May 16, 2011
The past is dead wood, and perhaps the present grows best with our mere attendance.
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The past is dead wood, and perhaps the present grows best with our mere attendance.
We are the soldiers, despising the mentality of the settler. Yet why colonize if not to settle? We have fought against nature for many eons, and it was the earth’s resistance that made us strong.
Fighting such cruelty in ourselves will only give rise o more cruelty. Resist not evil, simply seek to understand it.
The horizon up here is red as well, topped with a band of gold, and beyond that, an endless expanse of rising blue, which holds within it both the blue of day and the blue of night.
If we define ourselves by only what we have known, the best cannot be yet to come. Only the embrace of our own ignorance can save us now.
At the recommendation of a friend, I am posting a small excerpt from a chain of email correspondence we’ve been having…
One common motif I’ve noticed in the “secret societies” is one of bees and the a hive. This makes sense to me. Those who work this metaphysical/mystic stuff reach into that empty space and pull back what is needed, distilling the honey for the support of the hive. We all need the hive, but at the same time, the hive is really just an after-product of explorations past. The hive cannot support itself. Only the doors into emptiness support the hive…
I have to remember to be sure to taste my own actions, fully.
If I cannot taste them fully, then I do not know their root.
If I do not know their root, I cannot know their result.
If I do not know their result, I am acting blindly.
If I act blindly, then who knows what will be put into play by my hand?
Everything should be made to taste as artfully as possible.
But only “as possible”, not beyond.
This entire life is a breathing-in, stuff added upon the essential, as a beard upon the face.
It is already in movement, already stepping forward.
Rest in that, put your weight in the rear foot. All goes well.
What’s left but celebration?
The states along this samatha continuum, from superficial calming to total trance, are known outside Buddhism. Indeed, they are central to the systematic cultivation of mystical experience in all religious traditions. For example, in the Roman Catholic Church, cover terms for such states are oratio quies (prayer of quiet) and recollection.
And also, compare this from wikipedia:
Religion, entymology: Modern scholars such as Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell favor the derivation from ligare “bind, connect”, probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or “to reconnect,” which was made prominent by St. Augustine, following the interpretation of Lactantius.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the kings horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again….
Time to break the wall down King Humpty, the men and the horses ain’t gonna do it for you.
After all, Humpty is an egg. Though it might have been better to make him an avocado seed! In either case, such things do not belong on the tops of walls, no matter how many men or horses they might have at their disposal…
that only works reliably when you do not doubt it?
How do you test something that responds to doubt with failure, but at the same time, does not reliably respond to belief with success?
You cannot test such a thing through attempts at making it fail. It will respond to your attempts as inputs and fail accordingly. Garbage in, garbage out.
Not being able to test it in this usual way, how can one learn more about it?
How can one learn whether it can be improved upon?
If it turns out that it can be improved, how does on learn to go about improving it?
because there can be no plan for life.
A life wrapped up entirely in plans is an unaware life is death.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
In my wanderings over the interwebs today, my mind spun me a little story that I think might be worth sharing here. I don’t know why this happens, pattern recognition gone wild, perhaps. But its fun to sense this sort of hidden thread and use the format of a blog post to line up the pieces.
The first part of this comes from a new post over at Imaging the 10th Dimension. As any longtime Reclusland readers know, I am a big fan of Rob’s 10 Dimensions framework, and I think this is one of his best posts. Anyway, go read the whole thing, but the most relevant part is as follows:
The Universe Loves You
Ultimately, the distinction between past, present, and future is meaningless. This means that our universe’s basic physical laws and locked-in fine structure constant have already created a set of versions of the universe that are each part of its wavefunction of all possible outcomes. From our spacetime perspective, this means that the version of our universe that lasts the longest already exists, while the version of the universe where some science experiment goes wrong tomorrow and destroys all matter is a much tinier part of that fabric. Which version exerts more gravity? Why, the one that has greater mass within the fifth dimension. The low probability science-gone-wrong scenario may exist, but it’s not the one with the greater mass because it soon ceases to be part of our 5D spacetime tree, so to speak. In that sense, the universe that lasts the longest is the one that is drawing us forward just through the weight of its existence within Everett’s Many Worlds.
Your body’s natural inclination is to want to heal, to want to thrive.
