I would like to live that way.
In the graceful way
Of a wild animal.
Attentive, on the watch,
Present — Always.
Present in an absolute way.
Which means wholly present.
Not in a sneaky way.
But elegantly, naturally.
In a princely way.
This is what presence is about.
And I want to be wholly myself.
To eat when I eat.
To watch when I watch.
To rest when I rest.
To abide in the peace of just being.
What else is there to be done?
To add anything to the experience
Of being is to sully it.
A wild animal is incorruptible.
It cannot even conceive
Of wasting presence.
I would like to be never yearning
To change my experience.
Such idea is unknown
To a wild animal — This is called
Silence; Humility; Vulnerability.
Each has being as its home,
And abides in changelessness.
Being has the supreme advantage
Of being always only itself;
Owned by a strange necessity.
Ah! — To live as king. As eagles do.
’Diary of a Country Priest’ – Robert Bresson – (With actor Claude Laydu)
“I try to catch and to convey the idea that we have a soul
and that the soul is in contact with God.
That’s the first thing I want to get in my films.”
~ Robert Bresson.
Robert Bresson is a unique film maker in the history of cinema. He has developed a very personal way of filming that wholly tends towards one thing only: conveying truth. This is achieved by means of the right use of cinema language. As the French master said in the newspaper ‘Libération’: “The true language of cinema is that which translates the invisible. I am trying to convey feelings rather than facts or actions. I am trying to substitute an internal movement for an external movement.” This is particularly well shown in his 1951 film ‘Diary of a Country Priest’, where Bresson, slowly, relentlessly, and above all with simplicity, is scanning the interior life in everything, in the dialogues, the lights, the camera movements, the acting. But this simplicity is here to serve an utter precision. The film is crafted. A skilful surgeon is here at work. And we make silence.
‘Diary of a Country Priest’ tells a simple story based on the novel of the same name by Georges Bernanos, published in 1936. A young priest arrives in his first rural parish where he and his faith will be met with misunderstandings and challenges, both from his parishioners and his declining health. The film opens with these simple lines in his diary: “I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong in writing down daily, with absolute frankness, the simplest and most insignificant secrets of a life actually lacking any trace of mystery.” In the first scene, we see the young priest appearing behind the bars of a gate, signifying that we are about to see the story of an imprisonment. The film is the description of his total dedication to his duty, which will prove to be an ordeal. We are always in a prison, when we are locked in the belief in being somebody.
It stopped my line of thoughts: A simple seagull Flying through the courtyard, Both wings elegantly spread
It taught me of pure grace And effortlessness, And brought within its trail The simple taste Of bliss — of what is given Down here Not to a deserving one Or any special being But to only a bird passing by In the nonchalance of a fleeting moment; Almost non existing, A ghost within a ghost
It taught me of the ease of being And the silence contained In a movement unfettered. Could I ever feel such joy? Could I ever be brought down To my knees And let myself drift In the same infinite gift Of being. Could I too spread my wings And be given Such a splendid death
It taught me of flow and pride And of oneness too, Of how the bird — any bird Any small creature, Is but a king in its kingdom, And how a glance Though caught elusively Immediately raised me To the rank of prince, And made me feel My own seagull reality, My own soaring into the sky
Miriam Louisa Simons is a retired artist and educator, and the creator of several excellent blogs on the non-dual journey. I’m happy that she is the first friend invited to contribute here. Out of a lifelong dedication to art and spiritual inquiry, she invites us to delve into the image of the Labyrinth, uncover its connections with our life, with grace, until ‘we arrive naked at the freedom that was always there’…
“Do you think I know what I’m doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as a pen knows what it’s writing,
or the ball can guess where it’s going next.”
The Labyrinth is a familiar symbol. Its enigmatic presence has left footprints that fade back into the beginning of the human story. Its origins and its purpose have been rich fodder for research and speculation.
I don’t pretend to know the truth of its tale, but see the archetypal labyrinth as apt visual shorthand for the map of a life, and that’s how its symbolism is used in this little essay.
The many lanes of the Labyrinth are in fact only one long path that winds and twists and turns back on itself as it explores all the territory of a life before arriving at its Heart.
By ‘Heart’ I mean the natural essence of the ‘walker’ of the Labyrinth – beyond both conception and perception – the unknowable and ineffable awareness we nevertheless recognize as our changeless Being.