Sunday, June 30, 2013

Amanda Palmer, on The Quietus

Also, Palmer on the letters of Korean Zen master, Seung Sahn:

When people come to me in times of real trouble, and sometimes they do, there's a couple of books I recommend as a way to feel grounded. One of them is a book by a Korean Zen Buddhist named Seung Sahn. It's a series of letters between him and his students. I read that book. Anthony gave me that book when I was about 23, and I took it on a trip to Australia, where I was going to street performances and try to make some money on the Adelaide street fringe. It's a long story, way too long for your article. But when I was in Australia I got accidentally arrested. I had just been reading that book that morning and the previous day. In the morning of sitting and talking to a bunch of Australian police, I really had the experience of watching my own mind battle myself and want to defend myself and get angry and revert to my old patterns of behavior. And instead I just calmly sat there explaining what had happened and feeling the power in non-reactivity and the power of not getting angry and the power of realising that these guys were just doing their jobs. And that was one of those life-changing moments. I've probably bought that book a dozen times and gifted it to people who were in need. I don't give them [a copy of] How To Understand The Music Business; I give them the Seung Sahn letters.

He also wrote this book, The Compass Of Zen. I wouldn't recommend starting with The Compass Of Zen. I would recommend starting with the letters. Because you have totally normal people dealing with totally normal problems. "I don't know what to do with my life. My parents don't fucking understand me. I keep being distracted." These are kids in the sixties and seventies. The problems are all the same. It takes no intellectual stretch to read these letters that these kids wrote to their Zen teacher, or a teacher they saw at a talk. And he writes back these beautiful, considered, really great, no-bullshit answers about what's important. He actually influenced my correspondence style. I read those books often, and I notice when my writing style tries to mimic it. I start speaking in these short, terse sentences as if I were a Korean monk who didn't speak great English.

QUOTE | Boldly Do Things Which You May Previously Never Thought of Doing

“I'd like to repeat the advice that I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

If you want to get more out of life, Ron, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty. And so, Ron, in short, get out of Salton City and hit the Road. I guarantee you will be very glad you did. But I fear that you will ignore my advice. You think that I am stubborn, but you are even more stubborn than me. You had a wonderful chance on your drive back to see one of the greatest sights on earth, the Grand Canyon, something every American should see at least once in his life. But for some reason incomprehensible to me you wanted nothing but to bolt for home as quickly as possible, right back to the same situation which you see day after day after day. I fear you will follow this same inclination in the future and thus fail to discover all the wonderful things that God has placed around us to discover.

Don't settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, Ron, and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience.

You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living.

My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances.”

― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

QUOTE | When we lose one blessing

"When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place." - C.S. Lewis

Sunday, June 09, 2013

POETRY | Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.