Upcoming Shows

We've been named as a official selection in the Southern Circuit of Filmmakers Tour, March 17-24.

Shows are in Hapeville, GA 3/17, Madison, GA 3/20, Orangeburg, SC 3/22, Gainsville, GA 3/23, and Manteo, NC 3/24.
Learn more by going to the SouthArts blog.

View the theatrical trailer for A Gift for the Village

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5, from Jane

Apologies to those of you who are following the blog and have had plenty already of Jane-thought, which may have seemed nice and organic in your first few bowls full, but now may have cooled for you, and started to taste pasty, like so much old oatmeal. But I doubt our ability to communicate easily if at all starting hopefully tomorrow, thus the impulse to write while I can.

This morning, though, we had a sinister sky, unbearably low clouds, not right for allowing our hummingbird flight into the high country. I fear that we may not be able to fly tomorrow morning if we have a sky like today's. I am feeling like a bad trip organizer since we COULD have flown yesterday morning. Luckily, Emerson pointed out that my horoscope today encouraged me to "let go quickly of your dumb ideas."

Before attempting to fly up to Jomsom village--hopefully tomorrow morning, though the clouds have me worried--I am thinking about what it is you decide--what gods and which thoughts guide you--when you willingly go into a place of higher risk, or imagine the risks as greater.

I do always remember how the urbane French theorist Roland Barthes died: not in the Himalayas, or along the Amazon, or on an expedition like Shackleton's icy polar imprisonment, but in Paris, I think, as he crossed the street, distracted. He was hit and killed by a laundry truck.

I also always remember what the Tibetan lama Venerable Dudjom Rinpoche said when someone told him the sad news that a dear friend's health had suddenly declined and that the friend would most likely die. "Yes," the Rinpoche smiled, "Of course he will not recover. We are all dying."

There was a time when the inevitability of a Buddhist response like the Rinpoche's made me roll my eyes, seemed merely clever, or troublingly aloof and blithe.

Now I try to steer by a set of prayer flags that I think I see fluttering in front of me, knowing the boat (or tiny airplane) that sails them is always already disintegrating as I glide. The prayers printed on the flags I strain to glimpse announce wishes: may all creatures suffer less; may we all gain wisdom and compassion; may the Buddhas of the five directions prosper, inspiring good intentions, non-violence, right action, and right livelihood. May we, to recontextualize the title of an essay I love by my friend Suzi Gablik, see and be moved by Art and the Big Picture.

A great article by Sushma Joshi (e-mail her at sansarmagazine@gmail.com) impressed me in yesterday's Kathmandu Post, called "Killing our Nagas: Our disembodied society views the rvers as spearate, rather than as part, of the social fabric." The article highlights the noxious and sordid condition of the Kathmandu Valley's rivers and alludes to the Buddhist idea that Nagas, river dieties, are responding to the disrespect that forgetful and selfish humans have shown to their own life-sources.

Joshi sees her own condescending relation to the Buddhist literature she has grown up learning--sees how she has been directed in her education to relegate Buddhism to "inventive and charming" parable. But "Scientists predict water shortages all over the continent [of Asia] in the coming decades. Predictions are dire--millions may be without drinking water. Thirsty times have begun." Like D. H. Lawrence in his Sicilian poem "Snake," Joshi rethinks what really repels her in this world.

Joshi remembers that "Killing snakes was forbidden in Vedic times. Snakes, myths said, were the embodiment of Nagas, serpent guardians of rivers and rains. They carry the elixir of immortality. When Nagas were protected, the monsoons arrived on time."

Immortality and death are not oxymoronic. It is in the turning of the continuous wheel of life, death, and rebirth where immortality resides. After all, the contribution of any human being can be only to nurture and celebrate life before the point of death--to fly or raft with faith and gusto, to do as little harm as possible where you are--and, importantly--to do as much GOOD as you can, while you can.

No choking of rivers allowed. No breaking of spirits or hearts. No desecration. No cynicism. No armchair sarcasm. No apathy. No giving up. Or to put the pith otherwise, as my friend Jenna likes to say (quoting a t-shirt she admired), come to the end of your life in a great slide, like a baseball player giving 100% to reach home base, dirty, sweaty, exhausted, and thinking, "Amazing! What a ride!" Jane

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