Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Among the many unusual and complicated questions in the world that are seemingly absent of comprehensible answers, there is one question that lies within everyone I know, and most likely everyone you know. It starts with me; and you, and connects us with a great multitude of beings that are silently and gradually entertaining this question, whenever the conditions afford them to think of it.

That question is: “Who am I?

I mean, really. Who am I? Who are you? As far as my knowledge of myself goes, I did not have any say in the matter of being born as a human being. Growing up with the amazing gift of infinite imagination, the questions I must have asked of my mind during those years, where the colors were brighter and the shapes were more abstract and less defined, would have qualified me, or any other child for that matter, as an astute philosopher of the highest esteem. Unfortunately, the adults would later stop me asking those questions; something I now realize was because they didn’t have the answers themselves. And before you know it, here we are, tiny cogs in an impersonal scheme we call a global economy, robbed of our primal courage to keep asking those questions; looking for an answer to that sweet old perpetual riddle; Who am I?

One thing I figured out fast was that I wasn’t a bird. I wasn’t a butterfly, neither was I an elephant. I wasn’t my mother or my father, and I turned out not to be my siblings either. I was just ‘I’ and all I could relate myself to being was a human. Not a bird, not a bug, not a bull; a human. And growing up, the world of humans was a world of magic, wonder, and excitement. I rejoiced in being human. Here, in this human world, I grew up to learn that there were musicians, storytellers, artists, scientists, philosophers, adventurers, naturalists, and cooks. I am also, now, bitterly aware that there are also profiteers, politicians, pyromaniacs, psychopaths, pop-stars, and philanderers among the other entertainingly demeaning things that begin with the letter ‘P’ (Police, anyone?). What was more disturbing was that it was this group of people who I wasn’t very fond of that seemed to be in control of everything, asking me to become something I, frankly, didn’t like very much. As a result, I don’t really rejoice anymore. I am only very aware of what I don’t want to be, and that is to be sub-human. Being given a birthright to intelligence, thought, compassion, and imagination, why would anyone want to compromise it to make square shaped, colorful, numbered paper currency unless they were conned into it by some ingenious plot?  Unfortunately for those who still entertain that childlike curiosity, the tables have turned and the rules have been set.

“Don’t think. Don’t imagine. Don’t feel. Go to work. Get paid. Watch TV. Vote. Failure to do so will make you liable to spend your time in a cage until you agree to our rules. Sincerely, the People’s Government.”

Something isn’t right here.


Here we are; human beings that have been dealt a solid hand in a game that could make better sense if we knew the rules. The collective intelligence of our being has brought us to the world of the internet, art, philosophy, and quantum physics, but somehow these things that seem to illuminate us have been stifled and hijacked by our own kind. Instead of learning more about ourselves, our place on the earth, in the universe, and the great mysterious scheme of existence, we have been convinced to watch 500 channels of TV and vote for crooks. Today, we have the opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of our forgotten ancestors of Bellan Bandi Palessa, the vast plains of Africa, and the jungles of South America to imagine the helplessness we evolved from. Today, we have the time and space to imagine what it might have been like 2,600 years ago in a world vastly different from our own, in the times of great beings such as the Buddha, Plato, Jesus, and Mohammed. Today we have the opportunity to see ourselves in others, complete with our musical tastes and affinity for curiosities like saving dolphins in Japan, from all corners of the world, regardless of their color or creed. Today, we have more answers than we ever had, so why aren’t we asking questions better?

We have to admit to ourselves that we want to ask those questions without being judged or harassed. We need to ignore these farcical laws and rules and agree to disagree. No more kicking people in the face or going to jail. No more silly arguments about what to wear, what to believe, or what to say. We need to understand and discover our deep seated capacity for boundless tolerance, compassion, and intelligence. And this need is only as strong and as provocative as You and I want it to be. No answers will come, no peace will prevail, no unity will come if we stop and wait for it to happen. The change starts with ‘I.’ Be the change you want to see in the world, said Gandhi (another guy who was killed for speaking sense). What we need to change is our fear of feeling genuinely human. The fear only persists when we are afraid of ourselves. The sincere, truthful, imaginative, and independent exploration of this ‘I,’ ‘Me,’ or ‘Us’ is what gives the world meaning and will continue to bring us more music, laughter, knowledge, and happiness.

