Sunday, June 1, 2014

A few days off and I haven't even written anything.  I've been for walks in Rock Creek Park, Thursday in the rain, Friday, Saturday, scrambling up the outcrop rocks above the creek and the stream that comes down through the woods to feed it where I saw a red squirrel scoot under the footbridge, cheeping at me, two notes, disappearing into the rocks then reappearing several more times, two more notes, drawn out, as if we were playing a little game, and then he finally scampers away unseen, maybe across the stream under the fallen tree.  I know that meditation is helping, helping me gradually clear my deeper mind, and slowly, gradually improving my surroundings with calm.  On my way to the woods I speak to my mom, and we talk about books and the list serve for the society of the history and preservation of reading materials and books.  She's found a book that lists what Melville read, and I have a twinge of regret for not having read any Melville in a long time, regret for allowing myself to be dumbed down in my work, but also a crack of light that holds out reading as a part of salvation that might even give me some career direction.

It was a decision to make, meaning it wasn't easy or self-evident to stay home, not take the train up to Amherst for a little get away.  I cancelled the train reservation and got caught up on rest, and slowly the pain in my neck and shoulders eases away.  "Was it all about going to see so'n'so who treated you terribly," my mom asks, and honestly, I can say no, though it is nice to meet again quality women from old college days, safe to admit a mutual crush from years ago now that they are married and with kids and jobs.  It's a place to visit, far less light pollution, stars, gentle old campus, tree specimens, view of the Holyoke Range, the quiet, and of course, just to get out of DC, the swamp.  The Friday morning came, and I just wasn't up for it, eight plus hours on the train, and with old family friends busy with grandkids visiting, no room at the inn for that extra night, the spiritual check-up...  I will visit again sometime.  And interestingly enough, I felt no regret for not going, and maybe chalk that up to meditation, the calming of thoughts that race in the mind that can drag one off like wild horses.

Calm is not found having to go off to tend bar, and I finally get in some good yoga and a lotus pose.  I lay back in corpse and I feel the energy flowing, the inner breadth coming up through the anus, all up the spine, and for the first time in a while the energy flows through the neck vertebrae up to the third eye, as if something there had been blocked, as if the body hadn't been so connected as it should with the mind, the higher intellect of insight.  Maybe it was a twist of the neck catching a cup about to fall out of a kitchen cabinet that pulled something, initially.  Is that what can happen in life, the failure to connect and have an intellectual conversation, the thing one longed for, a simple meeting of the minds, and that not having happened, a blockage.

And this is the healing thing about, say, the Buddha, the meditation, the reopening of the scarred channel, the blockage melting away in the warm inner steamy rising light of all the five elements (if that is correct to Tibetan Buddhist understanding), wind, fire, water, earth...  Away, illusions of self;  stop blocking life here on this earth in this special time, the gentle wise being that comes by making no claim on anything, just, yes, being.

But we were all caught up in duality, even as part of our youthful intellectual careers, the qualifying of things, the putting of things into specific terms, heeding the dualistic distinctions, the careful papers of history, textual analysis, geological detective work this on top of that.  This was the very stuff that would lead us on to handsome careers in the law, the careful parsing of terms.  Always, the mental definition, this is such a thing.

Some of us, though, rejected that and listened to deeper things, not that we necessarily got much credit for it, but rather the opposite.  What is the writer up to anyway?  What does it mean when one captures all the textual details of life in this world, the coffee cups, the dirty blinds (T.S. Eliot's "dingy shades in a thousand furnished rooms"), the rust-hued gin and tonic with bitters that a Hemingway self-stand in takes pleasure in in a later work, his cat sitting in avocado trees hunting bats, or Paradise Lost's scene, Adam and Eve, bare to the Levant and Ponent Winds, expelled from Eden turning to words finally.  What does it all mean, a young and impressionable mind might ask...  And a young person can do this, be pure enough of mind to read on a deeper level, even as they may be pushed to be more technically critical like a scientist's dissection, (as if such properly lent itself to any science beyond what the writer had invested in the original, indeed, as the writer is saying, clearly, 'here's my science.')

Too bad we did not study Buddhism then and there.  It would have made a lot of things clearer.  Perhaps such stuff has to do with the kind of education my father practiced as an educator, as a cleric, putting things not into egotistical terms, but freeing them from that, even from academic egotism itself.

Learning about Darwin's Theory of Evolution, versus the Creationist, a useful exercise of scientific method and scientific history, a good tune-up on critical thinking, yes, a good thing to do, of course.  But in another sense, what difference does it make, once having mastered the theory of Natural Selection, what difference might it make to our own lives directly, but almost be a side issue, like Buddha's story of the person wounded with the arrow.  Get to the matter of curing the person wounded with the arrow, directly, not by asking who shot the arrow and what that person was wearing.

I find now and then a little break, a clear moment, a freedom from defining things basically, to take a short cut, good or bad.  Having already entered into that mindset, there is good and bad with respect to 'me,' there's no escaping constantly wishing to put terms on everything.  "This was smart, that was stupid."  And what you long for, without realizing it, is freedom from that.

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