Purpose Statement

Exploration -> Experience -> Feeling -> Transformation -> Understanding

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Seedy Side of the Family

Yes LAG, the Hortons are famous in many ways.





Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Song of the Lark

So I am reading Willa Cather’s Song of the Lark and it is an absolutely brilliant portrayal of the puella aeternus, the female version of the puer aeternus, and I am gaining much insight into my self. The main character, Thea, has a talent for singing and the story is about her emergence as an artist. She has great disdain for bourgeois sensibilities and longs to be recognized for her special talent. Cather has fabulous paragraphs that nail the contemptibility of the bourgeoisie (I find myself cheering her on) followed by evocative paragraphs of the spiritual ascendancy of the puella that I initially identify with, but moments later think, “Thea is a delusional, condescending, arrogant, egocentric princess.”

I used to know a mechanical engineer. I simultaneously admired and hated this guy. He was a free spirit, an adventurer, but he was also unbelievably arrogant. I could hardly stand to be in the same room with the guy, but I envied his travels and adventures. One day he and I went to lunch. He looked at me across the table and said, “You know Scott, you are the most arrogant SOB I have ever met.” I laughed and told him, “Right back at you, you cocky bastard.” From then on, we got along great.

If you would all simply acknowledge how special I really am, things would go so much smoother.

All bow to the Puer.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I'd rather be ...

Pics from my recent trip to Hawaii.















Friday, August 10, 2007

To keep it, give it away

I have made some progress.

The bourgeoisie want to be in the safe and comfortable middle preserving their self.

The Buddha is in the middle, but has recognized that his self is no self at all, in that it is one and the same as everything else in the universe and that it is empty.

The bourgeoisie avoid existential angst by distracting themselves with consumerism, materialism, gluttony, …

The Buddha confronts the Void, the emptiness of all things, and is at peace with his ambiguous, paradoxical, meaningless role in the universe.

The bourgeoisie are self absorbed, egocentric, selfish.

The Buddha holds on to nothing, gives everything away, has compassion for others.

I think my discontent is rooted in inaction. I need to be living my values in the world in some way. I used to have the church youth group as an outlet, but since I was dis-invited, I have not been active in the world. I think I need to find another way to give myself away for the benefit of others.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Breathing

I was standing in ankle deep water last week watching this honu foraging for tasty limu.


Looking in the Lee mirror

I had lunch today with beloved soul brother Lee and in the course of gazing into the Lee mirror, I came to recognize a source of discontent within myself.

Hermann Hesse’s brilliant book Steppenwolf is about a man that is torn between two selves – a bourgeois self and an extremist self. Here is how Hesse sums it up:

Now what we call “bourgeois,” when regarded as an element always to be found in human life, is nothing else than the search for balance. It is the striving after a mean between the countless extremes and opposites that arise in human conduct. If we take any one of these coupled opposites, such as piety and profligacy, the analogy is immediately comprehensible. It is open to a man to give himself up wholly to spiritual views, to seek after God, to the ideal of saintliness. On the other hand, he can equally give himself up to the life of instinct, to the lusts of the flesh, and so direct all his efforts to the attainment of momentary pleasures. The one path leads to the saint, to the martyrdom of the spirit and surrender to God. The other path leads to the profligate, to the martyrdom of the flesh, the surrender to corruption. Now it is between the two, in the middle of the road, that the bourgeois seeks to walk. He will never surrender himself either to lust or to asceticism. He will never be a martyr or agree to his own destruction. On the contrary, his ideal is not to give up but to maintain his own identity. He strives neither for the saintly nor its opposite. The absolute is his abhorrence. He is ready to be virtuous, but likes to be easy and comfortable in the world as well. In short, his aim is to make a home for himself between two extremes in a temperate zone without violent storms and tempests; and in this he succeeds though it be at the cost of that intensity of life and feeling which an extreme life affords. A man cannot live intensely except at the cost of the self. Now the bourgeois treasures nothing more highly than the self (rudimentary as his may be). And so at the cost of intensity he achieves his own preservation and security. His harvest is a quiet mind which he prefers to being possessed by God, as he does comfort to pleasure, convenience to liberty, and a pleasant temperature to that deathly inner consuming fire. The bourgeois is consequently by nature a creature of weak impulses, anxious, fearful of giving himself away and easy to rule. Therefore, he has substituted majority for power, law for force, and the polling booth for responsibility.

Another German writer, Thomas Mann, wrote about living as an extremist with feeling, intensity, and vigor:

... it is our duty, our religious duty to feel. Our feeling, you see, is our manly vigor, which awakens life. Life slumbers. It wants to be awakened, roused to drunken nuptials with divine feeling. Because feeling ... is divine. Man himself is divine in that he feels. He is the very feeling of God. God created him in order to feel through him. Man is nothing more than the organ by which God consummates His marriage with awakened and intoxicated life. And if man fails to feel, it is an eruption of divine disgrace, it is the defeat of God's manly vigor, a cosmic catastrophe, a horror that never leaves the mind

These passages resonate with me. The puer in me believes that intensity and feeling are what bring value to life and if I have not lost my self in the consuming fire of complete commitment to the one thing to the sacrifice of everything else, I am not living. People have told me numerous times how they admire all that I have accomplished – I completed an Ironman triathlon, I hang glide and paraglide, scuba dive all over the world, take pretty photographs, I’m a successful professional engineer, … I can admit that I am pretty good at all these things, but I have never devoted myself exclusively to any one thing. So in my mind, I really have not accomplished much at all. I can hang glide, but I’ve never flown big XC. I finished an Ironman, but I’ll never go under 9 hours. I’m a successful engineer, but the truth is, I put no passion into my work. I scuba dive, but I’ll never be Jacques Cousteau.

