May 21, 2009
What is it about the combat arts that encourage or even inspire masochism? One would think the objective is to knock the ‘other’ guy to the ground, pulverise him and grind his insides to dust right? Or so I figured. In my journey in the arts, I have found myself many a time taking a beating just to prove to myself that I can. I’ve been watching a few boxing films lately since I pulled off a spoof on the ‘Rocky’ series.
In ‘Million Dollar Baby’ you see Frankie Dunn constantly reminding Swank to keep her guard up and ‘always protect yourself’ being the golden rule. I remember running with my guard up for 10 whole kilometers in my early years just to burn it into my neurons. Besides Ali and Sugar Ray, I dont know any successful boxers who have fought with their hands down. And yet you witness in this bloody sport, boxers exchanging punches constantly for round after round in search of the elusive knock-out. You hear quotes like ‘It ain’t what you can dish out, its what you can take’ Which is like saying standing there and getting beat up makes you a better fighter. Does it?
I differ and have embarked on a quest to fight quickly and efficiently and knock-out ASAP. But that don’t get you points in a sport. Which is why I remind myself, I don’t participate in sporting events. Masochism was a necessary ally in the carreer race until I dropped out of that race and chose to walk alone. Yet another place it has raised its ugly head is the arena. EVery boxing match I see stands testimony to the fact save the few glorious gladiators who gun for glory and make no qualms.
If you are looking for a conclusion to this post, don’t be surprised that I took three paragraphs to get to it. Thats the exact same thing I’m talking about. Stop beating around the bush and get to the point!
May 5, 2009
Once upon a time.. I prided myself on being a man of no scruples whatsoever. You name it! I was game. I lead the dance of the ravenous rats off the cliff allright except that this Pied Piper jumped off headlong first. The advantages were many; adventure, excitement, new experiences, close shaves, fearlessness (or so I thought), death-kissing disasters viewed up front and personal, scandalous sexcapades and more.. Was there even a flipside? Funny that I had to ask for the answer was to come my way with a slap, bang and a mighty booming blast!
I lost all freedom to do, be, think, feel! I was unispired and demotivated, a shadow of my strong conviction, thinking in a closed circuit loop of addiction and feeling nothing at all.. no joy.. no pain! Comfortably numb? I think not. Even when I was a rock-bottom rebel, I had but one possession; a sense of honor. What honor you ask? The kind that thieves swear by. Its amazing that even when I was a man who would sell his mother to be butchered for a mere fix, the thought of someone questioning my honor was unthinkable. I was immaculate you see. I was flying high above the paltry people of the world. Ridiculous as it may seem, it still bears virtue as it stands testimony that even in man’s most depraved state honor is still valued most.
Today I think I want to have scruples. A sense of value, character and moral imbibed in me by the tireless efforts of my teacher and grace of destiny is today my greatest asset. What stops me from going stark raving mad? No its not a social taboo. That sort of thing has never stopped me and never will. Its a growing sense of self esteem, honor if you please strengthened by rectitude and righteousness and belief in my self. I’ve flipped the coin and I’m enjoying the shiny silvery surface reflecting in the fiery blazing evening sun. I catch the glint in my eye and smile as I watch the sun rise in the evening.
March 12, 2009
Osho said at a discourse once that ‘fuck’ is one of the most beautiful words and the English language ought to be proud of it. I don’t think any other language has such a beautiful word. Amen I say.
In language, “fuck” falls into many grammatical categories. It can be used as a verb, both transitive (John fucked Mary) and intransitive (Mary was fucked by John). It can be an action verb (John really gives a fuck), a passive verb (Mary really doesn’t give a fuck), an adverb (Mary is fucking interested in John), or as a noun (Mary is a terrific fuck).
It can also be used as an adjective (Mary is fucking beautiful) or an interjection (Fuck! I’m late for my date with Mary). It can even be used as a conjunction (Mary is easy, fuck she’s also stupid). As you can see, there are very few words with the overall versatility of the word “fuck”..
Aside from its sexual connotations, this incredible word can be used to describe many situations:
1. Greetings “How the fuck are ya?”
2. Fraud “I got fucked by the car dealer.”
3. Resignation “Oh, fuck it!”
4. Trouble “I guess I’m fucked now.”
5. Aggression “Fuck you!”
6. Disgust “Fuck me.”
7. Confusion “What the fuck…….?”
8. Difficulty “I don’t understand this fucking business!”
9. Despair “Fucked again…”
10. Pleasure “I fucking couldn’t be happier.”
11. Displeasure “What the fuck is going on here?”
12. Lost “Where the fuck are we.”
13. Disbelief “Unfuckingbeliveable!”
14. Retaliation “Up your fucking ass!”
15. Denial “I didn’t fucking do it.”
16. Perplexity “I know fuck all about it.”
17. Apathy “Who really gives a fuck, anyhow?”
18. Greetings “How the fuck are ya?”
19. Suspicion “Who the fuck are you?”
20. Panic “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
21. Directions “Fuck off.”
22. Disbelief “How the fuck did you do that?”
It can be used in an anatomical description- “He’s a fucking asshole.”
