Motivation

This is just another entry in the “why be creative/do art (when it doesn’t pay),” series…which it seems I should really organize, somehow.  It would be interesting to make this blog into an actual site with indexing more sophisticated than WP’s tagging/categories system…but I don’t have the skills to do that well, at this point in time.  Soon, though:  it will be very much closer to possible.  I have the chance of learning CSS this Fall, and more than that next summer, at the latest.  I am thinking/hoping that basic HTML coding will be introduced along with CSS…it’s just that the CSS textbook was the one I saw earlier in relation to one section.

(One of the reasons I’m aiming for the Digital Services track is that even if it does become a pain to catalog and retain all of my work in order to fulfill Culminating Experience for my degree (the alternative is a Master’s Thesis), I’ll still have salable skills.  That is, outside of the Library, where it may not matter if I have the Master’s or not — so long as I can do the work.)

So, this “why do art” thing.  I was thinking up things to write about here, and the question of this came forward into consciousness.  Well…it’s an easy thing to slip into, this mode of thinking.  However…as I was actually doing the art, I realized that doing it was an end in itself.  Kind of like origami, but…well, hey, origami has practical engineering uses, for one thing; but you do this work for the sake of the work and the satisfaction of making something beautiful, and then you have all these little leftover trinkets.  Like origami.  And then it’s like, what do you do with them?  I guess you give them to others (or sell them)?

I’ve been thinking of taking my suminagashi prints and printing flowers on them (probably after I rework my flower linocut), and then cutting them apart into little prints.  I actually did this last night with my first sheet of prints (on white paper), and made a bunch of neat little 2″x 2″ tiles.  However, I realized today that I can cut them into any shape I want, meaning that I can make really nice bookmarks for my friends at the Library!

I know it sounds silly, but what person working at a Library would refuse a bookmark?  😉  Who would do that.  😀

I’ve only told one person of my plans, so far.  Happily, I didn’t have to explain to him what I was doing with the ink marbling!  I’ve also sent off a letter to my old professor, asking her about any precautions I may need to take with the Sumifactant.  Just in case, I did give myself a break from exposure, the other night.  However…TOMORROW’S A NEW DAY!!!

And I’m getting kind of obsessed with this.  That was another reason I stopped.  😉  I do have a tendency to get really strongly involved in things when I do get involved — probably the reason why I ate that book up so fast, the other night!  I’ve had a hard time finishing almost any book from the Library, and didn’t want to risk letting that one go unread.  Especially as Summer Session is about to start.

Right now, I have two other books on creativity to get through, one of which looks promising; the other of which, looks didactic.  However, the latter’s theory about a “freeze” response preceding a “fight or flight” response in the case of anxiety…was telling, and has helped me get out of stasis (and understand why one of my relatives refuses to change habits that don’t work in their favor).  I’m just not sure whether it has anything more to say, than that.

And yes, I have also been reading around on the “ink” tags on WP, and now want a Lamy Safari with a 2mm stub nib.  It seems silly, but I will be going to an upscale stationery store soon…and they may have it.  I should probably check around first, though…

Does evil exist?

For future reference, this text was begun during an after-funeral gathering.  Although it is difficult to see other people in pain…I am surprised at the overall experience of the services and after-parties.  I am also wondering if there is such a thing as “evil.”

Having been labeled evil by people I would myself consider evil (though of course, they referred to themselves as “good”:  typical but not required), I have resisted identifying others as evil, myself.  This is largely because I can see the mindless destruction the label can cause.

The term itself may relate to nothing more than “aversion,” which is entirely subjective, its targets changing from person to person.  And in the case of my own psychic alignments, it’s clear that there are things others would call “evil” about me which would in no case result in harm to anyone (the gender[s] of the person[s] I love in relation to my own gender, being one of them).  They may result in change to a more egalitarian and free society, but that does not equate to harm.

I have been thinking about this problem…seemingly, ever since high school, or before (this being the time in which I was progressively demonized and outcast by my classmates).  Today at the funeral, a speech was given by a Buddhist Reverend…which actually made sense, much more sense to me than did the Catholic Priest’s…but not everyone agrees with me.  Particularly, ardent Christians seem not to (and the priest would be included in this group).

I am coming to see the term “faith” to have more than one meaning.  One meaning, the one which I use most of the time in my own thoughts, refers to trusting my own intuition even when it is unexplainable by rational thought combined with the scope of my current knowledge about the world.  There is another meaning, though, which I encountered today:  that is to hold close to registered and approved dogma as a comfort when faced with the unexplainable and incomprehensible…even when that dogma doesn’t make sense.

I don’t see these things as the same definition, although I must admit possible bias in that my own thoughts may hold to registered and approved dogma; I just doubt it.

