Posts Tagged ‘peace’

A wonderful observation was made by Venkat Rao. People desire for things around them to be “legible.” He was quoting someone else, but he’s brought a lot of people’s attention to the concept. In this context, Legibility refers to how easy it is to understand the purpose and the meaning of a thing, not just a text, but anything.

On the very legible end of things is something like an office chair, or a cup of coffee.  These are designed by humans, completely contrived for the types of purposes that anyone can plainly gather from their adaptation to these intentions.  On the far side of illegibility is the pattern of plants in a forest.  Not to say that it’s random, but without an extremely specialized understanding, the patterning, the whys, the meaning of it is indecipherable.  The only other way to access a complicated image like a forest or a city is to simply experience the gestalt of it, the sense of it as you are there, in the moment.

Rao gives us examples of problems that arise when we humans try and impose legibility. His easiest example is the growth of a city.  Old cities have grown in such a complex pattern over decades, centuries, even millenia, and with such a collection of complex human interactions, that their patterning is as nuanced as the trees and ferns of the forest floor.  When planners come along and try to work out a method to set up a city artificially, it so often fails miserably because there is a forced legibility (indeed, it’s hard to imagine making policies about things without first rendering them legible, but for policymakers to grok the complexities necessary to understand things like city growth is more than most mere politicians can muster).

The important points here are that legibility is highest in man-made things and that people desire legibility.  In fact, Rao cites an interesting incident at a neurology clinic where a black and white checkerboard pattern is used to establish a “baseline” of someone’s brain activity, a “calm state.”  When the patient asked the doctor “shouldn’t you use something more neutral, white noise, perhaps?”  The doctor responds, “Oh no, people’s brains go wild when we show a random pattern, because they work hard to grasp at some underlying structure.”

Perhaps it is the fruit of Maharishi’s meditation on who am I? perhaps it is my vows, or just observation.  But recently I have found myself truly switching identity experiences rather easily.  After actual decades of wanting so much to be a woman, and an entire decade of being mostly submissive, I find myself being a true switch.  I can stop what we’re doing at home to force slap her ass, make sure she’s knowing she’s in submission, and leave her begging for more as we’re walking into town. Yes, I can still kiss a whip, scrub someone’s floor, and pine to get held down and fucked.  Honestly, I could beg God for either role just as sincerely, or forget the whole thing entirely.  All of it is surrender!

If you don’t build it deliberately, but let it form, like actions of nature, it isn’t going to have the same kind of legibility of an invention.  I smile this smile that old ladies and children seem to find irresistable.  I alternatively flush a bit from some men’s heat, and then wet some girl’s panties by our immediate mutual knowledge that I would chain her up alongside the others and perhaps horsewhip the living hell out of her in half a second.  And I gain trusting giggles and secret intimacies when I unwrap my Arab kuffiya and smile a blushing conspiratorial sister smile.  No one seems to try to cheat me anymore, in fact it seems they’re mostly quite generous with me.  My employees are artistic and seem satisfied.  I drive hard bargains with a shy voice.  My students mostly do what I say, alternatively seduced, in love, and afraid. My personality is a forest rather than a coffee cup, mysterious to even myself.

Then this all generalizes into other things.  I find myself more generous with money, and managing it all quite differently because I don’t even know what it is anymore.  It seems to have no value at all.  I don’t mean that in a naive sense, but in the sense that we’re all dying so quickly, what the fuck?  Perhaps I will find the capacity for even more generosity, or that great fabled freedom to just cast a fortune away in a moment, without a thought, and the power to create another kind or another kind or even a different kind than that….  How can I lack patience in this case?  How can I worry any sense of morality?  I tested this by lying outright a few times, and find the only thing I have that could be called a “conscience” is confusion brought on by blood sugar levels.

My friends seem to stumble with their reactions.  And I think it’s because I’ve become illegible.  So I do try and maintain some consistency around them lately, but it feels so stilted, and I notice that any real observer should be able to see through the plastic of contrivance. People want you to have an identity though, something to pin down and relate to with a known set of codes.  My girlfriend, fortunately, is blessed with enough innocence to just tell me when she doesn’t get what’s going on, and to roll with it.  She’s uncaring about social norms enough to either not notice or not care when I mix gender, dominance, social class signals, fashions, and actions with the kind of attitude that I would pack a backpack for a walk in the woods.  Toilet paper is good for so many things, I’ll bring a whole roll of that with me for even a day or two in the woods.


