We should not bark at each other like dogs
Nor click senselessly like machines,
But let us sing to each other like birds
And hum mellifluously like bees.
[click here for audio]
The Buddha was a fearless debater who would regularly break out into spontaneous verse to make a point. It seems he just couldn’t help himself sometimes. If he were alive today, he would take down Eminem in a slam any day of the lunar month.
The languages of preliterate peoples are inherently musical. Before words are read in the head from bits of paper, they are rhapsodied through the whole bodies and hearts of people who sing and dance as naturally as they breath.
I have a secret admiration for people like the French who make an effort to retain the sonority of their language. It is not necessarily a sign of arrogance. It depends on the intention.
Actually, we cry foul at the French today for the same reason why Russian aristocracy used to ape them. French represents, in an archetypal sense, high culture. In the past we yearned for it. Today we are allergic.
Allergies are defensive over-reactions. We have a bad experience of some sort and we fail to get over it by wisely integrating the experience into our worldview. So whenever it comes up again (or, at least, appears to), we are triggered. This is the source of all prejudice. High culture has the potential to lead to true elevation as well as to pretentiousness and oppression. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
This blog is devoted to the revival of full-bodied oral culture. One of my life-themes is how we need to learn to use technology in a way that gets us back in touch with real people and with ourselves. That is, I want to be a leading example of a man who has developed the skill of using technology so I can spend less time using technology. I want to be a master of the machines, not a slave.
Everything here is designed to be read out loud and celebrated with the whole body and mind. The words should feel good on the tongue, massage the heart and be digested deep in the gut. Please treat these posts as lyrical keys to Awakening. In this way, I hope to do my bit to redeem our decaying civilisation.
High culture and civilised discourse doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A person has taste to the extent that he can recognise and produce elegance and harmony. This is true civility. And that is why the Buddha was such a great orator. Eminem is pretty good, but he’d be so much better if he picked up a few tricks from the Blessed One.
PS … The opening poem is by me, not the Buddha. If you’re interested in the real stuff, best get stuck into the Dhammapada.