Interview with Takuin ~ Part 2 of ?

This is part two of an ongoing interview with Takuin. You can read part one here. This particular interview goes into creativity, art and artistry, and part of my struggles as a young human trying to be expressive. The questions in this particular post, were asked by Liz.

Liz: First, let me follow up with a question or two from where Jake left off.

As far as having the support of your friends or family in your writing, do you think your posts might have turned out differently had there been that support?

Takuin: Well, there is an art to expressive writing, no matter the subject. And having support, especially from specific people, can make a big difference in the life of an artist. That difference is not necessarily directly translated into 'good' work, but there is a charge, or energy, for lack of a better word, that is present during the creation of the thing that can give the overall end result a sense of some kind of otherness; a touch of something special, which is not quite explainable.

Having that support can make a huge difference in the relationship between the artist and the medium, but it is not something you can easily quantify in a finished piece of work. And it is not something you necessarily carry with you consciously.

"It is not as if you are saying during the act of creation, "So and so loves me and supports what I do, so this is going to be great!" It is not like that at all."

It is like a residual scent of the love given from without. It is like perfume that can lightly intermingle with the work while it is being completed.

Liz: This sounds waaaay beyond my own life and work, haha. Even a bit 'mystical'?

Takuin: Well, I don't know about 'mystical', because the influence of one loving human being upon another is not mystical at all. It is just that the results of that love, speaking in terms of the creation of some kind of art, cannot be predicted. We cannot say it produces a specific kind of result. That is all.

But even so, I am convinced that something can take place between the artist and the work which is the result of one's encounters with others.

L: Do you think that a hateful person can also have a similar effect on the work?

TM: Oh, absolutely. But in both cases, I think either influence can be wonderful for the work in the end, whether it is pain or pleasure.

It is not easy to explain, but even if it were easy to explain, I am not sure knowing it would be very helpful to an artist. Oh, but I never answered your question!

L: HEY! That is right!

TM: I did not really have direct, active support in any of my writing, so it is difficult to say. Would the work be different had the circumstances been changed? Who knows? There is the possibility, but I don't want to make this confusing, because what I am talking about has no direct effect on the work. It is not about sentence structure, choosing the better word, or ruthlessly editing and killing your darlings. It is none of that.

L: If it is an 'act of creation' kind of thing, then this influence must also be present in other forms of art, correct?

TM: It is something the artist, the human being, carries with him/her, so any creative endeavor could potentially carry that influence. So yes.

L: Was it at all discouraging to be without the kind of support we're talking about here?

TM: Currently? No. But as a child, absolutely. I can clearly see the decisions I made growing up - the various forks in the road - and how those decisions were influenced by that lack of support. It was not a lack of love or anything. But I think it is difficult for some people to understand the mind of a young artist, or expressive human being.

"It is far easier to beat that mind down so it will conform to the norm, as opposed to opening up and trying to really understand something truly different and potentially remarkable."

But that is so common in our world. Those that are different are beaten back in order to keep the status quo chugging right along. It takes great strength to resist that, especially when it comes from those you love. It is a hurdle many young people may never be able to clear.

L: And how did you resist that as a young man?

TM: I didn't, haha. I was beaten back sufficiently. But I always had secrets up my sleeve. I had my own underground railroad of escape routes, which I kept separate from my 'regular' life. Eventually I became the person hiding in those dank tunnels, and it became a part of my regular life, but I had to keep the truth of the thing from everyone, or at least, most people. I just didn't want to hear the bullshit about how I was wasting my time...

Even though I allowed creativity to surface, I only let it go so far; out of fear, I suppose. It was far easier to keep it all to myself. At least in that way, no one would ever give me any shit or tell me how odd my ideas or creations were. But unfortunately, timidity became my nature, and all because I could not feel the strength to say the hell with it and just do what I wanted to do.

L: And what is it you wanted to do? What were those interests or those creations?

TM: More than anything else, I was born a musician. The first time I sat behind a set of drums, I could play. The first time someone set a musical score in front of me, I could read. I have a nearly perfect memory for sounds I have heard a handful of times. It takes no effort for me, and it is really beyond my control.

"I still need to practice, and if I don't read for a long time the ability diminishes, just like with anyone else. But music has always been easy for me, and with those major difficulties out of the way, I could focus on deeper things."

L: Like what?

TM: Well, there are technical elements of music that any musician must master to some degree. What they play and how they play it determines exactly how deeply they need to go into those things, of course.

Kurt Cobain had a completely different set of technical considerations from say, Jaco Pastorius. But both of them were able to deeply explore beyond what came easy to them. Certain aspects were easy for Kurt, just as certain aspects were easy for Jaco, but the importance of what they created went beyond those things, as they were able to deeply explore the other side.

Speaking of myself, I could safely ignore certain aspects of music to some degree, because it took very little effort for me to get a handle on them. With those considerations out of the way, I could focus on trying to find interesting means of expression.

If you never have to study or practice ear training, or if you have to put very little time into learning scales and so on, it frees up a hell of a lot of time, haha. I still practice those things from time to time ... well, NEVER ear training ... I'd rather shoot myself in the ass. But luckily, ear training is something I have never had to worry about. ;-)

I tested out of those things when I first got to Berklee anyway ...