At lunch today Lee and I spoke of Jesus. Jesus lived as an extremist, to such a degree that the bourgeoisie of his day crucified him. Who among us really wants to emulate Jesus? Wouldn’t you rather be a successful Roman businessman with slaves to make your life comfortable? I wonder if the Mexicans who clean and fix-up my house have ever thought of me as a metaphorical Roman.

So there is a part of me that is discontent with my life of success and comfort. Of course, I am the Steppenwolf, so there is a bourgeois part of me that is anxious and fearful to do anything other than stay miserable.

But there is something telling me that it is the puer that wants to be an extremist and the puer is part of my shadow, so that cannot be the solution. Hesse says as much in his masterpiece Narcissus and Goldmund. At the end of the book, the two extremists are still unfulfilled.

The Buddha taught of the middle way and mystic Dan is always teaching the Via Media and I think this must be the preferred solution, but here is the part I haven’t figured out – What is the difference, and I sure hope there is a huge difference, between the middle way of wisdom and the mediocre middle of the bourgeoisie? How to I go directly from the mediocre bourgeois middle to the wisdom middle?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sleep Deprivation

I slept all weekend. I was exhausted. I literally slept 15 hours last night.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vacillations

The natural (as in normal) condition of life is intense. Consider the beginning and the end - birth and death – very intense experiences; frightening, painful, traumatic, bloody, violent. For most animals, including most humans, life in between birth and death is intense as well; eating and not being eaten, finding clean water to drink, shelter from the elements and safety from predators. Their lives are filled by attending to their immediate needs, immediate as in right now.

And while the niggers of this world
Are starving with their mouths wide open
What is it that turns the coins we throw at them
Into worthless little tokens?
– The Violence of Truth, The The

Not so for me and my bourgeois culture. We have mild, stable lives of comfort, safety and security. Consider our consumption; our obesity, materialism, consumerism, waste, and pollution. We are gluttonous. We have more leisure, more opportunities and options in life than anyone else in the history of humanity and yet we are paralyzed with fear and anxiety. And what is that fear and anxiety? Of losing our comfort, safety and security? Of being a starving nigger? Is it that the people who have the most to lose are the most fearful? We are so preoccupied grieving the past and trying to control our worrisome future, we have no attention for the present moment.

Eddie Izzard, Dressed to Kill stand up comedy routine – The bourgeois congregations of the Anglican church sing with absolutely no soul, vigor, vitality, or virility and the most fantastic music comes from the poorest, most desperate peoples of the world.

Life is right now and it is intense.

Two years ago I was meditating at the Honolulu Diamond Sangha’s Palolo Zen Center and I had a particularly remarkable sit. My mind was very quiet, as quiet as it has ever been, and I had an awesome experience. I once heard Geshe Michael Roach explain the Tibetan Buddhist concept of emptiness and his words carried some of my experience. The concept is essentially this – Every thing is completely empty until human consciousness comes along and assigns meaning to it. As a metaphor; we are projectors of light and what we see when we look out is the light that we project reflected back at us. Without our projection of light, there is no reflection to see.

Assigning meaning to every thing is a big responsibility. It would be easier to have God assign meaning and give us a set of simple rules to follow.

I think the root of bourgeois fear and anxiety is the avoidance of the experience of what I call the Void:

We are small and finite. We are going to die. Soon.
The universe is infinite.
No one, no thing has inherent meaning; the starving nigger, the gluttonous bourgeoisie, the stars, time - all empty.

We bourgeoisie have a choice; confront reality and potentially suffer the existential angst of experiencing the Void versus avoid reality by distracting ourselves with consumption and imagining elaborate alternative “realities” that we can believe to be true with faith.

Neurosis is the avoidance of legitimate suffering. – Carl Jung

My remarkable meditation was an experience of the Void, but I suffered no angst. In fact, I experienced profound peace and serenity, like Yeats in the London coffee shop:

While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.

I want to bless and be blessed. I want to be at peace with emptiness and take responsibility for justly assigning meaning. I want to attend to the reality of the present moment.

The neurotic bourgeoisie are not only disengaged from their own lives, they are disrespectful and destructive of other life. I don’t want to be a neurotic bourgeoisie.

What is wanted is not that we should find ultimate truth,
nor that we should become secure,
nor that we should have ease,
nor that we should be without hurt,
but that we should live fully.

Therefore we should not fear life,
nor anything in life,
we should not fear death,
nor anything in death,
we should live our lives
in love with life.

It is for us
to train our hearts
to live in grace,
to sacrifice our self-centered desires,
to find the peace without want
without seeking it for ourselves,

and when we fail,
to begin again each day.
- John McQuiston II, Always We Begin Again