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!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

When You Do Dance, I Wish You a Wave o' the Sea, That You Might Ever Do Nothing but That.

There is a lot of thought put into the quality of life, the actions, the motives, the intentions; there is profound judgment put upon those actions, and many hierarchies spring into existence; lists and names, desirable traits and defects of character, formulas for living and commandments for behaviour. It is all understandable. Perhaps it stems from the story of survival, and useful fear, and the need for protection. Maybe this fear of death so many of us desire to conquer is a necessary tool for survival. These stories of heaven and hell, afterlife, rebirth, karma and purdah are simply the mind's natural response to the need to survive.

Existence itself just exists, and does not judge. All states are equal, all objects equivalent. All motives are accepted, all actions simply are. Good and bad may be, light and dark, object and subject, killer and victim; but for there to be appearance, there must always be opposing forces, and they are what they are, as we have all noted, over many apparent ages; the manifestation changes constantly, but the pattern changes little. Existence cares not for the outcome of the story; all outcomes are identical. We have become caught up in the story and its outcome. Existence is here and now. The story, and this identity we protect and need to survive, is icing on the cake, fun and painful, satisfying and distressing, but entirely unimportant.

It doesn't matter which dance is performed. All the dances that exist, exist, and they all must be. There is simply dancing. All types are necessary. It is all dancing, this life, and some dancers appear to be more proficient than others. Some dancers are highly skilled, and some seem to have a natural rhythm. Some dances are ugly and warlike, others beautiful and airy. The dance happens now, and it is always now, and we are always dancing.

Maybe you've caught the dance theme of this blog keeping with that, and entirely opposing (it's necessary after all) the themes of oneness, witness Fred and Ginger in the pinnacle of this particular, innocuous human achievement: the pas de deux. And remember - whatever Fred had to do, Ginger had to do backwards, wearing heels!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Well, Jove, Not I, Is the Doer of This, and He Is to Be Thanked.

It is not necessary for life to be anything other than what it is. There is no need to feel a different way, to act a different way, or to think a different way...including thinking that you need to act, feel and think a different way. There is no way that what is happening, or seems to be happening, could be anything other than what it is. The identity, so apparently entrenched and subtle in its persistence, is a phantom...albeit a tenacious one. This phantom is useful for survival, and all the actions and feelings and thoughts that appear are some spin on the need to survive. They are all understandable, and inevitably some will be judged to be misguided. But before the mind, operator of time, latches on what is and judges it, it simply is.

What is accepts all; it is all. It accepts outrage at what is; that, too, is what is. Life is life. There is no other. The fact that anything exists at all is the miracle. However the story plays out, that is the story; and the story, although there seems to be objective truth, and actions and feelings and thoughts and interpretations can be compared to some objective standard, there is very little absolute truth in this vast and fascinating appearance. There is the truth of its existence; this is the simplest truth, and the only one. Enlightenment is this. It is what is. There is no way to get to what is except here, and now.

I recently watched To Kill a Mockingbird with my family, and despite the judgmental protests from the children ("It's not in black and white, is it?"), we were all soon captivated. Atticus Finch is perhaps the most appealing hero in modern literature. His integrity is something that seems to beckon to us all. However, in this clip the star is Sheriff Heck Tate. Boo Radley, town recluse, has just rescued Atticus' children from attack; in the struggle, Boo kills the attacker. Atticus tries to rescue the situation by suggesting that his son, Jem, be blamed for the stabbing, which would obviously be self-defense, committed by a child, and not liable to result in any punishment. Sherriff Tate has a better idea. The clip is worth watching just for the way actor Frank Overton, as the Sheriff, says "it's a sin". See the film, but beforehand, read the book. As stories go, there are few better.

Friday, 22 October 2010

That Life is Better Life, Past Fearing Death, Than That Which Lives to Fear.

Every single thing that seems to happen is the product of everything, and is everything. It could not be different, or better. There is a beautiful all-encompassing neutrality and acceptance that is the nature and the quality of all, that allows all, that beholds all, and that is all. There is great distraction with labeling and judging; so many believe that the world is going to hell; that our apparent separation from each other and our fearful tactics borne of the need to survive will kill us. But take a step back from your assumptions. What if this tiny species on this little planet did not exist? Would the Universe take note? It is only in the throes of very understandable survival needs that we fear and panic at our demise. Yet there is nothing that can die, as there is nothing that is born. It is everything, and nothing, gazing at itself because it can; nothingness whipped up into an energetic swirl of somethingness, that energy seeming to be mass, and all of it composed of nothing at all.

