Two more things . . .

in my catalog of skillful means

So far, to recap:

  1. Death as an ally
  2. Unclinching, lightness of being
  3. A high level of unbotheredness about everyday things and clarity about reactive attachments and external opinion

Next:

Living more vividly

Time and time again I get fed up to the max with the mundane. With mediocrity in myself and my world. Lately, I often find I’ve muddled through a perfectly good day. As if I were killing time. Being too sensitive to slight variations in mood or energy and reading them as disincentives to engage in the myriad of pursuits available to me. I also second-think, become distracted and continually discount the beauty of flow in engaging with tasks that, while they may not seem of deep mystical significance, are nevertheless invitations to engage the day and potentiate my time. As nerdy as they may appear, and I’m really judging this from somewhere allegedly more “cool” … these avenues of discovery, learning and exploration are as valid and lead as deeply into the fabric of the world as anything more ostensibly “spiritual.” Know one thing to know all things as a sage once remarked.

So the skillful means here is to engage totally with what I am pursuing without, at least during the course of the day, sidetracking or second-guessing its relevance to the bigger picture. The bigger picture is to live vividly and with flow. Not waiting to be gob smacked by some metaphysical lotto of privileged experience.

Bordertown

I’ve relocated mentally and physically many times in this life. And while I believe, and have confirmed, that wherever we go, there we are; that it’s not so much the location —it’s what we bring with us (or what we leave behind)— there is still value in a locale to elicit dormant capabilities and insights. Be this locale an altered state, a different country, a physical practice or just an excursion beyond the comfort zone.

But there has always been a bordertown on the fringes of consciousness that attracts me like no other. Sometimes it seems I have a whole life there I have forgotten. People I know and things I’ve done that will not be ignored, for long. It’s more home to me in many ways than whatever this place is now where I spend most of my time. The “wall” that’s being politicized currently is an interesting metaphor on how we think we should isolate ourselves from these unruly aspects of being. And where our borders should properly be constructed.

There are several ways to get to bordertown. Dreaming is a big one. And it’s where I often encounter this whole sense of another life I’m living in parallel. But its most powerful aspect is as an overlay, a dimension of this reality. Chroma. And it encourages living a little sideways from the consensual. Through magic, through intent. But most directly through taking a bit of time during the day to sink into the mind and open, with intent, to other ways of touching the world; unfolding an array of internal senses that are feeble in the light and atrophied with neglect. But which show a nuance to reality that enriches the fabric of existence.

Stuff I’m Trying to Figure Out

Mortality, for example. I’m suspicious of this one. A part of me has absolutely no problem with it however it turns out. Blink out of existence, then who is to worry? Continues? Enjoy the adventure. Why worry either way? I have zero concern about whether or not I’ve adhered properly to some religious doctrine. And zero motivation to leave any sort of legacy or regard to how I might be remembered.

Another part of me is suspicious that previous part might be in denial. Suppressing fear or anxiety by disassociation of outcomes. Yet another part questions the suspicious part with, “so what is your suggestion? worry about it until the inevitable happens anyway? Appreciate the moments?” The appreciation and gratitude strikes a chord. It resonates authentically. And the inevitable breakdown, I’d like to do that with grace. And I’d like it to be a short transition. I’d like to keep my bearings if the adventure continues. And I think it will. That resonates as well.

This leaves me with the recognition that this ending stuff might be huge. That if I carry on oblivious to what’s coming, I might miss some real opportunities and squander a lot of precious resources on things that don’t matter. As long as I can keep the horizon of death in view, it can be a tremendous ally. And as with life so far, I also like to look down the road for clues on how best to prepare. Not to the extent of sacrificing today for tomorrow, but for investing in skills that are handy across contexts.

The skills I think most important here and now, from this vantage, are for one: the ability to let go. I have this baseline of tension that seems to run quite deep. I think it’s built on a bedrock of layers and layers of protective insulation where protection was freezing parts of my being, making pieces rigid to resist impact and hanging on tightly to things I didn’t want to lose or have stolen from my soul. It was building a little fortress to secure a foothold in the world.

To let go of this is to sink in order to fly. In its most physical sense, this is relaxation. In the mind, lightness of being.  

