Tag Archives: reflection

Welcome 2017

2016年も毎年と変わらず、熟考するためにネタで溢れています。
人間として成長も失敗もあって、良い年だったと思います。

160519_henrofp16_006

自分の道の方向と検問所があって、昔からその道のブレがなくて甘んじる。

親でいるということは最初に心配したよりは楽だと思いました。
(子供が反抗するようになると変わる可能性は十分高いと思いますが・・・)
親になる前に覚悟ができていたし、更にそれなりに自分の存在意識があります。
時間、お金、心も含めて、妥協や優先を変えているつもりです。

子供と妻に感謝しています。子供のおかげで自分の事を深刻に考えすぎないように学んでいます。
妻のおかげで本当の愛の意味を習っています。家族全員今年いっぱい健康でとても幸運でした。

音楽家やアーティストとしての夢はまだあり、技能や表現力を高めています。
今年はその点においては大規模な作品を作ることはできず少し後悔が残りますが、
現在落ち着いている生活があるので、行動すべき時はまさに今です。

反省と自己分析は毎日こまめに続けています。自分の事をよく知ることは世界で成功するとコツだと信じています。
その反省と分析は苦労に伴って付いてくるので、シビアな状態で挑戦し続けることは重要な修行だと思います。

濃縮された苦労はお遍路の道で逢いやすいです。今年はまた長期休暇を取ることができ、ついに四国八十八箇所の旅を一周歩き終えました。
以前に歩いた分もあり、過去最速のピッチで進めたので、愛媛県の途中から香川を過ぎて、
鳴門市の第1番札所まで無事に戻れました。十日間連続テント無しで野宿をして、休まずに
最後まで歩きました。(シビアとは言っても、実は貧しい方の生活と比べたら全然難しくないのです。)

歓喜も苦痛もあります。自分の欠点を明らかに認めざるを得ない。
瞑想しても、怒らないように自分を説得しても、いつかまた自分の弱さから怒ってしまいます。

主目的は歩くことです。
それを満たすため、日常の副次的目的もあります。(水、食、睡眠)
正直にその三つの副次的目標の最適化の魅惑はお遍路をするために十分価値があります。
毎日の疼痛と疲れとの戦いは楽しすぎて(私はM?)、この神聖な訓練をその様に
扱うことに罪悪感があります。まさに、罪悪感は歩きながらの思案する主題です。
祈り、敬けん、冒険、渇望、自我、こういう議題を自分自身と終日討論していました。

最後に第1番札所に戻った時は、多少の不安と懸念を感じました。ここまで歩いてきたことを振り返り、
目に涙が溜まりました。言葉では言い表せない気持ちでした。窶れた感じでベンチに座り、遠くを見つめていました。
その時にお坊さんが現れ、静かに隣に腰を下ろして、私と同じように先を見つめてから話かけてくれました。
感動しすぎて、そこで話した内容は一生忘れることができません。

お遍路は短いスパンに人生の喜びと悲しみを圧縮したものです。
お遍路の道に私は本当に生きていると感じます。偉大な恩恵です。
道に学んだことを今年も実践していきたいです。

まだまだ未熟で自己中心な私ですが今年も宜しくお願いします。

Siddhartha

Perhaps that you’re searching far too much? That in all that searching, you don’t find the time for finding?

I read Hesse’s Siddhartha this week. It was a good parable, and full of much thought to give me insight.

There are lessons on philosophy, on the meaning of knowledge and wisdom, as well as parallels to my own life and feeling of obligation, the suffering of love. Many things to reflect on…

One thing I’ve been thinking about is reducing anxiety by training myself on the irrationality of anxiety. For example, from the perspective of loving things. If I stop to wonder if I’ve misplaced something, I remember that I either have it, or I don’t; hurrying to check doesn’t change the fact that I’ve lost it or not. There is much human life in Tokyo, so many infrastructures and pieces in motion. When meditating many things to process, to take note of, filter and appreciate.

Hubris

I spend a lot of time reflecting on my reasons for loving Japan, perhaps too much time. Now that I think about it, there is a lot of logic in just accepting it and moving on, perhaps there are a lot more productive things I could be thinking about. Buddhism teaches to accept one’s nature. Fighting against that which is natural only leads to suffering. Humans are imperfect. We do get angry and irritated. I was talking with another henro about this earlier in the week. When climbing a mountain, it is tiring. The heat, weight of the pack, pain in the feet, all these things can be irritating. it is not useful to feel guilt for being irritated. What is useful is to accept the irritation and try to be positive. Japan is appealing for a large variety of reasons. But I am not Japanese, no matter how long I live here. I feel insecure that my attempts to integrate to Japanese society are superficial or poorly executed. There are certain other foreigners who I look at with disdain for their awkwardness and inauthenticity. Probably because I worry that is how I myself appear.

