Only near the mountains for five weeks. This, my friends, is optimism.

Only near the mountains for five weeks. This, my friends, is optimism.

…And it is funny, isn’t it,

the way that which starts as confession ends
in blame, this constant search
for the marionettist of your brain, the ghost
who stole the controls to your soul.

The truth is: we embrace the past that keeps
us whole.

From Steve Gehrke’s The New Self
"…I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. Then the silence of the extraordinary faces. The great smiles. Huge and yet subtle. Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing, the peace not of emotional resignation but of Madhyamika, of sunyata, that has seen through every question without trying to discredit anyone or anything—without refutation—without establishing some other argument. For the doctrinaire, the mind that needs well-established positions, such peace, such silence, can be frightening. I was knocked over with a rush of relief and thankfulness at the obvious clarity of the figures, the clarity and fluidity of shape and line, the design of the monumental bodies composed into the rock shape and landscape, figure, rock and tree. And the sweep of bare rock sloping away on the other side of the hollow, where you can go back and see different aspects of the figures."
"Looking at these figures was suddenly, almost forcibly, jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tied vision of things, and an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. The queer evidence of the reclining figure, the smile,e the sad smile of Ananda standing with arms folded (much more “imperative” than Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa because completely simple and straightforward). The thing about all this is that there is no puzzle, no problem, and really no “mystery”. All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya…everything is emptiness and compassion. I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination.”
- Thomas Merton, in one of his last entries in his Asian Journal before his death

"…I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. Then the silence of the extraordinary faces. The great smiles. Huge and yet subtle. Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing, the peace not of emotional resignation but of Madhyamika, of sunyata, that has seen through every question without trying to discredit anyone or anything—without refutation—without establishing some other argument. For the doctrinaire, the mind that needs well-established positions, such peace, such silence, can be frightening. I was knocked over with a rush of relief and thankfulness at the obvious clarity of the figures, the clarity and fluidity of shape and line, the design of the monumental bodies composed into the rock shape and landscape, figure, rock and tree. And the sweep of bare rock sloping away on the other side of the hollow, where you can go back and see different aspects of the figures."

"Looking at these figures was suddenly, almost forcibly, jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tied vision of things, and an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. The queer evidence of the reclining figure, the smile,e the sad smile of Ananda standing with arms folded (much more “imperative” than Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa because completely simple and straightforward). The thing about all this is that there is no puzzle, no problem, and really no “mystery”. All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya…everything is emptiness and compassion. I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination.”

- Thomas Merton, in one of his last entries in his Asian Journal before his death

Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak

The roving gaze of the mariner who never attaches himself to what he sees, whose very glance is roving, floating, sailing on, who looks at every person and object with a sense of the enormous space around them, with a sense of the distance one can put between oneself and one’s desires, the sense of the enormousness of the world and of the tides and currents that carry us onward.
Anaïs Nin, “The All-Seeing”
Jantar Mantar observatory, Delhi

Jantar Mantar observatory, Delhi

you’re going to have to
save yourself.
Charles Bukowski, from Question And Answer
Seymour: An Introduction, 2014

