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The Second Coming: insight as fact and poetry

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — witnessing the second and third order effects of the blood-dimmed tide, almost a century later ]
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Something which identifies itself as “Fact” apparently says:

I submit that “Poetry” said it better:

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Let’s give Yeats’ comment a little of its context:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

The whole poem, The Second Coming, is a notoriously difficult one, and almost demands that one read the poet’s A Vision (perhaps both the 1925 first and 1937 second versions) — and yet the eight opening lines — such insight, such power:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

**

Where does one turn for hope in such a world as Yeats, writing in 1919, just short of a century ago, both saw and foresaw?

What if the best regain conviction?

Boykin and Furnish: be sober, be vigilant

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — some good advice from Tim Furnish, which Jerry Boykin doesn’t appear to have heard… ]
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Gen. Jerry Boykin (upper panel, below), speaking with his visionary preacher friend, Rick Joyner, naturally has the right to voice his views, including those that see Middle Eastern geopolitics through the lens of Isaiah 17:1-3

… but he might want to listen to blog-friend Dr Timothy Furnish (lower panel, above) — a fellow Christian and conservative — first.

**

I fear that at the moment, Boykin sounds more vigilant than sober, though both are jointly scripturally mandated at 1 Peter 5:8.

Here Boykin & Joyner discuss Syria, Biblical Prophecy, And The End Times:

Rick JOYNER: And we’re seeing Biblical prophecy unfold.
Jerry BOYKIN: We are.
JOYNER: These are times in which things are unfolding in scripture, and one of the Scriptures that has never been fulfilled…
BOYKIN: Unhuh…
JOYNER: …and has to be fulfilled before this age can end, is that Damascus will be destroyed, never inhabited again.
BOYKIN: I share your concern, Rick, and as you say, certainly, and I’ve said this for a long time, one of the ways that Damascus could be destroyed, never to be reoccupied, would be through a chemical attack. So let’s just take a scenario…

Interested? You can hear Boykin’s scenario of Assad’s final gesture in utter defeat, here.

**

Sources:

  • Boykin
  • Furnish

  • I hope to discuss Boykin’s friendship with Joyner [“our only hope is a military takeover; martial law“] and what it may portend, in a subsequent post.

    Monk Wirathu’s 969 quotes the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra

    Sunday, October 27th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — a Buddhist instance of the widespread use of sacred texts as offering sanction for religious violence, with Muslims depicted as the enemy on this occasion ]
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    Three dimensional Kalachakra mandala by Arjia Rinpoche, photo credit kalachakranet.org

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    I have commented a couple of times on texts from the Kalachakra Tantra literature about a future war between Buddhism and Islam, first in In a time of Religious Arousal and later more fully in Apocalypse Not Yet? — and today I ran across a reference to the same texts on the web page of the 969 movement in Myanmar.

    969 is the monk-led Buddhist movement which has been rioting recently against the Rohingya Muslims, and the monks concerned are Therevadins. The Kalachakra Tantra is the empowerment HH the Dalai Lama gives in the cause of peace, and the tantras are Vajrayana teachings. I think this para from the current Wikipedia article on Buddhism gives the relevant distinctions in a non-contentious form:

    Two major branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai). In some classifications, Vajrayana — practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts of China and Russia — is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.

    I won’t go into the theological, philosophical and ritual differences, which are considerable, complex — and somewhat contested.

    **

    To refresh your memory of the relevant details regarding the Kalachakra’s treatment of “holy war”, here are my key paragraphs on the topic from Apocalypse Not Yet?:

    Alexander Berzin has been tutored by HH the Dalai Lama and HHDLs own tutors on the interpretation of the Kalachakra Tantra, and served for some years as HHDL’s translator when HHDL was giving the Kalachakra initiation: indeed his book on the Kalachakra initiation carries a Foreword by HHDL.  His writings are thus among the most scholarly and trustworthy available in the western world on the topic of the initiation which the Dalai Lama will impart for world peace again this July.

    Berzin’s words introducing the topic of Holy Wars in relation to the Kalachakra, Buddhism and Islam, are therefore important:

    Often, when people think of the Muslim concept of jihad or holy war, they associate with it the negative connotation of a self-righteous campaign of vengeful destruction in the name of God to convert others by force. They may acknowledge that Christianity had an equivalent with the Crusades, but do not usually view Buddhism as having anything similar. After all, they say, Buddhism is a religion of peace and does not have the technical term holy war.