L: What was it like to attend Berklee?

TM: It wasn't an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. But I think that had more to do with the person I was in those days. The best part of going to Berklee was the exposure to musicians from all over the world. I learned far more from them than I ever did from the curriculum. Also, If I had not gone to Berklee, I probably would not be in Japan right now. So it all worked out just fine in the end, haha.

L: Were you a good student?

TM: Hell no! I don't think I have ever been a good institutionalized learner.

I assumed, before I got there, that Berklee would solve all of my problems as a musician. I mean, hey, it IS Berklee after all. But unfortunately, I had to take ME with me, haha. If I could have gone, and left me at home, it would have been far better for everyone.

L: Why is that?

TM: Although I had a good exterior, I had no real confidence in myself. Regardless of my abilities.

"I think I always felt like a fraud, as if someone might suss me out at any moment, and point at me screaming like Donald Sutherland at the end of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'."

Somewhere in my mind, I never thought I was good enough to be at Berklee. I could not see it then, but I can see that clearly now. I was always good at hiding those feelings, though.

I was very weak when it came to believing in what I could accomplish. And that feeling stayed with me in so many areas of my life, for a very long time. I just couldn't seem to get away from it.

L: And that had to do with that lack of support we spoke of earlier ...

TM: Amongst other things, yes.

L: OK.

How then, did you become a writer?

TM: By accident. I think I was always interested in writing something, but I was never quite sure what I wanted that something to be.

For awhile I assumed if one wanted to express themselves with the written word, one would choose fiction. After that I thought non-fiction was the way to go. Then screenplays. Then poetry. I could never pin down what it was I wanted to write.

After the accident of December 2006, it all took care of itself, I suppose. I was compelled to write, with no real worries of literary merit, haha.

I don't know if I effectively expressed myself in words, or if I was even understood most of the time. But something did come of it, and my focus nowadays, as far as writing is concerned, is to express something different than before, while never discarding the tools I developed in writing at Takuin.com for the last six years.

L: I could always 'feel' something through your writing, and sometimes it WAS difficult to understand. But I think there was always a directness in your words, no matter how many of them you used. I am very interested in seeing what you come up with next!

TM: So am I, haha!

L: Let's change the subject.

The kind of work you've done at Takuin.com ... do you think that is something you can just easily walk away from?

TM: I don't look at it in that way. I don't think of it as 'walking away'.

As human beings, we evolve, take on new shapes, forge new paths and leap in new directions. And while it may be a definite change in direction as far as content is concerned, it is still an extension of what I am. It is just a turning of the cheek, or seeing the face for the first time in deep shadow as opposed to bright light.

During my skype calls, emails, or face to face meetings, I was always fond of saying something to the effect of, "If someone is a teacher, spiritual or otherwise, they should be more interested in LOSING followers as opposed to acquiring them."

"To keep followers, to acquire them, put them in the fridge and hope they don't expire too soon, is to live without evolution; just another form of security, both for the teacher and the student."

If a teacher cannot give you the tools to discover and explore on your own, within a year - perhaps two - then what the hell are they doing? I'll tell you ... wasting your time! And this is, of course, also the responsibility of the student.

For the teacher to remain there is to be stuck ... to wilt on the vine. And the same goes for the student. To hope for freedom from their favorite source, is to be stuck. To live without curiosity and care. Gentleness. Suppleness. Whatever you might want to say.

Had I kept writing in the same way as I always had, it would not have been right. I would have been just another jackass (and perhaps I am anyway), clutching desperately to what has become comfortable.

Just. Isn't. Right.

It is the nature of human beings to grow and evolve. And most of us spend our days fighting this natural impulse.

L: Would you do anything differently if you could go back and do it over again?

TM: No. No way.

That is an impossibility, really. In exploration, there is no going back. It is all encompassing. And while things may arise differently on a different day, the nature of exploration makes it silly to regret anything one has seen or not seen.

And besides, doing things differently implies also there is a 'good' result, or a finish line. And if a seeker, during some part of their journey, feels like they keep running their head into a wall, that is usually the reason.

L: You mean, because of a desired result?

TM: Yes.

L: Well, what can they do about it?

TM: Smell the flowers. Find someone they love, and spend time with them. Embrace a friend that truly needs them. Teach a child that the stupidity of the adults surrounding them is not their fault. Eat dessert while looking out into the ocean...

L: That won't sound very spiritual to a seeker, haha!

TM: And that is why they will fail.

***************

This interview series will continue in future posts.

November Project 2011 Finale

This post wraps up the November Project 2011. Now that there have been a few days of space, and as I sit here looking over the posts for November, I think the project went quite well.

I would like to thank everyone for all their wonderful questions. I could not use them all, but I am grateful for every one. And special thanks goes to everyone taking part in the comments. It is always good to see others give themselves over to the questions in order to look deeper into them.

Thanks very much!

For those of you new to the site, and to the veterans unable to read the earlier posts, the following list contains all of the writings for the November Project 2011, in order.

The November Project 2011

01: On Dropping Thought

02: The State of Non-Duality

03: Burning the Notebooks

04: Quick Thoughts on Living

05: Questions Answered - Again!

