the fool

IMG_0872bPOSTCARD#64: Chiang Mai: I hear a sound outside, a voice, a single-syllable, shouted utterance… somebody’s name maybe. I pay no attention, all kinds of noises of building construction out there; clatter-crash-bang; screaming drills and power tools. Then I hear it again, go to the window and take a look over at the new building rising above the treetops. There’s a man up there on the highest level of the structure calling on somebody. I watch him for a while and take a photo. Enlarge the image as far as it’ll go; he looks like a desperado, an urban guerrilla fighter, but I think it’s the same guy who was wearing the red shirt in another post I wrote [light-headedness]. Something about the posture, he’s just standing there, face covered because of the fierce heat of the sun – incognito, a masked identity, a mystical storyteller, the Fool card in the tarot pack, all his worldly possessions in a bag on his shoulder and so busy with what he’s thinking about, doesn’t know he’s about to fall over. A small dog is barking at his heel – trying to get him to see the danger. Will he tumble to his death from this high place or will he prevail? The presence of the Fool is part of the fiction he creates, it insists on the performance. Please tell us a story – it has to be started before it begins… a story about a story, a song about a song?

Childlike and forever taking things as far as they’ll go, I am a make-believe being acting a part I believe to be ‘me’. Subject to astonishing karma because I’m holding on and mortgaged to the point beyond which mortgages really cannot reach, living on air, out on a limb… what I do is often done under duress: WORK, a sense of urgency, stress and getting kids to/from school with traffic congestion, food buying and one problem after another means I seek gratification in purchasing things: clutter and stuff/stutter and cluff, and the-urge-to-get-rid-of-it-all. A new problem always seems to arrive to take the place of the problem that was there before it, and the endless lack of a solution is tacked on to that… and to the one that comes after that… and after that, until I realise it’s the searching for a solution that causes the problem to arise…

When was it not ever thus?… and all of a sudden I’m free of it, thinking of emptiness, nothingness (as opposed to somethingness) and we’re all of a oneness … everybody’s brother and son, I’m no different than anyone. It ain’t no use a-talking to me, it’s just the same as talking to you [I Shall Be Free – No. 10]. Play the guitar riff from Purple Haze, do the best MoonWalk ever, acting the part so well, the ‘truth’ is revealed completely. There is no difference between the ‘self’ construct and my part in the story – even so, the spectator wants to believe I am the character, not the actor just being myself and simultaneously not myself. The ‘act’ of being alive. It’s just there, a total act, ‘theatre’, illusion, maya and we’re immersed in the story of it all…

‘Our lives suffer from a lack of meaning that disguises itself as consumerism and a host of other addictions. Having lost our spiritual grounding […] we experience our groundlessness as an unbearable lightness of being. The tragic dialectic between security and freedom reasserts itself: having attained some measure of self-determination and confronted the lack at its core, we now crave the grounding that would connect our own aspirations with something greater than ourselves.’ [David Loy, A Buddhist History of the West – source:]


Post includes parts of an earlier post: Acting the Part

12 thoughts on “the fool


    Unthinking thinking
    Tears me apart
    Being a being, a player
    Taking a part
    Gamely playing a part
    In the play of doing

    At interval time
    Unthinking all thinking
    Seeing my own doing
    Without owning a thing
    Watching one body
    Nobody now
    No longer apart

  2. So much of what we do is done with a sense of urgency, isn’t it? Then we look up and wonder why? What’s all this about!? In my most urgent moments, I sometimes think, there must be some other moment, some where, that I have forgotten, in which I took the bait… and now, NOW, this is what is before me. Peace arises when we recognize all urgency is subject to interpretation.

    “Who” is subject to this urgency, anyway?

    The voice within responds, as if on equal terms with the one asking the question, as if there is some third being about whom we’re speaking with our “self” about. We are packed full of irony, are we not? And then on the far side of a new breath, it all just dissolves into smoke…


    • Thanks Michael, I know what you mean about the voice answering the question… and the whole thing is objectified inside some kind of inner subjectivity – satisfies that tendency to be inclusive. It must be a fascination with all forms of the elusive “self”. I used to fall into these states of urgency and it doesn’t happen now, maybe I learned to live with it, or one day I found I could see through it. As you’re saying here, it doesn’t have to be like this, we can let go of it all…

  3. Great post… loved the citation to the Dylan song and the free and loose and playful associations to Tarot, Moon Walking, stutter and cliff, etc. etc. The Fool is interesting and looks somewhat forbidding. Is it really that hot?

    Have been thinking lots lately of clutter and how it ways you down, consumerism and how it is so deceiving… buy such and such and your life will be better, you will feel happy, you will feel good… And it winds up that it is just more stuff that clutters your house, your mind, your life after the temporary thrill is gone. I thought consumerism was just an American thing but guess this was a naive thought.

    The David Loy quote is so good. Is this where the book, “The Incredible Lightness of Being” got its title? Loy is so right on about addictions.

    A fun post with gravitas. Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks Ellen, yes, I’m just average, common too, I’m just like him and the same as you… Dylan had just such a lot to say! And the Fool card, somehow it’s become so ubiquitous in recent times. For me it’s been the story of my journey, in a way, just wandering from one place to the next and some incredible experiences. I wrote a post about it: inevitabity of circumstances. Might sound like a crazy idea, but one way to free yourself from the clutter and stuff is to move away from it. And now more than 30 years later I’ve moved so far away it’s become a state of mind. Things are often quite unknown to me, unfamiliar, I’ve become more of an observer than a participant.
      About the mask worn by construction workers because of the hot sun, some workers, usually women, will cover their faces if they don’t want to get a dark complexion. And the book you’re thinking of is “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundra, written before David Loy started publishing? Wonderful title, not sure about the story. There’s a feeling the title needs some fuller explanation, maybe David Loy decided to put it into context. He often refers to the anxiety of emptiness and the tendency to want to fill it with some kind of belief, in an acquisitive sort of way and being caught in that endlessness. At a certain point one wakes up to this truth and opens to allow the emptiness to be there…

  4. Dylan did have a lot to say. He was great! And, yes, that was the book I was thinking of– was replying using my phone so couldn’t look it up without losing my comment. That’s an interesting solution to the clutter problem. And it has worked in local moving. Don’t know if I will get to do another move but hope to, to a simpler life in the country, getting rid of lots of stuff!! I am struggling with the emptiness and finding that I can better deal with anxiety now– a huge thing for me. I look so forward to your posts. Thanks for writing back.

  5. Lovely post and discussion. For me, the Fool, too, is ever ubiquitous these last four years in particular, perhaps because I have left so much clutter behind but not without first dispersing it. Had not realized the extent until reading your post. Thank you.

    • Thanks Karen, I only recently started to notice the Fool and how it somehow induces a ‘waking-up’ to the reality of one’s surroundings. There’s a kind of wisdom associated with the Fool, yet the whole concept of it must be that he doesn’t know what he’s doing…

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