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Archive for the ‘death’ Category

William Owens’ widow and father

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a meditation on grief, politics and the raid in Yemen ]
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That long moment with SEAL William “Ryan” Owens‘ widow, Carryn Owens, was the central human moment of President Trump‘s speech to the Joint session of the United States Congress today.

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My emotions were varied and braided. The widow’s grief was obvious, and I felt and grieved for her, as I’m sure we all did.

At the same time, the President featuring it in his speech seemed manipulative and, in the worst sense, political:

As I say, my emotions were varied and braided.

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Nor let us forget the father’s grief, which expressed itself in an angry, anguished question —

— nor, finally, the grief of the Awlaki family at the loss in that same raid of Nawar Anwar Al-Awlaki, Sheikh Anwar Awlaki‘s 8-year-old daughter — an American girl among the civilian casualties.

I grieve again.

Muslim-Jewish DoubleQuotes

Monday, February 27th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — good news in response to bad ]
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First:

resulting in:

And now:

resulting in:

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The heart dismayed, the heart uplifted. Thank you, thank you.

Sunday surprise – Ballad of The Skeletons

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Ginsberg, McCartney & Philip Glass! ]
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I’m not a huge Ginsberg fan, but this seems like a wholesome follow up to yesterdays post 6,000 years and still together — written by Ginsberg in the run up to the United States presidential election of 1996, and touching on several themes of continuing interest today.

You can follow along the text here, and read-all-about-it in ‘The Ballad of the Skeletons’: Allen Ginsberg’s 1996 Collaboration with Philip Glass and Paul McCartney.

Hey, I’m not a great fan of McCartney either, but the pair of them together seems like an oxymoron.

6,000 years and still together

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — from a burial to Buddhism, just a skip and a jump away ]
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A sweet visual DoubleQuote I ran across today —

— shows on the right, the Lovers of Valdaro — a matched pair of skeletons of which Time wrote in 2011:

For 6,000 years, two young lovers have been locked in an eternal embrace, hidden from the eyes of the world. This past weekend, the Lovers of Valdaro — named for the little village near Mantua, in northern Italy, where they were first discovered — were seen by the public for the first time.

On the left, you have an artist’s representation of how they might have been embraced in death.

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All of which reminds me of Buddhist meditation on death, and of the dancing skeleton couple known collectively as Citipati:

By Wonderlane – https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/3172647615/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, Link

Wiki tells us:

Citipati is a protector deity or supernatural being in Tibetan Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism of India. It is formed of two skeletal deities, one male and the other female, both dancing wildly with their limbs intertwined inside a halo of flames representing change. The Citipati is said to be one of the seventy-five forms of Mahakala. Their symbol is meant to represent both the eternal dance of death as well as perfect awareness. They are invoked as ‘wrathful deities’, benevolent protectors or fierce beings of demonic appearance. The dance of the Citipati is commemorated twice annually in Tibet.

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Considering two together as one is a recurring interest of mine, see also my posts on duel and duet — themselves a great pairing or dual — in Duel in slow time and more prosaically, Numbers by the numbers: two.

Also: Of dualities, contradictions and the nonduality.

Trolleys come to Terror

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a western koan makes it onto German TV? ]
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What Hala Jaber calls a supermarket trolley in this tweet is not what this post is about — but it sure does connect trolley and terror!

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Here’s the terror side of things, in a tweet from John Horgan:

The BBC halls it an “interactive courtroom drama interactive courtroom drama centred on a fictional act of terror” and notes:

The public was asked to judge whether a military pilot who downs a hijacked passenger jet due to be crashed into a football stadium is guilty of murder.

Viewers in Germany, Switzerland and Austria gave their verdict online or by phone. The programme was also aired in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The vast majority called for the pilot, Lars Koch, to be acquitted.

Here’s the setup:

In the fictional plot, militants from an al-Qaeda offshoot hijack a Lufthansa Airbus A320 with 164 people on board and aim to crash it into a stadium packed with 70,000 people during a football match between Germany and England.

“If I don’t shoot, tens of thousands will die,” German air force Major Lars Koch says as he flouts the orders of his superiors and takes aim at an engine of the plane.

The jet crashes into a field, killing everyone on board.

So, is the pilot guilty, or not guilty?

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At the very least, he has our sympathy — but how does that play out in legal proceedings?

What’s so fascinating here is the pilot’s dilemma, which resembles nothing so much as a zen koan.

Except for the Trolley Problem:

trolley_problem
Image from Wikimedia by McGeddon under license CC-BY-SA-4.0

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Substitute an Airbus for the trolley, 164 people for the lone individual on the trolley line, and 70,000 people for the cluster of five — and the pilot for the guy who can make a decision and switch the tracks.

There you have it: terror plot and trolley problem running in parallel.

To be honest, I think the full hour-plus movie is far more immersive, to use a term from game design, than the Trolley Problem stated verbally as a problem in logic — meaning that the viewer is in some sense projected, catapulted into the fighter-pilot’s hot seat — in his cockpit, facing a high speed, high risk emergency, and in court, on trial for murder.

It’s my guess that more people would vote for the deaths of 164 under this scenario than for the death of one in the case of the trolley — but that’s a guess.

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The German film scenario — adapted from a play by Ferdinand von Schirach — is indeed a courtroom drama, a “case” in the sense of “case law”. And it’s suggestive that koans, too, are considered “cases” in a similar vein. Here, for instance, is a classic definition of koans :

Kung-an may be compared to the case records of the public law court. Kung, or “public”, is the single track followed by all sages and worthy men alike, the highest principle which serves as a road for the whole world. An, or “records”, are the orthodox writings which record what the sages and worthy men regard as principles [..]

This principle accords with the spiritual source, tallies with the mysterious meaning, destroys birth-and-death, and transcends the passions. It cannot be understood by logic; it cannot be transmitted in words; it cannot be explained in writing; it cannot be measured by reason. It is like a poisoned drum that kills all who hear it, or like a great fire that consumes all who come near it. [..]

The so-called venerable masters of Zen are the chief officials of the public law courts of the monastic community, as it were, and their collections of sayings are the case records of points that have been vigorously advocated.

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Relevant texts:

  • John Daido Loori, Sitting with Koans
  • John Daido Loori, The True Dharma Eye

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