Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Poor, Poor, Rich

I am writing this after I have watched a movie that, not too long ago, I would have thought of as sweet, at least in its attempt, coming of age movie. It was called Goats. Now, in my sour mood I found it saccharine and, beneath it, a clandestine effort to humanized the rich. This would not seem to be such a bad idea, after all, they are human. They have human faults and often dynamic and tragic existences. They struggle with the existential question, as we must all, in their own forms. However, in comparison to the portrayal of the not-rich-which is different than those in abject poverty but also includes them, is different.

In Goats the rich kid who lives in New Mexico with his hippy come new ager mother comes to adulthood. All the prerequisites of this, at least to hollywood, are there; the next door vixen, the surrogate father (who grows marijuana and carries a beard), the new-boyfriend, the absent but eventually, kind father. I was trying to look into this film but I could not get past the house, the car, the prep school, his fathers sweater, the pool, etc. The portrayal of this child coming of age was not much different but much more insidious, at least to me, of propaganda materials in Stalinist Russia. I wondered and wonder if the blatant aspect of the Stalinist propaganda, to my 21st century eyes, was as insidious and subtle to those in the culture of that time.

I find it odd how infatuated we have become with this storyline and methodology. The nuanced and dynamic rich who ‘hurt’ too in their familial relationships, their love, the right of passage. It is a powerful message but I am flummoxed as to why we do not want such a statement being made about the not rich? The Not Rich, Romney’s 47%’ers, are left to caricatures-to films that are not nuances, that are painted with big brush strokes-the gross poor shown in films of abject poverty-the streets of Calcutta or Chicago, crime riven, filled with emotionally or biologically starved people. Blank stares, want, etc. We also have the Roseanne effect of the ill mannered, burp and farting working poor. This is not to say that there are not aspects of this. There are. I have grown up in them. But when juxtaposed to films like Goats and The Way, Way Back with one of my favorite actors, Toni Collette, we see that the nuanced, humanizing attempt, is not even attempted in the films about not rich people. We see, to put into single definitions; starvation, penury driven criminal activity, and, well, grossness.

That on a per capita basis to be not-rich is also, to be, often, not white is telling to me too. To even take the ‘feel good’ movies of this population we see caricaturization rather than character development. Lets take for example, Finding Forrester, where there is a black child, a young Man, who is, it seems, inexplicably smart. The underlying message, to me anyways, was that it is amazing that a black man could be smart. One could say that this is the case in something like Good Will Hunting but, in fact, Matt Damon’s character is seen in Harvard just minus the accent. Rob Brown’s character is not. He is the anomaly more than just his smarts. Good Will Hunting is insinuating an economic discrepancy between the students and the janitor, in Finding Forrester there is an innate (as well as economic) divide. The entire movie focused on this inexplicability with, now that I think about it, the thrown in rapper hopeful actor-pushing his brother to be different than all of them.

It all seems to me purposeful. This effective drive to humanize the rich so that we are comfortable with the rich. That we think that being rich is in fact, normal. I watched a few episodes of Modern Family which was well written and funny. But it was wrong. There is not a single American in that show if America can be defined by the preponderance of the people in America. There is a level of wealth that the developers of this show were able to play off of and make seem normal. This darkly brilliant effort as laid the groundwork for us to identify with this group (“my family says that all the time!”). In this identification we find that our own lives are not the actual life. We find ourselves in disconnect with it because we are not what we see. Seeing is so powerful, it is the most evolved of our senses, and it crafts our worlds accordingly.

Everyone is like those on the television or the movies screens so every damn thing is alright. I will take my own failure to be so upon myself. I will hide my shame in debt to catch up to this ephemeral reality, I will sell my children’s future, and for what? So I can feel normal.

It isn’t alright. Our lives are important as well. Our lives are nuanced and beautiful, tragic, but beautiful. That we do not regard the majority of us as normal, that we do not depict it honestly and artistically, seems, to me, on purpose. This purpose, I believe now, is to keep us in want. In a place where we are always the stranger. Always in danger of being exposed as a sham, and in this fear we are vulnerable to being told what is normal, and we cannot craft our own reality if it is already forced upon us. Why? Perhaps it is because we are a frightened group of people. We are not afraid of work, perse, for I know no other people that work so hard at the mundane in life. A job, etc. This is not to say that mundane is not important, it is, but it is a secondary truth, a functional truth. Meaning is the lot of life and it cannot be found through the mundane lens. A pile of whatever is not satisfying to ultimate sense of Man-he becomes restless, dissatisfied, which, I think Schopenhauer points out, is symptomatic by the perpetual fidgetiness of the modern human. They are uncomfortable in their skin, so to say, because it does not stand up-the inherency usually attributed to the body-to the reasonable aspect of man. He sublimates it.

