The Beauty of Defects

Alan Watts the Zen guy, is my hero, one of a handful of people who have taught me to be myself.  He was a great writer, a speaker and a phenomenal non-thinker. It’s not that he doesn’t think, it is just that his view is at polar opposites to the rest of the community regarding his relationship with thought. In reality (this five senses one that we agree that things are named a particular way) he is a great thinker, it’s his understanding of the ‘gaps between thought’ that makes him what i refer to as a ‘non-thinker’. He, like most of the wise, see ‘thought’ for what it is and allow it to do its thing, without being a slave to it; or even if he was temporarily a slave to it, that ‘slaveness’ has a use-by date and  I guess he would return to ordered chaos without a fuss. He once said, “there are no straight lines in nature”, or if he didn’t say that exactly, he would have meant to say it, or implied it.  Much of what ‘hurts’ the thinking part of us, comes from ‘straightening’ the world around us, if we come to terms with this, everything changes.
Rounding the Straight Bits
One of my favourite memories I regularly recall is from when I was camping. I am not a trekker, a ‘tenty’, a fisherman or seasonal vacationer; however, lying back in a dome shaped tent, the sounds of nature, the ocean rolling nearby,the smell of a wood fire, and my gradual adjustment to the lumps around me, and as I would settle in, there was a leaving behind  of all the things that are ‘straightened’ by the society we live in. The roundness of the tent ceiling relaxed me, it loosened the imaginary walls. We sort of hold ourselves together, working in jobs that are encased within the invisible barricade of a repetitious timezone, only to go home and look for ways of disentangling from it, and then jump back onto that timeline once again, prisoners of a matrix (not the movie). All these imaginary structures hold, or we ‘think’ hold us together.
The Ridiculous Shape of Life
One of the great mysteries and idiosyncrasies of the private school system is the desire for a sense of order that is humanly impossible. This insanity is best expressed by the zealots who chastise teenage boys for having their shirts out. It’s one of those ‘ just aint gonna happen’ things; unless people were to sew their shirts to the trousers, or dress them in monkey onesies, it is an unsolvable ‘non-problem’. Any parent who has had to deal with the nonsense detentions their sons were placed on, would understand this lunacy. People try and have a sense of order, the odds of having a roomful of kids eating chips and tomato sauce (US translation = fries and ketchup?) and not end up with the bulk of them wearing the sauce, is unreasonable. The problem is, we are constantly trying to fit life into a shape that is not just possible.
Entertain Me
We have become part of a machine run by madmen, caught in someone else’s dream, and we unknowingly have somehow been hypnotised into thinking ‘that’s the option we must take, as if we have an obligation to following a pre-written script’. Much of our suffering comes from feeling like a prisoner of a system that runs in the background, and out of fear of ‘the world will collapse if I don’t abide by normal way of doing things’, we find we are in conflict with what we are stuck in, and what we really want.  When what we really want is the space and time to work out ‘how to do things our way’ with a bit of guidance and support from others where need be. I am confident that this is the reason we humans run to drugs, alcohol and other escapism’s; the pressure of being out of sync is so strong, young men binge, hermits create cave apartments in a busy city, and the street-sleepers just give up and fall into a state of hopelessness. People don’t know how to be alone, to comfortably ‘do nothing’ and generally there is an assumption that all space needs to be filled with ‘head noise’, incessant thought.  This is the age of ‘entertain me’. Give me solitude any day, and I will enter the world when I am ready, I do not wish to take the world with me wherever I go.  I want the gaps between the musical notes and my heart to bleed when they emerge on cue.
