Govinda adored Siddhartha, son of a Brahmin/Terrier mix, his childhood buddy. He loved Siddhartha’s dark fuzzy eyes. They hung out together and were inseparable. They chanted oooOM whenever a siren went by. Both were into metaphysical readings and participated in a local philosophy group.
While immersed in intellectual pursuit, Siddhartha seemed troubled by restless thoughts...that his unhappy consciousness is a result of his worldly incarnation?
One evening, Govinda could not sleep, he looked out the window and saw Siddhartha was meditating under the pinion trees.
|Hermitage at The Earth-Ship|
What synchronicity! They both knew it was time to join the Samana pack and wander into the high desert. They bid farewell to their parents and gave their possessions to the "Bark'n Boutique", a store ran by the Espanola Animal shelter. They ate only once a day, all organic, with occasional treats offered by strangers.
In order to practice renunciation, they left behind the city lights, the land of Enchantment...
and parted with their favorite playmate, Indra, who loved to party at the Dog Park.
In winter, as they trotted through the deep snow, the only book they kept was "The Narrow Road to the Interior", a diary of Basho's spiritual journey.
The sun and moon had always shone, the rivers had always flowed.
The world of phenomenon was only a fleeting dream. A life of renunciation was not too difficult for them. Govinda and Siddhartha had gotten used to a life of wandering.
But what was this strange uncertainty he felt inside? Siddhartha pondered. What if his stoic practice, the control of sensory pleasure was because of his soul was in love with its own purity, like the life of the medieval monks as Hegel described?
However, at times, his alienated soul experienced its own unhappy consciousness, yearned to be with the remote others.
Until...one day when he met the beautiful courtesan-Kamala.
Siddhartha felt his blood kindled. Ah, what strange fervor burned in his heart!
He visited Kamala regularly, made his offering to her:
"I can think and I can sit. O yes, I can also compose poetry, in exchange for your kisses."
Kamala was quite fond of the handsome and intelligent Samana, her heart fluttered. she smiled and said: "My nose is keen and my lips are fleshy, and will fit yours even though you came from the jackals."
Meanwhile, Govinda had decided to follow Gotama, the Illustrious One, and he was soon ordained as a monk.
"Meditate, O monk, and be not heedless! Set not thy heart on the pleasure of senses". The core teaching recorded in the Dhammapada Sutra, concerns mainly with one's ethical conduct. Govinda faithfully adhered to such practice because living a virtuous life is highly regarded by both Socrates and Buddha. For years, he cultivated the Buddhist Dogtrine and the path to Buddyhood.
In solitude, Govinda often remembered how Siddhartha could sit for hours watching the storm clouds swirled over the mountains. Could that be a sign of his intense interest in ontological contemplation?
He also remembered Siddhartha’s ears would twitch while immersed in the difficult reading of Hegel’s "Phenomenology of the Spirit" and his theory of the Picture Gallery.
According to Siddhartha’s interpretation, the picture gallery alludes to different shapes of consciousness. As one shape of consciousness dies, it gives birth to a higher shape, thus leads to a higher knowing.
Like a beautiful soul, Govinda lived in pure inwardness, a realm beyond time and history. But he was also interested in political liberation since Hegel did lecture about the purpose of history was to develop the idea of freedom.
While Govinda recited the Heart Sutra daily, he continued his enquiry, how does one find reconciliation if the self is both the world and one's self and yet each seems alien to the other? And how does the beautiful soul finds its true belonging, "the I that is We?” ?
Govinda found himself occupied with the discussions he had with Siddhartha long ago, in particular, Hegel’s idea of the Geist or the spirit, which permeates in all stages of consciousness, all the way to the final self realization. Although for Siddhartha, it was more fun to climb up Hegel's ladder to the Absolute than just sit.
