Monday, August 01, 2005
The Beauty of Formlessness
I see the universe as eternal moments, like a movie where every moment is a still picture that has no connection to the next. Speaking of movies, I have heard actors describe how different the experience of making a movie is compared to the final version that is shown at the cinema. A film editor has a vision of how he would like the final version to appear. He rearranges the stills in a particular sequence, speeds up the stills and, eh voila, you have a movie. Similarly, each moment is devoid of meanings. We rearrange moments in sequences to align with our beliefs and judgments, thus creating a continuity of memories that is meaningful to us; though there is usually a disparity between one’s subjective experiences and what is actually happening. Where there is no editor, a movie is simply a series of still pictures. Where there are no beliefs or interpretations, every moment is simply the One being, a moment of stillness, pure awareness.
Two days ago I witnessed the following still images. For clarity sake I have numbered each still, but it doesn’t mean they happened in that sequence.
I'm on a bus into town. I'm staring out of the window. We are driving through a particular area. The bus is about to pull up at a traffic light.
Still 1: A woman's raised voice is heard but not seen.
Still 2: A woman is seen shouting and walking forward.
Still 3: A man is standing with his hand behind his back. In his hand is a huge knife.
Still 4: A woman is shouting at a man who is carrying a knife in one hand.
I watch the stills in slow motion as our bus drives past. In the meantime, passengers on my bus are jumping to their own conclusions. One woman sitting near me describes the knife as a machete that she believes the man is about to use to attack the woman. I can hear the bus driver calling for police assistance on his radio and describing the still pictures as a man about to attack a woman.
But that wasn't how I saw the stills at all. They were simply moments, still pictures. I read nothing into those pictures then and read nothing into them now.
Years ago at college, I did my dissertation on how audience discussion programmes represent truth. I went to see several shows being filmed. On one show the topic being discussed was child abuse and its supposed lasting impact on the victim. I was hoping I would get the opportunity to participate on the show. I spotted a vacant seat right in front and I swapped seats. Before the show started we had a mock discussion. The presenter asked if anyone believed in parenting skills. I put my hand up. She asked me to wait till they were filming the show and then give my opinion. During filming I gave my point of view about parenting skills. After they'd finished filming the show, they asked us to swap seats: they were going to use the same audience to film another show. This time the topic was whether ETs do exist. The author, Arthur C Clarke was one of the ET experts being interviewed but they hadn’t interviewed him as yet. We were to pretend we were watching the interview. We were even asked to laugh and smile for no reason, which we did.
What a shock it was seeing the aired version of both shows compared to the studio version. The discussion on the aired version was completely different from what had taken place in the studio. In the first show about child abuse, the interview sequence was rearranged. Though they kept my contribution, it had been moved to a much later slot. The producers obviously had their own agenda that we weren’t privy to at the time. As for the ET programme, the aired version gave the impression that the audience was very sceptical. There were close-ups of some of the members of the audience who looked as if they were engrossed in the Arthur C Clarke interview we had never witnessed. Amazing what you can achieve with editing.
Yesterday I went for a walk in a park. This was no ordinary walk; it was a walk down memory lane. The last time I was at this park was when I was at college. There is a winding lane leading to the college. While I was at college we were warned not to walk up this lane alone for fear of being attacked. I think I only walked down that lane about 3 times, and each time seemed to last forever. As I walked up the lane yesterday I felt nothing. It was just a winding lane that goes uphill, and it took no time for me to arrive. I explored the campus. The buildings were a lot smaller than I remembered. For three years I had made those buildings the centre of my world: I attended lectures, seminars, went to the library, travelled on the college bus, and that was my college life. The irony is that I had been studying social theories that were supposed to help us to both challenge the status quo and see the world in a new light. Yeah that really worked. All those isms only added more filters to the way I saw the world. I was so blinkered, I never realised there was a park nearby. I can now see another world outside those tiny campus buildings, a world of ponds and varieties of wild life to explore. I walked for an hour exploring with pure eyes a world free of theories and dogmas. I shall continue exploring the park as and when the mood takes me.
Life is already perfect. To experience this perfection, one must let go of beliefs and structures. You are then awake to the beauty of formlessness.