In any case, recent events have caused me to question the existence of evil in the world.  Whether that is absolute evil or relative evil, i don’t know.  Or maybe it isn’t a philosophical problem.  Maybe it’s an energetic sensation which just gets confused when I try to communicate it in concepts and words.

What I know is what I feel, and there are some people in the world who read as “toxic” to me.  Unmistakably, poison.  And so permeated and overwhelmed by it that they are literally repulsive and offensive and exude this.  Disordered energy.  To be around them while taking them seriously is not safe, as they try to emotionally harm and take power from anyone who will let them, using any weapon in their arsenal — and would try to physically abuse others if they thought there would be no consequences.  To give them power and consider them as beings like myself pushes me into rage and hate…and perhaps pain at how much the world has warped and twisted them out of what I assume was initially recognizability…and as such is not recommended in my current condition.

I just have a hard time seeing what remains of some peoples’ humanity.  I know this must be a fault in me (either this, or a mark of my own ideals stating that all people have the “souls” of “humans” — this is not an unvarying property over different cultures and eras)…but it’s understandable not to be enlightened, and I think I must have to be closer to that goal than I am, to see through what’s happening here.

And I am not sure what the root of this is; nor am I sure whether or not there is some kind of organized metaphysical evil.  This is not a new proposition — though I tend to default to referencing Ahriman as a kind of anthropomorphized Principle of Evil, more than any Christian idea.  The idea of the Devil has been itself warped out of recognizability as it has been weaponized against minorities (though that may be something of a tautology).

Of course, though, I have no political references where it comes to Zoroastrianism (the religion where the principle of “evil against people” was eventually embodied in the idea of Ahriman).  However, I do recognize that “evil” can be brought into the world by those who conceptualize and aspire to it.  This, I would not have known without investigating multiple cults and having been witness to people who have idealized Evil and taken satisfaction and pride in doing the wrong thing at every possible juncture.

But beyond this…it seems to me that this is a symptom of being out of balance — and committed to being out of balance — on a deeper psychological and energetic level, which manifests in the physical.  And, of course, creating chaos in the physical world can’t help but encourage one to continue to be off-balance.  But maybe “balance” is not the best word.  “Balance” implies a polar model.  This type of being off-balance is more like a top spinning out of control in seven dimensions at once…even though it’s hard for me to imagine a top spinning out of control.  Normally the ground would equalize this — you can only mess up so far before you can’t go any farther — but this is not part of the model in energetics.

I don’t know where I’m going with this anymore, except maybe to say that I’ve recently…been able to trust my own feelings where it comes to the “energy” of others, which is not something I know I can explain.  The term “evil” comes to mind when encountering highly discordant energy (not meant as a slight against Discordians; there is a difference between being random and aiming to harm).  I’ve just realized that I don’t know what makes some people tick, and that maybe I don’t want to know…and while it is tempting to call it “evil,” I don’t want to fall into the same trap the people I see as evil have fallen into, which is to consider oneself right and anything one disagrees with as worthy of destruction.  That is not a balanced path, to me, and it’s not a protected one.

But I …I think I am starting to see that I will need to forge my own approach…

Is it possible, though, that not all bad things happen for good reasons — but rather, bad things happen, and good people find ways to shine despite, or in spite of, the situations they’re dealt?  Is there a cosmic tension between “good,” and “evil,” and am I, despite growing up having thought to the contrary, actually on the side of good?

Breaking the silence

Writing the last post, I realized that a lot of what I’m going through now would seem to be the consequence of having been a largely silent child.  I don’t consider myself an intensely private person; at the same time, I get intimidated by social media (I’m not even sure of the last time I went to Facebook, though I know I initiated contact with someone and then forgot about it), and form deep, intense connections with a very small number of people.  The only reason I’m on social media in the first place is that it was a requirement for my Library & Information Science program.

Is blogging considered social media?  I don’t know.  I did start out my first blog, Hidden Jewels, a very long time ago; seven years, unless I’m mistaken.  I would have been 28, and have just entered the job market.  At the time, I was in the Business program at the college from which I ended up getting an Art AA.  I bailed on the Business program because of realizing the difficulty of making a living at craft jewelry.

Even if I did start my own business, I would have to have a side job to make ends meet.  I eventually turned to Library work as a primary way to survive, which would give me the time and funding to be creative on the side — in some way that I wouldn’t have to rely on jeweling and/or beading to feed myself.  Though I would like for it to be possible, I simply don’t have the skills right now to sell my work for as much as I’d need to sell it in order to survive and be assured not to be in poverty.  It would be easier if I were a bench jeweler, but I’m not that interested in Fine Jewelry.  (Except in electronics and engineering applications, gold is overrated.)

