“Yamanakabushi” performed by Jean-Pierre Rampal & Yuzuko Horigome, from the album “Yamanakabushi: Japanese Melodies”, Vol. 3, (1982)
Some thoughts today on “Simplicity”, the quest for which is an uphill battle which never ends in a world that worships the complex and “it’s complicated …” as a rationalization of every form of duplicitous, dishonest and even harmful behavior. The exploitation of “the other” for the benefit of “the self” necessitates an entire Olympiad of gymnastically complex contortions to protect our self image and to deny the reality of our conduct and intentions.
What is one to do in this duplicitous world? To approach in some way true simplicity of spirit we are required to avoid every form of duplicity. We must avoid duplicity of mind by a passionate search for truth. We must love and accept the truth even when the truth requires sacrifice. Sacrifice of beliefs, sacrifice of views, sacrifice of attachments to both creatures and ideas and modes of thought. How successful are we in this pursuit, even when embarked honestly upon it? How passionately do we desire peace?
Sacrifice also must be embraced when truth reveals our defects, and errors, and wounds our egos ,and harms our self love, revealing things, actions, and beliefs which do not redound to our credit, which even may detract from our self image and our public image. We are so wedded to ourselves and our narcissistic self image that even in prayer we often fall into delusional reveries about why we are “not bad people”. But is there peace in being “not bad people”?
To find peace, we must embrace the most candid, honest, sincerity, fleeing vigorously from every falsehood with the same intensity of passion with which we search for truth. This is not easy in our modern world where the entire focus of existence is deception and self aggrandizement. Our fear and avoidance of simplicity is perhaps the hallmark of our age, the leitmotif of our society and our culture.
But, duplicity poisons peace, and gives rise to our multiplicity of fears all stemming from our total lack of simplicity, the complex monkey on all our backs. William Shakespeare nailed it in Hamlet’s soliloquy:
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
that Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,
for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
must give us pause. There’s the respect
that makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
the Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely, [F: poor]
the pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay, [F: disprized]
the insolence of Office, and the spurns
that patient merit of the unworthy takes,
when he himself might his Quietus make
with a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear,
to grunt and sweat under a weary life,
but that the dread of something after death,
the undiscovered country, from whose bourn
no traveller returns, puzzles the will,
and makes us rather bear those ills we have,
than fly to others that we know not of.
(“Quietus” is an old English term for Death or suicide – could we call our Canadian Euthanasia bill the Quietus bill? It will certainly “quiet us”. a “Bodkin” is a “blade” and”Fardels” are “troubles”)
Truth and true peace is to be found in sincere simplicity of spirit … in that simplicity no fears can arise to plague us … rejecting the complexity of our will and all the fears thereof, and embracing the simplicity of God’s will, the sincere pursuit of only good, not “our good”, but “Good”.