|Dr. Robert Puff|
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#1443 - Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - Editor: Jerry
Your Hooves Together for the Horses
By John Freedman
Vladimir Lupovskoi / For MT
Zingaro equestrian theater's "Loungta," or "Wind
features a cast of two dozen horses, 11 riders and several
Tibetan monks and can now be seen in Kolomenskoye Park.
cannot argue with Bartabas. You can take his Zingaro
equestrian theater or you can leave it, as you can his newest
production, "Loungta," the world premiere of which took place
a week ago here in Moscow. But Bartabas exists entirely
outside of what anyone thinks about him and his performances.
His vision is utterly unique; his convictions are unassailably
sincere; his execution of his objectives is remarkably
anyone can solve the ancient riddle about whether a tree
falling in the forest makes a sound if no one hears it, it
would have to be Bartabas. He certainly would say yes, the
sound of the toppled tree is self-sufficient. This seems to be
a notion inferred in all of his work, that everything has
meaning and absolute value, no matter how small, no matter how
subtle, no matter how insignificant. Every action, every being
and every collision that may come about among them is a
universe unto itself.
works with horses and people, about two dozen of the
former and 11 of the latter. He employs music, dance and
clownery. In Moscow, once again as a participant in the
International Chekhov Theater Festival, he performs under a
large tent located near the edge of the Moscow River in
Kolomenskoye Park. Inside the tent is a small circle of red
clay dirt surrounded by a ring of black sand. Hanging over
this space is a mobile, collapsible and invertible canopy
which, depending upon the lighting, may be transparent, opaque
or may become a movie screen.
or "Wind Horses," is a highly abstract work with
only a distant echo of dramatic plot to it. It is more
properly a meditative piece driven by Tibetan music that seeks
to find a space and a rhythm of inquiry and, when it does, to
hold onto it long enough to allow it to sink into our
consciousness. This is where I cannot help but take issue with this
production, no matter how futile that may be and how tiresome
I may sound. Singing and performing on traditional Tibetan
instruments in special boxes set among the spectators are two
groups of Tibetan monks. Before the performance begins, an
announcement is made that since the music being performed is
sacred, no applause is allowed until the show has reached
completion. Frequently, throughout the course of the evening,
ripples of applause begin to build at the end of a segment,
followed by a quiet chorus of others hushing the clappers.
emerged from religion and ritual and the pull to take
it back remains strong even thousands of years later. There
are things, however, that are beyond the powers of men, even
artists and poets. Art can induce us to have religious
experiences and religion can become a profound aesthetic
experience, but the two cannot become one again. Moreover,
there is a fundamental flaw in using pretty pictures and
clever marketing to entice spectators to purchase tickets to a
theatrical performance and then inform them after the fact
that they have come to be present at a genuine sacred event.
genuinely sacred can this really be? The Buddhist
costumes, masks, dance movements and music are
deeply and richly imbued with meaning for those who believe.
These are aspects of the language of interaction with the
Buddha and the Bodhisattvas which can be no more than
attractive trinkets and impenetrable gestures to those of us
who remain ignorant of the Buddhist system of symbols. In
short, my presence at this holy rite is an intrusion and a
profanation. Meanwhile, the theater that brought the monks and
me together under the pretense of watching a theatrical
performance has deceived us all.
right, someone is saying, get off your high horse and tell
us about the show. After all, theater -- with or without
horses and monks -- is the art of deception.
is an often gorgeous, painterly production in which
horse and human become symbiotic parts of suggestive, moving
sculptures. It has short, bright snippets of humor and long,
unbroken stretches of monotonous repetition. Perhaps one of
the themes -- and there may be dozens, if not hundreds -- is
the difficulty we have in knowing the world we inhabit. When
we watch Bartabas himself sitting motionless astride his steed
which he keeps moving in tiny, seemingly unnatural steps back
and forth and to the sides, we are witness to a human and a
horse seeking a point of understanding. The horse, knowing
what it can and cannot do, is willing to let the rider
experiment as he tests the limits of the horse's nature.