I think it is funny, that reason and logic are the means of our current manifestation and yet, we have given those up-they have lead us to this belief of meaninglessness. To separation. To fear. The fear to ever be able to attempt to climb that was our birthright in this form. We have given it over and used our Mind to subvert even our biological drives to life (environmental degradation, for example), let alone to strive for the transcendent drive to life. We are frightened of this Truth of purpose for what it demands is grueling but, in the end, ultimately rewarding. So, it is strange that we work so hard in the opposite direction for, ironically, we are afraid of the work..possibly. I can see that we may also be afraid of their not being a meaning. That the effort would be futile. That would frightening indeed for the savage we have become that is fascinated with such trinkets, to such a degree, that he has used them to measure his life. His whole life built up like some cheap monument.

yes, the rich are humans. But so are we. Our lives are important and nuanced and beautiful...too. That we feel that they are not because they do not fit some other’s nuanced life, one that is shoved down our throats as normal, does not make yours any less so. Measure a life by that which has been done to serve good, the best of the human nature, not by the frog skins and that which it buys.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

the revolt in revolution

I do not like revolution, not really. I am not a fanatic at the fringe just waiting for the Revelations to occur and the fire to fall from the heavens. I do not want to race about hacking things off or, god forbid, raping anything that I can shove my penis into. No. I am particular where I guide my penis into. It is a smart penis, I mean this in the trademarked sense; comparable to the guided missiles are often ballyhooed can sent through a window. This is, apparently, a testament to its accuracy. I tell you, my penis is more accurate than that and doesn’t get half the press. I digress.

When I think of the glee, that some write about, about the devolvement of the individual, mostly men, into are worst energies. A sort of gelatinous goo of reified testosterone and bad parenting. I am puzzled. Oh, I have felt this a time or two, mostly when I was salting slugs or blasting bugs under a rock with pilfered Black Cat firecrackers. I see that glee. But if I look at it, it is only the glee of a particularly cruel child that I believe all of us have been once or twice or thrice in our lives. Some of us continue to be one, or to live off of this particular energy, but most of us, I believe, move on to some other form of melancholy.

What one is left with if they believe that humans will act this way is the belief that one does not act accordingly in high stress or chaotic environments. In my experience people become more themselves when they are in a chaotic environment, it is a magnifying experience. They do not become other than themselves but more themselves. Our systems in place, and large portions if not entirely luck, have made it so that this magnification of our beings is necessary but muted. The coward at our job is cowardly in a small, silly way, the sadist is sadistic in similar ways. Oh it can be in larger ways when one garners more power, but individually one cannot sway enough to do it in a large scale. One needs a idealogy and willing acolytes to do this. But the individual, Stalin etc., by his bare hands could not engage this cruelty larger than his finite animated corpse could touch.

This coward or sadist when the environment collapses the system then magnifies their personalities, or at least, from my experience and what I have read, this becomes the case. The coward is Coward, the sadist, the Sadist. However, in my experience most people are more neutral than that, a long swatch of neutral. Not that they haven’t chosen a side but the very act of not choosing becomes a side. A monumental blandness. This again does not mean that they cannot be ‘fun’ or even say a witty thing or two. My goodness, just look what goes for politicians-you haven’t met a more witty bunch of folks who can party like no tomorrow.

The danger of this blandness as a side is that it becomes forgetful of its own self. The constituent parts of the system, which are the system, start believing, because of their stunning self imposed impotence, their impotence. The system rises as ruler and reality. This reality and ruler has to perpetually move, it is in motion all the time because the factual nature of the lack of a ‘system’ that is apart from the ‘parts’ but the masses must have it. So they put such huge efforts in believing it. This goes from large systems such as governing states to smaller like communities.

My neighbor once told me, as we first moved in, the only brown folks in the neighborhood,
“We don’t do that here,” in regards to a request to my neighbor to be quieter in their parties on a Thursday night. I did not tell him explicitly that I work until 10 with either my ill father, paid work, or my children-and that a wall rattling bass is not conducive to my sleep. I replied,

“I am always skeptical of one that tries to pit me against a ‘we’. I don’t know you, let alone my neighbors, yet, and until I do I will not give you that point. The, We, when it is not done correctly, honorably, or honestly, if it is not based on a virtue respecting the absolute worth of both parties, then it is a hateful thing. It is a thing that even when it doesn’t cause genocide, murder, rape, is the system in which it will happen. The ‘we’ of no responsibility is the ‘we’ that has killed untolds of innocents.”

I must admit that he had said, ‘we don’t do that here,’ to my wife and I had three days to prepare my answer to him.

So that is the system we have. The We, the We of inaction, the We of bland acceptance, the We of herculean effort to become enslaved by a hypothetical conception. It is because of this that there must be a revolution to reshape, for a time, that actual systemic way of thought. If one will not accept this individual revolution and enough individuals refuse, then the blandness must be used to be able to sway them from their current infatuation with another better one (best is only possible through the individual).

When is this to be done?

The term revolt is within the term revolution. At least to me. It is here that I am confronted with the idea of revolt. This revolt is not based upon some passionate, heated, emotion. In fact, I would say, that for the most, it cannot be. Passion, in its existent form, is unstable. It ebbs and it flows, and yet the sustainability of such a level of vehemence is highly unlikely. Revolt, I would better say, is based upon a deep disdain and, to a certain level, dynamic disgust. I say dynamic here because the nature of reality is that it is eternally dynamic and this dynamism is only bounded in the name of efficiency and practicality-I do not rename my child each moment even though they are not the same person, even biologically, they were 1 second ago.

