Archive for death


Posted in Doom and Evil, Fighting, Happiness, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2009 by wizardsmoke

The times in my adult life that I’ve actually cried were not from periods of grief, calamity, extended depression or “sadness”. No, I’ve often found that tears come in times of last-minute catharsis. Sure, you could say an excess of joy weeps, but I think it’s more like, reassurance in the face of impending despair. That is, the happy or joyous things that make me cry do so because I realize suddenly that they almost didn’t happen. Considering how much of life is rough around the edges, cold, lonely, prickly, and so forth — when something really nice happens it’s such a spiked contrast. Really horrible things, they simply rob a person of emotional output — they’re catatonic experiences.

Watching a film like Barefoot Gen makes me want to cry. Ah, I’m no stranger to sad or depressing movies; but Barefoot Gen is like if you combined the two Ghibli films, Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro — both totally heart-rending films — into one horrific account of the Hiroshima bomb blast.

Anyway, truly nice things and people are pretty rare. It takes a lot of strength to do things selflessly, being able to do good things without freezing up or letting oneself become drained or emotional. I admire people who can do that, even if I have trouble expressing it. But I wonder where this all contrasts with the necessities of the world today. Israel/Palestine, Russia/Georgia, US/Iraq, African genocides, indigenous peoples, etc. How nice can you be when you’re forced to choose loyalties between military powers or states or religious conflicts? People talk all big about principles and ethics and morals, but I think everyone fundamentally chooses their family and friends before ideologies.

I guess really nice people have no loyalties to anyone in particular, just a particular set of moral qualities. But that is directly threatening or at odds with nation-state laws. And that’s why some things are so tear-jerking — because they’re so rare. After all, to reign people in, to keep order and live in organized societies, we need brutal laws which punish people inappropriately to their actions.

(Twitter Smoke?)

Posted in death, love, Philosophy, sex, sex and violence, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Time for a (tiny!) new post. Which means WS is going to write about one of two things:

  1. Love (sex)
  2. Death (violence)

Or maybe both. Because all existence is an obsessive dance with this pair. They’re the fundamental principles upon which all drama, all stories, all existence is based. It’s not a huge shocker, so I don’t think it’s worth consciously thinking about or worrying about too much. But it is certainly interesting. How perverse that I would find these concepts almost more alluring than the subjects they point to, eh?

Yeah, sometimes I worry I’ll get to the point where I find sex and violence so boring that I’ll simply forget to exist.

Something quite impossible

Posted in Beauty, death, Drug Abuse, Happiness, love, Reality Bites, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , on September 8, 2008 by wizardsmoke

And one thing I have learned, or I’m learning – I think I’m learning it – is that your life is not a story. So when something like this [tumor] happens to you, it’s kind of futile to go back through your life and ask, “What did I do wrong? Was it playing with the asbestos dust in the construction yard? Was it the carbon tetrachloride used to kill the butterflies? Was it daily Cannabis for 28 years?” —Terrence McKenna

I have always had some crazy stuff going on with my spine: scoliosis, herniated discs and disc degeneration, pre-mature curvature of the spine, one leg longer than the other — all since I was a wee little tyke. A real sob story, I know, haha. But in truth, for these among other reasons, I thought I was going to die or end up living in seriously reduced circumstances a few times in my life. Those were pretty scary passages of time.

The interesting part about almost dying, or sensing your innate mortality or whatever, is that the typical things in life that pissed you off, the people you hated or were afraid of, they just float away and become totally irrelevant things. The only things that resonate with you towards the end are the honest feelings of personal integrity, the fleeting nature of every experience, the well-being of those close to you, and so forth. Obvious stuff, but all the obvious things escape us when they aren’t hammer-smashed into our direct perceptions and experiences by our life circumstances.

The unorthodox North American mushroom-ayahuasca philosopher Terrence McKenna apparently spent many years traveling all over India, looking for esoteric truth, but all he found was “old-man wisdom”. Ahaha, of course, he could’ve just hung out with Jhanananda, but no… he spent his days tripping like crazy on the strongest psychedelic drugs possible. He did do an interesting cultural service by recording his trips in very concrete terms and concise language, and even came up with some interesting ideas about 2012, time, space and aliens. But eventually he was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor in his mid-40s. The thing is, being given 6 months or so to live totally changed his perception of the world. All of sudden, things like an insect moving across the ground became amazingly beautiful to him.

