The aboriginal elder played by David Gulpilil tells Satellite Boy: “You are always running away – who are you?”
This is to an aimless kid on the edge of western society, suffering lost connection to traditional culture. He lives at a derelict drivein cinema, an apt consumerist image – replaced by the video and DVD store, and they in turn by broadband. Satellite Boy is a metaphor for being adrift among the stars, yet in the midst of the spectacle of the Milky Way.
It’s a great movie, and of course his epiphany comes from a return to the land – even if he doesn’t leave where he is. Being present where you are is a mindfulness technique attributed to a Hindu, the Buddha, but has roots in all the spiritual traditions. Catholics St. Francis deSales and St. Ignatius lived meditative lives, seeing God in all things. The repetitive patterns of Islamic architecture reproduce God’s perfection, and rejoining broken parts gave us algebra الجبر from Persian moslem al-Khwarizmi. On the flip(pant) side, self-obsessive “every man for himself” makes for the perfect wandering joke in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’.
The Kevin Kline character is a buffoon, but Otto West’s thought undermines our precious unity. It’s an idea that, until recently, seemed attractive to the majority of Americans. Whether dharma or dogma, personal agendas have both shaped and distorted erstwhile pure messages throughout history. We must evolve. I’m midway through Buddhist Peace Fellowship’s teachings on anger management, U Mad? These people are revolutionary activists, taking a stand at Standing Rock, and publicly protesting conservative policies of greed. The course’s first interview was with a monk who discussed switching alms for arms in rageful times, which I found alarming, but then I haven’t suffered his persecution as a gay Afro-American.
The second was with Prof Rebecca Li, reminding us that anger is pain directed outwardly. It’s unhelpful to blame the Obama supporter turned Trump voter for what they did, while they struggled with the costs of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Their wishful thinking was fueled by one of the greatest conmen ever seen, and all that now remains is to deal with the consequences. Our immediate path has been chosen, there’s no running away, and more universal suffering will demand of us greater compassion.
Carole and I are off on ‘sabbatical’ next week. I couldn’t resist the airline’s offer of a ticket to Europe if only you’ll stopover in an India summer awhile. Which fitted in with an antiOxidants conference. Dharamsala will be interesting, for it’s one thing to have access to the teachings, but entirely another to experience the environment of Tibet’s refugees. See you in July, Geoff