This is water

Unlikely Mascot [UM] is a fine officer on my team. This, in an online game I play with people around the globe. There is an active team chat, and a league cat as well.

UM recently asked a random player about the origin of their team name. The response was “Bruce Lee”. This peaked my interest, and I googled “Be Like Water”. An excerpt of Wikipedia’s answer is below.

belikewaterBe Like Water (2008) is a play written by Dan Kwong, originally produced at East West Players, in association with Cedar Grove OnStage. 

The story follows a young Asian American girl in 1970s Chicago, who is visited by the Ghost of Bruce Lee.

Tracy Fong is a 13-year-old ass-kicking, gung-fu fanatic tomboy, challenged by school bullies, airhead rivals, and a mother who just wants her to be a "normal girl." When bad goes to worse, the Ghost of Bruce Lee appears to teach her the true meaning of strength and the true power of water.[2]

If you know me from childhood, you I venerated Bruce Lee.. My regard for UM skyrocketed, and I asked her if she was a fan of Bruce Lee as well.

I must say, her response led me to watch one of the most enlightening videos on YouTube ever. This is David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College. The link below is 22:43 long, and it will try your patience. Go on, hit play. The first 15 seconds will put a smile on your face.. I didn’t get much further before being interrupted.

I highly recommend viewing in its entirety when you are not bereft of time, and attention span  (Which by the way is greatly increased if you imbibe a little sugar).

 

The full transcript of the speech is  available from Purdue University

A little passage that I find particularly profound..

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

On my second viewing I stopped here. The little gears in my head grinding away, risking overheat.

I ponder if this universal experience was understood as hollow and meaningless by philosophers in antiquity. And formed the basis of the ascetic traditions found in regions world-wide.

Can I then boldly exclaim “this is the primary purpose of religion”? To inform us of our humble, marginal exitence by postulating a supreme being who is infinitely more powerful than us. So that we can attempt to lose focus on what our sensory perception system reaffirms a million times over..

Is the religious experience personal, or social? Should religion be repurposed to act as a driver of societal change? We’ve stood by, and seen it deployed with a soul chilling deadly efficiency in Afghanistan of the 1990s. Is that just history repeating itself?

Getting back to David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech..

The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible -- sounds like "displayal"]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

Attention, awareness and discipline.. The tenets a mindfulness mediator would live by. I recently became aware of the Vipassana meditation. A practice of becoming mindful by detaching ourselves from our mind, and silently observing the ebb and flow of our thoughts and feelings.. Of course, there is a YouTube video for that..

 

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

"This is water." 
"This is water."

 

Huh!

Who knew that there was still a possibility an ignoramus like me could approach a real education..

Now, on to becoming a practitioner.. After all how hard can it be?

One thought on “This is water

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