Archive for January, 2010


January 30, 2010

You are the butterfly
And I the dreaming heart
Of Chuang-tzu.

— Basho

This haiku from Basho is a reference the writing of Chuang-tzu:

Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Chuang Chou. But he didn’t know if he was Chuang Chou who dreamt he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang-chou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.

Chuang-tzu was a Taoist teacher and writer who lived in the fourth century BC.

Basho was a Zen master and writer of haiku poetry. He wrote:

You’re the butterfly, and I the dreaming heart of Chuang-tzu. I don’t know if I’m Basho who dreamed with the heart-mind of Chuang-tzu that I was a butterfly named Doi, or that winged Mr Doi dreaming he is Basho.

Doi was a friend of Basho who had given him a writing brush.

Taken from A Zen Wave by Robert Aitken.

For my lovely friend Sian who drew this haiku to my attention.

Also see

Four haiku by Basho

Leaves falling


Trust your instincts

January 29, 2010

Whenever we need to make a very important decision it is best to trust our instincts, because reason usually tries to remove us from our dream, saying that the time is not yet right. Reason is afraid of defeat, but intuition enjoys life and its challenges.

— Paulo Coelho

Leaves falling

January 29, 2010

Leaves falling
Lie on one another;
The rain beats the rain.

Sadly I know not who wrote this haiku.

Haiku is a minimalist form of Zen poetry of seventeen syllables.

For my lovely friend Sian.

Also see

Four haiku by Basho

A Zen Wave


A warrior of light is never predictable

January 29, 2010

A warrior of light is never predictable. He might dance down the street on his way to work, gaze into the eyes of a complete stranger and speak of love at first sight, or else defend an apparently absurd idea. Warriors of light allow themselves days like these. He is not afraid to weep over ancient sorrows or to feel joy at new discoveries. When he feels that the moment has arrived, he drops everything and goes off on some long-dreamed-of adventure. When he realises that he can do no more, he abandons the fight, but never blames himself for having committed a few unexpected acts of folly. A warrior does not spend his days trying to play the role that others have chosen for him.

The warrior of light does not worry that, to others, his behaviour might seem quite mad. He talks out loud to himself when he is alone. Someone told him that this is the best way of communicating with the angels, and so he takes a chance and tries to make contact. At first, he finds this very difficult. He thinks that he has nothing to say, that he will just repeat the same meaningless twaddle. Even so, the warrior persists. He spends all day talking to his heart. He says things with which he does not agree, he talks utter nonsense. One day, he notices a change in his voice. He realises that he is acting as a channel for some higher wisdom. The warrior may seem mad, but this is just a disguise.

The moment that he begins to walk along it, the warrior of light recognises the Path. Each stone, each bend cries welcome to him. He identifies with the mountains and the streams, he sees something of his own soul in the plants and the animals and the birds of the field. Then he allows his Personal Legend to guide him towards the tasks that life has reserved for him. On some nights, he has nowhere to sleep, on others, he suffers from insomnia. ‘That’s just how it is,’ thinks the warrior. ‘I was the one who chose to walk this path.’ In these words lies all his power: he chose the path along which he is walking and so has no complaints.

Taken from Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho. This extract can also be found reproduced on the blog of Paulo Coelho.

Also see

A path with a heart

Zen practice

The Immortal

January 27, 2010

He who, dwelling in all things,
Yet is other than all things,
Whom all things do not know,
Whose body all things are,
Who controls all things from within –
He is your Soul, the inner Controller,
The Immortal.

— Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad

The nature of reality

January 27, 2010

How we perceive the world around us, space and time, cause and effect, these concepts have little meaning at the subatomic level. What we think of as the atom has no basis in ‘reality’.

What is the nature of being? It is a question that has been posed ever since Man learnt how to think. Or at least we can trace back to 2,500 years ago.

Ancient Greeks did not separate out or distinguish physics, philosophy or religion. It would have been seen as an artificial distinction. Theirs was a search for the essential nature of the world around them.

No different to a mystical search for the essential being.

The universe was seen as being permeated by an energy force. This force was then separated out, given a name and separate identity and intelligence, it stood outside of and apart from the Universe, it now directed the universe. The force was given a name. It was called God.

We had separation of mind and body, spiritual development was separated from material development. The external world, even our own bodies, were simply dead mechanical devices, everything could be explained if we had sufficient detailed knowledge and sufficient computing power.

This is fine as a simple model, for performing our calculations. This is the Cartesian-Newtonian view of the world. It should not though be confused with reality.

The world is not a billiard game!

