Saturday, August 28, 2010

Follow The Finger

The beauties that we know, an amazing sunset, the taste of ripe fruit, the warm breeze of a Spring day, a painting by Van Gogh, the music of Mozart; these things are not complete. They are merely hints of the real beauty that is.

DB - The Vagabond
Years ago there was a BBC TV program called "The Long Search." In it a British anthropologist went all around the world interviewing devout people of all the world's religions. He was attempting to discover what made a person religious and what kept them in a permanent state of faith.

I remember many of those interviews, but the one that stands out to me the most was with a Hindu gentleman. He was saying that Hinduism was a very non-materialistic religion. The interviewer asked how he could say that when all around them there were idols. The Hindu agreed that there are idols but he explained that he looked on them as so many fingers pointing to an invisible world of Spirit. He said that one could spend a lifetime looking at the finger until one day he begins to look at where the finger is pointing.

I was in rehearsal for a play and having a difficult time with my role. The character seemed to be very challenging and argumentative with the other characters, and I was portraying him with a heavy hand (as usual) which I knew was wrong. One day, during a break, the director, who was a very incisive and gifted director in his idiosyncratic way, walked past me, tapped me on the shoulder and said "Prometheus, my boy." and walked on. That set my head spinning and sent me to the dictionary. Prometheus, the mythical hero who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to humanity. Thinking about that legend helped me to understand my role, not as an angry, discordant debater but as the one voice of reason who could enlighten the scene. That changed my approach to the role and it worked.

I can tell from some of the comments and emails I get in response to the things I write, that there are people capable of and who do often look behind the veil, see the unseeable and examine the unexaminable. Prometheus was punished by being chained to a rock by Zeus for a long time. To be a literalist and to assume a thing is only what it looks like on the surface is a pointless habit. Those are things a true scientist and a true artist would not do, nor should anyone else. When I come upon the rock that says "There are certain things we are not supposed to know" or that says "It's just an apple. Don't try to read anything else into it." that is the very rock I refuse to be chained to. In fact I'm most likely to turn it over and see what's underneath.

The veil of the temple has been split in two, the sanctum sanctorum is open for all, not just the high priest. We are capable of knowing the unknowable, of completing the sunset, of handling the fire, as long as we stop staring at the finger and begin looking to where it points.

DB - Vagabond Journeys


These are not the right titles for these films.
Please Correct them.
1. Uprising by all the fruits and vegetables.
2. Skipped town with the clarinet.
3. The lizard came out after dinner was over.
4. The Raging Dozen
5. Don't be wary of a female novelist.
6 Me and the chess piece.
7. The long distance runner.
8. Ain't living just grand?
9, Vocalizing with the tempest.
10. There's a ghost backstage at the Met.
11. After this we close down the theatre.
12. Youngsters in the Amazon.



pacifica62 said...

I read an fascinating article about Van Gogh and Gaugin just yesterday and the words that stuck to my mind were these:..."it reminds us that on the outer edge of art, there is madness to pity, meanness to deplore, and courage to admire, and we can't ever quite keep them from each other".

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Love the hindu philosophy, it is true, we need to seek the direction, not dwell on the pointer.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

That was a very thought provoking entry. I would say I often turn the apple over myself. If I'm going to enjoy each day to the fullest then I've got to see more than what meets the eye. The veil indeed has been split and we are all capable of so much more than we'll ever know.