Talking about time and communication ... when I was a small kid, learning to speak (yes, I remember back that far*), one day I half-heard my parents use the word water. As I indicated, I didn't hear it clearly, so I tried to find out what the word was. I actually asked "was that wa .. wa ..." (I didn't have the vocabulary to say "what was that word you just used" - I tried to recreate the word, paused, then tried again), and my parents decide I had come up with something cute - "wa-wa" for water ("Yes, you can call it wa-wa if you want"). No, I didn't want to bloody call it wa-wa, I wanted to know what the proper damn word was. So ... if I may suggest, don't underestimate kids - and that includes not underestimating their capacity to be evil.
* I know someone who can remember being a child, being sung to by her mother, who wanted to sing her to sleep. She, however, was thinking along the lines of "if only she'd stop making that noise so I can go to sleep!"
Moving on ... it seems to me that many of the problems in society (e.g., materialism) are present because there is a spiritual vacuum. People want - in fact, need - a sense of purpose, and where that would, in other Yugas, be rightfully provided by spirituality, that is lacking in our immature Kali Yuga, where religion has become confused with spirituality. What is the solution? I don't know ... Maybe more emphasis on rigorous work and self discipline rather than trying to appeal to the laziest common denominator ...
I've recently been reading Marco Pallis' book "Peaks and Lamas", first published in 1939, republished in 2004 by Shoemaker & Hoard, ISBN 978-1593760588 (my copy is older, from a lovely, packed-to-the-rafters-with-books second-hand bookshop). This book, which has a chapter titled “the Round of Existence” that happens to be one of the best introductions for Westerners to Buddhist concepts that I have ever read, also describes Tibetan Buddhists as considering "Method" and "Wisdom" as being inextricably linked, with each being as essential as the other: Method, characterised as being male, is symbolised by monks by holding a dorje, and Wisdom, characterised as being female, is symbolised by monks by holding a bell. Their attitude towards these two was so inclusive it struck me as almost being pagan.
The Round of Existence also describes the various classes of beings, including "gods" (Deva realm: God realm) and demi-gods (Asura realm: Demi-god realm), who are seen as above humans but still trapped in illusion: this description is, I consider, better covered by Lobsang Rampa's description of Manus as a sort of hierarchy of deities branching out from the one universal source of all - also a bit like the pagan concept of the Goddess splitting sparks off herself to create other entities, who split sparks off themselves to create others, down to our Oversouls who split sparks off themselves to create parallels (i.e., us) ...
Incidentally, Pallis' book also includes the sort of dismissiveness of the inherent value of this level of reality as a valid purpose of existence in its own right (i.e., not as a stepping stone to something "better") that is one of the reasons I realised I was pagan, not Buddhist.
Post script - Monday 27th February, 2012
I have finished Pallis' book, and have a few more reflections.
Firstly, I consider the Boddhisattva Vow to be foolishness and a vanity. This level of existence will be part of reality until reality ends. The notion of staying behind until everyone is ready to reach enlightenment implies the view that we're just a bunch of miscreants, and the world/physical reality will snuff out of existence when the current batch graduates: not so. The physical level of reality does exist for a reason, which is learning and growth, but one is ALWAYS going to be learning, no matter how evolved one is - and, in fact, one may be better able to help those on this level of reality by continuing to evolve, instead of putting a brake on one's evolution. In the current Kali Yuga, the notion that there may be a limit to the existence of the world may have a somewhat perverse attraction. In, however, the Gold Yuga, this world would actually be quite a pleasant place to be, and it would be inconceivable to wish for it to end. Then there is the issue of assuming that one's presence is necessary for others to evolve. Yes, I know that isn't what is intended by the Boddhisattva Vow, but the reality is, Reality is actually quite well organised. Teachers will always be provided for those who are worthy. Of course, the student may not like what the Teacher teaches ... which brings me to the next point.
Pallis writes about the attitude of Tibetans towards "sin", or making errors, along the lines of: if it increases awareness, then such errors should be encouraged - and hence some of the behaviour of gurus towards students that many Westerners would consider appalling - such as Marpa getting Milarepa to build a house and then tear it down. Such "trickery" occurs in other traditions as well. Indeed, if I look back at my life, I can see many "mistakes" I've made, but they've mostly contributed to who I am today, and I think I would only change one or two of them. Incidentally, I include some emotions in that, emotions that I now consider quite self-indulgent, but which were major motivators at the time for me to learn and progress.
And now, this week's readings links. As usual, these have been chosen for a mixture of interest, information, and stimulation of thought: I don't necessarily agree with any or all of these :)
- "You Do Not Represent Me", by Crick http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=uspa&c=words&id=14804;
- Cryokinesis: http://www.wingmakers.co.nz/Cryokinesis.html;
- Health and the empath: http://the-psychic-detective.com/health-and-the-empath.htm;
- "Friends indeed: the Quaker quest for peace and quiet", 25th February, 2012: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/friends-indeed-the-quaker-quest-for-peace-and-quiet-20120224-1tttn.html;
- "When walls can talk", 26th February, 2012: http://www.theage.com.au/world/when-walls-can-talk-20120225-1tv1v.html;
- "The gender agenda: Gillard and the politics of sexism", 26th February, 2012: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/the-gender-agenda-gillard-and-the-politics-of-sexism-20120225-1tv7n.html;
- A very controversial article, this one, one which I thought long and hard about posting, but it may stimulate some useful thought (just remember I don't necessarily agree with any/all of the links I post): "Busted: the politics of cleavage and a glance", 11th February, 2012: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/busted-the-politics-of-cleavage-and-a-glance-20120211-1sy7e.html;
- ... followed by one that is just common sense, and raises doubts about the credibility/lack of common sense/appropriateness of some science/scientists: "Everything you know about dieting is wrong", 20th February, 2012: http://www.watoday.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/everything-you-know-about-dieting-is-wrong-20120220-1tjef.html.
Love, light, hugs and blessings
Tags: art, boredom, Buddhism, children, communication, discrimination, ethics, materialism, purpose, science, sexism, society,
First published: Sunnudagr, 26th February, 2012
Last edited: Monday, 27th February, 2012