Tuesday 10 March 2015

A direct experience of your life

I first  reviewed the Art of Life Tarot in 2012, but I have yet to use it much. I have kept it though, through many deck culls, because it appeals to me as something that is handy to have for daily draws, for the expression of the heart of each card's meaning. Today's card is the High Priestess, with a quotation from Lao Tzu.

At all times we can trust our deepest inner knowing. We just don't always see how to get to it. So much gets in the way. We allow circumstances, situations, people, dogmas, or systems to come between us and our truth.

We think it requires bravery to know who we are and what we want. We may be afraid to look at what is. All of this comes of illusion, of images, rather than from reality. Even the attempt to name 'what is' results in a new layer of illusion separating ourselves from our truth. And we think that if we confront the truth of what is, it means we will have to change, to 'become'. This is an illusion, a world of images, but not reality. We are taught that life is about striving to 'become' something, to seek transformation. But have you ever considered that transformation only occurs when we let go of the concept of 'becoming'?

I have been contemplating the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti recently. Consider his thoughts on the concept of 'becoming': 

'The mind has an idea, perhaps pleasurable, and it wants to be like that idea, which is a projection of your desire. You are this, which you do not like, and you want to become that, which you like. The ideal is a self-projection; the opposite is an extension of what is; it is not the opposite at all, but a continuity of what is, perhaps somewhat modified. The projection is self-willed, and conflict is the struggle towards the projection. You are struggling to become something, and that something is part of yourself. The ideal is your own projection. See how the mind has played a trick upon itself. You are struggling after words, pursuing your own projection, your own shadow. You are violent, and you are struggling to become nonviolent, the ideal; but the ideal is a projection of what is, only under a different name.

'When you are aware of this trick that you have played upon yourself, then the false as the false is seen. The struggle towards an illusion is the disintegrating factor. All conflict, all becoming is disintegration. When there is an awareness of this trick that the mind has played upon itself, then there is only what is. When the mind is stripped of all becoming, of all ideals, of all comparison and condemnation, when its own structure has collapsed, then the what is has undergone complete transformation. As long as there is the naming of what is, there is relationship between the mind and what is; but when this naming process - which is memory, the very structure of the mind -is not, then what is is not. In this transformation alone is there integration.'

- J Krishnamurti, The Book of Life
The High Priestess teaches us that we already know what is. Krishnamurti affirms as well that we already are 'what we are' as well as 'what we want'.  All conflict, all becoming, is disintegration. Therefore, let us not concern ourselves with naming of 'what is', or naming of what we want to become. Let us relax into a direct experience of our lives.

Friday 6 March 2015

Can you look beyond the image?

'Is it possible to observe without the thinker? I look at everything with an image, with a symbol, with memory, with knowledge. I look at my friend, at my wife, at my neighbor, at the boss, with the image which thought has built. I look at my wife with the image I have about her, and she looks at me with the image she has about me: the relationship is between these two images. This is a fact,it's not an invention on my part,it's a fact! Thought has built these symbols, images, ideas. Can I look, at first, at a tree, at a flower, at the sky, at the cloud, without an image? The image of the tree is the word I have learned which gives a certain name to the tree, tells its species and recalls its beauty. Can I look at that tree, at that cloud, at that flower, without thought, without the image? ... Can I look at life, the clouds, the stars, the trees, the river, the bird on the wing, my wife, my child, my neighbor, this whole earth - can I look at it all without the image?' 

- J Krishnamurti 

The above quotation from Krishnamurti reminded me of the Joni Mitchell song 'Both Sides Now'. I used to think that song was about lost innocence, probably a break up, but it isn't. It's about the fact that no matter how we conceptualise reality, as good or as bad, we still haven't actually experienced it, we've only experienced our images of it. Understanding this is the key to many doors. 

 How have you looked at clouds? Can you look at clouds and just see them, without naming them, without creating an image of them, without conceptualising them? Can you just experience clouds? Love? Life?

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From WIN and LOSE and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

-Joni Mitchell, 'Both Sides Now'