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.

Interview with Takuin ~ Part 1 of ?

Two long time readers at Takuin.com approached me at the beginning of the year and asked if they could interview me for my own website. Sounded interesting to me, so I said yes. The three of us have spent the last few weeks emailing back and forth, and these posts are the result of those emails. In reading over this interview, I seem to be more personal than I expected, if that is the right way to say it. And I hope anything I say is not misinterpreted. But if any of you need clarity, please post in the comments below and I'll do my best to clear it up.

The questions in this particular post, were asked by Jake.

Jake: Tell us about your path to becoming a spiritual teacher.

Takuin: There was no path, and as I see it, I was never a spiritual teacher. I understand that some people might say otherwise, and that is fine. But at no time have I ever thought of myself as a spiritual teacher.

My only real concern was to learn how to speak...so to speak. Not the physical means of speaking, but rather, the way I might make sense of an event that seemed to make no sense at all.

J: And what was that event?

TM: Some have called it awakening, liberation, or enlightenment, amongst other things. It took place on December 1st, 2006. I place no real importance on the event itself...

J: I have heard you say that before, but first I want to ask what about that event made no sense?

TM: Well, any kind of awakening, or whatever we call it, is a leap beyond logic. It is beyond what we know, in any meaningful way. It has been called many things but as it is a leap beyond, it can never be captured.

A major problem of the spiritual seeker is the desperate need to understand the realization; to understand something essentially beyond the powers of understanding. The only thing the seeker can do is make the awakening into something understandable, and therefore, allow themselves the potential opportunity to chase it down. But unfortunately, they can never actually chase awakening; they can only chase their ideas of awakening.

J: So the seeker is not actually seeking enlightenment, but their idea of what enlightenment is?

TM: That is it, right there.

J: After that 'accident' happened to you, you must have been curious, right? Did you seek out anyone for answers, or at least try to find some explanation of what happened to you?

TM: I did, but that probably lasted about a week. Even though I had no idea what this thing was that happened, I could clearly see the workings of this mind. And when I heard the explanations from others, telling me 'your experience was this, your experience was that', it was all meaningless.

"What was I to do? When they told me it was this or that, whether I accepted it, rejected it, or did nothing, I was still the same creature. It did not touch the life that was there."

I suspected that if there were discoveries of any kind, they would be made alone, beyond the muddy paw prints of others.

That turned out to be fairly true.

J: Do you think it is a trap impossible to break out of? I mean, the wheel within wheel way the search seems to go on?

TM: Clearly it is not impossible to leave behind, but the cost is great. The seeker IS the search, and you cannot separate the two. If one hopes to escape the search (which is itself a search), one has to die to what they have known, and that effectively kills the need for enlightenment in the first place.

But ending the search can be a trick, too. For most people it is like holding a live hand grenade behind their backs and thinking, "As long as I don't see it, it is ok to keep holding on to it."

J: And when it blows up, they grab another grenade with their remaining good hand!

TM: Haha...yes...

Just drop it, already. ;-)

J: You mentioned earlier that you place no real importance on your 'accident'. Why do you think that is?

TM: What about it is important? We can look at it, and analyze it from a distance...

We can say, life changed, and you lived differently than you would have. Possibly yes, possibly no. We can say, you would have never written all of those words without that accident. Sure, I can see that. We can say, you would have never met the people you have met over the past 5 years. Probably true. And so on. But why is that so important? The specifics, I mean.

A million other things could have happened on that same day, and each one could have led to an interesting life. That doesn't invalidate any of life's particular circumstances, but life and living are not the analysis of life and living.

That kind of analysis is just another way for us to solidify a vague aspect into something solid so we might be able to deal with it better.

It is an act of war.

J: Why do you say that?

TM: Once a target becomes solid, you can build turrets and defences. You can also learn how to manipulate the thing for your own personal gain.

If we are speaking about enlightenment, it is necessary to make it into something in order to take it. And that is why so much time is spent with words, trying to understand it. You cannot take what you cannot understand.

"People want to know what it looks like, what are the symptoms, what are the smells, the sensations, the lightness or the heaviness, or whatever it is. Why do they so desperately want to know these things?"

J: Maybe because if they have those sign posts, they'll know when they are getting close to the destination?

TM: Yes!

And what does that mean? What are they actually getting close to?

