A Felicidade e a Energia

This afternoon I spent a few hours at the Brazilian Day 2011 celebration on 6th Avenue and, of course, 46th Street.  Wow!

It looked like this:

and this:

It tasted like this:

But ah, my friends, and o, my foes, underneath it all and bursting forth from it not unlike a power samba band from the very heart of existence, the reality was this!

And here I would have you listen to Generique, the first cut on Jobim’s Black Orpheus soundtrack album.  Play it at the volume it deserves–loud!  Click:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ7F0Fkydhk

A felicidade means happiness, happiness in this case containing peace and joy and satisfaction, the wholeness of being that comes from knowing who you are.  Energia means–no surprise here–energy manifesting as excitement and movement, the very sound of life.  These, incidentally,  combine as the theme of all Brazil’s exports (like honey, samba, feijoada, beautiful and tightly underdressed  women and often shirtless men–surely dancing samba–coffee, soccer champions, cachaca, churrascaria, more samba and bolinios de bacalhau...) offer to the world.  Brazilian Day 2011 was just that perfect mixture of happiness and energy. Thousands of folks draped in Brazilian flags or wearing the yellow and green of Brazil’s national soccer team–most emblazoned with Ronaldo’s #10, faces, hair and even tongues painted in celebratory colors, the strong smells of charcoal and pig meat everywhere, and everywhere the beat of power samba drumming.

Hmm, those of you who have some familiarity with my thinking may be wondering, what does all this have to do with a Zen and Taoist understanding of existence? 

For those of you without that familiarity, it’s like this: no matter what I seem to be writing about, eventually it will come back to an Eastern mindset that over the years has so blended in with my New England/Judeo/Christian/New York thinking as to make it it’s own.  The irony is that I never plan for this to happen.  It just does.  Well…maybe not never.  Maybe sometimes I do begin with the Zen stuff and look for some clever way of slipping into it.  The truth be told, this is one of those times.  This all actually began the day before Brazilian Day 2011 with me riding the A train out to the Atlantic Ocean (yes, you can get there by subway!) while listening to Nawang Khechog’s Sounds of Peace and reading Robert Aitken’s book, The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics.  His chapter entitled Dharma Assets led me to put together this (I thought at the time) free-association list:

energy

richness

abundance

fullness

emptiness

potential

dialectical understanding

blurred snapshots

hustling right here on the A train

music

reading

knitting

phoning

cross aisle conversations

musical acrobats

football team funding

pan-handling as an alternative to crime and desperation

Add to this the vague memory of some comments about qi I read back in the 1960’s  in an introduction to the Tao Te Ching.  Elizabeth Reninger, writing currently for About.com (http://taoism.about.com/od/qi/a/Qi.htm) says about qi:

Central to Taoist world-view and practice is qi (chi). Qi is life-force — that which animates the forms of the world. It is the vibratory nature of phenomena — the flow and tremoring that is happening continuously at molecular, atomic and sub-atomic levels. In Japan it is called “ki,” and in India, “prana” or “shakti.” The ancient Egyptians referred to it as “ka,” and the ancient Greeks as “pneuma.” For Native Americans it is the “Great Spirit” and for Christians, the “Holy Spirit.” In Africa it’s known as “ashe” and in Hawaii as “ha” or “mana.”

Reninger doesn’t mention it, but my guess is that the Kabbalists would call it God.  My friends Annie and Mahanta would call it music.

Back in the ’60’s the writer whose name I can’t recall (maybe R.B. Blakeney) described everything–EVERYTHING–as qi and those things we could see or otherwise identify as being temporary concentrations of qi.  Back then I thought I understood that.  What I was understanding on the A train, however, wasn’t really understanding.  It was the most remarkable if unverbalizable feeling.  Let’s take another look at the list:

energy

richness

abundance

fullness

emptiness

potential

Up to this point I was clearly in my left brained intellectual head and caught up in ideas coming from Atkins’ text.  Then along came

dialectical understanding

This one crept in on the wings of a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy training I attended a few weeks back.  A most delicious idea and one extraordinarily relevant to my work and rest-of-life, this, one best publicized by Hegel and Karl Marx, is the idea that two opposites may be synthesized to give rise to a third entity.  “Thesis and antithesis yield synthesis” is the traditional phrasing.  Somehow my mind then shifted to

blurred snapshots

You see, a lot of my favorite snaps of late have been just that: blurred.  Here’s one from Egypt: The Luxor market at night:

Snaps like these speak of energy, motion and color more than of simple shapes in space.   I’ve been making such images for quite a while, but recently I’ve grown particularly fond of them.  Back to the moment.  The list continues with the contents of the ride:

hustling right here on the A train

music

reading

knitting

phoning

cross aisle conversations

musical acrobats

football team funding

pan handling as an alternative to crime and desperation

With the train now above ground and the world rushing by on both sides, the interior of the train became awash with energy.  Sounds, colors, activities, interactions, preoccupations all blended into a sea of qi.  Things once distinct merged into each other on the train just as they would on 6th Avenue and West 46th Street: the smell of roasting pork  merging with the aroma of sweating drummers, the music of a reggae CD stand clashing and yet blending with that accompanying tango dancers on a stage half a block away.  Not harmony.  Yes, harmony!  Not separate.  Yes, separate!  Not to be understood but to be felt!

Back to my favorite word of late: WOW!

WOW!

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Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 6:48 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I saw Marcia Ball at a private party last weekend…….Check out her (and her bands) Energy.(google her).
    Although I am most impressed by the stored and spent energy in my garden…bees,bumblebees and hummingbirds and the promise of next spring already being created in the perennials and trees and shrubs. Whether we are here or not…or is it that it is only here because we say it is……..

    Like

    • I’ve seen her outdoors at a cajun and blues fest in Rhode Island and on a boat in the Hudson
      River. “Live,” “Hot Tamale Baby” and Gatorythms” find their way onto my mp3 player with great regularity. Ms. Ball IS energy!

      Like

  2. So cool…i mean hot! She is more often on your coast. We were so fortunate to have her here for my friends 60th birthday

    Like


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