I’m really pleased to announce that the kindle version of my novel ‘Easy-Happy-Sexy’ is now available in Kindle for instant download at $7.00 in Japan………http://www.amazon.com/Easy-Happy-Sexy-Twelfth-Day-Linden-Thorp-ebook/dp/B00UUSPLYM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427002717&sr=8-1&keywords=Easy-Happy-Sexy+kindle
and the PDF version is available on my author site for $1.99
see the video trailer now :
It seems that if we want to live comfortably in modern society, there are many sacrifices we have to make. Some of them are visible: following rules, not standing out too much or too little, not betraying others, practicing tolerance, and so on. Many of them are invisible and unconscious; e.g. suppressing a talent because we consider ourselves not good enough compared to the competition; not giving in to negative tendencies reflected in our physical posture; doing and saying what we really want to, and so on. The conditioning that prepares for or engenders these sacrifices begins at birth.
Imagine for a moment the degree of suppression involved in sacrificing your gender so that you will be accepted, be normalized, and have a chance of being outwardly ‘happy’ in your life. The agony of being trapped in the wrong body is without parallel, and the relentless persecution of the incarcerated, detestable. Imagine the desperation of parents who do not seem to have an average child who responds to social indoctrination like other children. Imagine the mental torture of being forced to write with your right hand when you are wired-up to be left-hand dominant?
These extreme degrees of ‘fitting in’ are surely worthy of becoming depressed, or even suicidal. It is just amazing that there are not more depressed and suicidal people, but the social current is too great for most of us, so we give in and get swept along.
The majority of the human inhabitants of the so-called ‘civilised’ world suppress a substantial part of their true nature because their desire to fit in and to be accepted overwhelms them. This suppression creates a kind of friction, the resistance of two surfaces rubbing together – the true nature and the conditioned nature. They are in conflict, and so an incongruity between outside and inside arises. It is ironic that outside life is usually dedicated to creating harmony, getting along with others, building relationships, and so on. But inside there is a conflict, opposition, which will create wear and tear on the spirit.
Out in reality, away from achieving and end-gaining to create a respectable image to present to others, to being successful, informed, smart, popular, sexy, etc., there is no friction or conflict. There is no distinction between inside and outside. Life (energy) flows where it will, or is needed, like silk on smooth skin.
This suppression is likely to become unconscious, tied into conditioning dictated by family, peers, social class, culture, education, religion, etc. Wearing masks can be pleasurable, even natural depending on the disposition. It can enable us to live up to the expectations of others, it may be satisfying, but it does inevitably create a duality, an inside and an outside, an us-and-them situation.
Duality usually leads to isolation and distancing from natural ways, and eventually a breakdown in our ability to be completely honest with ourselves. This misplacing of the link with our true nature is surely the greatest loss of all. But added to this there are many victims of ‘depression’ who experience physical loss of a parent or loved one at a young age. Such a situation seems insupportable, and yet the strength of the human spirit can withstand it. So, what is our true nature? I hope to make suggestions about this.
Depression? The word is strange to my way of thinking. – definition: ‘to press down, to be pressed down.’ Before 20th century, it was referred to as ‘melancholia.’ (‘black bile’ in ancient Greek). In Mesopotamia in 2nd millennium BC, it was attributed to a form of demonic possession, the sufferer tended by priests…in other words, it was a spiritual illness: while physicians treated physical illnesses .
Exorcism (beating, restraint, starvation) was a common treatment for such disorders in Babylonian, Chinese and Egyptian civilizations. In Greek and Roman societies, it was thought to be biological and psychological, healed with gymnastics, massage, special diets, music, baths, poppy extract and donkey’s milk, etc.
The word ‘depression’ is quite similar to the word ‘suppression.’ Depressing something, such as a spring, means that the release of such pressure is inevitable in time. Gravity comes to mind in this respect – our bodies are weighted down by the gravitational force allowing us to remain in the vertical plane for extended periods of time . It also keeps our feet on the earth.
Mammals need great unconscious effort to stay in the upright , and so if we are depressed it is common to retire to the horizontal, to remain in bed and avoid getting up into such a force-field. Humans were once four-legged animals who stayed close to the ground. But the first human, Australopithecus , to stand up to pick the best fruit from the top of the tree and to look out on the horizon, changed our classification into Homo Erectus . In other words, we became a different species to most other mammals.
