Monday 28 October 2013

What is it that wants to happen?

There has been a lot of toing and froing between Scotland and Newcastle for me of late and various job interviews. One such led to an offer of employment. But the offer was to go back into a design office with a very unhealthy set up. No thankyou. The process has confirmed for me my desire to stay related to the industry but not under crazy conditions. Truly looking at what one wants and facing the consequences can be both painfully difficult and liberating. The thing with desire is not I believe, so much that it is a 'bad' thing so much as truly looking into the desire to see what it is about at a deeper level is scary. This is not clinging to the surface features of desire but listening to its depths. Yet this deeper calling is what gives life its meaning and purpose. It may or may not bring happiness but it will if given sufficient time and energy bring an honest expression to life. This expression is I believe the very reason for our coming out of unity, out of the void. And, it is by looking into the depths of desire not just the surface that we might find our way back to unity and to a peace within the midst of the storm. Such looking and listening, sitting with what is emerging and acting from the deepest gut is in my experience often clouded by a whole range of thoughts and emotions. Which of the panoply of these stories and sensations is the deep gut, the heart mind? That is the question I ask in challenging conditions. Or put another way, what is it that needs to happen? It was tricky sitting with the panoply arising in the job chase of late but I am now sure I made the right decisions.

Recently a friend sent me a link to the revolverheld unzertrennlich music video. There can't be a gay man (particularly of my generation) who isn't touched by this video. The beauty of the video is I would suggest, in the acknowledgment of the (deeper) desire for unity, in the response of the heart mind. As ever, our humanity is in form's expression of emptiness. This is desire's true meaning and purpose. It will not always bring the surface fun, joy and excitement shown in the video but it gives body to the life we lead and life to the body we live it with. It is not so much work to live verses live to work as living the work of one's life.

Friday 4 October 2013


Occasionally I consider setting up a more formal altar. I sit zazen each day and do have a Buddha figure in the location(s) I sit but I have not set up the usual altar arrangement. Why not? Because despite the help that 'props' of one kind or another can be, at bottom I am not given to formalistic ritual; I am more given to the aspiration to be in meditation not just 'on the cushion' but off it too, to see the world as the altar of my life, my life as the unfolding of a deeper movement of which I might glimpse. I don't want to set up 'out there' or other spiritual places and I find formal altars allegorical. And yet, I notice that I do have in each of the places I regularly sit some setting which represents the divine, a divine here and now, immanent and transcendent. The arrangement and location of altar and the place to sit zazen for me immediately bring to awareness the form of meditation and ask the question 'what is meditation?'; to just sit, to take aim for no target without trying, to notice as much of what is unfolding without becoming, not to reject and not to cling, an open, alert awareness including inside and outside the notion of self and other. Where in this is the altar? Where does the heart mind sit? And if this is a koan on the cushion how much more so in daily life!

We each have our way of being in the world; life's expression of itself in each other. I recall:

‘Peace is the state of distinctness without domination, with the distinct participating in each other.’
(Adorno, ‘Subject and object’, in The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, ed. Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978), 497–511 (p. 500).)
A quote DC finds 'always brings a lump' to his throat.
Can we find the altar of our lives in our interactions and treat each unfolding moment be it a joy or a challenge as a sacred theatre? Even if I fail in this aspiration is the holding of and returning to it not an altar? Without the failing there would be no challenge and no meaning in the aspiration. Can I remember to keep returning to the precepts? I can given time. I can't all the time. Each time drama unfolds it takes me time to work it through, to gain insight into what has been brewing. I need to stay with it yet not become it. The place holding this is the altar and the drama is the offering. When at last I see it, there is the heart mind.
Small 'altars' integrated into (physical) items of daily living:

Music is a great pointer to spirit

Nature inside and out

Unfolding in time; growing and flowering before passing

Confetti angels with trumpets - my dear friend always puts them in his cards to me