And if you excuse me now, I’m going to play my guitar.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” – Buddha


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We humans have all lived through the moment where we are coerced to decide what kind of “work” we are going to do when we “grow up.” Personally, I wanted to be many things. I wanted to be a traveler, a reader, a conversationalist, a person who knew first-aid (I just couldn’t feel a doctor inside me), or a mahout (those interesting people who train and domesticate elephants), among countless other things. Society eventually confines all of us into walls filled with miscellaneous gadgetries, artificial lighting, and comfortable, luxurious, crisp, cold air on a sweltering summer day. Society convinced me to stop following all the things I wanted to become, but I held onto those some of those childish dreams because I still remember how much juvenile fun it was to be naughty and rebellious. While most people seem to forget the unrestricted pleasures of the outdoors because of their paychecks and evolution into the walls, I have got by chance a delightful opportunity, working at the Saint John’s Pottery studio, to be outside, do some simple and sometimes heavy work, and remember the things I’ve forgotten from my childhood.


When I found out that the job I got hired for in January almost entirely involved splitting and stacking wood to be used at the annual firing of the Johanna Kiln, the famous brick maiden known for its unique appearance and striking size, I was rather curious to see how I’d adjust from being used to office work to working hours sitting outside negotiating the different personalities of spruce, oak, pine, and maple with my trusty friend, the wood splitter. The work is rather simple and straightforward. It also requires a certain kind of tolerance; splitting wood for long hours CAN be slow, monotonous torture for fast paced folk. People might ask what a student of sociology, philosophy, and political science would be doing splitting wood. Shouldn’t I rather be doing something challenging for work, something that will get me a nod from those hardly impressed grad school admissions types? Shouldn’t I be doing something that would give me experience for my job, my work for the future? Wouldn’t going for meetings, sending emails, and negotiating with people be more useful for a successful professional career? Wouldn’t you rather be doing something else?


I don’t think so.

I like my job. In fact, I like it a lot! I even stopped listening to my ipod while I split wood. That’s how good this work is for me. I don’t even need the music. I remember having a pretty exciting and adventurous childhood but I don’t remember having an ipod in my ears when I was out crawling and rejoicing childishly in the mud years ago. Why listen to the music you listen to all the time when you can entertain yourself listening to the peculiar melodies and curious vibrations of wood? Not many people would think trees had voices, noises, or sounds. Being so overexposed to wood so much, now I know that they are like those silent ascetics we never hear about or hear from. Wood has voice! It has soul! It’s rather twisted that the noise of wood becomes more apparent when you split them; but I’m glad it’s not cows or chickens that I’m hearing when I’m working. Big cross sections of oak have a crack that makes me picture a wise old man who wakes up early in the morning and stretches after a good night’s rest. Smaller cross sections of spruce are stringy, twisted, and irregular, and remind me of a lady who lowers her obnoxious guffaws to a whimper after suddenly noticing how loud she was at the cocktail party. Spruce also smells like fresh, minty joy. The different sounds and smells of split wood fascinate me. It shows me that even wood too has a voice, a soul. Just because someone decided not to talk doesn’t make that person speech impaired. It only means he decides not to talk. Trees are like that. How could man possibly hear them when we are too lost in our own self indulgent chatter, humanly conceived sounds, and assorted entertainments? But once the talk becomes too tiring, the music becomes too monotonous, and the thoughts become stale and stagnant, 3 hours of splitting and stacking wood sucks out the humdrum like a sponge of the finest quality that cleans a filthy plate with nonchalance. When the splitting is done, the woods around Stumpf Lake, a hop away, calls my name.