I should probably read more in that Quiet, book.  Basically…as I grew up I was unable to be unknown, and the publicity (which had to have been a slew of rumors going on behind my back) was not a good thing.  I’m not sure how much I want to recount, here, but a lot of my private time at recess ended up being spent making crafts and dealing with things which were, in my perception, either the sensation of the spirits of other speechless life, or imaginative projections.  At a certain point you get tired of your (human) “friends” hurting you.  I learned that it was better to be without friends than to be with abusive “friends.”

I think the problem is that I was too open.  Plus, I didn’t really know much about racism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia, all of which ended up impacting me, pretty much concurrently.  Given the applicability of Intersectional Feminism, here, it becomes apparent that statistically, given my genetic background and my social environment, things were not laid out for me in such a way that I had much of a shot at lifelong mental health.  I’m really lucky that I’ve had no suicide attempts or hospitalizations, thus far.

Maybe this is the reason I withdrew into myself to the point that I channeled all that energy out into my writing.  Right now, when I write fiction, it feels escapist, but it’s pretty much an escapist nightmare more than anything, which …kind of isn’t the definition of escapism.  Historically, though, I’ve had issues with embodiment which have been related both to gender and race (if you’re new to the blog, I’m mixed-race, but primarily identify with the side of my family I was raised around).

In any case, the world of my dreams — and illusions — has long been safer and more compassionate than the world I live in.  Most of this hasn’t been disclosed, though, except in my writing.  Maybe it’s because of this that I was drawn to writing.  Though I don’t think I’ve been an avid reader, outside of what had been assigned at school and what I occupied myself with as an alternative to being alone (the library was good for this)…I have been someone for whom writing has been necessary.  It’s a way to keep track of and organize my thoughts.

Otherwise…there was a long period when I didn’t know who I was.  Maybe because of a lack of social interaction?  I’m not sure.  I did develop my own internal “social” spiritual interaction, but that was probably a last resort from being externally understimulated.  It doesn’t happen so much, now.  I’m not certain why, though I suspect it has to do with medication, and more outlets with which to show myself who I am.  Of course, writing is instrumental in this; my long-term memory isn’t great when it comes to remembering who I was in 2011, or what I was dealing with, etc.

Writing for an audience seems like a different thing, though.  I really, really am not used to other people reading, and responding to, what I write!  It’s almost as though I were talking, and someone is actually listening to me.  😉  I have gotten used to making speeches as well, but it still makes me uncomfortable when I am expected to take, and defend, formal positions on problems which I know I don’t fully understand.  I know it’s really easy to go wrong, that way; and it seems understanding would be desirable before being forced and/or expected to spit out an answer.  It’s the major reason I tried to get my brain sorted out before even seriously considering testosterone.  I was terrified I’d make a decision for the wrong reasons, and then be unable to undo the damage.

But maybe that’s something social people do?  Take positions on problems they don’t fully understand and rest in (ignorant) faith that they’re right?  I’m not sure.

Maybe the issue is being pushed or forced to make a decision or take a stance when one is not a warrior type, but more of a balancer, or a person who sees multiple factors acting on a situation without assuming that any side people are taking up even addresses the correct problem.  (Something I learned in Critical Thinking is that it is indeed possible to use language to construct nonsensical propositions.  Often the key to solving a problem is asking the right questions.)

It is very much easier not to take a stance when one is silent.  It’s easier to run silent — except when one reaches the point that it becomes imperative to say something and actually stand for something and actually deal with the consequences — both positive and negative — for having done so.  If it’s something that really checks out, which is really important or urgent, it’s not an issue:  things need to be addressed, and worked out through dialogue (what is dialogue called with more than two sides?).

But the problem is that people rarely if ever question whether what they think is right actually is right, and this seems to hold across the board.  It seems to be something about the nature of the brain…which I don’t personally understand; but I’m sure we agree that we can’t all both disagree, and also be right, about everything all the time — and just because it’s you who thinks it doesn’t make it right.  (I use the second-person tense here because I want to make it clear that this is not a weapon to throw at people who disagree with you.  If this observation is correct, it applies to everyone.  It applies to me, it applies to you.)

Anyhow; it’s much easier to exist…for me, just to plain exist, without taking a stance all the time.  And I’m certain that this is related to growing up as a silent child.  But there are times at which it is necessary to speak up.  For me, an outlet was necessary, and that outlet was writing and storytelling, in lieu of speaking and socializing.  At the same time, reading…does help.  But I am still in a place where I need to see my own words reflected back on me, maybe to see myself as a person.  To me, language is a mirror, through which I can see myself.

Though maybe, as I “come out” further and further with regard to both my disability and all the other hidden levels I contain, my life will become richer for it, and I will be not just surviving, but living.

(long) What to put my time into?

It’s…interesting.

Over the past few days, I’ve been having a dialogue with myself about where to put my energies.  For example, with my homework, and from there out, with my art, creative writing, reading, blogging…music…?

