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Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another exampl...

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  • dgallagher@aol.com
    Thanks, Michael. I wasn t familiar with OC fr. 56. Unspeakable wombs --noting the plural-- certainly fits with Rhea as the mean term of the noeric triad
    Message 1 of 9 , Feb 9, 2011
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      Thanks, Michael. I wasn't familiar with OC fr. 56. "Unspeakable wombs"
      --noting the plural-- certainly fits with Rhea as the mean term of the
      noeric triad in Proclus PT.

      Much appreciated,

      David


      In a message dated 2/9/2011 12:02:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
      goya@... writes:




      > Thomas,
      >
      > Hypatia never pregnant? Nor were Aristarchus or Plato, yet all three
      > gave
      > birth.
      >
      > Womb and pregnancy have their serious philosophical symbol ...

      I'll say. One ought not to forget the "unspeakable wombs" of Hecate or
      Rhea in the Chaldaean Oracles (OC fr. 56).

      Michael Chase
      CNRS UPR 76
      Paris-Villejuif
      France






      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • dgallagher@aol.com
      Excellent comments/questions, Thomas. I ve long wondered what one s experience would be like in a female embodiment; with the curiosity focused on the
      Message 2 of 9 , Feb 9, 2011
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        Excellent comments/questions, Thomas. I've long wondered what one's
        experience would be like in a female embodiment; with the curiosity focused on
        the feelings associated with erotic arousal, receptive penetration, and the
        ensuing experience of the gestation of new life and the labor of giving
        birth. There's a sense of incompleteness in being physically incapable of
        those experiences.

        I've shared the symbolism of the vesica piscis as cosmic vagina/womb and
        birth canal with many women over the years and have not been aware of any
        push back on the representation. In the light of your observations, I'm now
        inclined to be explicit asking for feedback specifically from women in
        general and mothers in particular.

        David



        In a message dated 2/9/2011 12:51:19 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
        t_mether@... writes:





        Yes, David, I know that and there is also quite an amount of comparison of
        Orphic with Indian materials as well. There is also philosophical dialog as
        spiritual midwifery as an image. The question is twofold. To the extent
        this imagery and symbolism of the feminine in Greek tradition expresses male
        views about it, to what extent does it match female views and female
        experience. Let me put it this way. My undergranduate New Testament professor was
        Jewish and female. She liked to emphasize the images of Jews and women in
        Christians materials did not neatly correspond to Jews and women, and in
        addition, she was keen in pointing out in the History of Religion sections
        she taught that, contrary to such as Joseph Campbell, one must be extremely
        cautious about whether the views and motifs of the feminine, including
        goddesses or a Great Mother Goddess, in a patriarchal culture match the views
        motifs, and experiences of actual women. (2) And if women's
        experiences afford them a different set of views and motifs to use as
        alternative philosophical metaphors. In the experience of my wife at this
        retreat, she thought Buddhism was rather gloomy until she heard sunyata as
        pregnancy and most like a certain phase of pregnancy. So, whenever she thinks
        about Buddhism or reads Shambhala Sun, that motif has become her organizing
        point of departure for thought. She has raised this aspect of sunyata a
        couple of times when she thought the male Buddhist monks were neglecting these
        aspects of sunyata with other women subsequently adopting the same point of
        view after they learned of it. She said it also inspired her focus on a
        Good Friday talk she gave many years ago where the entire focus and theme was
        Mary the Mother as the model or paradigm of the human role and response in
        the drama of the passion. Anyway, when we speak of symbolism of the
        feminine, we should also ask whose symbolism of the feminine, and would
        women come up with different symbols?
        --- On Wed, 2/9/11, _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
        <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) > wrote:

        From: _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
        <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) >
        Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
        Another exampl...
        To: _neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
        Date: Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 10:22 AM



        Thomas,

        Hypatia never pregnant? Nor were Aristarchus or Plato, yet all three gave
        birth.

        Womb and pregnancy have their serious philosophical symbol in the vesica
        piscis, especially as one contemplates the fabrication of Plato's Line and
        attendant shapes both through and within that symbolic sacred space. The
        emergent symbolism seems fully in accord, or harmonizes in a Pythagorean
        sense,
        with Proclus on Orphic theogony in PT and Plotinus on Intellect, say, in
        VI.7. Plato refers to the point of the practice at *Republic* VI 510e
        where one is left to wonder what specific constructions the geometers were
        exploring and how Plato himself actually constructed the Line. It's all
        thoroughly womb-like and resonates with Proclus' Noetic Triad.

        David

        In a message dated 2/8/2011 11:43:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
        _t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) writes:

        Ushta te Empedotimos,

        Darood,

        Before I go to bed, my wife looks over my shoulder. She remembers the
        Chinese Buddhist Abbott and meditation master we were both attending
        (along
        with a few major academics, the abbott was introduced by one I know,
        Huston
        Smith) in a retreat. His long comments on sunya were in terms of pregnancy
        (my wife, she is a NICU, Labor and Delivery, Midwifery, Critical Care
        Nurse
        -- I guess that's how she puts up with me) and she reminded me of that
        talk
        she clutched onto.

        The Buddhist use of the root sunya relates to the Hindu use of brahman.
        The latter means growth, great making power, great-making solidarity,and
        is a
        verbal root with a noun stem "-man"; sunya means pregnancy but especially
        the very smug and glowing stage a woman is in being pregnant -- the
        super-fullness of life of that state -- not early with morning sickness
        necessarily and in some cases not late with dangerous late term -- just,
        my wife is
        looking over me, "being very ripe orange like the sun."

        Perhaps ISNS should have a panel on what womens' pregnancy and childbirth
        could add as a perspective for Neoplatonism. We speak of Hypathia. Great
        but she didn't give birth and was never pregnant. Why not pregnancy and
        womb
        as a serious philosophical symbol or motif?

        It is another theme for what Neoplatonism should be of contemporary
        relevance, I suggest (my beloved wife still looking on as I type), but as
        she
        retreats with sore feet I'm to massage, on this topic -- I'm not one to
        speak.
        I will advocate it, though!

        Thomas
        On Tue, 2/8/11, Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._
        (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
        (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) > wrote:

        From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
        (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
        Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
        several levels)
        To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
        _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
        (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
        Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 9:00 PM

        Ushta Empedotimos,

        Darood,

        Well, since I've managed to piss off many on this list, what the hell.

        Let's begin with sunya alone. The range of its meanings include empty,
        pregnant, potent. It incorporates both the Aristotelian sense of potency
        and
        the Neoplatonian sense of potency. So, (aristotelian) pure potential for
        form and (plotinian) power too rich for any form of manifestation.

        Now, sunyata is tied to a denial of substance or
        self-independent-existence (svabhava) of anything short of the ultimate.

        My next post will be about form and sunyata, the sunyata of sunyata
        (basically, sunya is not a noumenon reality behind mere form).
        Thomas

        --- On Tue, 2/8/11, Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._
        (mailto:_empedotimos@...) _
        (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) > wrote:

        From: Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._ (mailto:_empedotimos@...)
        _ (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) >
        Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
        several levels)
        To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
        _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
        (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
        Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 12:54 AM

        Thomas,

        I always had the question what emptiness really means in Buddhism and what
        is
        the respective term/situation in Neoplatonism.
        Specially the phrase from the Heart Sutra "form is emptiness; emptiness is
        form"
        is quite intriguing and it would be really interesting to find the
        equivalent in
        Neoplatonistic terms.

        Would you be so kind to spend a few moments to elaborate on this at your
        convenience ?

        Best Regards,

        Empedotimos---------------

        __http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com__
        (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com_/)
        (_http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/_
        (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/) )

        ________________________________
        From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
        (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
        To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
        _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
        (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
        Sent: Mon, February 7, 2011 7:34:23 PM
        Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels

        David,

        The play of eikasia in the example was the first monk's worries about
        Buddhism
        as a nihilism; my playing it safe and not voicing I sort of had the same
        question; our collective stereotype of the monk we feared and didn't like,
        and
        his subsequent use of imaginative analogy (the trees) to address a
        question we
        all had.

        Sesshin is a sitting meditation session in a Zen monastery. Early on the
        focus
        is on learning how to meditate and overcome difficulties. But to an extent
        there
        will always be difficulties with being able to meditate even for advanced
        meditators. They become less and less, and also, the weak attention that
        in the
        beginning was an attempt to attend that was exclusive of them becomes a
        stronger
        attention that can now become inclusive of them. In other words, what once
        were
        the difficulties in meditating now do not really disturb it no more than
        passing
        clouds disturb the sky. But the difficulties encountered in the sitting
        are an
        index to who one is generally most of the time in life, and not just when
        one is
        sitting. So, sesshin becomes a microcosm of one's life, one's habitual way
        of
        being, or one's character.

        Sometimes one needs a nudge and a sesshin practice alone won't cut it.

        At one place, there was a person who we all knew, except him, had a chip
        on his
        shoulder. But around the retreat he always had his Sunday face on. You
        could
        see it when he'd get ticked off but he would not express his anger nor
        admit,
        even to the abbott, that he was ever angry. So, one day, the abbott
        assigned
        this person the task to go into town to buy supplies using the retreat's
        truck.
        So he set out. On the way, he got behind a very slow driver that also
        swerved
        back and forth erraticallly preventing this person from passing (when the
        road
        allowed, which was almost never). Eventually, the car ahead came to a full
        stop
        after this person started tailgating and laying on the horn. Out popped
        the
        abbott from the car ahead. The person we all knew was an alpha-personality
        suddenly realized he was indeed an alpha-personality. In this case,
        eikasia was
        this person's false positive self-image he maintained so well he had a
        nearly
        undefeatable blind
        spot that needed a little nudge from the abbott.

        Sesshin just means a sitting meditation session.

        Thomas

        --- On Mon, 2/7/11, __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
        (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
        <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
        (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) > wrote:

        From: __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
        (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
        <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
        (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) >
        Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels
        To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
        _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
        (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
        Date: Monday, February 7, 2011, 10:47 AM

        Thomas,

        With reference to eikasia, your sentence (noting alliteration with
        sentience) that seemed most germane to me was: "A sesshin is a *mirror*
        held up
        to

        the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not." Does the
        "mirror" in that statement correspond with Plato's reflective surfaces? If
        so, then it would seem, in the context of what you wrote, there's a mirror
        within a mirror? And that would further seem a very apt metaphor with
        reference to the Line.

