Heart of Things (in process)

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“Time flows from present to past.” 
– Shunryu Suzuki

Amidst a conversation recently, I quietly noticed something that had happened. For several years my orientation had been focused on carving out more and more space and time away from my (older: 23,19,16 years now) children. It just seemed so obvious that what was necessary at that time, was learning to situate myself in a wider awareness, and that the resources and then opportunities to that end that had appeared were not to be taken for granted. I studied voraciously, learned to meditate, sincerely attended to teachings to the utmost extent of capacity, began yoga. I still mothered, but changed the way I did so, including myself in the pictures more.

I took harsh criticisms and experienced a lot of resistance for this. I had been struggling without success to communicate and re-frame what was going on with all of us as family dynamics deteriorated, and although I didn’t exactly begin contemplative study and practice as a solution to the problem of being unheard, my stubbornness to continue might not have been as strong if I had been. There was traction and intensity about my quest and sense of calling because the need was so painfully obvious. It was a wise investment of time to “turn the light inward” – known only in retrospect.

A friend who left her second bad marriage went on a “3rd glass of wine unedited expression” about how difficult it was to make that decision when not seeing out, and how she sometimes imagines how different her life might have been if she had stayed, how cramped basically, small-minded. It is so much easier on the other side, when the danger of a situation has passed, to cheer oneself on. But we usually have some strong inkling to latch on to.

There was another shift, just a few years ago, and similar. This one was unwelcome, accompanying physical weakness and increased obligations. Not only could I not I read the same amount that I’d been reading before, nor write with the same prolific tendencies, but I also didn’t want to. Instead, I wanted to experience the world with my hands, the way I’d been experiencing writings… come down from the mountain I’d made too comfortable. There was an obvious external reason, that I no longer was living with someone who had drained energies, but also there was a fruition that I didn’t recognize fully. It felt as though my contemplative life was being stripped down just as I should be able to even more fully dive into it.

So you see, it isn’t that I gave up the desire to get to the heart of things. But it has taken this long to see that “high practice” has become very alive and sensually satisfying in the mundane and micro-mundane over this time. The river just turned, finding other patterns of rocks and boulders to flow around and crash upon.

This is what I realized only by taking a backwards view and considering the shape of the journey… that the dynamics of family can be as or more conducive to practice as a monastery life might have been.

Borderline

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When a friend with Muscular Dystrophy described the way in which the debilitating disease stole his conventional life and replaced it with another in which his time was freed up to paint and study, in his case, philosophy, I didn’t know what to say. That he could mostly see his limitations within the context of what they gave to him rather than what they took away, was of course inspiring as I was struggling to accept my own. However, I didn’t want to give up the struggle against my seeming limitations entirely… didn’t want to believe in them. Especially with borderline diagnoses and shifting symptoms, I’ve never been able to entirely trust the situation in one way or another, which gives me room to imagine a complete recovery. That hope is painful when ill, but a gift otherwise.

There is also the matter of time in between, and the feeling of obligation and confusion about what to do with that meantime – what might be worthy or possible, how far I might be able to sprint before the next pause. We’re all carrying a covered box of time and energy, but for those who deal with illness, the uncertainty is always before our eyes as we negotiate with ourselves and others, bargain for chances and understanding.

Binge-watching Korean dramas over the last few years has been good therapy for both illness and broken heart, but not exactly justifiable financially. Also, the interest passes. Tending more to food and nesting for these last few years while kids are home has been valuable, but also not something weighty on a resume. And I really miss full time work, not at home but in a community, however large or small.

An intense restlessness has gripped me over the last few weeks, and I’m trying to embrace it, knowing that it is the effect of feeling much healthier than I have over the last few years. I knew when the illness was active in my system before it showed up on tests, and I know now that it has probably subsided. I’ve napped once or twice in the last eight weeks, as compared with almost daily naps for 2 years before that, and my being able to write these long posts without headaches, as well as engage more fully with other work and enjoyments, speaks for itself.

I have a tendency to get a bit cocky when energies return, and a trip to the beach a few days ago was probably not the wisest choice. To balance the instinct to take the world while I can, with the prescription to ease into things slowly is an economics only people with these kinds challenges can understand. Risk failure for one more chance? Enroll in school, at this age? How to decide…

That’s the reason it is worth writing about, to be a mirror and friend to myself.

“Fighting!”

