I went to a music festival last weekend, possibly the best weekend of my life, but I have had some good weekends here and there. The show was Rock & Roll with a classic 1950’s vibe. The Brooklyn Bluebirds rocked, that’s Andy Animal’s band, he organizes the event and I think it’s on his birthday weekend. Shit Horse freakin’rocked. Tandoori Knights were excellent. Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers produced and presented some great kids bands from the Paul Green Rock Academy. I slept in a hammock, it rained, I walked around barefoot, swam in the Esopus Creek, saw some old friends, made some new ones. Rio the dog was there, somebody brought a big goat, that was cool. The art installations were really great, there was a vegan food vendor Berben & Wolff’s with locations in Albany and Troy. Brooke Deva was selling textiles and jewelry from India. The bands played late into the night and there were classic films being projected all day.
by Alexander Countey
We can never claim to be higher then
another, never claim to have realized what others have not, never hold
ourselves superior in any way to other humans, to other beings, we are all
simply at different points in our paths, we are all simply in the same illusion,
the commonality of the experience of the world, of the world we witness, the
common illusion shared between all sentient beings in this world, is itself the
proof of the unity of existence. This common illusion is the divine connection
that hold us within our identity, into our ego, into this world. As Ram Dass so
elegantly states it, “Don’t prolong the past, don’t invite the future,
don’t alter innate wakefulness, don’t fear appearances.” We must neither
attach to nor reject the world we witness. We must not get lost in the past
experiences that, although they undeniably hold relevance into whom we identify
ourselves as, what we believe, what brought us to this point, it must be viewed
as neutral and equal as any other experience, as no better nor no worse than
any other pathway. As each pathway is equally as valid, it must be observed as
equally valid as every other experience. We must not take away or alter our
focus to block out the world, it is too easy to be ignorant of what is around
us, ignorant of the impact of our actions, ignorant to the world as it unfolds
around us, our focus placed somewhere else, focused away from the world, so
focused we become blind and ignore, focused to push away and reject the world,
focus so strong on a single point that it becomes blind to all that is around.
We must not push the world or others for our gain. We must never push or demand from others to gain our wishes, never force others to act as we wish, never try to convert someone into our beliefs, never to proselytize, never to manipulate others for any reason, never to seduce or to entice others. To do such would be to demand their focus, would be an attempt to interject ourselves into their path. We must witness each action as for what is not done in their best interest, we must witness any action that we make and observe if not done for their benefit, we must never subject them to an act not requested of them unless absolutely necessary. In this world, sometimes a situation is observed where literally pushing another against their will is necessary, is fully justified, is the righteous action for that moment. If someone is unaware they are about to be hit by a train, it is fully justified to push them out of danger, and as much as in the moment of them being struck by you, they might find you personally as the aggressor, their ignorance of the situation quickly vanishes as soon as the train passes, instantly dispelling their illusion and making clear that your violent action was honestly performed with love, was only done to prevent a much larger violence from occurring. To not act in such a situation as we are capable, to ignore the world as we have witnessed it, if we simply sat down and closed our eyes, began to hum or chant loudly, and ignore the impending violence that we witnessed, would be to become complicit in the violence, or even as in this situation, we would become responsible for the violence. As the train is unaware of the man, as the man is unaware of the train, only the one aware of both is even capable or able to act righteously. Only the observer holding complete knowledge of the situation, only the one who witnesses both and holds no attachment to their own life, will act to save them. Only with no attachment can we act without fear of personal harm, without hesitation or consideration of personal consequences, without judgment or comparison of the value of the act, but simply acting as is righteous with the knowledge we are conscious of in the world at that moment.
