aka the virtue of the small (part 2)
Brain Eno said something really mind blowing when he spoke here at the Jack Singer last winter – okay he actually said 3 hrs of mind blowing stuff, but the thing I dug so much I had to write down was his observation: sex, drugs, and religion have one thing in common – surrender. Surrender is a tough thing for us humans to do, and it takes firing off some major pleasure centres with sex or drugs to make it seem like a good idea.
The dangerous thing with religion, and maybe sex and drugs too, is what you surrender to. It is not for us to surrender our power to someone else (unless you’re a masochist and you dig that sort of thing), but the trick is to surrender to what is powerless within us.
I’ve been thinking about Piglet and the virtue of the small, and it was on my mind with that bit of fiction yesterday too. Last night I finally got it! And what made it click was remembering this Japanese print a fellow I used to date had up on his livingroom wall. I think it was this one of Hokusai’s, though in my mind there was only one boatman, not a crew. Anyway, point being, standing up close to it (click on the picture to see an enlargement) you can see the the boatmen, and the interesting thing is the boatmen (who are about to get wiped out by that wave) aren’t rowing like hell, they’re not cowering in fear, they’re bowing… in reverence. I was just floored when I noticed that.
So that print popped into my mind again last night. Their response to that great wave …surrender. The willingness, the wisdom, to bow to that you cannot control. That wave is big, they are small. Now, as an aside, that’s a completely different thing from just laying down and giving up on everything. Viktor Frankl says meaning is derived from the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering (surrendering to avoidable suffering, well, that goes back to that masochist thing again).
Now I was also digging through some old Buddhist notes last night, ’cause that had gotten triggered in my brain too. The four noble truths – that life is suffering, that thirst or desire is the cause of that suffering, that the release of suffering comes from giving up that desire (yes I know that’s only 3 of them).
Desirelessness, something I was thinking about while watching Hero last night – and mostly thinking how that movie was close to something, but somehow missed the mark; how Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon really succeeded in capturing what surrender and desirelessness were all about.
Desirelessness, it’s not about passion, but a willingness to let whatever is, BE. To not want a situation to be anything other that what it is. The virtue of the small …perhaps in being small, you’re not so inclined to fight, because you know you can’t win.
We’re all small, most of us just aren’t willing to admit it. And that’s the question: am I willing? Am I willing to be small? It doesn’t make you any more powerful, but if you can say yes to that …what you fear suddenly has no power over you.
The virtue of the small, The ability to say: yes, I am small. The willingness to BE small. Simply, the willingness to BE.
It won’t make you powerful, but there’s power in it.