“Your search for happiness is prolonging your unhappiness,” said U. G. Krishnamurti.
Indeed, search is suffering.
And suffering is search.
Put differently, the happiness project is the unhappiness project.
pattern break by mindstream
Perfection is not an achievement but a baseline, not the fruit of being we reach for, but the very ground of being we stand on.
Rethink “what is” to rethink perfection: all that can be… is.
Thich Nhat Hanh says: “Reality, ultimate reality, is free from all adjectives.”
This is an essential point: reality isn’t this or that, reality isn’t good or bad, reality just is.
The rest is mind-work of adjectivizing.
[Adjectivizing (labeling, describing) is the psychology of suffering. As soon as you begin to talk of good, you begin to brace for bad. As soon as you begin to talk of bad, you start to yearn for good. To describe is to suffer and to suffer is to describe. In the meantime, reality just indescribably is.]
The other day, with a few minutes to kill, I pick up a book from a shelf. It’s a copy of “Thinking” by Gary Kirby and Jeffrey Goodpastor. The book is “designed to challenge your mind and to strengthen your thinking ability.” A good book. I skimmed it before. I flip to the last page and come across the following quote:
“When Robert Peary asked his Eskimo guide what he was thinking, the guide replied: “I do not think. I have plenty of meat.”
This quote opens up the last chapter of the book on “The Challenge to Go on Thinking.” The authors themselves continue:
“Thinking does not stop with the end of a book… Let’s think about our future thinking: How wide will we range? How deep will we plunge?”
I ponder this snarky juxtaposition: “Plenty of meat – no need to think” versus “Range wide, dig deep, keep on thinking.”
And I conclude: Eskimo’s right: there is no need to think if you have plenty of meat. Mind is a leg: it walks us away from What Is.
Vladimir Nabokov would have thought so too, I suspect. In Transparent Things, he writes:
“When we concentrate on a material object <…> the very act of attention may lead to our involuntary sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want to stay at the exact level of the moment.”
So, there you go: skim over matter if you want to stay in the moment, no …
We are too focused on learning (something new) and not focused enough on un-learning (something old that keeps getting in the way).
Much of the time when clients come to see me they want to learn something new. Much of the time what actually seems to help them is un-learning of something old that kept getting in the way.
Ask yourself: “What do I need to un-learn today?” And learn what you need to un-learn.
Pattern Breaks by Mindstream
For years I’ve been thinking of myself as just another modern-day ape. This line of thought – that we are nothing more and nothing less than monkeys – is powerfully humanizing. Here’s what Mahesh Bhatt had to say about one of the most dangerous minds of the 20th century, U.G. Krishnamurti, in “Mind is a Myth.”
UG, sitting bewildered and flabbergasted on the little bench, looked down at his body. But this time he looked without the cultural background that identified him as “male,” “Indian,” “Brahmin,” “seeker,” “world traveler,” “public speaker,” “civilized gentleman,” “virtuous person,” et.c. Seeing instead a warm-blooded mammal, a calm, harmless, fully-clothed monkey. The slate had been miraculously wiped clean, culture and self had been utterly undone in a twinkling, and what was left was a graceful, simple, well-mannered ape, aware, intelligent, and free of all pretense and self-absorption.
I read this good many years ago and recognized my own modest metamorphosis in this. And I thought that I better share this little known passage some day in a blog. And while I continued to live this truth that, like UG, like you, I am just a well-mannered modern-day ape, I haven’t gotten to writing about this until today.
Why today? No big reason. Just stumbled upon a colorful issue of “Monkey Business: a new writing from Japan,” a zine of sorts. Picked it up, not really knowing what it is, for a few quarters at a local Goodwill store. I flipped …
Sensitivity – I realized – is wound-ability.
(I know it’s a strange word. Is that even a word? It is right now. After all, language is at our service.)
