the Zen of cleaning blinds

I don’t live in Japan.

I have Venetian blinds on a few windows.
They are large windows.
I have shown disdain at my blinds’ deteriorating looks and I let them deteriorate further.
My resistance to cleaning Venetian blinds has been solid throughout history.

But I like their look. There is something about the scattered picture through a white blind that I find comfortable and appeasing. In a Zen way. Whatever that is.

The blinds are complex in that there are twenty-five horizontal slats to cover one window. Each horizontal slat is divided into seven portions, but it’s not literally cut up into individual hanging portions, just logically divided, to make it more manageable and balanced and to make the tilt and rollup function possible.

Cleaning Venetian blinds should become the standard dissertation for any aspiring master.

Threads running through each slat make the functionality possible.
They are white threads. They demand extra caution increasing the intensity of the cleaning task.

Each window thus has 200 white slats. My field of vision was filled with slats.

The message this morning was unambiguous.

An attitude was required. The right one for the task.
I pulled my stomach in and tensed up the abdominal muscles to center myself. Then I tensed every other muscle in my body in a call to mobilize. I slightly bowed my head and like a body-builder flexed those butterflies, pecs and biceps in a ‘bring it on I can handle it’ grimace.
A statue of chiseled determination and resolve emerged in front of its nemesis.

A Venetian blind had hijacked my morning. I was urged to practice focus and patience and to stop questioning. The cleaning had to be done today, now, after years of disregard.

Once I had sunk into the ‘Aum’ moment, purging all thoughts of frustration toward this exercise, it gave way to an acceptance of the reality. I allowed the notion that the activity of blind-cleaning might harbor a pertinent message and reveal itself in the meditative-mechanical motion I was performing.
I wipe the first layer of the dust-crust careful not to exert undue forces on the Venetian blinds. There are two hundred slats to clean. It takes fifteen seconds to clean a slat properly. The math is challenging, the answer is grueling, the required effort enormous, the result brilliant.

The process requires at least three passes with separate wet cloths. The cloth must always present a clean surface to the slat. Three cloths can provide a fair amount of uninterrupted cleaning activity and the duration of the task allows a range of activities from daydreaming to gardening. You question gardening in this context? Simple. You get distracted and leave the task.

Distractions happen frequently.
I hear the birds in the garden through the open windows. Incessant chatter, rasping, tweeting and calling. I stretch my neck to see them. An airplane passes overhead. I watch it through binoculars. Bees abound. I need to harvest the honey. It is a hot and sunny day. I want to be outside. A car tire squeals and the Yorkie barks. I perform a quick security check around the house and garden. I get distracted even more in the garden ending up with a clipper and a spade in the bushes.
The monotony of cleaning blinds is in stark contrast to life unfolding this day.

Focus. Stay focused.

A Whatsapp announces itself. The phone is next door.
Not now!


One hundred and twenty-five slats to go.
Focus. I absorb myself into the task.

Seventy-five to go.

Amusing thoughts loiter in my mind.
I see my reflection like a silhouette in the glass behind the slats.
Bad guy looks without the bad guy, and handsome perhaps.
Should I start a blinds-cleaning-service, – by a Zen master.


I am the task. I am the slat. I am the cloth. I am all of it.
There is no show of emotion. I am the person designated to do the task. I am not a mercenary in thoughtless-program-mode although it looks like it.
Nothing is by force. It is my free choice to clean or to neglect.

There is no problem.

When you become the task, resistance disappears.

The task is done.

get back inside

It’s the kind of words you could hear someone yell from the porch on a rainy day.
It could be the name of a bistro.
It’s a vociferous frustration when you opened something up you should not have touched.
It implies that whatever it is, whoever it is, it or they came from the inside.
Get back means to return, to the inside in this case.

Right now however, ‘it’ must be on the outside, because why else would I be reprimanded to get back inside?
The ‘it’ is actually a facet of me.

I was sitting inside the lounge on a chair. But I heard it clearly said, “get back inside.”
The time was just after 5am. Where is inside at that time of the morning? Cosy-snugly bed, no?

Admittedly the meditation was a bit, ‘all over the place.’

In my supposed mode of passive observation I had to rope-in my freely wandering thoughts time and again.
If it would have been a dream it would be called lucid dreaming, because you know what you are doing and you maintain some form of control.
I clearly was two things at once: observer and practitioner, and, I have on occasion caught myself being even more than two things at once.