In brief, as we stood up, gradually we developed consciousness and were able to make choices. We developed the means to express love and art, but along with those incredible abilities came arrogance, thirst for power, and the over-development of the ego. In the gravitational field, can this depression, this force exerted from above, contribute to the loss of state control? If we add to this considerable force spiritual isolation and skepticism, the inertia of thought, the sacrifices, the denial of our true nature, then it is easy to see how a vibrant spiral of energy or spirit can become truly compressed.
It becomes distorted, locked away, and so the organism becomes non -functional. Out of desperation, those closest to this organism become distressed and seek external means of recovery such as therapy, medication, hospitalisation. Meanwhile, the organism itself is distressed that it has no relationship with itself, no resources. It realises that it has always been dependent on external conditions, and an entirely synthetic reality lived out behind screens and filters.
We could suggest that a depressed person lacks love or being understood by people that matter to them. Perhaps they have been persecuted, bullied, pushed away from normality, from all the things valued in social life. However, all of these factors are external. They are contributory, but what about the internal, the acceptance and appreciation of oneself. Of course, we are heavily conditioned to think deeply, to reflect, to consider painstakingly. But thought is a dead thing. If we fill our hearts with thoughts – incessant, vacuous, divorced from reality, speculative, indulgent, etc. – then we will never make contact with our true nature.
The act of thinking is in fact mired in the quicksands of ‘time’ and ‘space’ and ‘duality.’ Activated by abstract words and flickering images, it is always separate from reality, theoretical, indirect, interpreting, compulsively selecting from an endless range of choices, options, etc.
Fear and anxiety, inadequacy, other negative values pervade thinking. But fear is a natural part of life, which thought distorts out of all proportion. Fear is part of us, in the same way as joy or hope is. There is no need to think about it. We merely accept it. ‘Thinking’ blocks these natural emotions, makes us want to escape, to run as fast as possible away from anything that generates this concept. But fear is not a concept like ‘time’ or ‘space’ are. Fear (origin in Old English, faer – calamity, danger – a signal to act, to flee, to hide, to retaliate, to brace ourselves) is part of the fabric of reality. It is part of unconditional love. Both fear and unconditional love are inside and outside because only the skin separates them. (see my article ‘Living in the Field’-http://wp.me/p4j5nK-33) We are fear. We are love. They are not commodities we have the option to either buy into or reject. We are mistaken if we think they are choices we can make.
So, if and when we stand in the full unadulterated bore wave of life, there is no need to ruminate on these stitches of the fabric and so to render them dead, abstract, lifeless. If fear and love were not in our genes, our blood, then we could not survive, or even sustain our lives.
I suggest that human energy resembles a spring, which is a structure of metal formed into a tight spiral. On the physical plane, it is compressed in several ways: by the force of gravity, by defects or weaknesses in skeletal structure, by repeated bad physical habits, and so on.
On the emotional plane, weight is exerted through negative emotions like shame, embarrassment, rejection, and so on. They are often perceived as inflicted by others, causing physical manifestations like inertia, stooping, obstacles to free breathing, and so on. On the spiritual plane, by negative karma, impurities, blocking, etc. At all levels, excess pressure is the by-word of states of depression.
A microcosm of such compression can be observed in the spinal vertebrae. The force of gravity compacts the discs that act as shock absorbers between the bones, often trapping the spinal cord and blocking the flow of healthy chemicals to and from the brain. By taking refuge from gravity, we can allow the compression to be released and relieved. In the same way, by taking refuge from obsessive and redundant patterns of thought, the spirit will be unblocked.
Could it be simply that a depressed person is someone whose spirit, for a variety of plausible reasons as described above, is squeezed, blocked, compressed? That the spring is so tightly coiled back on itself, that the pressure becomes unbearable, and something has to give. A sea change is needed so there is an urge to removal all external conditions and to retreat inside? The sad thing is that this ‘retreat’ is so long overdue, that it is like stepping naked into a white dimensionless wilderness. Then the incredibly painful sense of loss of self and estrangement from one’s true positive bright nature sets in.
The spring has sprung, but it will never be the same again. It has been distorted by the perpetua l strain and pressure, and this invariably leads to the replacement of the spring with addictive substances to anaesthetize the gigantic pain. A considerable period of this kind of suppression of our true nature, our urges, our dreams and hopes, will quickly bring us to this point.
Honesty is one of the main constituents of our relationship with self. We must accept ourselves now, at this moment precisely, without dependency on an abstract self-image created by others and how we intend to change. Accept without any notion of who we are or where we fit into groups, of what the stars or fortune-tellers say, of tomorrow or yesterday. All of those factors are not only abstract but passé, born of thought and words or other data.
