Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stream of UnConsciousness - Nothing Sacred - Kill the Buddha - Till Next Time



Poem by College Buddy Dennis Ryan 1968 
As He Went Off To The Peace Corps
A Banner I Made for Dignity - Use a Gay Interpretation of Eph 3:16
"May He Give  You The Power 
Through His Spirit 
For Your Hidden Self To Grow Strong"
I remember the lessons about Holy Communion that I was taught when I was a kid in Catholic grade school. 

The priest was the only one who could touch the Sacred Host because his thumb and index finger had been consecrated (made sacred). To drive home this lesson we were told of a missionary priest whose thumbs and forefingers had been cut off by heathens who were determined to keep him from saying Mass.  He got a special dispensation. 


(what a wonderful "Catholic" word - dispensation - better than "permission" because it implies being able to do something that might otherwise carry the consequences of sin and get away with it without having to go to purgatory or even hell; wouldn't it have been wonderful to get a dispensation to masturbate when we were teenagers? But I digress.) 


The missionary was allowed to have his middle and ring fingers "consecrated" so that he could continue to say Mass and touch the Eucharist.


But of course, I was puzzled because the communion wafer was placed on my tongue, which had not, to the best of my knowledge, ever been consecrated. 


I remember one time when the priest dropped a consecrated Eucharistic wafer on the floor while giving out communion. He stopped what he was doing and covered the host - or the spot where the host fell - with a white linen cloth until the service was over.  He then he returned with an altar boy holding holy water and a prayerbook.  The priest recited several Latin prayers from the book and sprinkled the area with Holy Water - water that had been blessed and made sacred also.  I imagined that this ritual somehow neutralized the spot that the host had touched or neutralized the clumsiness of the priest or made apologies to the Body of Christ that had hit the floor.  


It was kind of cool being in the Catholic Church back then - we were surrounded by things that were holy, blessed, consecrated and sacred. 


Not many years later, communicants were allowed to receive Holy Communion in their own hands, pick it up with their own fingers and place it in their own mouths - hands and fingers mind you, that had not been "consecrated". 


Was this the beginning of the unraveling of the illusion of the Sacred?  Some conservative Catholics might think so and with dismay and consternation.


Personally I think it is most important to hold nothing sacred - to finally hold nothing sacred - in order to perhaps truly experience the sacred.


Not to be rid of the golden calf, the hallowed ground, the flag, the tombs, the scriptures, the relics, the places of worship - but to cease holding such symbols sacred will perhaps free us to experience the sacred.  Because these things are meant to merely point to the sacred, not be held sacred in and of themselves.


I couldn't explain what I mean by that, so I am not even going to try.  Except that I don't think things and symbols and places are sacred - only that if we look more closely we may discover what those things are really pointing to - what it is that we should be in awe of and what is truly greater than.


I am reminded of the admonition to "Kill the Buddha" if you meet him on the road.  Not exactly in the same vein of thought, but somehow similar.  The saying is to remind us that there are impostors in every age.  Perhaps those objects and symbols which we hold sacred are impostors as well.  



*   *   *   *   *

A Zen koan asks "Does a dog have a Buddha nature?" 
I look at my Labrador Retriever. 
"Mu". 
I laugh out loud uncontrollably! 


*   *   *   *   *

In his book, If You Meet the Budha on the Road, Kill Him © by psychotherapist and author Sheldon Kopp (1929 – 1999), he lists a number of "truths" - his "Eschatological Laundry List" to which I have made some annotations:

1. This is it!

At least for a while - I need a break

2. There are no hidden meanings.

And we are quite foolish to keep looking

3. You can’t get there from here, and besides there’s no place else to go.

Assuming there is actually a "here" and a "there" - that's why there's no where else to go

4. We are all already dying, and we will be dead for a long time.

Some of us are already dead, but don't know it yet. Amen

5. Nothing lasts.
Just look at mom's special tea cup that you've treasured since forever - a hundred shards on the kitchen floor


6. There is no way of getting all you want.

Yet others keep taking what little you might have in order to prove this wrong

7. You can’t have anything unless you let go of it.

Yeah, like letting the butterfly go . . . I never did get that

8. You only get to keep what you give away.

That has to involve some serious sleight of hand

9. There is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.

Except you were in the wrong place at the right time, or your parents were poor or you were the ugliest kid in school - but those aren't reasons, just excuses

10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune. 

Oh, so that's why I don't have a pension

11. You have a responsibility to do your best nonetheless. 
I try

12. It is a random universe to which we bring meaning. 
"Spinning wheel got to go round"

13. You don’t really control anything. 
But are they controlling you?

14. You can’t make anyone love you. 
So why would you even try?

15. No one is any stronger or any weaker than anyone else. 
But there are plenty of people who would have you believe differently

16. Everyone is, in his own way, vulnerable.

But some can afford better armor

17. There are no great men.

Well, maybe a few, and some great women too

18. If you have a hero, look again: you have diminished yourself in some way.

I never did go in for those Marvel Comics
 
19. Everyone lies, cheats, pretends (yes, you too, and most certainly I myself).

Well that about covers it

20. All evil is potential vitality in need of transformation.

I think I need to find some pot in order to contemplate this one

21. All of you is worth something, if you will only own it.

If I could afford it, I might own it - for what it's worth

22. Progress is an illusion.

Especially in light of global warming

23. Evil can be displaced but never eradicated, as all solutions breed new problems.

And our illustrious US Congress is such a shining example of this

24. Yet it is necessary to keep on struggling toward solution.

Barring a filibuster

25. Childhood is a nightmare.

I remember the day I got kidnapped and taken to the optometrist to get my first pair of glasses - wearing glasses back then was like wearing a sign that said kick me and laugh

26. But it is so very hard to be an on-your-own-take-care-of-yourself-cause-there-is-no-one-else-to-do-it-for-you grown-up.

Grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, vacuuming, mopping, walking the dog - a woman's work is NEVER done

27. Each of us is ultimately alone.

I am reminded as he snores through the night while I lie awake

28. The most important things, each man must do for himself.

Shit, shower and shave

29. Love is not enough, but it sure helps.

Ditto for sex

30. We have only ourselves, and one another. That may not be much, but that’s all there is.

"Cause you got me, and baby I got you"


31. How strange, that so often, it all seems worth it. 

Remember last Thursday?

32. We must live within the ambiguity of partial freedom, partial power, and partial knowledge. 
That's very intellectual - but I really don't know what you mean by partial freedom and partial power - but I think I understand part of what you're saying

33. All important decisions must be made on the basis of insufficient data.

Back to the illustrious US Congress - talk about insufficient data but no lack of opinion

34. Yet we are responsible for everything we do.

Tell THAT to the US Congress

35. No excuses will be accepted.

You've GOT to be kidding

36. You can run, but you can’t hide.

They ran for Congress and I'll bet there are a good number of them hiding in the bathroom when it's time to explain in front of reporters

37. It is most important to run out of scapegoats.

But, don't worry, there will always be "the gays"

38. We must learn the power of living with our helplessness.

Now that's encouraging and intriguing - just what kind of power are we talking about?
 
39. The only victory lies in surrender to oneself.

I give up

40. All of the significant battles are waged within the self.

Those white blood cells are fighting mad

41. You are free to do whatever you like. You need only face the consequences.

Oops

42. What do you know…for sure…anyway?

I've already told you: grandma said "you don't know nothing yet"

43. Learn to forgive yourself, again and again and again and again…

I'm sorry, no problem, I'm sorry, that's OK, I'm sorry, enough already

So, you see, even Sheldon Kopp's Laundry List isn't sacred.  Back to

1. This is it! 
At least for a while - I need a break. 

Honestly, I think the blogosphere is making me terribly depressed.  It is like an addiction to some nasty downers that never let up - on the one hand, I feel that I must be responsibly informed, yet, on the other,  I do not feel empowered by the knowledge I acquire about our society, our government, our churches.  


The more I read, the more powerless and hopeless I sometimes feel, despite the occasional good news.  And it is time-consuming as well.  The blogosphere sucks up a good part of my day - not so much writing but mostly reading, watching video clips on timely topics, and going from this to that.


Remember, there was a time before internet, a time when things seemed to be in better, or at least a more comfortable, perspective.  A time of innocence...



Time it was, and what a time it was, it was 
A time of innocence, A time of confidences 
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph 
Preserve your memories; They're all that's left you


5 comments:

Russ Manley said...

I was feeling fine today until I read the list. Now I'm depressed - reminds me why I gave up reading self-help books a long time ago. They never did help. Eventually I realized there is no one who has any better idea of how to run my life than me.

You have some snappy comebacks though, I enjoyed those.

Frank said...

Russ,
That wasn't my intent - though that's how I've been feeling myself.
Bottom line: I need to get away from the "overload" I am experiencing when it comes to the "gay news" the political news, the the issues of marriage equality, gun control, Congressional gridlock, stupidity of all kinds...including reading some of the comments people leave on other blogs in response to these topics....it's all making me crazy depressed.

Need to find a way to stay informed, yet maintain some sanity...any suggestions?

Russ Manley said...

I think stepping away and taking a break from it all is the best thing you can do. You know, about once a year I have to go into blogger hibernation for essentially the same reason - I get thoroughly sick and tired of hearing and talking about it all.

So go rest your ears and eyes and mind. It's good to be reminded that there is a world not made of pixels and electrons. See you down the road, man.

Mitchell is Moving said...

Your truths annotations make things so much more clear. Especially, "I think I need to find some pot in order to contemplate this one."

I know what you mean about online reading and feeling more and more powerless and hopeless. I lately find myself at times avoiding reality based blogs that remind me of how bad things can be. Probably not the best way to surf, but I do what I have to to make it through the day.

I'll miss you and hope you'll return ... happily ... to the blogosphere. Enjoy re-plating that armor.

Frank said...

Thanks Mitch,
You must know by now I hate you...all that Spanish beach-going and tapas and chocolate and sunshine and pretty countryside and parades....while I'm stuck here freezing in our official new fifth and seemingly endless New England season "Sprinter" - not exactly winter - not quite spring.

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