"Like every child I built emotional bridges in the imagination to link me to the world and to other people. I lived in a town on the outskirts of Mexico City, in an old dilapidated house that had a jungle-like garden and a great room full of books. First games and first lessons. The garden soon became the centre of my world; the library, an enchanted cave. I used to read and play with my cousins and schoolmates. There was a fig tree, temple of vegetation, four pine trees, three ash trees, a nightshade, a pomegranate tree, wild grass and prickly plants that produced purple grazes. Adobe walls. Time was elastic; space was a spinning wheel. All time, past or future, real or imaginary, was pure presence. Space transformed itself ceaselessly. The beyond was here, all was here: a valley, a mountain, a distant country, the neighbours' patio. Books with pictures, especially history books, eagerly leafed through, supplied images of deserts and jungles, palaces and hovels, warriors and princesses, beggars and kings. We were shipwrecked with Sindbad and with Robinson, we fought with d'Artagnan, we took Valencia with the Cid. How I would have liked to stay forever on the Isle of Calypso! In summer the green branches of the fig tree would sway like the sails of a caravel or a pirate ship. High up on the mast, swept by the wind, I could make out islands and continents, lands that vanished as soon as they became tangible. The world was limitless yet it was always within reach; time was a pliable substance that weaved an unbroken present."
"What's the most romantic present a boy can give a girl?"
-- Question in a Peanuts cartoon.
Answer: A music box.
The following weblog entries may throw some light on the aesthetics that went into choosing the above picture of a quiet room in Mexico.
12/7/2002.... 9:30:58 PM
Shall we read?
From Contact, by Carl Sagan:
"You mean you could decode a picture hiding in pi and it would be a mess of Hebrew letters?" "Sure. Big black letters, carved in stone." He looked at her quizzically. "Forgive me, Eleanor, but don't you think you're being a mite too... indirect? You don't belong to a silent order of Buddhist nuns. Why don't you just tell your story?"
"The Ten Jataka, or 10 incarnations of the Lord Buddha before his enlightenment, are among the most fascinating religious stories....
His Majesty the King wrote a marvellous book on the second incarnation of the Lord Buddha.... It has become a classic, with the underlying aim of encouraging Thais to pursue the virtue of perseverance.
For her master's degree at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Arts, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn wrote a dissertation related to the Ten Jataka of the Buddha. Now with the 4th Cycle Birthday of Princess Sirindhorn approaching on April 2, 2003, a group of artists, led by prominent painter Theeraphan Lorpaiboon, has produced a 10-volume set, the "Ten Jataka of Virtues", as a gift to the Princess.
Once launched on December 25, the "Ten Jataka of Virtues" will rival any masterpiece produced in book form...."
"How much story do you want?" — George Balanchine
12/7/2002.... 4:01:14 PM
Satori at Pearl Harbor
The following old weblog entry seems relevant both to the Zen concept of satori, or "awakening," and to Pearl Harbor Day.
"Zen metaphysics is perhaps most succinctly set forth in the words 'not-two." But even when he uses this expression, Suzuki is quick to assert that it implies no monism. Not-two, it is claimed, is not the same as one.* But when Suzuki discusses the relationship of Zen with Western mysticism, it is more difficult to escape the obvious monistic implications of his thinking. Consider the following:
We are possessed of the habit of looking at Reality by dividing it into two... It is all due to the human habit of splitting one solid Reality into two, and the result is that my 'have' is no 'have' and my 'have not' is no 'have not.' While we are actually passing, we insist that the gap is impassable.**"
*See: Daisetz T. Suzuki, 'Basic Thoughts Underlying Eastern Ethical and Social Practice' in Philosophy and Culture — East and West: East-West Philosophy in Practical Perspective, ed. Charles A. Moore (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1968), p. 429
** Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, Mysticism Christian and Buddhist (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1957, Unwin paperback, 1979), p. 57.
Personally, I am reminded by Suzuki's satori on this date that today is the eve of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. I am also reminded by the rather intolerant tract on the Trinity quoted above that the first atomic bomb was exploded in the New Mexico desert at a test site named Trinity. Of course, sometimes intolerance is justified.
Concluding unscientific postscript:
On the same day in 1896 that D. T. Suzuki attained satori, lyricist Ira Gershwin was born.