Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Sunday, February 06, 2022
"The right art ", cried the Master, `is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too wilful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen. " p. 31
Assuming that his talent can survive the increasing strain, there is one scarcely avoidable danger that lies ahead of the pupil on his road to mastery. Not the danger of wasting himself in idle self−gratification ˙ for the East has no aptitude for this cult of the ego but rather the danger of getting stuck in his achievement, which is confirmed by his success and magnified by his renown: in other words, of behaving as if the artistic existence were a form of life that bore witness to its own validity.
The teacher foresees this danger. Carefully and with the adroitness of a psychopomp he seeks to head the pupil off in time and to detach him from himself. This he does by pointing out, casually and as though it were scarcely worth a mention in view of all that the pupil has already learned, that all right doing is accomplished only in a state of true selflessness, in which the doer cannot be present any longer as " himself ". Only the spirit is present, a kind of awareness which shows no trace of ego− hood and for that reason ranges without limit through all the distances and depths, with " eyes that hear and with ears that see ". p.43-44
How does skill become " spiritual ", and how does sovereign control of technique turn into master swordplay? Only, so we are informed, by the pupil becoming purposeless and egoless. He must be taught to be detached not only from his opponent but from himself. He must pass through the stage he is still at and leave it behind him for good, even at the risk of irretrievable failure. Does not this sound as nonsensical as the demand that the archer should hit without taking aim, that he should completely lose sight of the goal and his intention to hit it? p. 73
When Eugen Herrigel, a German professor of philosophy, went to Tokyo in the 1940s, he studied ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging), apprenticed to a master of archery, and spent six years studying Zen Buddhism through those activities. Zen in the Art of Archery is his distillation of that experience, an attempt to make the purpose of Zen practice understandable to those outside of its native culture. Despite the wide dissemination of Zen ideas in the ensuing years, Herrigel’s book remains an illuminating, graceful, and inspiriting introduction, through Western eyes, to the meditative insight of Eastern philosophy.
Saturday, February 05, 2022
This is a bunch of short stories. Hemingway conveys emotion in very few words. I can see why he was famous, but his deep sadness comes across in all his writing. So, I don't like to read him (except The Old Man and the Sea). This motivated me to watch the Ken Burns PBS documentary on Hemingway.
Gerald "Gerry" Malcolm Durrell was born in India in 1925. His elder siblings are Lawrence Durrell, Leslie Durrell, and Margaret Durrell. His family settled on Corfu when Durrell was a boy and he spent his time studying its wildlife. He relates these experiences in the trilogy beginning with My Family and Other Animals, and continuing with Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods. In his books he writes with wry humour and great perception about both the humans and the animals he meets.
On leaving Corfu he returned to England to work on the staff of Whipsnade Park as a student keeper. His adventures there are told with characteristic energy in Beasts in My Belfry. A few years later, Durrell began organising his own animal-collecting expeditions. The first, to the Cameroons, was followed by expeditions to Paraguay, Argentina and Sierra Leone. He recounts these experiences in a number of books, including The Drunken Forest. Durrell also visited many countries while shooting various television series, including An Amateur Naturalist. In 1958 Gerald Durrell realised a lifelong dream when he set up the Jersey Zoological Park, followed a few years later by the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust.
Durell was married twice; Jacquie Durrell (1951-1979), Lee Durrell (1979-1995).
Gerald Durrell's style is exuberant, passionate and acutely observed. Gerald Durrell died in 1995.
Lucy Grealy was nine years old when it was discovered she had cancer. Years of grueling treatment followed, including nearly thirty operations and the partial removal of her jaw. Autobiography of a Face is Grealy’s powerful, riveting account of growing up during those two decades in a society whose true religion often seems to be the worship of physical perfection.
I am going to go great guns for 10 minutes on this freewrite. I am meeting with a person (not sure if she wants direction - she just wanted ...
In keeping with my prayer emphasis for 2014, here is another gem of a book on prayer written by the same person who wrote The Game with Minu...
Every person of faith needs to read this little book. (Or if you are not a person of faith, it will convince you to be one!) If you do not...
This is really more a short essay, but it is profound and important. It is one of the best things I have ever read and a pplying it will cha...