Monday, July 31, 2006

Love, Salvation, the Fear of Death

(It's a song title.)

life with artificial sweetener

"I just felt like destroying something beautiful." -fight club

I don't know if I care whether there is more or not. "it's completely fucked up, and it's completely perfect."

This might all be a dream. I know that. There are unexplained places where things seem to connect and the confirmation comes afterward; I am reluctant to believe they are coincidences.

Still, I'm caught between always alone, always have been, always will be - that nobody (who, of course, only appear to exist anyway) can understand... and that it doesn't matter, never alone, never have been, never will be, the things around me only appear to exist... but what seems to lie beyond oscillates between a friendly void and one that it merely... empty.

And despite not wanting to be alone, at the same time I want to see if I can chase everybody away, I mean, if that's really the natural condition of things. If I do create my own reality, or at least my own apparent reality, this doesn't strike me as a very unbiased experiment.

It's all true - and none of it - stuck in the middle, and on both sides.

Just a bad Monday morning post; it all just happened, and is still yet to come.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

and this.

this, now;
holding, being held deeply
keeps fears in abeyance
is it real? any of it?
the holding, the embrace, the phantom emotions lurking

doesn't have to matter; what really matters is my forgetfulness
of anything outside of this moment;
perfect, as it is, in richness.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

why not?

Isaiah wrote a great post hinging around this question:

Why? Why go on?

In playing get to know you, somebody asked me a similar question, what motivates me, what moves me.
What motivates me? I do. Fear, occasionally, and not when I can help it. Desire, sometimes. Curiosity, often. "I wonder if..."
What moves me? Things that surprise me. Emotions that surprise me.

In many ways, it's the same as, why be good? Why, anything?

Have you ever tried to not go on? To have not moved on when everything around me has - that is hell.

Isaiah goes on to suggest a few motivators; family, friends, careers, stuff. Hm; nope, nope, nope. The experience. That motivates me. Love of the experience. Like this, right now, the sound and feel of the keyboard; city spread below me, wind, hum of the air conditioner, a little tightness across my back, aftertaste of grapes and soy milk, desk surface under my forearms - all this, incredibly rich, for just a moment's thought; I could go on, in wonder. Solitary, to be sure, except, perhaps, where one solitude touches another (or appears to)... but, so full and so complete in itself.

I enjoy living, and so I go on.

Not to say that this has always been the case; this spring was not so fun. A bad practical joke that could never end; I continued to exist because I couldn't cease to exist, but was aghast at how to comport myself toward a world that doesn't. Weeks of waking nightmare.

Questions wander by, catch my eye; I pick them up, look, "huh," let fall from my fingers. Will I ever move beyond this apparent world if I keep enjoying it? Is something more important than the enjoyment? Or am I, already, (as I suspect), seeing what has always been there, just the things that most never notice? Is there anything more? The questions are nothing, rhetoric hoping to catch a hold of the real. (And what is real?)

Does it matter, to us, the living? So I pose my counter-question: why not?

Monday, July 24, 2006

lullaby #1: this mystifies me.


right off logic's edge
you love me anyway
stupidest question ever;
i love, and don't wonder at it,
just do.

but, no, you cannot love me without justification
and i know there is none.
to chase love away?
impossible - slips through the cracks,
comes and goes as it pleases.

but i still wonder, why?
not as though any wonder of my own
actually makes me deserving
or you, for all your quirks, have earned anything at all,
but still i love, and don't wonder at it.

if grace means anything at all,
it is undeservedness;
that which is of free will,
cannot be bought, sold, or begged,
or borrowed.
that which is never asked,
but always is longing.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hardcore Zen: punk rock, monster movies, and the truth about reality. (Brad Warner)

I actually finished Hardcore Zen about three weeks ago... and still have little more to say about it than before.