I sit every day after work listening to the conversation between the wind and the trees, participating in their discussions with my silence. The thoughts their conversation inspire you to think are only limited to the beautiful and the deep. The carefree zips of small red winged black birds from tree to tree, the piercing melody of a grackle’s cry, and the curious livelihood of the occasional woodpecker are amusements that have always kept me endlessly fascinated after work. A little dock that extends to Stumpf Lake is the doorstep leading to the graces of the great elder woman of the community in these parts. Not everyone is lucky enough to be in her inner circle. Some, like the loons, ducks, muskrats, crappies, and sunfish, are luckier than most. Everyone has surrounded her for her wise ways and quirky personality, and I don’t see why she should treat me any differently. So I sit on the dock and listen to her counsel which leaves me refreshed and energized every time I stand up to leave. Every day I see Stumpf Lake, she is always accommodating, just like she assumes the personality of whoever visits to see her. When the windier wind visits, she too becomes the windier wind. When it’s the breeze that stops over, it’s the breeze she becomes. When there’s no one around though, old Stumpf Lake becomes me when I look into it. She doesn’t care how old you are or how old she is, she’ll listen to you and you will listen to her. Explorations after work have introduced me to new friends. They are very old, usually ignored, and inept at entertaining the tech-savvy modern man, but they are young at heart, willing to listen, and eager to illuminate the minds of their new, young friends.


Vision is the realm of infinity

I understand that people have different priorities and those lead them to different outlooks and pastimes. I don’t think I am the only person who has discovered the endless adventures nature has in store for your mind and body. If humans want to be happy, I imagine they’d like to do it in the simplest way possible. Long hours of being paled by fluorescent lights, cooled by A/C’s, and entertained by canned music seems interesting, if you’re that kind of person I suppose. Now that I’ve been exposed to doing rather straightforward and simple functions outdoors, I’m starting to question the effectiveness of “challenging work” in an office in giving someone happiness and insight. I don’t make that much money, I sure as hell don’t make any professional connections, and I don’t look very sharp and clean when I’m working. But I’ve got to say that I’d be damned if I said my work didn’t make me happy. After working multiple jobs inside walls and under bulbs, I have to say that the outdoors has a much more vibrant and interesting personality for a workspace. Nothing is monotonous. Nothing is lifeless. Everything has voices, soul, beauty and infinity. Nature’s been spinning the same old tricks in infinitely different ways, using her wily wit and welcoming warmth (or cold) to perpetually entertain slow paced, childish folk like me.

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The following is a cursory reflection of nature as I saw it during my break from college, where I devoted a significant, and memorable, amount of time learning meditation and delving into Buddhist philosophy. Originally a paper written for my Environmental Perspectives class, I decided to put it up on this rarely used blog because I felt the urge to share some glimpses into my experience that I couldn’t possibly write about and explain in words, if not for the requirement to write this paper. 

Nature. What is nature? What is this puzzling, but amazing thing we are a part of? My understanding is that nature is the stage in which all life is played out on. If not for that stage, there would be no platform for a story to be enacted. We come from nature and return to it. It is an energy that creates all and consumes all with somber indifference. As for all our mundane, worldly lifestyles, they are all tiny, insignificant microcosms of activity taking place within this great impersonal and mighty scheme. What is our place in this giant universe in which we are but insignificant specks of transient dust? What implications does this vast reality hold for us, the isolated intelligence that has lived, in very conspicuous subservience, fear, and wonder, of this almighty system for millennia? What does being human have to do with comprehending nature and understanding our meaning in it? This is the question I attempted to engage by traveling to the lush wilderness of tropical homeland, Sri Lanka, to meditate and learn under the subtle and incisive wisdom of Buddhist forest monks during my semester off from college in the fall and winter of 2011.

Since I was a kid, I thought much about things like what the meaning of everything was and noticed my place in the whole scheme of humans, animals, and all the other things out there; a reality that makes you feel much smaller than you would like to believe. But it was only when I was 22 that I felt the confidence of physical and mental strength to gauge this timeless philosophical inquiry of what is nature? Having had a keen interest in learning of the world and learning from the world at a very young age, the pursuit of knowledge was something I took to like a child’s fascination with the colors of the world. After delving into many avenues of knowledge and inquiry, my intellectual pursuits encountered the mysteriously alluring manners of Buddhist philosophy. Learning from it over the last 3-4 years and finding answers that I could verify through experience and science, I began, with great curiosity, to attempt an engagement with the very core of being and the mysteries and origins of nature through the introspection of Buddhist meditation. Sensing that the time was ripe and the opportunity to put all my knowledge through a very unfamiliar and alien challenge was at hand, I decided to take a break from college to go back to my homeland and explore and experience life in a few of Sri Lanka’s multitudinous Buddhist forest monasteries.


