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Issue #1359 - Sunday, February 23, 2003 - Editor: Gloria
bliss... Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world..
We cannot cure the world of its pain and violence, but we can choose
to live in joy." ~Joseph Campbell
posted on Daily Dharma
where birds are few
and mice are losing
sight of spring
and for eternity,
to look where we are not,
travelling to the deep or heights
and slipping back unknown
passed once more
like a stranger on the path
or the recognition,
a meeting at the door
the listener in peace and glory
inside this never ending story
tonight joining sleeping beauty
in every seed
while the owl is singing
under the moon.
David Hodges NDS
Hankering for Disaster
I don't usually write on political
themes even though I follow the news closely. But last night I
read the following poem by Robert Bly and it seemed to fit the
current mood in the United States exactly. It refers to the
battle at Ypres, France, in World War I, when hundreds of
thousands of soldiers lost their lives for a few yards of
The Battle at Ypres, 1915
Tammuz, bright with feathers, goes to the Underworld.
The peat-bog man sleeps on his slanted face.
Not to worry; it means that spring has come.
Naked men crawl into tunnels to retrieve the giant
Snakes. They don't resist if pulled out backwards.
Ah, friends, the world pulls us out backwards.
Some say that every bit of iron we pull
Out of the earth, and shape, we have to pay for.
At Ypres we paid dearly for the Bentley car.
Some greedy part hankers for disaster, for things
To go wrong, for the war to start. Many people
Are disappointed when the bombing is canceled.
Events at times turn out exactly wrong with us.
The Magi are misled by a satellite in the night;
And a rabbit sacrifices people during our Easter.
How happy the Europeans were in 1914.
It seemed as though spring had come at last!
Our gaiety the morning of war is momentary.
--- Robert Bly, The Night Abraham Called to the Stars
I feel that many in the United States, especially in the executive branch of our government, have this hankering for disaster. And many people in this country would be disappointed if the war on Iraq doesn't happen - "Many people are disappointed when the bombing is canceled."
The problem is compounded because Saddam Hussein also has this hankering for disaster, as he has shown many times. He seems to be willing to pull down the roof on his own country. And my country seems to be willing to unleash the necessary destruction to help Saddam achieve his disaster.
Some notes on the poem itself:
Bly writes in images which sometimes are paradoxical and hard to understand. Tammuz was a Sumerian (i.e. pre-Christian) savior figure who predates Jesus in his death and resurrection. It is said that he fertilized the earth with his blood when he died. So in the first stanza Bly references the cycle of death and resurrection, blood in the fields, and then, in talking about the peat-bog man, that which is ancient which comes to light in modern times.
The second stanza makes that more explicit - the men who crawl into tunnels to pull out the giant snakes - this image gives me an echo of the caves of Afghanistan and how U.S. soldiers sought Osame bin Laden there. This stanza again talks about the primitive, the archaon, coming back to life.
"Every bit of iron we pull out of the earth we have to pay for" - What is this iron that we pull out of the earth? Easy to think about iron in the earth in conjunction with bombs, bullets, shells, missiles, destruction. Bly says we have to pay for this. There are debts incurred when we do this.
"The Magi are misled by a satellite in the night" - this image creates a wonderful image that, if it must be reduced to prose, refers to our tendency to get direction from technology, not spirit. So the satellite in the night sky is mistaken by the Magi for the true star of Bethlehem.
"A rabbit sacrifices people during our Easter" - This ties back to the earlier mention of Tammuz. Easter is the Christian celebration of death and resurrection, of our savior (not Tammuz!). And the rabbit is a pagan fertility motif that has been incorporated into Easter (the Easter Bunny). So this image is a reversal. At Easter, Jesus is sacrificed for the people. Bly says, though, a rabbit sacrifices people. In other words, the order of things is turned upside down and the pagan, primitive forces unleashed from the earth (peat bog man, the Snakes, iron) lead to a bloody sacrifice of our own people.
Yes, a rabbit sacrifices people. instead of the other way around..from earliest times, animal sacrifices were used as offerings to the gods. An animal would be slaughtered in a highly ritualized way and burned on the sacred altar. Christianity substituted a person for the animal, the very son of God, as the sacrifice. The Christian ceremony of Communion incorporates this, in ritual of eating Christ's body and drinking his blood.
In either case, the sacrifice is a "scapegoat", sacrificed for the good of the community. Scapegoats were also banished rather than sacrificed, thrown out of the camp. Modern American politics seems to need scapegoats at all times, such as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. These are both men whom we armed and trained before banishing them from our camp. The problem now is, these scapegoats have now scapegoated us, blaming Americans for their ills and seeking to sacrifice us to heal their own land.