When we buy fruit and veges, so many of us go for the ones without glitches, perfectly shaped objects that resemble still-life photographs by master photographers and artists. Cities are full of men in gray suits, dodo birds with numbers in their heads, involved in a world that is ‘about’ things, the movement of ‘invisible stuff’, things that hold the system together but in essence are part of the fantasy, the monolithic monster of dependence that eats lives and packs graveyards with the broken lives of unfulfilled dreamers.  Every now and then we are reminded by annual holidays to ‘get out’, to go and get our feet into the earth, sadly it often turns into ‘still frame’ holidays, picture book experiences that when we look at snapshots, we could replace our image with anybody else’s; what is going on is we are often seeking experiences of ‘how things are supposed to be’ and not something that is new, an unborn new; we run from what is ‘here’ to an imaginary better ‘there’.
One Size Fits No One
Our biggest problem with education is we train and squeeze information into children; they are empty, inquisitive, standing at the doorway of eternity looking out into forever. We stack children into an ordered list, the gonna-be-doctors at the top, and way down at the bottom the dreamers, the ones who sometimes don’t see the logic in things, the ones who will draw arms where we expect legs ought to be, or those who refuse to sit still.  And when we think about it, why should we make a child sit still if they want to move?  It’s like putting wooden shoes on someone to prevent their feet from growing, or tying rocks to a bicycle.
So WTF Are We?
Although philosophers, yogis and dreamers will have numerous responses to the age old “who am I?”, a simple response to one aspect is, we are feeling beings, even if we are ‘visual’, underneath the picture in the mind is feeling.  We may ‘feel’ with our eyes, ears, through touch or some say with our ‘heart’.  There is confusion in society, an assumption that the intellect is the master; the world we move in is the slave of the senses; bold men, bullies dominate, they have fooled everybody into believing their story of what has value; magazines and marketing media have told us what beauty is, the curves and the size of the body, what colours work together or are a mismatch, what music is acceptable and what foods are good for us, only to be replaced by a new marketing campaign next week.  We try and bring order to disorder, to put things to rest because we are uncomfortable with their presence, we as man are attempting to place ropes around the moon, the planets and fit them into our world, to have ‘our relationship’ with them, they did pretty fine with out us for years, now they are in danger because we in our arrogance may pollute them, or some maniac may push a button and annihilate this region of the galaxy.
Disassembling the World  As We Know It
I think if we loosen our belts a little (not in a fiscal way as they say in ‘political speak’), if we can stop trying to push the world into shape, things get easier.  Things, events will happen, it’s always our attitudes that make the difference.  People laughed at the hippies in the sixties, what they wore, but they laid the foundation a couple of generations later for businesses and offices to have ‘casual Friday’ where workers can dress like normal people (normal = not wearing penguin suits, unexpected objects, or white Anglo Saxons  not doing Indigenous dress-ups).  The gradual acceptance of the wisdom and ways of non-European white culture is a blessing, it allows us as a global community to have a ‘horizontal’ view of each other.  The British Empire and other hideous elitist empires had a method of dumbing down anything that didn’t fit into their criteria of measuring the world, these guys wrote the history of the world and embedded it into the subconscious of fertile minds of each generation.  They fooled everyone, completely stuffed everyone over.
Taking Back Our Power
Claiming  back the ‘world’ is the responsibility of all of us; by just being ourselves and not attempting to overlay what is not us, is the trick, to be natural and embrace our bumps, bruises, to accept the various shapes and see the unity in diversity.  And then ‘defects’ are not seen as defects, they are variations and new possibilities.  So much is tied up with Self Worth and Self Esteem, and it is based in others ‘story of the world’, it is not ours and we need to claim back our power.

