Friday, April 18, 2014

Dr. Jay's 2,864th Discourse on Equanimity



...it's not that I don't care about missing the lecture on equanimity, but I'm okay with it...
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(for Frank Jude Boccio....thanks for a great week at Kripalu!)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

There's No Such Thing As An Original Sin

...driving Philly’s infamous corridor of angst, the Schuylkill Expressway, with the radio on, heard an old Elvis Costello song...I’m Not Angry....with one line that goes:  there’s no such thing as an original sin...which I’ve always thought was kind of a clever play on words and traditional Christian doctrine...

...sin isn’t a word I use much...associating it, as I tend to do, with traditions in which any baby worth knowing seems to have drowned in the guilty bathwater a long, long time ago, leaving a tub I have little interest in entering....though I do think an awful lot about faults and mistakes...and all kindsa not particularly commendable behavior...mostly my own...

...and, gotta admit, even while basking in recrimination and self-loathing, I tend to look at these little blemishes on my character as kinda special...unique, even...enough that the world might recoil in horror if the charges against me were read in public...

...like, y’know, I’m one badass evil kinda dude...
 
...but, the truth is, it’s the same old tired crap...stuff millions if not billions of people around the world are probably guilty of at this very moment...that’ve been causing problems for a hundred thousand years...not particularly good, maybe, nothin’ to be proud of, some of it best apologized for, with reparations made, in fact.......but that’s all...
 
...like somebody I was helping with her college application essays a little while ago, who wasn’t sure what to say about a period of her life which was notably blank on her résumé...said she didn’t want to mention that she drank herself into jail and rehab...which was understandable...
 
...and yet, I told her, you’ve had a drinking problem....you’re not an axe murderer....half the people on the admissions committee have probably had drinking problems....that it was best be to simply be open about it...

...and she got in....one of those admissions officers even noted how touched she was by the honesty of her essay...
 
...(it should be noted, that, even if you are an axe murderer, that’s hardly a groundbreaking accomplishment....have you cleaved as many heads from necks as Genghis Khan? I don’t think so....so if that’s how you’re planning on making your mark, might as well forget it...it’s been done)...

...there’s no such thing as an original sin....and not need to go through life as if our faults are anything special...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Yes, This Blog Still Exists...

A writer takes earnest measures to secure his solitude and then finds endless ways to squander it.
Don DeLillo

...some time ago decided I was gonna focus on practicing yoga and not think about it so much...read about it less...certainly stop arguing about it...and, for the most part, that's been a good thing...

...though, as a result, have also been writing about it a lot less....as readers may've noticed...but, then, I'm writing about other things less, too, as I try to work on a novel about dysfunctional superheroes...which I haven't been doing much in recent weeks, either...okay, let's fact it, I been slacking...

...anyway, more recently been practicing yoga a lot less, too, due to the injured arm...iced as I type...(was telling a friend about it, said it was getting better for a while, but then the recovery seemed to plateau....she asked if I was icing it...I said I was until it started feeling better....took me a couple minutes to make the connection between those two answers)...

...nonetheless, went on a yoga retreat with my friends and teachers John and Diana at a hilltop villa in the Umbria region of Italy...
...yes, that's actually the place...ancient stone buildings with modern infinity pool, hot tub, and yoga studio....before and after which, spent time in the magical city of Florence...

 

...as well as Barcelona (see also the lovely Antonio Gaudi doorway, at the top of the post),


and Madrid...

...after so much quality time with Miro, Picasso, Bosch, Botticelli, and ancient, storied rivers of red wine, wasn't easy to settle back into the autumn at home...been doing a lots of meditation and mindfulness mini-retreats, and, a few weekends ago, a Yin Yoga teacher training with the amazing Corina Benner in an area of South Philly not long ago infamous as the city's mafia battleground, now one of it major hipster neighborhoods...impermanence, y'know...

I heard the old, old men say,
'Everything alters,
And one by one we drop away.'
They had hands like claws, and their knees
Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
By the waters.
'All that's beautiful drifts away
Like the waters.'
William Butler Yeats, The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water

...but, anyway, told some fellow students about my semi-legendary blog...figured it might be a good time to post something...anything...for whatever it might be worth...