During writing of my first book I have occasionally practiced spawning numerous thought streams at once and then sitting back to observe: i.e. traveling on the Orient express, flying an aircraft, having dinner and conversation and leaning a fast motorbike through the curves in Mpumalanga with Beethoven’s 6th (Pastorale) in the background.
Indeed I thought I was successful at it. I just worked up a voracious appetite for chocolate afterwards.

Multi-tasking, multi-processing, time-slicing, – fascinating ideas, computer jargon I know, but if a robot can do it surely I can too. Brilliant creation our brain is!
In short most of us will concur that I have probably never reached my destination on the Orient express, crashed the aircraft, was absent minded at dinner and an irresponsible danger on the motorbike. Yes you are right. I never completed any one of them except the Symphony, and why should I? There were another thousand other things to do and I was only interested in the highlights.
Such is the power of our beautiful mind.

Well, this morning an inner voice decided it was appropriate to remind me to ‘get back inside.’
Inside is where I truly am. The outside is a distraction and probably an illusion, – or all is an illusion.
While I am deeply anchored inside I can become a better observer and conductor.
I think what ‘it’ was trying to tell me was, “go outside by all means but stay connected to your true guiding self.”
I’m safely back inside now, peeping out occasionally till next time.

To Beethoven, to Me, to everything at once inside.

Get back inside now!

Let go!

The concept of space, time and matter is an illusion!

I’m dead as far as most physicists are concerned.

Aren’t those the building blocks of a universe?
Isn’t that the foundation of reality?

These learned folk won’t endorse this ludicrous idea of mine. Even less would they want to hear what I have to say.
But hey…

I can’t provide empirical proof and yet paradoxically my experience and observation is the whole proof.
Science lacks measurability in this area and therefore my statement is probably considered preposterous.
However, the experience that lead me to make this statement above is repeatable at will.
And, it doesn’t require the particle accelerator in Cern, a string of academic accolades or MDM or God.

Here is a synopsis of what I have observed:
I clasp things. I hold on to stuff. I impose my will. I force my way. I control. I want, want, want.
I fret, fear and become disturbed. Dis-ease sets in. I miss the point of my existence.
I buzz around a fictitious lamp till I expire.
Anxiety. Depression. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Darkness. Turmoil.
Nothingness. Cluelessness. Lostness.

During moments of such crude existential confrontation and the resulting confusion, what I need is often very close by.
Maybe even on my bedside table.

I picked up the book ‘Out of my mind,’ by Richard Bach, and just like the first time when I read it I could not put it down.

My meditation the next morning focused on only one thing:

‘Letting go.’

First I let go of the idea that I have to define an outcome. Any outcome. The outcome of my life mostly, when I really boil it down to the bare essential.
I decided to let go of ANY desired outcome in my meditation. Then, secondly, having pushed all expectations aside I observed unclouded what revealed itself.
As I let go of stuff: financial woes, creative block, hangups, karmic debt, material belongings, the devil…, – space, time and matter disappeared.
Suddenly I existed. I came to be. I was ‘without’ and that gave opportunity for me to experience unhindered what could be.

There was no physicality about me. Sure my body still existed, but the ‘beingness’ I experienced was not in the body. I was however not floating in space either.
Undoubtedly, I concluded later, there exists an unmeasurable dimension.
I integrated into a ‘substance’ of invisibility somewhere, where I then ‘became’ when I finally let go. And yet despite this state I was still me. A consciousness existed, like a nucleus without the earthly paraphernalia bogging me down. Not even my name came along so I am not sure now how I was identifiable to myself. But I very clearly was without social security number, passport, avatar, blog etc. etc.
Maybe more than ever I actually was I. Or was I? The sense of individuality that I had in human form was not there. There was no ego but there was a presence. Even though I haven’t any feedback from anyone else experiencing this, I felt a definition of ‘aware beingness.’ On reflecting afterwards I wondered if we all become similar in this state and that this is what ‘divine consciousness’ is about?

I have no idea yet how one makes contact, finds me or joins me when I’m ‘there?’ I don’t even know if such an interaction would still be desirable or necessary?
Perhaps that nonphysical consciousness is just another step towards other existii of myself and other realities in other dimensions?

It was quite apparent that I was still associated/connected with my body to this earthly existence of a reality, because the tune ‘By the Seaside,’ gently brought me back from yonder land.