        In your view, does eikasia represent the images, the mirror in which they
        appear, or both?

        David

        In a message dated 2/6/2011 11:46:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
        __t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
        (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) writes:

        I've shared this with Buddhist groups, including some who were there to
        share it.

        Eikasia: as the power of imitative vicarious experience, under very
        controlled conditions that help expose false fears, and allow a measure of
        protected and shared "exposed" questions, there was the typical meditation
        session and sermon and question and answer session with the Buddhist
        abbott.

        The monastery had a person that seemed -- unnervingly challenging -- not
        the nice sort one would associate with being a Buddhist monk. One was
        tempted to feel sorry for the abbott and admiring him for suffering this
        hard
        nut

        of a case of a contrarian monk. Naturally, some of us felt we were glad we
        weren't like him.

        By this point, I played my cards tight to the chest, which meant I posed
        as a meek and mild "try to be as invisible as much as possible". There was
        a
        monk that asked about anatman, non-self, whether it meant extinction of
        self and the past that made one who one is, and the kindly abbott gave an
        answer to the effect that no-self was not nihilism.

        As it turned out, with great anxiety, some of us were assigned to tasks
        led by the monk we all feared and hated.

        The monk asking whether "improvements" in Buddhism led to being
        increasingly "generic" until one realized non-self was with us, I suspect,
        as
        our

        voice and concern.

        With Buddhists, I have shared the following that others were there to see.
        But it is relevant here to the issue of eikasia. At the time I posted it
        originally, I believe the title of the post was "Buddhism is not about
        Lumber".

        The apparently evil and contrarian monk turned out to be even the abbott's
        teacher. My post,

        I once had a teacher who was a gnarly old character yet who was the most
        precise and clear teacher of those around this monastery in China. Once,
        we
        were out in the forest and someone asked about improvements and
        eliminating
        one's "flaws". His response: he pointed at these very old trees. He
        pointed out how they were not smooth timber or nice clean boards. They
        were
        twisted, knotted, and gnarled by the history of their growth. Then he said
        we
        are all old trees. Becoming a buddha or fulfilling the bodhisattva vow was
        not about becoming nice smooth boards -- generic lumber -- but was about
        turning all we were, knots and twists and all, into means to be a
        bodhisattva.
        "Buddhism is not about killing trees. It is not a lumber mill. Its about
        you, knots and all, being view and means."

        -------------

        From that experience, I added this as my small bit to a Zen group several
        years later.

        ------------------

        One way of looking at one’s sesshin is that it is a laboratory. It
        provides simplified conditions for cultivating a state of mind that is
        supposed
        to

        become a way of living and practicing when not sitting. It is also a
        microcosm of your life as a whole under a microscope, so to speak. While
        it may
        not be noticed until it is pointed out, how it goes with your sesshin is
        how it typically goes with your life as a whole. A sesshin is a mirror
        held
        up to the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not. Thus,
        there is always a teaching and something to learn. Don’t analyze. Just
        register
        without comment “this is such as I am now” or "these difficulties are
        me". You are your own raw material for practice and for becoming a Buddha.
        One
        of the early steps (usefully repeated even for senior practitioners) is
        getting acquainted with and familiar with, without comment or analysis,
        the
        raw material that is “you” -- that is what you have to work
        with. If done with patient acceptance of “such is the way I am”, there
        will be a cumulative and transformative effect produced by these
        relatively “
        objective pictures of yourself”. You will be changed. And, your practice
        will change with you.

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      • Kathryn Evans
        Dear All, As I said, exquisite material coming up in these threads. Decades ago at a group silent retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, which I participated in
        Message 3 of 9 , Feb 11, 2011
        • 0 Attachment
          Dear All,

          As I said, exquisite material coming up in these threads. Decades ago at a group silent retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, which I participated in while pregnant, I wrote the poem below.

          Your Black and Golden Robes



          The pulse rebounding between

          the density of granite

          and the ethereal sky

          Reverberates in my belly.



          The primal beat of black and white

          granite, the binary

          secret pattern of life,

          Pulses in my heart.



          Golden permeates my eyelids

          as the sun warms my brow

          off and on from behind a tree.

          Black blankness in my mind,

          the cool emptiness of shadow.



          Life and death my soul

          blinks open and shut,

          The arms of the cosmic dancer.



          Inside the belly the newborn-to-be

          floats in lotus;

          The soles of her feet folded upwards

          in prayer.

          Hands and feet have not yet taken poles;

          have not felt the weight of

          granite rocks,

          nor the levity of sacred skies.



          The body, my soul, spins in the center.




          So, the experience was that of the physical feminine soul birthing itself.

          The following poem (written 20 years ago), and a few others on the pregnant womb of creation, I'm hoping to publish this year---will let you know.

          To W. W.
          From the Edge of a Dark Wood


          At mid-life, I accept the challenge,

          my birthright nature the Poet,

          Goddess the myth.



          Prone like Sleeping Beauty

          among the briars,

          able only to dream of my Kingdom,

          the perfect Aurora begins to dawn.



          Rustling the broken twigs and thorns,

          my nerves,

          I find a few are supple still,

          like leaves of grass.*



          My breath the breeze upon the bowing blades,

          my light the sun bending along the shining arcs.



          Nadir of nature am I

          alive in love with my Prince

          whose lips express their breath from mine,

          forever quivering one upon the other,

          enfolded and lapping like the ebb and flow

          of my beating heart.



          He the pinnacle of creation

          beats the pulse below my navel.

          blossoms the rose of scintillating petals,

          mingling, lingering, evaporating

          like the sweat of our palms

          as they fall limply apart.



          Life-blood, the breath, the light

          have commingled and melted opaque among every pore,

          as the pulse begins to beat of its own

          in my belly.



          Heaven above my billowing hair is open,

          Hell below my steadfast feet is closed.

          with levity and gravity I spin,

          the spinning wheel ‘round,

          the silken filaments of life intertwining.



          Private chamber housing

          myself within myself.

          My belly, breasts and buttocks

          swelling round like the earth.

          The Prince within forever and without,

          with never a seam of separation,

          fully whole.



          Contracting pulse within me,

          beating and bleeding its way out.

          The belly tightens and bows

          with its burden.



          The breath panting and sweating,

          the light radiating in and out

          from heaven and earth to the center,


          my Soul, the perfect babe born into eternity.


          Kathryn


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: dgallagher@...
          To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2011 1:01 PM
          Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another exampl...



          Excellent comments/questions, Thomas. I've long wondered what one's
          experience would be like in a female embodiment; with the curiosity focused on
          the feelings associated with erotic arousal, receptive penetration, and the
          ensuing experience of the gestation of new life and the labor of giving
          birth. There's a sense of incompleteness in being physically incapable of
          those experiences.

          I've shared the symbolism of the vesica piscis as cosmic vagina/womb and
          birth canal with many women over the years and have not been aware of any
          push back on the representation. In the light of your observations, I'm now
          inclined to be explicit asking for feedback specifically from women in
          general and mothers in particular.

          David



          In a message dated 2/9/2011 12:51:19 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
          t_mether@... writes:


          Yes, David, I know that and there is also quite an amount of comparison of
          Orphic with Indian materials as well. There is also philosophical dialog as
          spiritual midwifery as an image. The question is twofold. To the extent
          this imagery and symbolism of the feminine in Greek tradition expresses male
          views about it, to what extent does it match female views and female
          experience. Let me put it this way. My undergranduate New Testament professor was
          Jewish and female. She liked to emphasize the images of Jews and women in
          Christians materials did not neatly correspond to Jews and women, and in
          addition, she was keen in pointing out in the History of Religion sections
          she taught that, contrary to such as Joseph Campbell, one must be extremely
          cautious about whether the views and motifs of the feminine, including
          goddesses or a Great Mother Goddess, in a patriarchal culture match the views
          motifs, and experiences of actual women. (2) And if women's
          experiences afford them a different set of views and motifs to use as
          alternative philosophical metaphors. In the experience of my wife at this
          retreat, she thought Buddhism was rather gloomy until she heard sunyata as
          pregnancy and most like a certain phase of pregnancy. So, whenever she thinks
          about Buddhism or reads Shambhala Sun, that motif has become her organizing
          point of departure for thought. She has raised this aspect of sunyata a
          couple of times when she thought the male Buddhist monks were neglecting these
          aspects of sunyata with other women subsequently adopting the same point of
          view after they learned of it. She said it also inspired her focus on a
          Good Friday talk she gave many years ago where the entire focus and theme was
          Mary the Mother as the model or paradigm of the human role and response in
          the drama of the passion. Anyway, when we speak of symbolism of the
          feminine, we should also ask whose symbolism of the feminine, and would
          women come up with different symbols?
          --- On Wed, 2/9/11, _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
          <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) > wrote:

          From: _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
          <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) >
          Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
          Another exampl...
          To: _neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
          Date: Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 10:22 AM

          Thomas,

          Hypatia never pregnant? Nor were Aristarchus or Plato, yet all three gave
          birth.

          Womb and pregnancy have their serious philosophical symbol in the vesica
          piscis, especially as one contemplates the fabrication of Plato's Line and
          attendant shapes both through and within that symbolic sacred space. The
          emergent symbolism seems fully in accord, or harmonizes in a Pythagorean
          sense,
          with Proclus on Orphic theogony in PT and Plotinus on Intellect, say, in
          VI.7. Plato refers to the point of the practice at *Republic* VI 510e
          where one is left to wonder what specific constructions the geometers were
          exploring and how Plato himself actually constructed the Line. It's all
          thoroughly womb-like and resonates with Proclus' Noetic Triad.

          David

          In a message dated 2/8/2011 11:43:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
          _t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) writes:

          Ushta te Empedotimos,

          Darood,

          Before I go to bed, my wife looks over my shoulder. She remembers the
          Chinese Buddhist Abbott and meditation master we were both attending
          (along
          with a few major academics, the abbott was introduced by one I know,
          Huston
          Smith) in a retreat. His long comments on sunya were in terms of pregnancy
          (my wife, she is a NICU, Labor and Delivery, Midwifery, Critical Care
          Nurse
          -- I guess that's how she puts up with me) and she reminded me of that
          talk
          she clutched onto.