Swan’s Way

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No, this post will not be Proustian. It may even be offensive to Proustians for me to invent (?) words like Proustian, and title my post Swan’s Way. If so, I might remind that this page is on the Internet, which is full of offensive things. Surely it is not at the top of things one could find upsettable, with a little more effort.

My intention is actually to write about a guru/spiritual teacher whose last name happens to be Swan, and to help myself articulate what it is about her that I’m drawn to, even while not focusing on most of the things that hook others (in positive and negative ways), like her stories of ritual abuse or her declarations of clairvoyance/clairaudience. For me, perhaps because of my Buddhist inclinations, those things seem side-issues, or to belong to a particular genre, rather than being what is truly interesting about her way of teaching. Let’s call it grittiness, and scrappiness, and willingness to follow through with lines of inquiry and imagination that most I’ve encountered would stop short of. She reminds me of Madonna, or of some aspects of Trungpa Rinpoche, not being pinned to cliche’s and not avoiding risk. Though in her case (unlike Madonna) I think she is not especially looking for it. Are her stories true? To her, they seem to be.

I’m generally a fan of controversial or women. Yoko Ono, Monica Lewinsky, Mary Magdalene…  even Mother Teresa created a scandal posthumously, leaving letters in which she questioned the existence of God, or at least her belief in such. And for better or worse, my closest female friendships have been with women that others regarded as “messy” in the way they lived their lives. There are shadow reasons for this, or maybe I should say previous shadow reasons since now they’ve come to light, which center around experiences I had with family scandals, and people’s responses to that, during my formative teen years.

If I knew nothing else, I knew how unfair society could be, how alone and supportless one could find them self, and how much people like to inflate their egos through gossip. The most seemingly caring and upright people sometimes feed their image of being upright and caring by gossip disguised as prayer or concern. And when one experiences this, it is impossible to ignore. One never goes back to wanting to be like them or to ‘fit in.’ In my case, I developed contradictory mechanisms to cope with the deep, inherited shame I found impossible to carry. I went from extreme rebellion to extreme restraint looking for some kind of absolute redemption beyond the vision of those around me.

Perhaps because I knew how hard I worked to be authentic and healthy and “good”, and how fruitless it had been to try to bury all the aspects of myself I knew others wouldn’t understand, I came to deeply appreciate and admire those who are unapologetic about their journeys, either by choice or demand.

There were two main posts that endeared me to this teacher: one in which she described her protectiveness of being attractive, and insecurities that appeared in a recurring situation that she found herself hiding from at times; and the other a blog post about faith that appeared today, which I didn’t even read all of, just enough to hear the questionings I think we have in common about privacy versus authenticity.

I’ve often quoted Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird:
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

I love the quote, yet it is not how I live. Nor what I actually believe. It is not always unburdening to speak one’s truth, and not always ethical in the highest sense to expose another person, unless it truly seems that without exposure another is in danger in some way. The person you might be exposing may not be the same person that existed back then, and likely they were not even even slightly as aware as the quote implies.

Danger may include, however, other selves at other times, like an artistic self that might be blocked with integrating and incorporating aspects of their experience and emotion into their work. Or a parenting self who is closed off from experiences with their child, or reacting to previous abuses. Mainly, although I feel that choosing not to include others’ stories in one’s expression shouldn’t be about making a deal for safe and comfortable passage, or about mere convenience, but rather Do No Harm, the ends of the question remain open. The answer presents itself differently in every written line.

I’ve left out many stories in the memoir-like writing on this blog, just as many stories of my life I’ve not shared with my children. I can’t tell from this side of the equation whether the price I pay to do so comes from a place of fear or from generosity; calculations break down. I consider what seems right for now, but can’t know that to be true.

Without TS’s basic way of raw and open shadow work, she would be just another self-help writer, but she earns my attention because she doesn’t ask for more than she gives in the way of putting herself on the line. It isn’t about buying into everything or even anything she shares as her experiences for myself, but appreciating her Work as it expresses in both whimsical and logical ways, and personally relating to that openness. I think she is a post-guru guru, refusing and also playing with the pedestal that implies.

So how is this about faith? I wrote in another post that integration seems impossible without a loss of faith which washes away pretense and one’s “trip” to use a Trungpa term. Loss of faith is disorienting, especially when one is also expected to maintain a high and clear confidence enough to ‘teach.’ What she wrote today was along the same lines, no choice but to admit to loss of faith while still moving forward.