The next skillful action, number two: is learning how to sink without panic. Sinking is accepting whatever I am feeling and thinking without trying to “should” it or change it or judging myself for the feeling or thought’s unbidden arising. To start understanding through this the reality of impermanence. Of the temporal nature of selves.

The third skillful means: is to question and review some very old and very deep ways I’ve been contracted to think and feel. By circumstances of my culture and my timeline in evolution. Ways parts of myself have been programmed and how best to leverage parts of myself that are free to help wake up.

Concretely, this means questioning very basic assumptions like: is there any reason to feel upset about anything? How is that useful? And this doesn’t mean trying to be coldly logical about everything, it means questioning how feeling bad, which is certainly not my preference, is used in ways usually not in my best interest. To research what agenda these feelings serve. Because in any given scenario I act more resourcefully without these “triggers.” And I do not subscribe to the belief that we need to be punished, or punish ourselves, in order to behave or be motivated to do good. I have a moral compass without this, thank you. No one has bound me, I want to sustain the realization that I am already free.

And other sundry thoughts… 

Somewhat related:

Diamond Dreams

As the story goes, there was once a man in India who was leaving his village for good. As he left the village gates he saw a wandering mendicant. These are monks that have given up any fixed residence and wander the world at large under heaven’s providence.

The man ran up to the monk and said:

“I can’t believe it! I just saw you in a dream last night. In it, the Lord Vishnu said tomorrow morning, around 11, you’ll meet this wandering monk!”

“Ah, interesting,” said the monk, “what else did he say?”

“He said if the man gives you a precious stone you will be the richest man in the whole world! Do you have such a stone?!”

“Hmmm, let me see” said the monk as he rummaged around in his robes. “Ah, you mean something like this? Is that what you are thinking?”

He pulled out a diamond the size of a golf ball.

The man holds the diamond in his hand, amazed and asks:

“Could… could I have this?”

“Of course,” said the monk. “I found it in the forest, you’re welcome to it”

The man thanks him profusely and walks away, he has to sit down under a tree he is so giddy and filled with joy. Everything in his life has now changed. Anything he wants is within reach. And he sits dreaming of all the things he can now do. Sits there under that tree until it begins to get dark. As the sun sets, he gets up and heads back around the village and finds the monk sitting under a tree. He hands the diamond back to the monk.

“Could you do me a favor?” the man asks.

“What is that?” replies the monk.

“Could you give me the riches that make it possible for you to give this thing away so easily?”

from Rediscovering Life by Anthony De Mello

Status report :: Eratita following Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse ‘2019

a little era

Got 3 series going in my down time: Black, Deadly Class and Magicians Season 4. Reading: Feeding Your Demons (a Tibetan meditation practice called Chöd) and Implied Spaces

Bathtub reading: The Demon’s Sermons on the Martial Arts. A graphic novel of an old classic.

Riffing with the laws of Newtonian physics through code. Physics of motion in particular, functions of forces at play. Studying equations through immersive programming. Ultra casual games and eye mesmers are the theme. Also, novel insights and elicited potentials. Maybe sneaking bits onto facebook’s instant game platform. In the meantime, populating outposts that circumvent the big app stores on clipper ships of emerging tech called Progressive Web Apps; installs on devices’ home screens directly from an indie page.

Attempting to synthesize the sound of a water drop. Or something of a similar signature. Studying its form in sound through the spectral lenses of frequencies and time. The last time I did this was with crickets. And with throat singing. Long overdue, I love the kaleidoscopic microscope of visual FFT. And sculpting waves.

Collaborating on a mobile application for the hearing impaired, which works across mesh networks. These are created ad hoc, in small groups, and spurn reliance on upstream “providers” and infrastructure for peer communications.

Regimes of microdosing and nootropics. And developing practices to open communication channels with the inland sea of subconscious, perhaps the deeps beyond. There are other things on my mind, but I haven’t posted in a bit. And Hogwarts is back in session, winter break is over, witches.

“The moment I found out magic was real. That was the moment that I discovered who I am.”

