Category Archives: spiritual

😲

so, for some time now, i have wanted to make a reproduction of The Stele Of Revealing, and i got started the other day. but very quickly, i realised that, if i want to make it a “good enough” reproduction rather than a reproduction that would only look good if you didn’t look too closely, i would need to know the original dimensions, and have a reasonably accurate idea of what the heiroglyphs look like, and what the other artwork looks like, and i would, then, need to reduce them from their original size to the size that i ended up deciding i was going to make it — approximately a 40% reduction.

because i’m an artist, i know that, usually (in the absence of photocopiers, or proportional cameras), the tool used to make miniature reproductions is a proportional divider. i have used them before, know what they look like, and know that they can be very expensive. i didn’t want a really expensive one, but i also did not want something that somebody (most likely me) made out of plywood, because it wouldn’t be accurate enough, so i went to ebay, and discovered the exact tool i needed — from the picture, i deduced that it was, largely, the same tool i used in high school, when i was first learning about proportional dividers.

210515 proportional dividers
210515 proportional dividers

they arrived in the mail today. they are… um… not what i expected.

what arrived in the mail was a finely machined set of proportional dividers with sharpened tool steel points, and an engraved scale for both circles and lines. it is stamped “J.H.Weil & Co.” and it came in a velvet-lined case with antique gold writing on the outside that says U.S.C.E., which i take to mean U.S. Army Corps of Engineers… my impression is that, under normal circumstances, this could be as much as a $200 tool, but, because of the fact that it appears to be a vintage, military tool, it could be worth a lot more… this is a tool that is, pretty much GUARANTEED to be accurate to at least one thousandth of an inch… and it cost me less than $50!

so, i just wanted to give a shout out to Next Stage Vintage… they suprised the hell out of me! thank you! 😉👍

and i am going to use it to reduce The Stele Of Revealing… 😲

bounded chaotic mixing produces what?

this is an example of bounded chaotic mixing producing strange stability:

210504 Carrey Creek, Taylor Mountain – Hobart, WAalthough it’s not as high resolution as i would have liked… however, at almost 500mb, i couldn’t be too choosy.

this exact phenomenon is what people are talking about when they’re talking about God, in whatever form. 😉👍

okay, there is a mathematical theory (which is NOT what most people THINK is a theory) which says “bounded chaotic mixing produces strange stability”.

i have gotten in trouble with mathematicians for “taking this too liberally”, but it works, regardless of what they think.

the theory is that if you have an instance of bounded chaotic mixing — in this case, the “chaotic mixing” of H2O molecules, “bounded” by the banks of the stream, that if you take away that boundary, temporarily — say, for example, a waterfall — that the boundaries will, more or less, hold, until that chaotic mixing is forced into another boundary. in the case of a waterfall, “bounded chaotic mixing produces strange stability” is the reason why you can stand fairly close to the base of a waterfall, without getting wet, but eventually — and nobody can tell exactly when, but the probability increases the closer you get — you WILL get wet.

men will be familiar with this phenomenon when they pee… 😉

in the case of this video, the bounded chaotic mixing is violently changing course, and the strange stability is, just before it does so, there’s a place where, even when the video is slowed down, you can see a roundish, perfectly clear patch of water, that stays more or less in the same place… strange stability: nothing is keeping it there, no bubbles go through it, even though, everywhere around it, are bubbles and ripples…

and it is exactly the same phenomenon that people are talking about, when they talk about God.

somebody else says “god” did it. i say, bounded chaotic mixing produces strange stability.

when i say i believe that God both exists, and doesn’t exist, at the same time, creating no contradiction, this is what i am talking about.

you’re probably wondering why i posted this…

मनोबुद्ध्यहङ्कारचित्तानि नाहं
न च श्रोत्रजिह्वे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।
न च व्योमभूमिः न तेजो न वायुः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ १॥

The processors
Manas, buddhi, ahaṅkāra and chitta are the qualitative differentiation within the mind. They are used interchangeably based on context, and yet they are different.

Manas is the faculty of perception, the instrument by which the objects of senses affect the Atman. It is the faculty of thought, desire, imagination. Buddhi is the intellect, by which one discerns, comprehends. Ahaṅkāra is the sense of identity, that which creates ‘I-ness’, ego. Chittam is the one that observes, is aware. All these are the faculties that process what comes from outside.

