Saturday, December 16, 2006


To be on the many sides of subtle is to be a shape shifter of the void
Those who are not will call you hypocrite, lover
To be on the darker sides of subtle is a feat of endurance
Those who are not will call you psychopath, artist
To be on the lighter sides of subtle is a study of grace
Those who are not will call you ignorant, dancer

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Zen Sword of Clarity

Originally, I wanted this blog to kindasorta center around zen (whatever the hell that means). Secondly, if you have read, skimmed, or even taken in a cursory glance at my "Lost at Sea" post you may have noticed that there was no explicit reference at all to buddhism or zen. However, the following quote from my post is in fact a very explicit reference to buddhism and zen: "…the unwillingness to honestly question the whole of our experience."

I am simply going to point out the three HUGE things here and in no way shape or form am I going to waste my time explaining them (there are plenty and I mean plenty of websites, podcasts, books, pamphlets, tv shows, movies, bathroom wall graffiti, bumper stickers, etc… that do a grand job of expaining the following)


2.Honest Questioning

3.The (drumroll please) Whole of Our Experience

Why do these three things even matter? Because I have found (but I could be wrong) that they form the basis for zazen--I have been doing zazen (sitting meditation) somewhat consistently every day for the last 8 months or so (I was mostly inspired to do so by a nice little book called 'Hardcore Zen' by Brad Warner). I don't have much more to say about this here except that it has been quite helpful in breaking or loosening my addiction to mental states such as depression and anxiety and that it is a helluva lot cheaper than medication and therapy.

I'd also like to quickly discuss something that has been bothering me for quite sometime. That being whether or not to vote. I posted a comment on the aforementioned Brad Warner's blog: 'Hardcore Zen' that I was unsure of my decision not to vote in the recent elections. I was hoping that someone could strike me with "the (drumroll again, please) Zen Sword of Clarity". First off, I have since realized that there is no zen sword of clarity*, it just sounds cool, but it is merely a metaphor which is ultimately misleading.

It is like saying there is something out there which will give you the "right" answer. Zazen among many other things has taught me that there is no "right" answer. If you truly think there is a "right" answer then you will consequently be compelled to have to defend and promote the "right" answer, and ultimately attack and eliminate the "wrong" answer. This is, however, an infinite process since it is grounded in duality--mathematics tells us this: if you take a length of say, string and cut it in half and keep cutting it in half there is no end to this process: you will always be left with half of what you just cut!

If we constantly hold on to right and wrong we will always fight and eventually kill each other. Some people believe this is just the way it is, that war will always exist: that we must always fight for what is right. I say this: "Been there, done that. Let's move on." Plus, I really don't like fighting and arguing much less killing and maiming people (to be fair I haven't actually had this experience). Do you?

If you don't, then I suggest we find a way not to do it anymore!!! If you do like it then I'll make a deal with you: if you honestly and sincerely examine why you like it or might like it then I will honestly and sincerely examine why I might like it too (that's right, why I actually might enjoy killing a person--I'm not screwing around--this is serious shit). The only catch is that to be honest about it you constantly have to keep on questioning. But alas, you are probably unwilling to do this sort of thing ( I know I am).

My suspicion is that it is because you actually have the itch of a feeling of intuition that you will find that lo and behold deep down inside you really don't want to fight and kill-- but for some darn reason our reality, their reality, God's reality, reality in general keeps forcing us to--so that in the end you are subject to forces out of your control and let's just accept that and move on, like I said earlier. But wait, we are not really moving on! We are still fighting and fucking each other over--so what is that darn reason why our reality keeps forcing us into these situations?

I firmly believe there is an answer and it is not "right" or "wrong" or even a conventional answer and here is where it gets really strange: the answer is just another question and another and another-- just like the infinite cutting of a string-- and (I am totally going out on a limb here) eventually we stop needing to have an answer…. I think that this conclusion which as you can see is not really a conclusion just doesn't work for most people. We need certainty, we need a conclusion, otherwise we are just lost at sea.

Therefore, in conclusion I will vote in the future. Just probably not for anyone who purports to have answers to our problems. I would also like to make it clear that I am not saying never fight or kill, just be aware and honestly question what it is you are fighting and killing and why--that is all. I sincerely apologize if you now have a headache from reading, skimming, or cursorily glancing at this post. If you now do have a splitting headache may I suggest trying the new and improved Zen Sword of Clarity--they say it works great on headaches.

*just google "manjusri" for the real deal

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lost at Sea

A few years back I was seeing a therapist and I remember telling him one day that I felt this unshakeable feeling that was somehow like being lost at sea, floating alone in the ocean, adrift with nothing in sight. Just being batted around by the currents. The sea or the ocean or the great void or whatever you want to call it holds a great mystery for many people. It is often used a spritual, philisophical, or brutally realistic metaphor for our experiences. My therapist replied something like: "Hmm... I think there is something very important in that...." Rather unfortunately this particular point was really the only thing of value I took from my time on the couch (almost two years).

The feeling of being adrift in the ocean was something I recognized as a profound basis for much of my unhappiness. On the surface this seems like some sort of a negative and pathetic way of thinking and feeling. And I don't disagree with that kind of assessment. But getting beyond the simple emotional side of it I felt that there was a deep truth: the metaphor of being pushed around by the sea is really just saying there are a billion things that are out of my control yet they still affect me, not to mention everyone, everything.

A feeling of helplesness is quite natural-- and the honest thing to do is acknowledge it. It is also the courageous thing to do.I used to try to be all macho and tough about my feelings--to look at a feeling of helplesness and to say : "You are nothing. You trying to bring me down? Well c'mon and try--I'll fight you to the death!"

In my haste to protect myself I never thought to actually look at what it was I was fighting. Sure I thought I knew what I was fighting but I only thought I knew because I accepted my initial instinctive reaction and never questioned it. To question my instinct eventually led to what I had already known and felt*.

I saw that I was fighting my own fear and that is a battle in which every blow you deal only makes your fear, your foe, stronger. It is a never ending chain of reactions. Furthermore, to fight without knowing what it is you are fighting is the opposite of courage. If we live in a world where we are fighting our own fears yet mistaking them to be truly real is to live in a world of ever growing delusion, paranoia, and violence.

For me, there is one real fear: it is the unwillingness to honestly question the whole of our experience. This is not necessarily as serious as it sounds--I think this kind of questioning is intense, yes, but it can range from the agonizingly cruel to hilariously ridiculous. All of the fears that "we" as a world try to fight result from initially ignoring the question of the very nature of our fear. Once I had gotten over my unwillingness to question--to simply try my best to be honestly aware--I had entered the "true" arena of my fight.

I wanted to end this post with something cheezy and poetic like:" So while I may still be lost at sea, the sea is not lost on me." Then I realized that it is precisely this kind of pretentious pondering that gets me further into my own delusions and selfish interpretation of the world. So I'll just end with the fact that I'm still led this way and that by all sorts of meaningless crap and by thoughts that I think are so profound when I'm really just trying to make myself look good.

There is a touch of cynicism here as in Frank Zappa's Central Scrutinizer character from the album Joe's Garage: "...imaginary guitar notes and imaginary vocals exist only in the mind of The Imaginer... and ultimately, who gives a fuck anyway?" But I hope that this sharing of my own thoughts and experiences can be related to in a way that helps, in a way that is useful.

*--more on this "what i had already known and felt" in a later post.

First things first

I came across a few pictures as I was setting up: Kinda sums up life pretty nicely I thought... Well, maybe not.