Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Grand Illusion or The Grand Delusion

Control and money.  Two things that we all want more of, but can’t seem to get enough of to ever be satisfied.  That’s where the similarities between the two end.  With money, we can pretty well tell just how much (or little) we really have.  A quick glance at a bank statement, or online will let us know just how rich (or poor) we are.  With control on the other hand, we tend to fool ourselves on a fairly regular basis about how much we have.  Do I need a statement to tell me this?  No.  I can tell you that it amounts to zero.  Control over what? you may ask.  (Or you may not ask.  You may have gotten here searching for information about the late 70’s band Styx by searching “grand illusion,” and were deposited here.  Welcome.)

Anyway, I am talking about control over anything and everything external.  Hell, except for our own minds, what do we really have control over in this life?  And even the mind ends up being a full time plus job just to maintain any control over, or so eight years of meditation are slowly teaching me.  My mantra as of late has been “Control is an illusion.”  I realize that I can repeat that a thousand times a day, and it still does not make it any easier to swallow.  But here is the thing – I have no choice.  It is what it is.  We can look at it as a weight that is taken off our shoulders when we realize that so much is ultimately out of our hands.  However, that didn’t stop me the other day from starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all.

I am currently in the midst of dealing with a certain major life situation and I am finding myself struggling and balking in the face of a multitude of circumstances piling up that truly have no control over.   I started reciting the aforementioned mantra, trying to accept what I could not change, blah blah blah.  I noticed I started feeling really angry.  I pushed back from my task at hand, and just sat with my anger.  All of a sudden, like a bolt from the sky, a voice in my head screamed out, “I REALLY FUCKIN” HATE THAT I HAVE NO CONTROL!”  Funny enough, with that acknowledgment came a sweet moment of liberation.  My anger dissipated, and I actually felt a lot better.  Go figure.  So, in the mean time, I just try to do my best by myself and by others, and keep moving forward.  The other day, I was looking through an old journal and found this tidbit of profundity, written in response to a death I was in the midst of processing:

Life is a dynamic process, always moving, ever-changing, and constantly flowing.  Everything – both externally and internally – is ever-changing, at once living and dying.  Nothing is permanent; nothing lasts forever. Even our bodies are largely beyond our control.  We become ill, we age and eventually we die.  Like water flowing, our world is moving all around us.  Any attempt to grasp hold of anything inevitably fails.  In trying to exert control over our surroundings, we create friction, stress and problems.  It simply is not natural.  Varying degrees of chaos exist constantly.  We are surrounded by it.  By surrendering our attempts to control, ultimately surrendering to the flow, we free up the energy and the power to work with, utilize, and ultimately transform the one part of our lives and world we do have at least some control over – our minds.


“Letting Go…”

Slowly but surely, I am coming to embrace what “letting go” really means in a more healthy sense.  “letting go” is a phrase I have often seen on my spiritual journey, in many books, and in many teachings.  I am just now beginning to realize why I have always had such a profound struggle with it.  Until this point, I tended to follow my “letting go” with closing.  It was almost a defense mechanism. (I suppose it is inappropriate for me to write about this in the past tense, since I am in the larval stages of grasping this very important concept, and just now allowing it to permeate my awareness.  It can also partly be a bad writing habit – mixing tenses – that I have not been able to shake since grammar school!)  Spiritually speaking, “letting go” relates to nonattachment.  We “let go” by not grasping.  This is applicable to anything and everything in out lives – emotions, thoughts, people, material objects, etc.  Attachment, afterall, leads to suffering.  Where I personally  miss the big picture is how I follow my “letting go.”  As I stated before, I close down.  I shut down.  Could it be self-protection?  Sure.  But from what, I don’t know.  Disappointment, rejection, fear, insecurity?  All possibilities.  What I am finally starting to get is that “letting go” actually creates an opening, a space.  When I am mindful of this process, there are so many potentially positive alternatives to fill this new space with.  There are the basics – love, acceptance, compassion – depending on what I am “letting go” of. Or, I can just let the space be empty, let it be filled with what ever possibilities present themselves.  Remaining open after letting go allows me to open to the richness and potential of the moment, this moment.  Easier said than done?  You bet.  That is one of the many reasons why I call it “a practice,” because it is only by consciously engaging this concept over and over, that I hope to finally one day get it.

My first Ink

After years of thinking about it, talking about it, planning it, I finally made the commitment to get my first tattoo. It is my mantra, the Vajra Guru in Tibetian Uchen script.  I commissioned the talented artist Tashi to do the art work, which turned out beautiful, and had Erik at Seventh Son do the actual tattoo.  As you can see, it exceeded any expectation I could have had.

I like to think of the tattoo as a body vow, as they are called on The Worst Horse.  It is not only an aesthetically pleasing piece of art, but it is also a constant reminder  for me.  It reminds me of the path I have traveled, and the path that I am on.  It reminds me to always remember that every one of us has the pure potential for compassion, love, happiness and equanimity within ourselves, no matter who we are, and no matter how much other shit we may have obscuring it in the moment, and that that potential is always capable of blossoming.  It reminds me to always try to stay present.  It reminds me that this body is truly a temple, with all of its imperfections and beauty, and that it is the only one I will ever have (in this lifetime at least).

It was truly a great experience, one that I could see myself engaging again in the future.  It took me seven years to get this one, so we’ll see…





(cue the creepy orchestral music…)
I don’t know about you, but I am as giddy as a school boy about season 5 of LOST starting in less than 2 weeks. In fact, I can honestly say I am more excited than Sayid was to torture Sawyer when he thought Sawyer had Shannon’s inhaler… well maybe not THAT excited, but pretty damn tickled, thats for sure! Why do I love this show? Let me count the ways… (Incidentally, that is the fifth time I have used the three periods in a row.  That MUST violate some sort of code of grammatical good taste, or flaunt my lack of writing skill, or just show my love for the period!)

This show can best be described as televised crack.  It is horrendously addictive.  I am more than a little embarrassed (and a wee bit proud) to say that my wife and I made it through all four seasons in under 45 days!  I know, get a f*@#in’ life, but one episode a night turned into two, then three.  I think you recognize the pattern.  Lets face it, DVD is the best thing to ever happen to TV.  It allows obsessives like myself an opportunity to get our full geek on. Also, to watch the story in “real time” so to speak, without the interuption of commercials, or that looooong week between episodes, gives  the viewer an opportunity to get a full appreciation for the brilliant writing in a show like LOST, or Deadwood, or Six Feet Under. There is a beauty to the evolution of the individual characters, as well as the evolution of the dynamic that is created between those characters that really gets highlighted when viewed on DVD.  Plus, so much crazy, confusing  shit is happening at any given moment on this show that subtleties would inevetably be, dare I say it, LOST!

And I won’t even get into the fanboy frenzy of watching the two “sneak peaks” on, lets see, 4 TIMES IN A ROW!!!!

Speaking of fanboy frenzy, my wife and I were flying home from Vancouver the other day, and who do we see at the airport, none other than Daniel Dae Kim who plays Jin on LOST.  Once I got over my geek fueled giddiness, a thought occurred to me:  could this be a bad omen before getting on a plane?  “As long as we’re not flying Oceanic, I think we are OK,” my wise wife told me.