There is nothing wrong with fear and panic, or dedication to tweaking the Story of Mankind into a more benign plot line. To those that despair of the story, who dwell upon war and abuse, who wish that things were other than they are - they simply are, and could be no other. Oneness cares not what is the relative nature of its apparent manifestation; the mere fact of seeming existence is miracle enough. And there must be dark for there to be light.

I confess that I am a big Trekkie (I far prefer this to "Trekker", which sounds vaguely like an abdominal disease). It's difficult to find any clips that distill the Star Trek philosophy, although I remember a scene in First Contact shortly after Lily comes on board the Enterprise, and Jean-Luc tells her about the 23rd century: how there's no money, no nationalistic wars, people work to improve themselves etc. I suppose it's clear that the philosophy is what attracted me to Star Trek (it sure wasn't the sets or effects or acting). Amongst a thousand bleak post-apocalyptic plots, Star Trek shines as a positive (but still challenging) possibility for mankind. We need more of this, I think; more energy devoted to "we're gonna be just fine". The more we relax, and accept, the better the story seems to go. Or so the plot can be interpreted! Failing a Star Trek clip, here's one from American Beauty. It's not all wars and narrow belief systems and fearful contraction, ya know!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Reason Thus With Life: If I Do Lose Thee, I Do Lose a Thing That None But Fools Would Keep.

Before it is analysed, it is. Before it is labeled and categorised and put into the stream of a story, it is. Before thinking, before feeling, before perception - it is. Undeniably, thoughts weave what is into time, and a story; there is judgment, and the assignment of relative merit: health is more desirable than disease; help is more natural than indifference; and love is the underlying quality of it all - for instance. Yet it is unnecessary to map a course of action. That is done, whether consciously or not. Paradoxically, if the outcome is unimportant, the outcome can often seem to be healthier, more natural, and more loving.

If effort seems urgent, make it. If confusion is the case, be confused. If despair takes hold, or seems to, simply wait - in this endless moment, eternity, what seems to be is in constant flux. If an urge to enquire into who or what is feeling and thinking and perceiving all of this comes up, explore it. If anger causes destruction, know that it could not have unfolded in any other way. What is, is what is; whatever it is, whatever judgment thought puts on it, is unimportant. Peel back every layer; take another, and another step back; question each and every belief, each and every revelation, each and every conclusion; there is no solid truth. There is simply what is. The story that seems to unfold may be anything, absolutely anything at all. Whatever it is that values one outcome or another is an interesting phenomenon - it is not what you are.

This clip is from one of my favourites - Kramer Vs. Kramer. I could wax lyrical about the merits of Meryl Streep, but she knows how good she is and keeps it in perspective. The scene is useful for revealing what we feel when the best possible outcome is achieved; it's no wonder that so many stories are about the pursuit of positive outcomes! The look Joanna gives Ted in the lift after he tells her she looks terrific is an acting masterclass in subtlety: it promises so much, Kramer vs. Kramer II could have been made on the back of it. This is also a shamelessly self-indulgent clip I'm sharing today, on my 46th birthday (or so it seems)...enjoy!

Friday, 24 September 2010

I'll Show You Those in Troubles Reign, Losing a Mite, a Mountain Gain.

It's so easy to get caught up in the story, for outcomes to determine identity, and for causes and conditions to define the apparent substance of our persona. Consciousness likes this; consciousness delights in it. Remember that whatever conditioning seems to be present and whatever it is that is perceived, it is a phantom, just a thought, mere unreconstituted energy appearing as what is. Any conceptualising of it is simply the story of it. What is, is what is; this, just as it is, is what you've been looking for all your life. You never lost it; you never were what you thought you were; you are it.

