Archive for romance

Self-help: peons, paradise and panache…

Posted in Daoism, Happiness, health, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, self-help, tai chi, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2009 by wizardsmoke

There are a lot of self-help guides and ideas floating around out there. Ways to become powerful, to become successful, confident, how to seize the day, etc. They’re mostly gibberish because they pitch no real skill. To address real problems of confidence takes practice in an area relating to the problem. How do you cease social anxiety? How do you take down violent criminals or fight off bullies? How do you talk to attractive men or women? How do you stand up to your boss? How do you find a soul-mate, a great teacher, or a great skill? How do you make a lot of money on the stock-market? How do you attain non-craving or non-attachment and ultimate supreme enlightenment?

The same way you do anything: you practice the necessary skill until it becomes normal. You do it until it is no longer an unusual thing, it becomes routine. So much crap in life, so much unnecessary mental suffering is really just people whining — people trying to avoid doing the grunt work. The grunt work is all there is! Civilization is built upon shitty jobs! When you fuck up — do it again! Do it again! Again! Again!!!!!

In fact, in life we should never expect any kind of perfection or success. Life is constant struggle, constant change — diamonds are mined from hard work, and nothing else. Any successful person, who did not have to do any hard work or hard practice to get to their position of influence or affluence, is worthless. They do not know what they are doing. They are the spoiled prince, the media heiress, the run-of-the-mill actor, the corrupt politician, the failed business tycoon; they are the true meaning of charlatan, poseur, parasite and liar. The depth of their ugliness is endless.

And so it is with everything. If you want the bigger returns, you need to put in more effort than other people.
This is why having competition amongst fellow students, friends and family can be a good thing. We are forced to practice and improve ourselves with our free time. Life’s rewards are the personal results of hard work. Too many people just sit on their asses watching mediocre television shows every night, while looking for love in the gutter (bars and clubs) on the weekends.

And not that anyone is ever satisfied by romantic love no matter how much they yearn for it. Every other person I meet who finds out I’m deep into Taiji or music, they immediately fire off some nonsense about how they really want to start learning that stuff. But almost none of them will ever start. Why? What do they want, free lessons? My approval? All a person needs to make life reasonably fulfilling is a couple of things rewarding practices to pass the time, things that you would hate yourself for not doing.

The worst thing I can imagine doing is taking some salaried job in a corporation, so that I can buy a house in a developed community and raise kids in a world I never fully comprehended in the first place. And yet, the irony is that this is the grunt work, the shitty job, of civilization. A lot of people try to fill their existential hole with sex, drugs, money, kids, status, power, religion, and a million other things. And they’re unsatisfied. They have nothing. Because there is nothing, but they only know that intellectually, not experientially. And so it goes on.

Learning multiple skills is essential to understanding the essence of metaphor. Metaphorical understanding and realization is valuable stuff, as Aristotle put it:

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor… it is also the sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.

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No more tears

Posted in Beauty, Buddhism, Christianity, Cults, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , on September 7, 2008 by wizardsmoke

In some sense, romantic ideals create delusions of purpose and concrete meaning (romanticism carries a notion of “victory”). Even positive romantic sensibilities — the desire to help others, to save others, to create balance, to liberate everyone, to change the world — these are all romantic fantasies. They often have little to do with the present moment and result in emotional states. Real compassion isn’t necessarily defined by lending out a helping hand or martyrdom.

Romance is often queued by cults and manipulative propaganda in order to ensnare victims in an agenda. The romance of having a divine message or purpose, of doing good or committing justice… this is all so fishy! Ah, not that these things are wrong, but… Romance — just that word which we commonly attribute to dramatic or loving sexual relationships — it is the transmission of a captivating and powerful message which one longs to believe in.

But to get to the bottom of it all, one goes beyond even romance. Romance has an agenda at the end of the day. Sure, everything has a romantic angle. Even the most profound practices have to start with a romantic motivation. But real (natural) power, once it starts to appear in one’s experience, comes from going beyond romantic notions. Romance is like a welling or surging wave of emotion in the mind which makes one temporarily blind and vulnerable to the will of another. The romantic notion is an attractant, a torrent which lures one into its whirlpool. It can often be another’s vanity reflected in our own mind.

Still, it’s kinda funny, because without any romance in the first place, there’d be no beauty in life and no obstacles or waves to overcome in building up natural power. Isn’t that right? We all cry about how painful life is, but then we all want the pain in order to prove how strong we are by overcoming it all and subsequently telling other people how great we are.