Likewise, the version of you or I that dies tomorrow in a car accident must exist, but exerts very little influence compared to the versions that continue. With this project, we’ve talked a lot about addiction and negative loops, and how so many self-help systems work because they rely only upon a person’s willingness to embrace the better version of themselves that already exists. Are you doing things to yourself that you know are keeping you from getting to the healthiest, happiest version of you? Then stop! It really is that simple, you just have to say to yourself “now is the time that I make the change” and the rest can follow. Meditation, positive visualization techniques, drinking more water, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, getting more exercise – changes like these allow you to tap into the better version of you that already exists, and the science of epigenetics confirms that these changes are real right down to the way our DNA is expressed, and what DNA patterns we pass on to our offspring.
I like this a lot, but we have to keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily follow that because the happy scenarios have the most 5th dimensional mass, we are necessarily going to be drawn to them 100% of the time. We often fight such things (or don’t bother to put the necessary work in) because we simply don’t see that they’re possible. As Rob says, it’s simple to avoid this, just stop doing them! But the key is, we have to see that we are doing them, in order to stop. Even on the basic level of eating right and exercising, which seem easy enough, we won’t really be able to avoid them until we see what brought those 5th dimensional branches into our tree, so they can be cut off at the root.
Rob’s article was followed a little later by a comment over on Kennth Folk Dharma, on a long thread regarding something called Actual Freedom. The debate over Actual Freedom is an interesting one, but it has a LOT of back-story so I won’t be going into it here. Feel free to head over and read it, but the comment that particularly caught my eye was this one from betawave (comment 137 on this page):
(I)t’s good to hold off conclusions about causes of depression/angst as much as you can and keep going… Having a “on its own” reason for why something happens can sometimes lock you into a sense of fatalism that might prevent a whole hearted commitment to naturally changing and evolving over time. My own experience is that it happens from having expectations that don’t mesh with the complex nature of the world and then solidifying that into some kind of personal character flaw. Some weird kind of identity gets built around that. And it sets up it’s own negative feedback loop… and then depression is kinda locked in. Conversely, as you get more distance, you can see that they do have a cause and and they aren’t just gratuitous excretions… and then you avoid the causes and sometimes even a new positive feedback loop sets up. This is just my experience, for what it’s worth.
Another little thing: a lot of these practices (“meditating, surrendering,” etc) seem like phenomenal >things< but they are actually much more like openings that are walked through. Like doors that disappear when you step through. The experience is more of a dropping away of something but not another thing that gets added on.
Here we see another mention of “negative feedback loops”, which , as betawave points out, are often caused when we misunderstand reality and then base part of our identity on that misunderstanding. How can our “identity” cause us suffering? It can’t, not really, because suffering is a response of our self to something, that is, there is something at odds with what we are (or, for the non-dual, something at odds with what is). Yet we hold onto that false identity, not knowing the suffering we’re causing ourselves, like a frog in a slowing boiling pot.
Until we see through that misunderstanding, we’re steering head toward those lower-gravity future “branches” of the 5th dimensional “tree” that result from our negative self image, giving rise to the negative feedback loop. Which does a lot to explain why people often seem to face the same problems over and over again (such as “why do I always date losers?” or “how come I can’t hold down a job?”). This might also be compared to the idea of karma, how our past thoughts and deeds give rise to future life situations. It is only in the now, in this present moment, that we can affect our karma, and its only in the present moment that we can make decisions that effect the probability space of our fifth dimensional “tree”.
As betawave goes on to point out, once we come to see the root of the negative identity/understanding/feedback loop (in this case, through a contemplative practice), we cut off those negative “branches” and the higher 5th dimensional gravity of the happy potential futures can draw us onwards with less resistance. These dropping away moments are the openings we walk through, the gateless gates of meditative practice. Consider here the translation of the word “dukkha”, the original word that Buddha used when he said “all life is dukkha”. It has been translated as “suffering”, but it carries with it the association of an unbalanced potter’s wheel that squeaks while it turns. We are drawn on by the rotating potter’s wheel of the universe regardless, but it is up to us whether the wheel turns smoothly and sweetly, or creaks unevenly while it goes.
So that’s my little thought trail. What it all boils down to is just another reason to get your ass on the cushion and investigate the hell out of the present moment. Cause that’s the only place that change happens, here in the presence of the infinite. Practice well everybody.
A long time ago, before it ever got released, I’d heard about CG Jung’s Red Book and got a little obsessed with it. Fascinated by what it represented, I scoured the internet, looking for any images from it that were available. I found of few, one of the most fascinating of which was this one:
This, supposedly, is an image of Jung’s “Shadow” archtype, right when Jung finally cornered it. Note the hat, wing-like robes, and checkerboard floor, as well as the overall colors.