But I love Japan. I love the constant flow of people around the train stations, the chalky concrete texture on every wall and pathway. The clicking of bicycle transmissions disengaged under dusky baskets full of groceries in polyurethane bags. The sounds lilting from the cracked windows between tightly packed houses. Piano lessons and braking dogs, filling bathtubs and balcony washing machines. A thousand smells wafting on the breeze, soy sauce and cooking wines, fish and mountain potatoes. How an intricate latticework of shadows from the web of power lines, telephone cables and shopping street banners suspended overhead.

But this is not my private banana republic, no matter how much I pretend it were. There are many foreigners living in Japan and many of them are likely as enamored with being here as I am. That duality is something I have to come to terms with. It’s fine that Japan is such a big part of my identity, just as it is for others. I am special and unique, but not entitled to pride or special treatment as such.

Lots of pieces in motion

A gentle rain has been falling since this afternoon, the water carried on a chill breeze. There is a tension in the mind and the muscles of expectation. I do another set of reps on the dumbbells and watch the news. Items for my base pack are catalogued, weighed, and sorted. I run another estimate of how many calories I’ll lose every thirty kilometer day on the trail, and eat another rice ball. The anticipation runs high, but drown it in busy work. Ohenro is always like this. There is so much more than just the formidable physical challenges. Obligation, performance, the family I leave behind, and the mental fortitude I lust after.

I lay down on the straw mats in my room and run through another set of ball pass crunches.

A jet plane roars in the distance and I watch the stratus clouds drifting east. In learning a third language I’ve lost eloquence and diction in all three, emphasizing my natural ability to retain and understand language, but not necessarily retain it for refined use. The rose bushes in the garden outside rustle, dismissing my thought.

The agitated soul uses words curtly and with frequency. The contemplative one additively and at a modicum. Already my mind is aligning blissfully in the direction of harmony. I’ve found a new topic to debate: whether it is better to leverage the energy of my restlessness, or seek to excavate it in hopes of exposing the rich veins of strength below.

I start a set of push-ups before continuing with You Are Here.

Changes

By this time in my life I have ceased to be very surprised by the big changes, perhaps because I felt all of them were cast by my own hand. I have wrapped myself in drama and romance for so long they are as natural to me as the autumn breeze or falling rain. Part of me is constantly examining the motivation for my choice and reflecting on what that means for my character. The other part is comfortable and grateful for the freedom of my choices and thus it makes every moment sweet and luscious.

To bask in the romance of my wandering likely defiles so much of the purity that is to follow the trail. Nonetheless, the time is spent in such deep introspection that I believe it is in fact quite beneficial for my growth as a person.

Each day is a gift of the infinite wonder; the journeying between the temples gives ample opportunity to practice gratitude. The austerities I place om myself, though decadent compared to the practice of clergy or the impoverished, is a large step away from the superficial nonsense sold by the integrated world. I keep small comforts in books and occasionally music, but for the vast majority of my indulgences are produced and consumed only the mind. Opportunities for contribution are rare, but respect for the environment and my prayers during meditation are a start.

The road is often empty, at times I walk days without talking to another human being. Yet I am not alone, humanity is omnipresent. The actions of others are what make my journey possible, even the mountain trail is passable due to the efforts from 1200 years of seekers before me. I cannot take a single step without some sort of blessing. The taste of the wind, the moisture on my back: every second a lifetime of stimulants wash over me, blessing the heart with a myriad of phenomena to examine.

I used to wonder if others could feel and appreciate exactly as I do, but less and less do I think it matters.

On zen

Today I will talk about zen. Zen is the road to enlightenment through the field of simplicity, a field that is so straight and far it disappears beyond the horizon, flawless in its truth and perfection, for not a single details stands out to catch the eye.

I do not pretend to know the thoughts and feelings of other men, but having studied them for decades I know my own. I have seen them sprout and grow, shooting off in a dozen directions, intertwining and thickening as much as they have bent in the wind like a narrow thrush. As time flows on my heart has grown stronger, gaining breadth from experience and depth from the graduation of pain.

