My writing is part of a life practice, using language as a means of travel, being in the flow, letting go. Language in motion, not attempting to impart stale or static knowledge. Maybe language is a little bit like a finger. If language is the finger, then what is the moon? The moon is a great mystery. Do not mistake the finger for the moon. Or vice versa. My writing attempts to travel with those great mysteries, to the moon, or other places, without clinging, or judging what is appropriate, better or worse. The Spirit of the Bathtub is part of that great mystery. It is, essentially, a spiritual book of nomadic surrealist travel. In the expansive tradition. Sometimes minimalist like Basho. Sometimes narrative and parable like.
If you listen to Alan Watts and other American Buddhist dharma talks, they often talk about expanding, rather than constricting. What does it mean? We all feel it, in one way or another, the tightening in the mind and body from various obligations, fears, and worries. The natural response is to cling, try to hold on. For example, as a teacher, I sometimes think in order to create a good lesson I need a lot of planning, and also anxiety, before entering the classroom. I have to prepare myself for the unexpected. But does the anxiety really help? Are my lessons more effective when I am anxious beforehand? It seems when I am in a more open and expansive state, some call this being in the flow, I am also more likely to complete various tasks more effectively, including writing and teaching. Of course, most importantly, the quality of my life is also better.
Many of us, in one way or another, have to deal with anxiety. My anxiety is very high. I used to take various prescriptions for severe anxiety, among other mental health issues, but stopped taking them in 2007. It is not easy but I felt they were no longer useful. Cognitive behavioural therapy is sometimes helpful. But I often feel I have a long way to go in dealing with my anxiety. It is a practice. I have to find ways of letting go. How to let go, in a skilful way? Without either repressing the emotions or feeding the anxiety by expressing it? Sometimes I need to allow for anger, and that is something I am still working on. How to express anger in a healthy way. I rarely express any anger. I just internalise it. I am afraid if I express anger, or any other so-called negative emotion, I will feed it. So how to let go? I am most happy in the moment, not holding onto anything, not clinging, being in the flow in an alert observational state, but this takes practice, without clinging to ideas of the “correct” outcome, and sometimes it takes expressing my “negative” emotions in order to let go.
In Alan Watts book,The Wisdom of Insecurity, he explains the often repeated story of the finger and the moon:
“It is like when someone points his finger at the moon to show it to someone else. Guided by the finger, that person should see the moon. If he looks at the finger instead and mistakes it for the moon, he loses not only the moon but the finger also. Why? It is because he mistakes the pointing finger for the bright moon.”
Poetry is part of my life practice, but it is only the finger pointing to the moon, bright and radiant. If language is the finger then what is the moon? It is the great mystery. It is original mind. Beyond good and evil.