Ineffable Friday

Fathoming the ineffable. Really, why do we imagine we can do it in words?

Asana and zazen — both give us a chance to kind of feel the edges, maybe. I know I talk about the physical almost exclusively, but really, what more do I have to work with? As soon as I turn to words… poof! it’s gone.

So the rotation of a joint, the stress in a muscle, the oddity of a new kinesthetic experience — that’s where you can catch a glimpse of the shape, or intuit the consistency, or have just the teeniest bit of awareness. The moment between exhale and inhale — that’s it, right there! And then it’s gone.


Good practice this morning. Workmanlike, for the most part. And then I realized it is Friday, last practice day of the week, and cut myself some slack and let it just be what it was. Which is what I should be doing all the time, anyhow.


I’m a slacker astrology fan (don’t know much about it, only pay attention if it’s something I like), but I do like Rob Brezsny’s site. Today for Scorpio:

One goal of meditation is to empty the mind of its obsessively generated thoughts, rationalizations, and images. Alas, much of the media functions as a reverse meditation machine. Not only does it stir up your own mental clatter, it also floods you with the seething surge of other people’s private pandemoniums. Furthermore, it delivers this rattling racket with entertaining words and brilliant color and crystalline sound, driving it as deeply into your psyche as your own flotsam. Keep this in mind throughout February, which is Clean Out Your Brain Month. Cut way back on your media intake. Snack lightly rather than gorging continually.

Well, there you go. I think he explained quite nicely how the media (well, and everything around us) fills up our minds with junk. Not that the dramas of those around us (and of our very own selves) aren’t important, but we do seem to consume it all rather mindlessly.

The monks and zen masters I’ve met don’t expose themselves to much media, if any at all. At first it seems shocking (“how can you not pay attention to global warming/politics/local news/the economy/world news/fashion/book reviews/culturally-valued concepts/science/the internet?!”). And then you realize, “Oh yeah, you’re actually paying attention to what’s happening where you are right this second.” And with no filters/dramas of global warming/politics/local news/the economy/world news/fashion/book reviews/culturally-valued concepts/science/the internet.

Who the heck do they think they are?!


6 Responses

  1. Nice post. Good advise. Thank you.

  2. Ha ha! Who DO they think they are?

    I think I started Clean Out Your Brain Month the week before last, impatient little Scorpio that I am.

    (Tangentially, I like pretending that aspects of my day are workmanlike. Chop wood, carry water, analyze data, write lit reviews, make abstract assertions. Has its limitations, but can be oddly liberating.)

  3. LOL! “Chop Wood, Make Abstract Assertions.” Now there’s a book we all (and perhaps especially me, you, and Monsieur Namaste) could use.

  4. “friday mind” as the new “beginner’s mind” – perfect!



  5. Clean Out Your Brain Month: I like that.

    I once read that the Dalai Lama listens to the news every morning. That’s enough—we don’t need to read it all day long, just enough to know what’s going on in the world. For me, it’s hard to balance feeling like a responsible citizen of this planet in the sense of knowing what’s going on, and letting it all go. I continue to work on it.

    I will participate in Clean Out Your Brain Month, even if it is supposed to be for Scorpios.

  6. Hi Karen
    I told my new Dharma friend that I told you about that I blogged and she innocently asked me, “what is a blog?”. But then, she lived 18 years at Zen Center and only just recently left the cocoon.
    Cheers, Arturo

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