A dynamic disgust coupled with disdain (a more stable emotion) are the twin roots of revolt. To be revolted at something, a system, needs refreshing, because it is rather vehement term (not necessarily passionate-I am revolted by chunky vomit but I am not passionate about this revolt). This refreshing comes from the dynamism of a particular system, education for example, and the effects that come from this systemic causation. I am revolted by nearly everything that comes out of it. I have dynamic disgust whenever something ‘new’ comes from it. That this system is arisen from a causation that causes me a great deal of disdain for it is the more stable emotion that remains. Disdain.

This disdain has lead me to the thought that this system is no longer tenable in any moral or humane way. It cannot be ‘reformed’ in how this is normally defined. Reformation from a subversive (working within a systems construct to be an opposition force within the system) standpoint is not useful in this way because the rot is entire, it needs to come down. When revolt leads us down this path to this realization it leaves us with the answer of Revolution.

It is interesting, to me, that this both means the revolt of someone, somethings, against a dominant whatever as well as to go around, to revolve. Because something revolves does not, inherently, mean that one arrives at the same spot in a larger scope. It is all perspective and reference points. For example, a car tire revolves when it drives but the car, if it is the point of reference, is not in the same place as it was previously when the wheel made one full revolution.

We live in an era of almost immediate change, at least in the West. But we are a creature of a different time with the capacity to give the impression of changing-but we are not happy within this change. There is a difference between falling within the spectrum of change that allows for a positive growth of an individual and the act of survival that is outside of that spectrum. Because both individuals have similar biological features; the breath, they eat, they work, does not mean these individuals are the same.

We must revolt. In our small and large ways. In our disdain for what is even called ‘ideal’ within this system we must. It does not have to be this way.

The Rich, The Poor

The conversation swings one way or the other, economically because this world we choose to live in is one in which the proverbial ‘pile of beans’ is the prime mover. In some of the ecstatic moments one is left with the idea from our writers, my betters the lot of them, that there is something noble about being a bum or, at the very least, not ignoble. Perhaps, in some sense, I can agree with this because the, at least in the fantastical mythology, there is, at least, a motion of intent to become wealthy. This intent, because of its supposed willfulness, can associate the practitioner with blame. What a sorry fucking bag of shit to strive for. It is somewhat funny, a dash of the ha ha funny, and the funny that one uses when they watch their fourth grade teacher, one whom they, the said child, associated with Beatrice of Dante’s fame-strut onto stage at a seedy strip club as ‘Jannah’ (the gates of heaven). In all the wealth I have accumulated, very modest for most, but for one that came from immigrant/refugee fame, twice over, I have accumulated a fair amount of beans. In all of it I have found not a iota of happiness. Oh, in some sense, there is the practicality of the extra hundred dollars that allows you to wear underwear the fits nicely, afford that root canal, or, if I splurge for three months of savings, by a jacket, then there is a modicum of safety to it. Happines? No, I do not think it brings it. I have been told, though, that it brings that ability to be happy because your needs have been met but that was a bit ago. Two children and a wife ago. My beautiful Children and my wife ago. I knew, then, in a dark and miserable way, that I was going to pay for it. I knew it. One must compromise when they choose to have the joy of the householder. Oh how I loathe that compromise but I do it because, frankly, and honestly, I love my family. To love them is, in this measurement life, in comparison to what I must pay-morals, ethics, they must take a second fiddle to their eating and material happiness. I have found, through the years, that my own material happiness has come down to around 6-12 dollars a month. Strange. But, those moments, those brief moments, the other day, when I saw both my children making a fort, my elder daughter making a plan, my son tapping his chin with baby fat still on it, I understood the cost. If it cost me four or five more countless eons till I can come up and gasp for any air-then so be it-in that moment I would have paid it happily. In fact, in this beer haze now, I would still pay it. Ninkasi IPA is a great beer.
I digress
I think how the poor, to someone like me, is sometimes ennobled by those that have not been poor. I have been poor. Wretchedly so. The groups I was around had no nobility in them. They were filled with the bile of our contemporary lust for gold as much, if not more, than any other Fortune 500 prick. They were just failures at it. They were mean, cruel, and treated each other like starving pigs in a desert like sty. They feasted on each other. The gangs, the horrific gossip, all of it was something I found debilitating and something I wished to run from. Through this terrible effort that I was able to manifest, mostly born of fear, I was confronted with wealth in my endeavors. In college. I was the token poor boy. The incensed, maniacal, study fiend, that kicked their asses in GPA and who kept a full time + job. How stupid. Oh, I see the gawkers and I try to play it up to the children who have killed their gods, because, frankly, finding out the impotent, flaccid, cock behind the curtain is better than starving. But in all those yeas and the years I have spent with them, there is no nobility in having not. None. They have the same deep craving, the same errors, the same horrors, except they do not have the tokens.
The rich
They have the tokens and that which separates them from the rudeness of the poor is the shit thick wall of comfort. That is all. I cannot stand to breathe amongst them, often. The giggling SOBs watching TED talks which is like a bunch of humorless vagina’s without any lubricating abilities and the temperature of Sashimi grade Tuna thinking they have some prestigious place on this earth. They are prestigious like a malignant tumor is prestigious on the temporal lobe. I have fucked rich girls. They fuck okay. I must say. Sometimes a bit more kinky than the poor girls, but, I can’t get away from the fact that they, honestly, think they are the winners. Oh, I have met the liberal rich person, I have met the guilty one, all of them white, but once one speaks to them, fucks them, their place in this world is manifest destiny no matter how much they like it up the ass.
“What do you mean?” She said as she rolled over. Naked. Filled in orifices with something I must have wanted to get rid of.
“If you measure worth in a pile of beans, whether those beans are called dollars or rupees, you have made yourself, by your own choice, a pile of beans. Not even beans that can sprout into more beans, but a bunch of dried out beans, useless beans, like the nuts of a gay man or the ovaries of a gay woman.”
“What! You’re homophobic!”
“When you constitute one’s humanity into their sexuality, once you have bounded them into their definitions, and really believe it outside of pragmatic devices, you are anti-life. I would be a homophobe, a racist, a sexist, before I stood against the awesome responsibility of the divine existence-and fuck god, not that conceptualized, prickless, well quaffed, white god you want-the divinity of which you cannot count or speak”
dont give me numbers. Give me your duties. Don’t give me your words, but your deeds.
If you say you love me tear yourself of your skin, dance about in your bones, sell those to the glue factory, and follow then, in what is left, those that are worthy to follow.
The dollar’s tail is sprouted from the ass that shits-just like everyTHING else. I wish not for such THINGs.
Be well