I am none of these processors.

The instruments
Shrotra is the ear, the organ of hearing. Jihvā is tongue, the organ of tasting. Ghrāṅa is nose, the sense of smelling. And netra is eye, the sense of seeing.

I am none of these instruments.

The building blocks of matter
Vyoma is the space, the gap between the matter. It is the space between planetary bodies as well as the space around Earth, and even the space inside anything. It is also one of the five basic elements.

Bhūmi is the Earth, or the solid matter.

Tejas is the heat or light (both interconnected) like the fire or the Sun.

Vāyu is the wind, the circulating forces, not just on Earth but also inside our bodies, responsible for circulating whether nutrition or blood etc.

I am none of these building blocks of which the material world is made.

The faculties get the information using the senses about the outside world.

I am none of them.

I am pure bliss form of consciousness.
I am Shiva, I am Shiva.

— Practical Sanskrit

—–

it is Adi Shankara‘s birthday, and, if i can be said to “follow” a “religion”, it would probably be the one espoused by adi shankara.

the reason for this is that adi shankara spoke of a “god” which exists beyond what we experience as “good” or “evil”. this “god” is neither (or, possibly, both) “good” and/or “evil”… which is, pretty much, EXACTLY the kind of “god” i feel, which “operates” this plane of existence. this “god” both “exists” and “does not exist”, at the same time, creating no contradictions. this “god” is both “illogical” and “logical” at the same time, creating no contradictions…

and if you don’t understand this, you probably think i’m crazy.

so be it.

this sanskrit shloka, part of Nirvanashatkam is, pretty much, exactly what i believe about myself: i may have all these things holding me back; depression, anhedonia, a brain injury, etc., but those are relics of 60 years of living in this plane of existence. in spite of how “real” these things are, in spite of how “real” these things seem to be TO ME, they are NOT “who i am”, in the “real” sense of the word. i am beyond all this: i “really” exist in a realm where “good” and “evil” are two sides of the same coin… and that “coin” is worth less than a penny.

Tina Chopp is God! Praise Her OR DIE!!

Tina Chopp is God! Praise Her OR DIE!!*
June 6, 2019
by Paul Krugman
nytimes.com

Tina Chopp claims that she can “fix anything!” I don’t know about the results of any business big or small, but I certainly know about the results of electing a God.

Citizens of the United States were tired of political campaigns in which voters were supposed to make an informed choice, and come November they chose not to do so. Perhaps that was because political campaigns are often tedious, or because, in 2018, the choices were so severe, or perhaps, as I argued yesterday, because the traditional definition of democracy, which involves an informed choice by voters, had been rendered absurd by the rise of special-interest money in politics. Voters may understand politics in idiosyncratic ways, but they are not rational. They can’t know everything; the information they have is too incomplete and cluttered for anyone to take proper stock of the candidates.

But citizens have not been irrationally inert in general, either. There are times when an informed opinion is just as right as the next one, and there are times when an informed opinion is just as bad as the next one. It is sometimes not even possible to know the difference between them — in recent days, for example, a number of the #MeToo protesters spent all day in the public square, insisting that they knew a lot more than they seemed to, and finally decided that the house was haunted.

The election of a God enables one to ignore the matter altogether, and the designation of such a God, apparently, is self-explanatory. This should not be any kind of problem, because the Bible is faith. And faith does not need to be backed up by anything, and certainly not by objective knowledge, so Chopp can rewrite the Bible as she likes, just as she will rewrite your favorite movie, or your favorite TV show, as she wants, without a single backward glance toward theological detail.

People who mock the idea of electing a God often find themselves apologizing when, like Chopp, they refuse to back up the idea, insisting that a deity is just not necessary. (Especially when a deity so obviously favors Israel!) But it is necessary; this is not a joking matter, in my view. The natural condition of people is self-referential, and we not only judge other people’s quality, but we judge ourselves. Many of us would naturally opt for a God who is on our side.

