Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins was the second book that I read in English (the first one was The Future Shock by Alvin Toffler). Robbins’ style helped me fall in love with English. It was a long time ago (late 80s). Now the guy has come out (reluctantly) with a memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie. Here’s an excerpt from a recent interview.
Tom Robbins: “What I’ve learned along the way is that existence is cosmic theatre, but paradoxically, we should play our roles to the absolute best of our ability while having the wisdom not to take them too seriously.”
RL: “Would you call yourself a cynic?”
TR: “Basically I agree with the existentialists, but the difference between me and, say, Camus and Sartre is that I don’t let it snow on my fiesta.”
Crazy wisdom, originally a Tibetan concept, according to Robbins is “the opposite of conventional wisdom.” Viewed as such, all wisdom is crazy since all wisdom is a non-cliche pattern break. Crazy wisdom is half-asleep enlightenment in frog pajamas…
Reference: interview with Tom Robbins by Rob Liguori, The New York Times Magazine, May 2014
Here’s a question that we ask our minds a lot: “How do I achieve balance in my life?”
For a change, let your body answer this question: find a concrete curb and try to walk it without losing balance.
Notice how your discursive monkey mind has finally shut up and your body has begun to voice its silent words of wisdom.
pattern break 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 through it in search of a UG-like revelation. And found a few poetic passages that fit the meme.
Here’s one related thought from “Monkey Tanka” by Shion Mizuhara:
Our forebears are
Risen from the apes.
That’s it. Not much but plenty for me. I have a hunch Shion is not just being Darwinian, but tuning in to something very basic about what we still are.
And here are a few lines from Masayo Koike’s poem, “When Monkeys Sing:”
Monkeys run deep, they are to our existence
As miso paste in soup.
Monkeys are profound, the miso of existence.
“Wow!” this monkey thought to itself: “It’s time to write that …
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.
In Reality Check #73 I wrote: “Reality is non-negotiable: it already is what it is.” This little “dictum” reminded me of a 1998 German film Run Lola Run.
In the film, Lola is presented with a challenging situation that she fails to successfully resolve despite three attempts, three “runs.” In each run, Lola attempts to replay reality – yes, to replay the very reality that already is what it is.
My advice to Lola(s): Stay, Lola, Stay! Reality – not your legs, not your reaction speed, not even the speed of light, – but Reality itself sets the speed limit on What Is. No Lola can outrun the reality that already is.
2 thoughts: one for the year that is passing and one for the year that is yet to pass.
Happy New Now to you, all year long!
[Mindstream | pattern interruption series | Somov]
I recently moved: packing, unpacking – all that moving jazz.
So, the other day I am looking at my bookshelves (of mostly non-fiction)
and I realize:
99% of these books added absolutely nothing to what I know -
Instead they subtracted – subtracted from the seemingly endless illusions of this human mind.
We are deluded beings: each mind is a bottomless well of conditioned abstractions.
So, as I am looking at all these books that added nothing to my mind I feel the triumph of disillusionment:
Disillusionment is simply that: a loss of illusion, one pearl of wisdom at a time, one pattern-break at a time.
Disillusionment, put differently, is a very good thing to happen to a mind.
Look for it!
An awakening mind is a sobering mind, a mind in recovery, a mind that is detoxing itself from its cultural software and informational baggage.
The original mind is a blank page.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that reading is in vain.
Reading (of philosophy, non-fiction and of a certain kind fiction) is a detox.
Of course, I’ll keep buying books and keep reading books and keep disillusioning myself
in a cumulative triumph of awakening (that is never finished).
Unpack your mind.
Related: Present Perfect (Somov, 2010)
[pattern interruption series]
Language is a drug. We trip on words. We trip over words. A word of praise and we feel high. A word of criticism and we feel low. In the beginning was the word, the first consciousness-altering drug, the psycho-pharmacological alchemy of chunking mind into dualistic categories. We are meaning-making monkeys strung out on language. The soldiers of the Abstract…
[pattern interruption series]
Pattern Break #108-a
Initial statement: the problem with empathy training for robots is not software but hardware. Mirror-neuron circuitry is hardware-based empathy that requires no programming.
Refined statement: the problem with empathy training for robots (and sociopaths) is not software (culture) but hardware. Mirror-neuron circuitry (of biological or technological kind) is hardware-based empathy that requires no programming/culture/modeling.
Pattern Break #108-b
All software eventually hardens; all hardware eventually softens.
Pattern Break #108-c
A mind on an autopilot is a robot lost in a mirror. Mindfulness (and humanity) begins with self-reflection: ask yourself “Who is this who is asking ‘Who is this?’” Break a pattern.
There are 2 kinds of actions that rule our days: mindless actions (actions on autopilot) and mindful (conscious) actions that are motivated by desire. But there is a 3d kind of action as well: a mindful (conscious) action that is not motivated by desire.
So, as you go through your day today, ask yourself now and then: is this action of mine motivated by desire? If so, consider not taking it. Consider skipping this desire-based action. Consider sitting it out. Release the desire. Let the desire come and go without acting upon it.
As you see, this 3d kind of action – the mindful action that is not motivated by desire – is really a form of non-action, a form of mindful non-action. Take it (now and then).
Related: Present Perfect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go (Pavel Somov, 2010)