Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Why the Revolution Hasn't Come...

There used to be a radio program on WBAI, called "Why the Revolution Hasn't Come," which was never really that political for a WBAI program, but more of a literature/culture program; it was where I was first introduced to the music of Gang of 4.

Why the Revolution Hasn't Come is a good metaphor for lots of things, but when one wonders why they're not as powerful as George W. Bush or George Soros or Sean Hannity or renowned in their professional life...IOW, when one is indulging in that special form of greed known as envy, one is - by necessity of the assumption- not focused on one's self and one's own life; one is not even polishing a tile to make it a jewel. So Why the Revolution Hasn't Come is simple to answer when it refers to one's own life.

I'm reminded of this by Shokai's relating this story:

Hojo [752-839], successor of Master Baso Do-itsu). Zen Master Hojo was a man of the Joyo district (in present-day Hupei province in east China).

In former days, when visiting Baso’s order, he asked, “What is Buddha?”

Baso said, “The mind here and now is Buddha.”

Hearing these words, Hojo realized the great state of realization under their influence. Consequently, he climbed to the summit of Daibai-zan (“Great Plum”) Mountain, away from human society, and lived in solitude in a thatched hut, eating pine nuts and wearing clothes made from lotus leaves: there was a small pond on the mountain, and many lotuses grew in the pond. He sat in Zazen and pursued the truth for more than thirty years. He saw and heard absolutely nothing of human affairs, and he lost track of the passing years, only seeing the mountains all around go from green to yellow. One pities to imagine what the winds and frosts were like.

In Zazen, the Master placed an eight-inch iron tower on his head, as if he were wearing a crown. By endeavoring to keep the tower from dropping to the ground, he did not fall asleep. The tower remains in the temple today: it is listed in the records of the temple storehouse. This is how he pursued the truth until his death, never tiring of the effort.
To the modern, Western, American, latter-day folk like us, this seems Herculean to the point of masochistic, and beyond, perhaps to the point of "fictional."

But at the same time, to those folks who react that way, to how many Has the Revolution Come?

Even when effort is put in, how much is it adapted to circumstances?

Pascal said something to the effect that we engage in habit and diversion to avoid the Void. He said it because of the assumption that the abyss, the Void, sunyata was something to be naturally feared, and his antidote was Catholic Christianity.

But habit and diversion are also ways of ensuring Why the Revolution Doesn't Come; they are ways to avoid engaging with the 10,000 things, and they only perpetuate a status quo where the playground of one's life becomes smaller and smaller until death.

Want something different in your life? Want your life to be different? Upset the pattern of habit and diversion (hopefully in a healthy, disciplined way). Then your life will be different. Do it purposefully and maybe some purposeful improvement will have been obtained. Do it with great determination, and maybe there'll be better feedback. But regardless, at least the quiet desparation of habit and diversion will have been put at bay, and you can sing My Way on your deathbed or something like that, if that floats your boat. Of course I'm trivializing the great matter, but too many people have told me their lives suck, and you have to meet them where they are.

Oh, forget I ever said anything... back to the television...

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