-- human nature, animal nature and nature in general --
is the real field on which this performance occurs. There are
so-called "horse tricks" -- riders making their horses buck or
groups of riders standing in pyramid form on top of three
horses racing ahead in unison -- but Zingaro is neither a
circus nor a horse show, for Bartabas is intent upon exploring
a philosophy, not entertaining the public.
the most beautiful scenes brings together a rider in a
white costume and white headdress on a white horse which
interacts with about 30 white geese as they move slowly back
and forth on the red and black clay. The contrast of the slow,
powerful and stately horse moving among and leading forward
the cackling, waddling geese is often funny, eliciting a good
deal of laughter in the hall, although an attempt or two at
applause remains muffled. As the scene develops methodically,
thoughts of a god moving among mortals arise. We see the geese
involuntarily separate into the strong and weak, the followers
and leaders, those who are obedient and those who rebel. All
of them, however, are dependent upon that rider and horse who
push them back and entice them on.
scenes of riderless horses moving in circles, going
with the flow, breaking up into opposing packs or isolating
outcasts who prefer to run against the grain become powerful
metaphors for experiences every spectator knows.
is not as accessible as "Triptych," the show
Bartabas brought to Kolomenskoye Park and the Theater Olympics
two years ago. But the skill of his riders and the tangible
spirituality of his horses remain as moving as ever.
Bartabas' questionable decision to mix art and
religion, I am of two minds. In fact, I heartily support the
spectator who sat directly in front of me last Saturday. He
sat for the entire performance with his fingers stuck in his
ears to ward off the droning wails of the Tibetan religious
music and then applauded as enthusiastically as anyone when it
all came to an end.
final warning: The performances last weekend were getting
underway almost a full hour late. If this continues in the
future, you should not expect to get away from Kolomenskoye
much before 11 p.m.
(Wind Horses, Koni Vetra), a production of the
Zingaro equestrian theater, continues through June 12 at 8
p.m. shows (except Mon., Thurs. and June 9) in Kolomenskoye
Park, located southeast of the Prospekt Andropova and
Nagatinskaya Ulitsa intersection. Metro Kolomenskaya.
International Chekhov Theater Festival information: 229-3785.
Running time, 1 hour, 45 minutes.
If a man humbles himself, God cannot
withhold his own goodness but must come down and flow into the
humble man, and to him who is least of all he gives himself the
most of all, and he gives himself to him completely. What God
gives is his being, and his being is his goodness, and his
goodness is his love.
Meister Eckhart, Sermon 22
Pride asserts, humility testifies.
The proud want to seem what they are not.
The one who gives testimony does not want to appear what he is
not, but to love what, in the full sense, is.
Augustine, Explaining the Psalms
The church is not made up of spiritual
giants; only broken men can lead others to the cross.
David J. Bosch, A Spirituality of the Road
It is often (always?) our mistakes that
get us going on the spiritual journey. Error is turned into
Alan Jones, The Soul's Journey
Christians do not need to be perfect,
before they can find in one another an acceptance and an approval
which is that of the truth itself; or rather, let us say, the
truth himself, Jesus Christ.
Austin Farrer, A Celebration of Faith
One of the elders was asked what was
humility, and he said: If you forgive a brother who has injured
you before he himself asks pardon.
The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings of the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century, translated by Thomas Merton
There are no such things as mistakes on
this [spiritual] journey, just learning opportunities. You won't
always get it right, even supposing that you think you know what
"right" is. But we are dealing with a loving and
forgiving God, and the best way of learning is through making
"mistakes." So take the journey seriously, but not too
Henry Morgan, A Time to Reflect
Humility is facing the truth. It is useful
to remind myself that the word itself comes from humus, earth,
and in the end simply means that I allow myself to be earthed in
the truth that lets God be God, and myself his creature. If I
hold on to this it helps prevent me from putting myself at the
center, and instead allows me to put God and other people at the
Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction: Reflections on The Rule of St. Benedict
What is humility? It is that habitual
quality whereby we live in the truth of things: the truth that we
are creatures and not the Creator; the truth that our life is a
composite of good and evil, light and darkness; the truth that in
our littleness we have been given extravagant dignity. . . .
Humility is saying a radical "yes" to the human
Robert F. Morneau, Humility: 31 Reflections on Christian Virtue
There is a beauty of soul in a humble
person who has no other obvious talent than the humility to stand
in awe of the gifts God has given to others.
