» Home Drop | Word Relish | Spiritual Drop | Jesuit Links
Home Drop | Scenic Drop | Prodigal Mother | Spiritual Drop | Word Relish | Writer | Help | Privacy Policy

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Being or Being-for

Somehow, it is important to ask ourselves again if we can be happy living for our self alone or if it is true that to work for one’s achievements, success, popularity and security already gives a total happiness. But why are there still so many people who seem to have everything already and yet they remain unhappy. Happiness, therefore, is something that is not only confined to the self or to being. It transcends the self towards the other.

Philosopher Levinas teaches about asking the right question in philosophy. He asserts that there is no transcendence yet in focusing at the question “Who I am?” He says, that the question that needs to be asked by one who wants to become truly human is “What have I done so far for the other?” This question no longer carries a self-seeking responsibility but more a social responsibility.

Levinas would also point to a condition of true happiness which is a self-dying for the other, an uncoiling from one’s preoccupations in order to give space always for the other. I want to return to what I have asked earlier and say that to work for selfish motives alone is not yet life. Young adults still have a lot to outgrow. Their idea about life often times is not yet what it takes to become human.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Beauty in a Sake Vessel

I stumbled upon this Japanese imagery with a write up by Robert Yellin. I just thought this is one that captured a glint of eternity. The fresh beauty exuding from this decrepit sake vessel is mesmerizing. It is like holding eternity in a tiny earthen vessel, teeming with droplets of immense beauty and wonder.

Sake Vessels by Harada Shuroku

I think that it's a good thing to be close to the earth whether in spirit or body. Sitting on Japanese tatami always makes me feel closer to Mother Earth, literally. That's also the way I feel whenever I hold this sturdy Bizen tokkuri; it gives me energy that radiates from nature.

It has a coloration like that found on a late autumn evening walk through a forest - feet crunching leaves: rusty browns, subtle scarlet reds and soft pale tan hues on one side. The back is crusted with a thin rough ash that runs from brown to black. Small quartz flecks that literally sparkle in the light like a deep winter night sky dot the 'dark side of the moon.' On one side a deep shiso color stretches along like a distant constellation.

Gazing at this tokkuri by Harada Shuroku (1941-) is indeed like peering into a distant galaxy.

The form is bold and refined like a tower and the lip is perfectly formed for the pouring of sake - tonight I'm enjoying some Tedorigawa from Ishikawa.

A few stone explosions dot the surface adding character to this already stellar tokkuri- I believe it to be a piece from some years back.

The wide open-faced hai is by someone I can't tell you the name of- I simply don't know. Yet that really doesn't matter, does it?

Sometimes our thinking minds get in the way of purely looking at something- we're always asking superficial questions without trusting our own eye. Who made it? When? What prizes have they won? Where do they exhibit? Are these questions necessary to see beauty. Trust yourself.

The subtle changes in white tones in this hai, amamori, is a joy to see- especially now that it's filled. Can you believe that if this hai was about three centimeters smaller it would be worth about four times what I paid for it? Americans always think bigger is better, not when it comes to a Yi dynasty hakeme hai though.

Yet, I find it to be fine just as it is in it's 'oversized' state- it rests comfortably in the hands and the kodai has a small indention where a finger can grip it. It's a shuki(sake utensils) lover's dream when matched with Harada's tokkuri.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Asking, Seeking and Knocking

Jesus teaches us to ask, to seek and to knock at his door. But why still does he have to teach us these things. Jesus seems to be contradicting himself here. The God that He preaches is a provident, all loving and generous God who just gives. Throughout Jesus’s life his buzzword is God-knows-what-we-need; he knows us better than we know ourselves.

Even before a word comes out of our lips, God knows already everything about us. If we already have a God like this, then why still does Jesus have to teach us such habit TO ASK, TO SEEK and TO KNOCK at his Father’s door? Where to is this Gospel paradox leading us at this point of our spiritual journey? I think this Gospel truth is more pointing to us rather than pointing to God. Our asking, seeking and knocking is not meant for God as if he has an attention-seeking complex who rejoices more when we constantly go to Him or run after Him. The Gospel is pointing to who we are, to our nature as finite human beings who often times easily lose focus. The Gospel paradox is pointing to our journey in this world which is a journey of constantly asking, constantly seeking and constantly knocking at our Father’s door.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Season of Keeping

I would like to make a reflection of who friends are for me. Why are they worth keeping in one's life?

In my own experience, friends are rare to find. They are freely given to us like God sent blessings that, in the first place, we have not really worked hard for. No amount of hard work can guarantee getting the friends we like. Now this makes it even more difficult for many of us who would like to gain as much control over certain relationships we have.

We all experience being a friend to somebody. So the best gauge of talking about friends is our own self. A friend to someone for me is a companion to that somebody. That is enough and it is everything a friend is for. That is what we do; we accompany. A friend is not a repository of all our needs. S/he too is a human being like us, with limitations and needs. The frustrations are a result of expecting too much.

What is fascinating about friends is not that they give or provide, but that they bring out what we have. “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” A lot of truth is said in this old aphorism. To be in the company of a friend means to share laughter with her/him, to become objective, accepting and honest with ourselves. We can, therefore, expect to become most ourselves in the company of friends. Who else can bring out these best things in us?

So what now? After I come to see more clearly their value, I become more aware of what my part is. Yes, they are gifts freely given to me; however, this does not mean I do nothing. I can do something; I can keep them.

We are so used to expending things and disposing of them once they get worn out—like clothing, personal stuff, cars, houses, etc. But, I suppose you all agree with me if I say that we cannot just afford to do the same with those people we care about. The moment we find them, we make efforts to keep them. Many do not see yet the fact that they too cannot stay there for long; they too can be worn-out by time. So while we have them, it is best and wise that we learn to keep them. Just like in any relationship, friendships grow in time. So only in time can we work the art of keeping each other. When you listen to someone and just allow time to pass without interrupting, without judging, you may not be aware but you are already keeping the person. The many pats on the back to affirm or console someone, the heart moving words “You did a good job!” or “I’m sorry…” and even the freeing moments of giving space. All of these are what build and keep friendships moving and going.

This Christmas season, start a habit, not so much of expending but of learning how to keep.

Distance makes friendship last,
Respect preserved.
In Michaelangelo's Creation,
The Creator touched Adam across a gap
Igniting a spark of life,
Bridging Heaven and Earth,
Immortality and man. Dr. Abe Rotor