It was encouraging. Some of the ideas, descriptions, ways of seeing, recounted experiences, matched mine. Many did. That was encouraging. Some of it made no sense whatsoever. That really didn't bother me. For a long time now I've found that if things clicked, great. If not, they would float in my mind until they fell into place or faded into obscurity.
QUESTION. QUESTION AUTHORITY. QUESTION SOCIETY. QUESTION REALITY. QUESTION YOURSELF. Question your conclusions, your judgments, your answers. Question this. If you question everything thoroughly enough, the truth will eventually hit you upside the head and you will know. But here's a warning: It won't be what you imagined. It won't even be close.

Unfortunately, that warning came months too late for me. Not that I'd have heeded it anyway. I started reading the book while I was very much not-okay with things, so the back cover's text seemed really ridiculously poorly timed. Sometime in January, I concluded that the truth couldn't be destroyed, and thus I could safely question everything, be willing to be wrong about everything I'd ever believed. Well, I discovered a lot of beliefs to be willing to let go. My conclusions at this point are essentially, I don't know... but I know what I've experienced and observed, and from that, I can say how things appear to be. But that's about it. Like I said - a bit late on that warning. The world I'd known was long destroyed by then, so I chuckled, somewhat bitterly, and flipped the book open.

The prologue is fun, because Warner lays out his credentials (or lack thereof), decoding some weird terms like "dharma transmission" (which isn't as sci-fi as it sounds) into plain English.

Chapter one, "Gimme Some Truth," is the best part of the book. Maybe you should start there, just read that... don't even buy the book, leave it at the bookstore. Unless you can read the specifics of somebody else's experience without forming expectations for your own.

The next few chapters set the story for how Warner got into this whole Zen thing... and became addicted to the boring practice of zazen. I like his note that he, for once, had to make it meaningful for himself, rather than having value assigned by anybody else. And so it goes on; stories, insights. It really is worth reading.

Something that makes Warner interesting to read is the lack of apologia. The chapter on the Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra was also pretty cool... it halted my progress through the book for a couple of weeks... but it was good. Just had to read it when I was okay with processing information rather than just reading.

Another observation I liked was that things start surfacing when you start doing zazen... or meditation, or contemplation, or whatever you like to call your practice. Yep, that warning is actually about five years too late.

Warner's single piece of advice (well, perhaps there are more, but this is the big one) is to do a lot of zazen... and the rest will come. That's probably similar to the path of most enlightened people. I think it's really only necessary to be still for that one moment - the one where every perception shifts. But, just from an "I have to survive yet another moment" standpoint, it's a good practice to have, and I really do mean that it's good for me to just. practice. being. quiet.

Okay, here's the thing - if you've had experiences of the same class as Warner and probably a lot of other people, you'll be able to relate to the book. If you haven't, think of it as a sneak preview, if you're interested in that path.

If you're not interested in that path - then don't worry about it.

The whole thing, Zen, I mean, is supposed to be about enlightenment, so Warner goes there. Enlightenment isn't the end of everything; if anything, it's the label that gets attached to "solving the philosophical problems" - which, really, is just reaching the starting blocks, not winning the race. If you have an idea of what enlightenment is, or what it is like - forget it. Or remember it. Point being, you're wrong. Or, in a friend's words: "God coming down from heaven, forget it, not gonna happen. God, here and now - already is." But even that is just words until you see for yourself. And that, in many ways, is what the book's about...

So, what's enlightenment? Warner's teacher might say, if nothing else, knowing that this moment is perfect, just as it is. What do I think? Not sure I know, not sure I care, and not sure that it really matters, anyhow.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Don't know why I picked this movie, precisely, but I did. Some thoughts.

"What if it breaks?"
"Do you really care right now?"

I mean, really - sometimes I think, shouldn't I worry?... but if I don't care right now, why should I? Why ruin the moment?

"Happy. Just exactly where I wanna be."

Because that is so much more; it is a gift.

"I'm just a fucked up girl who's looking for my peace of mind. Don't assign me yours."

