Whoa Horse! I told you to stop, damn it!

black and white,

There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man standing alongside the road, shouts, “Where are you going?” and the first man replies, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!” This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don’t know where we are going, and we can’t stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We struggle all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within ourselves…We have to learn the art of stopping – stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us. When an emotion rushes through us like a storm, we have no peace.

- Thích Nhât Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering Into Peace, Joy and Liberation


Credits: Quote – Sensual Starfish. Image: landscapre

 

TT*: We’re putting the band back together

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Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Source: Chikita Banana

Clutter: Less may be more, but it’s still not enough

Clutter

NY Times – Pamela Druckerman: The Clutter Cure’s Illusory Joy

I recently discovered the secret to livening up even the dullest conversation: Introduce the topic of clutter. Everyone I meet seems to be waging a passionate, private battle against their own stuff, and they perk up as soon as you mention it…

…Clutter isn’t a new problem, of course. But suddenly, it’s not just irritating — it’s evil. If you’re not living up to your potential, clutter is probably the culprit. Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” the top-ranked book on The New York Times list of self-help books, promises that, once your house is orderly, you can “pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life…

It’s hard to resist the de-cluttering fever. I, too, spend my weekends filling bags with cookbooks, toys and vintage dresses, and then hauling them away. For the first time in years, I can lay my hands on any one of my sweaters.

But the more stuff I shed, the more I realize that we de-clutterers feel besieged by more than just our possessions. We’re also overwhelmed by the intangible detritus of 21st-century life: unreturned emails; unprinted family photos; the ceaseless ticker of other people’s lives on Facebook; the heightened demands of parenting; and the suspicion that we’ll be checking our phones every 15 minutes, forever. I can sit in an empty room, and still get nothing done.

It’s consoling to think that, beneath all these distractions, we’ll discover our shining, authentic selves, or even achieve a state of “mindfulness.” But I doubt it. I’m starting to suspect that the joy of ditching all of our stuff is just as illusory as the joy of acquiring it all was. Less may be more, but it’s still not enough.

Read full story here: The Clutter Cure’s Illusory Joy


Notes:

 

Matisse. Unplugged. And uncovered after 70 years.

Henri-Matisse-cut-outs

From Henri Matisse: The Lost Interview:

On August 5th 1946, two years after Paris was liberated from the Germans, a young American soldier named Jerome Seckler visited Henri Matisse. Seckler had a passion for modern art. He made it his mission to meet with, and interview, some of the leading French artists of the time: Matisse was on his list…The interview reveals Jerome to be keenly interested and articulate in the art of time, and Matisse to be a spirited foil to Seckler’s germane questioning. The transcript has been sitting neatly filed in a cardboard box for almost seventy years. Until now this interview has never been published.

Here’s one of my favorite Matisse quotes from the interview:

I think that art must not be a disagreeable thing. There is enough unhappiness in life to turn one towards the joy. One should keep the disagreeable, the unhappiness to himself. One can always find a pleasant thing. An unhappiness doesn’t remain. It makes experience. One doesn’t need to infect people with his annoyances. One should make a serene thing. One should make a stimulating art which leads the spirit of the spectator into a domain which puts him outside of his annoyances.

If you want a short cut to my favorites, and there are a lot of them, here are the links and a teaser to Matisse’s responses:

  • Commitment: I am not at ease. (My favorite. Must read.)
  • Peer Appreciation: Picasso was stunned into silence. “We sat there like stones,” Gilot later recalled.  (Picasso and Gilot watching him make cut-outs)
  • Soul: Those who will work with their soul, and the desire to express themselves will come out the best painters.
  • Critics: It is the result that counts. When I am very much criticized by a painter, I’ll say to him, put your work beside mine and we will see.
  • Talent: You can have all the strength, if you do not have the gifts you will not arrive…
  • Passion: Why make me make different things. I get into communication with nature. Why look elsewhere?
  • Art Appreciation: A man with money will appreciate a painting for the price but the man in the street will just like the painting because he will feel it is good even if he doesn’t know why.
  • Art, like Music: All music is made with seven notes. With that, one makes all the relations. Painting is the same.
  • Revolution: Myself also I live a continual revolution.
  • Approval: A chef doesn’t have to always ask for approval and to ask people to taste the plates that he prepares.
  • Desire: All the artists who began by being hungry and cold have made good painting.
  • Passion / Love: One must suffer for what one loves.

