Buddhism, education, Henry Miller, James Joyce, poetry, spirituality, The New Age, Ulysses, yoga, Zen
Reply to an email received the other day:
A very very quiet morning to you,
The sound of an old style electric clock ticking behind me and the howling, moaning wind outside the window. The darkness is ever so slowly being dispelled by the advent of morn.
It’s been a busy month. Settling in, hosting old friends from way back in the past, landing a job and putting the old Mobile Mountain Hermit’s Hut up for sale. No need for it anymore as I’ve moved into my Stationary Mountain Hermit’s Hut.
Finished my latest four days work yesterday and now gazing out over the prospect of four days off and to myself. Took my customary afternoon hike yesterday then ate at a local diner I enjoy before finishing up with a couple beers at a pub. Home I asked Siri to put on some light Classical Music, made myself a cup of mint tea, and finished the day’s reading in blessed solitude.
This morning I woke up and opened a book lying at my bedside. This is what I read:
“Then why do you continue? [writing] one may well ask. The answer is simple. I write now because I enjoy it; it gives me pleasure. I’m an addict, a happy addict. I no longer have any illusions about the importance of words. Lao-Tzu put all his wisdom into a few indestructible pages. Jesus never wrote a line. As for the Buddha, he is remembered for the wordless sermon he gave while holding a flower for his listeners to regard (or hear.) Words, like other waste matter, eventually drift down the drain. Acts live on. The Acts of the Apostles, bien entendu, not the beehive activity which today passes for action.”
Then a paragraph later:
“No doubt some of the foregoing observations are highly unpalatable, particularly to those benighted souls who long to set the world on fire. Do they not realize, I wonder, that the world has ever been on fire, and always will be? Aren’t they aware that the Hell we are living in is more real than the one to come—if one deals in that nonsense? They should at least take a little pride in the fact that they too have contributed to the making of this Hell. Life on earth will always be a Hell; the antidote is not a hereafter called Heaven but a new life here below—“the new heaven and the new earth”—born of the complete acceptance of life.”
Ahh, there it is, “born of the complete acceptance of life.”
Those are the words of Henry Miller, from a group of writings titled Stand Still Like The Hummingbird. Miller often enough gets a bad rap, especially in these politically correct days. But people seldom get beyond the bilious—and hilariously entertaining I might add—early books, books where he was exorcizing the demons of his upbringing, books where he was undergoing his ‘Rosy Crucifixion.’ Books I have likened to Joyce’s Ulysses in that they are the shedding of our modern day self-destructive (both personal and collective) shackles in efforts to break free… into untrammelled individuality, which paradoxically links us back with all creation! Wow, that was a bit of a mouthful.
I love the enthusiasm of your letter and wish you nothing but continued flow, growth and unfolding. All of history is lying at our feet and it is up to us to pick through and discover what is nourishing and nutritious to our bodies and souls. But above all NO SYSTEMS! Only Life! Outwardly that kind of exuberant Life learning growth appears desultory and unfocused to those who have succumbed to the easy way, the path of ready made one size fits all education. They fear its apparent lack of purpose, meaning purpose in the sense of what our society and civilization has foisted upon us. But then where has that sort of purpose gotten us? And worse still, where is it taking us? That is the Hell Miller refers to in the above passages.
Day has dawned and the wind still howls. The mountains form a wind tunnel where I live. Clouds to the east are splashed with gold while the risen sun still hides behind a low range of wooded hills. The two small oak trees which partially shelter my house from the worst of the northwest wind have been stripped of their leaves.
This is my little corner of new earth, new heaven.
Born, as Miller puts it, of the complete acceptance of Life.