And the sad truth is that Chopp and her kind seem to be, if not quite an entirely new threat, then a near-complete one. They have replaced democracy, which is now generally pretty awful (but which gives us some rare gains in some areas — civic organizing, campaigning, electoral infrastructure, resistance) with religion, which, while superficially attractive, is also pretty distasteful. Christianity, of course, has always been toxic, but churches even in countries with relatively strong traditions of democracy — Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Holland, Finland, Iceland, Iceland again — have been susceptible to corrupting tendencies. So too, it seems, has the idea of electing a God.

Some combination of middlebrow and educated parents will remain ready to do their children the honor of having them baptized into a god whose politics are unclear, and who tells her followers to “immediate action!” And if anyone even remotely similar surfaces, but even a relatively uneducated or educated churchgoer won’t mind telling an unbeliever to “please pray.” The fundamental question is this: Are we really serious about denying Chopp her God, or are we just sending a message to those who might — and the decline of political parties makes this more and more certain — become moderates by necessity?

Continue reading Tina Chopp is God! Praise Her OR DIE!!

buskingniksub

190511 salamandir, by jon leach
190511 salamandir, by jon leach
when you hang around the pike place market enough, particularly if you don’t look exactly like pretty much everybody else, you will eventually end up having your photo taken by one of the multitude of street photographers who descend in droves on the market thinking that they will get “that shot” which will propell them into the realm of famous photographers like ansel adams or robert mapplethorpe. in this case, it was a chap called jon leach, who has been doing street photography for about 5 years — no clue what he did before that — and he took a photo of me that i like, because when you look at the whole, reduced photo, i look serious, almost frowning, but if you look at the photo up close, i’m actually smiling.
190511 salamandir, up close
190511 salamandir, up close

busking this week has been a mass of contradictions: yesterday, we played two sets, after having been displaced at 11:00 from the place where i had added us to the list at 8:00 because an amplified band (which is “banned from busking at the market”) was setting up to play in a “flower festival” which the market managers had neglected to tell us buskers about until we actually got there — and they posted a new notice regarding the closure in exactly the same place where the “get your new buskers’ permit” notice had been, so the people (including me) who signed up on the list didn’t notice it until it was too late… so we went up the alley, behind the iron stairs, and busked for an hour, took an hour break (because “the official rules” say you have to), and played most of a second set before we got fed up — in the middle of a song — and said fuck it.

the reason we got fed up is because there were probably 20 people, from people taking pictures with their cell phones all the way up to people who had professional camera equipment, taking our photos, which includes a sign in a very prominent, central location, which says, in large letters “TIP FOR PHOTOS”, but NOT TIPPING FOR PHOTOS! 😠🤬

seriously! some of these people came in pairs, one of them standing next to, or behind us, and the other person, with the camera, lining up the shot so that we were both in the frame, with the sign that says “TIP FOR PHOTOS” in the frame as well, and when they were done mugging for the camera, they just turned around and walked off as though we were plastic manequins… and not starving musicians who have a combined total of more than a century of experience playing music.

my understanding is that the problem is partially because of the cruise ship companies which offer fares that “include all gratuities”, and partially because of the common myth that buskers are paid by the market. both are WRONG!! and it make life particularly awful for folks that have to make their living busking when people act like buskers are free.

on the other end of the scale are days like today, when we played 3 sets and made almost $50 a piece, which works out to around $16 an hour… which is not outstanding, but it’s enough that it makes you want to come back out and try it again tomorrow.

and then there’s the pike place market foundation. back in the ’80s, when the market was being renovated for the first time, i bought an inscribed tile, which was originally placed outside of the athenian tavern…

i had a picture of it, at one time, but i can’t locate it currently. 😒

anyway, they had to replace the floor in front of the athenian, in the ’90s, because it was unstable, and they tore out the section of floor that had my tile in it, and replaced it with somebody else’s tile.

when i bought that tile, i was in the tech school, and the price of the tile was in lieu of half a week’s groceries, but when i asked the market foundation about it when i discovered it was missing, in 2016, their response was to say that if it was not there, then it was not going to be replaced, and my money meant nothing. they offered me a “market charm” to be installed in the new section of the market (which they hadn’t even built yet) as a replacement, to which i agreed.