Love (in four acts)

Posted in love, Poetry, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, society, Technology, Wizard Quotes, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Frankly I’m sick of hearing about love. But it’s the main thing everyone in the universe is infatuated with. No matter the flavor, isn’t everything that causes existence a manifestation of the same root? The same springboard of love? Bah!!!

But still, let’s talk about romantic love again, even though I know nothing about it.

As an immature young whipper-snapper on the quest for idealistic romance, I tended to rationalize or theorize about love, about how it should work out best, or how I might be able to find a “soul mate”. Following this blind idealistic view, I remember I tended to categorize potential mates on a grid with two axis: “X” indicated pure physical attraction and “Y” was personal compatibility, understanding, chemistry, emotional resonance, etc.

Thus my dorky teenage model was: (optimal attraction) x (optimal personal compatibility) = (love of life)

Obviously the problem with this simplistic model is that there are no clear divisions between physical attraction and emotional/individual personality compatibility. Nor is there necessarily any reason for any two people to fall in love without a pretext under which to meet or befriend each other. Isn’t this why so many people fall in love after going through a serious or difficult ordeal together? It’s the same as a bond made between soldiers who live and fight together, really.

In fact, I find that this is a real problem with online dating services, that there is no motivation and no spontaneity to breathe romantic life into potential courtships. Dating services tend to categorize matches based on shallow personal interests and likes/dislikes, when love is not something you can gauge. And the things most of us write about ourselves are too one-sided or dishonest to be particularly useful in a romantic dating service search.

But people want company. I understand. I can’t blame ’em, really, since I feel that way too on occasion. The real tricky thing about love, and life in general, is that your perspective of it changes over time. And love itself changes with age and maturity. When sexual feelings are strongest it is most related to physical attraction or emotional chemistry, and later in life it often becomes a product of compatibility or peer admiration.

In my current dorky system of love analysis, I like to separate romance into four stages, representing the four seasons:

(1) Spring/youth — Here love is driven mainly by a physical, sexual attraction and lustful urges.

(2) Summer/young adulthood — This kind of love is accompanied by emotional longing, explosive chemistry and new realizations about what makes another person sexually alluring.

(3) Autumn/adulthood — Here the idea of romance factors in one’s lifestyle, moral upstanding, personal compatibility (i.e. things outside of mere shared interests) and mutual longterm goals.

(4) Winter/old age — I think in the final evolution of romance, before it returns to pure physical attraction, it is about simple companionship. Here I think people become less critical of each other’s interests or physical qualities and merely crave good company.

These are all slightly different manifestations of love, and I’d surely have argued at one point in my life that so-called “youthful love” is just attachment to lust. But to that extent, all of these categories are lustful attachments! I think the reason so many people don’t easily fall in love for extended periods of time these days, or the reason divorce rates are so high, is because people think about their choices too much. We’re too judgmental of each other. A plethora of choices and opportunities makes the attention span suffer.

But, eventually people become old and the final stage of love descends. There’s no escape from these sentiments if you seek to “fall in love” with another human, but it becomes harder to meet people as we age, so it’s a good idea to factor in all of these long-term interests when searching for intimacy.

***

Soon I grew and happy too
My very good friends and me
We’d play all day and Sally J.
The girl from number four
And very soon I begged her,

“Won’t you keep me company?”

Now marriage is an institution sure
My wife and I, our needs and nothing more,

all my friends by a year, by and by disappear
But we’re safe enough behind our door.

I flourished in my humble trade
My reputation grew
The work devoured my waking hours
But when my time was through
Reward of all my efforts my own limited company

I hardly noticed Sally as we
Parted company
All through the years in the end it appears
There was never really anyone but me

Now I’m old I puff my pipe
But no one’s there to see

I ponder on the lesson of
My life’s insanity
Take care of those you call your own
And keep good company

Queen; “Good Company” from A Night at the Opera

True Romance

Posted in Beauty, love, martial arts, Relationships, sex, society, The Media, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , on July 3, 2008 by wizardsmoke

My darling, you are too lovely to ever truly be loved.

I’ve written about love before. Not that I actually know anything about it, hee hee! It seems like life is one big love triangle because we always expect something in return. We want those things we love for ourselves. Isn’t this what pushes everything away in the end? Possession and control. But everything in nature can only be absorbed. You don’t find things, they come to you. That’s where opportunity strikes. As they say in Taijiquan: “let the thief into the house”.

Nearly everyone experiences at one time or another the illusions of a romantic fantasy, the embellishment of another person in their mind; a person who is either not reciprocal in their affections or does not actually exist the way one imagines them to be. And many people become lost or jaded when they discover that their internal notion of romantic love was largely a fantasy.

