Silence

My hunch from some time back was not wrong. What are the Japanese peasants looking for in me? These people who work and live and die like beasts find for the first time in which they can cast away the fetters that bind them. The Buddhist bonzes simply treat them like cattle. For a long time they have just lived in resignation to such a fate.

from Shusaku Endo “Silence” (Translated by William Johnson)

Arise Awake

Never mind failures; they are quite natural, they are the beauty of life – these failures.  What would life be without them?  It would not be worth having if it were not for struggles.  Where would be the poetry of life?  Never mind the struggles, the mistakes.  I never heard a cow tell lie, but it is only cow – never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold the ideal a thousand times and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more.

from “Arise Awake Messages of Swami Vivekananda”

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The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi

We stand today in danger of forgetting how to use our hands. To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves. To think that your occupation of the Ministerial chair will be vindicated if you serve the cities only would be to forget that India really resides in her 7,00,000 village units. What would it profit a man if he gained the world but lost his soul into the bargain.”

from M. K. Gandhi “The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi (Compiled & Edited by R. K. Prabhu & U. R. Rao) ” 

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The Savage Mind

Bergson dis­cerned the importance of the part which, in view of its logical struc­ture, the notion of species was to play in the critique of totemism. But there is every reason to fear that, had he been forced to make his analysis more specific, he would have restricted it to the sub­jective and practical aspect of the relation between man and the natural world, of the kind exemplified by someone asking what there is for lunch today and being wholly satisfied with the answer ‘veal’. In fact the importance of the notion of species is to be explained not so much by a propensity on the part of the practising agent to dissolve it into a genus for biological and utilitarian reasons (which would amount to extending to man the famous dictum that it is grass in general which attracts the herbivore) as by its pre­sumptive objectivity : the diversity of species furnishes man with the most intuitive picture at his disposal and constitutes the most direct manifestation he can perceive of the ultimate discontinuity of reality. It is the sensible expression of an objective coding.

from Claude Lévi-Strauss “The Savage Mind”

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The Two Sources of Morality and Religion

An indifferent schoolmaster, mechanically teaching a science created by men of genius, may awaken in one of his pupils the vocation he himself has never possessed, and change him unconsciously into an emulator of those great men, who are invisible and present in the message he is handing on.

from Henri Bergson “The Two Sources of Morality and Religion”

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An Artist of the Floating World

‘I have learnt many things over these past years.  I have learnt much in contemplating the world of pleasure, and recognising its fragile beauty.  But I now feel it is time for me to progress to other things.  Sensei, it is my belief that in such troubled times as these, artists must learn to value something more tangible than those pleasurable things that disappear with the morning light.  It is not necessary that artists always occupy a decadent and enclosed world.  My conscience, Sensei, tells me I cannot remain forever an artist of the floating world.’

from Kazuo Ishiguro “An Artist of the Floating World”

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In Praise of Shadows

Why should this propensity to seek beauty in darkness be so strong only in Orientals The West too has known a time when there was no electricity, gas, or petroleum, and yet so far as I know the West has never been disposed to delight in shadows.

from Junichiro Tanizaki “In Praise of Shadows”(Translated by Thomas Harper and Edward Seidensticker)IMG_1488.jpg