The Courage of Hermits and Eagles

“Do you have courage, O my brothers? Are you brave? Not courage before witnesses but the courage of hermits and eagles, which is no longer watched even by a god.

Cold souls, mules, the blind, and the drunken I do not call brave. Brave is he who knows fear but conquers fear, who sees the abyss, but with pride.

Who sees the abyss but with the eyes of an eagle; who grasps the abyss with the talons of an eagle — that man has courage.”

Friedrich Nietzsche,

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

farewell to self

Image ripped from poojycat at WordPress

Image ripped from poojycat at WordPress


What follows is a selection from The Sacred Lost Tomes of The Ryan, the brief and terrible history of which is glossed over here and here.  This poor excuse for poetry was written circa 2002 while I was living in Albuquerque, eating all the hallucinogens I could find while obsessively listening to TOOL and reading way too much existential philosophy.


fevered eye inside
the storm, and slowly i
turn away, shoulders
quaking at losses incurred,
missed opportunities passed
in a series of moments,
forever within the blink
of an eye, a point, a
meeting of eternal pathways
in this dream called life.
i turned my back on you,
the only way known to me,
to let go, to step off,
to reach our peak and
continue to climb, to
ascend, to reach for
the evermore, grasp
this abyss with eagle’s
talons and soar over
these path’s contradictions,
molting to shed my
pity for you,
the deepest of suffering.
at one time the same
— if only for a wink —
no more past this moment
will we meet again,
for already you fade into
nonbeing, soon a
distant memory,
a bittersweet reminder of
the sun that has set for me.
no more will i be
downed by the spirit
of gravity, for your
sacrifice has allowed me
to break free
from the being that
can no longer contain
me.  i have learned to
look away,
to look past myself,
to see much beyond our
subjectivity of experience,
to feel the rains of all
things fall down over me,
washing blood and tears of
our innocent battle away and
in this churning whirlwind
of storm can i now let go,
free now to spiral out.

Sacred Spiral by Helen R. Klebesadel

Sacred Spiral by Helen R. Klebesadel


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A ridiculously short post on an infinitely prodigious topic.

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I think I may have reduced the entirety of my existential crises down to a single, yet powerful, philosophical dilemma: How to reconcile my innate nihilism with my cosmic Buddhism. Is it, indeed, possible to believe in nothing and everything?

We shall see… 🙂

(Perhaps this is a repurposing of sorts.)

Also, it turns out there is a one-man chaos punk band called Nihilist Buddha. Without having yet heard any music, I am already a die-hard fan, because that is fucking brilliant!

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© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Spring Festival

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Kung Hei Fat Choy! Yesterday, February 19th on the Western Gregorian calendar, marked the official New Year on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.  In Chinese communities worldwide, the next fifteen days will be filled with celebration, ritual, feasts and family, all centered around the concept of rebirth, regeneration, and renewed prosperity.

The ancient beginnings of this observance and celebration are rooted in the Chinese mythologies of the Nian.  A lion-like beast residing under the sea and in the mountains, the Nian would come out of hiding in the early Spring to feast and forage on villagers, livestock, and crops, his tastes usually suited to small children when possible.  The people of the villages began placing food offerings outside their homes at the beginning of their lunar calendar, in hopes their sacrifices would satiate the beast.

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One year, though, a villager was visited by a god, who told him the Nian’s weaknesses were loud sounds and the color red.  Hoping to keep the beast away entirely, villagers began decorating their homes with red lanterns and spring scrolls, as well as setting off firecrackers as an additional deterrent.  This effectively kept the Nian hidden from humanity and assured the village’s safety, and over time the precautions taken by the people grew into tradition.  In more modern times, this mythology and the Nian itself is represented in celebrations by the dancing lion, a recognizable part of Chinese New Year celebrations even to the uninitiated Westerner.

Celebrations and observances for the turn of the lunar year actually begin nearly a month prior to the actual start of the new year.  The Laba holiday, named for a traditional porridge served in conjunction with this observance, is celebrated on the eighth day of the lunar month prior to the new year.  It is intended as remembrance of an ancient winter solstice festival, and is held in honor of the gods.  For those who practice Buddhism, the Laba holiday coincides with Bodhi Day, which is an observance of the Buddha’s act of selfless ascetism and attainment of enlightenment.

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In the days immediately leading up to the New Year, all members of a family contribute to a thorough cleansing of the home, the intent of which is to sweep away the bad fortune of the previous year and make room for an influx of good luck and prosperity.  This cleansing involves the clearing and immolation of altars and tributes from the previous year, as well as a sending of the gods to report on the family to the Jade Emperor through the burning of effigies.

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The most important event leading up to Chinese New Year, and one that is likened to the Western traditions of Thanksgiving or Christmas, is celebrated on New Years Eve of the lunar calendar, and is known as Nian Ye Fan, the Reunion Dinner.  The dinner, which intends to reunite the entire family, consists of several traditional dishes, including a selection of meats, dumplings symbolic of wealth, and a glutinous cake meant to bring prosperity to the entire family.  Traditionally, families attend temples in the hours leading up to midnight to pray, however, in modern times, it is more customary to hold lavish celebrations with dancing and fireworks.

Immediately after midnight, in the very first hours of the New Year, celebrants first ensure that all malicious spirits and beings are scared away before opening the doors of their homes and selves, both literal and symbolic, to welcome the dieties of the heavens and earth.  Many people, especially Buddhists, fast or otherwise abstain from meat products, and refrain from killing any living thing.  It is also considered bad luck to use a broom, cutting utensils, or fire — so, it’s not only fortunate but in fact necessary that prior day’s celebrations involved large-scale cooking and cleaning.