I have seen some people online develop in a given medium very quickly, due to daily practice.  The most obvious example of this I can think of (and I hope I’m thinking right) is Charlie at Doodlewash, but as best I can remember, there are others whose names I have neglected to pick out of the ever-coming tide that is the Internet.

I’ve started to think about my activities, not in terms of what I do well, not in terms of what I presently can do, but in terms of what I want to do.

This is assisted, no doubt, by the curricula I’m presently studying…though that might get a bit arcane here.  Basically, when someone realizes they need information, they likely start out with a very poorly-formed idea of what it is they’re searching for, because they don’t know what they don’t know — and asking them what information they need is asking someone to define the parameters of what they don’t know…which, they don’t know.

When I first started researching Buddhism, for example, it was along with studies of alternative spirituality (particularly Theosophy and Spiritualism; I don’t remember whether Pantheism was along with, or after, this) and the Western Occult Tradition.  Right now I know more about Buddhism than most people around me — I know more than what every beginner book I’ve seen recounts, as though it’s new — but I reached out of my sphere, in the first place, to try and escape people and their twisting of religion to support their bigotry.

What I have found, over about 15 years of studying Buddhism, is that Buddhists have their own problems to deal with, irritatingly enough.  Not only that, but it’s kind of impossible to find an authoritative voice on the matter.  Buddhism is 2500 years old, and orthopraxic (right action) instead of orthodoxic (right belief), or so my World Religions class would have told me.

Instead of asking and expecting a clear definition of nirvana or Buddha-nature, it’s more like, “does the interpretation you’re reading agree with you or not?” or, “where are the holes, and are they large enough to matter?” or, “is this logically coherent?  (Be honest.)  If so, what are the consequences?”

I may not be reading enough modern thought, in this field, though.  I’ve come to realize that the world now is different than the world 2500 years ago, though people’s problems are still largely the same.  The issue with me is the idea that everyone’s “awakening” will be qualitatively the same; that inherently, everyone is the same.  This may have been unquestioned 2500 years ago in India, but I cannot go without questioning this, now.  Living in a major metropolitan area will kind of do that to a person.

In addition to this, the entire idea of a “soul” or spirit is one of these things which …I have not read a full treatment of, from a Buddhist perspective.  What I gather is that a phenomenal self is recognized, but that this self is constructed, and not essential.  This differs from, pretty much, every other religion I’ve studied; but it also becomes entangled in current-day discourse about constructivism vs. essentialism as regards gender; a.k.a. whether all gender is “socially constructed” or “inborn.”

As a person whose gender expression (and historically, identity) inhabits a range rather than a locus, it’s hard for me to have an opinion on this.  The major point is that Second-Wave Feminism (I think this began in the 1970’s) has tried to argue that what one is “born as” is what one “is,” with the transgender movement historically fighting against this.  This axiom would state that, for example, a transgender woman was “really” a man and thus could be excluded from “women’s space,” without everyone in the group feeling bad about it.  In consequence, everyone which was included looked similar enough to be assumed to be qualitatively similar (as definitions of “man” or “woman” did not go beyond physicality; causing the [hypothetical] inclusion of trans* men within women’s space, instead of trans* women).

However, the current state of transgender politics seems to be coming to a newer resettlement where very young children are expressing identity with members of a sex which they do not physically align with…so now it seems that the argument is again back to “one is born as what one is,” just that the mistake (and it does seem to be a mistake) of assigning a person to a gender category based on their physiology…causes more harm than good.

In short, we are back to an essentialist argument, but with what is “essential” being something one cannot physically see (though there have been studies showing similarity of regions of the brain between trans* women and cis (non-trans*) women, and dissimilarity of those same regions between trans* women and cis men, at the least; last I checked, trans* men were not well-known enough to have any acceptable sample size.

But anyhow…I’m not sure if I should be a philosophy major or something, 🙂 but my own experience of myself brings me to the point of feeling that …I do or may have a “soul,” which is distinct from other “souls.”  I wouldn’t say it to be irreducible to something like any other living being would experience — that is, I’m not sure at all that what I recognize as myself is “essential” — but there does seem to be something that sets me apart in this life, that, when violated, brings me illness.  That is to say, I have a “nature.”  It’s a very changeable nature, but it’s still a nature.

And this, in turn, is separable from an ontological stance which states that no one has a soul.  The clearest representative of this to me is Scientific Materialism, though I am not a subject matter expert on this, having veered away from materialist philosophies, myself.  I did purchase a book on Sartre (Existentialism) recently as well, and it would be interesting to see what he says about it…but this is mainly for my own breadth/surveying the field.

