in/to

Mental diagnosis felt like an act. A script I shouldn’t have played into. Some do. Some need to. Those whose function cannot find place. Like mine at the time. But I was passing through—turbulent heartbreaks, growing pains, clashes with Hims—and mistook role for reality. I overthought my relation to it, that joy and suffering, and tied it to a being beyond. I regret that now. Or at least can see it as it was: seeking, clenching, grasping. Am I nothing more than a need to reach? Maybe. I’m human. Some childlike essence that shows in contours when ignoring and blurring details of pores. Take off my glasses and focus on the obscure. The fuzz. That uncertainty between me and it. Subject in/to object. Still disoriented in space, lost along the way, I may trip a few times too many, but that’s okay. Because it’s only and not me at all. 

Question

Is speaking/(writing) subjectively an inherently selfish act? Is it possible to speak for others in speaking for self? Or speak for those who came before (especially those silenced) by speaking now? Do women get challenged more for speaking subjectively than men?

smiling eyes
demobilized
serpentine wrap my spine
rinse minerals to spare
pearl tears for Mother
all she gives
all we take
the greed, a seed, rebirth; a tree
how can she be all this
in silence?
concrete-filled mouth
jaguar yawn let it out
may this flight
be a charm
to find home
stillness in scattered bones

You & I

The self is the way we organize reality. It is mutable. Ephemeral. It’s an organizing structure that arises and is always completely embedded in relational reality. It’s never apart from that relational reality. That’s it. It’s pretty simple.

Oftentimes when people hear the teachings of no-self, they think that no self exists, or that no self should exist. But that’s not what it means. The teachings of no-self mean that we are not fixed, we are not permanent, separate, isolated. We are this dynamic reality. We are as Dōgen says: a flower of emptiness. A mutable articulation of reality.

So the teachings of no-self are not aimed at erasing ordinary personality or diminishing our worth, our needs, our vitality.

The self is not a problem to be solved or an obstacle to be obliterated. Quite the opposite. The teachings are about liberation from constricted states of suffering. Liberation from the delusions that we have about the self. They aim for our full participation, with kindness and clear thinking. 

It’s also true that when we let these teachings sink in, when we allow them to touch us, they are deeply, deeply challenging. Because they ask us to risk a new way of being…

Releasing the hold on the self is a necessary and radical event that is liberating. It is also a process that leaves the practitioner to the edge of the known and beyond. The practice requires a willingness to allow everything on which one has relied and what is most intimately known — the self and one’s notions about the nature of reality — to shift and change.

If we look closely at this process, we find the ability to allow it is intimately linked with our experience of trust. And it requires an encounter with trust. Ultimately, it requires trust in life itself.

-Rev. Dr. Daijaku Judith Kinst
SF Zen Center

 

Becoming a writer

 

What type of people decide to become writers? How much self-confidence does it take to decide one day: “I’m going to be a writer.” What level of self-indulgent satisfaction must one reach before they finally hit send; publish.

I imagine them jotting shit down at an elegantly disheveled desk. Writing with feverish intent and concentration. And not on a computer! With a pen. Just like in the movies. But who’s in the picture? Appears to be white dude in his 50s with a dad bod and greying hair. He wears stylish glasses.

Why does this image come most naturally to me?

I can’t compare myself to this portrait. I’m all over the place. But I like to think my mind has more in common with that dude’s desk than him: it’s messy. But full of curiosities and stories that might be worth organizing and sharing someday.

Continue reading “Becoming a writer”