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Friday, 29 October 2010

Living Deeply

I just watched a lovely silly little film, the Saturday afternoon types, where “Einstein” in a group of four friends, all of whom are super brains, have fun and make light of their genius-ness trying to get his niece to use her heart instead of her head and fall in love with a mechanic. My fish brain has processed the name of the film which is now floating in no-idea land. It wasn´t a deep film, to say the least but I did wonder if maybe geniuses who combine their knowledge with their hearts in unision really do end up laughing at the end of their lives, enjoying the moments of living.

Dan the Man is my terrific trumpet teacher. I´m learning more than just how to play the trumpet with him. I´m learning to learn again.  Dan told me something about the natural course of a trumpeter that got my mental valve oil squirting: A trumpet player has to, of course, first learn to play the god-damn thing. He (or she of course) has to learn to read music, to learn scales, to learn to make a noise through the instrument, to memorize the fingerings of the notes…then once a trumpet player has learnt the basics, he begins to learn to play less crudely with more technique, and to begin to be able to play for longer with stronger lip muscles without talking after half an hour of practise like a survivor of a head on truck crash. Then of course comes the increasingly complicated music, which gets more technical as time goes on, faster fingerings, difficult scales, sharps, flats, flying out of the horn as if it were a note tamer in the circus. People come and listen and comment on how talented the trumpet player is, how well he plays, how fast his fingers move as his notes go up through the skies. What a solo! He is at the apex of technical ability.

But then comes, says Dan the Man, the vintage years. As the wine grows into the oak, so does the music into the soul. The beauty, the pristine joy of music comes from a trumpet player, such as Doc Cheatham, who created his best work after the age of 70 - music that is technically more simple, but with a depth of feeling, with a profundity of velvetness, that only a true hearted virtuoso can do. Pure expression. He didn´t need to show off his evident expertise, which is what we all aspire to as we begin to learn, but he put the music before the musician. His technique allowed his music to be pure: he enfolded his soul into the music with simplicity and ease. It is when audiences are moved. When e-motions flower. It is when heart touches heart. The music is freed and flows, heals, comes to life.

Doc Cheatham

They say the same about Miró. I mean how many people have looked at his paintings and said “It looks like a child´s done that?” and indeed when you see your little nephew painting you are tempted to put it in an art shop for a couple of thousand. But there is a difference. Do not be tempted! The child does not have the necessary consciousness to be able to transmit the profundity of their soul. Miró learnt to paint, learnt technique, developed his vision and in the end expressed from a similar place to where a child expresses from, but with consciousness, with knowledgeable experience. It is a different drawing board…

Joan Miró. Mujer ante el sol.

So, I guess we cannot all be geniuses, but I think we can all begin to be wise. In the masters course, a profesora explained that life is a curve, not a lineal process.  She used the word curve to make simpler for description but later talked about a spiral from center out followed by a spiral back in to center. Spirals within spirals.  We are born into the world; we are unconscious of ourselves as identities. When a child around the age of 2-ish draws a circle for the first time, when they connect the beginning with the end, it is when the child begins to be conscious of their separate existence to their mother and to others. It´s curious isn´t it? At this stage we are children, coming out of the unconsciousness and the world of fantasy mixed with reality. Then we reach adolescence. We begin to define ourselves as a separate identity to our parents, we finish school, become adults and begin to work and build up our lives. We learn “technique”, we learn to get on in life, to decide what we want in the exterior world, and go get it - until we get to our mid life crisis.  Ahhhhh....slow down!!!!!  Scrreeeeacchhhh!!!!

This is a time of change, like in adolescence when we go from childhood to adulthood, but this time it is a step change of direction. We have reached our apex, our domination of the exterior world, and we begin to cave in, in a positive way - we go into ourselves. We turn under and begin to head back towards the mysteries of life. We skip, or drag ourselves, to the secrets. They are esoteric (belong to an inner circle) because they are unexplainable in logical language, and therefore impossible to make exoteric (outside). That´s why it is secret. We explore the unconscious, the mythical part of ourselves. It is somewhat magic - from which the word “wise” stems according to my New Penguin English dictionary. We go towards the place where we begin to end and a universal spreads before. It’s the place maybe where we were as baby children, but totally innocent, without any knowledge, without any individuality to experience it consciously. As adults we go into ourselves with knowledge of who we are. And the Mirós of this world paint meditatively, as if they were children, trumpet players play simply with all of the heart in the world, and geniuses (if they have comprehended their knowledge having the wisdom to combine their minds with their hearts) begin to live in peace with the world, laughing over silly things like a laughing Buddha, and or eating ice cream with gusto.

Or so the Hollywood comedy love film would have me believe.

And somehow I do. I do believe that there is a way to see if someone gets to the end of their life “successfully” (succedere "come after". Meaning "accomplishment of desired end") you see it in their faces, in their air, they are chuckling and at peace, compared to those tight wrinkled complainers who cry over the price of cabbages and disrespectful children. The wise ones allow themselves to enjoy life like the children.

Krishna was childlike. Matthew says in the Bible “I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:1-5.10.12-14). But let us not confuse childish with childlike! We all were childlike once. We all possessed wondrous qualities like unconditional love, trust, playfulness and simplicity. And decide for yourselves what the “kingdom of heaven” is…I think it is us in our truest expression, which being so personal transcends into the Universal.

I know a man who is a silent sabio (wise man). His name is Señor Huguet. He is 84. He does yoga that he recently discovered, he reads books on religion and science and anything that takes his interest. He is constantly learning. He enjoys tasting new knowledge (the root of sabiduria (wisdom) is “savouring” says my Rodriguez-Navas Diccionario Completo de la Lengua Española). He savours his experiences. He would not say a bad thing about low down criminals. He sees well in all. But the thing that makes me realise that he has had a successful life, is that he has developed himself and can truly express himself silently, without a hint of ego. The “proof” that he has delved into his heart and mind, in my opinion, is the feeling he leaves me with. It is impossible to describe. It is esoteric. It is a deep down feeling of still joyous waters, that all is right with the world, that love exists because I am feeling it. I leave him smiling, feeling high on life and I can never work out why. I hardly know him, we don´t ever talk about anything personal. And in the end I conclude, it is simply being beside Señor Huguet and his still deep clear waters of peace and joy. He holds internal harmony. He embraces the good with the bad, the light with the dark. Somehow somewhere his mystical, mythical, unconscious world envelops you in amorous beauty.

I wonder what the secret is? Could it be as simple and clear as a beautiful trumpet solo played from the heart, so that as life unfolds, as we question life, the answer seems to come back humbly, wherever you are, whoever you are becoming, simply to learn to love to live?

In any combination.

Raimon Panikkar who died recently, aged 91, in August 2010.
A great Catalan wise man.