Meditating on The Art of Living Featured
Monday 13 April 2015
After a ten-day retreat in relative silence it’s not so easy to maintain the silence inside. Thoughts flood in once again, too many to keep them from taking over again as I silently sit and feel the weight of the world once again upon me. I start slowly, breathe deeply, burn oils and try to concentrate without too much tension on all.
I started by opening the arts council letter. I was hesitant as I was not looking forward to bad news before writing my thoughts. But why let oneself be effected by a positive or negative response in relation to funding for projects. The one thing I did learn to focus and work on is equanimity:
One is able to confront the daily crises with equanimity: composure, calmness, calm, level-headedness, self-possession, self-control, even-temperedness, coolness, cool-headedness, presence of mind; serenity, placidity, tranquillity, phlegm, impassivity, imperturbability, unexcitability, equilibrium; poise, self-assurance, assurance, self-confidence, aplomb, sangfroid, nerve; informal cool, unflappability; rare ataraxy. ANTONYMS anxiety.
I put off opening the letter until today for the simple reason that I didn’t want to start back straight into working on projects outside myself or contacting people, even friends after ten days learning to seek within myself the peace perhaps we all seek and will someday succumb to. I went and played badminton yesterday evening and left a little earlier than usual feeling I’d had enough and that though pleasurable even if not so much in defeat it didn’t really matter so long as I as was focused and aware of what I was doing. I spoke to the girls about the vipassana course without going into too much detail but that overall it was a learning and enlightening experience. I don’t know how far I went or if I was even heading in the right direction as regards self-enlightenment but I did go pretty far as regards breaking things down in minute sub-atomic particles and the relationship between mind and matter and without speaking in the third person as I feel I am know I have begun once again to commit myself to the path, a way of life or art of living that I’d like to reflect in my performances and writing:
What I’d like to do now is revisit the scripts once again and to tell them from this new perspective. Writing is a case of constant rewriting and as I sat meditating thoughts about what existed in the script or what I had taken out and what I should perhaps put back again came to me over and over again. It’s at moments like these I wondered whether I was wrong to ignore them or listen to these renewed thoughts and how and why I should incorporate them. Which thoughts I wonder came from my own personal craving for attention and which came from some ultimate goal of purity. It is perhaps with this in mind that I need to question and re-question and examine every line over and over again and weed out any impurities if I know ultimately that the goal is enlightenment not just for me as the words of Buddha came to me, for there is no me, no I, no my. If this was so, whether or not I could prove it so would be reflected in the writing that would not be mine but that would come manifest itself through me. I thought of how Dante must have felt when he wrote The Divine Comedy and how he must have worked on himself over and over again so that divine inspiration could flow through him. Whether or not he achieved total equanimity and awareness so he could look upon his own and others actions without a trace of craving or aversion I cannot say. When we we read we cannot help but write ourselves into the story. Try as we may it is almost, though not impossible to read impartially, which is why there exists the scientific approach of only relating to what is on the page before you and to not interpret it from an overly subjective point of view but instead using techniques that have been in existence long before you or I came into being, at least in this life if you believe in reincarnation or karmic conscience moving from body to body. I won’t go into religion or religious beliefs not because I don’t believe in them but simply in this instance and in our writing it greatly and perhaps ultimately limits us to what is our final destination. For Dante or Siddhartha, who became known as the Buddha, meaning the enlightened one, belief for one and self-belief for the other lead to a similar if not the same destination. Although the description may sound like two different destinations it is so but only in so far as the languages differ and the cultural characteristics that shaped their journey in the first place: One coming from a Christian culture and the other from Hinduism Culture. There is no origin for spirituality, there is only life and materiality and where it leads us in mind and matter depends so much on our beliefs. I feel no great flow at the moment and find it hard to let go of my desire or craving to be possessed in that sense and for some eternal life force to flow through me, so the words would come automatically and I neither have to look up or down to know where the keys are to unlock the gates that lead to eternal liberation. Do you pray my mother had said to me on a number of occasions and I answer in my script Pray! as if the concept is alien or ridiculous to me. With no belief in God or perhaps religion at the time I judge my mother and her values as wrong. In the midst of all this is my father, a bedrock of common sense and natural law, both closer to nature and god than I may ever be. I don’t see myself surpassing them in wisdom and I regret my ignorance on so many occasions, where I may have felt myself superior and looked upon them as inferior because of the lack of education but you learn as you get older one learns that they do have the experience of life although not necessarily the means to communicate it so articulately as someone like me versed in languages but without their natural goodness and wholehearted simplicity. I can recall so many lines in poems and plays where I misjudged or misinterpreted them and continue to but that I can still correct before publishing them if and when that day comes. Today’s letter let me know that I could continue to write to David from the arts council and expect to be treated it with respect and that my writing was read and that he had taken the time to get back to me.
I think when it comes to all my work what I need to do now is hand it over to someone I can trust to give me as objective a response as I can hope for about what’s rings true and what rings false or seems somewhat contrived. Contrived in the sense that you feel the writing or the writer putting those words in someone’s mouth though they don’t belong there and that they don’t ultimately share anything of value with the reader or listener other than the author’s opinion.