06: On Increased Awakenings

07: Quick Reply on Living

08: Life After Death

09: What Are You Reading?

10: Confused About Enlightenment

11: In Sickness

12: Belief

13: On Writing at Takuin.com

14: On Freedom

15: On Meditation

16: On Dreaming

17: On the Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011

18: On Finding Out for Yourself

19: Where Should I Sit?

20: On Siddhis and Super-Powers ;-)

21: Takuin on Film

22: On Conclusion

23: On Apophis, Natural Resources, and Love

24: On Haters and Troublemakers

25: On Enlightenment and Awakening

26: On Ending

27: Ask the Reader

28: On Questions

29: On Suffering

30: One Last Sentence

Thanks again, everyone! ;-)

And for those of you coming to these posts late, please keep this in mind: Quick Note on Comments

The Woods

One Last Sentence

November Project: Question #30 This last post for the November Project is a combination of two questions

First:

I know you'll be leaving soon, in a manner of speaking. Do you have any last words of advice for us seekers?

And second:

If you had only one sentence you could say to the spiritual seeker, what would you say?

Well, I won't leave...just move on with life. I won't stop posting here and I won't shut down the site. And I am sure there will be many more interesting conversations with all of you, so in some respects it might seem the same, or at least similar to what came before. But my own explorations have taken me far from where I began, and to remain any longer would be insincere.

Last words of advice sounds morbid, or at least far too dramatic. And I don't care for unnecessary drama. So let's say, the entirety of this website (330 posts, counting this one) are my last words of advice. ;-)

And as far as one last sentence for the seeker...it is difficult. It is not the kind of thing you can create a set answer for. Well, people create set answers all the time, but that is like taking medium size pants and expecting the entire world to fit in them.

Certain things are immutable, but they are only relevant in relation to one's exploration. And that can take on forms difficult to imagine. So it is probably best to leave the 'answers' to the 'experts', and just get on with your life and your own explorations. An expert with an answer will never compare to the beauty that is you, anyway. ;-)

For my one last sentence, I will quote jazz/fusion guitar legend, Scott Henderson. He is speaking about technique, but this can relate to anything we experience in life. Some of you might not get it, but it means something to me.

"I would rather hear Albert King drop his guitar on the floor than hear some jazz guy play streams of eighth notes with no rhythms. It is boring."

That distills my thoughts on life quite nicely.

Walkway to Kotobukiya

On Suffering

November Project: Question #29 This question comes from a good friend through email

I have asked the same questions over and over. I don't think I care as much for 'enlightenment' as for end of suffering. I have heard there is light at the end of tunnel. What if the tunnel is lifelong? What does one do if one feels like a tiny little lost being so panicked by life that the cosmos feels like an alien, uncaring thing?

I think you've done this long enough to know any answer given by an outside authority will do nothing for you.

How many times have you asked these questions? To how many different people? What have their answers done for you?

You've listened to those people, and at the time I am sure their answers were reasonable to you. Do this, do that. Avoid this, avoid that. And you have done those things. Yet, still here you are with the same questions, the same wants, the same suffering.

And how many times have you asked inwardly? And what questions have you asked?

Why do you struggle so with living, even though you are designed to do it perfectly?

The problem is not yours. It is not your fault. But you give it so much energy and make it into something seemingly insurmountable. Why do you do this? Is it just the accumulation of what, deep down, you believe are the bad decisions you have made? Do you wish you would have done this, or should have done that? Or perhaps you feel you could have done more than you have? What is it?

We have talked many times. I am telling you, there is no deficiency in your functioning. You have the same limited base that I have. Although you and I come from different countries, and were raised in entirely different cultures, our base is the same. What you are searching for is there within you. The only difficulty is, no one else is capable of telling you how to see it, or how to find it.

You've done all the tricks, taken all the tips, and listened to so many people, Takuin included. And I love you dearly. But you have to do this alone.

It is true, some people can listen to or read teachings and remove some degree of their suffering. I do not think you are one of those people. Your brain is far too clever for that. It knows what to do, but you have allowed the stories of others to cover over the beauty of that functioning. Even though your intelligence is vast and your mind is sharp, it will succumb to the weakness of your belief and fear.

Forget about the cosmos and if it is uncaring. That is only your attribute, projected on to infinity. Whenever you look out, point out, search out, you are getting away from what is precious, and that is your life and the love you can give everyone.

Please, set aside what you've been told, set aside your inaction, and just take the first step. You will not fall. You can be afraid, uneasy, uncertain, all of that. It is ok. But you will not fall.

Please do this...

Snow and Water

On Questions

November Project: Question #28 This question comes from Brooks through email

Is there a question you've been surprised no one has asked?

Well...not really.

What surprises me is people rarely ask themselves the questions they pose to me. And I have always found that baffling. Sure, there is really no way for me to know if they have asked themselves the same questions, but after spending five years listening and speaking, I think I have a good sense for the amount of inquiry many might allow for themselves.

It is never deep enough, it seems.

It reminds me of a story about the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. When he read the first line of the Kafka story The Metamorphosis, it almost knocked him out of his bed. [The first line reads, 'As Gregor Samsa awoke that morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.' ~ TM]

Garcia Marquez said of the line,

"When I read the line I thought to myself that I didn't know that anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago."