In meditation, away from pressures, in a still silent place, our real self will reveal itself. The integrated self, in the moment, without influence or compression or dependence, appears. Indeed, words and pictures have no place at all when standing in the full flow of reality, in the fullness of our unique energy, totally integrated into the oneness of all existence. We step out from behind all the screens, kick away all the filters, and allow everything just to happen in the process of the heart.
Following is something of my experience. Just to set the scene, I was living with some native Australians returning to traditional life. ‘Ninija,’ is the female traditional landowner who became my spiritual guide forever more.
Soon, after this mystical dialogue with Ninija had begun, my aids to protection from desert assaults of flies and swarming mosquitos did indeed run out entirely. Then one strange night, besieged as usual by armies of them in my hut, I inexplicably removed all my clothes, opened the fly-screen door, and walked outside. To my amazement, I no longer compulsively swatted or cursed the winged squadrons. I was no longer repelled by their persistent tickling and foraging for moisture.
Outside, the moon welcomed me and banished all fears of poisonous snakes and pernicious spiders. I was given permission by the Great Mother to be a naked and innocent creature, without collections of possessions or status. I no longer had any use for sensual cravings, and suddenly my heart and mind were empty of their stuffing of pictures and words.
I stood there with my bare feet dredged in desert dust turned blue by the moonlight, shrouded by insects for which bared white flesh was a new sensation. I was empty and yet full. Instead of images, many of which had been planted there by the media throughout my life, the battery of my being was charged with Desert, Earth, Air, Sky, and Moon. My head was unaccustomedly clear and quiet. It was simple. I had taken up my place the Great Mother had been saving for me in eternity.
I no longer cowered in fear before the terrifying giants of desert death and intolerable pain. Instead, I had listened to Ninija, and she had led me to freedom. Looking back, I have to confess that my personal terror of disease and dying in a drawn-out agony had been my major motivation in choosing to join this project. I had selfishly coveted the secrets of primitive or indigenous peoples once I was sure that western science had no sure solutions to death or disease. My original motives may seem entirely selfish, but perhaps there was some unconscious wisdom involved, as you will see.
That night, quite soon after I stepped naked outside, Ninija arrived and led me, without any verbal instructions, away from the settlement. She turned left and right ahead of me among interminable thickets and mulga scrub, thorny bushes covering the desert as if obeying invisible signposts. Her broad back was dark blue in colour as we walked quickly.
Then, beyond the hillocks of spinifex grass, which she and her people called ‘Yellow Hill,’ we went on to a collection of large holes dug into the ground. They were deep and smooth-sided. Ninija turned and pointed at one, and I knew to climb down into it.
She slowly lowered her strong body into the hole to straddle me, her cheeks swelling and emptying rhythmically, her eyes closed. Then she began to produce long rivulets of saliva, which silvered down the narrow cleft between our bodies into the bottom of the hole. She reached blind arms below us, kneading her mouth fluids with the skin of the Earth to make paint.
I must have smiled in a bewildered way, for I had no idea what she was doing, or what it would lead to. Then her black eyes opened and penetrated my blue eyes as she brought her fingers close to me and began to paint the traditional patterns known as ‘clan lines’ on my naked body. She made what looked like fish or reptile scale shapes ranging down my chest and thighs, and an enormous tooth-filled jaw line across the width of my collar-bone. As she painted, she unexpectedly pronounced the words ‘Baru, Crocodile!’
Finally, moving to my head, on my cheeks she painted Baru’s tiny hooded eyes, and on my chin his ovoid nostrils. I shuddered. She directed me to lie face-down in the clay grave. Then I felt her strong fingers marking bigger scale shapes across my back and crocodile’s thick spine in line with my own. I struggled to resist blathering while she worked, but failed, blurting out impassioned questions about crocodiles. I demanded to know why she likened me to a reptile, exactly what type of crocodile I was, and so on. But she remained immune to my talk.
After a time, the realisation of how inappropriate words and thoughts were on this occasion slammed into my mind, and I was silent. When she had completed painting me, she told me in broken English that the Great Mother had shared my soul with Baru, crocodile. That I must go and watch and care for my scaly brother and sister ‘totems’ down by the green river.
Baru, Crocodile Man, according to the Dreaming myths, created fire with the friction of his tail by accident one day during a ritual. He later learned how to burn the lands with fire to make them more fertile. But then he couldn’t stop making it. So, the Vast Hot Desert came into being. Soon, all the species the Great Mother had created started to disappear in the ensuing drought, so she and her helpers created the Wet season exclusively to put Baru’s fires out. My clan lines painted, Ninija left me in the strange blue light of the desert clay hole. I had only ever seen pictures of crocodiles, and most of them were in zoos!