but it was, apparently, never installed. yesterday, i asked the lady custodian of the market charm database to check, and she couldn’t find it. so i filled out another market charm request, and she said it should be installed this fall, and i can check at their database at PikeUp dot org. while i was at the market foundation booth, i also bought a “pig pin” which came with this interesting printed card:

Pig Pin card
Pig Pin card

i noticed a design detail on the card, which caused this conversation between me and the lady at the booth:
ME: this card has swastikas on it! cool!
Lady At The Booth: those aren’t swastikas.
ME: they’re swastikas, they’re just not what you expected to see when i said “swastika”… they’re not nazi swastikas, they’re ORIGINAL swastikas, from before the nazis got hold of it: they’re “little good luck charms”, which is what the word “swastika” means, in sanskrit.
Lady At The Booth: yeah, but they’re not swastikas, there’s another name for it.
ME: the german word for a swastika is “hakenkreuz”. the reason english-speaking people use the word “swastika” is because nobody could figure out how to say “hakenkreuz”.
Lady At The Booth: but there’s another name for them.
ME: the word “swastika” is a sanskrit word that means “little good luck charm”. it’s the perfect symbol to put on the pike place market “good luck token”, and most people probably wouldn’t even realise that it’s a swastika, because it’s not a nazi swastika. the swastika is one of the world’s oldest symbols, and it was around, as a symbol of good luck for, literally, thousands of years before the nazis got hold of it! it’s about time we started taking it back, and making it into a symbol of good luck again!
Lady At The Booth: really? cool! 😊

allegedly, they’re going to snail-mail me when the charm is installed, but they said they were going to install it in 2016, and they didn’t, so it remains to be seen what they’re really going to do.

Pat Robertson’s Weird Way of Doing Sex

pat robertson should not be allowed to broadcast his hate on national television. it astounds me that he still has a platform… although it astounds me that people still go to church, so maybe i’m the crazy one here… although i would much rather be considered “crazy” than i would to convert to that sex-crazed mainiac’s way of thinking. seriously, i don’t understand why HOMOSEXUALS having sex the way they do threatens anybody, and certainly not to the depths of the fabric of society. the fact is, whether pat robertson likes it or not, people have been “doing sex” the “weird way” since long before pat robertson was around, and they’re not likely to go away just because pat robertson and his ilk somehow get a law passed. people like him would do well to pay attention when someone like, oh, i don’t know, Jesus Christ, maybe, says “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

it makes me wonder about the beam in pat robertson’s eye, particularly since he seems to be obsessed with “weird” ways of having sex. it makes me think that he might not be getting enough, himself. 😒

Pat Robertson’s Weird Way of Doing Sex
by Rev. Dr. Guido Super DeLuxe, 190226
download here

The Trash Issue

as i mentioned the other day, i found a whole pile of black and white negatives that are between 25 and 35 years old, quite a few of which were taken by my friend randy, for inclusion in an issue of Tina Magazine that never got published. we first started talking about “The Trash Issue” when we both were living in bellingham between 1990 and 1993. it gets sort of fuzzy after that, but my recollection is that randy moved away from bellingham in the middle of 1993 and took all of the writings for The Trash Issue with him.

90s COTC publications
90s COTC publications

i also have a picture of a whole pile of Tina literature that now, strangely, seems to be for sale at Alta-Glamour… in fact, i have narrowed it down to, either randy’s collection (which is more likely), or less likely it is jim’s collection… but, one collection or another, they somehow went from being in a photo that i took with my camera, with very few changes (none of the tracts, and the addition of The War On Drugs Issue, which is the reason i think it is randy’s… and if they have a ritual object, it is one of the bronze ones, because i have the silver one with the mystic emblems on the reverse side), some time between 1990 and 1993 to being for sale (at OUTRAGEOUS prices) at some rare bookseller, a fact which makes me angrier every time i think about it… 😠

but i digress…

anyway, i have a contact sheet which was marked up with indications of which pictures were to be used in The Trash Issue, and if i could think of some words to put with it, i would publish the posthumous Trash Issue on the church’s web site… because the internet was MADE for The Trash Issue.

Blob Lardstone

Blob Lardstone – 190119, by Ralph Ewggleigh

this is my interpretation of the introduction to a cassette by Bob Larson, a toxically obnoxious evangelical so-called “christian” radio preacher who bills himself as “the real exorcist”, with whom i have been interacting, on and off, for the better part of 40 years. he, too, is likely a member of my karass, because, despite my repeated attempts to get him out of my life, he keeps popping up, and i keep responding to him.