What he says is so telling: 'I didn't know that anyone was allowed to write things like that.'

This kind of thinking follows people into their inquiry. It is almost as if they need a certain 'permission' in order to proceed, and I could never understand that. If someone is serious, then surely, they'll explore themselves thoroughly. It might not come to them all at once, and I can understand why. But you don't stop, if you are serious.

And I absolutely understand one might be limited to the questions and restrictions of their conditioning. So it very well may be out of their experience entirely to ask a different kind of question. But if they want to see a different 'answer', they'll need to ask a different question. And nothing is stopping them from doing so, at any time.

Delicious Plates

Recently on Twitter (it was actually about an hour ago) I had a little conversation over something I tweeted more than a year ago. The tweet itself reads,

#liesyoushouldntfallfor I am the right guru, and I can bring you true freedom.

The conversation on Twitter was just to clarify what I meant. I was asked,

Q1: How best 2 know it's a lie?; 2: what lies r ok?

And I answered with,

Is there a 'right' guru? Can anyone bring you true freedom? Does true freedom actually exist? No one seems to ask these questions.

It isn't that people have not asked me those questions. It IS rare, but they have asked. But they never seem to ask themselves the same questions. And those are good questions, damn it! Don't waste them on me! Explore them within yourselves! ;-)

A few years ago on a Skype call someone asked me a similar question to, Can someone else set me free? (Or Can freedom be given to me? Something like that.) My answer was, Have you asked yourself? I'll never forget his reply:

But I want you to tell me.

My reply was something like, No. I can't tell you. You have the question, and you seem to be curious about all of this. That is all you need to begin.

If there is any final message on this subject it is this: Any question you receive from Takuin is in no way better than any question you might receive from yourself. In fact, yours is better. You gave it a life and a mission of its own. Takuin didn't.

Thanks for the question, Brooks.

Ask the Reader

November Project: Question #27 I received this in my email inbox just a few minutes ago from James

I can't imagine the number of questions you must get all the time, nevermind this November project. But I wonder if you have a question for your readers? My question is, what one question would you like to ask your readers?

Hmm...interesting. I like this. :-)

My question for the readers is one that no one has ever asked me.

What concerns you in your daily lives?

Whether this concern blocks you off from what you consider daily life, or is an integrated part, however you might see it, what concerns you? Forget for the moment if you believe your concerns to be selfish or of no real importance, or even if you believe those concerns to be illusory...I don't care about that...

I would just like to know, as human beings running around living your lives, what is it that concerns you? To be good parents? To be enlightened? To get laid? To make a name for yourselves? Or something else entirely? What is it?

And I ask this question with love. It is in no way accusatory, nor asked to make you think you are not doing enough in the 'right' areas.

I am really looking forward to your replies, as simple or complicated as they might be.

On Ending...

November Project: Question #26 Another grouping of questions, all with similar answers. I'll put them together and see what comes up...

#1)

You've been writing here at takuin.com for almost five years. Do you think you'll continue to write on these subjects for another five years?

#2)

What did you mean by this comment? "I think I have said all I want to say on this subject. It is almost time to walk out into the sun…" [On the previous post On Enlightenment and Awakening ~ TM] Did you mean you were finished with your answer for that particular post, or are you quitting the site? I didn't quite understand it.

There have also been more than a few comments during this November Project amounting to this:

#3)

How can I get what you have attained?

I'll answer all three quickly, then give a bit more detail.

For #1: "Do you think you'll continue to write on these subjects for another five years?"

I definitely will not. In fact, I am thinking five years is quite enough.

For #2: "Did you mean you were finished with your answer for that particular post, or are you quitting the site?"

I am not quitting the site, no. But I am finished answering those kind of questions.

And for #3: "How can I get what you have attained?"

See #2. :-)

I will write more on this in a later post after the November Project is finished. But I will say a few things now...

I don't know that 'answering questions' is what I have done on this site. I like to think of it more as exploration. After all, I began Takuin.com for the purposes of learning how to speak...umm...so to speak. ;-) It has been hit or miss, and some days have been better than others, but I think I have done what I set out to do.

When we get down to it, I think I am finished talking about freedom, as I would much rather express it. And we all know, deep down, talking about something is not the same as expression. 'Talking about' is prevarication, or at least postponement or procrastination in a way. Expression, while it may be dependent upon words or some other physical medium, is not dependent upon description. And THAT is what currently interests me.

I know this will come as a shock to a great many of you. And I am not leaving the site, and I will keep writing. But it will not be the same as before. It is just time to move on...

But for now, we still have a few more posts before the end of this year's November Project, so let's make them good ones!! I am still accepting questions you know. Chop chop! Let's go! :-)

Inside Yoyogi Koen

On Enlightenment and Awakening

November Project: Question #25 This question comes from A, from the comments on the post On Conclusion

Why do you think the accident [regarding awakening ~ TM] happened to you?

Thanks for your question, A.

I don't see it as something that 'happened to me'.

There are beginnings and endings throughout life. They happen to you all the time, even if you cannot see them. Perhaps it was nothing more than that.

Enlightenment will never 'happen to you'. That is not what it is. It is not like getting a raise at work, nor is it like winning the lottery.

