Sunday, July 25, 2010

Talking Sacred

Wakan iye, Wakan Woglakapi, both mean the same in the singular and plural of Lakota. Talking sacred concepts as stated above does not happen everyday either by holy men or other practitioners of the Lakota spiritual path or the Lakota way.

Yet, daily prayers for understanding and thanksgiving by most everyone requires some comprehension of Wakantanka Tunkasila, Infinite Spirit, Grandfather Creator. In most prayers, only Tunkasila, Grandfather is used to address the One Creator.

Other ways to address Wakantanka, Wakan Kin, Taku Wakan, Tobtob and, of course, Tunkasila are used. In peoples prayers may be found many other terms of reverence according to the understanding and maturity of the individual.

One of the two parts of Wakan Kin, The Sacred, are the Wakan Kolaya, Sacred Friends: the Wi=sun, the Skan=motion, the Maka=earth and the Iyan=rock, and each of these units may be known in smaller components, as well as their relations, Wasicun Tunkan in reference to Inyan means Ancient Rock benefitting others. Otakaheya Wicakage is the creation in the beginning of the world, the stars and the heavens, as well The Hunumpa, Hutopa, Tatetob and Yumni.

These last are the two-legged, the four-legged, the winged, the four winds and the circular strong winds often with rains, hail, thunder and lightning and a rainbow under the right conditions.

Otokaheya wicakage, creation was, is, will be owihanke wanica without ending.

Wicahpi Wanjila- Leroy C. CurleyWicahpi Wanjila - Leroy C. Curley

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Call and Response

Image source: Wikipedia

A friend recently issued a challenge which brought out the wild animal in me… What do whales, Japan, and cushions have in common with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama? Read on, dear reader, read on...

First, a bit of background: On a recent tour of Japan, the Dalai Lama was said to have admonished Sea Shepherd for employing violent practices when attempting to disrupt illegal whaling in international waters. Known illegal whalers have seized upon HHDL’s words as validation of their loathing Sea Shepherd and legitimization of their spurious whaling practices, while eager Western Buddhists have rushed in to rationalize the HHDL’s apparently confusing statement.

Sea Shepherd, being the generally good shepherds they are, issued a response acknowledging the Dalai Lama’s eminence yet challenging his facts. An excerpt of their reply reads as follows: “We are in agreement with the Dalai Lama on this and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has never caused an injury to any individual. Reports that we have caused injuries have been fabricated for public relations purposes. We take every precaution to not cause injury, although we do destroy property that is used to take the life of sentient beings and for this we make no apologies. This year the Society has directly saved the lives of 528 whales and over 800 endangered Bluefin tuna. We are in the business of saving lives and not inflicting harm.” Click here to read the entire Sea Shepherd reply.

So… what was the nature of my friend’s challenge – and where do I fit in to this debate? Respond to foolish rationalizations for the Dalai Lama’s statement from my humble perch among the chattering masses, naturally!

Here’s some excerpts from an author known as Jack posted (without discernible facetiousness) as a reply to an article covering HHDL’s statements in Japan in tricycle: The Buddhist Review

“I think we need to understand where the Dalai Lama is coming from when he makes statements like this. To the environmentally-engaged western mind his position can sound misguided, but from his religious standpoint it makes sense. In his tradition, the world is a place of delusion and suffering. The suffering of the whales is just one instance of a world which is entirely the product of ‘contaminated’ actions and the source of further contaminated actions. It is a sorry-go-round from which there is but one exit, full enlightenment, in which the mind is purified of every last trace of delusion.”

“The actions of the anti-whaling activists, while possibly well-intentioned, are actually deluded. Their minds are disturbed by anger and frustration, which readily lead to acts of violence. Even if they have some limited success in hampering the efforts of the whalers, the most significant factor is that they are laying down the causes for future suffering and unfortunate rebirths in which they will be unable to practice Dharma and thus escape the nightmare of samsara. When traditional Buddhists reflect on such horrors as whaling and the forceful actions of those who try to stop it, they see the pervasiveness of dukkha and they respond by going back to their cushions, because only by purifying their own minds is there any hope of release.”

