Sunday, May 29, 2011

Waking Up Out of the Teaching

P Bralley and young friend, ca 1952.

You know, it’s all jazz.
Leonard Bernstein explaining Beethoven’s Seventh to Bobby McFerrin

I illustrated my last post with a self-portrait.
Let me share here the source and reality of that photo. I was standing by my sandbox.
But, which image best illustrates or "explains" the gist of me?
It feels to me like they both make wonderful commentary.
So, which is better? Which preferred?
It all depends upon the point I’m trying to make.
Historical roots are addressed by the sandbox view;
Spiritual aspirations by the self-portrait… perhaps.

This appreciation for different points of view seems to be occurring in regards to teachings and paths.
Several threads of experience have become intertwined and have brought about a shift for me:
First, I found I could no longer make the effort of self-inquiry. I am no good at that. And even resting as awareness, something that felt quite easy suddenly became too great an effort to even think about.
Secondly, when I meditate with Eve and Mary often I start channeling. Initially, we went with this because it falls within the realm of our Taoist practice, but more importantly, it’s shown itself to be very helpful to Evie as she deals with the physical challenges of chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.
Finally, I got tired of all the chattering debates at sites like Buddha at the Gas Pump: the neo-advaitist, “No Ego!” versus advaitist, “Don't be so sure!"

And maybe there's a fourth experience here:  I (?) let go.  Well, something wore out or surrendered without my even attempting to do anything.  Something stopped in a rather non-event. I noticed a little feeling: "exhausted" or "defeated" drifted through body and psyche. But all that was rather subtle.  Rather, daily activity tracked along the above events, and the words I was pondering were Scott Kiloby's:

The thought of myself and the thought of a cliff are equally both thoughts. There’s nothing about the self that makes it really not exist… the cliff doesn’t either…
We make the big deal about no-self and then we think the tree exists.
They’re all just thoughts.
“An unreal concept can’t disassemble itself,” but an unreal concept can drop a rock on its foot. The whole no-self thing becomes a mental concept, “I don’t exist.”…
People say it as they want it to be true or they sense that it is true.
But the word, that insight is an after the fact kind of a thing… It’s not like, “Oh, there’s nobody here.” And now I have to live as if there’s nobody here.
That’s a person trying to be a no-self.
Scott Kiloby talking with Jeff Foster

… at least I think that’s where this rough transcription comes from. The comment that an unreal concept can drop a rock is probably my own commentary.  The quote is probably Rupert Spira.  Anyway, I found these scribbled words on my dining table when I finally cleaned the papers off.

On the other side of the page, there are these words:
Scott: I could really believe I stumbled upon some truth in my concepts, but really they’re just words floating by.
Jeff: It’s like two birds singing. Two birds singing and that’s it.

Around this time I read an essay by Scott entitled, Waking Up (Out of the Teaching).
It felt really right to me:

The possibility of waking up out of the dream of being a separate self, through the use of a spiritual teaching, is amazing…What is more amazing [for me] is the possibility of waking up from one’s own teaching, lineage, tradition, or message.
It’s like waking up from the idea of “I know how it REALLY is” into an openness that wants to explore the diverse landscape of life —to explore how it is within each view.
So that becomes my new language —openness.

It’s funny. As I copy and paste this excerpt I realize that Scott uses the word “openness.”
I didn’t remember that and it's a seldom used word (for me) that I've been thinking about.
My tendency is to define "open" in terms of being tolerant and willing to listen.
But, recently I realized that's how I feel these days physically.  The inside of my body and mind feels Open as in “wide open spaces.”
Open can be a Nothingness that is far too rich to be considered nothing.
And it does no good to really think about this.
It’s something that is rediscovered in each moment, always new and unexpected.
No preconceptions. Just look.
Where are you standing if you’re not holding onto any teaching?

… there will be truth in any word you come up with… at least for that one moment.
Cause, it's all improvisation
when you're open.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Self Portrait

Self Portrait by Seeking Tao
Self Portrait, a photo by Seeking Tao on Flickr.
The image is an impression of the truth, a glimpse of the truth permitted to us in our blindness.
Andrei Tarkovsky

Today’s my birthday.
Today, I become sixty-one.
And as it turns out, I recently created the self portrait that you see above.
I didn’t set out to do something so self-centered. I was simply typing at the computer when I noticed the sunshine falling on a canvas in the corner. One thing led into another – kind of like all the rest of life - and when I was done, I was quite pleased.

Now, I have this image of the little girl.
So much has changed, gone from memory so completely, I have to wonder, “Is that me?”
"Who was there when I was only two?
"Can I recognize myself?" ... even as
I am invited into what has not changed in all these sixty years.

The body is so very changed, and yet, around the eyes I see feelings I still feel:
Something sacred and a mystery.
And one step back, prior to the feelings, now, I see that too.
I come to what is always and already “me.”

Wakefulness shines through a body.
Something streams through the child’s face and even now I know myself as the little girl you could say and yet, not the little girl that’s in the picture.
What shines through and is recognized is not within the details, not about the physical shape, specific feelings, or all the here and there’s and thens of sixty years.
But, even though It cannot be captured in one word or picture’s thousand, it doesn’t mean It goes unnoticed.
I study the self portrait and discover something shining through.

The idea of infinity cannot be expressed in words or even described, but it can be apprehended through art, which makes infinity tangible.
Andrei Tarkovsky

Yes. Infinity becomes palpable.
Sometimes the “me” is apprehended, recognized.  And then we get to understand birthdays in a whole new way.

That which is unborn is that which we were before we were born, are during this life, and will be after death. Until there is a conscious realization of our unborn nature, our experience of life will forever be dominated by the egoic drive to survive.

Which I guess brings me to the Song of the Day as the perfect ending:

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Asemic Love

P. Bralley, Asemic Shadows #1
Love, someone said, is an abstract concept…
It takes the experience of a lifetime to make it concrete.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

I have taken up my art again, after a long hiatus.
I sent some asemic images off and they have been accepted for publication.
That made me happy.

Wikipedia posts this comment regarding asemic writing:
China, ca. 800 CE, two men pushed cursive brush calligraphy to the point of illegibility. "Crazy" Zhang Xu (one of the Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup) used to get excited after drinking wine, and write exuberant but illegible cursive.

This was news to me, but I have always made a link between my doodled images and trying to capture… “something”… about that which is beyond specific words.
But as I say to do my morning’s yoga and listen to a Kilologue, Matt Kahn, took the explanation in a new and deeper direction.

He spoke of love.
Love is actually the absence of meaning
which is why it feels so amazing…
When we’re experiencing the deepest moment of love… in that moment there is the absence of meaning. And of course we try to capture meaning… we make it into something that has to be chased, coerced, captured…
To the conventional mind living a life without meaning is quite frightening because the mind has been taught to associate meaning with value… But, if we look into ourselves the absence of meaning doesn’t mean the absence of value. In fact, any meaning in particular will actually define the value and therefore limit it. So, the absence of meaning is actually the existence of unlimited value.
And that, to me, is why love is amazing.

Oh! That’s it!
That’s what’s going on in this asemic expression.
Love is just another word for Silence, of Emptiness as Fullness.
That’s what I’m playing at.

I think back to a long time ago.
I was about nineteen. My sister and I were riding in the car. She was telling me about being married for a year.
She said:
When I married Hank, I couldn’t tell you why I loved him. I just did.
Now, I can give you a whole list of reasons.