I would hope to be a writer, for it is another channel from which my expression flows. Writing is like any other form of expression, noble in intention and clumsy at first, but with much study, thought, and practice, it can be sharpened to fell a tree like the mightiest of blades. There can be grace in its movement, and sweet life flowing through its veins. I have looked at many art forms and by no means a master, found enough skill and aplomb to satisfy myself in its application. There is nothing to be gained by waiting to express oneself. If heart is not put into practice, there will be no meaningful development.

Every moment where I allow myself to be, I have nothing but yearning to nurture the fire in my soul. It must be given fuel, and so I read, listen, and watch. It must also have air and freedom of movement, so I walk. Finally, it must have silence and emptiness, for the burning exists only between the moments when there is none. So lastly I give myself the joy of nothing, perhaps the most important celebration of all.

Breath drawn is a miracle. Though it means nothing to the void it means everything to me, and as I exist in my own reality, it is the only way I can be. The one way, the way of everything and of nothing.

Motivations

Almost a year has passed since I last wrote thinking of the trail. This year for various reasons I could not go back to Japan in the spring, and it seems I won’t have another chance for some time.

I started on the trail because I wanted to find something, to discover what was important to me, the thing that would lead me to the next step. In that respect I found what I was looking for and succeeded without finishing the journey. However after that first leg I found the road calling back to me, and a number of justifications to continue. Being on that road is something that speaks to me, and feels like an essential need I must answer. In that sense it is a very selfish wish, and far from the intentional of the pilgrimage. Knowing how much the romantic thrill of the journey lays in my motivation is slightly discouraging and taints the experience, but on the other hand that sort of worldly desire leading to suffering is at the heart of Buddhist teaching and somewhat consoling.

I think the essence of this lesson is to not pine for the man that I was, but to instead celebrate the man that I am.

Penthouse

I sit in my dark office, a room alone in the the massive penthouse apartment. Legs up on the table I notice the tautness of my back and the looseness of my shirt as rain drops slowly crackle on the skylight above me. Minimal, ambient synthesizers waft out of monitor speakers, as my cat sits sleepily next to me on a pile of moving boxes. I’ve been thinking a lot, having hit so many checkpoints in my life this year, wondering of how satisfied they make me, and comparing them with the past. Sifting through memories of scents and sensations, views of hidden bays spied from remote mountains, and nights laid in shrine gardens staring up at maple trees. Are experiences’ worth measured for their immediate value, or the aftertaste that carries through a lifetime? How much of the import I place on these things comes from the decay of detail, and the crumbling of a slowly filling memory?

Memories worth preserving

As the unending tide of neuron connections increase, it becomes harder and harder to focus and recall any one particular moment, in particular the small details that make up so much of a person. The thatched, textured wallpaper that covers so many Japanese apartments, replaced by unseen workers with every tenant change, and how I drew my fingers over it lying in any number of low, mattress-centered beds on a myriad of listless Sundays. The shadows that called out to a floating younger self, not caring to understand the voices that would later form the suite of my invisible critics, the forces that would get me hooked on the drugs of easily accessible information and small, internal rewards for completing mundane tasks. The myself which at the time seemed natural and now so primitive, but in retrospect is inevitably envied, the root of some fundamental wound which stiffens the mental joints only more with age. I wonder now if remembering those soundless formative experiences is a hindrance or a boon. If anything the uncertainty of which direction leads to peace is the only constant between that man and another ten years on.

命の道

先日愛媛県に入ってきました。夜がまだ寒くて、基本的に0時半以降は寝られないから早めに寝ます。毎朝三時半に寝袋から出て、まだ暗い状態で歩き始めます。毎日雑念山ほどを考えます。不便なことや辛いことを怒らずに意識を高めるか、我慢力を高めるように頑張ります。自然に考えると、殆どは苦労か落込みで、たまに幸せを得る感じです。でもそれは人生と似たようなことと思う。しかし、一つずつの経験から視点を変えば、感謝することをいっぱい見つかれます。それも、人生と似たようなことと思います。もしかしてお遍路は命の道の圧縮した例えだけです。そういう風に考えたら、見限の価値があるの二週間です。引き続き心を磨く様に頑張ります。

The ebb and flow of strength

As fortune would have it, I have been able to come back to the idyllic surfer beach of Ooki on my way to temple 39. Today being Sunday, surfers fill the tides providing ample spectacle to observe. I feel physically tired but hopeful. The last week has been taxing on my feet, and I haven’t slept on something softer than concrete since leaving Tokyo ten days ago.

