Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Good Grief; now what am I going to talk about?

Well now... I already put it off for a day. You get into a groove of doing and then you get into a groove of not doing; or a groove of doing something else and then you try to groove on back over but you’ve in another groove and sand has drifted into the old groove that had been kept clean by your regular visits and so there’s a degree of friction that was not there before and funny thing, now its got me thinking...

People ask me sometimes how some things come so easily to me when it is so hard for them. Well, the answer is that it is not easy for me, not in the sense that they understand it. Let’s say that I get up in the morning and it is my custom to go and jump into a cold lake first thing. Let’s say that you are visiting with me and I invite you to join me; or, on the evening before- perhaps emboldened by a few glasses of wine- you invite yourself along.

The next morning arrives. Since it is my custom to go and jump into the lake I get up and do that. It is not your custom and so you find whatever rationale is necessary to not accompany me. Or, perhaps you are one of those types that cannot afford to show any sign of weakness and, despite your very real reluctance to do this, you accompany me.

There is a difference between us. I’m very much used to jumping into the lake. However, a certain portion of me does not want to jump into this lake any more than you do. It just so happens that another part of my nature prevails over this reticent aspect. You have no track record in this regard and so it will be harder for you. It has something to do with faith and it has something to do with memory and, of course, it probably has something to do with a whole lot of things I could start listing as I lose connection with my point and wind up in the middle of the ocean wondering what it was I set out to do, or say, or...

I know that I will feel better if I jump into that lake. I know I will feel bad if I eat that juicy hamburger; of course you might not- but I will. I know that, as much as I might want to do certain things in certain parts of my nature, that these things will harm me. It might have taken me a hundred, a thousand or a hundred thousand times to get this clear and... that’s where we all are really. We are all at some point of deciding what we want to think and say and do. We’ve got our reasons. We’ve got our arguments; our excuses, our justifications. We’ve got our charts and diagrams. We can stand there and quote those facts and figures just like Ross Perot; stopping every now and then to look over our shoulders to see if those Black Panthers who intend to assassinate us have arrived from Canada yet.

We’ve got it all rationalized. Everything we planted has grown up around whatever was there to begin with. Just like in a real garden the weeds have insinuated themselves among the flowers and we can’t tell the difference. We can’t tell even if we are lying or not because it looks real to us, even though it isn’t real at all. And in many cases it is a comfortable thing for the moment. Who wants to change it? Who wants the truth badly enough to leave the comfort of the warm bed and jump into the cold lake? Who wants the truth enough to sacrifice their cherished illusions? The story of Gautama Buddha is very enlightening (irony alert) in this regard.

We could think of the truth as a fire as well. Some people want to sit close enough to stay warm, some sit closer and then closer still and some walk right into the fire. You can see them smiling in the coals if you look close enough with the right perspective. But what if it isn’t the fire of truth? What if it is another fire? Certainly a huge segment of the population walks quite willingly into other fires and, more often than not, is not even concerned about whether it is the fire of truth.

The riotous assumptions of youth; the idea that one will stay strong and healthy forever, that they will always be attractive to others and that others will always be at hand, that they can eat what they want and do what they want and laugh in the face of death and mock those older than themselves- making fun of the very situation they move relentlessly toward; this ‘me first’ culture. This powerful, powerful pull for flashing phenomena, ghost dancing neon, soft curves, hard desire, crispy juicy flesh...ah the supermarkets, the amusement parks, the bedrooms and fine dining rooms and there you are; each day it’s harder to keep it up. The front becomes more and more a façade leaning on two by fours. The hair and the teeth become problematic. The gut expands. Everything you relied on is crumbling. Bring on the flesh technicians. Things are starting to hurt; bring on the flesh-cutters and the pharmacists. Nightmare...

It isn’t easier for me. The idea of the alternative however is far less attractive. Some people don’t get that if you crush out a lit cigarette on your leg that it will hurt. I get this. And I didn’t get it right off. But I get it now. I can’t attend the banquet in the big hall and party down like it’s the biggest night of the best year of my wonderful life. I know that this banquet is being held in a cemetery. I can see the grinning cadavers and what’s on the table is not what it appears to be.

There is a deep, exquisite satisfaction to standing in a garden and merely breathing. The certain knowledge that the mere repetition of a phrase will fill the garden with Buddhas is profoundly fulfilling. The knowledge that one can travel to other realms through the correct application of certain things such as imagination, faith, understanding and concentration can be exciting. The ability to see yourself as something other than a bag of flesh and blood and transiting excrements is transformative. What is it that you want?

I know that all of these things that we can want hurt us. I know that the emptiness is the fullest aspect of life. You know this too but... hey, look at that! And so on and so on. The whole idea of good and evil, freedom and bondage; all the immense subtleties of Mephistopheles and his agents here; the inner voice of guidance and the ever present refuge and sanctuary are less confusing than may appear. It’s just about the sides of your nature and your capacity to be drawn away. There’s the ‘you’ and the ‘not you’. There’s the mask and what is beneath it. There’s the two directions the desire force can move in and there’s the idea of balance (which is the basis of the work) that one must maintain or... what? Maybe it is complicated. It is very complicated if you start thinking about it. Heh heh...

I try to be careful about who I hang out with. And it is a disappointment to realize that nothing that appears to have value ‘out here’ is worth having; will in fact kill you- but you get over it. It’s rough at first realizing that in order to get to that bright and shining land you have to go in a direction opposite that of the mass and you have to smile and, quite often, keep your mouth shut about it at the same time- even though your heart may be breaking to help those who go blindly toward ever greater suffering.

The ideas that the rich are actually poor; the glutted are hungry, the powerful are cowards and so on are not popular. The idea that you should strive for what you don’t have so that your value will increase as your goods increase is very strong. It’s how we measure people’s importance, according to what they have. We are so used to thinking and speaking and doing like everyone else does, even when we are trying to be different (why not get that tattoo now?) that we haven’t a clue as to who we are or what we should do. My advice is that you should go jump in the lake. Do it today!


Anonymous said...

a stunning return. you juggled 5 or 6 different balls all the way through and didn't drop a single one.


Anonymous said...

Damn! that IS cold.

z a

a fantastic work it goes without saying. Some lower the bar. You are always raising it.

Anonymous said...

Always enlightening, always profound. You're like that guy in that picture up on top of the mountain holding the lantern and looking down at others trying to make their way up.

The past few nights I've been reading a commentary on Shantideva's treatise on The Bodhisattvas Way Of Life. There's a part where he refers to "this world full of animated skeletons"... I thought to myself, "Hey, that sounds like something Les would say!"

Welcome back


Anonymous said...

super fine Les. Your work reminds me of all those cogs spinning at different speeds inside of a watch with one purpose and then you find out time is an illusion.


Anonymous said...

Man, that's something else. You really made my day.

a 'friend'

Anonymous said...

A major league rendering along the lines of three dimensional chess with real people as the pieces.

I'm trying to stay in line with all of the other cool things that are being said by the other contributors. I don't want to be coming off all shabbily dressed, rhetorically speaking.

So, how did I do?

Mystery Achiever

Anonymous said...

Welcome back. I for one really, really missed you. This is a great return.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I am glad I dropped by, new stuff in both locations and long over due.

Braja Rani Devi Dasi said...

finally you're back! eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! :)

Braja Rani Devi Dasi said...

that was me expressing happiness.

Anonymous said...

Man that is super. Go jump in the lake, do it today. My coffee almost came out of my nose. You just continue to improve.




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