Am I perhaps overegging things? You can make your own mind up. There is a lot of Sith energy in the world today, it broadly aligns with the mind-set of the corporate world. People think that it is cool and the right way for any up and coming ambitious person to behave. This shows how very far we have to go before we can usher in a New Age.
I’ll make one statement here and it is this: “It is a lot easier to turn to the dark side of the force than it is to turn away from it once it has your attention.”
What do you reckon, is there a lot of Sith energy in the world today?
Is that a good thing?
In training last night, we started to work a little on situational awareness. The idea is to be aware of what is going on around you, what the situation is and being in some way prepared. If you are in a bubble your awareness is limited to that bubble. I have mentioned previously that we are in fact in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. You can see them everywhere with glazed downcast eyes, the ‘phone zombies are taking over. Are you one? If so watch out for the lamppost….. Yes, that lamppost!
Although I am an “obese” middle aged man, I am also built like a brick shit house. It looks like I do weights and there is a tendency for those who do to be aware of others. In Brussels once, when I was actually doing a lot of weights, the wife and I walked past a “Turkish-looking” guy who was stacked and he “checked me out”. I explained to the wife that people who lift sometimes do that and he was perhaps making a critique in his mind. He didn’t want a fight, nor fancy me, nor did he want to rob us, he was simply making an assessment. I could easily have gotten the entire wrong end of the stick, but I am pretty sure that was all which was going on. His eyes were trained to spot, and he was perhaps in the training business. Our awarenesses only interacted for a few seconds and we had some kind of an exchange that was not hostile but yet assessing.
Similarly, once on Bond Street in London, where there are some very expensive jewellery shops, I had an exchange with one of the security guards. When I go into the city, I am always more alert. As I walk along I tend to scan without overly focussing. I caught the eye of the security guard and he mine. He was watching the crowd, looking for any risks. In that instant he, probably being ex-forces trained, made an assessment. He noticed that I noticed, and we exchanged a kind of unspoken “glint” if you like. Being situationally aware, he noted and decided that I was not a robber.
These are two very simple examples of situational awareness, and perception in action. Now If I look at people with the same level of awareness that interacted with the security guard, it can freak them out, but not him. They can get “scared” or at least a little agitated, without knowing exactly why. It is a little beyond their experience.
Now I have a notion that situational awareness isn’t all that high, in most. This is partly because they are not fully present in the moment. They may think that they are aware, but there may be a whole lot going on which they might be missing.
Having cued this up:
How would you rate your level of situational awareness; low, somewhere in the middle or high?
Can you shift this level of awareness?
The notion of complete absorption in the moment, is not so common these days. We have one eye on the ‘phone, we may do things whilst watching TV or having a conversation. But we do not focus as much as much as we might. I do a fair bit of cooking and consistent with my travels, mangoes often feature. This is good because it enables me to practise the zen of peeling mangoes. The riper the mango the more tricky it is to peel. My sister used to say that the only clean way to eat a mango is in the bath, whilst bathing.
If you are to get the most out of peeling, you need to use a knife and not a peeler. The idea is to take the skin off in one whole piece. To do this you have to be focussed, calm and unhurried. One starts at the top and slowly works around and down. You have to gauge the thickness and depth of the cut. Too thin and the peel will split, too thick and you can’t get that nice circular feeling needed. You will end up with an asymmetry and this too causes the peel to break. When you first start peeling mangoes, chances are that you won’t be able to take the peel off in one thread. It is not you against the mango, it is you with the mango. It is not there to be conquered. As you progress the mango will get ever more slippery in your hand and to keep hold of it you need to adjust the grip, too slack and the mango drops, too tight and it shoots out of your hand. It must not be rushed, for that is the sure-fire way for the peel to break. It is not a race, it is an experience, the zen of peeling mangoes. The ones which are bigger than the clenched fist of a large man are the best for this.
Whilst you do this you get the touch of the mango skin, the juice and that lovely fresh mango smell.
Try this, the zen of peeling mangoes, it works with other things, but my experience is that mangoes are best.
The thing about metaphor is that it cannot ever be exact and well defined. What it can do is supply a waft, a tincture of another world and by its inhalation we learn; not in a direct bullet point way rather by an ephemeral coalescence. This has time both to its nascence and its growth. And out of the metaphor we emerge somehow changed and often more whole.
When I first came across Mariabronn, Narziss and Goldmund I found that which resonated so utterly. As you can see from the image previous the English version on my shelf has aged. It has aged simply by time but also by thumbing. Like Goldmund I too had to leave the cloister and explore beyond its confines, social structure and routine. And in that leaving I was partially rent. But my eyes yearned for a different aspect on life and to solve perhaps the riddle of my true natures. Thence to learn that I am neither Narziss or Goldmund but a superposition of these two.
I don’t know what it was, but that book, spoke to me like no other since. And along with Laurie Lee and Laurens van der Post, Hesse has been a travel companion on this strange journey of mine. That some people who I have never met have had such a profound effect is apt. There is no TripAdvisor, nor Lonely Planet Guide that can touch the Soul in a “you must see this” way. Because the Soul doesn’t do lists. It seeks a kind of resonance, a hint of chord and has an urge for harmonics. It seeks its place in the wider orchestra of the cosmos. It too is like a chestnut, a kernel, an abstract core that need not remain forever abstract. But it will not and can not be rushed. It seeks to integrate our being-ness which it does in fits and starts. Because the little self, it resists and judders.
Having cued this up:
Have I ever experienced a profound resonance?
What speaks direct my heart?
What touches my Soul?