Is anything sustainable in the ephemeral?
You can miss someone everyday and never want to see them again.”
-Overheard on the street
The urge to preserve. Keep my few things organized. A pink case for my fineliner and gel pens, separated from the pencils, separated from the markers. Within the case, a small bag for my eraser and sharpener. Everything in its proper place. Set aside to ~save~ some future time or ease this high, racing mind. Compartmentalizing thoughts into objects. What’s the point? It’s a Thursday morning and I don’t know what to do with myself. I could open an app, any app, but they all give me the creeps right now. I could read, I should read. I could pack. We’re picking up and going again in two weeks. But I can’t be bothered to pack. Maybe another bowl. I don’t feel drawn to anything in particular, just pulled by various keys I type into this board. Launching sites and distractions to new stimuli. So much to know. So much to see. So much to hear. But right now I just want to turn it all off. Airplane mode, wifi off, just a notepad. Maybe a book. Why is it so hard to turn it all off and focus on the words in front of me? Others take their place. Sentences keep lining up into endless thoughts. Of what? Mush. This to that to this to that. People places things. The music in the cab home last night. Some concepts of reality and insanity. Things keep moving and I don’t know why. “Slow down, try meditating.” If I had more or less to do would I think less or more? This strain of weed doesn’t work well with me. Override. Overkill. Overthrown. It was free, and it works, so I can’t complain. But it must be an indica. A weird one. Prefer the way sativa rearranges my mind and tricks myself into thinking everything I’m working on is the most important thing I could be working on. Illusory efficiency in doing. This high makes me want to melt into a sandwich or watch HBO or mindlessly think about what to do next, until there is too much or nothing to do next, until I spend an hour, or one minute, thinking about what to do next. Uncertain. Where’s Sam? Maybe if we were both high we could figure out what to do next together. Instead I’m just looking towards west-side Medellín and wondering if I’m capable of reading this book in front of me. One Hundred Years of Solitude. I’m nearly half-way through, but I haven’t picked it up in a while. Read others since. I don’t remember where I was on the family tree. Which generation? So many characters. Trying to find where I left off in lines and names across time.
Ambiguity is the warp of life, not something to be eliminated. Learning to savor the vertigo of doing without answers or making shifts and making do with fragmentary ones opens up the pleasures of recognizing and playing with pattern, finding coherence within complexity, sharing within multiplicity.”
– Catherine Bateson
Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way
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