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I put Kuan Yin on my computer desktop. A beautiful purple picture of the goddess….  I surrounded it with a purple gradient and there she sits.  The first day I tried to strike the same hand positions, since a friend had suggested that iconography was meant to be instructive in this way.  I would have sworn she smiled at me when I tried. I don’t mean that to be silly at all….  in that second, just as someone rang me on my phone, I thought she was smiling at me.

Since this, I have felt almost as if she watches over me all the time. Money seems to come from nowhere, a lot of new opportunities show up for me. Maybe my questions are being answered. I have been writing on the backs of the paper prayer sheets we use here in Taiwan. I don’t know if anyone ever does that, but I just write my question again and again, as beautifully or as rawly, or as simply or as ramblingly as I feel I must, “Who am I?” Now, this isn’t to make a mantra of the question, but it is to spur myself to trust the universe to answer it! To wake myself up to my own desire to know it, which I am afraid is a naive desire. When I finish two dozen of them, I will burn them at the chimney of the Temple of the Boddhisattva.

Some of my questions are already getting answered.  Long ago someone related the story of his long exchange with a zen master.  The master had told him that Karma was also an illusion, and it was kind of like how you wake up in the morning, and you go to the job you had the day before, and do some of the same things….  And I had been wondering, how do I come to see this for myself? In fact, I’ve asked the same zen master the same question, but he has yet to get back to me.

Yet last night I read someone paraphrasing something Sadhguru said, “Your likes and dislikes are your karma.” That’s it! Equanimity towards likes and dislikes, or at least seeing the impermanence of them is the key to seeing the illusion in them….  they are obviously dross.  “If I cut your hand off, would you still be you?” “If you had never had your favorite pet as a child, would you still be you?” “If you had never known your favorite pass-time, would you still be you?”

As I chat on the Skype phone, or type back and forth with friends, I see Kuan Yin’s beautifully placid smile. I find myself reflecting it back, bringing some equanimity to situations where I might otherwise get sucked into a maelstrom, even lending me more wisdom than I really possess. I swear she smiles a more brightly at times, filling my heart with clarity and equanimity.

I have returned to questioning “who am I?” Until recently I’d lost faith that the question could be answered, and I found myself stuck in ruts for months. Instead of plunging into the unknown for days to finally emerge with new knowledge, I just had the slightly lock-jawed and bitter taste of stagnation….

But in writing on those golden prayer papers, I have been emboldening myself to ask the question again, looking inside to grasp the answer. And I find myself standing at the doors of silence again. That question, of all of them I am aware of, brings me to the sense of impermanence and lack of inherence more clearly than anything else.

The feeling I get is of settling into a place that is both familiar and alien, where I seem to be nothing at all, and no moment holds any sway whatsoever except this exact one, where I seem to calmly observe everything fading like the trees in Autumn, or the setting sun. . . I even know what it is to sink into this entirely, yet I do not.  However, instead of mourning my fearful toe-dipping, I am simply realizing that it doesn’t matter if I hang about here at the threshold awhile longer….  the opening of the door is inevitable, and I care about nothing as much as the answer to Maharishi’s question: “Who am I?”

When I feel empowered, clear-headed, and open to possibility, I look out to make a move towards something, or even ask the boon of KuanYin, who seems to follow me most of the time.  When I’m innocent or naive enough to feel that ANYTHING is possible, it’s obvious that I don’t actually know what I really want, the only question that seems important is to find out who I am.  Otherwise anything else I seek is just a waste of my time…  But am I courageous enough to keep asking?

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“The method is medicine”

“Method is not the truth, once you get the feeling, get rid of the method.  But even feeling can become a method at some point.”

“It’s okay to take medicine when you’re sick, but if you keep taking the medicine after you’re better, it becomes dysfunctional.”

So I started noticing major gaps in my perception.  For instance, why was I willing to gloss over major issues in the film “Eat, Pray, Love” when almost every human in the free world seems to realize that movie was hollow, vapid, and patronizing.  Even as I watched it and felt the vapidness of the spirituality portrayed, some of the underlying spite in the main character, and got pissed at the way she treated her teacher, I sort of set that at the edge of my consciousness and thought, “well, she’s being braver than most people I’ve met.”

Likewise, I’ll admit, for a long time, in a tough situation I will sometimes not trust my feeling when I listen to someone.  Instead of intuition, I look to one of two things, “What is this person REFUSING or TERRIFIED to consider?” and “What is irrationally pissing this person off?”  Normally one of those two things will reveal where someone is stuck.  They’re quite effective.  But of course, resorting to those two methods every time has a deadness to it.  This is rooted in my fundamental lack of trust in myself.