The goals, the grief, the happiness, the bliss, the murderous intentions - they are not what you are. It may seem a wrench to contemplate the death of the persona as what you ultimately are, but persona still comes up. All the apparent causes and conditions still come up, or seem to. If the story of what you are and how that story turns out is not the thing that "what you are" depends upon, the story can, at last, just be enjoyed, relished, resisted, everything. You are not enjoying it, that personality you seem to think you are - the lattice of thought and the myriad feelings you think you are, even the thought that thinks it is what you are - is not enjoying it. It is enjoyed, by itself. Relishment relishes itself, and life simply lives.

There is a quality to being. It seems that quality of existence at its most essential is the specialness and singularity we associate with our selves. Our selves, our persona, our likes and dislikes, prejudices and inclinations, body shape and health, belief systems and emotional baggage are the ever-changing extras we take to be who we are. But that essential quality - that feeling of "I am me" that we have all the time, that we feel when we look into the mirror in the morning, that me-ness, that specialness, that abiding sense of being here now is what all sentient beings feel. We are one, we are united, we are the same thing. We are what life empties into. We are the unchanging what-it-is that sees itself, for the sake of seeing it. We are all there is. Even the discontent is what-it-is. Even the idea that this is not enough is it. It is undeniably always here, and always now.

This clip embodies the perfect illustration of how iffy perception of the "real world" is: the amazing, achingly funny Father Ted tries to explain perspective to Dougal.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

In This Harsh World Draw Thy Breath in Pain, To Tell My Story.

It doesn't matter what the story is, or seems to be. It doesn't matter how to-the-point it is. It doesn't matter if the story is about a long, well-disciplined and arduous journey, full of self-revelation, full of rising consciousness from one plane to the next highest, and higher still; for all states are one, all revelations just the energy of thought, emotion and body, and all disciplines equal, whether they seem available to the clever and energetic few or not. It doesn't matter if the story is one of a great seeing all at once, a spontaneous energetic shift of perception, the knife cutting all the fibers of the rope instantaneously rather than one hard-won fiber at a time.

Existence is existence, no matter what its face or quality. That which is, is, no matter what it seems to be. The story, whatever it is, however it is interpreted, is the same as every other story; all apparent beings are equal; and all space and the effluvia that populates it are a seamless whole. Beliefs, beauty, appearances, evil, the universe, and all infinite parallel universes are as nonexistent as a mathematical point, yet occupy all infinite imagined space; it is here, and not; it is now, and never. Identity and ego are endlessly diverting window dressings. Taking the story seriously is icing on the cake. The apparent universe and its inhabitants, the universe and its unlimited possibilities, and the mysteries of the composition of matter are simply not important, although miraculous and manifested for the mere hell and heaven of it all.

Perhaps it all seems very important. Perhaps the goals of life lived are the focus. Perhaps cultivating compassion and tolerance, or rooting out evil and suffering seems to be the most important thing. But no matter how truthful the latest truth seems to be, and no matter how clear the meaning of existence has become, it is and has become that way to something that judges these things. There is just truth, and existence, unjudged. It is that way whether you want it or not, and whether you have apprehended it or not. The wanting, the truth, the being and the comprehension are not what you seek. What you seek is much simpler and pared down than that. It is this, all around you, you, here, now, just as it is.

Brainstorm is perhaps my favourite movie - certainly my favourite for watching unbelievably late at night, in some very reduced state of mind. It has a fantastic premise - experiences are recorded direct from people's brains, and when played back, you can have the same experience that person recorded. It is terribly revealing of some of our assumptions about life and death, personal experience and perception. The leading researcher of this project (played with chain-smoking relish by Louise Fletcher) has a fatal heart attack near the recording device and has the presence of mind to stick the recorder on her head, managing to record her death experience. This clip is that tape - and the end is fascinating; is there really a heaven? Are those images just her dying brain's last electrical sputterings? The ego involved so heavily in the story, and so fearful of its own demise, needs a little hope now and then; here it is, provided by the imagination of Bruce Joel Rubin (who also gave us Ghost). It's freaky! Enjoy.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

I Will Find Where Truth Is Hid, Though it Were Hid Indeed Within the Centre.

Anger arises...or hatred...or loving feelings. These emotions may seem connected to a story, to owning the story...but it's possible to feel something and just not poke it with a "why" stick. No one feels it; it's not so far removed; the anger simply is. This goes for every apparent emotion, feeling, intuition, thought, sensation. There it is. It is.

