F O UR.
N O M O R E N E E D F O R O U T WA R D M E C H A N I S M S
T O B E L I B E R AT E D F R O M T H E M
A L E A F FA L L I N G T O T H E G R O U N D
riends... now that I’ve stepped away from the angst that accompanied my drive to establish myself, or more accurately, after the unstable foundation was grounded, the communication between myself and others has become so velvety deluxe. There is a place you get to where there is no more conflict. It occurs naturally through the practice of meditation. The method is one of repetition — to develop a resonance, to tune yourself to the flow of energy. The technique is unimportant. I’ve used several: following the breath, repeating the Great Dharini, keeping a question. These days I only keep “What am I?” And there are long moments where there are no questions, no subject or object, only the rapture of the state itself. Like many things that we don’t understand, our approach is backwards, archaic. You don’t go in trying to still the mind. That happens by itself, in the presence of the Absolute. It’s getting to that point, which has as much to do with resolving your own existence, softening, giving in as sitting on the cushion repeating phrases endlessly. The world we live in, there is no running through fields of flowers, at least not without some kind of payment. Outwardly the decision has to be made, whether to live anonymously
— a life of freedom, or to go for a position of power, authority. Not only in the field of politics, business, but religion as well — the world operates under hierarchies. No one escapes this model. You can refuse to take part in it, but that doesn’t change anything. There’s always a head. These demarcations are important, to a degree, but ask a dying man. The work of Zen is to become liberated and to teach the path of liberation. It doesn’t follow convention — even though the institution follows the hierarchal model. This is where the revolution takes place — between the individual and the established order. If there were no hierarchies, where would we be? It’s hard to even imagine. I see it as a luxury, a convenience. Everything is organized for you, run by those who believe in the system. The ladder of success — it’s built in, the climbing. It doesn’t matter whether the prize is a million dollar home, a stripe on the sleeve, or a Zen stick, it keeps everyone occupied, the infrastructure humming. The pattern revealed is a field of boxes — bland, austere, with some sort of flash designed to lure the unwary customer. You can tell what drives us. The ambition is not for beauty or love — but power. What of our dying man? In a very real sense he is immune to the hegemony — at least on the surface. Inwardly he may still battle for a position in heaven. It is the sage who truly becomes free — free of the noise of civilization while immersed in it, free of the immense suffering that our ambitions create — but it’s the freedom of a sword’s edge: hard won, hard to maintain — imperceptible. To align oneself to such a task brings a new kind of power — a personal one. I’m not going to go into why one would choose such a path. I assume, if you’re reading this essay, you’ve already found the normal pursuits unsatisfactory. Unless you were born into a family with money, unless you find your own power not dependant on outer conditions, you will not have an easy life. As I say this, I’m walking, late at night — more than a mile — to
get a shower. Ha ha… It’s been a long day. All kinds of things that were difficult in some way. I don’t struggle with my environment. I’m able to swing a hammer and keep alive, keep the projects going, and do long retreats. I don’t know how I will survive when I get old. I can’t be walking so far… pressing on. The cool night air, the clatter of dinner plates being put away — and music, fragments only. A few more steps and I’m clear of the hulking apartments. The utility lines hang menacingly over a few beat up old vans with blankets over the windows. How many long walks? The scenery can’t be recorded here. There’s nothing that commands one — though I know I’ve been here before. Something telling about who they are, the way they arrange their things — with the least amount of thought, with no consideration at all for a man of my sort. There’s an enormous feeling of alienation only possible in a city of machines. Here a pedestrian is an oddity — or maybe it’s that I’m acting out of bounds. It’s hard to tell, harder still to focus on their drone–like behavior. The thing about machines, they don’t care about you, what you’re doing. You’re free to walk to your demise. There’s a feeling of the bottom falling out, pressure; there’s no place to turn that isn’t filled with images of them. You can’t avoid picking up snatches of their lives, being stranded somewhere between things — from one box to the next. The night, blessed night: made of things half done, filled with sounds that distract you even more — of stumbling on things unexpectedly, hearing far more than you should; long moments between things; falling into things set like traps to snare you. Was I wrong to look into a box that someone left behind? There are so many of them here. The Buddha gave his most remarkable teaching at the end of his life. He said he waited for the end because his students weren’t ready for it. “All things are contained in the pure and clear dharmakaya.” Not the meek alone, not the good ones,
or the ones with clean feet — but all of us: every hurricane survivor, every lost child alone in the world, every crow on the roadside — all of them friends of mine. *** I have no luxury of time to exist without a struggle. I’ve never know a life otherwise. As far as we’ve come, we’ve never been able to escape this. Some work night and day to dominate, live in fear of being outmaneuvered by the competition — which, I suppose, gives some amount of satisfaction, pride — that you’ve climbed over the backs of millions to reach the summit — like Ozymandias. Have you heard the story? I met a traveler from an antique land who said, “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert. Near them on the sand, half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown and wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command tell that its sculptor well those passions read which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. and on the pedestal these words appear: `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away.’” What an example! What a contribution. If you think ahead a few thousand years, will the crumbling ruins of your legacy inspire, instruct, give foundation for the enlightened culture that must surely be the evolution of society? Or will this time be a blight on the surface, a cancer that has thankfully been removed? There are a lot of ways to look at it. Obviously a long– term approach is not where we are (as a society). The concept of free market, like a virus, does not care about the condition of others — only how they may be exploited — a critical flaw.
“It’s very hard to be in one of these positions (of power) and
not have a certain amount of almost psychological, maybe even physiological addiction.” – Jefferey Pfeffer — Power
Hierarchy — power.. it’s the way of the world. There’s a boss in every pot, and a yard full of chickens scrambling for it. It’s given us a lot of remarkably similar box dwellings in indefinable city after city.. if we could only change our names to numbers. We are so lofty in our ideals compared to the communist model, yet the end result is remarkable similar. This is the pattern of humanity — it can’t be avoided. Everyone’s yelling from the sidelines, pointing out the corruption that we must endure — when we’re all so primitive. There’s no real way to manage us. It’s all fake, a charade. The truth is that we have no self–existence, and no meaning to our lives, the forward press the function of substance. If you will, look around you. Everything alive struggles against reason to continue on. There is no will or command that will stop it — we are completely powerless against it. Yet we spend our years trampling back and forth, raising wall after wall… the sidewalk continues on, the night air full of human concerns.