Wednesday, June 10, 2009

appreciation through acceptance

Bindings to materiality.
Stress rooted in superficial responsibility....

...for what?

To be and stay distracted from the most noble gift to oneself: appreciating the present moment.

The majority of energy is spent on preparation for the future. Unlike our other mammalian "family members" we have the luxury of not being in a constant state of preparation for future survival, i.e. storing food for the winter, building shelter ourselves in every season, etc. This is some of the fruits of agriculture, communal cooperation and the forces of various industries. This luxury of, well, luxury has spawned various forms of art, entertainment, invention, etc. All of this is out of what I believe to be an attempt to better the collective human situation. These contributions to the human collective are ways in which individuals try to enrich lives whether it is from a physically applied contribution, a cultural contribution, or a contribution for the end of convenience of existence. (It could be argued that some of the convenience aspect side of this idea have gone to far at the hands of capitalism, but we can save that for another branch of discussion.)
Although we have this luxury of time, I have noticed in various situations and location that we as a collective tend to get caught up in matters that do not in any positive way contribute to our own condition. The illusion that these concerns leads to a future goal rooted in benefit is so pervasive that our sensibilities are askew. (again this may come back to capitalism and the social conditioning that has resulted in its effectiveness).
We are all guilty to some degree of another of allowing these kinds of tendencies to interrupt genuine affinity for life. Philosophical, spiritual and natural affinities may be taken for granted, dismissed or met with indifference from the preference of superficiality and self interest to no known end. I try to remind myself when I am fortunate enough to notice that I have allowed my head-space to wander into such locations the following:

We are sitting on a rock, spinning around a fireball!!

What could be more humbling and amazing than that idea? If this rock were any closer or farther from "our" fireball, any life resembling our own notions of what life is would not be present let alone be able to survive. It could only benefit our condition to keep in mind a sustained appreciation for the over arching situation that we find ourselves in as we maintain our daily responsibilities.


  1. And to appreciate the fact that there are other situations where life can be maintained, but at a different level. Micro-organisms can grow on other celestial bodies, yet they have not gotten to a stage of evolution as seen on our planet (which is debatable). The amazing part to me is that their situations are just as delicate and awe-inspiring as our own. But that begs the question, are they so capable of destroying their so perfectly orchestrated balance as we are of our own? (Maybe this is a little off topic, but I consider it a tangent)

  2. Michael Chernoff10.6.09

    I think Joe the reason why humans tend not to focus this notion of rock fire as you call it is because that aspect of thinking does not fit with their view of their own universe. Pop culture reference to the universe is our solar system mixed into a mass of stars and planets growing constantly and is so large a it can never be totaly explored by one person. But people know this due to school science classes and the Discovery channel...

    ie they know but does it matter.

    Honestly my furthest definition of my universe would be the United States of America (which is not far from NY State just being it). I have never traveled outside the US and have crossed the nation to different states. Its that I don't think a place called France can't exist its that its just a word it has no real meaning to me because I have yet to go there. Just like another galaxy is a word not a place.

    And since its people working at NASA who deal with this enviornment known as outer space they are the ones who have the closest relative idea and experience as to what our planet is and how far our world's relative boundaries are.

    People can think about the metaphysical notions and create their own theories about the universe. I just think the term universe has been stretched to a point due to human discovery that people can barely relate to it and instead live on a planet divided by continents and nations.

    I do think about outer space but mostly what it has to do with my life has more to with what I think will happen to me when I die.

    To conclude I think our planet is our petri dish, the sun a lamp, and life on our planet is one giant chemical reaction that is seeping over the edges and then its very hard for anything to live outside our dish. The only question is, is part of the experiment or has it gone unexpected?

  3. I think that the idea of spinning on a rock around a fireball is not so far fetched from people's immediate personal world. The exception that I feel may occur is the recent occurrence of young people to spend all of their day either sleeping and/or sufficing the unbridled appetite for electronic recreation of any sort, resulting in little or no exposure to the Sun or natural terrestrial elements. The idea of the universe is one thing and I agree that the scale of it is so abstract that it is near impossible to comprehend what the numbers and names of galaxies is and or means (similiar to the numbers of the economic stimulus package and the national debt). I do not feel however that the idea of the Sun is so abstract. Without the Sun we would not be here and anyone who is awake during the day has direct exposure to it. It would be my guess that we would be able to survive if a neighboring Galaxy "x" (insert name of galaxy) here did not exist, although I could see an argument on the contrary. But Galary "X" is in no way incorporated into a daily experience.

