Sunday, October 26, 2014

2014.10.26 — Upanishads, Making God Small and The Beauty of Beauty Fushigis*

Out of the blue, The Upanishads have jumped into my life with a quick pair of peculiar and, perhaps, blog-worthy fushigi. (And provide me with an opportunity to blog one of my stories! Oh frabjous day, callooh callay!)

The 1st Upanishads fushigi was set up with a small fushigi that began 2014.10.14 with my resuming to read Your God is Too Small by JB Philips in the morning before work. I sticky-noted what I'd read then because I felt I would refer to his argument when I wrote my review of the book. On the sticky I had written “The physical [is seen by Philips as] less beautiful [than the metaphysical that exists in our hearts and imaginations].” I read in Philips’ argument that he considers the existence of physical beauty as a pale simulacrum of a meta-beauty that is to be found where God resides. (This follows the Greek idea of an image of life that is outside life and which fallible life aspires to grow towards.)

Philips makes the argument that the existence of beauty is a suggestion supporting the existence of something beyond the limits of somatic reality, a hint of ‘God,’ so to speak.
Is it possible that beauty is a hint of the real and true and permanent…? No one, of course, can say. But the appeal of beauty which is universal, however distorted or debased it may have become, cannot be lightly dismissed. It is a pointer to something, and it certainly points to something beyond the present limitations of time and space. We can at any rate say that beauty arouses a hunger and a longing which is never satisfied (and some would say never can be satisfied) in this world (p68).
When I got to work, my intuition directed me to do something I haven’t done in perhaps a year, which was to read a particular post in a poetry group that I belong to on Goodreads, called The Boathouse. At one time I was very active in that group but, like my blogging, I have not been active of late because of a general time of busy-ness in life. I have no idea why I visited that particular post with the (to me obscure and completely unknown) title Dana Giola by Ruth. She had been to see the poet (I didn’t know that until I Wikied him) give a talk. From it she related the following observation:
Right on point was his topic, "Beauty." He defined it not as something pretty, but as something exactly right, a beautiful sunset, or a cruel hawk sweeping down on his prey.

He thinks there is not enough beauty in the contemporary US. He particularly cited the buildings. I have an idea that I might consider beautiful some buildings he would hate. But I have to agree with him about schools and public buildings which are utilitarian, but have no grace.
This lead to a typical discussion from several members of the group over the course of a week on the immemorial problem that one man’s beauty is another person’s ugly. I have no idea what drew me to join the discussion, but I did, and posted a comment only because of the fushigi of having read beauty defined an hour to two earlier.

On the morning of the twentieth I read RTO’s comments, and while driving in to work … well. Here is what I posted in that thread:
While driving into work this morning I was thinking about RTO's conflation of mind brain and ego. And I was thinking that with the body we easily distinguish between the function of a toe and an elbow, even though they are coterminous with 'body.' It would seem, logically, for things to be coterminous does not preclude distinction of function and perception of that function.

And I was also thinking, as to the specific notion of 'spirituality,' that one of the severe problems of existence is its existence. If nothing existed before something did, how did something arise from nothing? Old question of course, but given the way matter is being found nebulous and untouchable with modern physical examination, it is not facile to ascribe matter as a spiritual expression: in that it is because it is and predates logic and mind and the ability to be explained except vaguely and inconsistently. And if matter is, then the limitation of spiritual expression to 'just' a mind/body function is problematic: where does spirit in matter end and the 'fact' of the matter begin? And we enter the tail chasing dog arguments again, which makes me smile.

Anyway, I wasn't going to post these meaningless mindless (mindful?) meanders except that as I was pondering them, in a kind of fushigi, my intuitive function asked me to open a copy of The Upanishads I have at my desk. (I haven't actually read it, but keep threatening to.) But this morning I flipped it open, randomly, to Ch.10.2 of Chandpogya VI.II.
...good lad, all creatures, once they have come forth from being, do not know that they have come forth from being. Whatever they are here — a tiger, a lion, a wolf, a boar, a worm, a flying thing, a gnat, a mosquito — they become that.

This subtle part is what all this has as self. It is truth: it is the self. You are that...
Well, I found this funny. Well, the whole enchilada, which in all likelyhood doesn't really exist except as that which creates gas! LOL! Have a good day. My work function calls.
The 2nd Upanishads fushigi began 2014.10.26 in the morning with my getting notice that one of my short stories on the UK reading/writing site ReadWave, “The Unwritten Room,” has officially become popular in the USA with it having reached the milestone of 50 US reads.

