Working Title: Chronicles of the Guilt-Grief Troops
This Book Is In Development
No synopsis has been added for this book
After 14 years of not touching this project (Chronicles of the Guilt-Grief Troops), my first and only attempt at sci-fi, I decided to finally dust it off. This is Chapter 2 ... In writing about future, there is always a challenge of having it somehow connect with reader's present. Chapter 2 is where I "massively" attempt to do that. I introduce Whitman, Finn's mentor from The Central London Hatchery (yes, a literary hat-tip to Aldous Huxley). Finn is the protagonist of the story. But in this chapter, Whitman takes the center stage. Whitman-the-character provides some of the necessary "future history" backdrop for the story about Finn. This excerpt has not yet seen its final editing sandpaper and is yet to receive its final polish. Enjoy.
We think of ourselves as human. But aren't we just modern-day apes who think of themselves as
"Allow yourself to relax" – what a strange notion! This kind of instruction presumes a degree of personal responsibility over stress that many of us are hesitant to admit! What a skillfully inoffensive pointing of the fingers!
A habit of noticing ordinary perfection is a vital existential sign.
Mindfulness is not about a full mind but a mind that is empty enough to fully attend to reality.
Mind is a leg that runs from time. Time is an abyss that shows us our emptiness. A permission (to self) to rest is all the difference between restlessness and restfulness. Let us learn from our struggle with acedia.
Meaning is a fetish. Let go of meaning.
Let go of pulling nature's strings ... Accept that more often than not, we are but puppets ...
Learning to recognize "ordinary perfection" is a vital existential skill.
Betrayal is self-care. Betrayal is forgivable. Forgiveness is the essence of love. (Lessons of love from Orwell's "1984.")
Who is this who is thinking "who is this?"?
Find your favorite duality – the one you suffer from most – and collapse it. Take the fishing hook of duality out of your own mouth and maybe the liberating Salmon of Doubt (to misappropriate a phrase from Douglas Adams) will leap straight into your frying pan.
Forgetting that the river of introversion is poisonous, I keep scooping up handfuls of isolation.
Perfectionists chase perfection in vain. Realists see it all around them, effortlessly.
A point of view is always partial to your life-coordinate. Mind runs on junk data, while convinced that is itself a wellspring of truth. We are funny monkeys.
Meaning is dead skin. To renew your sense of self, shed it as often as you can.
Mind is phase-delayed. Reality happens. Then mind digests it. Each interpretive narrative is but an echo of a dying sound.
We met the enemy ... and it is time. Born to kill, we don't know how to kill time. We are in a battle against acedia - in a battle against restlessness.
Objectively we are finite. Subjectively we are infinite. Understanding this helps not sweat death.
Mindfulness is hard because we have evolved to gather information and track patterns, to take information seriously. Mindfulness - of a certain meditative kind - is about not taking information that passes through us seriously or personally. This kind of not minding one's own mind feels counterproductive and counterintuitive. But it also feels liberating.
A splinter of panpsychism is deep under my skin: everything is alive.
Reality is curious. It is happening to us. We are happening to it. And - objectively - we are it. Here I muse over the "receiving end" of this "it" that I myself am.
7 habits - to develop in 2020 - to help you feel freer and more alive, more at ease and psychologically invulnerable, more attuned to yourself and more connected with others, and, most importantly, less preoccupied with what should be and more in awe of what already is.
Mind is a leg. Break it ... for good luck. Happy New Year to y'all - let 2020 be a 20/20 - a year of wisdom in hindsight.
We tend to think of wisdom as a developmental accomplishment, as something that comes with age. I don’t think so. I don’t think of wisdom as a stage-of-life. I think of wisdom as a state-of-mind, as an openness to a paradigm shift.
30 yrs ago, while in the Soviet military, I was itching for action. I was young and I was a dumb-ass. Military - in a sense - is a form of institutionalized child abuse. We fight wars on the backs of childish minds full of heroic dreams. I would suggest raising the minimal recruitment age for the military to 25 years of age. I realize my proposal is a total non-starter: there just wouldn’t be enough fodder for the cannons. Why? I’ll let Chris Hedges explain: “A soldier who is able to see the humanity of the enemy makes a troubled and ineffective killer. To achieve corporate action, self-awareness [...] must be obliterated.”
For me, seeing present as perfect is a baseline of awe. But I clearly remember a time (maybe 15 or so years ago) when I too was a classic perfectionist, always seeing the potential of what could be while being blind to the here-and-now perfection of what is. But thankfully this reality-rejectionist has long been reborn as a reality-acceptionist, more interested in the obscure poetry of actual reality than in rhyming verses of imaginary potentials. Everything that can be right now – right now is. The rest is our naïve predictive models and wishful thinking. Life’s easier and kinder this way.
Set your mind on fire (psychologically speaking, of course). Burn through the dry rot of self-concepts. You are not your thoughts about who or what you are. Who are you then? You are definitely not an answer to that question … because an answer (any answer) to that question is just more thoughts about who or what you are. And we already established: you are not your thoughts about you. So what then remains? A fire of being that’s been burning all along, a life-fire that needs more word-fuel to keep on burning.
To attend to a Part is to ignore the Whole. Seeing - willfully, with intention - is the beginning of blindness. A focused mind – a mind in a state of tunnel vision - is a street racer running through one red light after another. Attention to “this” – as instrumental as it is – comes at a cost of reckless inattention to “that.” Attention is a zero-sum game.
