Archives for posts with tag: Culture

Heavier than a thousand suns, lighter than a protium atom…

Slowly, slowly climbing the stairs in the vegetable palace of the King of Dreams, winding and winding gradually higher…

On the Siloso, the circular river, where the Lord my father standing at the rail of a fragile cruiser, among the crowds of craft, is a swan among gulls…

In a garden in the pleasure district of Shigoga, where I drew my sword and fought the famous duel of bubbles: those girls in their sumptuous robes giggling and sniggering, heads rocking and eyes blinking, lush and retarded, spirits sunken and sluggish as they float on the stream of the prince’s soul-stealing intoxicants

To arrive in a room in the Ghosts-of-Angels Palace, to look through the window on the chamber where snow is eternally falling from an invisible ceiling, and where, it is rumoured, sometimes a hunter may be seen, sometimes a lord wandering lost in winter

To the children with their little books, to the limited ones with their little dreams: left

We moved on through the crow-haunted wastes of the Desolate Cantons, met a warrior with nose broken in his youth, half an angel and half a boxer, smoked his pipe of raw kaziah, left us all to the sleep of the doomed

Heavier than a falling moon, lighter than a single feather, a feather floating from the iridescent wing of a jester hummingbird purring among the sulphur-throated blossoms of dark orange night-scenting hibiscus

In the scales, the throne of O, set against a single finger’s caress

To be in the regal state beyond the laws

What would you choose?

To be everyone and no one

To be there to feel her touch, to be

so softly undressed

To be high

To be fine

To be Dustless

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‘There are some expressions which, when heard, convince you instantly that their author is a man or woman of great subtlety, that their illumination is intense and pure. This expression of Rygansogun’s is one such: Only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Of course, knowing Master Rygansogun was a RoMayZine philosopher, one can see that this epigram may be applied to war – that, surely, is one sense of the “house of fire”. Anyone who has fought with the Forbidden Army would feel this: unless a man becomes a thing of flame himself, he cannot live in the house of fire, he must burn, and perish. I have walked there, in the house of fire, and I know something of burning. And yet’ the young Lord went on, lifting his pale blue eyes to look at Zysoshin, and apparently blithely unconcerned that he was addressing his thoughts on complex philosophy to an eight-year-old boy, ‘perhaps the house of fire is not just the house of war, but the house of life itself. Certainly, this is the inflection placed upon the epigram by a much later philosopher, the genial and gracious Serensobel et:denu, a man of Fine Rank, of the Bullrush Mark and the dominant figure of the Ploughing Oxen Era, a master of synthesis, who did so much to try and draw the main traditions of pure philosophy together. Serensobel wrote: Only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

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It was a book called The Three Attitudes. In it, the woman, an educated traveller, fascinated by the differences among the three main divisions of ShiO — ZirCong, RoMayZine and SurGaKu – organised her observations of the people of the ShiO clans who, within fifty years, had started the war that would unify the whole world of O.


ATTITUDE TO THE BODY

ZirCong | Famously enigmatic, the ZirCong seem to consider the world neither ideal nor material, but in an unresolved state, or in a state that is constantly resolving towards both flesh and idea. They despise the “world of dust”, and strive for the Dustless condition. When they speak of the body, therefore, they speak of an illusion, a “thing of dust”. Even the mind, viewed from an unilluminated perspective, is to the ZirCong a thing of dust, an illusion. It is said that they do not feel pain — or, if pain is felt, they are not ZirCong. Their bodies do not belong to them: they have cast them aside.

To the ZirCong, as with all ShiO Marks, the MarIsQuess — the “building without motion”, or the “still building”, or, more simply, “the Building” — is the state or condition reached by meditation, with each ShiO division using meditation techniques peculiar to their own culture. The ZirCong use their celebrated, mysterious “Starless Darkness” techniques to achieve MarIsQuess. This is not a state ordinary people can attain. True ZirCong are said never to leave the Building, but always to dwell within it. Suspicious of language and of the “traps of definition”, the ZirCong insist that the Building can’t be described, but must be experienced. The Building must be built, through hours, days, years of arduous meditation. In this process of building, the weak eliminate themselves, as lacking the spiritual purity to maintain their path upon the Way. The foolish, the braggarts, the impatient, the greedy, all of these types of soul can never, without change, erect the Building within themselves, but must languish and perish, stranded in “the world of dust and donkeys”.