On the contrary, my spirit has been buoyed by a number of supportive villagers along the trail. Only at my most tired have I begun to grumble and doubt my choices. Being this disconnected from my normal oversaturation of media has given me a lot of pause. My behaviors range from silly to solemn. Though I can’t say that I have come to any conclusions yet, I think I am gravitating towards some. I thought my priority was to try and find some resolution about my obsessive compulsion to produce artifacts and refine my skills, but it seems I have been skirting the issue and examining my subtle prejudices instead. This of course is also quite worthwhile and I am letting my mind wander for the most part.

I love the ocean so. It will pain me to leave it behind again. Knowing in Sweden I cannot hop on a morning train and spend a blissful summer day at the shore makes me feel trapped somehow, locked away.

Return to Kochi

Nine months after leaving my love, I am back on the beaches of Kochi, my heart suspended somewhere between the gentle crash of the waves and the setting sun. Being here feels so right, I am happy anywhere in nature but it is the murmur of the sea that truly resonates with me. Maybe this is the answer I need, the last romantic adventure to bring me peace. To be with the sea, among the waves, dappled by the sun, arms outstretched to welcome the oneness that I can only find here.

On the road to quality

Times away from focused work are dry enough that they can soak up the mood you put yourself in. This is easily accomplished with music, or reading. I think there needs to be a balance in what we consume mentally. Maybe consumption isn’t the right word. I’ve been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again and it’s coloring my thought. All evaluations of actions and matter is divided into the subjective and objective, the romantic and classic, as Pirsig would say.

I’ve had an opportunity to look at my artistic expression, and that of others, in that dual-pronged way which leads to the evaluation of its quality. Lots of thinking, not much sorted resolution yet. I don’t know how exacting I should be in coming to those kinds of analytic conclusions. “Elliot (Irwin) succeeds in a presentation of society from a whimsical and satirical point of view, but fails to deliver a message of any significant worth.” There’s the word, “worth”, which is indicative of quality. A subjective evaluation of the work is of course going to provide varying results, the opposite would lead to a very cold and rational metric for art, and eliminate all individuality in the field.

So picking apart my feelings and actions is the idle pastime I enjoy while travelling. Whether it produces any long term growth of character I’m not sure, for as I mentioned it all ends rather fuzzy and vague, unrecorded with no notes or deliverables, or checklist for evaluating actionable items after the fact. Yes, we agree to endeavour to do better, to be more sensitive and aware of our actions. But perhaps these distilled spiritual doctrines are exactly what add to the mounting neuroses which impedes my happiness.

Daydream

Inside the balance of the lines between fealty and friendship, a warm region of trust and dedication lies.  Aside from the sabre rattling of corporate states and the unbridled impulsiveness of youth I seek to stake my claim.  The spirit of building something bold and pure beckons to the heart of every dreamer given his own freedom to reign, and I seek to plant ambition at the heart of it. 

At what point will these dreams fall empty on the ears of man I grow?  If I balance idealism with prudence can the ideal take wing like the eagle on high?  The young man of his thirties still wants to believe so.

Sea

What is the sea but a myriad of deep significance that brings life to the creatures of the earth.  The sea is a place blissful in its simplicity, one that remains an escape for tortured souls yearning for the emptiness that is fullness, so different from the fullness of society which is increasingly empty. In my youth the sea was a place for recreation, celebrating, and gathering.  Alcohol, music, sand castles and football.  I would take several days each year to escape the churning torment of my work life, running to Enoshima on weekdays with a six-pack of beer, my iPod and a chip on my shoulder of unresolved dreams.

As I grew older the sense of delusion became readily apparent; in time with increased responsibility and I made fewer such trips.  My love of the ocean became distanced and nostalgic, so much that I built my first solo exhibition on the faded terminus of the Odakyu line. 

Travelling through Shikoku on my pilgrimage my affair with the sea was rekindled and exceedingly more private, this time an empty expanse of peace in a sparsely populated backwater.  A place for meditation, exercise of the heart, and answers, the sea gave me ample opportunity to purge all of the mental tethers I lashed upon myself in the city.  Here is the kind of refuge I can forge a stronger core from.  If only I can heed the wisdom I know to be true.