"When I forget my ways, I am in The Way"

Philosophical and experiential notes on Nothingness, with supporting insights from martial arts, quantum physics and Taoism


23 July 2017

Failures or flowers?


Disciples of the Nothingness suffer.
I know. I'm one of them.
And I recognize them.

The thing is,
they can't help but reveal themselves.
But it's not that they're out to show themselves.
They're not like that.
Not at all.

Try walking around one day
like they do,
all disturbed and perturbed.
You'll see.
It's that whole 'I don't fit in thing.'

And saying that phrase out loud -
'I don't fit in' -
sounds the same to them
as it does to anyone else.

Except it's different.
For them.

This tale of an unassuming flower.
And how finally,
one day in a field all alone,
it blooms.
Where no one ever goes.

Trampled weed flowers
alive and dismissed
unseen in their hut,
growing in some village,
abandoned in distant fields.

Quiet,
unassuming,
they will likely be
failed,
unsuccessful.

But does a flower really fail? 

22 April 2017

Enlightenment for the Rest of Us

Enlightenment for the Rest of Us
maybe it’s time to stop making it so difficult to achieve


I’ve spent decades of my life studying, and learning to apply, improved ways to approach the art of living. Whether through martial arts, the arts of healing, writing, self-improvement courses, music, amateur acting, religious studies, backpacking, canoeing, volunteering, entrepreneurship… well, I’ve picked up a few souvenirs along the way.
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  1. Keep a sense of humor. The world is too big for one person to save it, no matter what you’ve been told. I have a hard enough time simply saving my car from being towed away to the junkyard. We’re all in this together, even when you feel the most alone. I try to keep things in context.
  2. Stop crying so much. Laugh at how messed up things are. Even Buddha is dead.
  3.  Don’t take yourself so seriously. All my religious studies ever did was make me feel guilty. Now I can feel guilty for no reason whatsoever.
  4. Be self-deprecating. Life is not defined by how magnificent you are. So, take a breathless break from the competition. You’re killing us over here.
  5. Slow & steady wins the race. Rocks don’t get smooth overnight. I still have a lot of speed bumps. Pretty sure we mostly all do.
  6. Think about death every day. Are you really as important or as worthless as you think?
  7. Self-centeredness. Most of us behave as though we reside at the center of everyone else’s universe. Which is a bit silly since most of us can barely muster enough common sense to stay centered within our own selves.
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These things have by no means turned me into a giddy, chirpy guy. Thank goodness. So if you ignore this list simply because it’s a list, I’m okay with that.
I’ve found if I only occasionally focus on just one of these thoughts, things improve. Even if only for a minute or two. And sometimes that’s all that’s needed.
Achieving enlightenment is like a child with knots in their shoelaces: life’s a lot easier if you just tie your shoes the right way. Humor helps keep the knots at bay.
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PS — Steer clear of lists. Especially popular ones. Remember, get-rich-quick schemes were proven false centuries ago. It’s the same with lists. Like this one!

Neutral Buoyancy and the Boundaries of Reality

Neutral Buoyancy and the Boundaries of Reality - the experience of consciousness

In a short essay titled “The Suspension of Belief”, I suggested that a buoyancy can occur between opposite forces, much like an object hovering between two magnetic fields. Such things are not hard to imagine, because science has placed superb examples before our very eyes. A well known example is that of a hot air ballon which, upon reaching neutral buoyancy hovers perfectly, neither ascending nor descending. There, it hovers, suspended between two worlds; in this case, the worlds of up and down.

In matters of consciousness, we can consider that the same holds true. In other words, with consciousness we envision a place of neutral buoyancy between that which can be seen and that which is unseen. Stray just a bit too far on this side, and all that we experience is the visible. Descend a bit too far in the other direction and all that can be seen actually cannot be seen. It remains unseen.

To overcome this blindness, we need to develop sufficient finesse — or neutral buoyancy — wherein we find ourselves perfectly balanced between the seen and the unseen. Tilt slightly in one direction and we are forcefully pulled back, awake inside our current reality. Tilt slightly in the opposite direction and we typically fall asleep or lose our bearings in a far different reality.

With neutral buoyancy, however, we can establish a perspective that allows us to travel along the thin thread between the seen and the unseen. Hovering in such a place, we use our senses to experience that of which has long been said, “You cannot see such things.” Or, “Such things lie beyond words.”

The Rules Against Asking Questions

The Rules Against Asking Questions

or,  we're not all that good with the Unknown

Asking Questions, an article by Stowe Boyd on Medium, stabs at a lifelong wound. A wound that I suspect many of us suffer from.

From the beginning of our lives our parents, family, schools and religions discourage questions. From the beginning, we are taught that questions are perceived as a threat. But let’s make a clear distinction here: a question is allowed if, and only when, the authority has an answer. Particularly if it’s a stock answer, easy answer, codified answer, approved answer, or some other variation of proven-to-be-the- answer answer.

The unspoken rules about questions goes way back. Questions are a threat that’s deeply entrenched in our myths, what with Satan being heaved out of Heaven because he questioned God about something or other.

Clearly, the wrong questions cause embarrassment at a minimum and deeply troublesome outcomes when played out in more the environment of broader, institutional challenges. Questions can get people beheaded.

Part of the resistance to questions has to do with our expectations of instant responses to everything. But this is where those confounding Taoist-like riddles start kicking in. Because what rational person would truly expect there to be clear answers to everything when we can’t even come close to defining the Everything?