Sansaku: Not a Curse, a Blessing
Fairytales are shameless when it comes to changing the story. Hansel and Gretel might be siblings in one story then married in the next. After their time in the forest, they transformed. No longer brother and sister, they’re still a pair just husband and wife. I haven’t yet asked about children.
Not that he was looking, but the nose must have caught a scent. Hansel had the eyes to see Coyote. Most couldn’t. He brought him home to Gretel. “Look what I found.” Coyote said, “It’s the other way around.” Hansel didn’t argue.
Tom Petty died this week and two of his songs keep playing in my head. They alternate like a current. “Free Falling” suddenly turns into the anthem, “And I Won’t Let Go.” Polarity.
When Adam and Eve lost their innocence, the Dragon looked down and said, “Why are you hiding? What’s with the fig leaves and downcast eyes? Why won’t you look at me?” The humans were ashamed. It’s what needed to happen and the Dragon was waiting.
Change the names and they become Hansel and Gretel. The Dragon says, “You have lost your innocence and are no longer children. Now that you’ve tasted the fruit of experience, it’s time for you to journey on. They leave the garden, not with a curse, but a blessing.
We bear the mark of initiation in our souls.
Japan is a shame culture because so much value is placed on acceptability and conformity. The social expectations are extreme. Your character is on the line, not just guilt.
It’s one of the dividing lines.
In America, land of the independent individual and the free, we’re a guilt culture. Those who feel guilty are constantly making amends. Most try not to get caught and even red-handed will act like they’re not. Our leaders model this lack of shame and guilt.
The shadow side of Japanese shame and conformity is the mind-shocking surprises typifying Zen. It’s humorous, creative, wickedly present, and carries a stick to wake the sleepy.
Americans might be wild, diverse and free, but the shadow from the Collective Committee on Un-American Activities stretches all the way to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. We project with impunity.
Japanese conformity might be easy to mock, they do look a bit like bees or ants from a distance. Go closer and enter the buzz and the hive, they are highly attuned to each other. And here’s a kicker, the high school girls have uniforms, but create more style with socks and ties, and the way they hike and wear their skirts than I imagined.
I walk past high school students in Durango. I know why the Zen master told the hippies who came to Japan, “Take off your beads and cut your hair. With robes and shaved heads, I’ll be able to see you.”
Coyote looked out the window of the cottage and said, “It’s kind of ugly and noisy.” There’s no hiding that. It’s out of the garden, for sure.
If guilt demands amends, shame requires you change your self and become a better person, not so stupid, but wise. Dragons are beyond shame and guilt. It doesn’t apply. Coyotes cross the line.
Shame is a good thing when it comes to the human. Those who are shameless and have no guilt are not to be trusted. Sound familiar? Coyote said to Hansel and Gretel, “I’ve come to take you back. You’ve met the Witch, it’s time you meet the Dragon.”