Monday, November 28, 2005
silver and copper
Every moment is a radiant moment of mind.
The doorbell ringing woke me up. It was a deliveryman, very happy, giving me a large heavy cardboard care package from family. I took it, half awake, signed the slip, thank you very much, set it down, and crawled back into bed. But I couldn’t go back to sleep. I stared into the space in front of my face. The morning sunlight flooding my bedroom kept telling me a secret "Don't go back to sleep. Something awaits you outside today. Don’t go back to sleep." So I got up, meditated. Opened the package, put on my new shoes and my new hat, brushed my teeth with my new electronic toothbrush (thanks fam!) and went for a bike ride. The air was cold and the sky was gray, but a nice gray, with soft light, everything appeared like a soft blanket, the distant mountains freckled with red and yellow patches, and colored fabric flapping everywhere. I love countries that don’t use dryers. All around clothes hang from houses and porches like thousands of colorful flags waving happily in the wind, and there is something about seeing human clothes hanging outside, like it is proof real people life in those houses. So, I biked to the mall to reserve my seat for Harry potter (they do assigned seating here. Very smart in my opinion.)
The details. I saw for the first time that stores are actually just very large display cases that people can actually walk around in. Japanese culture evolved to promote live advertising, another foreign idea (although, the tobacco industry does a version of this: hiring beautiful people to go smoke in bars and other public places.) But in Japan they have people outside the shops yelling “Welcome!” Over and over and over. “Irashaimase!” In the morning I often see a Japanese woman at the main intersection with a microphone calling out the politics. Every morning I hear a person reading out today’s news over an intercom system that runs throughout the city. Japan employs virtually everyone. A few workers at every connstruction site direct walkers and bikers to safety. Workers also stand and hold signs for restaurants along the popular roads. A convenient store could have 4 people just standing around cleaning. And, of course, teh people handing out fans and tissue packets.
But the differences that really catch me are when they take an American or western cultural artifact and reuse it in a way that is not convention in its culture of origin. For example, today at the mall I saw purses and hats and kids' pencil cases and folders with marijuana leaves, playboy bunnies (the cartoons and the human models), as well as hip bands like the sex pistols, nirvana, bob Marley, tool, boys 2 men, and radical symbols such as anarchy and stoned happy faces. All as hip modern American DESIGN. I saw a line of t-shirts and stylish clothes at a gap like store that all said, “Jesus always loves you.” And on the sleeves “Jesus loves.” I was thinking about how they can do something like that. And I thought about the motif of the dragon and the Buddha and words writing in Sanskrit and stuff that I ate up when I went to India and Japan for the first time. So, “Jesus always loves you” is a hip new slogan, from American culture (although, in the circles I run with, we don’t really use that slogan. I don’t think it really is very popular in America. It’s not hip. But Japanese people don’t know that. And if they found out what it meant, it wouldn’t matter. "Oh, cool. It’s an American religious saying. Cool." No idea. Its like when westerners whear a Shiva or a Krishna t-shit. All we know is that it is an important symbol from the exotic religion of another country. The Christian cross adorns half of the Japanese population’s necks, ears, and sometimes t-shirts. Again, I think it is like the Ohm or Celtic knot becoming popular in the states.
I hope none of this sounds like I am making fun of or bashing of Japanese culture. Im not. These are fascinating differences, in my mind. It makes me look at my own culture and its trends in a brand new light. Brand new light. A new pop song is pumped across the airwaves everywhere about once every two weeks. It expounds from convenience stores, public bath houses, school lunchtime, convenience stores, TV shows, video games, the same song pumped out to all those speakers…When the industry (including its consumers) decides that boys 2 men is going to be popular now, they make it happen. And nobody is there to stop it.
Of course, all at the mall, I see hundreds of human faces, each one encasing an entire world of dreams, fears, hopes, desires, regrets, and each one also encasing a sadness, a slowed, exhausted pace, a burden, or a fearful, phony bounce, and only sometimes, a genuine, happy laugh or smile, a release. But at the same time each and all reflecting the light of Spirit like a hundred jewels, buddhas and bodhisattvas walking around everywhere, each reading the endless novels of their lives. Each wishing to avoid suffering and find happiness. Each one just like me.