It is the wind touching your face. The baby crying in the street. All the things you love, and all the things you hate.

It is all the reasons you want to leave. It is all the reasons you want to stay. It is all of your regret, and all that you have let go.

It is the first time you cried in sorrow. It is the first time you smiled with joy. It is the friends you see everyday, and the friends you will never see again.

It is all you've ever wanted. It is all you've never wanted. It is the first time you held your mother's hand, and it is also the last.

If you've been looking for something to happen to you, and you've only met with frustration, why not take a break? Or stop altogether...

Live your beautiful life while you have the chance. The necessary components are already present within you. ;-)

Faces of Buddha

On Apophis, Natural Resources, and Love

November Project: Question #23 Today let's do something different. Multiple questions, multiple answers. These particular questions I did not plan to answer. But I thought, What the hell? Why not?

This might not interest you, but I thought i'd ask anyway. First, what do you think of the possibility of apophis striking the earth in 2036? [She's referring to 99942 Apophis ~ TM] And second, if an impact seems imminent what do you think humanity will do?

Well, the chances of Apophis striking the earth are 1 in 250,000, so we're probably safe. BUT, I don't like those odds, haha. Usually when scientists give us the odds, the numbers are so high we can't really understand them in any significant way. But 250,000 is a number very easy to get our heads around. I don't like that I understand it as well as I do. ;-)

But even if Apophis strikes the earth, it is not an Extinction Event sized asteroid. It is a 10 - 20 million death sized asteroid, in all probability. But that is really dependent upon where it strikes, if it does.

What will humans do if the strike is imminent? Probably wait till the last moment, work frantically to try and stop it, then when millions die lament, "We did the best we could!" But that is just based on human behavior in general. ;-)

I've heard we're coming up to our last reserves of oil for the entire planet. Do you think its too late to avoid the horrible things that will happen when the oil runs dry?

Depending on what source you trust, the earth's supply of oil will be completely tapped within 30 to 70 years. I tend to think it will run dry sooner rather than later, for one main reason...

Humans will not stop screwing.

The more humans born, the more resources needed. And since the number of humans brought into the world will only increase, the amount of resources needed to support them will also increase.

The general theme for resources has been, when you run out, or do not have what you think you need, you take it from someone else.

For example - and purely hypothetical, of course - if a particular nation has certain resources the rest of the world depends on in certain amounts, and if they put a strangle hold on said resources, another more powerful nation(s) might invade and take the resources, through force, for their own use. Now normally, people all over the world might stand up against such oppression. But if they can be convinced the invasion is for the right reasons, they'll keep their mouths shut.

But thankfully, we're only speaking hypothetically.

As I mentioned in the Apophis question above, historically, humans tend to wait until the last minute to act. And at that point, the only method for change is violence. This is mostly due to the stupidity running through thought that says, "It is not so bad. I'm sure someone will take care of it." And maybe that was fine years ago, but we can no longer afford to be lazy in this way.

Only you can take care of this problem. And by YOU, I mean EVERYONE.

If we keep to what we've always done, when we run out of resources we'll see horrors that would frighten Hitler and Mengele. And they'll be committed in the name of some noble pursuit.

Tokyo Daibutsu Dark

Do you think you love more, or have more love, after your awakening?

What is love to you? Is it dependent upon the past? Dependent upon a history you have with a particular person? I bring it up because that is how a great many people see it. And many say that is love. But it is familiarity.

We might ask, is love dependent upon familiarity? Can you not love a person you are not familiar with? Or is it simply a matter of what you prefer?

Can there be more or less love? Or is it more or less familiarity?

Thanks for the questions, everyone!

On Siddhis and Super-Powers ;-)

November Project: Question #20 This question comes from Brooks through email

Some awakened persons have described certain so-called spiritual powers (or 'siddhis' in the traditional sanskrit) they have come to experience post-enlightenment; which take on a number of different possible attributes like hearing other people's thoughts as an example.

Have you observed any changes that you are aware of that would match this description after your awakening?

Thanks for the question, Brooks.

There are some odd things happening in this body, haha. I wouldn't use the term siddhis, and I certainly wouldn't say spiritual powers. Those are just too corny sounding, and would probably only increase the gap between the speaker and the listener.

I'll tell you some things that go on from time to time, and you can take it from there. These examples may be nothing more than the result of a damaged brain and body, so I wouldn't put too much effort into seeing something not actually here. :-)

I may have mentioned some of these before...

In the past I have described life as happening simultaneously, with no gap or space in-between anything. Many feel life occurs in a step-wise fashion; this moment, then that, and then that; but within this body, there is no step. That gives it the feel of one long, drawn out moment with no clear beginning or end. I wouldn't call it a continuation because it is not really dependent upon the past in that way. It is life, going on.

This does cause some difficulty, though. At times, I have trouble hearing separate sounds. It is as if every sound is apparent to me, all at once, making it impossible to focus on anything other than the entirety. If Akiko is talking to me when this happens, even if she is right next to me and the ambient noise level is normal, I will not hear her. I might as well be deaf. I have to focus on her lips and try reading what she says if I want to understand her. If she is facing away from me while speaking, I will not hear her at all. I won't even know she is speaking.

It is odd.

