Now, for something a little different, but related.
I have wanted to do this for a long time. To start a website that could be seen by more folks than just Facebook, and to really get some concepts and ideas, meditations and paradoxical arrests of the mind out there. Maybe a Zen koan or two. Because I know it has made a difference in the past in the lives of others. All of these things directly influence who I am not only as a person, but also as an artist, and especially as a singer. Going miles inward is something I certainly encourage in anyone, but particularly musicians, who must travel miles inward themselves, and into the minds and souls of composers. Beyond history, beyond tradition, how do we do that? Well, when we understand ourselves, we understand others. When we understand who others are, we understand who we are. It's a lovely relationship. There are also physical benefits.
I want to present methods that can connect disparate thoughts and emotions and clarify misunderstandings and ease body tension, and then the said method erases itself when the task is complete. But don't get me wrong, I don't consider myself a teacher. I can't. For nothing I learn is by my own direct will. It is rather, a coincidental understanding that aligns in scenarios represented in visible life, or words of wisdom that come as phrases between thoughts or in the wakes of dreams. It is always a gift.
Things often get worse before they get better, is perhaps a reality of living a life, an existence, that is with the path of least resistance. A storm's purpose is to refresh, give new life, and ultimately rebalance what is not balanced. Our bodies create storms on the inside and out, physical, mental, emotional, that we then paint as an adversary. I remind you that even your own blood can become your adversary if the blood vessel allowing it to flow on its course is broken and then seeps into the body and drowns the organs. Adversary does not exist on its own. Adversary needs a relationship in order to be.
Many other, and even all, concepts can be seen as illusory if we tear down one side of the bridge between our Self and the concept. The great thing is that most bridges are rickety, and we do not need to go far, for all bridges begin with us, as individuals. The counterintuitive thing is that all that we think we need is not so, and all that we do need is already here, on our own side. I will say that Transcendentalism is perhaps the closest to my beliefs. It most importantly states that the root of all goodness and possibility is found at the individual level. It lay solely in the individual.
"How we react to something tells us about ourselves, not what we are reacting to" is an ever-giving axiom and reality. Even the air is life-giving because we feel replenished by it. If the air had nothing to give life to, then air wouldn't even need a separate name. Things that have no function remain nameless. I once mused that the air in the North Side of a great manor is not called something different than air. Would we otherwise have called it Erdenohrd, or rough English pronunciation of French "air du nord?" I may start calling it that and see if it catches on. The names we give things are sometimes for functional reasons, but why do we not name things to greater precision? Stopping at "air" seems a little arbitrary. Upon reflection, then, calling air, "air" becomes arbitrary as well.
THE ZEN COMMANDMENTS: How much of my voice is my "own", if I do not own the air required for it to resonate?
If you follow me thus far, you may have felt a subtle collapsing of bridges around your person. Like tall leaves fanning away. This is called a paradigm growth. It occurs when we understand that our previous understanding was not firmly rooted, could not be firmly rooted, in solid ground, so it collapses when this is revealed to itself. It can be a little alarming, but if you breathe, and be intensely curious, as you were as a child, you will be fine. It may have been a while since you were fine. How long have you been on duty? The watchman needs feeding.
There are many hidden elements to life that can be experienced by counterintuitively embracing opposites. I once helped some friends by being able to unscrew two camera lenses that were screwed together tightly. Three athlete friends tried with much might and grimaces. I took the two connected pieces, and my fingers and hands found their places. Within seconds, the pieces came undone. Now, this is not to say that I have incredible strength in my hands (though guitar playing helps.) My understanding of it, is that applying too much force from the outside was warping the plastic and making it even more difficult for the plastic grooves to loosen and find their tracks. So, that is all very interesting. I could feel proud for knowing how to do it, or feel proud for doing it (two different things.) The reality is I did not know what I was doing at all. I surrendered all preconception and intent, including the intention to unscrew the lenses apart. I had no goal other than seeing what would happen. That is to say, what is happening, at the time.
Zooming out, it is arrogant of man to presume he understands, for any understanding is through the lens of his own understanding. One can apply this as a filter to anything in life, be it disputes with others, our seemingly vast knowledge of math and science, existence itself, etc.
A child at least once in their life asks a series of "why" questions to every answer. "Why is the sky blue?" There are many answers to give, from divine choice, scientific explanation of nature, or the perception of human vision. Still it is followed up by "why?", so we go deeper in qualification (because it is beautiful and God's choice) to quantification (oh, because the length of the frequency of light waves makes a difference in how we perceive it--this has gotta be too smart for the kid to understand!). Still, the resonant "why?" is heard plaintively and oddly unaffected, it would have been like answering nothing.
Another bridge collapses when we ask ourselves what the child is perhaps 'actually' asking: "Why does anything do anything?" The truth, and it can be a big one, is that we do not know what causes something to do, and why it does not suddenly cease doing. Those who reach certain meditative states of awareness enter a mind frame where even gravity could cease to be at any moment, for there is an absurd realization that our knowledge is based on more knowledge.
We only have the wisdom to unscrew to a certain level that collection of Russian Dolls. We forget to treat them as unknowns, as those aforementioned joined camera lenses. We wrestle against our own efforts and shoot our own foot. We also need to build tinier tools and eventually nanites to unscrew the micro-dolls. Our fingers can't do the work. And yet, will we ever know? Can we? It is like asking if Pi will ever end, or if nature intends for an acorn to grow into a squirrel rather than a tree at the nth iteration. We seek an end. An answer. An outcome. Something other than the question.
We need a new word for "problem". It implies, often falsely, that the solution can be found within the confines of the problem, as in math. Now, the word "confounder" is great. It means you are stuck and really completely screwed. Believe it or not, this is a really great place to be. To not know. To realize one's limit of knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Then you can see what happens instead, and the interesting thing is often when you are at your wit's end, the solution can present itself. It is your job to not be looking in a certain direction, in your watchman's tower, for it's too easy to miss a visitor who was waiting patiently at your castle door for hours, weeks, years, or even decades, in order to knock. If you are busy looking, what you seek will not be found. Just wait by the door. You are allowed to want, but you have to give up wanting in order to perhaps receive it.
The other axiom for me, and I have written about this extensively, is that "The happiness that is bestowed to us will always be greater than the happiness that we seek." I further posit that we never actually get what we want, even when we think we do. I think this will be the subject for my next post.
In the meantime, if you have read this, seeds are planted. You don't need to do anything except provide some company, water and sunshine. Do not dig up seeds to check and see if they are growing. They sprout at the appointed time.
One last thought. I love word play. How we walk is actually a controlled series of falls. Downward energy is converted into energy to go forward. Walking is falling and catching yourself and falling again. Without the fall, the let go, you would not move.
I invite you then, to fall, into being.