Imaginary Life

Shenyen radio

radioshenyen, sept 2009, devon and london

“In the mist, snow fell for nine days and nights.
Then more and more for a further eighteen nights and days.
The snow fell, big as bags of wool,
fell like birds flying in the sky,
fell like a whirling swarm of bees.
Flakes fell small as a spindle’s wheel,
fell as tiny as bean weed,
fell like tufts of cotton.

The snowfall was beyond all measure.
Snow covered all the mountain and even touched the sky,
falling through the bushes and weighing down the trees.
Black mountains became white,
all the lakes were frozen.
Clear water congealed beneath the rocks;
the world became a flat, white plain;
hills and valleys were leveled…”
– from ‘the hundred thousand songs of milarepa’

“she would not cross a road or a rail line in daylight. she would not cross under a wire fence twice in the same place. these were the new protocols.”
– cormac mccarthy, “the crossing”

full moon night. i’m staying in a shed, reading descriptions of eleventh century snowstorms like it was today’s news, wrapping myself in milarepa’s childlike sense of safety, a safety i need now at this point in my life. and a safety i will find, for sure. when you read properly, with the self held in abeyance, the written things that trigger love in you become memories, and when memory comes out of love (the love of another’s world, another’s words) rather than experience you understand a little more clearly the nature of the emptiness of all phenomena and the unity of emptiness and compassion, openness and otherness. so i read often, and everything: i read, too, cormac mccarthy’s howl of a book, a book that destroys false faith, a book that uses wolves and bandits and blindness and quiet mexican doctors the way nagarjuna uses madhyamaka logic.

i’ve just arrived in london, for some teachings and a whole lot more. i should be able to write a few times, i feel, as i pass through. but i’m on my way out of here. suddenly a voice beside me said stop. those well-dressed people from the invisible world. i’m physically exhausted but mentally at peace after another three months of wandering and i’m on my way out of here, walking in one last snowstorm, surrounded by books and telephone calls and subway stations, heading towards some hut in sri lanka, some world, and the feeling of someone’s hand on my shoulder, just the lightest of touches – otherworldly, you might say – telling me to just let it all go. memory and love. surrounded by friends and strangers and arcs of silence. but on my way.

“…the truth may often be carried about by those who themselves remain all unaware of it. they bear that which has weight and substance and yet for them has no name whereby it may be evoked or called forth. they go about ignorant of the true nature of their condition, such are the wiles of truth and such its strategems. then one day in that casual gesture, that subtle movement of divestiture, they wreak all unknown upon some ancillary soul a havoc such that that soul is forever changed, forever wrenched about in the road it was intended upon and set instead upon a road heretofore unknown to it. this new man will hardly know the hour of his turning nor the source of it. he will himself have done nothing that such great good befall him. yet he will have the very thing, you see. unsought for and undeserved. he will have in his possession that elusive freedom which men seek with such unending desperation.”
– cormac mccarthy “the crossing”

again, soon

shenyen

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