Tilopa 2.0

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The Yoga of Addiction

I think addictions can be a good thing. Being distracted by, absorbed in something and a sense of regularity has its benefits. All great musicians and artists are addicted, Einstein, Newton and Buddha were all engulfed by a deep passion of wanting to ‘know’ and to reach an end, even if that end was temporary, they sought a resolve. It seems obvious when it comes to addictions that our flavour, our choice of ‘poison’ is what makes the difference. We can ask one simple question, “Does it weaken us, or strengthen us?” …. said in a deep radio announcer Shakespearean tone ‘that is the question’.
Gimme the Lot
We can be reckless beings, the feeling of being infallible, the arrogance and bravado of youth, thinking we are invincible… gimme more, just keep loading up the bong till paranoia seems like the norm. Which tablet? Give me the lot; sucking down buckets of alcohol till even our dearest friends don’t want to know us. And we go back for more next week; ultimately in time we end up on an island of isolation, we no longer function well enough to navigate the changing fortunes that emerge on our screen of life; and do more of the same thing that got us to that point.
The Loneliest Moment
I have very strong views on drugs and alcohol, I am not frightened to say them, they undermine our sense of community, an epidemic of destruction, they destroy the beauty of life. The window I look through comes from one ‘still frame’ moment just before my oldest boys funeral; the hearse pulled up, I walked over and just stood alone beside it, not knowing where to look, seeing the coffin, how long to stay? Why is no-one else here? Where is my family? Where are my friends? …. the preciousness of life was defined then and there, standing at the doorway to eternity. And the loneliest moment in the history of the universe had just invited me in. In a way, that moment defined the man I wanted to become, or the one who could have died with my son.
Doughnuts are Better than Cocaine
What leads a person to the place where my son lay can be many things, life is challenging, we can be frail and keep throwing layer after layer over us until we disappear. But regardless of specifics, I do know it is about addiction, or more specifically, what we align ourselves with.  Addiction to me does not mean alcohol, heroin, ice or any other thing used by the hidden bankers to undermine the threads of the fabric of the community we live in. It means the way that we get stuck on a thought, what we think and hook into becomes bigger than us. A silly example would be:

I see doughnut (yum) >  My memory recalls sensation of bliss (mouth waters) > I devour doughnut (or half dozen) > Doughnut tickles my being (sugar dancing in mouth) >
Goes about its secret business (digests, turns into a little bit more fat than i was hoping for) >
Ultimately impacts in ways that make me feel worthless ( i think I am fat, or don’t like my pimples)…..
It really depends on how many times we run the loop, it all comes back to thought. And i am not saying don’t eat fun stuff, I am talking about doughnut addicts.
Making Friends With the Enemy 
If we are smart, self-loving, alert, tender with ourselves, we will develop a sense of well-being, problem is that self care and love’ are the wisdom fruit of life’s experiences. So let’s short track this.
In the same way that a clear pond way up in the hills, in the wooded valleys has fresh water coming in; we need to refresh our thoughts, to keep new information coming in so we don’t stagnate. Personally, I go for science and technology, quantum physics and break-through’s, I ponder the stars and dream a lot, question religious texts and try and get inside them, study and explore different aspects music.  I do this because I UNDERSTAND ADDICTION and the plasticity of the brain.  If I freeze and become addicted to things that undermine me, I would lose my sparkle for life. I have an obligation to those who I love, those who have left the world already, those who have taken the time to offer me the knowledge they had; so I seek joy in the depth of experience. My nature is addictive, I was very aware of that at a young age and in a stroke of genius turned it into my friend. I have learned to use it to my advantage; to choose things that are good, not just those that feel good temporarily.
And it’s that simple.

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The Yoga of Being Gentle on Ourselves

It’s a Crazy Mixed Up World of Men
There is madness in the world of men; economic growth, a push for getting from point A to B at a faster rate; okay, so what to do when we get there?  Making more money by giving less to the community; buying houses for babies so they will be ‘set up’ for the future, but forgetting the people around us are homeless…. what if the children become gypsies, nomads with invisible camels, wanderers and wayfarers, roaming Buddhas?   There are guys in suits, and stern looking power dressing women who model themselves on the worst of men, they struggle to get ahead in an insensitive arena of male mini tyrants; the cold stark air conditioned buildings with plastic plants, people shuffling papers and balancing numbers, lots of ‘doing’; children in daycare with strangers while their parents micro empires rise, and so often it falls in chaos as the family members don’t get to experience each other, overworked and too busy to appreciate the extraordinary meeting place called intimacy.


