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My father, and meditation.

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My father is the zen king. A friend of mine described my dad as 'zen' some years back, and the description has never failed me. 

This even I was in the pub with my father and a friend of his from the old days. I must say, my father is the most moral man. The first thing I learnt when I studied philosophy at university fifteen years ago was that you don't necessarily have to be religious or even spiritual to be moral. My father, Fred, is not religious - at least not outwardly, although he has alluded to a greater sense of spiritual questioning, due to his advancing years. Yet his morality and humility are beyond bounds; he puts everyone else before him, he has such patience, and he gives everything he can, and he'll do anything for anyone, as they say. 

When it comes to my interpersonal relationship with my father, I daresay it is the truth: I do not tend to bring out the best in him. I take this to be for a number of reasons. One, who am I to him? How is he supposed to gauge who I am exactly? Am I his middle aged son, or am I his young child? Am I a world-weary intellectual, or am I a know nothing son of a builder? How is he supposed to gauge who I am? It must be difficult. On the other hand, when my father is talking over a pint to someone he's known for years - his best mate - someone who has striven to advance himself to my father in understanding on his own terms, that is when my father knows more who he is, and who he is talking to. So I saw old Fred in a good light - in a great light - this evening when he was talking to Tony, who is one of his best friends. Yes, Fred was talking fluently and freely about the legal proceedings that are taking place within the family, and was talking about his memories of Samoa, and spoke about these things with authority, and intelligence, and thoughtfulness, and I loved him. 

I don't wish to sour the note by saying that, one-to-one, when Tony was not there, I began to fail to understand the things my father was trying to get at. I don't know why that is. But perhaps it's detrimental to a notion that perhaps I myself am characteristically unsure of myself. But that's another thing. 

I'm quiet these days; I rarely talk. It must seem to people that I have little to say. Several people, though, have said it: I don't know things. I don't know things. That's a saying. It alludes to street-smarts, or even more worldly smarts. But I do know certain things. Unfortunately most people are not interested in hearing about how to solve a differential equation, or what a two-dimensional map is, or how to manipulate a Hessian matrix, or what they are, even. In a standard setting it must be true - I don't know things. So I remain quiet. 

When I arrived home I was stressed out. I have realised that this anxiety I have amounts to a type of panic attack. These panic attacks occur frequently - once or twice a day - and if they happen during the day, I must lie down abed and breath more regularly, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, until my heartbeat has calmed down and reached the pace at which I am breathing. If they happen at night, as just occurred just now, I'm happy to sit quietly and meditate. 

The first few minutes of meditation are relatively awkward, and one wonders if there is a point to it at all. But I sit cross-legged on my bed, facing the window, lights out (other than my salt lamp - an orange glow), and I breath in through the nose, and out through the mouth until I have achieved a steady rhythm. There are two ways, I am given to understand, with which to proceed. One of them is to inwardly focus upon a thought - be it God's warmth, the compassion of Jesus, the expanse of the ego, or the delights of genius. I like to remember this technique to start with, but I rarely follow it. No, I tend to go in for that other way of doing things - to inwardly and actively reject all thoughts. That is, one must tell oneself, that thoughts are none of my business. But it is not just a matter of repeating 'thoughts are none of my business', but you must allow each thought to pass you by. That is, when a thought arises, you must remember that it is none of your business, and proceed. The way I have personally clocked this technique is by looking directly at my thinking - that is, the thinking substance itself. I have found a way to 'get behind' all thoughts by watching this mechanism at work, and allowing those monadic elements that arise upon awareness of them, to fall away. Then I say, 'deeper, deeper', and I go deeper, and I have a notion that is not borne out by the light of consciousness, and it may be something to do with the ego. For example, I realised that one outcome of meditation could be to expand the ego (although, this may seem counter-intuitive - we're supposed to disregard the ego, aren't we?). And tonight I saw that my ego is the full id of my understanding and encapsulates everything I know to be in existence in the world, and that I'll never fully disregard the ego, which I take to be the driving force of my mind and soul, and of which the female's is said to be the anima, so in effect, to enhance the ego is a good thing. 

During meditation I may or may not have on some music, say, some classical symphony or other, and this is a fine thing. Of course, it is peaceful enough to relax with nothing but the sound of silence - that way, we are left with the sound of things arising, and then passing away - arising, and passing away. Yet it is also a good thing to have on some symphony or other. For some symphonies may last an hour, and for one thing it is good to have a gauge of how long you are deep in this state, and to aim to finish with the penultimate finale of the piece. Tonight I had on Rachmaninov, and his is a fine second symphony, for if a symphony is worth its weight, it will map your thinking, enhance your thinking, and all the more give you something to release, when necessary, deeper and deeper. 

Meditation is a type of self-hypnosis. It is always wise to be aware of what it is from which we are dropping attachment. For me, it is always anxiety, and internal stress related pain. And yet, it is said, that in this fast-paced world in which we live, when we finally decided to come out of our meditative state, it is wise to make ourselves aware of the material world we are coming back into. For me it is a decision, that I know when I've done enough, and I listen to the traffic, and I begin to breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth, and I say, when I open my eyes, I will feel more relaxed and mentally clear than I ever have, and then I gradually open my eyes, and I breathe outwardly, and I am done. I have meditated. 

I'm almost glad sometimes, that I have such panic attacks that meditation is deemed necessary, for otherwise I would not know calm. 


