The Artist’s Way

It took me a long while to get to it. I first looked at a friend’s copy years ago. He recommended it highly, though he hadn’t done the program, just dabbled in it. Same as a lot of other people i talked to over the next few years — people who owned the book, intended (some day) to follow through its 12 weeks, but hadn’t — yet.

I’ve been a blocked, underproducing artist for some years now, sinking slowly into frustration, bitterness and a general rut. My artistic life consisted of mostly attempts to finish up things begun months or years ago, a backlog of seemingly good ideas that i couldn’t let go of and really should finish up so i could move on to the new stuff. It wasn’t crippling — i have managed to throw together a quite a few good poems and pieces — but there’s no doubt the energy and the fun was draining out of my writing, and out of life too. Continue reading

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Sat Chit Ananda

Well. The more i mess about in this new-age consciousness business, the more i think that everybody is saying exactly the same things. It can’t be described directly, of course — that’s the catch-22 of the whole game — so it must be illustrated obliquely, through yogic posture or Buddhist ritual or, most often, linguistic metaphor.

I’m convinced that two-thirds of the struggle (once one gets to the point of beginning to struggle, which is a whole epic in itself) is simply to find the metaphors that resonate most strongly with you. Some people — “seekers” — go through their whole lives from guru to guru, method to method. A lot of this is egoic procrastination — the threatened self not truly wanting to find the simple secret that will mean its dissolution — but much of it, i’m convinced, is metaphor search. 

For me, the rational, scientific argument works best. For me, yoga is just good exercise; meditation is simply ritual; far-flung foreign monasteries are but theme travel. Yet give me a good, hard-nosed, evidence-based logical argument for the empty mind and the universal self and i’ll eat it up every time. 

That’s how 1950s-60s British-American scholar and “religious entertainer” (his description) Alan Watts first kick-started me down this path, lo, those three (four? six?) long years ago. I listened, i was entertained, there were no cross-cultural references that i didn’t get … it just straight-up made sense. Eckhart Tolle was another one, speaking and writing from right here in B.C. I didn’t get through The Power of Now, but his follow-up world-wide hit A New Earth just laid it all out like … well, for me, the meta-metaphor is mathematics: a chain of small logical (or at least sensible) steps that leads like a path of stepping-stones to a conclusion that feels right on every level.

Did i say “laid it all out”? I overstated. I’ve always had questions, gaps, holes and unbridgeable interregnums in my understanding of even the relatively simple logical argument. Besides, all these myriad approaches, every one of them, is just a recipe; none of them is a cake. No matter how good, how thorough, how compelling the recipes are, until you’ve made cake, you don’t get cake. So no, it hasn’t yet been all laid out, not for me. But it feels like i’m getting there.

In pursuit of which i’ve been browsing about like mad on this marvellous Internet, here in Victoria with lots of free time, and yesterday i happily stumbled on what might be the clearest, most concise wrap-up of the whole plate o’ spaghetti that i’ve yet run across (for me, as always). It was this The Evolution of Consciousness page, and in the space of maybe 3000 words it runs neatly down a long, long evolutionary timeline. The headings: 

  • Are All Creatures Conscious?
  • Consciousness and Biological Evolution
  • Language and Consciousness
  • Self-Consciousness
  • Transcending Language
  • Sat Chit Ananda
  • Our Evolutionary Imperative

The page is on Peter Russell’s website. I don’t know anything about the guy, but i plan to look into his sizeable site over the coming days.

Gangster enlightentainment

If you’re in the mood for a cross-genre mindbender some night, do get hold of British direct Guy Ritchie‘s uncategorizable 2005 flick Revolver. That is, if you’re also in the mood for graphic torture, editing that sometimes looks like it was done in a food processor, seriously twisted egomaniacs, mucho gun battles, and hearing yourself saying “Huh?“and “What the…?” a lot.

The double-entendre tagline is Your mind will not accept a game this big (it becomes a double-entendre after you’ve seen the flick), and the plot involves a con job so pervasive and subtle that even you, innocent reader, are implicated. Plus it’s got voice-over and i lo-o-ove voice-over — though this may be the first time voice-over turns into a plot device.

The film becomes completely impenetrable early on, but your perseverance may be rewarded. I thought it wrapped up neatly, if ham-fistedly, but methinks one either gets it in spades or not at all, depending on one’s metaphysical bent. Critics savaged it. Roger Ebert gave it a rare one-half star in a review that begins,

Guy Ritchie‘s ‘Revolver’ is a frothing mad film that thrashes against its very sprocket holes in an attempt to bash its brains out against the projector. It seems designed to punish the audience for buying tickets….

You’ll have to watch this one twice. But not, dear God, on the same night.

Kudos to Ritchie and his actors for artistic guts. His other films, better received, include Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Thanks to the inimitable Jonesie (wish there were still an active link) for telling me about it: Ego, riding the human experience for some purpose of its own, worried sick about losing its horse.