Words of Wisdom – Just Do It


Alan Watts’ unique ability to understand and assess Eastern Philosophies for the Western mind is a valuable asset to those who follow a Zen lifestyle. Without his writing and those of D. T. Suzuki, from whom Watts borrowed much of his insight, it would be difficult to grasp the true significance of the practice, if we can even call it a practice. I prefer to call it Mind—Being—in the moment.

The following is an excerpt from one of his many spoken lectures; this one addressing the shortcomings of the Western practice of Zen, and Asian thought in general, broadcast from radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California on April 17, 1955.  -Pc


“The important thing is simply to begin—anywhere, wherever you are.”


In this broadcast, Mr Watts explains:

We want to enjoy ourselves, and fear that if we forget ourselves there will be no enjoyment.”

He goes on to give an example with the Western Proverb:

“A watched pot never boils.”… if you try to watch your mind concentrate, it will not concentrate. And if… you begin to watch for the arrival of some insight into reality, you have stopped concentrating.”

It is a paradox. If we try to concentrate we are not concentrating, but watching ourselves trying.

“Real concentration is… a rather curious and seemingly paradoxical state, since it is at once the maximum of consciousness and the minimum of ego-feeling… The only way to enter into this state is precipitately—without delay or hesitation, just to do it…”

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The Inner Light



Some Buddhist schools insist you spend years practicing meditation in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment. In his article on the school of Ch’an Daniel Scharpenburg makes the argument that we are already Enlightened. In his words: “The only thing that keeps us from our Awakening is the fact that our minds are obscured by delusion.”

This raises a question. Is everyone born with an inner beacon that guides their path through life?

Many modern religions insist that their patented belief system is the only way to Salvation. They compel you to follow a strict discipline in order to succeed at their calling. They truly understand this Inner Light—and they hijack it. Taking over your moral compass, they replace it with their own.

Some traps are lined in velvet and may seem comfortable. But they are traps nonetheless. They take over your life, leaving you with a beacon that is set to someone else’s course. If your compass has been turned this way you are left spiritually bankrupt and unhappy.

Take each step carefully, as you follow your Inner Light.

Enlightenment

http://www.istockphoto.com/tr/photos/planet-earth?excludenudity=true&sort=mostpopular&mediatype=photography&phrase=planet%20earth

When he walked the Earth, what was it the Buddha understood that enabled him to stand above the stature of Man and become a Spiritual being?

Simply put, spirituality is what we call the state of inner understanding. A spiritual man doesn’t have to prove his spiritual stature, it speaks for him. He has attained a state of calmness that comes natural, through understanding, or Enlightenment. As natural as we may find this state, it requires cultivation. For, just as we must attend to a flower after it has sprouted, we nurture Understanding, maintaining that state of transcendent consciousness, allowing a raised sense of being to bloom after it has taken root.

So, when does a man attain enlightenment? What was it the Buddha achieved that made him a spiritual guide to one-fourth of the human race?

In Siddhartha, Herman Hesse posed the same question when the Brahman-turned-seeker explained to the Buddha why he could not become a follower. Siddhartha spoke to the Enlightened One, stating in a most reverent and entreating way, the following:

“I have not doubted for a single moment that you are Buddha. . . You have found salvation from death. It has come to you in the course of your own search, on your own path, through thoughts, through meditation, through realizations, through enlightenment. It has not come to you by means of teachings! And–thus is my thought, oh exalted one. . . You will not be able to convey and say to anybody. . . in words and through teachings what has happened to you in the hour of enlightenment! The teachings of the enlightened Buddha contain much. . . But there is one thing which. . . these so venerable teachings do not contain: they do not contain the mystery of what the exalted one has experienced for himself, he alone among hundreds of thousands.” [italics added]

So, when does a man attain enlightenment? As the Buddha taught, only the one who has attained it knows.

2010

Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Artists

“Alan Watts was a British philosopher who spoke about Asian philosophies for a Western audience. He wrote over 25 books and was an excellent orator on topics such as the meaning of life, higher consciousness, the true nature of reality and the pursuit of happiness.”


“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” -Alan Watts


This is an excerpt from the article: 25 Alan Watts Quotes That Will Blow Your Mind Wide Open
By Universe Insider – May 7, 2017

That Sort of Freedom


My first attempt at Haibun. 

The commuter train’s cars heave along dilapidated rust covered tracks. They wrangle past summer cottages, bungalows and the soot covered buildings of Poughkeepsie, to end their journey in a final sway of creaking springs and tortured steel, at Grand Central Station.

From my apartment it’s a short walk—close enough to afford a private view just outside the grounds of the retreats cropped along the Hudson—to touch the banks of that other river, the iron river—its flow caressing the heart of this huge land, lining it with the silver steel of a new adventure waiting just down the track.

I’ve walked those rails. I’d sit and meditate, or smoke, or just sing out-loud to myself, making up songs that I imagined could one day become part of the canon of American songs. Or, not. Either way, it didn’t matter. What I liked was the way the sun, warm on my back, reflected off the shiny rails, shimmering, as I tried to match my steps to the awkward spacing of the railroad ties.

