I was scarcely able to maitain any decorum on the bus when reading Soho Machida’s Life and Light, The Infinite. A friend who wrote about some of the personal profound revelations on “Light” managed to maintain the presence of mind to reference Machida’s article.
Although I have been reciting the Nianfo (念佛) for the past eight or more years, I know very little to nothing about the origins of Pure Land. The little I know is contained in No Abode: Record of Ippen (Ippen Shonin Goroku) and Plain Words on the Pure Land Way (Ichigon Hodan) both titles have been impeccably translated by Dennis Hirota. I was absorbed if not captivated by Ippen’s revelation at the Kumano Shrine. I have found it more common to read about Hijiri in connection to Ippen.
Machida wonderfully traces the origins and influences on the name and culture associated with Amitabha in his paper. I was especially thrilled to read about the influence of Zoroastrianism, Mithraism and Manichaeism. I had only two months ago accidentally come across Gandharan Buddhist art whilst aimlessly wondering about at The Metropolitan. One may never know what was lost during the upheaval in these regions.
None of it really matters in the end, it is all Namu Amituofo.
I’ve moved to Boston as of September 13th as some of the first autumn leaves began appearing. I am temporarily residing in Reading, MA, house-sitting for a family friend while looking for a permanent place. It will be interesting to wait and see what this new endeavor will bring but I have already visited several libraries and have been rethinking my approach to study and living arrangements. The move in it self was facilitated by someone who I met in an interview in May of 2017 soon after I arrived in Virginia. I certainly believe he played the part of a Bodhisattva in all his efforts to get me here and now I owe it to him and the Tathagata to take full advantage of the many scholarly access I have gained.
I was really compelled to write this post to share photos of the many spider webs in the grass and trees that have become laden with the autumnal raindrops. The only other observation being the constant beckoning of Jainism from some of the most unsuspecting areas discourse since early this year. Perhaps in the incipient age of the machine, the dawn of the Anthropocene, one cannot afford to ignore the heart. This image is an offering to Mahavira and to all the Tirthankaras and Bodhisattvas.
That in which there is no appearance of maya (illusion),
In which there are no effects of maya (delusion),
In which there is neither knowledge nor ignorance,
In which there is neither Lord (Isvara) nor individual (jiva),
In which there is neither reality nor unreality,
And in which there is not the least appearance of the world–
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of a concept (sankalpa),
In That itself as That itself.
The sky was gloomy, nearly like dusk due the marauding dark clouds and pouring heavy rains this morning.
My colleagues complained about the weather as I imagine most would but I bit my tongue as I wanted nothing more but to be under the covers in my bed left alone armed with a cup of tea and a book whilst care freely swirling in and out of sleep with the windows open listening to the heavy downpour. I don’t listen to any music while I read except the music of the rain, thunder, howling winds, waving branches and rustling leaves.
Regardless, I hadn’t much of a choice at this point except to hope that the “bad” weather perseveres until my lunch hour where I could escape to my car, which I ensure to park under tree shade not only to avoid the heat but to fully experience the music of the rain.
Sure enough it did.
At 11am, I scurried to the kitchen to tuck away a few morsels of food and disappeared out of the office through the rain and into my car.
I was chuffed that I could get forty minutes of rain and solitude but I hadn’t a book. I had, however, Nome’s Song of Ribhu audiobook. Nome’s calm yet resounding voice, I believe, was fitting for reading the Gita.
I put on the first disc and reclined my chair, eyes half closed feeling nothing more than the cool breeze and the light spattering of rain. As soon as Zia Mohiuddin Dagar’s vina started playing, I was instantaneously transported into the dream world and very rapidly into deep sleep only to be startled back to being half awake by Nome’s voice. “I” was oscillating between being awake, dreaming and deep sleep by merely grasping on to the thin thread of Nome reading the Ribhu.
Could it have been a momentary discarding of the”I” and an acknowledgement of That Itself?
Anything momentary cannot be real hence this too is to be discarded.
I have always liked Nome.
As I sit alone in the rain under a slim bit of shade drinking what was donated to me and watching a ladybird climb up my chair, I am reminded of my past bacchanalian excesses. Of a time when good friends of high standing, not of wealth or pillars of society but instead rich in music and learning met to discuss our disillusionment and drank and danced the night away.
Perhaps a fictional past of a fictional individual.
I may have a scintilla of red dust still clinging to my garment but good to revisit the past even if in a daydream.
In 2010, at my first Yi lesson, I was told that I ought to read three stoic texts before proceeding. The three texts being Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, Seneca’s Epistles Vol. I-III and Epictetus’s Enchiridion. Although at first I read the Penguin translations, however, as I found myself returning to these texts every year, I invested in the beutifully made Loeb Classics editions which have excellent translations with the original Greek & Roman texts and very good footnotes.
I recently picked Epictetus off my shelves as I have not revisited him since I was first told about him. I have found the text just as fresh as when I first read it. Epictetus seemed as pertinent now in my current situation as it was pertinent for someone wanting to learn the oracle.
I have been wanting to devote more time to the Stoics, Cynics. Heraclitus, Parmenides, Epicurus and would have liked to read Diogenes or Euphrates but nothing remains. There is, however, a far greater urgency to grapple with and come to a true understanding of Advaita and Madhyamika. For now, I have Epictetus and Nisargadatta’s Self Love, The Original Dream on the arm of my reading chair.
I was once in the company of friends who could sniff out the author of a poem regardless of who recited them or medium. Now I am in the company of people of who miss quote adverts they barely remember.
I never understood poems, i never understood Mark E. Smith and yet I long for my good old friends that kindly introduced me to the words uttered by the ancients, some belonging to my own heritage or the moderns who reintroduced the ancients. Those good old friends are no longer here and perhaps never to be seen again. To an extant they have expired just as Mark has. T’was them who introduced me to The Fall.
It has been a long while since I’ve written on here. Since my last post, I was hired full-time and moved into my own place. The entire process of settling into a new house and new job, in a new field and in a new country, had sapped me of any energy to pursue my interests. I have also decided not to get internet, so as to get away from internet addiction and to try spend more time reading, gardening or just sitting doing nothing.
In the last several months of living alone and with very little distractions, I had come to face a few overwhelming obstacles, for lack of a better word. Some of which I thought I had put behind me and some of which I had predicted will crop up but was not prepared for.
For the first time, I am faced with loneliness at what seems like its rawest. Although I predicted that loneliness would eventually loom like dark storm clouds and not easily shaken off, I was none the less surprised at times, at how overwhelming it can get. I still do not feel at home in my current surroundings and am hoping that this will only spur me on to truly appreciate Advaitic and Buddhist views on the unreality of “my” desires. Perhaps the growing disillusionment will lead to caring less about worldly existence? I would go through frequent phases of consuming a Bukowskian amount of booze (lacking all poetry or insight. Fights are not my style) and doing very little else. The overwhelming ennui and silence oddly did not lead to me reveling in listening to the birds and sounds of the rain while consuming the vast quantities of books I had accumulated over the last decade but it instead lead me desperately looking for distractions.
Despite all that, I do believe I am gradually beginning to enjoy the quiet and hopefully soon I will have more to write. I have just started reading Michael Comans‘s absolutely brilliant book The Method of Early Advaita. It is unmistakable that Comans knows what he is writing about. I have only read the first half of his chapter on Gaudapada and have found his commentaries profoundly revealing.