Aug 17, 2011

A Reunion.

Tonight I was deeply moved by a stranger's calm. His blog only had three entries but they were still and peaceful and filled with so much creative force that I felt the sudden urge to practice deep breathing. It was amazing how the clutter instantly fell away and I could see clearer all at once. I saw my many selves and realised my capabilities. I am capable of destruction. I am capable of beauty. I am capable of vanity. I am capable of reconciliation. I am capable of tyranny. I am capable of compassion. I am capable of madness. I am capable of creation... So many selves, so many capabilities—they are me and I am them. Yes they often like to argue and exhaust me; but in that moment I felt deeply peaceful and happy, like meeting really old friends.

Aug 15, 2011

Avalokitesvara and Existentialism.

Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva who vows to free all sentient beings from suffering before attaining his Buddhahood. With his heart full of compassion, he tirelessly looks down at the tens of thousands of beings great and small in samsara. O, how in our ignorance we multiply our sufferings tenfold and hundredfold; and in suffering we ignore our potential for transcendence. All our cries for help and alleviation—Avalokitesvara has heard them all, but nothing he does can free us all at once from this indestructible endless cycle of birth and rebirth. The weight of the world is all too great for one to bear: Avalokitesvara bursts into a thousand pieces.

Amitabha Buddha, sensing his helplessness and pain, from Avalokitesvara's shattered self gives him eleven heads and a thousand arms. With eleven heads, he sees all suffering at once; with a thousand arms, he lifts a thousand desperate beings at once. What a monstrosity he has become! Would it be that if Man could feel great pity at the sight of Avalokitesvara they would then realise their suffering to be no more than his: they would suffer because of him. O, great compassionate mother, Avalokitesvara! Even you are part of this endless cycle, they would say. Let us no more ask from you deliverance, but instead for your deliverance.

All at once, all suffering ceases. In one instant all beings transcend; and the world and everything in and about it ceases to exist.

Aug 13, 2011

One's born and at once one is guilty.

     'Look, there's Brahms. He is striving for redemption, but it will take him all his time.'
     I realized that the thousands of men in black were the players of all those notes and parts of his scores which according to divine judgement were superfluous.
     'Too thickly orchestrated, too much material wasted,' Mozart said with a nod.
     And thereupon we saw Richard Wagner marching at the head of a host just as vast, and felt the pressure of those thousands as they clung and closed upon him. Him, too, we watched as he dragged himself along with slow and sad step.
     'In my young days,' I remarked sadly, 'these two musicians passed as the most extreme contrasts conceivable.'
     Mozart laughed.
     'Yes, that is always the way. Such contrasts, seen from a little distance, always tend to show their increasing similarity. Thick orchestration was in any case neither Wagner's nor Brahms's personal failing. It was a fault of their time.'
     'What? And have they got to pay for it so dearly?' I cried in protest.
     'Naturally. The law must take its course. Until they have paid the debt of their time it cannot be known whether anything personal to themselves is left over to stand to their credit.'
     'But they can't either of them help it!'
     'Of course not. They cannot help it either that Adam ate the apple. But they have to pay for it.'
     'But this is frightful.'
     'Certainly. Life is always frightful. We cannot help it and we are responsible all the same. One's born and at once one is guilty. You must have had a remarkable sort of religious education if you did not know that.'
     I was now thoroughly miserable. I saw myself as a dead-weary pilgrim, dragging myself across the desert of the other world, laden with the many superfluous books I had written, and all the articles and feuilletons; followed by the army of compositors who had had the type to set up, by the army of readers who had had it all to swallow. My God—and over and above it all there was Adam and the apple, and the whole of original sin. All this, then, was to be paid for in endless purgatory. And only then could the question arise whether, behind all that, there was anything personal, anything of my own, left over; or whether all that I had done and all its consequences were merely the empty foam of the sea and a meaningless ripple in the flow of what was over and done.

—Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

Aug 4, 2011

Find yourselves.

I'd like to think, that for all his affirmations towards living and more abundant life, what Zarathustra really was waiting for was a man who could kill him, figuratively or literally. But all the intellectuals who visited him, who sought his advice, were 'hopeless': they were simply turning themselves into followers. Zarathustra didn't need followers. He was waiting for creators and destroyers like himself—Übermensch who could destroy him in order to create themselves. Didn't Zarathustra proclaim that God is dead, and wasn't Nietzsche against Christianity and its teachings? That may be so; but if in turn we idolise Zarathustra (or Nietzsche) and his teachings then we have failed and have learnt nothing at all.

Verily, I counsel you: go away from me and guard yourselves against Zarathustra! And better still: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he has deceived you.
The man of understanding must be able not only to love his enemies, but also to hate his friends.
One repays a teacher poorly if one always remains only a student. And why would you not pluck at my wreath?
You revere me; but what if your reverence should some day collapse? Be careful lest a statue fall and kill you!
You say you believe in Zarathustra? But what does Zarathustra matter? You are my believers: but what do any believers matter?
You had not yet sought yourselves: then you found me. Thus do all believers: that is why all belief is worth so little.
Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves; and only when you have all denied me will I return to you.

     —Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Aug 3, 2011

The Epic in My Mind.

If only it were as easy as parting my head and pulling a book out of it, because all I've done lately was to write the epic in my mind. What can I do if my hands refuse to participate? I think there's a genius in all of us but nobody, nobody ever sees it.

That is why I wanted to write an epic of the ordinary, to normalise some issues and elevate others. But I wonder if I'm not crazy to bear such great ambition. I had an epiphany of my mortality the other day: I would write the book and then die. It must have been a consequence of channeling everything into the work; but nobody, nobody ever sees it.