Everything was transformed after this night. To explain further, ancient peoples live so intimately with nature that when babies are born they are immediately associated with a particular animal or natural object or phenomena like weather. That then becomes their ‘totem’ or emblem, and they become the caretakers of it and are strongly spiritually linked with it for their entire life. In this way, they can protect and nurture their natural environment. On that night, through this initiation, I became one with the universe.
extract from ‘Easy-Happy-Sexy,’ a modern-day fable by Linden Thorp: sbpra.com/lindenthorp/
Darkness Visible: Depression Demystified (original article) -http://wp.me/p4j5nK-2H
Part 3 to follow.
Human minds each create their unique view of the world. We look outside through our custom-made cameras, and consequently have a strong sense of the difference between inside and outside. This dualistic mode, this inside-outside way of being, is reflected in how we live. We mostly spend our lives in comfortable and convenient shelters, designed to keep nature out, which separate us away from the universe, from our origin.
We exist behind screens: walls, roofs, lenses, TV screens, masks; and filters: concepts, classifications, culture, religions, age and gender. We are inside creatures, with secrets and diverse behaviours, often used irresponsibly to get our way. We are mask and costume wearers, often seeking approval and power. We are skilled actors continually separating ourselves from our actions, blaming anything and anyone when things go wrong, and taking all the credit when things succeed. Our arrogance is ironically born of our dependence, but fostered by the social-economic systems designed to keep control of vast numbers of people, giving us no choice but to suppress our true unique nature.
We have a tendency to hide things inside, in the darkness, but this darkness inside, this separateness, is an illusion. And why do we need to hide anything, to modify, to interpret incoming information to our own liking? Is it impossible for us to stand in the fast-flowing stream of existence and let it pass through us exactly as it is? Can we resist blocking our true nature, clinging to things that we like, rejecting those we do not? There are no selections in the field reality, no whims, no separation. If the wind blows hard or the waves pound on the beach, we, our energy, our true nature, also blows hard and pounds.
Our societies, our communities, have largely chosen this inside life behind screens and filters. We prefer to stay inside and speculate on or observe the weather than to open the door and go outside to feel it directly. Developed people make their exit from the interior life of the womb, and then grow into the womb they create with their intellects, within their communities, within cultures and societies and age-groups, and so on. Always inside, insulated from the universal field of all existence, all awareness.
Indigenous peoples in traditional life live according to the rules of the great Mother Nature, following her patterns, listening carefully to how to preserve all life, how to achieve balance between humans and the natural world. When they are transplanted into modern life, they start to deteriorate, living inside concrete away from the Sky and the Earth, without the sweet air of the desert or ocean, and eventually die. Following is a diatribe given by a native Australian tribal leader Ninija about of the importance of living close to Nature. It is addressed to white Australian settlers, in general, referred to as lumaluma. (translation: money-money)
‘Why your friends expect me live in tin house lumaluma? i never live inside like you where i not see Sky. Never inside, where i not breathe in nothing but poison , of roof, or window, or door. Inside where i not become dark holding hand of Sun when she ready to sleep. No! Inside your dog box (prefabricated accommodation provided on reservations) i dark soon i through door, soon as i inside!’
‘you tell me “open window, “open door,” “step outside for a moment.” “Take it e-e-e-e-e-sy,”‘ (mimicking white people) you silky voice smooth like you metal. Straight like corner and roof and square you draw with magic wood. Tight. Biting me like crazy Dingo.’
‘Desert life full of round and curvy. Inside, ninija hot when it cool outside. ninija cool it hot outside. Inside! it change what like outside! If Father Earth hot, ninija hot. Earth cool, ninija cool. ninija not different like lumaluma inside walls, where you hide from you people. ninija stay in cool air, hot air, with all people and Lands. we not separate, not private, not different. we one big Ocean of living.’* (1)
But there are so many ways we modern people can step outside our intellects, our unnatural separate existences, into the field of existence that native peoples inhabit naturally. Of course, meditation and spiritual/religious training are the obvious and most effective ways, but there are ways to rejig our thoughts dictating the way we act in the world. One example is to reflect on the human body.
The human skin is a relatively thin membrane, a sack to hold the equipment that allows us to function. Another way of thinking about it is as a miraculous container for our unique energy. We can see it as either an impermeable barrier, keeping the outside out and the inside in, keeping us discrete or separate, or as a permeable membrane letting out toxins and letting in nutrients. We can also consider it a barometer to detect the invisible world, the feelings and sensations we cannot see.
