Friday, December 09, 2011

The World Deeply

Every once in a while I leaf through The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi to see what sort of pidasun finayi or fragments of wisdom I might find there. When I find myself at a crossroads in terms of activism, or needing a hint of guidance on how to approach some aspect of community engagement, empowerment or consciousness raising, I find that Musashi sometimes has some great, profound, sometimes vague insights. For example, last year after the end of the ideologically turbulent DEIS comment period on the Guam military buildup, I wrote a post titled "Know Your Enemy, Know His Sword," or in Chamorro, "Tungo’ i enimigu-mu, tungo’ i sapblå-ña."

Part of the wisdom of this quote is that in order to defeat your enemy, in order to truly vanquish him, it is not enough to hate him. Ti nahong na un chatli'e' gui' ya ti ya-mu gui'. You have to know him, and his sword, which is another way of referring to his soul, in order to defeat him. That means that hate may give you the motivation to destroy someone else, but it can cloud your judgement and consciousness and make you miss key elements about them, and it may actually make it so that you cannot defeat them.

Another sen fehman na sinangan is "Respect the Gods, but do not rely on them for help." It means that those things that we assume exist out there to keep things ordered, to keep the world spinning and to keep the rest of the world that you don't immediately see around you safe, we should always respect them, but be careful how much faith you have in them. It is nice to believe in a higher power, but how much life is lost and how much death is created in this world because of the assumption of something greater as catching the souls and collecting up all the shattered and wasted souls. Or in another way, it is comforting to think of God in your corner, but you should never expect God to fight your fight for you.

While posting on my Tumblr earlier today, I thumbed through my copy of The Book of Five Rings to finding a nice, shiny quote to combine with a watercolor painting. I came across this quote below, which is another one I think of as being very tahdong in potential meaning.

"Think lightly of yourself, and deeply of the world."

This sounds especially important for those doing work in terms of changing the world.

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