These are normal events, mind you. It is not as if I am at a loud concert when this happens. It  occurs during everyday life. 

It arises in a specific way. The sound will be separate, and I can hear this or that, just as you might. But for whatever reason, the sounds will slowly begin to meld until all that is left is every sound, which is really the same as no sound at all. Sometimes it comes on fast, and at other times slowly, but it does seem to always happen gradually, regardless of the speed.  

Something else that may be unusual is the amount of heat this body gives off. It is not something I feel myself, and I only know this because of what other people tell me...

I could be sitting, sleeping, talking with someone, or be up to anything really, and it will just happen. There have been times when people have to move away from me due to that heat, and it can be so intense that Akiko can't even hold my hand. 

The Fear of the Blind

Some people have told me it is not necessarily the heat making them uncomfortable, but something they can't quite explain. I don't know what it might be. 

Animals don't seem to mind it though. :-)

You mentioned hearing other people's thoughts as a possible example. I have had similar occurences, but I don't think it is quite the way others have described. Thought is not like a written page that can be read back verbatim. It doesn't really appear to me in that way. It is like a clearly audible sound that does not require ears to hear.

It is not a new-age 'vibration', or an interpreted feeling. It is more like the wind on your cheek.

And as far a reading thoughts, it is more like interception and not reading, if that is the right way to put it.

Let me see if I can describe this...It is not that you 'read' a thought, literally. You intercept a 'reaction'. This is like seeing a telegraphed punch coming toward you in slow-motion. First, it is telegraphed so it is easy to see what is about to happen. And second, it is in slow-motion and you have all the time in the world to intercept, block, dodge, or let it hit you. And I don't want you to take the punching example too literally. I am trying to get close to it, but I'm probably failing, haha.

How about this...it is like answering before the question is asked, or responding without saying a word...

Still not getting close enough. :-)

It is easy to feel this, especially when someone is defensive. I don't know why this is, but there is a certain kind of energy, for lack of a better word, in the defense of the self, that is different. It is very pungent, and is as obvious as the smell of a long dead animal.

Defense is an act of aggression, after all...perhaps that has something to do with it? I really cannot say.

This 'mind reading' is kind of an attunement, if that is the right word. It might stem from a connection to other living things at an imperceptible point. But it is absolutely nothing magical. Too many people use it as a parlor trick for their own personal gain. And some of them do it not knowing it is not special, deluding themselves into thinking they have some gift beyond the norm of humanity. It is not a gift, and it does not make any person better or more important than any other.

I think I will leave it at that. I honestly do not like talking about this very much. Don't get me wrong, I am the one that chose the question, and I don't mind answering at all...

Perhaps my hypocrisy only goes so far? ;-)

Don't know if that answers your question, Brooks, but thanks for asking...

On Finding Out for Yourself

November Project: Question #18 This question comes from an old friend through Skype

I understand the importance of finding out for myself. And I hope to find the truth of my functioning, but I don't know how to do it. Where should I begin?

You begin with yourself. If you want to "Find the truth of my functioning," as you've said, that is what you must do.

Everything you say, think, believe, and feel all points back to something. Find out what that something is.

I hope you can do this, I really do. But I am not sure you will. You say you understand the importance of finding out for yourself, and yet your first instinct is to ask someone else how it's done...

Good luck, my friend.

On Meditation

November Project: Question #15 This question arrived today from Nishanth through the Contact form

Most fully awake people that I have heard  of - like Adyashanti, Buddha, Sri Nisargadatta, became realized after a lot of meditation. Only very few people like Sri Ramana Maharshi, Eckhart, and probably yourself, had spontaneos awakenings (without any effort) which led to permanent realization.

So I was wondering how much importance do you give for meditation? For most of us the ego and conflict runs deep, so do you think that meditation and discipline is important for awakening to happen? Will the mind get attached to meditation and if so how to avoid this?

(I understand that awakening always happens by Grace and not by our-doing, and the process of meditation is to keep the mind silent so as to increase the probability of awakening to happen. Of course on rare occasions it can happen in chaotic minds too.)

Thanks for the question, Nishanth. I'll take bits of what you've asked, and try to answer the best I can.

I am sure my answer will differ from those people with backgrounds of spiritual study, spiritual searching, and spiritual seriousness.

...how much importance do you give for meditation?

For me, meditation had no significance (assuming we are talking about meditation in the way most people use the word). I was curious about life and living things, and I think I would search for what I call temporary truths, which are quantifiable, measurable, physical phenomena. Things that can be known. I imagine it was similar to how Sherlock Holmes solved his cases, although it was never quite as interesting or romantic as that, haha.

Temporary Truths can reveal wonderful things about the physical world. And that might have been a large part of my fascination, because I have always loved the Earth and the physical things it has provided. It was such a thrill for me to learn how something worked, or to solve a problem effectively using only the simplest information. But my fascination only went so far, as whenever I would figure something out, I quickly tossed it aside to move on to the next thing.

In many ways, how I lived is no different from someone on the so-called spiritual path. Or a person on any path, for that matter. I always wanted the next thing, and the next, and the next. But the main difference, I think, between how I lived and the spiritual seeker was I never once thought there was an end goal. I never thought, "If I keep doing this, I will be rewarded in the end." I just did it because it interested me.