    What I was getting at was that their is a misdirected focus on importance of things in contemporary consciousness. Worries on various constructions of capitalism have clouded any sense of connection with our origins, this being what I believe to the the Earth/Sun. Instead spending precious time on vanity, greed, excess, and frivolous activities that do not contribute anything positive towards anything other than adolescent entertainment.

  4. Tyler26.6.09

    Ideas are ideas; the picture you paint with words may be beautiful in its own right, but even in its seductive righteousness we must consider what it entails. In essence, I interpret what you write as a critique of reality. There is something wrong with the way some people are living, and it needs to change for things to be right. People aren't realizing the immense beauty of existence, and this idea now clouds your consciousness.

    In the world of the relative mind, thought is simply a constant, incessant negotiation for the future happiness of the character we have learned to play in the past, and come to believe we are. But perfection exists in the here and now, in the silence of mindstuff. As fluid and convincing as word can be, ideas of beauty and ugliness, clever analogies and comparisons, love and hate, will never leave the realm of ideas. They may, however, perpetuate themselves, growing stronger and stronger and further engraining themselves in a false sense of identity, distracting us from the perfection of this moment.

    I try to participate in reality, rather than analyze and reflect on it.

    Howz milkin those cows?

  5. Well, if there seems to be a suggestion that there are feelings that a personal perception has arisen that there is something "wrong" with the way that some people are living, than more consideration should be paid to how thoughts in the form of text (as inadequate as they always are) may come across. This is strictly an attempt to objectify observations (as fleeting as an attempt as that may be).
    Appreciation is paid to how you "participate in reality", but there is a strong tempation to question how successful it is in the attempt to curb the "incessant negotiation" that is
    thought. If thought is a constant, what can one occupy congnitive activity with other than analysis and reflection. Is the goal really perfection when it is clearly understood that it is equally as an abstract idea as is reality itself?
    To relfect on the present is to be human. But to do so in a positive, healthy way not endangering a heightened sense of dread from death, social incongruities, or otherwise deplorable mental preoccupations. To focus on and/or accept the present as the closest thing to perfection is an option towards molding the incessancy that is thought. This is where our thoughts have traveled a similiar road. In my mentioning the humbling qualities of considering that we are floating on a rock around a fireball, or however it was portrayed, is a way to say that, that idea in itself, gifting us with environmental conditions which are perfect towards giving life to this planet and allowing for evolution to embrace the existence of humans is in many ways appreciating present conditions and living in the present. All that I was saying in that particular thought, in nutshell is that it has been observed that material concerns which occupy thoughts can have detrimental effects on the minds of those who may have trouble appreciating and existing in the present.

    Haven't quite got around to the milkin, still settling in....hope to soon, just bought a fishin' pole, need to christen it. Good to hear from you Tyler, hope that we can keep a dialouge going.

  6. Tyler6.7.09

    It seems to me that objective observations, or the story we express in the form of word, can only amount to a critique of perceived reality-regardless of how positive or negative that story may be. This thought in the form of word does not necessarily need to be constant- many “enlightened” masters point to the fact that rather than making an effort to curb it, one may benefit from realizing it is a mere distraction from the lifesource. Eckhart Tolle describes enlightenment as finding the off button to thought, and being able to summon it only when it is productive. Perhaps perfection is reality, but whenever we apply reason or logic to that reality it is colored by the psychological weight of the past and is reduced to a mere idea. When mind is silent and the past and future no longer exist, each breath is indescribably exhilarating, each sound a part of the symphony of existence, each frame of vision a painting by god herself.
    So there are two purposes for word, at least in my story. One is as a cathartic outlet of emotion and thought- by far the most common in our society. In this case the sentences oscillate from the negative to the positive as recycled ideas of the good and the bad duel and serve to perpetuate the ego of the writer/speaker. In the second case, words are used to point toward the truth of oneness in reality, unveiling unified perfection once thoroughly obscured by mindstuffs. (you might like to check out the tarot cards at for concise examples of this)

    Again, you have the rare ability to paint a beautifully vivid picture of your perceived reality through word and art. But keep an eye on the morality you’ve collected-do you feel that the bitter cynicism and resentment you express towards aspects of the corporate world and America bring you even an inch closer to the truth? Or do these ideas strengthen and elevate an ego which feeds on the concept of self-righteousness, and may hide the things we truly seek?

