..and after Nirvana?

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Once the beautiful mandala, painstakingly created following precise ancient formulae with the utter devotion of the creators, is carefully dispersed to the elements, what happens next?  The gorgeous colour and structure, visually irresistible, are destroyed, are given back to the universe, but where does that leave you who have allowed yourself to become attached, smitten by what humans can do?

What if this act, strange in human terms, is a test or a cheap trick? What if it was all a beautiful dream? Such mysteries and evocative rituals are all very well, all entertaining and hope-giving, but our principal mission in life is truly no mystery. Beyond all these intricate distractions caught up in the name of religion or pursuing faith, reality waits for us right under our noses.

 

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Through spiritual training, it is possible to move beyond all appearances.  We are surrounded by buddhas and gods in every moment of our human lives.  They may not match up to our deluded images of what gods and buddhas should look like, but in each core of each human being there is True Nature, our divine essence impregnated with the details of our exact mission as human beings.

True Nature is invisible, but it has an unmistakable fragrance of eternity which can suffuse our human existence in every seemingly prosaic ‘now ‘and ‘here.’

 

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Linden Thorp is principally a human being though has lived through many other emanations in order to wake up to her humanity!

Smothered by words

This shows how words and images have replaced direct experience of life.

Soul Management

A group of people meeting each other for the first time sit in a room in a circle.  They are asked not to speak but just to look around.

As they look out at each other and their environment, all of them start to whisper descriptions of their circle mates inside their heads, some complimentary, some not. Meanwhile their masks smile and they long to talk with rough words which will somehow help them to learn about these new people. Most of us are taught that words help us to learn about the world when we are children.

But thoughts and words are a sheer reaction to the outside world. Therefore, the individual True Nature of each person in the circle is not present. They are each effectively  a constellation of words and thoughts and skin.

They are looking out but only at the waves not…

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The 9 Breaths: Breath 7

3 Questions?

1. How can the breath make us able to effectively play our role in daily life ?

2. How can the breath break our tendency to become attached to what we think is ‘reality?’

3. How can maintaining your attention on your breath while involved in activities help you to be born anew?

Answers:

1. Activity out in life distracts the mind from its domineering tendencies anyway. But if we know the secret power of our breath, and therefore our True Nature, then we play our roles with ease and there is no sense of futility or tedium.

2. Breath is our indissoluble link with the Universe and so our Divine origins as spirit. Breath brings air into the body but it also brings life force or vitality – Prāna – inside. This cosmic vitality shifts us away from the mundane and limited view of reality the Mind synthesizes.

3. You will not get drawn out of your vital centre into the mundane role and all its absurd antics! Attending to your breath will keep your native spirit alive and awake. In other words, you will not be playing your part on auto-pilot while deeply sleeping!

Introductionhttps://niume.com/post/264747

Breath 1https://niume.com/post/265632

Breath 2https://niume.com/post/266432

Breath 3https://niume.com/post/267922

Breath 4https://niume.com/post/268886

Breath 5https://niume.com/post/269810

Breath 6https://niume.com/post/271614

Important points from Breath 6:

* If we stay attentive between the down (in) breath and the up (out) breath, lingering at the turning of the breath, we will be renewed.

* Entering into the activity you are doing, remember that you can be at the same time. Breathing at the periphery and at the centre: letting the breath touch your centre.

*You are required to play a role in society, in the dream of daily life, which is the Drama of your Life’s body. To do this successfully, we must choose from an extensive wardrobe of masks and not identify with the role! We are merely actors going through our paces. But we carry our reality, our core, with us at all times and the breath is the perfect way to access it.

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Shiva’s 7th breath is meant only for sleep time.

Throughout the preceding breaths we have gradually been going deeper and deeper through the levels of consciousness, across the bridge of the mind into the vast field of awareness.

 

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While waiting to fall into sleep, give your attention to your Third Eye between your eyebrows, and be aware of the rhythmic circle of your breath, the turns from down (in) to up (out).

The air you take in from the universe contains all the nutrient gases you require to live fully, but in addition, an intangible energy from the Cosmos called Prāna. Be aware of Prāna flowing in to you and up to your crown, then showering down and moving closer to your heart, to the centre of your body, until sleep comes.

Remember:  attention is exclusive, awareness is inclusive.

 

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As you begin to fall into sleep behind your eyelids your eyes gravitate towards your Third Eye naturally, so rest there easily, and breathe in the background. If, when, you allow this to happen, you will become Master of your Dreams. And actually, there will be no more dreams because dreams are the very fabric of life. In other words, there will be no separation between your dreams and reality.

 

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Now you are Master of your Dreams, you are also Master of your Death.

Sleep is a small death from which you are reborn, and death is simply a long sleep. You will awaken from both because your spirit is composed entirely of energy which is indestructible.

We can choose to spend our whole life as a bewildered victim of it. Or we can become Master of it through Shiva’s techniques.

In fact, you can become a creator of your dreams and turn away those dreams that are unwanted.

Remember, we are beings of 2 parts: the periphery and the core. We can become Master of both of them and so realize exactly our mission in the world of form.

 

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Shiva says:

‘With intangible breath in the centre of the forehead, as this reaches the heart at the moment of sleep, have direction over dreams and over death itself.’

 

 

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Buddha, along with many other Spiritual leaders, became Master of both during his Enlightenment using Shiva’s tantric breaths. He knew his birth and his death exactly. He precisely predicted the moment of his birth and the moment of his death.

He was attached to nothing on the visual plane so lived a sublime life of freedom and passed into a glorious sleep of death, the PariNirvana, both of which brought the whole of existence to a standstill. This is highly symbolic!

Inspiration: To sharpen your faculty of attention, gaze at a candle flame or a beautiful flower, a wonderful image or creature, for 3 minutes without moving or blinking. This will activate your Third Eye between your eyebrows. This is the power centre of the Divine. Put aside some moments to do this in your favourite place now! Don’t think or talk about it. Just do it!

 

 

 

Wonderful images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

 

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                                                      See you tomorrow for Breath 8!

 

The Peacock: embodying human aspirations to connect with the Universe

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Ancient Indians, like the Aborigines of Australia and Japanese Shintoists, believed wholly in the supernatural and the natural world. They especially envied the characteristics of some animals. The peacock was one such creature they revered and desired to emulate.

At first, they were afraid of the peacock with its mournful cry, its fantastic plumage and feral ways, and especially shocked when they realized on observing that it was capable of eating poisonous spiders and snakes in order to nourish its large physical structure, and could survive. Quite naturally, they also wished to transcend such poisoning and human fragility, and so came to worship the peacock out of a mixture of envy and fear.

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At this time in India there were 2 powerful religions: Hinduism for the masses, and Brahmanism for the elite and all beings aspired to spiritual liberation through these pathways. Therefore many mantras, or recited invocations, were used as a matter of course in everyday life. It is clear from research that the ancient Indians possessed an authentic insight into the use of the spiritual voice to communicate with the invisible world.

So, such mantras were developed to emulate the peacock and bring this animal god closer to the human world—mantras, which even incorporated the doleful cry of the peacock, for example, the Great Peacock King mantra from Tibetan Buddhism: “Om Mayura Krante Svaha.” They really believed that by calling upon this magical and terrifying bird, they may themselves would gain some of its divine qualities and so enable them to transcend their human weaknesses and limitations.

 

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So, Mantrayana, the next stage of Buddhism after the Golden Buddha’s initial teachings and death (circa 2600) was created. This movement was inspired by the idea that all poisons are the same so that in time, the negative aspects of the human mind such as ignorance, greed, and hatred became known as ‘poison’ which required an ‘antidote.’ Mantras or invocations were viewed as just such a kind of antidote and eventually became recognized as a part of nature and not created by man at all.

They represented an esoteric or secret language which nature or the universe would respond to. In other words, a way for humans to fuse with the microcosm.

 

 

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These faith pioneers had enormous imagination not having yet learned the passiveness of modern, intensively technological societies. As today, poisonous snakes such as the cobra were common, so protection and awareness was essential to prevent fatal bites or stings. One method was to mesmerize the snake with the sound of a flute so that it would obey, but another way was to worship creatures that could dispose of them.

When a peacock comes face to face with a snake, it purposely pretends to be scared and allows the snake to wrap itself around its body. Then just as the snake is about to attack, it spreads out its wings and feathers with great force and sends the snake flying.

