Sunday, January 24, 2016

Magic in the Streets

Magic lives out there, and we can experience it every day if we allow ourselves to stop and notice it.

Rushing out of the grocery store to find a warm night with salt hanging heavy in the air. I want to stay out and revel in it, but home is the practical destination.

That moment before work, when the sun is dazzling with its blue skied purity, and all the world is fresh and young, when all possibilities feel within reach.

And then the day starts and all hope and wonder die a quick little death. Predictability is a plague.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dirt Bones

Labyrinthian rows of books,
You rise up towering with backpacks, beard, hat, a cluttered old troll in the warmth
Back to the wine and designer balsamic
But we are not designer
We are the appreciators
The non-creators,
The critics of that which we feel we understand,
But are unable to create

The blank canvases in a world devoid of color,
Nothing to paint ourselves with
Nothing to understand

I suddenly remember magnolias
And nights of magic
Lights under sheet tents
Glowing skin and smiles
Hot water steaming the mirrors for messages
That fade with the heat
But which will never leave my mind
Nights of midnight roamings
Making way for red veined eyelids
Under dappled trees and green grass
Breathing the breath of the living which so quickly fails
With all that is easy

Another midnight wanderer
Indulging in sporadic whims
Who wakes up hating himself in the green glow of the aspidistra
In the sad film on the edge of his tea cup
In the dark filth of his bed, his narrow little hallway
His unfulfilled desires left in trash can alleys
And outside glowing windows
Which you passed on the way to the river
Who’s black surface told you nothing that you did not already know:
That life is only as long as you want,
Yet much shorter than you had hoped
Even though you had many times enjoyed the luxury of trying to decide
When that would be

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Inklings

After walking in to the Eagle and Child Pub in Oxford, my lifelong curiosity with this group of literary legends was in an instant rekindled. I'm lucky to have lived part-time in the Oxfordshire area, and hope to take advantage of my time there in the future to investigate them further.

For anyone interested, here is some information about the group known as the Inklings.

The Inklings were an informal literary circle in Oxford that began meeting in the early 1930s and continued until the late 1940s. The nucleus of the group seemed to be C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, who noted that Lewis took particular pleasure in listening to others read their works aloud. (Tolkien added that Lewis had phenomenal memory for texts that he received in this way, and could quote verbatim from books he had heard a decade or two earlier.)
Lewis and Tolkien invited like-minded spirits to join them for informal, convivial meetings in Oxford pubs, later adding evening gatherings to read their works aloud, receiving both praise and candid criticism. Gradually, the schedule of Inklings meetings became regularized, so they generally met on Tuesday mornings at the “Eagle and Child” (which they called the “Bird and Baby” or just the “Bird”) and at Lewis’s rooms in Magdalen College on Thursday evenings. Besides Lewis and Tolkien, the third most prominent member of the Inklings was Charles Williams, an editor at Oxford University Press, who began attending meetings when the Press moved from London to Oxford during World War II. Other regular members of the Inklings included Lewis’s brother, Warren Hamilton LewisVictor “Hugo” DysonAdam Fox,Lord David CecilNeville CoghillOwen BarfieldRobert “Humphrey” HavardGervase Mathew, and Commander James Dundas-Grant.
Warren Lewis noted that the Inklings were an informal circle of friends, not an organized club or literary society, adding that there were no officers, agendas, or minutes taken. Apart from the regulars, an Inklings meeting might also include Colin Hardie, Christopher Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien’s son), Roger Lancelyn Green, Percy Bates, Ronald McCallum, Charles Wrenn, or other visitors who had been invited (and pre-approved) by established members of the group. The golden years of the Inklings seem to have been from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, when the group heard J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings read aloud, as well as C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, and Charles Williams’ All Hallows Eve.
The name “Inklings” itself is a bit of whimsy, a pun on those who dabble in ink—writers--and those who may only have an inkling of what they intend to write about when they begin a project. (For the many Christians in the group, the name may have also suggested certain “inklings” of immortality, their assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things unseen.) The name “Inklings” was not original with Lewis, Tolkien, and their friends; they borrowed the term from an undergraduate literary society that flourished briefly in the early 1930s.
Tolkien based summed up the spirit of Inklings meetings when he called it “a feast of reason and flow of soul” (Letters, 102).
For more information, see Humphrey Carpenter, The Inklings (Houghton Mifflin, 1979); Diana Glyer, The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (Kent State University Press, 2007); Walter Hooper,C.S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide (HarperCollins, 1996); and Harry L. Poe & James R. Veneman, The Inklings of Oxford (Zondervan, 2009).

