(RD) With Thurston Howell III as "Mr. Magoo" as Don Quixote de la Mancha as a US cartoon
|Toyokan Museum (Stuart Rankin)|
On another occasion he imagined that a flock of sheep was a hostile army, and dashing into the middle of it, he killed seven of the creatures before the shepherd could beat him away. He was then severely cudgelled, and Sancho Panza, the loyal peasant who served him as squire, was also badly mauled.
The pitiful thing was that the knight really had a very good intellect. Judged by the standards of his time, he was a man of considerable culture; he could read and speak Italian, and also knew some Arabic. He could converse sensibly and even eloquently upon most subjects; it was only when chivalry was mentioned that he “slid off into madness.”
His monomania was such that he never attributed his misfortune to his own stupidity, but believed they were the work of a malign enchanter who had a grudge against all knights errant. If anybody questioned the validity of his opinions he fell into a fury, drew his sword, and at once became the centre of an unseemly brawl. This may be “living by Zen” (which is open to doubt); it is certainly shockingly bad Buddhism.
If, as postulated, Don Quixote were “Zen incarnate,” why doesn't the story end with some kind of apotheosis equivalent to satori [epiphany in Zen parlance]? Instead the knight -- we call him so though even his knighthood was spurious, having been conferred upon him for a joke by a village innkeeper -- is overthrown by a bogus knight-errant, a young man from his own village, a graduate of Salamanca, newly down from the university, who with the connivance of Don Quixote’s good friends, the priest and the barber, had gone out to bring the wanderer home.
The knight creeps back to die of a broken heart, first making a pathetic recantation of his follies.
It is begging the question to say that Cervantes did not know his business. His object was to ridicule the books of chivalry, because they were silly in content and usually bad as literature.
He did this supremely well, and incidentally produced one of the most tragic stories ever penned -- the ruin of a noble mind.
This long digression is not an attack upon Zen. Zen is so great and so venerable that its position is unassailable. But Don Quixote is a warning against the assumption that spontaneous action is necessarily right action. It is frequently just the reverse.
That practical conclusions can be drawn? First we should remember that the Noble Eightfold Path is a discipline. The second “step” is a combination of right intention and right thought. To achieve this, mental culture is needed. This is the function of the intellect guided by intelligence.
|Smile with clarity (smiledesigners.co.in)|
It is a commonplace that intellect can be strengthened by use. Some of its dangers have already been pointed out; another danger is that it enjoys diversity. It is always playing with ideas and forming concepts. It therefore encourages dualism and is obsessed with “the ten thousand things,” so that it never sees them in their “such-ness” [just as they are]. It is the function of intuitive wisdom to actually experience “suchness.”
According to the Western scholar-monk Ven. Nyanaponika Thera (The Power of Mindfulness, BPS.lk, Wheel No. 121-122), intuition can also be cultivated.” A careful and frequent study of this will benefit us all.
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