Retreat

There is a time for action, but not now;
Preserve your latent energies; just watch.
The case is critical, and if you botch
This exercise, it might derange the Dao–
No! Dao eternal, solid as the sea,
Cannot be modified by you or me
You might, then, ask, “in what way are we free,
If ultimately Dao is destiny?”

Like gravity, the Dao is weak, but firm.
We’re bound for paradise at end of day,
But we may choose our path along The Way—
We walk or crawl or dance or march or squirm.
The Dao conveys a message, deep and true
Without prescribing what we are to do.

— JJM (#33 in the I Ching Sonnet Project)

From InText

 

Politically Incorrect Orgasms And Unredacted Mushroom Trips

While the whale songs get sadder and sadder,

While snakefinger Hollywood operatives
teach us to look outside ourselves for superheroes
instead of behind our own eyes,

While canned laughter pours from screens
and forms whispering clouds over our heads
which assure us that we have never been divine,

While the pop songs all say
“Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
put your hands up in the air
we party all night and spend money on things
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
whoop whoop
capitalism totally works,”

You stand in cool defiance:
A natural hominid.
An indigenous earthling.

You are alert and present,
like a pistol dueler on the tenth pace.

You watch mind movements come and go,
kissing them as they pass
like drunken one-night stands fully enjoyed
but scarcely remembered.

You seek out the demons lurking in your shadows,
thank them for their hard work,
and release them forever with a loud belch.

You look at life like it’s a dear friend telling a great joke
when they’re right about to get to the punchline.

You dance in supermarkets.
You smoke rain.

You have politically incorrect orgasms
and unredacted mushroom trips.

You take even your most shameful hidden bits
and bring them out into the light for loving.

You are kind to yourself.
You are kind to others.
You are kind to your surroundings.
You are kind to your planet.
You are kind to your angels.
You are kind to your demons.
You are kind to kindness.
You are kind to unkindness.
You are kindness.

Death fades from your gaze
like snow under a blowtorch.

Unhappiness fades from your memory
like a weird dream.

While heroes are exposed as cardboard set pieces,

While ideologies are exposed as Pokemon masks on corpses,

While truth is replaced with crude crayon drawings of itself
and sold at Costco between the tires and the coffins,

You stand in cool defiance
and watch your reflection dance
in the cornea of Allah.

You take nothing for granted
and see everything for the first time.

The only enemy is habit.

Irony is for cowards.

Chin up,
eyes wide.

That’s ten paces.

Draw.

— Caitlin Johnstone
Originally published here

When Voting Fails, Take to the Streets

Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George the First, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the King.

We’ve been taught that there is a “mob psychology” that makes people do crazy things when they’re surrounded by others doing crazy things. This theory was debunked by psychologists long ago, but it is kept alive by journalist who are in thrall to the ruling class.

The word ‘riot’ evokes a visceral reaction, calling up visions of chaos, disorder and offence to civil society. Once an event has been dubbed a riot, the media narrative is easy to frame: ‘these people’ are acting unlawfully, are out of control, irrational; if only they would sit down and talk.

The truth is that “crowds aren’t really crazed – they are made of highly co-operative individuals driven to shared interests and goals.”

People take to the streets when democracy isn’t working. There is a long history of rioting for legitimate goals that are ultimately recognized and achieved. A few examples:

Abraham Lincoln called the right to peaceably assemble the ‘Constitutional substitute for revolution’, the next step in forcing government to acknowledge the people’s demands when it has otherwise ceased to be responsive to voting, speech or even the rule of law. However it is defined, and whatever its parameters and perception, sometimes riot might be necessary to reclaim and defend democracy.

— Excerpted and paraphrased from an Aeon article by Antonia Malchik

Image result for intimacy of crowds

Congress shall make no law … abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
— First Amendment, the Bill of Rights

 

Molecular machine

A car has a generator that runs off the car’s engine and turns the mechanical energy of rotation into electrical energy so it can charge the battery (chemical energy).

Image result for generator charges battery

Every living cells stores energy chemically in a high-energy molecule called ATP. ATP is made using electrical energy. The electrical energy moves protons across a membrane, and as they pass, they turn a paddle wheel that makes the ATP. The paddle wheel is a single molecule, a protein called FTP-ase.

Every protein is just a string of amino acids in a particular order (specified by DNA) that has a propensity to fold spontaneously into a shape all its own. This one has been around for billions of years because it is so useful. It is a self-assembling machine, made of atoms.

ATP-ase has a conversion efficiency of 38%, comparable to state-of-the-art experimental automobile engines today.

For the Last Day of Your Life

At all times just remain free and uninvolved. Never make any displays of clever tricks — be like a stolid simpleton in a village of three families. Then the gods will have no road on which to offer you flowers, and demons and outsiders will not be able to spy on you.