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Pragmatic I....Maybe

“Don’t be a victim” said the commercial. Then it showed some woman who was laying her hand against her head, apparently she was supposed to look like a swindled elderly person. To me she looked like a well formed woman. This probably has something to do with my age rather than the quality of casting. That being aside I got to thinking about the idea of victimhood. When does one pass into this realm where we are a victim?

When I started observing for this phenomena in my life I found that it was so prevalent as both an exclaimed statement, “I will not be a victim!” as said by my gun totting, confederate flag wielding woman friend that I had a secret liberal crush on fifteen or so years ago, and as a phenomenal practice: giving shit away and then saying, “I wish I didn't have to give that away” as my friend who is really into saying stuff like that. I have seen many permutations of this both in those that I know and those that I have heard of or read. A long list of victimhood.

What is it that is so horrific about this? It is a state of lack. Of complete lack, it seems to me, and that this lack of creates a psychological rift of incompleteness. Then when the incompleteness is added to, or seemingly, by either an unwanted, but unrefuted request for a thing, or a confrontation of physical power, the individual in this state becomes incensed or morose. Their illusory I, the one that cannot be found, is sparked by a culmination of imputed conditions and their emotional state is rendered fucked. When this state is habitual victimhood is attained and the various manifestations of this arise.

How this is combated, or at least in this culture, is, for lack of a better term-therapy. This therapy is not negative, exactly, but it is arising another I-one that is deeply selfish in the sense that it must be served. “I cannot do that because I need to have a break”, which is a valid statement in some cases but what I have seen is that this too becomes habitual and we move from victimhood to self serving...prick.

It forgets the idea that we aren’t here for ourselves. Even in the mundane sense of, lets say, parenthood. We don’t, or at least, I didn’t get into parenthood to think that this was something that I need a break from. It is a lifestyle choice, to us a modern title for it. That sometimes I go out with just my wife is not a break from my children but time with my spouse. That I cannot sing and swallow at the same time (I am not a Mongolian throat singer despite the similar geography of my people) is not saying I am taking a break from singing or swallowing. Both wonderful activities.

But on a non-mundane level we realize that the reification of the self to such a degree is not reasonable. The I cannot be found. Where is it? Does it reside in the body? Then what if we took apart the body, one by one. Is it in the arm? no. Is it in the leg? No. At some point the delimbing process would get us, most likely, to a place that we would say that it no longer me. Then you put it together again one by one until there is a ‘you’. Then take that final piece away and you reach a ‘no’. Then both the blob and the part are not the self. Then how is it possible that when I put it together it becomes the “I”? If both parts are not the I putting them together cannot produce the I. We can do this with parts of the brain too. It comes to the same conclusion. You can’t put two things together that are not the thing and make them the thing. It is like clanging two rocks together and expecting it to be a tree. So what is it?

When we delineate the space in a jar and the space outside the jar it is an imputation. When we break the jar the space within the jar and outside of the jar are inseparable. The actual space was not changed at all just our frame of reference. Space was neither made more full or less full by the reference point. It was, to use a concept, always full and complete.

This is the ultimate state of all things. Of the Human Being of whom is blessed because it can cognize this reality. One is always full. There is nothing that the Being lacks. That it needs food and shelter does not detract from the fullness of being. In fact, from a fullness of being space the needs of food, shelter, etc. become mightily decreased (even in my tainted and weak self I did a ten day fast and found it amazing how little I needed to participate in the biological aspects of my life. I did 3 of these in a year and each session was increasingly more powerful in how little I actually needed).

As we get closer to this fact we enter a third stage from that of victimhood, selfhood, and into transcendent Self. The characteristics of this is generosity of life, materials, etc. It may even seem to be similar, the same as, the material affect of that of the victim e.g. that they have their belongings taken/given away. The difference being the mind state of the transcendent self. From a place of plenty, the transcendent understands the fallacy of ownership-what can be stolen that is already given? I know of a nun that was raped who, I believe, knew this. Her statement after the fact, through a battered face, was luminous. She said, “I pray to God that it alleviated his lust and that he is not afflicted with it anymore.” My God! That is a Nun! I will follow you dear one.

