“I’m telling this story from memory, always unreliable, of how it was told to me, so I hope I’m not garbling it too badly:
In the 1960s, my friend Tom McGrath went to Samye Ling to see Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He told Trungpa all the problems he was having - drug addiction among them - and asked for advice. Trungpa said, “You need to learn how to breathe.”
Tom was disgusted. He’d come all the way to the monastery just to be told he needed to learn how to breathe? He’d been breathing all his life! He went back to London, where his career went well but his problems got worse. He got to know R.D. Laing, and asked him for advice. Laing said, “You need to learn how to breathe, man.”
Hearing the same advice from two very different and unrelated teachers, Tom - who had asthma - realized that there might be something to it.
Caught up in our stories, how often do we experience life as it really is? No matter what’s going on, no matter how frenzied our day, we can interrupt whatever story we’re tormenting ourselves with and just be aware of the air we inhale, that gives us our life, right here, right now. Turn our attention away from what is not, and bring it to what is.”
— from Illusory Flowers in an Empty Sky: The blog of Dogo Barry Graham
Have you also learned that secret from the river;
that there is no such thing as time?
That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at
the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the
ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.
Amedeo Modigliani. Portrait of Blaise Cendrars. 1918. Oil on cardboard. 61 x 50 cm.
Since it’s Blaise Cendrars’ birthday today here are two quotes:
“Is there a more monstrous thought, a more convincing spectacle, a more patent affirmation of the impotence and madness of the brain? War. All our philosophies, religions, arts, techniques and trades lead to nothing but this. The finest flowers of civilization. The purest constructions of thought. The most generous and altruistic passions of the heart. The most heroic gestures of man. War. Now and thousand years ago. Tomorrow and a hundred thousand years ago. No, it’s not a question of your country, my German or French friend, or yours, whether you’re black or white or Papuan or a Borneo monkey. It’s a question of your life. If you want to live, kill. Kill so that you can be free, or eat, or shit. The shameful thing is to kill in masses, at a predetermined hour on a predetermined day, in honour of certain principles, under cover of a flag, with old men nodding approval, to kill in a disinterested or passive way. Stand alone against them all, young man, kill, kill, you are unique, you’re the only man alive, kill until the others cut you short with the guillotine or the cord or the rope, with or without ceremony, in the name of the Community or King. What a laugh.”
— Blaise Cendrars (Moravagine)
“Only a soul full of despair can ever attain serenity and, to be in despair, you must have loved a good deal and still love the world.”
— Blaise Cendrars
My advice is always to make a lot of art; to make a lot of art, then look at what you have made and then think about what you have done. If you think first, you will never do anything or you will do something boring. Art doesn’t exist until the artist has finished making it.
swept up together
Where is that man who has forgotten words that I may have a word with him?