Tag Archives: John McLaughlin

February session report

Thank you to all who attended Wednesday’s session, and helped to make it such an interesting discussion. We didn’t read very much of the book, but we did talk a lot about different, interesting subjects.

I think the Pyrenees Mountains were mentioned in the part that we read.  Here is a photo sent to me by an old acquaintance who lives in France. This photo is the view from their garden. (Click on the photo to see a larger version.) Pyrenees Mountains

We discussed the episode in the book where the young pilot makes his first trip. His day begins with a ride in a bus to the airport. Everyone on the bus is sleepy or asleep, and many of them are on their way to sleepy, bureaucratic jobs.  We talked about what St Exupery might have intended by this episode: does “asleep” have more than one meaning?

The movie I mentioned, starring Keanu Reeves is Point Break (called ハート・ブルー in Japanese). Patrick Swayze plays the charismatic leader of the gang of bank robbers. (See the trailer here).

We discussed the association of light with knowledge.  People who have achieved a profound understanding of human nature and life are said to be “enlightened”. I mentioned Jesus being referred to as the “light of the world”. 

John 1:4 – “In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. ”

John 9:5 – “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

John 12:46 – “I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness”.

Here is a famous painting, which hangs in the college I attended: William Holman Hunt, The Light of the World, 1851-53. Oil on canvas over panel. 49 3/8 x 23 1/2 in. Keble College, Oxford. Notice that Jesus in the picture is knocking on a door, as if to say,”Are you awake in there, or asleep?” Wikipedia tells us,

"Light of the World", by Holman Hunt.

The Light of the World (1853–54) is an allegorical painting by William Holman Hunt representing the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me”. … The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing “the obstinately shut mind”. Hunt, 50 years after painting it, felt he had to explain the symbolism. The original, painted at night in a makeshift hut at Worcester Park Farm in Surrey, is now in a side room off the large chapel at Keble College, Oxford.  Toward the end of his life, Hunt painted a life-size version, which was hung in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, after a world tour where the picture drew large crowds.This painting inspired much popular devotion in the late Victorian period and inspired several musical works, including Arthur Sullivan’s 1873 oratorio The Light of the World.

We also discussed “satori” and I learned that the Chinese character for this word is made up of two parts: heart and to know. I found that very interesting. Wikipedia tells me,

 Satori is sometimes loosely used interchangeably with kensho, but kensho refers to the first perception of the Buddha-Nature or True-Nature, sometimes referred to as “awakening.” Distinct from kensho, which is not a permanent realization but a clear glimpse of the true nature of existence, satori is used to refer to a “deep” or lasting realization of the nature of existence.
In India, there is the word “guru“, which also has an interesting connection with light and darkness: Wikipedia tells me,
Guru is composed of the syllables gu and ru, the former signifying ‘darkness’, and the latter signifying ‘the destroyer of that [darkness]’, hence a guru is one characterized as someone who dispels spiritual ignorance (darkness), with spiritual illumination (light).
When I was a student, I often listened to the music of a remarkable guitarist called John McLaughlin. McLaughlin became the student of a guru called Sri Chinmoy and his music was influenced by Indian poetry and music. One of McLaughlin’s pieces used the words from some ancient Hindu philosophical texts called the Upanishads. The words are,
“Lead me from the asat to the sat (in the McLaughlin song, the words were “from the unreal to the real”)
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
Om Peace Peace Peace.” ( Brhadaranyaka Upanishad — I.iii.28)

I leave you with a video of John McLaughlin and his acoustic band “Shakti” playing “La Danse Du Bonheur”, where he mixes traditional Indian music with modern Jazz. Here (sorry, WordPress won’t let me embed the video for some reason).