Kaludiya Pokuna Tapovanaya, Mihinthale

Surprisingly, the popularity of my path of exploration was a very uncommon phenomenon, even in a country that is traditionally Buddhist. I still wonder why people would put themselves through the unceasing activity of modern life when the tranquility of the cool green shade, the drama of rain drenched forest paths, the cold, still, wisdom of ancient ponds, and the wondrous excitement of the earth waking up at sunrise, and all and more of these vivid experiences lie virtually at their doorstep. It is a peculiar question that led environmentalists, minimalists, philosophers, and thinkers in general, to the ironies of the unsolvable riddle of human nature. At least I am happy that I decided to embark on a personal journey, possibly, implicitly, a gesture of defiance to the senseless indulgences of modern life inspired by people like Thoreau, Krishnamurty, and the Buddha himself. To explore the very depths of being under the shady calm of the wise old ironwood trees and the melodious cacophony of the smaller, more musically inclined, citizens of the tropical wilderness was an experience that gave me much more perspective that I expected I would gain. Knowing one’s place in nature follows the personal exploration of one’s limits, understanding his or her innate capabilities, and losing the fear to question the norm and oneself. Nature is a treasure, hidden out in the open for all to see, that is really discovered when the individual decides to inquire about his part in the great scheme of parts that create the greatest scheme of all.

Being in nature is unfortunately an unfamiliar thing for most people. It is probably explained best by the sounds of the silent forest. The fact that the musical vibrations of the flowing brooks, rustling leaves, and the distant, melodious dissonance of cicadas flow through the passive silence of the trees, through my ears and into my heart to give me enjoyment and understanding, makes me wonder why people have resorted to living in the midst of bellowing horns, ceaseless chatter, surrounded by the constant mechanical hum of human contrivances. The randomness of nature, the lack of uniform structure, is best understood when one sees the same qualities reflected in oneself. Once removed from the conventions of society and culture, a person sees that the uniformity that we conform to is a quality we have learned to live with, just as a smoker lives with pleasure in indulging in a poison he sees no harm in. When removed from the busy, sweaty rush of urban haste, one discovers the slow, pondering demeanor of the earth and the universe, and begins to question why there needs to be such toxic complexities to our lives when a gentle meandering of space in time is what has always been and will continue to be. Humans seem to be competing and living in their own rationally justified concepts of money, culture, tradition, politics, war, entertainment, ad infinitum, while only conveniently returning to nature’s soothing care and unconditional generosity to rejuvenate oneself to work and dream and compete and live harder all over again.


A cave kuti deep in the Na Uyana Aranya Senasanaya, Pansiyagama, Melsiripura

Why have we forgotten to see ourselves as the representation of nature we really are? What are these eyes? Skin? What are these blood, muscle, thought, and emotion, but a different representation of a flowing spring of crystal clear water running under a canopy of banyans, ironwood, and ebony? The beauty of this moment in time and space is only possible because the earth, the sky, the water, and the trees had long ago agreed to just “be” and let be. So have our bodies, with its fleshly components, repulsive though they may seem to most, create in their harmonious unity, a precious human vehicle. Why cannot we humans see the same harmony in nature and in ourselves, among all of us regardless of race, religion, or opinion? Has our “intelligence” judged this timeless unity to be incompatible with our perspective? Why does our insatiable desire for money, power, and pleasure, our inability to let go of our addiction to our selves, cloud the clear and enlightening reality of us being the small particles we are in an ancient scheme of mass, space, time, and thought?

Nature reflects herself within the human being with her intimidating array of personalities. The terrifying claps of thunder and shocking streaks of lightning express themselves in the various turbulent afflictions we encounter in our experiences in time, both physically and mentally. Likewise, for someone engaged in reflection, it would not be a burden to notice the fires, the floods, and the earthquakes, whose mercies we are bound to, manifest themselves in their characteristic fearsomeness within all of us, even the smartest and strongest.  The comforting warmth of a tropical sun, the soothing sensation of diving in a crisp, cool, water filled rock pool, and the blissful cool of a forest breeze; gems of moments that seem to pass by too quickly, express themselves from the moving episodes of joy, love, and insight that well up from the depths of our hearts. But how does one absorb and know the feeling of the refreshing reality of nature’s gifts when the reality is quite different to that? How does one know this when she is too busy making annual plans for 4 years in the future, slouched under a light and surrounded by walls and blinds? How does one know the unpredictable moods of the wind, its sweetness, its empathy, its rage, when one is stuck inside a refrigerated (work) cell? Do people experience real joy, love, and insight when they are bound to the numbing inconsistencies of conventional reality? Do they experience the pure contentment of insight, the delight of unconditional joy or see the devastation and turbulence that we are all subject to, when they are submerged in their fluorescent lights, computer screens, and TV shows?