J: An idea?

TM: An idea handed to them. I have heard it called second-hand living, and that is not far from the truth.

J: So could we also say, they are looking for something, searching for something they have already created? They create the idea of what enlightenment should be, then look for the idea they just came up with? Is that right?

TM: That's it.

J: That is fucking cruel! Haha...

TM: It is.

But I don't want to be cruel about it myself, because the spiritual seeker already has enough to deal with. It is the ultimate abusive relationship, with the ultimate asshole spouse. ;-)

The reality of it is cruel enough, so I don't care to make it worse.

J: We've talked a number of times on Skype, and I've never found you to be cruel. Have you heard that you're cruel from other people?

TM: Not really, no.

It is always difficult with the written word, you know...it is sometimes hard to hear the tone of the words. It is easy to misinterpret.

I have been told that I am unsympathetic, which I don't entirely disagree with. I can understand that one. But I am largely supportive of the people I speak with. For me, even if spiritual seeking is an impossibility, I love hearing stories and love listening to others talk about their own searching and where it has taken them. And I really don't think people come to me for answers, anyway. Sometimes they have, but that is an attitude I do not tolerate easily.

J: That has always been a problem for teachers I think (even though you say you don't think of yourself as one); those students that want a pointer, versus the ones that want to have their hands held and be told how to do it.

TM: I don't know how difficult it is for teachers. Many seem to be in the business of accumulation, anyway; to get more and more students to spread their light across the world or whatever it is.

It seems to me, if one is a spiritual teacher, their goal should be to lose their students, and not keep them.

J: How so?

TM: If I am a teacher, and the same people keep coming to me year after year, asking the same questions, then what the hell am I doing? Certainly some of that responsibility is on the student, but that would also be my failure as a teacher. If I can't give a student the tools they need to learn on their own, to explore on their own, within a single year, that is my fault.

If that were the case, I should just give up and go fishing or something.

J: Haha! Nice!

You started Takuin.com in December of 2006, a few weeks after your accident. And by my calculations, you've written over 320 articles. But recently you've talked about stepping away from all of that. Why did you decide to give it up?

TM: It is not a matter of giving up anything, necessarily. The site for me was a vehicle of exploration, and it still is.

Originally, the whole point of making Takuin.com was to find a way to speak, or to make sense of the senseless, as I said earlier. But that quickly changed when I realized that could never happen.

"So somewhere along the line, it changed into an exploration of many things, but the underlying subject was always one of enlightenment, more or less."

Looking back into older posts, I cannot really see a progression, or a change of any kind. But I do see how my writing has changed from chunky to sparse. And that seems to be the direction I am moving in now.

J: What direction is that?

TM: I am learning that verbosity is not necessary. At all. Fewer and fewer words are needed to fully express living, and that is where all of this is headed. I don't know exactly what this means, and I don't know exactly how this will express itself at Takuin.com, but it will happen soon.

Besides, I have never really been the kind of writer that plans what he is going to say, so I will not know where this is headed until it comes out. I'll be just as surprised as you will, Jake.

J: Are you worried about losing the readers you've gained over the last 5 years?

TM: Not at all. If they stay, read, comment, and involve themselves in what I am doing, I'll love them. And if they leave for greener pastures, I'll still love them. I do suspect that many will leave, however.

Just from my own observation, I seem to have primarily two kinds of readers; those interested in exploration, and those wanting to be told what to do. I have no interest in doling out objectives and praising them as rules of living. It is horrifying and unfair, as it stifles and kills one's ability to explore and truly live for themselves. I will no longer take part in any of that.

J: Have you done that?

TM: Not to that extent. At least I hope not! I have always avoided telling anyone how to do something...how to get this or that, and so on. I have always attempted to turn it back onto them, because everything they hope to see is there already.

J: Was there a specific moment that led to this decision? Or was it something that slowly happened over time?

TM: I think it was a gradual thing. But there may have been a final straw. I am still undecided about whether or not what I observed was the defining moment, but it certainly didn't help, haha.

J: What was it?

TM: As you can probably imagine, Japan is a popular place for foreigners to visit for spiritual reasons. Perhaps not as popular as India, but still, there is a lot of that activity going on here. So it is not terribly difficult to find spiritual seminars and retreats and that sort of thing, if you know where to look.