    A careful examination of the Buddhist texts, however, particularly The Kalachakra Tantra literature, reveals both external and internal levels of battle that could easily be called “holy wars.” An unbiased study of Islam reveals the same. In both religions, leaders may exploit the external dimensions of holy war for political, economic, or personal gain, by using it to rouse their troops to battle. Historical examples regarding Islam are well known; but one must not be rosy-eyed about Buddhism and think that it has been immune to this phenomenon. Nevertheless, in both religions, the main emphasis is on the internal spiritual battle against one’s own ignorance and destructive ways.

    Specifically, he writes:

    In The Abridged Kalachakra Tantra, Manjushri Yashas explains that the fight with the non-Indic people of Mecca is not an actual war, since the real battle is within the body. The fifteenth-century CE Gelug commentator Kaydrubjey elaborates that Manjushri Yashas’s words do not suggest an actual campaign to kill the followers of the non-Indic religion. The First Kalki’s intention in describing the details of the war was to provide a metaphor for the inner battle…

    **

    That, then, is the context — “the fight with the non-Indic people of Mecca is not an actual war” but a metaphorical one. Here, by contrast, is the interpretation given to the same text by the 969 movement in an article titled Kalachakra Tantra and 969, posted on their website two months ago (Sept 1st, 2013):

    The Kalachakra is a Tibetan Buddhist doctrine on the cycles of time. In addition to being a text, meditation practice, and initiation ritual, Kalachakra is a prophecy for the victory of the Buddhist religion in a war with Islam.

    Beginning in 712AD and continuing through 1030AD, India was subject to massive annual invasions from Muslims who eventually conquered and destroyed much of the cultural heritage of India. In a final desperate act to annihilate Buddhism, in 1193, Nalanda University which was home to the greatest center of learnings in the East was destroyed, with thousands of monks beheaded. The destruction of the temples, monasteries, centres of learning at Nalanda and northern India to be responsible for the demise of ancient Indian scientific thought in mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, and anatomy. Much of what modern scholarship of Buddhist studies puzzles over today was contained in the manuscripts and minds of those who were lost during this calamity. However as the Kalachakra Tantra shows, the war between Dhamma and Islam is not over, nor is it. The prophecy includes detailed descriptions of the future invaders as well as suggested ways for the Buddhist teachings to survive these onslaughts.

    The Dalai Lama has stated that the public exposition of this tantra is necessary in the current degenerate age. The initiation may be received simply as a blessing for the majority of those attending, however, many of the more qualified attendees do take the commitments and subsequently engage in the practice.

    In a phrase, “Kalachakra is a prophecy for the victory of the Buddhist religion in a war with Islam”.

    That’s the opening of the article, clearly identifying the Kalachakra as a text about Buddhism vs Islam. There follows a curious incomplete sentence:

    We must be diligent in reminding the

    I’d love to know what the author wanted to remind us of, and what the rest of that paragraph — or group of paras? — had to say about the Kalachakra, but the rest of the text as printed is no longer talking about warfare, but explaining some basic notions in Buddhism:

    It is important to notice what Alexander Berzin wrote how “Karmic potentials, in fact, give rise to a broad array of impulses that affect our lives. Collective karmic potentials from previous actions of a huge number of beings – including ourselves – give rise, for example, to the impulse for a universe to evolve with specific environments and life forms into which we and these beings subsequently take rebirth.” Collective karma can be seen as the actions that have generated us in our present bodies, from the decisions of our parents, ancestors, and peers that gives us the appearance of our lives (Janaka kamma or the kamma that determines birth). We are all recipients of karma beyond our control. Put in another way, our DNA contains a vast storehouse of kamma.

    This sad state of affairs is where the Kalachakra initiation takes its cue. By harnessing ritual and intention, the Kalachakra initiation at its highest level bestows a daily practice for awakening that an army of practioners around the world are also engaging in. This collective kamma has the subtle effect of making the conditions of purifying bad kamma’s and unwholesome dhamma’s into virtuous ones.

    Ultimately we feel this will have the eventual effect of producing a Dhamma centered world based on the natural laws of mind that the founders of the 969 Movement are striving to achieve.

    Whether or not warfare, as suggested in the first section of the article, is compatible with Buddhism, as expressed in the second, is a matter for Buddhist theological debate — as is the nature of “war” as envisioned in the Kalachakra itself.

    My own purpose in making this post is to point out that the 969 movement, led by Buddhist monks in Myanmar, is now quoting a prophecy of war against Islam, found in the Kalachakra literature, which in turn is taught as a instrument of peace by HH the Dalai Lama. To my ears, that sets up a howl of cognitive dissonance.

