Archive for Ultimate Reality

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

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…And It’s All Happening

Posted in Beauty, Happiness, love, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , on March 20, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Some of my earliest vivid experiences are of moments of samadhi-like clarity. Basically, up until a certain age (until whenever my sex drive kicked in) I would periodically stare at one thing in front of me or in my environment and just repeat to myself that it was real. This is all real. This is really happening. This life, right here. It’s happening. Right now. Bam!

Seems like such an obvious thing to do, right? If I concentrated hard enough I’d come to grips with that idea as an experience and not a speculation. It’s still a pretty incredible phenomenon to me now. Only now I recognize that it’s a practice in itself. It wasn’t until years later, after I had been done being a dumb-ass teen that I recognized this was a basic form of meditation concentration practice. You know, focusing on the single object to reveal the whole awareness around you, living here in the present moment.

And it isn’t just some meditation practice that brings this about. This is just being alive for real, in the moment. Everyone experiences it every so often, it’s just a matter of getting so you’re “in the zone” all the time. Like a mean jazz legend playing an instrument, every moment is free but also segueing into the next.

But it isn’t just being “in the zone” as far as getting into a rhythm. It’s when you see the pinnacle of perception, when you see the eye of the cosmos in something finite. It’s perceiving the timeless essence of the orgasm, or the climax of a musical piece, or the impeccable sensations of a masterfully and lovingly prepared cuisine. This is reality. But unfortunately these are the only times most people see reality. Ahh… so that’s why everyone’s addicted to sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll!

People have said, that when you get enlightened, everybody is enlightened with you. I mean, how could it be otherwise? You’re not some separate individual at that point. Whether you are or not in the conventional social sense is not the issue; an enlightened being sees the very border between self and not-self and can freely go between the two without association. No definitive limits!

When I was younger, I was a bad student. I had no interest in schoolwork, had a dysfunctional family, was angry, frustrated, ad infinitum. My youth was like a great exploitative coming-of-age film script. But the thing that always jerked me around even in my intoxicated emotional state was the idea that this is all actually happening. I think that’s the thing that was so crazy about doing psychedelic drugs at one point. It snapped me right back into that samadhi-like clarity of when I was a little kid!

Of course, the problem was that I had all these emotional impulses and issues by this point, so the state of deep awareness was no longer peaceful or useful. I actually got attached to it! But I got pretty pumped up all over again the way I did as a kid. It’s all happening. So, gradually stopped doing drugs and started taking up meditative practices and became really interested in religious philosophy.

What’s so amusing is that to people using drugs, anyone who goes straight and sober and lives for a new, “natural high,” seems absolutely nutty! But really, who is the most nuts? What about people who aren’t taking any kind of drug? There aren’t many people like that around. So many people don’t fess up and take responsibility for their spirit. So many just give up, become an evangelical/fundamental religious peon or get involved in a cult. It’s pretty hurtful to see.

The happiest, most heart-warming stories and ideas, aren’t they so sad? At the bottom don’t you want to cry? It’s only natural, because once you wake up and realize we’re all alive and this is really happening it totally melts your heart. It destroys the fabric of emotional complexity and hatred and anger and so on. It’s just really distressing that people live in absolute ignorance and hurt themselves constantly or aren’t strong enough to destroy their problems and their demons. When life is most real is when someone dies, or when your heart is broken or when you’re so happy you just want to hug sharks and jellyfish and don’t care if you get punched in the face.

But what about me? How do I know I’m not just nuts? How do I know everyone doesn’t feel this way also? And so, life goes on. We all go about our business, feeling this or that way inside, and never share it explicitly. To open yourself up too much is to be fatally wounded. That’s why we aim to disappear completely. Nobody left to wound!

Scary business, those people who go all the way…

Tengus, Musashi and Joshu

Posted in Asceticism, Buddhism, Fighting, martial arts, Monasticism, Shintoism, society, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2008 by wizardsmoke

What are the pinnacles of a martial artist’s path? Endless willpower (the embodiment of faith), natural, animal-like movement and an awareness of one’s place in the universe. Alternatives include trouble with the law, a bohemian lifestyle or a macho complex…

But does this come at a price? A martial artist keeps the peace by intimidating the opposition to a point of no return, by forcing potentially dangerous or malicious people to hide or change. This is admirable, but a martial path is often lonely. It is difficult to befriend people genuinely if one does not perceive themselves as equal. By becoming tough, deadly and virtuous, one is robbed of basic human weaknesses and empathies. Fortunately, a virtuous person is beyond conscious value judgments of character!

An ascetic path would say that basic pleasures and empathies are human weaknesses that cause suffering and the disorder of society. This is true, but at the same time, many people are driven to practice martial arts for very human reasons: for their jobs, to protect their families, for ego boosts (to be tough), or from seeing too many Naruto episodes.

Sometimes, people who take these factors as inspiration are driven to achieve very high levels in the martial arts. But I would not be surprised if the highest levels were achieved by people like Musashi, who had much disdain for society’s records and rules. Part of having a job or a family also involves conforming to society and adjusting to its rules. Here one can argue that this is either a further martial development, or a hindrance to one’s martial development. In other words, Musashi was something of a tengu.

Does a martial artist become so secure in his/her ability to kill or destroy that they care so little about other people to the point of no longer noticing their presence? Is this different from realizing how easy it is to kill or destory people or things to the extent that the existence of such things makes them emanate extraordinary substance and value in the martial artist’s eyes?

It’s like what Leonard Cohen said about his Zen teacher, 100-year-old Joshu Sasaki: “He became someone who really cared about—or deeply didn’t care about who I was. Therefore, who I was began to wither. And the less I was of who I was, the better I felt.”

We don’t know Musashi the man, we don’t know ourselves, but we can certainly understand that people like him, living in seclusion from society, perfecting methods of killing (and some slick painting), with nothing in the world to protect except his deep passion to know the essence of combat, are not normally functioning members of humanity. There’s no human glory in that life, which is one obsessed with violence and so far beyond driven to understand things that it eclipses a normal life. Not saying Musashi had a choice necessarily–he seems like he got dealt an interesting hand to play out in life–but it’s something to consider. Sometimes desire for this stuff can be too strong.

Do you lean towards being a tengu or some noble humanist? Sometimes you’re too far in either direction to change in one lifetime.

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.

*sigh*