Friday, December 25, 2009

FELIZ NAVIDAD

FORGOT TO MENTION IT IN THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS POSTING, BUT THERE WILL BE ZAZEN AT HILL ST. CENTER TODAY (Dec. 26, 2009) EVEN THOUGH IT'S BOXING DAY. DETAILS, AS ALWAYS, ARE ON THE LINK TO YOUR LEFT.

Feliz Navidad and Merry Kwanza from the city of Queretaro, Mexico. I'm down here with my dad who has been looking into places in Mexico to retire for the past 15 years or so. This is the fourth of these exploratory journeys I've made with him. The first was to Valladolid and Merida in the Yucatan, the second was to Guadalajara, and the third was to Puerto Vallarta to check out some city north of there. So even though I've been to Mexico a few times I still can't speak much Spanish beyond "donde es el bano?" and "soy vegitariano." But that's all you really need.

This time it's Christmas. That's a first for me and it's been kind of fun. Down in the town square they have a display of various Biblical events in papier mache. They have a little Garden of Eden with happy animals and Adam and Eve with big ol' fig leaves covering the naughty bits. There's also Hell, which was very cool. Much cooler than Eden, if you ask me!

Last night there was a big-ass Christmas parade with floats depicting Bible scenes. They had "El triumfo de Judith," "El sacraficio de Isaac," "El Becerrode Oro," and many more. They also had booths where you could get your picture taken with the Three Wise Men or Santa Claus.

I like Christmas. It could be all the collective effervescence as my friend Jamie says. Or maybe it's the music. I love Christmas music even more this year than I did in the past thanks to a couple of people who know who they are. Maybe it's just the lights and decorations and stuff. I have a lot of "alternative" type friends who hate Christmas seemingly just because everyone else seems to enjoy it. But I like it.

I stopped by a Catholic mass with my dad and we peeked in. Couldn't tell much of what was happening. Spanish, though, always sounds a lot more holy somehow than English. It's impossible to imagine what the rituals and whatnot mean to those who participate in them.As a kid I remember feeling a little left out when my Catholic friends, like the Kashingakis in Nairobi, used to get to do all those cool rituals and I didn't.

I think rituals are important for human beings. It seems like we need some kind of rituals to keep us happy and contented. I like the Zen way of dealing with rituals by doing them but not really believing in them. It seems like a rational solution to the problem.

OK. My dad's talking to me so I'm gonna go.

Merry Christmas to all!

(By the way I am still on the look out for a car...)

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

booyaka!

Swami Iconoclast said...

His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was born on September 1, 1896. He founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in 1966 and departed from this planet on November 14, 1977. He left behind a library full of teachings that are perfect and infallible.

clangesi said...

Not today thank you, you silly swami ;-)

Brad Warner said...

Swami Prabhupada!! He also left behind a lot of squabbling disciples one of whom was in jail on a murder rap.

But they DO make delicious food!

gonaston said...

Brad: why not stay in mexico? mexico respects artists. and your dad could use the company. wishing you the best.

Swami Iconoclast said...

Read about Swami's encounter with a Christian.

Rad Arner said...

"He also left behind a lot of squabbling disciples"

As opposed to the beautiful harmony and brotherhood of Gudo's disciples? Love & kisses to Jundo for me.

Anonymous said...

sesomid

there are zen centers in Mexico


any near your dad's place?

Anonymous said...

hoteds

so Brad,
what's the story behind the picture?

and what was the Christmas music you say you liked so much?
or was it more the circumstances in which you were listening to it?

in this blog you take a position of being 'pro ritual' but this is not something you practice.

the impression given is that a lot of things are uncomfortable for you and that your practice is to do what you are comfortble with

sometimes you are comfortable with ritual
sometimes you aren't

most of us just understand practice as that which is before us at whatever center we end up at--if they do morning prostrations, if they do chants, if they bow upon entering/leaving the zendo, etc., then that's what we do and that is our practice along with the zazen we do
whether we 'feel' like it or not, we do the prostrations, we do the chants, we do the bows etc.
and we just observe ourselves: when we 'feel' like it and when we don't, just the doing of that which we do.

You are in the very special position of not having to follow what someone else profers as practice: you are the one with completely authority to lay down what the practice is
you seem uncomfortable doing things and you stop doing them
what is this discomfort?
isn't zazen something you do whether or not you are comfortable doing it?
and can't the same thing be said about whatever else you establish as taking place before zazen and afer zazen?

mtto said...

Well, we did chant the Heart Sutra last Saturday. MG, does that count as ritual for you?

Allegra said...

Brad said:
"I think rituals are important for human beings."
that's not the same as saying he's pro-ritual, which it seems pretty clear he's not, but even if he decided he were why on earth do you care?
the point is are you pro-ritual or not?
...or more relevant for me: do i find it helpful or comforting to practice or observe rituals of various kinds? which i think is the whole point here, not what we think of what Brad does, but how it holds up a mirror for us to look at what we do, and what we think of that.

sheesh....

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Things just are............
Merry Christmas to everyone!