  7. To impose reason or logic onto the perfection of the present could be to introduce experiential weight of the past as well as its reduction to a "mere idea". Does this statement counter the later statement that
    "words are used to point toward the truth of oneness in reality, unveiling unified perfection....mindstuffs", is this in itself the exercise of reducing things to a mere idea? Isn't the idea of finding the off button to thought, (which I am sure is not some happenstancial excavation but a diligent routine which rarely becomes even remotely fruitful over the practice of a lifetime) employing reason and logic to a reality, thus bringing in the baggage mentioned in the above? Until we are able to achieve telepathy to communicate our thoughts and by-stepping the hindarence of words as a means of communication, this inefficient means will have to be utilized as long as the ills that come along with it are acknowledged and taken into consideration, much like the expectations, nature and nurture of an observer will subconsciously influence his/her perception.

    It is always a place of vagueness to use such absolutist terminology as things like "the lifesource". From my perspective it seems to bring in a subjective element that could benefit from further clarification, even it if this is simply an expansion of subjective reasoning. For the places that one could go with a term such as this range from the Sun to Yahweh to a biological laboratory. I write this anticipating that if further explanation were to occur we may see things in a similar light.

    Again, vast generalizations such as truth could benefit from further explanation, a heightened sense of context for where the word exists. If one were to adhere to Eastern ideas based in acting on compassion towards others, than scrutinizing the actions practiced by the corporate world since they perpetuate negativity onto people, both who are aware and unaware, could not lead even an inch further from the "truth". This seems to me to be a way to practice compassion towards people although admittedly it is on a scale arguably where the effects of such rhetoric could be watered down and rendered ineffective. That is not to say that the dialogue and acknowledgment of the indisputable unethical practice of corporate America and its politicians should not be preserved, this is a way to fight ignorance and maintain a practice which is revered as American: freedom of thought and speech. It would be preferable to feed an ego on the concept of self-righteousness by discussing ethical malpractices of corporate giants than by formulating a deceptive framework and thus preying on a consumerist based society cultivated on the idea that our desire which give us vast improvements should be sought at the corner store and not with in ourselves. The idea that the things that we "truly seek" can be ordered online and shipped to our door in 5-10 business days hides these "things". Preying on people's materiality in ways that tarnish our whole species and the species that inhabit this galactic island with us are un-dismissible.

    Out of curiosity: what enlightened masters are you referring too? Are they still living or are they long gone? This question is posed because the Dali Llama has no problem speaking about humanitarian issues and it would not take an over active imagination to think that he would not endorse American corporate behavior.

  8. Tyler14.7.09

    Hi Joe-
    You are certainly a man of words-I’m sure if we were having an argument, you’d place them well enough to emerge a clear victor. But rather than produce counterpoints and attempt to justify my past words, let me better express my concept of their function.

    We all have stories, the stories of our lives-a cast of characters and a wealth of memories and beliefs that many of us have placed our faith in entirely. I am the main character in my story, and you are a secondary character in that story. I don’t really know Joe Bigley, but I’ve seen facets and actions and filled in the blanks. I know that no one really knows me, because I play a different character in the story of each person I know. I also know that I don’t really know anyone-even my closest friends. I may know enough about their behaviors to predict actions and opinions, but I am aware that everyone is in their own story looking out for the main character. For this reason I now rarely take things personally-how can I take offense when I know the person I am interacting with is working for the same thing I am?!