I sometimes like to go to those places to watch people. I won't pay to get in to a seminar, but I like to find a place out of view and just watch the people in attendance.

"I like to see that activity; the movement, the action, all taking place in a rather concentrated space."

Early last year, I was sitting at just such an event. I saw a group of about 10 to 15 people sitting in some kind of meditation. One of them had a small child, maybe 5 or 6 years old. And children, being children, are not always so keen on sitting still and saying OM, or whatever. The father of the child kept trying to get the boy to sit still, and there was a bit of a struggle there.

Finally, the boy asked, "What are you doing?"

The father replied, "Trying to meditate."

The boy asked, "Why?"

The father, a bit frustrated answered, "Because I want to be happy."

Then the father said something that stunned me...

"And if you want to be happy, you'll have to do the same thing."

I. Was. Horrified.

I have told this story to a few people, and most of them don't think of it as such a big deal. But to me this was horrific. I was nearly in tears.

How dare he. How dare he set up his child in a fruitless search, teaching him to believe that, on his own, he is inadequate. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"Is that what we want for our children? For them to conform to a system? Do we want to teach them in order to be good, to be happy, they must perform actions in the same manner as everyone else? If the child fails to do this, what will they think of themselves?"

I sat with that event for some time. I am not saying it was the sole reason for my decision, but it did cause me to stop for a bit and explore.

And to be fair, there is no way to know if the child even heard what his father said. It could have been in one ear, and out the other...

...but I really doubt that.

J: At first glance I would've been tempted to say, "Big deal," but I see where you are coming from.

As far as changing direction, did your family and friends support this change? Or is this even something you would have talked to them about?

TM: I mentioned this to one or two people, but it wasn't anything I felt the need to really talk about with anyone. And to be honest, I do not think anyone in my family has ever read anything I have written. We have certainly never really talked about it, but not for any particular reason.

J: They've never read anything? Are you serious?

TM: I can't know for sure, because as I said, we have not talked about it. But I am fairly certain of that.

I don't feel bad about it at all. They don't ask me for spiritual advice, and they don't think I am any more strange than I always have been, so it is fine.

I think I prefer it this way. My friends and my family really know nothing of what I have written, and that is just fine. And if they ever ask what I have been doing, I just say I have been writing and growing my beard, and that is good enough for them. ;-)

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

This interview continues in the next post.

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 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 Conclusion

November Project: Question #22 This question comes from Liz through the contact form

The other day you were talking about questioning and exploration [On Skype ~ TM].  You said something to the effect of 'Exploration is life', or, 'Through exploration you will find life'. Could you talk about that a little bit more?

Thanks for the question, Liz. And you caught me at a good time, because I remember that conversation. ;-) I think we were talking about the question, the exploration, and the conclusion, and how that whole movement comes about.

As far as our Skype conversation is concerned, here is how we left it:

The Question is what puts the unit into action. It is the Big Bang. The inception. [In our conversation, we used the Big Bang theory as an analogy. And I'm not quite sure we decided it was appropriate, did we Liz? ;-) ~ TM ]

The Exploration is the movement or the action leaving the question behind to do as it will. It is the expansion of the universe. 

And the Conclusion is the death of action. The Big Freeze, or the Big Crunch, or whatever it happens to be in the end.

So we have birth, life, and death, so to speak.

I won't go into all the details here, but we ended our Skype conversation with a question: Is there a way of living that is all explosion, all exploration, all expansion? Is explosion, in fact, life itself?

We also asked, Liz, is it possible to live without conclusion? (Which is really the same question as above.) We can only really explore these questions if we understand what is meant by the word conclusion, or at least the way we are using it.

You can see this movement of inception, explosion, and conclusion in everything. We might use different names for it, but it is there. Even with thought it is there. Thought rises in reaction, it moves about frantically or not so frantically, and dies with our conclusions of the movement. 

Of the three, conclusion is the most detrimental to humanity, if we are speaking in terms of thinking. And it is only a detriment if you want humanity to survive :-) . 

Fly on Leaf

Hate is a conclusion. Racism is a conclusion. Our destruction of nature and wildlife is a conclusion. All the things we do to destroy the only world we know are built from our conclusions.

There is nothing really 'wrong' with thought or thinking, illusory or not. I know many teachers would like you to think otherwise, but thought is not necessarily the problem, at least not directly.

