Sunday, May 03, 2015

In an article published in 1994, Prof. Robert Thurman writes:

 “If you’re a twentieth-century teacher, who can say what the twenty-first century will want? We would think somebody would have to be enlightened to be able to do that, and we don’t really have a concept of such a kind of enlightenment. But Tibetan Buddhists do. They know that enlightened knowledge does not just include knowledge of spiritual matters, but it also includes an awareness of how humanity develops and evolves.”

Robert Thurman, Treasure Teachings, An Interview with Robert Thurman, Parabola, Winter 1994, pp.  7-16.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama writes:

“If we want a beautiful garden, we must first have a blueprint in the imagination, a vision. Then that idea can be implemented and the external garden be materialized. “ 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Little book of Wisdom, Rider, London, 1997.

This is a very important point.
Do we have a vision of what we would like the beautiful garden of the future to be? How many people, today have:  “ . .an awareness of how humanity develops and evolves.” How many people care?  Yes, there are glimpses here and there. But certainly not in the realms of business and politics, where profit in the former and ideology in the latter are all that matters. 
Recently while reading the writings of Sir Arnold Toynbee, I was talking to a friend about the panoramic Vision always being necessary in taking an overview of the patterns of one’s life, as well as the pattern “ . . of how humanity develops and evolves.” In its entry on Toynbee, Wikipedia notes:
“Toynbee's work lost favor among both the general public and scholars by the 1960s, due to the religious and spiritual outlook that permeates the largest part of his work. His work has been seldom read or cited in recent decades.”  WIKI.
It seems, that having a “ . . . religious and spiritual outlook . . . “  . . . . Peter Kingsley
“Even in these modern times, what half-heartedly is described as mystical perception is always pushed to the periphery. When it’s not denied it’s held at arm’s length — out there at the margins of society. But what we haven’t been told is that a spiritual tradition lies at the very roots of western civilization.”
Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom, The Golden Sufi Centre, 1999, pp. 6-7
In the light of all the problems besetting the world today, let us examine some of the ideas of Toynbee:  He writes:
“In a world that has been unified in both space and time, a study of human affairs must be comprehensive if it is to be effective. It must include, not only the whole of the living generation, but also the whole of the living generation’s past. In order to save mankind we have to learn to live together in concord in spite of traditional differences of religion, civilization, nationality, class and race. In order to live together successfully, we have to know each other, and knowing each other includes knowing each other’s past, since human life, like the rest of the phenomenal Universe, can be observed by human minds only as it presents itself to them on the move through time.”  [Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Thames and Hudson, London, 1972, -p. 47. ]
Toynbee not only brings religious and spiritual aspects into his work, but also, introduces the idea of LOVE:
 “We shall, however, have to do more than just understand each other's cultural heritages, and more even than appreciate them. We shall have to value them and love them as being parts of Mankind's common treasure and therefore being ours too, as truly as the heirlooms that we ourselves shall be contributing to the common stock. Without the fire of love, the dangerous fissures in Mankind's social solidarity cannot be annealed. Danger, even when it is as extreme as ours is today, is never a sufficient stimulus in itself to make men do what is necessary for their salvation. It is a poor stimulus because it is a negative one. A cold-blooded calculation of expediency will not inspire us with the spiritual power to save ourselves. This power can come only from the disinterested pursuit of a positive aim that will outrange the negative one of trying to avoid self-destruction; and this positive aim can be given to men by nothing but love.  [Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Thames and Hudson, London, 1972, -p. 47. ]
Thomas Alexander, has gifted us with some very beautiful and important advice in how to deal with the incivility in our society:
 “. . .  the central message of Confucianism, something important that it has to say to pragmatism -  namely, the salvation of society comes about by developing humanity in our hearts. This is not about making life more attractive. It is not even about making government "rule by example" rather than by compulsion, though that is a central teaching of the Master. It is about the power of art to shape the way we perceive and feel about other human beings and ourselves so that we are "aesthetically attuned" to them and they to us. This is the great question that Confucianism poses to pragmatism: the real art is the art of humanity, and this is the art of feeling humanity with a humanized heart.”
“The Way, for Confucius, was to be found in cultivating ren, often translated as "benevolence."  The ideogram in Chinese, which combines the pictogram of "man" with that of "two," suggests "person- to-personness." I will render it as "human-heartedness." In Confucius' day, it also connoted inward nobility of character: behaving like a true man, with great-heartedness. This is a fundamental concern for the "aesthetics of social existence" - a concern that human life and its dignity, value, and web of meaningful inter- relationships is foremost in our hearts, and that our hearts are emotionally "attuned" to respond to this instinctively. Ren, human-heartedness, is the raison-d'Ítre for the arts - they restore ren in us, but ren must be there.”    
“Culture is the musical language that allows us to play together. This is why we need ceremony, rituals, manners: li. Without them we would not know how to communicate our care, love, respect, devotion, honor, gratitude. But it is not just any music; the music must express this - ren - not pettiness, greed, small-mindedness. The heart must be there first. "Aesthetics" should deal with beautiful behavior, but the beauty comes from human-heartedness. Life was indeed art for "Master Kong," but art was concerned with an aesthetics of living together. The arts should be used in education to foster our moral feelings, enhance our power of true sympathy, and give us ideals of dignified, caring lives. That was how you saved civilization.
Thomas Alexander, The Music in the Heart, the Way of Water, and the Light of a Thousand Suns: A Response to Richard Shusterman, Crispin Sartwell, and Scott Stroud, Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Spring, 2009), pp. 45-46.

“The task is not finished. South Africa is not yet a home for all her sons and daughters. Such a home we wish to ensure. From the beginning our history has been one of ascending unities, the breaking of tribal, racial and creedal barriers. The past cannot hope to have a life sustained by itself, wrenched from the whole. There remains before us the building of a new land, a home for men who are black, white, brown, from the ruins of the old narrow groups, a synthesis of the rich cultural strains which we have inherited. There remains to be achieved our integration with the rest of the continent. Somewhere ahead there beckons a civilisation, a culture, which will take its place in the parade of God’s history beside other great human syntheses. Chinese, Egyptian, Jewish, European. It will not necessarily be all black; but it will be African.”
Albert Luthuli

“Such clear and inspiring thoughts. To cultivate human-heartedness. Yes, this is what makes life beautiful and bearable. This is the energy that transforms. Thank you for sharing these beautifully worded ideas with me, Samten. It is a clear, crisp autumn morning and the sky is blue. I feel their resonance in the world about me. Now I will put on my boots and take the dogs for a walk in the forest. Much love to you, fellow traveler. xxxxx Alexandra Dodd


“It occurred to me that the images in Tarot function much the way dreams do in psychoanalysis, by providing a symbolic and interpretable language for the elusive shape of our lives. We want our daily experiences, so disappointingly ordinary and frequently chaotic, to be magnified, as Sebald says they are in dreams. We want them to have a dramatic narrative, a coherent shape, a palpable vividness, which the Tarot can provide.”

Christopher Benfey, Tarot Dreams

Richard Stromer, Hermes as God of Liminality and the Guide of Souls. HERE


“Liquid is the element of most birthing, but liquid in what form? Myth presents images of birth from the froth of Uranus’ testicles; birth from the swallowed semen of the masturbating Atum-Ra; birth from the sweat of Ymir’s armpits; birth from the mating of Ymir’s feet; birth from the urine of Izanami; birth from the blood of Medusa; birth from tears as well as vomit; birth of the world from the sucked toe of Vishnu; birth from the cosmic egg; birth from Purusha’s mouth, arms, and thighs; birth from the dew of the East Wind. I suspect there must have been sweat of some sort that birthed, too, Mwindo. Like other divine heroes, he emerged from the finger of his mother, the hand or finger thought to contain procreative power similar to that of a womb.”

 Mary Aswell Doll, The More of Myth. A Pedagogy of Diversion, [Savannah College of Art and Design], Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, 2011, p.7

Mike Crowley, When Gods Drank Urine. A Tibetan myth may help solve the riddle of soma, sacred drug of ancient India; HERE


  Reading Joseph Campbell on Oriental Mythologies, I was struck by the fact that some of the ideas alive and well in the present day, can be traced back from between  1,700 to 4,000 years. For example: the Great Dualist struggle between Light and Darkness, today regurgitated as The Evil Empire, or Satan in the Whitehouse. The efforts to attain a perfect civilization often include the destruction, or vilification of the old.  The ISIL destruction in Iraq, for example, or throwing shit onto a statue of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town, as seen recently.
  Hence, we continue to suggest that a deeper exploration into the roots of our respective cultures, may help to deconstruct some of the cruder aspects of literal interpretations of ancient archetypes. In Greek Mythology we see the struggle between the Titans and the Gods is almost identical to the Battle between the Devas and the Asuras in Aryan/Hindu Mythology. I have been exploring these simularities in a project, which you can explore here:  THE TITAN PROJECT


“The lower depths have been the object of superstition and of legend for as long as there have been men and women to wonder. The Minotaur, half man and half bull, lived in a labyrinth buried beneath the palace at Knossos in Crete. A dog with three heads, Cerberus, guarded the gates of the underworld in classical myth, The Egyptian god of the underworld, Anubis, was a man with the head of a jackal. The journey underground prompted strange transformations. Anubis was also known as ‘the lord of the sacred land’, with the world beneath the ground creating a spiritual as much as a material presence.  The great writers of antiquity – Plato and Homer, Pliny and Herodotus – have described the underground worlds as places of dream and hallucination. Most of the great religions have created temples and shrines beneath the surface of the earth. Terror lingers in caverns and caves, where there may be subterranean rivers and fires. Sixteen thousand years ago the wandering people of Europe lived in or besides the entrance to caves; but they painted frescoes in the deeper and darker spaces of the caverns. The further downward you travel, the closer you come to the power.” [Peter Ackroyd, London Under London, Vintage, p.3. ]
Here are more Projects, Blogs and Websites to explore:

  "I miss that degree of genuine, unfabricated feeling...In a sense, the most dangerous thing in the world is apathy. Unlike violence, warfare, and disease, which can be avoided, people cannot defend against apathy once it takes hold. I urge you to feel a love that is courageous -not like a heavy burden, but a joyous acknowledgement of interdependence."

 H.H. the Karmapa

Love and Peace,  
Samten de Wet.
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