24 December 2012

As above, so below: all dharmas are empty


What is the nature of the interior language of the self, perhaps the soul; this cloud of meaning that gathers within our brain, the music of thought, the montage of images, the symphonies of sound, theaters and cathedrals of memory, the smile of the mother, laughter of the friend, sigh of the lover, the taste of a kiss, the fragrance of a Christmas dinner?

There is the labyrinth within, the endless maze. Tibetan monks lost in arcane hierarchies of consciousness. The flesh burning in blue flames of siddhis within a frozen Himalayan cave. Hermes Trismegistus as above, so below. Can the mind perfect itself at the expense of the body? Source for yogic practice. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Issues in translation become emblematic: the vodka is good, but the meat is rotten.

All dharmas are empty.
 - The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom: With the Divisions of the Abhisamayalankara By Edward Conze

23 December 2012

I am being trolled through dark waters

Anatomy of a Fish Hook

The process of abstraction, of making the thing, the experience of the thing, into a word; of making the territory into a map; the meal into the menu. It is understood the word is not the thing.

There is a sense, which opens a philosophical can of worms, that there are two lives: the one lived in world and the one thought about. My body, my flesh, my meat, seems a thing sunk down in the water, hook, line and sinker. Still, there is this line leading upwards to that which has cast me outwards into the wilderness of this world and that which will pull me back in over the years. The implication is amusing and terrifying: my flesh, my physical being in the world, is a lure, bait. I am being trolled through dark waters and bottomless depths in order to attract something other, some rough beast. At the core of me, I am crucified with a hook, turned over into a mark of question, that, at the moment of my annihilation, sink into the brain of the thing I have lured out of the depths, returning all things to the One.

16 December 2012

There is no longer joy or determined resolution, just...

To live one's life as a work of art. The Zen rock garden: pine needles blurring the raked lines of gravel, moss on the stones. Aeneas' fallen branch in the ruins of Apollo's Temple at Delphi. The wind from all History singing upon an Aeolian Harp, completing, over and over, Kubla Kahn's lost verses. The Chapel at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert: woodstove, high mullioned windows like Japanese screens, the canyon cliff beyond, rays of sunlight filled and outlined by pinon incense. Gerard Manley Hopkins' Windhover with its elegant structure of building alliteration: "Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle!" The line gathering such momentum that with that Buckle all the nouns collapse into each other, springing free on that immaculate AND to sing with ecstasy. Coleridge's best words in their best order. That one's actions/ experiences are the best actions in the best order. That each day of one's life creates another well structured poem. "The mastery of the thing!" "I would build that dome in air."

To live each day as as elegantly as a Japanese Tea Ceremony. With the sacredness of ceremony, but containing the dynamic gestural beauty of a sketch by Picaso, embracing imperfection, Tanizaki's shadows, wabi-sabi, the knot in the carved bowl of wood, the scar on the beautiful woman's face, the stumble, stop and smile of the Flamenco dancer and the slow Vico ricorso back into structure and God. The music is the silence, never ending, Cage's anechoic realizations of the heart beating and the brain buzzing.

To wake up in the moment, but as an anti-Roquentin, no longer willing to merely exist with the nausée of things as they are: the quiet and sinister accumulations of dust and dirt, the detritus of the flesh decomposing towards death. The piles of soiled laundry, hairs clogging the sinks, urine staining the porcelain of the toilet bowl, grey spheres of fuzz collecting in all the corners, scraps of food fallen under the table, stains on the carpet, the bookcases piled with unorganized papers and volumes read and unread, boxes full of ephemera, coins scattered on tables, dirty dishes filling the sink, glasses fogged over with the smudges and smears of touch, the odor of rancid sweat, of ancient garbage, of god forgotten and forlorn, of bones and a skull in a torn brown paper grocery sack in the corner, threatening to burst into flame under a stack of pizza boxes behind a fallen army of wine bottles and beer cans.

To begin again... to live intentionally. With Purity. With Simplicity. With Grace.

Holy Words, Mantra, Prayer awakens with cracked whispers in the mouth, the exhalations of breath, the sigh and aged ecstasy, on embers in the skull.

How many more times will I work through these words / worlds? No longer a curse, but a blessing.

There is no longer joy or determined resolution, just a getting up and hauling one's bones back on to the saddle of the Ox.