These paintings are from a series by John Brzostoski completed in the latter days of September 2001 and are presented in conjunction with the writing below.

The Lotus Is Born in Fire

In the morning, cry a renunciation, but maintain lovingkindness in your mind. Maintain it diligently for even if you are powerful as the universe you shall destroy galaxies for kalpas and have to start again!

Renounce vanities and hold onto thoughts of kindness. How does one do this? Many ways. forty-nine days of holding the breath, one day of remembrance of exhalation. But there is also four days leading to two days into the night. Again, two days of shallow breathing, all disguised, brings a paralysis of thought and intellect, not akin to death. It is more like an ancient mirror on a tripod. Make no mistake. There is no mirror facing another mirror whatever reflecting light may blind you. It would be better not to suppose what the image is supposed to be, intended to be, or projected to be. To react to that is error, but not disastrous, merely the plight of living, facing actuality.

Observing swarming termites and chopping dead wood on an endless log does nothing about anything. It merely seems like antidote. The healthy body/mind needs to roar. If anyone hears it, it could rattle their wits. If it doesn’t, they have no wits. Better to recognize the true, the universe is burning and anyone who knows anything is suffering. If you’re not, my condolences. You are dim witted and not conscious and cannot hear even one word on this page.

Go live, win and lose, smash your hands against hysterical constellations, your head against phases of the moon, and your heart against another heart. Find the leisure to contemplate the results. You will discover the human condition. Foolish mortals who say that they seek reality don’t know what they are saying. For them, the worldly, when they approach it, they tremble and feel weak, distressed, fearful, terrified and repelled. They reject the truth and turn somewhere else for it, an easier, a softer, lifeless one. Little do they realize that they have been through the door itself, and in error, stupefying ignorance, in that immensity, said “nothing is here,” and stepped back to dullness. They may be less eloquent and merely realize the words “it is painful. I must stop it,” and step back.

That is doubly sad. Perhaps the intensity of the wind catches the weak off guard. 49-4-2-2-one! No intellectualizing this. No circling round this furnace. Penetrate this far, past illusions, yours or others reflecting to and fro, from empty tripod to tripod. There are dreams that do not reveal that the house is burning; it would howl but it is a silent fire. It does not crackle, it is so hot. It is so permeating that it is like the center of the sun. Tears evaporate in this heat or better still, fall to water a lotus, or better still, leave the eye of a bodhisattva, Rje-bo, to become a loving mother goddess, Tara.

There is the body full of thunderbolts in all the veins. There is the body that realizes in all directions totally, all encompassing. It encompasses also, even primarily, all suffering, all streams of lava moving from head to heart to stomach to groin to arms to eyes to fingers, gesturing into inevitable mudras. The foolish mortals, 49-4-2-2 years of age, reject that and step back.

But rejection of rejection is important, for something clarifies. The body is soft, the body is hard — diamond hard — and the thunderstorms around the void make rainbows. Thus it is three jewelled; clear dark and multi-colored. The center of the sun casts out energy and light to planets, moons and stars. Gardens grow. It cannot be simpler. It cannot be easier. Although it is hard to start and to maintain, it is easy to finish. Exercises of existence do not do it. Cleverness does not do it. In the midst of burning suffering, only lovingkindness — will realize it.

Written for everyone in particular, by a sixty-year old on his 52nd birthday.

1978 — John Brzostoski

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