Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Some comments from the filmmaker Keith Gordon (Mother Night, The Singing Detective on my blue pill piece; for more on his work, check out


I found (the piece) very moving. And it echoed deeply with some of my own thoughts and experiences (including some recent health problems involving food and craving).To me, I don't see the spiritual path as one of perfection as a goal. Sometimes it sounds like you still see the world in terms of duality (blue pill OR red pill). But the wisest and best Buddhist teachers I've had emphasize that it's all about integrating the spiritual and the mundane. Merging, not dividing. (blue pill AND red pill, particle and wave, craving and letting go of craving). That even Buddha was human, and not 'perfect'. That he too was subject to craving, aversion, anger, greed and all the rest. All he had done was learn to deal with it in a very profound way.The Buddha himself talked about both relative reality (where we all live) as well as absolute reality (the more 'perfected' spiritual realm), and saw both as real or true (and of value), depending on what one's point of view at that moment was.

There's a great book by Jack Kornfield called, 'After the Ecstasy, The Laundry'. He spoke to highly advanced spiritual practitioners in many traditions, and almost to a person they noted that even after 'enlightenment' experiences, they were still human, still vulnerable to all the same stuff, still got mad at their kids, or impatient in traffic. They just had new options on how to deal with those things when they manifested.'Perfection' to me is an illusion in itself. The universe could only form because of 'imperfections' in how primal matter initially spread out from the big bang. Most art is made meaningful by it's 'imperfections'. A 'perfect' world (or person) would be unchanging, cold, dead.Indeed, craving 'perfection' on the spiritual path seems to me just as destructive a craving as those for food or money or power. It's still a craving. But craving ('I can only be happy when...') is very different than a healthy impulse to grow spiritually, and open our hearts and minds to knowing and enjoying both the 'illusion' and 'the truth' - and remembering that neither is as neatly pure of the other as our craving (for order and answers) minds might desire.

Of course I know you already knew what I was saying from your piece (I have the feeling you are far more well read and deeply educated in these areas than I). But there was so much pain in what you were writing that I wondered if your heart and soul could hear what your brain 'knew'. So I was really reflecting back your own ideas.To me, that's always one of the trickiest part of any spiritual path. Getting the heart and soul to really take in a concept the brain 'knows', or just the opposite - getting the brain to really digest something that's already part of the wisdom of the body or heart.

One other, random comment on the piece - re the starving man vs. the glutton. My take would be that either one might 'enjoy' the meal more. It would depend who could eat it with mindfulness and awareness.The starving man would likely find more relief in the meal from his pain - but that's not the same as enjoyment. If that was the secret to enjoying life, then we should constantly be starving ourselves (literally and figuratively) so we could enjoy things. But that was the path the Buddha rejected (along with gluttony). Neither extreme allowed balance. Those that would torture themselves into truth seemed to find it no easier than those that tried to pamper themselves into it.Besides, if the glutton was truly obsessed with food, he might, subjectively, feel just as much relief, even if his body didn't really need it.

Just a thought...


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