We've all experienced a situation which has caused us an immense amount of pain. It's easy to start hating life and become cynical; it creates an illusion of safety from these feelings. Yet, by fully experiencing that sadness, it can turn out to be something truly beautiful.
The hardest part of the spiritual journey is dealing with nothingness. Yes, nothing, no-thing! If we want all-that-is to be objects or things, we get very stuck in having/not-having gain/loss, pain/pleasure, and so forth. But what if, at the bottom (if there is a bottom!), there is nothing, no-thing? Now, I say no-thing because I still have this sense of a field of light, of power, of love which is pervasive, more fundamental than things. Call it the light, call it love, call it God, call it the Nameless. We, as "things" come in and out of That.
Tremulously waiting for something
happening to flare
Because sometimes it does
Then sometimes who cares
I wanted to take the time to explain why I would post this poem on a Philosopher's forum. Many people find themselves feeling left out of the things happening around them. There is so much activity on our screens we feel that our own life styles just don't live up to the activity surrounding us. We dream about being discovered, having our works published and recognized by all the world. But when we sit down and really think about it ... well ... it's not all that it seems. We have it pretty good after all. To me that's an existential challenge and a philosophical conundrum.
You know that feeling when you are terrified of a moment which will happen in the future and it feels as if there is ice covering your entire body? This thought of a future moment can't be real. It never can. Since the exact details of the future can't be dictated by us, the thought also can't be dictated by us. You're responsible for your actions but what actually happens can't be known. That's a blessing and a curse. Look at it though, how many curses have turned out to be blessings; more than we give thanks.
One of my warmest memories of going to UC
Berkeley, was my wonderful times at Peet's Coffee. There was something about
Peet's that screamed "perfect". I don't know if it was that dark
roasted coffee had a taste I couldn't find anywhere else in the world. Maybe it
was the ambiance of standing in line, the mulling around outside on
the concrete on Walnut &Vine discussing the most
grave philosophical issues of the day, knowing that what was
determined over that cup of French Roast would shape the world into a better
place. It might be the early school mornings when the smell of Peet's would
ramble through the air as Vivaldi's Four Seasons's played in the background. We
would all rush around gathering our daily dose of Peet's coffee heavily
dosed with sugar and cream.
I never lost my love of Peet's, even
though I knew I was witnessing an industry bitten by the same franchise
sprawling so familiar to our modern, fast-food age. First it was Starbucks,
then coffee itself was stamped with a veneer of "social cool" that
had nothing to do with the dark roasted taste (unless you only read
the labels). It reminded me or the suburban sprawl occurring, never
ceasing, always leaping into meadows, cherry orchards and open fields.
Yes, it happened. Peet's sold out ... BIG.
It was sold for $1 billion to the German conglomerate Joh. A. Benckiser with a
happy group of newly minted millionaire unanimously approving the deal.
Am I sad? Well, I think I'm now resigned.
If Peet's is gone, it seems time has moved on, memories are in fact merely
memories, albeit good ones, and a new era creeps into humanities fold ...
... Oh! Excuse me. I have
to answer a text message on my iPhone ...
I have been friends with Americ for over 30 years. We have shared many adventures together, and oftentimes it seemed almost coincidence that he was there at the start of a new direction in my life.
I would like to share one such story that happened many years ago when I first started in audio. I was sitting underneath a huge cypress tree at Lake Merritt in Oakland. It was a beautiful spring day, and I was resting my head on a laptop, my wife sitting serenely beside me, as my three young children romped in the park, running and jumping like little kids do. I had my eyes closed, when suddenly the thought of AUDIO came into my mind. It literally was a spark in the mind's eye. Yes, I said to myself, I would try audio and do voice over to see if conveying ideas through sound would help people understand this world a little better. I opened my eyes and Americ was standing over me looking down at me. I told him my idea and we shared the moment of inspiration together. I went on to do audio and voice, and they became an integral part of my business effort in Internet Communications and Broadcasting.
If I could tell people how many times in my life that has happened with Americ, that is, being there at the exact moment of creation, they would laugh and say that such occurrences were not probable. Yes, they are improbable, but they are also possible, because they, in fact, happened to me.
As a result, I was thinking about friendship and what it means, when I came across this short poem in my readings that I would like to share with you.
The young mendicant had been meditating deeply. Suddenly he
awoke with a profound thought. He turned to the Buddha and exclaimed:
"Lord, I've been thinking- spiritual friendship is at least half of the
The Buddha replied, “This is not so, young priest. Spiritual friendship is the whole of spiritual life!"
Stress which turns into panic; it's a feeling which happens all too often. Then productivity goes downhill because of the stress of panic. Then, you panic. Its like a washing machine, without anything coming out clean. There are so many ways to stress. There are amounts: large loads, medium loads, small loads. And spin cycles: regular, delicate; even what we believe to be permanent press. Yet, none of these settings apply to the mind. You can try to spin slowly on a small load of thoughts or try to get the wrinkles out with permanent press, but your still spinning no matter which setting you choose. Our thoughts are like clothes, you wear them, then discard them, only to put on a new pair. Let's not wash our clothes today. Let's not wear our clothes today. Be naked.
There are times when it feels as if the world falls apart. There is so much chaos and turmoil shaking our support system that if feels like an earthquake. Even the activities and friends which we leaned on for support seem not to provide the anchor which we feel is needed to stop the ground from shattering. So, we free fall. That can be disconcerting; falling without knowing what will happen or where we will land. In one of my favorite movies, Finding Nemo, the two main protagonists, Marlin and Dory, have been eaten by a whale. As Marlin tries to find a way to escape, they begin to be sucked into the back of the whales throat. Dory doesn't know why, she just knows that it is occurring and doesn't fight the current. Marlin on the other hand panics, trying to swim away from the water which is rapidly emptying from the whale's mouth to the back of its throat. Finally, they begin to fall into the darkness. Marlin grabs onto the whales tongue and grabs onto Dory's hand. He is terrified of what will happen if he falls into the darkness. Dory then says to Marlin, "It's time to let go now." To which Marlin responds, "How do you know? How do you know something bad isn't going to happen?" Her reply is pure truth, " I dont!" We don't know what's waiting for us at the bottom. But sometimes, we just have to trust; to fall and know that for good or for bad, we will land on our feet.
Pictures tell stories. Yet, pictures only seem to illustrate the good events in our lives; the bad is left to our memory. When we look at a picture book or a journal, it reminds us of our mind set and the details we seem to have forgotten. Neither can remind us of the exact emotions which occurred though. You can remember feeling deep despair but it can only be compared to something else which evokes the same emotion. When we look back at the past or try to look forward in our minds, they are like pictures which have not been fully developed. What happened after the picture was taken? Do you remember your little sister making a silly face which didn't make the final cut? Those are picturesque moments too. You don't need a camera to capture life in its fullest.
“Why do we exist?” “Why is there something rather than nothing?” These are questions of being. Questions remarkably productive to ask simply because they are bottomless, without final answers. Questions of existence pull us out of ordinary life – putting our lives into “question” - and, bringing us into silence.
(Professional philosophers may consider questions leading silence unproductive and even dangerous. But a philosopher-at-large does not worry about that; she or he may find wells of wisdom in that silent stillness.)
So, be silent and wait. Wait without expectation.
The unexpected may come without invitation.