Aren't we all? At the end of the day, all this is just a way to try and make sense of everything we percieve. It doesn't even really matter what the truth is, so much as it matters to be able to live with how things seem to be, and whatever way we end up describing it.

"Thank God, someone normal who doesn't know how to interact with these things either"

I feel like that a lot...

"This is it Joel, it's gonna be gone soon."
"I know."
"What do we do?"
"Enjoy it."

There's a difference, I think, between when an end is coming soon, or otherwise finite, versus the knowledge that things might end at any time. There might be a new urgency. Or there might not.

"You'll find things wrong and i'll get bored because that's what happens."

That could be said at the beginning of every relationship, couldn't it.

Why not?
Anything might happen - anything! So it might all fall apart... so what? So what?

"How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd."

"Blessed are the forgetful: for they shall have done with their stupidities too."

As I watched, I loved Clementine's fresh face to the world, her impulsiveness. I've been having a lot of fun lately, and really a life fully lived, by being just... impulsive. Having adventures. Letting simple things, like walking the two blocks to church, be adventures, worlds unfolding, every moment new.

And I liked the fearlessness. Life, everything, all our present hopes, might fall apart down the line. Probably will, in fact. And in accepting that is the most freedom to run it to the hilt... to risk what may come.

Yeah, sure, I'm doing this already, hit a rough spot this week... so the best summary is this: it was encouraging.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

a solution for the latent; developing images

Today, the sight of whitecaps out on the lake and a boat under sail caught me completely off guard and swept me into a longing for the water. Sitting by the lake for awhile eased the pain, but there's still something wonderful about being out there.

Some posts by Trev and Andrew reminded me of something else I wanted to talk about, or rather, share some observations on. One was Sk8er Boi's second post in the "Why be good" series. (Special attention to his last paragraph in the post, as well as to some thoughtful comments in response.)

It's essentially this: An effortless, integral unity seems to be important.

Here's a quote from the comments in one of Trev's "Why be Good" series:
Compassion as a choice?
If ya gotta choose, you're doing it wrong. I mean...
If I am in the right place, there's no choosing. Just knowing right action, right time. No question, no mind. Flow like water.

Call it what you will; integration, unity, centeredness. Being, living, drawing from, a place that is that. That creates a void, which makes space for the most interesting things to happen. People are drawn in. Some doors only open under negative pressure.

Now I reach a difficulty. I don't really want to set terms for the conversation, but some definition of the concept is helpful in conversing about it. But if you are a solitude, you know it, nobody can tell you otherwise; the experience is self-authenticating. And I feel academic in trying to describe anything.

Unity seems to have a gravity. It draws others in. Can repel them, too. It seems to amplify what already is.

Unity is self-identifying; it knows others when it sees them. Fracturedness, disunity, seems to read more as a lack of unity than as anything unto itself.

It also tends to be self-righting. I wrote to my father about centeredness, comparing learning it to learning to be a good helmsman while sailing. From overcorrection to proper correction, to noticing earlier that correction is needed, to seeing the wind, seeing the waves, knowing how the boat will move, knowing not just effects but causes. Last; moving from correction to working with all this in perfect unison; perfect control.

It is complete in itself; it is its own solitude.

The meeting of solitudes is synergistic, dynamic. What moves between them is wonderful.

As oneness grows, is there a disunity growing elsewhere? On the planet, an alternate universe? Are we all better off with a moderate amount of disunity? I don't know, only know what I notice going on around me. People are drawn in. For myself, I have a preference for centeredness over fracturedness. I wonder what might change as more people are drawn in. Certainly the people and things that enter my perception.

    Rest in this silence, stillness, oneness. Your only task is to rest. You'll learn how to be without leaving there, how to engage without leaving there. It's possible because nobody told me otherwise, so I made it be possible.
    It is not just connecting to "one" "other" but the depth and breadth of one-with-all. I see increasingly; it manifests increasingly.
    You are not isolated and yet you are completely alone. All is one if you let it.
    If you are there you can draw others in. Stay there.

