Archive for suffering

Now/never

Posted in Happiness, love, society, World of Emotions with tags , , on April 13, 2009 by wizardsmoke

I think… one main reason there is suffering is because people don’t like what they do. When people do something they do not enjoy, they do not do a good job of what they are doing. I have never, and probably will never, take a typical office job in a bureaucratic or government position, because I would most likely do it terribly. It is not a part of my natural drive, just as I am not driven to deeply pursue cooking, mathematics, marine biology, tax law, and so forth. I have friends who are naturally driven to do cuisine or fine art academia, or management or accounting or business positions. I am not. And so I do not do such things, so I do not put mediocre work into the world.

That’s the reason there’s so much crap on the internet; the internet is full of half-baked ideas, emotional rants, and ideas that are not real natural investments. In some ways it’s a little bit too democratic, giving everyone the right to spout off about stuff as if they know what they’re talking about (What? You feel there’s something ironic about me saying this?). These people are spending too much time on the internet when they could be out doing some hobby or other thing. Of course, the internet seems especially useful to people in rural or extremely cloistered areas, who need some other form of social escape.

One could interpret the infamous Crowley saying, “Do as thou wilt” to simply mean, do as you naturally desire. Not just, do whatever you want, but do what comes to your character most painlessly. It’s almost a useless saying, really, since that’s what people will do if their desire is strong enough. Plus there’s too much mumbo-jumbo complication to cut through with Crowley. But even Plato/Socrates coined virtue as that which we love (unless I’m totally making that up), just as Kierkegaard’s thesis in one of his works was about how purity (and even *cough* purpose!) is found through a single-pointed pursuit. This is also Brad Warner’s favorite explanation of “right action” in life — just do what you naturally do best. And I tend to agree — if a person doesn’t pursue what they love in life, they will become jaded and a dysfunctional member of society. Even when you screw up on pursuing those things you love, you still did them and figured out that they’re stupid or crazy ambitions. Businessmen who don’t use or care about their own products; people who go into business for money and not out of a desire to actually improve the marketplace, are disrupting the high quality potential of life that may be possible for all human beings.

As they say, better to live without regrets about things you didn’t do. If you don’t pursue your own natural talents, you’re a dishonest person. You’re living at least one pretty good-sized lie. “The only sin is suffering!”

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*Yes, I know there are bad things people are sometimes naturally good at — let’s just conveniently disregard those for the time being and pretend I’m talking about the good in humanity

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Shyboy

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.

Nothing

Posted in Beauty, Happiness, love, Reality Bites, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Each being has a fundamental impulse to have the world spinning beneath their feet, moving with their desires. But the world is spinning no matter what happens, for nobody in particular. The world spins because all it is doing, in a cosmic sense, is coming together and then coming apart — just like that. It’s really quite crazy that even the most phenomenal things are as simple as that. So no matter how slow we move, culture and the world hurdles forward, ever-changing. No time to think in this maelstrom! The more you think, the less you understand. And as you think less, as you go deeper into pure existence, experience, emotion, whatever it is that we all are going through — it starts to feel like your protective skin (both physically and mentally) has been ripped off. But then beneath that you find it’s so melancholy, warm, sad and beautiful.

I wonder if maybe this whole universe is a broad, shallow experience at the bottom, you know — because all phenomena are inherently empty of self, and furthermore, substance. But then, sometimes the most shallow or fleeting things are the most profoundly deep. To give a basic example: upon first glance, artists and creatively driven individuals seem to do a lot less for society than philanthropists or charitable organizations. But in truth, artists touch everyone on such a broad, sweeping, deep level, which further influences and inspires the way people live. In many similar cases, the more shallow something seems on the surface, the wider its grasp of influence.

And so it is with the universe, and all the fabrics of this existence. No matter how hard we try to absorb ourselves in our desires, in our passions, thirsts, needs, obsessions, loves and drives — they always go into overdrive, short-circuit, blow out, fail to satisfy. And so I have to ask, what happens if we short-circuit our samsaric experience? What if we wake up and realize nothing ever satisfies, ever? It seems like a major attachment to existence is the desire for satisfaction, or contentment. Which is an insanely selfish passion. What is existence like without passion, without individualism and human understanding? Whether or not it’s liberation, it seems to be beyond human understanding. Parinibbana, and so forth.

There are no cosmic guarantees to be handed down from above, but that is perhaps a good thing. Because it means that no one can give you orders, or the straight answer on how things are going to end up, or what you should do. You can’t just follow orders and be a disciple and expect to gain anything. You’ve gotta see it for yourself.

