Thoughts prompted by "Men Laughing at Tiger Stream"


Michael Kile


  A rich painting indeed, on several levels.

One (Buddhist) lesson from it could be: "BE HERE (IN THE PRESENT MOMENT) NOW!" - and not (always) in realm of intellectual speculation.

Echoes of cartoon on my desk depicting a truth-seeker asking for advice from bearded guru on a peak somewhere in the Himalayas.

Guru: with his eyes on a four-legged animal heading towards his questioner (from behind):

"The secret of life? Well, it's not much of a secret, but "LOOK OUT FOR MOUNTAIN GOATS" has always worked for me."

Ajahn Brahm, graduate in theoretical physics (Cambridge), now Abbott of Buddhist Bodhinyana Monastery one hour south of Perth, often recounts in his Dhamma talks ( ) that it was serenity/smiles of (wise) monks that first aroused his curiosity about this religion.

As P K Shaw wrote, and Brahm's Dhamma embraces: "There is more wisdom in humour than there is humour in wisdom."

One of my treasured texts - M Conrad Myers' ZEN & THE COMIC SPIRIT (1973).

P94: "Twentieth-century man has been introduced to a sense of the absurd with a vengeance that is in no small measure the result of failure of, and inevitable reaction to, an overweening effort to bring all things (my comment - including the climate, financial systems, etc) under the dominion of human reason (some might want to say - and irrationality)."

P95: "It is the absence of this attempt, so characteristic of Western intellectual history, to press existence for reason and purpose - or conversely to despair over absurdity and the tragic absence of the good, the true and the beautiful in everything - that has enabled the Chinese and Japanese generally to have a singular acceptance of life as it is, to see through to the suchness and mystery of things beyond the schemas of intellection and value judgment, beyond the towering hierarchies and grand systems, and to do so with grace and good humour. In this earthiness, and its devotion to the simplest particulars of life - quite apart from any cumbersome intellectual structures which are supposed to give them a "place" and to guarantee their worth, but which unfortunately have the bad habit of suffering periodic collapses - lies that uncommon wisdom, that fine sense of the comic, and that affirmation of things in themselves, which is crystallised in Zen." Etc etc.

P119: "There is no small irony in the fact that what is the fundamental illusion for Buddhist experience is taken as the fundamental axiom of Cartesian thought (Descartes' cogito ergo sum)."
  Michael Kile is the author of "No Room at Natures Mighty Feast" Demos Press 1995  

September 2011