Western humans entertain a sort of self-hypnosis that we can and will master nature, compel it to do our bidding, because, tiny on the cosmic scale as we are, we are smart, really smart! We can learn everything we need to because we are so smart. We apparently are in the process of uncovering the very secrets of the Universe Itself – its when, what, and how at least. Our current paradigm mostly sloughs off the why and who and makes the where irrelevant.
The three brief references at the top of this episode point to the most important but most neglected truths about humanity that paying attention to history teaches us: (1) the Law of Karma is almost completely borne out over time, to the degree that it invites belief in the old-fashioned idea of fate; (2) everyone knows that we should learn from the past, but almost no one ever does – both as individuals and as societies from the smallest level (family) to the widest (nations, civilizations); (3) nevertheless, there is a way out of the trap of being the pawn of history and the mere victim of fate, – both personal and collective.
The pursuit of fame, fortune, the perfect body, the perfect career, the perfect partner, all turns to sand after a while. When we wake up to that, we begin to search for an identity beyond our technological prowess and our mania for “self-actualizing” ourselves as anything we care to imagine. For most of us, the refrain of “you can be and do anything you like or can imagine, even totally reinvent yourself and your gender” turns out to be the pursuit of a phantom which keeps disappearing around the next corner or curve in the road. Or maybe the Phantom sneaks up from behind and laughs snidely that it’s a chimera. The Phantom smirks that we should have known all along what we are really supposed to become, but now we’ve burned so many bridges it’s too late, or seems to be, to go back.
Ideology blinds its fanatical promoters and advocates at least as much as any theology. What we have now seen all too terribly in modern history is that it ultimately kills many more people, much more beauty, creativity, and even creation than any set of Inquisitors, Puritans, or whatever other set of religious zealots ever did.
Regaining contact with our personal inner moral compass in our now largely morally bankrupt culture is very urgent and important. In the long run, it is even more important than taming COVID-19. At least if we believe that human beings are more than creatures who have only a finite existence defined by birth and death. And perhaps even then.
If he was an up and coming new rabbi, one even recognized by the Immerser as someone special, why would he come back here to the backside of Israel? Why didn’t he go to the city and set up in the Temple Porticos like the other rabbis seeking to gather disciples and make a name for themselves? He would never get anywhere by spending his time up in the Galil among its uncultured peasants and yokels.
What in the name of the Blessed One did “baptizing with fire” mean? He could understand undergoing a ceremonial mikvah to symbolize a desire to live a pure life for Adonai. He hadn’t done mikvah yet, but he sometimes felt a tug in that direction. He was well aware of his faults and that, as an example of Adonai’s chosen people, he fell far short. About this baptism by fire he had no clue. It sounded downright unpleasant! But prophets were always rather cryptic.
The art of dying well is never out of date, but the wisdom to prepare for it is more and more rare. Instead, we have created a culture which obsesses about prolonging the illusions of youth. Our culture denies that those raging hormones need to be given proper channeling or they will curse both the individuals who abuse them and their victims. The strong and aggressive may use their raging energy (which is largely sexual repression and misappropriation) to subdue and destroy others. A subtler method of destroying the repressor and oppressor of one’s urges, or anyone who dares challenge the actions, causes, and words of the new class of revolutionaries, is to engage in outrage at every voice which suggests your preferred cause may be hollow. We now have whole masses substituting rage for the love they are seeking in all the wrong places.
The expression “(s)he has clay feet”, although perhaps not so well recognized as it used to be, is still understood to refer to someone who, under the appearance of glamour, glitz, control, wealth, power, etc., has some serious flaws, usually kept as hidden as possible. Every normal person knows they are flawed. Looking in theContinue reading “Summer 2020, 3: People with Clay Feet”
Most of what passes for commentary consists of dismissing the writer-commentator’s submission as mere strong bias or even some sort of incipient “Communism” or “Fascism”. Lamentably, those accusing “those other people” of being the bogeyman have little real understanding of the ideologies involved, and probably don’t care that they are ignorant thereof. In place of dialogue we are stuck with polemics, histrionics, and ad hominem denunciations of “those Nazis/Commies”.