Frankly, I’m refusing to and terrified of trusting myself, or of trying to step out and move and live and flow in the reality of the moment, instead leaning back on method to avoid taking the tougher steps.  This has been showing up to me for months in my Qi Kung.  When I get to a certain particular spot, it’s like I’ve absolutely done as much as I can with the Qi Kung I’m comfortable with, and I start needing to do some new excercises, specifically some that are challenging or even scary for me….  I can even go into that to a certain extent…  but there’s something, a blind spot, a space where I turn away and distract myself as rapidly as possible.

So I got wrapped up in studying Chinese.  On top of that, I started obsessing over it.  And then being a coward about it on top of that.  Moreover, I was taking every mistake I made too personally….  even making it into a wedge between my girlfriend and I.

And lately, I’m blocking something so drastically that I’ve nearly had four or five motorcycle accidents this week.  That’s from “nearly having” ZERO for the whole year I’ve been here.  I’m a good driver folks, and I can speed around on one of these things with major margins of error to play with….  now, suddenly, I’m almost running into people because I’m not looking?  What gives?

More spelling errors and such… The kinds of things no one else would notice (except some of my kids), but they reveal to me that I’m just thinking differently.  Why?  How?  Well, three things come to mind that I might be avoiding::

Something to do with Cheryl.  Obviously it’s intimidating to build a close relationship with somebody.  I do catch myself blocking my own energy and not making as free and easy of a connection sometimes in the days leading up to when I’ll see her.  I don’t know if it’s a pattern or something I can deal with with her, or what.  I’ll see her this weekend and just be honest about it when I’m talking to her.  At least we’re both honest about our intentions and how we feel….  that should be helpful.

Something to do with my business.  Obiously I’d like this to be successful.  But of course there’s a lot of hard work.  It’s easy to want to obscure innaction and laziness with “patience.”  I think I actually know how to manage this effectively and I seldom don’t know what the next step or two is that I should take….  yet it’s easy to not want to do anything.

My Qi Kung, and meditation….  okay, I’m sure there IS something here.  First of all, I haven’t been meditating very much for the last couple of months.  Maybe when I ended my previous addiction, it left me with a big space…  like, wow…  what do I do?  I know that sounds kind of stereotypical, but there is something to it.  Also, I get scared sometimes when my meditation connects me with a sense of eternity or timelessness…..  And my Qi Kung.  It’s easy to not want to go past a certain point, like I said above.  But not just because the excercise is scary, but because the results, like the meditation, can also be difficult to deal with….  Some part of me wants to settle into what I’ve learned and just stay there forever.

I’m reminded of how it seems like things always go the smoothest with Cheryl when I am constantly aware of the truth that everything changes.  So I never expect to sit our relationship down on one spot and keep it there forever.  It’s nice when things have a predictability for awhile, but I always proceed with the awareness that things evolve and change.  I never know exactly where they’re going, or when they’ll shift, but all I can seemingly do is observe all this peacefull.  That’s been a very fruitful attitude to have.

Maybe I should start applying this to my business, meditation and Qi Kung…. After all, Wujifa is nothing but Daoism in Practice.  “In the Dao, Everything Changes.”  What did you expect?

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And with every death, a rebirth.

I noticed the moment of change.  I saw it happen.  I’ve gotten good at seeing it and I love Aranofsky’s films above all.  Mickey Rourke’s character has asked the stripper to have a regular relationship with him.  She said she couldn’t do it.  He screws things up completely with his daughter, but the stripper comes back to him.  It happens in one perfect instant.  You can feel it, she opens up.  Two human beings in a dance.  Everything he’d asked her for, laid there in front of him, her trusting her innocence enough to make that leap.

But he misses it, he’s already closed down, maybe because of his daughter or maybe because he’s lost faith in himself.  I can only recommend “the Wrestler” as one of the best films I think I’ve ever seen.

I love watching movies to see these kinds of changes.  It’s beautiful to see even in a stupid movie like H.E.A.T. where DeNiro has a clear moment, his dying motion, in the hotel when his girl wants him to just leave with her and he jumps back into this murky, deadly world he cannot seem to let go of, long before Pacino guns him down.  Contrasted to Kilmer, who keeps his course and walks away.

I see them in my own life, as I saw the moment where everything changed with my girlfriend.  I felt it as certainly as you might notice the sun break the mountaintops.  It’s a worthwhile practice, noticing what changes.

