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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
  • **

    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!

    Sunday surprise, crying sky blues

    Sunday, August 19th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — an interdisciplinary meditation on what falls like rain — savor these two at a time, and take your time ]
    .

    Gary BB Coleman:

    Guillaume Apolinnaire:

    Prose version, Roger Shattuck:

    It’s raining women’s voices as if they had died even in memory
    And it’s raining you as well marvellous encounters of my life O little drops
    Those rearing clouds begin to neigh a whole universe of auricular cities
    Listen if it rains while regret and disdain weep to an ancient music
    Listen to the bonds fall off which hold you above and below

    **

    Clearly drums fall like rain. Hammer blows?

    C.B. Cook and gang:

    Tangle Eye:

    **

    Portia, in Merchant of Venice:

    The quality of mercy is not strained;
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

    Eddie Turner:

    **

    Like I said, listen to these, two by two —

    The second one here, at four hours, will likely outlast you — but do listen to a minute or three..

    **

    And a grace-note, gifted us from Friday’s New Yorker:

    As my fingers began to manipulate over keys, words began to fall in place on the melody like drops of water falling from the crevice of a rock,” Dorsey later said. He gave the first performance of “Precious Lord” at his church shortly after his wife and baby’s death, and the act of uninhibited spiritual praise was forever changed.

    Here:

    Arts & Sciences, models & illustrations, Buddhas within mandalas

    Friday, June 29th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — on the illustration, visualization and modeling of supposed reality — note: I am no scientist, no artist, in fact an aphantasic ]
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    A telling caption to an image in New Scientist gave rather more of the game away than was maybe intended.

    The image:

    The caption:

    We have no pictures of the real thing, so enjoy this one instead. Oliver Burston/Alamy

    **

    It’s a nice image, and could be used to represent Lise Meitner‘s discovery of nuclear fission, or some new feature of Kepler’s Supernova, or even, Lord knows, to sell collectible gold coin or diamonds.. And it brings up in acute form an issue I’ve long had with science — in the context of education and the last century’s growing indifference to the arts and humanities.

    How much of what passes for science in the pop science press is in fact art, and specifically photography? And as a sub-question, how much of the impact a particular piece of scientific work receives is dependent on the various qualities of the illustrations used to accompany and promote it — which all too often fit the description in the caption above:

    We have no pictures of the real thing, so enjoy this one instead.

    Or alternatively, shooting for something a little more frank, but not too terribly impolite:

    We have no pictures of the real thing, so enjoy this bullshit instead.

    **

    We hardly ever have a picture of the real thing — which occurs at nano-scale, or outside the visible spectrum, or —

    Well, some while back, we discussed (ignorantly, rest assured, De Docta Ignorantia, qv) a mathematical object of interest to physicists known as The Amplituhedron:

    The Amplituhedron can alternatively be illustrated thus:

    There’s a donut for anyone who can imagine what can possibly merit both illustrations!

    **

    On our way to an understanding of the Amplituhedron, we pass by diagrams such as this:

    — immediately followed by these words:

    Although it is hard to draw the complete four-dimensional polytope, its four three-dimensional faces each define square-pyramidal regions of G(2, 4)

    — as, for instance, this:

    **

    Oh, c’mon, it’s not that hard, just visualize it!

    Tibetan monks can visualize things like this 3-D palace replete with Vases, Wish-granting Trees, Bodhisattvas, Tathagatas and Shaktis, all surrounding the deity Kalachakra and his Consort, Vishvamata

    And the vajrayanist Tibetan practitioners, yes, manage this just by PhD and postdoc level visualization practice, with diagrammatic assists like this:

    — and a blueprint like this:

    — always bearing in mind that, eh, “Kalachakra is a black skinned, four-faced god with twelve arms and twenty-four hands, in passionate embrace with his consort”:

    Kalachakra and Vishvamata, from the Rubin Museum of Art

    **

    Ah, but that’s arts and humanities > comparative religion > Tibetan meditation, not sciences > physics > mathematical physics, eh?

    In all this, I intend to defend both science, properly so understood, as practiced bt qualified practitioners within its various subdisciplines, and arts and humanities, properly so understood, as practiced bt qualified practitioners within their various subdisciplines — while making clear the overwhelmingly important distinction that illustrations are all too often not science but STEM-propaganda, glossy / shiny objects passing for science while in fact falling under the categories of illustration or photography.

    **

    This isn’t, for instance, in any scientific sense, the Horseshoe Nebula

    It’s, as its title suggests, a reproduction of a compositie color image of the Horseshoe Nebula

    — and to be honest, it may bear as much resemblance to a horse’s head as this reoroductionf of a color image of a seahorse does:

    **

    Just let’s keep the arts’ contribution to science illustration filed under arts (illustration), and math diagrams filed under math (diagrams) — I’ve included some of both above — and maybe the arts and humanities will get to siphon off some of the excitement and funding currently pouring into the coffers of (poor little) science.

    Tibetan Buddhists FTW!

    **

    Ooh-wah!

    Art or science?

    Gravitational lens RX J1131-1231 galaxy with the lens galaxy at the center and four lensed background quasars

    That, at least, is what they tell me..

    Fly fishing with Trump, Priebus and Suzuki Roshi

    Saturday, July 29th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — or fly swatting, fly watching, in white house and zendo ]
    .

    Trump once summoned Priebus to kill a fly in Oval Office: report

    A source told The Washington Post that once during an Oval Office meeting, a fly began buzzing around Trump’s head, distracting him. Trump eventually summoned Priebus and told him to kill the fly. As a senior White House staffer, the chief of staff would not ordinarily be tasked with such matters.

    **

    I was going to write something about the fly being the buzzing, distracting thought that disturbs the quiet of meditation — but hey, I’m not a zen master, I just play one, as the saying goes..

    Shunryu Suzuki, om the other hand, just might be the real thing, and in his book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, on pp 68-69 he leaves the question of the fly open:

    Peace is with the Withinners

    Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — ever grateful ]
    .

    Top-down peace talks are by no means a bad thing, maybe even a source of joy..

    but to tell the truth..

    .. peace is with the withinners:

    **

    Sources:

  • Pravmir, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University to Hold Peace Conference With Pope
  • NCR, Vatican calls on Catholics and Buddhists to work together to promote nonviolence
  • A tip-of-the-hat to Ursula Le Guin for her marvelous coinage, “the withinner”.


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