“Behind the Buddhist logic is the belief in karma and rebirth. The whales and whalers alike are our own dear mothers from past lives and it is right that we should feel compassion for them, but we can only truly help them by leading them out of samsara and to do that we must first become enlightened ourselves. The whales’ suffering is the result of their own karma from past lives, causing them to have been born in a ‘lower’ realm. As whales they cannot practice Dharma and the most we can hope for them is that they will be reborn as humans. As for the whalers, they are also acting out their own unfortunate karma. As regrettable as this is, confronting them will only inflame passions and generate more bad karma. Perhaps they will in turn be reborn as whales and suffer the very fate they now mete out to the animals. Such is cyclic existence. What can we do? Get back to our cushions.”

Here’s my reply to Jack (for whatever it’s worth)…

“The whales’ suffering is the result of their own karma from past lives, causing them to have been born in a ‘lower’ realm… I think we need to understand where the Dalai Lama is coming from when he makes statements like this.” ???

I will never understand anybody who makes statements like that. If you strip away all of the grim, post-mortem, apocalyptic and other-worldly speculation poisoning society, you’ll find a fragile ecology perilously near the edge of catastrophic entropy.

There is nothing – nothing – in our construct of existence more important than Life. Time and Death are the tools of Evolution, but Life is Evolution’s purpose. And nothing is more difficult – or more important – to attain and defend than Life. Our world is not a place of delusion and suffering: it is a place of Life!

Animal and plant life are supreme forms of intelligence, having evolved over millions of years. Animals and plants – living in selfless harmony with the natural environment, predators and all – are the purest form of the enlightened thought which many seek, yet fail (by cursing the Earth), to attain.

Our ingenious iPads and micro-processors and social networks pale in comparison to the genius of bio-processors, terrestrial networks, and cosmic AC/DC power supply. You would freak if somebody capriciously smashed your laptop, yet you feel nothing for the creatures of Earth who seemingly belong to no one. Destroying a whale is more offensive to God than destroying a thousand computers.

So… what can we do about the rape and murder of our planet? Most offensively rape and murder done not in the name of survival – but done for such preposterous reasons as male virility, sport killing, and simple exercise of vain prerogatives (as are ultimately the causes for unlimited wildlife destruction and extinctions).

Should we close our eyes and blank out all thoughts while civilizations are slaughtered, bodies of water polluted, air and land poisoned, and life extinguished?

Should we “get back to our cushions” and practice ambivalent complacency – for only in the highest reaches of the most selfish and delusional fantasies will we be able to leave Earth once and for all?

Or… should we get in a boat and take a stand for Life?

Should we do the hard and necessary work which governments and business and fellow citizens make worse or simply refuse?

Should we bless God with ambivalence and hatred of Their planet – or should we praise the Almighty with action, inspiration and Life?

I believe we should meditate on the value of contentious religious beliefs wherever they’re encountered. Dalai Lama is no more holy, wise or esteemed than anybody else in my book (You, dear reader, included!)

If a teacher claims the only path to enlightenment is through silent complacency, why would that teacher keep talking? If a group of devotees is struggling to attain enlightenment, how could they know what enlightenment looks like? and who is qualified to teach the path to it?

The empty void of Nirvana is not the The Goal to be attained: Life is The Goal. The nirvana of nothingness and complete equanimity is seemingly ubiquitous in the Universe. Life, on the other hand, is an exceedingly rare and precious gift – surviving only as long as the necessary functions of consumption fail to exceed the tedious development of intelligence.

I respect the holiness of Japanese whalers, along with the Dalai Lama’s right to protest noble activism, and I especially respect the humble quest for divine intelligence. However, I most adamantly respect and agree with the Shepherd’s goal of interfering with unlawful and gratuitous whaling and fishing practices. Keep up the good work, Capt. Watson!

David DavidsonDavid Davidson

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