Archive for August, 2008

Idolize That!

Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, Cults, genius, God(s), Monasticism, Mysticism, Reality Bites, Religion, Tantra, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , on August 30, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Disclaimer: the following is the author’s opinion (©) and no one else’s!

What is William Blake’s term poetic genius referring to? My definition is: An individual, whose manifestation possesses the ability to exaggerate the deep, layered, subconscious through a communicative medium of time-space expression. In other words, a true artist. Art is a wondrous thing, isn’t it? It is the ability of one individual to give others a vibrant taste of their experience of the cosmic fabric.

In Buddhism, there are two kinds of Buddhas, or awakened beings. Now, I’ve always wondered what the difference is. I’ve seen it written in various places that a Paccateka Buddha does not or cannot teach others; they are self-realized beings — “silent ones”. On the other hand, a Sammasamyaka Buddha is a fully realized being who can teach others the way to enlightenment.

But that still doesn’t explain much. Or it leaves so much out that it’s almost a ridiculous manner of defining these subjects. Lots of folks in Mahayana Buddhism (North Indian-Tibetan-Chinese-Korean-Japanese branches) take things called “Bodhisattva vows” where they vow to be reborn until they achieve total perfect enlightenment (Sammasamyaka Buddhas). This apparently takes years beyond comprehension (it is even described that way). And these perfect Buddhas are the ones who create Buddhism on other planets/world systems/universes etc. So, Shakyamuni Buddha was a full Buddha and was supposedly the only one in our world system.

I understand that (paraphrased) textbook explanation. But the end result is that the full Buddha becomes something that is untouchable and beyond this life; we can’t become Buddha in this life, we’re fallen from grace, blah blah blah. It also paints a tearful, valiant, romantic picture of existence — things having a specific purpose, there being a specific goal to it all, and so forth. When really, enlightenment is totally boring (or so I’ve heard).

Thus I have my own (probably heretical) interpretation of this whole “perfect Buddha” system. Bear in mind I’m going out on a limb here. I don’t wanna get you kicked out of your peace-club or whatever because you quoted my stupid ass at your weekly sesshin.

Creative genius is very rare, right? And so are Buddhas. I tend to have my own belief, that a fully realized Buddha is an enlightened person whom also possesses the creative genius. In other words, they are a creatively gifted individual whom has also attained so-called “enlightenment.” Because, a creative genius can potently share — transmit — their intimate perceptions of the world with others. Maybe a perfect Buddha does this with enlightenment itself.

I bring this up because surely there are enlightened people with no creative talent. I mean, it seems foolish to assume that only people with creative genius are enlightened, doesn’t it? And I am not saying that every creative genius is enlightened. Far from it! But the point is: a fully enlightened Buddha (in my opinion) is one that has attained enlightenment and possesses a poetic genius!

‘Course, from a religious perspective, there are flaws in my, uh… “logic”. The first thing is: a fully realized Buddha only appears once per world-system according to Buddhist cosmology. So… Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Prince Siddhartha, is the only fully realized Buddha in our world-system. Everyone else, Buddhas may they be, are inferior in their accumulation of wisdom or merit or whatever else. And there are technical terms for these accumulations (It’s funny how the whole system of “full enlightenment” can only be undertaken by people who partake of the Buddhist agenda).

But that’s a little religio-centric for me. That sounds a lot like having Christ as our sole savior. I wish it were so easy. Because that’s one of the hard things for me to accept: that one person has the goods and I can just tag along with them and figure it all out. You know, just relax, hit the cruise button and put the ship on auto-pilot. But the people who incubate themselves in their teacher’s shadow their whole lives do not become completely self-realized. No way. Think you can be like Hatsumi by following Hatsumi? I wonder.

Do our teachers love us with pity — as children? Who knows. But they probably respect peers more. And I doubt those of us who pray to icons can be respected mutually. I mean, duh. This is, I think, one of the true criticisms of idolatry. I don’t know if this is an actual criticism from the Old Testament — it’s been a while since I looked through that one — but believing in an idol, idolizing, makes one pitiful.