समाधि पीठ

sivaite samadhi peetham
sivaite samadhi peetham

i found a whole pile of black and white negatives that are between 25 and 35 years old. possibly older, as i don’t have a great memory for these things, so i keep a list of when things happened. according to that list, the picture above was taken in 1991 or 1992. it was taken to honour the fact that i had just experienced sabikalpasamadhi (सविकल्पसमाधि) for the first (and only) time, on the banks of the skagit river.

jim robertson
jim robertson

i just got back from picking up 182 4″x6″ prints. there are a bunch of pictures of ezra, the PHBFH, randy, and ruth. there are a few pictures of other people, including me, and jim robertson.

there are also a lot of pictures for the legendary “Trash” issue of “Tina Magazine”, which was never published, as well as several pictures of the Tina literature which is now, suspiciously, for sale at Alta-Glamour.

now i gotta get started scanning them. 😉

more tina chopp

Alta-Glamour Inc. (Seattle, WA, U.S.A.) apparently has a whole pile of vintage Tina literature (which i do not have, which makes me kind of wonder exactly where they got it), including two by me, for vastly inflated prices… i wrote to the seller, saying that i was the original publisher of these items, and what did they think trying to sell my stuff for so much. their response was:

Our zine pricing often indicates the importance we ascribe to a certain item. People often look to our website to establish values of their collection items, and we want to demonstrate, through pricing, that we think these zines are culturally significant.

The price is therefore not necessarily what we can sell the item for, at least now. Our zines are priced to sell — in 15 years, when zines are even more significant and scarce representations of the creativity emanating into the world.

i guess i sort of understand where they’re coming from, but, as the original publisher of those items, i think it’s ridiculous to imagine that they’re ever going to get so much for them. especially as they make no effort whatsoever to acknowledge my work in all of this. i guess i would feel differently if they offered me a cut, and i would definitely feel differently if randy were alive… my guess is that randy would have already raised hell with them over the prices… but, then again, since their collection appears to include a ritual object, there’s an outside chance that they actually acquired them from randy’s father, after his death.

also, i am somewhat alarmed to learn that they have jim robertson’s publication mixed in, as though he was as prominent a Tinite as randy, ian or i. they say “A bullying joke gone too long, these guys are proto-alt-right trolls.” which indicates that they believe jim was connected with the Church of Tina, even though, by the time he published “A Snake!” he had been excommunicated for two years, primarily because of his hateful, politics-obsessed rantings, which is why his publication is “The Journal of the Last Rhythmic Tantrist Church of Tina Chopp (Heretic)”… can’t they tell that it’s an entirely different cult? 😒

george

i met george today.

i was getting gas in my car, and this tall, weedy, semi-suspicious looking guy came up to me and said “tell me about your bumper.”

inevitably, this means that he’s a “christian” who is offended by the message of my bumper sticker, which says JESUS IS A GATEWAY DRUG, but i feigned ignorance, partially because there was a HUGE line of people waiting behind me. but then he left no doubt, by pointing at it and reading it out loud. i responded by saying that it was a pretty simple message, and what more did he want to know.

so he started to say “i’m a christian, and…”, at which point i interrupted him, saying “i’m a christian, too”, at which point he asked me if i was jewish “because of your license plate” — i guess he hadn’t seen, or hadn’t been able to identify the huge picture of panchamukhi ganesha on the hood — but i said, no. i learned about jesus, and that gave me the opportunity to learn about all of the world’s religions, and i learned that they are all the same, and all point towards the same God.

at that point, i was done pumping gas, and, as i was taking the hose back to the pump, he said something that i didn’t hear, but it started with “no…” so i probably didn’t miss much…

180905 gonowtogeorge
180905 gonowtogeorge
then he handed me a card, and said “this is my web site”. so i handed him one of my own cards — the one that says “Bounded Chaotic Mixing Produces Strange Stability” — which he stood and stared at until i got in my car and drove off.