Further fragmentation took place. The economic sphere is separated from the physical world.

The world is on the point of catastrophic collapse. But it is the economic world that dominates, even though it is completely divorced from reality.

Even within this world we have fragmentation. At the recent Copenhagen Climate talks (COP15) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised extra aid to the Third World to pay for climate change. That money is to be taken from the existing aid budget, ie the poorest of the poor are to pay for the cost of dealing with climate change, as if they are not paying already.

Zen and other Eastern religions are concerned with the nature of existence. They have though a radically different approach, their approach is holistic.

Not all western thought is non-holistic. A network approach is holistic. The consideration of Gaia is holistic.

When we delve into the subatomic level, we find the Cartesian-Newtonian world-view loses all meaning. We cannot acquire detailed information, the more we try, the more fuzzy is the information that we acquire. The subatomic level is not only an essential part of the cosmos, it is in turn influenced by the cosmos.

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

To seek enlightenment is to transcend the physical world, to engage with the life force of the cosmos, that energy with which everything vibrates including ourselves, to cross the transition zone, to learn how to communicate with the Soul of the World.

We have two types of knowledge, rational and intuitive. In the West we tend to undervalue the latter.

The structure of the carbon ring came in a dream, a serpent chasing its own tale.

If we cannot rationalise or analyse what the rational mind produces we tend to dismiss it, but that does not make it any less real.

Many of us possess a level of awareness which hard won experience has taught us to heed.

We have difficulty expressing abstract knowledge, and so we do it through poetry, through koans, through art, through music.

Western civilisation in its arrogance believes it has made great advances in the acquisition of rational knowledge, but can the human race be said to be any wiser that it was 2,500 years ago?

For my lovely friend Sian who inspired these thoughts.

Also see

The Tao of Physics

How to Know God

God is

Christian Theology and Gaia

From the unreal lead me to the real!

January 27, 2010

From the unreal lead me to the real!
From darkness lead me to light!
From death lead me to immortality!

— Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad


January 26, 2010

“The beautiful Synchronicity of the day: In the dormitory, I had the pleasant surprise to find a book in English, and only one, put there for the reading, that a pilgrim left: Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.” — Adventurers

At least two groups of people are now known to have set off on the Quest of the Sword, the real-life adventure devised by Paulo Coelho.

We leave with little savings. And moreover I shall not say to you how much. But quite as in a famous television program, we shall strike at random doors in order to find lodging house at the inhabitants.

We thus are in Saint Jean, where we passed the door of the pilgrims, under a pouring rain. I was happy there, because I began to have enough to nose about maps and books, because contrary to what I thought, the enigmas are not as well simple as they seemed to. And we did not find everything. But it doesn’t much matter: what counts, as many people say: it is the road.

The quest involves solving an enigma, visiting locations on the route and gathering information that you have been there.

Synchronicity: One group of adventurers found a copy of The Alchemist at their first overnight stop!


Quest of the Sword

Santiago’s Dream


A path with a heart

A path with a heart

January 25, 2010

Any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you … Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question … Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.

— Carlos Castaneda

Carlos Castaneda influenced many people in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Two such people, beside myself, to have been so influenced were Fritjof Capra and Paulo Coelho.

For my lovely friend Sian to whom I read this one night.

Also see

The Teachings of Don Juan

The Tao of Physics

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

The Pilgrimage

The Alchemist

Jante Law

January 22, 2010

Jante Law refers to a pattern of group behaviour towards individuals within Scandinavian communities, which negatively portrays and criticizes success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate.

It is term which negatively describes an attitude towards individuality and success claimed to be common in Scandinavia, it refers to a supposed snide, jealous and narrow small-town mentality which refuses to acknowledge individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while punishing those who stand out as achievers.

Whilst seen as a common Scandinavian term, Paulo Coelho descibes this as a worldwide phenomena. In England this is common behaviour, snide remarks and put downs on anyone who displays intelligence. People seem to delight in wallowing in their own ignorance. [see The Law of Jante]

Author Aksel Sandemose codified this behaviour in his novel A fugitive crosses his tracks:

– Don’t think that you are special
– Don’t think that you are of the same standing as us
– Don’t think that you are smarter than us
– Don’t fancy yourself as being better than us
– Don’t think that you know more than us
– Don’t think that you are more important than us
– Don’t think that you are good at anything
– Don’t laugh at us
– Don’t think that anyone of us cares about you
– Don’t think that you can teach us anything

In his novel, Aksel Sandemose refers to an eleventh rule:

– Don’t think that there is anything we don’t know about you

%d bloggers like this: