Hard Is The Journey
Gold vessels of fine wines,
thousands a gallon,
Jade dishes of rare meats,
costing more thousands,
I lay my chopsticks down,
no more can banquet,
I draw my sword and stare
wildly about me:
Ice bars my way to cross
the Yellow River,
Snows from dark skies to climb
the T’ai-hang mountains!
At peace I drop a hook
into a brooklet,
At once I’m in a boat
but sailing sunward…
(Hard is the journey,
Hard is the journey,
So many turnings,
And now where am I?)
So when a breeze breaks waves,
bringing fair weather,
I set a cloud for sails,
cross the blue oceans!
– Li Po
So… here we are, on the edge of another decade, another dollar (or not as far as that dollar goes)… I started this post on New Years Eve, and have been playing around trying to make Word Press do some tricks to my liking. Anyway, I thought it time to publish the first Turfing of the new year.
I would like this issue to be at least a partial re-dedication to the original ideas that generated Turfing back when. My hat is off to Ibn, wherever he is now days, and to his prompting all those years ago. Ibn presented me with the opportunity, and graciously hosted Earthrites,org, and hosted the radio as well for quite a while. There has been some great helping hands over the years with Earthrites.org, Jim Clark, Doug Fraser, Morgan Miller, Will Penna, Mike Crowley, Ms Cymon, Diane Darling among others. My hats off to all of you who come back here, and gain something from it all. There is great joy in putting these entries together, and to have the site providing a service to the community.
I realized recently that my activities on FB and other aspects of the web have been severely denting my output on Turfing. I have been on the computer more and squandering my efforts in many ways, much to my dismay. I think that FB is a great tool, as long as you can walk away from it and not get submerged in it too deep. I am trying to bring my sense of focus back, and it is no easy task. (Can I say Dyslexia?) Anyhow, here we go… we may try some new directions, maybe a bit more politics of a new sort, maybe a bit more art and music. We do indeed need that kind of nourishment in our lives
Here is to a brilliant new year, with all kinds of interesting times ahead. Hold on, if ya thought the last 10 were quirky, because the next 10 will make the last 100 look tame in comparison. Heard it here first, yep.
Notes on the above Illustration: “Divine Sarah” I started this a few days back. Actually a whole slew of new art coming soon. “Divine Sarah” is a departure of sorts in my style over the last few years. It pays homage to Sarah Bernhardt of course, and to some of the pop art influences I have kept tucked away.
Stay Tuned, Stay True…
On The Menu:
Alan Watts Quotes
Sigur Rós – Svefn g englar
Extracts From: The Joyous Cosmology
Shih-te Daoist Poetry
Sigur Ros – Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa
<a href="A gift from Chaffyn, some amazing music from Peru…
<a href="A gift from Paul, detailing an interesting hominid divergence… were they more intelligent?
Fortean Tinged Links of 2009
Acacias Co-Evolved With Insects
“We identify in our experience a differentiation between what we do and what happens to us.”
“You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you.”
“Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.”
“So the bodhisattva saves all beings, not by preaching sermons to them, but by showing them that they are delivered, they are liberated, by the act of not being able to stop changing.”
“Saints need sinners.”
Sigur Rós – Svefn g englar
Extracts From: The Joyous Cosmology
– Alan W. Watts
T0 BEGIN WITH, this world has a different kind of time. It is the time of biological rhythm, not of the clock and all that goes with the clock. There is no hurry. Our sense of time is notoriously subjective and thus dependent upon the quality of our attention, whether of interest or boredom, and upon the alignment of our behavior in terms of routines, goals, and deadlines. Here the present is self-sufficient, but it is not a static present. It is a dancing present—the unfolding of a pattern which has no specific destination in the future but is simply its own point. It leaves and arrives simultaneously, and the seed is as much the goal as the flower. There is therefore time to perceive every detail of the movement with infinitely greater richness of articulation. Normally we do not so much look at things as overlook them. The eye sees types and classes—flower, leaf, rock, bird, fire—mental pictures of things rather than things, rough outlines filled with flat color, always a little dusty and dim.
But here the depth of light and structure in a bursting bud go on forever. There is time to see them, time for the whole intricacy of veins and capillaries to develop in consciousness, time to see down and down into the shape of greenness, which is not green at all, but a whole spectrum generalizing itself as green—purple, gold, the sunlit turquoise of the ocean, the intense luminescence of the emerald. I cannot decide where shape ends and color begins. The bud has opened and the fresh leaves fan out and curve back with a gesture which is unmistakably communicative but does not say anything except, “Thus!” And somehow that is quite satisfactory, even startlingly clear. The meaning is transparent in the same way that the color and the texture are transparent, with light which does not seem to fall upon surfaces from above but to be right inside the structure and color. Which is of course where it is, for light is an inseparable trinity of sun, object, and eye, and the chemistry of the leaf is its color, its light….