When I finished my busy Sunday, I came upstairs a bit tired, and thinking I’d like to blog my Upanishads’ fushigi, and so picked up the book. But I wondered if I might something else amusing and perhaps enlightening in it. And so I flipped it open and stopped on Book III. I was surprised and delighted to see that not only did what I flip to correspond to the beauty discussion, but it connected it to ‘The Unwritten Room’ and to JB Bishop too! Here is the opening to my story:
My Janelle. To think
I once dipped strands of her hair
in India ink!

It, the BIG it, has been called by physicists string theory. I have frequently wondered at that. Why not call it strand theory?
This is what I read in The Upanishads:
… the five subtle elements are called by the name ‘element’, and the five gross elements are called by the name ‘element’. ‘Their coming together is called ‘the body’. So the one who is said to be ‘the self in the body’ is said to be ‘the elemental self’. This self is to that one as a drop of water to the blue lotus on which it rests. The elemental self is overcome by the strands of nature. Because it is overcome, it falls into utter delusion. Because of this utter delusion, it has not seen him resting in the self — the lord, the blessed one, the causer of action. Delighting in the mass of strands and grown dirty, unsteadiest, fickle, utterly bewildered, full of yearning, distracted, it falls into conceitedness. ‘I am this: this is mine”: thinking like this, it binds itself with itself like a bird with a net. Overcome by the fruits that follow on from action, he wanders around (356, my emphasis).
To repeat myself: I find these funny. And, in their own way, very beautiful.

2014.10.28 Fushigi Addendum

The fushigi extended itself the day after I blogged this when I went into The WSS / Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company to see about entering this week’s Poetry Stuffage contest, the theme of which turned out to be 'A Winding Road'. And I was delighted and surprised to see this little fushigi continue with the title of M’s entry of the week: Unwritten Things. (It is a beautifully written villanelle!)

And so it seems to go, the winding road of fushigi appears to be an endless one.

P.S.: I did write a poem, too. Here it is:
The Road Not There

The rock, that rock looked familiar to me.
Had I seen it before, really? When? When!?
I stopped walking,
affirming with words directed to it in waves of air,
‘I do not know you you are a stranger to me!”
I looked at it and felt a tickle of dread, fear,
burble up up from a depth of darkness I didn’t want to know I knew.
I had seen it before, of that I am sure.
This winding road to nowhere is not endless.

My thoughts begin to tumble with the unstoppable possibility
that I had been on this road before and before that too.
I notice this rock’s familiarity. Noticed it today.
And that makes today special in some unperceivable way
because all the other days I’ve passed this way before have been forgotten
even as this winding road has been whiling me down its easy slope and pretty views.

The certainty of truth I had has become sand.
The feeling of earth’s rock hard knock hard lessons are fled.
When the spinning in my head stopped
And the clock spring on my watch stopped winding itself down
I turned and saw that the road I was on wasn’t there anymore.
The nowhere I was at awed me
Because there was nowhere left for me to go.

Friday, October 3, 2014

2014.10.03 — Happy Yoga Hippy and a Word Fushigi*

I was asked to write something for my yoga instructor's newsletter. This is what I wrote for the Nataraja Wellness Centre.

“I’ve lost it!” I told Steve. It was Monday morning, first day back to work after a weekend gone too quickly. “It would seem I have gone totally hippy!” And I started laughing with him.
“How so?”
“I have discovered the joy of yoga in a park, with the sun shining down onto us through tall trees, with grass beneath our mats, and the sound of birds chirping and flitting in the leaves. It was so much better than I thought it could be.” I shook my head. “Yup, I’ve gone totally hippy.”

Yes. A few weeks ago the gift of hippy-hood was given to me as another lesson in life from life. Or, to be more accurate, a reaffirmation of the old lesson that out of all things, even the so-called ‘bad’ things, opportunity and discovery and joy can arise and be embraced. The bad thing was the closing of Babeeta’s Wellness centre on 6th Street at the beginning of September. In response to that ostensibly distressing event a few of us took advantage of the closing of our cherished yoga centre and the nice weather to brave the outdoors. Pure heaven! It was far FAR more delightful and invigorating than I had thought possible. And so, out of the blue I enjoyed yoga under the blue. And outdoor yoga has become, after the fact, a bucket list item I have managed to complete. Thank you.

And I can’t stop smiling, even as I write this. Yup. Maybe the hippies weren’t all dippy after the all, for it would seem I have become one, as I lay on my mat with my friends and fellow yogis, with the sound of birds all around us, under the sun tickling our faces and warming our bodies. Ahhhhhh. And to close the event before we dispersed into our days, hot tea, fresh fruit and bread, and conversation.

I am reminded of a poem. A favourite of mine that has remained a favourite for more than 20 years. Oddly enough, it is set in winter! But here it is:

Four Tao philosophers as cedar waxwings
chat on a February berry bush
in sun, and I am one.