Sometimes the story unfolds, and the identity seems the most important thing. Who we are, our point of view, our role, our very being and existence as manifested by a body and a mind and thoughts and feelings and actions, seems the most important thing - perhaps the only thing. It can seem important to get to know one's own persona, the truth of it, the bare essential bones of it, uninterfered with by the comforting stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. It gets confusing. Surely those stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are an important part of our conditioning, part of the self-hypnosis that effects our essential reality? Surely it's impossible to disentangle all the stories, impressions, transference and projecting? Know yourself, some preach. Your persona is not important, preach others. Disenchanted with this conflicting advice, we try to develop our intuition, so as to know the right action to take, the right thing to do, the right way to feel, the right things to think, the right way to perceive reality - the TRUTH. We seek the unadorned truth of existence. We seek to strip away all filters of perception. We seek the fundamental answer to the fundamental question. The question: Why? Why me, why this, why anything? The answer: because it is.

The mind is a tricky, wondrous thing; perhaps it isn't the only thing, perhaps it isn't the be-all and end-all. Perhaps figuring things out isn't possible; in duality, the essential quality of manifested reality, co-existing mutually exclusive concepts are the norm. The mind can't fathom such chaos. But perhaps, if we stop trying, the truth is revealed. Maybe the truth is simply that it all exists, in an apparent motley jumble, full of hope and tragedy, comedy and despair, having and wanting, just as it does, in exactly the way it must. This could be labeled acceptance; but there doesn't even need to be something so far removed. What if there is no one that needs to accept? What if the identity, with its judgments and labeling, is simply an illusory, albeit it interesting, extra added bonus? Here we are, struggling or not, living life, coping, dying, praying, succeeding, trying to ease the burden of others, or retracted into a temporary perceived enclave of relative safety. We have been doing it right all along.

This clip is one from Lumet's The Verdict, my favourite performance by Paul Newman. As I stated above, here we are, living life, coping, dying...yet I find it hard to believe that Mr. Newman has died. He is my absolute favourite - and here's the conditioning behind it: he reminds me of my grandpa, who is 90 and looks after himself, bowls, fishes, keeps house, has all his marbles...despite having already died, at least conceptually, I find the hope arising that I've inherited his genes! The scene is the character Frank Gavin's summation, after a sticky trial taking a hospital to task for covering up a bad anaesthesia decision. Gavin was a washed-up alcoholic ambulance chaser before this case, and finds himself reborn in fighting for the comatose patient's family. A tour-de-force, and it almost makes me want to have such a concrete philosophy of life. We all seek truth. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

If All the Year Were Playing Holidays, to Sport Would Be as Tedious as to Work.

There is nothing to take a holiday from, nowhere to go on vacation. There is nothing to run from, nowhere to hide, no one that needs to escape from anything. The fullness of now is always here; the wholeness of here is this endless moment, ever present. Whatever you're doing, that is what is meant to be done; the key is: you're not doing it.

If it seems that you need to disentangle your ego, strip back your conditioning, dismantle some of the more obvious lies that the ego tells itself about itself and everything it apprehends, well then, that is what it seems. By all means, pursue this. Why not? An urge is an urge, and it isn't your urge, however much it feels that it is.

If the lines of reality blur, and wakefulness seems dreamlike, and the illusory nature of what the senses deliver seems, at last, to be evident - question it. Question what it is you thought that this was supposed to be like. Ponder on expectations fulfilled. Whatever question is asked, whatever musings arise, isn't your question; they aren't your musings.

Decide what the parameters of Absolute Truth are, and be suspicious of them. Meditate in stillness, experience a "glimpse" of blissful nothingness, and suspect your definition of bliss. Whatever concepts are settled upon, whatever definitions resonate - they aren't your concepts; they do not resonate with you. The more solid, the more sure the reality, the more elusive it is. The fuller the revelation, the more cumbersome its demise.

So if the sureness of reality is strictly defined, be cautious of its promise. There is no promise, for promise entails time; and there is no time. This is all there is, all we have, and there is no we to have it. What is, is.