On another occasion she wrote about the difference between top-down and bottom-up spirituality, and what she perceives as a calling to match the two. It seems like the same question to me, but of course, what I have is just an impression of the person and interest in her journey as her journey.

K-Drama List: Part 2 (post in progress) Always Spoilers

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BBMy Beautiful Bride
– My WOW of the year. Intense and well restrained, gruesome yet subtle too. A love story that permeates everything while staying in the background. This show is the main reason I wanted to write this follow up Drama List post to, even if only slightly, channel my enthusiasm for Kim Moo-Yul and the way his containment is such an unlikely yet perfect vehicle for this character’s deep devotional passion.

BB2
A few episodes in a row of kidnapping and near death for Bank Guy did get tedious midway, but I was still on the edge of my seat, and circling the computer like a shark when it was time for the next episode to appear. My favorite song of the year so far as well, Days and Moons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tsp0yXzwbQ

Warm and Cozy – Refreshing elements that came together flatly. Was curious to see what the writers would do with the diving women string, since they’ve become famous around the world due to various articles, and perhaps if that had been the main story it would have been better. Kang So Ra’s character was endearing and it wasn’t that the two leads didn’t have interesting dynamics, but pacing was terribly off for long stretches. I even liked the music and most of the characters individually. Just, no ride to it at all.

Three Musketeers Quick, and fun to keep track of twists and turns. Lead from Nine Times Time Travel. Awry at end, but OK.

Producers – Really liked and sometimes loved. Appreciated the experimental format, the quirky filming, and the off the charts acting skills of Kim Soo Hyun. Excellent balance of older and younger characters and wide-ish spectrum of appropriate concerns and emotions.

Orange Marmalade – Started out well then fell off a cliff. They saved it by going back to previous lives in the Joseon era, then blending modern and memory. I liked it more than most reviewers seemed to, was happy with the way it came together at the end. Sweet acceptance story.

Spy – Beautiful JaeJoong or I might not have watched. Skipped forward a lot. Typical spy drama made more interesting by involving a mom and son dynamic, but nothing to recommend.

I Need Romance (2011) – Tries too hard, but often lives up to its steamy description. Steamy is rare in drama land, usually a total 20 minutes of the average 16 hours. :)

I Need Romance (2012)Very good. Ending a bit blah though. A lot of dramas seem to lose rhythm in the end, perhaps because they are usually written week to week and the juice from anticipation might weaken as teams begin to think about their next projects.

Falling in Love with Soon Jung – Just such a good love affair, with sensitive lead actor able to deliver complex emotion. The plot was not especially tedious even though there was a too-typical battle for the company, an obligatory murder mystery, a rescue from hit-by-a-truck scene, and nose bleeds.

Mask – Cra cra. Great! So intense, pushing the fiction to limits, and fun to watch. Love the central romance but another where a fewer episodes might have made for a stronger hook in to the whole story.

What’s Up Fox – Writer from Valid Love and My Lovely Kim Sam Sam Soon. Racy content and quite enjoyable. Enjoyed the lead actor’s intensity and some break out moments.

High Society – Boring, even with Sung Joon. The quick leap in attachment from the female lead lost me within just a few episodes, and although there were some noteworthy aspects to the characters’ motivations as written, there was almost no feeling. What Korean dramas are best at is tapping into emotions, evoking happiness or tears, suspenseful angst. Without that, the rest of the components don’t work.

Flowers for my Life – Slow and dated, but warm, with an interesting premise. Funeral home backdrop, so a few similar themes to Departures, but more drawn out. I thought too much so. I wouldn’t give it the 10/10 rating that’s given on Dramabeans because it lacked true non-self-conscious ‘up’ moments.

MLED2My Love Eun Dong – The only drama this year that can stand confidently next to My Beautiful Bride, although Heard it Through the Grapevine and Unkind Women were both excellent.

It is just that My Love Eun Dong was torturously, knife-to-the-heart good. Deeply romantic, very well acted. Ju Jin-Mo got under my skin and stayed there. Half of the drama took place in his expressions, with one moment (when she is making breakfast in his kitchen) even rivaling that of a most touching Sense and Sensibility scene mentioned in other posts. There were elements that detracted, but I was able to single out the romance as core impression.
MLED5 A story with the conflicted and layered dilemmas and emotions of an affair, without one. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

9th End and Two Outs – Started, stalled, and came back able to realize that this is what The Time I Loved You was supposed to be, a more modern telling of a warmhearted friend-turns-romance tale. Easy to watch and enjoy, though not immersive. Some dramas are better for multitasking than others.