    Every person on this planet is a storyteller. We all tell our stories through the way we walk, the words we exchange, our art and music-with every breath we speak. The most direct and efficient way of communication is often word. So as I write to you, I am not attempting to convince you of anything, or to prove you wrong and criticize your views. I am just telling you a bit of my story-partially because I have enjoyed the character you have played, partially because I know you to be very analytical/conscious, and I think you might be receptive to some of the things that have eased my life immensely, but mainly for the joy of telling it, regardless of its impact.

    “Truth, Lifesource, Love, God” –in my story they all refer to something words will never sufficiently describe. A moment where there are no questions, no answers, just realized perfection in being. I guess meditation is the exercise that sometimes develops the off button, and I find it to be fruitful every second of my day, even if I haven’t realized a permanently enlightened state.

    I am aware of the exploits of corporations and the American government-trust me, I know that dark alley all too well. I wasn’t saying your words weren’t justified or right-I just thought you might want to consider some cost-benefit analysis on the faith you place in ideas.

    Just got my financial aid packet-looks like I’m headed back to Alfred, which I didn’t expect. Been working downtown stopping pedestrians and signing them up for Children International-a child sponsorship program. It’s a crazy job, but the bonuses pay well enough for me to have money for the due tuition. What’s up in Eur-up?

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  10. Hey Tyler-
    I very much hope that previous typed thoughts have not been read as argumentative. This is the problem that I have found with typed communication since I began using it. There is no control over how the delivery is made. These abstract symbols, arranged in a specific way and universally adopted and agreed upon are so easily misinterpreted not by their content but on the emphasis put on certain parts of a sentence possibly resulting in inaccurate or unintended delivery tones. The aim in this discourse is by no means to come out any kind of victor in the least!! The intellectual exercise of debate is a healthy one which I feel has somehow been misconstrued into a pejorative term for verbal interaction. The emphasis here is on healthy. As is mentioned in the header for this blog the thoughts that I set into this digital sphere are unfiltered and somewhat reactionary to either what I may be reading around the time, conversations in actual life I may be having or in this case a comment in the blog itself. I hope that they do not come across as pejorative themselves, that would completely counteract the intention of this meager endeavor.

    I enjoy the story analogy posed in your recent response. This story, coming from the pages of our experiential conditioning/personal history in effect formulating the protagonist and how he or she navigates through the unraveling plot. I would agree completely on the idea of telling the story or stories. I too am not trying to convince you of anything or disprove anything you are so generously offering to this conversation of sorts and as well enjoy telling this story in a similar vein (I think that it is safe to assume). In my responses, picking out aspects of your thoughts, I am not wronging them but reacting to them and seeking further clarity on the topics at hand as to better understand your story. The idea that a debate is not really a venue to disprove another's angle to come out victorious but to react to the other's viewpoint and in doing so, through a dialogue come to find out a deeper and richer understanding of how I view the world and the story that I unknowingly or otherwise, project on to it.

    [It appears that you can only put so many characters at a time in a comment, so the rest or this comment can be found below...]

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  12. In thinking about it, I guess that I have problems with words like "Lifesource" depending on the intentions of the storyteller. To what extent does one want their story to be received in relation to initial intentions in revealing it? I can appreciate the use of such a word in your story only after understanding what and how you intended it to be used in the context it was found. This idea of the perfection of the moment is one that has been coming up a lot in my story lately. It has been a topic of conversation with me and Terese, in a source of text and was a main point in a very substantial performance art event lead by Marina Abromovic (one of the world's leading performance artists). I will now try to give a brief summary of how it was incorporated into the event:
    There were a limited number of participants for this 17 day event. Everyone had to sign in online prior to the day and sign an agreement form that they would stay for the entire 4 hour daily performance duration. The general public was not allowed into the space at all in the 17 days. Everyone in attendance wore a white lab coat and the entire contents of the Whitford Art Gallery in Manchester England were brought into storage rendering the entire space of this less than modest sized gallery completely void for the 14 selected performance artists to do their thing. Abromovic gathered all of the participants into a designated room prior to the start of the performances. She lead everyone in a series of what she called "public drills" to prepare the audience to truly be in the moment and really look at the work they were about to see. Drill A: Everyone was given a glass of water and arranged the chairs to be in rows. Everyone faced forward and sat in a comfortable position of ten minutes taking small sips really concentration on the feel of the water in the mouth and it going down the throat, etc while practicing controlled deep breathing. Drill B: turn and face a stranger. Stare into his/her eyes for 5 minutes, try not to move, think or blink (this one was the most intense for a number of reasons....). Drill C: everyone, in unison scream as loud and as long as they can. Drill D: everyone gather at the far side of the room and in unison slowly walk out of the room towards the rest of the gallery, concentrating on the actions required for the action of moving as recited by Abromovic: lifting, stretching, touching, moving, lifting, stretching, touching, etc, etc, until the room was empty.
    At first these "drills" could be read as frivolous or hippy-dippy exercises that only show the control of a figure head over a willing and submissive crowd there to see him/her, but they, if approached in a non-frivolous fashion, helped to clear the mind of events prior or the events to possibly take place after the event concludes to enable the participant to truly be in the space at the moment to absorb the work in front of them. To be in the space for 4 hours (give or take) and meander through a series of 14 works and see how they change in the course of time was well worth the time. It was the first time that a gallery of this size has committed itself to performance work in such a way to empty its contents completely to commit to the performances rather than just inviting a performance artist to do something at an opening which is more common in regards to performance work. The work there was top notch as well, all very much worth the evaluation and time.