Recently I saw Toy Story 3D with my kids, and this is the last scene; it's quite powerful, especially if you've been with Woody and the gang from the beginning. There were several adults openly weeping in the small audience we were in, and I won't say the children and I were immune! What a treat, to have such a story, resonating with all our other stories of belonging and rejection, vigorous life and untimely death, the power of imagination, the quality of life itself and what comprises it. If you haven't seen it yet, I'd wait to view this clip. And grab a tissue.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

But, For Mine Own Part, it Was Greek to Me.

There is a lot of confusion around what is, despite its simplicity. The speculation about what may be, in time, and the memory of what has been, in time, coloured by the conditioning of the being that is speculating and remembering, seems to cause great consternation. Is there a story, or isn't there? And what is its importance? Are there great energies pulling all of mankind in the direction of evil or harmony? Is mankind (and all that is surveyed, and the awareness that this surveyance happens in) the energy itself? What is truth, and what is its relevance? Is clear seeing of what is, unfettered by conditioning, speculation, or memory, the awesome goal of all humanity? Or is this seeming unfolding just as it must be, with no changes needed, including the need to change the urge to change it? Is this play of life something to be embraced or detached from, and who is it that does the embracing and detaching? And are these concepts, in any form, useful in any way, to anyone - including the idea of usefulness?

There are billions - perhaps more - of stories apparently unfolding, both in imagination and in "real life", both symbolically and naturally. (A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you're talking about some real numbers.) You are all the stories, without having to know the details of the unfolding; they can be imagined. Upon the still crucible of you - of what is you, most you, fundamentally you, your existence - turns the whole universe, and everything that enquiry and imagination can fathom; all infinite parallel universes, all concepts of nothingness and bliss, all feelings of alienation and belonging, all answers and all questions; on that still point, your being, the Dreidel of existence, spins all creation and negation. It is all, contains all, and simply is. That is what you are. You are everything. Now.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe was a delightful surprise from Fanny Flagg, the writer, who seemed to be mainly a pone-talkin' panelist on MatchGame in the 70's and 80's. The family watched this together at the villa in Crete and, despite the warmth, beauty and calorific food all around, the film was one of the highlights of our holiday. Kathy Bates, again, takes what is given to her and does her absolute best; her performances are so assured that they seem to be equally parody and homage, whether it be in Misery or The Water Boy (she must have needed some money to take on the latter film!). Even the most "enlightened" amongst us can enjoy a bit of earthy retribution. Towanda!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

We Dare Not Move the Question of Our Place, Or Know Not What We Are.

This is what you've been looking for, but you don't believe it. Just life, as it is, whether it is judged or not. However, judgment may appear to disperse if seeking appears to drop away. This life, this being, just now, is what is sought, for it is always now; whether focused on internal matters (or appearing to do so) or immediately aware of what the senses seem to display. Lost in thought, trapped in projection, subject to a miasma of a thousand conditioned responses is what is, or what seems to be, "sometimes". This, as well, can be unjudged, by no one, by what it is - itself. Great effort may be expended to strip away the conditioning. This, too, is what is. Help may be sought from many sources; wisdom (a judgment) learned, great and worthy (more judgment) disciplines perfected; this, too, is what is. Overwhelming disaffection may arise; violent responses may appear to be what happens; dismay, discomfort, disease; fear. This is what is, no matter how anathema to sweet (another judgment) and all-embracing love; for sweet and all-embracing love embraces all. Great change may seem to ensue; this is what is. A stillness, a calmness, peace may be the goal, or the destination reached; this is what is. All is what is, no matter its apparent form or quality. If it is, it is. And all that seems to be, to feel, to see, to hear, to think, to suffer, to love is what is: here, now, just as it is. It is that simple. It is simpler than that. There is nothing to be done except what is done, whatever that seems to be. It can be relished; although appreciation is yet another judgment, and by far the "easier" way.

This clip is self-indulgent (another mass of judgment in the term "self-indulgent"). I am a sucker for good steadicam work - and this is one of the best examples. Steadicam removes the last barrier between the viewer and the picture and seems to put you right there in the action - a good analogy for seeking vs. being. (And I love how James Cameron used steadicam harnesses and rigs for the big guns in Aliens that Vasquez and Drake carried, implying they were too heavy and unwieldy without such support - more movie magic.) There are fascinating production stories behind this scene along the lines of tight schedules and incredible organisational difficulties - and just think of the pressure on each and every major player and extra to be in exactly the right place at the right time! Kudos to the director, Joe Wright. The film is Atonement. The scene is the evacuation of Dunkirk in WWII. Please relish.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

To Keep in Darkness What Occasion Now Reveals Before 'Tis Ripe, What Thou Dost Know.