The role of the self is to pull one out of the passive victim. I have seen this mentality work. With the secular methodology to reifying the I in order to have a space created by this effort to contemplate the next step up. Both victimhood and selfhood are selfish with selfhood being able to have a chance at being pragmatic in its arising. The victim is inert, impotent, forever damned. The self is active, potent, and traveling the path. However, if the path becomes samsaric in the sense that it cyclical it comes only back the I and reifies this position more. This then becomes a negative state instead of pragmatic. It becomes a place of lack because the I is in constant need of being fed, it becomes negatively consumerist, a materialist endeavor where love is tit for tat.

Transcendence becomes also a state, a stage of the remnants of the Self becomes active in its actual demise. Reasoning becomes paramount in that activities illuminate the Truth of the absence of an I. This state is often encountered with a great deal of resistance if not outright hostility. However, it is also, usually, engendered with a great deal of respect for its efforts are still seen as noble if not foolish e.g. the way that Gandhi was often portrayed by the British press. The hostility is the inertia of systems, concepts, unable to deal with a drive that is conceptless. Systems wish to live and those that have been subsumed by these systems e.g. bureaucrats  (nihilists in the modern form) will be the minions that work against these efforts.

I believe the effort of the transcendent, once at this stage, are very hard to be lead off. I think that this stage the realization of the nature of things are so strong that the body is not clung to with enough vigor to be ransomed. That is what the systems use-”You need to make a living” in its softer if not more insidious manifestation or, “I will stick this red hot rod up your ass unless you confess to being a ____________” it its more overt manner if less insidious. It is why, I think, the journeys of many of the religious traditions, or one of the many reasons, they believe in celibacy. I do not think that it is because of a hate of sex, as it is sometimes manifested, but to be able to place individuals within a system who have only their bodies to be ransomed. If one has lead this life correctly, the life of a renunciate, then the body, or the loss of it, is not much to be worked up over.

Use the I pragmatically. Use it until it is no longer useful. Give up this methodology before it becomes instead of a stairway to a higher state, a weight around your neck dragging you deeper.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Political Buddha

I was sitting in the backyard of my home. A summer rainstorm had lasted 3 days of which, I believe, could only be experienced by a resident of the northwest. Cold, wet, and a constant drizzle that periodically escalates to a drumming rain. It was a respite between the gray and the rain (that is what we call summer here in the NW, the Respite). There were mini-pine cones littered all over my porch and upon the ridiculous amount of toys my children have; a pool, a slide, some human powered vehicles, and a shield that was laying crest side down and filled with a pine cone rain mixture. I sat in an orange chair and leaned back to watch the racing clouds across the blue expanse. What came to mind, I hate to admit, was a sort of confrontation I had with my neighbor.

When I first arrived in this neighborhood a neighbor of mine found out, how I do not know, that I was Tibetan. Maybe he had seen my handicapped father wheelchairing around the block and deciphered it from phrenology of something.  But he did find out. He approached me and said,

“I am a zen Buddhist. Buddhism is the thinking man’s religion.” I nodded my head,

“Yes, it does take thought.” and I thought that might be it. It was, for that time, but then, a few weeks later, he accused me of being, possibly, homophobic because I asked my neighbors, who unbeknownst to me were homosexual, were participating in a loud gathering late into the night on a thursday. Well, late is relative, it was 11pm. It was Thursday however. Their affinity for early Michael Jackson was not to be abhorred but their affection for having their bass up to an obnoxious level that should have been satiated in our early twenties-was to be abhorred. I walked over to their home, knocked on the door in my pajamas, and requested, in what, I know, could be understood as a surly vein, for them to turn it down.

I found out later that they had spoken to the neighbors, this man specifically, and told them that they were offended that that was our first interaction. I wanted to say that I would have liked that not to be our second interaction (which was awkward) as our first (I found offensive), through a proxy, the aforementioned Michael Jackson. I didn’t say this. I just became furious when the Other Neighbor asked,

“Is it because they are gay?”

Now, I will leave this illustration here with this-I spoke to the couple, of whom I was not aware of being gay, that I wanted to have a better relationship with them. That I was tired because I woke up at 5 to take care of my dad, worked all day, came home and watched children, took care of my dad, tried to practice my religion, then, if possible, eat somewhere in there, defecate, maybe, and then sleep. Thats my day. I was tired.

After I was asked if I was homophobic or just a dick, by this man, he went into a long diatribe on how he is the lone liberal (meaning politically) in the neighborhood and that he felt was wrongly shifted to the right (meaning politically-not literally, which would be weird). He proudly displayed his Obama 12 bumper sticker, the blue B bumper sticker to show his solidarity with a group of people. He even revealed that his daughter was gay and that the neighbor, who once was directly opposed to all things gay, turned out to have a gay daughter. He said, “then he changed his way, funny how that happens.”

I have reread the above and I think it comes across as glib, in parts, but I think that, that was on purpose. The glibness of politics on the larger scale, at least now, is prevalent and perhaps all pervasive. I wanted to lay the ground in order to juxtapose it with the idea of religion and politics. For, this started out with this Zen practitioner, as a meeting of (at least from his side, I think) of similar faithed people. But where we differed, I think, is that he thought of it as a team, of a us and them, and that the ‘thinking’ folks or at least ‘men’. It has become this way with the many different paths. It is the enlightened against the unenlightened in some mighty grudge match.

