T.S. Eliot lamented in his poem, "The Hollow Men",
"This is the way the world ends not with a bang but with a whimper."
Perhaps, if he was alive today Eliot may change his mind and say that the world as we know it may end both ways. Indeed with nature's cataclysmic bangs and shakes of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, cyclones and tornados, as well as vast mountains of ice melting and raising the levels of the oceans on both ends of our blue green world, our small concerns seem pithy. Parts of our home planet experience devastating flooding, elsewhere years of drought.
As a simpering, whining species fuelled by an us vs them attitude we wreak havoc on our natural resources and the lives of others and deny that it is happening. The rich behave both wastefully and at the same time believe they don't have enough as they get bigger and wealthier on the backs of others. The middle class and the poor, suffer and struggle for mere survival as slaves to a greedy marketplace, be it for electronics, fashion or sex. We are all sold a bill of goods that states more stuff will make us happier. In our hearts, we know it's not true. We've lost the ability to listen and see what is so even though it is right before our very eyes.
We complain, "no fair"; we are adamant that it's "not my fault", we point our fingers at others' beliefs, religious, social, sexual preferences and blame them for contaminating "my" belief system. We ludicrously believe that the colour of someone's skin somehow makes them less than and they should be treated inhumanely. In some places, with less respect and care then we would give our cherished pets. It doesn't stop there, elsewhere, species that are not humans are treated as if they too were a belonging to be used, abused and discarded at our own whims. Our patriarchal, mechanistic view of the world continues to devalue women and children as possessions. We treat the temple of the body as a garbage dump and neglect to nourish the mind and soul.
In all these years on this beautiful planet with all we need for everyone to live a quality and fulfilling life we squander, destroy and bicker. Nature is the great leveller, the catastrophes of the world are a
call for compassion and a dropping of our differences in support of a way we can be there for one another; to witness the loss and suffering of others and to offer a hand to those whose survival is hinged on the kindness and goodness of us all. It is a call to stop dumping our garbage, to stop destroying and wasting our natural resources, including the disregard for countless species.
Is it too late? Will we wake up and realize that our lives have always depended on the health of our Mother. Or will this chain of cataclysmic events simply burp us off Mother Earth so she can begin the next cycle without the behaviour of us human parasites.
Who takes the lead when we waltz with wisdom? Is it the brain or is it the heart? Does wisdom come at a cost? The price of innocence lost. Defining wisdom is difficult. Difficult because wisdom cannot be worded, truly. Yes, we are a world that loves words of wisdom, quotes from the wise. Quotes cannot confer wisdom, quotes can only act as pointers. Words of wisdom are often just words upon the ear that knows all. Yet at times wise words can open hearts, stop time, awaken to true self. We speak/quote wise words but it is in the deeds that wisdom is expressed. These deeds are nourished by humility, a longing to serve others and in the "knowing" that each life has its place.
Difficult or near impossible to define, people generally recognize wisdom when they encounter it. Some of the attributes of wisdom may be tolerance in the uncertainties of life, introspection, a sense of balance and calmness in facing difficulties. From a space of wisdom, we offer spaciousness to others, forgiveness to self and others; wisdom awakens us to the preciousness of this very moment, this very breath.
How is wisdom different then knowledge? Thinking cannot make it so; wisdom is not an attainment of knowledge. Nor intelligence gained by study or research. It can not be found in books or on the computer. It is not an achievement. Perhaps it can not even be in response to time although aging and its experiences may be fertile grounds for wisdom.
It is only in the experience of living and of learning from life's lessons that true wisdom is embodied. Wisdom is fluid, adaptable. This is the essence of wisdom.
What have I learned? We can aspire to wisdom with an open and true heart, a kind and loving nature, and the humility in waking up to all that is. This.
With these words, I fall short of explaining that which can not be worded.
And then over and over and over again in this moment
I am gifted with this breath
This fragrance so subtly sweet
This (sound) of (bird)
This ray of sunshine rising over the hill setting over the field
This terrible news
This shoulder to lean on
This I love you in the ear
This thought of how could I make up anything greater then this already...
There's a fool born every minute. Thus we all have the potential to play the fool. Be it the trickster fool who tricks and teases in a harmless way or the malevolent trickster who means to guide us astray by tomfoolery. Or as an archetype, the shadow side of the fool has a bright side. One of waking us up to alternatives to the same-old-same.
The fool imparts wisdom with social satire and shows us that we don't always have to take the narrow, culturally/socially/politically defined path. Fools may think out of the box and at the same time mock those who are boxed in by tradition. "Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes just the same." The Fool On The Hill looks down, not necessarily on us, but above us with compassion that we have been mesmerized into believing that the socially accepted ways are the only way.
The jester jests us with gestures of freedom. We can shake off the cloak of illusion and choose to live in a way of kindness and harmony with all beings.
Time, perhaps, to briefly review why this blog is called "The Pigasus Project".
