Today’s work.

Today was spent exchanging research materials at the library, and studying for the Database Mock Final…which is not difficult. I am very glad. In a few days, my Art + Zen Research Guide will be due. Though I wanted to study for that, I found it more important to focus on the Database class, because Database Management is basically the hardest course I’ve got going this semester. And the Mock Final was due tonight.

Luckily for me…I took a lot of notes. I have an A4 notebook for class with 40 sheets of paper which is basically full from the first page, to about 40% of the last page. I was actually kind of flabbergasted that I filled it up almost exactly (I was scared of having to double-back and write on the backs of the pages).

But I think I’ll be using these notebooks, again: they’re much better for what I need them for, than buying American-sized notebooks (which can go 60-80% unused, and have worse paper, if you’re using pen). This is not to mention that the American-sized notebooks generally cost about 5x as much (I’m getting my stuff from a Japanese dollar store). There are the 8″x10″ things for ~$1, but I hate the texture and absorbency of those, so…

Also luckily, the nonfiction books I’ve been looking in for my Research Guide seem fairly well-organized, so it isn’t difficult to locate needed chapters or sections.

I have gotten to the point where I believe that when some of my sources refer to “Void,” they’re referencing sunyata, or Emptiness, the realization of which is key to understanding “Buddha Nature.” How I’m going to explain this is yet to be determined (and I suspect Zen would probably approach this from the angle of not trying to explain it), but I know that I need to toss sources which refer to Zen being based in nihilism. I read at least three different sources today in the Reference section, which dispute the nihilist claim.

Actually, as a matter of fact, the first book I picked up on Ch’an Buddhism has a first chapter which is about sunyata.

So…there is something in this that is causing me to feel the spirits are with me. 🙂 And…yeah, there is a bit of stuff in there about, “wait, I thought things were without soul/self (anatman)?” But that’s only partially correct; things are without self-arising self-identity, but phenomenal self, exists. (It is also implied that clinging to a phenomenal self gives rise to duhkha, or “suffering” [which is a poor translation].)

And I’ve read that psychic phenomena and the ability to undertake sorcery do arise on the path, and just to ignore them and keep on doing what you’re doing.

Well.

I guess it’s like being reborn in a more fortunate position than many can cause one to crash back into lower Realms, because it’s too easy to get lax in one’s conduct and mind…

I’m not certain at this point how I’m going to put this all together, but I should probably start diagramming on something. I have several different sections I could use, though it might be more useful to combine some of these:

  • Japanese Zen (Bodhidharma, on)
  • Ch’an Buddhism
  • Taoism
  • Emptiness/Void
  • Satori
  • Zen and Brush Painting
  • Zen and cha-no-yu
  • Philosophy
  • Wabi and Sabi as aesthetic principles
  • More aesthetic principles
  • Introduction of Zen to the West
  • Distortions (nationalistic, linguistic, etc.)

I would be more readily accessing the template I’ve been provided, but I’m unsure as to how to delete things once I’ve created them…

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Study is going well.

Yes, I am up at 1 AM. I lay down sometime around 8 PM, apparently woke at 9 PM, and slept through until about 12:45 AM. I had planned to get back up to study, but I even slept through DragonBall Super, which isn’t quite like me.

I’ve been doing some hard work on the Zen + Art Research Guide. I am scheduled to go back to the library tomorrow to see if I can find further information on the concept of Void (or shunyata/sunyata), as approached by the Ch’an school (which preceded Zen).

It also wouldn’t hurt to find some books on Taoism, as the latter has had such a heavy influence on Zen.

I know enough to know that books referencing Zen’s, “nihilism,” are likely off-point (Void/Emptiness/Shunyata is not the same thing as, “nothing,” or, “the Abyss”), but I need to confirm. At this point I’m not certain if Void is equivalent to interdependent arising [Indian origin], or to Yin [Chinese origin].

And I still haven’t begun to assemble this (I will need to break things down into conceptual chunks), but I have until Wednesday to do so. In the meantime, what I have to do is the Mock Final for Database Management: which I’m trying to convince myself, isn’t a big thing (as no one will see it, and it’s just a study aid). I don’t expect it to be easy, though…and I dislike seeing myself perform poorly. Even on a study aid!

