Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Lead us from the Unreal to the Real

Lead us from the Unreal to the Real

Dear All,

Simone Weil often directed our attention to the category of the real, and to the reality of this life, this earth, this moment.

She would not have agreed with the burden of the song, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," with it's closing notes:

 

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.


Merrily, yes; dream, no.

Nor would she have agreed with the tail-end of those beautiful lines from the Diamond Sutra:

 

Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.


Fleeting, yes; phantom/dream, no.

The universe is fleeting all right, with nothing you can grasp or keep, but it is not an illusion.  It's achingly real.

That is why Weil cites the Upanishad approvingly, and continually returns to the theme of reality in her Notebooks, essays and letters:

 

[T]hings and beings exist.  Since childhood, I have desired nothing other than the full discovery of this before I die.


The Zen poet Issa keeps on track when he allows the evanescence theme only to heighten the sense of felt reality in his famous haiku:
 

Dew evaporates
and all this world is dew.
so dear, so fresh, so fleeting.


To go from the unreal to the real is not to leave this earth for some separate and realer realm, but to re-perceive the earth in its cosmic context as fully existent, actual, happening, real, fresh, and dear.  Anything that makes us grateful or marveling points in this direction.  Love, for instance.  Love.

all blessings to all,

Michael

Weil 5

Weil 5