Then, recently, someone on tumblr posted some work by Remedios Varo, a Spanish/Mexican surrealist active in the mid 1900′s, right around the same time as Jung. I was fascinated by the piece I saw and decided to go looking for more. And then I came upon this piece:
The same flowing clothes, the same checkerboard floor, the same hat (or close enough), the same color scheme, the same weird ambient lighting, and the same hallway leading to the suggestion of a doorway behind the figure. The same symmetrical layout of the robes, with the split down the middle.
I suppose there’s a slim chance Remedios Varo saw Jung’s piece, as they were active around the same time. But Jung was notoriously secretive about his Red Book (hence it only being published now) and Varo was based in Paris and then Mexico after the nazi’s took Paris. Jung was also not a big fan of the surrealists (a fact I learned a talk given by the curator of the Red Book exhibit at the Rubin Museum, which I’ve written about here) so it seems pretty likely that the Varo would never have had a chance to review Jung’s private paintings.
But the similarities here are striking, and given the realms of exploration of both Jung and Varo, I think this says a lot about the underlying layers of the psyche and the idea of thoughts being just another thing we perceive “out there”. If only we could figure out what this “out there” is…
Ok, so I know I said I’m not into that new-agey tendency to equate the “quantum” with the “spiritual” (and vice versa) but I came across a few of things on today on tumblr that seemed pretty relate-able nonetheless. Granted, the first isn’t really “quantum” (though it seems that way at first), and the second and the third aren’t really “spiritual” either…
When you observe any system, according to Maccone, you enter into a “quantum entanglement” with it. That is, you and the system are entangled and cannot properly be described separately.
The entanglement, Maccone says, is between your memory and the system. When you disentangle, “the disentangling operation will erase this entanglement, namely the observer’s memory”. His paper derives this conclusion mathematically.
Now, the point of the article seems to be that, if we take this idea as true, it follows that we experience “non-entropic events” (such as our coffee reheating spontaneously) we just simply don’t remember them. That sounds pretty nonsensical to me, but that bit’s not really relevant to the point I’m making here. Neither does it really matter whether it’s a “quantum” type of entanglement or not.
The key thing is the hypothesis the article starts out with: when we observe any system, the system and our “selves” cannot properly be described separately.
That strikes me as both true and very important. And it brings to mind this quote from Eihei Dogen, also recently found on tumblr:
Which I would assume, this being Dogen, could probably be ended with something along the lines of “There is just the hearing”.
See also this excerpt from the Surangama Sutra if you feel like reading something a bit heavier.
Or, if you prefer light, there’s this J. Krishnamurti quote, also found on tumblr today:
Have you watched your thinking? I watched that car go by, it was a blue car. Can I watch my thought in the same way, as it moves from one thing to another? And if it does, find out if it can end; instead of it being a long thread, break it, see what happens. Can you break a thought and say, “Well, that’s enough, enough is enough” and just end that thought and see what happens before the next thought is waiting. Before it springs on you, watch it. In that space, in that interval, what happens?
And I’d like end by mentioning the Buddhist idea of the six sense objects/facilities:
- eye / sight
- ear / hearing
- nose / smell
- tongue / taste
- skin / touch
- mind / thought
Thought can be considered a way of sensing something, and even the english language admits this, in a way. We “have” thoughts, we don’t “become” thoughts. And yet, how much of what we think/know of our “self” is based entirely on thoughts we’ve had about it?
Ask yourself: if we “have a thought”, what is it that is doing the “having”?
More modern day alchemy! Sounding strangely reminiscent of the old “sphere who’s center is everywhere and who’s circumference is nowhere…”
And then today I read this from my “list of things to read” (can’t remember where I found it originally):
Some interesting parallels there between Nisargadatta’s awareness and this “quintessence field”. Though I am not a fan of “quantum souls” or “chakra string theories” any commonalities between high-level subject investigation and high level objective investigation do interest me. For poetic purposes alone, if nothing else…
PS: I am working on some sesshin stories, hoping for some time this weekend to finish them up.
Heading back to the Monastery for another sesshin. Be back on Sunday (this one’s a long one)….
And with that, good bye.