Owen Barfield

Owen Barfield (1898-1997) made his living as a solicitor, but he is best remembered as the author of three influential books: History in English Words (1926), Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning (1928), and Saving the Appearances(1957).
Barfield was born in London in 1898 to Arthur Barfield, a solicitor, and his wife Elizabeth, an outspoken suffragette. During World War I, Barfield served as a wireless officer in the Signal Service of the Royal Engineers, a time when radio communications still used Morse code. After the war, Barfield attended Wadham College, Oxford, and first met C.S. Lewis, who was at University College. The two became lifelong friends, even though their conversations were enlivened more by the thrust and parry of debate than by shared attitudes and perspectives.
In 1923 Barfield became an Anthroposophist, a devotee of the exotic ideas of Rudolf Steiner. This provided a good many new topics to debate, though Lewis distanced himself from such discussions after the latter’s conversion to Christianity. That same year Barfield married Matilda (Maude) Douie, a professional dancer, and they raised three children, Alexander, Lucy, and Geoffrey. (Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe [1950] is dedicated to Lucy Barfield.)
Though Owen Barfield showed brilliant early promise as a literary critic and philosopher, his father needed him in his law practice, and so Owen became a partner in the London firm of Barfield and Barfield in 1929. Barfield spent most of his adult life as a solicitor, handling C.S. Lewis’s legal affairs, including the charitable fund Lewis used to give away most of his book royalties. Since business kept Barfield in London most of the time, he was only able to join Inklings meetings when his schedule allowed. Barfield was baptized into the Church of England in 1949, finding Christianity compatible with his ongoing interest in Anthroposophy.
After his retirement, Barfield published a fascinating series of books on culture and consciousness. He is also remembered for his literary portrait of C.S. Lewis in a novel, This Ever Diverse Pair (1950).

Lord David Cecil

Lord Edward Christian David Gascoyne Cecil (1902-1986) was the youngest son of the Marquess of Salisbury. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, where he earned a First Class degree in history in 1924. He was elected a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, where he taught modern history and English literature. In 1932, Cecil married Rachel MacCarthy, a union which produced three children. In 1938, Cecil became a fellow at New College, Oxford. Like Lewis, Lord Cecil was known for his deeply held Christian convictions and also for the excellence of his lectures. Unlike Lewis, he was lithe, slender, and soft-spoken. Lord Cecil’s specialty was biographies, and he produced nearly a dozen narratives on the lives of William Cowper, Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Gray, and other literary and historical figures. After his retirement, Lord Cecil appeared frequently on BBC television programs concerning the arts. His wife Rachel published a highly readable novel, Theresa’s Choice (1958).

Neville Coghill

Neville Henry Kendal Aylmer Coghill (1899-1980) was born at Castle Townshend in County Cork, Ireland. Coghill served as a second lieutenant in the trench mortar division of the Royal Artillery during World War I. After the war, he matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford, earning a First Class degree in English in 1923. Coghill became a fellow at Exeter in 1925, demonstrating his talents as a dramatic producer in his leadership of the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Among the actors whom Coghill directed in those years was the young Richard Jenkins, who later earned worldwide fame under the name of Richard Burton. In 1957, Coghill was elected the Merton Professor of English Literature. His specialty was Middle English, and his verse translations of Chaucer into contemporary English have become standards for beginning students in medieval literature.

James Dundas-Grant

James Harold Dundas-Grant (1896-1985) was born in London, the son of a Scots physician. After being educated at Eton, Dundas-Grant served in the royal navy during World War I, hospitalized after he was exposed to a poison gas attack. He was recalled to active duty during World War II, and met C.S. Lewis in 1944 while serving as commander of the Oxford University Naval Division. Though not an academic, Dundas-Grant began attending Inklings meetings both on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings. A devout Catholic, Dundas-Grant was directed several sacred choirs and he and his wife were active in mentoring Catholic undergraduates at Oxford.

