Coursing Meditations

How to present a flowing day? ‘Coursing’: A philosophical life moving in pictures, in turning holding pictures. Look: http://is.gd/1tqROX 

1

What is the beautiful course of a day? How does one follow nature’s course? A line, drawn by hand, drawing the day, is both extensive and intensive. Extensive: flowing through time without resistance. Intensive: expressing the degree of energetic power manifested in any activity. A day inspirits or inhibits. A beautiful day–meaning: the highest expression of goodness–is nothing save a wellspring of fecundity.

2

Course: another name for the Dao, itself unnamable. Also: itinerary, or Way. Whisper and follow.

3

There are modes of becoming, each with extension and intensity. Proper intensity. Eating, for instance. Conversing philosophically, for instance. Each mode of being is followed, in turn, by its complement. Sleeping, therefore, by ​meditating; meditating by eating; eating by conversing; conversing by gracefully moving; and so on. More literally this: the ‘and so on.’

4

In Awakening to Philosophical Life  (2013), I write,

‘The “basic questions of living” occur to me but transcend my finite existence; they emerge in my time but go beyond my years; they shape my moral character but the nature of my character is poured from a general cast of mind. They enliven me-this is true-yet only by dint of coursing through my being; and while their beginning is contingent, their reason for being is necessary.’

5

We are thinking, as thinking, in verbs. Hence, cours-ing. In other words: moving, meditating, thinking, acting energetically, eating slowly. I see I am starting to add in the adverbs in order to speak of the manner or the way of doing something. The course of the way. I note, ‘The verb solicits the aid of the adverb, the adverb fully expressing the verb’s power like an unfolding pleat.’

6

Marcus Aurelius writes, ‘All that is in tune with you, O Universe, is in tune with me.’ To live in accordance with nature was the Stoic’s ultimate aim. Sometimes rather than accordance, one reads of agreement, of concord. Can one find a beautiful word that says the same only in the right key, in the key of praise? Harmony? Attunement? I am still searching for the word to describe the being-in-touch I sense.

A ‘fasting of the mind’: Some reflections on being in a hurry

In The Inner Chapters, Confucius, in the role of a Daoist teacher, advises his pupil to undertake a ‘fast of the mind.’ Yesterday was spent fasting in silence. I recorded the following reflections neatly in my notebook.

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1. Hummingbirds make a sputtering sound like a boy’s radio-controlled airplane. The wind crinkles in the early morning. Quails honk in unrepresentable notes.

2. To be hurried is to value the next more highly than the this. (Why?)

3. This kind of day feels very slow. My hand moves more slowly.

4. My sensorium is reawakened to the world qua world. Unencrusted from habits. Saturated. Near-ecstatic. Colors, textures, crisp sounds.

5. Attention to what is here is to be practiced in each instant. Do not wander quickly onto the next. Do not wonder about what cannot be ascertained.

6. A transition is to be loved in itself, not as a conduit for what comes next. Let the mind concentrate on this event, not looking too far up ahead. Is movement better than rest? Is speaking better than silence? Is newness as such better than genesis?

7. What remains of the day after you remove needless chatter, trivial thoughts, needling interferences, disastrous interventions into the lives of others, the reading of the news, the checking of email to see whether anyone needs you or seeks your assistance with anything whatsoever? The day!

8. There is a very short book to be written in praise of silence. Taciturnitas.

9. Why would I value what comes next over this very instant? Because this instant is painful, unpleasant, or less pleasant than other things, and the next moment promises to be less painful, pleasant, or more pleasant than the last. But is this true? No, not always: things may turn out otherwise. But is something that is painful, unpleasant, or not very pleasant something to get over in a rush? No, it is something to be considered or an experience to be perceived as fully as it can.

10. ‘I am in a hurry because something important needs to be done soon or next.’ It may be true that something important ‘lies in wait’ for me, but still in all things one must govern oneself. Is there a graceful way of drawing the present engagement to a close? The feeling of graceful leave-taking would be one of not being detained by the other and of not rushing headlong out of the room. Imagine: a fish, nearing the edge of our koi pond, makes a graceful turn and continues on in another direction. The edge of the koi pond smiles.

11. I don’t think most people would like eternity if it were anything like a day in which they had nothing to do. Oddly, such an eternity would seem dull to them. Just as odd is the value of being busy, which seems good to many because it seems exciting. But this gets a good life backward and upside down. Philosophy teaches us to unencumber our senses, to remove ourselves from our appetites, and to love the beautiful stillness, for this is the highest form of life. This is the life of eternity.

12. ‘There is happiness in stillness. Lack of stillness is called sitting while wandering.’–Chuang Tzu, Inner Chapters

13.  ‘I wonder…’ is rarely a good way to begin a sentence. Wondering is wandering.

14. Reasons for hurrying:

*(i) Next valued more highly than this;

(ii) Something important and timely to be done;

*(iii) Good to fit everything important in (e.g., itinerary).

* = questionable

Replies to (i) – (iii):

Regarding (i): give to each moment its due. No more and no less. Respond to this properly. E.g., a wondrous sunset is ‘owed’ a more profound response than a query from a busybody. Etc.

Regarding (ii): true (if the value is properly assessed), but there need be no urge to hurry on ‘toward’ it. Recall graceful exits, smooth transitions. Turning koi fish.

Regarding (iii): not everything important needs to be ‘fit in.’ Use discernment. In some cases, it’s good to be open–very open and very receptive–to the ‘pregnant this.’ Open your ears and place them close to the world.

15. ‘All that is in tune with you, O Universe, is in tune with me.’–Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Lunga School, ‘an ambitious offspring of the festival’

My friend Jonatan Spejlborg Jensen, a graduate of Kaos Pilots in Denmark, and his colleague Björt Sigfinnsdóttir have launched Lunga School. Lunga School, whose first incarnation will be 4-month-long semester of art and self-cultivation workshops starting this spring, is ‘the first of its type in Iceland.’ To learn more about the school, you can read the brief write-up in The Reykjavik Grapevine or you can go directly to their website, h-e-i-m-a.com.

The Freelancer’s Dilemma: To hustle or to apologize?

Overview

Chapter 1, ‘The Freelancer’s Dilemma,’ is an excerpt from Manners and Mores: A Tutorial for Freelancers Tired of Hustling and Prone to Apologizing. The Table of Contents is included below the excerpt.

How to Order a Copy of Manners and Mores

I live and work in a gift economy. To determine how much you would be able to offer for Manners and Mores, simply ask yourself what you would be able to give wholeheartedly in order to meet some of my material needs, provided that this offering wouldn’t count as a financial burden for you. Such an offering would be an example of ‘just generosity’: neither too much nor too little.

You can make your offer via PayPal, the link to which is hereExpect to receive your copy the following day.

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1. The Freelancer’s Dilemma

For reasons as much of historical contingency as of personal choice, we are all freelancers now. The freelancer, having struck out on his own in the hope of making a certain form of life work, soon becomes bewildered. It is tough going, he finds, tougher than she had anticipated, and everyone now seems to be doing the same thing: launching the same startup, making the same pitch, putting in more fruitless, harried hours. Whether young or old, whether working with high-end clients or piecing together nickel-and-dime projects, the bewildered freelancer faces a dilemma when it comes to securing new projects or expanding the circle of his likeminded acquaintances: he can either plomp for hustling or festoon his epistles with more and more apologies.

Continue reading “The Freelancer’s Dilemma: To hustle or to apologize?”