Aside from that, work is fine. Although I keep having random sneezes, and I’m not sure if it’s allergies, or if it’s an illness I’m fighting off.

I know that after this semester is over, I’m likely going to want to check out some books on quilting. But after this. Maybe when I return my Zen books.

🙂

Cultural location and creative context: Part 2

Part 1 of this series, where I introduced the fact that I (surprisingly) have come to view myself as more Japanese-American than I thought I could be (as a multiracial person), is at this link. (At this point, I wish my thoughts had been more together when I wrote it! Also at this point: I realize that I don’t need to try to be more Japanese-American than I am.)

What I had thought of, but didn’t have time to relate in that post, was the concept of being, “grounded,” in some sort of definite culture. Going on the assumption that most artists in the past didn’t necessarily have a global/multicultural/metropolitan viewpoint (which might be wrong; I haven’t checked it out yet), I find myself thinking that it must have been easier for them to locate themselves within a cultural milieu.

Or, as I found myself thinking in one of my Art History classes, we don’t bash Michelangelo because he didn’t know anything about Chinese brush painting.

Of course, I can’t be certain about the factual certainty of that: but…is it clear? There are so many cultures worldwide, and all of them have their own traditions and ways of approaching the world. Being good at one way doesn’t mean one is a “Master,” because we live in an era where being a Master at one thing means having taken time away from something else (and that generally means not being too great at it).

As an example, I’m a fourth-generation Japanese-American, and have found myself trained (though minorly) in linoleum block printing (a.k.a. linocuts), which I learned in high school. I’m closer to American than I am to Japanese, but I have a ton of underlying family influences which make me different from majority Americans and are traceable to the culture of one side of my family’s diaspora. At the same time, my training is Western in nature.

On top of that, now that I think of it…is the other side of my parentage, which is where I get my mysticism. Where that originates (other than with my great-grandmother, and where she got it from), I don’t know. But I’m trying to work it into my thoughts that it is okay to be a little non-rational. 🙂

I was taught about linoleum block printing, but not woodblock printing. Thus, on initially encountering woodblock printing, I was ignorant of the vast differences between both techniques. I didn’t quite get a clue until trying to carve a block for the first time and realizing how differently wood behaves, than linoleum. It made me realize how skilled carvers had to have been, in order to create things so detailed and precise.

The Honolulu Art Museum has a rather famous collection of woodblock prints going back…a very long time, I would say over hundreds of years, at least from the ukiyo-e era forward through shin hanga and sosaku hanga to what might possibly reach modern mokuhanga? (–although that is a flash in the pan, comparatively.)

I’ve mentioned this before: while I was there I picked up a book titled Shin Hanga: The New Print Movement of Japan, text by Barry Till. I’m hoping the Reader will pick up on my last mention of this book; otherwise, I can hunt for it after I post this. (EDIT: my first mention of this book, is at this location.) In any case, I picked up the book because it reproduces a great number of color prints which have beautiful composition and flow. I had hoped that studying them could help me learn how to improve composition and color usage in my own projects.

What happened later is that somehow I began searching out information on mokuhanga (so far as I can tell, this is the modern version of Japanese woodblock printing). There are some sources existing on this; the one I found (and bought) was Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop by April Vollmer. Not realizing the difficulty of what I enamored to undergo, I set about collecting tools to use to draw my own prints.

I didn’t realize this at the time, but it seems obvious to me now: Japanese woodblock printing evolved within a relatively insular society. This means that there is a unique way of doing things. This also means that there is a unique, apparently self-contained way of doing things, which does not necessarily cross over with superficially similar methods of other cultures.

For example, there are special brushes used to disperse pigment over the surface of the wood block, which have to be prepared a certain way (the ends of the hairs have to be singed and grated against “dragon skin”, like a metal rasp; sharkskin was used prior). (Vollmer 83) This means — for a Westerner — if one wants to have the possibility of doing things precisely like professional Japanese artists do, one will have to go out of their way to find, buy, and prepare specialty brushes which aren’t widely available overseas (except as imports).

Of course, there is not really a point to a Westerner trying to mimic ancient techniques (except to preserve them), because for one thing, a lot of these prints were made in production workshops, not just by one single artist.

Sosaku hanga, a term used for “artist’s prints” (I am not sure that’s the direct translation, but it’s what I can remember and not find right now in Till — the book lacks an Index), differed from these and came about after the opening of Japan to the West. They focused more on the total control of the artist from concept through production of the finished print.

Before that time, the total control of the artwork being in one person’s hands, doesn’t seem to have been a concern; but it came to be felt that the spirit of the work was not as pure if the artwork was a collaboration. (I don’t know exactly where this idea originated, but I think I read it in Till.)

Of course, though; there is a big emphasis on collaboration and teamwork in Japanese culture, generally; whereas expressing individuality…I’m not entirely certain where that philosophical idea comes from. I would make a guess that it is someplace and sometime in Europe, and I’d check the Renaissance, first.

Anyhow, what I mean to get at is that we each have our own cultural locations, and I think they’re getting more complex. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be more difficult to locate oneself in culture, if one happens to have a ton of differing cultural influences (not limited to one’s family, but including work, peers, community, food, religion, gender, philosophy…).

Having these cultures colliding means that generations like my own have choices about what techniques to employ and whether to employ them fully traditionally, or whether to mix our influences. There’s a choice between trying to preserve an old way of life and going on to make something entirely new, but still based on what came before. Innovate, I guess.

I read somewhere that it had been an ideal in some cultures to mimic what the artist saw. I believe this was in Six Names of Beauty by Crispin Sartwell.

“Art, both in Japan and in the West, is traditionally accounted for as a mimesis of the world…[yet] in suiseki, nature is used as an imitation of nature, earth of earth, reality of reality, truth of truth…Plato’s critique, in which he condemns representational arts as deceptive, is entirely out of place.” (Sartwell 119-120)

I think what’s holding me back within my art (particularly drawing and painting), is this idea of representation, of trying to copy what I see — but for what? Why? Why are things so important? Why are bodies so important? Physicality?

I think it’s because no one has really — directly, at least — taught me any other way to approach image-making.

I also think it’s because my education was lacking in philosophical breadth. And I didn’t realize I was lacking the information until I read something which had a message different from the one I was familiar with.

I am going to try and get back on the Zen train and read what I have, even though I’m not sure I knew what I was getting into when I embarked on the quest.

But I don’t think I’m Zen. I actually am doubting whether I still want to hang with Buddhist philosophy (though it does come in handy when I need a reality check). My draw to Zen occurred because I associated asymmetrical composition with wabi sabi, but I am thinking that this isn’t exactly accurate; I think the love for asymmetry predates wabi sabi. And I’m doubting anatman (the doctrine of no-self: conditional arising negates the need for a concept of a soul or identity), at this point.

What has been happening over the last few days has gotten me back to the point of thinking that what I experience is not my body. It is through my body, but it is not my body. The body is just a channel for something beyond.

And…now I’m talking like I’m philosophically Greek or (East) Indian…or a New Ager. Or a psychic/medium. Which…I can get into that, another time. Been there. (No offense intended to any of these groups!)

I just am starting to believe in souls, like I’ve started to develop a concept of evil, and I’m starting to develop a concept of Deity and the hereafter. And I’m thinking about what it means if everything I think I know is wrong. (Or, just some of it…)

WORKS CITED:

Sartwell, C. (2006). Six names of beauty. New York, NY: Routledge.

Till, B. (2007). Shin hanga: The new print movement of Japan. Portland, OR: Pomegranate Communications, Inc.

Vollmer, A. (2015). Japanese woodblock print workshop. Berkeley, CA: Watson-Guptill Publications.

Doing a project on Zen and Art.

Well. I did go to the art store. I also did go to the library…and now I have enough books on Zen and Art, that I probably don’t need to be looking for any more (though it still is tempting to look for more!).

For my final project in Reference & Information Services, I’m making a Research Guide. It began as an investigation as to Zen’s influence on Japanese aesthetics, particularly in art…though it may not end up as I intended. I did some reading last night and realized that my original idea may not have been based on accurate information.

It is, however, still really fascinating. In addition to books on Zen + Art, I have found books describing Zen practice…which is appealing to me, for the reason that it seems to be a religion without “religion.” By that I mean that it doesn’t encourage faith or belief, but is rather an orthopraxic religion instead of an orthodoxic one (i.e., “do the right thing,” as versus, “believe the right thing,” and not, “do the right thing because it’s right,” but rather, possibly, because it lessens pain).

I have a lot of reading ahead of me, though! Right now, I’ve been working for most of the morning, so I wasn’t too eager to jump back into reading…I only brought along my SQL textbook and it’s like (sarcasm) yay SQL amazing fascinating right (/sarcasm).

Anyhow, I’ve decided not to focus on that, right now.

I’ve still got a bunch of grading to do for my Instructional Design class…and a little bit of homework for Database Management. But after that, this is all Finals. I’m going to try and not be frightened about that, and instead, look forward to what is going to be happening during Summer. I may get time to work on my arts and crafts, and it’s possible I could have a really good time in the two classes I’m set up to take.

I know, I know. But it’s just four units. 😛

(Preliminary) reasons to write

I just got back from a library more useful than the one I work at 😉 (I forgot how nice that library is), and am going to take a quick break here to note down some things I found last night, when writing.

I took about 20 minutes last night to begin writing out the narrative of the story I’ve mentioned recently. I’m actually feeling very good about it, and about having taken some time last night, to read in Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. It’s been a long time since I’ve dealt in fiction, but the value of it came to me when I was trying to fall asleep.

Fiction allows one to try out being different people and making different life decisions than the ones one has made, or possibly might make. It allows one to look at life from multiple perspectives, without necessarily validating one over the other (though to be honest, I don’t particularly strive for objectivity in my fiction!).

One of the things which has stopped me from reading fiction in the past has been the sense that some authors (particularly in the Classics) wrote for the reason of reinforcing and validating their own worldviews. I’m not sure anymore that this is the case; as I’ve mentioned before, my memories of my young adulthood are distorted by untreated illness affecting my cognition, and as such, they’re unreliable.

This is kind of a difficult truism to combat, though. If one believes it, it may prevent them from reading fiction at all, and from writing it as well. If one doesn’t read any more narrative after that, one just continues to hold the belief while the world around one moves on. It might not even help if one tries to get out of it by reading creative prose; often, we see what we are looking for, particularly when there is no one “right” interpretation of a text.

It’s generally accepted that in literary arts, as in fine arts, there is no one “right” or “correct” interpretation, by the way…because not even the author can know such a thing. There’s just too much subconscious and unconscious content for this to be true, and often the interpretation of a text has as much or more to do with the reader than it has to do with the writer.

In order for multiple divergent readings to be possible, we have to grant that the work stands on its own (that is, in fiction, we don’t judge the author for what they have written, even if we do judge the work itself) and that not one reading is “right.”

Hmm. Maybe that’s where I get my philosophical relativism from.

I also at times have felt a bit of…trepidation at letting the reader inside of my head, because I’ve attempted literary analysis on my own work before, and in the past it hasn’t been pretty. (Don’t do that, by the way. Especially not if you’re concurrently dealing with mental illness and cognitive distortion, as I was.)

What I have found is that taking time out to write enhances my productivity, rather than reducing it, as I had assumed. It takes time to write, but then it also helps when you come to things with a fresh mind, not burdened by unexpressed ideas. (Unexpressed ideas can turn into unexpressed obsessions, which is where writing serves well as a method of exorcism. Once you write it down, you can stop repeating it to yourself in an attempt to remember it.)

The problem with unexpressed ideas, as well, is that before they’re put into a format where they become objects, it’s difficult to manipulate them and see the deeper meanings behind them. Whereas, I know as a writer that when I encode things into English (as my first language), I start making connections and realizing ideas that I didn’t know were there.

And these two reasons can be enough reason for me to write, for now. I’m sure more (real) reasons to write will arise as I actually get back into fiction writing.

In any case, last night I didn’t get a lot written, so far as length was concerned — I was writing (legibly) by hand in a small sketchbook, which reduces my writing speed significantly. In turn, that makes me think about my phrasing (not to mention the art of handwriting), more.

I did, however, begin to lay the foundation for a larger story…and I was surprised at how much was already there, going unexpressed. It might actually turn into a novella (or alternately, graphic novel series).