You’re the Best, Lee Soo Shin – Enjoyed. Not especially memorable but did like the central romance and characters, also the string of the entertainment company work. Her name is a reference to the military general who designed the famous Korean turtle ship – clever.

The Time I Loved You – Nothing happens. Just pretty figures moving around like a screen saver. Similar sense of disappointment to Warm and Cozy but at least Warm and Cozy sprinkled fantastic individual scenes throughout.

Warrior King Baek Dong Soo – Excellent. The first episode was a little intense, but quickly found course with deeply sentimental, fleshed out characters. Ji Chang Wook is fun to watch and twinkly.

Oh My Ghostess (in progress) – Love the ghost actress – even the sight of her makes me smile, also the main romantic lead. Wonderful. ghostess
I was a little conflicted, because until right at the end I couldn’t see how they would resolve heartbreak caused by misdirected affections, or the consent issues. I found it hard to commit and go with the story entirely, but kept watching because the romance was terribly cute and sexy at the same time, which is not the easiest balance.

Trot Lovers – Surprisingly cute and funny. Completely loved Shin Sung Roc playing a funny rather than villainous role.

Heartless City – Writer from My Beautiful Bride, lead actor from Falling in Love with Sung Joon. Excellent. This writer has made me take back my words that I don’t care for police and gangster dramas.

IOY2
I Order You –
Was light and easy and then suddenly became an angst ball. Still, the food was presented sooooooo lovingly.

Little dream boxes:
IOY

Tomorrow’s Cantable – Charming, and got better and better in terms of the life lessons and camaraderie of characters. Enjoyed, but not because it was absorbing – precisely for the opposite reason, that I could relax and listen to wonderful music that they didn’t give just scenes and snippets of, but long pieces. Also because there were older characters to balance out the young vibe at the center.

gakistalGakistal (Bridal Mask) – It took me a long time to watch this one. On my list for a few years, I kept beginning and stopping. The first few episodes I found choppy and a bit cheesy, with special effects that seemed out of place, but I couldn’t ignore the excellent ratings and repeated mention of the drama on the forums. As I write this, I am 19 episodes in and completely understand. It takes an amazing writer to tie even strings from battle scenes together, and this one does. It is weighty subject matter, with tastes of V from Vendetta, bombings, and too many torture scenes, but excellent acting, especially from the main second lead/villain. The drama is set in the 30s, which is a particularly turbulent time and rich territory that they explore bravely.

RE-WATCH: My Lovely Kim Sam Soon – I was wrong about this drama before. What this writer gets better than anyone else, is how complex and overlapping adult love can be… how it rarely ends or begins in neat and sensible ways… how love for one doesn’t prevent love for another… and why such choices are heart-wrenching. Some try not to choose. Maybe for others it is clear cut and they never come to impossible crossroads. I can’t relate to them, though.

I was very bothered when first viewing of this drama, by the continual references to Sam Soon’s weight as being chubby or fat or plump, because I see a woman who is tall and fit, and not 22 years old but 30. What happened in this viewing however is that I was able to immerse more in her character as she is written and in her particular context, which is that of Korea, not America or Europe. And in that context it fit her character and those around her, and it fits the drama world, that she is not the norm nor is beauty what is supposed to make her special.
A scene in which a character is slapped still upset me.

Who Are We Thinking To? (post in progress)

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Just finished going over follow up notes to a discussion I instigated, called “Who are you thinking to?” I had no expectations that anyone would find the question as important, in a contemplative sense, as I do, so it was refreshing when it led into a few weeks’ exploration by some, rather than brief consideration.

My question is about the voices “in your head” – or rather, beings in our mind that we imagine speaking to before we utter, and the agenda-ed selves that we formulate in order to do so. About more than the audience we learn about in writing or performance classes, it is about the directedness of the way in which we operate, mostly under the illusion that only we ourselves are aware of it, when we are.

There seems to be a rehearsal space where we imagine what we are about to say when with another person, based on our imaginations and calculations of how they hear, what they wish to know/we wish for them to know, and what we perceive them as needing to know.