In the ancient Indian world, it was said that we have 84,000 pores in our skin and that we can receive the Dharma, the essence of all energy, through each of them. There is in fact very little that separates our insides from our outsides. Out in the field, there is no distinction between the visible and the invisible; it is all one infinite cosmic awareness we can plug into if we stay outside always.
We are prone to think in a very dualistic way about the breath too. Magically and unbidden, without our doing anything, o and not a reality, an absolute, then the concept of ‘my breath’ implies a separation from the very source of life. The universe provides precious oxygen to sustain our lives, and beings have the remarkable ability to clean out unwanted toxins endangering our well-being and survival.
Breath is something all sentient beings share with the five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Wind and Water. Air abounds out in the field of existence, but it belongs to no one. It is a substantial constituent of our universal awareness in both the visible and the invisible world. However, many of us seal ourselves inside with emissions from unnatural materials like plastic and electrical appliances, air-conditioning. We may even add to this the deliberate inhalation of poisons from burning tobacco, all without opening a window or door.
The human body is approximately 60% water all provided by the Universe. Light and warmth from the sun allow us to thrive and live, create cleansing fire to promote growth in the plant world the energy and power of the Universe. We can imagine it like a gigantic ocean we all swim around in. Many of us cannot see this ocean of energy, but we can all feel it on a daily basis. In our interactions, we swim more closely with some beings than others because our energy is required there, and we use it in certain ways than others because it is needed; yet we can also feel love for those we have never met personally. All these feelings are invisible, brought about in the field of awareness.
Living as beings in the field on planet Earth is made possible by the magnetic force of gravity, which we mostly take for granted. With awareness and a few simple techniques, we can harmonize with this force to create excellent balance and free, effortless movement. This magnetic force pushes up from the core of the Earth to allow us to keep our feet on the Earth, and down from the heavens to give us control in the vertical plane. If we can cultivate a wide awareness while supported by this miraculous field, allowing the tidal force of life to go through us, then we will find new joy and freedom. We can flow out into the sea of pure love, the essence of our beings.
Awareness? We may mistake it for concentration, but concentration is a fixed state that we can be taught to develop in order to pass exams, to succeed in prescribed ways, and so on. However, it is an inert state, a by-product of thought and belief: whereas It is alive and much more akin to the qualities of energy – pulsing, vibrant, all-encompassing, in oneness. Awareness allows us to be ready to catch anything, and so we can easily intensify and enhance our humanity.
Viewing our being as a unique constellation of energy temporarily taking a tenancy in a body, can make us truly independent. We become free from attachment, from clinging, from owning and consuming, or from controlling, and so there is never any sense of loss or bereavement. ‘Experience’ is valued by modern people, seen as a kind of wisdom, but it is so limited to time and the linear, and then subject to the filters and blocks we apply, to our inside-outside view. It is incomparable with unconditional and concept-free quality of awareness. Once ‘experience’ is acknowledged, labeled, it disappears; it is only a concept in the field, not the reality of the experience. It is a dead thing like thought – apprehended, obscured or blocked by language, always in the past. Energy or awareness is constantly moving if we are balanced, but stuck if we are out of balance: it is not subject to the laws of ‘time’ and ‘space’ or ‘experience.’ There are no conditions, no filters, out in the field.
Ninija is one with the Great Mother Nature and the desert way of seeing.
‘She sees out into the world with a gentle gaze or sharp focus when required, but she does not see with her mind the way white-fella does. She does not see with continual comment either outside or inside. Neither does she see in categories, for, in the Lands (the Dreaming wilderness) every creature, plant, person is unique, remains uninfluenced, is not conscripted to join the vast shoals of society.
Her eye is still. It breathes. She sees deep into the centre of rocks and the deepest part of the deepest pools, into the infinity of the Sky and the centre of the vast world of Spirits. And she can see inside and outside in the same moment, turning herself inside out. Balanced. Generous. Insightful.’ * (2)
* extracted from Easy-Happy-Sexy: on the Twelfth Day by Linden Thorp, Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co. (1) pp4-5; (2) p213
The energy of sound and its perception is an ancient force which has mostly been overwhelmed and replaced by visual energy in modern times. Today, people cannot often surrender themselves entirely to listening, to soaking up pure sound for its own sake, without meaning or pictures or associations, or to listening to each other wholeheartedly without judging. It is intellectually accepted that the energy of sound is composed of vibrations, but how many people regard sound in this way? Opening oneself so that the vibrational patterns of incoming sound can merge with one’s personal vibrational receptors, and then allowing the physiology to react without blocking, is rare.
