Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Small Progress

The past few weeks the reality of the world's ugliness has been at the forefront of my mind. The hatred, intolerance, and fear of mankind for itself is in terrible display. Most of us live in conditions that, if they don't outright kill us by disease, starvation, or violence, wear away at our souls to such a degree that we become bitter and hopeless or angry enough to kill ourselves and lash out at the unfair world at the same time. The idea of killing babies in their mother's arms comes to seem the only way to adequately express our hatred and despair, our own endless pain.

I guess.

So, hell is here on earth. That seems, on the face of it, to be a reasonable conclusion. Now, the Buddhists will say that this hell is of our own creating, that all these suffering souls suffer because of:

1. The Karmic retribution for their own past bad acts and lack of understanding and compassion, and
2. Their mistaken ideas of reality that prevent true understanding, and thus the growth of compassion and the breaking of the grip of samsaric reality.

The nice thing about this belief system for someone like myself, who is relatively pain free and lives an incredibly bountiful existence, is that I can look at the dead, blown up babies and mommies and say, "Well, really, it's some working out of seems horrible, but it's a mistake to take any of that too seriously. It all works out in the end."

It feels awfully pat.

I can't make out an answer that works for me, although I am inclined to just 'make room' for my own lack of understanding, and to view the suffering of others around me as a goad to my own weak and pitiful sense of compassion. As a way to break the ego's grip on my world-viewing contraption, to shake it loose so that I might be able to see with new eyes.

And, of course, it is also true that Heaven is here on earth as well. Or Nirvana. Call it what you will, every joy, every happiness, is available to us here and nowhere else. It is all dependent upon the individual, I suppose. A combination of careful looking, of trying to see without judging exactly what is, from moment to moment, as well as flooding the world inside and out, with all of the love and compassion you are capable of producing. Not to change the world, but to love it as it is. With the ugliness. With the terror and pain.

How beautiful we are in our distress.

How beautiful you are in your pain.

How beautiful indeed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

that karma stuff always bothered me.
it we can't remember past lives
then how can we hope to learn from them?

and if you're born in dire conditions
how can your present day actions
be responsible for that?
you've just come into the world.

it's too mystical for me. or too retributive...yeah i know the idea
of oneness as an infant. the lack of differentiation
between outside and inside at birth, unit we learn
to cognate.

i think the whole idea of past life karma
is just a way of saying--no one said life was gonna be fair.

remember the protest of teens ?
"i didn't ask to be born!"
well sweetums, for that matter
none of us did. yet i like the idea that watts
expounds, "you were the gleam in your father's eye"
~desire--nothing happens in its absence. soooo
there is that.

i believe that we need to understand
that if there is hell on earth
we've created it
and that goes for heaven too

my problem is an idealism
that wishes to change this.
but i can't. and i know this
but that doesn't keep me from
changing it in my own li'l backyard.
or at least, that's how i try to live.
doesn't always work. my vision
is often not clear. i cling to what i know
the patterns of the past. i like
what you've said in earlier posts about
deliberately reinforcing the positive aspects
instead of dwelling on the negative.
it's a way to live within the world with something
approaching hope.

there are those who can dissociate
from the pain of others around them
there are those who can dissociate
from their own pain. y can't the human
animal learn from the pain, use its lesson
to transform the painful thing thru love?

i dunno. just questions i contemplate.
i like this translation of karma
`you're doing this`

that rings true for me.

i;m always grateful
to spend time with your thoughts.


8:34 AM  
Blogger jim said...

i dunno

i think i asked to be born.

9:09 AM  
Blogger 21k said...

You need a huckleberry pie in your life

I got a couple you can slice into on my site ---


as always your blog intrigues me

11:30 AM  
Blogger Radish King said...

How beautiful we are in our distress.

I try to write about this, to be brave and dive in. It isn't as easy as you'd think. Well, it's easy alright, but the backlash is tremendous, it seems, the balance seeking part. It's why art, for me, is not so healing and wonderful. For me, art is something that reaches up from the floor boards, and pinches, hard.

And so, music balances me. Mozart and Robert Schumann and the Bee. This is where I find joy.

Mm. There is something here, something in your art that makes me want to give up my secrets. And that disturbs me, the way seeing a really beautiful insect disturbs me.

4:53 PM  
Blogger OrphanedPoet said...

lovely way to live scott, the all-acceptance.

never been able to manage it.-

6:01 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


I'm grateful for your thoughts on this musing about good and evil. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to change what's bad or stupid or evil in the world, but not being able to can beat you down just as much as the evil itself.

I think that one way to work on it is to look around at your own external situation and ask how that reflects your internal state, and then try to change the aspect of the internal state that might 'correspond' to the ugly one on the outside.

Anyway, so glad you stopped in. I think of you often. I hope you are well and happy.



6:33 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


They say we choose to be born, and we choose our parents and our place as well.

It makes sense to me.

Maybe the most advanced souls are the ones who are willing to suffer the most. Or maybe the other way 'round.



6:41 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


Love that image link. Yes, art should be painful, discomforting, and achingly beautiful and real.

"Mm. There is something here, something in your art that makes me want to give up my secrets. And that disturbs me, the way seeing a really beautiful insect disturbs me."

That's one of the nicest things anyone's ever said about my work.

Thank you.

I'm all shy now.




I don't know how close I come to that goal, but I try to make room for it.

all the best.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

We think way too much alike. And dare I say? We think too much. But we can't help it.

And my verification word is "paines."

12:25 PM  

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