26 November 2011

Write on

Since recovering from the surgery (August 29) that removed my cancerous prostate, i've returned to regular work on Turning Words. Having been away from it for a long time, my feel for the task has changed considerably (actually my feel for everything has changed over the past year and a half, but i haven't found a way to write or talk about the change comprehensively).

One thing i've considered is a more systematic attempt to enter into dialogue with readers (especially my friends on Manitoulin Island). This would certainly be instructive for me and would affect my revision of the existing draft. But whether it would improve the book in the long run, i.e. enhance its value for subsequent readers, is another question, and one i have no answer for. So i keep on writing and revising without giving much thought to recruiting readers.

Actually i doubt that any reader would understand what the book was driving at unless they were already driving at it themselves; and in that case, they might well arrive at it (or not) regardless of whether they read my book or not.

Yet i suppose the authors i've read (and, i hope, learned from) might well have had the same thoughts about future readers, and if so, it didn't stop them writing. So i labour on, not because i am convinced that my work will end up being useful to somebody, but because i simply feel as if something quite beyond me is using me to manifest itself. No doubt there are other manifestations of it as well; i have no way of knowing whether the one i'm responsible for will actually reach anyone. The meaning doesn't belong to me, i belong to it. The writing is integral with the total practice of my life that i owe to it. So i muddle on, not even knowing whether anyone will actually read it or not. (And the same goes for this post, come to think of it.)

26 August 2011

Dogen and Peirce, phaneroscopy and zazen

All things have no signs:
This is the real body of Buddha.
Avatamsaka Sutra (Cleary 1984, 380)

All thought is in signs.
Peirce (EP1:24)

From Dogen's Fukanzazengi (‘Instructions for Zazen’):

Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think good or bad. Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha.

Could it be that the real body of Buddha is what Dogen called One Bright Pearl?
and what Peirce called the phaneron? He used this word ‘to denote the total content of any one consciousness (for any one is substantially any other), the sum of all we have in mind in any way whatever, regardless of its cognitive value’ (EP2:362).

Can this question be investigated?

The investigator would have to practice both phaneroscopy and zazen,
and be fluent in both Peircean and Buddhist dialects.

Is it possible to investigate such a question while practicing
zazen or phaneroscopy?

This question is left as an exercise for the reader (along with the links provided here).

12 August 2011

Listening to the music

Music is not a sign; it doesn't mean anything, even if intended to express or evoke some definite feeling.

When you listen deeply, all and everything you hear is the music. Whether it was meant to be music, or meant to be heard at all, is irrelevant. The music is not separate from the listening, and it happens through the whole bodymind, not just ears or auditory system. When your whole bodymind is open to it, the music plays you. All you do is let it come and go.

Memory and anticipation come and go in the same way, naturally. Seeking, grasping and following also come and go, as interruptions, or as branching streams that flow in the darkness. Never mind; just wake up now and hear.

07 August 2011

On making a difference

Ego is always wanting to ‘make a difference.’ But there are differences enough already. Maybe you should make a connection instead. Or rather, let your practice be connected to the whole of which it can best be a part.

20 May 2011

Passing in a river

The deep source of the stream (hear it now?)
is implicit in what everybody knows.
That's why no formula
can fully explicate or comprehend it.
The process of recognizing
is not the kind that can be completed.
That's why nobody knows very much.

… we are all putting our shoulders to the wheel for an end that none of us can catch more than a glimpse at—that which the generations are working out. But we can see that the development of embodied ideas is what it will consist in.
— Peirce, CP 5.402 n2 (1893)

And we can sense the turning of the wheel
as its myriad expressions,
in the weight of light,
the turbulence of time,
the living edge of possibility passing,
selected by choice or circumstance
for falling into permanent place as the past
or vanishing into the might-have-been.

06 May 2011

On purpose

You can never be sure that your intentions will be realized in practice.
You can always be sure that your actions will have unintended consequences.
From those you may yet learn something;
if there's nothing to learn, it's the end of learning.
And the end of intention?
To realize it
is to let it go.

01 May 2011

Waking to time

When you wake up in the morning, some range of possibilities lies ahead (whether you are aware of them or not). The day will determine which of these are realized. At the end of the day, those living possibilities have either been fixed as definite facts or vanished into the unrealized. Time is the transformation of possible futures into the actual past, where possibilities no longer live.

Does the prospect of your death matter more than the presence of time?