Finally wrapping up the Paradiso. Wonderful stuff. Love the 10 levels of reality here. It starts with a stationary Earth, up through each sphere which turns wider and wider, and then ends in the unmovable Empyrean. Stillness to movement to stillness, very nice.
Sorry for the silence here. I’m still realing (pun completely intended) from a retreat last weekend with Malidoma Some (hence the last post), and my thoughts are moving too quickly to word-ize them at this point. Plus on Monday I’m off to the Monastery again for a full week’s sesshin. After that I expect things will stabilize a bit more…
Just a heads up that I’ll be heading up to Zen Mountain Monastery from Thursday through Sunday. Totally incommunicado, as usual, but ya’ll feel free to carry on as usual in my absence.
Well, in any case, here’s some pictures that’ve been on my hard drive for years, for your enjoyment:
Buddhi is dependent upon an alliance through misapprehension, Avidya, with Purusha in order to accumulate -or attempt to accumulate- knowledge. Once the realization arrives through this accumulation that information gathering and the mutable knowledge gained therefore is not Wisdom, the alliance (Avidya) disappears and only Purusha remains, immutable and free.
This comes from a rather scholarly Buddhist Geeks article by John Eberly giving a background on Ramana Maharshi, self-inquiry, and other forms of Indian spirituality. Well worth the read, if you can summon up the focus to follow the ideas through the thick underbrush of language. The above in particular hit me.
For those not inclined to read the article all the way through, this quote, to my mind, states something like: We get confused trying to accumulate facts about things, thinking these “mutable knowledges” as permanent wisdom. Only when we see these as mutable and not the same as the wisdom we mistake it for, are we able to begin to understand wisdom.
Am I arguing that it is useless to gather knowledge? No, we’d be in a pretty dark place without knowledge. The problem is, if we assume some bit of knowledge as being somehow true (ie: as being Wisdom), we stop looking at it. Rather than trying to grasp and hold as much information as we can, it is better to learn how to quickly and accurately perceive information as it flows through our awareness. We gain nothing but blindness by attempting to hold on it (or for that matter, by attempting to push it away as well).
or to be more correct, it’s a link to a poem… (and not just the TNH piece)
I wonder if one of the bigger problems with having a sense of a separate self is that we only seem to be able to look externally OR internally. We can’t seem to do both at the same time, not without one coloring the other in ways that aren’t actually what’s going on. When we’re watching what goes on outside, we end up ignoring certain things that are going on inside, and vice-versa.
But although we’re ignoring them, on some level we do know there’s something being ignored; we just don’t know what it is. And this not knowing is dukkha, the potters wheel that’s squeaking because it’s not turning smoothly, that agonizing tick in the back of our minds of something’s-amiss-here.
Does this spring from seeing our internal reality as separate from our external reality? I can certainly see this causing problems, since the two aren’t ever actually separate each other. Reality is pouring in at us from all sides at all times, and bubbling up within us as well, each in no way contradicting the other. Nothing that exists in the moment can ever be out of step with anything else that exists in this moment, because it’s happening at the same time all together. There’s never any part of reality, within or without, that’s on “pause” when we’re focused on one of the two. But we have to act like there is, because, for whatever reason, there’s some resistance, some holding back that stops us from placing our selves directly in reality. The connections not complete, there’s resistance in the wires…
Why do we do this? I have no idea. Neither am I sure what causes that split in the first place. Just holding up pieces, trying to see what fits together and what doesn’t.
Strangely, the process of creating the illusory sense of a self arises out of compassion, but confused compassion, which is desire. This may sound odd, but it is as if there was an eddy in reality that befuddled empty and compassionate awareness, which is not a thing nor separate from things. Thus, somehow it seems that there is something to defend, some separate self that must be protected. Thus, out of confused compassion, barriers and defense mechanisms continue to be erected to defend this territory, this illusion of a separate self. Spiritual practices are designed to systematically debunk this illusion and penetrate these barriers by providing clarity, whereas all of the traditions can easily become part of these barriers, cultures to defend, knowledge to assume is self or owned by self, and that sort of thing.
I am very interested in the idea of “an eddy in reality”, what that might mean, and what it might be. Intimately tied to this idea is the idea of “crossing to the far shore” common to both Buddhism and the I Ching. This is why the yanas (Hine-, Maha-, and Vajra-) are called yanas.
