Sorry everyone for the recent disappearance of my comments writing field. I haven’t a clue what has caused this and I’ve been going through all my plugins and administrative hoochie-koochie trying to figure it out. A real waste of a perfectly good weekend.
To top it off I seem to have attracted the unrelenting attention of some hideous trackback spammer who has every day been sending hundreds of spam to my site. I’ve tried everything to stop the bastard, including turning on being logged in to comment, but I can’t shake him. And last night, by chance, I discovered that the bathybius has seen fit a few weeks ago to hack into my account and create an unauthorized folder with spam links there. Aaaaarrrrggghhhh! I’d like to….!
Give me a few days to figure this out. I’ve been sitting here half the day and I really need to get outside for some fresh air.
Phew! Got the comments worked out. Seemed like I installed a certain plugin a little while ago that set my front page to a static page. That’s part of what I want to develop in the site, but not with the set up I have now. It should be working now.
After watching what has happened when Hurricane Katrina hit the United States, it is disconcerting to learn that the huge approaching Typhoon No. 14 is bigger and stronger than Katrina. We’ll find out in the next two days what the typhoon will bring. Already, two days before the typhoon the vanguard clouds dropped torrential rains that flooded many areas of Tokyo. The annual increasing strength and size of typhoons and flooding are probably early signs of what we can all expect in the years to come.
I’m sorry I’ve been off the blog for so much time. For a while there my computer was completely down as my main hard drive decided to give up the ghost. Luckily all my data is backed up. I had “fun” for about a week learning how to install a hard drive, reinstalling all the software, and rearranging the desktop system so that it would work with my working style.
I’ve also been outside a lot, getting myself in shape, and spending time with people face-to-face. I’ve even started writing hand-written letters again. It all feels so analog. I don’t expect to give up the blog, and I hope to start up writing regularly again, but I also want to be careful with how much time I’m at the computer. I just don’t want to let the experience of the real world slip by; there is too much to see and experience!
I’ve been finding it difficult to charge myself up to write in the blog lately. Even viewing other blogs has been difficult. More and more I’ve been getting the feeling that the unreality of the computer screen and the ethereal voices of people I almost never see, let alone share more than fleeting words with, seems uncannily like what happens to you when you end up pacing your living room, mumbling to yourself. I keep staring out of the window and watching the wind stir the trees, each touching the other, a completion of purpose and presence. The blog world and the whole internet phenomenon comes across more as intention than as act. And lately I’ve been feeling more of a powerful need to interact.
Reading David James Duncan’s My Story As Told By Water shook awake a lot of slumbering convictions that living in the city, away from the opera of live things that make up natural biomes, has of necessity switched off. There is so much to take in and ponder in Duncan’s words that it is difficult to summarize the story that is speaking itself into my daily thoughts lately.
In my last post I spoke of rediscovering the rhapsody that wrapped my world when I was younger. I wondered how to go about doing so without losing sight of what the outcome was meant to grow into. Just stepping outside and expecting the elements of the outdoors to immediately imbibe meaning into my soul ignored all the causes of my initial retreat, like the over prevalence of human settlements and people, the destruction of live things and habitats that I love, the apathy, even despite, of people toward the very world that keeps them alive. Looking out my window I recognized that I could view everything I see out there as simply items in a scene, items to be bought and sold, cut without regard for the gifts of life they might carry, and thus lose the very essence of human imagination and the explanation for our own existence in this world.
Or I could relearn to imbue meaning in all that I see.
Duncan discusses ways in which we can find effectiveness in our desire to protect the natural world. He points out that our modern world has neutered the ages old inclination to view the world through spiritual vocabulary, instead giving complete legitimacy to the concept of commodity and ownership. By seeing the whole world in such a narrow and selfish light we effectively starve the kernel of consciousness and dialogue that watches from within each of our shells, a consciousness that speaks in constant dialogue with the surrounding world we live in, and, by use of our imaginations, allows us to create an identity that either expands or limits our understanding and sense of meaning within the physical world.
I would go on to say that much of the western world’s loss of spiritual connection to the natural world, often spoken of as the western world’s “duality”, stems in great part from the Judeo-Christian-Moslem insistence upon a separate, disembodied entity that rules the world. I wonder if it is this displacement of our imaginations and intimate identifying with our surrounding world, by shunting the whole personality of the natural world onto some abstract construct called “God”, thus disembodying the spiritual richness of the world around us, that allows us to view other living creatures, including ourselves, as mere shells without inner resources or value.
I believe what this has done is relieved us of responsibility for the world, that destroying everything can now be regarded as simply a rearrangement of blocks. With “God” up in the heavens now, out of reach and thus free from our sense of guilt, wanton destruction and irresponsibility could be engaged in without remorse or culpability. It may also explain why so much of the world’s worst wars so often take place in monotheist cultures, and why so many cultures that seemed more or less stable with their earlier polytheist outlook now face complete meltdown with the introduction of western values. So much of Japan’s destruction of its natural beauty occurred as the Japanese reverence for its anima (kami), with its belief in or respect for the deities that populate every single aspect of the Japanese world, gradually eroded in favor of a culture dominated by materialistic acquisition. The evidence is physically visible. The few places where the deities are still influential enough to command respect, such as in shrines or locations recognized as holy to bodhisattvas, old trees and biologically diverse habitats often remain intact, often right in the middle of densely populated, biologically dead locales.
