Quidditch and Learning

I saw an attractive young woman, trotting about the Memorial Glade on the campus of  University of California at Berkeley this afternoon, holding with what seemed to be fierce concentration,  a two and a half foot dowel protruding upward from her crotch. I watched as she departed and realized that what she was holding between her legs was actually a small child-sized straw broom. I looked around a bit more, and saw that she was part of a group of Berkeley students, all holding these child-sized brooms, attempting to play Quidditch- the ‘wizardly’ game described in some detail in the Harry Potter chronicles. One of the constraints of the game may have been that one had to have at least one hand on one’s broom at all times.

I was stunned. To see the hoops and the accoutrements of a game described in a fantasy novel attempted to be played without the resources of wizardry or sorcery is plainly courageous. Quidditch doesn’t really work without the magic of levitation of Wiccan broomsticks, and these young people were attempting this magic without the benefit of such realized belief.

Who is to say that the vision of courage is not to be supported beyond the belief of the usual Newtonian laws of cultural perception? Perhaps one of the most important things of our lives is to embrace how we may have been enthralled (in other words, hypnotized) by repetitive ideology and response that is rather other than what a truthful engagement of our own comprehensive awareness might be. In other words, to dispense with the bullshit that is offered to us, again and again, for the true intuitive feeling that we cannot deny.

They think they know what will persuade us, you see- from long experience, of working with people who are careless with their thoughts, and who have no personal ethical basis of relating in the world. Those people are, sadly, spongy- meaning malleable and uncertain.

A story I heard recently, and cannot recall at present the source, said that the most precious gift that would be offered in return for a certain kind of deep and knowledgeable awareness, was the gift of doubt.

There is no greater capability to focus upon what the truth may actually show itself to be, than doubt. And doubt, being the one of the most powerful cleansers of awareness, needs to be judiciously applied.

If doubt is applied thoughtlessly, it turns into corrosion of belief. One turn deserves another, without remorse. And rather than to say that belief is incorruptible- it is to say that the capability to believe has power beyond those who would corrupt it.

Mencius believed that people were inherently good. And Xun Zi, and Han Fei Zi were of contrary opinion. I prefer to believe in this inherent goodness of people.

Yeah, the Dao is neutral. It ‘only’ makes space for the seed to grow. It gives nourishment to all who come. And it prevails after all distinctions fail.

Whether we put the ball through the hoop, in competition that enlivens us, the question remains- how are we going to choose to find Harmony among and with our fellow human beings? And how do we, in the breaths that define our mammalian experience in the world, come to find commonality with our arboreal, mineral, and cosmic brethren?

Just because the stones and trees, and for that matter, our very bones, are less vociferous than our cognitive minds- does this mean that the value of what they have to offer us is somehow less than what we might care to learn?

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.

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