Sometimes, a range that comes up without intention at all: we somehow tap into an openness that exists in the other or as a combination of they with we – a freer range or wider capacity.

In a group, one or a few people might hold the gravity: a conversation space bends and anchors toward them, as when “the boss” is present, or famous person, or a reactionary (eggshells/elephant in the room). Sensitizing to this kind of dynamic has implications with regard to equality – what women mean when they cite patriarchy as a given in certain environments – but is not what I’m specifically addressing.

The thing to notice for contemplation, is that there is an underlying effort going on, and that dropping that effort is the basic practice. Noticing that effort being made by default, is often all it takes to let go. Then there might arise the taste of deeper relaxation, the release of situatedness, the suspension of personality and orientation.

Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

The question posited isn’t navel-gazing. It is incredibly practical when considering marital difficulties or matters that crops up with children or in close friendships.

“Who am I (really) speaking to?”
“Who am I (actually) with right now?”
“What or who am I defending against?”
“Where am I right now?”

It took a while to understand that present circumstances were almost never the source of tension in my marriage. Intense reactions to parents or siblings from situations years before would suddenly come forward instead of responses to situations or persons at hand, and I would quickly run out of compassion, believing the dynamic to be obvious and willful. My responses and counter-responses were different, mostly about space and withdrawal, but they were rooted in similar patterns. We both had developed severe and manipulative coping devices that weren’t easy to set down. Common story unfortunately – maybe universal.

Eckhart Tolle calls this the pain body. One might say that the pain body is situated to a different time and place, anchored in a mirage.

When the children were little, we moved from an elegant townhouse to a large and revoltingly neglected house “full of potential.” It was meant to be a temporary move to bridge a gap in affording the houses we had been looking at – a project a love that symbolized our rising to challenges. But it became a testing ground for our communication skills and awareness of one anther that would ultimately push us beyond limits.

Now at a distance, I can see that an entire life might become oriented this way or that, directed toward people who may not even be around anymore, or situations that left strong traces.

The house had a large mirrored wall, something popular in the 80s which magnified the ugliness of the floor tile and made every sound unpleasant. Whenever discussions would take place at the dinner table or anywhere near this mirrored wall, people would watch themselves making their cases, especially the children who were less aware of others watching them watch the mirror. It was a powerful and altering presence with a great magnetism that oriented the conversation away from those at hand. One might call it a selfie effect.

My belief is that we each have figures who occupy this sort of privileged place in us, that model/shape our mind’s orientation. As we become conscious of the dynamic we are able to question it, and deviate from it more and more, make more space for new influences and ideas and “universes that come into being, that didn’t exist before we encountered another…”

Also another logical reason for deity practice.

Deity Practices

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Padmasambhava (central figure above) has come to mind a lot lately, even though I have not been practicing deity ritual. For the last year or so I’ve kept up some habits and attended some classes or events, but have not set out to learn anything nor to be a Buddhist. If asked why, I would probably say it has been a time of integration, but on another day would admit to a loss of faith. Both are true. It seems obvious that integration is only possible with that context… when contrivances make way and what remains is allowed to come clear. Loss of faith and surrender to what is can be very similar.

Encountering the ornate, iconographic images of Tibetan thankas was not comfortable at first. Western ideas of religious worship tainted my projections of why the images were made and the roles they played in a culture. So I took a scholarly approach to satisfy my curiosity by reading about figures and history, learning basic happenings of the stories.

However, until my curiosity grew enough to begin Vajrasattva mantras and practices (generally the first introduction for new students) myself, there remained a strong inner/outer barrier. Sometimes I was outside looking into an other-world, and sometimes I was trapped inside my own other-world looking out. One side was always abandoned. It is only in retrospect that I perceive patterns that changed once Padmasambhava became real for me: once he was a person whose voice I could hear, whose laughter and mischief I could share in – once he was not only a teacher in an ancient time but also as intimate friend.

I think there is healthy logic to picking up something like a deity practice, even in our time, even for a non-religious person. When making a friend or coming to relate to a teacher on a personal level, we immerse in their view and qualities, know their ways. “In him we live and move and have our being” the disciple says of Jesus. Virtuous qualities become alive and begin to act out. Embodiment rather than knowing ‘about’.

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Anais Nin

cultivating ways of retreat

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Attempting to plan an online retreat. It is a strange undertaking, and impossible to measure the success of because individual experiences are mutually witnessed, but mostly reduced to what is consciously shared. Not that it isn’t the same in other kinds of retreats, but there are fewer ways and places to hide then.