Pigasus Born May 21, 2011 Died May 30, 2011 "She Hung Around A Short While"
Annually, in May, we, at Zenwest, offer to the public, adults and children alike, a celebration of Buddha's birthday. Fun for the whole family, it features story telling by our Abbot Eshu Oshu on the birth of the historical Buddha, a chanting ceremony which involves pouring tea over the baby Buddha statue, music, baked treats and, for the kids, a piñata. (Check on-line at Zenwest.ca if you want to find out more about this event.) In 2011, I was assigned the art project of creating the piñata and thus, the idea of Pigasus was born. Nobody liked the concept of filling it with assorted veggies wrapped in colourful tinfoil, toothbrushes, dental floss and the like. So candy it was. The tradition of wacking a piñata seems a wee bit brutal. "I will beat you until you give me sweetness." But, perhaps, it's a metaphor for the transient nature of all things. As surely as Pigasus was to be born from newsprint, glue, paint and goodies so to was Pigasus to perish. The Pigasus Project grew larger for me as I began to see it more as a symbol of our existence, in a punny way, as the Pig-As-Us. Since I more often play with words then I do art supplies, The Pigasus Project Blog was birthed. The blog limps along, some times fully engaged, other times in a kind of hibernation. Pigasus herself, created, birthed and lovingly annihilated in a very short span became the impetus of the story of an on-going inward journey and exploration. We are all the pig, not to denigrate the innate intelligence of the sometimes pink mammal, but our behaviour is often piggy. We seem to live in a culture where more is best, more stuff, more ideas, more thoughts. We struggle with letting go while clinging to that which we believe to be "good"; we also are adverse, push away that which we label as bad. That too can be stuff, ideas, thoughts, beliefs, people. You name it, we often make relationship in one of two ways craving (clinging) and aversion. Take me for example, I seem to suffer from a narrative that is infused with struggling with depression and anxiety (which I want to push away) or feeling connected, peaceful, at one (which I would love to embrace forever). Sometimes I am balanced, other times, I am not. This journey of making relationship is often in a state of flux. After all, every thing comes and every thing goes. Both simple and also not so simple, it is cultivating an understanding from experience of the impermanence of ALL things. How do we do this? Look around. Be present. On the grander scale, all planets, all universes, all galaxies are born and die, all civilizations rise and fall, some ideas take root and flourish and then falter and disappear or become the compost for other ideas. All beings become form, live and then eventually die and nourish, in many senses of the word, the next generation of the living. So it goes. It is inarguable. The proof is right before our very eyes. Indeed we are the very "Eyes Of The World".
Thinking. Thinking. Thinking about this dance we have with perfection in our culture. Seems to me we put a lot of stock into doing things perfectly. It could be anything. I have always thought that just because I don't know something it only means one thing, I don't know. It doesn't make one less than, in any sense of the word, by level of intelligence, by understanding of cultural differences, by manners, by you-name-it any kind of skill.
Perfection thinly disguises the mores of a shame based culture. We all make mistakes. With compassion for each other and self, in every mistake there lingers the possibility to manifest something greater. Each mistake offers the chance of choice and change.
The "holy grail" of perfection is wholly unattainable. Any master will tell you there is always the opportunity to sink deeper into a learning, to experience from a different perspective. Freshness of experience and understanding comes from the "beginner's mind" not from the mind of know-it-all.
I will never forget a time, in my late teens, I, as many teens not only felt a sense of invincibility but we also believed we knew everything (especially more then our parents). Whenever, my papa would offer me a thought or a different perspective my stock answer was, "I know." Finally, one day he said that if I continued to say I know to everything that was presented, people would stop sharing new things with me. This stopped me mid-sentence; how true this simple observation. I still struggle with those two little words that can shut down true understanding. Now, more frequently, I am inclined to say nothing. Now I believe that the more I think I know the less I know I know.
I think the pleasure is in the practice. When I find the joy in the discovery of new interests and skills, I am inclined to continue to explore. This place of "beginner's mind" is in the present moment, in the reward of an ever evolving engagement with curiosity. Perhaps, this is "the investigation of the fundamental nature of self."
I struggle. I suffer. I suffer with struggling. I struggle with suffering.
And then I look up in the night the brighter stars are popping out, a crescent moon floats like a cradle. This vastness and here I am, small and insignificant suffering with I don't really know what. It's not a sense of doom, a knowing of mortality.
I suspect as a sensitive individual awash in a sea of suffering, I am many times swept under by the current. I bob up, gasp for a deep calming breath.
I affirm this over and over, that at this moment all is okay. The past has passed; the future never comes. The only moment is this one, here now. But knowing and deep, down in the gut, in the core of being "knowing" are very different. The getting there is never going to happen. It's the being here with whatever is is the practice. And, it IS a practice.
Invite the "I" to take a backseat sometimes, be gentle with self, laugh at self, be okay with what is because after all that is what is. (Be okay with how many times the word "is" is used in a sentence.)
...and maybe, just maybe, I may offer and accept service to others. After all, we are all in this together.
Well, here it is. Time has passed since I last blogged. Can't say I haven't been thinking about it. A lot. Somehow, writing notes, half completing posts but never finishing. As if there ever is a finishing line.
Everything so transitional. What is written! What my thoughts are about what is written! And perhaps underneath it all, this sense that it isn't good enough, that the words don't really say what is in my heart. Sometimes the writing is hard words that are trying to convey a sadness, a disappointment, a why haven't we learned to be kinder, more loving to one another. (How can I write softer words to convey horrors?)
We all have experienced loneliness, a feeling of alienation, perhaps even a sense of purposelessness. We may wallow in self pity. Then, at other times, puff up in a righteous, egoic entitlement. This is the course of life, this and that and then the other. If it can be felt, we as humans can feel it. If it can be worded, we word it. If it can be done, we do it. If it can be thought, we think of it.
What is the meaning of all this? Perhaps, as I have written in past, life itself is the meaning of life. The game of life wobbles between what we define as success and what we define as failure. The definition becomes more important than the experience. The "reward" becomes the thing. When we hold that reward it becomes pale and unsubstantial. When we breathe our last breath,as far as I know, no one has wished for more stuff. But we don't live our lives this way. I think of the word wisdom as comprised of two words, wise-dumb. We become wiser because of our mistakes, because we have fallen down and picked ourselves up again.
It is the rambling that, upon looking back, shows us that the way is not straight and narrow. And although many, many things happen in our lives that seem unfair and unjust. Ultimately, we do have the choice of how to respond.