One of my favourite films is called ‘The Silent Flute’. Based on a script idea originally penned by Bruce Lee is tells the story of Cord (The Seeker) as he works through many trials and challenges on his path towards enlightenment. As a piece of cinema it probably isn’t the greatest film ever made but as a modern day parable it’s a very interesting piece of work. It’s one of those films that will resonate powerfully with certain people but leave others quite cold; a bit like Marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it!
Here’s the ‘Spoiler Alert’! At the end of the movie Cord visits a secret island where he is shown the book within which is supposedly written all the secrets of life, the universe and all that. His search is complete, he has mastered all the tasks he has faced and is about to discover the secret to enlightenment. In anticipation he opens the book only to find that each page contains a mirror reflecting his own image back to him!
There are many nuances of understanding to this imagery (and to the film as a whole, so please do watch it) but one thing is a clear takeaway message; the answer to all life’s mysteries lies within each of us. Turn your attention within and you will discover the true source of everything; including who you really are through a realisation of your true self!
Herein lies the problem though. Either by default or design our world teaches us to look outwards for answers and never inward. Humans are basically lazy and it is a lot easier to take on someone else’s view of how the world is, rather than to really think deeply about things and figure it out for ourselves. That involves real effort and means we might have to change pretty well everything that we have previously taken as ‘truth’! It means taking on board the possibility that the world is not as we have been taught by our parents, or by our teachers at school, or by our religious institutions, or by our politicians and leaders.
This is a hard path to tread. It takes courage and perseverance to follow; you very quickly realise that you are on your own, something of a lone wolf! The majority of people are just not interested in anything that would disturb their view of reality – however shitty that reality is for them! Henry David Thoreau said in Walden, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” So true, yet what an indictment on the world that we live in!
This process of separating people from their true nature seems to be accelerating too. There is a social media meme that sums it up beautifully:
So many Selfies, no knowledge of Self.
As a society we seem to have become obsessed with external images rather than the substance behind that image. The further we move away from connecting with our true nature the more shallow and uncaring we seem to become. In a world that has the ability to feed, clothe and home everyone on this planet we see divisions of wealth that are, quiet frankly, obscene.
Does it have to be like this? Of course not! But it does require that people take on their own personal quest by looking inward and really examining everything they find. A bit like a computer reboot, it may well be necessary to assume that everything you have been told is false and start again.
Some 30 years ago my instructor gave me a card with a short verse on. This was a teaching specifically aimed at me and designed to correct a tendency I had. I thanked him of course and then carried on doing exactly what I had been doing – clearly I wasn’t ready for that particular jump in my thinking just yet. It is only in recent years that the full impact of his words have become internalised and have now become my default thinking (most of the time anyway!). I share these words with you now in the hope that you’re quicker on the uptake than I was and you can find your own answers and understand how we are are all fundamentally connected.
The message Sensei had for me was:
Do not look for in others what you can only find in yourself.