Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Drummer

Even though I have returned home from my travels for only a week, I can see myself slipping back into my stagnant routine - switching through my few hobbies so frequently, that little focus or patience has truly be given to any of them. It is truly difficult to be *alone* and to create your motivation entirely from within.

Watching this film, as an outside force, reminded me of my path and motivated me to continue my practice with poi and music. As the director transfers,

"If you drum for one week, you will have one week's worth of skill. If you drum for three years, you will have three years worth of skill. There is no short cut"

While the zen drummers have a community and support system to encourage each other to work hard, learn, and grow - I, alone, must continue to develop myself, to work hard, to learn, and to grow. I am so fortunate to have had watch a movie that would inspire to continue my work.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha

On the properties of water:

"Fondly he gazed into the rushing water, into the transparent green, into the crystalline lines of its mysterious design. He saw bright pearls rising up from the depths, tranquil air bubbles swimming to the reflective surface, imaging the blue of the sky. With a thousand eyes the river gazed at him, with green, with white, with crystalline, with azure eyes. How he loved this water, how it enchanted him, how grateful he was to it! In his heart he heard the voice speaking, the newly awakened voice, and it said to him: Love this water! Stay here! Learn from it! O yes, he wanted to learn from the water, he wanted to listen to it. Whoever understood this water and its secrets, it seemed to him, that person would understand much else, many secrets, all secrets. Of the river's secrets, however, today he saw only one that seized his soul: This water ran on and on, it always ran, and yet it always was there, it was always and ever the same and yet at every moment new! Lucky the man who grasped this, who understood this! He did not understand or grasp it, he only sensed the stirring of a surmise, a distant memory, divine voices." (81)

"The river is everywhere at once, at its origin and at its mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapis, in the sea, in the mountains, everywhere at the same time, and for it only the present exists, no shadow of the past, no shadow of the future?" (85)
On wisdom and peace of mind:
I will begin by saying that the book did not strike my fancy to begin with - as Siddhartha often separated himself from the "child people", viewing himself as higher in consciousness. For about 4/5 of the book, till the end, did he eventually dissipate the line he had drawn. This ideology in essence truly made me resent his character, as I hold humility above any other value.

However, there are several characteristics about Siddhartha that I most certainly did agree with - that in the end helped me to reaffirm some of my own beliefs.

The first one - being an experiential learner. Siddhartha throughout the book refuses to learn from teachers and seeks his own path from which to learn, a knowledge and understanding that he can only truly grasp through first-hand experience. In this sense, experience is completely tangible. [Which is exactly the reason why I felt this book was largely irrelevant for me to read as it was intangible to my life - learning from someone elses path that is so different from mine seems silly].

Furthermore, I agree with his final conclusion that one should accept how the world is, rather than comparing it to some abstract ideal conception of perfection. As I have spoken with many of my friends - the debate as to whether one should strive to change themselves into their "ideal" being or to simply accept and love who they currently are. He writes,

"With body and soul I have experienced my own great need to sin, to seek pleasure, to strive for possessions, to be indolent, and a need for the most shameful despair, in order to learn to cede my resistance, to learn to love the world, to learn no longer to compare it to a world I desired and imagined, to some preconceived sort of perfection, rather to leave it as it is, to love it, and to enjoy belonging to it." (111)

In different words, Siddhartha also discusses how striving for a goal that is virtually unacheivable - what is perfection? When is the goal attained? All such abstract comments. Siddhartha notes that if you focus on the goal, you will miss out on what is currently in front of you to enjoy.

"When someone seeks," Siddhartha answered, "then it happens all too easily that his eyes will see only the thing he is seeking, that he cannot find anything, cannot let anything in, because he is always thinking only of that thing he seeks, because he has a goal, because he is possessed by the goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, Venerable One, may indeed be a seeker, for striving toward your goal, there is much you do not see which is right before your eyes" (pg. 109-110)

By striving to achieve perfection, to change yourself, you will not be able to enjoy yourself as you are.

Simply put: enjoy as is. Some may even connect to this to the mantra of the present - enjoy the present moment.

And finally, Siddhartha notes that wisdom is an act, unable to be conveyed through words.
"One can convey knowledge but not wisdom. One can find wisdom, one can live it, one can be borne by it, one can work wonders with it, but one can neither speak it nor teach it" (110).