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Sadhu and Southern Baptist, Sunday surprise

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — preferred place for prayer — and Gary Snyder’s disciples “will always have ripened blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at” ]
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That sadhus like to meditate in cremation grounds was already known to me — they worship Lord Shiva, who likes to meditate there himself, not infrequently covers himself in ashes, and wears a necklace of skulls..

What surprised me though, was to find Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and author of The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, Christianity Today‘s Book of the Year, recommending so similar a practice..

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Sources:

  • The Gospel Coalition, A Graveyard Is a Good Place to Make Big Decisions
  • TripAdvisor, Varanasi Photo: Sadhu meditation in smashan – where dead bodies burn
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    And if the sadhu‘s practice seems more extreme — fiercer, spiritually? — than Dr Moore‘s quieter — dare I, should I really say, more contemplative? — approach, that only reminds me of Klaus Klostermaier‘s book, Hindu and Christian in Vrindaban, and this marvelous graph:

    Theology at 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade seems after all, different from theology at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Theology accompanied by tough chapattis and smoky tea seems different from theology with roast chicken and a glass of wine. Now, what is different, theos or theologian? The theologian at 70 degrees Fahrenheit is in a good position presumes God to be happy and contended, well-fed and rested, without needs of any kind. The theologian at 120 degrees Fahrenheit tries to imagine a God who is hungry and thirsty, who suffers and is sad, who sheds perspiration and knows despair.

    Here’s Fr Klostermaier saying Mass in Vrindaban:

    First thing in the morning I celebrate the Mass. I wonder if any person responsible for prescribing the liturgical vestments in use today ever read mass at 113 degrees Fahrenheit, in a closed room without a fan? Clouds of flies swarm around the chalice and host. They settle on the hands, on the perspiring face. They cannot be driven away, but return for the tenth time to the place from which they have been chased away. The whole body burns and itches. The clothes are damp, even the vestments. They soon dry. If a priest does not wear them all, he commits – according to existing canon law – at least a dozen or so mortal sins all at once. And it seems impossible to survive, physically or spiritually, without the Mass.

    And Vrindaban?

    Edward C Dimock and Denise Levertov, begin their delicious, delirious volume, In Praise of Krishna: songs from the Bengali, thus:

    Above the highest heaven is the dwelling place of Krishna. It is a place of infinite idyllic peace, where the dark and gentle river Yamuna flows beside a flowered meadow, where cattle graze; on the river’s bank sweet-scented trees blossom and bend their branches to the earth, where peacocks dance and nightingales call softly. Here Krishna, ever-young, sits beneath the trees, the sound of his flute echoing the nightingales’ call. Sometimes he laughs and jokes and wrestles with his friends, sometimes he teases the cowherd-girls of the village, the Gopis, as they come to the river for water. And sometimes, in the dusk of days an eon long, his flute’s call summons the Gopis to his side. They leave their homes and families and husbands and honor — as it is called by men — and go to him. Their love for him is deeper than their fear of dishonor. He is the fulfillment of all desire…

    That, too, is Vrindaban!

    Next notables, metaphors and bright ideas included

    Sunday, December 9th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — next in the long series beginning with sports and game metaphors, and extending to include miscellaneous memorable items — nb, includes a Tibhirine section, Jim Gant pls note ]
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    Here’s a DoubleQuote in images of considerable interest, from David Metcalfe — with the esteemed William Dalrynple DoubleQuoting goddesses in Kerala:

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    Ancilliary to my interest in mapping complex realities..

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    First “siege warfare” metaphor:

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    Something to read alongside John Kiser‘s superb The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria :

    I would be most happy to publish any comments John Kiser has on Kyle Orton‘s blog post, Algeria’s ‘Years of Blood’: Not Quite What They Seem on ZP should he or Jim Gant notice this somewhat obscure entry..

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    Good grief:

    Key comment:

    I will explain all in due course but for now all I want to say is be VERY careful when dabbling in spirituality, it’s not something to mess with.

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    And how’s this?

    Trump Channels the Worst of China to Beat China

    A double ouroboros, methinks: the Worst of China to Beat China, arguably, and self-defeating, axiomatically, no?

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    Venkatesh Rao, Quiver Doodles:

    I don’t know if this is still true, but I once read about exploited workers in the ship-breaking industry who were worked so hard, and paid so little, they could not even afford to buy enough calories to sustain themselves. They were slowly starving to death. I call this phenomenon entropic ruin, a generalization of the idea of gambler’s ruin to open-ended games that can be non-zero-sum and need not involve gambling. In this case, it’s a deterministic death march. If you systematically consume fewer calories than you expend long term, you will die a premature death.

    Via John Kellden

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    Did Venkatesh mention “the idea of gambler’s ruin“? How about nuns’ ruin as a subset?

    Two nuns allegedly stole $500,000 for trips to Las Vegas

    We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account,” Marge Graf, an attorney representing St. James, told a group of parents at a meeting last Monday night, according to the Beach Reporter.”

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    Mask dancers, Bhutan:

    21 Breathtaking Photos Of Isolated Tribes From All Around The World

    The dancers are gorgeous, but look to the left and see the monasteries perched on plateaus in a towering rock-face..

    I’m pretty sure “isolated tribes” are of particular interest about now because of the evangelical boundary-pusher killed (martyred? now there’s a koan) because he hoped to bring the gospel to Andaman tribal peoples whose isolation is protected by the Indian government.. see my tweet:

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    A whole lot more..

    This Nancy Pelosi chyron, for instance:

    Which brings me to #2 below:

    — with #3 also deserving a metaphor-mention..

    And we might as well go for the revolt chyron here:

    And that in turn allows for a splendid graphic with both metaphorical and real resonance..