I am listening to the music of an organ. As leaves seemed to gesture, the organ seems quite literally to speak. There is no use of the vox humana stop, but every sound seems to issue from a vast human throat, moist with saliva. As, with the base pedals, the player moves slowly down the scale, the sounds seem to blow forth in immense, gooey spludges. As I listen more carefully, the spludges acquire texture—expanding circles of vibration finely and evenly toothed like combs, no longer moist and liquidinous like the living throat, but mechanically discontinuous. The sound disintegrates into the innumerable individual drrrits of vibration. Listening on, the gaps close, or perhaps each individual drrrit becomes in its turn a spludge. The liquid and the hard, the continuous and the discontinuous, the gooey and the prickly, seem to be transformations of each other, or to be different levels of magnification upon the same thing.
This theme recurs in a hundred different ways—the inseparable polarity of opposites, or the mutuality and reciprocity of all the possible contents of consciousness. It is easy to see theoretically that all perception is of contrasts—figure and ground, light and shadow, clear and vague, firm and weak. But normal attention seems to have difficulty in taking in both at once. Both sensuously and conceptually we seem to move serially from one to the other; we do not seem to be able to attend to the figure without relative unconsciousness of the ground. But in this new world the mutuality of things is quite clear at every level. The human face, for example, becomes clear in all its aspects—the total form together with each single hair and wrinkle. Faces become all ages at once, for characteristics that suggest age also suggest youth by implication; the bony structure suggesting the skull evokes instantly the newborn infant. The associative couplings of the brain seem to fire simultaneously instead of one at a time, projecting a view of life which may be terrifying in its ambiguity or joyous in its integrity….
Decision can be completely paralyzed by the sudden realization that there is no way of having good without evil, or that it is impossible to act upon reliable authority without choosing, from your own inexperience, to do so. If sanity implies madness and faith doubt, am I basically a psychotic pretending to be sane, a blithering terrified idiot who manages, temporarily, to put on an act of being self-possessed? I begin to see my whole life as a masterpiece of duplicity—the confused, helpless, hungry, and hideously sensitive little embryo at the root of me having learned, step by step, to comply, placate, bully, wheedle, flatter, bluff, and cheat my way into being taken for a person of competence and reliability. For when it really comes down to it, what do any of us know?
I try to go deeper, sinking thought and feeling down and down to their ultimate beginnings. What do I mean by loving myself? In what form do I know myself? Always, it seems, in the form of something other, something strange. The landscape I am watching is also a state of myself, of the neurons in my head. I feel the rock in my hand in terms of my own fingers. And nothing is stranger than my own body—the sensation of the pulse, the eye seen through a magnifying glass in the mirror, the shock of realizing that oneself is something in the external world. At root, there is simply no way of separating self from other, self-love from other-love. All knowledge of self is knowledge of other, and all knowledge of other knowledge of self. I begin to see that self and other, the familiar and the strange, the internal and the external, the predictable and the unpredictable imply each other. One is seek and the other is hide, and the more I become aware of their implying each other, the more I feel them to be one with each other. I become curiously affectionate and intimate with all that seemed alien. In the features of everything foreign, threatening, terrifying, incomprehensible, and remote I begin to recognize myself. Yet this is a “myself” which I seem to be remembering from long, long ago—not at all my empirical ego of yesterday, not my specious personality.
The “myself” which I am beginning to recognize, which I had forgotten but actually know better than anything else, goes far back beyond my childhood, beyond the time when adults confused me and tried to tell me that I was someone else; when, because they were bigger and stronger, they could terrify me with their imaginary fears and bewilder and outface me in the complicated game that I had not yet learned. (The sadism of the teacher explaining the game and yet having to prove his superiority in it.) Long before all that, long before I was an embryo in my mother’s womb, there looms the ever-so-familiar stranger, the everything not me, which I recognize, with a joy immeasurably more intense than a meeting of lovers separated by centuries, to be my original self. The good old sonofabitch who got me involved in this whole game.
At the same time everyone and everything around me takes on the feeling of having been there always, and then forgotten, and then remembered again. We are sitting in a garden surrounded in every direction by uncultivated hills, a garden of fuchsias and hummingbirds in a valley that leads down to the westernmost ocean, and where the gulls take refuge in storms. At some time in the middle of the twentieth century, upon an afternoon in the summer, we are sitting around a table on the terrace, eating dark homemade bread and drinking white wine. And yet we seem to have been there forever, for the people with me are no longer the humdrum and harassed little personalities with names, addresses, and social security numbers, the specifically dated mortals we are all pretending to be. They appear rather as immortal archetypes of themselves without, however, losing their humanity. It is just that their differing characters seem, like the priest’s voice, to contain all history; they are at once unique and eternal, men and women but also gods and goddesses. For now that we have time to look at each other we become timeless. The human form becomes immeasurably precious and, as if to symbolize this, the eyes become intelligent jewels, the hair spun gold, and the flesh translucent ivory. Between those who enter this world together there is also a love which is distinctly eucharistic, an acceptance of each other’s natures from the heights to the depths.
