A Hindu master told his disciple the story of the mango-tree : “Should the roots of this tree be struck, though its sap would be draining away, the tree would go on living. Similarly, if its trunk or its canopy were struck, though its sap would be draining away, it would go on living. Imbued with atman (the soul), and living (jiva), greedily sucking the earth’s juice up, it abides in joy.” (Chândogya-Upanisad. 6th Chapter)

   I am amazed at that conclusion that seems to be echoing the Tao Te Ching : “Everyman carries darkness upon his back and embraces light”. I find amazing the way they have of associating attention and heart with whatever raises eagerness and thrill for life, instead of endlessly pondering over adversity and the ordeal one has been undergoing. The Western world, on the contrary, owing to a (Greek and Judaeo-Christian) cultural legacy, makes a particular point to recollect assault, battery and bruises at the tree. Are not the peoples of Asia put to the test by the tsunami forecast to eventually get back to their feet faster than might have the Westerners ? Evidently, the interpretation of that tale put to me after reading it deals with “the universal opposition between pleasure/pain, prosperousness/misfortune”. I don’t deny it, as long as their amount is concerned, and the two things are weighed one against the other. What differs, though, lies of course in the ability to live, meaning, in that particular case, in the ability to greedily indulge in the earth’s juice, making the best of a bad job, instead of indulging in dwelling on the hurts.

   The most grief-stricken woman I ever sculpted, “Woman sunk in meditation”, was ordered to me in 1983, after my mother died, by her brother, after an earthenware model. Yet, it took me two years, wrought by resilience, before I could carve it into something else than a grieving item, before I could add to the same pattern a sense of meditation, serenity, and of a budding, nearly blooming, longing for life. “Greedily sucking the earth’s juice up.”

(Translated by Michèle Bustros)

marbre h.19cm 1980-88