          The Buddhist use of the root sunya relates to the Hindu use of brahman.
          The latter means growth, great making power, great-making solidarity,and
          is a
          verbal root with a noun stem "-man"; sunya means pregnancy but especially
          the very smug and glowing stage a woman is in being pregnant -- the
          super-fullness of life of that state -- not early with morning sickness
          necessarily and in some cases not late with dangerous late term -- just,
          my wife is
          looking over me, "being very ripe orange like the sun."

          Perhaps ISNS should have a panel on what womens' pregnancy and childbirth
          could add as a perspective for Neoplatonism. We speak of Hypathia. Great
          but she didn't give birth and was never pregnant. Why not pregnancy and
          womb
          as a serious philosophical symbol or motif?

          It is another theme for what Neoplatonism should be of contemporary
          relevance, I suggest (my beloved wife still looking on as I type), but as
          she
          retreats with sore feet I'm to massage, on this topic -- I'm not one to
          speak.
          I will advocate it, though!

          Thomas
          On Tue, 2/8/11, Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._
          (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
          (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) > wrote:

          From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
          (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
          Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
          several levels)
          To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
          _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
          (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
          Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 9:00 PM

          Ushta Empedotimos,

          Darood,

          Well, since I've managed to piss off many on this list, what the hell.

          Let's begin with sunya alone. The range of its meanings include empty,
          pregnant, potent. It incorporates both the Aristotelian sense of potency
          and
          the Neoplatonian sense of potency. So, (aristotelian) pure potential for
          form and (plotinian) power too rich for any form of manifestation.

          Now, sunyata is tied to a denial of substance or
          self-independent-existence (svabhava) of anything short of the ultimate.

          My next post will be about form and sunyata, the sunyata of sunyata
          (basically, sunya is not a noumenon reality behind mere form).
          Thomas

          --- On Tue, 2/8/11, Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._
          (mailto:_empedotimos@...) _
          (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) > wrote:

          From: Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._ (mailto:_empedotimos@...)
          _ (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) >
          Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
          several levels)
          To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
          _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
          (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
          Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 12:54 AM

          Thomas,

          I always had the question what emptiness really means in Buddhism and what
          is
          the respective term/situation in Neoplatonism.
          Specially the phrase from the Heart Sutra "form is emptiness; emptiness is
          form"
          is quite intriguing and it would be really interesting to find the
          equivalent in
          Neoplatonistic terms.

          Would you be so kind to spend a few moments to elaborate on this at your
          convenience ?

          Best Regards,

          Empedotimos---------------

          __http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com__
          (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com_/)
          (_http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/_
          (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/) )

          ________________________________
          From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
          (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
          To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
          _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
          (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
          Sent: Mon, February 7, 2011 7:34:23 PM
          Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels

          David,

          The play of eikasia in the example was the first monk's worries about
          Buddhism
          as a nihilism; my playing it safe and not voicing I sort of had the same
          question; our collective stereotype of the monk we feared and didn't like,
          and
          his subsequent use of imaginative analogy (the trees) to address a
          question we
          all had.

          Sesshin is a sitting meditation session in a Zen monastery. Early on the
          focus
          is on learning how to meditate and overcome difficulties. But to an extent
          there
          will always be difficulties with being able to meditate even for advanced
          meditators. They become less and less, and also, the weak attention that
          in the
          beginning was an attempt to attend that was exclusive of them becomes a
          stronger
          attention that can now become inclusive of them. In other words, what once
          were
          the difficulties in meditating now do not really disturb it no more than
          passing
          clouds disturb the sky. But the difficulties encountered in the sitting
          are an
          index to who one is generally most of the time in life, and not just when
          one is
          sitting. So, sesshin becomes a microcosm of one's life, one's habitual way
          of
          being, or one's character.

          Sometimes one needs a nudge and a sesshin practice alone won't cut it.

          At one place, there was a person who we all knew, except him, had a chip
          on his
          shoulder. But around the retreat he always had his Sunday face on. You
          could
          see it when he'd get ticked off but he would not express his anger nor
          admit,
          even to the abbott, that he was ever angry. So, one day, the abbott
          assigned
          this person the task to go into town to buy supplies using the retreat's
          truck.
          So he set out. On the way, he got behind a very slow driver that also
          swerved
          back and forth erraticallly preventing this person from passing (when the
          road
          allowed, which was almost never). Eventually, the car ahead came to a full
          stop
          after this person started tailgating and laying on the horn. Out popped
          the
          abbott from the car ahead. The person we all knew was an alpha-personality
          suddenly realized he was indeed an alpha-personality. In this case,
          eikasia was
          this person's false positive self-image he maintained so well he had a
          nearly
          undefeatable blind
          spot that needed a little nudge from the abbott.

          Sesshin just means a sitting meditation session.

          Thomas

          --- On Mon, 2/7/11, __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
          (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
          <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
          (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) > wrote:

          From: __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
          (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
          <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
          (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) >
          Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels
          To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
          _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
          (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
          Date: Monday, February 7, 2011, 10:47 AM

          Thomas,

          With reference to eikasia, your sentence (noting alliteration with
          sentience) that seemed most germane to me was: "A sesshin is a *mirror*
          held up
          to

          the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not." Does the
          "mirror" in that statement correspond with Plato's reflective surfaces? If
          so, then it would seem, in the context of what you wrote, there's a mirror
          within a mirror? And that would further seem a very apt metaphor with
          reference to the Line.

          In your view, does eikasia represent the images, the mirror in which they
          appear, or both?

          David

          In a message dated 2/6/2011 11:46:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
          __t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
          (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) writes:

          I've shared this with Buddhist groups, including some who were there to
          share it.

          Eikasia: as the power of imitative vicarious experience, under very
          controlled conditions that help expose false fears, and allow a measure of
          protected and shared "exposed" questions, there was the typical meditation
          session and sermon and question and answer session with the Buddhist
          abbott.

          The monastery had a person that seemed -- unnervingly challenging -- not
          the nice sort one would associate with being a Buddhist monk. One was
          tempted to feel sorry for the abbott and admiring him for suffering this
          hard
          nut

          of a case of a contrarian monk. Naturally, some of us felt we were glad we
          weren't like him.

          By this point, I played my cards tight to the chest, which meant I posed
          as a meek and mild "try to be as invisible as much as possible". There was
          a
          monk that asked about anatman, non-self, whether it meant extinction of
          self and the past that made one who one is, and the kindly abbott gave an
          answer to the effect that no-self was not nihilism.

          As it turned out, with great anxiety, some of us were assigned to tasks
          led by the monk we all feared and hated.

          The monk asking whether "improvements" in Buddhism led to being
          increasingly "generic" until one realized non-self was with us, I suspect,
          as
          our

          voice and concern.

          With Buddhists, I have shared the following that others were there to see.
          But it is relevant here to the issue of eikasia. At the time I posted it
          originally, I believe the title of the post was "Buddhism is not about
          Lumber".

          The apparently evil and contrarian monk turned out to be even the abbott's
          teacher. My post,

          I once had a teacher who was a gnarly old character yet who was the most
          precise and clear teacher of those around this monastery in China. Once,
          we
          were out in the forest and someone asked about improvements and
          eliminating
          one's "flaws". His response: he pointed at these very old trees. He
          pointed out how they were not smooth timber or nice clean boards. They
          were
          twisted, knotted, and gnarled by the history of their growth. Then he said
          we
          are all old trees. Becoming a buddha or fulfilling the bodhisattva vow was
          not about becoming nice smooth boards -- generic lumber -- but was about
          turning all we were, knots and twists and all, into means to be a
          bodhisattva.
          "Buddhism is not about killing trees. It is not a lumber mill. Its about
          you, knots and all, being view and means."

          -------------

          From that experience, I added this as my small bit to a Zen group several
          years later.

          ------------------

          One way of looking at one’s sesshin is that it is a laboratory. It
          provides simplified conditions for cultivating a state of mind that is
          supposed
          to

          become a way of living and practicing when not sitting. It is also a
          microcosm of your life as a whole under a microscope, so to speak. While
          it may
          not be noticed until it is pointed out, how it goes with your sesshin is
          how it typically goes with your life as a whole. A sesshin is a mirror
          held
          up to the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not. Thus,
          there is always a teaching and something to learn. Don’t analyze. Just
          register
          without comment “this is such as I am now” or "these difficulties are
          me". You are your own raw material for practice and for becoming a Buddha.
          One
          of the early steps (usefully repeated even for senior practitioners) is
          getting acquainted with and familiar with, without comment or analysis,
          the
          raw material that is “you” -- that is what you have to work
          with. If done with patient acceptance of “such is the way I am”, there
          will be a cumulative and transformative effect produced by these
          relatively “
          objective pictures of yourself”. You will be changed. And, your practice
          will change with you.

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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          __________________________________________________________
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        • Kathryn Evans
          The poems read better with the correct stanza groupings and indents, which the auto-format here erased. ... From: Kathryn Evans To:
          Message 4 of 9 , Feb 11, 2011
          • 0 Attachment
            The poems read better with the correct stanza groupings and indents, which the auto-format here erased.


            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Kathryn Evans
            To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Friday, February 11, 2011 10:07 PM
            Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another exampl...




            Dear All,

            As I said, exquisite material coming up in these threads. Decades ago at a group silent retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, which I participated in while pregnant, I wrote the poem below.

            Your Black and Golden Robes

            The pulse rebounding between

            the density of granite

            and the ethereal sky

            Reverberates in my belly.

            The primal beat of black and white

            granite, the binary

            secret pattern of life,

            Pulses in my heart.

            Golden permeates my eyelids

            as the sun warms my brow

            off and on from behind a tree.

            Black blankness in my mind,

            the cool emptiness of shadow.

            Life and death my soul

            blinks open and shut,

            The arms of the cosmic dancer.

            Inside the belly the newborn-to-be

            floats in lotus;

            The soles of her feet folded upwards

            in prayer.

            Hands and feet have not yet taken poles;

            have not felt the weight of

            granite rocks,

            nor the levity of sacred skies.

            The body, my soul, spins in the center.

            So, the experience was that of the physical feminine soul birthing itself.

            The following poem (written 20 years ago), and a few others on the pregnant womb of creation, I'm hoping to publish this year---will let you know.

            To W. W.
            From the Edge of a Dark Wood


            At mid-life, I accept the challenge,

            my birthright nature the Poet,

            Goddess the myth.

            Prone like Sleeping Beauty

            among the briars,

            able only to dream of my Kingdom,

            the perfect Aurora begins to dawn.

            Rustling the broken twigs and thorns,

            my nerves,

            I find a few are supple still,

            like leaves of grass.*

            My breath the breeze upon the bowing blades,

            my light the sun bending along the shining arcs.

            Nadir of nature am I

            alive in love with my Prince

            whose lips express their breath from mine,

            forever quivering one upon the other,

            enfolded and lapping like the ebb and flow

            of my beating heart.

            He the pinnacle of creation

            beats the pulse below my navel.

            blossoms the rose of scintillating petals,

            mingling, lingering, evaporating

            like the sweat of our palms

            as they fall limply apart.

            Life-blood, the breath, the light

            have commingled and melted opaque among every pore,

            as the pulse begins to beat of its own

            in my belly.

            Heaven above my billowing hair is open,

            Hell below my steadfast feet is closed.

            with levity and gravity I spin,

            the spinning wheel ‘round,

            the silken filaments of life intertwining.

            Private chamber housing

            myself within myself.

            My belly, breasts and buttocks

            swelling round like the earth.

            The Prince within forever and without,

            with never a seam of separation,

            fully whole.

            Contracting pulse within me,

            beating and bleeding its way out.

            The belly tightens and bows

            with its burden.

            The breath panting and sweating,

            the light radiating in and out

            from heaven and earth to the center,

            my Soul, the perfect babe born into eternity.

            Kathryn

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: dgallagher@...
            To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2011 1:01 PM
            Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another exampl...

            Excellent comments/questions, Thomas. I've long wondered what one's
            experience would be like in a female embodiment; with the curiosity focused on
            the feelings associated with erotic arousal, receptive penetration, and the
            ensuing experience of the gestation of new life and the labor of giving
            birth. There's a sense of incompleteness in being physically incapable of
            those experiences.

            I've shared the symbolism of the vesica piscis as cosmic vagina/womb and
            birth canal with many women over the years and have not been aware of any
            push back on the representation. In the light of your observations, I'm now
            inclined to be explicit asking for feedback specifically from women in
            general and mothers in particular.

            David

            In a message dated 2/9/2011 12:51:19 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
            t_mether@... writes:

            Yes, David, I know that and there is also quite an amount of comparison of
            Orphic with Indian materials as well. There is also philosophical dialog as
            spiritual midwifery as an image. The question is twofold. To the extent
            this imagery and symbolism of the feminine in Greek tradition expresses male
            views about it, to what extent does it match female views and female
            experience. Let me put it this way. My undergranduate New Testament professor was
            Jewish and female. She liked to emphasize the images of Jews and women in
            Christians materials did not neatly correspond to Jews and women, and in
            addition, she was keen in pointing out in the History of Religion sections
            she taught that, contrary to such as Joseph Campbell, one must be extremely
            cautious about whether the views and motifs of the feminine, including
            goddesses or a Great Mother Goddess, in a patriarchal culture match the views
            motifs, and experiences of actual women. (2) And if women's
            experiences afford them a different set of views and motifs to use as
            alternative philosophical metaphors. In the experience of my wife at this
            retreat, she thought Buddhism was rather gloomy until she heard sunyata as
            pregnancy and most like a certain phase of pregnancy. So, whenever she thinks
            about Buddhism or reads Shambhala Sun, that motif has become her organizing
            point of departure for thought. She has raised this aspect of sunyata a
            couple of times when she thought the male Buddhist monks were neglecting these
            aspects of sunyata with other women subsequently adopting the same point of
            view after they learned of it. She said it also inspired her focus on a
            Good Friday talk she gave many years ago where the entire focus and theme was
            Mary the Mother as the model or paradigm of the human role and response in
            the drama of the passion. Anyway, when we speak of symbolism of the
            feminine, we should also ask whose symbolism of the feminine, and would
            women come up with different symbols?
            --- On Wed, 2/9/11, _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
            <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) > wrote:

            From: _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
            <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) >
            Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
            Another exampl...
            To: _neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
            Date: Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 10:22 AM

            Thomas,

            Hypatia never pregnant? Nor were Aristarchus or Plato, yet all three gave
            birth.

            Womb and pregnancy have their serious philosophical symbol in the vesica
            piscis, especially as one contemplates the fabrication of Plato's Line and
            attendant shapes both through and within that symbolic sacred space. The
            emergent symbolism seems fully in accord, or harmonizes in a Pythagorean
            sense,
            with Proclus on Orphic theogony in PT and Plotinus on Intellect, say, in
            VI.7. Plato refers to the point of the practice at *Republic* VI 510e
            where one is left to wonder what specific constructions the geometers were
            exploring and how Plato himself actually constructed the Line. It's all
            thoroughly womb-like and resonates with Proclus' Noetic Triad.

            David

            In a message dated 2/8/2011 11:43:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
            _t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) writes:

            Ushta te Empedotimos,

            Darood,

            Before I go to bed, my wife looks over my shoulder. She remembers the
            Chinese Buddhist Abbott and meditation master we were both attending
            (along
            with a few major academics, the abbott was introduced by one I know,
            Huston
            Smith) in a retreat. His long comments on sunya were in terms of pregnancy
            (my wife, she is a NICU, Labor and Delivery, Midwifery, Critical Care
            Nurse
            -- I guess that's how she puts up with me) and she reminded me of that
            talk
            she clutched onto.

            The Buddhist use of the root sunya relates to the Hindu use of brahman.
            The latter means growth, great making power, great-making solidarity,and
            is a
            verbal root with a noun stem "-man"; sunya means pregnancy but especially
            the very smug and glowing stage a woman is in being pregnant -- the
            super-fullness of life of that state -- not early with morning sickness
            necessarily and in some cases not late with dangerous late term -- just,
            my wife is
            looking over me, "being very ripe orange like the sun."

            Perhaps ISNS should have a panel on what womens' pregnancy and childbirth
            could add as a perspective for Neoplatonism. We speak of Hypathia. Great
            but she didn't give birth and was never pregnant. Why not pregnancy and
            womb
            as a serious philosophical symbol or motif?

            It is another theme for what Neoplatonism should be of contemporary
            relevance, I suggest (my beloved wife still looking on as I type), but as
            she
            retreats with sore feet I'm to massage, on this topic -- I'm not one to
            speak.
            I will advocate it, though!

            Thomas
            On Tue, 2/8/11, Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._
            (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
            (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) > wrote:

            From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
            (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
            Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
            several levels)
            To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
            _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
            (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
            Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 9:00 PM

            Ushta Empedotimos,

            Darood,

            Well, since I've managed to piss off many on this list, what the hell.

            Let's begin with sunya alone. The range of its meanings include empty,
            pregnant, potent. It incorporates both the Aristotelian sense of potency
            and
            the Neoplatonian sense of potency. So, (aristotelian) pure potential for
            form and (plotinian) power too rich for any form of manifestation.

            Now, sunyata is tied to a denial of substance or
            self-independent-existence (svabhava) of anything short of the ultimate.

            My next post will be about form and sunyata, the sunyata of sunyata
            (basically, sunya is not a noumenon reality behind mere form).
            Thomas

            --- On Tue, 2/8/11, Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._
            (mailto:_empedotimos@...) _
            (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) > wrote:

            From: Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._ (mailto:_empedotimos@...)
            _ (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) >
            Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
            several levels)
            To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
            _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
            (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
            Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 12:54 AM

            Thomas,

            I always had the question what emptiness really means in Buddhism and what
            is
            the respective term/situation in Neoplatonism.
            Specially the phrase from the Heart Sutra "form is emptiness; emptiness is
            form"
            is quite intriguing and it would be really interesting to find the
            equivalent in
            Neoplatonistic terms.

            Would you be so kind to spend a few moments to elaborate on this at your
            convenience ?

            Best Regards,

            Empedotimos---------------

            __http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com__
            (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com_/)
            (_http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/_
            (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/) )

            ________________________________
            From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
            (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
            To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
            _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
            (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
            Sent: Mon, February 7, 2011 7:34:23 PM
            Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels

            David,

            The play of eikasia in the example was the first monk's worries about
            Buddhism
            as a nihilism; my playing it safe and not voicing I sort of had the same
            question; our collective stereotype of the monk we feared and didn't like,
            and
            his subsequent use of imaginative analogy (the trees) to address a
            question we
            all had.

            Sesshin is a sitting meditation session in a Zen monastery. Early on the
            focus
            is on learning how to meditate and overcome difficulties. But to an extent
            there
            will always be difficulties with being able to meditate even for advanced
            meditators. They become less and less, and also, the weak attention that
            in the
            beginning was an attempt to attend that was exclusive of them becomes a
            stronger
            attention that can now become inclusive of them. In other words, what once
            were
            the difficulties in meditating now do not really disturb it no more than
            passing
            clouds disturb the sky. But the difficulties encountered in the sitting
            are an
            index to who one is generally most of the time in life, and not just when
            one is
            sitting. So, sesshin becomes a microcosm of one's life, one's habitual way
            of
            being, or one's character.

            Sometimes one needs a nudge and a sesshin practice alone won't cut it.

            At one place, there was a person who we all knew, except him, had a chip
            on his
            shoulder. But around the retreat he always had his Sunday face on. You
            could
            see it when he'd get ticked off but he would not express his anger nor
            admit,
            even to the abbott, that he was ever angry. So, one day, the abbott
            assigned
            this person the task to go into town to buy supplies using the retreat's
            truck.
            So he set out. On the way, he got behind a very slow driver that also
            swerved
            back and forth erraticallly preventing this person from passing (when the
            road
            allowed, which was almost never). Eventually, the car ahead came to a full
            stop
            after this person started tailgating and laying on the horn. Out popped
            the
            abbott from the car ahead. The person we all knew was an alpha-personality
            suddenly realized he was indeed an alpha-personality. In this case,
            eikasia was
            this person's false positive self-image he maintained so well he had a
            nearly
            undefeatable blind
            spot that needed a little nudge from the abbott.

            Sesshin just means a sitting meditation session.

            Thomas

            --- On Mon, 2/7/11, __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
            (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
            <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
            (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) > wrote:

            From: __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
            (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
            <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
            (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) >
            Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels
            To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
            _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
            (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
            Date: Monday, February 7, 2011, 10:47 AM

            Thomas,

            With reference to eikasia, your sentence (noting alliteration with
            sentience) that seemed most germane to me was: "A sesshin is a *mirror*
            held up
            to

            the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not." Does the
            "mirror" in that statement correspond with Plato's reflective surfaces? If
            so, then it would seem, in the context of what you wrote, there's a mirror
            within a mirror? And that would further seem a very apt metaphor with
            reference to the Line.

