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This poem and others are available in my books, Nothing Works: Meditations on Aikido, Buddhism, the Tao, Zen, and other inconsequential things....and, Nothing Special, and Nothing Matters..., available thru Amazon.com, in print and Kindle editions and Barnes & Noble websites.....Also available as an e-book via Smashwords.com. Try this link: www.nothing-works.com for the full array of options.
I don't know how the young do it?
They breeze through life with no clue
Though, of course, they think they do
At what point does that change?
For me, each step is filled with
Agonizing existential dread
I place one foot forward
And, somewhere, a star explodes
Another step, and the last of a species
Goes extinct, one more, a war starts,
A child cries, galaxies collide,
The homeless wander on by,
Quantum realities split apart; yet, another
And the universe expands even further
Stretching my mind and sanity even more
I tell myself: I can make it! I can make it!
Just get to Starbucks!
When we speak of a nothingness
Outside of existence
We speak of a relative nothingness
Not true emptiness
We still have a this or that
A this and that mind set Absolute emptiness is one with being
Not separate from it
It is not out there
It is near at hand
We are forced to say
It is not this thing or that
Therefore, it is this thing or that Fire does not burn fire
The sword does not cut the sword
Perhaps it is a language problem?
Aikido is my regular misogi practice
No talking, tongue to roof of mouth,
Breathing through the nose
Warm-ups with torifume,
With furitama, with otakebi
Responding as uke without thinking
(Or, at least, trying to)
Performing as nage without thinking
(Or, at least, trying to)
After Aikido class
We all go to a coffee shop
(Some have tea!)
We are mostly too old to
Care to go to a bar…
And, sweat cooling
We all discuss the class
Techniques, successes, failures
General pain and suffering
And then usually move
On to other subjects
(Religion, Politics, War, Logic,
Math, Science, Stupidity, etc.
all the common ailments
A long-time class tradition
An open invitation
Sometimes outsiders join us
Old café denizens creeping out
Of the dark recesses of the coffee shop
Drawn to our charisma!
Calling us Sensei, Ninja Master…-
Who are we to disabuse them
And crush their souls?
But, then, Joseph starts talking
And we are all brought down to Earth
Still, we miss him when
He is gone and like him
So, we smile and nod our heads
(Sometimes slapping his)
And let the Aikido universe spin on
With cup o'tea in hand
I exist in a world that
Is not as it seems
It is so easy to get lost
I long to see past the illusion
Past misleading thoughts
I seek the hidden principles
The true reality behind it all
To find my true self
And finally become conscious
I fart and stand up, stretching
From my lotus position
Am I conscious, yet?
How would I know?
The greatest barrier to consciousness is the belief
that one is already conscious.
~ P.D. Ouspensky
How many times are you going
to read all this stuff?
I mean, you always read stuff.
When does it end?
Are you that much smarter, now?
And you are always doing those weird things,
you know, martial arts and meditation stuff.
Well, I could say it is a process.
I am ignorant.
I am trying to learn how to BE
So, I read and read.
Yeah, I get that.
But, when does it end?
Think of it as a ladder, or,
if you are older, like me, an escalator.
One day I will no longer need to climb.
I will just sit
Just sit and be still
Bypassing all the learning
Bypassing all the processes
Actually trying to unlearn all my learning
To be unwise, as it were
And, BE there -- actually, be HERE
That's what all this is about?
Well, yes and no.
Don't give me that mystical mumbo-jumbo.
I'm not trying to, but it's hard to explain.
Being-in-the-world is just the beginning.
It is merely a transition
Well, I'm sure when I reach that place
I will not have the words to explain it.
It is a non-verbal state, after all.
Perhaps then, we both could just sit
and converse in silence, and be unwise