Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What's Dead Inside Me

(During the film retreat, we were given journal assignments. Over the next few days I'll post mine here. They're of the first-thought, best-thought school, unedited and not particularly good...)

"What is dead inside me? What a ridiculous question! How can anything be dead, so long as I myself am alive? As Buddhists, do we not emphasize the constant flux of things? Anything currently dormant has by all means the potential to reanimate. To think otherwise is un-Buddhist. Shakyamuni himself recognized the world, and the beings that exist within it, are made up of constantly shifting aggregates. Death too is not a constant immovable state. Does not a body decompose? Does not that decomposition become the organic makeup of the next generation? If you think otherwise, I'll show you the shit stains on my khakis from hours of kneeling in compost out in Upaya's gardens. Or I'll ask you how you're enjoying the kale in today's lunch, which rose from that same supposedly dead matter. Or I'll tell you about the latest in my series of dreams where my late son comes to play. I refuse to let his death, or any death, dehabilitate me. That occasional flicker of sorrow will quickly turn to joy, then on to something else. I refuse to buy into this fixed idea of death. And it is this very refusal that I live my most vividly."

On the turntable: "DGC Rarities, Vol. 1"
On the nighttable: Francois Bizot, "The Gate"

1 comment:

  1. Two comments, not mine, but related;

    I no longer have much of a sense of myself as a thing. I think we are always "passing away." I'm really not the same person I was 20 years ago. My body certainly isn't what it was 20 years ago. That body is already dead and gone. I think to regret the final dying - well you might as well regret everything, regret all of life. People are more like events, not things. All events come to an end or dissipate one way or another.

    The Christian notion of eternal life just doesn't make any sense to me. I can't conceive of how I could be "me" without the context of the world I live in, the relationships I have, and my time and place. That would be some other person. To be an ego without a world is to be nothing. I think when you have a better understanding that our existence as personalities in this world is already ephemeral, even while we are alive, it makes regret for our disappearance seem peculiar.

    As Rilke says, we are "transpositions of air".

    "When we look at the ocean, we see that each wave has a beginning and an end. A wave can be compared with other waves, and we can call it more or less beautiful, higher or lower, longer lasting or less long lasting. But if we look more deeply, we see that a wave is made of water. While living the life of a wave, the wave also lives the life of water. It would be sad if the wave did not know that it is water. It would think, 'Some day I will have to die. This period of time is my life span, and when I arrive at the shore, I will return to nonbeing.'
    These notions will cause the wave fear and anguish. A wave can be recognized by signs -- beginning or ending, high or low, beautiful or ugly. In the world of the wave, the world of relative truth, the wave feels happy as she swells, and she feels sad as she falls. She may think, 'I am high!' or 'I am low!' and develop superiority or inferiority complexes, but in the world of the water there are no signs, and when the wave touches her true nature -- which is water -- all of her complexes will cease, and she will transcend birth and death," - Thich Nhat Hanh


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