I have seen this, in its most blatant form, in the monotheistic religions but I believe it is prevalent in all of them. It is very prevalent in the American form of them. The dark glee that I see when Hell is discussed and the oceans of eternally tormented souls is disturbing, what makes me even more disturbed is the flaccid compassion that is shown on their faces. Oh, wouldn’t it be great if they had converted-so the statement goes. This flaccid compassion though, is not inert, it is a raging impotence where they rise inquisitions and crusades, if, in most, only in their hopeful hearts of revelations.

But what makes the Buddha’s way different? Is not every human system subject to the eventual intertwining of the mundane and the supramundane? We see this pathway that the Catholic church took and wonder if it is not an inevitability of any organization? That it would rear its head in the form of Zen in America is a foregone conclusion, right?


When we look at the Buddha’s methodology to this we see a very shrewd maneuvering. I use this term, shrewd, purely as my interpretation of it. I do not believe the Buddha was trying to be as an ends, political, and that his means were for the Enlightenment of beings, but also he taught beings within a system. This system, like most systems, is filled with inertia toward change because, like humans, systems want to survive and meet resistance with resistance. What made the Buddha’s methodology so successful in his time is the development of the Sangha.

All mundane systems, governing so to say, in the material realm use a form of material exchange as a scorecard. This exchange can be, in various levels, considered also the amount of power a particular individual or system within the system has. For example, the ear of the president, in our system, is, frankly, paid for. This does not mean that he is taking bribes etc. but that by the very nature of proximity to him it requires wealth. As a human being we are most influenced, usually, by those peoples thoughts nearest and longest to us. Thus wealth even if by proxy, has the bulk of power.

However, this also makes the system, the more it becomes this way, more vulnerable. We see this with technological gains, where there is an increase in efficiency there is a loss in self agency. If we use the idea of technological efficiencies gained through a global conveyor belt system like Dell does in order to reduce inventory we see, in real world examples, its dangers. A typhoon in Taiwan brought the entire process to a standstill for weeks because a critical part of the computer was shorebound with ships. Dell could not ship anything for weeks. We see this, with even a technology that we may not think of as a technology, food production. We are further and further from our food. We can get strawberries in October but, a few years ago, when flood waters covered I-5 we weren’t able to get any new produce/even local, for a week. It is this vulnerability that the Buddha exploited with his Sangha and, by exploiting it, was able to influence the politics of the time without a violent confrontation or purge.

The monks vows are rooted, or could be said to be rooted, in renunciation.

"Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with renunciation, abandoning thinking imbued with sensuality, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with renunciation. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with non-ill will, abandoning thinking imbued with ill will, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with non-ill will. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with harmlessness, abandoning thinking imbued with harmfulness, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with harmlessness."[3]

In this we can understand that, to put it coarsely, the monk or nun wants nothing of the mundane world. He or she lives within the world and has worldly needs, lets say food, but the worldly drive is not theirs. They renounce this drive for a higher drive and in this renunciation are able to remove their threat to the mundane systems. This is exemplified in the Buddha’s time and in some Pali tradition communities, act of begging for your food. The Buddha lived under ‘rocks’ and ledges, in the forest, and saw that this was the best way to be, without attachments. He told his followers that this was the best way because of its discordance with the world and its ability to be able to accord with the drive toward the mind of enlightenment. This higher drive, so to say, is not impeded by the drive of the world which, the Buddhist believes, leads to a cyclical and bounded existence .

By being in ‘poverty’ and not threatening the powers that be, they were able to subvert the systems desire to confront similar drives. They were able to live together as separate systems because their drive was different. By this, the Sangha was able to become a leveraged resource for advice by the kings and princes.

I see the difficulty of the other path to this. To subsume a transcendent drive within the systemic drive. I don’t believe they would put it this way but I believe it is an arguable position. For example, Reinhold Neibur, a christian philosopher who, apparently, is greatly admired by our current president, is a very good illustration of this.

Neibur’s christian pragmatism in what I have read is boiled down to the drive to love and the drive to justice. He believes that they are not compatible within the world. The Drive to Love is the love of Christ, or the blood of Christ, that is infinitely forgiving and the drive to Justice is the prohibitive consequence to an action against the ‘norms’ of a society. He hopes, in his writing, the the individual transcendent drive to Love imbues the drive to justice with the proper lens but he does separate the two. He believes it is the duty of the Christian to do both; one on the individual transcendent level and the other in the political sphere.

While this, on my first reading, did not seem to be too far from a belief of mine I had to after reflecting on some of the bases of Buddhist thought found it to be in error. The Buddha calls for a renunciation of these drives, or at least the call to justice. He finds that this, for those that are are ready, a pathway to inequity. A systemic approach to the transcendent, to intertwine them, in a calling for the faithful is arising a knotty issue. For, as the Buddha says, with the arising of ‘this’ comes ‘that’ in the teaching on Karma. Karma is meant to be gotten over and not continued. At the lower levels it must be cultivated in order to gain the proper foothold of fortunate birth to be able to attempt and accomplish the pathway to cessation. Cessation is not possible with the imputation of ‘that’ in either mind or action for it will always produce further-like a pillow that is punched.

