Saturday, April 23, 2011

FEATURE 78 - Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight

Fascinating talk by Jill Bolte Taylor recounting in vivid detail her experience of having a stroke. The conclusions she draws about the choices we have regarding our mind is revelatory.

QUOTATION MARKS 34 ~ Sangharakshita

You learn what it is
that you are trying to do
in the process
of trying to do it


DIARY 137 - The Rituals of Faith

The last couple of months I've been working on the text and form of the upcoming Wesak at Windhorse event -Unfolding Of The Lotus, to celebrate the Buddha's Enlightenment. It's still three weeks or so away on the 17th May. We are now in the finalising and preparation phase, of making what is planned come into being.

During the fortnight prior,I've organised a collective project to
install a stenciled Lotus border around the Stupa Area in the Warehouse. This has two discreet stages, first, over 200 lotus stencils need to be cut, and second, these are formed into stencil and sprayed onto the warehouse floor. Currently I'm working out how to set this collective action into a ritualised context.

The morning of Wesak is being conceived as a long processional sequence of storytelling. At various stages we'll stop to hear an aspect of the Buddha's journey towards Enlightenment, plus verse and chorus responses adapted from early suttas. I'm hoping it will be quite rowdy and cacophonous should people let their hair down, as we spiral from the Shrine Room to the Stupa Area, inside and outside the warehouse. Once completed, there will be a Meditation and Sevenfold Puja to conclude. It sounds simple, but the logistics of how to successfully move 40+ people around is proving difficult to imagine. Inevitably it will have its chaotic moments. I have my periods of anxiety about this, but mostly I'm excitedly looking forward to it.

Paradoxically, in amongst all this creativity devising Buddhist
rituals etc, I've found myself really struggling with where my spiritual life is currently at. The imperative to just keep going, and get on with all the various projects I'm involved in, overrides a level of spiritual ennui I've not experienced in quite this way before. I'm generally feeling tired - of meditation, or applying myself to Dharma Study, and dare I say it, Buddhism in general. Even Dogen, my usual source of refuge and inspiration in barren times of spiritual struggle, doesn't quite match or elevate my mood. I've definitely come to the end of something, but what, if anything will take its place I really cannot tell. If you don't know how, or what it is you've lost, its hard to know where to start looking to regain, or rebuild it. I guess its this aspect of not knowing, of what I could be doing to help myself, that makes it most disconcerting.

As a result, much of what I currently do is like a book without its binding, nothing is there to hold all its individual pages together, to prevent them blowing away. Though what I'm doing is no doubt spiritually beneficial to others, it feels empty of the personal Sraddha to give it a more transcendent purpose. Having let go of a long held view that I could find a creative vocation, I launched myself on a more selfless vocation last year, to put what talents I have entirely at the service of Buddhism, the business and others. Now, it may be that my vision for this has run out of steam, the process maybe incomplete, or flawed. It could be I'm undergoing some sort of reaction to this decision, or I currently lack the depth of practice to sustain it, or I'm not sufficiently grounded enough. Whatever it is I'm experiencing a feeling of alienation from what I'd previously 'set my heart upon.'

My confidence that all this will eventually work out, wavers from day to day. So I have my moments of quiet despair, after which I just pick myself up and carry on devising rituals as if something in the doing of this will provide the answer I'm seeking. I hope that I am right.

QUOTATION MARKS 33 - Buckminster Fuller

I am quite confident that I can say with authority
that Einstein, when he wanted to study,
didn't sit in the middle of a school room.

That is probably the poorest place he could have gone to study

When an individual is really thinking,
he is tremendously isolated.
He may manage to isolate himself in Grand Central Station,
but it is despite the environment rather than because of it.

The place to study is not in a school room

Taken from Education Automation

FEATURE 77 - A Bukowski Poem

Read through some late poems this morning from The Last Night On Earth by Charles Bukowski, written two years before he died in 1994 at the age of 73. Unsurprisingly there's plenty of reflection on the growing immanence of his death, and rather sanguine summaries of a lifetime lived largely on the edge of poverty and success. He kept himself afloat on a stream of sex-drink-gambling-fights -and most of all writing.

Reading this poem - Air and light and time and space - somehow resonated with me, probably because I know I've done what he's describing -waiting for the right time or space to arrive for creativity - which rarely does of course.

Bukowski spent most of his life working long hours in deadbeat jobs, but wrote none the less, mostly by depriving himself of sleep to write through the night. To write he had to make it something he just had to do, in spite of, not because of the circumstances he found himself in. In the past I know I made the incompatibility of my circumstances an excuse for my lack of creative accomplishment - if only I didn't have to work! Impatiently waiting for that right moment of air, light, time or space, to arrive.

According to Bukowski these only arrive if you're prepared to make huge personal sacrifices to obtain them, and that this will greatly inconvenience you, and be discomforting. He'd say any work arrived at without that element of personal sacrifice, will inevitably become a contrived artifice and indulgent, and what's worse would be existentially untruthful.


"-you know,I've either had a family, a job, something
has always been in the
but now
I've sold my house, I've found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light
for the first time in my life I'm going to have a place and the time to

no baby, if you're going to create
you're going to create
you're going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you're going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you're on
you're going to create with part of your mind and your
body blown
you're going to create blind
you're going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don't create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses

from The Last Night on Earth.
published byECCO

Sunday, April 17, 2011

POEM - Blurred Vision


Not sure,
just not sure
whether I can
even settle
on vagueness
as a definition
for sure.

There maybe
a clear reason
an underlying
sediment to

how sure
could anyone
be about that?

Could vagueness
be just
out of focus

shot through crinkled water
or smears of Vaseline

behind the
of other emotions

with the headlights
switched off.

rather than declaimed
sotto voce
to imaginary friends
after midnight

under my pillow
whilst I was
half asleep.

17th April 2011