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Posts Tagged ‘Self-enquiry’

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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Years ago I took the LSAT.  I kept pre-testing in the 169-170 range with occasional tests as high as 174. And I was time constraining myself, using real LSATs, etc. I even did things like take the worst of four to six test sections in order to try and lower my score. So I felt quite excited about taking the test.

Well, test day came and I bombed it at 164. A mere 90th percentile borders on a waste of test paper when it’s one that 150,000 people take every year. At least that’s how I felt about it. I wrote good essays and applied late to a few schools.  I had some acceptances and some decent scholarship offers. At the end of it all I opted not to go when it was time to sign for loans. I didn’t really want to be chained to law school and debt. Maybe the gods were looking out for me when I got that crappy score, since I think I’m better off not having gone. It would have been harder to say “no” to Columbia U.

Just this morning I woke up with one of those flights of fancy where I was considering taking the test again. I think I could do a lot better. My kung fu is better, and I have a clearer mind.  Maybe I could get a near perfect score and go to Harvard or something. The funny thing is I no longer even have aspirations to become a lawyer. I like my life as a teacher, designer, and indy manufacturer, which are probably more congruent with my character anyways.

But I still got such a cool feeling from thinking about it, considering what it would be like to do it. It’s so easy to think through possibilities and get all kinds of tingly pleasurable feelings. And for once I realized that must be my real intention, the peaceful blissful feeling the fantasy gives me. Even when I’m working towards doing it, in the middle of the difficult parts, I’m thinking it may be that feeling of bliss based on the fantasy of where it will take me that keeps me going. I’m bothered by the notion that might be my real main intention.

So this morning I said “fuck it” for a few minutes and just enjoyed that feeling, since it seems to be all I want most of the time anyways. This got me reflecting on my business. I wonder if I could set aside those feelings for awhile and have a clearer head about the steps I can take to make my manufacturing venture more successful. Thus far, lovely designs, pre-orders, generating buzz…  all that is just serving the purpose of giving me some sort of high. I suspect getting paid will make me feel the same. It’s not as if I don’t have plenty of money now, so what does more of it do for me?

But if that’s REALLY my only intention, effectively an ego gratification, then why not just enjoy the fantasy, draw it all out….  of one falls through, pick up another one. I’m afraid I might do just that. In fact, I’m wondering at this point just how much I *am* doing just that, with Wujifa, meditation, business, even my relationship with my lover. Surely this begs me to look further, to see if I have intentions beyond just feeling bright, shiny, and blissed out.

And why do these fantasies make me feel those lovely feelings? Maybe because the thoughts of my goals make me feel special, stroke my ego, gratify my sense of self. I determined awhile ago that my fear seems to be lack of something to identify with, to think of myself as being. But SURELY there has to be worthy intention beyond that empty naval-gazing roller coaster of a life. At the very least, I must have some intention beyond sensations. What is it?

Perhaps if I knew then I would take my Wujifa practice more seriously, make better decisions in my business, and contribute more to my students. Maybe I would find more depth in my relationship with my girlfriend, and contribute better insight to her.

Perhaps I could get past this plateau in meditation.

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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 blindfolded myself for about a day.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but the sensory deprivation, the lack of visual stimuli to distract myself with simply put me against my own patterns after a few hours.

I can see some of the circles I was always aware of.  For example, I treat being transgendered like a kind of addiction, and I guess inasmuch as it can become an obsession, it resembles almost any other addiction.  However, every time I put it down, sometime thereafter I just notice, clearly, my own femininity, my own sense of being a woman blatently staring at me.  Then, when I try and embrace that identity, I find the trap that I cannot simply crossover into being that, either, so I find myself reaching for more, as that identity is comfortable, and then I’m back into the addiction part of it again. . . once I realize I’m acting like this, I let go again, the way I’d put down painkillers or booze, and eventually seem to repeat the cycle when I realize I’m not simply a man either.

I’m good at conditioning myself, and testing for what is conditioning and what is not.  I started this after a family at the church I grew up in, who had converted from Islam to Christianity, had converted back to Islam in a time of family crisis.  I realized then and there that 99% of religious sentiment must just be finding comfort in the familiar, like the way a wounded and dying soldier might cry out for his long gone mommy.

So I set about to simply condition every attachment to Christianity out of myself, so I could see if there was anything worthwhile left of it.  I stopped praying to Jesus in crises, and I stopped thinking about God.  I found after a couple of years that there wasn’t much of it left.  Nowadays I basically like what Jesus said about most everything the same way I like what other wonderful sages said, and I think Christians pretty much went awry by adopting Paul’s ideas.

So, in some ways I’ve done the same thing with gender.  Where I found conflict between masculinity and Femininity, I often conditioned out the masculinity, or, if I was feeling like an addict, like feeling transgendered was some unhealthy pressure inside of me, born of some kind of avoidance, I’d try to condition out femininity.  I’ve discovered that a large part of sexual orientation is alterable in this way….  but maybe I didn’t do it wholeheartedly enough with other aspects, because I keep finding a conflict inside.