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The image of the elegant peacock driving away a poisonous snake, like a beautiful woman driving off an evil beast, impressed people. They thought this bird had god-like powers, and so gradually this image metamorphosed into a Buddhist deity or Holy Being. Much later in Japanese Buddhism (7th Century), this image below became known as Peacock Myoo or Guardian of the Law.

The Guardian of the Law is riding on the back of the peacock and holding sacred instruments in each of her four arms: a lotus, a peacock feather, a fruit resembling a lemon, and a pomegranate. The lotus represents benevolence and kindness. The lemon cures the diseases of anyone that eats it. The pomegranate drives off evil spirits. But the mighty peacock feather has the power to actually prevent disasters such as earthquakes and floods. This painting was made using luxurious materials like silver and gold leaf to make it sparkle and shine with the Peacock’s mystical power. However, the metals have tarnished over time so it is difficult to see clearly.

 

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In general, the peacock is a symbol of openness and acceptance. In Christianity, it is a symbol of immortality, and in Hinduism, the patterns of its feathers, resembling eyes, symbolize the star constellations. And in Buddhism as we can see above, wisdom is its attribute.
The five feathers on the peacock’s head are said to symbolize the five spiritual paths and the five Buddha families. Their beautiful colours give pleasure to all beings in the same way that setting eyes upon a Bodhisattva (an enlightened being) or Buddha (an awakened being) can bring comfort and provoke bliss.

 

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Sacred human intelligence is awe-inspiring. The unique human spirit naturally will find many ingenious ways to communicate with its divine origin, the invisible world. I believe that this communication beyond what we can see or prove visually is the way to true balance and unending happiness.

 

 

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Images courtesy of Megapixl.com and Linden Thorp: Vietnam Chua Bai Dinha Temple main Buddha – https://www.megapixl.com/klodien-stock-images-videos-portfolio by jessealbanese; Three Peacocks-kvkirllov; Indian Architecture exterior-Jaipur City Palace-twinandphotography; Indian divinity with peacock – https://www.megapixl.com/magicinfoto-stock-images-videos-portfolio; Myoo-Japan Temple exhibition-clthorp; Beautiful Peacock Roof design-Japan-Lucyinsisu; Head of Peacock – https://www.megapixl.com/adeliepenguin-stock-images-videos-portfolio; Peacock – Krookedeye

 

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The 9 Breaths: Breath 4

When does your breath stop automatically?

When there is danger or great fear, whether in your dreams or in so-called reality.

It is important to remember that breathing and mind work together. Your mind stops in synchrony with your breath in such situations, therefore this is a golden opportunity to look behind the screen of so-called reality.

If you want to start at the beginning, please go to:

Introductionhttps://niume.com/post/264747

Breath 1https://niume.com/post/265632

Breath 2https://niume.com/post/266432

Breath 3https://niume.com/post/267922

Important Points from Breath 3:

* Children breathe deeply exclusively in their abdomen – this is the secret of their totality, their joy and energy. They are existing in or close to their true centre.

*When the breath is static or turns from down (in) to up (out), we are here-and-now in our totality.

*Breath is the bridge to our real centre, to reality, to full awareness.

*The more your breath touches your centre, the more your life force will fuse with the energy of the cosmos, your divine origins.

*When we are in the shadows of negativity, we are divided. We can only live partially if we breathe shallowly, and the upper body is divided from the lower, the angel from the animal.

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Breath stops when there is danger. In tandem with the breath, in such situations the mind also ceases to move in its monkey fashion. Danger galvanizes us and forces us to realize that the small self is simply a daily utility and it can vanish easily.

This is a tremendous resource to get a glimpse of our True Nature.

 

 

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This is why it is important to take risks in your life.

We tend to over-cherish ourselves, over-protect ourselves with our ego shield. This is a function of living in large urban populations unfortunately.

 

 

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Breathing is not something we can practice. Each one is a live performance. But by approaching breathing in different ways, we can feel something different with each performance.

 

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Shiva’s 4th breath has become the basis of Zen teachings in Japan. Ferocious Masters behave in unexpected ways with their pupils to shock them into feeling the breath stop, and so to grasp the power the small self can hold over us. Shiva, the utterly unpredictable, was an expert at living in this way.