In the acceptance of the world neutrally, we must be open to all knowledge as it is presented, to reject the world we witness or pull our focus away to make life easier for ourselves is to remove ourselves from the ability to act, is to become ignorant of the world around us. I do not reject or deny the power of meditation, of sitting still and calming the mind, of using techniques of silence and still to calm the mind and the body, I am not in any way dismissing or negating the use of such practice. My personal viewpoint of meditation is that it is not to be practiced for the purpose of ignoring the world and game reality, as much as that is the method of many styles of meditation, but it is practiced to assist in calming the mind and finding balance. It is practiced to help achieve a clearer state of consciousness and being, to assist the mind and body to reach equanimity and acquiescence in the world, it is a practice to help remove the weights and attachments we hold of the world, a tool to learn to know the self, to practice the holding of universal and unbiased compassion and love, to practice bringing the body into peaceful tranquility and calm. It should not be seen as a blissful state of escape, not to escape our duty, or to permanently remove ourselves from the world, not to escape for personal physical and mental gains, but to achieve a state of mind where we can simply witness the changing world from a view as neutrally as possible. A practice of holding a calm inner balance, of neither rejecting nor desiring anything, of neither pushing away the world nor pulling it closer, neither focused inward nor focused outward, but pan-focal, conscious of all with equanimity. Achieving such an extreme state of consciousness, one in which all thoughts cease entirely, might never be obtainable within these bodies, we may never know such a state of this equanimity beyond more than a few brief moments, for many maybe only after spending much time in carefully practiced meditation. Yet, there must be no attachment to holding or obtaining such a state, we should not be attached to the state of our mind at any moment, we should ultimately even release our attachment to becoming released, our attachment to being free from ignorance, our attachment and desires to attain “higher” or “deeper” meditative states, to become “better yogis”, to be more “Buddha-like” in our waking life. Attachment to these spiritual pursuits is clearly just another game of the ego, is another trap easily fallen into by those who wish to let go, letting go of the desire to let go is the final step, truly letting go of our desire to seek enlightenment. For like so many other traps, how appealing it would be to obtain a state of perfect bliss forever. ‘Life is painful, the chaos never ends, why would I not want to simply be free to achieve limitless bliss, to reach a state of ultimate awareness and become free of game reality, free of the ego, free of the mind and the body? Why would I not want to become god-like, or even god?’ This is the trap of seeking pleasure, indeed the “ultimate” pleasure, the ultimate highest state. It is described as such as such a state of bliss by so many different religions and philosophies, as to be one of the most common concepts of religion in the world, is the existence of higher states of consciousness that bring one closer to atman, to god, to the truth. How could the seeking of this perfect state be wrong? To ask such a question is to have missed the point of unattachment, is to still show attachment, to still seek and desire the obtaining of something greater, something out there, something we haven’t yet obtained, the desire to free ourselves of our lives, of reality as we perceive it, of the world we witness and undeniably are within, is equally evident as another trap of desire, itself just as deep and difficult to get out from as any other trap of desire.
It is not simply appealing, indeed, to the spiritual seeker, it may be the most appealing of outcomes, the most appealing of goals, to seek to achieve this “enlightenment.” This desire of the seeker to see things more clearly, to see more clearly then we did before, to see more clearly than others, to see the world as god, to see as Buddha. When comparisons as extreme as these are drawn, then the fallacy of this ego game presents itself most clearly, for who would want to obtain a perfect god state if not themselves already lost, trapped themselves in illusion, indeed delusion of their place, for to mistake such experiences of our ego with the divine, ignorant that all of our experience is bound into this illusion, bound into the same karmic games and existence shared by every being, the experience we hold inescapable as the experience of the ego, the experience as viewed by the mind, the existence and only reality that we ever were or ever could be aware of, the negation of reality leaves no expeirence to be known, nothing to be seen, nothing to percieve and as null of experience as the state in which we describe as deep sleep, devoid of sight, sound, time, space, devoid of any experience at all to this ego, devoid of thought, devoid of the experience of the ego that we call conscoiusness, this is the closest analogy to the true self, to the ultimate reality, to the unknownable and inexperiencably all-encompassing truth that unites all and disolves all illusion, for if all illusion is removed, what remains of what we have experienced?, what remains of the view we hold of the world?, what, of the things we hold dear as uniquely ours, is left? We must accept that every experience, everything we have ever known, every thought, every bliss, every heaven and every hell we have known, have only been within this shared illusion termed as maya, that only in this illusion does any experience appear to this ego, to this mind, to this body and to the sense organs of the body, all bound in illusion within this ultimate reality. This ultimate reality can never be known as an experience to the ego, will never be experienced by the body, will never to be known to self that identifies as “I”, to the self that we find in these bodies, to ourselves as we identify with as other experiences are, as every experience we have known and ever will know in these earthly bodies, in this world, in the experience of waking life, is limited to these senses, to the ego, to illusion.
My most longstanding and best friend passed away, and I don’t know what to do about it. Alex had been living in India for some time, he kept trying to get me to visit. He loved it there. I thought nothing unusual, as we had grown up on Carmine Street in the Greenwich Village together, his family had moved to the Catskills and Alex had spent some considerable time abroad: first living in Australia, then Amsterdam, and finally moved to India. I truly cherished every visit that we had together, and feel very close to his family, who had taken me in and treated me as one of their own. I just found out today, and I miss him so much.