Sunday, 29 May 2011
Let us consider, briefly, who you are. You are a person, for one. An individual human organism. But you are much more than that. You are the entire genetic history of life as it has existed and evolved on this planet. Half of your genes are shared with bananas. But surely, you are no banana. Surely, you are more than a microbe. Surely? So what is your position, you great and wonderful human? What role are you to play, here, in the history of life, and death? Surely, we have agreed, you are to do more than hang around like the banana, waiting in a brilliant hue for the grasp of the ape or drift about in an infectious frenzy, like the microbe of notorious fate. And surely, you’d prefer I would refrain from further use of the word surely. Surely.
So I urge you, for one minute, to stop reading at the end of this paragraph. Stop and reflect on what it feels like to be, here, alive, as a human – to be dependent on and fully connected to the ground below you – feel your feet grounded in the immensity of the Earth. Feel the blood coursing through your arteries and veins, the cycle of oxygenation that vivifies your very being. Feel the interface between your skin and the air. Can you feel the difference there?
Did you feel it? Could you sense your own immensity? Do you realize how powerful you are? The Earth has sprouted many beings. Some of them are confined, directly, to the soil. Others are grounded, sure, but are free to roam. Still others have been given the power of flight. But you? Have you considered your priveleged position? Grounded, for certain, in the terrestrial realm, but permitted, no doubt, to roam the vastness of intergalactic space – with your mind.
There is so much energy invested in you. So much influence. So much creativity. If the tree of life were a stock market, Humanity is the late 90′s dot.com sector – before the bubble burst! Investment after investment has poured in. 4 billion years of research and development, of tried, tested, true, and false ways of living – all of this has amounted to us – the animal internet. And what have we to show for it? Buildings?! Concrete?! Airplanes?! Nuclear Reactors?! Oil Rigs?!
No. These things may approach the sky. But they mediate not. They deny below, and curse above. They sing only their internal working – and ignore everything else. But You. You must be the mediator. The universe awaits. It has invested in you, so heavily, that every night, before getting into bed, the universe kneels at its bedside, in its fluffy starlit pajamas, and prays to the trees that they should smack some sense into its most cherished investment. That sooner or later we will see it, before the bubble pops. That sooner or later, we will wake up, to our role.
So consider! You will one day go to sleep, and never wake up. Ahhh, but how you have woken up, without ever having gone to sleep! And now, you find yourself, with eons of insight and evolutionary impetus packed into one little interval, one breath, one sigh, one ride between birth and death. You find yourself here, with infinite energy, and a creative duty.
What enormous freedom! You man, you woman, you mediator between Earth and Sky. Are you anything less than a mythic creature, living! Real! Mystically aware of yourself and your surroundings. You have within you the utmost potential of the universe, the infinite creative genius of the Great Mind. So mind, please. Mind your matter, and your manners, while you are at it. And remember your role, you mediator, tween Earth and Sky.
For one day, should we stay grounded enough, should we stay sane enough, should we limit our over indulgence and apocolyptic tendencies enough, should we radiate compassion enough, should we hug enough, should we kneel by the trees enough, should we feel enough – then one day, we shall lift enough, more than enough for a flight from London to Chicago; more than enough for a flight over the ocean with the birds; more than enough for a flight in a balloon – how absurd! We shall lift our souls and our spirits and our bodies into space, beyond this place, and settle on a new Earth.
And once again, we shall find ourselves mediators between Earth and Sky.
Monday, 9 May 2011
How would you like to know about the sky? About its shiny blue shimmer and the way it radiates waves of golden crescents? Could I tell you about the fluffy white stuff that drifts passively across the open expanse, like cattle grazing slowly across a pasture? Are you interested in the fluffy, puffy pillowy fibers that caress the moon as it carries the night off into sleep? Or the occasional downpour of bubbles? Dare I start with bubbles!? Could I describe to you a rainbow? Or have you read about it in the Times?
What do you know about the ocean deep? Would you share its secrets with me, please? Would you inform me of its hidden caverns and flavoured colors secluded from prying eyes and absorbing cones? Can you describe the flow and glow of the electric eel? The buzzing brilliance of barreling bits? Or would you prefer I took my own look? Will your words suffice? Will mine?
Words. Are they anything more than a beat around the bush? We are infatuated with The Word. Everywhere I look, I see words. And dare I resist reading them, aloud, silently.
Language rewires the nervous system. There is nothing so powerful a distracter as language. Blessed animals, naïve, pure creatures, innocent, uncorrupted by the word. Occasionally asked to “sit!”, maybe, but still oblivious to the intricate and abstract relationship between assembled phonemes and their referents. What I would give for such freedom! But then again, what I wouldn’t.
Language is the universe’s way of beating around the bush. You want to know about the universe? Feel it. Touch it. Hear it. Breathe it. But talk about it? What sort of knowledge is that?
I’ll tell you. It is re-presentational knowledge. It is abstraction. It is a re-presentation of the world as is. It is a compression of the .universe format into .word – like compressing a .wav into an .mp3, but not nearly as effectively. Much more compact! Much easier to store! Much less overwhelming! But certainly, oh, how certainly deprived of true quality! Perhaps some are content with the word, with description, with abstraction. It most certainly takes the pressure off comprehending the entirety of Creation. But where does that leave us? Are we settling for second best? It is no wonder the Zen master refrains from too many words.
Words are tricks. They say to you – to me – “hey, look over here, and I’ll tell you what’s over there. But for the love of God, don’t look over there!” And why do they do that? For the sake of control. Words control us. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Bullshit. Nothing hurts more than words. They are the defacto power in our world. People are judged by the words they use, much more than the breath they breathe. Is this freedom? Is this equality? Is it fair to judge a man by his words? Or would we see more if we judged each other by the breath we breathe, by the love we radiate.
So let us agree to one thing: at least once, every, single, day, we should suspend our words. We should stop our outer dialogue, stop our inner dialogue. We should sit, silently, beneath the Bodhi tree, and Feel the great Being that Is. Don’t talk about it, don’t conceptualize it, don’t criticize it. Just feel it. Let it Be what it Is. And nothing else. And you will find yourself enormously refreshed. Like sipping back a cool glass of lemonade.
But there is something to be said for words, naturally, those soothsayers. They may be the universe’s way of beating around the bush, of hiding its true self, of disguising pure joy beneath a myriad of equations and persuasions, but they do partake of a particularly potent beauty. Let us not condemn them too far! For words are perhaps the only thing that can free us from themselves. Like fire burning a path through the flames. Words dance. And romance. And prance. And they may be the key to turning the Universe’s eye on itself – the key to the “Aha!”, to the great realization, that we are nothing more, nothing less, nothing but, It.
So tread lightly. Wield your words wisely. Remember their power. Be conscious of what they can do to others, and what they do to yourself. Do not let them get the best of you. And trust me, I know how wonderful you can be. So please, oh please, remember, there is more to you, to me, to our world, than words can say. There is the world. And the world will never succumb to the word.