Yesterday was a day of checking out houses. Going from old farm houses to the virtual types, the latter installed as part of the House exhibition, also called Living, at the museum of contemporary art, Louisiana, I came home with a sense of relief. Where I was concerned, I declared it once again to myself that I am definitely not the 'let's play house' type. The reason for this has little to do with my general aversion against all things status quo and the tyranny of possessiveness. As I entertained myself with watching people's reactions to houses, I rather got a clear idea in my head that the reason for my remaining immune towards such exclamations, oh no, or oh yes, has to do with my zen inclinations.

As the idea of 'house' is related to material gain, pride, and compensation for lack of imagination, a zen approach to dwelling finds itself at odds with this form of stability and uniformity that houses invite us to appreciate. And which we do, for the sake of convenience. There is a slight irony here, however, as zen can also seem a philosophy of stability: it insists on change as unchangeable. At the museum, enjoying the samples of wooden houses in the forests of Norway the most, I was reminded of this zen koan: “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” I could feel surrendering to the calmness of detachment. I felt rising above the successful manipulation of feelings that the exhibition operates with. It was enough to take a quick look at most people's strong reactions to the way in which houses were depicted and represented to make me feel good about myself. As people were either repelled by some dwellings or envious of others, I was reminded of the wisdom attached to the trio of learning: understand, accept, and let go. Most people see the latter stage of renunciation as a sign of resignation, but here I would have to insist that insofar as we don't move towards living but towards dying, accumulating things in life will reach a dead end a lot faster even before the other end is experienced, which is the real tragedy. And this is the paradox: the more one lets go, the more one experiences what it means to live in the world. This is the teaching of zen.

I live in a beautiful apartment, but I think of my next move: it will not be down the road, but into the wild.


Robert Gibbons said…
Your "House" reminded me first of the Olson lines quoted below, but also of Heidegger's sense of poetic dwelling, & of course, of the homeless. Olson tells a series of mythic American tales. In one of them, a woman makes love to a poisonous snake who comes out of a sylvan pond, and kills by passing its venom onto her human husbands. In another “myth,” a woman walks into the mountains each Sunday, and “…she said she walked straight through/ the mountain, and who fucked her was the spirit/ of that mountain.” The one “myth” that stands out amongst the three is the story of a man “…who walks with his house on/ his head is heaven he/ who walks with his house/ on his head is heaven he who walks/ with his house on his head.” Look at the force of that lineation! The phrase “he who walks with his house on his head is heaven” is repeated in a mantra..."
Camelia said…
Of course, Olson was not so stupid. There is a difference between he who walks with his house ON his head and he who walks with his house IN his head. The house ON your head allows you to enjoy all the freedom on the earth. Even your nether regions will not be controlled or confined to the rigid structure of the house. You have everything dangling, waiting for that sublime fuck which lasts as long as you are able to breathe with the mountain at its pace, not your pace, thus relishing a different type of cosmic rhythm than the one drawn by pen on paper. Thanks, for this, Robert. It made my day!
Wolf Wucherpfennig said…
As Hofmannsthal said: Wo verbirgt man die Tiefe? An der Oberfläche.
Camelia said…
There is no secret. Only the obvious is the most impenetrable.
Robert Gibbons said…
I was fascinated reading this comment last night in Derrida's, "The Post Card" = "Depth is height." p. 482. -rg
Camelia said…
The whole point is and has always been to rise above it all. The masters have always understood what the vistas from up there can offer, including a deep grasp of depth itself.
Camelia said…
On that note, let me also offer here a favorite fragment of mine via a friend, Paul Nagy, a true master of all sorts of fascinating things.

The Ten Absences according to the KUNJED GYALPO, a Dzogchen Semde

There is no view on which one has to meditate.
There is no commitment, or samaya that one has to keep.
There is no capacity for spiritual action that one has to seek.
There is no mandala one has to create.
There is no initiation one has to receive.
There is no path one has to tread.
There are no levels of realization (bhumis) that one has to achieve through purification.
There is no conduct one has to adopt or abandon.
From the beginning, self-arising wisdom has been free of obstacles.
Self-perfection is beyond hope and fear.

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