Eternity

Set the bird’s wings with gold and it will never again soar in the sky.

— Tagore, Stray Birds 231

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise

— from William Blake’s notebook

Between

Who sends the mind to wander afar? Who first drives life to start on its journey? Who impels us to utter these words?

What cannot be spoken with words, but that whereby words are spoken: Know that alone to be Brahman, the spirit; and not what people here adore.

Kena Upanishad (Mascaró)

The spirit is that which can have no resting place.

Merleau-Ponty (1948, 75)

Ezekiel excoriates false prophets as those who have “not gone up into the gaps.” The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit’s one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself for the first time like a once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the clifts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; they are the fissures between mountains and cells the wind lances through, the icy narrowing fjords splitting the cliffs of mystery. Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock— more than a maple— a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.

The Annie Dillard Reader (p. 422). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

to live in the gap
between the moment that is expiring
and the one that is arising
luminous
and empty

— Laurie Anderson, Heart of a Dog

The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows.
The shape changes, but not the form;
The more it moves, the more it yields.

Tao Te Ching 5 (Feng/English)

… and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

Ecclesiastes 1:6

Busy

Open your mouth, always be busy, and life is beyond hope.

Tao Te Ching 52 (Feng/English)

Almost dotty! I must dash!

Humankind is made of haste. I will show you all My signs, so do not try to hurry Me.

Qur’án 21:37 (Cleary)

A large consciousness is idle and spacey; a small consciousness is cramped and circumspect. Big talk is bland and flavorless; petty talk is detailed and fragmented. We sleep and our spirits converge; we awake and our bodies open outward. We give, we receive, we act, we construct: all day long we apply our minds to struggles against one thing or another— struggles unadorned or struggles concealed, but in either case tightly packed one after another without gap. The small fears leave us nervous and depleted; the large fears leave us stunned and blank. Shooting forth like an arrow from a bowstring: such is our presumption when we arbitrate right and wrong. Holding fast as if to sworn oaths: such is our defense of our victories. Worn away as if by autumn and winter: such is our daily dwindling, drowning us in our own activities, unable to turn back. Held fast as if bound by cords, we continue along the same ruts. The mind is left on the verge of death, and nothing can restore its vitality.

— Zhuangzi (Ziporyn 2009, 10)

Are you not danzzling on the age of a vulcano? Siar, I am deed.

Finnegans Wake, 89

He who acts defeats his own purpose; he who grasps loses.

Tao Te Ching 64 (Feng/English)

Procrastinate now!

— anon.

Mindering

Actual psychological closure in everyday life is a matter of minding what you are doing: in that condition, the practiception circuit is closed and the current flows freely. But human minds tend to wander.

According to a recent study published in Science by Harvard University psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, almost half our waking thoughts have little relation to what we’re currently doing. Although in general it’s clearly useful to be able to think about things that aren’t present here and now, and although mind wandering in particular can facilitate creative problem solving, it is also linked to negative emotions and unhappiness. As psychologist Jonathan Smallwood and his colleagues have shown, negative moods lead the mind to wander. As Killingsworth and Gilbert discovered, people are less happy when their minds are wandering than when they’re focusing on what they’re doing. Furthermore, although people are more likely to mind wander to pleasant topics than to unpleasant or neutral ones, people are no happier when thinking about pleasant topics than when they focus on the task at hand, and they’re less happy when they mind wander to neutral topics than when they focus on their current activity. As Killingsworth and Gilbert conclude, “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”

— Evan Thompson (2014, Kindle Locations 7177-7190)

Even when you think about what you are doing, instead of focusing on doing it, your mind is beginning to wander … unless you focus philosophically, becoming a beginner.

Enough already

You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?

— Steven Wright

To have plenty is to be perplexed.

Tao Te Ching 22 (Chan)

In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.

— Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality (1973), Ch. 3

Anybody that competes with slaves becomes a slave.

— Vonnegut, Player Piano

Every need got an ego to feed.

— Bob Marley

And whoso is saved from his own greed, such are the successful.

Qur’án 64:16 (Pickthall)

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.

Thoreau, Walden, chp. 2

There is no greater sin than desire,
No creater curse than discontent,
No greater misfortune than wanting something for oneself.
Therefore he who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.

Tao Te Ching 46 (Feng/English)

The nexus of experience

Experience is what happens just before you notice that something just happened.
Afterwards, “the experience” is what you happen to remember.
Until you notice that remembering is happening.
Or you notice that you are dreaming.
Then you can really dream.
Or you can wake up.
But how do you know that you won’t wake up again?
Or wake further up?
Remember not knowing? The nexperience comes to pass.

Veriations

The universe is sacred. You cannot improve it.

Daodejing 29 (Feng/English)

There is no changing the nature created by God. That is the right religion, but most of humanity does not know.

Qur’an 30:30 (Cleary)

What if these are two versions of the same proposition, two instances of the same statement?
Can you improve it?

The way of naming

The opening words of the Tao Te Ching (in pinyin, Daodejing) as translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English:

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth;
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.

Ames and Hall, in their edition, offer an intimological account of ‘Daoist naming’ which seems well suited to anticipatory systems and their developing relationships with other subjects:

Naming as knowing must have the provisionality to accommodate engaged relationships as in their “doing and undergoing” they deepen and become increasingly robust. Such knowing is dependent upon an awareness of the indeterminate aspects of things. The ongoing shaping of experience requires a degree of imagination and creative projection that does not reference the world as it is, but anticipates what it might become.

In the Classic of Mountain and Seas, an ancient “gazetteer” that takes its reader on a field seminar through unfamiliar lands, the calls of the curious animals and birds that are encountered are in fact their own names. They (like most things) cry out what they would be. And having access to the “name” of something is not only a claim to knowing it in a cognitive sense, but more importantly, to knowing how to deal with it. Naming is most importantly the responsiveness that attends familiarity. Hence such knowing is a feeling and a doing: it is value-added. It is naming without the kind of fixed reference that allows one to “master” something, a naming that does not arrest or control. It is a discriminating naming that in fact appreciates rather than depreciates a situation.

— Ames, Roger. Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation (pp. 45-46). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Endgames

The confusions which occupy us arise when language is like an engine idling, not when it is doing work.

It is not our aim to refine or complete the system of rules for the use of our words in unheard-of ways.

For the clarity we are aiming at is indeed complete clarity. But this simply means that the philosophical problems should completely disappear.

The real discovery is the one that makes me capable of stopping doing philosophy when I want to. —The one that gives philosophy peace, so that it is no longer tormented by questions which bring itself in question. —Instead, we now demonstrate a method, by examples; and the series of examples can be broken off. —Problems are solved (difficulties eliminated), not a single problem.

There is not a philosophical method, though there are indeed methods, like different therapies.

Wittgenstein (PI I.132-3)