Ella, who planted the garden, is a beneficent Circe—sorceress, daughter of the moon, familiar of cats and snakes, herbalist and healer—with the youngest old face one has ever seen, exquisitely wrinkled, silver-black hair rippled like flames. Robert is a manifestation of Pan, but a Pan of bulls instead of the Pan of goats, with frizzled short hair tufted into blunt horns—a man all sweating muscle and body, incarnation of exuberant glee. Beryl, his wife, is a nymph who has stepped out of the forest, a mermaid of the land with swinging hair and a dancing body that seems to be naked even when clothed. It is her bread that we are eating, and it tastes like the Original Bread of which mother’s own bread was a bungled imitation. And then there is Mary, beloved in the usual, dusty world, but in this world an embodiment of light and gold, daughter of the sun, with eyes formed from the evening sky—a creature of all ages, baby, moppet, maid, matron, crone, and corpse, evoking love of all ages.
I try to find words that will suggest the numinous, mythological quality of these people. Yet at the same time they are as familiar as if I had known them for centuries, or rather, as if I were recognizing them again as lost friends whom I knew at the beginning of time, from a country begotten before all worlds. This is of course bound up with the recognition of my own most ancient identity, older by far than the blind squiggling of the Eenie-Weenie, as if the highest form that consciousness could take had somehow been present at the very beginning of things. All of us look at each other knowingly, for the feeling that we knew each other in that most distant past conceals something else—tacit, awesome, almost unmentionable—the realization that at the deep center of a time perpendicular to ordinary time we are, and always have been, one. We acknowledge the marvelously hidden plot, the master illusion, whereby we appear to be different.
The shock of recognition. In the form of everything most other, alien, and remote—the ever-receding galaxies, the mystery of death, the terrors of disease and madness, the foreign-feeling, gooseflesh world of sea monsters and spiders, the queasy labyrinth of my own insides—in all these forms I have crept up on myself and yelled “Boo!” I scare myself out of my wits, and, while out of my wits, cannot remember just how it happened. Ordinarily I am lost in a maze. I don’t know how I got here, for I have lost the thread and forgotten the intricately convoluted system of passages through which the game of hide-and-seek was pursued. (Was it the path I followed in growing the circuits of my brain?) But now the principle of the maze is clear. It is the device of something turning back upon itself so as to seem to be other, and the turns have been so many and so dizzyingly complex that I am quite bewildered. The principle is that all dualities and opposites are not disjoined but polar; they do not encounter and confront one another from afar; they exfoliate from a common center. Ordinary thinking conceals polarity and relativity because it employs terms, the terminals or ends, the poles, neglecting what lies between them. The difference of front and back, to be and not to be, hides their unity and mutuality.
Now consciousness, sense perception, is always a sensation of contrasts. It is a specialization in differences, in noticing, and nothing is definable, classifiable, or noticeable except by contrast with something else. But man does not live by consciousness alone, for the linear, step-by-step, contrast-by-contrast procedure of attention is quite inadequate for organizing anything so complex as a living body. The body itself has an “omniscience” which is unconscious, or superconscious, just because it deals with relation instead of contrast, with harmonies rather than discords. It “thinks” or organizes as a plant grows, not as a botanist describes its growth. This is why Shiva has ten arms, for he represents the dance of life, the omnipotence of being able to do innumerably many things at once….
Doesn’t anyone see
the turmoil in the Three Worlds
is due to endless delusion
once thoughts stop the mind becomes clear
nothing comes or goes neither birth nor death
Behold the glow of the moon
illumine the world’s four quarters
perfect light in perfect space
a radiance that purifies
people say it waxes and wanes
but I don’t see it fade
just like a magic pearl
it shines both night and day
I live in a place without limits
surrounded by effortless truth
sometimes I climb Nirvana Peak
or play in Sandalwood Temple
but most of the time I relax
and speak of neither profit nor fame
even if the sea became a mulberry grove
it wouldn’t mean much to me
We slip into Tientai caves,
We visit people unseen-
Eat magic mushrooms under the pines.
We talk about the past and present
And sigh at the world gone mad.
Everyone going to Hell
And going for a long time.
Up high the trail turns steep,
The towering pass stands sheer;
Stone Bridge is slick with moss.
Clouds keep flying past,
A cascade hangs like silk,
The Moon shines in the pool below.
I’m climbing Lotus Peak again,
To wait for that lone crane once more.
By and large the monks I meet
Love their wine and meat.
Instead of climbing straight to Heaven
They slip back down to Hell.
They chant a sutra or two
To fool the laymen in town,
Unaware the laymen in town
Are more perceptive than them.
People crowd in the dust,
Enjoying the pleasures of the dust.
I see them in the dust
And pity fills my heart.
Why do I pity their lot?
I think of their pain in the dust.
Take these mortal incarnations
These comical-looking forms
With faces like the silver moon
And hearts as black as pitch.
Cooking pigs and butchering sheep,
Bragging about the flavor,
Dying and going to Frozen-Tongue Hell
Before they stop telling lies.
Partial to pine cliffs and lonely trails,
An old man laughs at himself when he falters.
Even now after all these years,
Trusting the current ‘like an unmoored boat’.
A young man studied letters and arms
And rode off to the Capital,
Where he learned the Hsiung-nu had been vanquished;
And all he could do was wait.
So to kingfisher cliffs he retired,
And sits in the grass by a stream
While valiant men chase red cords
And monkeys ride clay oxen.
Sigur Ros – Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa