The Guide

Do you have a guide inside?

If intuition is an inner voice— how do I know how I am to obey it? And how do I know that it doesn’t mislead me? For if it can guide me right, it can also guide me wrong.

Wittgenstein, PI I.213

And what if it’s the voice of God?

Who guides those whom God has led astray?

Qur’án 30:29 (Cleary)

And what good is guidance if you keep it to yourself?

Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.

— Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar

Awakening symbols

Is it possible for one person to be “enlightened” separately from others? We might ask the same question about a single symbol.

Is it possible that one single symbol could be awakened in isolation from all others? Probably not. Just as objects in the world always exist in a context of other objects, so symbols are always connected to a network of other symbols. This does not necessarily mean that symbols can never be disentangled from each other. To make a rather simple analogy, males and females always arise in a species together: their roles are completely intertwined, and yet this does not mean that a male cannot be distinguished from a female. Each is reflected in the other, as the beads in Indra’s net reflect each other.…

The fact that a symbol cannot be awakened in isolation does not diminish the separate identity of the symbol; in fact, quite to the contrary: a symbol’s identity lies precisely in its ways of being connected (via potential triggering links) to other symbols. The network by which symbols can potentially trigger each other constitutes the brain’s working model of the real universe, as well as of the alternate universes which it considers (and which are every bit as important for the individual’s survival in the real world as the real world is).

Hofstadter (1980, 359-60)

On this page, Hofstadter is referring to the instantiation of symbols in the brain, perhaps as ‘a neural network plus a mode of excitation.’ But what he says here is consistent with the concept of ‘symbol system’ in Turning Signs, with Peirce’s use of the word ‘symbol,’ and with his remarks about the ‘perfect sign.’

Ordinary buddha

All things arise from Tao.
They are nourished by Virtue.
They are formed from matter.
They are shaped by environment.
Thus the ten thousand things all respect Tao and honor Virtue.
Respect of Tao and honor of Virtue are not demanded,
But they are in the nature of things.

Tao Te Ching 51 (Feng/English)

Buddhahood is actualized within essential nature; do not seek it outside the body. If your own nature is confused, you are an ordinary person; if your own nature is awakened, you are a buddha.

Sutra of Hui-neng (Cleary 1998, 3)

When you know the ordinary beings in your own mind, you see the buddha-nature in your own mind. If you want to see buddha, just know ordinary beings. It is just because of the ordinary beings that you lose sight of buddha; it is not buddha that loses sight of ordinary beings. If your own nature is enlightened, ordinary being is buddhahood; if your own nature is confused, buddhahood is ordinary being.

Sutra of Hui-neng (Cleary 1998, 78)

Back to the present

This old rock planet gets the present for a present on its birthday every day.

— Annie Dillard (1974, 103)

Innocence sees that this is it, and finds it world enough, and time.

— Annie Dillard (1974, 83)

If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

Shunryu Suzuki (1970, 21)

Experiencing the present purely is being emptied and hollow; you catch grace as a man fills his cup under a waterfall.

— Annie Dillard (1974, 82)

Mindfulness is remembering to come back to the present moment. The character the Chinese use for ‘mindfulness’ has two parts: the upper part means ‘now,’ and the lower part means ‘mind’ or ‘heart.’

— Thich Nhat Hanh (1998, 64)

What has gone? How it ends?
Begin to forget it. It will remember itself from every sides, with all gestures, in each our word. Today’s truth, tomorrow’s trend.
Forget, remember!

Yet’s the time for being now, now, now.

Finnegans Wake, 250

Old news

The Earth belongs not to us, we belong to the Earth.

For we are fed of its forest, clad in its wood, barqued by its bark and our lecture is its leave.

— The Restored Finnegans Wake, 389

This is the Day whereon the earth shall tell out her tidings.

Bahá’u’lláh (Gleanings XVII)

Euro-American humanism has been a story of writers and scholars who were deeply moved and transformed by their immersion in earlier histories and literatures.… Today a new breed of posthumanists is investigating and experiencing the diverse little nations of the planet, coming to appreciate the “primitive,” and finding prehistory to be an ever-expanding field of richness. We get a glimmering of the depth of our ultimately single human root. Wild nature is inextricably in the weave of self and culture.… The dialogue to open next would be among all beings, toward a rhetoric of ecological relationships.

Gary Snyder (1990, 68)

If we can see (as we once saw very well) that our conversation with the planet is reciprocal and mutually creative, then we cannot help but walk carefully in that field of meaning.

— David Suzuki (1997, 206)

The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.

— Thomas Berry (1999, 3)

Being humus

Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4000 million years ago.

— John Seed (1988, 36)

Everything is actually everything else, recycled.

— anon

Body structure is always involved in some processes, else it disintegrates. It is a structure from process, for further process, and only so.

Gendlin (1998, I)

Ye are all created out of water, and unto dust shall ye return.

Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas ¶148

This ourth of years is not save brickdust and being humus the same roturns.

Turning Life

mined leaf

Life as God and music and carbon and energy is a whirling nexus of growing, fusing, and dying beings. It is matter gone wild, capable of choosing its own direction in order to indefinitely forestall the inevitable moment of thermodynamic equilibrium— death. Life is also a question the universe poses to itself in the form of a human being.

Margulis and Sagan (1995, 55)

Where there are humans, you’ll find flies and Buddhas.

— Kobayashi Issa

Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf.

— Annie Dillard (1974, 16)

The birth and death of the leaves are the rapid whirls of the eddy whose wider circles move slowly among the stars.

Tagore, Stray Birds 92

Life is like an analogy.


It takes a long time to learn that life is short.

— gnox