Monthly Archives: January 2012

The End of the World

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On my way home I pass a man.
He stands on the roadside with a sign.

“The smartest man in the world.”

White hair, standing there,
he looks harmless enough.
I’m curious. I stop,
roll down the window,
and feel the cold.

“Where you headed?” I say.

“I’m headed to the world’s end.
Looks like I found it.”

“I don’t think so. This is the middle of Pennsylvania.
It’s not the end of anything, much less the world.”

“Well, if you let me go along with you for a while, I’ll show you.
I’ll get out then.”

“I have about 30 miles to where I’m going.
I’m not going out of my way.”

“No problem,” he says.

He gets in, shoves the sign in the back seat.
We drive on.

“Your sign says you’re the smartest man in the world. Is that so?”

“Sure am.”

“Ok. What’s it all about, then?”

“It’s the middle of winter. That means we are all dead. And we won’t wake up until spring,” he says. “We die all the time but we don’t notice it because we all die at the same time.”

“Do we all wake up at the same time then, too?”

“In a way we do. But that’s just a figure of speech.”

I’m thinking my passenger is clever but not quite the smartest man in the world.

“That’s it.” he says. “Don’t think another thought. I’m getting out right here.”

I bring my car to a stop. There’s nothing on either side but an old cornfield. He gets out and walks up a slight rise through snow and corn stubs. As he reaches the crest and descends, he seems to disappear.

Just before that he drops a small piece of paper.

I have some time.
I pull over, park, and follow his frozen footsteps.
At the top of the hill I find a folded note.
He is gone.

Back home now.
I bury his sign
and read the note:

*

I am old and I will die one day
It is time to come clean.

I woke up at an early age.
I lived a normal life.
I have things to say.

It is not comforting to know
Hearing this will not set you free.
Freedom is not for us in this life.
We cannot be other than we are.

We pass our time with useless things
As if we live forever.
It is our bodies doing this.

Our minds know very well we die.
But our bodies refuse to hear of it.
Our bodies desire the useless things.

We go about our days in service to these dumb limbs
Serving them endless amounts of what they desire
But does not sustain them
Making them as comfortable as possible, as they demand it
Because they refuse to accept they will die.

Our brilliant minds are filled with petty annoyance.
That’s our lazy bodies talking
Constantly forcing us to confront ourselves in mirrors
So we can see the damage we’re doing.

And while we know love is the answer,
We are faced with the hard fact
We can only be loved to the degree we love ourselves.

And we do not love ourselves.
We are our bodies.
And because they are such stupid brutes
They are utterly unlovable.

I am good looking enough to know looks are worth nothing
And wealthy enough to have figured out it has no value.
I am intelligent and know I can never be smart enough.
I see far enough to see an end.

Enlightenment is like these things.
Once it is yours you see right through it.
And you know
Like everything else
It is nothing at all.

The secret of life is life.
We all possess it for a while.

I am old and I will die.
It’s time to say the things I’ve said.
I am old and I will die.
You’ll know it then.
I was already dead.

*
Words and image, Tullio Francesco DeSantis, 2009

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Creative Life

I’m reposting this by request and dedicating it to my new students…

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Creativity occurs in the present moment. Living creatively, your life becomes a work of art – a consciously crafted movement of positive energy in which you are guided by feelings of positive inspiration rather than impulses motivated by the desire to negate feelings of inadequacy. Acting in the present is – by definition – acting creatively. Without the baggage of the past, your full human potential is available.

You have been told many times that you do not measure up, that you are somehow deficient, that you lack some necessary qualities without which you cannot succeed. This conditioning has become so much a part of your self-image that you do not think to question it. Instead, you find evidence all around you to prove your flawed nature. Everywhere you assess others to be better and more successful than yourself.
Advertisers strive to inculcate further negative self-image messages in order to create desire for products. You are led to believe you are not beautiful enough, not strong enough, and not well enough to be happy without possessing the things that are marketed to you. You fall prey to these messages because you feel insecure and have come to identify with a flawed self-image.
But you are not who you think you are. You are not a flawed creature filled with self-doubt and shaped by many thousands of negative messages. That is not a person – it is a fictional identity. It exists because you have succumbed to it and believe it to be a description of your essential self.

 

 

With practice, the space of silent witnessing awareness within you becomes a familiar experience in your life. With practice, you become more able to easily experience your inner self as a place apart from the welter of the world and the tightly-wound thoughts spinning endlessly within you.This inner sanctuary is available anytime you need the strength and power that comes from being clear and feeling centered, focused, and calm. From this sense of your truest self, arises a wellspring of creativity which serves you well for the rest of your life. *

Image: “Creative Life” by Tullio DeSantis, altered ink drawing, 2012
YouTube video: “Instant Relaxation”
*

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Thought Control

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Developing inner values is
much like physical exercise. The more we train our abilities, the stronger they
become. The difference is that, unlike the body, when it comes to training the
mind, there is no limit to how far we can go.

Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

*

In scientific investigations into the nature of physical
reality, the most mysterious aspect of the universe continues to be the nature
of consciousness itself. This unknown quality is at the heart of our
experience, yet we do not understand the physical nature of the very process
that is conducting the inquiry.

We know more about black holes in interstellar space than
we do about what is happening to the matter and energy inside our heads and which creates
the interior sense of being alive in the world and self-aware. We know less
about how our mental experience occurs in the material world than we do about any other subject we
study.

This is the hardest problem of neuroscience and it is the
most abstruse of philosophical issues. The nature of our conscious experience –
not just the trillions of synaptic, neuronal, and dendritic interconnections
which serve as networked pathways for our impulses and which animate our
behavior, but simply the most common and fundamental aspect of our experience –
seems ultimately beyond our comprehension.

Yet, we use our minds to do things, even while we do not well
understand how they function. The coming era of brain/computer interface
technology moves the lag time between intent and action in the world toward
zero. How well we are able to train our brains to be more open, resilient, and
responsive does determine how well integrated we will be within the new
bio-technological environments we are creating for ourselves. And because we
will build them before we understand them, it is crucial we condition ourselves
to be the kind of creators we would want to entrust with the future.

*
Image: The author controlling a computer display using EEG brainwave technology.
YouTube video: “IBM Next 5 in 5 2011: Mind Reading”

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