Saturday, January 26, 2008

Experiment - Attention

"It’s not an accident that I have this power. Nor is it that you’re in a situation like this. If you’d been more aware, you wouldn’t have thrown down that cigarette. Indeed, you wouldn’t have if I were a blustering profane General of the conventional variety."
"When there are little surges of resistance, it merely calls for more power to be directed downward."
-The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer

Attention is absolutely essential to group work.
The highest achievable state of wakefulness must be maintained by each group member as an individual. When a group begins to actually do something, the individual and collective threshold for awareness becomes readily apparent.
The tendency in a group can easily be to turn the sum of ones attention outward on the other members of the group. This is a fatal error.
First attention must be placed on self, then it must be multiplied before being divided so that one is still attentive to self and now additionally attentive to the movement of the other members of the group.
This is coordination, being able to pat your head and rub your stomach. It is both a physical and a more than physical ability. It involves awareness and control, being able to perceive what is really happening and being able to modify, adjust, or maintain an effort accordingly.
The same quality of attention employed by a ballet troupe executing a piece of choreography must be applied to the doings of a work group. If one dancer places the whole of their attention on another dancer that is missing steps, the first dancer, now absorbed in the conduct of the second, is bound to loose track of their own steps. They become like a chain of falling dominoes. Each troupe member must maintain their own center of balance and be "on" enough to accommodate and compensate for the missteps of others.
That is, each individual must be super humanely alert, actively attentive, and assume responsibility for the self as well as for the whole. Everyone must be the Captain willing to go down with the ship, otherwise it is a crew composed of rats.
Members must, must, work on self. They must be able to center the attention on self and control the self, overriding the mechanical inclinations to become angry or resentful of those that commit missteps and likewise those that commit missteps must not become bitter and jealous of those who are "on".
Manifesting these mechanical reactions takes away from the awakened state of the individual as well as the group as a whole Being, ultimately destroying the dance. It is very difficult to recover from a badly collapsed piece of choreography. It can be done, but it requires even more effort than was necessary to do it properly in the first place.
In addition it is much easier to recover the choreography if one dancer is out of step, but the others are able to maintain. For this reason it is imperative to remember that the foundation of group work is built upon self work.

For this experiment you will require a work partner. Stand facing each other with a metronome set to 60bpm and a timer set to sound after 6 minutes.
For the purpose of this experiment, three beats will count as a measure of time.
Each beat that you hear from the metronome represents one beat within a measure that will consist of three beats.
On the first beat you will each bring your own two hand together and clap in front of your heart. On the second beat you will clap together with one hand each by bringing your opposing hands together so that your arm crosses in front of your body.
This means that person A is reaching across their body with their right hand in order to meet the left hand of person B.
On the third beat, person A will now clap the right hand of person B with their left hand. This is the same motion executed on the second beat now done with the other hand.
While clapping this rhythm you will begin to chant the following mantra together:

"Nothing ever has happened. Nothing ever will happen."

Below you will find a chart detailing how the words should adhere to the rhythm.
In the left column you see the syllables with the beat number upon which they should be pronounced. The dashes indicate that the syllable from the preceding beat shall be extended through the next beat.
Therefore on the first clap you begin with "No", carry the sound through the second clap and pronounce "thing" on the third clap and so on.

1 No-
2 -
3 thing
1 E
2 ver
3 has
1 hap
2 -
3 -
1 pened
2 -
3 -
1 No-
2 -
3 thing
1 Ev
2 er
3 will
1 hap
2 -
3 -
1 pen
2 -
3 -

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Experiment: The Flower Sermon

The sermon itself was a wordless one in which Śākyamuni merely held up a flower before the assembled disciples, among whom there was no reaction apart from Mahākāśyapa, who smiled.

What a trick, beginning and end.
If you are a flower who can perceive its own existence and perceives it to be self contained and inherently existent, the moment you bloom seems to be the beginning and the moment your last petal drifts to the black soil seems the last.
If you are black soil you have been built over the course of billions of years, shaped and changed by flowers and other bio matter living and at last decaying over you, by waters flowing over and pouring down, by eruptions from deep below and fires raging above, by the deification of life forms worming through you and striding upon you and by things which fall from the far heavens.
If you are black soil you do not track the life and death of a single flower, but rather count the rise and fall of entire populations of wildflowers, count them silently as you swallow seed and send bloom bursting forth towards the sun.
Can the life cycle of the flower be separated from the life cycle of the black soil?
Does it exist independently?

Can it exist independently?
Why, objectively, would the existence of a human animal differ from that of a flower?
If you are a ballroom of red, yellow, and white burning spheres and spinning bodies of minerals, metals, and vapors dancing the dance of gravitational force, you do not count the individual dancers. Not the blue bulb nursing black soil, not it’s burning yellow partner, nor it’s small pock marked attendant, nor any other. If you are such a ballroom you trace only the dance, silently keeping time in the perpetually motion.