Govinda admired Siddhartha's ability to integrate his artistic interest and intellectual pursuit and yet able to follow the trail of earthly passion in his quest for self knowledge.
|Siddhartha, an accomplished artist|
Govinda thus wrote a poem:
You are born with two souls
Entwined to each other
Within the Promethean sun
Burns the stoic moon
Savaged for love
Doomed to betray
Although Siddhartha was sincerely learning from Kamala the art of love, but he had grown tired and often felt empty after a night of passion. In his mind, Siddhartha was searching for the meaning of true liberation. He had no problem of relating to Sartre's existential concept of Nothingness, since it connects to the notion of the void and impermanence. But Siddhartha also found purpose in the Buddysattva path by reading professor Peter Singer's "Animal Liberation", to bring true justice and equality to all sentient beings.
While Siddhartha was making his own ontological synthesis, he thought that it was never made clear to him how ignorance could have originated from one's Buddha nature? And how could a pure consciousness posited something apart from itself such as the Ego, the cause of suffering? In other words, why would an all encompassing and self-realized oneness constitutes a separate reality that confronts itself?
Nevertheless, the dogtrine of the Four Noble Truths regarding the existential conditions of all living beings, for Siddhartha, was unquestionable.
Years went by, Siddhartha had lived a life as a painter, a devoted lover and a wealthy merchant, but in his heart, he had always been a Samana. He missed his long separated friend, Govinda. In dark nights, Siddhartha called out to his dear beloved...
Although Govinda had become a monk, he also yearned for Siddhartha's company as they were born to be companeda.
Even they have lost touch for many years, they never stopped thinking of each other. Govinda poured his feelings for Siddhartha into poetry:
The moon has already risen
The wind slowly dies down
A calm river is singing by my feet
I can almost hear a canto flowing from his quiet lips
Eventually, Siddhartha, no longer a youth, found his mentor, a ferryman named Vasudeva, who taught him to listen to the many voices of the river, the voice of life and becoming.
Siddhartha himself had also become a ferryman and grew wiser as months turned into years. He took people daily across the river, but he himself no longer travelled.
He had learned that there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom; for knowledge is one-sided but the multiplicity of wisdom, like the river, is time itself. It ever changes into thousand folds of meanings; for everything is in a state of becoming . The river that brought Siddhartha wisdom was the same river he had once wished to drawn himself.
|Vasudeva, the ferryman and Siddhartha's mentor|
It was here, by the river, Siddhartha finally reunited with Govinda, though for a moment, Govinda could not recognize that the old ferryman, who took him across the river, was Siddhartha. Indeed, they both have aged and their hair already grew grey.
Govinda was invited to stay in Vasudea's hut with Siddhartha. As buddies again, their dreams were as serene as the snowy river.
Sitting by the swelling river, Siddhartha came to the realization that all sucklings have death within them, and yet everything was necessary including his life with the beautiful courtesan and the meeting with Vasudeva. It is perfect in every moment. The world of Samsara, with desires, sorrow, despair and abandonment, is the Picture Gallery. It is the bearer of the Absolute. Ah, Hegel was right! Siddhartha said to himself. He felt a great serenity from accepting everything as is. What manifests in the phenomenal world is actually the full expression of the Geist.
Gazing into Siddhartha’s calm but still fuzzy eyes, Govinda thought, what saintly and gentle face! It reminded him the face of Gotama. Govinda's eyes were full of tears; he felt a great love inside.
At last, they both came to the same understanding that
pure reason is pure feelings.
The transcendent inwardness and the socially engaged Buddyism are integral for a beautiful soul.
The river flows gently, ever changing and reflecting,
Like the great mirror of wisdom.
There is neither bondage nor liberation.
The seeker has come to the end of its searching.
This is home coming, Hegel's great synthesis.
There was neither Siddhartha, nor Govinda, as both had vanished into the realm of wooOM.
The story is a parody based on "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse and Hegel's opus magnum "The Phenomenology of the Spirit".
Text and the Picture Gallery by Mira Fong
January 1, 2007