            In your view, does eikasia represent the images, the mirror in which they
            appear, or both?

            David

            In a message dated 2/6/2011 11:46:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
            __t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
            (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) writes:

            I've shared this with Buddhist groups, including some who were there to
            share it.

            Eikasia: as the power of imitative vicarious experience, under very
            controlled conditions that help expose false fears, and allow a measure of
            protected and shared "exposed" questions, there was the typical meditation
            session and sermon and question and answer session with the Buddhist
            abbott.

            The monastery had a person that seemed -- unnervingly challenging -- not
            the nice sort one would associate with being a Buddhist monk. One was
            tempted to feel sorry for the abbott and admiring him for suffering this
            hard
            nut

            of a case of a contrarian monk. Naturally, some of us felt we were glad we
            weren't like him.

            By this point, I played my cards tight to the chest, which meant I posed
            as a meek and mild "try to be as invisible as much as possible". There was
            a
            monk that asked about anatman, non-self, whether it meant extinction of
            self and the past that made one who one is, and the kindly abbott gave an
            answer to the effect that no-self was not nihilism.

            As it turned out, with great anxiety, some of us were assigned to tasks
            led by the monk we all feared and hated.

            The monk asking whether "improvements" in Buddhism led to being
            increasingly "generic" until one realized non-self was with us, I suspect,
            as
            our

            voice and concern.

            With Buddhists, I have shared the following that others were there to see.
            But it is relevant here to the issue of eikasia. At the time I posted it
            originally, I believe the title of the post was "Buddhism is not about
            Lumber".

            The apparently evil and contrarian monk turned out to be even the abbott's
            teacher. My post,

            I once had a teacher who was a gnarly old character yet who was the most
            precise and clear teacher of those around this monastery in China. Once,
            we
            were out in the forest and someone asked about improvements and
            eliminating
            one's "flaws". His response: he pointed at these very old trees. He
            pointed out how they were not smooth timber or nice clean boards. They
            were
            twisted, knotted, and gnarled by the history of their growth. Then he said
            we
            are all old trees. Becoming a buddha or fulfilling the bodhisattva vow was
            not about becoming nice smooth boards -- generic lumber -- but was about
            turning all we were, knots and twists and all, into means to be a
            bodhisattva.
            "Buddhism is not about killing trees. It is not a lumber mill. Its about
            you, knots and all, being view and means."

            -------------

            From that experience, I added this as my small bit to a Zen group several
            years later.

            ------------------

            One way of looking at one’s sesshin is that it is a laboratory. It
            provides simplified conditions for cultivating a state of mind that is
            supposed
            to

            become a way of living and practicing when not sitting. It is also a
            microcosm of your life as a whole under a microscope, so to speak. While
            it may
            not be noticed until it is pointed out, how it goes with your sesshin is
            how it typically goes with your life as a whole. A sesshin is a mirror
            held
            up to the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not. Thus,
            there is always a teaching and something to learn. Don’t analyze. Just
            register
            without comment “this is such as I am now” or "these difficulties are
            me". You are your own raw material for practice and for becoming a Buddha.
            One
            of the early steps (usefully repeated even for senior practitioners) is
            getting acquainted with and familiar with, without comment or analysis,
            the
            raw material that is “you” -- that is what you have to work
            with. If done with patient acceptance of “such is the way I am”, there
            will be a cumulative and transformative effect produced by these
            relatively “
            objective pictures of yourself”. You will be changed. And, your practice
            will change with you.

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          • Ted Hand
            I m no poetry critic but I am an english teacher and training, and I sure like them. thanks for sharing, Kathryn ... [Non-text portions of this message have
            Message 5 of 9 , Feb 11, 2011
            • 0 Attachment
              I'm no poetry critic but I am an english teacher and training, and I sure
              like them.
              thanks for sharing, Kathryn

              On Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 10:24 PM, Kathryn Evans <kathryn-e@...>wrote:

              >
              >
              >
              > The poems read better with the correct stanza groupings and indents, which
              > the auto-format here erased.
              >
              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: Kathryn Evans
              > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
              > Sent: Friday, February 11, 2011 10:07 PM
              > Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
              > Another exampl...
              >
              > Dear All,
              >
              > As I said, exquisite material coming up in these threads. Decades ago at a
              > group silent retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, which I participated in while
              > pregnant, I wrote the poem below.
              >
              > Your Black and Golden Robes
              >
              > The pulse rebounding between
              >
              > the density of granite
              >
              > and the ethereal sky
              >
              > Reverberates in my belly.
              >
              > The primal beat of black and white
              >
              > granite, the binary
              >
              > secret pattern of life,
              >
              > Pulses in my heart.
              >
              > Golden permeates my eyelids
              >
              > as the sun warms my brow
              >
              > off and on from behind a tree.
              >
              > Black blankness in my mind,
              >
              > the cool emptiness of shadow.
              >
              > Life and death my soul
              >
              > blinks open and shut,
              >
              > The arms of the cosmic dancer.
              >
              > Inside the belly the newborn-to-be
              >
              > floats in lotus;
              >
              > The soles of her feet folded upwards
              >
              > in prayer.
              >
              > Hands and feet have not yet taken poles;
              >
              > have not felt the weight of
              >
              > granite rocks,
              >
              > nor the levity of sacred skies.
              >
              > The body, my soul, spins in the center.
              >
              > So, the experience was that of the physical feminine soul birthing itself.
              >
              > The following poem (written 20 years ago), and a few others on the pregnant
              > womb of creation, I'm hoping to publish this year---will let you know.
              >
              > To W. W.
              > From the Edge of a Dark Wood
              >
              > At mid-life, I accept the challenge,
              >
              > my birthright nature the Poet,
              >
              > Goddess the myth.
              >
              > Prone like Sleeping Beauty
              >
              > among the briars,
              >
              > able only to dream of my Kingdom,
              >
              > the perfect Aurora begins to dawn.
              >
              > Rustling the broken twigs and thorns,
              >
              > my nerves,
              >
              > I find a few are supple still,
              >
              > like leaves of grass.*
              >
              > My breath the breeze upon the bowing blades,
              >
              > my light the sun bending along the shining arcs.
              >
              > Nadir of nature am I
              >
              > alive in love with my Prince
              >
              > whose lips express their breath from mine,
              >
              > forever quivering one upon the other,
              >
              > enfolded and lapping like the ebb and flow
              >
              > of my beating heart.
              >
              > He the pinnacle of creation
              >
              > beats the pulse below my navel.
              >
              > blossoms the rose of scintillating petals,
              >
              > mingling, lingering, evaporating
              >
              > like the sweat of our palms
              >
              > as they fall limply apart.
              >
              > Life-blood, the breath, the light
              >
              > have commingled and melted opaque among every pore,
              >
              > as the pulse begins to beat of its own
              >
              > in my belly.
              >
              > Heaven above my billowing hair is open,
              >
              > Hell below my steadfast feet is closed.
              >
              > with levity and gravity I spin,
              >
              > the spinning wheel �round,
              >
              > the silken filaments of life intertwining.
              >
              > Private chamber housing
              >
              > myself within myself.
              >
              > My belly, breasts and buttocks
              >
              > swelling round like the earth.
              >
              > The Prince within forever and without,
              >
              > with never a seam of separation,
              >
              > fully whole.
              >
              > Contracting pulse within me,
              >
              > beating and bleeding its way out.
              >
              > The belly tightens and bows
              >
              > with its burden.
              >
              > The breath panting and sweating,
              >
              > the light radiating in and out
              >
              > from heaven and earth to the center,
              >
              > my Soul, the perfect babe born into eternity.
              >
              > Kathryn
              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: dgallagher@...
              > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
              > Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2011 1:01 PM
              > Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
              > Another exampl...
              >
              > Excellent comments/questions, Thomas. I've long wondered what one's
              > experience would be like in a female embodiment; with the curiosity focused
              > on
              > the feelings associated with erotic arousal, receptive penetration, and the
              >
              > ensuing experience of the gestation of new life and the labor of giving
              > birth. There's a sense of incompleteness in being physically incapable of
              > those experiences.
              >
              > I've shared the symbolism of the vesica piscis as cosmic vagina/womb and
              > birth canal with many women over the years and have not been aware of any
              > push back on the representation. In the light of your observations, I'm now
              >
              > inclined to be explicit asking for feedback specifically from women in
              > general and mothers in particular.
              >
              > David
              >
              > In a message dated 2/9/2011 12:51:19 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
              > t_mether@... writes:
              >
              > Yes, David, I know that and there is also quite an amount of comparison of
              > Orphic with Indian materials as well. There is also philosophical dialog as
              >
              > spiritual midwifery as an image. The question is twofold. To the extent
              > this imagery and symbolism of the feminine in Greek tradition expresses
              > male
              > views about it, to what extent does it match female views and female
              > experience. Let me put it this way. My undergranduate New Testament
              > professor was
              > Jewish and female. She liked to emphasize the images of Jews and women in
              > Christians materials did not neatly correspond to Jews and women, and in
              > addition, she was keen in pointing out in the History of Religion sections
              > she taught that, contrary to such as Joseph Campbell, one must be extremely
              >
              > cautious about whether the views and motifs of the feminine, including
              > goddesses or a Great Mother Goddess, in a patriarchal culture match the
              > views
              > motifs, and experiences of actual women. (2) And if women's
              > experiences afford them a different set of views and motifs to use as
              > alternative philosophical metaphors. In the experience of my wife at this
              > retreat, she thought Buddhism was rather gloomy until she heard sunyata as
              > pregnancy and most like a certain phase of pregnancy. So, whenever she
              > thinks
              > about Buddhism or reads Shambhala Sun, that motif has become her organizing
              >
              > point of departure for thought. She has raised this aspect of sunyata a
              > couple of times when she thought the male Buddhist monks were neglecting
              > these
              > aspects of sunyata with other women subsequently adopting the same point of
              >
              > view after they learned of it. She said it also inspired her focus on a
              > Good Friday talk she gave many years ago where the entire focus and theme
              > was
              > Mary the Mother as the model or paradigm of the human role and response in
              > the drama of the passion. Anyway, when we speak of symbolism of the
              > feminine, we should also ask whose symbolism of the feminine, and would
              > women come up with different symbols?
              > --- On Wed, 2/9/11, _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
              > <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) > wrote:
              >
              > From: _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
              > <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) >
              > Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
              > Another exampl...
              > To: _neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
              > Date: Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 10:22 AM
              >
              > Thomas,
              >
              > Hypatia never pregnant? Nor were Aristarchus or Plato, yet all three gave
              > birth.
              >
              > Womb and pregnancy have their serious philosophical symbol in the vesica
              > piscis, especially as one contemplates the fabrication of Plato's Line and
              > attendant shapes both through and within that symbolic sacred space. The
              > emergent symbolism seems fully in accord, or harmonizes in a Pythagorean
              > sense,
              > with Proclus on Orphic theogony in PT and Plotinus on Intellect, say, in
              > VI.7. Plato refers to the point of the practice at *Republic* VI 510e
              > where one is left to wonder what specific constructions the geometers were
              > exploring and how Plato himself actually constructed the Line. It's all
              > thoroughly womb-like and resonates with Proclus' Noetic Triad.
              >
              > David
              >
              > In a message dated 2/8/2011 11:43:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
              > _t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) writes:
              >
              > Ushta te Empedotimos,
              >
              > Darood,
              >
              > Before I go to bed, my wife looks over my shoulder. She remembers the
              > Chinese Buddhist Abbott and meditation master we were both attending
              > (along
              > with a few major academics, the abbott was introduced by one I know,
              > Huston
              > Smith) in a retreat. His long comments on sunya were in terms of pregnancy
              > (my wife, she is a NICU, Labor and Delivery, Midwifery, Critical Care
              > Nurse
              > -- I guess that's how she puts up with me) and she reminded me of that
              > talk
              > she clutched onto.
              >
              > The Buddhist use of the root sunya relates to the Hindu use of brahman.
              > The latter means growth, great making power, great-making solidarity,and
              > is a
              > verbal root with a noun stem "-man"; sunya means pregnancy but especially
              > the very smug and glowing stage a woman is in being pregnant -- the
              > super-fullness of life of that state -- not early with morning sickness
              > necessarily and in some cases not late with dangerous late term -- just,
              > my wife is
              > looking over me, "being very ripe orange like the sun."
              >
              > Perhaps ISNS should have a panel on what womens' pregnancy and childbirth
              > could add as a perspective for Neoplatonism. We speak of Hypathia. Great
              > but she didn't give birth and was never pregnant. Why not pregnancy and
              > womb
              > as a serious philosophical symbol or motif?
              >
              > It is another theme for what Neoplatonism should be of contemporary
              > relevance, I suggest (my beloved wife still looking on as I type), but as
              > she
              > retreats with sore feet I'm to massage, on this topic -- I'm not one to
              > speak.
              > I will advocate it, though!
              >
              > Thomas
              > On Tue, 2/8/11, Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._
              > (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
              > (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) > wrote:
              >
              > From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
              > (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
              > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
              > several levels)
              > To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
              >
              > _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
              > (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
              > Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 9:00 PM
              >
              > Ushta Empedotimos,
              >
              > Darood,
              >
              > Well, since I've managed to piss off many on this list, what the hell.
              >
              > Let's begin with sunya alone. The range of its meanings include empty,
              > pregnant, potent. It incorporates both the Aristotelian sense of potency
              > and
              > the Neoplatonian sense of potency. So, (aristotelian) pure potential for
              > form and (plotinian) power too rich for any form of manifestation.
              >
              > Now, sunyata is tied to a denial of substance or
              > self-independent-existence (svabhava) of anything short of the ultimate.
              >
              > My next post will be about form and sunyata, the sunyata of sunyata
              > (basically, sunya is not a noumenon reality behind mere form).
              > Thomas
              >
              > --- On Tue, 2/8/11, Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._
              > (mailto:_empedotimos@...) _
              > (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) > wrote:
              >
              > From: Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._ (mailto:_empedotimos@...)
              >
              > _ (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) >
              > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
              > several levels)
              > To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
              >
              > _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
              > (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
              > Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 12:54 AM
              >
              > Thomas,
              >
              > I always had the question what emptiness really means in Buddhism and what
              > is
              > the respective term/situation in Neoplatonism.
              > Specially the phrase from the Heart Sutra "form is emptiness; emptiness is
              > form"
              > is quite intriguing and it would be really interesting to find the
              > equivalent in
              > Neoplatonistic terms.
              >
              > Would you be so kind to spend a few moments to elaborate on this at your
              > convenience ?
              >
              > Best Regards,
              >
              > Empedotimos---------------
              >
              > __http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com__
              > (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com_/)
              > (_http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/_
              > (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/) )
              >
              > ________________________________
              > From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
              > (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
              > To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
              >
              > _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
              > (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
              > Sent: Mon, February 7, 2011 7:34:23 PM
              > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels
              >
              > David,
              >
              > The play of eikasia in the example was the first monk's worries about
              > Buddhism
              > as a nihilism; my playing it safe and not voicing I sort of had the same
              > question; our collective stereotype of the monk we feared and didn't like,
              > and
              > his subsequent use of imaginative analogy (the trees) to address a
              > question we
              > all had.
              >
              > Sesshin is a sitting meditation session in a Zen monastery. Early on the
              > focus
              > is on learning how to meditate and overcome difficulties. But to an extent
              > there
              > will always be difficulties with being able to meditate even for advanced
              > meditators. They become less and less, and also, the weak attention that
              > in the
              > beginning was an attempt to attend that was exclusive of them becomes a
              > stronger
              > attention that can now become inclusive of them. In other words, what once
              > were
              > the difficulties in meditating now do not really disturb it no more than
              > passing
              > clouds disturb the sky. But the difficulties encountered in the sitting
              > are an
              > index to who one is generally most of the time in life, and not just when
              > one is
              > sitting. So, sesshin becomes a microcosm of one's life, one's habitual way
              > of
              > being, or one's character.
              >
              > Sometimes one needs a nudge and a sesshin practice alone won't cut it.
              >
              > At one place, there was a person who we all knew, except him, had a chip
              > on his
              > shoulder. But around the retreat he always had his Sunday face on. You
              > could
              > see it when he'd get ticked off but he would not express his anger nor
              > admit,
              > even to the abbott, that he was ever angry. So, one day, the abbott
              > assigned
              > this person the task to go into town to buy supplies using the retreat's
              > truck.
              > So he set out. On the way, he got behind a very slow driver that also
              > swerved
              > back and forth erraticallly preventing this person from passing (when the
              > road
              > allowed, which was almost never). Eventually, the car ahead came to a full
              > stop
              > after this person started tailgating and laying on the horn. Out popped
              > the
              > abbott from the car ahead. The person we all knew was an alpha-personality
              > suddenly realized he was indeed an alpha-personality. In this case,
              > eikasia was
              > this person's false positive self-image he maintained so well he had a
              > nearly
              > undefeatable blind
              > spot that needed a little nudge from the abbott.
              >
              > Sesshin just means a sitting meditation session.
              >
              > Thomas
              >
              > --- On Mon, 2/7/11, __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
              > (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
              > <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
              > (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) > wrote:
              >
              > From: __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
              > (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
              > <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
              > (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) >
              > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels
              > To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
              >
              > _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
              > (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
              > Date: Monday, February 7, 2011, 10:47 AM
              >
              > Thomas,
              >
              > With reference to eikasia, your sentence (noting alliteration with
              > sentience) that seemed most germane to me was: "A sesshin is a *mirror*
              > held up
              > to
              >
              > the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not." Does the
              > "mirror" in that statement correspond with Plato's reflective surfaces? If
              > so, then it would seem, in the context of what you wrote, there's a mirror
              > within a mirror? And that would further seem a very apt metaphor with
              > reference to the Line.
              >
              > In your view, does eikasia represent the images, the mirror in which they
              > appear, or both?
              >
              > David
              >
              > In a message dated 2/6/2011 11:46:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
              > __t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
              > (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) writes:
              >
              > I've shared this with Buddhist groups, including some who were there to
              > share it.
              >
              > Eikasia: as the power of imitative vicarious experience, under very
              > controlled conditions that help expose false fears, and allow a measure of
              > protected and shared "exposed" questions, there was the typical meditation
              > session and sermon and question and answer session with the Buddhist
              > abbott.
              >
              > The monastery had a person that seemed -- unnervingly challenging -- not
              > the nice sort one would associate with being a Buddhist monk. One was
              > tempted to feel sorry for the abbott and admiring him for suffering this
              > hard
              > nut
              >
              > of a case of a contrarian monk. Naturally, some of us felt we were glad we
              > weren't like him.
              >
              > By this point, I played my cards tight to the chest, which meant I posed
              > as a meek and mild "try to be as invisible as much as possible". There was
              > a
              > monk that asked about anatman, non-self, whether it meant extinction of
              > self and the past that made one who one is, and the kindly abbott gave an
              > answer to the effect that no-self was not nihilism.
              >
              > As it turned out, with great anxiety, some of us were assigned to tasks
              > led by the monk we all feared and hated.
              >
              > The monk asking whether "improvements" in Buddhism led to being
              > increasingly "generic" until one realized non-self was with us, I suspect,
              > as
              > our
              >
              > voice and concern.
              >
              > With Buddhists, I have shared the following that others were there to see.
              > But it is relevant here to the issue of eikasia. At the time I posted it
              > originally, I believe the title of the post was "Buddhism is not about
              > Lumber".
              >
              > The apparently evil and contrarian monk turned out to be even the abbott's
              > teacher. My post,
              >
              > I once had a teacher who was a gnarly old character yet who was the most
              > precise and clear teacher of those around this monastery in China. Once,
              > we
              > were out in the forest and someone asked about improvements and
              > eliminating
              > one's "flaws". His response: he pointed at these very old trees. He
              > pointed out how they were not smooth timber or nice clean boards. They
              > were
              > twisted, knotted, and gnarled by the history of their growth. Then he said
              > we
              > are all old trees. Becoming a buddha or fulfilling the bodhisattva vow was
              > not about becoming nice smooth boards -- generic lumber -- but was about
              > turning all we were, knots and twists and all, into means to be a
              > bodhisattva.
              > "Buddhism is not about killing trees. It is not a lumber mill. Its about
              > you, knots and all, being view and means."
              >
              > -------------
              >
              > From that experience, I added this as my small bit to a Zen group several
              > years later.
              >
              > ------------------
              >
              > One way of looking at one�s sesshin is that it is a laboratory. It
              > provides simplified conditions for cultivating a state of mind that is
              > supposed
              > to
              >
              > become a way of living and practicing when not sitting. It is also a
              > microcosm of your life as a whole under a microscope, so to speak. While
              > it may
              > not be noticed until it is pointed out, how it goes with your sesshin is
              > how it typically goes with your life as a whole. A sesshin is a mirror
              > held
              > up to the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not. Thus,
              > there is always a teaching and something to learn. Don�t analyze. Just
              > register
              > without comment �this is such as I am now� or "these difficulties are
              > me". You are your own raw material for practice and for becoming a Buddha.
              > One
              > of the early steps (usefully repeated even for senior practitioners) is
              > getting acquainted with and familiar with, without comment or analysis,
              > the
              > raw material that is �you� -- that is what you have to work
              > with. If done with patient acceptance of �such is the way I am�, there
              > will be a cumulative and transformative effect produced by these
              > relatively �
              > objective pictures of yourself�. You will be changed. And, your practice
              > will change with you.
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              > __________________________________________________________
              > Don't get soaked. Take a quick peak at the forecast
              > with the Yahoo! Search weather shortcut.
              > __http://tools.search.yahoo.com/shortcuts/#loc_weather__
              > (http://tools.search.yahoo.com/shortcuts/#loc_weather_)
              > (_http://tools.search.yahoo.com/shortcuts/#loc_weather_
              > (http://tools.search.yahoo.com/shortcuts/#loc_weather) )
              >
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              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Kathryn Evans
              Great; share them with your future poetry students! ... From: Ted Hand To: Sent: Friday, February 11,
              Message 6 of 9 , Feb 12, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                Great; share them with your future poetry students!

