Sunday, May 29, 2016

Poem for the Blind

There is a steel barrel in front of you.
Feel around the lip of the barrel,
a ring of rust.  Slip your hand down
into the barrel until it 
submerges into the dry center.
Pull out a large bruised pear  
and handle the pear
in front of your face.  Gently press
your fingers into the largest bruise.
It is the closed eye of an old woman—
her skin smooth as a hound’s ear.
She no longer smiles.  Set the pear down
and walk toward a museum T-rex, 
the sabers of his mouth warm 
as the bulbs of antique
Christmas lights, thousands 
of soap bubbles between his teeth 
in his open mouth, and in the bubbles 
a man’s face surfaces,
in the skin of his face deep purple
no one can reach.

Joel Fry

(Published in Plainsongs.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Comparison

"Enlightenment, for the wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realizes it is water."--Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist Monk
"Two young fish were swimming along one day when an older fish swam by and said, 'Good morning, boys, water sure feels lovely today.' The two young fish swam a little further and one said to the other, 'What the hell is water?' "--David Foster Wallace (paraphrased)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Buddhism, continued

The Buddha taught that we should see the truth for ourselves. I do not see that the cycle of death and rebirth is without beginning. I do not see that a baby is shackled to his mother’s breasts. I do see that most of the basic tenets of Buddhism are so simple as to be pointless. And I sure as hell don’t see that A does not equal A. My mind is not zapped enough to see that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Free Will, continued

The reason for our thoughts, unlike the reasons for our actions, can be invented just like the thoughts themselves can be invented. Also, If I ask you to think of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel you may recall what it looks like. This thought is recalled from where it resided in the mind’s unconscious storage. That is, you moved it from the unconscious mind to the conscious mind. You could invent a reason to alter the color of the memory without having a pre-existing reason to prefer one color over another. So you can even invent a reason.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Origin of the Universe Revised

There cannot be an infinite series of conditioned realities. A conditioned reality is a reality which is dependent on other things (component parts) for its existence. A hydrogen atom is a conditioned reality, because protons and electrons must exist for hydrogen atoms to exist. Since matter cannot be infinitely small, and since an atom does not have an infinite number of component parts, there must be an ultimate bottom to the component layers--an unconditioned reality. I have no reason to believe this ultimate reality is merciful, loving, or angry. However, I believe that because of this unconditioned reality it may be possible for the patterns of our consciousness to be uploaded to this essence, this unconditioned reality, and replicated in other parts of the cosmos. Given an infinite set of possible scenereos this seems at least probable. Evidence for this possible process lies in the fact that particles may "pop into and out of existence." It is not logically coherent to say that particles ACTUALLY cease to exist then come back into existence. Many aspects of the universe are counterintuitive, but this does not mean the universe works in a way that is logically incoherent. Particles unform into the essence, then the essence re-forms them later. This debunks materialism, because the essence is not a material form of reality. And since this essence actively sustains the cosmos, it is God.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


I find it interesting that the Buddha's teachings can often be successfully inverted. For instance, the Buddha taught that craving must be gotten rid of in order for one to attain enlightenment and insight into the nature of existence. But I could just as easily say, Because I crave I remember. Because I remember I recognize. Because I recognize I see. That is, I only recognize a pattern I remember (in a very broad sense) and I can only discern an object if I see it as being distinct from its surroundings. I may see a painting that has an image of a boat in it, but I may not recognize the boat in the painting. Therefore I will not "see" the boat in the painting, because I do not discern the boat as being distinct from its surroundings. Craving helps to cement memories of patterns. So craving helps one to awaken to reality. This is just the opposite of what the Buddha taught.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Free Will, a Work in Progress

We have free will in our thoughts, but not usually in our actions. If I behold five choices for my actions, I will usually take the option that seems best. Yet, I can think and imagine anything I want or don't want to think or imagine. The fact that I can choose to think of something repugnant to me means I am free to think what I want or don't want without reason. Unless I am reasoning, no one thought is necessarily more reasonable than the next. I can imagine eating a biscuit or riding a horse, and in many cases one thought will not be preferable to the other. In the event that one is preferable to the other there may be many different ways of imagining the prefered option, none of them being intrinsically preferable to the others. This thinking without exact reason is the essence of free will, because reason implies a certain choice. Since my mind is not limited by reason, as my actions usually are, I have free will. I think, therefore I am.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Poem

Late Alabama

An abandoned car
sits on the side of the road
in 1957.  It's Walter's,
but he listens to the moon ascend
showers in India.

The late drum begins its beating.
Cities, shanties, dirt lots,
miles of corn in Elkmont
depart as sand under the foot
of the stratosphere.

Headlights bead
around twilight every day.
They come down from the Cumberlands
with pine in their bulbs.

And tomorrow,
this land will be turned by rust,
by a machine that hitches its own mule,
pinning him between cattle prods.

It will be too late to sow seed then.
The sky will have stopped.

Joel Fry

*Published in Stirring.

Friday, May 6, 2016


Because I crave I remember.  Because I remember I recognize.  Because I recognize I see.