The Spin dryer of Thought
Yesterday I hit the edge of despair.  This is not really a big  problem for me as my ‘Future Yogi’ (the part of me that lives outside time) looks at the experience and reminds me to change my point of perception, to stop and watch the play of life.  What was troubling me was, I am under pressure to deliver the fine details in a written testimony to my solicitor regarding crimes against humanity that happened to me as a child.  As I need to enter the memory of the experience so the legal team can proceed with my case, I got the wobbles, for a brief moment I was lost in the space-time tunnel.  It felt like I was in the spin dryer, trying to stop the emotions from jumping out and flying across the room.  My son was beautiful at this moment, and I understand why we chose each other as parent and child, he just said, ‘dad, is there anything I can do to help?’,  I said, ‘no, just saying that is enough’.  And I know from experience, I can usually sort things myself, nobody needs to do anything, it is knowing there is someone there that really counts.  So I decided to be gentle on myself.

The Warriors of Thought
I was too serious to do my usual therapy, the fine art of holding up my left arm and tickling my underarm with my right hand; this often works.  But these things I am dealing with are crimes against humanity, abuses of human rights that I have experienced.  For most people the heavy artillery would need to be called in, psychiatrists, meds, medical teams, guys in white coats with expressions of concern embedded into their wrinkled foreheads . Being the ninja that I am, I understand that there is always a point that holds everything in balance, there is a centre point at the heart of things.  If we can locate and manipulate that very fine whatever-thing that everything depends on,  the most powerful enemy can be defeated with a minimum of ease.   I know the greatest enemy of man is ‘thought’, knowing this gives me a starting point, I have an advantage, all enemies are already defeated.  If my problem is thought, there is no need go into battle and create more turmoil, things will just get broken.  A true warrior brings about peace with the least harm possible.   The dull, the bold, the buffoons will destroy the landscape, there will be carnage, collateral damage, everything gets stuffed over…. a wise warrior enters and leaves without anyone even knowing, while the villagers are sleeping, we come and go adjusting things to bring harmony, I took this path as there is no other one worth contemplating. And here is that path…..

The Ever Changing and Emerging Unborn
I love learning; the new, the fresh, the potential unborn, that’s where all the possibilities are. I am a musician and was gifted with the greatest teachers, masters of their craft.  One thing that these brilliant beings reminded me of was, we can always go into new territory, even if the terrain looks familiar we can take it out further, there is something we can extract and use.  I decided to learn a simple raga and play it on one of my beautiful guitars, (a raga is the underlying foundation of classical Indian music tunes), the guitar was in an irregular tuning, this requires additional thought and focus, and I was also playing in a different key, another set of notes than the original.  What this meant was I had to translate everything I was doing.  Although what I mentioned may sound irrelevant , or out of context, the underlying idea was to keep my mind active, to distract and create some new neural pathways instead of digging deeper into the ones that no longer serve me, those old ones were hurting, they were smothering me with emotions.  These ‘new pathways’ is where we can disable some things, ward off those arrows of life that seem like they will destroy us. If we want change and healing, we must take charge of the process, else we will always be a slave to things that no longer exist.  Things happened, true, they are in our past, they will have an affect…WE DO NOT HAVE TO LET THEM DEFINE US, to derail us and steal the joy from our life.

