Thursday, 24 June 2010

All Corners Else o' the Earth Let Liberty Make Use Of; Space Enough Have I in Such a Prison.

Some say it's fear that keeps the ego from seeing its own illusory nature. So much effort expended; so much passion felt; so much suffering endured...could it be that the drama of life has been all for nothing, just a mistaken belief onto which profound meaning and absolute significance has been gambled? It's dismaying, at the least, to find that everything once held sacred and all the reasons and motivations for life have been based on an erroneous assumption. Could it be, after all, that this energy of life is simply existence unto itself, for itself and by itself, borne of nothingness, and our identities are no more real than the mirage in the desert...the mirage that beckons, the mirage that promises sustenance, the mirage that fades upon close examination?

It's possible that fear isn't the only spontaneous reaction to the revelation of the unsubstantiality of the ego. All things, all energies, all responses are possible. The ego, relieved of its burden of mistaken identity, might feel joy upon letting go of itself, if that is, indeed, the mechanism of awakening. Relief is possible. Complete surrender is possible. Expansion into All is possible, the movement from a small thing to an unlimited one.

But know, fully, that whatever stories the mind weaves to make sense of boundless existence are just that - stories, fascinating tales full of comfortable hooks for the ego. Stories of subtle levels of enlightenment: just a guru, or a full satguru; simply self-realised, or fully liberated; awakened, or integrated; look them up, and find that many hierarchies of enlightenment have been catalogued, sorted, prioritised and conveniently arranged in order, from "a small glimpse of eternity" to "full liberation, without desire". "What enlightenment is like" can be, it seems, succinctly described, and this is the ideal, more or less: a perfect state of pure existence; no ideas, no thoughts, no desires, no needs, no changes, no doubts, no imagination; just being. No humanity. No passion. No desire to participate in the drama, although the drama is participated in, by no one, not by an ego, not by a mind, not by a persona or identity. This is the top level. This is the ultimate. This is what the ego can aspire to, if it will only give itself up. It starts with a revelation and ends, through an apparent slow process in time, with the death of the ego, still in the body, a stateless state, reached on a pathless path, the best of the best.

Question it; question it all; if there be mind, this is what mind excels at. And live it; live it all; the doubts, the passions, the lack of desire, the intimate, all-consuming longing, the pain of suffering and resistance. This is what is happening already. This is what is, whether there is mind and thought and concept or not. Whatever conclusions are arrived at (or dismissed), it is a movable feast. What is certain is that whatever is experienced, it is experienced just as it must be, for it is.

This clip, from Bullets Over Broadway, is a masterclass of the pull of the drama (or melodrama!) of the ego and its interactions with the world. And what a fine study of an ego...Dianne Wiest won an Oscar (Best Supporting Actress) for her interpretation of an aging grand dame of the theatre. Note how her immovable stance on the role in question does an about-face, seamlessly, when confronted with a few lines of well-constructed flattery...and the sweetly vulnerable revelation, right at the end. Egos are a lot of fun.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Thou Art Not Thyself; For Thou Exist'st on Many a Thousand Grains That Issue Out of Dust.

Sometimes what seems to happen in the course of a life and its story is a profound sense of emptiness. We are confronted with the proposition that our lives, our procreation, our work, and our beliefs are meaningless. Thus, our endeavours seem empty; our goals, superfluous. The mental anguish is intense. "An unexamined life is not worth living," said Socrates; so, afraid of the unconscious shuffle from task to task that can seem to dominate 21st century Western life, we examine our lives. It seems fruitful. False belief systems break down. We understand we have been telling ourselves fairy tales about our own character. Perhaps we are not the nice people we thought we were, or not nearly as bad as we thought. We question our judgement. We begin to see the conditioning that has seemingly influenced our choices, our avoidance, or our resistance. There may be devastating trauma to face, memories so vivid they come with sensory re-experiencing, or an unravelling of old assumptions...there may be a revelatory moment of comprehension, a veil lifting, revealing the untainted truth: time wasted may be seen to be time well spent; surface relationships revealed to be deeper than once believed; and a peeling back of the layers of defense against the world at large may be undertaken in earnest. Our egos are delighted to be engaged in such a worthy endeavour.

It is all happening now, however worthy and to the point it judged to be. Spare one of those heedless, unasked-for thoughts to the villains of the piece, just as indispensable as the heroes. Examined, unexamined, life is life. The mind's judgements about it all are neither worthy or unworthy, true or false; the energy of them is simply a miracle, and the ego that navigates it all is not "right" or "wrong". It is a gift, from the gift to the gift.

As this clip from I Heart Huckabees illustrates, there are a lot more fun ways to "still thought" than just sitting in a cramped lotus position for hours!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

And Then, From Hour to Hour, We Rot and Rot; And Thereby Hangs a Tale.


Grasping fingers save a possible fall.
Grab the sharpish grass, those small cuts martyr
Hands that gripped the slightest horn of hold
Ascending time's sheer wall.

Rise and look, feel fully, hear it well,
This spectacle, and please do not want more.
Nature out and in, the river, thoughtstream,
Panoramic heaven, sweeping hell.

Ask the bird; it wings, that is its task.
Ask the tree: its answer is to grow.
Ask the bending meadow, ask the river,
Ask yourself; your answer is to ask.

So again that anguish rises strong
Again such toil for nothing, wasted fray,
When with ease and ringing fear a sidestep -
A dive to where you live, there all along.

And diving, dive into the frightening others.
And falling, fall into the fruitless battles;
So flying, to the base, and to the home,
Spinning all the tales of all our brothers.

Plummet through conclusions swift dismissed.
Rocket through assumptions banished fully.
Plunge amongst rejected, blessed comfort,
Not the goal, or needful to resist.

The grassy meadow bed will do on landing.
Along can come what may, a bear, a wren,
Forever in repose, forever standing,
No more "to be" and nevermore "again".

-Suzanne Foxton

The clip is from Little House on the Prairie, which doubtless had a strong influence on my persona's formation as I was nearly obsessed with it age 10-12 or so. Unfortunately I couldn't find a shorter clip, so for the purposes of comedy, stop watching after Mrs. Olsen says "It's a miracle!". Sometimes, the story unfolds in such a way that only a push will get us over the edge.