Monday, December 28, 2015

End-2015 Thoughts

Rectangle Magnet

I gather here five snippets from the past few days. They sum up, somehow, this past year's drama and calm. A year of wonder, seeing Mount Rushmore again, seeing Ireland in places I'd never been there as well as ones I returned to visiting friends. One too that took me to Italy, at last, with delight. After a year that found me frenetically working online and onsite, divided between two centers and lots of traffic. Inner challenges as I tried to balance a growing despair in the world's direction and my own need to "chase after what others think of me" as I was counseled. A year that found me facing my idealism about the slim hope of overcoming the doom that appears to loom larger over our planet. Even a left-libertarian, as I found I am best aligned, resents much of the passive-aggressive cant of the left. I witness the smugness of those who turn inward away from injustice, and the annoyance of those in the media who manipulate it to proclaim themselves endless victims of the slightest slight. Part of me has faith in my fellow men and women. Part of me wants to flee the city for a hermitage.

Donald Miller of USC notes: “Fundamentally, the old Christian cosmology – God sending a son to redeem the world; a God who is all-powerful and yet seemingly impotent in the face of mass violence – simply doesn’t work for many educated young adults. The idea of being ‘spiritual but not religious” oversimplifies people’s understanding of spirituality, but it also signals the possibility that the human spirit quests for something deeper than a latest technological gadget.” 
In 1920, Alexander Berkman reflects on his visit to Lenin in The Bolshevik Myth. "What is a fanatic but a man whose faith is impregnable to doubt? It is the faith that moves mountains, the faith that accomplishes. Revolutions are not made by Hamlets. The traditional 'great' man, the 'big personality' of current conception, may give to the world new thoughts, noble vision, inspiration. But the man that 'sees every side' cannot lead, cannot control. He is too conscious of the fallibility of all theories, even of thought itself, to be a fighter in any cause.
Lenin is a fighter --- revolutionary leaders must be such. In this sense Lenin is great --- in his oneness with himself, in his single-mindedness; in his psychic positiveness that is as self-sacrificial as it is ruthless to others, in the full assurance that only his plan can save mankind."
Pankaj Mishra interviews the Dalai Lama. "The 'world picture,' as he saw it, was bleak. People all over the world were killing in the name of their religions. Even Buddhists in Burma were tormenting Rohingya Muslims. This was why he had turned away from organized religion, engaged with quantum physics and started to emphasize the secular values of compassion. It was no longer feasible, he said, to construct an ethical existence on the basis of traditional religion in multicultural societies."

Then "he added that all religious institutions, including the Dalai Lama, developed in feudal circumstances. Corrupted by hierarchical systems, they began to discriminate between men and women; they came to be compromised by such cultural spinoffs as Sharia law and the caste system. But, he said, ‘time change; they have to change. Therefore, Dalai Lama institution, I proudly, voluntarily, ended.'’’ 
Emma Goldman compares Marriage and Love: "Free love? As if love is anything but free! Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love. Man has subdued bodies, but all the power on earth has been unable to subdue love. Man has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love. Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly helpless before love. High on a throne, with all the splendor and pomp his gold can command, man is yet poor and desolate, if love passes him by. And if it stays, the poorest hovel is radiant with warmth, with life and color. Thus love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king. Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere. In freedom it gives itself unreservedly, abundantly, completely. All the laws on the statutes, all the courts in the universe, cannot tear it from the soil, once love has taken root.”

John O'Donohue remarks in Eternal Echoes: "As we journey onwards in life, more and more spaces within us fill with absence. We begin to have more and more friends among the dead. Every person suffers the absence of their past. It is utterly astonishing how the force and fiber of each day unravel into the vacant air of yesterday. You look behind you and you see nothing of your days here. Our vanished days increase our experience of absence. Yet our past does not deconstruct as if it never was. Memory is the place where our vanished days secretly gather. Memory rescues experience from total disappearance. The kingdom of memory is full of the ruins of presence. It is astonishing how faithful experience actually is; how it never vanishes completely. Experience leaves deep traces in us. It is surprising that years after something has happened to you the needle of thought can hit some groove in the mind and the music of a long vanished event can rise in your soul as fresh and vital as the evening it happened." [Morrigan (c) 2005 by Emily Carding-Allen; Celtic goddess of the phantom and or the great, ruling over and with battle, strife, sovereignty.]

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