My observation is that people, when they fail to experience and acknowledge this incredible and amazing scheme we are fortunate to experience, they simply become empty nodes created by human “intelligence,” spokes in the components of the machine called society, instead of using this amazing human being to experience, witness, and make meaning out of this thing we call life. But aren’t we too busy taken up with such important and very intelligent activities like killing zombies on TV screens and forever imagining the best possible scenarios to fill our lives up with more shiny, curvy things and sophisticated, expensive habits of culture?

The path leading deeper into the Na Uyana Aranya Senasanaya, Pansiyagama, Melsiripura

Although we are a part of nature, (fortunately) nature is not entirely human. Therefore she doesn’t share our tendencies for hatred, vengefulness, achievement, or prosperity. She passively waits, for her infinite wisdom has known all too well the benefits of her unhurried approach since the birth of time. For those humbled by the terrifying storms and beams of mercurial light skimming the treetops, nature has much to teach. And it is only to those who are sensitive and humble enough that nature begins revealing her secrets to. For the last twenty six hundred years, the Buddhist tradition has understood this. Although most “Buddhists” nowadays seem to understand more of TV, politics, and drama, the tradition has never ceased to continue being with nature. There is a robust presence of committed, humble, gifted, and intelligent human beings, from the youngest I’ve seen in my semester off at around 15, and the oldest well over 90, living, not only in the jungles of Sri Lanka, but in forests all over the world. They are inspired by the timeless qualities of nature as they strive for enlightenment; nirvana; the terminal knowledge of existence, the eradication of all suffering, and uniting with the timeless essence of this random reality we call nature. I was inspired by their knowledge, courage, and contentment. I still follow that inspiration in the hopes that I too, could one day, come to understand this scheme and dwell in the contentment of knowledge and peace.


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I fear that the word “badass” is somehow going to have a serious impact in my life thanks to the films we’ve been watching as of late in Film Studies class. A couple more movies along the same lines and I might even have to add a nickname in the middle of my real name and call myself Yasas “Badass” Ratnayake; not because I’m badass, but because I’m compelled to use that word way too often thanks to films like Shaft and Do the Right Thing; the movie I’m reviewing right now. The former was overtly badass, and mashed pigheaded goons and cruised on raw masculinity on its way to “badassery” (think Chuck Norris), but the latter was the kind of badass that was subtle, intellectually intimidating, and viscerally emotional (think Malcolm X, or Chuck Norris) in a way that kept you rocking in its impact like the eerie ringing in your ears that would persist for days after being in the front row of a rock concert. If I had to choose between which badass I’d choose, Do the Right Thing would get my vote before two shakes of a lamb’s tail; and not even Chuck Norris could stop that without having to kill me with the bristles of his invincible beard.

He will kick you in the face AND your brain.

Do the Right Thing is a 1989 movie by Spike Lee that tells the story of a Pizza shop, a heat wave, three Italians, a black neighborhood in Brooklyn, a pizza delivery guy, a big guy with a big boombox, a virtuous drunkard, a mentally handicapped civil rights movement devotee named Smiley, an Asian grocery store, a radio love doctor, a wall of fame, and a riot. The story would be clearer to those who watch it, because accurately summarizing such a complex, yet emotionally engaging film such as this would take more than the desired space needed for a film review. For those who have watched 2005’s Academy Award winning ‘Crash’ and had to put all that information onto a 5-6 paragraph article; you would know what I’m going through right now. Do the Right Thing is a visually arresting composition that challenges the viewer to critically analyze many complex social values, norms, and mores and question: what IS the right thing to do?

As Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader says Do the Right Thing is “A powerful and persuasive look at an ethnic community and what makes it tick–funky, entertaining, packed with insight, and political in the best, most responsible sense”. The main story portrays the inconsequential goings on of a hot summer day in Brooklyn manifesting into an ugly race riot. The movie revolves around Mookie, a scrawny pizza delivery guy (played by Spike Lee), who works for the only white establishment, a well known Pizzeria called Sal’s, in a predominantly black neighborhood. Even the most minor characters in the movie carry a great amount of depth and each person in the movie tells his or her own story to give the film a rich, bittersweet texture much like a helping of good tiramisu. Do the Right Thing weaves in good measures of comedy, historical allusions, political ideals, profanity, modernist movie dynamics, and frequent repetitions of Public Enemy’s hit “Fight the Power” (thank you for that, Radio Raheem) to create a multicolored patchwork that is complex, yet beautiful to behold. I wouldn’t know how to fit in a brief, yet accurate summary of the movie into a single sentence without missing out on many important parts, so I won’t try. Instead, if there is anyone who’s reading this blog who isn’t in my Film class (which I highly doubt; but hey, thanks for stopping by!) and you haven’t watched Do the Right Thing, I highly recommend that you grab your popcorn, soda, Black Panther beret and WATCH IT!

John Turturro telling Spike that he should be delivering them pizzas.

Watching it with a focus in trying to decipher references to a deeper message than what is communicated on the surface, I believe the way the movie ended threw the cat out of the bag and left the meaning to be inferred with the subjective lens the viewer saw and understood it with. Where did the cat go? Is it in the basement? Or is on a tree, trying to catch a pigeon of some kind? One could say, especially if he or she is more of the Malcolm X type, that Mookie DID do the right thing and justified Radio Raheem’s death by inciting the riot, which I personally thought was something that Raheem brought about himself. I guess my opinion is shaped by the fact that Martin Luther King’s writing stirred a lot of meaning in me thanks to my First Year Seminar, which was dedicated to study the civil rights movement. But I think that this is exactly the point that Spike Lee is trying to make with the movie.

Ultimately, the viewer must face the question and conclude what the right choice was; based on everything he or she saw in the film. The viewer was given insight into Sal and his two sons, and also given an insight into the rest of the community that crowded that street and ultimately turned Sal’s Famous Pizzeria into a heap of worthless ember that’s burnt to the crust. The fact that Smiley pins the picture of MLK and Malcolm X in a friendly moment (they were known to be divided in their belief of how to win civil rights) on what was once the wall of fame at Sal’s, might symbolize the ambiguous ending where the viewer is called to identify whether the right thing was accomplished in the end of the film or not. What was the right thing to do? Was MLK right? Was Malcolm X right?

Personally, I’m with the Sonny the Korean guy. He says “I no white! I black! You, me, same! We same!” Although this might have been interpreted incorrectly by the rioters, I think it stood for the real message that Lee tried to convey. Like the words of all great people in history whose messages have been distorted, modified, and ignored, the Korean guy too, was dismissed by the mob as probably being some kooky Asian dude with schizophrenic tendencies, although he WAS pointing to an essential truth that transcends race. All in all, I personally thought that no one really did the right thing in the end of the film. I suppose that’s why the guy who sincerely wants everyone to do the right thing and does it by example is good ol’ Mayor, the drunkard. Who wouldn’t be drunk when he or she understands the truth is so simple to see, yet everyone’s too foolish to realize it? Let’s just leave that possibility to be inferred by the intellectual badasses.

Steve Park is doing the right thing. Two thumbs up man!

And for those who watched and enjoyed the movie, here’s something to check out. It’s pretty badass.

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Writer’s block is harsh. What’s harsher is when you have something in your mind but simply cannot put it into words. I’m going through a deluge of emotions that I am finding hard to comprehend. Many of these thoughts are austere, cynical, convoluted, and challenges the very foundations of everything that we believe in. 

I’m going through a series of realizations that have made me think; WHY? Why… So many things… 

It will take some time, but sooner or later I will be able to document all these opinions, ideas, questions, and realizations. Profound shit.

