Friday, April 19, 2019

The Study of Suffering

I'm reading The Book Thief and I add it to the books about Germany during WW2, and the holocaust. There are so many books about this time and this particular brand of suffering. It makes you want to eat, the food shortages. It is a journey in to European culture and Jewish culture. Now I alternate between Israeli and Palestinian novels. This is a hot spot of conflict in the world.

But you can also read memoirs of ordinary abuse, or the abuse like a woman being educated and shot for it. It's hard to imagine the ban on education, I think education is so important, but the death instinct has forces

I'm also reading about the Irish potato famine. I'm one thirty second Irish (Great Grandfather) and perhaps more, who knows in the slush of American heritage. A northern european mutt, adding in Ecuadorian heritage to my sons and some Cherokee for my daughter. The smoosh of genetics.

I was particularly offended by a father giving away Katherine in Taming of the Shrew and someone recommended I read "Traffic in Women" by Gayle Rubin. The article helps to explain how women were given away by men, from an anthropologist viewpoint.

Despite one black woman conservative saying there is no racism in America, I read extensively of the African-American literature. I worked with a man who talked about getting paid less than his white co-worker. I apologized to him for my race. In social work school I learned that to deny racism was perhaps the racist thing in the world. To deny the existence of others suffering is a common strategy. The horrified anxiety of seeing others suffering causes us to turn our gaze and deny it. That didn't happen.

It's much easier to blame the victims of systematic violence, racism, sexism, classism. Since this happened to you, then you must have somehow asked for it. If you are poor in America you must be doing something wrong. You have a challenging school? Raise above. People do raise above and get out, you can do the same.

Forget reading, look at the homeless person you next see. I worked as a social worker for many years and saw suffering up close. I'll forever be unable to unsee what I saw, though I have blocked and forgotten quite a lot of it. People are suffering. Turn on the TV and watch the wars around the world. A lot of suffering you see is through a book or the TV but you also see it in real life. Perhaps you are stuck in an Emergency waiting room, or you drive past a car accident. You can't avoid suffering, experiencing it yourself or seeing it in others.

While religions can cause suffering, they are also one of the few institutions that suggest to not avert your gaze, to reflect on it. Can you keep your gaze on suffering when you see it? Do you notice the efforts to push it away, the horrified anxiety we feel.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness

Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness
If I have harmed anyone in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly through my own confusions, I ask their forgiveness. If any one has harmed me in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly through their own confusions, I forgive them. And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive, I forgive myself for that. For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself, judge or be unkind to myself, through my own confusions, I forgive myself.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Hildegard von Bingen

I can't blog now about how wonderful this movie was, but I'd like to begin the post for my thoughts as they come to me. Turns out there are 4 other movies about her on Amazon Prime, and 3 of them are free. I watched one called Vision. It was subtitled. That led me to Hildegard, a 45 minute drama in English. Then I watched the one based on a one woman play, that was enhanced for the film.

Seeing so many different shows about her, they each had a different slant, but they all this various aspects of her raise to believing in her visions, and the help of her brother, the taking on of the authority and establishing her own monastery, and her intensity and challenges. She developed a relationship with a younger woman who had visions too, and once documentary noted that her disciple was more read for a while.

Then I read the Wikipedia entry on her: Hildegard von Bingen, "was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath. She is considered to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany."

"Hildegard was elected magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136; she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165. One of her works as a composer, the Ordo Virtutum, is an early example of liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play. She wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, and poems, while supervising miniature illuminations in the Rupertsberg manuscript of her first work, Scivias. She is also noted for the invention of a constructed language known as Lingua Ignota."

Her spiritual intensity, calling out the venial leaders, and her music are amazing. Cut and paste her name into Spotify and listen to angelic music. She is amazing.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Maha-parinibbana Sutta quote

"...the monk, nun, male lay follower, or female lay follower who keeps practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, who keeps practicing masterfully, who lives in accordance with the Dhamma: that is the person who worships, honors, respects, venerates, & pays homage to the Tathagata with the highest homage. "

Friday, April 05, 2019

The Lotus Sutra Translated by Burton Watson chapter 16 quote

"Because living beings have different natures, different desires, different actions, and different ways of thinking and making distinctions, and because I want to enable them to put down good roots, I employ a variety of causes and conditions, similes, parables, and phrases and preach different doctrines. This, the Buddha's work, I have never for a moment neglected." The Lotus Sutra
Translated by Burton Watson, chapter 16

Friday, March 29, 2019

Archbishop Scroop from Henry IV part 2

I've always been interested in the specious reasoning of so-called spiritual people to be violent.

Here is the justification from Archbishop Scroop for warring:

we are all diseas'd
And with our surfeiting and wanton hours
Have brought ourselves into a burning fever,
And we must bleed for it; of which disease
Our late King, Richard, being infected, died.
But, my most noble Lord of Westmoreland,
I take not on me here as a physician;
Nor do I as an enemy to peace
Troop in the throngs of military men;
But rather show awhile like fearful war
To diet rank minds sick of happiness,
And purge th' obstructions which begin to stop
Our very veins of life. Hear me more plainly.
I have in equal balance justly weigh'd
What wrongs our arms may do, what wrongs we suffer,
And find our griefs heavier than our offences.
We see which way the stream of time doth run
And are enforc'd from our most quiet there
By the rough torrent of occasion;
And have the summary of all our griefs,
When time shall serve, to show in articles;
Which long ere this we offer'd to the King,
And might by no suit gain our audience:
When we are wrong'd, and would unfold our griefs,
We are denied access unto his person,
Even by those men that most have done us wrong.
The dangers of the days but newly gone,
Whose memory is written on the earth
With yet appearing blood, and the examples
Of every minute's instance, present now,
Hath put us in these ill-beseeming arms;
Not to break peace, or any branch of it,
But to establish here a peace indeed,
Concurring both in name and quality.