The problem I’m having is being unsure that any organized religion is actually and honestly for the good of its members (excluding the priesthood).  In short, I’m not sure if any of it is true, and I know there are vulnerabilities commonly found in seekers which are being played upon (notably, in Buddhism, the experience of psychic pain and the drive to death [thanatos — it’s a Freudian idea]).

I’m not sure I’ve seen the latter actually explained outright anywhere in relation to the desire for nirvana and cessation of rebirth; but I know that for me it has been an issue.  Buddhism was one of the things which kept me alive when I was going through a fairly relevant depressive phase, to the point where I realized that if Shakyamuni had ever actually existed, he was probably a depressive who lived before we had a term for it.

And…I have wandered far away from what started this post.  The question is whether to continue with this line of study, or drop it and find something else.

I am thinking that if, every day, I practiced guitar for at least half an hour, I would become fairly good at it, after a while.  This is, as versus my art.  I have to do enough reading as it is, but I could get back into that (reading for pleasure), as well.

Art is one of those things which I know I was praised for, very early on.  I know it’s something I’m relatively talented at.  But without a clear subject, it’s tough for me to get into; this being why I was prolific in the Art program at my Community College, but which I have trailed away from without the outside support and prompting.  I’m fairly certain that if I did get back into Creative Writing, this would in fact give me things to draw.

Of course, that’s Illustration, there — which is actually the drive which caused me to come back and try the Art program again in the first place.  When I first came back, I didn’t even know if I liked drawing, to be honest.  Things had just gotten really dull for me, where it came to image-making.  I remembered that I had originally liked to do it (when I was making a story with pictures [could you call that a comic?], as a kid), and I remembered that drawing the same thing over and over again — as I did as an adult — wasn’t worth it.  I’d get bored.

I re-entered with the hope that instruction and refreshed subject matter would help me see if writing and illustrating my own Graphic Novel was even something I would enjoy; and if not, I could just trash the whole Graphic Novel idea and work on pure writing, instead.

What I can say is that Art is difficult.  There hasn’t been a time for me when it hasn’t been difficult, except when I was a kid and didn’t care at all whether things looked wonky to other people.

And then, Writing…writing, writ large, 😉 isn’t hard for me.  Fiction Writing, though…is just psychologically difficult.  I have a habit of not being able to clearly tell the story I’m writing, apart from reality.  But through the Art program, one of the things I realized is that Art is not a representation of reality.  Photography isn’t a representation of reality.  Fiction writing, is not a representation of reality.  Neither is television, nor movies.

Verisimilitude to reality is used to a greater or lesser extent to provide familiarity and context to a story or message…to be honest, I’m not entirely certain what I or we are trying to get across in a way of thinking about the Humanities in terms of content as versus form.  The one thing I am certain about is that when one is within a story, that story is constructed around you, to a certain extent for you (and to a certain extent, by you).  For what purpose?  …I’m not entirely sure.  If you have thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

In any case, thinking back on it…it does seem, now that I think of it, that I’ve found expression through writing and art, and now am re-trying music.  Music is interesting, though I’m so new to it that I’m not entirely sure I can say why.  Certainly there’s a rhythmic component, and the emotional states elicited by certain tones being played next to each other and harmonizing (or not).  Then, of course, being a time-related thing, it is also — like writing — linear in format.

Tonight I was just having fun with arpeggiating guitar chords — particularly, starting with the F-major that’s closest to the top of the neck.  I think I could, eventually, make a habit of writing my own music; the question arises of if it is what I want to do, though.  Do I want to write?  Draw?  Paint?  Play music?  Make beaded jewelry?  It’s fairly obvious that writing is part of my lifeblood — I don’t feel right when I don’t do it.

I miss my beads.  I stopped my practice and working on new designs when I realized that this was not something that I could rely on to pay any bills (except maybe a blog bill for a nice layout here, if I started on Etsy); but it is what got me into Painting (which enables much more subtle custom color adjustments).  There is a lot of work which goes into designing and constructing beaded jewelry which has to do with light and color…it may be playing with my tendency to engineer from prefabricated parts, as well.

(Two of my most favorite toys from when I was a kid were my Erector set, and a circuit board D got me for Christmas, one year…)

And, hey…I just realized the linear component to that, as well…it’s just that with what I do, there is the mode of interweaving that can be realized, as well as anchoring and knotting.

Interesting…but I think I should get some sleep, right now!  Heh!  If anyone has anything to say about the content we try to get across in the Arts & Humanities, I’m more than listening…

Working this out, #1

It was never really clear.

I had gotten an inkling of what might have been going on behind the scenes, but the great problem with consciousness is that, it seems, one can only explore it from within it.  While the concept had come up in a former project — of mind without memory or awareness — it had not been developed as far as Maya had wished.

