“Definitions, A Preface.” from elephant journal’s Winter 07/08 issue.
Chögyam Trungpa remarked, “Writing is writing the mind,” thus the title. Ground, Path, and Fruition are common stages of Tibetan style dharma teaching, often condensed into slogans for mind-training traditioned in Eastern thought.
Here, Ground means the situation of mind: we’re all amateurs at reading our own minds, but that’s all we have to work with, mutability of consciousness, appearance of chaos, our own confusion, inconsistency, awareness, humors & mental information.
Path: How to use, order & select aspects of mind, how accept & work with ordinary mind? We can only write what we know & teach same, what tricks & techniques of focus are practicable?
Fruition: What to expect, what to aim for, what result?
Candor: to reveal ourselves to ourselves, reveal ourselves to others, resolve anxiety of confusion & relieve our own & others’ sufferings.
Two decades’ experiences teaching poetics at Naropa Institute, half decade at Brooklyn College, and occasional workshops at Zen Center & Shambhala/Dharmadhatu weekends have been boiled down to brief mottoes from many sources found useful to guide myself and others in the experience of “writing the mind.”
~ Allen Ginsberg, 2/19/94
MIND WRITING SLOGANS
“First thought is best in Art, second in other matters.” -William Blake
I. GROUND (Situation, or Primary Perception)
1. “First Thought, Best Thought” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
2. “Take a friendly attitude toward your thoughts.” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
3. “The Mind must be loose.”-John Adams
4. “One perception must immediately and directly lead to a further perception.” -Charles Olson, Projective Verse
5. “My writing is a picture of the mind moving.” -Philip Whalen
6. Surprise Mind -Allen Ginsberg
7. “The old pond, a frog jumps in, Kerplunk!” -Basho
8. “Magic is the total delight (appreciation) of chance” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
9. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, (I am large. I contain multitudes.)” -Walt Whitman
10. “…What quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature? …Negative capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”-John Keats
11. “Form is never more than an extension of content.” -Robert Creeley to Charles Olson
12. “Form follows function.” -Frank Lloyd Wright
13. Ordinary Mind includes eternal perceptions.-A.G.
14. “Nothing is better for being Eternal/ Nor so white as the white that dies of a day.” -Louis Zukofsky
15. Notice what you notice.-A.G.
16. Catch yourself thinking-A.G.
17. Observe what’s vivid.-A.G.
18. Vividness is self-selecting.-A.G.
19. “Spots of Time” -William Wordsworth
20. If we don’t show anyone we’re free to write anything -A.G.
21. “My mind is open to itself.” -Gelek Rinpoche
22. “Each on his bed spoke to himself alone, making no sound.” -Charles Reznikoff
II. PATH (Method or Recognition)
23. “No ideas but in things.” “…No ideas but in the Facts.” -William Carlos Williams
24. “Close to the nose.”-W.C.Williams
25. “Sight is where the eye hits.” -Louis Zukofsky
26. “Clamp the mind down on objects.”-W.C.Williams
27. “Direct treatment of the thing…” (or object.)” -E.Pound, 1912
28. “Presentation, not reference…” -Ezra Pound
29. “Give me a for instance.” -Vernacular
30. “Show not tell.”-Vernacular
31. “The natural object is always the adequate symbol.” -Ezra Pound
32. “Things are symbols of themselves.”-Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
33. “Labor well the minute particulars, take care of the little ones/ He who would do good for another must do it in minute particulars/ General Good is the plea of the Scoundrel Hypocrite and Flatterer/ For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized particulars” -William Blake
34. “And being old she put a skin/On everything she said.” -W.B.Yeats
35. “Don’t think of words when you stop but to see the picture better.” -Jack Kerouac
36. “Details are the Life of Prose.” -Jack Kerouac
37. Intense fragments of spoken idiom, best. -A.G.
38. “Economy of Words” -Ezra Pound
39. “Tailoring” -Gregory Corso
40. Maximum information, minimum number of syllables. -A.G.
41. Syntax condensed, sound is solid. -A.G.
42. Savor vowels, appreciate consonants.-A.G.
43. “Compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.”-Ezra Pound
44. “…awareness…of the tone leading of the vowels.” -Ezra Pound
45. “…an attempt to approximate classical quantitative meters…” -Ezra Pound
46. “Lower limit speech, upper limit song”-Louis Zukofsky
47. “Phanopoeia, Melopoeia, Logopoeia.” -Ezra Pound
48. “Sight, Sound & Intellect.” -Louis Zukofsky
49. “Only emotion objectified endures.” – Louis Zukofsky
III. FRUITION (Result or Appreciation)
50. Spiritus = Breathing = Inspiration = Unobstructed Breath
51. “Alone with the Alone” -Plotinus
52. Sunyata (Skt.) = Ku (Japanese) = Emptiness
53. “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?” -Zen Koan
54. “What’s the face you had before you were born?” -Zen Koan
55. Vipassana (Skt.) = Clear Seeing
56. “Stop the world” -Carlos Casteneda
57. “The purpose of art is to stop time.” -Bob Dylan
58. “The unspeakable visions of the individual.”-J.K.
59. “I’m going to try speaking some reckless words, and I want you to try to listen recklessly.” -Chuang Tzu, (Tr. Burton Watson)
60. “Candor” -Whitman
61. “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” -Shakespeare
62. “Contact”-A Magazine, Nathaniel West & W.C. Williams, Eds.
63. “God Appears & God is Light/ To those poor Souls who dwell in Night/ But does a Human Form Display/ To those who Dwell in Realms of day.” -W. Blake
64. Subject is known by what she sees.-A.G.
65. Others can measure their visions by what we see.-A.G.
66. Candor ends paranoia.-A.G.
67. “Willingness to be Fool.”-Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
68. “day & night/you’re all right”-Gregory Corso
69. Tyger: “Humility is Beatness.” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche & A.G.
70. Lion: “Surprise Mind”-Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche & A.G.
71. Garuda: “Crazy Wisdom Outrageousness” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
72. Dragon: “Unborn Inscrutability” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
73. “To be men not destroyers” -Ezra Pound
74. “Speech synchronizes mind & body.” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
75. “The Emperor unites Heaven & Earth.” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
76. “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” -Shelley
77. “Make it new”-Ezra Pound
78. “When the mode of music changes, the walls of the city shake”-Plato
79. “Every third thought shall be my grave” -W. Shakespeare, The Tempest
80. “That in black ink my love may still shine bright” -W. Shakespeare, Sonnets
81. “Only emotion endures” -Ezra Pound
82. “Well while I’m here I’ll do the work-and what’s the Work? To ease the pain of living. Everything else, drunken dumbshow.” -A.G.
83.”…Kindness, sweetest of the small notes in the world’s ache, most modest & gentle of the elements entered man before history and became his daily connection, let no man tell you otherwise.” -Carl Rakosi
84. “To diminish the mass of human and sentient sufferings.” -Gelek Rinpoche
Naropa Institute, July 1992
New York, March 5, 1993
New York, June 27, 1993
photos courtesy the Allen Ginsberg Foundation.