Saturday, 24 April 2010

But Here Must End The Story Of My Life; And Happy Were I In My Timely Death.

We would all like to see the unfolding story go better; even the most intractable sceptic or jaded cynic, given the power to feed the hungry or free the oppressed with a magical wave of the hand, would gladly take that opportunity. Maybe, they might say, people need their emotional pain and suffering; perhaps that is part of the necessary fullness of a life, and has its uses. But few see the merit of the mass suffering of people caught up in the story of others' greed and fear. If we are caught up in the story, the goals and the results become the only thing that matter, and we blunder on, using judgment best we can, to have the right goals, take the right actions, achieve the right results, and glean some kind of meaning from life.

Confined to the mind, the conclusions about what "the right thing" is can seem arbitrary. So some of us hone different skills, or invent them, or peel away this and that layer of personal fear to reveal these skills, that give the mean judgment of the mind some broader aid; these helpers are often called instincts, or energy, or flow, or God-consciousness. This frees the mind from the responsibility of figuring it all out, and the ego can then rely on forces deemed more universal to direct its actions. The energy of it all, say some, is love. Love is what we are, love guides us, love shows us the way. How does love act? Feel it, and do it; yet even in the cradle of this universal flow, individual's actions are wildly diverse and often at odds with each other. It can seem there is no way to direct the will in the best possible way, to the best possible actions, to reach the best possible solutions.

So, many individuals feel despair. Having done all they can do to identify suffering and relieve it, whether it be their own, or belonging to the people in their small circle, or to some beleaguered civilisation, they see their efforts as ineffectual. We want real solutions, tangible progress, perceptible unity, redemptive healing and measurable progress. Yet no matter what is attempted, it can often seem that perverse human nature intervenes, and the complexities of social interaction bog us down, and the attempt of the will to relieve suffering is scuppered by that underlying fear that motivates so many of our actions. Why, for instance, does Mugabe cling to power, promise the people of Zimbabwe the world, skim the best for himself and his cronies, and squander the resources of his country? Fear: fear of losing wealth and influence and power, which he has identified to be himself, which is all he has. Such a tidal wave of fear is not easily stopped. Such fear engenders all defenses, including murder, which people respond to with a mirror of fear. Such absolute corruption continues to be the bane of the world, if the usual judgments are applied.

All this process, as described, is a common story; the story of seeking meaning, of finding or deciding meaning to be the spreading of the doctrine and energy of love, of revealing what actions this entails, and attempting to apply these actions with mixed results. This, many believe, is the pinnacle of human experience. But what if this hodgepodge is already utopia? What if the goal isn't to fix it, but to participate in the fix, in whatever form that already takes? Maybe we are already doing exactly what we must, no matter what form that takes. Maybe it's OK for some of us humans to have blinders on, so some others can see what blinders are. Maybe it's unfolding exactly as it should, as it must, in the only way it can. There is no other way. An infinite number of possibilities exist in the imagination on an infinite number of time-lines. Any of them might be how the story unfolds. None of them are wrong.

The clip is shamelessly sentimental, and a triumph of tight, wordless storytelling. The people at Pixar aren't content to just produce fantastic images; they also give us poignancy and the portrayal of a mundane life that becomes a universal expression of love, joy, tenacity and regret. It's part of the montage depicting Carl and Ellie's life together in the film Up. Enjoy.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

I Greet Thy Love, Not With Vain Thanks, But With Acceptance Bounteous.

God is just a name, a label, an idea; unadorned existence given some clothes. It is interesting to see what onus of meaning is put upon this idea, the rituals attached, the civilisations created, the rules defined and followed and defended. We are so frightened of our own existence and boundlessness that we seem to need to capture it, define it, and give it comforting parameters. We take our pondering on existence and the feelings of fear and awe it engenders and take that to be the most important thing; our conclusions about life seem more important than life itself. In the global unfolding story, our fear has caused us to provide ourselves comfort at the expense of our environment and the needs of others; but this is not the only story. Greed and need are balanced by openness and acceptance. There cannot be one without the other.

But the stories don't have to be so important. No matter how heartfelt the duty or how strongly the details of the story are believed, there is, in fact, no story, not really. There is here and now, what is, the task at hand, the energy of the task, the presence of the moment. That's all there is, before we categorise, prioritise, stamp and label, quantify, postulate, agonise, or judge. Even the labeling and endless sorting out is the energy of the moment. There is no goal but this; and if goals come up, they can be a playful game, or a passionate endeavour, or a nonchalant happenstance. They need not be the validation of the story, of the ego, of the convenient persona that hops from chapter to chapter. When we sleep, we die, and there is no one that mourns our passing. When it seems we are here, what can be done within the story is nearly limitless; and, like a haiku or a sonnet, can still shine with freedom within what seems a prison or, when the glass is half-full, useful limitations.

Back to the analogy of non-duality, or enlightenment, as a film; the characters limited in their actions, unable to choose what they do even in the midst of apparent choices weighed and made. When films break the forth wall, as in the last clip from The Purple Rose of Cairo, it challenges our tidy notions and concepts about nonduality. Well, I include this clip from Ringu, a Japanese horror film, because I love horror movies and the menace and terror that ensues when known reality breaks down - always a possibility! The void of nothingness becomes more tangible when what we regard as unshakable is shaken. Sadako, the evil child in the well, has cursed a video; if you watch it, you'll die in seven days. The guy in this clip watched the video seven days ago - uh oh.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Folly In Fools Bears Not So Strong A Note As Foolery In The Wise, When Wit Doth Dote.