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It is also customary for elder members of the family to present junior members with red envelopes containing cash and/or gifts of prosperity.  Business leaders often use this occasion to deliver workplace bonuses, as well.  This practice has led to adoption of one of several traditional phrases associated with the New Year’s celebrations: Kung Hei Fat Choy.

The rough translation? “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!”

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Stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for more information on this colorful, historic, and catalytic holiday observance, and for detail on the specific celebrations and their mythological symbolism over the next fifteen days of Chinese New Year!  Have a personal story about or connection with this holiday, or just some related thoughts to share?  Sound off in the comments!

For a completely unrelated but brilliant blog written by an Asian man, please visit Harsh Reality!  (I really only linked to the Opinionated Man for my own selfish and self-serving reasons, but read his blog anyways. It is really fuckin’ good.)

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Just Hipster Things

Hipster Peer Pressure

I have been accused of being a “fucking hipster douche bag” on occasion. Usually the petitioner is my girlfriend (this is how I know she loves me). At first, I admit, I was a bit dismayed by the accusations. Even appalled. But, I have since learned to embrace my so-called “hipsterisms” as simply a part of who I am. It just so happens that those parts are also increasingly being embraced by the fucking hipster douche bag community (no offense, brahs). In other words, I was cool before it was Cool, man!

Hipster Jesus

What do I mean when I say hipster? So, so many things… The primary problem in talking about what a hipster “Is” is that “Hipster” is beyond definition, beyond Form. Beyond Plato.

Hipster Plato

To define hipsterdom would be to classify hipsteria and therefore place hipsters into a category. To be categorized is to be mainstream, and nothing mainstream can exist as a hipsterism. That’s how Black Holes are created…

Hipster Black Hole

Just writing that paragraph made me 13% more hipster. By allowing said paragraph to enter your delicate little eye-holes, dear reader — even if only for a moment — you have in turn become 33% more hipster. If you are suddenly overcome with the uncontrollable urge to mix flannel and plaid, have rediscovered the sex-appeal hidden behind your sweet, sweet pair of fucking 80s style Ray Bans, or are suddenly scouring the internet for a pristine, unopened vinyl copy of “The ‘Priest’ They Called Him,” do not be alarmed. These are simply the side-effects of your newfound aplomb. Embrace the impudence…

Hipster Level:  INFINITY

Hipster Level: INFINITY

In any case, as they relate to The Ryan, here are some Just Hipster Things:

1. Beards. ALL the beards! That is all.

Epic Hipster Beard Portrait

2. Most of the music I listen to is considered “indie” or “underground.” I genuinely like the band Swans. My lady turned me on to the Black Keys recently, and they are amazing. I was into folk music and post-metal before it was hipster.

Hipster Beethoven

3. I like flannel shirts and combat boots. I own several Fedoras, a stockpile of decommissioned camouflage, AND some of those Five Finger shoes or whatever they’re called. I often dress “eccentrically,” but I just wear what makes sense to me at that moment. I’m not TRYING to be ironic!

nerds-vs-hipsters
4. Tattoos. ALL the tattoos! That is all.

Hipster Face Tattoos

5. I read books by Bukowski, Joyce, Yeats, Pessoa, Kerouac, Burroughs, Thoreau, Emerson, Palahniuk, Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidegger, Dick (heh heh), Gibson, Klosterman, Burgess, Wallace, Kafka, Whitman, Pynchon, Hemingway….

Hipster Thoreau

6. I fancy myself a “writer,” and churn out pretentious, soggy poetry like a college kid off their bipolar meds. “Nobody understands me, I am so alone in this world…” 😉

Hipster Typewriter

7. Vinyl. ALL the vinyl! That is all.

Hipster Vinyl Skrillex

8. I think you should be able to pay for lunch with a song.

Hipster Musician

9. I studied English and Philosophy in college. ENGLISH and PHILOSOPHY. I still do… 😀

Hipster Nietzsche

10. I self-identify as Buddhist, and am interested in Eastern philosophy and spirituality in general. Not because it’s trendy, but because the Dhammapada and Zen Buddhism saved my life. #RealTalk

Hipster Buddha

BONUS HIPSTERISM!

0))). I ate this thing recently.

Romanesco gypsy cauliflower

It’s called a romanesco cauliflower. #GypsyVeggies It’s proximity to my face hole was made possible through the provisions from a food co-op with which We have recently come to participate. Steamed, buttered, and seasoned, it tasted much like a “normal” cauliflower, only slightly more bold in flavor with a hint of sweetness. I imagine romanesco cauliflower is grown by blasting TOOL songs over loudspeakers in the cauliflower fields during embryogenesis…

TOOL Woah Meme

There’s probably more, but…

In any case, my defense will always be that I do these things or exhibit these traits not to be fashionable or ironic, but because I genuinely enjoy and appreciate them; it is part of who The Ryan “is.”

Listened to "Let It Be" before it EXISTED...

Listened to “Let It Be” before it EXISTED…

In other words, I was hipster before it was hip. Hey mayne, I can’t help it if all these mu-fuckas wanna be like me!

...that boy ain't right...

…that boy ain’t right…

(Except the #CompulsiveHashtagging. That shit is fo’ sho’ #Ironic.)


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.