Thought is not alone, after all. It has something living with it. A cancer that has grown out of hand. Another thought, thinking it is somehow different from all the rest. Thinking that it is in control. Thinking it is in charge.

It is this cancer that concludes. It says, "I am better than you. I deserve to take what you have. My system is better than yours. My color is the best. My god is the best. My teaching is the best. I AM RIGHT."

That is conclusion, and it could very well be the ending of humanity. Well, if a giant asteroid doesn't get us first. ;-)

You might also say knowing that fire will burn you is a conclusion. I can understand that, but it is not what I am talking about here. Sure, that is a kind of conclusion. But conclusion, as I am using the word in our conversation, has someone behind it. It is not knowledge by itself, but knowledge sharpened to a point and ready to be used by a psychopath desperate to stab at something or someone. 

There is a difference between knowledge and a conclusion, at least in the way I am using the word, and I hope it is not terribly confusing to you, Liz.

None of this is a matter of right or wrong as I said to you in the call. It is exploration, and that is all. Conclusion won't really serve us well here, as it is probably best to remain free with what we offer each other. If we have some suspicion or we tend to disagree, we question it, not build another wall. We must remain open, especially toward the things we would rally against. It can be our greatest teaching, after all.

To live a life beyond conclusion (not without conclusion) is a lovely flow. A ride through one continuous moment. It is all exploration because it never ends. It never closes shut.

Thanks for the question, Liz!

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 Dreaming

November Project: Question #16 This question comes from Brooks through email

How do you experience sleep and dreaming post-December 2006 accident?  Have you noticed a difference in dreams over the last five years?

Thanks for the question, Brooks.

I suppose in the past I was a fairly regular dreamer. I never really placed much significance in it, but I think I enjoyed it for the most part. I can remember having horrifying dreams and waking up thinking, "How awesome was that??" But in the last five years or so, I can scarcely remember having any dreams. It just doesn't seem to happen for me anymore.

I know people will cry foul and tell me Everyone dreams every night!!, or You do dream, you just don't remember!!, but I really don't think so. I won't say I have had no dreams in the past five years, but I could seriously count the amount of times on one hand. Probably. :-)

There are many theories of dreaming and dreams. I think the main line of thinking is our dreams are there as a subconscious playground where we can work out all the unresolved issues of the previous day or days. If that is true, what if there is nothing to resolve? If dreams are dependent upon us having to deal with our self-perpetuated nonsense later, then the question of dreaming is a simple one to answer.

And others say dreams are messages from elsewhere, or from the subconscious, giving us advice and whatnot. Still others think they are symbolic representations of past lives or even representations of answers to our deepest questions. Some of it might be true, none of it might be true...I don't really know.

But I do know when I lie down to sleep at night, I am always alone. It can be a deafening silence, and sometimes sleep does not come so easily. At times I like to fill the room with sound just to have something there. Solo piano music is good. I like the percussive nature of the instrument. But having music, or any sound for that matter, is not a necessity for me to sleep.

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

Train

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.

On Writing at Takuin.com

November Project: Question #13 This question comes from Matt through email

Do you find it difficult to write on the subject of enlightenment or liberation?

Thanks for the question, Matt.

As far as 'writing on the subject of enlightenment or liberation', I am not sure that is what I do. I know I usually hover in that area, and many people think that is what I do, but I don't quite see it in that way.

Much of what is written about enlightenment, online and in blogs or what have you, comes from that subject matter directly. In other words, there is a body of literature most people work from. It is in this or that tradition, or it sprouted from this or that teacher or lineage. That is all well and good, and I have nothing bad to say about it.

(I can't speak for everyone, of course, and I am probably the worst person to comment because I don't really read those blogs anyway, haha. I am working from the info given by all the people I have met with over the years.)

In my own case, I have no 'training' at all. I don't come from a teaching, teacher, lineage, religion or anything else. I am just some jackass that had this accident occur on December 1st, 2006. So, I'm the last person you should trust for information on the subject of enlightenment and liberation! ;-)

In the beginning, all I wanted to do was just try to find a way to talk about this thing that had happened to me. In those early days before this site, I didn't seem to have words for anything, and that in itself fascinated me. I would be in, what I thought was, an intense conversation with someone and I would never say a word. Other people thought it was strange, but it seemed so right to me. Those kind of experiences led me to write so I could learn how to speak, if that is the right way to put it.

