POOLSIDE - 1977
Contemplating the "norm"
occurrs within an afternoon spent
swimming at a resort pool.
Hours spent in watching
Americans at leisure
tourists all of them, unlike me
They have different concerns
which could be due to income extremes
Most seem to be in the middle bracket
of course, one never knows
only by observation
considering poolside as leisure
this is an interesting study
Outside of eating, drinking, and picture taking
noone seems to be doing anything
like reading a paper or a book
several are engaged in casual conversations saying nothing of importance to anyone
I sometimes wonder if people today
ever exercise their brains at all?
or maybe those that do
would never lounge around a pool all afternoon
I wonder where they all went?
Fleeing to the countryside burbs
for long evenings spent in television
over ever-filled wine glasses
or scattered about in "crash pads"
on university campuses
only to emmulate the word "Pseudo"
Wasting Time - 1974
Is time something one can waste?
Sitting for hours at a cardtable
or gazing at the ocean's waves, listening to the message
they bring to our senses.
Is quilt caused by wasting time?
Long eternities that could be better spent
in some sort of fabrication; or mass production
creating a product where a memory could be.
Does the Inca contemplating his corn,
while lunching on poppy and tortillas,
spending hours induced with bliss
feel any frustration whatever?
Or the hippie, having quit school
preferring to spend time by listening to riffs
or hours in conversation with his peers,
feel any need to accomplish?
What about the fisherman
who spends hours just waiting
for the catch of his life, only
to throw back the fish giving such pleasure?
Or the golfer, who really believes
that there is some type of importance
in hitting a little white ball for eighteen holes
only to see it disappear.
Seems to me that I'm lucky. Bread on my table
has been provided by circumstance.
My time is my own. I spend hours at a computer
or with friends or in dreams - whatever
But try seeing my reaction,
when enjoying myself to the fullest
doing what my society claims is nonproductive,
I break out in hives.
DICHOTOMY - 1993
I sit starboard
looking at a waxing moon
five days to go
I had to leave the bar
without fight or interruption
hastening to the ladies room
I avoided an argument
twenty five years in standing
Anya is my friend
she is from Holland and sailed 1000 miles
in tandem with our group
strangers - coming to Paradise
seeking the answers, and a better life
We meet now, two years later
having drinks in a bar
after the America’s Cup
Her husband has had a by-pass
Of course, I am sympathetic, they were friends
and came, with a present, to my 55 th birthday
We spent warm evenings together
under a warm Caribbean sun and a
most beautiful all world full moon
Now, perching brightly on a bar stool
It seems that this same husband, still in the states
letting her do the delivery of their boat
to the Eastern shore, is staying with the nemesis of
well over six million people, only used
as a comparison with Auserwitz
Robert McNamara is his host
and the master of ceremonies to one such Vietnam
Twenty five years ago I fought
like a caged lioness protecting her cubs
I beseech you “Do not sent these boys
into a war they cannot win. They went.
They died. We lived. And now, in 1995
McNamara has authored a book
in which he states that he knew all along
that America’s position was wrong
Hey lady, Hey Anya, I have problems with this
screaming to the moon from my cockpit
I question God and all of her forces
How can it be that a world that is seen as perfect
when sailing, can be partial to such evil?
To me, staying in McNamara’s house is very much
the equivalent as to staying with the devil
Anya, don’t ask me to befriend you
Don’t you realize how we fought
those of us not in uniform, over two decades ago
to end this unnecessary war?
Don’t you realize that McNamara was the enemy?
Now he has written a book--God bless him
Stating that he knew the war was wrong
Then--then--he realized it then
And he wants forgiveness? Understanding??
Tell that to the spirits of the 56,000 men dead
tell that to their widows, to their children, to their parents
tell that to me, who knew at the time that the war was wrong - - - as did millions of others.
What would you think if I was visiting in your country
and my husband had received a by-pass
and was staying with Hitler’s right hand man.
Would you be impressed? He was a friend of the
highest in command. Or would you feel as I do
Total and complete disgust.
Let us discuss it no more, my friend
For you are not from here--And I am not from there
Trust me, some things you must believe
I do not think I would tell, even in secret,
that you know such a man.
AN ESSAY ON "WHAT IS MEDITATION?"
Meditation is when one has entered into a meditation posture (sitting, lying, standing, or walking) with the "intent to meditate." Just the fact that one has decided to meditate makes that activity meditation; for all intents and purposes, one has started a meditative process, no matter what happens.
