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.