The great sense that one had, from this mind, at least, was that there was a lot going on as regarded Mind.  The prospect of the Universe being Mind-only was taking it a bit too far, as had been touched on — there was one spirit in particular I knew who related strongly to Mind, but he was no longer dominant.  His medicine worked when our own mind had been ill and in pain.  But sometimes, even though one may wish escape from the pain, it is not the solution to attempt to escape from life.

In my past years, if I had thought it possible to escape pain by escaping life, I would have considered it more thoroughly.  However, the only solution to the problem of existence Maya could find which made any kind of sense (at the time) was reincarnation.  Being reborn would not ensure a life free of pain; in fact, it would almost guarantee the opposite.

For years, instead of focusing on the problem of wishing not to exist, I — and/or we — focused on how to stop the cycle of rebirth.  At least it saved my life, at the time, even if its end goal was, somehow, to escape the realm of life (and with life, pain).

It has been some time since this happened.  I’ve since stumbled on to the realm of what may happen should one embrace the fullness of life — pain, joy, and all.  It’s come to my attention that what we have here is a temporary situation.  I’ve dubbed myself a Creator, for now.  For me, this means that my life post — more than what I do to stay alive — is to make things which would not exist if it were not for my own life.

It is…somewhat freeing, but also somewhat, it … it somehow gives me pause.  Diversity is the stuff of life; sameness is the stuff of extinction.  There is a factor of illness in here, still:  so that I do not know if, in ten years’ time, I will still wish (or need) to call myself a Creator.  But for now, it is my life purpose.  (I did read that bit of Nietzsche, yes.)

This is the reason I do what I do.  By chance, fate, luck, or descent (I hope to explain that bit, eventually), I have been somewhat gifted where it comes to creativity.  My pain has developed my spiritual resources.  I don’t know if everything I put out will be worth creating, but at the least, I have a vision.  That vision is the strength of embracing life, now and in the future, however many lifetimes that will turn out to be.

Avoid the doors to Hell. Even if you have the keys.

(…Unless, for some reason, you actually like Hell.)

This was the message that came to me last night as I found myself triggered into a negative space while thinking about a known issue at one of my past job sites.

I didn’t have too much time to write, today.  Most of today has been spent with a good friend, which was nice.  I tried to note-take in my new journal in visual format.  I’m not…entirely sure how much I can recover, there, of what I was actually thinking.

I did recall the original symbolism of the Keys, not to mention the symbolism of the different Realms I’ve read of in Buddhist texts.

The Keys were, originally, a set of visions I’d had over a number of years, which centered around the interaction of sunlight, air, clear water, and depth.  The dragon who showed up in one of my art sessions…I still haven’t quite puzzled out why he is a dragon (perhaps research will clarify, as I shouldn’t assume it’s a mundane issue)…but I know that the ocean itself symbolized something like the mind.

The surface, in this metaphor, is the conscious mind and the deeper one dives, the closer one gets to the unconscious, until we reach the depth where light can no longer penetrate.  The pearls he is after are on the ocean floor, so of course, we end up starting out from a point in the conscious mind, and go deeper and deeper into the subconscious, until we can retrieve a pearl — a vision or insight.  Contained within the pearl is something (a “Key”) that grants entry into a psychic “room” which delivers a certain emotional/mental state, along with psychic content which is now accessible (though often enough, correlated by the brain with the deeper, primary felt sense).

As I’m thinking about this, I realize that there are at least four elements represented in this vision:  Water, Earth (the pearl), Fire (sunlight), and Air.  I’m trying to remember the Daoist correspondences to the pentagram…Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water.  I don’t know either system (the major Western or Eastern alchemical systems) well enough to know what may lie hidden in this context, but I suppose it is something to research.  Especially so, in light of the visions I’ve already had.

And, I know; don’t summon Elementals, because they tend to be unbalanced, hence, dangerous.  Yes, I know.  🙂

Ah — I remember the other point I was going to write about, now that I re-read that passage mentioning Realms.

Given a division between Matter and Energy, I can postulate a division between the phenomenal world (Matter) and the energetic world (Energy).  Apologies for not being together enough at this late hour to clarify what I mean by “energetic.”  It’s a project for the future, though, definitely.

The phenomenal world is easy enough to navigate…most of us can sense it with our bodies.  The energetic world, though…and maybe I should call it the “mental” world…I am not sure many of us have been taught how to navigate.

I’m recalling a book that I read quite a long time ago, called, A Concise Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, by John Powers.  I’m fairly certain that I first became acquainted with the idea of “realms,” with my research into this book (one of the few from the Library that I’ve read cover-to-cover) and others focusing on the same cultural group.

From what I’ve read, which I’m sure is somewhat simplified, there are Six Lower Realms in, at least, Tibetan Buddhism (called “Lamaism” in some library catalogs).  Other schools of Buddhism bring in multitudinous Heavens (in Pure Land thought, each liberated individual creates their own Heaven…the implications of which, are interesting enough to note for the future), but these are not addressed in the above book.

