My friend Patrick asked me the other day, about our running conversation exploring some basic tenents of the Buddhist tradition, "but isn't your own tradition Pagan?" Oh yes, it is Pagan. In fact to borrow from his own tradition one more time for now, the Buddha made it his mission to spread enlightenment to his nieghbors, but he was not seeking converts instead he said something like this; "Do not take up the Path, unless in your heart you precieve, you have no choice, but to tread the path." This could have described the moment I became Pagan 20 something years ago, It describes how I feel about being Pagan today.
As Pagans we have a lovely inheritance, the Myths of Innana, and Ishtar, the wisdom of Egypt. The Irish Myths, and the Norse Edda's, and lovely lovely temples in Greece and especially Crete, but the most beautiful lessons in being a Pagan are utterly immediate ...
Everywhere you look you see Ki expressing herself, life bursting up through the tarmac. Stubbornly reclaiming the ruin of Mount St Helens, and struggling to survive in the heat vents of the deep ocean trenches. We wonder about the meaning of Life, and yet the answer is all around us, the Meaning of Life is Life. Momma-Ki is a passionate artist and life itself is her medium. You see her beauty anywhere you go, the most utterly wonderful thing about our illustration is that it really could come from any small park in the North Eastern US, or most of Europe. And go to any Park or Woodlands where Ki's green garments come together with a little water and something magical is sure to happen. You don't have to be particularly mindful to grasp this beauty, but you will be amply rewarded if you are! Go to any Woods, Park or Farm, sit in the grass, and just let go of your monkey brain and focus your attention on a small piece of turf near you. Soon you will see the beetles toiling about their business, the butterflies fluttering by, hear the music of the crows, and other little bird brothers. Momma-Ki puts on quite a display for anyone who takes the time to watch the intricate dance.
Now don't get me Wrong, Ki is no Goddess of Fluff n Bunnies, the Dance is very often the Dance of Predator and Prey, and a misstep ends in death. She loans us these bodies, that our spirits might walk in the gallery of her creation, and soak up the inherent beauty of her work, what she requires in return is that we allow ourselves to be the tools through which she brings new life into the world. Yet even here, she is generous with us, for we are conceived and born in moments of ecstasy. Momma-Ki is a creature of Passion, and she freely shares her passion with us. If Momma-Ki is an artist whose medium is life, she has the ruthless passion of a committed artist, if I make love to my wife, pay a working-girl for her favors, or rape a total stranger, Ki makes no value judgment, if a man and woman come together she will seize her opportunity to express herself through new life. It is this ruthless passion that has terrified men through out the ages, sending them to seek shelter from her raging storms in the dubious wisdom of Pure Reason. One can hardly blame them, the gaze of lioness, or the howl of the wolf are both beautifal and terrifying, and so the philosophers sleep much easier in the temple of Apollo, imagining they are safe.
This then is my Goddess, we are her children, her audience, and the paint on her pallet is our blood.
Are we truly Individual Selves, are we Interdependent Selves, or is there even a Self at all, is somehow just an illustion?
Are we independent of God/dess, Interdependent with God/dess, or is the universe utterly indifferent.
What is the best part of the Human Self, is it the Head, is it the Heart? Do we need to chose? Should not the head and heart inform and balance one another?
As Pagans our answers to these questions are embodied in the myths themselves, which satisfy the Heart, but for the deep and intricate arguments, that entertain and inform the head, we have to search around just a little. Yet we dont have to search so very far, for we have a wealth of insight coming out of India on these subjects. The ancient tradition of India was very much about exploring these fundemental questions, and here the waters of the Ganges run deep.
It is only a person of little faith who needs fear how his or her beliefs fair when compared with others. For the person who enjoys any depth of belief, comparing ones beliefs with those of others from around the world is like putting a lovely but washed out image into Photoshop and adjusting the contrast. You never know what beautiful things are going to be revealed, by adding a little light or a little shadow. To my mind, comparing ones beliefs to the beliefs of other faiths is an essential part of real spiritual growth.
So we can learn from the concept of Duhkka, without embracing the negative view of incarnation that prevails in India. Rather as Pagans we can instead celebrate our rebirths as gifts from Momma-Ki. We can consider the 6 mindfulnesses of the body, and understand that five will enhance our lives, Mindfulness of Breathing, Posture, Movement, Inner Change(Activity), of the Elements (E-A-F-W), and even Decay. Yet we can also set aside the Mindfulness of the Loathsomeness of the Body, for we need not see it as such, indeed, if we see the body as a gift, an expression of the beauty and art of Momma-Ki Loathsome it is not, or at least it need not be...
I will not argue that many of us are not seriously challenged, by defects at birth, or decay in our age. Momma-Ki is not the All KNOWING god the creationists imagine. No, she is the heart, soul, and intelligence of our world. Yet it seems clear to me if you look at the history of life. She is always learning, growing, re-imagining herself, and yes sometimes in that long artistic exploration she makes mistakes, tries on garments she should have left on the rack. But we are certainly not inherently Loathsome, we are quite often the very beautifal expressions of the very greatest of Artists.
This then is a basic statement of my faith, I appreciate your time, patience and support in this exploration.
Ama tu ANKI, BB.