Anyway, funny how the Christians and Buddhists and Muslims and god-only-knows-who-else believe in reincarnation on some level. That either their soul or their savior will be reborn at some point (although Buddhism acknowledges that it is not the same actual person). But if anyone comes back, they would be rejected immediately. I mean, what a threat to the established power structure of the religion!

Which doesn’t mean I hate iconography or statues or Buddhas or Christs or kami or trickster ravens. It just means, in the words of Musashi, “I do not rely on gods or buddhas, but I respect them”. Isn’t that how a person of true creative integrity is? They don’t worship their influences, but respect and acknowledge their influence and importance.

Queen of the Valley

Posted in Beauty, Folklore, love, Mysticism, Uncategorized, Wizard Quotes, World of Emotions with tags , , , on August 29, 2008 by wizardsmoke

“But in the midst of the valley was a black hill, which heaved up and down like the breast of a man when warm longing swells it. From the abysses mounted steaming vapours, which rolled themselves together into huge masses, striving malignantly to hide the father’s face: but he called the storm to him, which rushed there, and scattered them away; and when the pure sunbeam rested again on the bleak hill, there started from it, in the excess of its rapture, a glorious Fire-lily, opening its fair leaves like gentle lips to receive the kiss of its father.

“And now came a gleaming splendour into the valley; it was the youth Phosphorus; the Lily saw him, and begged, being seized with warm longing love: ‘Be mine for ever, fair youth! For I love you, and must die if you forsake me!’ Then spoke the youth Phosphorus: ‘I will be yours, fair flower; but then, like a naughty child, you will leave father and mother; you will know your playmates no longer, will strive to be greater and stronger than all that now rejoices with you as your equal. The longing which now beneficently warms your whole being will be scattered into a thousand rays and torture and vex you, for sense will bring forth senses; and the highest rapture, which the spark I cast into you kindles, will be the hopeless pain wherein you shall perish, to spring up anew in foreign shape. This spark is thought!’

“‘Ah!’ mourned the Lily, ‘can I not be yours in this glow, as it now burns in me; not still be yours? Can I love you more than now; could I look on you as now, if you were to annihilate me?’ Then the youth Phosphorus kissed the Lily; and as if penetrated with light, it mounted up in flame, out of which issued a foreign being, that hastily flying from the valley, roved forth into endless space, no longer heeding its old playmates, or the youth it had loved. The youth mourned for his lost beloved; for he too loved her, it was love to the fair Lily that had brought him to the lone valley; and the granite rocks bent down their heads in participation of this grief.

“But one of these opened its bosom, and there came a black-winged dragon flying out of it, who said: ‘My brethren, the Metals are sleeping in there; but I am always brisk and waking, and will help you.’ Dashing forth on its black pinions, the dragon at last caught the being which had sprung from the Lily; bore it to the hill and encircled it with his wing; then was it the Lily again; and its love for the youth Phosphorus was a cutting pain, before which, as if breathed on by poisonous vapours, the flowrets which had onced rejoiced in the fair Lily’s presence, faded and died.

“The youth Phosphorus put on a glittering coat of mail, sporting with the light in a thousand hues, and did battle with the dragon, who struck the cuirass with his black wing, till it rung and sounded; and at this loud clang the flowrets again came to life, and like variegated birds fluttering round the dragon, whose force departed, and who, thus being vanquished, hid himself in the depths of the earth. The Lily was freed; the youth Phosphorus clasped her, full of warm longing, of heavenly love; and in triumphant chorus, the flowers, the birds, nay, even the high granite rocks, did reverence to her as the Queen of the Valley.”