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After reading the above posts by Dinindu de Alwis and Bombaimotai (Osh’s blog), I couldn’t help but notice the tone that both of them had in common. It exuded a tone of affection towards our nation, it emanated a quality of exasperation towards the injustices done to our country, and it radiated with a sense of deep rooted connection towards mother Lanka.

Which makes me think…

 Will that pure intention and zeal ever see the light of day? Will it one day surface to shine on and release us from our bonds of corruption, lethargy, and futility? Will it shine on and bring an end to the darkness created by greed and prejudice that haunts our nation to this very day? Will it overcome the lure and temptation of power and wealth to rejuvenate this paradise that has been laid to waste?

Had Percy Mahinda Rajapakse endured and overcome the obstacles that have persistently indoctrinated the pure of mind and pure at heart, I believe that Sri Lanka would have been a better place.

Will there ever be a person who could ascend to the totem of power and use that power to deliver us from this quagmire we have put ourselves into? Even if there was a person who had the purest intention of selflessly serving the nation, what would the probability be of this person prevailing over the vices and depravity that is ingrained in our system? I am no pessimist, but I would say that the odds of the system prevailing over the pure at heart would have the final say. I’m not saying that it cannot be done. I’m just saying that it will take more than one person to rescue Sri Lanka from itself and its culture.

We have been traveling in a downward spiral ever since the day independence was gifted to us. Why is it that countries such as India and China continue to make strides in national development? Well for a start, they both fought for their independence. They broke away from the bonds of their oppressors through revolution and untainted love for something they believed in. We unfortunately were just given independence in a pretty little box with a shiny ribbon wrapped around it. And like other pretty little gifts with ribbons; once opened, it starts to lose its sentimental value and significance over time.

We are never proud of something that is truly ours. We mock our talent, ideas, and inventions and embrace something alien. We’re childish and immature enough to ridicule those who cannot properly express themselves in English. We’re gullible enough to believe and trust what anyone in power says for granted. We piss on our own jurisdiction and decrees. We’re fucking lazy! We have more public holidays than any other country in the world. We have sunk so deep into the mire of bribery and corruption, the light of day remains only as a memory. It is a pathetic state. And those who actually could do something to help Sri Lanka break away from this predicament lose hope looking at our disaster of a system and fly to foreign lands to seek happiness and prosperity for themselves and their progeny.

Even the fiercest patriots have succumbed to the delusion of power and wealth. Take a look at the once staunch critics of the government such as Wimal Weerawansa and Hemakumara Nanayakkara. They traded their voices and beliefs for worthless paper and a miniature throne. They were lured in by the call of the sirens of corruption on their way to the Promised Land of freedom and purity. Who or what are they now? Take a look at the so called ‘venerable monks’ who tarnished the name of the whole fraternity of Buddhist monks for a seat at the parliament and the luxury of a Mercedes Benz in exchange for their alms bowl and purity of mind. This system is powerful enough to attract those who will try to use it to their advantage and discourage and obscure those who are trying to expose it. And the ever gullible people of Sri Lanka STILL believe these bastards even after they’ve exposed their crooked selves. The Sri Lankan people are still following the carrot that keeps on luring them from one predicament to another.

It won’t be long until everyone bends to the will of a greater power. We are systematically being manipulated by the influences of nations that will soon acquire us like just another commodity, we’re unknowingly being bound and gagged into a space where freedom of speech and expression is nothing but urban legend, our political system has turned into the most successful get-rich-quick scheme in the country, and we are being manipulated into being people who can be commanded at the flick of a switch. Sooner or later, Sri Lanka would be transformed into an obscure little dot on the globe where it’ll actually become the pretty little satellite of India that everyone in the world thinks we are.

But how do we emancipate ourselves from where we are now?

I don’t know. I don’t think I could do it alone, and I don’t think you could either. I wish for a day where I see more of us out there, more of us trying to break away from these bonds that limit our words and curb our minds, more of us to reach out to the light from the darkness of the present, more of us to say no to the easy way out, and more of us to speak as one and condemn ourselves for riding on the wave of delusion and impurity.

Where and how do we move away from the predicament of now?

I guess we’ll only find out when we put all like minded people who are pure of heart, pure of reason, and pure of mind together and resist this ugly creature that is corruption, power, and greed; to gain freedom from ourselves. And only then will we be able to call ourselves true Sri Lankans.