The last stanza of the poem says "It seemed like spring had come at last". In this late-winter time, when we are tired of what has been a cold and snowy winter, the coming of spring might be accompanied with an unleashing of horrors. We Americans have to be very careful to note who is scapegoating whom, to note the blood that is spilled into the earth of our enemy's fields, to note if we are participating in some collective hankering for disaster that could prove our undoing.
Gene Poole NDS
Greg Goode wrote:
Of course the makeup of any person is not the person. I, you, whatever, is not
the person, is not the teacup or telephone. This is the freedom, and it's
here, there, everywhere, nowhere-not. The person is not made up of a person,
but of concepts, relations, colors, textures, surfaces, sounds, images and
other stuff. And these things themselves aren't made up of just themselves
either. They are in turn dependent on other things, which are in turn related
to other things. Start a thread anywhere and it leads everywhere. The very
wandering of the mind will give a clue to this..... This lack of fixed
identity, lack of concrete nature is the freedom. Imagine if a person really
were a person and just that, nothing else. That would be fixed, rigid,
set-in-stone, and unchangeable. THAT would be lack of freedom.
Here is a link to a very unusual online book, which just happens
to deal with this very aspect, to a depth that would place it among
the Vedas, in my opinion.
CAUTION! This is reading material for the mature (over 21) and
stable person. Contains 'adult' material, vivid descriptions of
despair, happiness, enlightenment, and violence. This book could
be called 'Matrix: ProGenesis', but its actual name is:
"The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect"
You may read the book online, or download
the ZIP file.
CAUTION: Contains POSTLARVAL concepts!
This is longer than the usual DailyDharma quote, but thought, in these
troubled times, it might be fine to consider a point of view on going to
war by a well-known and highly respected Buddhist monk, scholar and
author, who wrote the excerpt below in 1958. love, dg
"There can be no peace or happiness for man as long as he desires and
thirsts after conquering and subjugating his neighbor. As the Buddha
says, 'The victor breeds hatred, and the defeated lies down in misery.
He who renounces both victory and defeat is happy and peaceful.' The
only conquest that brings peace and happiness is self-conquest. 'One may
conquer millions in battle, but he who conquers himself, only one, is
the greatest of conquerors.'
You will say this is all very beautiful, noble and sublime, but
impractical. Is it practical to hate another? To kill one another? To
live in eternal fear like wild animals in a jungle? Is this more
practical and comfortable? Was hatred ever appeased by hatred? Was evil
ever won over by evil? But there are examples, at least in individual
cases, where hatred is appeased by loving-kindness, and evil won over by
You will say this may be so, practical in individual cases, but it never
works in national and international affairs. People are hypnotized,
psychologically puzzled, blinded and deceived by the political and
propaganda usage of such terms as 'national', 'international', or
'state'. What is a state but a vast conglomeration of individuals? A
nation or a state does not act, it is the individual who acts. What the
individual thinks and does, the state or nation thinks and does. What is
applicable to the individual is applicable to the state. If hatred can
be appeased by love and kindness by the individual, surely it can be
realized on the national and international scale too..
Even in the case of a single person, to meet hatred with kindness one
must have tremendous courage, boldness, faith, and confidence in moral
force. May it not be even more so in regard to international affairs? If
by the expression 'not practical' you mean 'not easy,' you are right.
Definitely it is not easy. Yet it should be tried. You may say it is
risky trying it. Surely it can not be more risky than trying a nuclear
war." ~ Ven. Walpola Rahula
From the book, "What The Buddha Taught," published by Grove Press.
XAN Million Paths
this if nothing else:
spiritual freedom and oneness with the Tao
are not randomly bestowed gifts,
but the rewards of conscious self-transformation
- The Hua Hu Ching
Viorica Weissman Million Paths
one , get up !
It's dawn , time to start searching.
Open your wings and lift .
Give like the blacksmith
even breath to the bellows.
Tend the fire that changes
the shape of metal.
Alchemical work begins at dawn,
as you walk out to meet the Friend.
Lalla, Naked Song
tr- Coleman Barks
Terry Murphy SufiMystic
"The Essential Rumi," rumi/barks, p239-243
There was a long drought. Crops dried up.
The vineyard leaves turned black.
People were gasping and dying like fish
thrown up on the shore and left there.
But one man was always laughing and smiling.
A group came and asked,
'Have you no compassion for the suffering?'
He answered, 'To your eyes this is a drought.
To me, it is a form of God's joy.
Everywhere in this desert I see green corn
growing waist high, a sea-wilderness
of young ears greener than leeks.
I reach to touch them.
How could I not?
You and your friends are like the Pharaoh
drowning in the Red Sea of your body's blood.
Become friends with Moses, and see this other riverwater.'
When you think your father is guilty of an injustice,
his face looks cruel. Joseph, to his envious brothers,
seemed dangerous. When you make peace with your father,
he will look peaceful and friendly. The whole world
is a form for truth.