It is a hard road to convince any ego to embrace and love absolutely everything. Some believe that this is a step toward that elusive clear seeing, where each apparent thing is seen exactly as it is, without the projections and conclusions and judgments of the mind; ultimately, that those things are seen to not exist at all as anything separate, or objective. Those things that appall most egos, those things labelled "bad" or "evil" or "destructive" - the possibility of loving those things thought of (and felt of) as repellent and inharmonious seems impossible, for an ego needs a foil, a raison d'ĂȘtre, something to do, something to conquer, something to be opposed to: an object for the ego subject. Human beings, self-aware and conscious of their doings, usually believe those doings must be tightly controlled. The ego can go through a billion different conniptions, disciplines, and practices to submerge itself or negate itself, can feel the joy of everything-ness in utter harmony without the ego-veil and decide that this bliss is the ultimate quality of everything - benign, neutral; but generally expansive and life-embracing unconditional love. This is the final answer, to the ultimate question: we are love, we are the expression of love; we, and everything we see, is love, manifest. This, and only this. No subject and object: just love. Everything-ness, being-ness, aliveness, awareness, is love; and all the machinations of the mind and ego work against this omnipresent bliss and harmony. These machinations must be rooted out, stripped away, deconstructed, so that this reality - this absolute truth - can be clearly seen, and completely lived.

There are many stories of practice in the traditions of Advaita Vedanta or Zen Buddhism, or even occidental love-based therapy, and many others. Remarkable stories of thirty years of astute practice and asceticism; of extensive study and knowledge; of the peeling away of the layers of the ego, the deconstruction of all the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, the naked revelation of our personas as one defence after another is seen for what it is, and discarded. There is admonition to devote oneself to the conditioning that has formed our unique persona, and rip it away. This takes great dedication, or at least great courage. Know thyself, in order to negate thyself. Only this way is true seeing possible. Deconstruct the story of life in order to see that it never happened at all. Evaluate and see how your relationships with others are based on fear, and the otherness dissolves. Oneness at last becomes blindingly apparent.

Perhaps the story that can be deconstructed, in an instant, in less than that, in no-time, is the story of the ego's deconstruction. This is oneness, life, everything, for it is oneness, life, everything - now. However, in playing the game of a story unfolding, in time, in this illusory material world, perhaps the story of the ego's deconstruction is more to the point than most. There is no one right story. There is no proper way; all ways are proper, for each way does not really exist.

This clip is a little piece of a story...a little bit of that bliss. It's in honour of my family's trip to Greece for the next two weeks. This famous scene was filmed just north of where we're staying, on the island of Crete. Maya, in Hindu terms, is this illusory world we often take as ultimate reality. Maya is not only difficult and full of trouble; Maya is sweet, poignant, seductive, and absolutely beautiful. Humanity's joy in living is evident in this film. Enjoy.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

'Tis Mad Idolatry To Make the Service Greater Than the God.

What if there is, truly, no right or wrong? What does that mean in the unfolding story? "No right or wrong" infers the absence of judgment and labelling. It is, in fact, the tip of the Universe-sized iceberg called "what is is to live life unimpeded by the will and its notions of the 'right' thing to do". The persona balks at this. What would it be to live without these rules, without the struggle to get through life, without the fear of getting it all wrong, without the fear of making a great big mess of it all, of missing the point entirely? Without, in fact, the fear?

There are many, many words and concepts available to give the confused persona some idea of what to do next. Having stumbled upon this blog, it's possible you're looking for some clue of how to best live life. Participating in the drama of existence, identified with your persona, you long to feel complete, whole, and reassured that life is not meaningless or chaotic; that it is a grand dance, ordered and synchronistic, harmonious and beautiful...if only you and everyone else had the right formula for what to think, what to feel, and what to do.

Caught up in the drama, taking the drama to be everything and the persona to be what you are, you may put a great stake in a certain interpretation. There are millions of Christians who insist that they have the only right script, and that everyone who doesn't follow it is doomed to suffer. Each religion struggles for the absolute truth. Each belief system projects concrete explanations onto what is before us. Some systems hint at a deeper truth, an absolute truth, before judgment, before the mind is involved in any way other than to assimilate the light and sound waves that coalesce to give us manifest reality; before that, even. We long for truth, and are told that truth is what we see, what we most fundamentally are, unveiled by what we may project upon it.

There are appeals to "let go" completely, accept fully, love absolutely everything, and the truth will be revealed. The truth, perhaps, is that the struggle to find sense and meaning and come up with pretty much nothing is what "it's all about". The journey, not the destination, that kind of thing. Humanity and its foibles are perhaps not to be resisted, but embraced. Perhaps you've been doing it right all along.

I've resisted putting this clip up, as it's on so many lists of "best film moments". However, it's a lovely possible explanation of what it is to be human. It's reassuring when faced with the question of right and wrong: Roy, in his extremity, knowing death was around the corner, chose to preserve life instead of continuing his Mr. Scary Superhuman Evil Replicant act. He regales us with the mystery of his singular experiences, how precious they were to him, and how they are lost in his death - every human's burden. Plus, the cinematography of Bladerunner is second to none; is there a better looking film? Enjoy.

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.

Monday, 24 May 2010

This Shall End Without the Perdition of Souls.

The searching ends now. There is nothing to find but what is. There is nothing that needs to happen but what is happening. There is nothing new to know that will bring further revelation. There are so many fascinating, moving, absorbing stories which cannot yet be enjoyed, for they have too much of the burden of redemption upon them. Redemption is here, now, for there is only here and now, and infinite immediate possibility. You are not that small thing, the constructed identity named Felicity or Gerald, charged with the impossible tasks of perfect life or perfect love. You are what perfect life and perfect love emerges from; simple knowing, pure being, absolute awareness, bare sentience. That which looks, looks for itself, and it is everywhere; it is everything.

Perhaps you're caught up in a lot of analysis and value judgments; maybe there is nothing wrong with exactly what seems to be happening to you. It's fine to agonise, question, desire. It is what is. You can find some Zen or some other tradition to study if you'd really like to explore staying in a certain state of mind that resembles what imagination has deemed is true enlightenment; a state of peace and bliss, lightness, an unconcern with the state of life's story. But perhaps that's not necessary, or even, to a different perception, desirable. Even though life seems very painful,
uncomfortable and difficult, this turmoil is pretty natural and normal for a human being. It won't seem to last, no matter if you take conscious action or not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with how things are, how everything is, how you feel, what you feel, what you desire, and what you think, right here, right now. Relax. There's nothing wrong with you, just exactly as
you are.

All seekers pretty much either give up and live life, or end up finding that reality is exactly as it has always been; the obviousness of it is the punch of the "ah ha" thingy that some people seem to experience. Life as it arises, so rife with discontent, is exactly what was sought, and now seems full of contentment. We are in paradise. This is paradise. It always has been. Value judgments fall by the wayside.

The truth of reality is that nothing exists outside of awareness. Nothing actually exists without awareness' ability to apprehend itself. This void is the ultimate horror for the ego. A delicious, awesome, overwhelming horror that no ego can withstand.

You can't get it wrong. There are no mistakes. And everything, no matter how objectively different from another thing, is the same thing.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford, as Butch and Sundance, here give a good example of feeling the fear and doing it off you go into the void!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

It Hath Been Taught Us From The Primal State, That He Which Is Was Wish'd Until He Were.

All that needs to be known is already known. There is nothing mysterious about not being able to unravel the mystery. All that can be here, is here; all that is, is; all that is sought is exactly what is, right now, right here. The form of "what is"often seems lingered upon, pondered, sifted for meaning, and turned inside-out for sense. The sense is not found in the form, although the beauty is. The sense is found in the most fundamental whisper of existence; that there is any form at all, that there is any thing at all, is significance that defies all the screaming sub-sets of life's story: the search for purpose, the pursuit of truth, and the quest for resolution. It is so easy to get caught up in these pursuits, for the mind roves and wanders, endlessly unsatisfied; to engage in action, convinced the outcome is the point; and to fret over outcomes outside of the small sphere of influence all egos attempt to maintain. None of the particulars matter, none of them. What they might be is always open to interpretation, repression, mental blinders, transference, and all the other veils the mind puts onto what is. And yet this mind that wants things tidy, that wants it all figured out, that wants to put eternity into a box and call it mine, this mind and ego is what is, as well.