Such merriment and such sobriety —
the small wild fruit on the tall stalk —
was this not always my true style?

Above an elegance of snow, beneath
a silk-blue sky a brotherhood of four
birds. Can you mistake us?

To sun, to feast, and to converse
and all together — for this I have abandoned
all my other lives.
Francis, Robert. "Waxwings", cited in News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness, ed by Robert Bly. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1980, p. 139.

Word fushigi:
As I was beginning to prepare this blog, I interrupted myself to send to a new friend the list of e.mail closing quotations I’ve collected over the years. My sending them came about after I related to her how a director of mine asked me to stop using them. Given that I had been attaching them to my work e.mails in a random manner, which was indeed unprofessional, I understood his request. However, he added that he thought that they were fine, except that most everyone wouldn’t understand them, and that if I wanted, I could send them to him instead because he would appreciate them.

Anyway, I felt I wanted to clean up the formatting of them. And I was enjoying reading some of them again. As I was doing that, Laurie Brown of CBCR2’s ‘The Signal’ once again added a fushigi: “The problem with words,” she said, “is that they try to explain away the mystery [of life.]” She then elaborated that music did the opposite. She then played Cosmogony by Bjork.

The fushigi was that, just before Laurie began speaking about the problem with words, I had just finished reading the following quotation:
Men know how to read printed books; they do not know how to read the unprinted ones. They can play on a stringed harp, but not on a stringless one. Applying themselves to the superficial instead of the profound, how should they understand music or poetry?
From the Saikontan, by Kojisei (circa 1600) cited in Haiku by Robert Blyth, circa 1947 Tokyo, p. 73.
So I looked for my other ‘word’ quotations:
If words were satisfactory, we could speak the whole day and it would all be about the Way; but if words are unsatisfactory, we can speak the whole day and it will all be about things. The Way is the delimitation of things. Neither words nor silence are satisfactory for conveying it. Without words and without silence, our deliberations reach their utmost limits.
Chuang-Tse. Wandering on the Way: Early Taoist Tales and Parables of Chuang Tzu. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1994. Tr. by Victor Mair, p. 266.

And, the finally noteworthy word on the word/music fushigi is a quotation I’d forgotten: developing the language, enriching the meanings of words, ... [the poet] is making possible a much wider range of emotion and perception for other men, because he gives them the speech in which more can be expressed.
T.S. Eliot.

2014.10.04 Word fushigi Addendum
This morning, when I checked my e.mail, I saw that I’d received notice that a dormant thread in Goodreads had come alive again over night. when is poetry not poetry is the thread’s title. I’d first commented in it July 08, 2014 and, up to yesterday, the last comment was September 13th. This adds to the fushigi because one of the issues the thread is philosophically bantering about is the gap in creativity between reason, words, and that which exists before/outside of them. Yesterday’s comment, from Greg, is a simple one: “God has no reason to exist.” This makes me laugh. And of course, post a comment.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

2014.10.02 — A Milestone, Secrets Like Gravity, and a Nice Little Fushigi*

Where to begin? At the beginning of course! But what if the beginning is outside the proper sequence of time? Hmmmm. So I will begin with the poem I wrote while I had a friend in mind. I submitted that poem to Amy King’s October Poetry Contest in Goodreads. It managed to receive an honourable mention.

Secrets Like Gravity

We carried secrets
That like stars their gravity
Have moved and bound us.

Their weight guides our paths
With such soft unseen fingers
That we are like breath.

The breath that finds skin
And caresses it even
As the stars watch us.

SMALL MILESTONE in a minor key in this Song of Life

My pair of blogs passed 60,000 page views today! :-) LOL! Sometimes it is the small things that bring to our faces a smile. And as a friend likes celebrate these things, Snoopy Dance!

Nice fushigi.
At the end of August my yoga instructor closed her studio. And, on my last day there, she calmly extended to me two yoga mats. “Give these to M.” And I took them, her statement seemed to not allow me to refuse even though I didn’t know M’s address, phone number or last name. I stuffed them in my car, and waited, confident that I would see her.

Friday last I went to see my chiropractor. He is in the process of correcting my posture and ease some discomfort in my neck. He was preparing for a day long seminar the following day, and after he gently helped me, said ‘Wait up. I’ll come with you. I need to get a cable for my projector for tomorrow.” He was going to the store downstairs, and so I waited for him.

In the lobby of the small mall, I grabbed my smart phone to call my wife before braving the pissing rain. As I’m talking I see M, who is carrying three boxes and some bags. It was obvious M was getting ready to walk home, so when I waived M to stop. And thus I came to relay to her her mats, and have the pleasure of driving her to her house instead of getting drenched. Such a small event, but oh so delightful.