I am reading SES (sex, ecology, spirtuality) again (actually for the first time all the way through), and, you know, if Wilber’s model of the universe and evolution is correct (and I think it is) then WOOPEEE! God really is the Ground AND the Goal. And, even more exciting, this God is an all-embracing chaotic ATTRACTOR, acting throughout the world as a gentle persuasion toward love (even molecuels EMBRACE atoms). And, this god, our future, our omega, is pulling us like a magnet, like an oak tree pulling an acorn. And isn’t it so that an acorn’s DNA has oak written all over it? And all the seed can do is unfold into the tree that was its very foundation to begin with. Buddhism maintains that every single sentient being possesses Buddha Mind, and the goal of existence (Ultimate Liberation as Self-recognition) involves simply the realization of that all-pervading consciousness or condition. Zen says that every single blade of grass is a future Buddha. Watts reminds us that we all used to be rocks. Everyone is singing the same song! I also just learned that girls here use a special glue to keep their sox up. Unbelievable!
Kieran and I went to the rock river to read. I decided to wonder around and kept running into beautiful objects. Signs. Feathers glowing in golden light, an old baseball white like chalk, a porn card and cartoon, Crows and tracks and triangles and rainbow colored rocks, a dead coi, silver and copper and dark gray.
And how does all this relate to Omens and communication, beauty apprehension, art or expression and aesthetics. Please, come and enjoy these thoughts and discussions every week on David’s Blog. (In small chunks, of course). I know that many of you find these discussions boring and seemingly drug induced or college induced. And you would be right, to some extent. But more so these are religiously induced. And they all are secretly but not so secretly motivated by the impulse I think we all share to save the world and all beings from the torture and suffering induced by believing in there own nightmare or predicament. The nightmare of being alone with themselves. Or, to put it another way, I want to help. I want to benefit this world, my family. I want to use my precious human birth in a positive way, leaving this world a little more peaceful and happy than I found it. (Even if that means simply leaving my self a little more peaceful and happy than I found it. (And I think I found or met my self when was about three (or two, or one. i dont know. mom, you can help). Earliest memory of a self was lying down next to my red bunk-bed ladder, getting changed by my mom. (Strange insight into my own use of symbols and imagery that I just now thought of.
But before that, I can't really think of a beginning to my self. And so I guess I could conclude, or at least play with the possibility, that I have always been here, like a subtle mind stream that has continued from incarnation to incarnation, stinging lives together like beads on a necklace. My subtle soul is the string, the sutra. And reincarnation is true! Just for fun. And who have I been? Can I reach down inside myself and feel the same desires, dreams, hopes, and fears that my previous incarnations have had? Can I feel who I will be, or what the world will be like a hundred years after this body has dropped away? Can I imagine, just for fun, what it would mean to be stuck on this cycle of rebirth and confusion and suffering for as song as space endures? To go through the loosing of my friends and family, the horrible pain of leaving the ones I love, the brutal suffering of sicknes and death? Can I use this contemplation to aspire to be free from this ocean of lives, of forms, of the many things, and instead work to find my identity with the formless one behind the many? (while also knowinng that there is no path to the eternal present, my ultimate identity, adn thus can i profoulnnloy accept adn surrender to my current pradicament in an all embracing, compassionnate fashion? can i ballence the two, like that profound poem "God grant me teh serenity to accept the things i cannot change, teh courace to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Can I aspire to be a bodhisattva, free from the obsession with a seperate self, and open to the interpenetration of all beings? Can to be my own Ground and Goal, create my own future, while also recognizing i create my own present? Can i use this contemplation to, as the Dalai Lama said over and over again, trancend (or go beyond) the self-cherishing, life-cherrishing, samsa-cherrishing additude that keeps me locked into my own seperte self and its suffering, while also keeping me locked out of genuine altruistic intention and compassion? Can i use this to also develope compassion for my own life and self, the one stuck in the cycle of suffering and rebirth and confusion and mindlessness, AND THEN extend that compassion to all other beings caught in the cycle, develope as a deep mutual understanding, and a deep desire that they too be free from this cycle of birth, old age, sickness, and death? " (remember, this stems from the contemplation of reincanation.) lets not get off topic!
My sister wanted me to ask you all to say barbershop, water bottle, drawer, and soccer, and take a moment to consider that these words sound absolutely ridiculous. One thing that has become glaringly obvious since I moved here is that our language, American English, sounds very funny. (In comparison to Australian and European English). GO ahead. say barbershop three times.
Posted by David at 5:27 AM
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