Thus, with enough stability and clarity (concentration and wisdom), this natural, compassionate process of manifestation can begin to function more skillfully, as it has better information to go on, and can begin to see that creating the illusion of a separate, permanent self was not at all helpful (though it seemed to be). At this point, “it” will then let go of the illusion it has been perpetuating and return to understanding its natural state, which is freedom and non-duality.
My question here is, what was this natural process of manifestation doing before it got caught in the idea of a separate self. And now that that separate self is seen through, what else can that process accomplish through this “one” who is now aware of it…
Such good stuff:
This is something that absolutely cannot be accomplished by an act of will. It only arises when the level of clarity is high enough and the heart accepting enough of things as they are. One might say that Grace favors the well-trained mind.
The product, which Alexander says is “in between art and science,” sounds appropriately primal and otherworldly. In one version, Alexander used what he describes as a tribal drum beat to represent the rotation of the sun, and he layered the voice of a singer (his sister) to represent the charge state of carbon atoms, for example.
“Every piece of scientific data tells a story. I’m expressing this story through music. These sonifications present scientific data in a way that is immediately visceral.”
The solar wind fills the solar system and interacts with the planets, explains Jason Gilbert, a research fellow in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences. On Earth, solar storms can disrupt power on the ground and on satellites.
Sorry I’ve been incommunicado the past few days (what’s that you say, a whole week?) Yeah, I came down with what I can only assume is the flu. Tuesday was spent entirely asleep, and then nothing but movie watching in bed for the rest of the week. Made it through the entire Cowboy Bebop series and movie. Fun times. Oh, and my internet was out until yesterday. 4 whole days of completely passive vegetation mode. Not something I’d recommend as a lifestyle option, but good for an occasional reminder that tension is not a necessary state of affairs.
But as you can see all is now well and good. My cough is subsiding and I feel like my system’s rebooted itself, which gives the whole thing a sort of rosy glow. Not sure when I’ll get to posting again, but keep you RSS readers tuned in!
And I see I’ve got some comments to read through as well…
Just a little aside today. I don’t really like talking about the day job on here, but I got an email from one of my colleges in China. I’d asked about his trip back home during last week’s Chinese New Year holiday, and he mentioned that the trains were absolutely packed. Imagine 1.3 billion people all taking the train back to their hometown (some of them taking 36 hours to get home). LA road rage ain’t got nothing on that. Here’s a business tip for you MBA types out there: intra-China air flights for cheap. Find a way to make it happen and you’ve got money in the bank…
Anyway, this colleague of mine used the phrase “Oh my Lady Gaga!” as a stand-in for “Oh my God”. Certainly worth a laugh and a bit strange as well. I then found out from another co-worker that this came from a Chinese pop-starlet using the phrase on television. I googled it out of curiosity and found out that it actually came from an episode of Ugly Betty.
This was the first I’d heard of it, but seriously, to have this small bit of American pop-culture reference coming to me via China, well, it sent me for a loop. So I thought I’d post a little run-down of the story, along with an image of a globe with a face on it exploding. Something to imply both the global aspect and the head-exploding aspect. Something kind of like this:
mixed with this:
Not the most original idea, I know, but that’s why this category’s called “ramblings“. Anyway, the funny thing was, I couldn’t find any image like that. Plenty of each option, but nothing with them combined. However, a few pages deep into google image search for explode head globe, I can across this image:
And I decided I had best stop there. More evidence of that endlessly echoing rabbit hole that is the internet…
The Christian idea of the kingdom of God, of the new Jerusalem, of a Heaven on Earth that’s not available until after the Rapture (and yet is spread across the earth and men do not see it) is the same religious meme, unleashes the same program on the nervous system, as the Buddhist idea that we are already fully enlightened beings, that we fully posses Buddha-nature here and now, and that awakening is our true original nature…
Just the cultural responses to this program are different. This is a fault of the culture, not the meme-program itself, simply different stage dressing to an otherwise identical script.
Found these can’t-remember-where, but they are awesome. All these and more available at this site.
Imagine that’s your consciousness,
from the top of your head
to the bottom of your spine.
Putting aside my previous (and to be honest, ongoing)
obsession with magnetic fields as a metaphor,
I still feel there’s something important
about the two relationships depicted here.
And this is probably the more beautiful images I’ve seen recently.
It’s a depiction of a photon sphere,
which is essentially light from a star orbiting a black hole.
These makes me feel like those pictures of saints and angels must have made people feel in the “dark” ages…
We must learn how to “thing” without becoming “a thing” ourselves.
I am all of these things, yet they are not me…