Handcrafted sandals and the wisdom of the universal principals
If you want to understand the universe you need to follow the principles of nature. Nature follows the principal laws of cause and effect.
Let’s have a look at a seed. The seed represents the entire universal causation by becoming enwombed (cause) and then presenting itself in a new form (effect).
Many handicrafts are been made with seeds like chains or bracelets from all kind of different seeds. As kids we loved to make big chains from chestnuts. Now what that has to do with universal principles? On the first sight of course nothing much. But if we do look at the intrinsic meaning of a seed we certainly understand the great natural principal and my motivation for the handmade sandals, which I did for my wife after reading the following story of the Upanishad (the philosophical portion of the Veda).
That Something in Nothing
After the son Shevetaketu returned back from school and the father (Uddalaka by name) could make out that the son didn’t learn anything, he told to his son:
“Go outside and bring me a fruit from the banyan tree”. The son ran outside and brought the fruit.
“Now cut it in half”, told the father. “What do you see?”
“I see the seeds” answered the son.
“Cut one of those in half” instructed the father. That wasn’t easy, banyan seeds are extremely small, but finally Shevetaketu managed to cut one seed into half.
“What do you see?” the father asked.
The boy was baffled. “What do you mean, dad? There is nothing inside!”
Uddalaka looked his son in the eyes and told:
”From this nothing an enormous tree arises. When you understand what that “nothing” is, you will understand yourself. The nothing, the subtle (power) which you can’t see, through that (invisible) subtle power in the seed this great tree stands. Have faith beloved one. It is this invisible force, which is the essence for this tree and of the entire universe. This is the reality; this is atman, the self. You are that, son.”
Inspiring isn’t it? I’ve read this story many years back for the first time and I’ve always loved it. Just recently I came back from a trip in the Nilgiries and brought some few Rudraksha seeds with me, wondering what best to do with them. After remembering the story of the Upanishads, I was sure that I wanted to craft a special footwear with the Rudraksha seeds as button-fastening.
Rudra means “Shiva” (the Hindu-God) and aksha means “eyes”, so the Rudrakshas should become my “face” of the footwear.
I loved to create this work for my beloved wife. My wife has long feet, a very low instep and a weak arch, so I’ve decided to make one of my “smart” functional sandals for her.
The Rudrakshas are the fastening for this long and single- strap sandal. It’s only one single strap, which goes up and down through the entire sandal. The strap is adjustable to any fitting by pulling or closing it.
This in-built arch of the sole should give support to the foot. Below the insole is 5 mm foam cushioning, which will give comfort.
The heel and the rubber straps in the front part of the sole are from upcycled rubber tires. Some designers are coloring their soles red or blue, I like the hand-finished wood look.
I told my wife: “Every morning, when you are getting ready – looking out for your keys, your purse, sun-glace or mobile phone and putting on your sandals, just for one second look at the seeds and remember, for one short moment, the story of “The Something in Nothing” – and have a nice day”.
Andre Gerdes (The Seed-Cobbler)