In addition, I was immediately able to see opportunities to expand on what I had begun. This is where my degree in Creative Writing actually helps!

I guess it’s nice to feel multi-talented. 🙂 Or that my undergraduate degree is actually useful for something.

I think that’s about enough time spent, here. Of course, there’s always more to say, but I will post it when it’s ready to come out. 🙂

Dark ‘kin, mythology, and pop culture

So yes, I did see the last episode of Dragon Ball Super, and yes, I did start to do research on it. Apparently there’s an end-date for the series (though a movie is planned for later)…and things are about to get fairly serious in the show.

Whereas earlier, it seemed like the writers were just playing around…the present arc with Mirai (Future) Trunks is looking as though it isn’t going to turn out well. I haven’t read all the spoilers, though, and I don’t know exactly when the series is set to end.

I am not entirely sure why the last episode had such an effect on me, except for the fact that Goku Black is an extremely twisted character, especially if you know a bit about Asian philosophy and religion. That, in turn, recalls my time in Otherkin groups…

(AAH! I said it! Finally! Watch me fight a tide of new incoming spam!)

…and it’s also recalling the freakin’ Political Advocacy course I’m in, at the moment, where it’s been shared that barely anyone wholeheartedly thinks of themselves as a bully or terrible person, even though they may be seen that way by others.

So anyway, on the radar tonight, I had to deal with extended family (which is itself a bit demented, though I’m not going to get into it) and with a session where we dealt with what to do about the portfolio option for graduation. I feel better, now that I attended.

But yeah, I can see you wondering about that Otherkin bomb I dropped. I’m wondering about it, too. (If you don’t know what “otherkin” means, it refers to people who primarily identify as something other than human. It’s sometimes distinguished from “therianthrope,” which is someone who identifies as a creature who is now or was at one time literally existent; “otherkin” includes these people and also those who see themselves in myth, and/or as possibly not literally existent, or for whom we have no proof of their literal existence.)

At this point, I’m fairly certain that the reason I even got into that subculture is because I’m a highly creative person who lacked creative outlets…which is what I’ve been trying to say in one form or another, for a while (though I haven’t been back to a ‘kin forum in a very long time; the ones I was active on, went dead several years ago. Do we want to resuscitate that…).

The major issue I’m having right now is still f***ing identifying with my Kintype, even though I know it’s an outgrowth of my own human mind, and a metaphor for what I actually am. That is, it both is and isn’t valid, at the same time.

The major problem with this is that my Kintype (that is, the type of being I identify with/see myself to be) isn’t highly respected; I tend to freak people out when I say what it is. (Unlike one of my old acquaintances who identified as something hardly anyone in this hemisphere had a definition for, I could state what it is and everyone would immediately get an idea. The ideas would just be multiple and largely off-base.) At this point, I’m not even certain I know what I’m referring to when I give someone else a reference, because we come from such different swaths of backgrounds that I don’t know that what I mean is what they think of.

But to give you an idea, I have spoken with people who had identities along the “dark” end of the spectrum, and we kind of had a little thing going. I’ve actually been more comfortable (to an extent) with them than with the general canid types or people who have seen themselves in a positive/religious light as angels (though that can get pretty dark, too — they just don’t see it as such).

And…yeah, that whole “not sharing intellectual worlds” thing is a reason why I identified as ‘kin, in the first place. For the sake of family and (multiple versions of) security, I’ve been trying to ignore it for, well, years. Granted that I’m no longer anywhere near Pagan/alternative religion circles anymore, and as such don’t have to worry about people taking me deadly seriously (no I am NOT god-kin), but still.

I actually have been giving thought to the entire Book of Enoch/Nephilim thing, although it’s outside of my own intellectual circle. That is to say, ancient Near-East beliefs are not something (anything) I’m familiar with, largely, outside of researching the Daevas, but I have been giving time to thoughts about unseen advanced beings giving humans information which we may or may not be ready to have, yet (with the balance tipped toward “not ready to have,” on a large scale). Nuclear capabilities are one of those things. At this point I’m not sure if it’s a spiritual thing or an alien thing, but it could be fun to write fiction about. 😉

Of course, it would only be fiction. I have a hard enough time discerning that fact as it is.

