Horizontal Vision

Storytellers do not convert their listeners; they do not move them into the territory of a superior truth. Ignoring the issue of truth and falsehood altogether, they offer only vision. Storytelling is therefore not combative; it does not succeed or fail. A story cannot be obeyed. Instead of placing one body of knowledge against another, storytellers invite us to return from knowledge to thinking, from a bounded way of looking to an horizontal way of seeing.


– James Carse. Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility


Image: Argentina Street Art





The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.


– Wendell Berry


Poem taken from a comment in: negativegeography.com






Seeing Reality Upside Down

Fundamentally our true heart, our true nature, is pure and infinite, like the moon clear in the blue sky. At some distant time past our knowing, it was tainted by passion and became the impure heart, something not our real selves but which came afterwards. But this which came afterwards becomes predominant and sets at naught the true heart, just as the concubine sets at naught the true wife. How often one has read in the papers that the steward of some large estate, or the manager of a great firm perhaps, has set at naught his true masters and using the money for himself has brought ruin all round. Just in this way we entrust ourselves to the operations of the deluded and passion-ridden heart, so that the true master, the Buddha heart, cannot even show its face. The thoughts of the impure heart are topsy-turvy, for it sees reality as upside down.


– Takashina Rosen. A Tongue-Tip Taste of Zen.






The Motivation For Attainment

Now a man is what he is, and his desires are according to his nature. If he is a “bad” man then his desires will be bad, even though one of them is that he shall become better. We discover this by asking why he wants to become better. The underlying motive for attainment is tainted because the man who entertains it is bad; he wants to become better out of self-interest, because in his pride he wishes to escape from the reproach of being bad. If this is pointed out to him, he will then ask whether he ought simply to accept his badness. And if we again ask him why he wants to accept his badness, we discover that he wants to accept it in order to escape from it. He is caught whichever way he turns because the means he adopts, his behavior, his ideas, his religion, are always his, and he will use them according to his capacity and his nature. They are like so many different suits of clothes; he may wear rags, ermine, tweeds, or skins, he may walk, run, skip, or trot, he may whisper, shout, sing, or talk – but he himself remains the same since he is the cause and not the consequence of his actions.


– Alan Watts (1940, p 126-7)






Killing The Spirit

When I say that evil has to do with killing, I do not mean to restrict myself to corporeal murder. Evil is that which kills spirit. There are various essential attributes of life — particularly human life — such as sentience, mobility, awareness, growth, autonomy, will. It is possible to kill or attempt to kill one of these attributes without actually destroying the body. Thus we may “break” a horse or even a child without harming a hair on its head.


Erich Fromm was acutely sensitive to this fact when he broadened the definition of necrophilia to include the desire of certain people to control others-to make them controllable, to foster their dependency, to discourage their capacity to think for themselves, to diminish their unpredictability and originality, to keep them in line. Distinguishing it from a “biophilic” person, one who appreciates and fosters the variety of life forms and the uniqueness of the individual, he demonstrated a “necrophilic character type,” whose aim it is to avoid the inconvenience of life by transforming others into obedient automatons, robbing them of their humanity.


Evil then, for the moment, is the force, residing either inside or outside of human beings, that seeks to kill life or liveliness. And goodness is its opposite. Goodness is that which promotes life and liveliness.


– M. Scott Peck