Thought for food – 13 – the perfectionist’s reminder

It is rarely as good as you think it must be, or as bad as you fear it will be.

Ascending simplicity

It took some time, but they finally arrived, the thoughts leading me to hope again.

Here in the cold on a damp bench, water flows and ducks preen, and people walk past hand in hand.

I would gladly share this space, and yet I am gladly alone, I just am and they just are, and somewhere someone exists to sit beside me.

But now the flocks circle. And the traffic flows. Layers of sound like soft bandages wrapping my ears.

The birds. The cars. The voices. The laughter of children. Of men and women. Distant music. The rhythmic scraping of meandering soles on gravel paths.

I am trusting more and more in an ascending simplicity, spiralling out, perhaps, to a basic spiritual singularity.

Shall I name it? I do not dare.

For it exists between the soft wrappings of sound, in the spaces between things we can name.

Cold day. Damp bench. Alone.

It sits here, next to me.

Thought for food – 12

If we insist on outdueling the other, we will eventually find there is nobody left to whom we relate.

A healthy relationship is not a duel of wit or will waged behind defensive walls; but a patient organic blooming of giving, understanding, and compassion.

Through giving we may receive; through understanding we may question; through compassion we may be saved.

Healthy relationships give us comfort for we are vulnerable, strength for we are weak.

The invulnerable and invincible among us are lost and lonely indeed. Not only do they not exist (for who among us are gods?), they are trapped in the illusion they do.

Step out from your defensive walls, and others will follow.

Thought for food – 10

I cannot go back in time. But I can do the next best thing: start making positive improvements in my life right now.

Thought for food – 9 – a psychological axiom

There is no such thing as dishonesty. It doesn’t exist in any meaningful sense.

In our deepest selves fluctuating values constantly tug on the strings of our wills.

Behind any deceptive act is a value held to be true; a belief which, no matter how wrong might appear to another, completely informs the actions of the deceiver at that moment.

We may deceive ourselves, and therefore others, but we can’t help be but honest deceivers.

Here I choose to live

A new world opened before me. One overflowing with light and love. I am neither reluctant nor expectant to enter, for reluctance implies doubt, expectancy implies dependency; I neither fear what lies within, nor seek salvation.

I know this world is meant for me. I will take my time to explore and learn. I will live.

Let love reign

Please take these words, and cast them across a crimson sky. Let the whole world read what I have been led to see. There is no pain so great, nor fear too deep, that a breath of pure love cannot ease.

Allow love the day to seize. Let love reign, and be free.

The illusory fortress

I know that. Living to avoid life. Erecting walls of fake concrete. Thick. High. Encompassing the spirit, the mind. I know that. Belief in those fake concrete walls. Belief they are impenetrable. Apparent safety within. Each minute head bowed. Praying, sacrificing, worshiping an illusion.

Within the comfortable confines of illusory fortresses, ego is king. Weakness is lord. Only that which skirts your rotten kernel of fear is permitted entrance. Not only are you the victim, but to protect yourself you have become judge, jury, executioner.

You reign supreme. Alone. Protected. Alive in the dismal darkness of fear and anxiety. Living to avoid life and the blinding rays of light tracing cracks in illusory concrete walls.

Notes – What is consciousness?

Immediate thoughts after meditation session:

For a brief time I was able to invert the common experience of consciousness being located behind the face and in the middle of the head. I was able to expand the location of consciousness to fill the four walls within which I was seated. I am still pondering this phenomenon. I wonder, if consciousness is a type of software running on the hardware of the brain, a software that models reality, incorporating images and concepts and relations. Does it make sense to assume it must exist somewhere? Sure, consciousness depends on the brain, but it is composed of non-material entities and categories (or so it seems – a claim very difficult for a materialist such as myself to digest), and as such, does not from necessity need to reside anywhere. If consciousness is not a material thing, it cannot be located anywhere. Is consciousness a realm of reality unto itself? And if not, how could the material realm produce such an illusion?

I opened my eyes at the end of the session and looked at my field of vision (a brown leather couch, a bookshelf to my left, a world map directly ahead, lamp and black side table), and was able to understand that this view was being created in my mind, and I was aware of it in the arena of consciousness. Though the software seamlessly makes me think those things which I see are out there in front of my eyes, and I am here, at a node where light waves reflected from those objects converge (which indeed, I think is safe to say, is an accurate description of the physics involved), I was able to grasp the experience of conscious awareness of this field of vision more fully, more accurately. That is, the images ARE NOT OUT THERE, but are in my mind, and I am consciously aware of those images. This deceptively simple realization was hard to achieve, and lasted only moments, but it was real and, I believe, accurate.

…rhyming Homer with Homer…

Insight my mind has not brought!

Endless loops with doubt fraught!

Infinite thoughts pitifully caught!

Stagnation has only wrought rot!

The fasting soul

There are words to capture how I feel,

I have lowered my caloric intake to zero

To discover what they are.