What makes this even more impractical is that those within a system, a temporal order, in our nation a quasi secular governance, is then in direct confrontation with this newer power, especially if it states a paradigm that is in opposition to its own goals. In our nation it has, to this point, only been in specific areas and to, frankly, to a large degree, this is because of the lack of diversity of faith within the governance and to a large degree the people of the nation. But what happens with this type of governance to a nation that was as religiously diverse as India at the time of the Buddha? Temporal government then would come into direct confrontation with the religious order if it was to take upon itself worldly issues. The Buddha’s methodology dismantled this confrontation at its base of existence which was material gain.

I write this to keep this part in my mind. I may not dabble in the politics of the age and mix them as so many have. Politics are, in my definition, the middling ground of practical governance; as food is to the body. A necessity and sometimes a pleasant necessity and other not so much. However, the drive of my life is not to be seen through the lens of this necessity. It is a means to the purpose of life-transcendence-as is this body, a body like a boat, to take me to the farthest shore. I must take care of the body but I must not mistake the body for the distant shore-for if I do, then I will not steer, I will not guide, etc. I will have thought I arrived. And the deep, dissatisfaction with that imputation will not have any reference to alleviate it and therefore I will only have the tools at hand to work with. I will mistake the tools as ends and delve deeper and deeper into the error, more complex, dependently constructed, and yet, wholly illusory.

I see why the Buddha told us to renounce. Transcendence and its drive should not be advertised by mundane means and this includes a bumper sticker.

Be well

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Great Teacher: The Sword of Delusion

I do not often write in verse but this came to me while I meditated the other day.

What more proof does one need
Than to witness the monolith
The immense power of delusion

From ocean to ocean there marches
an uncountable number
of soldiers bedecked in weapons
like so many ants filled with poisonous venom

And even on the oceans,
Man has made land
that floats like islands
to bring their swords and arrows

And below
like a leviathan
the waters are tunneled by metallic worms
filled to bursting with the fires of hell

tell me, even of one man
If we opened their skull
would we find the sage within those folds
or would there be a king-scowling and brandishing
the scimitar?

with our children, with our spouses
our mothers and fathers
friends and acquaintances
even these, our supposed kith and kin,
those we use words like, ‘love’ and ‘care’
with-these holy words-even with these, our
‘precious’-we defile those words
Even with these we attack them with our
darkest winds, our lustful and power addled
We only know this power, this lowly
corrupt, perverse power,
and it pervades the universe like water in a
soaked rag

But even this, even this, becomes a light to Illuminate
the flawless words of the Blessed One
for, even in the face of this seemingly all pervasive
This hateful ignorance
that rises up like some terrible mountain
Spewing and covering the sky
Even this is a light.

For tell me this. Against such might what general
would tell us to attack?
Which king would tell us the war
Is winnable?
And yet, the Blessed One has

The Blessed One has said to look
at his words and test them
and what greater proof is there
than an evidence that is pervasive?

Violence and so forth
pile upon the earth
and yet, among all this
there rises, again, and again
the lesson of Peace

It is not just the Daughters and Sons
Of the Conqueror that practice it
It is in each day, a secret moment, where the Mother
is not addled-that she whispers peace

And each age, a handful come to light
that teach Peace
That teach that it is the way

With the hordes of false teachers
both animate and inanimate
Who teach the opposite-for so long
How could it be that it still rises?

Be well G

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Old Post New Site

Xanga is closing, xanga is closing, it is closed. It was the first and only place where I blogged, wrote, exchanged ideas with some amazing people. I am a skeptic of technology and almost all of my positive experiences with it have been through this blog. I cherish those few that have kept in contact with me. I am thankful for those that spent even a brief moment looking at what I wrote. That anyone would spend their time giving me the time of day, especially in area that are difficult to express, has been a powerful current in my life. Their insight, beautiful minds, and poetic natures have done wonders for my often melancholy personality.

swirling spiral

and anyone who went anonymous on my writing, I thank you. I do not know if you could know how much I appreciated an eye to some of my thoughts.

I will post at both sites for awhile until xanga closes. I changed my URL to ariseguru, because, I do not think fallenguru is appropriate now. To be honest, I think I have arisen from what I had thought was a terminal blow. I thought I would never arise. The deep distress at what I had thought was life had left me destroyed, razed, and ready to mimic a life. I have found this way out, a way, and have taken my first attempts at walking what I have found to be true. They can be none other than difficult, bumbling, and often leading to a fall. But I am no longer 'fallen' in the past tense. The past tense of it being a place of infinite rest (much different than eternal rest-eternal rest takes transcendence which I do want). I get up. The stride is wobbly, like I was when I first learned to walk but, eventually, despite the oddity of my gait, I did learn to walk.

I will leave you will something I wrote about 7 years ago on xanga. One of my first posts.