Victor Dyson

Henry Victor “Hugo” Dyson (1896-1975) was born in Hove, East Sussex, and educated at Brighton College and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst (the British equivalent of West Point). He served as a first lieutenant during World War I for three years, until he was seriously wounded at Passchendaele, one of the most horrific campaigns of the entire war. After the armistice, Dyson studied at Exeter College, Oxford, earning his bachelor’s degree in English in 1921 and his masters in 1925. Marrying Margaret Robinson that same year, Dyson served as a tutor and lecturer at Reading University, south of Oxford, for the next two decades.
Dyson first met C.S. Lewis in 1930, and the latter was struck by Dyson’s probing philosophical intellect and the depth of his Christian convictions. It was Hugo Dyson, along with J.R.R. Tolkien, who had a long talk with C.S. Lewis in September 1931 about the “Dying God” myth, a talk which lasted well into the night and paved way for Lewis’s own conversion.
Dyson was better known for his brilliant wit and his ebullient spirits than for his scholarly output. With John Butt, Dyson produced a readable survey of major Neoclassical and Romantic authors, Augustans and Romantics, 1689-1930(1940). Warren Lewis enjoyed recording Dyson’s bon mots in his diary. On one occasion, when a small boy stumbled on some cobblestones, Dyson pleaded with him, “Please don’t do that, my boy. It hurts you and it distresses us.” On another occasion when they were discussing how much C.S. Lewis’s life had become dominated by his adoptive mother, Mrs. Moore, Dyson comically applied a line from Othello: “O cursed spite that gave thee to the Moor.” (Brothers and Friends, 98, 193). Dyson became a fellow at Merton College in 1945, which made it easier for him to attend meetings of the Inklings. In his later years, Dyson became something of a media personality, giving several popular talks about Shakespeare on BBC television and appearing in the 1965 movie Darling, starring Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde.

Adam Fox

Adam Fox (1883-1977) was born in Kensington, attended Winchester College (what Americans would call a private prep school) and then University College, Oxford. In 1929, Fox became a Fellow and Dean of Divinity at Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1937 Fox received the prestigious position of Professor of Poetry at Oxford, largely through the success campaigning of his friends Lewis and Tolkien. In 1942 he was appointed a canon at Westminster Abbey, and he proved to be a better preacher than he was a poet. Apart from publishing a few volumes of poems, much admired by C.S. Lewis, Fox showed his versatility in writing books on subjects as diverse as the philosophy of Plato, New Testament Greek, English hymns, and the mysticism of Dean Inge. Fox’s ashes are buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.

Robert Havard

Robert Emlyn “Humphrey” Havard (1901-1985) was a physician who counted C.S. Lewis among his patients. He was born and raised in Lincolnshire, earning a first class degree in chemistry from Keble College in 1921. After a series of jobs in the medical field, he took a position teaching biochemistry at Leeds University. Havard married Grace Middleton, a graduate of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, and the two of them had five children. In 1934, Havard established a medical practice in Oxford, and soon afterwards he met C.S. Lewis. Havard reported that Lewis would spend only a few minutes discussing his medical symptoms, as he preferred philosophical and ethical questions. Havard became one of the most regular attendees at Inklings meetings and seems to have collected the most nicknames. Hugo Dyson started calling him “Humphrey,” and the name seems to have been used more than Havard’s Christian name. (The physician mentioned briefly in Lewis’s novel Perelandra is called “Humphrey.”) Havard was also called the “Useless Quack” or “U. Q.” by Warren Lewis and the “Red Admiral” by C.S. Lewis when he returned from World War II service at sea wearing a ruddy beard.

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis had three careers as a writer, all them remarkable. He is most widely known as the creator of the classic children’s series, the Chronicles of Narnia. But he was also one of the most highly-regarded literary scholars of his generation and one of the 20th century’s most influential advocates for Christian faith.

Warren H. Lewis

Warren Hamilton Lewis (1895-1973) was C.S. Lewis’s older brother and lifelong friend. Like his younger brother, Warren was born in Belfast, educated first at Wynyard School in Hertfordshire, than at Malvern College. Warren chose a military career over an academic one, graduated from Sandhurst in 1914. Warren served with the Royal Army Service Corps during World War I, continuing his military career afterwards in West Africa and then China. Retiring from the army in 1932, he retired to Oxford to join the household at Kilns. He spent the next two years editing the 11-volume “Lewis Papers,” a loosely-organized family archive that contains excerpts from letters by the Lewis brothers’ ancestors, their parents, and themselves. Warren was briefly recalled to active duty in 1939, and took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in the spring of 1940, before being assigned to the Home Guard in Oxford. Warren was one of the authors who read a manuscript to his fellow Inklings, his first book, The Splendid Century, eventually published in 1953. During the fifties and early sixties, Warren continued to produce a series of highly readable popular histories on lives and court intrigues in 17th and 18th century France.