Anonymous said...

It's a cool picture of Santa Brad

what is ritual anyway?

doing the same prescribed thing at a specified time?

doing what you want when you feel like it, may not be ritual, but it is honest and 'in the moment'

while context plays a big role in how we receive/perceive things

a mind holding pre-conceived judgements is also a 'context' and plays a role in how things are perceived and responded to as well


I've been holding the pre-conceived notion that ritual is something done because it is customary (for lack of a better word) and that feelings about it one way or another don't factor into the doing part

to do ritual when you feel like it takes some of the 'ritual' out of it for me and makes it something else, and I don't know what that something else is

when it comes to ritual in the zendo setting I've participated in rituals even when I didn't particularly feel like doing them

I am curious about the thought of doing things only when you feel like it...I mean isn't this what we all do anyway?

anyway it's been interesting considering these things

Petteri Sulonen said...

Brad et al: check out the blog Swami Iconoclast links to. I get a sneaky feeling that he may not be 100% serious, although it'd be kinda cool if he is.

anon #108 said...

I want to make it clear that, be he spoof or not, despite the use in common of the ancient Indian tetranacci number 108, I am not a stalking horse for the silly swami or his lord and master, Mr Prabhupada.

Like you care...

Brad Warner said...

The story behind the Santa photo is that, among other things, Tsuburaya Productions, where I worked in Japan for a decade and change, rented out costumes -- mainly monster & superhero costumes. But they also had a Santa suit.

They were making a catalog of their costumes and I was the lone white man there. So I got elected to dress up as Santa. That photo was taken in 2002 or '03, I think.

As for ritual... you gotta do it. I'm not really pro or anti. If you come to sit with me, you'll find that sometimes I do a few and sometimes I don't. That's kinda the nature of the way I do things. My bottom line is "I sit every morning and one morning a week I open the door to anyone who wants to join." What I feel like doing any particular day changes pretty much whimsically, the way it would if I were alone.

Still, there is always ritual. Like even when I sit at home by myself I still bow to the cushion & away from it. I sometimes even chant on my own.

By the way, I love the link posted by Swami Iconoclast. I agree, he's either a sharp satirist or completely serious. Either way it's amusing.

As for squabbling, yeah, it happens everywhere. But so far no murder raps in N's crowd.

(PS the 1st sentence in this is an amazing run-on!)

Mumon said...

I think rituals are important for human beings. It seems like we need some kind of rituals to keep us happy and contented. I like the Zen way of dealing with rituals by doing them but not really believing in them. It seems like a rational solution to the problem.

I don't think that's historically, or even currently accurate or consistent.

anon #108 said...

Nice post on your blog, Mumon.

But..

"Now of course Warner's school deemphasizes koan study..."

Not at all - just not during zazen.

"...so maybe that makes his chants and rituals boring. But I doubt it."

No, you may well be right - in a sense: 'boring' isn't a bad word to Soto types.

So, your final paragraph...

"...the idea that you can get something out of the ritual - is probably completely impossible. That's because wanting not to want to gain or wanting to get even happiness and contentment from rituals are still things to be wanted to be gained from them. But given nonduality, some degree of avoidance of excessive scrupulosity is an accurate position to take, I think. Just bow. Just chant. And don't chase after thoughts about when you miss the right word, or have to take a breath and that distorts the rhythm and all that. Just go back to the practice..."

...wouldn't find many dissenters amongst Soto fans, I think.

Mysterion said...

Mass is given in Latin, not Spanish...

The Mexican dialect is not Spanish (in the academic sense).

And the 25th is the birth of Mithras. Anyone who has read much on the Roman Empire knows that Xtianity was a Device used by Constantine to unite Byzantium (a.k.a. the 'eastern' empire) with Italy (a.k.a. the 'western' empire).

Most of Catholicism is based on Mithrism - which is the main reason the new religion of the levant ceased to look like what it was - Buddhism.

Do a little research when you have the time (no links provided).

Happy YULE!

Anonymous said...

Mumon:
"I don't think that's historically, or even currently accurate or consistent."

Good! If it was I'd start to worry about him.

Professordave said...

Anywhere I've been in Mexico, Mass was in Spanish, not Latin. Doing Mass in Latin is a thing of the past, I do believe. I'm not Catholic.

Mumon said...

anon #108:

I don't think there is really such a big divide in Soto v. Rinzai. But I don't think mindfulness of the ordinary is boring either.

Petteri Sulonen said...

@Mysterion: No offense, but you appear to be a bit behind the times with regards to the history of Christianity, as well as your understanding of Catholic practice these days -- and your linguistics are a bit off the wall too.

First off, Catholicism as Mithraism theory is over a century old and doesn't really stand up to critical scrutiny, neither on the Mithraism nor the Catholicism side of the story. Nowadays the story is mostly beloved of Protestant Fundamentalists out to prove that the Roman Catholic Chuch is the Beast of Revelation, and certain (often recently deconverted) atheists who are as uncritical of antireligious tracts as they used to be of religious ones.

