Sidhartha or Vasudeva?
What do we mean when we use words like potential, value, purpose, creative and individual? Where are the spaces of freedom for those who know the realities of a lifetime of chaos, in order to find a moment of calm.
This next blog is about being known. Not the simple awareness of social niceties like someone’s name but the actual knowledge that comes from a textured connection. I have read extensively about positions and the philosophy of identity. The truths behind the dualist and the non-dualist castles in the sky. The Castalia of the thinking person, the castle upon the cloud. Unreachable to the masses and converted by the privileged few. Hermen Hesse has been and continues to be a major source of inspiration. Alongside many others who have made appearances in the blogs preceding this.
I had the pleasure this week of sitting and being guided through the realities of microaggression with Mary Makinde. There were so many points of coming to know and it was a genuine space of sharing learning and building meaning together. We talked about perspectives, we shared trauma and we build impressions of identity. It was during this staff development session that several patterns emerged. Some positive but many negative and heavily associated with social and educational oppression. Mary spoke of a particular technique that was called the empathy walk. Where the students go out in pairs and they each have the chance to talk about who they are and how that identity has been informed by experiences. It’s a 30-minute process and each of the individuals has 15 mins to talk and not be heavily questioned about the statements of being who they are. This was a notable example of the Phenomenological theorist Husserl and the idea of movement and thinking being vital. I had done something similar where I walked a group down to a modern art exhibition to frame an assessment that needed personal expression and art as a medium. Transcendental phenomenology is an organic and learner centered approach to building meaning together with creationism as a pivot.
Watching a wildlife documentary about early European drawings of animals. They spoke of how when the Bird of paradise was first discovered the thinking was that these were birds of the heavens, they survived on the dew drops in the clouds and only fell to earth in death. It just caught me as fanciful and beautiful. This is how the creative mind is at times perceived. A distant and strange element that is rarely seen. If you do see it then often it is because of the compliance being so great that lethargy forces oppressive obedience.
Maybe it would help to paint a picture of the miracle that is my ever changing and flexing perspective of sanity and reality. Each day is a balance of the finite and the infinite like a blending of the beginning and the end all to find the gift of the present. Does that help?
I was talking with my mum over a cup of tea when I became immediately aware of the shift of something internal. Like the gallery, the blogs and many other competing elements ended. A death of the perceived internalised self. What does this mean (I hear the words of my supervisor and dear patient friend Jonathan Barnes). I use images in my blogs like the hatter’s hat – a link to the value of eccentricity and joy in madness. Or the Butterfly flame – that depicts the fragility of the community constructed across the university and beyond. Unknowing and unlearning which are direct references to the works of Meiser Eckhart and Paulo Freire. My gardens of being free and not fenced or defined. They are open, loving, and free but they are at risk and often threaten the established truths of society and progress.
The Book Sidhartha is beautiful in many ways, but its deep knowledge is hidden, much like the door is in Steppenwolf or the towers are of Castalia in the glass bead game. So, what was this awareness that flooded in and left a deep calm? It was this:
Many years are spent searching in our formative and early adulthood. Am I wanted, can I find someone to love, what should I do, what is my role, can I find a job…. it is an endless socially and anthropologically defined hamster wheel. To find… But what are we finding? Then the next layer and another… Some never leave the materialist realities set by position, privilege, and stereotyping. Often, we are manipulated but the models of disabling factors are set by others but why? I have battled along in all areas of life, mostly the greatest of those being the internal narrative of self-deprecation. That part of me has slowly diminished like the black dog of the blues artists. Like the fabled Robert Johnson, I have been to the crossroads, and I have returned.
The searcher is very much the character of Sidhartha. He can walk alongside the faith men, and he is able to perform the rituals and deprive himself of wealth for the graces of belief and enlightenment. But he ends his journey unfulfilled sitting beneath a tree next to a river. There he meets Vasudeva, who is contented in his act of travelling across the water as the ferryboat man. What comes to light is that Vasdueva has died to the power of EGO. That final part of the process of becoming true to self.
I came to a similar place, filled with fatigue and desperation. I was able to be all the roles and fulfil all the social expectations placed upon me but what did it all mean? There In my mum’s kitchen I rested my head on the palms of my hands and died to that self of searching. I imagined that the memories of those times were wrapped in an old transcript and placed on a shelf. At that point, the new self was born in the present but different. The stillness of wisdom is the love of silence and time alone. Its more life through the repeated death of self. The beauty of this is that of the penitent man found on his knees as he is assured of the divine. But fully enlightened to the simple fact that the divine moves not in us but through us as the wave of the infinite and finite become visible to the few. It is at this very point that beauty and ethereal realities are born and gifts are truly given. So many people have become fixed to the ideas of searching. It has become a social pandemic to rival the viral ones. Nihilistic Materialism, the compulsion to achieve through material possessions at the cost of all the connections around you.
So, what then of the #hobopoet and the #poeticnursing heart. What of the gallery and the spaces being made for the lost travelers? They need to be seen by a few as water and fire and all the elements needed to craft an organic becoming for multiple future creative learners. I am just delighted that for this hobo it was a case of being found and being seen. That is the catalyst for loving and sustainable change.
Sadly, the darkness will always call but I have an internal light of the true self now to help me navigate and meet others in need…
And over to you. Xx
Stillness in motion. Perhaps it is time to find our flow.
Tom suggests the need for stillness to enable us to share the true self with others? Yet do we want to share our true self with others and if not why not…. Are others ready for our true self?
Tom always leaves me with some many questions whenever I read his work, he leaves me wanting to know more, and he often receives a list of questions to help me understand and know more about him. Basically, I find that he teases the reader, drawing them in, through the quiet power of what he hasn’t said, he lets my ‘brain attic’ whirl into motion.
My three big questions this time, were:
- What does his internal light of his true self look like now?
- What is a moment of calm?
- And how do we navigate calm?
For me stillness never comes until I move. Through movement I think better.
In fact, this was written halfway through those classic 2am can’t sleep kind of thoughts and half post BMX session, when I had ridden the racetrack for an hour and not let anything else into my head other than the ‘burns and step ups’. I needed time to process those 2am thoughts properly through moment, then this became much easier to write.
When I think of wisdom in stillness for me, I am always drawn back to the writing of Csikszentmihalyi, who sadly passed last year, and the need to understand the individual’s state of flow. But it is easy to focus on the flow and forget what his main focus of his writing was about, it was about the need to understand the individual, so they could be valued, when they are their most creative, productive and happiest.
That leaves us with the question, when are you happy? Is that the moment of inner true self?
For me I’m at my happiest when I’m attached to wheels, whether that be racing round the velodrome and dropping down at 42degree angles, racing over the bmx track, or commuting with my twinkly lights on my bike. Reflecting on the notion of happiness that is then ultimately my stillness is in fact both a place and a movement. I have a happiest place, it just involves motion in that place. For me it is roller skating along the promenade at the beach with either no or little wind and sunshine. As my stillness comes in motion. Movement aids my creativity, my inspiration, my purpose, it allows me to centre. It is useful for a variety of elements, in terms of it helps me to plan lectures, work through project ideas, time to think, time to be creative, as well as decompression and reflection post sessions. You get the best out of me if you allow me to move.
The use of walking treadmills or pedals under desks have become more popular during lockdown / working from home yet, I have heard them be criticised by others as distracting or even unprofessional. Yet perhaps we need to ask the users why they use them, how does it help, does it allow them to find their stillness. If the user is used to walking up and down a lecture hall, while they lecture it may be that the restrictions to desks and screens may have been damaging to their productivity and yet they have found a way to not be damaged. Surely, we should celebrate such a solution? It may have been their way of increasing of helping the user be focused, helping them move more oxygen to the brain stimulating and encouraging brain activity. We need to perhaps acknowledge it, as Tom suggests the potential, value, purpose, of an individual. And to then help all find their spaces of freedom in order to find a moment of calm.
We need to recognise and value the different ways in which people find their wisdom of stillness. Cain (2012) noted that different work environments suit people in different ways, she warned about the need for valuing and recognising ways that creativity could be killed and finding ways to enable all. The two extremes of work environments can be seen from Holmes (2010) who needed to total quiet and removal from being round others, whilst Balboa (2006) suggested the need to keep moving forwards.
What do you need? How do you navigate the calm? Has anyone ever asked?…..
Perhaps you need one or either of the ways or even both of these or a place somewhere in the middle. It could be suggested that we need to hold onto what we have found that works within the last two years, how some of us have found our purpose, our value, or wisdom and stillness and to recognise we need that movement to help us be ‘just us’.
I propose that we need to acknowledge more the differences in others, and to also go to them and to begin to understand what makes them happy. To be more ‘relators’, and individualise the way we interact with others, as we may actually not be allowing others to truly flow or find their inner peace to allow them to flourish. Perhaps others may (also) benefit from movement meetings, that allow them to flow more.
You’re more than welcome to come skating or cycling with me anytime.