Tuesday, November 14, 2006
One piece of baggage
Times really have changed. When the old scriptures were written, most people never travelled beyond their own village. Very few could read. Except for gentlefolk and scholars, life was “brutish and short”. But spiritual life---worship, prayer, sacrifices, rituals---was intense. Much was felt inside, the heart bursting with heightened emotions; though I have only imagination to tell me so. Life was full of natural sights and sounds and smells, sharp pains, bitter cold, burning heat. What did “beliefs” matter? Bow before this god, you survive. Bow before that one, you are tortured and killed.
There are parts of the world where some still live in those old ways. We may find it difficult to understand what makes them ready to die for a certain form of society, or conversely risk their lives to escape it. Our own ancestors were no different, so let’s not hasten to condemn.
Whatever doctrines may arouse our passions, we still have Maslow’s pyramid to climb, that hierarchy of needs: food, shelter, dignity . . .
When the walking distance to fresh water no longer robs our time and energy, when our stores of food no longer run out, we are rich: rich in leisure to dream and speculate, like princes of old. We are at the top of that pyramid and still not exhausted, so we float in the three-dimensional sky like drifting balloons.
In the new world, a realm of choices and plenty, there’s no bedrock of religious certainty, just fluffy clouds, shapely landscapes till we get close and see that they are just a fog with no foothold. In olden times, the search for Truth was a perilous quest for which we might have to renounce the world. Today, we are accosted by pedlars of wisdom, wooed by promises of euphoria, relentlessly pursued by “solutions” we have not sought.
In this transformed spiritual landscape, what few words (e.g. three!) might a sage offer as guidance, to cut through the fog, the mitote, the dream of the planet?
(To be continued)
Posted by Vincent at 9:48 pm