This constant striving to found and construct the Building within themselves has made the ZirCong admired, revered, feared and, by many, hated. One informal document, which has been publicly circulated, details the ZirCong attitude as follows:

What the common people call “body” and “mind”, these are merely pathways to the Building. They are gates of dust, leading to the Dustless state. Once inside the Building, all outside and inside ceases. New relations are inaugurated: all the old buildings and languages of dust, though they continue to float in the void, and are used by the common people as the limits of their world, for the Dustless one, are errors of matter and thought, imperfect perception, the toys of innocent children. People will live and die, will age and grow sick, just as they have always done — only, if you dwell in the Building, then living and dying, aging and sickening, these are changed, and their meanings are changed. The laws of sickness, the laws of age, of living, and dying, do not apply to true ZirCong. Life, death, tall, short, weak, strong, body, mind, above, below, finitude, infinity, moments, eternity, these are all categories of a diseased and limited vision: the perfect and entire vision of the Dustless ensures serenity, even as the sword goes through you, or the cancer grips. A healthy body and a diseased body are, within the Building, the same thing: an arrangement of dust.

RoMayZine | For the RoMayZine, the body is a source of struggle, the flesh is a piece of dust that may be caught hold of, polished, sharpened, hardened, quickened, improved. Men and women, both, are encouraged to exercise and to work their bodies until they are the perfect instruments of war. Both sexes swim, box, run, vault, lift weights, perform intricate ritual dances, practise with sword, bow, spear, lance, axe, they are keen horsemen, and work endlessly on their balance and speed of reaction.

There is a RoMayZine saying: The eyes for the arrow, the arms for the sword, the hands for fists, the legs for running.

For the RoMayZine, the body is very important in their philosophy. They adore action: they love to train their bodies and spirits until they are exhausted, and then they feel a tremendous peace. When they are in movement, they are irresistible; and when they are at rest, they seem sated, complete.

Life, on all levels, is a battle for them. Their Way is through action. It is not uncommon to see lords or ladies of RoMayZine clans with facial bruises, scars, misaligned bones, missing teeth.

They are warrior clans. Obviously, during war they are much sought-after as allies. In peace, their company is perhaps less pursued. It is said, among the houses of ZonO – “Society” – that when matrimonial alliances are made, then if you are not from a RoMayZine clan, but marry a RoMayZine partner, then there is often trepidation and anticipation regarding coitus. As lovers, both men and women of RoMayZine culture, are considered unsubtle, crude, demanding. A RoMayZine woman, with her strongly defined musculature and powerful limbs, is usually physically much stronger than most SurGaKu men. ZonO consider RoMayZine men as, frankly, brutes.

Love of the body is love of the Way, the RoMayZine believe. Enjoy the body, and make it do your will. But do not become obsessed with it. At the right moment, throw it away. Nothing is better than dying in battle. At such a moment, the tree both flowers and fruits: where the fruit falls, no one can say.

SurGaKu | A subtle and educated woman of ZonO explained to me that the divisions of ShiO can be broken down, very roughly, into three qualities: ZirCong, wisdom; RoMayZine, action; SurGaKu, beauty.

It is said that the SurGaKu, so concerned with beauty, find the body troubling. The SurGaKu TanZo is the effort to render the world beautiful through meditation and the practice of various forms of art. They are highly conscious of the passage of time, and of the mutability of all things. The moment has pitched its tent at the heart of every particle of dust, the SurGaKu explain, but the tent is empty.

Put simply, while the ZirCong deny the body any effective reality, and the RoMayZine treat the body with a kind of rude pragmatism, the SurGaKu are perplexed and uneasy with their bodies. They are more prone to romance, to melancholy, to dolour. They have purified their sensibilities so that they are sensitive to tiny nuances in the human and the natural world. Conscious that all pleasure and pain is fleeting, their TanZo is haunted by loss. Loss, though, is beautiful: it is the necessary condition for the existence of the world.

Their poetry, songs, prints, paintings, all celebrate the power of the ephemeral. The body, then, is a point of sensitivity, of vulnerability, of delicacy, to the SurGaKu. They know that bodies are fragile, can sicken, can break. They admit the tidal powers of sexual desire, the sweep and sway of it. Ironically, although in many ways the most refined of the three divisions of ShiO, the SurGaKu are in some ways the most fleshly, the most prone to lapse and delirium. They value tenderness and restraint, gentleness, patience, yet can be the most explosively ill-disciplined of all ShiO.

A SurGaKu love poem, from the Era of Storms, goes:

Between the room of parturition,
and the Temple of Ashes,
between the bleeding at birth,
the fire coming to death,
my body has swung, moment by moment,
like pearl beads strung
upon a wire, made into a necklace.

That necklace, my love, you wear.
Lying on your breast, my head
rises and falls,
in time with your breathing:
at sea, the waves also rise and fall,
and beneath the surface
on the shadowed bed
young pearls are forming.


Re-post

It was a book called The Three Attitudes. In it, the woman, an educated traveller, fascinated by the differences among the three main divisions of ShiO — ZirCong, RoMayZine and SurGaKu – organised her observations of the people of the ShiO clans who, within fifty years, had started the war that would unify the whole world of O.