    [It appears that you can only put so many characters at a time in a comment, so the rest or this comment can be found below...]

  13. I am not completely sure that I follow the cost/benefit analysis you speak of. The idea that there is resentment (as you put it) found in some of the ideas posted and the negative effects of negativity in a mindset/livelyhood, is this what you were getting at? I think that a harsh tone may not always require harnessing resentment or cynicism. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this: Can accepting and/or acknowledging imperialistic omnipotence only breed negative resentment? Can this observation and the fact that it has extensively negative consequences on a far greater number of people and natural environments than it benefits as a driving force to spread awareness or even a greater sense of openmindedness towards the stories that people accept at face value, can the costs out way the benefits in this particular scenario? I am also curious about what you perceive as the faith that I put in ideas.

    I am glad to hear that you are heading back to Alfred. Really. They have a good philosophy department too you know, that could be a good place to spend some class time....The job sounds great too, a noble effort.
    Europe is great. As I mentioned, I am in England now, soaking up some art and ideas. What is your email address? Good to hear from you, I hope that this dialogue continues.

  14. tyler6.8.09


    I’ve read that 90% of communication (in person obviously) is non-verbal-so this type of interaction is certainly lacking to a great extent. We are on different continents though, so I guess we take what we can get. I wasn’t suggesting that you were overly argumentative or confrontational, but that the egoic need to justify is one that often leads me astray, and sometimes interferes with my real goals in interacting.

    The performance piece by Marina Abromovic sounds awesome-must have been a great experience. I’ve spoken of Osho with you before-I’m guessing his active meditations may have been a reference for this event, you might like to check them out sometime. They are generally very lengthy and involve many activities similar to the ones you described. It’s cool to know there is an art movement out there of some sort that involves the same methodology.

    What I gather from your word is a consistent high regard for understanding, through thorough intellectual investigation and contemplation. But the scary thing about living with this focus, to me, is the tendency of the mind. What more is there to understanding than a sense of comfort with a specific set of ideas/data? In the physical world understanding allows us to complete tasks and processes, but in the mental world many of the things we allow our attention to be drawn to-things we are constantly trying to figure out or come to some conclusion about….are simply unnecessary noise.

    And what happens when we do figure out a situation or idea set? The mind says “Next!,” and long before I consciously realize what has happened, I am caught up in another exhausting drama story I’m not even writing, or I am bored by an argument I have heard in my head far too many times already. And it can be very subtle, even on the basis that life is great-I’m just looking forward to when it gets a little better. In seeking a deep and rich understanding of the things/events/people in my story, I sometimes lose sight of the fact that I am the one writing the damn thing! So when I referred to cost benefit analysis-I meant a careful consideration of what you are doing when choosing the ideological building blocks for your story.