    With one eye on the Bible, one eye on the news

    Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — in whose borrowed opinion, if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light ]
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    Here’s another DoubleQuote that doesn’t fit my usual format, but sets up an interesting dynamic anyway. This just in, from Joel Rosenberg:

    I find it charming that we can read the opening paragraphs of a Mother Jones piece about Joel Rosenberg on on Rosenberg’s own site. Here are the first paras — or grafs, as my friend Danielle would say:

    In early 2012, bestselling novelist Joel Rosenberg came to Capitol Hill for a meeting with an unidentified member of Congress to discuss the end of the world. “I thought the topic was going to be the possible coming war between Israel and Iran,” Rosenberg explained on his website. “Instead, the official asked, ‘What are your thoughts on Isaiah 17?’”

    For the better part of an hour, Rosenberg says, the writer and the congressman went back forth on something called the “burden of Damascus,” an Old Testament prophecy that posits that a war in the Middle East will leave Syria’s capital city in ruins—and bring the world one step closer to Armageddon. As Rosenberg put it, “The innocent blood shed by the Assad regime is reprehensible, and heart-breaking and is setting the stage for a terrible judgment.”

    But Rosenberg and his anonymous congressman aren’t alone in viewing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s actions through a Biblical lens.

    That’s my first shoe. And here’s Richard Bartholomew, the blogger at Bath’s Notes, dropping the second:

    **

    Okay, here are some observations of my own, which I wrote a while back…

    Which comes first: history or Revelation?

    Just as nature and scripture can be “read against” one another, each perhaps illuminating the other at times, so in the case of one particular scripture — the Revelation — the book is “read against” history: there’s a long history of interpreters attempting to “translate” the book into contemporary political terms.

    Luther is one who tried his hand at this:

    Since it is meant as a revelation of what is to come, and especially of coming tribulations and disasters for the Church, we can consider that the first and surest step toward finding its interpretation is to take from history the events and disasters that have happened to the Church before now and to hold them up alongside these pictures and so compare them with the words. If, then, the two fit and agree with each other, we can build on that as a sure, or at least an unobjectionable, interpretation.

    But Bernard McGinn makes a shrewd comment on Luther’s process, in his article on Revelation in Robert Alter and Frank Kermode‘s Literary Guide to the Bible:

    Earlier interpreters, such as Joachim (but not Augustine), had also claimed to find a consonance between Revelation’s prophecies and the events of Church history, but they had begun with Scripture and used it as a key to unlock history. Paradoxically, Luther, the great champion of the biblical word, claimed that history enabled him to make sense of Revelation…

    So: which direction should theologians “read” the analogy between Revelation and history in?

    Should they, like Luther, start with history and try to “shoe-horn” the Book of Revelation to fit it, or vice versa? There are two very different processes here, and the results may be correspondingly different — but when people today read accounts of Revelation which propose that the “end times” are nigh, they seldom even ask the question: which came first in the interpreter’s mind?

    On the prophetic & predictive via David Degner’s Egypt

    Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — the first O of OODA, as one photographer applied it to Mubarak’s destiny ]
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    Angel's Trumpet, Brugmansia arborea, image credit BH&G

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    As you all know, I am fascinated by the intersection of the poetic (sacramental, irrational, magical, pre-scientific) and the prosaic (secular, rational, mundane, scientific) worldviews, so ably captured by John Donne with the four words “round earth’s imagin’d corners” in one of his Holy Sonnets:

    At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow
    Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
    From death, you numberless infinities
    Of souls, and to your scatter’d bodies go…

    One such intersection comes where prophecy meets prediction.

    **

    I was accordingly interested when Erin Cunningham pointed us to these two remarkable tweets, the first from earlier today:

    and the second, to which the first refers, from two weeks ago:

    I believe that second tweet permits photographer David Degner the (secular) rank of Prophet — but it would take, in my view, an entity with the secular rank of Angel, Recording Angel to be precise, to give us an accurate and complete timeline of mental, communications and physical events here, from the first stirring of an idea in the mind of some Egyptian judge, general or staffer through multiple discussions, decisions and levels of implementation, to today’s outcome.

    One might even say that the IC with its all source intel aspires to, but will never quite obtain, such an angelic function… while for those of us wholly reliant on open source intelligence, observation and intelligent extrapolation (in the case of Degner) and keeping one’s eye on appropriate parts of the twitterstream (for the rest of us) seems to be the way to go.

    **

    How foolish of me, therefore, to be unaware of the tweets and works of Degner, whose photographs of Churches looted and burnt in Upper Egypt and current project on Liminal states in Egyptian Maharagan music are both of keen interest to me.

    Egypt, from the prosaic to the poetic — our world is rich in both.


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