A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Monday, March 06, 2006

In The Empty Space Of Hours

I have written before about thick textured time, time which is marked by hundreds or thousands of deliberately repeated individual actions, as reference points, on any given day. Unlike most duration, such time does not go by in an undifferentiated blur, and, by zoning off definite intervals with consciously repeated actions, we can clearly see how little is in any such intervals, no matter what length.

Imagine rolling a marble around in a box small enough to hold comfortably in the hand. This is what events really do in those intervals of time. Time is a repeating set of these mostly empty boxes with tiny events rolling around in them. Hence boredom. Boredom is the craving to have something rolling around in the box.

But, actually, those empty spaces, those gaps, are the most interesting thing about our lives. Who, what, and where are we when we cease to the The Subject Who Sees X? Who are we alone and of ourselves? Ask the question, look in the box, and you will find no definite someone there. Nor will you discover that no one is there. The answer lies between these. The answer is in the gap. Someone and No One are both mere rolling marbles and even the empty box of time itself exists only in relation to the event, to the marble rolling around in it. But then the marble is nowhere, no when, and no how save in relation to the box in which it rolls.

To truly bore into this is the meaning and the point of Buddhist meditation. You look squarely into the fact that everything exists only in relation to something else, and nothing truly exists on its own and independently.

You can glimpse this directly in meditation. Say you are watching yourself breathe. Where is the boundary between breathing in and breathing out? No boundary exists. We really cannot tell precisely when we start breathing out and stop breathing in, but we indubitably do both. Or does our breathing do itself? Or does it do us? Can we watch ourselves deliberately doing our own ordinary breathing [of course we can deliberately hold our breath! That’s not what I mean.] like we can watch ourselves deliberately picking up a pencil. Do we breathe intentionally? If we don’t, who intends it? Where does our breathing come from?

Be here now. Worry the warp and the weft of time. Pick at the texture of time. Don’t fret. It will not collapse like a puffball or pop like a balloon merely because the empty box has no marble in it. Look at the empty spaces which the warp and the weft surround. Your answers lie in there. And they consist of the disappearance of the questions.