Today I was explaining to someone what Zen is and why Zen matters.
As I was going through my exposition, I threw some cards on the table as a way of both, initiating and accompanying what I was thinking in the very moment.
This method of lecturing on subjects that to others remain a fascinating mystery is very efficient, as it proves two points:
1) You can talk a lot of sense without thinking, which brings you closer to having and offering a spontaneous reaction to what is said.
2) You can talk a lot of sense by using visual cues from the cards to address a very tight and specific concern that may not even be brought to the table, but informs the whole discussion as if ruling from the inside, or from our unconscious fears and desires.
Such conversations that follow this method of presenting a general idea that is then expanded upon with random cards falling on the table follows the same method in cartomancy that we associate with the name tirage-en-ligne, or the reading of cards in line, that is, the reading of cards in the order in which they fall on the table one by one.
The aim in such readings is to create a coherent narrative, using basic sentence structures. Some cards act as subjects, some as verbs, and some as modifiers in the form of adverbs or adjectives.
Depending on how skillful the reader is, the narrative can take any form of eloquent verbal sophistication, often bordering on blowing the mind, and on occasion, pulverizing the mind to dust.
I have always been fascinated by such cartomantic equilibristics as it appeals to my fondness of cuts, from samurai cuts to cuts in the words that say a lot but nothing of value. Cut, cut, cut.
Here’s what was concluded in my conversation today that left everyone with a sense of being lifted off the ground, and thrown into a sense of lightness of being and radiance:
What do I address in my work with cards and Zen?
… though remember that I was actually talking just about the value of Zen, and what Zen as such addresses beyond my own agency (both in the Japanese and Tibetan Buddhist contexts).
DEATH, ACE OF SWORDS, 4 SWORDS
People are tired of Death in all its manifestations. Major cuts hurt, leaving people with a sense of stagnant loss.
Indeed, there is pain in the world, all related to losing life, then losing some more, and then having to cope with how pain covers all corners.
Zen addresses the pain of others. Ain’t that the noble truth?
7 BATONS, 2 CUPS, THE DEVIL
What I do in my work is engage in some practical magic. I trick people into visualizing working through their pain. I have as yet to see someone in major physical, mental, and emotional pain, who didn’t feel better as soon as I take them in their minds to Bora Bora to swim with golden fish.
What does this tell us about the nature of pain? That it doesn’t exist. It only exists in the mind. If you’re attached to ‘pain ‘proper’, then it exists for you as pain proper (I put ‘pain proper’ in inverted commas because you use words to describe your pain, which is the same as saying that your pain only has symbolic value, as language only has symbolic value. Let us be very clear about our fictions).
If you’re attached to pain while you’re also swimming with golden fish on the island of Bora Bora, then your pain is modified by a feeling of bliss and accomplishment. This simply means that the same physical, mental, and emotional pain doesn’t exist as ‘proper’ any more. Now it has become an entity that swims with golden fish on Bora Bora.
So Zen is a disciplined method into tricking yourself into seeing all illusions as the work of the Devil himself who is also an illusion. A devil exists if you make room for him in your mind. He doesn’t, if you don’t. It’s as simple as that.
Which brings me to the final point in my discussion:
FORCE, 5 SWORDS, 2 COINS
My concrete contribution to addressing the pain of others so they end up radiating their own light is to force them to localize their own pain in the body. Make them see that it has no point of reference other than in the words we use to describe impressions: ‘My pain resides in my throat,’ or indeed, ‘my pain is swimming with golden fish on Bora Bora.’
I make people see pain as part of the bond with life.
Every coin has two faces. When you are in pain, you think it’ll last forever. When you are in love you think it’ll last forever.
Well, guess what?
Nothing lasts forever. You’re always in a bond, a mental transaction you make with yourself about what attitude is seated in you.
As coins represent your mental capacity, the fact that my discussion of Zen ends with coins validates it for me that I must simply continue doing what I’m good at:
Address the pain of others, and in the process, pulverize the shit out of it with some magic radiance.
Can you feel the glow coming out of those two coins? What does that tell you about the nature of disciplined, mental work?
I’ll leave it to you to ponder.
I’m off making some new cuts into wounds, those that exist, and those that don’t.
In Radiant Reading we address such issues, as radiant reading is all about gaining awareness into how you can shine – with cards.
Note on the cards: Marseille Tarot by Bernard Schaer, 1784 in public domain. Here, my own facsimile, printed on fancy paper from Canson, at high, secret resolution.
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