Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.*
Taoist regard the reality of imagination and of dreams as no less real than what is usually called realty by contrast.
*Zhuangzi, Butterfly and a Companion: Meditation on the 1 of 3 Chapters of the Chuang-Tzu
…the nature of attention alters what it finds; and specifically that when we cease to act, to be involved, spontaneous and intuitive, and instead become passive, disengaged, self-conscious, and stare in an ‘objective’ fashion at the world around us, it becomes bizarre, alien, frightening…madness…is the end-point of the trajectory [that] consciousness follows when it separates from the body and the passions, and from the social and practical world, and turns in upon itself…there is a close relation between philosophy and madness. The philosopher’s predilection for abstraction and alienation – for detachment from body, world and community, can produce a type of seeing and experiencing which is, in a literal sense, pathological.*
The Master and his Emissary
the rememberer…is a person who defies the natural laws of decay, one who makes the heart a more hospitable ground for the traces of the past than stone could ever be. The rememberer might also be a lonely rebel against the passage of time. To resist the erasures occasioned by this passage of time, memories have to be written down.
…the memories which lie within us are not carved in stone, nor do they tend to become erased as years go by. But often they change, or even grow by incorporating extraneous features. ‘This scant reliability of our memories will be satisfactorily explained only when we know in what language, what alphabet they are written, on what surface, and with what pen: to this day we are still far from this goal.’ [Primo Levi] *
Bridge Across Broken Time
looking upon thy shadow
and be ashamed -
on a cold night! ~ Issa*
The Year of My Life
Trans: Nobuyuki Yuasa
Seeing one finger, hearing a frog jump into the water, experiencing the sunrise, washing one’s face in the early morning – anything will serve as a medium of realization if the mind is serene*
A Zen Wave
Yen Hui, the favorite disciple of Confucius, came to take leave of his Master.
“Where are you going?” asked Confucius.
“I am going to Wei.”
“And what for?”
“I have heard that the Prince of Wei is a lusty full-blooded fellow and is entirely self-willed. He takes no care of his people and refuses to see any fault in himself. He pays no attention to the fact hat his subjects are dying right and left. Corpses lie all over the county like hay in a field. The people are desperate. But I have heard you, Master, say that one should leave the state that is well governed and go to that which is in disorder. …I want to take this opportunity to put into practice what I have learned from you and see if I can bring about some improvements in conditions there.”
“Alas!” said Confucius, “you do not realize what you are doing. You will bring disaster upon yourself. Tao has no need of your eagerness, and you will only waste your energy in your misguided efforts. Wasting your energy you will become confused and then and then anxious. Once anxious, you will no longer be able to help yourself. The sages of old first sought Tao in themselves, then looked to see if there was anything in others that corresponded with Tao as they knew it. But if you do not have Tao yourself, what business have you spending your time in vain efforts to bring corrupt politicians into the right path? …”
…Yen Hui then said: “…Will you, Master tell me what you suggest?”
You must fast!” said Confucius…”The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing, but not with the understanding; hearing with the spirit, with your whole being. The hearing that is only the ears is one thing. The hearing of the understanding is another. But the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind. Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind. Fasting of the heart empties the faculties, frees you from limitations and from preoccupation. Fasting of the heart begets unity and freedom.
…”If you can do this, you will be able to go among men in their world without upsetting them. You will not enter into conflict with their ideal image of themselves…Just be there among them, because there is nothing else for you to be but one of them.”*
The Way of Chuang Tzu