Thursday, December 24, 2009

preparing for the new year

as i was composting today, i realized that the new year would come soon. i wasn't sure what my resolution would be.

i usually don't like resolutions, i find that they are often self-indulgent and strange performances of mixed virtue and vice. but something about the smell of the compost made me pursue the thought deeper.

seriously, it was the compost.

because on my left was a beautiful pile of black gold--fertile and supple, ready to be returned to the earth to grow new things. on my left and in my hands was a stinking heap of decay--refuse from meals past. the stink was the metaphor of larger things. of cycles, of death, of birth.

i'm a buddhist, see. if yer not interested in that, you might wanna stop reading here.

it's nothing new, the buddhism. growing up, it was the only form of organized religion i ever took part in, usually through sporadic visits to temple when our family visited my mother's family. really, though, i came to know my buddhism through funerals. now, lovely partner, a born catholic, is converting to buddhism.

she shares with me the precepts and concepts and ideas behind what i have been practicing all along. at first, there was a bit of disconnect. her sources were theravada (my mother was part of a vajrayana sect, and most japanese buddhisms are mahayana), and filtered through american sources. what lovely partner said actually meant something, whereas what i knew made no "sense." but i've been listening. and i've been moved. and i've slowly come to a place where what she talks about and what i have known my whole life are beginning to make sense together.

and so, while smelling the compost, i came upon an idea. i'm still feeling it out, but i think it might take.

i will begin 2010 as a meditation on the noble eightfold path. each year, i will dedicate to one aspect of the path. at the end of the eight years, i will re-assess and perhaps begin the cycle again. 2010 will be my year of "Right View."

incidentally, the noble eightfold path consists of the following:
1. Right View (wisdom)
2. Right Intention (wisdom)
3. Right Speech (ethical conduct)
4. Right Action (ethical conduct)
5. Right Livelihood (ethical conduct)
6. Right Effort (mental development)
7. Right Mindfulness (mental development)
8. Right Concentration (mental development)

i recognize that the eightfold path is not a series of steps, to be done in succession. but i wanted to see what would happen if i pay particular attention to one aspect of the path for an extended period of time. i'm choosing this order because, well, that's how it's always presented.

in thinking about this journey, i'm particularly influenced by linda montano and her seven years of living art, based on the chakras. my exploration will be less public, i think, and being that i'm a theatre artist, and less of a performance/conceptual artist these days, i hesitate to call this endeavor a "piece" anymore than i would call living my life a "piece," which i don't often do. even though i think it sometimes.

i've come to a place where i accept that my creative process is undeniably linked to my spiritual practice. in the past year, i have met several creators who practice their craft as an extension of their spirituality. i've been humbled by observing their rigor and general posture toward life. perhaps this eight-year journey is my attempt to join them.

i share this here to hail, to incorporate. maybe you can help me with my meditation on "Right View." or maybe you can join me. i will see the world for what it is: nothing more, nothing less. neither better nor worse than it actually is. so i leave this post with a short note on what right view is from here.

Right view is the beginning and the end of the path, it simply means to see and to understand things as they really are and to realise the Four Noble Truth. As such, right view is the cognitive aspect of wisdom. It means to see things through, to grasp the impermanent and imperfect nature of worldly objects and ideas, and to understand the law of karma and karmic conditioning. Right view is not necessarily an intellectual capacity, just as wisdom is not just a matter of intelligence. Instead, right view is attained, sustained, and enhanced through all capacities of mind. It begins with the intuitive insight that all beings are subject to suffering and it ends with complete understanding of the true nature of all things. Since our view of the world forms our thoughts and our actions, right view yields right thoughts and right actions.
and so, on 01/01/2010, it begins.

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