Joseph F. Girzone, Joshua
Humility makes us perfect toward God, and
gentleness [makes us perfect] toward our neighbor.
Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
It is a great burden to live among others
who think that you have arrived.
Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction
Confession is nothing but humility in
Mother Teresa, No Greater Love
Copyright © 2003 Christianity Today. June 2003, Vol. 47, No. 6, Page 49
Sadguru Sri Nannagaru
Destiny is confined only to the body, and has nothing to do with the Self. Identification with the body results in grief. Men are conferred the liberty not to identify with the body. By practice the identity within the body can be overcome. The body drops after the exhaustion of destiny. Dont give scope for vain thoughts, useless deeds and unnecessary desires. Utilize the freedom conferred by God. Restrain vain thoughts, and abide in Self. Then, new tendencies will not be generated, and you will be extricated from all sorts of bondage. If identification with the body is not overcome, grief results unless the latent tendencies are dropped away, the state of happiness cannot be enjoyed. For one who abides in the Self, there is nothing like destiny.
Hoang Ngo | The Tao
By Hoang Ngo
May 28, 2003 - The clock blinks 2:16 a.m.
I cant sleep. Outside, the road stretches its arms wide open, inviting me for a midnight drive through the town under the starlight. Ever since Thomas Edisons invention of the light bulb, people really have forgotten how beautiful the stars are. But I dont have a destination in mind. Life is pretty lonely when one doesnt have a destination no one to call, no one to run to.
The clock blinks 3:20.
I am still wide-awake, staring at the crack in the ceiling. Will the crack, through its sporadic movements, reach the other end of the ceiling? I dont know, but at least it has a destination.
I go through my e-mail inbox, searching for an answer. I dont think horoscopes of the day, penis enlargement pills or credit card applications will help me.
The computer stares at me. When will you shut me down? Havent you figured it out yet? I hold no truth, it says. You will never find the center in me.
I suddenly remember what my father once told me: I cant offer you any destination or road map, even though I know thats what you are looking for. I can only advise you to simplify your feelings and needs both materialistic and spiritual.
I laugh and write myself an e-mail for tomorrow: You should stop finding someone to orbit around. Find your own gravity!
I open up my old and dusty diaries.
you have appeared in my dream
My bed has become a stranger.
I wake up in the middle of the night
to find myself drifting back from strange faces
to then confide in the night your devious smile.
But the silence is so thick,
it stiffens my tongue to whisper the thought
of a fairy tale,
of a happy thought
that you will hold my hand
and stay in this contradiction that the night presumes.
Dated Mar. 22, 2002.
Has it been that long since I have written a poem? Has it been that long since the last time I have felt so lonely like tonight?
I know the definition of the word warmth. But when was the last time I actually felt warmth from the touch of another person?
Have I lived that long, to be so jaded that I now only know what feelings mean, not what they are? I might as well be a tree.
I run around my apartment looking for my photo album my mom made one each for my brother and me since we were born.
I start flipping through the photo album.
An array of memories: here I am naked, clothed, walking, coloring, graduating from elementary school, growing up.
My mothers hair seems to be thinner as I continue to flip through the photo album.
She probably laughs at me. You are only 22. Dont be so sad! Any ending is a new beginning for something better. I know its hard for you since you have too many choices these days. But having a lot of choices is a good thing, right?
I reach the end of my photo album a blank page.
I suddenly remember a quote from the movie Chungking Express. If memories could be canned, would they also have expiry dates? If so, I hope they last for centuries.
Is this why I write, to preserve these moments without additives?
I step outside and light a cigarette, drawing my dreams with the smoke. I wish I could draw my ex-girlfriends face or the faces she used to make when I smoked to have some sort of company with me for tonight, but its been so long.
I start walking around my apartment complex, listening to the heartbeats of lovers and loners they all beat the same. And somewhere in the distance, a heart has skipped a beat.
I sit on the pavement and finish my cigarette, then toss it on the pavement. I hope no one has the fate of a cigarette butt used and abandoned.
I walk back to my apartment and leave the night behind.
The clock blinks 4:05.
I want to lie down and wait for others to come and lie next to me.
the Owner's Manual of the Isuzu Zen car:
adjust your windshield wipers
until the speed of the rain
is just right
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|Dr. Robert Puff|