Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy. And so the problem remained; lots of people were mean and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches. ~ Douglas Adams
All stories must start somewhere.
In your grandmother’s Tarot deck the Fool is the ultimate free spirit, that proto-Flower Child who is the embodiment of beginnings, innocence and spontaneity. It is the first and last card since Zero is liminal, being both everything and nothing. We like to remind ourselves that, “We are stardust, we are golden/ We are billion-year-old carbon.” All this is true, and yet the gendered essentialism found in so much of that Tarot deck will only take us so far. Perhaps to the cliff for you, but certainly not over it for me. For that we need to find something else. As Nancy Baker puts it:
There’s a strong streak of anti-essentialism in Feminism, just as there is in Buddhism. It is the understanding that something like gender is not fixed or absolute, that not all women or men have some masculine or feminine essence that defines them. To put it in Buddhist terms, gender has no “self-nature.”
Western Pop Culture likes to claim that Buddhism is logical, agnostic and liberal in matters of gender and sexuality, conveniently overlooking all the misogynist views that the Buddha himself had about women, “of all the scents that can enslave a man none is more lethal than that of a woman.” For those of us who refuse or attempt to transcend such man-made concepts this critique is important because what we are searching for is liberation. There is nothing “enlightened” in any social structure that clings to ideas of rigid sexual morality and assigns half the world a secondary role simply by existing.
“Do not go where the path may lead,” Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us, “go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
How Syssk found herself marooned in ancient Japan, surrounded by folks who consider her unenlightened simply by existing is unimportant. The question isn’t whether she is capable of spiritual growth, we are all capable of that, the question is what are the forces attempting to block her and you from that growth? Discard everything that gets in your way and The Way (The Tao) opens before you.
This is Syssk’s path and so it will be ours as well.
[an earlier version of the fool; the design of the xenomorph was much closer to h.r. giger’s original vision, though the blue figure was taken directly from robbie morrison’s shakara (2012) … always cite the sources that you purloin]
NOTES ON NOTES:
I have been told that my handwriting is almost illegible, so I will reproduce my notes here:
In almost all the riddle-like koan the striking characteristic is the illogical or absurd act or word. A monk once asked, “What is Buddha?” The master replied, “Three pounds of flax.” Or a Zen master remarked, “When both hands are clapped a sound is produced; listen to the sound of one hand.” ~ Heinrich Dumoulin
I alone seem to have lost everything. Mine is indeed the mind of a very idiot. So dull am I. The world is full of people that shine; I alone am dark. ~ Tao Te Ching
Chaos is the Formless Void but the Void is not Chaotic.
My soul is a black maelstrom, a great madness spinning about a vacuum, the swirling of a vast ocean around a hole in the void, and in the waters, more like whirlwinds than waters, float images of all I ever saw or heard in the world: houses, faces, books, boxes, snatches of music and fragments of voices, all caught up in a sinister, bottomless whirlpool. ~ Fernando Pessoa
Giving birth to nothingness/ Giving birth to death/ Such terrible words/ I heard on the border/ Between dream and reality ~ Yosano Akiko
because I don’t have spit/ because I don’t have rubbish/ because I don’t have dust/ because I don’t have that which is in air/ because I am air/ let me try you with my magic power ~ Anne Waldman