Sunday, March 20, 2011

When LeonBasin posted this link on New Buddhist, there was some suggestion that s/he was 'wasting' their time and distracting themselves from something more important.

Personally, I loved it - and hated it at the same time. Thanks for posting it, LeonBasin. I certainly can't get too worked up about something so cobbled together, but I can see that some people might get riled by the scare-mongering. I hope that most will draw back from the "Crusades" rhetoric.

I was taught that the Arabic word kismet denoted that all is pre-ordained, 'written'. Am I not right that there are Buddhist 'prophecies' about a period of desolation? The millenarian Christian mythos is far from unique. Each generation has used its 'cutting edge' technology to elaborate on it and to see their own prophecies revealed, o quelle surprise!, to be apparent here and now.  To be followed, of course, by a time of great joy for the Chosen or the Enlightened or the Lucky, according to which elite you want to belong to, usually ushered in by some saviour or returning hero - male on almost every occasion, I notice. It is either "Wait till your father gets home!" or Jenny Agutter running aloing that platform shouting "Daddy! My Daddy!"

If we had never been told stories and taught to tell the difference between 'true' and 'made up', we could, I suppose, believe in just about anything.

Another thing is that I don't think that time can be 'wasted', in the great scheme of things, nor is it entirely a bad thing to distract the surface 'I' from time to time. Even sitting in meditation is a distraction from the dukkha which we confront moment by moment. Alongside the bread of betterment, we do need the chocolate cake of entertainment

"All, in the end, is harvest" or Harry Williams' words:
"There is nothing in this world or the next, absolutely nothing, which cannot, and will not, be turned into the valid currency we need to buy the one pearl of great price. That is what is meant when we say that we are redeemed."
(H.A.Williams, The True Wilderness)

Watching the trailer for that straight-to-discount-bin dvd makes me realise that we really haven't progressed very far out of the cave and into the wider savannah, away from superstition and into reality. We do try. That will, perhaps, be our saving grace. The elitist and the authoritarian, the patriarchy in all its variety of forms, would like to control and direct the stories we tell our children and our grandchildren. We mustn't 'send out the wrong message'. All for the best possible reasons too.

I remember a conversation between Thomas More and Richard Roper, his son-in-law, in A Man For All Seasons:

"What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ... And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

I feel the same about stories, myths and legends because, without them we would not have a chance of challenging our own myths and assumptions, our presuppositions and our prejudices, or of realising that 'real' may be just as 'made up' as the fairy-tale ones .