We never see this stuff until it’s shoved in front of our faces. That recognition of impermanence is the beginning of that “old man wisdom.” It’s a horrifying thing, and yet liberating from those desires for a fleshly pleasure and permanence that absolutely cannot exist. It is ultimately revealing and yet I’ve known friends who absolutely cannot deal with the consequences of mortality, were horribly inconsolable on psychedelic drugs and then spend their waking/sober moments trying as hard as possible to push death and mortality out of their heads. Not just pushing it aside to be productive, but actively forcing themselves to deny it. What a disturbing way to live.

Life is short and when you live as though every moment were your last, it becomes a lot more meaningful and bittersweet. Then you’re generally a much nicer person who uses their time more intelligently. Still, what’s amazing is that so many folks can read Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and somehow not take its message to heart…

‘Maybe I did not live as I ought to have done,’ it suddenly occurred to him. ‘But how could that be, when I did everything properly?’ he replied, and immediately dismissed from his mind this, the sole solution of all the riddles of life and death, as something quite impossible.

Treading water…

Posted in Buddhism, death, love, Mysticism, Reality Bites, Religion, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2008 by wizardsmoke

You can cut up atoms and particles as much as you want, peer into black holes, and measure dark matter. But matter is just a changing frothy foam — the icing on the cake. It is not the end-game. It is just some ephemeral smoke rising off of the water. It’s not totally fake, but it’s not permanent and you can’t somehow empirically cut through it to find the underworld or the gods or the secret of existence. You have to see the bigger picture in the back of your mind and in your imagination.

But, if you don’t have the total ultimate big picture — if you haven’t completely obliterated the walls of perception, the fetters of becoming, and all conditioning — then you still have to live with pain and the uncertainty of a higher perspective that you can’t understand. There are still realms that you will encounter in which you will be a total n00b, a total clueless casualty.

For most of us stuck here on the human realm, what is more frightening than the deathless, the Bardo, the afterword to this mortal coil? It’s not necessarily frightening because of the pain (whether physical or emotional), nor because of fear of a divine punishment, nor because it’s going to be empty or non-existent or meaningless. It’s frightening because in our unfamiliarity, in our naivete, we’ll shirk and shrink and tense up violently and cause worse damage to ourselves than if we would just relax.

That’s what you learn over time from taking impacts: fighting, tumbling, crashing. You realize that the more you relax, the heavier the impact you can take without longterm or serious physical damage. Well, it’s the same with everything emotional/psychological, too.

Death? For most of us that’s worse than being thrown in the water without knowing how to swim. Which is what life is, right? Splashing around in this tight wet-suit, making things worse than they actually are, drowning because of our incompetence and inability to relax. I don’t know if I necessarily flock to religions, but I can certainly appreciate them. The samsaric ocean can be so intimidating.

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.

Bark at the Moon

Posted in death, Fighting, sex and violence, society, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , on March 5, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I just finished Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe. That’s a depressing one. It’s fiction, but manages to leave you feeling like it was a Primo Levi memoir. It’s a World War II story about the cruelness of strangers, kind of like that old Studio Ghibli animated film, Grave of the Fireflies.

I don’t know how to feel about horribly sad, depressing art and history. It has a place, but the people who are scholars of that stuff often get ensnared by the energy around the events. It’s like staring at a full moon every night. Of course, they’re necessary academics, since various parties are constantly trying to bend or warp the historical significance of events even when people fight to preserve their memories. That’s why we have more and more people these days who are Holocaust deniers or extreme nationalists in old Soviet-bloc countries. Maybe due in part to the internet, the power of political correctness has been waning in recent years.

Society never cares about anything besides the power/money/sex trinity. I can never tell if it’s better when society and the media pretend we don’t care about those shallow things, or when it acknowledges that we do and openly celebrates them. I suppose the latter brings the worse results. Regardless of which state we’re in, the strange thing is how violence and sex exist in our world. How, without them, there is no real life as we know it. To most of us, what’s the point of life if there is no violence or sex? When people are romantic or have fantasies about almost anything, it involves some kind of violence and sex. Or maybe I’m just a dude.