ATTITUDE TO PAIN

ZirCong | A pure person feels no pain. What is called “pain” among the common people, and people of flawed purity, is a sign of immaturity and a clinging to the body, which is to cling to dust and to sensations of dust. Although TanZo (“the Way”) is in all things, not all things are in TanZo. To feel pain is selfish, and to be selfish means you have not achieved true illumination. A Dustless person will feel neither the pain belonging to him or to her, nor the pain belonging to others. Pain is useful, as others — the impure — feel pain, and can be reached through pain and through the cessation of pain. All sensation is dust, leading to the void. Pain is dust, leading to the void. Pain is a false understanding of the world. Those who feel pain go towards the void. Achieve purity, true illumination, and there will be no pain. A Dustless person can walk among the sufferings of the damned in barbarian hells, and be unmoved; similarly, a Dustless person can walk among the blisses of the blessed in barbarian heavens, and be unmoved. Hells and heavens belong to the dust: to be truly ZirCong, one must be Dustless.

RoMayZine | Pain is real, a sign of life and of TanZo. Life is battle, and incurs pain. A woman gives birth through pain, and overcomes hardships in order to bring a child into the world. There is thus pain at the very gates of life. It cannot be avoided. But the RoMayZine spirit is never to retreat: where pain is inevitable, it is to be welcomed, as a means to prove one’s purity. The purity of the RoMayZine, the RoMayZine TanZo, is in a great, a warlike spirit. To be alive, one must fight a spiritual battle: nothing else matters. Pain is not to be inflicted needlessly, or received needlessly, but a RoMayZine will never run from pain. To fight through pain, and to win, or to lose, without wavering in one’s spirit: that is RoMayZine.

SurGaKu | Life is one event. The SurGaKu TanZo is through beauty, through appreciation of the world of natural things and through the world of things made by men and by women. Pain is an inevitable part of life, unless one is Dustless. If one is in pain, make it beautiful, do not bow before it and turn ugly, grow weak, become full of dirt and dust. Remain pure. The giving and taking of pain is to be avoided: it is not TanZo, the desire for power of one over another is a sign of weakness, a sign of impurity. Bullying, use of force, malice, the desire for triumph over others, this is not TanZo, and is a disgrace to the Way. At the pure core of all things, there is emptiness, the Dustless state: at the pure core of all life, there is nothing, there is no dust, it is a state beyond peace or war, beyond pleasure or pain, for there is no one to commit acts, no one to receive acts. Few, though, become Dustless: a handful, among billions. For the rest, there is striving through TanZo. It is idle to consider pain an easy or a pleasant thing: but to confront and survive pain, the best course of action is to become TanZo, to show courage and not to dwell too much in the illusion of the present, where painful things must befall all of us. Life is one event: that event is not here, or there, not now, or then. The Way is beauty: make your Way beautiful.

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River, river, take your time.
In winter, skates and flocks of geese;
and in summer, dragonflies.
Armies ride by the riverside,
armies rise and armies fail;
and lovers walk by the riverside,
mothers with sons, and merchants to sail
down to the city with white wool in bails,
the old with their troubles,
the young with their pride —
but the river does not care
whose figures flicker in the water there,
flicker and are gone:
the river flows on.

River, river, take your time.
In spring, pussy willow and tinkers with knives,
and in autumn, dun oak leaves.
Nobles ride by the riverside,
greatness in bright show of gold;
and beggars trudge by the riverside,
fathers with daughters, and monks who hold
a  treasure of emptiness in their hollow bowls,
the sick with their boils,
the contented with lies —
but the river does not care
whose figures flicker in the water there,
flicker and are gone:
the river flows on.

River, river, take your time.
The singer with songs, the poet with rhymes;
the toothless with laughter, the children with tears:
but the river does not hear
whose voices call by the water there,
call and are gone:
the river flows on.

The river flows on.


Dustless is one of the longest novels ever written, and creates a densely imagined world, and a society with a richly realised culture.

This song comes from Volume 20, The Lover in the Snow [v]. The resonance of the song is amplified by the context in which it is sung: on a pleasure barge, in the mist of a cold winter’s day, on the Siloso — the circular river, in the capital city, Shar.

Please explore…

Dustless | Volume 1

Dustless | Volume 1 is approximately 20 pp./a5

status | published 11 02 2013

Amazon Kindle Store:
India | Dustless | Volume 1
UK | Dustless | Volume 1
US | Dustless | Volume 1

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B00BEZL4ZU

 

Between two peaks, the night sky rests;
between two lovers, silence.

I sing a sad song.

Between two seasons, a wind blows;
between autumn and summer.

I sing a sad song.

Between two banks, a river flows;
between two lovers, silence.

I sing a sad song.

Between a bell’s chimes, no bell sounds;
between silences, tolls a bell.

