Thursday, November 10, 2005
SriLanka: "Nikkan Awa" - I just came...
Sri Lankans, Buddhist have one expression that can be named the philosophy of their lifes - Nikkan Awa. Literally, "I just came" or "came without any reason" in English does not catch the flavour and mood of the Sinhala original.
Deep down, the Sinhala people are for being rather than for doing. They would rather be, just be, than do. Doing or action is marginal to their existence. Their unarticulated philosophy of life is to live leisurely, unhurriedly, doing nothing as far as possible - to just be (nikan innawa).
"In Ceylon, as elsewhere, vegetating signifies a form of existence which proceeds without effort, but then effort is superfluous here; everything succeds without it. Here vegetating becomes the form of all life, even of mental life; the mind becomes rampant, like tropical plants... In the tropics - I feel it already - it does not occur to one to judge psychic phenomena by diffrent standard form physical ones; it never enters one's head to take them seriously metaphysically. Everything that happens in me, develops in me as the plants develop out there. It is not I who think but somethink thinks in me, it is not who whish, but something wishes in me. Actually this is what happens everywhere, but in Ceylon where Nature does everything essential, claiming with emphasis for herself all that belongs to her so that man shall not misunderstand himself, everyone becomes conscious of this truth. For the most mediocre native, Buddha's doctrine of cognition must be a matter of course, while the most cultured European very exceptionally perceives its truth. The latter is conscious of action precisely where the Oriental recognises inaction.."
- Hermann Keyserling, The Travel Diary of Philosopher
* Nikan Awa - implies you do not need a reason for coming or for doing anything. If there is any doing that is its own reason, or being and doing coincide. There is no special "doing" outside being.