To be honest, There’s an aspect of dealing with my lovers where I don’t trust them.  Thus far these have mostly been women, so mostly it comes up in relation to women, though I feel a touch of it in relation to men as well.  Basically I expect to be twisted, manipulated, and thrown away, as I don’t think anyone sees anything in me worth the courage and patience to build a significant connection with.

What else did I find whilst blindfolded?  Well, I have seen the desire to fit in and to conform set a huge burden on one of my close friends.  And last week I noticed it creating tightness and stiltedness in another of my good friends.  In my state of semi-sensory deprivation, I noticed it in myself.  It was odd to move towards the fridge, just to get a bottle of milk to put on my cereal and catch myself imagining how I look from outside, imagining someone else’s positive or negative judgments.  For god’s sake, this was in my apartment by myself!

Internal dialogue is mostly preceded by internal pictures.  Without these imaginations of others to compare to, there is also very little to set up as a dialogue.

After removing the blindfold, I noticed every brick in every building, I noticed every reflection off the windows, I saw the limits of my eyesight clearly, I even differentiated dirt on my glasses from blurry vision.  I walked outside and enjoyed everything I could see, the month of February being a beautiful one in Taiwan.  And I stopped while I was walking and focused on “who am I?”  Simply waited to see where *I* wish to go, what I thought right, regardless of the judgments of others.  I couldn’t find clarity in this.  I guess one of the hardest things is to trust myself.

Every moment has the promise of change in it, the promise of the infinite.  I’m terrified even as I speak the words out loud, “I’m ready to let go of this, I’m ready to let go of all the talking inside my mind and I’m ready to let go of the false identities I try and build.”  This time I didn’t say it to Ganesha, or to Kuan Yin, but simply to life itself.  And the feeling was immediately like a good break-up, where I feel a sense of loss of the familiar, but simultaneously a deep calm breath, a feeling of “rightness.”  Now, like any intention born of innocence, I only need to combine it with courage and patience, and it will surely come to pass.

Of course, as I say all this, I even have trouble trusting anyone who might read this to not judge me.  I set it up as a dialogue with some or another person inside my mind and so easily try to push away or else justify the simple clear intention..  innocence and intention can also feel vulnerable.  And of course, that’s what I fear the most with my lovers as well — vulnerability.

This isn’t easy for me.  In both cases an intention must be combined with both patience and courage.  Patience is not merely waiting.  Patience is harder when it isn’t like enduring one state, or even a predictable cycle of states, but allowing and embracing a constant flow of changes — this is where courage comes in.

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Want

“By what possible definition of the word am I not insane” — Jed McKenna

I am fortunate.  Almost 72 hours of easily accessible, silent, in the moment.  It changed everything for me.  I keep doing the meditation, “who am I?” Everything changes, but I find the silence and presence again and again.  It’s impossible to nail it down to something, but I do know the feeling of letting go.  I know when I’m doing more of it, and when I’m doing less.

I’m not sure how far into the truth I am venturing, but I know I keep touching bits of the void.  I won’t exactly know until I’m there, and there is no further.  But that silence and presence is closer to truth than the constant on and on and on, some or another thing inside a human brain.

I said that I am fortunate because having had the experience makes it so easy to grow bored of all the rabbit holes to chase rabbits through…  it doesn’t take discipline to make my only prayer to just.  let.  go.  of all the illusions and things I try to be.  It only takes a good memory.  No, it isn’t an “altered state” or “high.”  I think it’s just more reality.

Here’s another clue.  My orgasmic breathing has been taking me further lately than ever before.  The experience is basically like a rising and rising peak.  In the past, I’ve dissipated the peak earlier in the process (usually quite pleasurably).  Sometimes it is the sense of what most men call “the point of no return” that just goes on and on, gets stronger and stronger.  It’s an ache, an itch, a tickle, a burn….  impossibly, impossibly enduring and intense…  Then, somehow, in the moment of all that yearning, the yearning itself becomes the pleasure.  In one moment it is the thing that desires, in the next, the very same thing is wave after wave of pure physical satisfaction.

Tonight I was silent some.  I was just laying on a couch and watching a movie.  I found the feeling of “I” and I noticed the yearning, the little attachments in the body, the anxiety, the anticipation…  that which tried to bring me away from presence.  My god, it’s the beginning of the talk inside.  And I remembered the way that rising forever little piquing tickling burning yearning can be the very peak of orgasm itself.

It let me let go a little more….  the anxiety started to feel a little like pleasure in the same way.  I wasn’t able to have that experience entirely yet, but I see that it may be correct.  Anxiety is just what?  Energy?  Desire (the source of all suffering) may be energy that is stuck, cannot flow through?  We interpret it as anxiety or pressure, we clinch down in anticipation or aversion or something like that and stop the energy itself? I don’t know.  It seems that way.  I will keep doing the breathing and keep doing the meditation…

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