-Magicians. Season 4, Episode 1

my tribe

centered presence, grounded body, in process
in practice
finding freedom
playing moment
touching purity
compassion
imagination
no need for speed
with no brakes
feeling a moment
just here
because
why not?
wiggle your toes
tickle someone you love

you may have noticed there are not 5 bears anywhere on that fake graphic. I don’t know what happened to them, they were there a minute ago…

How to Tell Stories to 5 Year Olds

  • you’re going to need a lot of help
  • luckily the help is usually sitting right in front or beside you
  • it’s more about building a story than telling a story
  • ask good questions
  • let them drive
  • find puzzles in what’s going on and ponder about them to yourself, out loud. you will get lots of help solving
  • play out the facial expressions in scenarios… facial expressions are extremely fascinating to 5 year olds
  • action! movement! play act! use props!
  • compassion and heroism are popular themes
  • so is shrinking monsters down to size for a fair fight or making them silly
  • find new superpowers to overcome obstacles
  • a lot of story friends want to help, that are in the stories
  • it’s a cool lesson on how to dance with dreams, for both of you 

Drowning Ourselves

I haven’t written on xyz for ages, so here’s an experiment. I learned this from an old miner named Noom.  

It begins so. Most of our negative states (worry, anxiety, depression) stem from hanging out unconsciously in the water element. Water is a narrow, internal focus. A thought, a feeling. Something we turn over and over inside our heads. (Usually about something not right with our world. ) We get stuck in this cramped space. From here let’s try a path, a trail of sorts out to a different place. We’re not going to try to replace what’s here with happier feelings or thoughts, or even resolve anything at this level, we’ll leave everything just as it is, instead we’re going to go on a walkabout with our attention.

Focus now on something external. The breath maybe, its feeling on our nostrils, or a specific point of focus in the external world: that coffee cup on your desk, or a single sound. This is fire. Narrow, external focus. We’ve shifted our attention from an internal thing to an external thing. It’s still a narrow focus but we’ve shifted it to something more material than a thought or emotion. And in doing so we’ve shifted attention from water to fire. Keep attention on an object in this external focus for a few minutes.

Next, become aware of the entire field of vision but not any one thing in particular; or of all the sounds without distinguishing individual sounds. This is earth. Broad, external focus. It probably brings naturally in its wake a wave of subtle relaxation. This comes sometimes from unfolding awareness into a larger space than the “point” consciousness of water and fire, a space where we can catch our breath. This broader field state of awareness has been called Hakalua by the shamans of Hawaii. It’s a nice state to be in while walking in a crowd of people, there is a whole flow thing happening. You’ll find you can glide through the crowded subways of Tokyo like a fish through dancing seaweed. Stay in this expanded, external awareness for a few minutes.

The final maneuver to this yoga of attention brings us to where a subtle bliss hangs out, and is antidote to all moods and fugue states which spawn from absorption in water. Become aware of the feeling inside the body, not any particular place, but like the expanded sight and sounds of earth, try to take in the sensations of the entire body at once. This vast and shimmering unified field of sensations that make up the totality of presence in the body. This is air. It is a broad internal focus.

Most people aren’t aware that attention has structure. A particular orientation, either external or internal and a particular scope: narrow or broad. And shifting through these modalities with the senses, in a certain sequence, unlocks specific effects. In this case, freeing our awareness from submergence in unpleasant thoughts or feelings. The sequence is important (but experiment with yourself if you’d like to see if that is so.)

Play with being aware of what structure of attention you habitually reside in. And the effects of opening your field of awareness with earth and air on the quality of your day. For most of us, it’s like shifting to an entirely different mode of being. And with it, comes new channels of information about our reality.

The element Air may first seem strange to assign the body. But when we explore the field of sensation it’s surprising that most of our internal body sensation is actually space rather than a density we might have assumed before investigating first hand.

And we cannot be aware of this field of our body without also being present in the now. In fact, there are entire Buddhist, Yogic and Somatic practices based totally on hanging out here in the body with the air element. With attention spread from head to toe. Students of Gurdjieff are told to keep at least 80 percent of their awareness constantly in the body to become more alive, present and less of an automaton in daily life.

So if you ever need a little taste of lightness of being, especially when swallowed in some fugue or mood or the world closing in around you. Give this little mental asana a whirl and discover how specifically directing attention, in a prescribed sequence, can fundamentally shift the quality of experience. It’s like an escape hatch. And with just this superficial, level one spell of the elements, one might become curious about what else is possible working with elements.

Mastery of our moods and capabilities begins with mastery of attention

So the next post will probably be about a cool trick with the water element that leverages its unique properties in ways even more magical.

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