The story of me in the kitchen with a knife is just that - a story, arising in wholeness. It was just what seemed to be happening. It really didn't have a lot to do with clear seeing, it was a story of clear seeing; and if there was some kind of recognition, or coming home, it had to do with understanding that what it is I had been looking for was just what is, just as it is. If, indeed, I had been looking. Comforting concepts can come up, like: there is nothing wrong with duality, there is nothing wrong with whatever the manifestation, or appearance, or whatever we're calling it today, seems to be doing, including doubt, questioning and the feeling that something will happen in the "future" that will bring about some kind of final revelation and bliss or whatever. However, those kind of thoughts don't seem to come up anymore. There really isn't a process, there is no time for a process to unfold; but it can seem that there is a process of deepening, that whatever exists is truly the only thing that is, and includes all the thoughts and feelings, which only ever are happening now. A deepening that seems to reveal "what is" as more and more beautiful, absolutely whole, completely what it is, and the only thing that is. What looks, is the only constant; the still point, consciousness, "I am", presence, whatever you care to label it. Nothing is a mistake, not even incongruous expectations. Such expectations arise and fall, or seem to, like everything else. There is nothing wrong with being disturbed. The "I" completely dissolving is just the story of the "I" completely dissolving, no matter how to the point that story seems to be. You are where you are, and that is perfect, no matter how it seems. "I" is oneness, "I-ing". Nothing wrong with it at all.

Maybe you have too many expectations about what "this" or "awakening" or "enlightenment" is. Your brain/mind can seem to "come back" and "claim" an experience; however you perceive
and label such an apparent happening is this too. There is nothing that is not this. That's what an "ah ha" moment means, and why it's so amusing. What you are looking for is everything, just the way it is. It is occluded by its omnipresence. It's so simple, your mind can't possibly believe it's so obvious.

Moments of peace are great, but they aren't especially "this". They are this in yet another guise. Doubt, resistance, fear - this in an egoic guise. However, when "this" is "realised", there seems to be less resistance, doubt and fear - but this isn't "let's make a deal". There are no guarantees about what the quality of life will be, in the story that seems to unfold, if wholeness is apprehended. The only guarantee is that whatever it is that seems to be happening, thought, or felt is this. EVERYTHING is what the seeker searches for. You can stop looking. THIS IS IT!

I've always liked the analogy of nonduality as a film; the characters have interesting lives, but cannot change what happens; and yet they are light itself; what we truly are is likened to the light that makes the projections possible. Well, let's play with that. What if the characters unravel reality and hop off the screen, no longer slave to the film and script? That's explored in Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo. The characters that remain argue about who is the most important character. One bumbles on, and exits in a fluster; he's not due until the third reel. The ego and its imagination loves the idea that it has absolute freedom. Enjoy.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

And Then This 'Should' Is Like A Spendthrift Sigh, That Hurts By Easing.

It is freeing when the ins and outs of life don't seem quite so important. Oh, they're there all right, just as they are, just as they are perceived. The mind can play all it likes with making the situations of life big or small, distressing or not, uncontrollable or precisely managed, existent or nonexistent. There can be big, all-encompassing experiences that are labeled "truth" and objectivity can be applied to them - or not. Fear can seem to drive all action, or there can be little drive but sheer momentum. There are as many ways to live a life as there are lives, it seems. There can be a lot of questioning of it all, a huge longing to know the truth of life, the underlying, fundamental, absolute answer to the question of existence, or there can be one single, narrow problem that absorbs all of life's energies. The common conclusion, subjectively, often seems to be "it's all for nothing."

Well, maybe so. Perhaps the moving and shaking, cringing and hiding, boldness and timidity that are just some of the qualities of living all come to nothing, and have no import beyond their intrinsic value, by the virtue of their existence. Perhaps a solid, unshakable system of belief isn't strictly necessary to live, or whatever the belief system there is, it can unfold gently and naturally, with not too much importance placed on absolute adherence to a set of rules based on imagination. Perhaps the less the will interferes with life, the "better," more efficiently, and more smoothly it goes...or perhaps "better" doesn't matter quite so much, and all the facets of emotion and circumstance can be relished, it not outrightly enjoyed.

Everything life requires is always present. If nothingness manifest, the formless formed, awareness without duality is how the mind likes to conceptualise existence, there is nothing wrong with that; but it's useful to remember that no matter how fundamental the concept of existence is, it's still a concept. Any idea about reality is one step removed from reality. Everyone is reality itself, before the mind gets hold of it and has a lot of fancy ideas about it. Enlightenment defined as awareness looking at itself, before the mind gives it time and objectivity, is fine. Some experience of life without the analysis of mind being the most important thing is probably desirable. Yet it doesn't matter; everything is everything, nothing is nothing, right now, no matter how the mind and ego interprets it.

This clip illustrates the frustration that can ensue when the nanny state is busy over-dictating each and every interaction with society. A million Londoners will identify with Edina (Jennifer Saunders), ranting in court in a fantastic episode of Absolutely Fabulous. The fact that she was very deserving of being in court is beside the point. Sometimes it's fun to take the story seriously!