Recommended listening: heard last week Adyashanti's brief recording, "The power of unified consciousness," downloadable here. Slightly different way of framing my observations, but still true to them. I mean... if you're interested in how I see things. I listened to another one more recently but forget which; will add the link later.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why be good?

Trev brought up the question on his blog and ... here goes. There are two ways to write this post; Socratic method gets the backseat, playing nice takes too long.

First, good isn't knowable. We simply lack the perspective to understand how things fit together in the big picture. (And why's the big picture worth knowing?)

Second, why? Why anything? Good question; people invent reasons and then have wars over them. Because I want to; that's why.

And really, that's always why; there is always a choice, and people choose what they prefer. Preferences are formed based upon possible outcomes; views of the most desirable possible outcome are based upon beliefs; beliefs are based upon... what?

Uh huh. Well, either it comes from inside you or outside of you.

So. There's no way of knowing, and if we're honest, we just choose what we want anyway. That's true, but doesn't really inform how we live, or make a proposal for how we ought to live; good. The question isn't legitimate in the first place.

Related reading: I wrote a note to Larry in response to his post here, and quote part of it below. Take a look at his post and the discussion there.
It's ironic that when people feel very strongly about what's right (or wrong) and what should be (or should not) that they very often start a war. Deaths of persons, civilizations - and relationships. How many families are divided into factions over some thing or another? I don't mean out there, I mean here, in our own towns and cities.

If I say, perhaps, that right and wrong don't absolutely exist in knowable form, that they are words, descriptors, reflecting out of our experiences and perspective. If one believes that everything works to the greater good... then everything is good, even that which appears, even wars, to be evil.

Okay, I'm really bored. Splat.

Monday, July 10, 2006

deep, quiet, effortless

deep, quiet, effortless
what a beautiful beautiful wonderful sweet quiet breath of a day
silence, silence, and more silence;
deeper and deeper still
drawing forth, reaching, being, oneness
few words say much, they go out and reach their destination.
deep, deep, all the way down,
draw forth water from the well of salvation.
breathe deep, deep, deeper still,
come, close, closer still,
be here, be me, be this, be now
this is how i reach you - this is how i will hold you.

Friday, July 07, 2006

i smell lake.

it's in the air, on my skin, brushing against my face, caressing arms, shoulders, sucked into my lungs. lake. the smell of depth, of aliveness, of strength, quiet, presence.


i know why this matters, the answer arrives with the question; my knowing is its knowing, its depth is mine. don't try to understand, those are just words - what matters is this -


Is reading useful?

A conversation on Andrew's blog nudged me into sharing a few thoughts.

Reading (in the sense of spiritual reading and study) would seem to do is generate expectations, and I question whether that actually impedes experience. We can really only do one thing at once, so I also question whether time spent in intensive study might actually be better spent, well, experiencing! There is also the opportunity to (consciously or not) shy away from experience and take refuge in vicarious living through text.

Couldn't tell you, though; can only take one path, not compare two. I'm not sure whether it is "better" to go charging right off the edge of the known and drop into into a world nobody'd ever mentioned existing, with no warning whatsoever... not a course I am recommending. (Because anybody gets to choose?) No framework, no means of communication, no turning back.

So a middle ground would be to read, study, sure. But take it lightly. It's not definitive, nor universally applicable. Might be useful later, these bits and pieces of ideas, to have some words to frame an experience; a place to rest, something to give a little form to the nebulous and ineffable. Might not.

"Nobody can question your experience." -Pastor Luke

"God will not meet you in the way you expect Him to." -Dave Short

So quit reading my blog already: live - drink deeply.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

poke, prod, impermeability.

it's like the photon experiment
just watching them hit the plate


or a projection screen, and i am on the other side
just watching


of course quantum physics would come in handy for framing this


but this is nice
wonder if it'll be like this when i wake up


if i get close enough, then they seem to hit me. i've always been on this side, always will be; just a matter of perspective.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It doesn't matter what all this is about.