–from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Golden Flower Pot

Keys in the Dark

Posted in Beauty, genius, God(s), Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, society, The Arts, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2008 by wizardsmoke

A genius is their own reward, eh? What of it??! Does that mean they’re supposed to be poor or something? You could say that geniuses are the pinnacle of nature (at least that’s what Spare would say — that humble soul!), that they carry the lead melodies of humanity.

In the totally amazing, gory and tragic Japanese manga/anime Berserk, one of the characters espouses the potent view that there are a select number of people who are like the “keys to the world”, existing outside of the common divisions of class, ethnicity and culture. They are responsible for the mass movements of mankind and culture, though they are not always celebrated openly. Their influence stretches deeply, through all the veins of human experience.

Yah, okay, I follow that. It’s fairly factual. Of course, a genius is exaggerated by their interaction with non-genii, ‘coz every single thing exists in contrast to something else. If a genius is like the lead melody in a song, it is remarkable in contrast to the chordal movements progressing underneath it. Without those, the melody might be beautiful, but it loses a lot of its color and character.

Yet still — those mass chordal movements, they are not as distinguished, beautiful or pristine. They are not as initially noticeable because they are slightly rugged and blend together. Isn’t that true when you hear a song? I mean, the average person, the first thing they notice — maybe the only thing — is the lead melody or the vocal melody. A lot of people do not hear anything else, such as the production, chord changes, compositional sense of pacing, etc. Even though the rhythmic properties are the necessary footsteps to realizing the pinnacle of the song.

The melodies, they are what we worship. Nobody venerates the simplest mundane tasks in a song. We approve and acknowledge and give credit where credit’s due, but that’s about it. Because the rhythm isn’t so glorious. And isn’t that the case with history and the gods? The melodies of humanity — the notable faces, stories and figures — we remember the glorious moments, the ones that stick out to us vibrantly, even though they can merely be cases of “standing on the shoulder(s) of giants”.

Perhaps it is as Einstein originally said, in a discussion with Rabindranath Tagore: line is older than color. And melody is older than harmony. Aren’t the oldest dreams of humanity, those tales of the gods — aren’t they the tales of heroic and mischievous deeds rather than tales of democracy and community? In other words, don’t we remember the old melodies instead of the old chord progressions?

The thing is, an insightful person can see the chord changes by the direction of the melody, or at least have a hint as to how it goes/went. “A fool sees not the same tree a wise man sees.”

Eight basic energies

Posted in Exercise, martial arts, Mysticism, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , on August 26, 2008 by wizardsmoke

In the magical science of Taijiquan, there are eight basic movements. They are the fundamental ways to react to oncoming force and neutralize it. A lot of martial arts and philosophies actually have eight basic movements/ideas/potentials, so it’s not that big of deal (or maybe that means it is). But I’m just talking about Taijiquan here so lets keep moving.

These basic movements all represent a kind of energy. When you’re pulling someone off balance, you’re using cai or “pulling” energy. When you suddenly expand your arms to block a hooking punch, you’re using peng or “ward-off” energy. There are distinct moves in Taijiquan forms that implement these basic movements; in fact the forms are pretty much exclusively made up of variations on them. But the thing is, we can’t get attached to the actual movements themselves. We want to implement into our minds, as if some kind of full-body hermetic tantra, the ideas behind these various energies.

So the eight basic movements really exist symbolically. That means, every time something expands, it is peng energy. Every time something is efficiently shrouded and deflected, that’s lu or “roll-back” energy. Within these definitions, the movements work like the Hermetic ideas about the elements — that fire represents expansion and the notion of heat, whereas water represents contraction and the fundamental notion of cold. Similarly, in Chinese five-element philosophy, the elements are (obviously) symbolic. For example, metal symbolizes things rendered and removed from direct association with the earth or elements (tools, technology, and so forth).

The movement of various energies becomes a mental exercise. After training with physical structural concepts for a while, one practices with others, and here one becomes adept at maintaining utmost single-pointed concentration side-by-side with sensitive “listening” skills. By harmonizing the basic energies with the body movements, one begins to respond appropriately to physical engagements by perceiving the duifang (uke, opponent, whatever) intimately in the mind — as a subtler mental manifestation. This is where one begins to “see into the 4th dimension”.

