In recent weeks I've been loving two things: (1) Alicia de Larrocha playing Mozart (e.g. here with Andre Previn), and (2) the Lankavatara Sutra.
Strange bedfellows? Maybe, maybe not .... after all, where does great art come from, if not from the resplendently vivid, infinitely intelligent, sublime-beyond-sublime No-thing pointed to by the Lanka? When our personal projections are seen through -- dissolved or at least rendered transparent -- then our human bodymind becomes knowingly available as God's Projector.
Anyway, in relation to the latter, I've been toggling back and forth between its two English translations: via D. T. Suzuki (1932) and the much more recent (2012) Red Pine rendition. Based upon my experience thus far, my suggestion -- if you choose to attempt something similar -- is to proceed as follows:
The heavy rain of the south falls over Isla Negra
like a solitary drop, transparent and weighty:
the sea opens its cool leaves to receive it:
the earth learns the wet fate of the glass.
My soul, grant me in your kisses the briny
water of these months, the honey of the region,
the fragrance moistened by the sky's thousand lips,
the sacred patience of the sea in winter.
Something calls us: all the doors open by themselves,
the water tells a great story to the window-panes,
the sky extends down to touch the roots,
and like this the day
weaves and unweaves its celestial net
with time, salt, murmurs, growth, pathways,
a woman, a man, and winter on the Earth.
~ Pablo Neruda, Love Sonnet LXVII
(trans. A. S. Kline)
The brother of a longtime friend of mine is an anesthesiologist who, in his spare time, indulges in his hobby of Formula-One race-car driving. I haven't seen him for quite a number of years, so all this might be different now, but my sense was that he became a doctor largely in response to social and familial conditioning/expectations. At some point during his training, or shortly into his new career, be began to use cocaine, which became a habit.
As you can imagine, he was a rather "speedy" guy to be around, and I always felt a bit nervous, not quite comfortable, in his presence -- picking up, perhaps, on his own discomfort, a kind of mental-emotional disharmony (something yearning for release) not unlike that of Rilke's panther:
His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.
As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.
Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.
Anyway, the one exception to this general feeling of unease that I experienced around this person, was when Read More...
In the spirit of food-as-medicine and medicine-as-food -- one of the foundational principles of Chinese medical dietary therapy -- here's a very nice list (my only addition would be colostrum), compliments of David Wolfe, of herbs and other "superfoods" which are especially powerful supports for a healthy immune system. The idea is to incorporate one or more of these substances into our diet on a regular basis, making it a habit or ritual which, over the long run, offers deep bodymind benefits.
Stars from horizon to horizon.
A whole half universe
just to light the path.
~ Harrison & Kooser, from Braided Creek
"It's all somewhat confusing and utterly absorbing" and "A mess and a miracle at the same time"
-- are how a couple of reviewers described Mr. Nobody: a sprawling and surreal, endlessly inventive, bizarre and strangely irresistible film, created (in 2007) by Belgian writer/director Jaco Van Dormael, and just recently released here in the U.S. I agree that the film's (intentional) complexity is likely to be experienced as a bit "messy," though would say that its "miraculous" qualities more than make up for the inconvenience, for those who can simply relax and enjoy the ride .....
Rooted explicitly in a many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, Mr. Nobody employs a nonlinear narrative to portray the various lives lived, simultaneously, by the main character, Nemo (which is the Latin word for "nobody"), as each major choice-point branches out into its respective "worlds." In so doing, the movie brings to mind, for one, the Merce Cunningham and Philip Glass avant-garde music/dance collaboration; as well as the dreams-within-dreams scenarios of the Yoga Vasistha; and of course Zhuangzi's butterfly: neither Nemo nor we as viewers of the film really know, at any given moment, what is "real" and what is mere dream, fantasy, memory or inspired prose-in-the-making (imagined via adolescent fingers on a typewriter).
The film features some brilliant cinematography, and is hugely ambitious on quite a number of fronts -- succeeding, I would say, in a majority of what it attempts. It is in turns playful and profound; is a drama and love-story and science-fiction comedy-thriller all rolled into one; and around every bend seems to explore, from new angles, provocative philosophical questions.
What the film doesn't do -- and so where it left me yearning for a more transcendent opening -- was to point clearly to how every "me-story" (whether experienced sequentially, simultaneously or in any other way) is bound to be ultimately unsatisfactory, to the extent that we identify strongly with the bodymind character that we happen to be experiencing. This could have been (but wasn't) a step into the spaciousness beyond the "mess," and a kind of resolution -- greater than the sum of its parts -- which Mr. Nobody never quite realized.
Its final message -- that "life is a playground" -- was wonderful, yet is one that, imo, can be appreciated fully only after a direct encounter with our Original Face (aka Buddha-Nature, Mind of Tao, Pure Awareness) -- the luminous emptiness which is the true substance of each and every Mr. (or Ms.) Nobody. In any case, I do recommend checking out Mr. Nobody, if you haven't already .... and would love to hear what you think/feel about it.
The song is over, the musician gone,
but the river and green mountains keep singing.
~ Tang-dynasty couplet, from The Art Of Writing
A light snow, here in Boulder, Colorado -- the kind that, because of the extremely cold temperatures, maintains beautifully, in each flake, its crystalline structure, even as it lands and gathers on the ground: piles of tiny diamonds, vivid, vibrant, luminous, quiet ....
If there weren't an earth for it to fall upon, it would perhaps continue endlessly, through space ....
Though if there were no earth, there probably would be no clouds -- no condensation of moisture -- to have birthed the snow, in the first place .....
Anyway -- watching the snowfall this morning, with my cup of Darjeeling tea, somehow brought to mind the image used, within Buddhism, to describe Nirvana: a beam of light which finds no landing-place. We are the light, in free-fall .....
My body lives in the city,
But my essence dwells in the mountains.
The affairs of a puppet play
Are not to be taken too seriously.
When the polar mountain fits into a mustard seed,
All the words in the universe may as well be erased.
~ Wu Cailuan
In Voices Of Light -- from which this poem is excerpted -- editor Aliki Barnstone offers the following short biography of the poet:
"Wu Cailuan (Wu Ts'ailuan) (9th century). According to Taoist legend, Wu Cailuan was the daughter of Wu Meng, a Taoist expert. She studied at a center for feminine alchemy, where she attained the Way. Secular sources say she lived in the ninth century (religious tradition places her in the third and fourth centuries) and was banished to the ordinary world, where she married an impoverished scholar. She earned her living by writing about poetry. Eventually she and her husband disappeared into the mountains."