It’s worth your time to read the entire 3000 word transcript here: Henri Matisse: The Lost Interview.


Credits:

TT*: Wow, I thought. What am I gonna do with love like this

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“I thought she was sleeping until I heard her call out from across the room, “Will you bring me a glass of water?” I did. Then in her always-sleepy tone and drawl she said, “Do you remember when you were a little boy and you would ask your mama to bring you a glass of water?” Yeah. “You know how half the time you weren’t even thirsty. You just wanted that hand that was attached to that glass that was attached to that person you just wanted to stay there until you fell asleep.” She took the glass of water that I brought her and just sat it down full on the table next to her. Wow, I thought. What am I gonna do with love like this.”

Dito Montiel, “One Night,” A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, A Memoir


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Photograph: Adriana Varela

TT*: “This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

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I watched the whole performance from a tiny table by the window. We’d done our business at the bank and now we each had big piece of chocolate layer cake, thick with icing. It was yellow cake. I don’t know how they got it yellow but they did and the yellow was beautiful against the warm brown frosting. We loved that chocolate cake. This was a good day, a really good day, and I knew what was coming next. My father stared for a long while out the window, at what, I don’t know, but I waited, waited for his famous phrase, sure it would come, and when his reverie broke and he returned to the bakery and our little table, he smiled at me, then looked down at his cake, and there it was, sure as rain.

“This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

~ Charles D’Ambrosio, This is Living. Loitering: New and Collected Essays


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Add a Pinch

Next?

funny-women-lucy-conveyer

What are you waiting for?
The next promotion? The next holiday? The next satsang? The next Facebook update?
The next spiritual high? The next victory? The next relationship?
The next level of enlightenment? The next chance to prove how much you know?
The next life? The next… moment?
What if this ‘next’ never comes?
And even if it does, what if it won’t end your seeking?
What if life – and its fulfillment – is always Now?
Then, what’s next?

— Jeff Foster


Notes:

TT*: Hear the playing cards slap in the spokes

bicycle-memories-ride

The child is riding her bicycle up the hill. I stand and look around; the thick summer foliage blocks the road from view. I turn back toward the river and hear the playing cards slap in the spokes. They click and slap slowly, for the hill is steep. Now the pushing grows suddenly easier, evidently; the cards click and slap. At once, imperceptibly, she starts down. The pace increases. The cards are slapping and she is rolling; the pace speeds up, she is rolling, and the cards are slapping so fast the sounds blur. And so she whirs down the hill. I can see her through the woods downstream where the road evens out. She is fine, still coasting, and leaning way back.

~ Annie Dillard, “Aces and Eights.” Teaching a Stone to Talk.


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Maurizio Raffa via Sensual Starfish

We are habituated to noise.

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“By embarking on the spiritual path, an aspirant is attempting to encounter silence firsthand. This is the quintessential journey in life–the inner sojourn. It is returning to a source long ago forgotten but often glimpsed at moment unawares. Recapturing that which flitters on the periphery of awareness is the goal of the mystic. …The mystic consciously dives into silence, at first unfelt. With repeated practice it becomes a living, palpable Presence filled with immeasurable vitality and boundless, nondual continuity. But what causes this gradual revelation?

First we need to discover why we do not experience silence. The simplest answer is that we are habituated to noise. We are addicted to novelty, sensation, to ourselves. Fuss and commotion, mental chattering, and outer stimulation occupy our minds from dawn to dusk. The twentieth-century Japanese Zen master Nan-in rightly noted that we are overflowing with our own ideas and opinions; to learn Zen we must first empty our minds. But there is no room for such emptiness. When one is clattering away on a keyboard sixteen hours every day, the capacious pockets of silence are kept well at bay. We thereby deafen ourselves to the underlying silence we would otherwise clearly hear.

By intentionally quieting our restless minds and calling a temporary halt to the random noise–inner and outer–to which we are subject, we create an environment conducive to the manifestations of silence. Welling up from within, this silence subtly engulfs us, drowning out all the noise of existence. The Jewish mystics refer to God as “ayin,” nothingness. When we quell the somethingness of our lives, this nothingness emerges. But as long as we dwell in the realm of substance, it remains elusive.”

–John Roger Barrie, in Parabola Magazine: “Silence.” 


Notes:

 

You don’t have 180 sec to watch? Yes you do. Yes you do.