Friday, April 27, 2007

On meditation, enlightenment, and existence.

In response to Andrew's post:

It's a fantastic question. I think that from the outside, people have expectations for what meditation is... if one fails to clear one's mind, then the meditation is looked upon as a failure... but is there some place to reach, or is it just showing up and trying that counts? Meditation is called a "practice" for a reason - as is architecture - some episodes of practice are more "successful" than others - but they are all absolutely successful at being practice.

Likewise, I think there are ideas of what enlightenment is - some kind of ongoing mythic higher awareness. You know what? I think that's crap. I think that even so-called enlightened people have their unenlightened moments. Some are more aware of it than others. Enlightenment, too, is a practice - it's the practice of awareness. We're all practicing it perfectly. Are you, right now, missing something, some cosmic flow of energy that I can detect and you cannot? Maybe - but why bother worrying about what you're missing? Keep looking around and you will continue to be aware. If it's not there, then it's not there.

If anybody expects that enlightenment is a perfect beatific state, or if it is beatific vision itself - well, that's one thing that enlightenment may be.

Actually, I think it's what enlightenment is. But recognising enlightenment as who you are, where you are, and that you are, right now, at your computer screen (okay, look around the room for a second) experiencing it... recognition is another thing.

And constant recognition is still another. And it's also a practice. I think there are people who are called "enlightened" who are just as clueless as you and I, but have had some experiences with longer views. And enlightenment doesn't seem any different, it's just a continuation of everything else, and just as normal. It's just a broadening of the horizon.

What do I expect of meditation?

God is a label, a word, a handle, something that's attached to a much larger concept, a larger experience; it's specific, and universal. Nonduality, too... points to the same thing (and isn't as sticky for me as "God", with all the trappings attached to that). Or sitting in the dark feeling nothing and wishing to feel something... for me, that's generally indicitive of too much effort.

To experience anything in meditation... for me, the practice is of letting go, of relaxing. The only thing I'm trying to do (if trying is the right word) is to stop. It's probably more accurate to say that I am not stopping, but recognizing that I am distinct from all the wheels I'm keeping in motion.

I, too, have mixed senses on what is, what isn't, why I'm sitting there. At times I want to insist there's nothing more, but find that the boundless ocean is still there whenever I wish to plumb its depths.

And at times I'm befuddled as to what that has to do with life, or, life as I know it... the myriad of relationships and stuff that, if illusory, are a very persistent illusion. They're a shell of ice on the ocean; at times transparent, thin, at times opaque, utterly solid, at times slush, making boundaries indecipherable.

This morning, my mind rested on the phrase (yeah, sorry, no half-lotus, just riding my bike around and idly musing, but still, that's meditation) "it is what it is." It's so simply and deeply true.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Perfect Mess

I can't come up with a good way to describe yesterday. Because I had to stay late at work (contrary to what I had planned, and much to my frustration) I had a lovely experience with the noisy, crowded, smelly subway. It was moderately noisy, moderately crowded, moderately smelly, and there was a guy playing his guitar. Nonetheless, it was lovely.

Doesn't seem worth posting, but it was worth being there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Return of an old parable

Rob posted a story here and we've all seen it before.

When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. "Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer. "Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat here that is not the best." At these words Banzan became enlightened.

And then I realized:

Everyone is doing his damnedest to be exactly what he is, and is succeeding perfectly in doing so.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Something's gone terribly wrong.

By now everyone's heard about the shooting at Virginia Tech.

Mostly I feel the tragedy of what happened to somebody to make them do that?

While I'm ready to cry over that, I'm also furious at the sensationalism of the media. It's a local tragedy, a terrible one, but at the same time not worthy of the airtime it's garnering. I don't want eyewitness accounts. I don't want to relive what happened. I don't want to hear the early suppositions by experts in such things. It's bad enough knowing it exists. Imagination fills in the rest.

I guess, since I can't make it go away, I'd rather it just fade from my consciousness...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

If you want something done right...

You really do have to do it yourself, or have competent and caring help. Last night, I had neither; the other two people loading the soda kiln were indifferent to placing work and mostly wanted to get it over with. I'd have been happier if they left. My only request was that none of my sets get half-loaded; I'd rather wait a week. A set of 5 bowls had 2 left in the cold.

But I won't dwell on that. Last night I put some thoughts in my notebook - mostly relating to how frustrating it is to be surrounded by indifference - and I'll record them on some of my art later. There's irony; the same people who sparked my complaints might be putting them in the kiln, or admiring them later. Such is the nature of art?

However, my work from last week came out beautifully. Three of us had some experience, worked together well, and cared about what we were doing. It was a pleasure. I'm continuing to make stuff, and have applied for two more show/fair thingies throughout the summer. It's exciting to produce a lot of work because so much is learned from observation and experience.

Also on the indifference front, a small water main leak on my block has become a gushing break after 10 days of neglect. So much for calling the city to report it (twice). It's both painful and angering to see how much water is being wasted. I blame indifference. I may be wrong.

Here's a larger-than-life-size photo I took of five cups from last week's firing. They're individually hand-carved porcelain tumblers.