Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

21 November 2010

the diva in divine; the divine in diva

~ ~It is very pretentious, I know,
to call one's self
a diva~~

Beyonce calls herself one:

Now, I'm not going to say
that Beyonce is not
a diva,
in fact I do think she is,
but I want to contemplate,
the way the meaning of this word has changed.

A hustler, of course, is a cheater,
or a pimp
or a prostitute,
someone whose primary motivation
is money and sex.

But is that truly all
a diva is?

Now, diva is a word
that for a long time
has had somewhat negative connotations:

(maria malibran-wikipedia + )

Divas do have a reputation
of being tempermental
and willful,
but that willfulness
coincides with a tendency to be
a top performer,
someone who gives their all.

Anyone who finds opera
to be excessive or weird,
or criticizes divas
for being too testy
doesn't understand one key point:
to give one's self to a piece of music like that
means making one's Self
somewhat vulnerable.

You surrendor to the music,
you surrendor to your art,
and the outcome,
if you don't protect yourself
with a fiery temperment
or a good manager,
can be fatal.

( brooklynmuseum )

~ ~ ~

Even Wikipedia acknowledges
that the definition itself
has its roots
in something far more
perfect and pure:

"The word entered the English language in the late 19th century. It is derived from the Italian noun diva, a female deity. The plural of the word in English is "divas"; in Italian, dive [ˈdiːve]. The basic sense of the term is "goddess",[1][2] the feminine of the Latin word divus (Italian divo), a male deity.[3] The word is thus distantly related to the Hindu term deva and the Zoroastrian concept of the daevas."
( wikipedia/diva )

Thus, in both the West and the East,
the etymology of the word
is distinctly grounded
in the notion of divine.


In both traditions
it is linked with a goddess,
and has a male counterpart as well.

I often quote a man named
Hazrat Inayat Khan,
and according to him:

"The word divine has its origin in the Sanskrit word
which also means divine.  And yet the root of this word means light,
which explains that the divine 
is that part of being 
which is illuminated
by the light within."

I find Inayat Khan's message to be
the most satisfying these days,
because he sought to preach a
across belief systems,
and it is a oneness
that acknowledges
the existence of
the divine.

He goes on to say:

"Therefore, though in man there is light hidden,
if not disclosed,
he is not divine.
If the hidden light were divine,
then the stone could be divine too,
for the spark of fire
is hidden in the rock.
All life is one,
without doubt,
and all names and forms are of the same life.
But that part of life from which light springs,
illuminating itself and its surroundings,
and bringing recognition of its own being,
is divine;
for in this is the fulfilment
of the purpose of the whole creation,
and every activity is directed towards achieving the same purpose."

( minxmx )

A deva in the Hindu tradition
is an angel, any benevolent spiritual entity,
and there are many

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad,
it is claimed there are
33 celestial devas,
and the Vedas tell us
that those 33 devas
are reflected in Nature,
in the world we live in.

Inayat Khan continues:
"How calmly the mountains and hills seem to be waiting for a certain day to come!
If we went near them and listened to their voices,
they would tell us this.
And how eagerly the plants and the trees in the forest
seem to be waiting for some day, for some hour,
the hour of the fulfilment of their desire!
If only we could hear the words they say!
In animals, in birds,
in the lower creation, the desire is still more intense
and still more pronounced. 
The seer can see it when his glance meets their glance."

In Buddhism,
the deva is also a deity,
a "shining one,"
but they live in an impermanent place,

The average human,
caught up in the hustle of the day
(the diva is a hustler???)
cannot hear them,
but those who have opened their
extrasensory eye or ear,
they can be perceived.

( esogarden )

In all these traditions,
the deva or diva
is she - and he -
who has taken the next step
on a journey
to the divine

and this individual
gains this stage
by opening up
something essential
to that individual--

Inayat Khan adds:
"But the fulfilmment of this desire is in man [and woman]:
the desire that has worked through all aspects of life
and brought forth different fruits,
yet always preparing a way
to reach the same Light which is called Divinity.
But even man, whose right it is, 
cannot reach it unless he acquire
the knowledge of the self,
which is the essence of all religions."
( from:"God the Infinite" The Unity of Religious Ideals

The knowledge of self,
in this sense,
has little to do
with money or sex
and everything to do
with accepting your true voice
opening yourself up
and truly
singing --

a vulnerable position,
to say the least,
but it is the position
of the true diva
the one who 
will take the risk
of letting their light
really shine . . . 

(follow this link to 80 year-old Janey Cutler -- those who have posted
her videos on YouTube have wisely not enabled comments or posting.)

I would dare say
a true diva 
is one who is not afraid
to open up
and let their inner light shine.

many divas today
in the U.S.A.
feel it necessary
to wrap their divinity
in pretentious disguises,
or  to only settle for children
who do it naturally,
because in the West,
at least,
we don't smile upon those who forefront their talent.
We prefer
to elevate
the mundane,
and the absurd,
to give rewards
for just being present,
and to applaud
the hustla.

And meanwhile,
the natural world,
the earth,
for the coming of the divine

and the sad thing is:

the divine will come from nowhere
if it does not come
from us.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I agree that the word and concept of "Diva" has been cheapened by American pop culture. But then again, what hasn't? I think of a Diva as someone whose difficult personality, demanding nature and tantrums are tolerated simply because he/she is so divinely talented that "all is forgiven." I don't think it's a title you can really confer on yourself.

You picked some great videos!

Makropoulos said...

Hey, Debra,
Thanks so much for your comments.

I guess my point is that yes, that's what we have come to feel a diva is -- but that hasn't always been the case. A diva is a divine being. And I really feel we all have the potential to be divas, if we are absolutely honest with ourselves about who we are and what are true talents are and then pursue them, with little attention to what others expect us or want us to do.

Not everyone is a born singer, it's true, but people who are born to be singers should do precisely that -- sing, with all their hearts; if their talent is recognized and fostered, they may very well become divas.

There can be diva writers, diva sculptors, diva secretaries, diva teachers, diva taxi drivers, diva plumbers -- the challenge for everyone is to recognize who and what they were born to be, and to be it. And then we'll all be a bit of the divine.

Yes, I do criticize trends in the West, and the USA in particular, but to be honest, I'm a terrific optimist underneath it all --

Stay warm! Judging on your recent posting, you may need some gloves with fingers in them!