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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

KIM VI -- chapter 3.2: I Do Not Pester Them

the old soldier
starting reading at: "'Certainly the air of this country is good,' said the lama. 'I sleep lightly, as do all old men; but last night I slept unwaking till broad day. Even now I am heavy.'"

(I didn't think of this until just now:) We've briefly covered another pilgrimage--another type of pilgrimage--on the blog: that of the Japanese hyohakusha.  In this case, Basho is the master and his travelling companion, Sora, is the chela.  While both Buddhist (Lama and Basho--regarding the latter, I'm assuming), Kim's master is on a religious quest, while Basho's is more of personal, spiritual enlightenment.  Is there a difference?  What draws mankind to quest and pilgrimage?  My family is moving across the country this summer, and I can already smell the asphalt of the road, and it is exciting!  The "pilgrimage" seems to be as multifaceted as the symbolism of rivers.  Thoughts?
  1. I love the comparison of the Lama to the camel.  Maybe it's just the westerner in me, but it seems remarkably indicative of not only gate but demeanor.  More than that there is also the element of a camel's use in travelling long distances.
  2. "Delhi is the navel of the world."  Hmm, how many such navels are there across the globe?
  3. "I have never pestered them: I do not think they will pester me."
  4. Matthew 13:42 -- "I have noticed in my long life that those who eternally break in upon Those Above with complaints and reports and bellowings and weepings are presently sent for in haste, as our colonel used to send for slack-jawed down-country men who talked too much."
  5. Why is longing for the past, according to the Lama (or anyone else for that matter), weakness?
  6. Narratively speaking, what is the point of showing the episode with the old soldier?  (Though I haven't read it, the old soldier reminds me a little of the bumbling Don Quixote.)
Regarding the Rosary
This is a handful of cardamoms,
This is a lump of ghi:
This is millet and chillies and rice,
A supper for thee and me!


  1. I think that the Lama is in it for enlightenment, too. Buddhism is just such a different religion than most of the other ones, so it's hard to tell, but I think that enlightenment IS the religious experience.

    5. You're not on the road to the future enlightenment. Also, longing is a bit of a denial of the ascetic lifestyle that he takes.
    6. He seems to be sort of a guy who puts his hand to the plow and looks back. Again, not sure on this because I'm having trouble understanding this story. But I think that there's something superficial or worldly about the old soldier that suggests that he'll never match the wisdom of the lama.

  2. That's a good way to put it -- enlightenment as religious experience. I hadn't seen it that way. I see it that way now.

    5. Like Lot's wife looking back and turning into a pillar of salt.
    6. That's the sense I got -- that the Lama is, in his own sanctimonious-yet-pious/humble way, looking down his nose at the man. The Lama is an interested character, inasmuch as he embodies, or so it seems to me, so many otherwise-contradictory traits, yet in him they work together somehow.


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