Lay on your back in a silent place.
Cross your arms over your chest and close your eyes with a timer set for 24 min.
Breath deeply and slowly, feeling your belly rise first, then your chest.
The sound of your breathing should be undetectable.
Other than this breathing, do not move.
Without speaking it aloud, repeat the following mantra for the duration of the 24 minutes in your mind:

"Nothing ever has happened.
Nothing ever will happen."

The first line will be contemplated on the inhale, the second line with the exhale.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Experiment: Sunyata

“Śūnyatā signifies that everything one encounters in life is empty of absolute identity, permanence, or an in-dwelling 'self'. This is because everything is inter-related and mutually dependent - never wholly self-sufficient or independent. All things are in a state of constant flux where energy and information are forever flowing throughout the natural world giving rise to, and themselves undergoing, major transformations with the passage of time."

What are you made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice?
Of clay rolled up by an eager creator?
Will you tell me of your cells and tissues, of that great pumping valve called heart and other pieces like it, or of the systems of these pieces?
Will you tell me that you are mostly water?
Or will you invoke the atom?
If you invoke the atom will you deduce that we are made up largely of empty space?
Are we stardust?
Are we golden?

Tell me, what are we made of?

What are we made of?

What are we made of?

The stuff dreams are made of?
Are we all made of sound?
Are you made at all?
What makes you so sure that you exist?

I am not so sure that you do. If I look at you without blinking perhaps you will evaporate like a little molecule of water at a lake's surface under the sun's rising glance.
Is there even an I?
Is I not a temporary state, a momentary resting point, a center of reference to contextualize being-ness?
I emerged out of the hollow mouth of the Zero because I couldn’t bear the un-scratchable itch associated with being a point in every direction.

Emptiness is form;
form is emptiness.

Therefore the void is deniable but unavoidable.

Lay on your back with your arms crossed upon your chest, your delicate eye lids carefully sealed over your slippery eyeballs.
Set a timer for just one minute.
For one minute only maintain this posture without moving.
Breath deeply, feeling your belly rise, then your chest expand and your collarbone rise slowly and sequentially with each inhalation. This is where your attention should be kept for the duration of the minute; on the breath.
Repeat the experiment each day, adding one minute more to the timer each time.
On the first day you will maintain the pose for one minute, on the second day for two minutes, until on the 24th day you conduct the experiment for the duration of 24 minutes.
When you reach 24 minutes you will no longer increase your time.
After the 24th day continue conducting your experiments only for the duration of 24 minutes.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008


How will I dance the dances of the ages if I don’t dance?
We have stayed underground so long, our complexions have become pale like the flesh of mushrooms. We paint the cave walls, the tunnels, caverns and byways of the collective subconsciousness with the click clack of pressed buttons and alphanumeric keys.
Our cave paintings are digital, like the visions of dreams, they disappear when the machine harboring them changes states. Sometimes they are made physical, on fibers that may last for 100 years, displayed not in caves but in places of commerce, buildings with uncertain futures. Monkeys dreaming their own dreams and whispering into the ear of their digital demons with that click, clack, click, clack, pausing to sip the grinds of botanicals steeped in hot water, ignore what hangs behind their heads, waiting for that 100 years to surrender it to decay.
With our click, clack we exhibit our mastery over maya through words unuttered, rarely spared ink, strung along the cave walls where only those who click, clack, there way in with a search that unearths a matching key will find them.
Of those that find them, how many will pause to read them?
How many fewer will let them burrow deep so that they may tangle with their own roots, let the words speak directly with what dangles beneath associations, far below the intellectual surface?
Of those that seek, that find, and that commune freely, how many will perpetuate the experience; begin to paint caves themselves?
If I meet a woman of knowledge in the desert what will I do with her?
I will dance if she dances, sing if she sings, thread beads if she threads beads… I will let what she does penetrate to the core, let it graft on to what already sprouts from my own deep.
When I return I might dance, or I might click, clack, the click, clack, click, of ages.
One day all of the artifacts will be gone.
Will the thing that passed through the makers still live?
Only if there are some willing to leave the safety of consuming that they may become makers.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

My Time With The Blind

My time with the Blind Tribe taught me to see.
The Blind urged me to trust unconditionally, to trust what cannot be seen.
In the swirling darkness, midnight black with a ripple of gray, I would feel myself spin, faster and faster. The void would open up before me as wide as I wanted the mouth I once had to open and set me free with a scream. There was no down or up or right or left, no body large enough to gravitate towards, just endless empty blackness swallowing itself.
What was I when I departed from the earth spinning and screaming that soundless scream?
The Blind Tribe dug a hole in the ground long after I departed. It was large enough for them to crawl in together and sit around a ring of smoldering coals, unable to see one another, but able to smell each other sweat.
The old woman would not go in with them for fear that she might loose consciousness and free fall as I have. Her stiff legged gait carried her over the earth along serpentine pathways surrounding the hole. Upon the Earth’s dusty hide her feet drummed out the sacred rhythms that invoke the nameless.
Once, in only semi darkness, I danced to those rhythms with a coy dog. His spotted coat shimmered under the flicker of candle light. The coy dog put the executioners mask over my head and let his little bitch put her blade to my throat. A chorus of voices asked me, "In whom do you place your trust?"
"In myself" was my answer.
In all that I can ever know.
Gaining velocity, I could feel the soundless scream contort into silent laughter. I lost my lost in a somersault of I am, I am, I am. With my no shape I pass through another no shape, neither attracted nor repelled. There is no other to whom I might gravitate. I am I.
I am a dragon, and a coy dog, and an old woman, and a she bitch.
I am the one who got carried away.
I am the six rayed star.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Fisher King