I can’t even say with any certainty that ‘letting go’ is a sure fire solution of realigning myself in this existence.
I do know that an expansion occurs from this perceived, stuck reality into fantality and, upon returning, there remains the irrefutable knowledge of another beingness and a universe that functions way different to what we expect and have accepted.

I think the point here is not to overthink, rather steady the monkey mind and experience.

Let go and wonder for yourself.

The Z(th)en man

Not Zen. No. Then!

Then when…
Then while…
Then during…
Then before…
Then after…
Then rather…
Then never…
Then always…
Then perhaps…
Then if, then…
Then, then…
Then see…
Then now

Always then. – Never now.

My ‘then’ shield.
I retaliate with ‘then…’
  “Then, hah, watch out.”
It’s my secret weapon of escape from anything. The delusional ‘Then-blaster.’

“Hallo Mr Then-When-Do, time to meet Mr Now-I-will.”

‘But, if, then and when,’ mixed with ‘maybe and perhaps’ and a serving of procrastination and indecision will affect no change.
Tiny words that become my reason to remain inactive. It is fascinating how I can hide behind the ‘then screen,’ and actually justify my state of being. “Yes, then I will do something.”

Between then-bliss and then-hell is the fulcrum of my seesawing life where everything ceases and meditative balance reveals the ‘now.’ There is no ‘then’ in the now, there is Zen. This is the place where it all happens. This is the pumping heart of super-oxygenated life. Life is not when I fall of the bliss edge or into the hell abyss. Life is at the fulcrum and this is where it expands as much as I let it. I am my own rev limiter but my engine can’t over rev so why use it?

I know ‘then’ is an adverb but it doesn’t add anything to my verb called ‘Life,’ except when the ‘then’ becomes an instigator of action, a wake-up-call, now ‘then’ becomes a friend.
When ‘then’ takes me away from the now into ‘Thenland,’ pulling me from the present, it radically and immediately shrink-wraps my present and my possibilities.

Imagination is not ‘Thenland.’ Imagination is ‘Nowland.’ It is part of our ‘Land of Is’ that we create. We make it ‘Thenland’ because we say it is not reality. But I have just redefined reality and called it Fantality. I have expanded reality to be bigger, much, hugely bigger, and all encompassing far beyond the experience of our prime senses to the far reaches of our ‘ever-expanding’ imagination. Fantastic reality.

Go ahead try it and live in Fantality.
Forget ‘then,’ turf the word ‘limit’ and ‘boundary.’ Let them call you delusional. Fly on your broomstick and magic carpet. Soar your kite.

Thank you life, you rock!



Shining me

For as far as I can look back standing in my own light has seldom happened.
I needed to first become aware that I am a light that can actually shine.
Others regularly out-shone me.
It was as if everybody else was aware that shining ones own light was advertising oneself to the universe, – except myself.
Somehow, perhaps early circumstances affecting that aspect, I was not a shiner. I understood the principle that if I don’t shine my own light then I am under the radar so to speak. What I didn’t understand was that for anything to happen in my life I have to switch on my light and keep on shining it.
Being boldly visible like a super-star is another thing, but shining my own light, not just a candle, but a real light, is a requirement to life, – or so I would like to think now.

It is easy to stand in the rays of someone else’s light.
My husband this…, my wife that…, my company…, my friends…, they all shine a light and I can find comfort gathering myself under their umbrella of light.
Long before I ignited my own light I had found others’ light. I would ask, “Why can’t I be like them?”
Little did I know that no one can be like another. Unbelievably so each and everyone’s light is also different, – very different, even if they are your own offspring. It is an utter mystery to me how there can be so many of us and we all shine a different light. Man has become such an expert at cloning stuff and yet the universe is all about diversity. Even when it all looks the same, it isn’t.
Another thing I find a paradox is that when I shine I emit something and yet I actually attract something. I give something, and yet that very process of shining(giving off), that radiation I emit, actually attracts stuff and doesn’t affect my shine at all, it might just make it brighter. It has a principle of action and reaction built in. Shining, more than anything, seems to attract stuff which has a basic consistency of what I shone out there. If I have a dull light it is impossible to attract sunny, resonant, interesting stuff.
This observation leads me to say that:
“What I am I attract.”
Truthfully, I didn’t know that for a large part of my life, and even when I got the message I actually still didn’t get the gist of it until much later. Whatever was shining was a side product of whatever I was doing, but not a deliberate attempt. Sometimes one can shine and don’t even know it. That is cool, but when the light goes out then it becomes a problem, because when darkness takes over in your head you are exposed to such an onslaught of negativity and misfortune that ones only hope is to find that light again.