This allowing oneself to be touched and moved by vibrational patterns is an important dimension of healing, or apprehending the invisible world, of being fully alive. In this way, we can maintain contact with the universe and the magical forces of Nature. Receiving sound and merging with it is our true energic nature. It balances, it moves with our energies, never remaining still. This is the expression of pure life. Buddhists call it the Dharma, Chinese chi, Christians spirit, the ancients, Harmonices Mundi – the Music of the Spheres.
The ancients, our ancestors, were closely in touch with sound. They knew that if they could produce it in certain skilful ways, they would be able to balance not only the immediate environment and the sensing beings in it, but also contribute to the massive banks of sound of indestructible energy stored in the universe. Today, sound tends to be a fashion statement, mass-produced, elitist, wallpaper, an accompaniment to images, an escape from reality and natural life.
Urban environments are populated by people pursuing status and wealth who spend their leisure time plugged in to devices which receive sound, but are they truly listening and not just using ‘their’ sound to shield them from reality and assert their individuality and separateness? Some might say that plugging in and becoming impervious to others or the natural universe is a violent act of arrogance or deliberate isolation from others, a refusal to be aware.
Sound has nowadays become a commodity listed in a ‘purchases’ category, or downloaded to ‘my playlist,’ or even stolen from its producer without rightful payment. We are the consumer, pinning down what we have paid for, appropriating it and turning it into our knowledge and materials to build our profile with. This is a travesty of sound. It is not a commodity.
Ancient Chinese philosophy and medical systems viewed all life in terms of Yin and Yang, the opposites of energy or matter, which are never static but in a constantly changing relationship of balance. The four seasons are a notable example of this. Others are darkness and light, sun and moon, feminine and masculine. The five elements of the universe, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, are essential to balance also. Fully cognisant of this, ancient people strived to make musical instruments, which would fulfil this need.
In Korea, the zither was created according to these principles. There were two types: one which is known as the female and the other the male. The I Ching, an ancient Chinese text used for divination, refers to them as instruments reflecting the ‘resilience of woman’ and ‘the braveness of man.’ Modern discontented people may object to this seeming gender discrimination or segregation, but it is a fact that the universe operates on such contrasts. It is only in the mundane visible world that we make such differences, such separations. In the ‘invisible’ world of sound and spirit, there is no real separation into genders, no attachment to differences: so, we can and must transcend such separations.
The female Gayageum has silk strings, plucked and struck with the bare hands to give a range of sensitive sounds. The male Geomungo also has silk strings, thicker to produce a lower tone, 16 frets, and is struck with a bamboo stick to produce a percussive sound. Two different qualities can harmonise together to create a whole.
The shapes of both instruments are strongly influenced by Yin and Yang. Both the Gayageum and Geomungo have a prominent rounded front representing the vault of the heavens, while the back is flat, representing the Earth; the front is constructed from softwood of the Paulownia tree, while the back from hardwood of the chestnut tree. The hollow interior of the Gayageum represents the 6 directions, 4 cardinal compass points and up and down, and its 12 strings the calendar. Flat versus rounded, soft versus hard, plucked versus strummed: all of these are aspects of Yin and Yang, and all necessary for balance.
The Geomungo has only 6 strings each with a name: the two outer strings are bungen, the civilian, and bugen, the soldier, characters or types which appear in the I Ching. If their conflicts can be harmonised, then the glories of music have triumphed over the lower minds of humans. The Geomungo gradually was withdrawn from use as a concert instrument to entertain an audience to be employed solely as an aid to spiritual elevation.
Sound is sacred. If we live our daily lives with this awareness, it will help us to live naturally, without friction in our interactions with others, or in our general performance in the visible world. Kind words, sincerity and unconditional love need to be the main constituent of our vocal utterances in everyday transactions. This combined with the gift of truly listening to each other, to genuinely receiving the sound utterances of others, will once again create balance in the wider perspective.
WHAT IS GOODNESS?
Revenge is an immediate response to inhumane, unprecedented actions! When an innocent person, a Japanese journalist, is taken hostage by a Muslim fundamentalist group and beheaded because demands are not met by the Japanese government, then a pathology sets in. Someone is cruelly exterminated, and so to balance this out, it is asserted that the exterminator should be exterminated in the same degree. ‘Revenge’ – this primitive urge to have balance in a negative dimension, does not come from goodness, but where does it come from? Why of course, the tricky intellectual mind, the quick sand of discontent and ignorance, from the caving in of the flimsy fabrics of ego and self-interest.