Gervase Mathew

Father Anthony Gervase Mathew (1905-1976) was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, taking a degree in modern history. In 1928, he joined the Dominican Order, taking the name Gervase. He was ordained in 1934, co-authoring a book with his brother that same year called The Reformation and the Contemplative Life. Mathew was an expert on Byzantine art, frequently offering illustrated lectures (without pay) at Oxford, as well as publishing essays and books on the subject.

J.R.R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) is best known as the author of The Hobbit (1938) and The Lord of the Rings(1955-56). He was also a philologist, a poet, and a professor of languages and literature at Oxford.

Charles Williams

Charles Walter Stansby Williams (1886-1945) was born in London and educated at St. Albans School and the University of London. He began working for Oxford University Press in 1908 and worked there his whole life. He married Florence Conway in 1917, and the couple had one son.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ego - The False Center

The author of this article was a very strange and controversial man, but I really like this article on the ego; what it is, how it is formed, why it is harmful, etc. It's my personal belief that most problems we encounter in relationships and society have originated in the ego. My goal in life is to someday control mine, and the reflected sense of self that it embodies, to be left with only that which I would have been born with; my true self, and in effect, real inner peace.

I have no religion; this is not a religious thing. It is psychological, a socially constructed sense of self which controls our emotional reactions and various often unhealthy attachments to both habits and people.