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "Ted Hand" <ted.hand@...>
                To: <neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Friday, February 11, 2011 10:50 PM
                Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
                Another exampl...


                I'm no poetry critic but I am an english teacher and training, and I sure
                like them.
                thanks for sharing, Kathryn

                On Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 10:24 PM, Kathryn Evans
                <kathryn-e@...>wrote:

                >
                >
                >
                > The poems read better with the correct stanza groupings and indents, which
                > the auto-format here erased.
                >
                >
                > ----- Original Message -----
                > From: Kathryn Evans
                > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                > Sent: Friday, February 11, 2011 10:07 PM
                > Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
                > Another exampl...
                >
                > Dear All,
                >
                > As I said, exquisite material coming up in these threads. Decades ago at a
                > group silent retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, which I participated in
                > while
                > pregnant, I wrote the poem below.
                >
                > Your Black and Golden Robes
                >
                > The pulse rebounding between
                >
                > the density of granite
                >
                > and the ethereal sky
                >
                > Reverberates in my belly.
                >
                > The primal beat of black and white
                >
                > granite, the binary
                >
                > secret pattern of life,
                >
                > Pulses in my heart.
                >
                > Golden permeates my eyelids
                >
                > as the sun warms my brow
                >
                > off and on from behind a tree.
                >
                > Black blankness in my mind,
                >
                > the cool emptiness of shadow.
                >
                > Life and death my soul
                >
                > blinks open and shut,
                >
                > The arms of the cosmic dancer.
                >
                > Inside the belly the newborn-to-be
                >
                > floats in lotus;
                >
                > The soles of her feet folded upwards
                >
                > in prayer.
                >
                > Hands and feet have not yet taken poles;
                >
                > have not felt the weight of
                >
                > granite rocks,
                >
                > nor the levity of sacred skies.
                >
                > The body, my soul, spins in the center.
                >
                > So, the experience was that of the physical feminine soul birthing itself.
                >
                > The following poem (written 20 years ago), and a few others on the
                > pregnant
                > womb of creation, I'm hoping to publish this year---will let you know.
                >
                > To W. W.
                > From the Edge of a Dark Wood
                >
                > At mid-life, I accept the challenge,
                >
                > my birthright nature the Poet,
                >
                > Goddess the myth.
                >
                > Prone like Sleeping Beauty
                >
                > among the briars,
                >
                > able only to dream of my Kingdom,
                >
                > the perfect Aurora begins to dawn.
                >
                > Rustling the broken twigs and thorns,
                >
                > my nerves,
                >
                > I find a few are supple still,
                >
                > like leaves of grass.*
                >
                > My breath the breeze upon the bowing blades,
                >
                > my light the sun bending along the shining arcs.
                >
                > Nadir of nature am I
                >
                > alive in love with my Prince
                >
                > whose lips express their breath from mine,
                >
                > forever quivering one upon the other,
                >
                > enfolded and lapping like the ebb and flow
                >
                > of my beating heart.
                >
                > He the pinnacle of creation
                >
                > beats the pulse below my navel.
                >
                > blossoms the rose of scintillating petals,
                >
                > mingling, lingering, evaporating
                >
                > like the sweat of our palms
                >
                > as they fall limply apart.
                >
                > Life-blood, the breath, the light
                >
                > have commingled and melted opaque among every pore,
                >
                > as the pulse begins to beat of its own
                >
                > in my belly.
                >
                > Heaven above my billowing hair is open,
                >
                > Hell below my steadfast feet is closed.
                >
                > with levity and gravity I spin,
                >
                > the spinning wheel 'round,
                >
                > the silken filaments of life intertwining.
                >
                > Private chamber housing
                >
                > myself within myself.
                >
                > My belly, breasts and buttocks
                >
                > swelling round like the earth.
                >
                > The Prince within forever and without,
                >
                > with never a seam of separation,
                >
                > fully whole.
                >
                > Contracting pulse within me,
                >
                > beating and bleeding its way out.
                >
                > The belly tightens and bows
                >
                > with its burden.
                >
                > The breath panting and sweating,
                >
                > the light radiating in and out
                >
                > from heaven and earth to the center,
                >
                > my Soul, the perfect babe born into eternity.
                >
                > Kathryn
                >
                > ----- Original Message -----
                > From: dgallagher@...
                > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                > Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2011 1:01 PM
                > Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
                > Another exampl...
                >
                > Excellent comments/questions, Thomas. I've long wondered what one's
                > experience would be like in a female embodiment; with the curiosity
                > focused
                > on
                > the feelings associated with erotic arousal, receptive penetration, and
                > the
                >
                > ensuing experience of the gestation of new life and the labor of giving
                > birth. There's a sense of incompleteness in being physically incapable of
                > those experiences.
                >
                > I've shared the symbolism of the vesica piscis as cosmic vagina/womb and
                > birth canal with many women over the years and have not been aware of any
                > push back on the representation. In the light of your observations, I'm
                > now
                >
                > inclined to be explicit asking for feedback specifically from women in
                > general and mothers in particular.
                >
                > David
                >
                > In a message dated 2/9/2011 12:51:19 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                > t_mether@... writes:
                >
                > Yes, David, I know that and there is also quite an amount of comparison of
                > Orphic with Indian materials as well. There is also philosophical dialog
                > as
                >
                > spiritual midwifery as an image. The question is twofold. To the extent
                > this imagery and symbolism of the feminine in Greek tradition expresses
                > male
                > views about it, to what extent does it match female views and female
                > experience. Let me put it this way. My undergranduate New Testament
                > professor was
                > Jewish and female. She liked to emphasize the images of Jews and women in
                > Christians materials did not neatly correspond to Jews and women, and in
                > addition, she was keen in pointing out in the History of Religion sections
                > she taught that, contrary to such as Joseph Campbell, one must be
                > extremely
                >
                > cautious about whether the views and motifs of the feminine, including
                > goddesses or a Great Mother Goddess, in a patriarchal culture match the
                > views
                > motifs, and experiences of actual women. (2) And if women's
                > experiences afford them a different set of views and motifs to use as
                > alternative philosophical metaphors. In the experience of my wife at this
                > retreat, she thought Buddhism was rather gloomy until she heard sunyata as
                > pregnancy and most like a certain phase of pregnancy. So, whenever she
                > thinks
                > about Buddhism or reads Shambhala Sun, that motif has become her
                > organizing
                >
                > point of departure for thought. She has raised this aspect of sunyata a
                > couple of times when she thought the male Buddhist monks were neglecting
                > these
                > aspects of sunyata with other women subsequently adopting the same point
                > of
                >
                > view after they learned of it. She said it also inspired her focus on a
                > Good Friday talk she gave many years ago where the entire focus and theme
                > was
                > Mary the Mother as the model or paradigm of the human role and response in
                > the drama of the passion. Anyway, when we speak of symbolism of the
                > feminine, we should also ask whose symbolism of the feminine, and would
                > women come up with different symbols?
                > --- On Wed, 2/9/11, _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
                > <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) > wrote:
                >
                > From: _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
                > <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) >
                > Subject: Re: Womb, Women PS Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia:
                > Another exampl...
                > To: _neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
                > Date: Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 10:22 AM
                >
                > Thomas,
                >
                > Hypatia never pregnant? Nor were Aristarchus or Plato, yet all three gave
                > birth.
                >
                > Womb and pregnancy have their serious philosophical symbol in the vesica
                > piscis, especially as one contemplates the fabrication of Plato's Line and
                > attendant shapes both through and within that symbolic sacred space. The
                > emergent symbolism seems fully in accord, or harmonizes in a Pythagorean
                > sense,
                > with Proclus on Orphic theogony in PT and Plotinus on Intellect, say, in
                > VI.7. Plato refers to the point of the practice at *Republic* VI 510e
                > where one is left to wonder what specific constructions the geometers were
                > exploring and how Plato himself actually constructed the Line. It's all
                > thoroughly womb-like and resonates with Proclus' Noetic Triad.
                >
                > David
                >
                > In a message dated 2/8/2011 11:43:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                > _t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) writes:
                >
                > Ushta te Empedotimos,
                >
                > Darood,
                >
                > Before I go to bed, my wife looks over my shoulder. She remembers the
                > Chinese Buddhist Abbott and meditation master we were both attending
                > (along
                > with a few major academics, the abbott was introduced by one I know,
                > Huston
                > Smith) in a retreat. His long comments on sunya were in terms of pregnancy
                > (my wife, she is a NICU, Labor and Delivery, Midwifery, Critical Care
                > Nurse
                > -- I guess that's how she puts up with me) and she reminded me of that
                > talk
                > she clutched onto.
                >
                > The Buddhist use of the root sunya relates to the Hindu use of brahman.
                > The latter means growth, great making power, great-making solidarity,and
                > is a
                > verbal root with a noun stem "-man"; sunya means pregnancy but especially
                > the very smug and glowing stage a woman is in being pregnant -- the
                > super-fullness of life of that state -- not early with morning sickness
                > necessarily and in some cases not late with dangerous late term -- just,
                > my wife is
                > looking over me, "being very ripe orange like the sun."
                >
                > Perhaps ISNS should have a panel on what womens' pregnancy and childbirth
                > could add as a perspective for Neoplatonism. We speak of Hypathia. Great
                > but she didn't give birth and was never pregnant. Why not pregnancy and
                > womb
                > as a serious philosophical symbol or motif?
                >
                > It is another theme for what Neoplatonism should be of contemporary
                > relevance, I suggest (my beloved wife still looking on as I type), but as
                > she
                > retreats with sore feet I'm to massage, on this topic -- I'm not one to
                > speak.
                > I will advocate it, though!
                >
                > Thomas
                > On Tue, 2/8/11, Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._
                > (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