So I’ve been taking my experiment a step further: learning how to bring home the gods. People talk of seeking something to believe in, and yet the answers are all there, all around us. The Earth is right at our fingertips. It is important to return again and again to our ur-cosmology, being able to fundamentally comprehend the Earth as HOLY, to remember where religion first stemmed from and why we carry a need to instill the holy in our lives. The Earth is holy. Sacred. All of it. Every single thing we see and cannot see. All the live things. All of the less living things. All of our brothers and sisters. Gods, in all of us, in all things.
To rediscover this sense of connection with the world is easier than one might imagine. You can do it anywhere, any time. Just open your eyes, look around you, and try to feel what is around you. If you open up your heart and allow what you might normally think of as “inanimate” (notice the insistence of not having spirit that our language has instilled in us… a vocabulary that does not exist in most Asian languages) to generate a kind of presence, strangely it immediately comes alive and occupies a undeniable place in your sense of the whole. If you take a step further and inject the idea of a deity into that object, suddenly it is more than just an item; it is alive, and has a name. The more “items” you inject with spirit the richer the world around you grows, and the more imbued with meaning it all grows into. The world suddenly blossoms with presences, with a great richness of meaning in which you no longer feel alone… as Duncan calls “the sphere of eyes”.
Imagine what the world must have seemed like to those first people who have always lived within a country of spirits great and small. No matter where the eye alighted all was holy and sacred. And humans could move within this sphere confident of their own value within the cosmos. What a wonderful LIVING world it must have been! And yet there is no reason we cannot see the world the same way.
And this is what the early monotheistic leaders must have feared and why they insisted on destroying the “idols”. You cannot take control if your spiritual construct has no authority over people’s imaginations.
Last Sunday I stepped out into the monsoon rain and walked the slopes of Mt. Jinba in the pouring rain. Not another human soul in sight, the trails sluicing with mud, and the rain clouds obscuring any views of the surrounding forests. But I didn’t feel alone. As long as I kept myself warm and well-fed, I walked the solitary paths with a sense of walking with other beings. It was the beginning of reawakening to the real world.
For three days my internet connection was down and it was like a bag had been thrown over my head. I couldn’t do my design work, or communicate with my family and friends far away, or open the browser and lose myself in the blogging for a while. It is somewhat frightening just how dependent upon the computer and the internet I’ve become.
The interesting side effect is that, because of blogging, and some of the recent discussions that have been swirling around me and neighbor blogs, my mind went into “topic overload” as more and more ideas shuttled into the waiting list and ideas began to crowd each other out. It got so that, while browsing an outdoor store this afternoon (in between a morning at the hospital and an afternoon hunting for a bit disk and information on routers at the computer store), I started stopping every other step to scribble down whatever mess of words passed between my ears. This is the state of creative anarchy that I’ve longed to stimulate daily in my drive to become a writer and blogging is the medium that has awakened it.
I came to the conclusion today that blogging is truly something new. It isn’t writing as in a magazine or book, which remain more or less static and set their feet down upon a solid surface, but more a fluid flow of words, one step complemented by the next. It survives and thrives on the interaction between participants; without the interaction a blog goes still and exists only in an imagined reality. The best blogs are ones where the writer and the readership grow together and get to know one another, a state of affairs that writers of books and magazines have until now only dreamed of.
A blog is like a dialog, and come as varied as there are people who write them. Those who have not involved themselves in them much might conclude from the name “weblog” that they are online diaries, and perhaps many new bloggers use them as such, but with more experience and exposure the blogs somehow change, and a community is born for each blog. Just like writers a following develops, too, and people return again and again for the continuation of the story.
Today it became clear just how much stories run through the fabric of our daily trains of thought. We are story animals. And if there is anything truly worthwhile about the internet it is the return of the round-the-fire oral tradition, albeit in written form.
Was supposed to get out of Tokyo and spend two days camping on Kumotori-yama (Mount Cloud Catcher)… actually not really outside Tokyo, since Greater Tokyo’s tentacles’ farthest reach extends to the top of the moutain… but just as I was about to go to bed last night my computer (a Mac, OS X) had a major crash, the first time with OS X. Since I haven’t a clue about how terminal windows and Unix commands work, it took me the entire night to franticaly page through my reference books and online information before I finally figured it out. The final verdict was a tiny little problem with a corrupted graphics file… something I could have fixed in 5 minutes if I had known how.
Strange how the computer has taken over so much of my life. And to think I used to hate computers, for this very reason! I should be out there, walking and pausing, listening to the wind, not the whirr of the cooling fan. Computers seem to have made life much more complicated, with their finicky need for constant attention and upkeep. Weren’t they supposed to free us of all the drudgery?
Anyway, I’ve still got one more day to relax and get outside. Tomorrow I’m heading for Oku-Chichibu, There are clouds, but it’s warm. Spring has come.