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The Jingy Bingy Man

I usually am an annoyance when I’m truly inspired. I go from person to person proclaiming whatever it was I experienced should be experienced by everyone. I’m a bit loony like that. People probably make jokes behind my back for that, but what the hell, I try to make this world a better place. Or at least introduce them to something TASTEFUL. 😛 Thanks to the blogosphere I can now share my enthusiasm (and sarcasm) with the World and cut down on the unwanted labor involved in going from person to person. Textbook internet benefit.

Recently, I was raving on about ‘Machan’; an absolutely brilliant film based on a true story of a group of Sri Lankans that illegally migrated to Europe under the ingenious guise of a handball team. Today, four months later, I have something else to rave about.

It was just after the conclusion of the opening night of Hamlet at Elsie’s Bar. The brilliant performance by the cast made me break my vow of not smoking up for the day. Damn it! I wish I was on stage too! The air raid on Colombo that took place a few hours before we made it to the studio seemed to matter very little because we were going to celebrate the success of opening night and talk about stuff that would make us sound quite outlandish.

The herb was really good. 😀

Buddhima was going crazy with the papers and was rolling some big ones that could be easily mistaken for shotgun mikes. We would soon find out that rolling torpedoes was one of his less significant talents. And after some unbounded fits of laughter and mundane stories, we went into the studio to chill out to the suave tune of Ranil’s Takamine guitar but were pleasantly surprised to see Buddhima join in on the jam as well. And inside the studio illuminated by that eerie neon light, we went on a musical journey that transcended the very essence of original Sri Lankan music.

Buddhi and Ranil started off with a hauntingly brilliant rendition of House of the rising sun. The crisp tone of the new strings coupled with the layered harmonies of the 12 string Yamaha guitar complimented Budhima’s robust voice. I opened my eyes after that song and smiled. I just smiled. It’s the smile that appears on your face when your mind gives two thumbs up for satisfaction. The audience of 5 burst out into applause, giving the impression of an actual unplugged concert. In my intoxicated state I was visualizing myself on the set of something similar to that of the MTV Nirvana unplugged gig. It was brilliant. I was in a happy place.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, Buddhima took the liberty of knocking our socks off with three of his original compositions. The name of his first song escapes my memory, but what a song it was. This was the first time I was hearing this and I was blown away. It wasn’t the technical intricacy of the song; there wasn’t anything intricate about it. It was simple music laced with honest words that were rooted deep in the heart of a brilliant man; Buddhi. It pored over the tribulations of a forthright man who enjoyed life the way it was; unfair yet beautiful. And after listening to the rest of his English-Sinhala compositions, I felt proud. Proud to know a guy like him. Those words stirred me to the point that I hugged him right after he finished playing his band’s song; Jingy Bingy Blues. I couldn’t keep my excitement to myself. I don’t think anyone in the studio could. That lead us to the question; What the hell was Buddhi doing all this time? His words are monumental. A throwback to the era of folk music where injustice was spat on and the beauty of everyday life was appreciated. I felt myself in the presence of the next Bob Marley, Rage Against the Machine, or Bob Dylan. Such was the vividness of those words. It made me proud as a Sri Lankan to hear those songs. I was proud that we; Sri Lanka; a country polluted with prejudices and corruption still have people like Buddhi; people who could see the unfairness of life, take it as it is and enjoy our breif stay in this world as well as we could in the face of all those adversities.

It was a great day for me. I was stirred by the simple yet beautiful music. I felt the power of words that I never thought I’d hear in a Sri Lankan song. It was beautiful. I’m still taking all of that in. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that a cynic like myself would be stirred by words that were simple yet momentous.

The sad thing is that no authority in the right mind would let this material go out to the public unless they want a state of free thinking and ouspoken constituents. The thought itself would turn the gleaming smiles of our crooked politicos into grisly grimaces. But I envision Buddhi being one of the cult icons of our generations. That is the effect that his words had on me. I never thought I’d find inspiration so close to me. Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, Richard Branson, and Maynard James Keenan have been the only people who have fostered a change in me.

I’m proud to add Buddhima de Mel of Wagon Park to that list.

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