Healing is an Inbuilt Thing
I am confident that healing can come about naturally, this may be contrary to the ideas of many health practitioners, honestly I am not sure how others feel about this. From experience I know to ‘back myself’ to trust what works for me, regardless if someone says it’s impossible.  As musicians we get to play with many different people of various skill levels, and lots of things are not said at times.  I will use the example of everyone in a band being told before a music session starts that a piece of music has been changed, except one person was not informed.   The tune starts,  everybody else ‘in the know’ starts playing; the musician who hasn’t been informed looks momentarily puzzled, he has a number of choices: get upset and walk out, play the wrong music just to be annoying, or just listen and feel what is going on and call on the skills in the musical toolbox and adapt. Life is a lot like this; if every time something happens, we respond in a manner that is against the flow of what is going on, we will always be running, missing life; if we decide to struggle against what is going on and do something that is ‘never going to work’, we will suffer.  But if we are sensitive enough and trust the inbuilt wisdom we have developed in our lives, it will be less painful, we can navigate safely, slay the paper tigers and imaginary dragons who roam around in our thoughts.
I say what I say from experience. I have learnt to be gentle on myself, to face what in many cases probably should have broken me, but I treasure my life, an adventure not to be missed or treated with disrespect.  We are creative beings, the past is gone, never to return.  By ever seeking the new, the past recedes in the rear-view mirror of life.
When I struggle, all I need to do is to think ‘be gentle on myself’, the world around me softens.
Tilopa 2.0

The Beauty of Vulnerabilty

Vulnerability is something the community doesn’t ‘do’ well.  In a society where men are expected to be ‘tough’ sporty and youth are directed into that ‘model’ by those who have gone before or are still lurking in the background, or maybe strategically placed in the subconscious thought of the unsuspected voyager of life; the idea of feeling vulnerable, is perceived as a weakness. Cliches like ‘cracks in the armour’,  hold yourself together, be strong are constantly pointing away from the virtues and glorious attributes of my friend ‘vulnerable’.

I do ‘vulnerable’ pretty well, like most things, i taught myself and didn’t know it had happened, and it is often not till i hit the depths of despair, that the wisdom of what is going on is extracted, which mind you happens about every second Friday but is usually not a problem.

We humans (and part aliens) 🙂 have a knack of ‘coming apart’, and coming apart is usually considered to be about the worst thing that can happen.  But if we look carefully at things, we will see that every moment we are ‘coming apart’, it is just the order of the molecules being in a particular shape that troubles us.  But look at it, a tree drops a seed or is kidnapped by the wind, breaks apart, a little bit of water adds to it; it grows into a sprouty thing, then gradually unfolds towards the stars and moves into its next phase as a new being, spits out a tasty fruit,  grows a few prickles just to annoy humans, flaunts its beauty with flowers and moves ceremoniously in the breeze, it may even be broken apart with the help of another and in the hands of the finest craftsman become part of a beautiful instrument…. or be part of a bushfire and smoke itself into forever with its atoms unseen going on to new worlds……. coming apart has its advantages

So we humans as a rule struggle with apartness.  I always like to come back to ‘nothing’, inside me is an unpainted canvas, a beautiful empty space awaiting experience, sounds, shapes, and unknown and familiar textures.  When i come back to nothing … (and i don’t mean the ‘all i want is nothing, give me your credit card i want the lot’ of the rogue gurus and cults),  it is ‘safe’; in that nothingness there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, only the beautiful silence of being, like sitting by the ocean and being oblivious to oneself, lost in the spaciousness of the water the sky and the horizon, no tomorrow, no past, no agenda, the NOW in its true sense before it became new age piffle.

Being vulnerable is quite ok, it’s just that we need to be a little patient and have the understanding that the tide comes in and out, there are storms and the seas rage, before you ‘no’ it the sun’s out, and a whole new world is there and life returns to the sea shore.  And life is like that, people come and go, we love them, they pass us by one day as if we are strangers, and we do the same sometimes.

Freedom, absolute freedom is in letting go, letting go of what was never really ours to hold, and was just a gift to caress for a while.  And in the understanding that when we look at the stars, we see and stand at different points, one person wishes, another one sees aliens, another sees a child coming, another sees a world being born, and another sees one passing away, a friend long gone, and another sees it as part of him or herself.  But everyone sees the star, and in looking up and out into forever, it can be daunting, and the night passes and a new day is born, and we are sometimes left shaking,  we awake to a new potential and our vulnerability passes by, knowing the dream goes on and not to tarry long.

Tilopa 2.0