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Time & Torture: Connecting to the Divine through Art part 2

There is a quote by Manly P Hall that perpetually echoes within my psyche, and that is, “No man ever graduates from the school of life. He is a student to the end, and in his last breath, he may still learn.” This quote moved me when I needed a little more guidance in my studies, and how to think of my time and the transactions I make. This was the moment that I realized that time, is a phenomenon as well as a currency that is scarce and there are no refunds. Every day, hour, minute, second, it is perpetually fleeting. Tick, tock, tick, tock. This is what I torture my existence with. This mental crucifixion, however, has had a positive element embedded and if taken to consideration can be very optimistic. Just like all things. Darkness, by itself is absolute nothingness, but up until you introduce a contrasting force can we actually identify and are able to quantify its quality. We can make an observation, now that Nothingness is Darkness when we add a bit of light. And vice versa, Light is also a kind of nothingness in, in of itself. Think of being in a white room. completely devoid of any shadow. Nothing to distinguish itself and the environment. No floor, ceiling, and it feels like there are no walls to help you make out its depths. Nothing. It would be like floating in a white space. And how would you know its white or light? Or how you know it was darkness. Without its contrast it is just complete nothingness. It is not when we introduce that contrasting polar force when we can make our observation and bestow qualities and differentiate between this so-called nothingness and give life to it.


“In his last breath, he may still learn.”


Soon after I made my observation of time, the resource that belongs to all, but can be carelessly throw away, generated a set of questions; Was I existing during this time before I made this observation, or was I like the nothingness? I think back and take this question serious. Was there life in those years? Analogous to the question and riddle, “If a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, did a make a sound?”. I was so afraid that I have been throwing away a currency that was so precious. The currency that you exchange, and God gave you only a limited number of tokens to play this game of life and each arcade is a different experience and opportunity to hone a part of yourself. That is one way of thinking about it. I began to travel into my adult memories and ask myself if the transactions I engaged in were something positive and a transaction that was refortifying the individual I would like to become. Then, came the question, what individual did I want to become? “God these questions!”


“In his last breath, he may still learn.”


I’ve always had this fascination with the renaissance period, and the beauty that has ascended from that past. Everything that has been constructed and created, was done with perfection or close to perfection. There was an artisan taking every craft to its highest potential. And we build institutions to protect the works that have been created by the individuals that have taken that spirit of potential and created something beautiful worth protecting at all costs. This must be the reason why I enjoy learning about Japanese culture and feel that I resonate so well with it. There is a word for this in Japanese, Kodawari, and that is, everything is done with the out most care, quality and attention to detail. It’s a philosophy that is so embedded in Japanese culture and it shows. It is practiced in everyday life. The pursuit for perfection. This fascination for the pursuit of perfection has been a powerful force that constantly possess me. The idea of kodawari, respect for all things, and laboring for the perfection and refinement of all things. This is the individual I wanted to become however, when I place myself around the things that seem to be so perfect, I cannot help but feel as if my being is going through natures judgement. Am I worthy? While a part of me simultaneous and strangely enough, hoping for me to have error in my constitution. I realized a little more recently in my years, “Life would not be worthwhile if it not for our imperfections and our fragilities.” This is a powerful thought as well when we take this thought and bestow them onto the less fortunate and children in the world who suffer. This is not a justification for suffering or defending Gods reasons for why he brings some to thrive and others to be at the bottom being tortured by disease and misfortune. Rather, a perspective that has aided in my pain when I have thought of such things. Removing the errors and vulnerabilities, for example; like a child, is removing the reason why you love that child in the first place. You absolutely cannot Love without the fragility.


“In his last breath, he may still learn.”


Perfection is something I strive for, but imperfection I have realized is the life-giving force. There is no room for growth in mastery(not to say that we aren’t proficient or a professional) and removing error is removing the journey of life and the beauty of discovering the meaning in all things. Is this why, I always had this strange proclivity towards the death phenomenon. The darker aspects of life, walking side by side with my shadow. These aspects I always felt the need to adorn my character and persona—a kind of strange piety for the negative aspects of life or the “yin” principal of the universe. That is conceivably why, there is no breath in perfection. Things in the state of perfection cannot grow due to its conclusion. And only a God can be in a state of perfection, but God is in man and man is in God. If God is Absolute, and man is nothing but limitation, what does a being that is Omnipotence, Omnificence/Omnificent, Omnipresence and Omniscience lack? Limitation. So therefore, God cannot be complete without man and man cannot be complete without God. So, our conclusion, striving for perfection in man is a journey that will never end and will only reach its conclusion when the last breath is taken. God created us with our limitations however we do not know the limits or where those margins are placed. The goal of life is not to be perfect or to strive for it—seeing only that God is perfect and he created us with limitation—but rather we create in our labors the very thing that reflects perfection. That is to say; when you try in any endeavor, you do it with kodawari. You are searching for and rescuing God in all things. Know that life is a gift, and that gift is the journey of finding your meaning no matter what you aim for. Young or old, and every second, minute, hour, day, month, & year, we have the capacity to learn and discover the divine in all things. And with Manly Halls words in mind…

“In his last breath, he may still learn.”

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