If you weren’t easily wounded, you wouldn’t be sensitive. Stones don’t feel which is why they don’t cry. I am glad you are not a stone. I am glad you feel. I am glad you feel intensely. Why? Because there is a lot to feel. And to feel intensely is to live intensely. I hope you too are glad that you are sensitive. But I doubt you are. Many see sensitivity as a bad thing. Rollo May didn’t when he said: “Anxiety is the shadow of intelligence.” He might have as well said: “Sensitivity is the shadow intelligence.” Stones don’t feel. They are dumb. I am glad you aren’t.
And yet, you might object, wound-ability is a vulnerability, a liability. It is, indeed, if you don’t know how to heal. But if you know how to heal, sensitivity stops being a problem. It used to take me a long time to heal (from ego wounds). Then I got better about it. By the time I figured out the “lotus effect” way of shedding informational suffering, I’d heal just as fast as I’d get wounded. Wound-ability stopped being a problem but the intelligence that comes with it remained.
This is important: psychological sovereignty isn’t invulnerability, it’s heal-ability (ability to heal fast in a self-sustaining manner), to shed dirt like …
Working on yet another book on mindful eating, another one in the Jumpstart series, this time on mindful emotional eating, currently on the chapter devoted to nighttime emotional eating, not on how to eliminate it but on how to make it mindful – a humanistic harm reduction approach.
Here’s an excerpt, here’s how the chapter begins (mind you it’s a first draft):
I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
The days of our lives seem to have sisyphian circularity to them. One frustrating situation after another we push and push the boulder of cumulative stress up the day’s hill only to be run over by it at the end of the day. It doesn’t help that we keep piling on hard-to-fulfill expectations on ourselves: we promise to find a better way of coping, without eating, and we commit to start anew tomorrow morning. But tomorrow comes and this sisyphian circle repeats itself: all day long we are trying to be good, taking care of business, managing frustration until the long-awaited evening comes and all we want to do is just …
Questions matter more than answers.
Questions unwind the mind while the answers wind the mind up.
The quest part of the question is far more important than the destination end-point of the answer: a question is a liberating journey into the unknown, an answer is a dead-end of pseudo-certainty. A question sets the mind unstuck, breaking the impasse of knowing. Knowing re-incarcerates the mind in a re-invented sense of certainty.
When you look at the swirling dervish of this composite body that you are (with its endless metamorphosis of matter), you have to eventually ask yourself: “Is there indeed such a thingless thing as mind? Or is mind just another philosophical unicorn – a word without a referent?”
At the deepest level of analysis the no-mind of mindfulness debunks the illusion of its own permanence.
As you look inside for the one that is looking you find no one and with that everything becomes just enough and so.
As I watch my slavic brothers and sisters about to turn onto each other (not without some geopolitical meddling), I am reminded of a few lines from a poem written in Kiev in 1986 by a prominent Russian dissident Irina Ratushinskaya:
Beasts, people, birds
And voices, and specks of light -
We pass through all like ripples,
And each one disappears.
Which of us will recur?
Who will flow into whom?
What do we need in this world
To quench our thirst?
Yes, we all pass through this reality, and we all pass through all – like ripples from a local stone-skip that eventually become the universe-wide gravitational waves of yet another big bang.
And we pass into each other: yesterday’s fascists become today’s freedom-fighters and today’s freedom-fighters become tomorrow’s fascists. Form passes into Essence and Essence passes into Form.
Self and Other are in a constant tug-of-war of inter-determination (paṭiccasamuppāda - co-dependent origination). Duality (Skinthink) of Self and Other always falls onto its own sword.
As I ponder this current cycle of Slavic samsara I find my usual, arguably misguided, sense of peace and acceptance in the following three axioms of living:
1. We are all motivationally innocent (the Pleasure Principle): there is no evil, there is just a pursuit of wellbeing however misguided it might be.
2. We are all doing our moment-specific best (the idea of Ordinary Perfection): all that can be – is.
3. That is enough for Oneness of Cosmos (sideless, Oneness takes …