I work within these limitations because I need to – not because I believe them equal to face to face retreats. I’m of the Try and the Tinker school. Online retreats can be a good fit for persons who are disabled or hindered by high social or financial barriers, so in that sense, worth honing, but fall as short as a choice as did “homeschooling support groups” when we tried those many moons ago. You can never be too neutral or free-flowing for some, and you can never be too structured and ritualistic for others. In essence, you always fail, and that is part of the practice.

My main preparation is to first tend to my own field of awareness – first spend time with quiet and questions that come up within intentional space. Questions can be a miracle when the timing is right, reaching both the coarse and subtle layers in the field. Nothing is too silly to ask, from the mundane “What would you do if money were no obstacle?” to more meditation-oriented questions like “What are the emotional and relationship patterns that arise for you continually?” and “Can you catch which mind(s) arises when [with your family], [on a walk alone], ____?”

I found that the first question, the one I find intellectually sort of lazy, tapped immediately into everything else. This time around there was something that wanted to be understood, something waiting for the slightest provocation. I wrote pages and pages and then had little that stirred for the rest.

What came forward is that I long for company…. that if money were no obstacle I would be facilitate others and spend time together in interesting ways…. that almost everything else is connected to that central desire for meaningful and adventurous companionship. I knew this about myself already, yet was still surprised by the depth of the desire. Simultaneously, I would tend to a deeper cultivation of secret practice – getting ‘away’ from all those companions in more drastic ways. Solitary and near solitary retreats, mainly.

This is not a pattern which is not playing out already; it was just not as clear to me as it became. There is something quite powerful about actually seeing – about recognizing the responsibility one is already engaging with, in a conscious way – where it came from, what it is tied to. Every stage of my life is represented in this pattern, from the childhood playgrounds where I deeply desired to be included in clubs and games, but refused to show that – to the families I desperately wanted yet refused to dance for. Chips on shoulders. Pretending not to want to be recognized in various ways. Acting out subconsciously to destroy current situations and create yet another ‘start again’ point. Where my imagination stops – the bar it reaches. Things like that.

So my retreat challenge then is to create and atmosphere within which to then present others with a space for tapping into what wants to be known and seen, in their own fields of awareness and experience. We’re not trying to change the patterns, just see, just be witnesses of intention for and with one another.

mythic imagination

Spent the morning with Joseph Campbell, introducing him to A as one of the heroes of my life and someone whose ordinariness allowed him to openly crack open hidden components of stories that still largely dictate the freedoms/limitations humanity envisions and draws out for itself. I couldn’t help but imagine what might have been different in my own scope, had I been exposed to a thinker like Campbell earlier on, or had I not been vaccinated against his brand of playful thinking and way of hiding-and-seeking with literalisms.

Rather than feeling I’d done A favors in not subjecting him to the same sort of programming, raising him outside of religious contexts for the most part, I felt wistful sadness that he had only a moderate amount of curiosity about the basic myths and stories that Campbell masterfully illuminates. But then I realized that the energy of the loosening came from what had been the intensity of the tightening for me – that my own appreciation comes forth in response to my context, my time. His is unique. Not introducing the dichotomies as fundamental in the first place may be more possible than I know… room for more “middle angels” than I myself can yet fathom.

To me, Campbell is a Padmasambhava figure, not bound to strict contexts and able to play with situations and stories that appear. That his work isn’t commonly drawn upon is strange to me, since our ignorance as a species continues to be astoundingly expensive. Indeed in some ways it has cost — I have spent — my whole adult life, undoing even just the edges of the blindfolds I was raised in as given. Daunting.

We are always teaching something, handing something down … a left over grudge or quest. I don’t think we can help that entirely (even by not giving A a specific religious education I have given him something along those lines). I do think we can help handing these stories down as literal.

ordinary stars

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In the last week or so I’ve canceled subscriptions, closed social media accounts, and turned the TV off again. This time it isn’t coming from a reactive place, but rather feels like an obvious process, stepping off one stone to another. Not reaching for heaven, not escaping hell.

The last drama that I marathoned was a re-watch: You From Another Star. The sacredness of ordinary life was the heart of the story – how precious and to be envied are the moments of this precarious human life.

I asked ST once, to teach suchness. Why he found this request amusing is something I understand better now.

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