I've been rather Immersed in comparative Religion this last month or so, and one of the lecturer's I quite like is Professor Prothero, (University of Boston.) Professor Prothero takes the approach that religion is profoundly influenced by a Problem, Reaction, Solution Model.
So the problem in 4th Century China is social Chaos, and the proposed solution is Confucianism, or the proposed solution is Daoism, its rival in some ways, although in fact most Chinese persons actually embrace something of a personal blending of the two schools.
I dont intend to go explore either today, merely lay out the Model. ...
Im more concerned today with a more fundamental question ...
The problem of Good and Evil, and the Question of Justice. ...
It seems to be built into us as human beings, that at the moment we become self aware, we long for justice in the world. We have no reason to believe that the Hare concerns himself with Questions of the rightness or wrongness that he should fill the belly of the Cat. He only knows the cat is hungry, and (sensing danger) that he better move. Now having owned a bunny for some time, I can tell you the Bun enjoys the Chase. He enjoys Running, Ducking, Diving evading his adversary. He enjoys getting the best of his pursuer. Like most (if not all) animals Momma has blessed him with a joy in doing what he does best. The Bun knows just what it is to be a Bun, the Dog a Dog, and the Cat a Cat.
It is only the human soul that wonders about these things, what is it to be human, why do so many of us suffer so, and is there a justice to it all. I am not going to rehash the essay on Dukkha, you can read or re-read that if you have a mind too consider the Buddha's answer to the problem of suffering.
Instead the path I intend to walk down today is my own, and although I do invite you to follow, I will warn you there is terror in the shadows of the valley we are about to cross together.
In a previous essay I spoke to my vision of Reality as being very like the Chinese concept of Chi, and the Consciousness of that reality as being not unlike the Hindu concept of Atman. I touched on the notion that Innana and Krishna, An and Ki, may well be very much like us, swirling dust devils of Chi that come together for a time, before dissolving again into that ocean of Chi, even if that time is an age of the world; to give rise to new dust-devils sometime in the future.
But what brings the Dust Devils of Chi into being in the first place? What brings a dream into being? You lay down and go to sleep, and your mind wanders. You might find yourself in a large building like the Buffalo Public Library, You might know the building well because you where raised in Buffalo and having a love of books you spent alot of time there. You might wander its corridors in your dream, explore its stacks, and watch the Patrons and Homeless come and go.
And you might find yourself trapped, no matter how hard you look, you might not be able to find an exit anywhere one is supposed to be, no matter how many times you return to those places memory informs you there is an exit, there simply is not one there.
Why does this nightmare haunt you, Why does it haunt my wife for this dream does recur for her. As humans we seek for justice, we say the dream is a message from her sub-conscious, her Higher Self, her Guides. If she grasps its meaning, she will find her exit. Perhaps this is so, but I will propose another option.
The Dream exists because it can, because the mind contains the stuff necessary to assemble the dream. It contains the Memories, It contains the confusion, It perhaps contains sense of being trapped in depression, chemical dependency, a bad marriage, take your pick. It contains the stuff that blended together becomes the dream. A little Chi Dust Devil that is the Dream.
And while we understand that the Dream-L, may seem to be faced with the nearly impossible challenge of resolving the question her own higher self (the L we know) is wrestling with, and may well feel trapped in an fundamentally unfair and hellish situation. Our perspective allows us to feel we understand, and perceive something like justice in Dream-L's situation. We also sense there is a connection between L and Dream-L, L sees what Dream-L sees, feels what Dream-L feels, shares her sense of Panic as she rails at her trap, but Dream-L does not see the silver thread. Dream-L does not know she is simulacrum, dancing in the dreams of a Higher self. Dream-L only knows that she is, and she is trapped in a small hell. I doubt that she can imagine any justice in her circumstance.
Every Human Society that lasts any amount of time wrestles with the problem of Evil, Why did the Burning, the Holocaust, the Killing Fields occur. How could a loving God allow these things to happen?
Perhaps we Err in our assumptions, we have long assumed as human beings that if Deity exists, and I am quite sure this is true, the Deity is Loving, that Deity is reasonable. Why I have no idea, because looking out at the world we happen to inhabit it is neither loving nor reasonable. I told you at the very beginning, I would ground our vision again and again in the reality we observe, and the Holocaust is Reality, The Killing Fields are Reality, the Burning is Reality, and if they have anything in common it is Madness.
Remember Dream-L who comes into being because the contents of Ls mind swirl together in such a way that simply allow for the possibility of Dream-L, hold onto that thought. Then Imagine a Mind with the seeming infinite capacity for detail of a Stephen Hawking. A mind with the Intuitive insight of an Einstein, and an Mind with the Logical precision of a Kant or Parmenides, we can not perhaps imagine such a mind, because the minds that we are speaking of are themselves far beyond our own capacities. Yet we can gesture at such a mind, we know these minds have existed, that their legacy endures, and in the end they are part of the Atman, just as Dream-L is connected to L.
We will make an assumption here, but I think its a reasonable one. That no mind with-in that Atman is greater than the Atman itself, although it is possible to admit of a mind as being greater than oneself. Mr Hawking, or my Friend Shannon are infinitely more intelligent than myself. It is not actually possible to Imagine a mind that is greater than oneself. I cannot imagine what it is like to be Stephen Hawking or Shannon, because my mind does not function on their level. That said I will continue from the proposition that the Atman is at least as intelligent, as poetic, as capable as any mind with-in the Atman.
So we have in the Atman, this amazing mind, a mind that conceived Wild Nights with Emily, Lady of the Largest Heart with Enheduanna, and Relativity with Einstein. A mind that has in a sense sat at the shoulder of every great artist and thinker at the moment that they just get it!
But there is a catch. ...
The stuff of this mind is for all intents and purposes infinite. It conceives all that can be conceived. The Atman's eternal exploration of it's infinite self is reality. This is what Omniscience is ...
Yet what that mind can conceive simply is, simply because it has been conceived.
Just as Dream-L is summoned out of the Ether of what L can conceive, so are we summoned out of the ether of the infinite possibility that that Atman can conceive, and the Atman can conceive of Madness. The Atman can conceive the Nazi's and their crimes, can conceive the brutal hatred of the Inquisition, and viciousness of Khmer, ...
and this is the tragedy of Omnipotence, all that can be conceived of Simply IS.
Without order or purpose or justice, without right or wrong. Its Dharma is simply to be, its Karma just another possibility, its meaning, meaningless. It simply is.
The Millions that died, wailing for justice, for a glimmer of understanding as to why the horror of their fate had overtaken them, died in vain. Because there was nothing to understand, no justice to the fate, it was simply possible, and so it was manifest as real.
We long for Justice, and Truth, and Wisdom, but we have no reason to believe in anything but Mabelrode, the Mad King of Swords.
And simply because Shaman, Mystics, and others who have had a peek at the next level, report they have experience infinite love, does not invalidate our experience here in this world. Put another way simply because an ecstatic experience may make you high, does not mean God really is love. Not in a world where you can't throw a dead cat without hitting a reason to believe otherwise.
We have no ally's against the Chaos, but ourselves. You, I, Innana. We are all dust devils in a mind filled with madness. We can only chose for ourselves, to not add to the chaos, by not pursuing our own selfish ends. We can only chose to do what is good, because it is good, because by a tiny fraction it does reduce the suffering in the world, not for hope of being rewarded.
There is no reward, there is no punishment, there is only the possible. We cannot chose to end the madness, nor hope it will end. If there is to be a morality, then we must carve out that morality on our own. If suffering is be reduced we must chose to reduce suffering for the sake of reducing suffering, not for some external reward, by some external judge.
Our Maturity lays in seeing this, and IMHO, what little hope our world has left. We, humanity, can make the world a little less mad, a little more just, a little more fair, by putting these things into our world ourselves. We must graduate from the thought that morality comes from God, God was never interested.
Morality and Justice do not come from on high, they can only come from us, we can only give them to each other, and if we are to be rewarded for doing so, that reward can only come to us each from the other.
The Madness, It will continue because it is possible for it too continue, and it is our fate ride its tides through the long ages of the world until our personal little dust devil returns to the sea of Chi, as it one day will. Not because we achieved Buddhahood, but simply because that too was possible.
Ama tu ANKI, BB.