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Shiva says: For the pure, the pause when the breath and the mind stop is commonplace, is ever-present.

 

NO desiring. NO seeking. NO looking elsewhere. NO divisions.

 

This is when the mind stops and the bridge of the breath opens up to us. We can easily walk smoothly across it to bask in the vast field of human awareness. We are free to take up our rightful place in the Universe.

Inspiration: Impurity is completely within your control by using the sharp sword of mindfulness. Watch, witness, each of your thoughts as they arise – if they are negative or critical, envious or fearful, just turn away from them. They emanate from the small scared self not your True Self; from the victim of life not the victor. All speech and actions originate in thoughts, but thoughts are never in the present – they are always in the past or the future, both of them man-made concepts not to be confused with reality!!

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      Wonderful images courtesy of Linden Thorp, Mariko Kinoshita and megapixyl.com

                                 Join me tomorrow for Breath 5 of the 9 breath series.

Temple Chronicle (Winter Training in Japan): Facing Adversity Full On!

We modern people have become dis-integrated. This is not surprising as we live under the tyranny of time and space, success or failure, approval or disapproval, love or lovelessness. 

These extremes roll us between them like a ball on a board.

By choice, we spend our daily moments sailing on a stormy ocean lifted and dropped by massive waves. There is no respite from this manipulation, or what we judge as manipulation. ‘Someone else’ creates the waves and the wind, and forces us to be on board! 

There is seldom calm on this kind of sea, but we may induce it though with a soothing substance, with anesthetic, or instead, bury our dreams and self-honesty and let a trespasser deal with the danger.

If we do not have a stable core to contrast with the absurdity of human behavior lived out under tyrants, then we are literally moving from one wave crest to the next, relentlessly. We are not in control because we are outside our spirit, trying to hold everything still in the midst of great flux, trying to make meaning of the nightmare with the conditioned mind. 

One thing finishes and we rush on to the next, galvanized one minute, recuperating the next, always reacting to some prodding from an external source.

The conditioned mind combined with the regulations of society and our communities have snuffed out our inner light, the connection with our True Nature. We are mechanically inhabiting our physical form, but our spiritual essence is lying stagnant. When we look more closely, we find another automaton being has been created by the conditioned mind to fill the fleshy shell, and to take over ownership.

Our stable core has not disappeared entirely but the strata of meaningless life have been laid over the top of it. If we want to integrate once more, we need to find a way to activate and unearth it. Moist moments of meditation, of stepping briefly into the great still silence, will start the process of loosening and removing these strata. 

But it will happen more quickly and effectively if we can take more control of the ship: loosening the sails, off-loading unnecessary ballast, or smiling for no reason because we know that no terrible situation can last forever. It is certain that eventually the waves will subside and the sun will emerge.

Adversity is inevitable in our human lives and as the French origin of this word points out, we should turn into the strong winds of negativity and challenges that we encounter, not away from them. Only fear makes us resist, but fear is a tactic of the conditioned mind to entice us to turn away. Turning towards? Turning away? This is entirely our choice.

If we turn towards our suffering, going with the massive swell of the waves, then we can embody it and better deal with it. Fear and other delusions are random flashing lights which distract us from our native stability. Looking full in the face of our suffering will shift away the strata so that our True Nature will overcome anything.

The Master assures us that confronting a difficult relationship we shy away from is exactly how will find our way back to our stable core. This is because we ‘are’ that situation; it is not something the we ‘have’ or that is imposed on us. 

If we say the words, ‘I am suffering,’ and not ‘I have so much suffering,’ we step into control, no longer a pitiable victim of life’s cruelty. 

In reality, we are neither separate nor exempt

Images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

Winter training is an annual event in Japan when Buddhists practise austerities and change their daily routines dramatically in order to awaken to new spiritual insights. This is a daily chronicle consisting of reflections on such insights.

Temple Chronicle: Winter Training

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Our human lives are a process, a means whereby, but what is the result, the end-product? Our story began with the moment of birth and it will end with the moment of death. Or will it? Between these two points our physical form develops and matures, and then as its season draws to a close, it starts to shrink and slow.