My father, the Fisher King, waited for me to come and take his place.
Turning gray with age, within a stale chamber only dimly lit, he waited for me to come and dethrone him. He named me for a King of forgotten lore, but I am not his son.
He has no sons. I am his first born daughter.
By name and teaching he designed me to be both male and female. When I came to replace him, his death was gentler than any death ever brought to a father by a son. We beheaded him together, he and I, slowly examining the way he played the game designed to separate the wheat from the chaff.
His strategies, which were passed to me through mechanicality, these we examined together in an awakened state. Together we saw their limits, their weaknesses, prodded the blind spots that are part of my inheritance. Just as if he were handing down a used and slightly damaged car, honestly admitting that it can only make right turns, suggesting that it should be repaired, could be improved upon, gracefully he surrendered what he was.
His crown passed to me at the close of the 2007th year A.D., so gentle and subtle a passage that it will be undetectable.
I now am my father. I now bear the responsibility of raising my line from the enclosures of the Great American Zoo and becoming for all those who came before me, that which is more than animal; that which incubates and takes shape within and through the biological animal and its body of habits.
We call this the alchemical marriage, but the words grow weary with use by those who can only touch the words because they have not grasped or glimpsed the thing itself. But some do know the thing itself through some experience of it. They may refer to it in this way, or that, or not at all. What I refer to now is a transformation which may be unnamable.
I put the game that separates mortals from immortals on the hexagonal table of my dwelling place. Today I began to instruct my first born.
What we began today is to fertilize the soil. What we began today is to build a vehicle which someday she may learn to operate creatively, against its tendency to turn only right. We raised her to be as strong as a boy. When she grows she will become a woman.
Two parts of self, activated simultaneously to work in harmony, this is 33; two triangles oriented in opposing directions, unified to create a new form, 6, the star. Every man and woman is a star, within every man and woman it waits to be activated.
I have been able to tell secrets because the blood is coming and I am moving with it and through it, having been kept in the dark one week prior, forging the habit of a predator.
The predator is such because it eats that which may be herded, hunted, or fished.
My father, the Fisher King, waited for me to come and take his place. Turning gray with age within a stale chamber only dimly lit, he waited for me to come and hunt him.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The baby lies sleeping in bed. Greedily in, each breath is taken. Surrendered peacefully, each breath is expelled. The sound, rhythmic, makes strange music, vibrating off the pillows and colorful afghan.
She is not a baby anymore, but she is not anything else either. She wets the bed and is afraid of the dark, sucks on her lip like some suck their thumbs.
I am a fool first, and her mother second. Eventually I will be nothing. Then I will not regret, as I do now, that I did not hold her in my arms when she strayed from bed, but rather directed her back to it.
Then I will have no memory in which to keep the sound of her munching an apple behind my back. I will never have known its color, because I did not turn to look at her. I only now hear the echo of her tiny teeth tearing into the crisp flesh of fresh fruit. In the moment in which she eats the apple, I am too busy to hear it. Only later my mind plays it back for me.
But when I am nothing first, I will have no future to busy me, nor a past to regret. If by then I have not learned to inhabit now, I will not be.
When the fool dies, and the mother dies, if she has not collected enough silence to fill her shape that it may crystallize within it, she will not be nothing; she will not be at all.
Then will baby be? Or is she only a reflection of her mother, a tiny pool of silence bending light?
To baby mother, to mother baby.
I am a fool first.
Eventually I will be nothing.
If I am silence then baby will be silence, and we will flow one into the other as pure Being.
Now I will hold her as a colorful afghan and she holds me as strange music. In this moment the light of the lamp seems to seep into the walls. The walls hold us both, warming us with the light they bend. Mingled with her music; the sigh of the furnace, the hum of the computer, the erratic click and tap of my fingers on its keys.
Our fragile bodies work frantically without our notice, keeping us a part of this organic orchestra. We are a part of the white noise, momentarily harmonic enough to emerge as something distinct, soon to rejoin the chamber in its symphony of silence.
I hear it now, and you will hear it too.
Greedily in, each breath is taken.
Surrendered peacefully, each breath is expelled.
Lying asleep in bed, bounding limitless across the dream of it, she is not a baby anymore, but she is not anything else either.

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