The crunch of the granite stones under my feet, the heat rising off the rust and gravel between the tracks gave me a good feeling, as if stepping on the iron of those rails somehow could put me in touch with another existence, a reality detached from this world’s assault on the Stream of consciousness. Lost in the ozone, simplicit, without a care; a wandering will o’ the wisp dharma bum, content with the euphoric splendor of a Saturday afternoon all lazy-like and sunlit, replete with a breeze from the river swirling the leaves of the trees in a happy dance, I quietly contemplated the empty completeness of the earth and its Spirit, the life that flows in the leaves and dark dirt and pine needles underfoot; frogs whomping, breathing their own life into the Cosmic eternity of my being. Walking on these rails has always made me feel that way.

the simplicit fool
knocks sprockets with the universe
calls it freedom

Highway 61 – The One Time a Popular Minority Uprising Didn’t Suck

Overturning the status quo is not always a bad thing. By rejecting the folk music establishment of the 60s, Bob Dylan introduced new music to a new generation. Now recognized as a literary art form by the Nobel Prize Committee, his music and poetry brought with it a cultural awareness that never died. We’re still humming and keeping time to his beats, whether the pop ballads of his late career or the original electrified folk-blues-rock of his early modern period. But with today’s changing climate, both literally and metaphorically speaking, what does the future hold for the youth culture? Only time will tell. But unlike Pete Seeger and the folk elite of his time, let’s not give in to tears of rage as we watch the world

Turn
Turn
Turn

Let’s not lose faith in humanity. It’s not all over yet, baby Blue.

The stage was set for Dylan’s apocalyptic Newport Folk Festival appearance … On the festival’s first day, Dylan performed an acoustic workshop. For his headlining performance on Sunday night, though, he recruited Bloomfield, Kooper, and other members of the Butterfield band. They rehearsed through Saturday night. Preceding Dylan’s appearance were performances by traditional bluesmen Son House and Robert Pete Williams. The stage had no monitors, and when Dylan and his band kicked off with “Maggie’s Farm,” the sound was brutally loud. An outraged Peter Seeger, grand old man of the folk movement, reportedly tried to unplug power cords as the band played. “You could not understand the words!” Seeger explained in No Direction Home. “I was frantic. I said, ‘Get that distortion out!’ It was so raspy you could not understand a word. I told the soundman that if I had an axe, I’d chop the mike cable right now.” The band, meanwhile, launched into “Like a Rolling Stone” and then closed with “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” That’s all they’d rehearsed, and the set lasted fifteen minutes. The crowd yelling for more, Dylan came back alone and sang “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.”

[Excerpt from: Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited”: Mike Bloomfield v. Johnny Winter
Jas Obrecht Music Archive] http://jasobrecht.com/dylans-highway-61-revisited-mike-bloomfield-v-johnny-winter/

The Artist as Guide …


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We all possess a sense of eternity, but it is the Artist who is capable of sharing the vision.

In The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley remarked on an artist’s ability to transport us to higher levels of insight and awareness. Huxley’s essay on the alteration of the conscious through the use of a psychedelic substance reveals how certain artists have the ability to move viewers, raising their consciousness to a level that transcends the mundane. Their works carry us to a place where we can look into the basic stuff life is made of. We don’t need to be partakers of a substance in order to perceive this. Artists reveal it through their work. The concept of eternity is a condition of the mind shared in all human culture. Art is what transforms the mind to that plane of consciousness, from the paleolithic cave drawings of the Ice Age, to da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Pablo Picasso and on to the still undiscovered artists of the 21st Century. Their works put us in touch with eternity.

Perhaps this is why we place such a high value on art. By simply observing, we share in the artist’s vision, which in some ways has itself become eternal by its ability to span eons and still hold our interest. For instance — feel the lightness of a warm summer’s afternoon in Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Or, sense van Gogh’s agony in his view from the asylum at St. Remy. Or visit Tahiti with Gauguin. We all live a similar existence, but it is the artist who expresses their life in a way that allows us to recognize our own.


We can open our doors of perception and see life through the eyes of a child.

We live in a modern world where even a notion as beautiful as a flower can produce anxiety. Lilacs in bloom bring allergies. A pristine sky appears polluted. Water gurgling from a mountain brook forebodes infection from coliform bacteria. The soil in our gardens evoke the terror of pesticide poisoning. Even the meat and poultry from an “organic” farm might contain salmo­nella. We live in a world where nothing strikes us as pure; everything seems to hint at sickness and death. So we incubate ourselves. But by isolating ourselves from the poison, we die slowly, in degrees, agonized by fear and worry, instead of reveling in the joy of life.

We must re-teach ourselves to breathe deep our surroundings, instead of cringing against them. We must learn life to be something that is tasted, not with the mouth, but with the breath. For we cannot enjoy unless we breathe deeply the essence of life, that our very beings might embody the act of living.

This is what it means to taste Eternity. The artist is the key that opens the door.

©1998 ©2014 ©2016


[Badass Leonardo da Vinci]

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