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A Call from Charlottesville

Way back in 1893, the great Swami Vivekananda, an unknown monk from India, traveled to Chicago to participate in the Parliament of the World’s Religions, part of the Great Chicago World’s Fair, or “Columbian Exposition.”

After days of boring speeches in academic style, the Swami’s first five words led the entire audience to stand and give an ovation. What were those words?

“Sisters and Brothers of America!”

Instead of focusing on differences, the Swami greeted all who could hear him with words showing our ultimate connections. In fact, the Christian organizers of this event had pretty well been thinking that after all the “heathen” participants had been able to present their talks, the entire world was going to “see the light” and convert to Christianity. Instead, the Swami’s talk is practically the only one that is remembered today. And instead, the Swami ended up spending a lot of time in America, teaching the “wonderful doctrines” (a phrase from his speech) of Hinduism to eager Americans.

Of most interest and relevance today, are three sentences toward the end of the talk.

“Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often in human blood, destroyed civilizations, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now.

Swamiji closed his talk with the following, equally uplifting words:

“I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

Please see the following link for the entire text of his speech.

http://www.ramakrishna.org/chcgfull.htm

Perhaps equally important to us today, is the end of the Swami’s closing talk.

If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: “Help and not fight,” “Assimilation and not Destruction,” “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.”

I ask, when are the religious leaders of the world going to step up to the plate and do their part to make Swami Vivekananda’s hope a reality?

When are we going to demand that all of our leaders, religious and secular, renounce bigotry all all levels?

When are our leaders going to fan the warming flames of tolerance, if not universal acceptance, with the same fervor that some currently use to oxygenate antagonism to the point of mutual destruction?

When, at the very least is the United States of America going to stop giving tax exempt status to organizations that teach their pre-logical children that their fellow citizens are going to hell for calling the Divine by the wrong name?

When?

 

All She Wanted

All she wanted was for people to be a little nicer to each other. In her youth, she had been more naive, and then all she wanted was for people to be nice to each other. But now, she had discernment, and realized that was way to much to ask. So nicER. Just a little bit nicER.

She had spent decades wishing for understanding. Understanding for the sake of itself. At that early part of her life, she had perhaps been confused into wanting understanding due to a misplaced belief in the inevitability of beneficial consequences flowing from understanding. She hadn’t encountered David Levy’s book, so she did not know that sometimes, to understand is to change, but often, simply to understand a situation results in no practical change at all.

As time marched on, she got what she wanted. She gained more and more understanding of human nature. Eventually, she understood that there are lots of excellent reasons that most people want money or love much more strongly than they want understanding. Her father wanted money. He told her so. He also told her that it was clear to him that he would never understand people, but he could understand money. Her mother wanted justice. That interfered a little with her father’s accumulation of money, but that is life. We are all conflicted. Because whatever most of us want to sustain our bodies in comfort, most people also want to climb the stairway to heaven.

She had a colleague. A friend. He will remain nameless for the purpose of this article. His actions (the organizations he supported with this time and energy) say he wants the Protestant Christian vision. He spends some significant part of his time hanging out with financial planners, claiming he is working to help the poor to get their piece of the pie. As far as she saw it, investing in the stock market would do nothing to bring the Kingdom of Heaven.

She knows that it is a mistake to believe that the fantasy of financial stability  can ever be a foundation of social justice. Those who believe this clearly don’t even bother to flesh out the meaning of social justice, or realize that social justice is both the original and ultimate, and effectively,  only real type of justice. The concept of social justice is one of the ideas that the symbol of the blindfolded lady is intended to demonstrate. Justice has to close her eyes to the particulars of the case,  and consider the whole picture, which only becomes visible in the metaphorical darkness (freedom from distraction). To quote Billy Joel, it can only be seen by the eyes of the blind. In other words, at least in Western Civilization, we don’t believe in cutting off the hand that stole food to feed the hungry.

She knew that there was more to justice than punishing a book crime. She knew that the judge was supposed to be able to see into the heart and mind of the accused, and weigh the needs of the accused against the resources of the society.

Hunger in a land of plenty is a sin. Hunger in the land of scarcity may be as benign as a sad fact.