The other thing I recently caught was my tendency to judge my actions in a situation by how peaceful, blissful, or easy the encounter felt.  However, I’m also seeing that the right thing doesn’t always flow that way, sometimes deceptions are called for, or ‘worse.’  And my judgements do little but get in the way.  The only barometer I can find for this is my own innocence.

The last few weeks, I needed to make sure I wasn’t loosing it to chemical reactions in my head when I entered the dance with my girl.  “Love” is pretty common and about as “special” as taking a shot of whiskey (both stimulate the opium receptors in the head).  I choose to stay aware, continue growing and learning.  My intention is to build connection, not just read a lot of magical mystical bullshit into an endorphine high.

The only way I find is to center myself upon the reality of death, coupled with a type of self-enquiry, and the transience of everything becomes clear.  For keeping a steady mind, death is the only worthwhile advisor.

Still today, after such a deeply intentional strike a couple of weeks ago, severing the head of a decades-long addiction, I find the difficult part is when no decisive strikes are needed…  indeed, the times when NOTHING is needed.  The hardest thing, perhaps, is silence.  I still want to think of myself as “the one who did this or that,” worse yet “the one who does this or that.”  ….and I feel that’s the road back to hell.

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I should preface this with saying that I took a lot of inspiration lately from Toltec teachings of letting death be my advisor rather than self-pity.

“All of life, even loving, must be done with the awareness that it is lived on a fast train approaching death.”

I find it liberating how temporary everything is.  I guess it is helping me keep my head straight while it looks like my business will be successful soon.  If it is, even if it’s wildly successful, it’s for such an amazingly short time, barely anything to get worked up about.  Just be thankful for it like a lovely autumn with a new lover, or a beautiful winter in a fun location.

Honestly, almost everything is the same as this.  A bad season or a good one.  I have seen my grandmother die recently, after a massive head trauma.  My father went from healthy to dying in one winter.  Everything changes, often dramatically and often quickly.  Nothing lasts forever.  Generally most things don’t even last very long.  Even should I ascend to godhood, it is temporary.  This has been allowing me to simply let a lot go.

I keep coming to the point of noticing myself, maybe my intention, and even being very quiet with that.  Then, I notice that I’ll drag something around and into my awareness to dilute this simple presence of being.  All these things are either things long dead or things simply imagined.

The truth is, I just don’t have the courage to let go yet.  The first weekend I was getting it, I could just sit there and be very still and silent.  My head sat back onto my neck so peacefully.  Then it was like something inside me would feel an urge to disturb the peace by “thinking something through.”  I reminded myself a lot that it wasn’t necessary to think through contingencies, but if I had an intention and it was true, to simply hold that intention and remain present.

God how wonderful that is.  But there is something to it, something to simply being there fully, sitting in a coffee shop and doing nothing but drinking the coffee.  Something that is simultaneously wondrous and beautiful and amazing, and also hard to deal with.  So my mind rushes to think of something, even something useful and beautiful, EVEN THOUGH I know that simply being quiet and present is more sufficient and powerful.  If it is time to act, I can act, if not, then why bother the calm?  Yet I bother it so readily 🙂

So, I am turning to faith.  I am not a fan of asking the Gods for a lot of things.  Generally I think it is better to deal with life oneself.  Honestly, I don’t pray very often.  Sometimes I will stop in a temple and simply bow to Amitofo and say “thank you for your teachings” or something similar.  Once or twice a year I will ask for help with something.

But, I have thought about this lately, specifically with regards to asking for something that one God or immortal has set about to do.  For instance, I ask Kuan Yin (Boddhisattva Aviloketeshvara) to help me to let go of all the false things I identify with.  Bear in mind, that’s what s/he stayed on this earth to do.  It’s almost a kind of devotion to ask for and accept the very thing that the Pu Sa (Boddhisattva) vowed to accomplish!  I also read that Lord Shiva granted to Ganesha a boon that he would always be invoked prior to one’s going into battle or a new venture…  I believe that there is a way to be in line with the God’s intentions where asking for help is good.

Anyways, at this point I am simply turning to faith where I don’t feel like I have enough courage to just….  let….  go….  And that’s my only prayer now, for myself, “help me to let go of all the false things I identify myself with.”

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Self-inquiry.  “Who am I?”  I have asked the question and looked for the answer.  I have found the feeling of “I.”  I finally dropped the idea that I am looking for an altered state of consciousness in finding the answer….  or that I am looking for anything to “feel” a certain way.  Releasing this attachment made a major shift for me.