What really kicks ass about all this is that one gets to the point where the physical senses no longer are the primary sense faculties. They certainly are in so much as they indicate immediate qualitative distinctions in the immediate physical environment to the individual’s brain. But they cannot project onto our minds the bigger cosmic picture, they cannot sense predators or impending catastrophe. It is only as these peripheral, intuitive mental faculties increase in sensitivity from our training (again, not necessarily MA or Taiji), a greater awareness of the universe opens up.

100 Posts of Solitude

Posted in Exercise, Fighting, Reality Bites, society with tags , , , , on August 25, 2008 by wizardsmoke

*gasp* *pant* *wheeze* I made it! *hack* 100 posts! *cough* A real achievement here at WS HQ, considering: (A) life is suffering and (B) I’m perpetually disheartened and demoralized by my insufficient writing ability. So…. pat yourself on the back, ‘Smoke! You’re a survivor! (Thus far…)

Now… the Olympics are a weird tradition, full of creepy events (underdeveloped teenage girls in skimpy leotards doing horrific contortionist acrobatic maneuvers) which are all at once alluring, intoxicating and yet so utterly empty and soulless. Which pretty/strong young things shall we sacrifice to the gods this time around? Nationalism is pretty dead, yet the Olympics trudge onward into oblivion — because the gods need to eat!

I think some things are cool in the Olympics, but the athletes (at least in the individualized events) have to sacrifice their youth to get to that point. It’s a celebration of the pinnacle of physical achievements, but at the same time it means nothing because it is so fleeting. Never mind the natural physical dilapidation from old age…

Hee hee, that’s why I sorta scoff at the team sports, full of typical twenty-something jocks. No way is the pressure cooking on these punks the way it is on the 15 year old girls competing for China! Consider the insane performance pressure put on the underage girls; I bet those kids need affirmation and approval from adults/superiors for the rest of their lives.

If you ask me, the Olympics are basically only the lunatic performance/race events: gymnastics, track/field, diving/swimming, etc. The team sports are just there to make it longer. ‘Coz who really cares about that team stuff? Team stuff is losing track of what the Olympics were all about: “wrestling” matches to the death! For real, old school Greek wrestling was basically kill or be killed: anything-goes nude fighting.

The Olympics also make me think about the fact that sports are male-created military simulations. Sure, it’s obvious — especially when you look at football and rugby and so forth. But! the main point is: the only difference between sports and actual battle (besides the obvious intentional deaths) is that sports have rules. As soon as you add rules to a competition it pretty much becomes identified as a sport.

People want their kids to play sports in order to develop “sportsmanship” (whatever that is), and be social and healthy. But really they want their kids to be competitive — to triumph over other kids. It’s also an opportunity to dominate a place in the social hierarchy and so forth. As Conan might describe it, “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”

In the end, the Olympics are a huge letdown. All moments of glory — they’re so… bittersweet. The moments of Olympic glory seem a little overdone/phoned-in/commercialized, but all heroism is ultimately the same in the way it is so fleeting. Total gangland warfare!

Of course, the real letdown of the Olympics in the USA was the horrible, horrible coverage by the NBC-affiliated TV stations and the conniving, racist American commentators. And where was the Judo, Tae Kwon Do, archery, fencing? And most importantly — why didn’t one channel show every single women’s volleyball match? Why did we miss a single one of those matches with their consistently captivating, uh…. volleys? For shame!

Come unto me, sycophants…

Posted in Doom and Evil, Reality Bites with tags , , , on August 16, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Looks like I’ll be out of the office for a week, starting tomorrow/today. I’m going on vacation — someone from my trusted inner circle has offered to whisk me away; I’m off to beautiful, remote Atlantic beaches to partake of dangerously delicious samsaric delights!