We, our spirits, are temporarily housed in a flesh form to participate in the visual material world which is subject to varied and numerous conditions. It is logical then that the conditioned mind expects results from the progress through the years of our lifespan.

Religions use certain terms for this end-product, this resolution of the years and the effort – Heaven or Hell, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Paradise, Zion, Avalon, Swarga, Valhalla, and so on. But words and images die the moment they appear or are uttered or thought. ‘Birth’ and ‘Death’ are also only words, but we identify ourselves with them – ‘my birth,’ ‘his death,’ and so on, and once again they are dead, in the past, dropped like a heavy stone into a deep pool.

 

 

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Without using any special labels or grand proper nouns, we have always flowed in the vast wide river of all energy, and we always will. Energy is vibration and light which is subject to no conditions, not even human’s facile notions of ‘time’ or ‘space.’ It goes where it will dependent on nothing, consuming the darkness, flowing and flowing. There are no rewards or results in any dimension except the joy of being and loving with company in our human boats, and breathing in concert.

The conditions throw up obstacles in the way of our flow which create detours, sluggish pools, and rapids. The build up of the heat of negative emotions and violence acted out in the form world, the jarring of separations and limitations, the tattering and fraying of the fabric of the universe at our human hands, causes drought and the flow dwindles to a trickle, or floods which extinguish the divine flame of the flow.

 

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Can you desist from throwing obstacles into the flow now and here? Can you give up your addiction to collecting, to hoarding, to getting and spending, to violent acts of separation from your fellows? Can you say you will no longer depend on creating parallel worlds in your mind with words and images so that you can just flow and flow, laughing and loving?

Slap bang in the centre of this moment and in no place in particular, can you accept that there is nothing you have to do except be, and in your full being the flow flows without end?

 

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In Japan, this is the most intense season of spiritual training – Winter Training. Over the next few days I would like to share with you some insights as we consider our previous year of practice and awareness.

 

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images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

The world of words

 

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The world of words demands that we churn out concepts and assertions mindlessly. Each word creates an image in our visual libraries and memory banks. The bridge of the mind leading out to the vast field of consciousness is so cluttered with verbiage and images that we are stranded there. We are blocked in.

But unblocking is not just a matter of clearing out, discarding our highly documented lives out onto the scrap heap. No matter how badly they make us suffer by living always indirectly, marooning us in our own minds, we must accept that we have actually created them in our unique way. They are what we amount to so far: they are our materials. But even cutting-edge science tells us that materials are not permanent.

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So, first, we must acknowledge them, accept them as our way up to this point. Then we can tenderly build a fire and set them alight, watching them burn with gratitude.  We need to accept that they are a means whereby and that without them we would be deprived of their richness, but that they are not who we are. We have to go beyond the material to find true happiness and wisdom.

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In the desert, in the Dreaming Lands, aboriginals set light to large tracts of land to promote new growth in the universe and to send cleansing smoke up to the sky travelers. Japanese Buddhists write prayers and mantras then burn them in a special Homa fire to convey them into the invisible world and to burn away human delusions. Fire cleanses and promotes new growth, so let go of the archives and new growth is guaranteed to appear. The bridge will instantly be unblocked.

We must keep creating because that is our modern way, teeming with diversity, but we can discard, empty the trash on a regular basis, and spend a little more time each day in the great still silence where words and images have no purpose. Then listening can slowly and steadily be interspersed with looking because sound is concrete whereas images are abstract.

And words? Concentrate your attention on the sound of the words instead of the meaning. Listen to the heart behind the words that reach you and linger lovingly there without reacting or categorizing, or trying to make them permanent. Listen to a foreign language without translating. These are the utterances of a fellow true spirit after all.

With a sincere heart and full awareness, you can cease to assert and window-dress your ego when you interact with other true natures in your vicinity. Asserting is merely a desperate attempt to make yourself and your world permanent in someone else’s eyes, and probably in your own. But It excludes others and separates us away.

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When you speak remember that you are essentially spirit so you must express yourself in an artfully vague and convivial way like a breeze, the rapid flapping of the wings of the hummingbird, or the constant fluttering of a candle flame.

We actually have no single ‘claim’ to make via our soft lips or balanced on plump tongues, because we are pure love energy, not thoughts or arguments.

