19 March 2009

Image: Israfel's Trumpet

I am just outside New Delhi right now, working in one of India’s “Silicon Valleys.” It doesn’t take traveling to the other side of the world to make you meditate on the human condition, but it does help.

I often see in snapshots and here is my picture of the day:

A well-dressed Indian man standing on the curb, gracefully smoking his cigarette while jibber-jabber-yakking into his cell phone. He is set aglow by the slanting morning light careening off the cement dust and motor-scooter exhaust swirling around him. He stands, confident and strong, like a God surveying his creation. Two women in saris, banana yellow and radiant teal, waft by him, angelic faces the color of dusk-lit earth. Just beyond the glowing man, on the other side of the street, a long strip of temporary houses line the road; houses made of thick branches and plastic sheeting – a tent town of 100 parents and children, the workers building a brick wall along the road. The women squat by makeshift hearths, cooking tea for the men while the children run giddily up and down the mounds of grey sand piled here and there. In the back of my throat I can taste the dust kicked up by their game, the dust that fills the air everywhere here. The children are gleeful like my children. This snapshot is bordered by two immense bougainvillea trees, two cascades of fuchsia blossoms framing each side of the image.

What I see in this is a planet brimming with living creatures, each doing its best to survive and to work itself into the next level of security and comfort, each eating the earth and making tools of the earth and eventually becoming earth. From smoking man to cooking woman to the bees buzzing in the bougainvillea and mosquitoes prowling for just one taste of any of it, to the malaria parasites in the mosquito waiting to be ejected into Shangri-la, each of us moves day by day, surviving, and if we are luckily placed in the system, or strong, or a little more ruthless than the next being: thriving.

On it goes across the face of a tiny blue-green marble spinning through the outskirts of a medium-sized galaxy, dancing among hundreds of billions of galaxies. Simultaneously religion is the most unimportant and the most crucial thing in this picture. For we are adrift in energies not of our own making, energies we cannot comprehend though some us try, energies which bring us into life, give us sustenance and suffering throughout our lives, and that tell us it is time for us to become earth again, goodbye, for now.

And so we drum together.

I leave you with this poem by the 12th Century Sufi, Yunus Emre:

We encountered the house of realization,
we witnessed the body.
The whirling skies, the many-layered earth,the seventy-thousand veils,
we found in the body.
The night and the day,
the planets,the words inscribed on the Holy Tablets,
the hill that Moses climbed, the Temple,
and Israfil's trumpet, we observed in the body.
Torah, Psalms, Gospel, Quran --
what these books have to say,
we found in the body.
Everybody says these words of Yunus
are true. Truth is wherever you want it.
We found it all within the body.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jaime

    I am interested to find your blog. I'm a drummer myself, though not in the shamanic tradition - I know others who are. I play djembe. I also work as a drum circle facilitator (amongst other things) and run two community drum circles in West Yorkshire, UK. See www.rhythmajix.co.uk