But, how do I find that light of mine so I can shine it?
I love fantasy, I even write it. I love to think about an ethereal world, the metaphysical, the spiritual, the magical. I love to dream.
When I get down to doing stuff however I become a realist, pragmatist. I need concrete stuff that works.
However intangible this might be, I have absolutely learned about the power of thought. Thought is the essence of my light. Because I can dial in any thought, and I can really go overboard here because my thoughts are private and so I can think whatever I want, I can change my light with such variability and speed, like a tuning knob on one of those old radios, that my light becomes like a discotheque kaleidoscope or a rave club shadow world. Surfing up and down the spectrum of light causes my thoughts to race inconsistently and so I never get to the point of actually emitting anything long enough to evoke a desired reaction, except getting back some garbled snippets of everything but really nothing coherent and usable.
Once I got to this realisation I knew there was only one cure. I had to sit down for half-an-hour and meditate on being light: pure, glorious, radiating, warm, embracing, shining light.
I am light. I shine. I am.

what would Freedom say

I didn’t know it then but when I was a young boy I had immense freedom:
I was free of worry because everything I required was taken care of;
I lived in a quiet place on a hill, away from the city, with nature at my door and neighbours far away;
I spent time outside, – not inside exploring some technological wonder like an iPhone or TV or such, because we had none of that, bar an old crackly valve radio;
There was peace in my life, others around me made sure of that and shielded me as much as possible from the turbulence of life and its tragedies.

As I grew up Freedom retained its core importance in my life. It took on new facets like responsibility and conscience. It wasn’t always easy to be free as life got busy. Often it felt that the default was being ‘not free.’
From having had immense freedom, pure freedom, freedom to be myself within a very loose framework of upbringing, every ounce of that freedom now had to be fought for.
My deep love for Freedom has been a guiding thread all my life. When I felt as if something was encroaching on my freedom I would deal with it. That voice of Freedom inside me would become quite loud and demanding. Like when I took stuff I should have rather left alone. Or when I felt the roof was caving in over my head and I had to escape.

But, even the voice of Freedom must have gotten tired along the way because another voice far cleverer, knowing everything much better, assumed governance over my affairs. It used something called logic. Not logics logic, but my super-logic, and my super-logic stipulated that if something makes money then Freedom is out of the equation. That ‘it’ was of course my ‘brilliant’ mind. For a while it even seemed to really be brilliant. The reason for that deduction was simple. Money gave ‘freedom.’ However on closer inspection the ‘more money’ actually led me to mortgage my freedom in return. In my flawed business model of life the more I wanted the greater my dedication to being a prostitute in my business became. One side effect was that I built up this non-caring, ‘mercenary’ attitude as long as it served my purpose. It also created an unbearable discomfort in the background. Freedom never actually gave up its claim over me. It was so deeply engrained from early on that it was part of me. My craving for freedom grew proportionately to the amount I ignored it. It expressed its desire to be acknowledged by stepping on its own accelerator and that had the label of ‘extreme’ pasted over it. Oh boy, now I was in for a ride and a half as that desire sought fulfilment in adventure. Naturally drawn towards adventure in any case, Freedom knew exactly what buttons to press. These buttons did not come cheap either and so a cycle started that eventually had to find an exit point.

To be free is my natural way of being. I shouldn’t even have to insist on it. My spirit wants to soar and has to be free to maintain sanity. But how do I regain that freedom from that ball and chain around my spirit?
The answer as always is simple. The path to the answer however was a maze. Determined to find one, even despair was no permanent obstruction for Freedom to triumph.
I looked at the issues that bother and burden me: like an ex that did something or my fasting bank account. Then I go and meditate, creating the picture of the issues to the vision of the thought, “I am free.” Now I did it. I said it. I declared my intent and I might have to reiterate once or twice but the issues have been shown the door.

Whatever it is that obstructs the very core of myself to function as per ‘design,’ it needs to be exposed. In the process it helps to be honest with myself.

To me the question not to forget is, “What would Freedom say?”