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at home

Sentiments of old age and fathers

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My father is a fucking sweetheart, let's make no bones about it. 

I was listening to him today at the dinner table when I had been at my parents house, and this was after dinner, which was eggs, chips and, for me, no-chicken kiev. And I listened to him as he discussed first the Edgware Walker, a man who would walk around the town, hunch-backed, looking through bins, and who died in 2005. Then, once my mother had taken her plate away, dad began to talk about property, and in particular, a property he had recently missed the opportunity to procure, that was on the market. And he told me of lease-holdings and free-holdings, and then the discussion turned to the jobs market, and the fact that Eastern Europeans had taken a part in destroying the workplace, due to their ridiculously low wages. And he spoke about his former employer, Anil Varma, who is a millionaire, who chose to fire some English workers in favour of the Eastern Europeans. And then the discussion went on from there to politics, and Boris Johnson, whom I gather my father has some sympathy towards - and whom, I suppose, I do too. 

We ended up in the garden, smoking roll ups, and the night was freezing. Anyhow, I noticed as I listened to my father talking, that I didn't have to say very much, and part of the time I felt slightly resentful of that. However, my father himself didn't seem to notice that he was doing all the talking. And I take it now, that this is how my father sees conversation between he and his son: as a chance to educate me on certain things. Indeed, and yes, I was slightly resentful, for the fact that I myself have been in higher education for more years than I care to mention, and I have a deep desire to tell my father of these things I have learnt, and show him the complexity of the knowledge I have acquired. 

But overriding all this, I noticed, as I listened to him talking (which, I also noticed, was giving me a slight headache for some reason), was a feeling of deep love and compassion. My father, like many of ours, is not going to be around for ever - although, he is in fact just sixty-seven now, and we have a good few years, health providing - and in any case, perhaps I have nothing of interest to teach my father. In any case, I thought, 'Could I not just sit and listen to my father?'

And that is the prevailing lesson of the day. Is it too much to ask of me to allow my father to at least feel like he is educating his son? I'm not saying he isn't educating me - although much of his lecture was reliant on basic right wing politics; but I do not mind that - I feel like perhaps I am right wing, in many ways. The media, when we are exposed to it, despite its efforts to branch out into perhaps deeper themes of politics and social talk, can be very mainstream, and as a result the basest of social adherents are provided with a point of view, and this is why much of our social media experience is based around navigating through stupid comments and repetitive posts, that say not very much of anything new. But we can't let these things get to us. 

My father is not a difficult man, not really. Some men do not understand their fathers. But I feel like I can understand him well, my father. I often do wish our discussions were more like discussions than one-sided lectures. Nevertheless, I am moral enough and full of ethical love to be able to afford my very father the very things he wishes of our relationship. He is a philosophical man, but not a religious man: I feel like, perhaps he could do with a good reading of the bible, or a visit to church. He is a zen warrior, is my father. He is bald and tan. Today I couldn't help but see him as the hairy one, and I the bald man. 

Hegel, in Philosophy of Mind, talks at times of 'derangement'. Yesterday I was reading about it, in his words, and he has some very lively ways of thinking. Yet there is a sense of racism running though his works, although such as it seems to be a fact of the time he lived in, rather than a matter of his outlook, and in fact, I imagine the Hegel was rather liberal and forward thinking for a German philosopher of the eighteen hundreds - that is, his work is sprinkled with generalisations about national individuals, yet he is not overt. In any case, he spoke about derangement, and one thing which struck me was the notion that psychosis itself (indeed, in his words, derangement) is a phenomenon that happens when the individual has cast away his objective sense, and his dreams and subjective consciousness have been cast into the fore of the mans mind. That is, the deranged are living in a dream world manifest in objective living. 

It makes me think, on the one hand, of the absolute objectivity of the mind, and what is afforded in the educated man's consciousness. That is, as an occasional victim of insanity myself, I recognised the truth of my own psychosis, in that it was in fact a product of dreaming whilst awake, and very much so. I am now fully medicated, and strive to achieve the most pared down and educated existence I possibly can. Although, I am at odds with what this entails in social existence... I have to grow old, and growing old I have to contend with a perpetually extending youth - that is, a youth that continues to extend away from me into the past that is a 'now'. 

This objective reality is part of psychology that comes with maturity and experience. It exists within all of us. The dreaming life of the subjective unconscious is something that leaves us as we get older, and it is why the young are able to rely on us, derangement providing. There are certain boundaries that we learn, that strengthen with age, and upon which we build on a daily basis. We need to be solid, that is, we need to accept the conventional life, and accept a transition into old age. 

I sometimes feel like my parents will never die. There is a time in life when we feel this deeply. But time passes, and one day they will be gone, and that will be their legacy. 

Some people have already lost their parents. I am not ready to lose mine - hence I convince myself that they will live forever; that sixty seven and sixty four are still as young as forty, relatively. In many ways, they are. I am as old as my mother was when I was seventeen, and I thought she was old then. But now I see that she is young. And that she has many years left. 

Also, I have been praying for people I love. It seems that prayer is a good way to formalise positive thoughts about those people, and in a sense paves the way for some people to thrive in life. Well, I know what I mean. It's the same as building a path up a mountain, or building a house. Prayer builds, and people can live in what wehave built. 

I will close now, but I could go on, philosophising etc, yet I have work to do, which is another story. 

best wishes, 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Daniel Frederick Best, Tuesday, 25 Jan 2022, 23:03)
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