check out his web site… it’s hillariously “old school” (complete with dark-coloured background and rainbow-coloured font) and is, literally, “George’s Links To The World” in that, if it’s on internet, and george has read it and agrees with it, it’s on his site, somewhere. it’s not quite as single-focused as Time Cube, but it’s just as entertaining.

a few years ago, i was driving through south-of-seattle afternoon traffic, and i saw, on the car ahead of me, a bumper sticker that said “TRY JESUS”, and, immediately, i thought “that guy’s a ‘pusher'”.

then i thought about my own experiences with jesus, jeezis and “christians”, and i thought, if that guy is a “pusher”, then, in my experience, at least, jesus is a gateway drug: i learned about jesus, then i learned about other religions, then i learned that they are all the same… but my initial exposure to all of this was jesus.

thus, the bumper sticker.

i wish i hadn’t been so flustered, because i would have really liked to explain that to george. it is my impression that it would have blown his mind even more than it already was. 😈

MA⸘G‽A

MAGA — or Make America Great Again — has become the rallying cry of the right wing, these days, but i have a few questions about whether america was that great to begin with, compared to other countries.

first, i have to consider how we determine what “great” actually means? how is america more “great” than france, or india, or estonia? what measures do we use to determine how “great” a country is, compared to another country, especially when there are countries that have more than a million citizens, and, at the same time, there are countries that have only a few thousand citizens. presumably, they’re not saying that a country is “more great” because it covers more of the surface of the earth, or that it has more occupants than another country.

it has always been my impression — and this was the case WAY before #drumpf was president — that a country is sort of like a football team, or a soccer team: you root for the people who are the closest to where you are. in the same way, barring any other difference, a person who was born in germany thinks that germany is the “greatest” country, and a person who was born in ethiopia thinks that ethiopia is the “greatest” country, regardless of ANYTHING ELSE that may be different about those two countries, compared to each other.

to continue, my impression has also been that, pretty much regardless of what the german, or ethiopian, may say about what the “greatest” country is, a person who was born in america would, very likely, disagree with them, which makes me wonder what a person from another planet — let’s say “jupiter”, for conversation’s sake — would think about these earthlings and their petty squabbles over whose piece of earth is “greater” than anywhere else on earth.

from a person from jupiter’s point of view, ALL places on earth probably have good points and bad points, some places on earth are probably more scenic than others, more crowds, or more serenity, but, from the point of view of someone from jupiter, they’re all just places on earth: nice places to visit, but why would anyone want to live somewhere other than jupiter?

forget “Make AMERICA Great Again”, lets “Make EARTH Great Again”! earth is the only planet we’ve got, and if we ruin it, we don’t have another planet upon which we can fall back…

but that brings up my next point: how can we say that earth is the greatest planet in the solar system? if ANY of the other planets weren’t there, or some other planet WAS there, life as we know it on earth would, very likely, be considerably different. and, of course, if the sun wasn’t there, or was in a different place, or a different size, life as we know it on earth may not have come into existence at all, in the first place. so how can we be so egotistical as to say that “earth is the greatest planet in the solar system”? all it would take would be for one thing to be slightly different, and the world that we know would be unrecognisable.

personally, my belief is that we would all do a lot better if we were to give up the notion that america ever has been “great”, if for no other reason than it would necessarily make every other place on earth “less great”.

america is the place where i was born, but i don’t hold some attraction to america that i don’t hold for every other place, even though i haven’t even been to those other places. for me, america is not, and never has been “great”, it just “is”… in the same way that jamaica or ethiopia or denmark just “is”. nowhere and nobody is “greater” than any other place or person, just as nowhere and nobody is “lesser” than any other place or person: they all have value.

the sooner we realise that, the more likely it is that we will be able to do away with #drumpf and his ilk.

The Man Who Walked on Water

A conventionally-minded dervish, from an austerely pious school, was walking one day along a river bank. He was absorbed in concentration upon moralistic and scholastic problems, for that was the form which Sufi teaching had taken in the community to which he belonged. He equated emotional religion with the search for ultimate Truth.

Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by a loud shout: someone was repeating the dervish call. ‘There is no point in that,’ he said to himself, ‘because the man is mispronouncing the syllables. Instead of intoning YA HU, he is saying U YA HU.’