The human throat is actually best-suited to singing. Instead of words, fingers and eyes and warm breath mixed with our unique fragrance will register our sincere heart with perfection. Therefore, it is wise to refrain from talk until you have checked your free flow of universal love.

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The Human Papers: an extract

 

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Monk of the World

“They have always told me that the first time is the worst, so I should cultivate fear before I jump or enter the freezing torrent inch by inch.  That makes me smile.  They also firmly assure me that to talk to myself indicates madness! Ha!

I was told take this orange and eat it ‘only when you are alone,’ but I protested, saying, ‘I am never alone because I am part of the universe.  I am not separate or different.’

I tried to explain that the shiny peel of the fruit I turned slowly in my hand as I spoke was my skin, its microscopic pores allowing the inside of the fruit out and the outside in.  I said, ‘this fruit can breathe just like me. This concentration of the pungent and dazzling essence of “orange” was made visible exactly to make our human lives possible.  Its heart of sparkle and freshness is my heart too.’

But the subject was quickly changed to something banal and I was condemned as a mad eccentric!  

‘Alone’ is a human excuse, a weakness, an inability to accept that one is not an island. Thinking that we are ‘alone,’ ‘solitary,’ ‘unique’ is the sheer fantasy of a deluded arrogant mind. Indeed, thought itself is a dead thing which disconnects us from the universe. 

At this moment my critics seeing me standing waist-deep in this deluge would ask indignantly, ‘How can you stand the racket of the water in torrents, let alone stand under them. You seem to welcome the pelting of its icy dollops on your head?’

They are afraid because they have made themselves separate, aloof from nature’s tears of joy. I raise my open hands eagerly towards the cascade to connect with other universal evidence which is identical to me.  Ah!  There I go!  There is no ‘me.’” 

The monk of the world splashes the surface aggressively, sometimes momentarily angry that he has become flesh with all its conditions, its catapults and trip wires. But it is only a lightning flash of what completely consumes and disables most humans.  At these minute incidences of human anger, he knows overwhelmingly that overcoming this is his mission, his very mission.  He must not get tricked, must not fall into the trance that most flesh-dwellers fall into with alacrity, but that also he must never deny his blessed flesh.  It is always a source of sunshine and joy to him with its ever-changing texture, it’s hot and cold spots, its expanding and contracting, dilating and retracting, its inner winds and tides. Planetary. Wandering. This shocks other celibate clerics whose flesh is extinct.

The moment in his childhood when he sat on the deserted beach of his homeland and the sea and sky became one, floats peacefully by before his eyes in the watery chaos.  He knew then that the horizon was just a device of the mind and that the blue and the green were not separate, not water and air distinct from each other.  Their blue and green actually flowed in his own eyes and arteries. And he felt sad for all the people around him who misunderstood their existence and in so doing created a perpetual drama, swinging helplessly between heaven and hell, manufacturing fear and pride from their factories.  Without these fabrications, life was timeless, limitless, positive and exuberant.  

‘The water fall is stingingly silent now and yet deafening at the same time. But I am no longer the listener.  What the trapped would perceive, do perceive, as slapping icy pain, assault, arctic torture, is in truth the universe dancing on my skull and shoulders.  It in itself will never break me, but the thought of it, the fear and anticipation of it might, I realize.

The taste of blood comes from the searing cold pellets scratching and chafing my skin, but how do I know it is blood, or that it is my blood.  No, I cannot know that. It is not my mission to identify with this form I am lodging in to complete my mission, to rise to my next evolution. The manifestation of my vibrations only exists for others, their eyes and ears recurring the birth and death of my flesh.

Audience

The two trapped peers watch from above.  They must always observe this exotic creature asking how he came to exist, jealous of his determination and worst of all of his power. Everything he has touched has benefited and all he has encountered have loved and attended to him. They shout loudly to each other above the din below.

‘How many thousands of years has he been here? And why does he make us feel so insecure?’

‘Perhaps he’s a gongen or god of the mountain forests? He never seems to eat or sleep, only to go in search of beautiful women to woo and flirt with, and to conquer. A shaven-headed being has never been seen in these parts before.’

‘Con, have you ever cut your hair since you became a man?’

