Sunday, February 16, 2014

Too Lazy To

Too lazy to be ambitious,
I let the world take care of itself.
Ten days' worth of rice in my bag;
a bundle of twigs by the fireplace.
Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment?
Listening to the night rain on my roof,
I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.

- Ryokan

* * *

The trap is there for all to see, yet we are willing set foot in it: pretense, pride, profundity. Go any way along the road to find out and you will trip and fall into the onerousness of spiritual pride, an arrogance of the Little Jack Horner variety - "My, what a good boy am I." Your hard won truths are Scout badges on a sash. You have come a long way. You have earned those stripes.

Now let it go. It is just another cul de sac. Let it go.

Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment? There's all this rain falling.

* * *

The goal of life is to live it, not count the number of angels on the head of a pin. We fucked fuckity fucks distract ourselves from the matter at hand - our life/our death - with minutia, soporific entertainments and a wildly false and outsized sense of our accomplishments. If the path I describe is a spiritual one, it is not a religious or faith-based one. If it is a spiritual one, it is not one of any attainment other than being present and engaged with your life. This is not shortening the field (nirvana as a touchdown), but of leaving it open ended, endlessly open to what comes next and next and next until your next breath is your last breath. There is no goal other than living your life with whatever wit, kindness and forgiveness you can muster.

Being smart is of little use.

Being kind is better.

* * *

In For The Time Being, Annie Dillard makes the case that every generation of mankind has thought themselves the ultimate expression, the most important of any who had come before or would come after. Every generations' crises of faith and politics and power and economics was the most dire, the most exalted, the most profound and each has been proved wrong by the next generation. So it goes. Let the world take care of itself. Societies rise and fall. Empires are built only to disintegrate under the gangrene of mediocrity and self-importance.

You cannot cure the world of its ills. You can only cure yourself and that is enough to change the world. Greatness is not a spectacle to be worshiped, but a humility born of letting go of ideas like greatness and pride and accomplishment. The only thing you are to accomplish is a life well-lived: were you kind while you had the chance? did you love without hesitation? did you forgive those who did not understand you, who wanted you to be like them or do their bidding? did you respond to the circumstances of your life with a willingness to create, love or suffer and so build meaning into those circumstances - no matter how difficult, unjust or unfair?

Well, did you?

If you are reading this, it is still possible, but you have to let go of the traps and snares of ambition and accomplishment. It is all process, a ceaseless process of life being transformed by life, of you transforming your life by passing through the stages of searching for answers, seizing on others' ideas, finding your own, wearing that knowledge like armor and then and then and then and then finally finally finally sitting comfortably, with both legs stretched out.

Did you hear the rain last night?

* * *


* * *

PS: Ryokan's name was Daigu Ryokan, meaning "Great Fool."

* * *

Boom, again.



  1. Once again, fabulous my friend. Very nice.

  2. As always, Hillary, I am so very glad for your kindness and generosity of spirit.