All I have ever tried to do is see things as they happen within. So if someone asks me about the origin of thought, for example, I don't grab a book about Thought, look for the pertinent information, then re-word it and present it as the answer. I just look within. There is thought here, and I don't have to go somewhere else to find out how it works.

Faces

So, thinking of it in that way, I don't really write on the subject of enlightenment and liberation. I write based on whatever arises within. And many people are not interested in that, and it is fine. I get it. But that is all I can do, for better or worse. ;-)

As far as difficulty in execution, it is not really so bad. I imagine it was far worse in the beginning. But using the November Project as an example, I take a question and start writing. I just go until I think I have said all I need to say. Then I go back and remove a lot of nonsense (never enough, haha). At that point, it is good to go.

It is really an easy thing to do if you are willing to let go of the outcome.

There is one thing that I do find annoying...well, maybe more interesting than annoying. I don't know if it is the subject matter, the way I write, the words I use, or something else, but every once in awhile I get emails from some kind of Enlightenment Grammar Police. I get guys (it is always men) who will, quite literally, take each sentence word for word and explain why it is wrong, why I am wrong, and why they are right.

I just don't get why it is so important to them. I mean, these are LONG, VERY DETAILED emails. Had they used the energy it took to craft such a thing and directed it toward cancer research, we'd probably have more healthy people in the world. ;-)

Hope that answers your question, Matt! Thanks...

Belief

November Project: Question #12 This question comes from Steven through email

I have read all the posts in this project and I find it interesting so far. But my question comes more from the comments. My questions is, if you don't believe in an afterlife, don't believe an enlightened age is coming, don't believe in spiritual stages or whatever, what do you believe in?

Thanks for your question, Steven.

First, lets consider the phrase Don't Believe. Don't Believe is not the thing at all. There is a great deal of activity in Don't Believe, and it is really not so very different from believing.

Don't Believe also needs a contrary position, as in, "I don't believe because of this or that." You might also say Don't Believe needs the "I", but what is the "I" other than a contrary position?

Not that any of this is good or bad...we're just exploring the words a bit. It might seem like mere semantics, and you may not have meant to use Don't Believe in that way, so, sorry if this is a bit off the subject.

Your real question is, What do you believe?

In the Clouds

What do you mean with the word Believe? Is it a bit of knowledge or something imagined? A little of both? Or are you using it the same as when someone talks about belief in god, and that sort of thing? Is it accepting something to be true? Is it from opinion? Faith? What do you mean when using that word?

In the way people normally use that word, belief has something behind it, yes? The belief needs you in some way, to expend your energy. If you have a belief, you carry it with you. You need to keep it close to you. Otherwise, it will come and go like any other thought.

Belief in this way, is different from a fact. You can say that a guitar neck is made of wood, and that is a fact, but you don't have to believe it. The guitar neck doesn't need you for it to go on, and if you stop believing in the thing, it is not going to turn into some other substance. It is what it is, with or without you.

We can go on and on with the words, but it is not so necessary. You asked, What do you believe? A better question might be, Where is belief? Where is it, and how am I to find it?

There is no sense of belief in this body. But I dont want to assume there is nothing here, because I do take this seriously. But all I am left with is the question, Where is belief?

In Sickness

November Project: Question #11 This question comes from Jay through email

I read in one of your comments on a previous post that you've been sick [On the post Life After Death ~ TM]. Hope you get better soon! My question is, how does one handle sickness in an enlightened state? Do you find it easier to deal with than it was before?

Thanks for the question, Jay. And thanks for the get well wishes!

First, let's do away with the enlightened state nonsense. ;-)

Second, I don't handle it. If there is sickness for whatever reason, it has nothing to do with me (At least not in the way we usually think of sickness). The body will handle it, or the body will perish. Most likely, at my age, the body will handle it. :-)

Now don't get me wrong. It could totally be my fault. Maybe I ran around in the rain too much, ate too poorly, or neglected rest for too long. It could absolutely by my actions, or lack of actions, that has made this body throw everything out, causing a short, forced recovery period. But beyond that possibility, it really has nothing to do with 'me'.

In sickness, there is nothing really to deal with, apart from the inconvenience of the thing. We can't do what we might like to do during an illness, but that is not so bad. We can catch up on reading, or Rocky and Bullwinkle episodes (A sneak peek into the life of Takuin? Haha).

You might say it has everything to do with you when you're sick, or that it affects every aspect of yourself when you fall ill. That is all well and good, but I am just telling you how it appears here. I have no feeling about it, apart from physical feelings and sensations, but those are not 'mine' anyway.

Thanks for your question, Jay.

Life After Death

November Project: Question #8 This question comes from Lee through email

Is there life after death?

Thanks for the question, Lee.

No.

Life After Death

OK, OK, put down the torches....we'll go into this a bit. ;-)

The better answer - well, not better, but perhaps the only answer - is, I don't know. I never will. Neither will you. We know what we've been taught, and that is all.

Reincarnation, life after death, and all of the other things we have been told of the after life have been given to us, and adopted by us, for two main reasons: control and comfort. If we can be made to believe the stories we have been given, we are easier to control. And since we can't fathom, or won't fathom, the notion that this life may very well be all there is, we take comfort in knowing we'll be taken care of later.

It is, "Be good now, or suffer later," or "If you don't get it right this time, you will have another chance," and so on.

What we have been taught are the products of thinking. We give a description of something through thought, that is beyond thought. Death is the ending of thought. Not necessarily the ending of life, but of thought.

Thought is scared of the end, and thus, makes tales of another life or another something in an attempt to maintain its own continuity.

Try and see this within yourselves...if you can put aside the things you've been taught, and just see the functioning of thinking and how it moves, with its hopes for the future and a life without end. Somewhere, somehow, it must know that eventually its number will be up, but it does its damnedest to keep going.

Take a moment and look within yourself. Why do you want to go on after this life? Not because you believe you will, it is more than that. Why do you want to? I am not saying you should or should not. Just ask why. It seems no one bothers to ask.

I know what people say about this, and I know what they believe. But just because an idea is popular, or because you believe it, doesn't make it true. And I am not trying to say "Believe me!! Believe me!!" because all I can really say is, "I DON'T KNOW." And I am more than fine with that. It just gives one a reason to never waste one's time. Ever.

You might ask, "Isn't there a possibility that what we've been taught will turn out to be true?" The same possibility exists of there being an alternate universe where Takuin has super powers and is leader of the X-Men.

;-)

Quick Reply on Living

November Project: Question #7 This question comes from A in the comments on a previous post Quick Thoughts on Living:

What is the the most significant or the most major difference you feel between a ‘separate feeling of being alive’ and no ‘separate feeling of being alive’? You have known the former before the accident, I guess. Would love to know.

Thanks for the question, A

Honestly, I don't remember much of what life was about back then. Certainly it moved along some path or another, with many different jobs, locations, attitudes, and so on.

There was most likely a person, thinking itself to have a life, with struggles, conflicts, hesitations, and worries for the future. But what any of those things may have been about, I cannot really remember. And as far as the former and the latter is concerned, I can only imagine a comparison between the two....

...so let's imagine for a moment.

Before, there must have been a person and events. And the event's apparent importance arose only as backdrop for said person's particular sphere of drama.

Or perhaps there were no events, and only personal interpretation?

Or maybe it was the person, merely interfering and interacting with the physical world?

It could have been all or none of those things. Perhaps more. Perhaps less. Whatever it was, is not so important now.

These days, the past has little importance, apart from its usefulness regarding memory. Well, it is a great resource for navigating the physical world, and essential in that way. So we could say the past works as it is needed (or we could also use the word memory in place of past). That is also the only place where time, and the past, exist; in memory.

The person is dependent upon the past that sustains it (the person IS that past). And that same person hopes to remove the past to have a better life in the future. That is essentially what the seeker is doing; looking for a way to end its 'non-essential part' in order to have a more complete 'essential part' and then sustain a new and better life with it.

The Self in Agony

None of this really interests me anymore. I don't want to say it has never interested me, although I am sure I have said that, haha. Life is attracted to life, and even saying that much could be considered gratuitous, as the words cannot hold the thing as tightly as we would want them to.

There is life here, and it is different from the life behind the eyes that will read this. Different and the same. These eyes take in sights no one else will ever see, and it is the same for yours. If there is an interpreter behind your eyes, there is nothing wrong with that. Rather than struggle with it, if you do, just embrace the thing and get on with living.

There is no feeling of life here...no feeling of a life being lived. And while Takuin is definitely alive according to the definition of living, he doesn't really know he is alive, and he never will. Only his thinking would tell him yes or no, and that in itself will never be a problem unless he starts believing it.

Someday, A, you may be free of your need for freedom. That may be the only freedom...

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

Thanks for your question, A. I don't know that I have answered you, and I may have gone off into other areas, but I did my best! ;-)

On Dropping Thought

November Project: Question #1 The first question this year comes from Cat:

My question is about thoughts. My current strategy for dealing with the minutiae of mental chatter is to remember Nisargadatta's admonition to see thought as illusion and just drop it.

I have heard many statements and phrases on dropping thought over the years. I find it fascinating people are so interested in this, as it is such a superficial thing. Not superficial in the sense of it being unimportant, because it must be seen for what it is. But many think of the dropping of thought as the end of all ends without looking into it, or even questioning if it is, in fact, a possibility.

Many questions arise from this, which is good. We'll take a look at a few of those...

Why does one hope to drop thought? Forget about whether or not it is possible for the moment. Why does one want to be free from the movement of thought? Is it to free oneself from a discomfort of some kind? Or perhaps because a respected teacher says to drop thought is of the highest importance?

You mentioned chatter, Cat. But what is wrong with chatter, or with thinking? Is there something wrong with chatter, or is there a thought thinking something is wrong with chatter?

This leads into another line of questioning...

What hopes to free itself of thought and thinking, and who is the one wanting to drop it? You might say, "It is me!" but what is 'me'? What is the 'me' that hopes to drop thought?

I am not trying to point out that the 'me' is an illusion. (If one hopes to free oneself of thought, the 'me' is clearly there, illusory or not.) I just want to know what it is. What is this thing that wants to free itself of chatter, that wants to drop thought?

Most likely, you only feel the 'me' through conflict. In other words, you only really know it is there when it rises to resist something. I am not saying this is true, but look within yourself and try to find this thing called 'I'. If the 'I' rises in reaction, rises in conflict, is the problem really with thinking or chatter? Or is it a problem of resistance to thinking and chatter?

Is there ever a problem with thinking? Or is it merely a problem of resistance and interference?

You'll have to go into this on your own, but you may find that the 'me' is no different from what it hopes to be free from. If that happens to be true, just relax into the loving arms of those beautiful sisters and brothers you've resisted for so long!

Akiko in Shadows

Do you have any other advice? Does it get quieter "in there" when one continues to just drop thought? Your thoughts (!) on the matter are deeply appreciated.

Nice last sentence, Cat. ;-)

As long as one hopes to drop thinking and thought, it will never be quiet. The noise comes from the interference, from the resistance.

Look within and tell me, tell us, what you see. Is there really a problem of thinking, or a problem of the chatter? I am not trying to lead you in one direction or another. Where do YOU see the problem. Where is the issue?

I hope this is not frustrating for you. I know it would be great if someone were to say, "Do this, this, and this, and your thoughts will drop!" (If you look online for a bit, I'm sure you'll find plenty of people telling you how, haha.) But why anyone would want to do that is beyond me. To grab someone's answer to thought and thinking and try to put it on like an ill-fitting hat...I just don't get it. (I'm not saying you have, or will do, any of that, by the way.)

But you've asked me, so I will tell you how thought and thinking appears to Takuin. As far as knowledge and memory is concerned, thought arises as it is needed. It works, I imagine, as it should. If I need particular information, and if those grooves have been dug deeply enough, the answer is readily at hand.

However, in the last five years, as far as I know, I have never hoped for there to be any more or less of thinking or thought. I cannot see that as an actual possibility anyway, but what I think about it is really irrelevant. There is thinking, and there is no thinking, and it is all a part of the same movement much like living and dying. I can't really imagine what it is to resist, or to hope for a better thought.

Thought is a necessary function of the organism. Belief in, or resistance to thought, is not.

***********

I don't know that I have answered your question satisfactorily, but I at least hope is begins a dialogue...if not with me or the commentors here, with yourself. If you have any other questions, or if I should clarify something, please let me know in the comments below.

I look forward to hearing from you again, Cat! :-)

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