Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain, with the barkers and the colored balloons.

I've not mentioned much about my return voyage through 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' for a while. I will have to back track a bit at some point. However - I've just read a great passage that I need to share - particularly given events of last week (more on that later).

Pirsig has earlier talked of the allegory of a physical mountain for the spiritual one that stands between each soul and its goal. He says most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them. Some travel into the mountains accompanied by experienced guides who know the best and least dangerous routes by which they arrive at their destination. Still others, who are either inexperienced or untrusting, attempt to make their own routes.

Where do I fit? Well not in the first group. My spiritual life early on was all about Sunday school every week at St John's Anglican Church in Royal Oak, Auckland; regular church attendance; confirmation into the Anglican Church; and until I was 26 (November 4, 1983) a solid set of spiritual beliefs. But then my mum died at an early age and I got angry (anger turns to hate) and frustrated and I lost my footing on that mountain path. So not the first group.

The third group? Maybe. During my university years I attempted to make my own routes. The spiritual church gave way to the church of reason and Wordsworth, Bly and Ginsberg, Ferlinghett1, Uncle Walt, and Chaucer made an impact. But all the while the anger, and the frustration was along for the ride.

And so to that group of experienced guides that leads to ultimate arrival. Just before dad passed away he explained to me the question asked of those wanting to become freemasons. I had my copy of Zen... with me at the time and wrote it down on the title page: 'In times of danger and adversity - in whom do we place our trust?' Dad told me with a bemused grin that some answered, 'My wife' or even incredulously, 'My mother-in-law'. The correct answer, of course, is, 'In the lord'. And he did. Hearing my father say that in a moment of serene calm was like a sudden awakening and an epiphany. After 26 years I felt the anger and distrust and frustration evaporate, as if by magic. My father is the experienced guide (still).

Those events from last week? One of my students committed suicide. The repercussions from that action are huge - like ripples in a pond. I've been thinking about him a lot over the weekend. A lovely guy - cheerful, friendly, a great artist. Unfortunately, in his short life, he never even glanced in the mountain's direction.

Time I did some climbing.

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