If there is that kind of communication going on between yourself and the object, then ego doesn’t get a chance to digest anything; it doesn’t get a report back from you and your work. When your work becomes natural and spontaneous communication, ego doesn’t get a chance to act as a middle man. Generally what happens, however, is that ego has messengers that bring information back to its switchboard. Then ego accepts or rejects. Everything depends on the pleasure of ego. On the other hand, if you have good, fluid communication with the work, then you are working without ego’s authority, which is very humiliating for the ego.
I’ve been quiet in my space1 here for several weeks for good reason. I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about the practice of mindfulness and Buddhism, which I hope to tackle more of in the coming weeks, but I also did something a little unexpected: I made a thing.
Breathing expresses the fact that you are alive. If you’re alive, you breathe. The technique is basic and direct: you pay heed to breath. You don’t try to use the mindfulness of breathing to entertain yourself, but you use the mindfulness of breathing to simplify matters.
Enlightenment is awakening from the dream of being a separate me to being the universal reality. It’s not an experience or a perception that occurs to a separate person as the result of spiritual practice or cultivated awareness. It doesn’t come and go, and you don’t need to do anything to maintain it. It’s not about being centered or blissful or peaceful or any other experience. In fact, enlightenment is a permanent non-experience that happens to nobody. The separate person is seen through, and you realize that only the supreme, universal reality exists, and that you are that.
I think of my reading as drawing water from some bottomless, timeless well. In goes the bucket. The rope slides through my hands. I’m sitting on the couch in the living room, the French press on the coffee table, a book open in my lap, a chipped mug balanced on my knee. The city is asleep all around me. The sun is asleep beyond the earth’s curve. And now up comes a cherry tree in blossom, the tolling of a distant bell, a burning stick of incense, a small man in a wooden boat on a perfectly calm lake at dusk. The images are plain and clear, refreshing. I drink deeply, then lower the bucket for more.
Just over a week ago, I began my summer of David Foster Wallace with Infinite Jest. It is definitely a tough book to get into with chapters taking place in different periods of time, with characters that aren’t always named. There is a bit of mystery to reading it and discovering who is actually speaking.
Often, the psychological turbulence of those first days or weeks is so debilitating that recently incarcerated people can’t even navigate public transportation; they’re too frightened of crowds, too intimidated or mystified by the transit cards that have replaced cash and tokens. In a recent study, the Harvard sociologist Bruce Western describes a woman who ‘‘frequently forgot to eat breakfast or lunch for several months because she was used to being called to meals in prison.’’ I met one man who explained that, after serving 15 years, he found himself convinced that parked cars would somehow switch on and run him over. So many years inside can leave people vulnerable in almost incomprehensibly idiosyncratic ways, sometimes bordering on helplessness: ‘‘Like that little bird, getting his wings’’ is how one man described himself on Day 1.
David Foster Wallace has been an indirect influence on my writing for as long as I have been writing a blog. He was and still is a major influence on some of my favourite writers, primarily Bill Simmons and Jason Kottke, with how they phrased things and their generous usage of footnotes. 1 The unfortunate thing for me has been a lack of reading the original source.
You are going to die in an hour and a half.
You are going to die at the end of the play.
— Queen Marguerite, Exit the King
My real introduction to theatre1 began with Eugene Ionesco’s, Exit the King. It was a small production at The Guild, in the early part of 1997, in Whitehorse, Yukon. I remember the time and year distinctly, because it was one of the first assignments to be done for my first semester in the MAD program.
You need the practice of mindfulness to bring your mind back to the body and establish yourself in the moment…
Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.