Dogen said there’d be days like this…

Posted in Asceticism, Beauty, Buddhism, Cults, death, Monasticism, Mysticism, Religion, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by wizardsmoke

The flowers, although we love them
Fade and die;
The weeds, although we hate them
Grow and thrive

Dogen Zenji

As I said the other day, at the end of the path, religions are actually obscuring reality, or keeping us attached to the world of suffering. They become like fences in front of the final destination, fences which we can see through but are encouraged to climb over in order to reach paradise or whatever. Yet if we know what we’re doing, we can see reality without putting up a fence to climb.*

But really, I don’t think religions are so crazy. Because all cults are just manifestations of the desire for concrete meaning, the basic impulse for tangible deep understanding. This cyclical search for meaning is a fundamental, natural occurrence — which makes it some kind of mysterious truth or idea in of itself.

Anyway, some obvious facts that have to be realized with the body in order to mean a thing:

  • what’s happening now telegraphs what is happening in the future
  • people die, get injured, and get sick every moment; eventually it will be your turn
  • the simplest things that we take for granted are also often the most mysterious things in life

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*Wizard Smoke assumes no responsibility whatsoever for potential spiritual damages incurred by his advice

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.

Working for the weekend (a.k.a. paradise)

Posted in Drug Abuse, Happiness, martial arts, Reality Bites, society, Ultimate Reality, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 3, 2008 by wizardsmoke

It’s funny when one considers the usefulness of martial arts, or anything else. You’ll probably never need to use it. Most people who do use this stuff, do so out of choice (realistically it should only be do-or-die). Of course, this has been covered elsewhere. But my point is relevant because the same goes for almost everything. Lots of people save money their whole lives and never spend it or save it for emergencies that never happen. Some people become well-read experts on philosophy and then never have to engage in a logical debate for any reason except sick personal pleasure.

So it makes you think… who does need to legitimately use stuff? Government scientists? The military? Politicians? Business moguls? The more power a person has, the more important we take their decisions to be, the more often we consider their actions as significant. That kind of power seems to be what everyone in society admires or envies the most; the ability to influence or sway large masses of people. But a lot of powerful people are careless and make typically unwise decisions, which impact everyone on a very direct economic or community level. This is not surprising though, as to get mad military or political power, you have to give up a part of yourself that is very precious.

At the other extreme of social irresponsibility, are people who refuse to take any consciously active steps in the direction of their lives or actions. I once had an idiotic friend who could never get his life together. Drug addiction, stealing, failing out of school, lying — all the bad stuff you could do without getting violent he pretty much did. I think they were mostly self-destructive things, but anyone around him got pulled along for the ride. Appropriately, in his brief swings of sobriety he would start talking about how spiritually advanced or enlightened he was in comparison to everyone else — he was a real piece of work. One of the million times he had cleaned up his act and gone clean temporarily, he started chatting me up about how important it is for us to get out there and help the poor unprivileged people. You know, he was basically saying we should throw cash in the streets of Africa and give everyone shelter and food.

Now, I don’t actually think that helps anyone. I think that temporarily assuages a crisis. But the thing is, this guy was championing these marvelous humanist ideas before he had ever made a single car payment, paid his own rent, cooked his own food or (most necessary of all) spent consistent time practicing a skill. How on earth could he possibly help other people if he was pissing off his friends and relying on his parents while repeatedly getting addicted to drugs? Unreal.

His spoiled-rotten charity sounds almost like the inverse version of a ’70s Japanese Yakuza movie or something. Taxi Driver-type stuff, amirite? Total psycho screw-up goes all out to save an abused prostitute from being a sacrifice for a rich-kid fraternity. A loathsome person with ugly methods does a virtuous thing that the “upstanding” community services are too lazy or afraid to do. Of course, these kinds of idiot-savante superheros are pretty rare. Their help is sort of arbitrary. It doesn’t seem… dependable?

To be human is to experience pleasure and suffering. The internal peace we all claim to desire probably culminates in a non-human existence. A lot of people lose track of peace, or when they talk about peace it’s like they’re blowing hot air. In other words, most people don’t want to fess up to their subtle belief that it’s fun to have problems. Even when people try to claim that’s not true, that they don’t like drama, don’t they still like it when there are unfortunate people for them to help? Those are still problems, albeit not one’s own. So that’s a problem there, isn’t it? The problem of subtly desiring problems to solve.