Posted 12/19/2006 at 3:7 PM
I have understood that I was misleading myself for so long. I have made the mistake of sublimating my individuality. It does not seem to be this way if you were to talk to someone like myself. I have ideas and methodologies but most of my ideas stretch from the debunked theory of George Bush (the first one) with his trickle down economics. It is not economics that I talk about, or not exclusively, but it is the idea that the grand scheme of things comes first; the problems with politics, the wars, the poverty of the third world. I do not want one to think that these do not matter, they do matter, they are blots on the map of our existence. However, the mistake that I have made and have continued to make for some time, and at times still do, is to put myself in a position of impotency. What can one do against the awesome tide of evil in this world? If it is viewed in the scope of a totality (or what we think is a totality) then it is unbearable to stare at. It grinds the will into a malleable dust that is washed away with its current.
I love history, or it is one of the loves that I have in my life, I have often said that my hobby is as a generalist, and I am apt to sit with the very few friends that I have that will put up with such a dry subject (to most). We discuss the tides of history and marvel at the similar wave like patterns that ripple out throughout history. I call them waves and not a cycle because each arrival of the historical 'similarity' is not identical so it is more wave like then cyclical like. This marvel though is one who sits on the sideline, the consumer if you will. Thomas Jefferson would have lamented at this idealogy as he wanted the US to drive toward a agrarian production society. I thought on this and instead of using History as a painting to glare at and poke holes at, to use as a screen to glare and poke holes at our present time, I should use it as an impetus to influence the current history, or the 'to be' history. I am not vain enough to think that my mediocre intellect or talent would lead a charge down any path of historical significance directly but if one thinks about cause and effect we are not sure what cause will lead to what end. It is much as the Butterfly Effect example has on Chaos Theory, we matter. You must think of it, we ultimately matter, each cause has ripple effects across a pattern of effect and we cannot be sure how it moves movements in one direction or another. It is paramount that we remove ourselves as much as we can from this flow (cause no harm) until we are aware of our immense worth, limitless worth, even the least among us (as the Christ said) can do, or be the catalyst to miracles or anti miracles for lack of a better term. I used to think there was neutral causes, or Karma, but I no longer believe that. Each action from eating to sleeping has an effect without awareness we can cause unknowing good, but I would say that this is a rarity, mostly unawareness brings forth suffering. I say this because of the examples of my own life and throughout history, it takes care and focus to be able to overcome the natural slide of entropy, I think that it is that way with good. I think awareness of each step of each heartbeat can slowly allow oneself on the path to chip away at the grime that covers our true natures (entropy slides us to the grime, awareness leads us on a path that can rid ourselves of this and then I believe all paths will supersede the natural entropy and become Super mundane that leads back to Truth).
I don't want to get too religious or to speak in spiritual terms but most of what I speak on has those overtones but it is truly practical. It can be seen by an unbeliever as well. That is why I use scientific terms such as entropy for one who understands that in order for entropy to be put off energy must be put into the system. That is what I must remember. Also cause and effect, if we use any instance we can see that it has an ocean of cause and effect behind it, the abuser is a good example. We know that most abusers were abused (the opposite of this equation is not true however) and that is one cause of their hateful actions, just following this line we can see that it probably stretches back eons, eons of suffering, then we take into account all else, i.e. anger, wrong mates, organic mental deficiencies: where does this come from? It comes from not eating right, drugs where does this come from? This questioning goes on and on. Who then is responsible? We are, ultimately, we have a choice at the points of where our causes lead us to, we have internal choices on how we let we let the instance become 'real' or not in our life. 'Real' is a manifestation of our thought and not an independent truth.
Let's get back to the individual. I think of History, or our current state in the grand trickle down manner. I also have found that I think of systems this way, and it has to change. I must view it through the lens of cause and effect, through awareness, and through myself. I must view history as not unchanging monolithic inevitabilities but as pictures that come out of the masses of pixels that have driven it toward that vision. Truly what we view, what we ingest, is what we make of it. I have read a book on Active Reading and it stated that Active Reading is an art form. It takes the information and communications symbols of the author and then goes through the palette of the individuals mind and its constituents; sub, super, and conscious consciousness. Thus the end product is the readers and becomes something whole and new.
If we see ourselves as important, in fact, integral causes or effects in a systems manifestation then we can be active in our relationships to this. If we are aware of this, if we remain aware, the suffering of impotence will die. The virility of action with our wisdom of the situation can marry each other into conscious striving. This is mandatory in order to be good, to live at the very bare minimum of goodness which I define as to cause no harm, or as little as possible. We know the unconscious lifestyles so rarely cause good, so rarely that it does not even have to be measured, and so often causes bad and suffering. Be the individual, understand that it is in this manifestation that you grasp ahold of your life, of the world, of the universe, of systems of history. Look, as I do, at the histories, of economies, of any large vision of systems but realize their pixels are what make the illustration possible, without any of them it would not arise as it is. I look at this last sentence and I don't think it is quite accurate, I use the term pixel but it is more. The illustration is a nexus of smoke, or fog, it is where there is no wind. It arises and hovers as if it were solid to one that views it from the top, each and every being is a wind, each wind brought that smoke there and by canceling out each other the smoke is allowed to rise, if one was not there the opposite force would blow the vision into a blur. It is more like this.

The all powerful individual, manifestor of the universe and the gods that inhabit it, it is the duty of the individual to seek out to destroy itself and view the All in the luminosity of the Truth. It can only be done by accepting the yoke of awareness and individuality.

Be One
to be Many