Even now, meditation has no real importance in my life. But I don't want to confuse anyone, because I often talk about what I have called, sitting. When I use that word, I don't necessarily mean actually sitting. And I don't mean meditation, as in sitting on the cushion. I use the word sitting to mean a kind of seeing or observation, although observation is not quite the right word.

In sitting, there are the senses. But they are devoid of interpretation. No one is saying good or bad, right or wrong, hot or cold, or any of that. If one sits and there is no interference, it is like 'melding', if that is the right way to put it. There are no longer 'separate' senses; no sight apart from hearing, no hearing apart from touch, etc. There is only ONE sense, and that is life. Life is the purest sensation.

Some might call that a kind of meditation, and that is fine. I can see that. But sitting as I have described it, is not something you DO. You don't begin at a certain time, or end at a certain time. One has no choice in the matter. It never begins and it never ends.

And I hope my descriptions of sitting have been clear in the past, because I never wanted anyone to think of it as something one can attain through practice or effort. It is not that kind of thing. Sitting is merely life living through Takuin, and it is nothing more than a word used to describe that life.

Face

For most of us the ego and conflict runs deep, so do you think that meditation and discipline is important for awakening to happen?

I can't really say. Many people say meditation is important for awakening, but those people also meditate and hope to be awakened, so what else should we expect them to say? ;-)

I think many people do meditate for the reasons you've said above; to be awakened, and so on. In those cases, they hope to have a better state in the future through meditation, and they are at odds with whatever their current circumstances happen to be and want to change them...otherwise why do it at all unless they can get something from it? In those situations, the need to meditate, and perhaps the meditation itself, is born of conflict. In other words, if not for the conflict in the first place, those people might have never meditated.

But, that is not the only reason people meditate. Some do it for others, and not for themselves. Most likely, the number of people doing that is smaller than the I WANT-type of meditators and meditations. But even so, we can't just throw it all out and assume it is nonsense.

And there are beneficial physical effects from certain kinds of meditations, for relaxation and other purposes. I know of some athletes that have used meditation to help in their recovery from training, and some of them swear by it. So it is not necessarily all hocus pocus.

But if someone is selling you meditation, and it all sounds too good to be true, use your head...otherwise you get what you deserve. A con is a con, and it doesn't matter how long the beard or how white the smile. :-)

Will the mind get attached to meditation and if so how to avoid this?

If the mind hopes to avoid attachment to meditation, is that not attachment?

Thanks very much for your question, Nishanth.

November Project 2011: 30 Questions with Takuin

Time for another month-long project! I received many wonderful questions last year, and I am looking forward to doing it again. Here's the project:

For the entire month of November, I will be answering one question per day, every day, from a reader. And I will be taking submissions every single day, right up to November 30th.

You can submit your questions by commenting on this post, through the Contact Page on this site, on Twitter, or on the Life Beyond the Image Facebook Page.

For those of you submitting questions, I’ll be happy to link to you if you have a website, Twitter account, etc. But if you want to remain anonymous, or if you do not tell me one way or the other, I will just use your first name, or your initials.

I will most likely answer your questions in a written post, but I may decide to record audio or video for the answer instead. I’ll just go with whatever feels right at the time.

The questions themselves should be on the topic of this website, but we can still have some fun. Use your imagination, and feel free to ask anything you like. I can’t guarantee I’ll answer every question, but I will keep them all as I might use them in future posts. So let’s get to it!

November 1st is rapidly approaching...What would you like to ask?

Big Tree

Sitting #6

The tunnel stretches forward, and sitting happens as one walks. Cold and clammy. Wet sounds underfoot. I cannot feel breath of my own. Life of my own. Cannot feel the footsteps, bringing me closer to oblivion.

I've walked through the tunnel at least one hundred times, and yet, I've never experienced the walking or the tunnel.

A realm of the senses, beyond the interference of self.

Sitting happens as one walks. Life and death, the constant companion.

The Message of the Blind

I recently found this short bit of writing in an old notebook. Judging from the notebook itself, and the writings surrounding this particular piece, it was most likely written within a month or two of December 1st, 2006 (The accident). I have no idea to whom this writing is aimed - if anyone at all - as I remember nothing about it. It seems to have been written with agitation to some specific event, but I have no memory as to what it might have been.

Reading these old writings are odd for me. With no attachment to, or memory of, the thing, it is as if I am reading the words of a master forger; it isn't me, but someone else perfectly imitating my handwriting.

Too bad I cannot remember this. It seems interesting. ;-)

Sitting across the table, one sees everything you are. Every insecurity, every wrong you've meted out to those 'lower' than you, every exacting repetition of the words belonging to long dead masters...it is all there within you. Perhaps cleverly hidden, but it is there.

It is not a trick, a guess, or a projection....one can feel your pride as one might feel heat from a burning ember. It screams so strongly, it is hard to hear the real over the din of the false.

Even though, in your own words, this activity is all an illusion, it is your motivating factor.

The Fear of the Blind

You've pointed to many things, naming them trivial, illusory, insignificant.  Yet you've not been able to see these things within yourself; the trivial, illusory, and insignificant nature of the blind leading the blind.

A Question on Speaking

This question came from James through Skype.

