Archives for posts with tag: philosophy

‘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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So the boy slept. He woke again, and I will tell you of that in a moment. But let him sleep for a while now. He deserves a little peace, doesn’t he?

It will be obvious to you, I imagine, that I have some affection for the boy. I have followed him closely through this story, never letting him out of my sight for very long.

It will not always be like this. There are too many voices, and too many stories.

We are not set up to listen to one story alone, however much we may want to. But equally, we are not set up to hear every story.

We must choose, for the most part, which stories we attend to, and which stories we tell.

Only the damned, perhaps, have no choice in this matter.

And yet, as we turn away from this story, and listen to that – as we grow deaf to this story, and attentive to that – isn’t there a kind of betrayal going on?

I think so.

Only, even now, I am not sure who is betrayed.

Well, well – never mind. We are not set up for too many stories. Let us concentrate on the one in hand.

For after all, only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Listen, and I’ll tell you about it.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

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Re-post | Original post December 2014

There will be days of disaster, and these will pass. There will be days of beauty, and these will pass. There will be many days; they will all pass. Disaster and beauty of the day, the day itself, these are the Way. All things are moving on the Way. For the Subtle one, even the Way moves upon the Way. And the Way is still.


From Dustless, Volume 15 | For Pride in their Flight


Be Dustless…

Dustless | Volume 9

So the boy slept. He woke again, and I will tell you of that in a moment. But let him sleep for a while now. He deserves a little peace, doesn’t he?

It will be obvious to you, I imagine, that I have some affection for the boy. I have followed him closely through this story, never letting him out of my sight for very long.

It will not always be like this. There are too many voices, and too many stories.

We are not set up to listen to one story alone, however much we may want to. But equally, we are not set up to hear every story.

We must choose, for the most part, which stories we attend to, and which stories we tell.

Only the damned, perhaps, have no choice in this matter.

And yet, as we turn away from this story, and listen to that – as we grow deaf to this story, and attentive to that – isn’t there a kind of betrayal going on?

I think so.

Only, even now, I am not sure who is betrayed.

Well, well – never mind. We are not set up for too many stories. Let us concentrate on the one in hand.

For after all, only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Listen, and I’ll tell you about it.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless


And the Way was hard to come by, and precious to find…

Volume 1 | The Sentinels

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Dustless | Volume 1 is approximately 20 pp./a5

status | published 11 02 2013

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

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B00BEZL4ZU

A distinguished lord asked:

How does one commence a great venture?

The young monk replied:

By leaving off small ventures, and middling ventures, and by putting aside nothing.

The lord answered:

Perhaps a small venture may lead to a great venture?

The young monk smiled.

Yes, that’s so. And perhaps a great venture may lead to a small venture, or to nothing.

The lord nodded, and scratched at his beard, and reflected on the monk’s words. After a while, the lord grinned, and asked:

Perhaps by doing nothing, it may lead to a great venture?

The young monk smiled again:

Perhaps doing nothing is the greatest venture of all

he said.


You are invited to begin upon a great venture…

Dustless | Volume 1

Re-posted | Original posting, March 2013

What colour is the breeze? What shape does it have?
How high is the breeze, and where does it sleep?

The clouds do not know, yet the clouds move.


Formal poem from Dustless | Volume 18 | The Lover in the Snow [iii]

Dustless | Volume 9

In the human mind there is war and there is peace * War floats upon peace as a burning ship upon the sea * In the human mind of the simple Way, and in the simple Way of the human mind, war always comes after peace • war always arises from peace • and war must inevitably subside again into peace * In the TanZo, peace is perpetual, and war comes and goes * In the human mind of the simple Way, peace is perpetual • eternal • beyond space or time * And the Subtle man or woman, those who are illuminated, who have achieved wisdom, realise that human beings can choose: war, or peace * Peace is constant, and the painful illusions of war come and go • and yet, still, foolish people choose war over peace * How lamentable, to choose to set sail in a burning ship • when all the time, beneath the flaming keel • lies the immense stillness of calm waters…


Excerpt from Dustless | Volume 18 The Lover in the Snow [iii]

Choose the Dustless state over the dusts…

Dustless | Volume 9

… ‘But the horrible thing was, we didn’t play like children: it wasn’t a game like that. There was something horribly dead about it. I mean, please don’t misunderstand me, I know children play very seriously; and I’m not trying to say they’re just innocents, and can’t be cruel, or whatever: but when they play, Suli, they play. And we weren’t playing like that: we were playing at playing – do you understand? We were just pretending to play – but we couldn’t, anymore: we had no joy, Suli, not even a cruel joy. We were serious – honestly! Holding our little printed rectangles of card! And it was all random, you see: the rules, I mean. Why a King higher than a Queen? Or a four a three? It was all made up: we all just agreed that a King was higher than a Queen. There was nothing in it, Suli: nothing behind it, nothing real. It was just water floating on water. We all agree to play by the rules. Ridiculous!’

Excerpt from Flowing House, Volume 7 of Dustless

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