    I do believe every idle thought-if we have placed our faith in it entirely, as more than just a story but a reality that requires more faith from others-certainly carries a weight. Our stories are similar in that we have information pertaining to corporate and governmental affairs that appears to be quite blatant evidence of injustice. But the very concept of injustice is one we found before learning to separate reality from concept; we do have the ability to remove our faith from the “reality” of injustice, considering that those who both commit atrocities and suffer their consequences have entirely different concepts of what is-none being more true or real than the next.

    :Can accepting/acknowledging imperialistic omnipotence only breed negative resentment? Maybe it can breed action, difference, and justice too-but those are all subjective concepts, and in my experience, even if you win one battle, the mind has plenty of other ones waiting. The people and environments many of us feel a noble desire to save often become projects externalizing our stories-when we find others who believe similarly, the idea that the story is real is even further solidified.

    To what extent does one want their story to be received in relation to initial intentions in revealing it? A question that could be answered in an essay, or book maybe…

    I’m exhausted- wild few weeks in Chicago, sorry I took so long to respond. I’m at Will explain faith when I have enough of it in keeping my eyes open-enjoy the soak!

  15. Hey Tyler -I am intrigued with this idea that the tendency of the mind is a frightening thing. It would be interesting to hear you expand on that.

    The claims of mental activity being "unnecessary noise" is something that I can agree with but only so far. Is this in relation to materiality, and that thought commonly manifested in feelings that further bound one to sentience or worldly thoughts? That thought itself is a chain tied to suffering? Would the only time one is not bound to sentience when in practice of meditation which focuses (if this is an appropriate verb) on the absence of thought?

    I am not so sure that the goal in all of this is to understand anything at all really. I don't know if that the end that is sought from a personal perspective. Life in my eyes in a process and deserves consideration, avoiding taking as many aspects of its layered nature for granted yet doing so in a inquisitive, not worrisome manner. This is the consideration in choosing the ideological building blocks of personal stories that you had eloquently laid down. I will indulge myself for a moment here to reflect on how my thoughts reflect a personal ideology:

    To live in an imperfect world (in regards to inequality and the such) in an imperfect body (in regards to earthly desires and the such) I feel that it is time well spent to attempt to be informed and to spread thoughts and the like in a noninvasive way. To be a part of this imperfect world where people suffer for reasons that are preventable, and suffer at the hands of the already wealthy getting wealthier, these kinds of atrocities should be exposed whenever possible and are able to be perpetuated through a non or misinformed public. (I am sure that we could argue the intricacies of information and reality but why don't we hold of on that for now, shall we?) In his book, "The Art of Happiness" the Dalai Llama concludes that the true root of happiness is helping others. This is an idea that I adhere to. So in effect, the investigation of such matters is out of a feeling of compassion because I feel that to use tendencies of the mind to justify apathy is a slippery slope.

    Your idea that helping others is a way to perceive externalizations of our own story is another interesting one. It can be said that since we see the world in terms of ourselves, how we navigate through it, what can this person do for me (with a capital M) even if by helping this person, the good samaritanism makes me feel better about myself, etc. that everything we experience, that is that which is external, is only seen in terms of self reflection and solidification of personal stories exists equally in the similarities as it does in the differences. You can learn much from behavior that is not like your own, etc.

    I would like to pass on a definition of reality that I read yesterday. It is from the book, "The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge", by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann (Anchor Books).

    "It will be enough, for our purposes, to define "reality" as a quality appertaining to phenomena that we recognize as having a being independent of our own volition (we cannot "wish them away",...).

  16. This is found in the first paragraph of the introduction and I have not read passed it to see how they articulate this definition further but I thought that it was pertinent.

    In closing, for now..., I think that there are several ways one can conclude which ideology to employ in handling this navigation through reality. Here are 2 extremes: a) meditate as much as possible on emptying the mind of thought, side effects may include apathy and non committal towards the surrounding community, b) frantically pursue activist activity allowing the stress of injustice to be all consuming. If anything were to be proposed, as is with most cases, the middle road would be the preferred one to advocate. Spending one's time becoming informed and act on concerns raised during that investigation but also balance out that time with meditation in whatever form that might be, even just actively concentrating on a daily activity to heighten awareness of the power of the present not loosing sight of or taking for granted the fortuitousness of existence.