Long, strange trip it’s been…

2008 August 22 Friday

Far too long since the last blogitation; thinking that it’s about time to start up again.

Many moons ago there was a proposition put forth that learning was essentially a filtration process, selective attention as it were, there’s all that stuff out there happening: what bits does one attend to & to what degree?

As I tell them in drivers ed, you pay the most attention towards the direction in which you’re headed the fastest. Sure, there may be a meteorite accelerating towards you at 32 fps² (9.8 ms²) from 360° azimuth & 180° elevation, but what are the odds? If that filthy old truck a few car lengths up the road drops a few bricks it’s effectively a 12 lb closing contact, nigh on 120 fps at 60 mph, so you’ve already ate shit & died. (the more accurate figures with SI units plus kinetic energy imparted in dynes & joules is left as an exercise to the student)

There are some excellent real-world lessons to be extended from such an example. Geshe Phelgye offers a very comprehensive question to ask as a reality check: ¿ what benefit ? In Nagarjuna’s thought, all things are void of true existence yet still appear, like a mirage or the image of the moon on a still lake (themselves both existentially challenged).

Real or not, this existence in samsara has its hilarious aspects; the issue is maintaining a sense of humour & detachment. In the vein of choosing your battles, there’s the philosophical attitude that if you wrestle with a turd, win or lose, you’re going to get messed up. What the hell, anyway? after a certain age anyway: maybe you like the smell of your own shit, but only a prevert likes to smell other peoples’ fæces.

Which brings up the closing: attachment/avoidance, crave/despise — these all happen in the environment of impermanence, yet all this “stuff” is taken so seriously. What does count in the long run, i.e., twelve reincarnations around the wheel of karma? How much money was taken in, or how it was disposed of? How many tribes conquered & heads taken, or how much suffering assuaged & people helped?

Yes, there have been times, whilst thinking of certain beings, of how I’d love to take a large sharp knife & open them up from crotch to breastbone like a cheap zipper bag… but that’s Donald Hamilton’s fault, I’m trying to get over it.