Unless I’m mistaken, and I’m getting this from Joseph Campbell’s lecture series, The Power of Myth, each Realm is identified with a klesha, or “Poison”.  (Alternately, “klesha” may mean “Defilement,” but if so, I’m uncertain of the difference between a Defilement and a Poison.)

Each Poison is something that leads one into a state of duhkha, or unease/suffering.  Each Poison is also identified with a World, or one of the Six Lower Realms.  Granted that in other schools, each Realm may have multitudes of sub-levels, as in the Narakas (Hells) of Japanese thought…not to get off topic.  The Six Lower Realms, and their Poisons, are:

  • Hell:  Anger/Aversion
  • World of the Hungry Ghosts:  Greed
  • World of the Animals:  Ignorance
  • The Human World:  Desire/Attachment
  • World of the Asuras (Jealous Gods):  Jealousy
  • World of the Gods:  Pride

What is interesting, on one point, is the idea that both Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can and do move between these worlds.  But what is meant by this?

I’ve taken it to mean, for example, that if one moves into a state where they are entirely filled with rage, they are then literally inhabiting the Hell realm — even though they’re still, physically (Phenomenologically), in the same place.  Mentally (Energetically), they aren’t.  This, then, makes an interesting (though somewhat problematic) intersection with my idea of Keys.

Over the years, I’ve learned that I have a lot more choice in what I allow myself to feel than most people would admit to.  We tend to say “this person made me angry,” rather than “I became angry at that person.”  There’s a difference in that the first phrasing identifies the speaker as the passive recipient and victim of (their own) anger.  The second method of phrasing takes full ownership of the fact that the other person did not cause one’s anger; rather, anger is there, and once that’s recognized, then we can investigate what to do about it — rather than blaming someone else for how we feel, and possibly attacking them for it (in one way or another).

For me a Key is, in some sense, what breaks me from normal reality and puts me into an altered space.  I’m trying to think of an impersonal, non-specific example of this, though, and it’s not quite making it.  It’s very possible that Keys are personal and idiosyncratic.

But, for example, when a person is walking down the street and hears someone wolf-whistle at her; if she has been the victim of sexual violence, this may bring back a multitude of feelings that she doesn’t want to feel.  In this case, that wolf-whistle is a Key to a mental state which she may very well enter into before she can detect and interrupt the process.  This is, however, also a case of psychological triggering — which is only the most obvious way that Keys and Rooms work.  At the beginning of this post, I said, “avoid the doors to Hell.  Even if you have the keys.”

In my thought, Hell can be many different things.  As someone who has been harassed for most of their life over gender and sexuality issues, I think it’s relatively easy for me to slip back into a chain reaction of disempowerment (and subsequently, pain and rage at my own loss of control) when things like this happen.  That, then, makes it easy for me to slip back into “you make me feel bad,” and lash out, which still might not make me feel any more empowered (“don’t make me hurt you”), and has negative effects for me (not to mention the other person).

There are a lot of Hells.  But just because you have received the key, doesn’t mean you have to enter the room.  It’s taken me a long time to realize that no one else really has the power to make me angry.  I make me angry.  There are few situations with multiple actors and only one interpretation of events.  This means that there may be some choice as to how we explain what is happening, to ourselves (though I could probably go off on another post, about this).

Once I recognize my anger, I then have the choice to let things go or move forward on a more productive path (whereas before, I might just gear up to fight, because I’m blaming someone else for how I feel, and don’t recognize that I have a choice to feel differently).

And it is really disempowering to wonder to oneself, “is this dude going to get me fired?”  I have a choice over my own actions; no one can make me do anything.  My emotions and my actions are my responsibility; blaming them on someone else is not productive.  On the other hand, if I do haul off and harm somebody, I also need to take full responsibility for that — which may seem a bit more evil to the general populace.

In a different sense, art can certainly be a key to entering an altered state.  The most obvious example I have of this is in line with the above, though, so I won’t use that one.

How about Water Lilies by Monet?  I have seen a panel of one of this series of paintings close up, and really, close up it doesn’t look that great.  But from afar, if you can take in all the colors and motion and light, you can feel transported, not in body, but in mind, to someplace else.  Someplace that you might like to be, even though obviously after a while of looking at a painting, we get our fill and look someplace else.

But the point is that the painting acted as a Key to a Room that had some kind of psychic content that …transported us to a place that, on first viewing, maybe we had never been before.  Complicated, of course, by the fact that our selected iteration of Water Lilies isn’t going to inspire the same feeling or content in all of us.