My mind and body are one,

Starving for nourishment,

Twisting into hungry knots.

What matters in this state?

This life is all I get,

And I fill it with emptiness;

Cardboard cutouts of complex carbohydrates,

And two-dimensional emotions.

In this hunger, there is clarity,

Moments and seconds filled with epiphany,

The animal, the rock, the clouded sky,

Atoms carrying wind whipping my shaven face,

Making it clean.

I have cried twenty kilos of thought and emotion and soaked the parched ground of my soul.

To bring me back into harmony with this universe,

To nurture and let grow the blissful blossoms of my heart,

Opening optimistic avenues awaiting exploration,

I carry lightness and vitality and strength and

Forgiveness.

Born into this world alone,

Alone I shall die.

I forgive.

I forgive you.

I forgive myself.

Fallen Poseidon

At the Bahnhof I headed toward my favourite salad bar. Located in a renovated wing of the station, one must first walk through a small corridor and a foyer, and as I did so, the smell struck a blow like an invisible acidic wave assaulting my sinuses: sour piss and stale sweat. A moment later I spotted the homeless man: sitting, back to the outer wall of a janitor’s closet, knees bent toward chest, hands holding a weathered toque, rubbing the forest green fabric between thumb and forefinger, muttering, right eye twitching with an uncontrollable tic, scuffed Crocs sticking out from baggy rags of pants like a clown’s oversized novelty shoes, overcoat askew, greasy thick black and gray hair ringing a bald scalp, draped over shoulders.

A shawl woven of rotten ocean kelp.

An aquatic creature recently thrown from the bowels of the sea; a sad caricature of a fallen Poseidon, trident rusted and broken.

‘Ich hätte gerne ein Chicken Fitness, ohne Tomaten’.

The order takes a minute. So I stare. I can’t help it.
He continues muttering to himself, to his beaten hat, which he grips like a toddler would a comfort blanket. Every so often he takes the hat and presses the mottled fabric to his twitching right eye. Is it weeping from infection or from emotional distress? He catches my stare and I look away, ashamed. I pretend to be reading the menu in the window which separates the two of us, the menu of assorted nutrients and calories paired to assorted prices. And what is in his bags? Will he eat today?
I stare again: empathy (or pity?), and more shame. Empathy at this fallen god, who in another life would stand regally with his trim, elegant stature, jet black hair curled in satin rings upon his shoulders, crown atop a clear head, sane mind. Shame that I stand and he sits; I buy and he begs; I, who look through this window into his world, backdropped by the outer wall of a closet of mop buckets and detergents. And the smell! Shame at the sickness I feel. Utterly sick to my stomach I must cover my face. Shame at the knowledge that all I want to do his help this man, but cannot step through the piss and sweat, cannot overcome my basest instincts of revulsion, cannot step outside myself, prevented by an inner barrier as transparent, yet tangible, as the window separating our two fates.
What a sad juxtaposition, a tragic irony, a cruel cosmic joke: a filthy homeless man seeking refuge at the threshold of a janitor’s closet, adjacent a bistro of fine salads and dressings and bread, a menu of nutrients and accompanying prices; our eyes meet and my world crashes – we are the same, he and I. I know it. And all I want to do in that moment is help him. But the smell…..and my shame…..
The realisation, deeper and more profound, more real, than any cold argument or poetic description found in a book, that there is no meaningful difference between me and him. That my security rests solely on the cards dealt to me by an indifferent cosmic dealer.
And I can only imagine this man’s suffering.
Bag in hand, I walk past. Offering nothing but these secret thoughts. My haughty neglect eventually feeding my self-loathing.
A stronger will would have done something; and yet, right action begins with awareness; perhaps I am not a lost cause.

In moral philosophy there is an argument that those entities worthy of moral consideration are those capable of suffering. It seems to me that we have failed this man, and millions like him. What affected me perhaps most in this experience was a deep understanding that the amount of suffering, the sum total of pain in this world is quite literally grotesque, and we as active accessories to this crime should feel ashamed at our complicity, at walking past with bags of food in hand. Once one realises this, internalises this, there seems no recourse to ignore this; as a moral person, how can I worry about the well-being of my friends and family, of myself, without risking severe hypocrisy and loss of self-respect by not only ignoring the suffering of others, but actively contributing to it.
And I do contribute to the sum total of suffering in this world! And chances are most of us do as well. Out of sight, out of mind, is ethically indefensible. Consider the suffering experienced by sentient animals in the slave-trade called industrial farming, the meat industry, the dairy and poultry enterprises. Can I maintain my ethical integrity by maintaining the intolerable prospect of causing another human harm while simultaneously actively contributing to the incalculable suffering of an incalculable number of sentient creatures?
So what is my responsibility? How can I be responsible? Open questions open to debate, but not open to being ignored. If we spend next to no time considering our ethical place in this universe then we shirk our responsibility. In so doing, we cannot expect at some future point, when we ourselves are in need of ethical consideration, to be taken any more seriously than we have taken our current responsibilities.