Monthly Archives: January 2009

The seer and the seen

Because the illuminating vision does not inquire what meaning the ‘seen’ might have in relation to the seer, it permits each existent to be its true self, according to its origin. It grasps things as they are ‘meant to be’. For to the degree that their formless origin is inaccessible and inconceivable, things in their concrete forms become the more accessible to us. Bathed in the light of their origin, they themselves are illuminated. The more mysterious their ground, the more revealingly do they stand before us. The more silent they are about the ultimate questions, the less silent they are about themselves. This enables the visionary to let them go their own way without saddling them with his own preoccupations. Far from taking them as mere manifestations of a primal Ground, which at this state is inaccessible and incomprehensible, he lets each thing be itself. [...] Occasionally he can intensify this contact to the point of complete union. It then seems to him that things do not come to him in his vision, but that they come to themselves, and that only then do they attain full reality, as if Being were beholding itself in everything that is, as if it embraced and sustained the process of seeing. He then no longer feels himself as the subjective pole, confronted by things as objects; he feels Being as the one pole, of an essentially inconceivable nature, and himself, together with everything that happens, as the other pole of concrete existence, which, like himself, proceeds from the origin.

– Eugen Herrigel, The Method of Zen (trans. R.F.C. Hull)

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zen_buncho-tani2

zen_buncho_tani1

Buncho Tani

What do you mean?

He tells me, ‘You’re educated beyond your intelligence, as they say, like so many people nowadays. But you’re the kind of person who might make something out of yourself, from yourself, that goes beyond your intelligence and even your own knowledge’. ‘What do you mean?’ I ask. He looks at me sharply. ‘Hm. Maybe not’, he says, losing interest.

Factless

He has a kind of factless, groundless optimism. Either there are only facts or no facts at all and don’t both amount to the same? he asks me. Optimism while the children’s faces burn in Gaza! What brand of optimism is this, I wonder. He accepts the world in its beautiful and terrible variety. He doesn’t cling to facts and he doesn’t cling to suffering: he’s calm and wide-eyed. I don’t think he’s indifferent to the burning children, but if he cares about them it’s in a way I don’t understand. He wants an unlimited horizon. Either there are only truths or no truths at all and don’t both amount to the same? he asks me. What truths do you cling to? Where do they lead you? Facts fall on everyone, like rain, and death is everywhere, it comes for everyone. But so does life. You’re looking for the ultimate facts. Life and Death? Even they can be disputed. You ask too much and you don’t even know what you’re asking for. Then you act as if the facts you find belong to you (until you reject them). Thank God they don’t. The next day I wake up from a past full of certainty and uncertainty and fall into a strange future. My thoughts and movements are dreamlike.

Prisoner of God

‘God, you are my God; I have sought you since daybreak…’ Slowly I am letting the phrase of the Psalm seep into me. There are not many of us in the chapel at this morning hour. I often come here at the end of the night’s great silence. I leave my body on the ground and make myself ready for you. At the start of our relationship I used to talk to you a lot. Now, more and more, I stay quiet before you. Are you not aware of what I am about to say, even before it comes to my lips? I keep silence in your presence. It is not that I really know you: but that is how I love to be. Do with this moment whatever seems good to you.

Strangely, God, these sources of distress do not touch me in that secret depth where I meet you. Am I running away from the reality of my everyday life? I do not believe so. I believe rather that you are the sole reality. That may be why our relationship seems so little affected by what is going on outside. Is ‘relationship’ the right word, though? I am silent for a lot of the time with you. You talk seldom — or rather, you talk in a strange manner: you come to confirm, in a kind of way, the words that are familiar to me from the Bible — by an inner certainty, as if you were addressing them to me, yes to me, that very day. Silent God. I love to listen for your word.

God, I have to speak to you today; you must hear me. What is happening? Are you just an illusion? — you, who have slowly made me accustomed to your presence; you, who used to be enough for my happiness… But am I mistaken? My brothers, the brothers whose life and destiny I share — they can’t all be wrong and I alone right. But then, who are you, if you’re not life in full flood? And as for me, what value does my life have, if it’s not a constant walking in your footsteps? What sort of life is a stationary life, God?

