Formalism and Convention as Flimsy Band-Aids

“When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary. The reason that man’s improved techniques seem to be necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by those same techniques that the land has become dependent on them.

This line of reasoning not only applies to agriculture, but to other aspects of human society as well. Doctors and medicine become necessary when people create a sickly environment. Formal schooling has no intrinsic value, but becomes necessary when humanity creates a condition in which one must become “educated” to get along. . . . To the extent that trees deviate from their natural form, pruning and insect extermination become necessary; to the extent that human society separates itself from a life close to nature, schooling becomes necessary. In nature, formal schooling has no function.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

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Consciousness Beyond and Before Mind

“It is becoming always clearer that not only does the capacity of our total consciousness far exceed that of our organs, the senses, the nerves, the brain, but that even for our ordinary thought and consciousness these organs are only their habitual instruments and not their generators. Consciousness uses the brain which its upward strivings have produced, brain has not produced nor does it use the consciousness. . . Our physical organism no more causes or explains thought and consciousness than the construction of an engine causes or explains the motive-power of steam or electricity. The force is anterior, not the physical instrument.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

Lawns as a Virus Symptomatic of Consumer Culture

“. . . every society that grows extensive lawns could produce all its food on the same area, using the same resources, and . . . world famine could be totally relieved if we devoted the same resources of lawn culture to food culture in poor areas. These facts are before us. Thus, we can look at lawns, like double garages and large guard dogs, [and Humvees and SUVs] as a badge of willful waste, conspicuous consumption, and lack of care for the earth or its people.

Most lawns are purely cosmetic in function. Thus, affluent societies have, all unnoticed, developed an agriculture which produces a polluted waste product, in the presence of famine and erosion elsewhere, and the threat of water shortages at home.

The lawn has become the curse of modern town landscapes as sugar cane is the curse of the lowland coastal tropics, and cattle the curse of the semi-arid and arid rangelands.

It is past time to tax lawns (or any wasteful consumption), and to devote that tax to third world relief. I would suggest a tax of $5 per square metre for both public and private lawns, updated annually, until all but useful lawns are eliminated.”

Bill Mollison, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual

Each Thing Is All Itself

“When we withdraw our gaze from its egoistic preoccupation with limited and fleeting interests and look upon the world with dispassionate and curious eyes that search only for the Truth, our first result is the perception of a boundless energy of infinite existence . . . an existence that surpasses infinitely our ego or any ego or any collectivity of egos . . . We instinctively act and feel and weave our life thoughts as if this stupendous world movement were at work around us as centre and for our benefit . . . When we begin to see, we perceive that it exists for itself, not for us . . . And yet let us not swing over to the other extreme and form too positive an idea of our own insignificance. . . Science reveals to us how minute is the care, how cunning the device, how intense the absorption it bestows upon the smallest of its works even as on the largest. . . To Brahman there are no whole and parts, but each thing is all itself and benefits by the whole of Brahman. . . The form and manner and result of the force of action vary infinitely, but the eternal, primal, infinite energy is the same in all. The force of strength that goes to make the strong man is no whit greater than the force of weakness that goes to make the weak. The energy spent is as great in repression as in expression, in negation as in affirmation, in silence as in sound.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

The Divine to Man as the Sun to Earth

“For the senses the sun goes round the earth; that was for them the centre of existence and the motions of life are arranged on the basis of a misconception. The truth is the very opposite, but its discovery would have been of little use if there were not a science that makes the new conception the centre of a reasoned and ordered knowledge putting their right values on the perceptions of the senses. So also for the mental consciousness: God moves round the personal ego and all His works and ways are brought to the judgment of our egoistic sensations, emotions, and conceptions and there are given values and interpretations which, through a perversion and inversion of the truth of things, are yet useful and practically sufficient in a certain development of human life and progress. They are a rough practical systematisation of our experience of things valid so long as we dwell in a certain order of ideas and activities. But they do not represent the last and highest state of human life and knowledge . . . The truth is not that God moves round the ego as the centre of existence and can be judged by the ego and its view of the dualities, but that the Divine is itself the centre and that the experience of the individual only finds its own true truth when it is known in the terms of the universal and the transcendent.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

Evil as a Part of a Whole

“An omnipresent reality is the Brahman, not an omnipresent cause of persistent illusions . . . And if this Self, God, or Brahman is no helpless state, no bounded power, no limited personality, but the self-conscient All, there must be some good and inherent reason in it for the manifestation, . . . [there must be] some truth of being in all that is manifested. The discord and apparent evil of the world must in their sphere be admitted, but not accepted as our conquerors. The deepest instinct of humanity seeks always and seeks wisely wisdom as the last word of the universal manifestation, not an eternal mockery and illusion, . . . an ultimate victory and fulfillment, not the disappointed recoil of the soul from its great adventure . . . Brahman is indivisible in all things and whatever is willed in the world has been ultimately willed by the Brahman. It is only our relative consciousness, alarmed or baffled by the phenomena of evil, ignorance and pain in the cosmos, that seeks to deliver the Brahman from responsibility for Itself and its workings by erecting some opposite principle, Maya or Mara, conscious Devil or self-existent principle of evil. There is one Lord and Self and the many are only His representations and becomings.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

What is Love?