The first thing to be understood is what ego is. A child is born. A child is born without any knowledge, any consciousness of his own self. And when a child is born the first thing he becomes aware of is not himself; the first thing he becomes aware of is the other. It is natural, because the eyes open outwards, the hands touch others, the ears listen to others, the tongue tastes food and the nose smells the outside. All these senses open outwards.
That is what birth means. Birth means coming into this world, the world of the outside. So when a child is born, he is born into this world. He opens his eyes, sees others. 'Other' means the thou. He becomes aware of the mother first. Then, by and by, he becomes aware of his own body. That too is the other, that too belongs to the world. He is hungry and he feels the body; his need is satisfied, he forgets the body.
This is how a child grows. First he becomes aware of you, thou, other, and then by and by, in contrast to you, thou, he becomes aware of himself.
This awareness is a reflected awareness. He is not aware of who he is. He is simply aware of the mother and what she thinks about him. If she smiles, if she appreciates the child, if she says, "You are beautiful," if she hugs and kisses him, the child feels good about himself. Now an ego is born.
Through appreciation, love, care, he feels he is good, he feels he is valuable, he feels he has some significance.
A center is born.
But this center is a reflected center. It is not his real being. He does not know who he is; he simply knows what others think about him. And this is the ego: the reflection, what others think. If nobody thinks that he is of any use, nobody appreciates him, nobody smiles, then too an ego is born: an ill ego; sad, rejected, like a wound; feeling inferior, worthless. This too is the ego. This too is a reflection.
First the mother - and mother means the world in the beginning. Then others will join the mother, and the world goes on growing. And the more the world grows, the more complex the ego becomes, because many others' opinions are reflected.
The ego is an accumulated phenomenon, a by-product of living with others. If a child lives totally alone, he will never come to grow an ego. But that is not going to help. He will remain like an animal. That doesn't mean that he will come to know the real self, no.
The real can be known only through the false, so the ego is a must. One has to pass through it. It is a discipline. The real can be known only through the illusion. You cannot know the truth directly. First you have to know that which is not true. First you have to encounter the untrue. Through that encounter you become capable of knowing the truth. If you know the false as the false, truth will dawn upon you.
Ego is a need; it is a social need, it is a social by-product. The society means all that is around you - not you, but all that is around you. All, minus you, is the society. And everybody reflects. You will go to school and the teacher will reflect who you are. You will be in friendship with other children and they will reflect who you are. By and by, everybody is adding to your ego, and everybody is trying to modify it in such a way that you don't become a problem to the society.
They are not concerned with you.
      They are concerned with the society.
      Society is concerned with itself, and that's how it should be.
They are not concerned that you should become a self-knower. They are concerned that you should become an efficient part in the mechanism of the society. You should fit into the pattern. So they are trying to give you an ego that fits with the society. They teach you morality. Morality means giving you an ego which will fit with the society. If you are immoral, you will always be a misfit somewhere or other. That's why we put criminals in the prisons - not that they have done something wrong, not that by putting them in the prisons we are going to improve them, no. They simply don't fit. They are troublemakers. They have certain types of egos of which the society doesn't approve. If the society approves, everything is good.
One man kills somebody - he is a murderer.
And the same man in wartime kills thousands - he becomes a great hero. The society is not bothered by a murder, but the murder should be commited for the society - then it is okay. The society doesn't bother about morality.
Morality means only that you should fit with the society.
      If the society is at war, then the morality changes.
      If the society is at peace, then there is a different morality.
Morality is a social politics. It is diplomacy. And each child has to be brought up in such a way that he fits into the society, that's all. Because society is interested in efficient members. Society is not interested that you should attain to self-knowledge.
The society creates an ego because the ego can be controlled and manipulated. The self can never be controlled or manipulated. Nobody has ever heard of the society controlling a self - not possible.
And the child needs a center; the child is completely unaware of his own center. The society gives him a center and the child is by and by convinced that this is his center, the ego that society gives.
A child comes back to his home - if he has come first in his class, the whole family is happy. You hug and kiss him, and you take the child on your shoulders and dance and you say, "What a beautiful child! You are a pride to us." You are giving him an ego, a subtle ego. And if the child comes home dejected, unsuccessful, a failure - he couldn't pass, or he has just been on the back bench - then nobody appreciates him and the child feels rejected. He will try harder next time, because the center feels shaken.
Ego is always shaken, always in search of food, that somebody should appreciate it. That's why you continuously ask for attention.
You get the idea of who you are from others.
It is not a direct experience.
It is from others that you get the idea of who you are. They shape your center. This center is false, because you carry your real center. That is nobody's business. Nobody shapes it.
You come with it.
      You are born with it.
So you have two centers. One center you come with, which is given by existence itself. That is the self. And the other center, which is created by the society, is the ego. It is a false thing - and it is a very great trick. Through the ego the society is controlling you. You have to behave in a certain way, because only then does the society appreciate you. You have to walk in a certain way; you have to laugh in a certain way; you have to follow certain manners, a morality, a code. Only then will the society appreciate you, and if it doesn't, you ego will be shaken. And when the ego is shaken, you don't know where you are, who you are.
The others have given you the idea.
      That idea is the ego.
Try to understand it as deeply as possible, because this has to be thrown. And unless you throw it you will never be able to attain to the self. Because you are addicted to the center, you cannot move, and you cannot look at the self.
And remember, there is going to be an interim period, an interval, when the ego will be shattered, when you will not know who you are, when you will not know where you are going, when all boundaries will melt.
You will simply be confused, a chaos.
Because of this chaos, you are afraid to lose the ego. But it has to be so. One has to pass through the chaos before one attains to the real center.
And if you are daring, the period will be small.
If you are afraid, and you again fall back to the ego, and you again start arranging it, then it can be very, very long; many lives can be wasted.
I have heard: One small child was visiting his grandparents. He was just four years old. In the night when the grandmother was putting him to sleep, he suddenly started crying and weeping and said, "I want to go home. I am afraid of darkness." But the grandmother said, "I know well that at home also you sleep in the dark; I have never seen a light on. So why are you afraid here?" The boy said, "Yes, that's right - but that is MY darkness." This darkness is completely unknown.
Even with darkness you feel, "This is MINE."
      Outside - an unknown darkness.
      With the ego you feel, "This is MY darkness."
It may be troublesome, maybe it creates many miseries, but still mine. Something to hold to, something to cling to, something underneath the feet; you are not in a vacuum, not in an emptiness. You may be miserable, but at least you ARE. Even being miserable gives you a feeling of 'I am'. Moving from it, fear takes over; you start feeling afraid of the unknown darkness and chaos - because society has managed to clear a small part of your being.
It is just like going to a forest. You make a little clearing, you clear a little ground; you make fencing, you make a small hut; you make a small garden, a lawn, and you are okay. Beyond your fence - the forest, the wild. Here everything is okay; you have planned everything. This is how it has happened.