That meditative process however may not be the same for everyone or the same for one person all the time. The process is affected by the intention one has for meditation, as well as by the state of mind one is in. Often one defines meditation by the nature of the intention (the meditation practice) one chooses and not by the state of mind one is in at the beginning. But what if one were to define meditation by the states of mind that condition one's meditative process rather than the intentional activity one brings to meditation?
Meditation may then be "initiated" by the intention to meditate but not restricted by the intention to do a particular meditation practice. This is an important distinction. When most people meditate, they do a particular practice through which meditation then becomes defined. They become meditators who use a certain mantra, do Vipassana, count their breaths, etc. What happens when the intention to meditate does not include such practices? The intention to meditate then becomes not "doing a meditation practice" but rather a willingness to be open to one's current state of mind.
One's current state of mind is not a static thing. It is a dynamic process. The meditative process one encounters at the outset of a meditation sitting is usually a carry-over from a non-meditative "mind-stream" that is being brought into the meditative "mind-stream": a transition occurs that allows the non-meditative to become the meditative. It is this very transition which is denied when the intention to do a particular meditation practice is added to the basic intention to meditate. Its denial, or avoidance, is what makes it difficult to see the actual meditative process; instead, the meditator primarily sees how well or poorly he is doing the intended meditation practice.
ACTUAL MEDITATIVE PROCESS
Seeing the actual meditative process is seeing the dynamic nature of states of mind. It is known through becoming conscious of one's relationship with the content of one's meditative experience. I have delineated six distinct meditative processes which are based on the shifting relationship one has with the content of one's meditation sittings. They are as follows:
1. Conflicted: experiencing some kind of inner struggle or turmoil.
2. Connected: being settled or focused, including being connected with an object of concentration.
3. Generative/experimental: generating a state of mind to replace an existing state of mind or conducting an inquiry, an experiment, or a prescribed contemplation.
4. Receptive/open: being passive and receptive in regard to one's experiences or becoming open to all that arises.
5. Explorative: exploring the nature of one's experiences, through recollection and/or in the moment, by seeing what is occurring alongside, underneath, and within the experiences one is having.
6. Non-taking up: experiencing while not taking up the experience.
Meditation practices have emerged out of people experiencing these processes. A well-known example of this is the Buddha's story as to how he discovered that awareness of breathing leads to absorption (a connected process). He saw how connection occurs through awareness of breathing and then was able to teach a "meditation practice" based on it. To invent a practice without knowing where it leads would have been absurd.
The way these processes work is that when one is in one of these processes, only practices based on those processes will be effective. All other practices will be counter-productive or simply ineffectual. But as I stated earlier, to meditate according to these processes, one has to allow meditation to be defined by the simple intent to meditate and not by a meditation practice one has decided to do. Simply put, one sits without adding an agenda (while being aware of the intentions that arise to deny or avoid the process one is in). To do this is to allow a natural transition to occur from the non-meditative (or pre-meditative) situation to the meditative process based on the intention to meditate. This transition will often entail a "conflicted process."
A "conflicted process" by its very nature will be judged as not meditating. It is meditating because it occurs within meditation, and needs to be deemed an acceptable experience before it can truly be allowed into one's meditation sittings. So during the transition that occurs at the beginning of a sitting, while not doing any prescribed practice, one may be in conflict as to what one should be doing. One will most likely doubt that this is meditation and be confused as to what meditation really is, and attempt to resolve this conflict by doing some kind of meditation practice. Knowing that the conflicted process will be a significant part of one's meditation practice, learning to be with it in an accepting and gentle manner, will do a great deal to make it more tolerable, and turn it into an arena of interest and exploration as opposed to it becoming something to be avoided or eliminated.
What tends to happen within a conflicted process when an attempt is made to do a particular meditation practice is that an additional layer of conflict is created within the meditation sitting. When one has difficulty doing a connected practice, such as keeping one's attention on the breath, it is often due to the fact that one is in a conflicted process and is trying to get past it. The effort to become connected with the breath turns into an effort to stop one's mind from wandering away from the breath, which creates internal struggle and additional inner conflict. When one stops trying to impose a "connected" practice on a conflicted process, a noticeable decrease in tension and conflict can be perceived.
