Friday, July 14, 2017

Discipline

At the beginning of The Sacrifice, by Andrei Tarkovsky, the father is speaking to the son about the miraculous power of consistency, telling him a story of a monk who watered a dead tree daily for two years, at which point it came to life, and they do this while planting a dead tree. At the end, after the fathers seeming madness, the boy waters the tree.

All my life I have admired people who get up every morning and do without fail what they set out to do.  I have never been like this.  I will be good for a time, but then I find myself dreaming, as I did this morning.  I lay around, or sit and drink coffee, and watch images and ideas, and wonder where the time is going.

And it occurs to me that as with many things, there are WAYS of being disciplined.  One way is to lack the imagination to do otherwise.  One way is to be compulsive and really asleep in some ways.  One way is a deep seated fear of failure, of the sort that the military breeds into people.  None of these really apply to me, although I did use fear for a very long time. I whipped and beat myself without mercy.  I am no longer like that, thankfully.

And one way is love: love of an activity, love of oneself and ones health and emotional well being.  This is the healthiest of them all.

The longer I live, the more I feel that it is not what you do, but how you do it.  All of us are set the task when we are born of waking up, of becoming consciously alive, consciously human, and of consciously pursuing the angelic, the higher.  All of us have large dark regions within us, parts which are cut off, which we cannot feel, and which thus cannot provide us needed wisdom.  Finding all of them, inventorying all of them, requires periodic variation, changes in action, changes in perspective.  Within Kum Nye, there are hundreds of different activities, and the practice consists in varying them regularly.  There is no recitation of 100,000 mantras, or decades spent on the exact same meditation.

And here is as good a place as any to post a phrase that came to me the other day: When we own our demons, we amplify our angels.

Two other phrases that kept popping in my head last night: there is no place to start but the middle.

And: if you can see through to the end, the middle is clear.

They are a bit contradictory on the outside, but what I think my unconscious meant was that you have to start with the heart in important things.  The heart, the feeling sense, the connecting sense, the sense of affection, of wanting, of knowing intutitively--is where honest activity flows from.  You cannot force heart from the head.  The head exists to serve the heart, in important ways.  This is something I am still learning to accept.  Intellectualism is such a comfort and shelter, and armor.  It is also, of course, a cage and a stupefying and blinding tranquilizer.

And as far as contemplating an activity, if your heart is in it, you can see yourself doing it.  There are no blocks on the way, no part of you which will throw stumbling blocks in the way.  You can reach areas of objective difficulty, and visualize yourself finding ways to push through.

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