Monday, December 2, 2013

Think less, think better (3) - Understand the essence of things

There was a phase in my life that I worked as a perfumist. I learned that, just as flowers have a tiny percentage of essential oil, situations also have a small part of importance and a great amount of unnecessary details.
In the old days, in the south of France where lavender is cultivated, the local people would set up a distilling unit alongside the field of flowers and they make a simple distillation there itself. (These days the process is mechanized). The proportion of essential oil in lavender is about 0.05%, that is, 5 kilos of oil can be extracted from each ton of petals. Whoever has seen a ton of petals knows that would fill up a huge hall. It would be absurd for them to take cartloads of petals back to the town to extract the oil there. Since it is a quite stable substance, it was distilled in the field and refined later. The chaff was then used to fertilize future plantations. In the same way, instead of carrying forward the bulky chaff of insignificant details from the diverse situations that I pass through in life, I should learn to identify and retain the 0.05% of their meaningful essence. It's much lighter and easier to use!
Many times, that which is really important escapes me because I insist on carrying in mind the trivialities of the non-important. If I just check the last ten times that I became annoyed I will see that the agente provocateur was some trifling detail. Rage always tends to exaggerate.
There are three main effects in the person that has head full of chaff:
·      mental and intellectual overload
·      personal fragmentation
·      inner sense of weakness or lethargy
I should deeply understand these three thieves that strip me of my quality as a human being.
Continuing on with this perfumery analogy there is a situation of jasmine. The jasmine flower is very delicate and its esters are quite volatile. Its essence cannot be distilled at the side of the fields. Hand picked jasmine flowers are placed in special solvents which allow the so-called jasmine absolute to precipitate out. The solvents are then evaporated off. A more costly method called enfleurage is used in France. the petals are placed in a frame frame smeared with fat to absorb the odor of fresh jasmine flowers. The fat is then processed to obtain the jasmine absolute. In either case the price of a kilo of jasmine absolute, depending on the quality, can be up to US$5000. The characteristic aroma of jasmine is due to an ester called benzyl acetate, which makes up 65% of the oil. Benzyl acetate costs only a 2-3 dollars a kilo. Have a guess which one they use for cheap perfumes and incense!

In the same way, many situations look true but in fact they aren't. The pure essence has been substituted by something false. That's why we really need to work on our power of discernment so that after the situations have come and gone, I remain only with that which is true and neither chaff or falsehood weighs me down.