But some other people find this realization to be liberating. For how could life be any other way? It’s easy to speculate upon the world, or how things might be, but it’s impractical. That is, an untamed and emotional imagination is not going to shape the world in its own image. The world will chew it up and make it sick or complicated.

Imagination is very important in all walks of life. Life itself is imagined into being on some level; physical and emotional reality is like the untamed “fungus” in the universal cosmos. Life is a potent dream that we are living. But to make our individual dreams become real, we have to project our entire efforts into living, not more dreaming (personally I still struggle with this conundrum).

I once saw a pretty good debate between a priest and a Satanist. The priest posited that the astral realm is only problematic in that a lot of occult groups stress too much emphasis on acting within it. But when people resolve themselves to act only in the astral realm and begin to ignore the importance of consistency and willpower in daily life, they begin to live in a fantasy world. Astral projection can become like playing World of Warcraft every day and ignoring the obligations of daily life. These people become hippies, New Agers, and so forth.

Both Taijiquan and Budo Taijutsu (and probably other arts) use the Chinese character for perseverance as their symbol. The art of perseverance is the only thing necessary to survive in the universe or succeed at any thing. To live on your own terms or create the world you wish to live in, you have to embody perseverance. As one walks down this path, the things in life that once seemed so difficult are mere trifles. The hardships of daily life becomes one’s training ground, one’s partner.

As everyone in the universe will tell you: hard work is what counts. Even if you don’t have any talent, hard work will save you in the end. Hard work is what gains recognition and the trust of others. A person with talent is nothing without ability and a person with ability is nothing without hard work.

The hardest work of all is loving someone for who they are, selflessly. Love without expectations! I’ve heard that extra-marital affairs are not frowned upon in French society and furthermore, in some traditions with fixed marriages, a passionate affair can be a holy or positive event. Even love has different faces, it would seem. But those passionate love affairs burn out, don’t they? So how can they be any kind of true love? They are more like obsessions.

Perhaps the best exposition on love ever put to film is the 1945 French movie, Les Enfants du Paradis. Only a fool would miss that one!

Eternity’s Tune

Posted in Beauty, God(s), Happiness, love, Mysticism, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , on May 25, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Eternity is in love with the productions of time. —Willie B.

Romance is a product of impermanence. Romance is the simultaneous pleasure of something you enjoy mixed with the sadness of knowing its impermanence — spun together with a sentimental, very human reflection. In this way, humanity is different from the gods in how we reflect upon our lot. Gods are very one-pointed in desire, whereas humans are capable of being multi-faceted.

For some reason, melancholic or sad music resonates much more deeply than upbeat or casual music. It’s not that the music is necessarily better, but sadness and melancholy are such potent emotional nerves. Sad music is so strong, like these feelings are closer to the “source of emotions” or the “emotional generator” or some such nonsense. Not a good place to be astrally obsessed with, hee hee!

(It’s interesting, that emotional states correspond to different parts of the body. When something gets you “right in the gut” it’s prolly ‘coz the second chakra pertains to the gut or lower abdomen, water, the color blue, and feelings of sadness and vulnerability…)

Every musician has melancholic moments. If they don’t, they’ve got nothing to say artistically. The problem is that most artists, musicians, people in general, don’t have very profound melancholy. True melancholy does not necessarily have to do with giving up, being miserable or in pain, but with the fact that despite one’s efforts, impermanence sweeps all things away. It reminds one of the great god Brahma, a being whose existence is far beyond our feeble mortal receptors. Our entire cosmos is merely a single one of his/her dreams. And yet, even Brahma must pass away in time.

When we think of the “music of the spheres” or the “laughter of the immortals” (or anything else mentioned by Hermann Hesse in Steppenwolf) on the surface it describes some kind of spiritual triumph. But beauty, and eternity, and that laughter, is all of the revelation of cosmic romance, the dual wings of happiness and melancholy, in the most condensed experience possible. It’s like, the pure experience of the fabric of reality is the finest, most concentrated bliss and sadness, so entwined that they no longer can be discerned from one another.

Romeo I is not

Posted in Buddhism, love, martial arts, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, Uncategorized, World of Emotions with tags , , on May 9, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Romantic love is so crazy. It perplexes me. There’s this idea that people have gotten in their heads that there’s some other half out there (who we need or yearn for emotionally) that will put an end to our suffering or make us happy. I heard a talk by Ajahn Brahmavamso back in the day where he says that romance goes back to to 14th century troubadours or something of that ilk. I’d like to agree and write it off that way, but what about all the Greek myths and plays about tragedy and love? Love, an emotional attachment filled with sexual longing and hyper-real fantasy is an ancient drive. (And before you get all emotionally twisted, just remember — I’m not saying romantic love is purely a fantasy)

I’ve been known to talk about how having kids removes all the time from one’s schedule. Well, you know what? So does having a job, or a lover, or a really cheesy blog. Tonight my friend mentioned how he read a study indicating that wealthier people often have higher levels of stress or anxiety. He jokingly mentioned we can either be poor or unhappy. And romance didn’t even come into the equation! I wonder if romance even has much to do with happiness? Ack! But the drives are so powerful!