It can be used to tell time- “It’s five fucking thirty.”
It can be used in business- “How did I wind up with this fucking job?”
It can be maternal- “Motherfucker.”
It can be political- “Fuck Dan Quayle!”
It has also been used by many notable people throughout history:
“What the fuck was that?”
Mayor of Hiroshima
“Where did all these fucking Indians come from?”
“Where the fuck is all this water coming from?”
Captain of the Titanic
“That’s not a real fucking gun.”
“Who’s gonna fucking find out?”
“Heads are going to fucking roll.”
“Let the fucking woman drive.”
Commander of Space Shuttle
“What fucking map?”
“Challenger,” Mark Thatcher
“Any fucking idiot could understand that.”
“It does so fucking look like her!”
“How the fuck did you work that out?”
“You want what on the fucking ceiling?”
“Fuck a duck.”
“Why?- Because its fucking there!”
“I don’t suppose its gonna fucking rain?”
Joan of Arc
“Scattered fucking showers my ass.”
“I need this parade like I need a fucking hole in my head.”
John F. Kennedy
February 28, 2009
We have all heard about the power of positive thinking and how it can create nothing short of miracles by its invocation. I grew up completely disgusted by its saccahrine sweetness and the divine dividends it promised. I did believe it to be over-rated and I chose instead the path of negation; meaningless self-destruction as the answer to mankind’s melodramatic malody. I sought the company ofsarcasm, hopelessness, despair and defeat to tide me through the meaningless journey of life. Living just for dying. Both birth and death having no meaning whatsoever. Such an existence drove me deeper and deeper ino the cynical chasm of chaos as I smirked at the prospect of meaning, growth, joy, love and beauty.
Jean Paul Sartre said that man is a useless passion because there is no meaning in life. Another existentialist Albert Camus said that the only metaphysicall problem is of suicide. Why go on living? Even Sigmund Freud said life is more a matter of endurance than enjoyment. Down the ages, man has invented religions and Gods to provide meaning to life. None have succeeded. They are only consolatory. They are helpful only to the mediocre, for the one who has decided to deceive himself by pretending there is meaning in money, power, respectabilty, virtue, character, meaning in being a saint. But if you are intelligent enough and probe incessantly, you will vcome to the rock bottom of meaninglessness.
But then Zen has succeeded where all else falters. Buddha’s unique experience under the Bodhi tree told him one thing; that if meaning is dropped, meaninglessness also disappears. ‘Life looks meaningless because I am searching for meaning. Life is not meaningless; it becomes meaningless, because of my longing for meaning. If I dont long for meaning, then what is meaningless? All is as it is.’ Suicide means there is no meaning, so destroy yourself. Sannyason the other hand means, there is no meaning, so you are freed from that hankering to enjoy yourself. Because there is no meaning, there is no destiny. You are free to enjoy this moment with your totality – no hindrance, no God to take care of, no commandment. Utterly free to be in this moment. An there is nowhere else to go.
To understand this, the myth of Sisyphus in Greek Mythology is significant. The gods were angry with Sisyphus and condemned him to the almost impossible task of rolling a large rock to the top of a hill. Sisyphus however does so but the rock does not stay at the top and of its own accord rolls back into the valley again. Sisyphus pushes the rock back again to the top only to meet the same result. He then repeats the task again and again. This is symbolic of man’s life as he struggles repeatedly from birth to death. Sartre’s words resound here screaming about man being a useless passsion; meaningless. If Sisyphus was a man of Zen instead, the same story would take on a different flavour. He would not have bothered about the rock slipping down again and again and instead would have enjoyed every trip to and from the beautiful valley, marvelling at the flowers blooming, birds chirping and the fresh morning air in ecstasy. Singing a song of enlightenment – a shodoka he would have defeated the gods by enjoying his punishment. He would recite haikus as it rained down and would have been mesmerised by the very texture of the rock even. And when it slips down, he would see it as a new thrill, a new adventure, another ecstatic journey beginning.
Zen drops the very search for meaning, thus all kinds of meaninglessness disappears. Then life simply is; no meaning, no meaninglessness. See the very beauty of it.
February 28, 2009
Thinkers are proliferant throughout the history of man. Civilization or not, man has always thought about topics ranging from the origin of slef to the discovery of fire. In fact it is this particular faculty that separates man from his fellow creatures on this planet. But do all men think alike? Rather do all men exercise their power of thought equally?
Some choose not to utilise this supreme faculty and donot think at all. The likes of such would rather respond to stimuli and situations based on conditioning and herd mentality. They follow their fellow man blindly without consideration or analysis. Laziness or fear of responsibilty and lack of decisiveness are the usual suspects as to why people would disown their ‘manhood’ as this is what really separates us from the thousand other species on the planet and not opposable thumbs as we like to believe.