Those of you who were around during the online-Satanist boom of the early 2000’s, probably know what I’m referencing with the Enochian thing: at the time I left, one leader in particular (one of the more balanced, tolerant and non-mind-control ones) was of this mindset, and…I don’t know what to say about that, really, except I kinda miss her. What I don’t miss are the political views that came along with a bunch of the other people on her fora. I also don’t miss the (constant barrage of) drama. And the constant stream of people wanting to “sell their souls.” Why is your soul so cheap?

Reason I never turned Satanist is that I have no grudge against Christianity except where as a hegemonically organized voting bloc, they intrude upon my self-concept (heh heh) and human rights…and that happens to be a political/power/control thing with a glaze of religion, more than anything. Because I was never inculcated as Christian, I don’t have that specter to fight against in my own mind. Most Satanists, to my estimation, do.

Anyhow, that Goku Black thing kind of freaked me out, and I’m pretty sure it’s in relation to his trying to elicit thanatos from Trunks. “Thanatos” is…if memory serves, I think it’s a Freudian term, which translates to the “drive to death,” or the desire to die. Particularly, in this case, it was because Black had basically turned the world into a Hell and told Trunks that if he died, he could be with all the things and people he loved (not a spoiler, it’s been on already).

I’ve had to deal with this enough as a youth and adult that maybe it just tipped off something in my mind. Particularly as certain of us have decided to flush the world down the c***per because they’re mortal and selfish and thus have no reason to care about its future…

…let me get off of that…

…but it kind of makes it clear why some people don’t want to be associated with the species, yes?

Ugh. Anyway.

Anyway, it could be interesting to start studying the whole Otherkin thing, again. My major issue is that I have no exact definition for what I am, and what information there is about anyone like the term I’ve previously associated with myself, happens to be couched in negativity. The problem is that many very simple people have divided the world into “heroes,” and, “villains,” and I happen to fall toward the latter edge of that, as regards presently dominant culture.

The positive bit of this is that I’m not totally “dark,” and I’m not totally willing to play the villain. I know by now what “darkness” is, in my own lexicon; it isn’t something to aspire to, more than a place we start from. This is not referring to literal properties of absorptiveness by dark-energy beings; more than a lack of knowledge about what is and is not right, and how- and how-not-to live. (Dharma, baby.)

As I’ve said before, certain ways of being have persisted for millenia because they work. This is the point at which I am totally divorced from certain strains of Satanism (if you know, you know). Opposing things just for the sake of opposing them is closer to an illness than to a meaningful philosophy (IMHO). And there are a lot of people who do oppose things just to oppose them, regardless of what kind of havoc that wreaks in their lives or what kind of philosophical weakness that shows. I’m fairly certain these are the people I had been trying to avoid.

Of course, in the present world we don’t have to worry about some things, such as having enough children to maintain our safety, population, and way of life. So some things can be changed in light of differing conditions. My main issue here is being seen as not-of-this-world because I’m adapted to latter conditions rather than former ones. Then I start being gauged as to whether I’m good+not-of-this-world or bad+not-of-this-world, which is really not something for a human (who doesn’t understand me in the first place) to gauge.

I guess it’s something for me to gauge. But that’s tough when the closest **** thing you’ve got is Dragon Ball Super. 😉

I might want to get into reading South Asian and East Asian folktales, at that…at minimum, it will be enlightening as to why I identify so much more with stories out of Asia than stories from the U.S. And there’s the chance that I’ll actually start to understand some of the thought processes behind them…

Just because it’s believed, doesn’t mean it’s real.

I know it’s time for me to start preparing for the night, but I’ve actually had some interesting thoughts to share.  One of them, is how much easier it is to talk and define oneself when one isn’t aware of exactly how crazy one sounds.  🙂

I have a tendency — a strong one, on reduced medication (I’ve started to get off of Prozac, which historically has helped clarify my thoughts) — to be creative and define myself in creative manners.  However, what has become clear to me is just how many versions of myself I can have…and that none of them may be entirely accurate.

It’s actually really easy to define (or redefine) oneself (especially if one is delusional; meaning that no matter what evidence is presented to one that the belief is untrue, one will continue to hold the belief despite it).  And it’s easy to believe these definitions of oneself are true:  it’s the brain’s way, to believe itself.