I’ve encountered a fair number of people practicing martial arts or various self-defense ideas (guns/weapons, business rhetoric, law, and so forth) and a large number of them are doing it because they want to protect their families. Fair enough — who doesn’t? It’s just… you have to be careful you don’t become a mobster.

For example, I knew a really good martial arts master — one who I otherwise admire for a variety of reasons including his martial skill — who once mentioned to me over dinner, that if someone ever sold any of his kids drugs, he’d slit the person’s throat. That statement has always disturbed me on an ethical level. Because people are in a constant process of change, and I know from experience that not all people do various things (drugs, religion, martial arts) for the same reasons. It’s not like only one person is at fault when distributing drugs.

Killing is not something I condone, and it’s a pretty pathetic action to take when it can be avoided. It would seem that most murders are done in emotional states, often spurned by romance. So many fights are over romantic or lustful interests. I’d like to think males wouldn’t fight so much if there were no women to impress, but then again look at prisons or private schools (but then again, those people are in shackles…).

Romance is complicated because it is never satiated or satisfied. It is in a constantly changing process. Relationship gurus and so forth talk about how loving relationships mature and grow and change, but they’re the same as all other relationships except sex is involved. Sure sure, that makes all the difference I guess.

If you wanna get all metaphysical about it, physical love is the ultimate distraction. And sexual desire is the main fetter tying one to existence. But cosmic love, that’s a different thing entirely. I ain’t raggin’ on that one, ya heard?

And if you is wondering: I’m not celibate. I’m a chump like everyone else.

Ocean Gradients

Posted in Happiness, love, Relationships, Uncategorized, World of Emotions with tags , , on April 16, 2008 by wizardsmoke

The crazy thoughts I had as a kid seem so refreshing these days. Useless, but so charming! I used to wonder things like, “who has the most absolutely painful life in the universe?” or “who is the most beautiful, attractive woman who has ever existed?” and so on. Nonsensical thoughts, maybe, but curiously appealing nonetheless. Because you know that someone somewhere in this cosmic sea, really has had the more horrific life ever. And someone has been the most beautiful, or charming or smart or kind-hearted, or strong or athletic. There have to have been the best and worst in everything, right? The highest and lowest points of the waves.

Ah, but the quality of everything seems to exist due to a qualitative gradient. You know how it is, everything is only good/bad, exciting/boring in comparison to other things. That’s why we gain experience in things over time: relationships, skills, techniques, expressions — we can only observe how good they are in comparison to how bad we were. Or vice versa. And then amusingly, most of us don’t recognize how valuable something is until we don’t have it.

We consider professional athletes to be so good because compared to us they’re way better. But then you put boxers from different weight classes against each other and it changes things. Or put some super-aliens against NBA players (already done in a film with Michael Jordan called Space Jam) and the NBA players look pitiful!

It works with everything — we just get ensnared by things in comparison, and paradoxically, temporal pleasures of the present moment. You think you’re in love with your first boyfriend until you meet your second boyfriend. It’s just in comparison, right? But at the same time, it’s the different individual flavors which pull you in. You can’t make up your mind! There’s no one best flavor!

Not that our tastes or qualitative measurements are even accurate. Too often people become bored of the rhythm of things and seek some kind of change and become emotionally attached or invested in such a decision (i.e. cheating on a spouse, buying a new car, moving, getting in a fight, finding new friends). Never see what you become, the grass is always greener, etc.

So, what is the difference when we sit “wuwei” — sitting and forgetting? Everything only exists right now, the past and future are just bubbles, thought worlds (like our whole cosmos, haha!), dreams and distractions. This is why, in the present moment we can get rid of mental attachments to pain or pleasure (although it’s usually pain), because there is no qualitative speculation upon anything else. I mean, there is in retrospect, and you react naturally to negative or positive states of mind, but there is no conscious qualitative measure of things in focused awareness.

If you are really good, you can just observe pain as it happens and not get involved, not give into the mental and physical impulses that accompany recognizing it. If you were even better (and possibly crazy/lazy) you could be stabbed or maimed or burned and not get mentally attached to the pain. Deep meditative practices can result in this, the ability to separate one’s mind from sensory conduct and stimulation.