybe we’re the tipping push, that force too near to see its measure on other shores,

oh, yes, a weighty matter this,  the storied consequentially small, and the monumentally imperceptible.


© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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In general, I focus on direct experiences of the sacred instead of beliefs about these experiences. My aim is to get beyond beliefs to the mystical center that we colorfully dress up in diverse ways through our beliefs.

Nevertheless, as a philosopher-theologian, thought is another path to help transcend belief, but the first task is to know how I clothe my sense of the Spirit. It is a valuable practice to take stock and check the state of belief as sincerely as I can at various points in time.

Today is just such a time as I pose the question: What is it that I believe ( i.e., my dogmatic theology)?


Six Meta-affirmations –

✠ All my beliefs are hypotheses, a framework that I erect and use to navigate my experiences, make sense of them, and on which I base my choices.

✠ All “isms” are collections of beliefs and have the character of religion.

✠ All those who subscribe to any “ism” will always find evidence to support it. There is no sense or purpose in arguing them. Instead, it is best to see where all religious beliefs converge – what binds them all together.

✠ Mysticism looks past the metaphorical “clothing” applied to dress up sacred mystery, and seeks instead the naked experience behind the trappings. As such, it is esoteric in character. The churches and temples are often breathtakingly beautiful, but even the most inspiring are weak approximations to the power of our direct encounters with the sacred.

✠ Every orthodoxy derives greater definition and boldness by having a heresy to war against. Putting aside all notions of one set of “right” beliefs, leaves heresy meaningless and so ideas can become poetry, prose and iconography in search of the miraculous.

✠ Science is another lens on mystery. It too reveals the “footsteps” of G-d and in studying those footsteps gives us so much more on which to meditate in the service of our spiritual adventure and clarity.


Eighteen Theses –

  1. All ideas about G-d are constructs, mental models, and say more about our own state than the character of the Sacred.
  2. The image of the One to whom we pray is primarily a result of social learning, cultural traditions, and projections of personality.
  3. That we pray attests to our need to stay connected to the One, the core of Being, and allows us to become better attuned to the infinite and timeless.
  4. As G-d is not organic ( without genetic or neural substance) the Divine Presence cannot be said to express or embody what we experience in terms of ideas, emotions, intentions, pretensions, expectations, reasons or the lack thereof. So, in G-d ” there is no male nor female,” as G-d does not feel, think, or act as we know those things.
  5. In G-d, whose vantage point is infinite, there is no time; no past, no future.
  6. G-d is pure essence, the ineffable matrix on which everything rests and is ever Present, ever manifest in the Sacred “Now”.
  7. The sacred presence is a meta-archetype that makes all that emerges in space-time coherent, intelligible, and evolving: a root field on which literally everything rests and, according to which, all things derive their nature, shape, and attributes.
  8. All other archetypes are branches off of this root meta-archetype of the Sacred adding further dimensionality and particularity to the process of diversification and complexification of the “prima materia,” the elementary particle nature of the Cosmos.
  9. In G-d, all things evolve consistent with their nature and assume a pattern over time that is increasingly more stable and adaptive.
  10. Absolute Love, in terms we can understand, is not emotional or ideological compassion, it is patient demonstrated commitment to giving all things and persons what they need to flourish spiritually. It recognizes that all diversity arises from a core unity and that we are of a piece.
  11. Good is that which affirms the qualities and spirit of absolute love with our choices measured against those qualities and that spirit.
  12. Evil is the choice to act to subtract from the dignity of things and people, and assert separation and independence from the unified fabric of creation: i.e., acting in opposition to absolute love.
  13. Happiness, joy, and suffering derive from our life circumstances as creatures, from our bio-psycho-social process: the way we think, the environment, the challenges we navigate, and the personalities we project.
  14. Whatever happens in finite space and time, our attributions to G-d are mostly about our desperate need to make sense of events. It’s all about us and says nothing whatsoever about     “G-d’s Will”. Suffering happens because it is in the nature of systems to wind down (entropy being another fundamental tendency of systems).
  15. With moral implications of absolute love in mind, we can choose to act in support of what helps reduce suffering. This is consistent with the return to wholeness, unity, and movement toward pattern coherence, robustness, completeness, and the personal actualization of the archetype of the Phoster ( Light-Bearer).
  16. As we are persons among persons, it is self-evident that it is in the nature of the meta-archetype from which the evolution of the universe arises to itself become personal: consciousness springs from dark and luminous matter. So, G-d is a “Person” and we meet the Spirit directly when consciousness is stripped of distraction, illusion, allusion, ego and small ideas.
  17. For the Abrahamic faiths, Jesus is the Anointed One, the “Christ,” in being a mirror of the Christic archetype of the way of G-d incarnate. As such, he is the “Way, the Truth, and the Light” which, in no way, denies that Buddha (having attained enlightenment, or Buddha nature) was also a pure mirror of the sacred. Both were spiritually transparent exemplars of the scared meta-archetype, completely consumed by them.
  18. Religious and spiritual practice exists to condition consciousness for deepening and expansion, and to realize the “Knowledge of the Heart.” Through images, poetry and movement, consciousness bends toward the sacred and this is the process of conversion and revelation.