                > (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) > wrote:
                >
                > From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
                > (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
                > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
                > several levels)
                > To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
                >
                > _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
                > (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
                > Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 9:00 PM
                >
                > Ushta Empedotimos,
                >
                > Darood,
                >
                > Well, since I've managed to piss off many on this list, what the hell.
                >
                > Let's begin with sunya alone. The range of its meanings include empty,
                > pregnant, potent. It incorporates both the Aristotelian sense of potency
                > and
                > the Neoplatonian sense of potency. So, (aristotelian) pure potential for
                > form and (plotinian) power too rich for any form of manifestation.
                >
                > Now, sunyata is tied to a denial of substance or
                > self-independent-existence (svabhava) of anything short of the ultimate.
                >
                > My next post will be about form and sunyata, the sunyata of sunyata
                > (basically, sunya is not a noumenon reality behind mere form).
                > Thomas
                >
                > --- On Tue, 2/8/11, Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._
                > (mailto:_empedotimos@...) _
                > (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) > wrote:
                >
                > From: Empedotimos <__empedotimos@..._
                > (mailto:_empedotimos@...)
                >
                > _ (mailto:_empedotimos@..._ (mailto:empedotimos@...) ) >
                > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Emptiness (was Eikasia: Another example of
                > several levels)
                > To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
                >
                > _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
                > (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
                > Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 12:54 AM
                >
                > Thomas,
                >
                > I always had the question what emptiness really means in Buddhism and what
                > is
                > the respective term/situation in Neoplatonism.
                > Specially the phrase from the Heart Sutra "form is emptiness; emptiness is
                > form"
                > is quite intriguing and it would be really interesting to find the
                > equivalent in
                > Neoplatonistic terms.
                >
                > Would you be so kind to spend a few moments to elaborate on this at your
                > convenience ?
                >
                > Best Regards,
                >
                > Empedotimos---------------
                >
                > __http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com__
                > (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com_/)
                > (_http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/_
                > (http://www.empedotimos.blogspot.com/) )
                >
                > ________________________________
                > From: Thomas Mether <__t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
                > (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) >
                > To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
                >
                > _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
                > (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
                > Sent: Mon, February 7, 2011 7:34:23 PM
                > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels
                >
                > David,
                >
                > The play of eikasia in the example was the first monk's worries about
                > Buddhism
                > as a nihilism; my playing it safe and not voicing I sort of had the same
                > question; our collective stereotype of the monk we feared and didn't like,
                > and
                > his subsequent use of imaginative analogy (the trees) to address a
                > question we
                > all had.
                >
                > Sesshin is a sitting meditation session in a Zen monastery. Early on the
                > focus
                > is on learning how to meditate and overcome difficulties. But to an extent
                > there
                > will always be difficulties with being able to meditate even for advanced
                > meditators. They become less and less, and also, the weak attention that
                > in the
                > beginning was an attempt to attend that was exclusive of them becomes a
                > stronger
                > attention that can now become inclusive of them. In other words, what once
                > were
                > the difficulties in meditating now do not really disturb it no more than
                > passing
                > clouds disturb the sky. But the difficulties encountered in the sitting
                > are an
                > index to who one is generally most of the time in life, and not just when
                > one is
                > sitting. So, sesshin becomes a microcosm of one's life, one's habitual way
                > of
                > being, or one's character.
                >
                > Sometimes one needs a nudge and a sesshin practice alone won't cut it.
                >
                > At one place, there was a person who we all knew, except him, had a chip
                > on his
                > shoulder. But around the retreat he always had his Sunday face on. You
                > could
                > see it when he'd get ticked off but he would not express his anger nor
                > admit,
                > even to the abbott, that he was ever angry. So, one day, the abbott
                > assigned
                > this person the task to go into town to buy supplies using the retreat's
                > truck.
                > So he set out. On the way, he got behind a very slow driver that also
                > swerved
                > back and forth erraticallly preventing this person from passing (when the
                > road
                > allowed, which was almost never). Eventually, the car ahead came to a full
                > stop
                > after this person started tailgating and laying on the horn. Out popped
                > the
                > abbott from the car ahead. The person we all knew was an alpha-personality
                > suddenly realized he was indeed an alpha-personality. In this case,
                > eikasia was
                > this person's false positive self-image he maintained so well he had a
                > nearly
                > undefeatable blind
                > spot that needed a little nudge from the abbott.
                >
                > Sesshin just means a sitting meditation session.
                >
                > Thomas
                >
                > --- On Mon, 2/7/11, __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
                > (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
                > <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
                > (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) > wrote:
                >
                > From: __dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
                > (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) )
                > <__dgallagher@..._ (mailto:_dgallagher@...) _
                > (mailto:_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) ) >
                > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Eikasia: Another example of several levels
                > To: __neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
                >
                > _ (mailto:_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_
                > (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) )
                > Date: Monday, February 7, 2011, 10:47 AM
                >
                > Thomas,
                >
                > With reference to eikasia, your sentence (noting alliteration with
                > sentience) that seemed most germane to me was: "A sesshin is a *mirror*
                > held up
                > to
                >
                > the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not." Does the
                > "mirror" in that statement correspond with Plato's reflective surfaces? If
                > so, then it would seem, in the context of what you wrote, there's a mirror
                > within a mirror? And that would further seem a very apt metaphor with
                > reference to the Line.
                >
                > In your view, does eikasia represent the images, the mirror in which they
                > appear, or both?
                >
                > David
                >
                > In a message dated 2/6/2011 11:46:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                > __t_mether@..._ (mailto:_t_mether@...) _
                > (mailto:_t_mether@..._ (mailto:t_mether@...) ) writes:
                >
                > I've shared this with Buddhist groups, including some who were there to
                > share it.
                >
                > Eikasia: as the power of imitative vicarious experience, under very
                > controlled conditions that help expose false fears, and allow a measure of
                > protected and shared "exposed" questions, there was the typical meditation
                > session and sermon and question and answer session with the Buddhist
                > abbott.
                >
                > The monastery had a person that seemed -- unnervingly challenging -- not
                > the nice sort one would associate with being a Buddhist monk. One was
                > tempted to feel sorry for the abbott and admiring him for suffering this
                > hard
                > nut
                >
                > of a case of a contrarian monk. Naturally, some of us felt we were glad we
                > weren't like him.
                >
                > By this point, I played my cards tight to the chest, which meant I posed
                > as a meek and mild "try to be as invisible as much as possible". There was
                > a
                > monk that asked about anatman, non-self, whether it meant extinction of
                > self and the past that made one who one is, and the kindly abbott gave an
                > answer to the effect that no-self was not nihilism.
                >
                > As it turned out, with great anxiety, some of us were assigned to tasks
                > led by the monk we all feared and hated.
                >
                > The monk asking whether "improvements" in Buddhism led to being
                > increasingly "generic" until one realized non-self was with us, I suspect,
                > as
                > our
                >
                > voice and concern.
                >
                > With Buddhists, I have shared the following that others were there to see.
                > But it is relevant here to the issue of eikasia. At the time I posted it
                > originally, I believe the title of the post was "Buddhism is not about
                > Lumber".
                >
                > The apparently evil and contrarian monk turned out to be even the abbott's
                > teacher. My post,
                >
                > I once had a teacher who was a gnarly old character yet who was the most
                > precise and clear teacher of those around this monastery in China. Once,
                > we
                > were out in the forest and someone asked about improvements and
                > eliminating
                > one's "flaws". His response: he pointed at these very old trees. He
                > pointed out how they were not smooth timber or nice clean boards. They
                > were
                > twisted, knotted, and gnarled by the history of their growth. Then he said
                > we
                > are all old trees. Becoming a buddha or fulfilling the bodhisattva vow was
                > not about becoming nice smooth boards -- generic lumber -- but was about
                > turning all we were, knots and twists and all, into means to be a
                > bodhisattva.
                > "Buddhism is not about killing trees. It is not a lumber mill. Its about
                > you, knots and all, being view and means."
                >
                > -------------
                >
                > From that experience, I added this as my small bit to a Zen group several
                > years later.
                >
                > ------------------
                >
                > One way of looking at one's sesshin is that it is a laboratory. It
                > provides simplified conditions for cultivating a state of mind that is
                > supposed
                > to
                >
                > become a way of living and practicing when not sitting. It is also a
                > microcosm of your life as a whole under a microscope, so to speak. While
                > it may
                > not be noticed until it is pointed out, how it goes with your sesshin is
                > how it typically goes with your life as a whole. A sesshin is a mirror
                > held
                > up to the typical patterns of who you are whether sitting or not. Thus,
                > there is always a teaching and something to learn. Don't analyze. Just
                > register
                > without comment "this is such as I am now" or "these difficulties are
                > me". You are your own raw material for practice and for becoming a Buddha.
                > One
                > of the early steps (usefully repeated even for senior practitioners) is
                > getting acquainted with and familiar with, without comment or analysis,
                > the
                > raw material that is "you" -- that is what you have to work
                > with. If done with patient acceptance of "such is the way I am", there
                > will be a cumulative and transformative effect produced by these
                > relatively "
                > objective pictures of yourself". You will be changed. And, your practice
                > will change with you.
                >
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                >
                > __________________________________________________________
                > Don't get soaked. Take a quick peak at the forecast
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