Living Music

Alma Rominger 

I was walking through a neighborhood close to Teele Square during the mid-morning on Friday when I walked by a house with a large wind-chime and I paused to listen and appreciate.

 

The leaves dance

to the wind’s song.

The sun upon my face.

 

This week we focused on the three main tenets of Buddhism, Anitya, Duhka, and Anatman; Of all three I found the concept of Anatman the most difficult to understand, but also the most alluring. Anitya is a Buddhist term for Evanescence, but with emphasis not only on the impermanence of the external world but also of our own perceptions (Inouye p.31). I feel like I understood this concept within the first class. Duhka is the suffering that we experience due to Anitya and to our tendency to rely on and attach ourselves to that which is impermanent, be it our lovers, our egos, or our bodies (Inouye 1/28). This is a Buddhist concept that I am much familiar with and prescribe to (and I must say, practicing healthy detachment has freed me in many ways). Finally Anatman expresses the Buddhist truth of “no-self”. Bear with me on this one… I am so interconnected with all that is, that my solitary Self couldn’t exist without the existence of another (a multitude of things, events, people, etc.). This interconnectedness binds the self with the other, disintegrating my singularity or separateness. In other words, if self is defined by other, that is, self is other, then the self (which is traditionally defined as the not-other) does not exist. What a trip!! One of Aldous Huxley’s characters in his book The Island seemed to recognize this truth as he would only refer to himself in quotations. It shakes me to hear that self does not exist, in fact its seems contrary to my very perception of reality. Even now my language is infused with reference to a self. But at the same time, I understand no-self as I have experienced moments where my particularity vanishes and I merge with another. Oneness. So how can these two experiences, of self and of no-self, exist together? Well neither could exist without the other. That is the nature of dichotomy and the nature of language. I think there is a higher question. Can I live in my self and in the oneness simultaneously?

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