Society has made a little clearing in your consciousness. It has cleaned just a little part completely, fenced it. Everything is okay there. That's what all your universities are doing. The whole culture and conditioning is just to clear a part so that you can feel at home there.
And then you become afraid.
      Beyond the fence there is danger.
      Beyond the fence you are, as within the fence you are - and your conscious mind is just one part, one-tenth of your whole being. Nine-tenths is waiting in the darkness. And in that nine-tenths, somewhere your real center is hidden.
One has to be daring, courageous.
      One has to take a step into the unknown.
      For a while all boundaries will be lost.
      For a while you will feel dizzy.
      For a while, you will feel very afraid and shaken, as if an earthquake has happened. But if you are courageous and you don't go backwards, if you don't fall back to the ego and you go on and on, there is a hidden center within you that you have been carrying for many lives.
That is your soul, the self.
Once you come near it, everything changes, everything settles again. But now this settling is not done by the society. Now everything becomes a cosmos, not a chaos; a new order arises.
But this is no longer the order of the society - it is the very order of existence itself.
It is what Buddha calls Dhamma, Lao Tzu calls Tao, Heraclitus calls Logos. It is not man-made. It is the VERY order of existence itself. Then everything is suddenly beautiful again, and for the first time really beautiful, because man-made things cannot be beautiful. At the most you can hide the ugliness of them, that's all. You can decorate them, but they can never be beautiful.
The difference is just like the difference between a real flower and a plastic or paper flower. The ego is a plastic flower - dead. It just looks like a flower, it is not a flower. You cannot really call it a flower. Even linguistically to call it a flower is wrong, because a flower is something which flowers. And this plastic thing is just a thing, not a flowering. It is dead. There is no life in it.
You have a flowering center within. That's why Hindus call it a lotus - it is a flowering. They call it the one-thousand-petaled-lotus. One thousand means infinite petals. And it goes on flowering, it never stops, it never dies.
But you are satisfied with a plastic ego.
There are some reasons why you are satisfied. With a dead thing, there are many conveniences. One is that a dead thing never dies. It cannot - it was never alive. So you can have plastic flowers, they are good in a way. They are permanent; they are not eternal, but they are permanent.
The real flower outside in the garden is eternal, but not permanent. And the eternal has its own way of being eternal. The way of the eternal is to be born again and again and to die. Through death it refreshes itself, rejuvenates itself.
To us it appears that the flower has died - it never dies.
      It simply changes bodies, so it is ever fresh.
      It leaves the old body, it enters a new body. It flowers somewhere else; it goes on flowering.
But we cannot see the continuity because the continuity is invisible. We see only one flower, another flower; we never see the continuity.
 It is the same flower which flowered yesterday.
      It is the same sun, but in a different garb.
The ego has a certain quality - it is dead. It is a plastic thing. And it is very easy to get it, because others give it. You need not seek it, there is no search involved. That's why unless you become a seeker after the unknown, you have not yet become an individual. You are just a part of the crowd. You are just a mob.
When you don't have a real center, how can you be an individual?
The ego is not individual. Ego is a social phenomenon - it is society, its not you. But it gives you a function in the society, a hierarchy in the society. And if you remain satisfied with it, you will miss the whole opportunity of finding the self.
And that's why you are so miserable.
      With a plastic life, how can you be happy?
      With a false life, how can you be ecstatic and blissful? And then this ego creates many miseries, millions of them.
 You cannot see, because it is your own darkness. You are attuned to it.
Have you ever noticed that all types of miseries enter through the ego? It cannot make you blissful; it can only make you miserable.
Ego is hell.
Whenever you suffer, just try to watch and analyze, and you will find, somewhere the ego is the cause of it. And the ego goes on finding causes to suffer.
You are an egoist, as everyone is. Some are very gross, just on the surface, and they are not so difficult. Some are very subtle, deep down, and they are the real problems.
This ego comes continuously in conflict with others because every ego is so unconfident about itself. Is has to be - it is a false thing. When you don't have anything in your hand and you just think that something is there, then there will be a problem.
If somebody says, "There is nothing," immediately the fight will start, because you also feel that there is nothing. The other makes you aware of the fact.
Ego is false, it is nothing.
      That you also know.
How can you miss knowing it? It is impossible! A conscious being - how can he miss knowing that this ego is just false? And then others say that there is nothing - and whenever the others say that there is nothing they hit a wound, they say a truth - and nothing hits like the truth.
You have to defend, because if you don't defend, if you don't become defensive, then where will you be?
You will be lost.
The identity will be broken.
So you have to defend and fight - that is the clash.
A man who attains to the self is never in any clash. Others may come and clash with him, but he is never in clash with anybody.
It happened that one Zen master was passing through a street. A man came running and hit him hard. The master fell down. Then he got up and started to walk in the same direction in which he was going before, not even looking back.
A disciple was with the master. He was simply shocked. He said, "Who is this man? What is this? If one lives in such a way, then anybody can come and kill you. And you have not even looked at that person, who he is, and why he did it."
The master said, "That is his problem, not mine."
You can clash with an enlightened man, but that is your problem, not his. And if you are hurt in that clash, that too is your own problem. He cannot hurt you. And it is like knocking against a wall - you will be hurt, but the wall has not hurt you.
The ego is always looking for some trouble. Why? Because if nobody pays attention to you, the ego feels hungry.
It lives on attention.
So even if somebody is fighting and angry with you, that too is good because at least the attention is paid. If somebody loves, it is okay. If somebody is not loving you, then even anger will be good. At least the attention will come to you. But if nobody is paying any attention to you, nobody thinks that you are somebody important, significant, then how will you feed your ego?
Other's attention is needed.
In millions of ways you attract the attention of others; you dress in a certain way, you try to look beautiful, you behave, you become very polite, you change. When you feel what type of situation is there, you immediately change so that people pay attention to you.
This is a deep begging.
A real beggar is one who asks for and demands attention. And a real emperor is one who lives in himself; he has a center of his own, he doesn't depend on anybody else.
Buddha sitting under his bodhi tree...if the whole world suddenly disappears, will it make any difference to Buddha? -none. It will not make any difference at all. If the whole world disappears, it will not make any difference because he has attained to the center.
But you, if the wife escapes, divorces you, goes to somebody else, you are completely shattered - because she had been paying attention to you, caring, loving, moving around you, helping you to feel that you were somebody. Your whole empire is lost, you are simply shattered. You start thinking about suicide. Why? Why, if a wife leaves you, should you commit suicide? Why, if a husband leaves you, should you commit suicide? Because you don't have any center of your own. The wife was giving you the center; the husband was giving you the center.
This is how people exist. This is how people become dependent on others. It is a deep slavery. Ego HAS to be a slave. It depends on others. And only a person who has no ego is for the first time a master; he is no longer a slave. Try to understand this.
And start looking for the ego - not in others, that is not your business, but in yourself. Whenever you feel miserable, immediately close you eyes and try to find out from where the misery is coming and you will always find it is the false center which has clashed with someone.
You expected something, and it didn't happen.
      You expected something, and just the contrary happened - your ego is shaken, you are in misery. Just look, whenever you are miserable, try to find out why.
Causes are not outside you. The basic cause is within you - but you always look outside, you always ask:

      Who is making me miserable?
Who is the cause of my anger?
Who is the cause of my anguish?
And if you look outside you will miss.
Just close the eyes and always look within.

The source of all misery, anger, anguish, is hidden in you, your ego.
And if you find the source, it will be easy to move beyond it. If you can see that it is your own ego that gives you trouble, you will prefer to drop it - because nobody can carry the source of misery if he understands it.

      And remember, there is no need to drop the ego.
      You cannot drop it.

      If you try to drop it, you will attain to a certain subtle ego again which says, "I have become humble."
 Don't try to be humble. That's again ego in hiding - but it's not dead.
      Don't try to be humble.
      Nobody can try humility, and nobody can create humility through any effort of his own - no. When the ego is no more, a humbleness comes to you. It is not a creation. It is a shadow of the real center.

      And a really humble man is neither humble nor egoistic.
      He is simply simple.
      He's not even aware that he is humble.
      If you are aware that you are humble, the ego is there.

      Look at humble persons.... There are millions who think that they are very humble. They bow down very low, but watch them - they are the subtlest egoists. Now humility is their source of food. They say, "I am humble," and then they look at you and they wait for you to appreciate them.

      "You are really humble," they would like you to say. "In fact, you are the most humble man in the world; nobody is as humble as you are." Then see the smile that comes on their faces.

      What is ego? Ego is a hierarchy that says, "No one is like me." It can feed on humbleness - "Nobody is like me, I am the most humble man."
It happened once:

      A fakir, a beggar, was praying in a mosque, just early in the morning when it was still dark. It was a certain religious day for Mohammedians, and he was praying, and he was saying, "I am nobody. I am the poorest of the poor, the greatest sinner of sinners."

      Suddenly there was one more person who was praying. He was the emperor of that country, and he was not aware that there was somebody else there who was praying - it was dark, and the emperor was also saying:

      "I am nobody. I am nothing. I am just empty, a beggar at our door." When he heard that somebody else was saying the same thing, he said, "Stop! Who is trying to overtake me? Who are you? How dare you say before the emperor that you are nobody when he is saying that he is nobody?"

      This is how the ego goes. It is so subtle. Its ways are so subtle and cunning; you have to be very, very alert, only then will you see it. Don't try to be humble. Just try to see that all misery, all anguish comes through it.

      Just watch! No need to drop it.

      You cannot drop it. Who will drop it? Then the DROPPER will become the ego. It always comes back.

      Whatsoever you do, stand out of it, and look and watch.