People are way too intrigued by fantasies and drama. Drama is such a ridiculous idea to me. Just the other day I read a letter response in the Washington Post by relationship guru, Carolyn Hax, that put it pretty succinctly:

[We] live in a society that can’t get enough of fictional death, but prefers the real thing to be pat, antiseptic, and (this is key) offstage.

One might infer that this is true of all societies, that people wish to live adventure and tragedy vicariously through entertainment and storytelling only. But what is crazy is how adventure and tragedy itself is not so fun, it’s a process of being grounded in the moment and persevering through it; it takes deep responsibility. So, the general perspective is something I just don’t understand. I don’t decry it — I mean that it’s just crazy if you think about it. Little boys play with G.I. Joes and pretend to be soldiers or something violent, and then grow up to decry war and violence (or even ignorantly participate in it). People like to sample tastes of things, not actually eat a whole meal. Dojo rats of the space-time sphere!

The conundrum of violence: violence is ugly and horrible, but is the blatant manifestation of social frictions and desires. In other words, violence is a component of existence. What comes into being without violence? Can sex exist without violence? That’s why the key to peaceful existence is letting go of our negative impulses or attachments. Dwelling on an emotion is like praying to a god.

Incidentally, there are some good things being written in the the newest post from Meng-wu at Hermit’s Thatch, where he drops observational gems such as:

Today, when death is a drawn-out process of enormous expense, bureaucracy, and distraction, the tranquility and equanimity needed to reflect and sum it up is cheated from the dying.

Amen, brother. I doth quote Bon Jovi when I say, “Take me down in a blaze of glory.”

Check it out

Posted in Monasticism, Reality Bites, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I hate doing stuff. I’m a chronically lazy person. Except when it comes to this. Or that. Or things that are not in the least bit lucrative. Interesting? It isn’t.

I’ve never been friends with anyone who naturally liked to make money. Or pursue women. I guess I distanced myself on purpose. Because, really, that stuff takes work, right? I just want to hang out and do nothing. That’s my problem with the ladies that have been in my life — I let them down because I never want to do anything!

Ah, Willie B, what did he say? “The busy bee has no time for misery”. True enough, but the busy bee also misses out on wonder, on wandering through the realms of imagination that make life worth living (or create life in the first place). Philosophy is stupid if you’re just out to discuss it, but if you really are down to wonder for the long term then…hey, you’re in the club.

That’s what I meant about men of letters. Who cares about being famous or rich or popular or attractive? Those things just happen. I can’t believe anyone pursues that stuff. For reals. As a certain wise older fellow once told me when I was in a psychedelic induced state a long time ago (FYI: it wasn’t that long ago), there are things in life you can and cannot control. If you can’t control it, don’t worry about it.

Ah, but people have such a hard time determining whether they’re in control. They suffer because they weren’t primed to be rich in this life — they weren’t given the stupid genetic disposition to be a sociopathic business lecher, but they just refuse to accept it. If you want it bad enough, I guess you could get born again into a situation that’s set up to suit your fancy. But look out! That next life might not be you, and you might have some serious karma accrued for the phantasm tollbooth!

This mysterious wise man also told me thus: all the stress in life tends to come from money and possessions. He had almost no possessions and never locked his door. He was also not argumentative or sarcastic like me (grrr…). It all seems pretty obvious, but then I remembered that all my life I’m always stressed out. Yes, even me! It’s true, I’m always looking for something else… Funny, since I never want to do anything, that I’d be looking for something to happen in life, right?

Just having a wallet with IDs, and a car and a computer and musical equipment and people you love. That is stressful! Augh! That’s why monks give it up. They die. They disappear, they are reborn. As monks, head shaven, name changed, they’re all equal inside the pen.

So…since you die in the end, and you don’t take anything with you to the next world except the stupid choices you made in life which left you unhappy — I think it’s more important to die without regrets. Live every moment to the fullest! Which doesn’t mean having sex while sipping champagne and reveling in your mansion, (okay, maybe it kinda does a little) it means to recognize that all the stuff you expect and look for in life is actually here right now.

I guess everyone does the money/sex/power angle because they already figured this out. I’m behind the ball, as usual.