I use generalized terms such as “god“, or “love” often in my written discourse, of which I have sometimes unconventional personal definitions. I generally feel that it is more useful to glean meaning from the context of a statement rather than picking apart individual words, but sometimes it is good to pause and step back and ask what, exactly, is meant by such over-used and yet broadly defined and abstract terms. And as it is nearing Valentine’s Day, I feel that it might be a suitable meditation to pontificate a bit on the word “love” and its possible deeper implications.

Love as defined by Merriam-Webster is (1): a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests.

Don’t those definitions all seem rather far off the mark? Mere “strong affection”, “attraction”, “sexual desire” . . . no, no, not quite. True love is something much deeper. And yes, of course, how could one ever put such love into a simple, clean, brisk definition?

I was going to attempt now to try my best to define it myself, but I suddenly realized that I’ve already got a whole stack of writing on the subject. At the risk of seeming self-indulgent, I think I’d rather just let what I’ve already written speak for itself, define itself as collected fragments, like pieces of a candy necklace, strung together now by one single word through time. So I’m going to present a series of quotes from 23 selected pieces, extending back from the last 7 years of my life:

In the midst of the fragmented shards of war, desperation, and complacency, love is the flower that can break through concrete and connect together alien worlds. (1)

Love is not a complacent plateau of stasis; only through constant struggle and transcendence does it grow. (2)

Love is the flow of divinity through the vessel of you. Love imbues anything and everything with new light. Love is the only reason life has to exist. (3)

To love is to realize the myth of your solitude. The beloved is within you, at all moments, even when you are not touching, even when you are not speaking. It is only through selfishness that your suffering is created. (4)

The potential in every person for love is boundless. (5)

Love [is] found in giving yourself, the love which always awaits just outside of the door you are so frightened of passing through. And when you pass through, you look into another’s eyes–you do not see a friend, an enemy, a lover, a sibling–you see yourself. And then you see that person for what they are:
Everything.
(6)

There is no love without suffering. (7)

Love, love is the only way to live.
It is the only way to die.
It is the only way to do anything worth something
in a world that is dying to live.
(8)

Wonder, and wonder, and frightening joy. (9)

Amar una otra persona
es amar sí mismo,
es amar el viento, el cielo, los nubes,
es amar la tierra, la luna, la luz.
(10)

Love in its deepest incarnations necesitates a form of death, a scraping of the insides to mold out a hollowness that could cradle divinity. (11)

Amor esta afuera todo, esta dentro de todo, esta incontenible, movimiento a través de todo, afuera palabras, se bastado solo con manos, con contacto de cascaras–palabras se amoldado de bocas sino allende de sonidos. Amor es un creacion de la luz buscando sí mismo. (12)

Love is like an ocean, somehow keeping you afloat in the midst of continuous swelling and ebbing change. Like an ocean, it accepts everything, the only rejection coming from the mind that fears the heart that is opening to suffering like a flower. (13)

Amor es el crecimiento mas profundo de la vida. Nuestras mentes y nuestros cuerpos son huesos huecos por el incontenible de la medula de la divinidad. (14)

True love is always worth the sacrifice of long periods of lonely suffering. Even if it might mean a lifetime of sadness. There is never a reason to hold back when love is near. We must give all, we must give everything for something that can never be possessed. (15)

. . . in love there is no control, & there is no turning back – but it places you in the center of the world. (16)

Rumi wrote that “the life of lovers is in death.” Because in order to gain everything that you desire you must lose everything that you possess. (17)

We love, we love, we love, and we understand, finally, that each and every love is the ultimate purpose for which we have been placed into our bodies. (18)

What brings me higher–when my heart is widened with new, unforeseen love–also breaks me open to a new realm of emptiness, a deeper, rawer despair. (19)

Love shows you the way into this place where no one can enter. You leave yourself behind. You leave it all behind. Everything. Everything. Everything. (20)

Love is the verification of everything that you have become. Love is the refutation of everything you have been. Love is here. Love is now. (21)

It was a rollercoaster, it was a movie, it was a cup washing over the rim into aether, it was ink sloshing into indecipherable patterns, it was beautiful, it was horrendous, it was shocking and powerful and new. (22)

Love is letting go. Love is letting it all go. (23)