Saturday, September 20, 2008

Your fly fish Zen

Trees, rocks, fish fly to nirvana too
20 Sep, 2008, 0000 hrs
IST,Vithal C Nadkarni, ECONOMIC TIMES Bureau

YASUHIRO: Hamano was three-years-old when his father took him on a fly-fishing expedition. In the secluded woods off Kyoto in the shadow of the Mist-Catcher Mountains, Hamano Sr enunciated his philosophy of ‘Nature-vision-concept’ to his wide-eyed son: One could not exist without the other.

You could not sustain a concept without vision, for example, which, in turn, needed Nature in order to be nurtured. Hamano Sr also introduced his son to the Zen-like mysteries of fly-fishing, and the intimate connection it bears to the environment ethic.

Years later, when he had made a mark as a multi-faceted savant in architecture, fashion, design, photography, as well as philosophy and active adventure sports Hamano Jr rediscovered the principles he’d learnt as a budding fly-fisherman.

“Every mountain stream has its resident rainbow trout with its own ecology,” he told us in Mumbai recently. “There could be as many as 700 sorts of insects in various forms floating around for you to use as potential bait to snare this wily fish,” he ruminated. “Which one to use and how, would be something that the wannabe angler has to negotiate between his hands, head and the all-encompassing field.

“Yet these very fishermen who are the most sensitive to these natural cycles have to ultimately transcend their fishing rods, and turn into guardians and sentries of the rivers and Nature herself,” he emphasised. This flows out of the philosophy of the Tendai Sect which is akin to concepts of ‘deep ecology’, and is rooted in the idea that Buddhahood, or the capacity to attain enlightenment, is intrinsic in all things.

“Masters like Kukai and Saicho, for example, preached that plants, trees, rocks and everything else in this world has the quality of Buddha and will eventually reach Nirvana. In other words, everything in this life is equal in Nature, and therefore fish and men are equal as well,” he explained.

He also narrated the story of birth of Zen when the Buddha wordlessly held up a flower in an assembly. Nobody except Old Kashyapa reacted: He alone smiled, as Buddha smiled back.

The Master’s gesture can be interpreted as an invocation to use your hands for creative activity, rather than the mind. The philosophy is reflected in his projects such as Tokyu Hands and Friends of Rivers. It also explains why the Crow Tribe chief Mickey Old Coyote named him ‘Travelling Wisdom’ in Montana.

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