Friday, February 04, 2005

Umaganda

TOUGH it is on the eyes to even try a glaring match with the sun— but it’s the strange way not-so-in-synch with this world with which a world-famous chap caps his serene celebration of each morning.

He never fails at such a celebration. He does it religiously whether it’s a balmy, stormy, tsunami or any simply rotten day.

He starts it at five o’clock. It’s rise and shine plus ablutions with lukewarm tap water on a basin. Oh, his toothbrush is of pig bristles. It’s quite sturdy. He daubs it with salt, yes, plain old table salt, probably sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. He does a brisk brushing on his—uh-oh-- dentures that got a full night’s dip sleep in a glassful of water.

He’s dentally deranged, so what? The teeth are hard, they fall away. The tongue’s soft, it stays and gets to explore a lot of finger-lickin’ warm wetness, ehek, goodness.

Ablutions accomplished, he heads to a chapel of sorts—actually a shrine to the gods where he does his quiet time. The pathway to the shrine—set smack in a garden-- has been swept clean to symbolically clear away any whit of bad luck or stray malignant spirits. He spends an hour or two at such consecrated ground in prayer.

Did we read that right: an hour or two in prayer? Why?

Why not?

Remember the film take-off from Philip Kindred Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep-- the 1982 Ridley Scott opus Blade Runner? Six man-made replicants went through Herculean toil and trouble of staging a mutiny at the edge of the galaxy, then, hopping from there in a stolen space craft back to earth to seek an audience with their Maker—why, one of them got instantly fried in a security barrier leaving five to seek out the Presence.

Or take the classic work by Mary Shelly, Frankenstein: creature does the whole gamut of mayhem and murder in earnest bid for an audience with his creator.

Creature prays for an audience with Creator. It cost Philip K. Dick’s replicants their lives. It costs Shelly’s creature a similar steep price.

Now, an hour or two of supplication and pleading upon a garden’s consecrated ground ought to allow the supplicant to see visions of God’s fire in every bush and in any clump of plant growth.

Paint a picture of pain. He’s on his knees, head in a deep bow—he ain’t a Roman Catholic who starts out mornings roiling out the neighborhood with a sonic blast off his noise box, or cackles like chickens led to the slaughter with a gaggle of similarly doomed fowls.

Look, the guy’s not even a lousy Christian who conveniently skips or throws out the window such niceties of a daily chit-chat with, well, the Creator.

This guy’s into Shinto—literally, the “way of the gods.” Aside from that daily attempt at one-on-one with his gods, he offers fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish— why, the progenitor of urban planning and murder, someone called Cain made the same offerings eons back in time.

The Shinto offering variation: it’s done with a heavy paddle-like instrument called shaku. He would perform gracefully lethal movements with this shaku as if it were a tsurugi (a sword of the gods as Shinto lore would have it). Umm, there’s some brisk kinesiology there— so typical of a Cain bashing his brother’s head with, hey, was it the jawbone of an ass or did he do prefrontal lobotomy with a slab of rock?

To cap the prayer session, he stands erect holding his shaku, stare directly at the sun—and offer some more prayers to the sun god called Amaterazu O Kami. That takes some more time and he hasn’t had a bite of breakfast yet!

Oh, I owe this guy a debt of attitude, er, gratitude. So I pay tribute. I cribbed his version of yama arashi—a throwing cum neck-breaking technique. It means “mountain storm” that resembles an instant avalanche. I should say I owe life and limb a couple of times to such a tack of his.

That prayerful guy’s O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, progenitor of aikido—the path of peace.

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