Be undefinable, and do not reveal any conspicuous signs of your special attainment. It should be as if you are there among myriad precious goods locked up securely and deeply hidden in a treasure house. With your face smeared with mud and ashes, join in the work of the common laborers, neither speaking out nor thinking.

Live your whole life so that no one can figure you out, while your spirit and mind are at peace. Isn’t this what it is to be imbued with the Way without any contrived or forced actions, a genuinely unconcerned person?

Among the enlightened adepts, being able to speak the Truth has nothing to do with the tongue, and being able to talk about the Dharma is not a matter of words.

Clearly we know that the words spoken by the ancients were not meant to be passively depended on. Anything the ancients said was intended only so that people would directly experience the fundamental reality. Thus the teachings of the sutras are like a finger pointing to the moon, and the sayings of the Zen masters are like a piece of tile used to knock on a door.

If you know this, then rest. If your practice is continuous and meticulous and your application broad and all-pervading, and you do not deviate from this over the years, then you will mature in your ability to handle the teachings, to gather up and to release, and you will be able to see through petty things and cut them off without leaving a trace.

Then you when you come to the juncture of death and birth, where all the lines intersect, you won’t get mixed up. You will be clear and immovable, and you will be set free as you leave this life behind. This is deathbed Zen, for the last day of your life.

Yuanwu Keqin, as interpreted and translated by Brian Browne Walker

Accident of Birth

Je vois les effroyables espaces de l’Univers qui m’enferment, et je me trouve attaché à un coin de cette vaste étendue, sans savoir pourquoi je suis plutôt en ce lieu qu’en un autre, ni pourquoi ce peu de temps qui m’est donné à vivre m’est assigné à ce point plutôt qu’à un autre de toute l’éternité qui m’a précédé, et de toute qui me suit.*
— Pascal, Pensées sur la religion

The approach of a man’s life out of the past is history, and the approach of time out of the future is mystery. Their meeting is the present, and it is consciousness, the only time life is alive. The endless wonder of this meeting is what causes the mind, in its inward liberty of a frozen morning, to turn back and question and remember. The world is full of places. Why is it that I am here?
— Wendell Berry, The Long-Legged House

Spared by a car or airplane crash or
cured of malignancy, people look
around with new eyes at a newly
praiseworthy world, blinking eyes like these.
For I’ve been brought back again from the
fine silt, the mud where our atoms lie
down for long naps. And I’ve also been
pardoned miraculously for years
by the lava of chance which runs down
the world’s gullies, silting us back.
Here I am, brought back, set up, not yet
happened away.
But it’s not this random
life only, throwing its sensual
astonishments upside down on
the bloody membranes behind my eyeballs,
not just me being here again, old
needer, looking for someone to need,
but you, up from the clay yourself,
as luck would have it, and inching
over the same little segment of earth-
ball, in the same little eon, to
meet in a room, alive in our skins,
and the whole galaxy gaping there
and the centuries whining like gnats—
you, to teach me to see it, to see
it with you, and to offer somebody
uncomprehending, impudent thanks.
— William Meredith would have been 101 years old today

 

William Meredith, “Accidents of Birth” from Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1997 by William Meredith. Reprinted with the permission of the author and TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, http://nupress.northwestern.edu.
* I see the terrifying expanse of the Universe which encloses me, and I find myself attached to a corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am in this place rather than another, nor why this short time which is given for my life has been assigned at this moment rather than another of all the eternity which preceded me, and all which will follow. — tr JJM

Scriabin

Listen to Andrei Gavrilov perform the 4th Piano Sonata in F#m of  Alexander Scriabin, born this day in 1872.

In a light mist, transparent vapor
Lost afar and yet distinct
A star gleams softly.
How beautiful! The bluish mystery
Of her glow
Beckons me, cradles me.
O bring me to thee, far distant star!
Bathe me in trembling rays
Sweet light!
Sharp desire, voluptuous and crazed yet sweet
Endlessly with no other goal than longing
I would desire
But no! I vault in joyous leap
Freely I take wing
Mad dance, godlike play!
Intoxicating, shining one!
It is toward thee, adored star
My flight guides me
Mad dance, godlike play!
Intoxicating, shining one!
Toward thee, created freely for me
To serve the end
My flight of liberation!
In this play
Sheer caprice
In moments I forget thee
In the maelstrom that carries me
I veer from they glimmering rays
In the intensity of desire
Thou fadest
O distant goal
But ever thou shinest
As I forever desire thee!
Thou expandest, Star!
Now thou art a Sun
Flamboyant Sun! Sun of Triumph!
Approaching thee by my desire for thee
I lave myself in they changing waves
O joyous god
I swallow thee
Sea of light
My self-of-light
I engulf thee!

— Scriabin’s own words