[-empyre-] nothing gives

Ricky Ray tykal49 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 29 07:10:13 EST 2014


I wonder what this healing aspect of a "healing nihilism" refers
to--healing what, and to what end? And where is the idea/feeling of needing
to be healed coming from, how is it operating in/affecting one's day-to-day
behavior? If there is a sense of brokenness behind it, what would dropping
that perceptual filter, if only momentarily, do?

I've been following the conversation with interest, but have found a
mixture of difficulty and reluctance rise up when I think of entering it.
Here, though, I feel a window, if not a door. I'd question the extent of
the nihilism too, but to avoid splitting hairs indefinitely, the position
of no expectation or projection seems to hold immense potential for peace
and, let's say, an even-handed, potentially good-willed movement through
the world. It's what I latched onto in my studies of Jnana yoga, advaita
vedanta, comparative mysticism, etc: where there's no or little
expectation, and a vigilant attentiveness to it when it does rise up (so
that it can be let go), there can be greatly diminished disappointment--a
sort of meeting of what comes without so much disgust and horror, or
without prolonging and enlarging such feelings if they naturally arise in
response, and an availability of attention/energy to work on the
issues/problems at hand. Or to not work on them and move on if that feels
right. Or to intentionally focus on them until they cause some type of
inner transformation and spur a need for action. This is where choice comes
in for me--I can stand in the all-accepting, all-being position and move on
in detachment, or in love, or not move on and choose positions to
represent, protect, fight for, etc. How to decide? Gut level response,
mostly. For me, anyways. And if a chosen effort leads into debilitating
anguish, or threatens my health or the health of my family, etc., I can
reassess the position and let it go, make arrangements to take the threat
away from family onto myself, etc...in any case the peace of the
non-positionality remains in the background and can be dropped back into.
That choice is also what I meant when I said "potentially good-willed,"
because the supra-human perspective can be used to ill ends too, or to
remain detached and withhold love in a state of neutrality, though I like
to believe we (or the majority, or enough to sustain a thirst for balance)
are wired towards companionship, health, and beneficence.

Along the lines of Simon's response, no-thing denotes *being *in my mind,
through and as which all things (and thinginess) occur, and presence, not
in a positive sense, but rather in a sense of comprising, giving rise to
and dissolving position/negation. The second law of thermodynamics gives
me, not comfort, but a deep reassurance...one could call it a faith in
existence, whereby the rise and fall of a species within life, life within
earth (at least), and earth within existence, can be seen simply (and
complexly) as movements of energy, and beautiful for being so, and terrible
for the pressure they exert on the human apparatus when it finds itself
entrenched in a narrowed field of perspective.

Another reason I've found the conversation difficult to enter is that much
of my current work (in poetry) and thinking deals not with the
human-to-human relationship as much as with the human-to-life,
human-to-earth, and human-to-being relationship. I have little if any hope
for the end of war or great improvements in society and civilization unless
that hope hinges on improvements in our responsibilities to the
life-support system we inhabit and the living and non-living forces at play
therein. I'm reluctant to say so, but personal changes in ecological
footprint, population considerations, nutrition, focus on health from
within to without, etc., seem at least as important as changes in
person-to-person behavior. I don't mean to underplay the subject at hand;
the violence perpetrated daily by governments, police, gangs, individuals,
etc. sends chills to my core, but I think the violence we all partake of in
other realms deserves a sizable place in the conversation as well (I'm
heartened to see that it has entered the conversation in places). Being in
the recent climate march was both encouraging for the fact and impact, and
discouraging for the small size in relation to the city's population, let
alone the population of the metropolitan area and beyond. The outrage in
Ferguson, Mexico, etc., is likewise both encouraging for the will it
expresses, and discouraging for the unlikelihood of significant change.