Hey, pipe down! I’ll only be gone for a week! Here….take my hankerchief. Sorry, it’s just…. even I need a vacation every once in a while! I can’t be pampering and spoiling you with all this high-fallutin’ self-absorbed nonsense 365 days a year. After all, when you’re in trouble, you’re on your own. I won’t be there to hand you your opinion.

On that note: the best way to avoid mental suffering is to avoid making conscious value judgments. Finalized opinions on things are always wrong. They always bring regrets. ‘Coz everything changes: abilities, opinions, perceptive range, influences, and so it goes forever. I mean, isn’t it totally useless information when someone else says “Mr. Wang is a good person” or “the new Batman movie was bad”? Totally insignificant information. It’s not really information. The best you can hope for from these comments is cleverness or comedic entertainment.

In fact, only lazy people genuinely want to hear broad “value-based” opinions from other people. I’ve tended to believe that the act of asking another person a question is a way of trying to shirk personal responsibility. It seems like an attempt to place one’s own well-being in the hands of another. Religious salvation!

But yeah, at the same time, having an opinion is important, right? You can’t just dance to somebody else’s tune all the time (ahem!). Then you’re only half-alive. I guess value judgments are just emotional reactions or exaggerations of how we perceive other things in the world. I think this is where academic critique comes into the picture, as something that attempts to be more objective.

Ah, but really my point is that pretty much every decision brings some potential for regret, all sympathies are manipulations, one can always be nicer or meaner, and all conscious intentional actions are arrogant ones. And so I rave.

House of pain

Posted in Beauty, Buddhism, death, Doom and Evil, Fighting, Happiness, Reality Bites, sex, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I actually find the writing aspect of this whole “blog” thing to be monotonous and unsuccessful. No matter how fast I write, it’s never fast enough. Just like everything else, it in itself can’t actually satisfy me or communicate anything properly. I always want more, more, more! ‘Spose I’m just another human who wants to bite off more than he can chew. But maybe that’s the wrong phrasing, as even eating is such a dreadful bore!

Yeah, even eating occurs to me as another thing I just have to do which I’d rather not do (almost all the way up there with excreting waste). Like everything else, it seems really wonderful at first (consuming the food, when you’re hungry) but then becomes uninteresting, and even painful, as you continue doing it. How depressing that is! It reminds me that all things are like that: sex, violence, eating, excreting, using ‘n abusing, music, art, movies, vacations, work, friends, countries, money, blogs, sleep, reading, etcetera ad infinitum. They’re all satisfying, temporarily, only in contrast to these other things that also eventually become tiresome chores.

But surely we all know why all the things we do are unsatisfying. It’s because they’re all conditioned phenomena. They’re all doomed to die and fail. Isn’t death just total failure? Totally unimaginative (in)activity? Fortunately it makes life look sorta beautiful, because if animals just walked around and shat everywhere and ate food and fought amongst themselves for all eternity, this would be a purely hellish existence. At certain times, death is a blessing.

It seems like everything is manifestation of desire — of violence. That epic drive to soar: that’s violence. It’s in each and every one of us. Not that the desire itself is inherently bad, but typically we point our desire at a stupid target that doesn’t yield permanent results. And to get the results of your desire, you have to make sacrifices. Sacrificing good things to get a stupid desire (like a lousy spouse, a high-paying job, a higher position in the cult) is really just sad — IMHO, LOL!

The quest(ion) then, is this: can the “epic drive”, the fundamental “violent desire” that causes the universe to exist via some sort of sexual and explosive penetration — can this drive be used to cut the fabric itself? And if it can, what the hell was the point of creating the fabric in the first place? Probably no real reason, since everything that exists is arguing (aggressively) for its own existence. Just more explosive violence.

I think when you realize this conundrum, you understand the whole “samsara is actually nirvana” thing they always chant in describing the Buddha’s enlightenment.