And then we all think, “but not me! I see how the world is for real. I’m a good person. I like everybody!” Which is just more typical sandwich counter baloney. People reveal who they are during disasters or horrible situations and threatened circumstances. It ain’t pretty. When the average person is confronted by terrible fear or lust or anger or any other strong emotion, they become possessed and blank out. When they come to, they’ve done something they regret.

That is the craziness of life, my friends. Deep realization is often comprised of personal factors of responsibility, consistency — an embodiment of faith. Not faith in the magical, make-believe way. Faith as in, action without question. Something needs to be done and you do it. But it’s not the same as just being a hard worker or a military man, ‘coz enlightened folks are morally perfect and nice and charming.

Ultimately, in life you don’t have to do anything. But you’ll be (more) miserable if you do nothing. So you do stuff. End of story. Existential problems solved.

Anonymity

Posted in Cults, Doom and Evil, Future World, society, Stayin' Alive, Technology, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 30, 2008 by wizardsmoke

So, if you’re wondering why I keep my identity anonymous, you might be disappointed to know it’s not for any big secretive reason. I’m not some super famous person (yet), nor am I using this condition as a big ego-trip. Frankly, I think exposing my ethnicity and background would only serve to color people’s perceptions of my musings here. I mean, sure I’ve dropped some hints (you know I’m a dude, right?) but anything more would probably alienate some people. Not that I care what other people think of me, but at least this way opinions are almost exclusively based on my writing.

For the same reason I don’t wax politically here (at least not too blatantly), I don’t like to wear my agenda on my sleeve. You could figure out who I am, but what would that prove? Too many people write with agendas or slants or self-interest in mind. Not that I don’t, but I find anonymity is a nice way of leaving it behind temporarily. It allows this blog to exist apart from me. I don’t tell my real life friends about this blog nor point them toward it. For that I have other ones I write on, which are more closely linked to what I do in my day to day life.

Anonymity is a unique gift of the internet. And it is disappearing rapidly. It exists now under only a thin veil, one which can be seen through if a person cares enough to do so. Every time I post a comment on another blog, the blog-owner can find out where I am from and who my internet provider is. Furthermore, the provider knows what network my address is on and to whom it is registered. Of course, I am drawing attention to myself by not agreeing to provide adequate identification on this blog, are I not? It may seem like a draw or catch to pull people in, but it isn’t. I am quite happy if anyone finds this work to be of value. But what I value is a potential of anonymity itself. For does anonymity not also represent that phase of infinite potential from which all definitions and identities arise?

Furthermore, the recent protests against Scientology by an internet group of nerds, punks, hackers and so forth, calling themselves only by “anonymous”, has proven the necessity of non-identification in a society where more and more people fear the consequences of open dissent against unjust institutions. Whether or not this is the renegade group’s intention, to raise the ethical question of identity in a society afraid to combat its own shadows, the case has been opened. Too much of society is falling under the control and mandate of a higher institution. The only thing that protects people from unjust law is the ability to make mass decisions as a group. Outliers and independent thinkers bring attention and calamity upon themselves. In other words, the only anonymity is in fitting in.

In older times, identification was not easy. Indeed, passports were not necessary to travel abroad until after World War I. There were not as many people in the world, and yet people were not easily identified. The only people easily identifiable by appearance would be the noblemen and aristocrats financially worthy of a portrait or photograph. Even these images were in limited circulation.

The role of identity in the modern world is a static and drab one. Modern market-driven society aggressively seeks to define us and demands us to define ourselves in relation to it — largely through the products and goals it has predetermined for us to entertain. We have been fooled into thinking our identity or uniqueness is our ability to consume products we “choose”, that our tastes have any real substance, that Myspace or Facebook are anything more than a precursor of online monitoring or electric eyes. The government does not need to ostracize and label outlying citizens as heretics, for often society will do it voluntarily. Within the younger demographics of today’s modern society, it is a lack of presence on such online social networks that is strange, and which raises questions.

The world and its power structures are always trying to define each of us, to identify and categorize us — as an investment or a threat. Fortunately, the true fabric of identity comes from the imagination and the mind. Thus an adept can change their identity as they see fit. External appearances are necessary, but manipulations of appearance are easy and only a shallower layer of illusion (although some of the most shallow things are the most broad, a haha!). Identity may be the cause of suffering, but that gives no one else the right to impose identity upon us.