O215: A Purified Wisdom

Now in the primeval silence of some unexplored tropical forest I spread my feathery leaves, a giant fern, and swayed and nodded in spice-gales over a river whose waves at once sent up clouds of music and perfume. My soul changed to a vegetable essence, thrilled with a strange and unimagined ecstasy.

Fitz Hugh Ludlow, The Hasheesh Eater, quoted in Buhner, Stephen Harrod. Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm

#O215
O215: A Purified Wisdom (Oil on Panel)

In his book “Zen Training, Katsiki Sekida wrote:

What is existence? Perhaps we can approach an answer by saying tentatively that mood is the keynote of existence. Mental activity may be the primeval function of the brain, but this does not embrace the whole of existence. Living vitality is a characteristic of the body, and mood is a psychosomatic production. The most exalted existential life is the refined mood stemming from a purified wisdom.

It is interesting how Sekida describes living vitality as a function of the body, and mood as a psychosomatic production. In the modern world we tend to see these as outcomes of circumstances – the conditions of our lives – external events. But Sekida maintains it is an embodied experience.

I am always on the lookout for words on this theme of the importance of the body and its state in our interpretation of the world.

At the ‘bottom’ end, I am talking about the fact that every word, in and of itself, eventually has to lead us out of the web of language, to the lived world, ultimately to something that can only be pointed to, something that relates to our embodied existence. Even words such as ‘virtual’ or ‘immaterial’ take us back in their Latin derivation – sometimes by a very circuitous path – to the earthy realities of a man’s strength (vir-tus), or the feel of a piece of wood (materia). Everything has to be expressed in terms of something else, and those something elses eventually have to come back to the body.

McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.

I end with one of my favorite poems of Ryokan:

My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest;
Every year the green ivy grows longer.
No news of the affairs of men,
Only the occasional song of a woodcutter.
The sun shines and I mend my robe;
When the moon comes out I read Buddhist poems.
I have nothing to report, my friends.
If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing after so many things.

Ryokan, trans. John Stevens, in One Robe, One Bowl

 

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