I don't know what to write coherently about this. I went racing tonight.

And I am so happy that I am crying. Why am I crying, and who is crying? What's this about? I don't know.

All my questions - what is it about this? Why have I missed it? Do I really love it? Will it grow old once it becomes routine? - don't have answers, they're answers I'll have to live my way to. Which is fine.

Why did I go down there? I was skating home but just had to go by the harbor - why? My heart sunk when Rainbow's End wasn't on her can and there didn't seem to be any boats on the wall... but there she was. I stopped, watching; the owner looked up, saw me, told me to get down there and get aboard. So I did. And just like that, in my work clothes... I was working aboard a racing sailboat again.

And there was nothing special about it, it was just another race. Rainbow's End... I am intimately familiar with her. Two years passed are as nothing. I noticed every changed detail, some of the deck hardware that had been replaced. Same sheets. I remembered how to run the middle, but at the same time, I did't remember a blasted thing... but I still knew what I needed to.

Oddest yet... the boat owner loves me. Still does, I mean, always has. (I still don't get why he let anybody bully him into asking me to leave... oh well.) If I want to race, if not on his boat, he'll get me on a boat Wednesday nights. That means a lot.

The door's open. What do I want? I've been longing to race, why? It was just an ordinary race, didn't feel anything special at all, didn't feel particularly at home, even, with the group, though they were fun in their way; my attention was on boat performance... always has been. (Well, that's part of why.) But now, right now, I'm happy, why? And what do I want to do? Is it the Tartan Tens? Maybe a Rhodes 19? Would I be happier playing on a Laser? (But that's why I paddle?) What do I really want? Do I want to race? What is it about sailing? Is it sailing at all?

Next Wednesday night... I'll go back. Don't know why... but I want to.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Who are you?

"The less I know about you the better; the more I know, the more I might think I should be a certain way toward you.

Are you old? Then teach me. Are you young? Then I teach you. This isn't always the case, but it sometimes happens. And so it can go with any detail of appearance or biography.

So let's be anonymous, you and I, and dance together, one soul to another."

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Still the idealist, perhaps.

Right now I'm in Cleveland visiting my family; Dad turned fifty yesterday. On my drive from Chicago I encountered a drunk and angry man at a rest stop... and was rather horrified. Things don't need to be this way.

This is part of me? Tough to see, even tougher to accept. Yes, I could be that, too; I have that capacity. But, I'm not that - I'm this. Or am I?

It's tough to see and accept things like that... actually, I won't claim to accept it. Not today. There it is, I cannot stop or change it, but I don't accept that it "has to be" that way.

Expectation, attachment, suffering. Why?

"Dirty Dancing" was on yesterday; my sister and I watched most of it. This scene caught me by surprise.

That was something. People treat me like I'm nothing because I am nothing.

That's not true! You're everything!

You don't understand the way it is for somebody like me. Last month I'm eating candy to stay alive. This month, women are stuffing diamonds in my pockets. I'm balancing on shit and I can be down there again.

No, it's not the way it is! It doesn't have to be that way!

I've never known anyone like you. You think you can make the world better. Somebody's lost, you find them. Somebody's bleeding--

I go get my daddy. That's really brave, like you said.

That took a lot of guts to go to him! You are not scared of anything.

I'm scared of everything! I'm scared of what I saw. I'm scared of what I did, I'm scared of who I am. I'm scared of walking out of here and never feeling for the rest of my life the way I feel when I'm with you!

Perhaps courage is doing what needs to be done in the moment, because it needs to be done, and being what is, because it needs to be done.

What makes life worth doing?

What is enlightenment?


Today I saw myself... for the first time, it seems. Jumped out of the shower, threw on a towel, happened to look at the mirror...

Ever notice how perception changes over time? Ever see somebody and not immediately recognise him?

It was interesting.

And I really like what was there.