The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

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For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Friday, June 12, 2009

All part of the package

I just finished re-watching one of my favorite films, the Korean masterpiece, “Why has Bodhidharma left for the East?” by director Bae Yong-kyun. It is a tough film to understand, but after years of watching it, thinking about it and, at one point using it in the classroom, it is starting to make sense.

Bae worked for eight years on it, waiting for the right moments to film – there is a scene in which there are floodwaters rushing through ancient trees – and then cutting and editing it himself.

It is a long film, but for some reason this time it seemed short. Parts I hadn’t understood before seemed obvious. Flashbacks and dreams, which I had not been able to place, suddenly all fit together.

As I say, it is a tough film, but it is a wonderful insight and meditation on Buddhist thought. If you can imagine dipping your hands into a large bowl of pearls, that’s how many pearls of wisdom are there for the taking.

So all the years of thinking about it, researching the material, connecting the dots, my way of working on the koan, is paying off. I had to figure certain things out. I mean, where does that ox come from and why is it suddenly there? Oh, the Ox-herding pictures. The film is filled with images, words and actions that have deep meanings, but if one is not aware of the cultural references, you miss every single one of them. Plus, who knows about the translation? It is different on various versions, but there is a new one just released. It’s on my list.

Of the many pearls, the one that jumps out at me and seems to be the crux of the most intense moment in the film, is that one must accept the world for what it is and embrace it. In one translation they use the word “shit” and in another, “garbage.” No matter what you call it, it is a part of life, no news to anyone.

But for one of the characters it is an epiphany. He has left his hardscrabble life, his family, job, everything to find “enlightenment” in a remote temple, but is racked with guilt and doubt. So he realizes that his family, job, life are all a part of his “enlightenment” and he returns to them.

And that’s the gist of this one – shootings, pandemics, corruption, injustice, poverty, insanity – compassion, kindness, children, music, talent, generosity, wisdom – all part of the same ball of wax, indivisible. To accept the one, you must accept all the others.

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