Also, I realized how much stupidity was in identifying myself as being “right” or “wrong” about anything….  my students showed me how much an impediment it is to learning.  I went to the sense of “I” and realized instantly how many of the things I do have nothing to do with anything inherent to myself.

My internal dialogue almost ceases, yet I am able to maintain an intention, to make very directed actions….  it’s not like I’m in outer space or anything.  Quite…  powerful.  For the first time in my life I think I can be a warrior.  I have always trained, with guns or other weapons, or just my hands, or with Kung Fu tea even.  But always during training there was a part of me thinking about intentions, thinking ‘about’ being a warrior.

However, with this way ….  I simply AM doing my intention.

But, I still have to bring myself to this awareness again and again.  Today I noticed that I don’t have to remind myself as often once I “let go of the rudder” and stop trying to figure out what decision to make in every instance.  Thinking through decisions is not nearly as powerful as stripping it all down to me and my intention…  and letting actions follow.

Also, of course, I remind myself of the folly of thinking I’ve “arrived” and I continue looking further.  While trying to make this way of being a “base”…. I am still looking to find “who is it that is noticing this.”

Honestly though, the purpose of all this….  I really want to know the answer.  It seems to supersede every issue of gender, or petty little things I can get caught up in.  I mean, what will survive when my body is dead?  And *who* *am* *I*?

I must know!

Wujifa continues to be a technology that allows my body to relax, and gives me a good way to notice when I have clear intention and verify that I am moving towards my intention.  Kung Fu is good in this way!  So generalizable.

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Amidst my loss of equilibrium earlier this week, I opened Tantric Quest at random.  I came to a place where Devi was describing how nothing can be rejected in Tantra, how we have too many half-fullfilled desires, too many half-accomplished actions due to all the cultural hazings and moral restrictions posed upon us.  That to create an asceticism that nurtures some kind of ‘purity’ born of all those concepts would be to kill the spirit. 

In the same section she also described how the “distractions” and “disturbances” that arise during our meditation can be incorporated into the process instead of trying to cultivate them out.  That in fact, they nourish the calm even further, the way the clouds nourish the clear sky or the shooting stars nourish the night time.  (I apologize, I cannot quote directly as I lent my book last night, I will later make an addendum)

She also mentioned the heart meditation, observing the breath passing through the heart chakra.  So I returned to this meditation, simply watching my breath go by, as I centered myself at my heart, like the wind blowing across my face in a train station as the train goes by.  In a little while, I started feeling equanimity again, relaxed and alert.  And the heart’s equanimity truly rejects nothing, makes no distinctions.  It is all bliss.

The practical effect yesterday was this:  I drove to a party last night with a friend.  It was a nice motorbiking day across our tropical island to a country club in Taipei.  It was nice to have a partner to ride with as well, someone to share the experiences, the beautiful places we passed, the wind, the sun, the rain.

But the rain started really coming down after awhile.  And riding a motorcyle this is hard to deal with, almost impossible in a gale.  My helmet doesn’t have a visor, so I could barely see at times.  Yet I continued doing the heart meditation, and I started noticing what choices I was making.  I noticed a very solid, powerful choice. 

Though I considered trying to stop and abandon my scooter for a cab and then find it again later, though I found the squinting against the driving rain difficult, I still noticed that my heart was making a choice for solidity.  Any of these paths would have been okay (continuing driving, taking public transportation, getting a cab).  In the past, I might have “pressed forward” with an attitude of one foot in front of the other, or some other ego need to make things go a certain way. 

I had enough equanimity to not be worried what happened or what I choce to do, yet enough clarity to know I would get there and get home just fine.

The Kung fu of this was very powerful.  Again, my vision was incredibly limited, yet I was able to drive perfectly well, and very safe, even following a bus across Taipei to get to the party (which is hard because the bus can make left turns at intersections, but I had to go to the right, then wait for the light to change, then catch up again).  And the ride back, somehow the stinging rain in my face on the freeway was irrelevent, pleasant even as we flew down the coastal road.  As for my limited vision, it just allowed me to tune into the what I could see and feel and go forward with alertness and calm.

I drove in these conditions for a total of three hours or so, aware of absolute calm and certainty inside myself the whole time.  The entire experience was of the type of Kung Fu that would allow me to lead expeditions across jungles.  I also realized it would keep me alive in a battle, or help me make the right decisions in a very tight situation.  It was a beautiful choice, not made from the mind, but made through the equanimity of my heart.  A very powerful kind of freedom.

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