It’s over. The enthusiasm, God, in which you were one with ongoing life — that enthusiasm is shattered now. And you yourself, these days, when I come to present myself before you at dawn — you seem absent too, God. And yet you’re still the same. You haven’t changed because I’ve ceased to hope. Am I now going to have to wear myself out with your absence? Could you be an imaginary God, like water that runs away? Or rather is it that I am now unable to hold you in the hollow of my hand, to drink you? God, I may be unable to live without expecting anything of the morrow. But how can I live without you?

– Michel Benoît, Prisoner of God (trans. R. Clarke)

When I die, the world is in my room

God himself is permanently surprised. True art.

Every life is a divination.

Flaws must enter the composition like poisons in medicine.

To be free means to be free from opinions. To be sociable with the stars above.

Wisdom is a crisis.

Everything we experience is an answer.

We embrace the ocean when we drown.

Consolation: nature has no opinion of me.

Juergen von der Wense

When I die, the world is in my room

God himself is permanently surprised. True art.

Every life is a divination.

Flaws must enter the composition like poisons in medicine.

To be free means to be free from opinions. To be sociable with the stars above.

Wisdom is a crisis.

Everything we experience is an answer.

We embrace the ocean when we drown.

Consolation: nature has no opinion of me.

Juergen von der Wense

On the fringe

I was born in a time when the majority of young people had lost faith in God, for the same reason their elders had had it — without knowing why. And since the human spirit naturally tends to make judgements based on feelings instead of reason, most of these young people chose Humanity to replace God. I, however, am the sort of person who is always on the fringe of what he belongs to, seeing not only the multitude he’s a part of but also the wide-open spaces around it. That’s why I didn’t give up God as completely as they did, and I never accepted Humanity. I reasoned that God, while improbable, might exist, in which case he should be worshipped; whereas Humanity, being a mere biological idea and signifying nothing more than the animal species we belong to, was no more deserving of worship than any other animal species. The cult of Humanity, with its rites of Freedom and Equality, always struck me as a revival of those ancient cults in which gods were like animals or had animal heads.

– Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (trans. R. Zenith)

Virus

Virus defined as three-dimensional coordinate point of a controller — Transparent sheets with virus perforations like punch cards passed through the host on the soft machine feeling for a point of intersection — The virus attack is primarily directed against affective animal life — Virus of rage hate fear ugliness swirling round you waiting for a point of intersection and once in immediately perpetrates in your name some ugly noxious or disgusting act sharply photographed and recorded becomes now part of the virus sheets constantly presented and represented before your mind screen to produce more virus word and image around and around it’s all around you the invisible hail of bring down word and image — What does virus do wherever it can dissolve a hole and find traction? — It starts eating — And what does it do with what it eats? — It makes exact copies of itself that start eating to make more copies that start eating to make more copies that start eating and so forth to the virus power the fear hate virus slowly replaces the host with virus copies — Program empty body –

– William Burroughs, Nova Express

Virus

Virus defined as three-dimensional coordinate point of a controller — Transparent sheets with virus perforations like punch cards passed through the host on the soft machine feeling for a point of intersection — The virus attack is primarily directed against affective animal life — Virus of rage hate fear ugliness swirling round you waiting for a point of intersection and once in immediately perpetrates in your name some ugly noxious or disgusting act sharply photographed and recorded becomes now part of the virus sheets constantly presented and represented before your mind screen to produce more virus word and image around and around it’s all around you the invisible hail of bring down word and image — What does virus do wherever it can dissolve a hole and find traction? — It starts eating — And what does it do with what it eats? — It makes exact copies of itself that start eating to make more copies that start eating to make more copies that start eating and so forth to the virus power the fear hate virus slowly replaces the host with virus copies — Program empty body –

– William Burroughs, Nova Express

The impossibility of writing

What matters is whether we want to lie or to tell the truth and write the truth, even though it never can be the truth and never is the truth.

– Thomas Berhard

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What is the writer’s struggle except a struggle to use a medium as precisely as possible, but knowing fully its basic imprecision? A hopeless task, but none the less rewarding for being hopeless.

– Lawrence Durrell