What is it we’re listening for I ask myself and hope the answer comes from life itself. We’re listening for the truth in the silence, where breathe and sensation come together once again as they did in the past, now in the present and in the presence of an audience in order to transcend the individual experience and connect once again with the past in order to transform the negative unconscious experience into one we may all experience and witness without judging it or desiring it to be or do something other than just be. Not for me but just letting it be what it is: a rising and raising to awareness of our subconscious cravings and desires or aversions.
What comes out should I believe be for the good of humanity and if it seems objectionable should not be so much censored as understood as some ignorant sense of the impermanent reality or fleeting sensation of a moment in time that does not flow with the natural order as perceived by others who have a stronger mind and grip on reality based on the wisdom of experience.
I try so hard to capture the ultimate truth of my existence in words and my reactions to others, often I may add as a silent observer who manipulates history to suit me, but if there is no me, no my, no I ultimately then what if any purpose does it serve to share my thoughts or performance? It is to expose myself and accept the judgement of this moment, this world in which I exist and see what comes of it.
Though I am no saint, no guru, no prophet, no seer but a seeker of truth, and a would be vessel so that truth can speak through me it is ultimately either a gift I’ve been given, which I can chose to share depending on how much care and compassion can come into being through these thoughts that I must ultimately accept as mine and learn to let go off if they can lead others towards peace and harmony. Writing that is simple makes the path clearer to me so I try not so much to write intelligently or syntactically correctly but with words that sound or seem to come naturally to me.
John looks like a cistercian monk with that hair cut was one of those lines I felt like putting back in because as I did the course I thought about resigning myself to a life of contemplation and self-searching to reach a state of enlightenment. But I wonder how would that serve a higher purpose and perhaps selfishly I am not ready to renounce the pleasures and pains of the body, even if my thoughts and actions end up destroying me, so be it. There’s a hard won spirituality and liberation from this body, family and society that cannot be gained by denying or hiding or averting my gaze from the real world around me: That is not facing reality. It is waiting for it or fearing its reaction or not feeling ready to answer with complete sincerity or from a place where a holy spirit speaks through me. Isn’t that ultimately what was meant by the apostles learning to speak in tongues? As I sat meditating all these thoughts I let flow through me and I said thank you for the visions that came to me. I let my conscious body be pulled this way and that with all sorts of physical sensations and some imaginary ones as I tried to physically see in the darkness of my mind how mind and matter continue to be or not be the shapers of this impermanent reality. I merged to the best of my limited ability with the sensations and thoughts flowing through me. Tried hard not to crave or avoid what was happening to me, tried to stop myself, felt I wasn’t ready for what lay ahead, felt and still feel I don’t have the strength to go much further and yet wanting more and less of this experience of emptiness and oneness with all. Felt the vibrations and the waves like electricity consciously running to top to toe and back again, the universe expanding and contracting, breathing and entering the black holes of Stephen Hawking and wondering whether this is what had happened to him. I caught a brief glimpse of the number four and thought of the divinity of number and many images of the matrix and how perhaps technology’s search for this ultimate rapidity could take us with warp speed from this galaxy to another was all within reach through the breath and sensual awareness of my own impermanent presence as a witness of this experience.
I had not floated away or disappeared. I did not look down and see myself from outer space but felt myself in other spaces and places beyond my capacity to experience and only wished it wasn’t me that was trying to bring this back with me but that I had the courage to let go and accept that this life was now over as I knew it and that if I wanted to remain on this higher plan of sensation I would need to let to of all craving, all clinging, all attachments, all relationships of a sexual nature, all notions of ownership, of possessing someone or something else, all selfish desire and aspire to serve others at all costs and I wonder now and continue to wonder whether all my actions up until now have served any purpose other than pointing towards the true path and that it was, is and will be my destiny throughout eternity to discover and share this journey with all its depravities and epiphanies until there is no path for me to follow and I can only choose or be chosen to go back and begin the journey again and again in a natural cycle of reincarnation of mind and matter flowing forever on.
The material solidity comes from the attraction of like patterns and waves and vibrations drawn to each other. As I said to my mother aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile: it takes one to know one; literally, "A beetle recognises another beetle”. It’s an Irish proverb meaning we are drawn or crave those that share our sensual world and we avoid or avert our eyes from those that we don’t desire to see or see us to such a degree that we cannot hide who or what we are or feel in their presence. Passion rules reasonable equanimity when we see only what we want to see or believe only what we want to believe about the world around us, which ultimately leads to ephemeral joy and misery if we become too attached or try to avoid the ever-changing nature of reality. Believing by becoming too attached to ourselves or something else creates the pleasant or unpleasant sensations we experience within our body that leads to tension and pangs of pleasure and pain forming like knots within our body. We absorb the world around us within us and apparent conflicts with this superficial world, we see displayed superficially or projected upon our world stage in the endless wars and games we play to in the name of love and hate, good and evil, natural and unnatural actions and reactions all pertaining to some self-seeking purpose that may or may not be the path to happiness or ultimately enlightenment for everybody. However if you go beyond the opposites and paradoxes and you come to a place or feel a sensation however brief it may seem of peace and happiness then you are at least momentarily freed from the endless emotion of life and death and can enjoy the experience of eternal stillness.
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