When someone does not feel grateful
to that, the forms appear to be *as he feels*.
They mirror his anger, his greed, and his fear.
Make peace with the universe. Take joy in it.
It will turn to gold. Resurrection
will be now. Every moment,
a new beauty.
And never any boredom!
Instead this abundant, pouring
noise of many springs in your ears.
The tree limbs will move like people dancing,
who suddenly know what the mystical life is.
The leaves snap their fingers like they're hearing music.
They are! A sliver of mirror shines out
from under a felt covering. Think how it will be
when the whole thing is open to the air and the sunlight!
There are some mysteries that I'm not telling you.
There's so much doubt everywhere, so many opinions
that say, 'What you announce may be true
in the future, but not now.'
But this form of universal truth that I see
*This is not a prediction. This is here
in this instant, cash in the hand!*
This reminds me of the sons of Uzayr,
who were out on the road looking for their father.
They had grown old, and their father had miraculously
grown young! They met him and asked, 'Pardon us, sir,
but have you seen Uzayr? We heard that he's supposed
to be coming along this road today.'
'Yes,' said Uzayr, 'he's right behind me.'
One of the sons replied, 'That's good news!'
The other fell on the ground.
He had recognized his father.
'What do you mean *news!* We're already inside
the sweetness of his presence.'
To your minds there is such a thing as *news*,
whereas to the inner knowing, it's all
in the middle of its happening.
To doubters, this is a pain.
To believers, it's a gospel.
To the lover and the visionary,
it's life as it's being lived!
The rules of faithfulness
are just the door and the doorkeeper.
They keep the presence from being interrupted.
Being unfaithful is like the outside of a fruit peeling.
It's dry and bitter because it's facing away from the center.
Being faithful is like the inside of the peeling,
wet and sweet. But the place for peelings
is the fire. The real inside is beyond 'sweet'
and 'bitter.' It's the source of deliciousness.
This can't be said. I'm drowning in it!
Turn back! And let me cleave a road through water
like Moses. This much I will say,
and leave the rest hidden:
Your intellect is in fragments, like bits of gold
scattered over many matters. You must scrape them
together, so the royal stamp can be pressed into you.
Cohere, and you'll be as lovely as Samarcand
with its central market, or Damascus. Grain by grain,
collect the parts. You'll be more magnificent
than a flat coin. You'll be a cup
with carvings of the king
around the outside.
The Friend will become bread and springwater for you,
a lamp and a helper, your favorite dessert
and a glass of wine.
Union with that one
is grace. Gather the pieces,
so I can show you what is.
That's what talking is for,
to help us to be One. Manyness
is having sixty different emotions.
Unity is peace, and silence.
I know I ought to be silent,
but the excitement of this keeps opening
my mouth as a sneeze or a yawn does.
Muhammed says, *I ask forgiveness seventy times a day*,
and I do the same. Forgive me, forgive my talking
so much. But the way God makes mysteries *manifest*
quickens and keeps the flow of words in me continual.
A sleeper sleeps while his bedclothes drink in
the riverwater. The sleeper dreams of running around
looking for water and pointing in the dream to mirages,
'Water! There! There!' It's that *There!*
that keeps him asleep. *In the future, in the distance*,
those are illusions. Taste the *here* and the *now* of God.
The present thirst is your real intelligence,
not the back-and-forth, mercurial brightness.
Discursiveness dies and gets put in the grave.
This contemplative joy does not.
Scholarly knowledge is a vertigo,
an exhausted famousness.
Listening is better.
Being a teacher is a form of desire,
a lightning flash. Can you ride to Wahksh,
far up the Oxus River, on a streak of lightning?
Lightning is not guidance.
Lightning simply tells the clouds to weep.
Cry a little. The streak-lightning of our minds
comes so that we'll weep and long for our real lives.
A child's intellect says, 'I should go to school.'
But that intellect cannot teach itself.
A sick person's mind says, 'Go to the doctor,'
but that doesn't cure the patient.
Some devils were sneaking up close to heaven
trying to hear the secrets, when a voice came,
'Get out of here. Go to the world. Listen
to the prophets!' Enter the house through the door.
It's not a long way. You are empty reeds,
but you can become sugarcane again,
if you'll listen to the guide.
When a handful of dirt was taken from the hoofprint
of Gabriel's horse and thrown inside the golden calf,
the calf lowed! That's what the guide can do
for you. The guide can make you *live*.
The guide will take your falcon's hood off.
Love is the falconer, your king.
Be trained by that. Never say, or think,
'I am better than...whoever.'
That's what Satan thought.
Sleep in the spirit tree's peaceful shade,
and never stick your head out from that green.
ps ibid p243
Birdsong brings relief
to my longing.
I am just as ecstatic as they are,
but with nothing to say!
Please, universal soul, practice
some song, or something, through me!
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