      Whatsoever you do - humbleness, humility, simplicity - nothing will help. Only one thing is possible, and that is just to watch and see that it is the source of all misery. Don't say it. Don't repeat it - WATCH. Because if I say it is the source of all misery and you repeat it, then it is useless. YOU have to come to that understanding. Whenever you are miserable, just close the eyes and don't try to find some cause outside. Try to see from where this misery is coming.

      It is your own ego.

      If you continuously feel and understand, and the understanding that the ego is the cause becomes so deep-rooted, one day you will suddenly see that it has disappeared. Nobody drops it - nobody can drop it. You simply see; it has simply disappeared, because the very understanding that ego causes all misery becomes the dropping. THE VERY UNDERSTANDING IS THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE EGO.

      And you are so clever in seeing the ego in others. Anybody can see someone else's ego. When it comes to your own, then the problem arises - because you don't know the territory, you have never traveled on it.

      The whole path towards the divine, the ultimate, has to pass through this territory of the ego. The false has to be understood as false. The source of misery has to be understood as the source of misery - then it simply drops.

      When you know it is poison, it drops. When you know it is fire, it drops. When you know this is the hell, it drops.

      And then you never say, "I have dropped the ego." Then you simply laugh at the whole thing, the joke that you were the creator of all misery.

      I was just looking at a few cartoons of Charlie Brown. In one cartoon he is playing with blocks, making a house out of children's blocks. He is sitting in the middle of the blocks building the walls. Then a moment comes when he is enclosed; all around he has made a wall. Then he cries, "Help, help!"

      He has done the whole thing! Now he is enclosed, imprisoned. This is childish, but this is all that you have done also. You have made a house all around yourself, and now you are crying, "Help, help!" And the misery becomes a millionfold - because there are helpers who are also in the same boat.

      It happened that one very beautiful woman went to see her psychiatrist for the first time. The psychiatrist said, "Come closer please." When she came closer, he simply jumped and hugged and kissed the woman. She was shocked. Then he said, "Now sit down. This takes care of my problem, now what is your problem?"

      The problem becomes multifold, because there are helpers who are in the same boat. And they would like to help, because when you help somebody the ego feels very good, very, very good - because you are a great helper, a great guru, a master; you are helping so many people. The greater the crowd of your followers, the better you feel.

      But you are in the same boat - you cannot help.
      Rather, you will harm.

      People who still have their own problems cannot be of much help. Only someone who has no problems of his own can help you. Only then is there the clarity to see, to see through you. A mind that has no problems of its own can see you, you become transparent.

      A mind that has no problems of its own can see through itself; that's why it becomes capable of seeing through others.

      In the West, there are many schools of psychoanalysis, many schools, and no help is reaching people, but rather, harm. Because the people who are helping others, or trying to help, or posing as helpers, are in the same boat.

      ...It is difficult to see one's own ego.

      It is very easy to see other's egos. But that is not the point, you cannot help them.

      Try to see your own ego.

      Just watch it.

      Don't be in a hurry to drop it, just watch it. The more you watch, the more capable you will become. Suddenly one day, you simply see that it has dropped. And when it drops by itself, only then does it drop. There is no other way. Prematurely you cannot drop it.

      It drops just like a dead leaf.

      The tree is not doing anything - just a breeze, a situation, and the dead leaf simply drops. The tree is not even aware that the dead leaf has dropped. It makes no noise, it makes no claim - nothing.

      The dead leaf simply drops and shatters on the ground, just like that.
      When you are mature through understanding, awareness, and you have felt totally that ego is the cause of all your misery, simply one day you see the dead leaf dropping.

      It settles into the ground, dies of its own accord. You have not done anything so you cannot claim that you have dropped it. You see that it has simply disappeared, and then the real center arises.

      And that real center is the soul, the self, the god, the truth, or whatsoever you want to call it.

      It is nameless, so all names are good.

      You can give it any name of your own liking.

      From Beyond the Frontier of the Mind by Osho

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Getting Lost in the Lost Generation

Mod'ing out with the modernists. Drowning my sorrows in Paris, France by Gertrude Stein, what could be better. 

A few tidbits for anyone who cares or wants to learn a little bit about a fascinating and inspiring time in the American arts, especially but not at all limited to our expats overseas.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot (I could fall in love with him all day)

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats        5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …        10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,        15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,        20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;        25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;        30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go        35
Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—        40
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare        45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,        50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—        55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?        60
  And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress        65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?
      .      .      .      .      .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets        70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
      .      .      .      .      .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!        75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?        80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,        85
And in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,        90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—        95
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
  That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,        100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:        105
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  “That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.”
      .      .      .      .      .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,        115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …        120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.        125
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown        130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.