Saturday, February 23, 2013


Today someone told me following:

"We all search for [the monomyth], you more explicitly than anyone else i know."

For those of you who haven't heard of it, it is a formula described by a man named Joseph Campbell, and it is purported to underlie many of the narratives in human culture:A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.Campbell and other scholars, such as Erich Neumann, describe narratives of Gautama Buddha, Moses, and Christ in terms of the monomyth and Campbell argues that classic myths from many cultures follow this basic pattern.

It is mind-blowing to me that anyone could think I am searching for this pattern more explicitly than anyone else they know. I have never considered myself to be in search of it. But after he said it to me, I felt that I do resonate with the notion...that I'm searching for it, not that I should be searching for it more than anyone else.

I often wonder how often other people are "searching" for something. I suppose I often wonder whether or not I am actually searching for anything.


I like Buddhism. In some ways. But I find that I'm becoming somewhat disillusioned with a lot of the "spiritual" teachers out there. To me, talk of "dissolving problems" or "interacting with the universe lovingly" is often little more than flowery snake oil. I think it is important, if one is "pursuing" Zen, or whatever it is that we do, to not get caught up in what I call "rich people Zen." I do not think being Zen is about being comfortable or happy. Being comfortable and happy may be a side product of Zen, sometimes. But I like to think (not trying to liberate myself from the addiction to thought, of course) that even if my life somehow became horrible, such as by being trapped in a prison cell or being the victim of some horrible disaster, that Zen would still "be there", even while living in agony. And I guess that's part of my whole qualm with these people. It is impossible to even talk about Zen, because it is separate from words and ideas. It includes words and ideas, but it is also separate from them. So to say something like "your problems no longer exist when you understand Zen," or anything like that, is not what it's about.

I think this quote from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind does a better job of addressing it than I can:

Dogen-zenji said, “Although everything has Buddha nature, we love flowers, and we do not care for weeds.” This is true of human nature. But that we are attached to some beauty is itself Buddha’s activity. That we do not care for weeds is also Buddha’s activity. We should know that. If you know that, it is all right to attach to something. If it is Buddha’s attachment, that is non-attachment. So in love there should be hate, or non-attachment. And in hate there should be love, or acceptance. Love and hate are one thing. We should not attach to love alone. We should accept hate. We should accept weeds, despite how we feel about them. If you do not care for them, do not love them; if you love them, then love them.

Usually you criticize yourself for being unfair to your surroundings; you criticize your unaccepting attitude. But there is a very subtle difference between the usual way of accepting and our way of accepting things, although they may seem exactly the same. We have been taught that there is no gap between nighttime and daytime, no gap between you and I. This means oneness. But we do not emphasize even oneness. If it is one, there is no need to emphasize one.


Lately I've been wondering if seemingly unrelated aspects of life can influence each other. For example, could it be that the universe is somehow watching us? Logically I think no, but I feel that I could never be certain. Perhaps that's a side effect of my Catholic childhood. Or maybe it's just human nature to question that. I guess another quote from ZMBM is appropriate here as well:

If someone is watching you, you can escape from him, but if no one is watching, you cannot escape from yourself.

I guess ultimately we can never separate ourselves from the universe, and we are always watching ourselves. So this universe is always watching us as well. But still, does this answer my question of whether or not seemingly unrelated aspects of life influence each other?


Go, go, go.
Fight, fight, fight.
Be awesome.