Where does this leave me? In my senses, abilities and opportunities,
grateful for them and the compulsion to do good where and how I can, and to
try to spread that compulsion as a kind and generous influence. Cut through
on some days, lifted up on others, usually bouncing somewhere in the
middle, but never without a tether to that underlying peace in being
through which I come. Emboldened by the failure inherent in attempting to
do good and ceaselessly improve myself because I know the lack of a goal
will never allow me a resting place in which to sit and deny the road ahead.

I'll sign-off with a poem from a couple years ago that comes to mind now:

*A Small Good Here and There*

Fountains, waters, trees and their fruits

and our poor, unsurefooted knowledge in their shade;

light the likes of which could toast a man for breakfast—

I want to take it all in and try out its implications

and lay it down in a way

that makes plain what it means to feel it,

to feel oneself in awe of life’s spectacle,

in awe of earth's spectacle,

in awe of things I haven't the tongue the speak;

to feel oneself, despite life's sorrows and sufferings,

or because of them too, tethered to one’s surroundings

as though they were one’s parent, sibling and child

(my cat purrs as I write this), and one were beholden

by blood, circumstance and will to their fate—

can the life of a land mean that much to a man,

a land which is not his? Of course it can,

and it is his, no matter men's laws

and the catacombs of paper and hardship

they put in his way to thwart him.

The land where it is said that no one lives

holds so much living in the lives that pass through,

and that land is his as is the truth experienced in saying

I have felt the blood of all men and women within my bones,

and I wonder if they have felt me feeling them.

Over and over I return to the point where I ask myself:

what good can I do in my life, which means

what good can I do in a day, which means

what good can I do moment to moment,

and the answer: a small good here and there.

How those goods accumulate

and how the bad I do offsets them

remains to be seen, and it is probably

a good thing that I won’t live to see it.

I can only hope my children

may be glad to see it for me.

Whether I have them or not.


And a poem I returned to yesterday that made me dwell further on the

from “Contra Mortem” by Hayden Carruth, 1966

* The Wheel of Being II*

Such figures if they succeed are beautiful
because for a moment we brighten in a blaze of rhymes
and yet they always fail and must fail
and give way to other poems
in the endless approximations of what we feel
Hopeless it is hopeless  Only the wheel
endures   It spins and spins winding
the was the is the will be out of nothing
and thus we are   Thus on the wheel we touch
each to each a part
of the great determining reality   How much
we give to one another   Perhaps our art
succeeds after all our small song done in the faith
of lovers who endlessly change heart for heart
as the gift of being   Come let us sing against death.


With love and admiration for this outpouring and achievement,


On Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 1:36 AM, simon <swht at clear.net.nz> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>  On 26/11/14 17:00, Alan Sondheim wrote:
> to ask again if anyone has reference to a humanistic or healing nihilism,
> can one begin within degree zero expectation or projection, so to speak,
> and find some comfort in thought or movement, as if in flight elsewhere -
> to feel something like being led into a trap by this question: when we
> have heard here from Japan where Nishida Kitarō made nothingness absolute -
> and in discussion with members of Minus Theatre too (a research group which
> involves immigrants to New Zealand who perform in their own languages) from
> China, Korea and Taiwan there is a persistent rebuttal of the *negativity*
> of nothingness - and - given where this discussion here has turned on
> spatial particularities - an affirmation of space over time. Now, from the
> little I understand of the point of view which makes violence particular to
> a place and the point of view which makes violence a singularity in any
> place whatsoever, I would agree that these positions seem irreconcilable,
> and yet... this is not the irreconcilability of violent acts, or terrorism *tout
> court*, but of a singularity with a particularity.
> (Minus Theatre starting using the different languages of individuals from
> different cultures - and places - because I was being selfish: it makes me
> feel good. It is like a music and at the same time overhearing a secret we
> weren't supposed to, an enigma. And we started doing this - rehearsing -
> because I said we need to bring together in the group all those things that
> makes us feel good - facing a singularity - that of potential human
> extinction - with the particularities of our individual powers - in
> performance.)
> Best,
> Simon
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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