I am in a discussion meeting with Buddhists to try to define goodness. The Buddha advocated the Middle Way, which is so admirable about him as a supreme model, and, mostly, his loyal followers in this modern age as the Dharma, the eternal law of the universe, enters into its last phase of deterioration. But there is something missing, and suddenly I hear, see, feel, smell, taste desert wisdom, indigenous wisdom. I look out into the group of attendees, their concerned faces, their optimistic smiles, as an urban tribeswoman trapped in a disposable concrete office building in central Osaka, Japan! Suddenly, in tandem with the Buddhist teachings I have taken as my own for so long, there is something equally balanced and equanimous. I realise that my desert guides are present, and their wisdom is needed.
I have learned that when we are mindful, we notice, and if we notice, then the blinding, deafening din of the ego, has been silenced, the loop broken, the circle stretched into a straight line. In fact, ‘Noticing’ is our natural state – in a world without thought or status, without negative emotions or karma, drenched in goodness and light, then we are not torn out of the universe of love. 25 years ago, I had the absolute joy and privilege of living for a while with a group of Australian native peoples, at which time their leader, traditional landowner Ninija, became my spiritual guide. She is with me still, and at this point in the discussion in white-fella’s city, she suddenly was with me.
‘Noticing’ – watching, waiting, then acting with no ulterior motive, no agenda, no ego. Native peoples spend their whole lifespan, which is often quite short because of the harsh climatic conditions, acting for the general good, for balance in the environment, expecting nothing in return. Even their own survival is not their conscious concern as they are fully integrated into the universe. They live without personal fear because they are not attached to a flimsy ego created by their intellects. Instead, they live in pure awe of the Great Mother Nature, respecting her ingenuity, and their key role in carrying out her extraordinary plan for the universe. Revenge and such other negative emotions are rare in the desert, though there are many situations in which it could arise, especially in respect of ‘white-fella,’ white people of European descent, who in the past have been hell bent on civilising the desert people according to their own rules, and have virtually destroyed native culture.
Acting on impulses, on feelings, like outrage and indignation, may lead to revenge, to destruction and taking of life. Alternatively, we may choose not to act on them – this is a fundamental Buddhist ideal. But such choices imply a separation, discrimination, an ego, which demands options, alternatives, and therefore some kind of power. We could see this as a kind of violence. Native people do not have such choices because they are not separate from the universe, from their environment. This is the Dreaming. It is a listening state of complete oneness with the universe, of utter integration, of supreme awareness, which is also the aspiration of Buddhists.
It is well-known that Buddhists treasure sentient life above all else. The Buddha embodied these ‘ideals,’ avoiding even killing the tiniest of insects, staying inside during the lengthy rainy season in India in case creatures or plants were destroyed while walking in floodwater. Today, in 21st century, resident monks and nuns in Buddhist monasteries, clear the pathways painstakingly so that people can walk without taking life. They use soft materials to safely remove insects, seeds and plants to natural havens where humans do not go. I believe from my own side that preserving all life is our sacred human mission. Meanwhile, in the vast tracts of desert Lands, Australian natives manage their totem assigned to them at birth, humanely killing the ageing populations and watching over the births of the new, so that all life can be sustained, ‘all life’ including themselves. Their humility at being entrusted with these sacred missions is deeply moving.
‘Buddha moments’ or true moments of reality, of our true nature, infused with our native goodness, with unconditional love, with compassion, with heightened awareness, often occur when we are awoken by a shock – a dreadful accident or meaningless murder, a show of anger or frustration, a sudden sense that the way most humans live is pointless, illogical, heart-rending. The cruel and divisive destruction of a human life is deeply disturbing, but the perpetrator of such an act, perhaps deserves even greater compassion. This notion seems almost impossible for the indignant and the revengeful to accept. Such awakening moments are timeless, outside the limits of concepts of ‘time’ or ‘space.’ Indignation, outrage, revenge itself, die the moment they come to light. They are not in the moment because they engender thought and planning about how to right a wrong, action being implied.
But Desert wisdom gives me the confidence to look at the greater picture and work even harder to create balance in my every moment, with each breath. I am not roused to either act or to not act. I have no choices because I am one with both the exterminated and the exterminator.
I feel a great sadness for modern human beings. Most of us are beleaguered by our emotions and over-sensitivity, severely infected by media hype, dominated by prescribed self-images, and have completely receded into fear of using our own voices and more. We have sold our souls like lemmings, jumping off the cliff willingly, oblivious to the pain of being smashed on the rocks below. It is because we are intoxicated by the allure of status, fame and wealth, completely estranged to our native nature or our infinite power. It is this oblivion and disconnection that creates a death-wish and makes us so profoundly unhappy and discontented.