And, right…it’s late, and I’m tired.  I can’t believe I’ve stayed up this long, already.  I’ll get ready for bed, while I still can…

Keys

Last time I wrote, I mentioned something about “keys.”  This is part of a system that I’ve been developing for several years, at the least.  What I didn’t realize was that I work in a place which is full of “keys.”  Not in a physical sense, so much as a psychological one.

For me, a “key” is something that allows a window in on some kind of psychic activity that had heretofore been closed off.  What I didn’t realize, until I started reading again, is that books — at least fiction books — do serve this purpose, where they allow entry into a “room” constituted by psychic space.  It isn’t quite this simple, as the same book can open different doors for different people.  But, there are the neutral and benevolent versions (as versus solely the negative ones) of what I’ve known as “triggers,” which can grant access to states of mind which were previously not thought of, and hence, unaccessed.

It’s like the internet — there is a lot that is accessible, but without the right URL, getting to any one site can be difficult.

I am going to try and talk about something that isn’t easy for me to talk about, but which — if I’m going to write for real — I have to access, at the least.  Express, at the most (or so I think).  Granted that this isn’t a proclamation of, apparently, a one-and-only truth that I have sole access to — that would be kind of silly, bordering on solipsistic.  Even though I do, myself, range into questioning solipsism (or why it is this set of eyes I see through now)…it isn’t of benefit to me to rely on that.

Basically, I have been developing my own system of spirituality for the last decade, if not longer.  It probably has been longer, though, and I’m just discounting the experiences that led me to need to develop it.  There are a couple of terms for it…maybe one which might fit for me right now, is agnostic panentheism.  “Agnostic” because I rarely have unshakable faith in anything, even my own experiences; “panentheism” because I do have a belief that the living being I experience myself to be, now, is a combination of at least two fundamental things:  Spirit and Matter.  Without either one, in my system, life could not exist.

So, basically, I envision Spirit as this overarching kind of field.  While I have been interested in Physics, I’m not a physicist, and really haven’t taken classes in it (beyond high-school Physics, and University-level Astronomy).  It was kind of too math-focused, and at that time I was still traumatized by Math.  Kind of sad, because the universe seems to speak in Math…

Anyhow…I have this speculation on extradimensionality.  Though usually people talk about the world being 3-D, I usually work on a 4-D model:  three dimensions of Space, plus Time.  I really don’t know why people seem to think that 4-D is so weird, but.  Anyhow.

I have an idea that there could be something (Consciousness) existing in a dimension external to 4-D reality, that when viewed from within 4-D reality, seems to occupy all loci at all times.  I’m really not sure how many extra dimensions we’re supposed to have, but this would be one of them.

I’m kind of sounding Hindu, aren’t I…

Anyhow…I wouldn’t be surprised if this idea reoccurs periodically in different populations.

Basically, Consciousness/Spirit is what allows living beings to be aware of themselves.  It would exist within the rest of the world as well, but it may not have the same effect, there, because at least some living beings have the capability to interface with this level of reality which, say, a stone may not (though then we get into stone formation and magma and crystals, and whether matter we in the West consider non-living can have its own kind of experience; and it kind of goes off into its own subsystem, there).

But essentially, to me, everything that lives is full of what I call the Divine.  Every being that lives within 4-D reality has potential access to any experience that is possible, given the constraints of 4-D reality.  This does not mean that all fiction is real.  This means that crafted fiction may become a psychological “key” which lets the reader into a “room” which grants a certain experience.  That experience is real, but the tool is not the same as the outcome.

Even though we all have the potential to experience anything our physiologies allow, we usually don’t, because we live in very regimented ways.  On top of this, our physiologies (re:  mental “disorders” [do not think I am anti-psychiatry because I put that in quotes; I simply know that psychiatry doesn’t understand all it wants to]), physical limitations, conditioning, and experiences predispose us to experience some things more than others.

So fundamentally, in my system (which may not be correct and probably isn’t, on some level) the source of life can be traced back to a source outside of space-time.  This means that the same thing that animates me, animates you and every living thing the both of us have eaten, the same things which will recycle our bodies, etc.  We contain limitless potential to experience — well, at least as constrained within our own forms and the realm of space-time.  Yet, we turn out differently, and this is due to physiology, experience, conditioning, and more than that, what kinds of experiences come at us because of how others perceive us, or what state our bodies happen to be in.

At the same time, this means that we are all, fundamentally, the same Being from the same source.  This is quite an argument for compassion, because whatever messed-up thing happened today, if it was done intentionally, was done by another “you” with different experience, conditioning, and physiology.  If you happened to be the same person who today wronged you, in every way that was possible (including all life history — beyond the one in front of you), you would have done the same thing.

And yes, that is kind of sad, given the state of the world.

This then, though, leads off into a question of “soul” and if souls exist.  I don’t have time to get into that problem right now, but I’ll be back, later.