There is nothing more that needs to be known than what is here, all of existence, and the small yet miraculous tools that apprehend it. What you are is not some limited goal or some fleeting life, drowned in the vastness of the universe. That small manoeuvring creature that sometimes wears the mantle of Everything and is named John or Pervez or Maria is not what you are; you are that vast everything, or silent, unquantifiable nothing, and John or Pervez or Mary is an astonishing and extraordinary convenience. The vast cosmos is nothing as well; all of it depends upon its apprehension, by each apparent small parcel of consciousness. Just that it is, is enough. Just that anything is - that is the secret and purpose and meaning that is searched for by each small and seemingly cordoned-off nugget of awareness, and it is a privilege - for no one - to even have the opportunity to search. Many minds have collaborated to envision an ideal of humility and absolute acceptance as the perfect parameters within which to live a life. Happiness through service is lauded as the best way to be. Yet all ways to be are, and all perceptions perceive as they do, and that is just as it must be. What the perception seems to be, whatever that is, is the icing.

The clip is from Antz, a kid's film for grown-ups. "Z" is the narrative character, voiced by Woody Allen. His summing up is a perfect example of the story the ego tells itself when life, just as it is, somehow becomes enough.

Monday, 3 May 2010

And Often Up And Down My Sons Were Toss'd, For Me To Joy and Weep Their Gain And Loss.

Whatever it is that seems to be happening, it is not happening to you. What you are is simply what the happenings take form in. And it doesn't matter how "you" you seem, or how singular, or how special, or how committed, or how despairing, or how rich and full and whole - whatever the happening, the feeling, the thought, the action, even the world-rocking spiritual experience, it is simply an appearance, happening for no one, happening to no purpose other than to happen.

If this concept that the whole of life - all the convincing events, mindful conclusions, and deep feelings when confronted with tragedy or harmony - is just something that rises and falls in unending awareness seems unsatisfactory, then there's nothing wrong with observing, categorising and labeling what is, what seems to be, or what arises. It's fun, and interesting. It's what the (apparent) mind is set up to do, and can do terribly well. There certainly seems to be a phenomenon that Hinduism has described as atma (soul, ego, small self) and Pram-atma (God, awareness, ultimate reality). It may seem that what is being described is awareness (God) arising as individual awareness (ego). You could think of the "individual soul" as the arising story, and the "ultimate reality" as what the individual soul arises in. Perceptively, there is no absolute proof that there are any other individual souls. Absolutely everything, including this blog entry, is what is arising in awareness; all those clues that there are, indeed, other souls are just other bits and pieces arising in awareness. The awareness is total; you are, indeed, everything. The two are one, absolutely. No matter how many scientific tests we conduct, or how many questions you ask me about my human experience, and how carefully and honestly I answer, or how thoroughly we get together and compare our experiences, the tests, the conclusions, the answers, the comparisons, the concepts, are simply the milieu arising in awareness. The story that the mind strings along in time can be important for its conclusions, or important for its mere existence, whatever quality that existence seems to have.

To the ego that has taken on the mantle of all that exists, it is terrifying to simply let be whatever it is that seems to be happening. If it seems impossible to somehow detach, to simply be that awareness that the story comes up in, then perhaps it's possible for the ego to simply accept what is. Life is everything; even the most traumatic events have their place in everything; life is not full without them. This endless moment is what is, and if the mind leaves it alone, there is never anything "wrong". And if the mind doesn't leave it alone, we are back to the story, which seems to be here to stay, and which doesn't need to be changed or run away from. Perhaps all this objective reality, and the mind, and time, and the story, and the fear of death, and the need to make the story a good one, is a gift. Perhaps the story is the point. Maybe we come back, full circle, to the story, and can relish every bit of it: mortality, birth, destruction, creation, insanity, health, and humility in the face of a limitless cosmos.

As the clip from Parenthood illustrates, perhaps it's possible to relish all the ups and downs.

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!