Then he realised that he had a duty, as a more careful student, to correct this unfortunate person, who might have had no opportunity of being rightly guided, and was therefore probably only doing his best to attune himself with the idea behind the sounds.

So he hired a boat and made his way to the island in midstream, from which the sound appeared to come.

Sitting in a reed hut, he found a man, dressed in a dervish robe, moving in time to his own repetition of the initiatory phrase. ‘My friend,’ said the first dervish, ‘you are mispronouncing the phrase. It is incumbent upon me to tell you this, because there is merit for him who gives and him who takes advise. This is the way you speak it.’ And he told him.

‘Thank you,’ said the other dervish, humbly.

The first dervish entered his boat again, full of satisfaction at having done a good deed. After all, it was said that a man who could repeat the sacred formula correctly could even walk upon the waves: something he had never seen, but always hoped — for some reason — to be able to achieve.

Now he could hear nothing from the reed hut, but he was sure that his lesson had been well taken.

Then he heard a faltering U YA as the second dervish started to repeat the phrase in his old way…

While the first dervish was thinking about this, reflecting upon the perversity of humanity and its persistence in error, he suddenly saw a strange sight. From the island the other dervish was coming towards him, walking on the surface of the water…

Amazed, he stopped rowing. The second dervish walked up to him and said: ‘Brother, I am sorry to trouble you, but I have to come out to ask you again the standard method of making the repetion you were telling me, because I find it difficult to remember it.’

Continue reading The Man Who Walked on Water

Enlightenment

ENLIGHTENMENT
180406 by Om Swami

“How do I gain enlightenment?” someone said to me the other day. “Can you not grant me some deep experience? I want a radical change in my life.”

I get this asked frequently by many enthusiastic seekers. They are in search of a panacea, some mystical reality that will solve all their problems (spiritual and emotional) forever. While many aspirants understand the importance of persistence and individual effort, most others are looking for a quick fix. Here’s a beautiful quote by Adya Shanti that mirrors my own thoughts in ways more than one:

Many seekers do not take full responsibility for their own liberation, but wait for one big, final spiritual experience which will catapult them fully into it. It is this search for the final liberating experience which gives rise to a rampant form of spiritual consumerism in which seekers go from one teacher to another, shopping for enlightenment as if shopping for sweets in a candy store. This spiritual promiscuity is rapidly turning the search for enlightenment into a cult of experience seekers. And, while many people indeed have powerful experiences, in most cases these do not lead to the profound transformation of the individual, which is the expression of enlightenment.

One of the greatest misconceptions about enlightenment is that it will just happen. Not so. It has to be earned, it has to be lived. Sometimes I find it challenging to explain to seekers that true enlightenment is not a one-off special moment, but more a culmination of lifelong experiences and practices that result in the dawning of a great insight. I don’t blame them for thinking that by the magical touch of some guru or maybe by being struck by lightning, they will arrive at a moment of enlightenment. Partly because we have plenty of spiritual books out there that give that impression. Even I may have inadvertently conveyed the same by sharing one of my most defining spiritual experiences in my memoir. For that matter, Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree is often construed as an isolated event of extraordinary significance. It was anything but that.

In comprehending and highlighting such experiences, we tend to overlook the tremendous amount of effort that goes in realizing that state. For a moment, think of enlightenment as winning the Nobel Prize. We can’t have it just by visiting other Nobel Laureates and we certainly can’t be awarded it just because we want it. After a lifetime of commitment to a cause or producing a phenomenal body of work, and assuming the circumstances are favorable, the committee might consider your nomination and grant you one. No doubt winning the Nobel Prize will bring about a change in your life and lifestyle to a degree, you will inspire more people and so on. But, beyond that, there’s not much. It’s not going to improve your relationships, it’s not going to fix your physical health etc. Those challenges will remain.

Without preparation and readiness, any spiritual experience is hardly transformational. And if an experience doesn’t trigger some kind of lasting transformation in you, however subtle, it holds little meaning ultimately. When you continue to walk the path sincerely, diligently, many learnings, lessons and experiences give you the wisdom to lead your life differently. Differently so in a manner that it’s more conducive to retaining a state of bliss. Having said that, even if you are enlightened, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience pain or that you will always find joy in everything that goes on in your life.