I sing a sad song.

Between two moments, midnight comes;
between two lovers, silence.


 

Excerpt from Dustless | Volume 20 [in preparation],
The Lover in the Snow [v]

Please explore…

Dustless | Volume 1

Dustless | Volume 1 is approximately 20 pp./a5

status | published 11 02 2013

Amazon Kindle Store:
India | Dustless | Volume 1
UK | Dustless | Volume 1
US | Dustless | Volume 1

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B00BEZL4ZU

 

Here we sit, the mirror, my shilka doll and me.
It is still early: the moon, hardly risen, has a long way to go.

What great light upon the lake. What cheerful company.
Yet we are quiet, the mirror, my shilka doll and me.

I wonder, who will be the first to speak?

ooo


Excerpt from Dustless | Volume 20 [in preparation],
The Lover in the Snow [v]

Please explore…

Dustless | Volume 1

Dustless | Volume 1 is approximately 20 pp./a5

status | published 11 02 2013

Amazon Kindle Store:
India | Dustless | Volume 1
UK | Dustless | Volume 1
US | Dustless | Volume 1

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B00BEZL4ZU

We walked by the SilOso
on the fire side of the city
among the market crowds
near the Bridge of Dreams.

It was cold, and the first snow fell
among our footsteps.
Winter snow falling, and footsteps falling
slowly, by the Bridge of Dreams.

Thoughts, and the memories of thoughts.
Boats, and the reflections of boats –
the empty boats, tied up beside
the SilOso, rocking in a gentle breeze.

What is the fall of snowflakes?
We parted, as winter came.
You went to your home
across the Bridge of Dreams.

Your home, on the side of ice.
My home, on the side of fire.
And the snowflakes of winter falling,
and footsteps, in between.


Excerpt from Dustless | Volume 26 Master Darkness [vi]

Be Dustless | Master darkness…

Dustless | Volume 9

I have no home and no need of one
(and the breeze blows softly).
I have a lover, yet I am alone,
here in this room overlooking the water
in a town without a name.

It’s hot now, and the summer’s been long,
but you can feel the autumn coming.
The summer dies upon the stem
like flowers, and the dragonflies with them.

The light has been a great light,
and the sun has burned my arms.
I know little, and want to know no more,
but am content to write my words
rough and useless though they are.
I know little, but must know some more,
though I have already learned all there is to know.
Love? – well, it’s just like money and time:
there’s never quite enough.

Enough –
there’s never quite enough.

The wind blows softly, what else can it do?
There were bees among the wisteria
and the blossoms hung like empty grapes.
I am a lover, yet I am alone,
here in this room overlooking the river
in a town without a name.

She lies naked and her back is so beautiful,
strong, but who can carry time?
It’s hot now, these are summer’s last days,
drought has left the fields all dust,
and burned the flowers on their stems
and my words with the flowers,
and dragonflies…

A white butterfly dead beside
the statue of a saint
gold, and peaceful in meditation:
a white butterfly, with grey-spotted wings
on a wooden floor, beside a man
made of wood, sitting in zamen:
the insect and the saint
rest in the empty morning light,
made of the same stuff…

But Love? – well, it’s just like money and time:
there’s never quite enough.

Enough –
there’s never quite enough…


Excerpt from Mask [ii], Volume 10 of Dustless

Please lose yourself in…

Dustless | Volume 9

In the House of Long Shadows…

In the Heart of Eternity, on a barren plateau where, since long before the Clouded Era, a high sea has dried, and a ship has slowly turned to crystal

By the Bug Stone, along a road no one travels, each night, a fire shines out from the summit of the lonely watchtower

In a lush meadow outside LuinLibar, in a grass-stained robe, a young lady of the Mark of the Dancing Crane, wearing the Gram of the Blue of a Midnight in Autumn, watches a butterfly emerge from a cocoon: she is motionless, and once the butterfly has flown, the cocoon is empty.

She knows

she can’t fit the butterfly back into the cocoon

She understands everything

In the Sun’s Tears Coffee House in District 8 of Faded Glory

Under the soaring shade of the sacred tower, in the Black Palace — because it is winter, and ritual demands it — the young emperor is fretful. Although he is the Dustless One, and his mind winnows emptiness to refine the void, the Lotus Crown is heavy on his head, and walking alone on the veranda of golden teak, facing the Gardens of the Four Moondials, wearing a coat of white Usurian mink, under icicles long and jagged as the teeth of translucent Shy’aamese dog sharks, shivering, he dreams of summer and the emerging of butterflies

Enter the Building where everything is contained…

And walk without deviation through the world of dust

a desert of atoms in the palm of your hand

sands enough to bury an ocean

Be no one | Be strong | Vanished, with no rest

Be utterly serene

Be Dustless

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