I had a discussion with a great master in Japan... and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, "That's a waste of time. If you really understand Zen... you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because... the sound of the rain needs no translation.
Alan Watts

Friday, August 30, 2013

This Is Not Yoga


The line between exploring and experimenting and simple and shameless self-indulgence can be difficult to see...but easy to ignore.
Ancient and Revered Yoga Cynic Sutra 111:895

...if there's one thing yoga bloggers like to talk about even more than yoga, it's...y'know...not yoga...as in [outraged yet self-consciously calm and mindful tone] this commercialized/sexualized/nothin'-but-asana/glorified-gymnastics/new-agey/unhealthy-body-image-based/generally westernized/low-grade-celebrity-infested/sexist/egocentric/generally-corrupted-from-its-pure-roots-in-pure-uncorrupted-and-always-totally-spiritual-magical-mystical-Indyaaaa-where-they've-certainly-never-been-patriarchal-or-had-a-brutal-caste-system-or-oppressed-religious-minorities-or-had-abusive-gurus-or-anything-else-that-I-know-of-but-if-they-did-I'll-blame-it-on-western-influence/let's-face-it-just-not-as-spiritual-as-I-am crap IS NOT YOGA...

...but that's not what I'm talking about here....like I always say, in order to be disillusioned about yoga...or anything else, for that matter...ya gotta be illusioned in the first place...so that, most likely, the sooner that illusion gets dissed, the better...

...no, I’m here to talk about non-yoga in its purest form...by which I mean not doing that asana practice with all those vinyasas and sun salutations and twists and bends and stuff that, for better for worse, we have come to define as yoga AT ALL...which, thanks to some badly strained muscle fibers in my upper left arm, is what I've been practicing lately....and this non-yoga, let me tell you, really, really sucks...
 
...I mean, really, if you are the kind of insane freak who feels the need for a serious hardcore daily yoga practice, and yet sometimes wonder, cynic that you are, if it’s really worth all the time, money, and effort, there’s simply no way to find a truer, deeper appreciation for the practice than to fuck up some part of your anatomy so that you have to take a thoroughly unplanned extended break...

...one thing that’s not said enough, except on yoga blogs, where it’s continually brought up like yet another revelation that nobody’s ever thought of before, is that you can get hurt practicing yoga....but, of course, it’s not yoga’s fault...and that’s true...in my case, as in most such, the problem is not practicing mindfully...continuing to push oneself in the practice even though the body is sending clear warning signs, until those warning signs get pronounced enough that they can no longer be ignored...
 
...(of course it should be noted that some yoga injuries are at least partially the fault of unskilled or unmindful teachers...but that's not my problem...my teachers are awesome...and I can hardly wait to practice with them again)...

...and so I ice my arm, bike, meditate every day, and generally work on being more mindful, of my health and other things...trying to use this time away from the practice as a necessary step back to heal and assess...which is a good thing...

...but that doesn’t mean I have to like it...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Not in any danger of realizing full enlightenment any time soon...

...such a drag to want something sometimes, one thing leads to another I know, sang Chrissie Hynde...distilling the first two noble truths of the Buddha, along with the law of causation, into one bouncy rock n' roll nugget....suffering caused by self-centered desire spiraling into only more desire and, hence, more suffering....I know all this shit, really...even if it doesn't seem to be doing me much good, at the moment...

...I'm as much a chemical hybrid as any GMO...hate to see my weight on the doctor's scale, and wouldn't want it anywhere near scales of justice...any tribe I'd be a member of is quite certainly lost, and yet my neuroses have their own zip codes and Wikipedia entries...so much water, but no place to piss...

...had a dream I was back in high school, and also back to teaching college...but refusing to leave the breakfast table, seeing no point in trying to learn or teach anything....even more miserable upon actually waking....by early afternoon decided to blow off both yoga class and the meditation sangha, do anything that absolutely had to be done, then get in the car, drive across the Walt Whitman Bridge...Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, Strong and content I travel the open road...to the Jersey side, not stopping 'til the ocean...Surf City...[cue Beach Boys, Springsteen, Miley Cyrus, whatever the hell you like...]...just to get some sand between the toes...

...there's a lot to be said for some sand between the toes...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Notes From a Cold Spring...or, I Have Heard What the Talkers Were Talking: Silent Retreat, Yoga Blog Version


If we become too serious we will lose our way.
Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

...John Lennon sang I don’t believe in yoga, and, as I believe I’ve said before, I don’t believe in it, either...I practice it...make an inquiry into it...no beliefs involved...

...and I’ve been doing a lot of that, of late...really...you can ask the local Philly yoga teachers....even if my half moon continues to suck...

...as well as returning to a daily meditation practice....

...but I don’t have much to write about it...so haven’t been...in case anybody's noticed...

...and am increasingly irritated by what other people write...so haven’t been reading much...at least, not about yoga...and don’t really get the impression I’ve been missing much...though people sure do keep writing...

I have heard what the talkers were talking...
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

...with all the incessant pontificating, marketing, and arguing going on, been thinking it might be a good idea if all the writers and talkers...from revered gurus to marketers of yoga pants to snarky yoga bloggers...continued to practice...if practice they do...and, really, it's fine if they don't...but tried checking the impulse to jabber on and argue about it...

...a lengthy collective silent retreat...

...starting with me...

...just an idea...

...namasmotherfuckin'te, folks...