Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Light Seeking Light doth Light of Light Beguile.

Perhaps we'd like to call all of existence "absolute love" because that is a promise of comfort to the fragile, timorous ego. Yet what is, simply is, before we label it with any reassuring or despairing concept. Those thoughts, whatever they are, just come; and after, so it seems, we give them credence. We believe this or that about reality, and those belief systems are all the causes and conditions of a life, memory, upbringing and the Universe itself, coming together, seemingly over and over, in this ever-present endless moment. There is nothing wrong with belief. There is nothing wrong with "wrong" belief, or falsehood, or truth; these are arbitrary labels, subject to all the causes and conditions mentioned; reality will be interpreted as a matter of survival. There is no escaping the truth of mere existence. It is, whether it is obviously apprehended or not. It is, in everything, in every appearance, every act, each thought, all feelings; it is every frantic manifestation of reality, ever transforming, never changing. It is, whatever it is labeled, by billions of label-makers. Truth is here. Truth is this. Truth is existence.

Being is never lost, so can never be sought. Seeking is a bundle of thoughts, feelings and interpretations happening here and now. The feeling of emptiness can be the flavour of all, just now. It does not matter what the bundle seems to be. It does not matter what how the story of one life, all of humanity or the Universe seems to be unfolding. These labels are fleeting, ambiguous, ever-changing and unimportant. What matters is existence itself, whatever its apparent form. And mere, absolute existence mattering or not is yet another arbitrary label, as are the words and concepts contained in this brief essay. Read, or do not. Interpret, or ignore. Take comfort, or tremble at the void; there is no choice about what happens or what is thought and felt; there never "was"; there never "will be". Even the most conscious, responsible choices are choiceless. All the Universe comes together for these apparently well-thought-out decisions. When the last sacred belief is no more, when the last unbreakable tenet is discarded, when everything is gone, then everything is possible, and everything can be reveled in, by the reveling itself. And whether this happens or not is also unimportant. It only matters to the nebulous, ghost-like identity.

If seeking enlightenment no longer holds persuasion, take it as a "good" sign.

Even the Grinch must exist, and a fine thing too, even if he didn't have his own spiritual awakening at the top of Mount Crumpet. The best part of our family Christmas celebrations involves watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas - the original Chuck Jones/Theodor Seuss Geisel collaboration, not Jim Carrey's somewhat overblown full-length cinema version - and waiting for the smile that accompanies his wonderful, awful idea. I remember reading an Atlantic article in the 70's calling Mr. Jones the great lost actor of his generation, as he drew his own emoting visage in the faces of characters from Sylvester the Cat to Jerry the cat to Bugs Bunny himself. And, of course, the Grinch. I can't find that article online but here's a fine article on Charles M. Jones' life and work. Merry Christmas.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Since I Could Distinguish Betwixt a Benefit and an Injury, I Never Found Man that Knew How to Love Himself.

It seems a lot of people are very fond of the ego, identity, or whatever we want to call it today. They like the limitation. They are fond of the story of their life, their loved ones, their trials and tribulations and challenges. The struggle is appealing. The sense of "something is missing" lends an apparently meaningful search to their existence. They grieve when loved ones die, and wonder at how this body before them could at one moment be alive and animated, and in the next moment that same lump of flesh could be as lifeless as a stone. They savour the mystery. They despair of the point of it all. They are mesmerised by the story in time. They take comfort in such words as these, picking and choosing, taking from the message that our true nature is immortal that "our true nature" means the bundle of causes and conditions that make up the identity. The identity dies. It can die apparently "before" the body does. All those things that seem so important in the story can at once become meaningless, and this fills the identity with despair. Pointlessness is seen, and despised.

But what is often missed is that all those causes and conditions, whatever they are, however the mind interprets them, whatever the heart feels about them, that make up this moment, whatever its quality and flavour, is the face of immortality. Immortality is now, and life and its apparent accompanying story is not reliant on any particular outcomes. Whatever seems to be, is. Whatever seems to be, can be relished. The loved ones and the valued projects are not abandoned, or perhaps they are. The seeming unfolding and the form it takes is not what is important; simply that it is, is what matters. Every bit of the mirror is a miracle. Grief is a gift, from existence to existence. Duality is a gift, the illusion of reality is to be enjoyed. And if it is not, that is a gift too. None of it need be understood.

When ideologies and personal comfort do not matter, the story of war is most unlikely. If ambition and power do not matter, the tale of greed ceases. When the welfare of yourself and your family doesn't matter, the story of enslavement and jealousy and envy is at an end. If your identity doesn't matter, the end of the story can be anything. When nothing matters, everything is possible. Yet none of this is guaranteed. Whatever unfolds, unfolds, including the story of living too much in thought, resistant of pain, afraid of privation, and needing the phantom self to be validated. There is nothing wrong with anything that is. The ego can take comfort in this, or despair; it matters not; both are the face of limitlessness. And who knows, the story might actually seem to go a lot "better".

Two clips today. The first is from the superb Hotel Rwanda, the scene where Joaquin Phoenix, playing a photographer, tells the owner of the hotel just what happens when the west is confronted with news of tragedy in the safety of their living rooms. The second is from Beyond Rangoon, set in Burma shortly after the military refused to honour Aung San Suu Kyi's election as leader. The actress playing Aung San Suu Kyi (a New Yorker named Adelle Lutz, and David Byrne's wife) shows that man's inhumanity to man is not necessarily the norm. The heroes are the soldiers. We need both humanity and inhumanity each for the other to exist, however unpalatable that may seem. Sit back and let it all unfold.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Then Was I as a Tree, Whose Boughs Did Bend with Fruit.

The Mastery of the Fruit

The bright green dimpled limes oft dream
of mustard yellow smooth unpitted peel,
a guileless sharp ordeal, suspecting not
the unheralded drop
from the tree plop
as life drains away.

Outrageous, if it's judged by immortality;
unfair if it is measured for survival.
The mastery of the fruit
at being fruitful, fruitless,
fruity sweet tingly tart
and simply its gaudy self -
green genius.

Is it sad to dream awhile ill-placed
to bring those zesty dreams to their fruition?
Dimpled rot, fruit flies clot,
mold takes lime and wishes fuzzy
verdant cloak a spiky red.
Her spore-child clings to the eldest
oak in a distant place:
Cyclic grace.

-Suzanne Foxton 2010

This clip seems to have nothing to do with fruit being itself, but so what? It was a pleasure to recently sit down with the kids and watch Singing in the Rain in installments. The scene usually extracted is Gene Kelly in the title song, being pummelled by a rain machine filled with a stinking mixture of milk and water while having a temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (Gene, not the rain). However, the children and I were most impressed with Donald O'Connor's show stopping performance of Make 'Em Laugh. Even nearly 60 years after it was filmed, and in an age of wondrous CGI and intricately produced song-and-dance numbers, this number still has the power to WOW us. This was the only decent quality version I could find that could be embedded, so please forgive glitchiness; it's a big file. Prepare to be awed!