The hard part is sticking to these definitions, because when you’re trying to be anything you can conceptualize, there will inevitably be holes (the true self may be beyond conceptualization).  And after a while you realize that all these outgrowths are symptomatic of a deeper reality, which is that your tendency is to create and that given no creative outlet, you rewrite and re-iterate yourself, as versus your art projects or your crafts or your writing or music…or apps… 😉

(Water has been a strong theme in my life.  It will seek out holes and burst dams.  The more I try to hold it back, the more catastrophic the floodwaters can be.)

As I’ve moved forward in life, as versus paused to ascertain whether and how to just hold steady and avoid despair, I’ve not had time to devote to things like energy work or spiritual topics which may only hold a side-benefit of (supposedly) better health.

When I was a youth, I was drawn to Buddhist philosophies, because having a philosophy which recognized the existence of duhkha (popularly translated as “suffering,” but this is an inexact translation), and was based around relieving it, gave me some comfort.  It meant I wasn’t alone in my pain.

By now, I have integrated parts of Buddhist philosophy which can help:  but I don’t really think it’s…true, anymore.  (Pretty much, nothing classified as, “metaphysics,” “spirituality,” or, “religion,” fall into the “undisputably true” category, with me.  Even the category of “philosophy” is questionable [if you start out with the wrong givens, in philosophy, you can’t hope to follow them to truth] — although I do realize that this post is in essence, philosophical.)

People are creative — is something I’m taking as a given — and many more things can be thought of, than are true.  Buddhism is a creation which has been co-created by many people over more than two millenia, which has likely helped sustain a large number of lives over the years it has been in existence…but its functionality (its usefulness) doesn’t relate to its truth value.

That is, something can be useful, and not be true.  I may have, on this point, come to the realization of what is meant by the Buddhist concept of upaya (usually translated as “skilled means”).  Although all explanations I’ve heard of this concept seem condescending — I’m kind of understanding, at this point, that this is both an admission that doctrine itself may not be founded on truth, and that it is still important to address duhkha in life.

Earlier tonight, I realized one thing:  that people in certain spiritual communities (myself having been included among these at multiple times) have felt relatively free to say things, precisely because they felt those things with such certainty.  However, my experience with mental illness has made at least one thing clear:  a subjective feeling of certainty is not a determinant of truth value.  What do I mean by that?

I mean that just because we think and feel and “know” something is true, that doesn’t mean it is.  It’s the brain’s nature to “believe in” what it tells itself.  Now it is possible to have subjective (or internal) dissonance, and that also needs to be attended to:  oftentimes, it has been feelings like these which have let me know that I didn’t have both feet in reality.  (There does seem to be a spectrum of, “More True”-to-“Less True,” when it comes to seeking out who one is.)

And once you’ve been around long enough, it becomes apparent when others are attempting to manipulate you for their own gain.  (It’s one thing for a person to choose what to believe; it’s another for someone else to try and choose what they believe for them, in a manner that benefits the one doing the choosing and not the disempowered subject.)  Just because I recognize that I cannot fully grasp reality in my mind, doesn’t mean that I think anyone else can, either.

This has been the largest reason I’ve stayed away from spiritual institutions.  Although I do admit that I am now curious about attending Buddhist services.

The priest at my family member’s funeral was from a Pure Land sect:  Jodo Shinshu, to be exact.  But he seemed to have his head on straight, and to know what efficiently and urgently needed to be addressed.

It’s apparent to me that we tell ourselves what we need to tell ourselves in order to simply function and stay alive.  In this sense, creativity in humans functions as a survival mechanism.  And is this why so many creative people deal with mental illness, as well (only the most creative, survived)?  I’m not sure.

It’s apparent to me as well, that religion is an outgrowth of creativity.

I’m not certain exactly what will happen if and when I succeed in entirely kicking Prozac.  What I do expect is that my creative faculties will become less muted.  In turn, I’ll probably become more eccentric than the way you’re used to seeing me behave.  I hate to say I can’t help it, but…it’s just the space I normally inhabit.

I just have to make sure I don’t box myself in too tightly with definitions and proclamations of “truth”…because words don’t matter where it comes to what’s real.