'What was it like for you to meet with people after you had the 'accident' of your liberation?'

Thank you for the question, James.

I remember people having the most interesting questions. And I honestly had no answer for them and cannot say I knew anything at all about what they asked. But I wanted to come together with them, and we would walk together, step by step, as if holding hands, and we would find out - or not - together.

I felt they were instructing me, as I often moved like a blind man with newly given sight. But that may be what they came to me for; to hear the discoveries of the newly sighted man. And I didn't mind at all.

But if they came to be taught, then I failed them completely.

Takuin's mind may be a giving mind, whatever that means, but it is not giving of answers. And this is confusing to so many who have come to see him. There is no end goal, and nothing to be attained at the end. There is only the moment by moment functioning of the organism.

But they wanted Liberation so badly, you see, and they hoped that through an answer, or even just through physical closeness to the speaker, they would be imparted with a wonderful gift, or the end state they had hoped to find.

Inside Yoyogi Koen

Liberation is not in an end, nor is it in a beginning. It is life, as it is lived. Nothing more, and nothing less.

I have said this kind of thing before, and invariably someone comes back with, "Well, I live my life everyday, and still it is not like yours," but I question that. Not the bit about Takuin's life, as that is insignificant here. No, I question whether they have ever truly lived even one moment of their lives.

And there is nothing wrong with that, really, for they must see the reality of their functioning and fully understand the thing they are, and not the person they someday hope to be.

Life is not a matter of finding the answer to an exalted state, but more a matter of shutting the mouth-mind and simply living.

There is no state to live in, only living. No end to find, only the exploration. There is not even anyone else to light your candle. You'll have to do that for yourself.

If you come to me for answers, you'll only find discomfort. That is the only teaching I can offer.

Be Good

You have struggled for years over finding enlightenment and worrying about how to be good. But goodness doesn't need you to recognize it, anymore than enlightenment needs you to achieve it. Most likely, you struggled far less in your everyday life before you knew anything about enlightenment. And now what? Why continue such an abusive relationship?

It is enough to be good, and you already know how to do that, even if you claim you do not.

Commune with nature and other human beings, enjoy the wonders of the world while you can, and leave the room cleaner than it was when you entered.

Just be good.

 

Sitting #5

I watch an old lady as she slowly makes her way through the various stalls at the antique fair. And although she drifts through the line, she can't resist the Siren's call of one particular merchant. At least seven times she approaches, then walks away. Approaches and walks away. Approaches...walks away. Like Daruma; seven times down, eight times up. I feel the wind, and hear the sound of traffic. It is only that, along with the old lady. The three move in concert, one never more overpowering than the others. She is bent deeply at the waist, as if unfathomable amounts of heavy loads have been carried across her back.

I lower my head and bow to her effort. By the time I raise my head, she is gone.

Then it is just wind and sound.

Nothing is as constant as the wind, the sound, and the old lady. Not even Takuin, as he is not present as thought, but present only as the sensation of the cold metal seat he sits upon.

That is the way of life. For a brief, brilliant moment, we will be seen, and that moment is beautifully fleeting. Sometime soon, we will all disappear, never to be seen again. Then it is just wind and sound.

Equally as beautiful.

Sitting #4

The heart beats. The blood moves. The lungs breathe. Of that I am certain.

The beat of the heart is felt as a body-rippling pulse, not necessarily situated in a single location. One doesn't feel it as rhythmic 'beats', but as a flowing movement.

The wave of the blood is felt as something energized, as if it carries electricity. It is constricted by spatial limitations, but those same limitations bring sensitivity to the organism.

The wind of the lungs is spiritus of the phenomenal. A beautiful combination of two physical elements, it inhales clarity and exhales confusion. One must dig deep to breathe fully.

Breakers and the Water

Takuin is a limited creation, but its reach goes far beyond the physical. The beat of the heart is not merely confined to the chest, nor the blood to the veins, nor the breath to the lungs.

It can touch beyond the known, but only for an instant...an instant that never truly ends.

Never slowing, growing tired, or resisting the natural movement of life. It flows and flows and will continue to do so, until it doesn't.

In the end, not a trace will remain.

Sitting #3

Photo by Takuin Minamoto

Wanting to become, hides the true essence of being.

One sees the apparent result; the ecstasy, the pure emptiness of liberation; and wants it completely. But can you know it before it comes? Can you have it when nothing can take it?

What can you do?

This natural expression of the organism is seen as something to get, something to attain. But there is nothing here to have, and no one can give it to you.

When an image is believed into existence and built into a system to be followed, there is the illusion of something.

Do you really want to be free? What will you do with your freedom? Use it to improve your station? Use it to further your authority? Have you ever asked?

Can liberation be used? Can it be had?

I hear your frustration, but there is no frustration. I see your pain, but there is no pain. You scream, "This pain is real!" but you are a liar.

You are not lying to me. You are only lying to yourself.

I have the image of someone being fooled in the back of my mind. It could have been someone from the past; someone in possession of this body. But I cannot be sure.

This image is the darting movement from the corner of my eye. I turn to look, but nothing is really there.

Nothing was ever there.

Life ruled by the image is a life without sight. And all the playful beauties of liberation will forever dance beyond your eyes.

Wanting to become, destroys what is.