The Cartomancer: Just Shut Up

Cards: Ciel De France, Miro Company (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Cards: Ciel De France, Miro Company (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Sometimes I play games in the social media. One of my friends and former student in the Nonreading program asked this question for everyone to answer:

‘To end a fear, you have to face it. True or false?’

Amazing answers from people, the majority tilting towards ‘face it’. In other words, the majority went for ‘True’.

I got in the game too and said this:

‘Fear is a concept like everything else. Dissolve the concept and you’re free. Facing this and that is the false consciousness dictating.’

As soon as I wrote that I thought this to myself: ‘Shut the fuck up. There’s a lot of pleasure in most people dissecting concepts or consuming them, not dissolving them. What’s the point of going against this pleasure, ruining it for people, or some people anyway, when clinging is here to stay? Not nice.’

On second thought, however, this also made me think of how I deal with the world at large. I listen, I observe, I learn, I engage my curiosity, and pass judgment without judgment.

I try to have a rigorous practice of discerning, though I may as well disclose that this discerning often happens against the backdrop of dissolving all concepts.

I take a lot of pleasure in that to the point where I have to remind myself to put it down, and not attach to it. Whenever I see that my pleasure begins to take over, I send it to hell. ‘No attachment, back to zero, back to the void.’ This practice serves me well.

The point is that the above exchange about ending fear by facing it or not reminded me of an actual practice that I call, Just Shut Up, one that uses 23 cards laid out in a mini-tableau.

The bottom 3 cards are the ones that tell you where to shut up and in what to shut up. If you’re lucky with your cards, the cards will also suggest why you must shut up.

Here’s an example of a recent reading for someone who kept complaining about doing what I do, deconstruct language and its fictions, but not being cool about it afterwards. Oh, the clinging to guilt, lots of pleasure right there. A bad one…

‘What if I’m wrong in my attitude?,’ this person asked most sincerely. ‘What if I’m merely critical, not discerning?’

Indeed, it’s a fair question to ask, especially since seeing things as they are can be confused with claiming that you do, but in reality you don’t. How to know the difference?

If you’re not ready to dissolve all concepts – usually that settles everything beyond any negotiation or dispute – looking at a string of cards can give you an idea.

For this reading I used the simple method of reading playing cards where the reds are ‘good’ and the blacks are ‘bad’, with the clubs functioning as a full stop to whatever sentencing is going on.

Hearts are family and friends, diamonds are money and ideas, spades are war and death, and clubs are work and finish the line. One is little, ten is a lot. That’s it.

Cards: Ciel De France, Miro Company (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Cards: Ciel De France, Miro Company (Photo: Camelia Elias)

The first thing to notice is the absence of court cards. After the final full stop, the 2 Clubs, the Queen of Hearts decided to grace us with her presence … when the line was over, and everything else coming after the final full stop being redundant. Talk about belatedness…

The first sentence is short and easy: Great pleasure in participating in the pool of ideas (7H, 9D, AH), but (downgrade from the 7 to 1), objecting to others’ pleasure kills it (9S, 7C). Full stop (7C).

Critical pleasure (5H, 6S) flexes the brain (3D, 7D), but it constrains (4S) the way you think for yourself (5D) in terms of consolidating messages (AD, 4D) whose anchor is in the big kill (7S, AS). Full stop (10C).

Now what? How is one to work (8C) on this disaster (3S) in a manner that’s mutually helping? (2C)

The Dame of Hearts wants to make an entrance. Too bad. Too late.

So we’re left with ‘just shut up’. Not all young men get it (Knave of Clubs, 2 spades).

My sitter nodded at this message, serving back at me what I also said to her in another similar setting, referring to our university students: ‘You can’t save them all’ – even when ‘saving’ is not even part of the agenda.

My dog and the master (Photo: Camelia Elias)
My dog and the master (Photo: Camelia Elias)

To make things easier this time, I referred the person to a favorite passage of mine from one of my own main teachers: Sri Nissargadatta Maharaj. This passage speaks mercilessly of what we make of what we’re doing, what gods we worship and why, inviting us to move beyond even the urge to say anything, do anything, think anything.

He says this in Seeds of Consciousness, in one of his regular satsangs, the sitting with the master for a public discourse, where questions are asked and answered:

Q: There are many students of Kundalini Yoga, of Shakti; does the Jnani [sage] necessarily through his practice, through his being, awaken the Kundalini that others speak about?

Maharaj: The Jnani has no interest whatsoever in the Kundalini. Prior to your birth where was the Kundalini? This Kundalini is all that you perceive, all that you see. They call it by different names, that’s all.

Q: But some Yogi concentrate a force which goes through the seven chakras and presumably follow the spinal column.

Maharaj: What you say is correct, but prior to your birth it was not there. It is only thought.

Q: Are they all deluded, then, in pursuing the study of Kundalini Yoga?

Maharaj: Anyone who wants to practice anything can do so, but what is it? Zero – Nothing

(Seeds of Consciousness, Nisargadatta, 1982: 110-111).

Demystify and then shut up

Needless to say, part of my own preaching in my work with cards and Zen and nondual awareness draws on such demystifications.

It always comes across as ‘tough luck’ whenever we have it pointed out that what we call truth and reality has mighty little to do with either truth or reality.

What’s left? Just shut up. You encounter what you encounter, the life you witness, on terms that are completely shared not divided.

That’s the awesome part.

Meanwhile, I’m still at it. As my student pondered on my response above in the social media, she consequently asked: ‘How does one dissolve a concept?’

I said: ‘You dissolve it by being a witness. By saying: Fear is what? Zero, nothing at all [bows to my master]. The same applies to every other concept on the planet, and that includes, love, children, realization, self-empowerment, the whole long list.’

What’s left? To witness your attachment to concepts. This will enable you to just shut up and be cool about it.

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