online: 13 october 2002

11 october 2002 the oneness of things

17:31 Outdoor cafe - perhaps the last day before the weather gets too cold to eat outside.

This week, after the effort of preparing and performing at a poetry reading*, I've been relaxing - and reading more of Zen Buddhism as described and translated by D T Suzuki and a book on Kadampa Buddhism**, both birthday presents. And today I copied out from these unfamiliar writings just this:

Be serene in the oneness of things,
And [dualism] vanishes by itself.
Having read the context*** of this I understand that it calls us to what is perhaps the simplest and yet the most difficult of perceptions - to cease to see things in opposing categories or by name and to see all things as one.

I look up for a moment: do these chairs, tables, trees, walls, roofs, telephone lines, birds, and the pale grey cloud cover, and the flowers on the table with my cap and notes and a cup and saucer and teapot, and the empty plate and the tart that I've just eaten, and my body and hand and this handheld computer, and you reading this - did they seem in that moment to combine and lose their distinctness, their names and their differences - did I perceive them as one (and as illusion)?

Perhaps yes, but only briefly... and mainly the trees merging into oneness.

...I guess that was a first step to more profound and more sustained seeings of 'oneness'. But I'm glad of this hint towards the perception of non-dualism!

Now to drink up the cooling tea and to walk back - in this perhaps unified world.

And then I passed about 200 crows on the grass in the dusk. I found it more difficult to see them as one than to see the trees merge into undifferentiated woodland... yes I did seem to see something as different, and I did feel a peace... and a sense of non-trying.

*Subvoiceive Poets at the Camden People's Theatre, London, 7 October 2002. Caroline Bergvall and I read and performed poems, found poems and visual poems with video projections of the texts.

**Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Transform your Life: A Blissful Journey, Tharpa Publications, Ulverston, England and Glenn Spey, New York 2001. From Tom Mitchell.

***The quotation is from D T Suzuki, Manual of Zen Buddhism, Grove Press, New York (no date), isbn 0-8021-3065-8, page 77. From Joanna Jones.

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© 2002 john chris jones

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