This month I want to dedicate my review post to a strange and also inspiring book, which never finishes to teach me lessons and which is, in its own way, poetic. The book is “The finger and the Moon: Zen Teachings and Koans”, by the renowned author, director, actor, shaman Alejandro Jodorowsky. Does the director of “Santa Sangre” need an introduction? Alejandro Jodorowsky is an all-rounded artist and a visionary.
I’ve never seen one of his movies. They terrify me. I’ve never finished one of his books. From all his works, I can pick and stand only fragments at a time. That’s the way I face The finger and the moon, every time I open it. The book it’s a collection of koans (stories, dialogues, questions, or statements, which are used in Zen practice to provoke the “great doubt” and test a student’s progress in Zen practice), zen tales and haikus (a form of Japanese poetry), which Jodorowsky collected during his experience with zen master Ejo Takata in Mexico City, in the 50s. It is one of those books from which I love and loved both the subject and the form, from the very beginning. The same happened to me with another book which happens to share with this one a link to Japan; it is the novel Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto. The third one, instead, has apparently nothing to do with Japan, apart from the love his author, Micheal Ende, had for this country; I’m talking about an Italian early edition of The Neverneding Story.
I can’t find a better way to talk about this book, that letting the book talking itself with a koan that today resonates within me:
“One day, Master Ummon said to his disciples: – If you don’t see someone for three days when finally you see them, you couldn’t be sure they are the same person. And of you what can you tell? –
No one answered.
The master said: – ten thousand – and he left that place.”
About this koan, Jodorowsky says: “This koan talks about the incessant changing. After three days, we are different. We are never identical to ourselves. When the master says “Ten thousand” it means “I accept the ten thousand facets of my interior diamond. Every human being that exists inside of me is one of the numerous facets of this diamond. […] I accept constant change. I have the chance to change.“
And now, my dears few readers, I have to leave you. Because another change occurred, and I must change my clothes, wear new ones I would have never chosen for myself before, and go to my first day of work. Wish me luck, I thank you for your time and wish to you a terrific day!