‘No, never. Because I know it’s the source of my manhood. That I will get many children with this strength that I cultivate each day with rare herbs and wild garlic oil.’ He caresses it as he speaks sliding his fingers along its length hanging down his back.

‘Why doesn’t he realize that do you think? He just shaves his off with his sword the moment it starts to sprout while staring into a still pool. Or does he know a secret we don’t? Do you think we have been tricked, Doi?’

They both simultaneously lift off their conical straw hats, pulling down the chin strap and letting them float in the steaming bubbling pool they sit dangling their feet into to warm them. Meanwhile, still keeping a watchful eye on their bald charge, they adjust their top knots, gathering the fallen hairs and tightening the leather tie.  Their special lacquered combs are always kept at hand to scrape back fine hairs that fly away when it is so freezing. Hair, after all, is their future happiness.  They must look after it well. 

After checking their top knots and replacing their warmed bamboo hats which bring a smile to their icy cheeks, they simultaneously undo the ties of their top robes, their several under robes, and finally unwrap the silk binding shielding their withered penises from the cold. They are also their future happiness and the source of their descendants so they must tend them carefully.  And at this point, they turn away from each other for privacy and to do what they must individually. 

They each have different beliefs about their body fluids: Con that he should never let sperm escape from his body in order to preserve his essence for forthcoming generations; and Doi that he should let out his sperm every day so that the amount he produces will increase like a bottomless well. So, there they sit, back to back, peeking down into the deep watery valley below, one breathing deeply to make his penis wither even more and to enhance his supply of sperm deep inside him, thanking the ancestors for the cold weather which makes it so much easier, but secretly dreading the hot summer; and Con, caressing and pulling to make himself larger and larger, battling against the freezing cold which touches his pinkening scrotum, occasionally stopping to warm his hands in the steaming water, then continuing on, willing the moment of ejaculation to come. 

Neither of them has a thought or erotic image in their heads, no flashing picture show of slow unveiling or forbidden scenes because humans have not fallen from godhood so nothing has been hidden or become unknown. The evil and distraction of the secular have still not developed so their minds are truly pure and if an impure sensation is detected, they tell each other immediately and help each other to realize that they must not interfere, must not try to go upriver even if unconsciously. It is simply their duty to tend their hair and their manhood because they are told that this is their mission in life, to preserve the generations of their line making them strong and wise. 

Unlike the smiling apparition below in white blood-stained robes standing directly beneath the waterfall waist-deep in the shallow pool, they have been instructed what to do and how to do it to preserve their generations, to hand down the wisdom, to be a respected member of their community. They are all practical, loyal and devoted, while he is ethereal, unidentified with anything or any idea, flowing downwards with the torrent and going where he must.

For both Con and Doi, pleasure and duty are indiscernible. Their clear mission is to follow the wise. They must not be different or stand out in any way.  Con is calm, reduced, his inner storehouse full and potent, his heart somehow warmed and reassured by the concentration of energy down into his feet: he is relieved in one way.  Doi is also calm now, breathing quite quickly and feeling the warmth of his sexual energy rising and then falling. His tide comes well in, crashes hard on the beach with a slapping noise audible to Con despite the waterfall din, and then ebbs away and he sighs and shudders.  He is relieved in another way.  They turn to each other now and check and admire the wilt of their respective vegetables, Doi wiping and commenting on the thickness and quantity of his produce.

‘There! Duty done. And all the warmer for it too!’

They wrap themselves away, binding their testicles separately to their scrotums in a matter of fact way, lifting a leg or a buttock to make sure the silk is straight and does not later irritate or chafe them as they climb and descend the forest slopes in pursuit of the ice-bather. Then they pull down their various layers, straighten their dresses and check themselves once more, settling down to observe in silence, turning their satisfied gaze to the waterfall. But in simultaneous tension, they guffaw that the creature has gone.  Vanished!  Not a trace!

They cautiously inch down the steep path to look for traces of him.  The ice is thick in places but they lower themselves down with bendable bamboo holding onto each other.  Once standing at the edge of the pool shivering, holding their ears, they comb the surface for a trace of his blood, a shred of his white robe, a scatter of stones as he staggered out stiffly to run for cover.

They look at each other dumbfounded.  Perhaps they also had dreamed they saw him, as others reported they had done. 

cold water ablution