Seymour: An Introduction, 2014

Birdman, 2014

Birdman, 2014

Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.
Plato, Protag..I 337, (via wordsnquotes)
Our real journey in life is interior; it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. Never was it more necessary for us to respond to that action.
Thomas Merton
A strange desire to write.
There hasn’t been much of this lately. In fact, there has been a slight emphasis to not write, to instead think (really think, as in give yourself a thought and stick with it for ten, twenty, thirty minutes…to not let go of it; to ask the same questions over and over and again hoping for new answers, hoping for some new understanding to arise up within you), to meditate and grow your own compassion, to sometimes cry at the mistakes you have made in your years, or to focus and absorb the things around you rather than turn inside yourself to the emotions and creations of fantasy in your head.
You’ve been convinced to go and find the Real, and the fantasy, the encouragement of supposition: Oh man, you’ve decided that has got to go. Oh man—is that right?
This actually all began with emotion.
Today, coming back from a day of simplicity and complexity at work—ease in too well-trained knowledge, ease in my impending departure—a friend offered up one of his favorite covers, that of Bon Iver’s,“Pretty Love”, and offered to play it for me while I drove. Music has always played perhaps a too sentimental role in my life, songs forever associated with places and times and emotions, and the moment notes filled the car I was over five years in the past, thinking of a girl that had left me, and spending a terrible, terrible night listening to this album and drinking wine until I couldn’t anymore, knowing that it was all over. That working toward love, inherent and obvious and crippling love to me, meant nothing without the other doing the same. That I was leaving soon. That her voice would leave with me.
There’s an intellectual side of me that analyzes all of this and tries to find the universal compassion that is inherent in it. There is now a part of me that rejects such emotion’s attachment to situations or others, and instead searches only in the power that the emotion itself has. One, studied in Tibetan Buddhism, might say that I am searching for the Rigpa. One might say I am simply still coping. You can pick which one you assign to me—it doesn’t matter what you choose. There is the principle and the others: I know what I know, and you know your own. The rest is simply dark waves hitting the beach with an incomprehensible forever.
There’s a beautiful myth in many cultures that has the hero sinking into the belly of the whale. Those of us in the Western culture think of Jonah, but Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on the unconscious. Going lower, going deeper, whether in correspondence or in my own thoughts and writings, forced in the morning or organic in the evening, these are all moments of humanity that I am trying to understand. And, in many ways, I feel as though I am still there, even five years after the fact. I pray and I meditate. I change in countless ways to others around me. I notice myself changing and am pleased even as I remind myself to never expect applause. Changes are recognitions—changes are growth—there is only one growth toward which we can thoughtfully and lovingly change.
Deepening. More of the inwards of the world to explore. Music to settle my soul in the meantime.
Oh, how I love the world and my stupid, insignificant place in it.
It’s time to go home. And it’s time to realize that home doesn’t exist anywhere but within.

A strange desire to write.

There hasn’t been much of this lately. In fact, there has been a slight emphasis to not write, to instead think (really think, as in give yourself a thought and stick with it for ten, twenty, thirty minutes…to not let go of it; to ask the same questions over and over and again hoping for new answers, hoping for some new understanding to arise up within you), to meditate and grow your own compassion, to sometimes cry at the mistakes you have made in your years, or to focus and absorb the things around you rather than turn inside yourself to the emotions and creations of fantasy in your head.

You’ve been convinced to go and find the Real, and the fantasy, the encouragement of supposition: Oh man, you’ve decided that has got to go. Oh man—is that right?

This actually all began with emotion.

Today, coming back from a day of simplicity and complexity at work—ease in too well-trained knowledge, ease in my impending departure—a friend offered up one of his favorite covers, that of Bon Iver’s,“Pretty Love”, and offered to play it for me while I drove. Music has always played perhaps a too sentimental role in my life, songs forever associated with places and times and emotions, and the moment notes filled the car I was over five years in the past, thinking of a girl that had left me, and spending a terrible, terrible night listening to this album and drinking wine until I couldn’t anymore, knowing that it was all over. That working toward love, inherent and obvious and crippling love to me, meant nothing without the other doing the same. That I was leaving soon. That her voice would leave with me.

There’s an intellectual side of me that analyzes all of this and tries to find the universal compassion that is inherent in it. There is now a part of me that rejects such emotion’s attachment to situations or others, and instead searches only in the power that the emotion itself has. One, studied in Tibetan Buddhism, might say that I am searching for the Rigpa. One might say I am simply still coping. You can pick which one you assign to me—it doesn’t matter what you choose. There is the principle and the others: I know what I know, and you know your own. The rest is simply dark waves hitting the beach with an incomprehensible forever.

There’s a beautiful myth in many cultures that has the hero sinking into the belly of the whale. Those of us in the Western culture think of Jonah, but Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on the unconscious. Going lower, going deeper, whether in correspondence or in my own thoughts and writings, forced in the morning or organic in the evening, these are all moments of humanity that I am trying to understand. And, in many ways, I feel as though I am still there, even five years after the fact. I pray and I meditate. I change in countless ways to others around me. I notice myself changing and am pleased even as I remind myself to never expect applause. Changes are recognitions—changes are growth—there is only one growth toward which we can thoughtfully and lovingly change.

Deepening. More of the inwards of the world to explore. Music to settle my soul in the meantime.

Oh, how I love the world and my stupid, insignificant place in it.

It’s time to go home. And it’s time to realize that home doesn’t exist anywhere but within.

Everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal existence, tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence.
George Santayana (via apoetreflects)
…a little weariness’ll change a lot of things.
Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

What was the self?

You wanted a life of causes, but it was all effects: you could never get before.

Finding meaning in the meaningless was no kind of meaning, but you were satisfied with meaningness.

Luck is a skill, as is beauty, intelligence—all things you’re born with. It can almost ruin you, the belief that you can choose.

I watch a baby in a restaurant play with a plastic Slinky.

The only way past is through.

Elisa Gabbert, from “The Self Unstable”