She knew, she understood, that her colleague with the misplaced focus on money was a mirror, sent by God to remind her of who she was, by virtue of what she wanted and what she knew. What she didn’t know was why others couldn’t understand that we can never escape the consequences of the wants of others. We can ignore them, at least for a time, but never escape. She knew that wants drive thoughts, and then action.

She knew that thoughtful thoughts have a greater chance to eventually drive elevating action and hasty or superficial thoughts drive actions with higher probabilities of negative unintended consequences.

She sometimes allowed herself to feel depressed by her colleague’s belief that social time spent with part time financial planners who were funding an orphanage in India was the most effective step he could take on the stairway to heaven. But she was usually able to treat the depressive thoughts by reminding herself of the teachings of The Great Merwegon (a fictional wise woman).

For over twenty years, she had devoted herself to cultivating clarity, and to teaching any others who were open to it, to doing the same. She knew that the basest wants are the strongest wants in most, which opened her to criticism for empowering people to hurt themselves and others, as they experimented with the cultivation of clarity.

She ever hopefully opened her mind to arguments that there was a more direct path toward increasing humans’ tendency to being nicer, but, to date, no convincing ones had been offered. With the possible exception of the book highlighted in this link. Instead, she was accused of manipulation, and even brainwashing, by her own father, no less. She would have felt that as a greater burden had she not already worked through the flawed thinking of a past accuser.

To her, that was the saddest thing. That people couldn’t distinguish someone teaching self-empowerment from someone seeking power over them. For now, she rededicated herself to cultivating clarity and teaching the teachable.

 

Ode to a Shark

A year or so ago, our writing group was challenged to write a sonnet. I completely failed. Fourteen lines of iambic pentameter (the rhythm of the heartbeat, the rhythm in which Shakespeare wrote his words) with a rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg. I could not get a single four lines in the required format. Then I had an idea a few weeks ago that my brain had reorganized itself and figured I could do it. It flowed. Unfortunately the second stanza did not make much sense. I let it sit and reworked it. Writing a sonnet is like working a crossword, our instructor informed us. Here is my first sonnet!

To cloak desire, to hide your fire, to leave
no trace, no trail, no hint of what went right;
to walk as one who fears the grass will grieve
if blocked a moment’s time from rays of light;

No life is this.

I cast a shadow dark
to shelter others from the sun that blinds.
The shark goes where it likes; it leaves its mark,
and spares no tears for fish or human kinds.

True sharks seek blood. We judge their action not.
It takes all kinds to make the world. Some day
we homo saps might learn the truth of what
God tried to show the prophets of his way.

An afterthought, the holy blessèd life;
Embrace the pain you cause and skip the strife.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hexanchus_nakamurai_JNC2615_Eye.JPG

 

 

Chrysalis Has Turned Dark

Butterfly’s orange and black wing pattern is now visible.

It won’t be long now!

Arrows show orange and black butterfly wing pattern through the now milky chrysalis.

High resolution version without the ugly arrows is shown below. The chrysalis seems to be sweating everywhere now. Note the profiles of the beads of “sweat” on the edges of the chrysalis as viewed here.

Arrows show orange wing pattern through the now milky chrysalis.

The monarch chrysalis is not only the archetypal symbol of transformation, it is the archetypal symbol of MYSTERY. Mystery has sometimes gotten a bad rap. It comes from parents and other authority figures acting like there is some reason other than their own personal preference as to why someone under their sway should do things the way the authority wants. That’s BS, to be “polite.” But there are enough real mysteries, and how a fat, slow moving, ever pooping caterpillar becomes a beautiful, weightless, never-know-where-it-will-be-in-a-second butterfly is one. Science has shed some light. There are microscopic life forms that carry the waste products out of the chrysalis and help air to diffuse in to the inner core of the insect’s body. But ultimately, even if we have all the DNA code, it’s a mystery, of the kind that drives curiosity, wonder, learning, and love.

Chrysalis Day 11

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis Day 11

Note the symmetry of the gold (secretions) and clear (water?) beads. Can you see the water droplets where it looks like the eyes might be forming?

The miracle of life! The joys of a close up camera lens… I found these bugs on the glass door to my office on June 26, 2011. So we are pretty seasonal here.

Who knows what these bugs are? But they are doing what they were made to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail of the loving couple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EIGHT HOURS LATER, they were still on the door, but had apparently had enough of such intimacy.

Enough is enough!