Others begin the process of thinking but do not resolve or conclude the thought process. This leads to procrastination or disillusion about the process of thinking. Conclusion or resolution is very important if one is to actualize thought else it remains merely a masturbatory activity to indulge in. Therefore the exploratory journey becomes a lost expedition and the end result is rather unsatisfactory leading to depression.
Which now brings us to the next genre of thinkers who successfully conclude their train of thought but donot implement or actualise what they have arrived at. Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do. Bruce Lee immortalised these words and they would be apt advice for one stuck in this phase of evolution.
What about those courageous souls who travel the thought train, reach their destination i.e conclude and then embark to implement their conclusions in the playground of life. All is well until life throws at them the first hurdle or obstacle. These brave souls now turn on their heels and head back to the sheltered herds and pre-conditioned thought patterns from where they had journeyed so far to reach.
Very few souls endeavour to think and then endure to act upon their concluded or resolved thoughts. Their actions or deeds follow the path of thought and such actualization marks these men as a class apart. Life’s constant storms do little to dampen their spirits as they soar along their chosen destiny. What are you waiting for? Kick-start your quixotic journey right here right now!
Note: The terms ‘man’ or ‘manhood’ in this article are not gender specific.
February 13, 2009
Kindred spirits. This was something I always knew I had throughout my life. From the days when I looked up at the sky, cursed and berated god to the time when I was a puddle of pity and I grovelled in grime and begged him/her/it to show me the way. I’ve always been alone through most of my life, whether in a crowd or not. This desire for solitude arose from narcissism one might say. I loved myself so much that I took up all the bandwidth. In time I have also come to understand that bandwidth is unlimited and I can be what I call a compassionate narcissist or one who loves himself and the world around.
Through times of turmoil or travesty, I have always found in my life the company of kindred souls or spirits and these have ranged from teddy bears to angelic sorceresses, not to mention random acquaintances, fast friends, fiesty lovers, spirited teachers and more. They walk in at those times when you need them most, waltzing away when your back on your feet and punching and kicking again. My ringmen; they have my corner always. They appear mysteriously, if I adopt the luxury of mystery or drop smack out of the sky on a mission from hell and blaze their message on tattooed backsides for my discerning eyes to appreciate. I’m grateful to these ladies, gentlemen, puppies, squirrels and other beasts that walk, dance and sing with me in the rambuctious carnival of my life. Where am I going? I don’t know. I walk on unhindered by that question. Many more join me and the music plays on, sometimes mellow and contemplative, sometimes raunchy and lively. Direction is a constant only in the sense that the carnival is always moving forward even when it veers and lurches like a giant centipede on ketamine.
Solitude is never a lonely journey. Welcome aboard. Viva La Carnival!
February 12, 2009
Zen is called ‘the doctrine abrupt’ as opposed to all others which can be termed ‘progressive doctrines’. For Zen we use the singular while for the others we use the plural because ‘the doctrine abrupt’ can only be one. There are as many progressive doctrines as there are people for every one progresses in their own way. So although there can be millions of progressive doctrines, there can only be one abrupt doctrine. It can’t be different for different people because it is abrupt. It doesn’t depend on who you are, it depends on only one thing; that you disappear. And this disappearance is abrupt, sudden. This point is fundamental to Zen.
Lets consider Yoga, a progressive doctrine. In yoga, samadhi is attained; you have to improve upon yourself, you have to go on and on working on yourself. It is a great program of improvement, achievement and accomplishment. In Zen you just have to find that you are already a buddha. There is no accomplishment, no growth, no attainment, buddhahood is everybody’s inner nature. Everybody is a buddha; whether you know it or not makes no difference. There is no method in Zen. Methods are given only to prove to you , to your heart’s desire and contentment, that all methods are useless. You work on the method and slowly, slowly you realise the futility of it. Higher and higher methods are given until you ultimately, slowly, slowly you will eliminate all methods because you will see the futility of it all.
One day you will come to the point where you will see that there is nothing to be attained, nowhere to go. That moment in Zen is called ‘the great doubt’. Known in the West as ‘the dark night of the soul’ you are in a kind of shock; nothing to be attained, no where to go, all future disappears. Who are you? What are you doing here? And why this existence? If there is no way to reach, no where to reach and nobody to reach, then what us all this? A great doubt arises. You are falling like a dead leaf into some unknown, bottomless pit and it is all dark, and there is not even a ray of light. This great doubt or dark night of the soul, always precedes satori. Either you fall back because of the doubt – movivng back to methods, ways, paths, scriptures, principles and philosophies, you fall back just to avoid the doubt. But if you are really courageous, you leave yourself in this dark night of the soul, helpless, lost, utterly lost – seeing no meaning and no future. If this courage is there, satori happens. Suddenly out of the great doubt, and the pain and agony of it, you become awakened.
Then why make any effort at all? Just to see the futility. Once the futilty is proved, then one is left only with the constant question. This great doubt precedes satori; the realization of which consists in realizing that the idea of realization is illusory, and the idea of the way to realization is illusory, because all is realization from the very beginning. This is the fundamental vision of Zen.