Thursday, April 1, 2010

Enjoying a Back Deck Without Words

This will be brief. I am house sitting for my parents. I was sitting on their back deck not doing anything. The sun was going down and I was looking at things and listening to outdoor sounds.

I have been doing some reading and a little writing about Buddhism and mindfulness. About letting sensations and thoughts come and go without pursuing them with words. It is difficult. Words come so naturally. I see a tree, I see something moving in the tree, I identify it as a squirrel. As soon as I put the words to it I resent myself for so automatically producing the words. Words come naturally. So I guess the idea would be to let them pass, acknowledge them and let them go. They fade away after a bit. Words are the anomaly. But wordless space is still hard to find.

Three quotations from E.M. Cioran on perception and language.

"If only we could reach back before the concept, could write on a level with the senses, record the infinitesimal variations of what we touch, do what a reptile would do if it were to set about writing!"

"Suddenly feeling that you know as much as God about anything and everything and quite as suddenly seeing this sensation vanish..."

"When I happen to be busy, I never give a moment's thought to the 'meaning' of anything, particularly of whatever it is I am doing. A proof that the secret of everything is in action and not in abstention, that fatal cause of consciousness"

Basically, all three of these lines get at the same issue: how the articulation of sensation and perception moves us away from the direct experience we are having. When I sit down and just look at things it is easy to look at them with words. Look at the concepts. But looking without words, that is the thing. John Gray and Cioran and Buddhism, all this stuff about just seeing, I guess that means being able to see without concepts immediately presenting themselves to you. To look at a tree without thinking about its status as a tree. Seeing a ball roll across a floor without thinking about what a ball is or what a floor is. Seeing like a child.

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