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    That should be enough. I’ll collect further items of interest in the comments section.

    HipBone implications of the second shoe dropping for intel analysis

    Sunday, August 6th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — also, the role of the True Name in intel analysis & Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea ]
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    You may know that I value the documentary film Manhunt for its lucid presentation of the process by which the finest intelligence analysts “leap” to their quarry — in which Cindy Storer notes, “not the analysts doing it, but other people who didn’t have that talent referred to it as magic”.

    In my post The process of associative memory I decribe this process, which I consider the root process of true creativity:

    There’s the present moment .. And there’s the memory it elicits.

    Compare Michael Hayden in Manhunt, at 1.19.18:

    The way it works is, information come in, you catalog it, your organize it – that little nugget there could sit fallow on your shelves for four or five years until something else comes in that’s suddenly very illuminating about something that you may have had for a very long period of time. That actually happened in the work we did to hunt for Osama bin Laden by trying to track his courier.

    By way of confirmation, here is Robert Frost:

    The artist must value himself as he snatches a thing from some previous order in time and space into a new order with not so much as a ligature clinging to it of the old place where it was organic.

    And here’s Jeff Jones on piecing together puzzles —

    Some pieces produce remarkable epiphanies. You grab the next piece, which appears to be just some chunk of grass – obviously no big deal. But wait … you discover this innocuous piece connects the windmill scene to the alligator scene! This innocent little new piece turned out to be the glue.

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    My point here is that the board in my “game” of DoubleQuotes provides a matrix for eliciting and annotating such leaps between fact and memory — that’s its purpose, and that’s why I believe the practice and “playing” of DoubleQuotes is, in itself, an ideal training for the analytic mind in that otherwise elusive aptitude which Ms Storer says seenms like magic to those who do not possess it..

    I believe my DoubleQuotes would be an invaluable tool for analysts in training.

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    Note, however, that Jose Rodriguez, speaking immediately after Michael Hayden at 1.19.55, adds a reference to the “True Name” — accompanying screencaps included — something to which as a theologian I am naturally drawn:

    It took years for the agency to recruit the human source that eventually gave us the true name. That’s why we were in the business the of condensing human intelligence because, in many cases, all these fancy gadgets and everything else won’t give you the information that you really need. A true name.

    And we finally got his true name, which is whatever it is. Whatever. Arabic name, you know. But the true name – we were able to find out a lot about him. From then on, you know, the agency was able to do what it does so well. Track the guy and find him.

    That too elicits memories, though in this case providing cultural context rather than actionable intelligence. It’s interesting to compare Rodriguez’ quote with the passages in which Ursula Le Guin describes the nature of magic in her book, Wizard of Earthsea:

    He who would be Seamaster must know the true name of every drop of water in the sea.

    and:

    He saw that in this dusty and fathomless matter of learning the true name of every place, thing, and being, the power he wanted lay like a jewel at the bottom of a dry well. For magic consists in this, the true naming of a thing.

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    See also:

  • Gaming the Connections: from Sherlock H to Nada B
  • Jeff Jonas, Nada Bakos, Cindy Storer and Puzzles
  • FWIW, there’s an appendix on the central spiritual significance of remembrance of the True Name in Judaism (HaShem), Christianity (Jesus Prayer), Islam (dhikr), Hinduism (nama-rupa), Buddhism (nembutsu) etc at the back of Frithjof Schuon‘s little book, The Transcendent Unity of Religions.

    On which frankly mystical note, here’s a third para from Le Guin to carry you towards Lao Tzu‘s observation that “The name that can be named is not the eternal Name” —

    It is no secret. All power is one in source and end, I think. Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man’s hand and the wisdom in a tree’s root: they all arise together. My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name.

    Realpolitik as if angels were real

    Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — I mean, are they or aren’t they? — really? — what do you believe? ]
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    St Michael, of the archangelic rank or choir

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    It’s just a thought I entertain from time to time. Because if they are, if angels are real — as bookloads by the dozens, popularly read, attest — why then they may know something, and they may surely accomplish something.

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    Thomas Aquinas asks and answers the Question, Whether an angel is altogether incorporeal?. Along the way, he quotes St John Damascene:

    an angel is an ever movable intellectual substance.

    Angels are forms of intelligence — is the Intelligence Community listening?

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    When the boy’s eyes were opened, as per the prayer of Elisha (2 Kings 6:17), he saw:

    and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha

    and the Lord speaking to Muhammad (Qur’an 8:9):

    I shall reinforce you with a thousand angels riding behind you.

    Angels are perhaps force-multipliers. Is DOD interested?

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    Angels may be beings of music and dance — gandharvas, apsarases — is theirs a language our intelligence recognizes?

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    But I digress. Intelligence has a long history with the invisibles. Abbot Trithemius may be called first among cryptologists. Elizabeth I’s John Dee would have been at home to Bletchley Park (though Walsingham might have tossed out his amanuensis, Edward Kelley). Talmudic scholrs would do well to teach at Quantico, Jesuits at Fort Meade. Their remit, from Ephesians 6.12:

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

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    An aside: in his Himalayan attempt to fathom angels, Aquinas makes an instructive statement:

    Now the medium compared to one extreme appears to be the other extreme, as what is tepid compared to heat seems to be cold

    Left and right, how often do we get caught in that trap in these divisive times?

    Religious scholarship may not be the best (CVE) counter to religious zeal

    Monday, June 5th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — nor intellect the best response to emotion ]
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    Offered without further ado.

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    Sources:

  • SahelBlog, Peter Mandaville and J.M. Berger on CVE, Past and Present
  • TimesNow, Reading Gita, Upanishads to counter BJP and RSS: Rahul Gandhi

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