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In Spirit: Reverence

Here I am, back in Brazil, like a wave that brings me incessantly back to South America, I discover new horizons and I dive into this culture more and more fascinating. In the not too distant future, I will write about the Orixas of Brazil and the old wisdom of the Chilean Mapuches. In the meantime, this month is an open letter that I propose, which glides over meetings and discussions.

Close to nature, life seems different. Living in the rhythm of daylight, read the winds, look at the plants that surround us and sometimes cultivate them, or simply enjoy the open windows that let in the air from outside. Nature brings a kind of inevitable humility that it teaches us. If you want to grow something, you need patience. A plant does not ripen to order. It is listening that teaches us how to deal with it. And if this is true for plants, it is also true for human beings as well.

“In nature, there is life and death, and nature is full of joy, in human society, there is life and death and people live in sadness”. [The revolution of a single strand of straw, Masanobu Fukuoka]

We are sitting on a rock observing the sea. She says to me: “When you go back into the sea, you have to do it conscientiously. There are different surf styles, some are more nervous in their game, while others are softer. Sometimes when I look at a surfer, I have the impression that he is agressing the wave, he does not listen to it. I prefer those who slip with it because if you listen to it, it tells you where to go and how to place yourself. As soon as you move your body slightly, it answers. ” I share that in photography I feel the same thing, there are those who ‘take’ pictures without being aware that it is an exchange. When we photograph beautiful landscapes or beautiful bodies, very quickly snapped up by the exotic we already said that it will do a lot of “likes” on Instagram or Facebook. We forget that a photo is never ‘taken’, it must not be stolen, it is offered to us. And for that, you have to offer something in exchange. What we offer is our gaze, our listening, this understanding that we are not separated from things, but deeply participate in an organic movement with our environment, whatever the practice or activity to which we indulge.

“Cultivating as simply as possible in the natural environment, and cooperating with it rather than the modern approach increasingly applying ever more complex techniques to completely redo nature for the benefit of human beings”. [The revolution of a single strand of straw, Masanobu Fukuoka]

We talk about the body and the being, the observation of things and the sensitive world. During these days together, we read texts of the mystics and discuss these subjects that plunge into the heart of questioning the being. With passion, surrounded by long moments of silence, we exchange on this presentiment.

The deep question, the only question actually, to investigate, is how I function. It is not so much a question of what one does, but especially of how one does it. How do I reveal myself in my relationship with the activity that presents itself to me? Am I trying to win something, reassure myself, use it to my end? Or is there a deep joy that I feel where the purpose is ultimately the exploration itself, in which the stake is eliminated and then the connection with my environment becomes evident through listening. Behind the surf, the photography, behind the music or the yoga, it is the being which springs, like a brilliant mirror which highlights my operation. Activity is an excuse to reveal ourselves.

Too often we arrive on conquered grounds. It is not a fault, it is only by extreme habit and conditioning until we are told or strongly sensed that another possibility exists. That’s something to explore. The conquered land is the nature that surrounds me, it is also the people who are in my life. The photographer takes the photos, the yoga practitioner attacks the ground, the musician abuses the silence. We must see how much we should not go towards the thing voluntarily, but instead let it come to us, live and resonate in the body, to give us the direction of the action. We then discover an action that does not come from compensation, but from the listening: the photographer accompanies the space and the body that he photographs, the musician leaves the silence and brings back his audience to it, the yoga practitioner celebrates the emptiness. Voluntarism creates a contraction in the body and the environment is approached with demand and aggressiveness. Everything is prehension. There is the fear of losing that is gigantic that causes the need for security. On the contrary, listening brings back to what is alive, to the dilation of the body and the being, echo of its deep nature.

This questioning is a path that can be approached as a form of training if we can say: learning to walk the path of the being is to be tamed like the practice of surfing or that of yoga, that of martial arts or painting. We have to learn to learn. We have to learn to explore. We must learn to navigate the unknown, to walk for no other purpose than to see what is unfolding in the moment.

Faced with nature, there is this evidence that we are so small. The day the human being will have destroyed his species, nature will take back its rights. It is a powerful and resilient force. Walk in the mountains, climb there to realize the smallness of your existence. Greatness is not in us, it is in the fact that it has given us the right to see it, to be witnesses of it. God is hiding behind every corner. We are the witnesses. In front of so much beauty, so much evidence where all the plans merge into one, in front of this presentiment already so immense that it is given to me to feel, I draw my bow. There is no room for any more requests.

Photo: Mariette Raina [Garopaba and its region, digital and analog photography].
Reading: The One-Straw Revolution, by Masanobu Fukuoka

I thank Greta especially for sharing her universe.

Mariette has a master degree in anthropology from the University of Montreal. She teaches a yoga that echoes the philosophy of non-dual tantric Shaivism from Kasmir. She is regularly travelling to India to follow up her research on esoteric traditions from the Tantras. Mariette is also a visual artist, using photography as field notes and cultural exploration.

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  1. The prose seems like a poetry, beautiful work.

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