begin again

I find my relationship to zen to be best expressed in the question: What’s the next thing that I have to learn? At the moment I refer to the 10 ox herding circles, or as I first heard of them, the Ten Bulls. Here’s the Wikipedia site: .

The eighth circle is empty. That implies enlightenment. But what is enlightenment? I figure it’s found in figuring something out that makes you live your life with a little bit more compassion for yourself and for others.

We can get large enlightenments. We can get small enligthenments. When our circle empties we move into the ninth circle, a land of peacefulness, of no suffering. But then there comes the most important tenth circle. That’s where you reenter the real world, the market place, and act out life with your new understanding. Hopefully there will be less suffering. That new interaction with life will make you see new things, and thus you are back at the beginning of the Ten Bulls. Trying to figure out more.

After finding one of those small enlightenments, I decided that I would go after the bull yet again. The bull this time was definitely ‘how to work in the market place without causing suffering for myself or others.’ To explain: I had always relied on official jobs to keep me occupied. Now I don’t need a job. How would I interact with the world now without that hierarchy setting the rules, keeping me in place?

I decided that I would do some community work. Interestingly, I was immediately asked to do some. I did it. Whoa. What a strange thing. To move about in a milieu of people who seemed to care passionately about what to me seemed trivial. People getting angry. People pushing to change agreements so that they controlled things. People pushing in contrary directions from where everyone else wanted to go and getting angry that no one followed. How to keep oneself from being drawn in? How to remain a steady rock of non-attachment and yet still try to get done the things that everyone generally seemed to want done? This required me to do things that were of no interest to me at all, but which I could see were of interest and possible used to the greater community.

But I am not selfless in this. All this activity has been preliminary to what I want. And what I want is to present some of my work, my writing to the public and hope that it might be of use to you, to anyone. The problem I have been working on is in finding out that what I do is essentially empty. Few people really care what I do, except in so far as it it hinders or furthers their desires. So if I present my work, that I care about, what will I feel like if it strikes no cord with any other soul?

I’ll let you know how I get on. So far I have one rejection, form letter. The idea of that just sits there for now.


Haywired Book Press

So I’ve been making things needed to bind my book of drawings. The latest is the book press. Crude and haywired. I used a square screw from an old bench clamp, a bunch of re-purposed 2 x 4s and melamine from old shelving. Today is a holiday or I’d go out and buy some bolts to strengthen up the joints. That’s where patience comes in. Waiting for tomorrow. Knowing tomorrow will come and forgetting about it.

And then I will sew my signatures and assemble the book. Maybe the press will even work.

But what I’ve noticed in this whole process, being completely ignorant in respect to book binding, is how instead of doing things to a fine degree, I do haywiring. Why didn’t I make a cabinet quality press. I don’t worry about it, I just say that I don’t know how many books I will bind so good enough is good enough.

The other thing that I’ve noticed is that I’m terrified of making mistakes. I make lots of them. And then I have to figure out how to fix the mistakes – the goal being, after all, a highly skilled work of art. So far, I haven’t destroyed the project, but I’ve spent more than one night unalbe to go to sleep, plagued by various problems that I don’t have any solutions to. Like how to relax the wrinkles in my end papers. I dampened them and stuck them between two boards and left them there for a day to dry. But how do I keep two pages, painted in acrylic, that face each other from sticking to each other? They can’t have glassine between them. What makes acrylic surfaces non-sticky? Anyone have an idea?