S. White writes: "Sometimes it is necessary to take away from a man everything he holds dear before, in despair, he will sit down alone to find that which cannot be taken away from him, that which, despite all, endures and lives within his consciousness." I call this stripping everything away Identity Detox. Notice the things that you are not in order to understand the Process that you are.
Working Title: Topology of Karma
This Book Is In Development
No synopsis has been added for this book
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. What happens in Moscow, stays in Moscow. What happens in Tokyo, stays in Tokyo. What happens here, stays here. Each coordinate of the Universe is its own archive, its own history, its own karma. Karma is what's been happening here, where you are. You are a Place that is aware ... of its own history. You are your own karma.
There is no "lost and found" in this Universe - only karma.
In 1986 in Moscow I came into a possession of a curious text, called "Topology of Karma," author unknown. The text of the manuscript is notable for a mix of poetic passages and declarative propositions. A philosophical colleague of mine jokingly referred to it as “the Russian Tao Te Ching.” I am no scholar of Daoism myself but my own repetitive reading of the text does support at least a superficial parallel between these two texts, if not in theme but in its provocative and frequently paradoxical style. In the pages that follow I intend to share my English translation of this monograph in its entirety, as well as my search for its author.
Each mind is a mythology of Self and Non-Self, woven out of facts and fictions. "Bottom Feeder" is a collection of stories by Pavel Somov, a Russian-American psychologist-author, who grew up in the Soviet Union.
Breathlessness - be it a result of inspiration or drowning - has much to teach us about who/what we are and are not.
We are what we eat, they say. That's body. As for the mind, we are the information that we digest.
People come, people go, but gods remain. No, not outside of us, but inside of us, like the light of the long-dead stars inside the wandering photons that are hitting your eyes right now ...
Breathlessness is too a source of inspiration. Some of us are exhaling for the last time ... There is no drama in this. Life on planet Earth goes on as usual for the rest of the natural kingdom ... We are but modern-day dinosaurs struggling to make it in a battle with another species ... Either outcome (we make it or we don't) is natural ... We are but glorified sentimental amoebas ... There is no crisis here from a cosmic point of view ... Just life as usual ...
Parenting is agony and ecstasy - the most intriguing cosmic task I know, a task of creation and destruction. We are all born wild. Parenting domesticates nature. Parenting conditions nature. Parenting restricts and tames nature. And as such, parenting is violence, necessary violence - a game of playing god ... with gods.
1988: a couple of Soviet spetznaz soldiers on AWOL are schooled on the varieties of hell by an Armenian guru.
1987: two Soviet spetznaz (special operations) soldiers, on AWOL in Armenia, discover the meaning of stars.
Everything already is. Future already exists. And we are just entering it now.
An intention is a desire in camouflage. Whether an intention is good or bad, it's still a desire - a desire for more, a step away from contentment, a step away from heaven. This story is about a couple of spetsnaz Soviet soldiers on AWOL in Armenia and their aborted pursuit of cosmic truth.
Each of us is but a space of awareness - a space for rent. Life moves in, with its objects of consciousness, and then moves out. What remains? The original, ever-vacant space.
Consciousness is ground. Mind is figure. Understanding the oscillating Gestalt of who/what we are and we aren't is key.
Helping out a piano tuner was one of my first jobs in the Soviet Union. The job also happened to attune the keyboard of my own consciousness in ways I didn't expect.
One way to know who we are is by knowing who we are not. We are not what passes. We are what remains the same.
I grew up in a commune apartment (in Soviet Moscow): several families sharing a kitchen and a bathroom. This kind of radical proximity is a life-long teaching on true sovereignty. Friction is only possible because of separateness.
There are lessons in drowning. I learned one such lesson - vicariously - from a childhood friend of mine, Dimka Tokarev. He drowned in 1976 in Moscow.
"Tat tvam asi" goes an ancient Vedic meme. It means: "I am that," in case you've forgotten your Sanskrit. There is a piece of us in everyone we meet. Both before and after we share in the first handshake.
You never know what you run into on a mid-night run through the proletarian projects of Moscow.
It is 1989 and a couple of spetznaz Russian soldiers deployed to Armenia go AWOL. One is tripping on drugs; the other - on a random encounter with an Armenian guru.
This is from "The 20th Century Catfish." The narrator is a channel catfish that lives in the Seine. The catfish is listening in to a conversation of two seminarians who are experiencing a crisis of faith, as well as a hidden romantic connection. The passage is about space - the space of awareness - the only space that can accommodate something as vast as an idea of god. My apologies for formatting issues with this e-pub (a couple of page numbers crept into this bubble).
Consciousness - at every level of its material organization - has a vector, from an existential minus towards an existential plus. I learned this on a hike to Swatara - "the Place Where We Fed on Eels" - from an old Iroquois guide, Bill. Turns out, we are all chasing one and the same tail.
Each place has a will of its own. Each coordinate of this living Cosmos carries its own karma. In this passage I am riffing on a story by Akutagawa (The Spider's Thread). You heard the phrase: "if you meet Buddha on the road, kill him." Kandata - in my story - tried. And now we understand why. If a dog can have buddha-nature, why not Kandata? There are buddhas in hell too.
We are all born wild. We have to tame ourselves. Parenting - in effect - is animal training. Human civilization is a project of self-domestication. We are animals playing god with each other. We must be delicate with each other in this curious craft of co-existence. We must wake up if only one eye at a time.
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