Having codified these beliefs, I continue my hero’s journey in a quest to unlock my beliefs, face their essential incompleteness and poverty, and carry on, with vigor the good work of getting beyond them. I also continue the voyage toward the hypothetical “Omega Point” of Teilhard de Chardin, the “Pleroma” (or the Fullness).

I recommend the practice.


© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

A diamond canopy over dark-washed air, in silence beats the Mind’s heart faster,

When Sons of Orion mark the time, and Jupiter serves as master.

Our gaze is no more out than in, and eyes close distance well past reason,

With a gift of light, the wayfarers’ rite, in this our ageless season.

In unseen corridors of the unknown real, weaving her  shaping calculus,

The Queen serene, sweet soft-indwelling, gives rise to scenes miraculous.

In fragrant scents of  knowing in us, a pillow’s down and warm embrace,

This cosmos seeming so forbiding, is in fact a Lover’s face.

As sailors on the changing seas, we chant our mystic psalm,

Reminding us that underneath, abides eternal calm.

Inside there is just One, outside, the dancing disparate,

But then, a touch of peace, a gentle kiss, behold, the infinite intimate.


© Brother Anthony Thomas and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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A lazy bookstore day ( with an iced latte, a pastry, my wife, an old friend, laptop, and a big picture window) is a truly fine thing. I sit looking southeast with the white powdery half-moon visible in the day-lit sky on a warm Fall late afternoon. It just hangs there, a still life image in such a photogenic pose, framed by a cornflower blue sky complements of the master photographer. The only hint of time’s passage is the high cumulus and lower masses of cumulonimbus scrim rolling South to North. A slow sunset curtain of light has reached the point of long oblique angles, and the red leaves of a nearby tree are aglow as if illuminated from inside by tiny hidden bulbs.

Cars move rhythmically in and out of the parking lot, in a flow that assumes a musical pattern. Everything is going somewhere, telling a grander story than the one told by any one of the players on this stage: a story shrouded in the sleepy ordinary of a nice October day.

Each object I see, the red tree, the cotton-whisp moon, the thickening clouds, the now carribean water-like blue sky, the impatient cars, and the intense sea gulls with full beaks, all move in different ways to their different places. If frozen in time, all that movement is a gathering pattern, a tapestry of meaningful intersections and overlays of tones, shapes, moods, and purposes.

Time for more of the bookstore’s nectar — the iced hazelnut latte.

Wonder what the picture is from outside the window looking in as I sit here typing, sipping, sitting at a table full of books with other people I don’t know moving all about in all directions, reading, studying, eating and just roaming about and flipping through pages of so many books?

I am a painting studying a painting!

© Brother Anthony Thomas and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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