Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

personal reflections

To start with, just the facts:

My income is set to fall 20 percent. Chances are slim I can avert it.

It is invigorating to have a genuine problem. After all, I will only be able to eat oatmeal and rice on an income like that. I will be able to catch public transport about ten times a fortnight, and walk everywhere else. I will be unable to buy anything new for the house, or for pleasure - no books, movies, or anything. It is invigorating, yes, but engenders mixed emotions.

I can still live here. I can still use the internet and the enormous public library systems all around me. I can still use gym, and enjoy nature, and visit the art galley, and WRITE. Ah WRITING!

Oh what kind of a path is this! My experience of the World is quite limited. My experience of my physical Reality, the body, is inadvertent and unconscious. Above all the experience of emotional Reality seems inchoate and troublesome.

Others plod about from job to home to play. I barely touch the World some days, and float and dart in anxious and invented heavens of hells. Do not say the afterlife is after life, for it is what the mind creates after the experience of life, the invented thing of the mind itself. The turbulence I experience of negativity AFTER the life experience of suffering, is hell, none other. The stillness and peace I generate AFTER the life experience of pleasure, is heaven, none other. Heaven and hell are all in the mind, and could I generate the armour of heaven around me, a vast and encompassing compassion such as a warrior feels as he kills and is killed, I would. I tread between heaven and hell.

That is the power of Homer's Illiad, if any, that on the windy plains of Troy you experience first hand the mystery of life, life long gone yet now present in the moment of the telling, life made new forever. That is, a great tale has a spirit, greater than the book itself. That is wonder of Beethoven and Mozart, that, intimate with yourself, you coldly sense beyond it the pure face of experiencingness, unsmiling and life-giving to all.

So I can write. And God Willing I can allow to be transmitted that life-giving sense to those who read.

Last night I was contemplating Tolstoy again. He is never far from my thoughts. His words haunt me like those of a old friend whose harsh advice gives great suffering because of how true it is, and great strength when genuine pain comes along.

I do not know how I should put it, but the details of the gestalt of his prose strikes me at once as a precise, almost yogic, physical posture and an internal, almost tantric, emotional alchemy, though at the same time the actual writing is hard core realism. This prose is the work of a man for whom reality is the prime value, reality above all. The death of Karenina is not so fierce as Hadji Murad's, whose life has a different significance overall - but the significant point here is that these characters actually HAVE a spirit to grieve over!!!

So here is a man whose work generates its own reality, and engenders new sense of life in the reader. The prophetic (Christian?) promise of new life here is that, spiritually speaking, Tolstoy's bitter criticisms of Shakespeare are accurate because Shakespeare, fine craftsman, can bring to bear his craft alone on his work and himself, while Tolstoy brings to bear his whole self on his whole reality. There is a greater refinement of egotism about Leo... I look at his photo on my wall as I write this. Pugnacious, fierce old man!!! How I love him.

But back to the subject at hand. I have contemplated in detail the invention of a life ('my' life) around this writing thing, and accumulated benefit and a lifestyle to that end, and now I observe my egotism whine and whinge and doubt and grizzle... I cannot describe my feelings about that nonjudgmentally.

I am extremely hard on myself, my body, my world. To pretend a false forebearance is to do a violence to oneself. I behave as if these few tools for contact with reality - my emotions, my body, and my world - will last forever, all the time aware they will NOT, and grieving that fact. I evade the topic and confront the issue, invent new topics, muddy the waters... it is most frustrating to confess this... I am extremely hard on myself.

"One does not practice is solitude; one is never alone" it is taught... what this seems to teach is that one cannot pretend that one does not exist in the world, in the body, in the emotions... these things bring one to knowing itself!

I just walked outside to relish the fading sunlight over the garden and I noticed that a spider had woven herself a web there. This web is the spider's signifier... this web is how the spider comes to know the world. Because of this genetically programming marvel of engineering, the spider knows how to eat (because she can), how to create (because she has), and how to live (because she does). There is no intermediary meaning here... the thing itself signifies itself, totally and all at once.

I read somewhere online that the spider knows how to be centered through the web... by the scintillations of force she knows the surrounding ecology; but sitting in the centre, she knows her own centre. Spiders are sophisticated beings. This is the secret spiritual purpose we seek through the world wide web: we learn the lesson of the spider.

What is the difference between the spider building and sitting within her web, the mahayana monks generating a sand mandala meditatively and destroying it, and myself managing my world, emotions, and body effectively before it dies?

Here is the difference (and apologies for those who do not understand the terminology):

The spider is in the Hinyana, in the narrow vehicle of relations to ideas.
The monks are in the Mahayana, the wider vehicle of relations with all others.
The self I speak of, that is in the Vajrayana, the reality vehicle, where Tolstoy is also.

There is no intercession, no miracle...
all that began long ago...
reality's the vehicle...
the test for all I know.

Emily Dickinson's lyric 'I heard a fly buzz...' describes the moment of death in the context of the narrowness of life... the vast tone of the little lyric exposes how narrow life is... the poem at once points to a Greater Life and simultaneously denies its factual existence in the brutal and impersonal acceptance of absolute death. Heaven and hell are not close for Emily but intermingled. I do not like her work.

So now I relate peacefully to all these three, emotions, body, and world. I come to knowing not through the peace, which is false heaven, but through the cessation of falsehood... heaven and hell are linguistic conveniences... life IS. Self-evident, open to all.

The sparrows twitter on the budding fig. The sound of rush hour travellers groans far away. Mozart is playing on the computer quietly. An open book at my side, with a dance CD to keep the page down, says: "We may have been taught sophisticatwed table manners by our aristocratic parents... still, there is some fundamental crudeness involves, because we have been taught a facade, rather than what should be felt. There could still be a crudeness of fundamentally not knowing how to relate with our cup of tea, our plate, our table, or our chair." An empty coffee cup sits on the other side of the computer, decorated Persian style with flowers and birds and butterflies of springtime, a lovely emerald green color in the growing dark of the coming night. The deep scarlet of the drapes, when pulled back, reveals the green shrubs beside the front door and the gathering blue air of the evening. I smell petrol from the road, the pollen of new flowers, the musty smell of my own body, the bitter aftertaste of coffee.

I sit somewhat slumped. The laptop is warm beneath my wrists, which rest on the board. My body is numb from sleep in the back and humming from coffee in the front. I will need to stretch and walk to wake it properly.

I feel sad, angry, excited, curious, stimulated, warm, quiet internally from the long dreamsleep. Nightmares forgotten cast their contented shadows of catharses. I feel many emotions in capsule form, waiting to be released in their proper time. I feel a mess of emotions. Many have lost capsule form and make a sluggishness internally, a lethargy, and a sense of obstacle and inner blockingness that is commonly called depression. And, also and simultaneously is the sense of witness, fierce and bright and clear and sharp... this is the Mind, ah yes, child of ignorance and passion... plaything of the Gods.

That is my experience this day. It has been a good day.


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