All of this internet activity creates a feeling of community, a feeling of actual connection, and therefore has within in it, if you are authentic, if you are true, real risk. But what is this risk?
Here is an Ikkyu quote:
Cover your path
With fallen pine needles
So no one will be able
To locate your
True dwelling place.
(Wild Ways, translation by John Stevens)
Where is “one’s true dwelling place”? I wasn’t initially thinking about my true dwelling place, but the dwelling place of ideas, inspiration, the mystic, the mysteries, where literature, poetry, art and music, (and science, philosophy, dance, mathematics ... etc.) all intersect. I was thinking I would write about what I was reading, or teaching, and therefore invite others along that path, like the now reviled Pound, pointing here and there, saying, read this!
Along those lines, Stephen Berg’s translation of Ikkyu (Crow with No Mouth), is my most beloved reading secret lately.
Ikkyu writes lines like this:
night after night after night stay up all night
nothing but your own night
this boat is and is not
when it sinks both disappear
you me when I think really think about it
are the same
The risk, it might be argued, according to psychology, is to the ego, who might want a voice that is not one of many, but singular, unique. In this time of so-many-voices-talking, how does one become heard? And what, really, is important to hear?
I think that accessing “one’s true dwelling place,” (before you can cover it with pine needles, you have to be there), is really what everyone wants to hear about. As a culture, on the surface, we might be more interested in gossip and power, money and fame, attention and accolades, than in true exploration, true personal and spiritual growth. But there seems to be a big cultural transformation in the undertow, just as in the 60’s the counter-culture brought in ideas of revolution and political transformation, there is a recent rise of guru’s, modern mystics, and self-help books that blend physics with intuition, and the idea that your consciousness can change those potential seven parallel universes with a mere thought.
I love this one (still Crow with No Mouth):
sick zen from the famous three you know who I mean
I can change your life with a mere look
A mere look. To really look at someone is to look from your dwelling place into theirs. To see someone, to change their life, you have to touch that dwelling place, talk to that place where their soul resides. That is what the best literature and art does -- it both takes you to your dwelling place and also gives you a dwelling place if you are in transition. This is my initial goal: to point out the less obvious dwelling places, for you to see if they speak to you, and how.