We can’t all be right … or can we?

vast emptiness nothing holy

vast emptiness nothing holy

I have more than a few friends who all seem desperately to need to be right. Each and every one of them has a favourite topic – a hobby-horse – and an incontrovertible line of argument.

And well-thought-out opinions, in fact, on every subject, whether crucial or trivial.

But they don’t agree among themselves … and not one of them agrees with me.

There must be some over-arching or all-embracing truth somewhere, but the only thing I’m sure about is that I haven’t got it sussed.

It would appear that the “grumpy cat avatar” has become a sacred icon, an oracle, the mouthpiece of truth. Click on him and you’ll find he redirects to a painting by Seki Seisetsu (1877-1944), which features the same text.

And when you’re done with that, you might look at a piece about some famous words of Seng-ts’an: “Do not seek the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.”

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“Do you ever doubt your own ideas? All the time. You should read what happens in linguistics. I keep changing what I said. Any person who is intellectually alive changes his ideas. If anyone at a university is teaching the same thing they were teaching five years ago, either the field is dead, or they haven’t been thinking.” (Noam Chomsky)

You are the sky

Sky over Washington Monument

Sky over Washington Monument

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You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather. (Pema Chödrön)

It’s the height of summer where I live – in Wellington, New Zealand. For some of my friends and loved ones, the summer sun is welcome; for others, the heat and humidity are enervating.

Meanwhile, in the northern hemisphere – in Turkey, in London, and in western Massachusetts – others are wrapped up and rugged up against the snow and the dark, cold nights.

Some of us “experience a serious mood change during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This condition is called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.” (US National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health)

“Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder, with its prevalence in the US ranging from 1.4 percent in Florida to 9.7 percent in New Hampshire. 

“The US National Library of Medicine notes that ‘some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.’ The condition in the summer can include heightened anxiety.” (Wikipedia)

Someone very close to me seems to be under the mistaken impression that they have power to influence the weather: “If I hang my washing out, it’s sure to rain.”

As handy and versatile as the weather is as a topic of conversation, when all is said and done, it’s just the weather.

Storm of thoughts

Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head. (Mark Twain)

other (15 Dec 2011)

other (15 Dec 2011)

According to the old Zen koān, things are not as they seem … (But wait, there’s more!) Nor are they otherwise.

Public media bring us news of all sorts of things. And we eat it all up avidly.

More often than not, however, the news is not so much a summary of facts as a report of reactions and opinions: shock, horror, outrage, hatred, fear, hysteria, grief, etc.

Truly, I see the world not as it is but as I am.

“Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.” (Aldous Huxley)

Our reality is compounded of thoughts and feelings, judgments and perceptions. The news is a mirror in which we can see our storm of thoughts reflected.

“If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion.” (Aldous Huxley)

“Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.” (Mark Twain)

Red light district

red light district (20 Sep 2011)

red light district (20 Sep 2011)

We all seem to see the world
differently. And, as we grow and learn,
the world transforms and transforms
into something we hadn’t 
expected (or suspected).

And yet the earth still goes
around the sun, and the moon
around the earth.

Somewhere in the deep beyond of
reality – where things really are
the way they are – nothing changes.

No, stop! I mean to say that
there is no change. There’s just
nothing, and that nothing is
unchanging.

Oh dear, it still isn’t clear, is it?

The Enlightened Way

Everything as it is, is the Enlightened Way. (Shakyamuni Buddha)

In Zen, there are two ways of describing reality. Basically, one says that reality is all One, that everything is Buddha. The other describes the manyness of reality, its multitude of diverse phenomena and differences. 

… these two ways of perceiving reality are not just valid, but essentially the same. (Bernie Glassman)

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Glassman, Bernie. 2002. Infinite circle : teachings in Zen. Boston: Shambhala. [Introduction, p xi]

Fling

Split me, make me nothing.
Fling me across the fabric of space and time.
From nothing once again, make me everything.

(Rumi)

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I’d have written something today, but this little piece knocked me sideways.