In a conversation with human-rights activist, filmmaker and author Amir Soltani, I was touched by Amir words: “there is no doubt that as a species we have been death-centric and not life-centric”*. Amir talks about the huge investments in the military, the act of hoarding (money, in particular), and the moving from a nomadic life to a settler life, the latter being related to surplus.
Human rights activist, filmmaker, author Amir Soltani in conversation with the Impermanence Platform, July 2020.
Kassra's Tree, probably 2014
This morning, during a guided meditation practice, one of the participants remembered her three year old daughter asking her to draw her thoughts. The little girl would get upset when her parents would draw her vision in a static way. The girl would then improve her parents’ depiction by adding movement to the drawing.
Mount Mishima in the province Kai, Katsushika Hokusai, 1829 - 1833, Rijks Museum, Netherlands
In our researches together we discovered that Katshushika Hokusai was attentive to life: "From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie. ”**
With another language and coming, in appearance, from another universe and another era on Earth, the Syrian poet Adonis seems to ask us to long for the same 'divine understanding': ‘Sufism and Surrealism allow us to see (...) the absence and the presence: the absence of men and the presence of mechanics, the absence of the heart and the presence of reason, the absence of nature and the presence of industry."***
I am convinced that it was because of his fear of death that Iranian polymath Omar Khayyam wrote in his Rubbaiyat "This moment is your life.'"
*Human rights activist, filmmaker and author Amir Soltani in conversation with The Impermanence Platform, July 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8ynaiC-ZPc
***Adonis, 'Sufism and Surrealism", Introduction, page 26.
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