Can you imagine for a moment that you are genuinely content exactly as you are, as who you are, right now at this moment as you read? Or are you unable to truly connect with yourself, vague, in a fog, scared to admit you are deeply unhappy and unsatisfied? Until we have the courage to be utterly honest with ourselves, there will always be a duality, a darker hidden side of us, a conflict, or call it ‘friction’ if you like. Until you embrace exactly who you are with all your faults and negative emotions or distortions, at this moment, you will never be whole or integrated into the human experience.
Integration? Not being separate. Being one with all the energies around you so that there is no ‘friction,’ no distinction. It is only our divisive blind mind that spitefully plucks us out of the stream of life, extracts us and forcefully transforms us into a separate being with will and choice, and the resultant limited human power. If we remain integrated into the magnetic field of all existence, then our power is unlimited.
When we create friction through this act of auto-isolation, it inevitably has an effect either mentally or physically. Friction causes heat, which eventually burns. Negative human emotions like envy, greed, anger, cause such friction, pulling and tearing at our eyes, our skin and the tender flesh of our hearts. Conversely, positive emotions enable everything to move smoothly like silk on skin, like a breeze along the shore, like the full-eyed gaze of unconditional love.
The epidemic of depression has come about because our magical true nature has faded into the mists. William Styron in ‘Darkness Visible’ describes the onset of his depression in the afternoons….’…when I’d feel the horror, like some poisonous fog bank roll in upon my mind, forcing me into bed.’ But I suggest that this is not the apparition of depression, but rather the monster ego moving in and taking over.
The intellectual mind is acquisitive, proud, ruthlessly analytical. When it is not shifting around interminably, obsessing and speculating endlessly, it is barren, detached from the heart, from any links with the miraculous invisible world. It is one-dimensional, and yet our lives in developed countries entirely revolve around its idiosyncrasies.
This ‘mind’ has removed us from our natural state, placing us always at a distance to reality, always at the side, filtering everything we perceive. It is then sorted, classified, and organized until the breathing, functioning, joyful soul of humans is hidden, forgotten, withered. The intellect has distracted us with a cheap trick!
The truth is that we make the world with our minds, we sense the world through the mind, and if we do not, then it ceases to exist. It distracts us with endless choices, design/create options, whims and moody selections. There are no whimsical choices in the infinity and eternity of reality. We listen and follow our heart; the central part of our energy invests in the miracle of ‘being.’
Such a mind is driven by the two extremes of achieving and succeeding, and their opposites. Life becomes a series of ends or deadlines we have to meet. We are serial-livers when its comes to end-gaining, finishing one task and moving on to the next, and then counting to see what we have achieved and what we still need to complete. This is a style of being born of the man-made concept, or mirage, of time. Time and the linear are all illusions.
‘Time’ is the process of the heart, an endless circle of being, of loving, of energy. We can redesign our lives so that we have this rotundness of heart time, immersing ourselves in the process rather than the end or culmination. Process lodges in the heartbeats of each of us, but we only need to measure it to meet the needs and expectations of others and the time-and–age-bound systems we have created. ‘Age’ is another kind of end-gaining and judgment-protocol made by these systems.
Allowing awe to flourish in our daily ways is our nature, but we learn to hide it away as we grow into adults. Keeping our sense of awe for the magic of our human beings vital and engaged gives new meaning to our lives. Wide-eyed awe or wonder, devoid of envy or judgment, spiced with humility and acceptance, is also our true nature. All the beings we meet in our daily encounters are magical beings like we are. If we profoundly accept and respect them, even if they are behaving strangely or in some negative way, then there will be no end to our sense of awe, or joy in this human journey.
We do not need to fight against the inclinations of our beings which are naturally full of light and blossoms. If we perceive that another being is hurting us, then we have temporarily mislaid our sense of awe for the energy of creation. It is the interference of the intellectual mind which causes this ‘friction,’ but we can easily return to the silken life.
Depression is often defined as a deep sense of loss. But nothing is truly lost if we put aside the synthetic identity generated by the mind to let the true self shine again. It is a loss of all that is good and pure in favour of something that fits in with mediocrity, control, and the expectations of others, not of our precious self. But it is never lost because it exists beyond the concepts of mind, therefore it is eternal and infinite.
(Inspired by ‘Darkness Visible’ by William Styron, the film ‘Side Effects,’ 2013, Soderbergh S., Jude Law and Rooney Mara, and various professed sufferers of depression among close friends)