When is the correct time for doing a connected practice (such as being with the breath)? It is when a connected process is already evident. Awareness of the breath at this time may only require a gentle redirecting of one's attention to the breath. If awareness of the breath is indeed capable of furthering a connected process at that time, one's attention will stay there with minimal effort. But if the connected process is to be furthered by one's attention going to bodily sensations, visual images, or thought activity, for instance, then it may be difficult to hold one's attention on the breath without using some kind of stronger effort or force. It may be wiser to let the connected process inform one of what kind of object is to be connected with at any given time, for that can reduce desire and aversion in the connected process.
A generative process is similar to a connected process in that it is best practiced when it is evident. I would say this goes for generative practices such as guided meditation as well. One will get the most out of a guided meditation when one is in an internal process where creating and generating images, feelings, or concepts require only gentle effort. One purpose of the generative process is to generate more wholesome states of mind and to make those states of mind real, active, and effective, and that will happen most often when one's mind is in a place of doing just that.
A receptive process is completely different from the connected and generative processes in that it occurs without effort. There is no effort to be receptive, one just is. Receptivity may be experienced as a process of "being lead", of not choosing what will happen next or manipulating the outcome of a series of experiences. One will thus most likely stumble into a receptive process; even if it is an outcome of a conflicted, connected, or generative process, the receptive process will appear at its own time and under its own conditions. When one has gone through it, one may re-define meditation as the process of letting go, surrendering, losing of one's self, etc., where as before one may have defined meditation as a connected experience with the breath or mantra or as a generative experience of creating certain mind-states and making them real.
In the explorative process, the nature of investigating what goes on in meditation changes from a directed inquiry (or prescribed contemplation) to an exploration of what is occurring receptively in one's meditation sittings. This type of exploration can occur after-the-fact and involve recollection of a prior experience, as well as thoughtful contemplation or analysis of that experience. The type of thinking that goes on can be analytic in the sense of breaking down the experience into parts, but may not have the added psychoanayltic component of seeking childhood causes or seeing experiences through the lens of developmental theory.
Such a thought process can also go on concurrently with the experience being explored, even as the experience is changing rapidly and distinctly. This kind of exploration may yield occasional understandings, but, for the most part, will be open-ended and culminate without any conclusions being reached. Even when conclusions are reached, those conclusions will also be subjected to investigation. This is not an intentional process, as an inquiry or contemplation would be, but rather a secondary process that forms out of the receptive process, whereby what is experienced receptively can be known and fully comprehended. Someone who goes through this type of exploration in meditation may then re-define meditation as an explorative process, where one's mind is capable of looking into one's experiences without aversion, greed, or attachment.
At its most rudimentary, the non-taking up process is where one can have experiences and not take them up, either by not holding on to them or by not believing in their validity. The experiences are not eliminated or diminished, but rather are gone through completely and are abandoned without any effort to do so. One's freedom in the process is known through the capacity not to take up something that in the past one has taken up. For someone who knows this process, meditation may be re-defined as the freedom to be with what is occurring naturally in meditation without becoming invested in it.
Any one of these six processes can be used to answer the question "What is meditation?" For one who values the connected process, meditation is the focusing on, and connecting with, a particular object of meditation. With the generative process, one is able to create and sustain "better" states of consciousness through reciting phrases, guided imagery, and active imagination. The receptive process alone leads to defining meditation as "letting go" of everything and being with just what is. While the explorative process leads to a definition of meditation as exploring and examining what one experiences. Finally, the non taking up process fosters a definition of meditation as not holding on to anything or being identified with any part of one's experience.
When the question is answered using only one of these definitions, meditation becomes limited by that definition and the person meditating under that definition loses out on discovering the full range of meditative experience. When all of these processes are included in the definition of what meditation is, the practice of meditation becomes broad and inclusive, allowing for cross-fertilization of the various processes, whereby the individual processes are deepened and matured differently than when they are only practiced individually.
Now no one will define meditation as a conflicted process. The reason for that is meditation has always been looked at as going beyond conflicted states of mind. By including the conflicted process in one's overall definition, meditation begins to include many elements and experiences that have occurred within sittings that have been deemed non-meditative and have been struggled with as distractions, interruptions, failings. It is important to have the conflicted process in one's definition of meditation, for it is a significant part of one's meditative life. So added to one's definition will have be that meditation includes sitting with doubts, confusion, restlessness and agitation, sleepiness and apathy, boredom, and just plain resistance to meditating.