R.K. Laxman (1921 – 2015), one of India’s most famous cartoonists ever, writes a lovely passage in his travelogue The Distorted Mirror.

People are curious about my profession and try to clear their doubts by putting all sorts of questions. Recently a lady asked me, “Do you do the drawings for your cartoons yourself?” I answered, “Yes, I do.” Then she questioned, “And the captions to the cartoons, do you write them too?” “Of course,” I said. And, finally, she asked, “The ideas for the cartoons, don’t say you think them up too?”

There is one [question] that is rather rarely asked but which makes me go into deep introspection. This is: “When you look around, does everything appear funny to you?”

A cartoonist does not lead a charmed life of perpetual fun out of the reach of the cares and worries that bedevil his fellow men. The fluctuating prices of onions affect me in the same way as they delight or outrage a primary schoolteacher. Likewise, taxes depress my spirit. Bores at the mike, and traffic jams drive me crazy. Surely a doctor does not always look at life in terms of coughs, colds, allergies and bronchial inflammations. A star of the silver screen, I am sure, has enough sense to know that beyond the range of the camera life does not continue to be full of idyllic scenes, sex, songs and ketchup-blood. Why, then, should a cartoonist see living caricatures and hear rib-tickling dialogue all around him? So I comfort myself with the self-assurance that my view of life is normally as banal as that of the next man in the queue for sugar or kerosene.

Enlightenment is something like that. It does not mean that you don’t feel the pain or remain eternally unaffected by everything that goes around you. All of that we must go through based on our karma, temperament and attitude towards life. The only thing that changes is that you grow into a more spiritual being, you become increasingly resilient and kind. What life hurls at you doesn’t change, how you catch it or dodge it, does. When it builds to a tipping point, you become kind of independent, very independent. Less worried about what the world thinks of you, how it perceives you and so on. In other words, you draw your own cartoons, write your own captions and, much to the fascination or disbelief of others, come up with the ideas too.

As the famous Zen saying goes, “Before enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water. After enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water.”

Being a jivan-mukta, a liberated soul, or an enlightened person does not relieve one of his/her duties. Self-realization is not, as Eknath Easwaran put it, a compensation for one’s good deeds. It is but simply an outlook towards life that you gain from experiential understanding. If you really wish to get a grip on the notion of enlightenment then look upon it as a way of life, a commitment to virtues, as a promise to carry yourself a certain way and leading your life in a manner that befits you.

Liberation is not plonking a glorious flag on top of Mount Everest, it is but a mindful and diligent journey meandering through many treks and hikes, stopping and camping along the way, meeting and greeting fellow travelers, absorbing the breathtaking views, appreciating the challenges, rejoicing in where you are already. All this while you remain inward focused but goal-oriented.

When you realize this, a better sense of wellbeing and happiness shrouds you. You understand that there are no dark moments, that you are already enlightened. You just need to live a certain way to experience it. Then you laugh at the discovery that how unnecessarily seriously you’ve been taking yourself. As Thích Nhất Hạnh said:

I laugh when I think how I once sought paradise as a realm outside of the world of birth. It is right in the world of birth and death that the miraculous truth is revealed. But this is not the laughter of someone who suddenly acquires a great fortune; neither is it the laughter of one who has won a victory. It is, rather, the laughter of one who; after having painfully searched for something for a long time, finds it one morning in the pocket of his coat.

A religious man called a monk and invited him to bless his new home. The monk politely turned down the request saying he’s busy.
“But, what are you doing?” the man insisted.
“Nothing.”
Thinking that the monk was perhaps not in a mood to visit that day, he let it be and phoned again the next day. “Can you come today to bless my home?”
“Sorry,” said the monk, “I’m busy.”
“Doing what?”
“I’m doing nothing,” replied the monk.
“But that was what you were doing yesterday!” said the man.
“Right,” the monk replied. “I’m not finished yet!”

Enlightenment too is an ongoing affair. No doubt, there can be a transformational moment that changes something in you forever. Living that change, however, is a matter of mindfulness and more. True enlightenment, that.

This is it. This life. It’s beautiful. Live it. Love it. For yourself, for others. Laugh it away. That’s all there is to know. Most of the rest, life can do without.