 

 

 

 

 

2011 was a good year for bugs on my office door. I named this on “linoleum bug” since it’s pattern reminded me of said floor covering. Look at the shape of the head. Compare to what is visible toward the downward hanging end of the monarch chrysalis. Maybe two the gold spots are for antennae.

Head Shot: We think of beetles as hard shelled, and this kindof looked like some sort of beetle to me, but the color patches look more like feathers from up close. Note the blue rim at its “neck.”

 

 

 

 

 

Sroll down to the next post to see more views of the Monarch chrysalis.

The Archetypal Symbol of the Miracle of Transformation

Side View of Monarch Chrysalis, Day 10

Do you think you see?

What does seeing mean?

Do you think you see with your eyes only?

Look! Look at the glowing turquoise chrysalis.

Really see what is in front of your eyes.

See the butterfly forming inside.

See the black wing markings already taking shape.

See the gold spots.

Notice the gold spots.

(Click on the images to zoom in, they are high resolution.)

What do you see now?

Wing Markings of Monarch Butterfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please tell me what you see.

I found the caterpillar that became this chrysalis as it was climbing up my storm door on June 21, 2017.

I am pretty sure the spirit of my recently departed mother sent it to me. She was an Aquarius, which is an air sign, and thus symbolized by a butterfly, which moves in air.

These photos were taken July 1, 2017.

Front view of Monarch chrysalis. What are the water drops?

I’ll try to update the progress of the transformation.

By the way, the black blob at the top is the scrunched up remains of what was the caterpillar’s skin. Usually it falls away from the chrysalis, but this time it got caught in the threads the caterpillar spun to attach itself to the jar I put it in.

After you have looked at the photos, or gone out and found your own caterpillar, read up on how to take care of them. It’s pretty easy. I was lucky to have the bookSally’s Caterpillar when I was young. By the way, do not believe that you can download this book for free. A web search sent me to ahdio.co.uk/sallys/caterpillar/sallys_caterpillar.pdf which sent me to a bunch of other places and I got sucked into giving a credit card number but the file is NOT there. Maybe US residents are not allowed to see the file, but the book is apparently out of print.

You can also read or listen to my story (click on this link) about a little boy who finds a monarch caterpillar.

Crapulence

One of my new acquaintances sent me a list of things entitled *Did You Know These Things Had Names?* The message arrived just as I was taking over for our writing group leader who could not make it that day. For the record, I’m generally fourth in command in that group. There are three other people who are equally or more capable and willing, personality wise, and have more experience in leading writing groups than I do. So that day the three of them were out. Crapulence stood out to me as a good word for a prompt.

DEFINITION:  That utterly sick feeling you get after eating or drinking too much is called crapulence.

Here’s what I wrote:

To live is to be bruised. As Rumi, via Coleman Barks and John Moyne said, “Aren’t we all hazy with smoke?” This is the single-most effective, concise, succinct bit of wisdom ever generated. It’s a description of the human condition. Understanding this fact, in its depth and breadth, is the path to liberation from resentment, desire for revenge, and all the evil spirits that plague humanity. If you indulge in opulence and experience crapulence, you are unlikely to be able to see the fact that we are all hazy with smoke, as your vision will be cloudy, and you won’t be able to distinguish the cloud from the haze. At least not at first.

It is said that the Buddha had his phase of opulence, but he eventually grew dissatisfied with the result, crapulent, or perhaps not, before finding a path to the clear vision that must precede understanding, which must precede liberation from fear, doubt, and trouble of any kind.

Five Haikus

Where did Homo Saps come from?

An answer in five Haikus.

Heat dissipated

and crystals nucleated

the Rocks of Ages.

Rain scoured the rocks.

Small cracks multiplied

sand grains, freed to roam.

Lightening sparked union

of carbon, hydrogen, and

oxygen atoms.

Molecules arose,

mingled, merged, emerged as new

complex, craggy shapes.

Crags caught each other,

multiplying possible

outcomes. Here we are!

Note: This does not contradict the Bible, despite what some might think. Those are people who do not understand the difference between a mechanism (what I am describing here) and the cause, reason, or motivating force, which I can give no better answer to than anyone else. I am a deeply spiritual person, and it is aggravating when people accuse me of being an atheist. Consciousness preceded or coincided with matter. Like the bumper sticker says, “God Spoke, and Bang It Happened.”