Second, you've got your chronology wrong. Constantine didn't unite Eastern and Western Rome; if anything, he *divided* them. The Empire was split administratively under Diocletian; Constantine moved the capital to Constantinople. The Empire was only (temporarily) reunified under Justinian I, and that was two centuries later.

Third, while Mass is still occasionally said in Latin, this hasn't been the regular practice since Vatican 2; IOW, if you walk into a church in Mexico, 99 times out of 100 Mass will be said in Spanish.

Fourth, Mexican Spanish is too a dialect of Spanish.

And fifth, early Christianity didn't have a hell of a lot to do with Buddhism -- based on the relatively little we have to go on. (Of course, we do know so little about it that you can fill in the gaps with whatever you like -- and the gaps are certainly big enough to fit most of Buddhism. Then again, they're also big enough to fit Quetzalcoatl, Isis and Osiris, or little green men from outer space, if that's your inclination.)

Other than that, you're doing great, though. :-)

(Oh, disclaimer? I'm not a Catholic either, but my wife is. I'm also something of a comparative religion, history, and language nerd.)

boyok said...

"Swami Prabhupada!! He also left behind a lot of squabbling disciples"

Brad: You are such a sharp ironist! Or maybe not..

Anonymous said...

Early Christianity had a lot to do with Judaism. It was born of Judaism and much of the New Testament is midrash of the Old Testament.

Anonymous said...

And midrash is not a derogatory term. Midrash is the discipline of reading texts and adding commentary to make the myths relevant to the time. By myths I don't mean made up fanciful stories but myths were at the time the Old Testament and Pentateuch were being written down from oral tradition were considered higher truths. Such as we think of literature or poetry as containing a meaning that transcends time. Proving facts was not what was important.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...

Regarding Spanish, see LINK

see also minority languages of Spain.

Also, read "The Other 1492"

The simple answer is never simple and often not the answer at all.

Swami Beyonda Grava said...

When throwing around Sawmis, like little fellows in a dwarf toss, don't forget the Universally Recognized (U.R.) Swami Hoo U. Tinka.

Joe Ratz said...

regarding Jesus (Ixeus) as a Buddhist Rabbi:

"book looks at parallel sayings of Jesus, Buddha..." see
published in 1998 (11 years back)

And Chris Lindtner's site.

Chris is sometimes labeled a 'holocaust denier' because he takes historical numbers in context. There is nothing new in embellishing the numbers (e.g. forty and two thousand) to make a point - except even ONE death of an innocent is a grievous wrong.

BTW, how many different places in the bible does the number "forty and two thousand" appear?

Ezra 2:64
Nehemiah 7:66
Judges 12:6

also
The Book of Mormon, CH 2

and in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy..."
as 42

coincidence?
divine inspiration?
divine diaphoretic?

Spit out the hook...

Notice the compass N, S, E, W with the 4 groups of 3 (12 signs of the Zodiac).

Christianity is where Buddhism collides with Mithras...
Here comes the sun.

Anonymous said...

Petteri and Mysterion:

when's the wedding?

LOL

I kid, i kid...
--matt

Anonymous said...

also, is it too late to mention this classic while we're on the subject? www.timecube.com

Anonymous said...

When I was 12 years old my sister and I were left in a boarding school in France while my mother went back to Italy with my brother to live with my father.

All of this to say: I was living in France and attending mass on a daily basis the year it switched from being said in Latin to being said in the language of the country. That happened 46 years ago so yes, Brad and Brad's Dad would have had to have heard the mass in Spanish
asist
unless things have changed
I can't say as I've kept up with the Vaticans
been sitting zazen a couple of decades now
so really, I only know by personal experience
what was a fact at the time
but now may only be a partial truth

google might help sort it out, and I can ask my Catholic co-worker on Monday and get back to you

Petteri Sulonen said...

@Mysterion: Oh dear, this is serious. Somebody is WRONG on the Internet.

Re Spanish: WTF? You linked to two articles and one book, one about localization of software (which repeatedly uses the term 'Mexican Spanish' and lists Mexico among a table of Spanish-speaking countries), one about the persecution of Jews by the Very Catholic Ferdinand and Isabella (which deals with a period when Hispanic Mexico didn't even exist), and a list of Iberian minority language that, indeed, aren't Spanish. What does any of this have to do with your contention that Mexican Spanish is a separate language and not a dialect of Spanish?

Re the Bible: of course it's (largely although not totally) derivative, with most of the original bits being local folklore mixed in with some historical bits. (Also, it is too a historical source, although not a particularly reliable one.)

I disagree somewhat about it not being a good read, though -- IMO Woody Allen got closer to the mark when he said that 'God was a very uneven writer.' The Book of Job, Ecclesiastes, and some of the Psalms are some pretty damn fine writing IMO, for example.

Re the validity of religions, Levantine or otherwise: that's way beyond my capabilities to judge. If anything, I think that 'valid' or 'invalid' is a bit of a strange thing to say about a religion, although people do say it a lot (as in, "my religion is valid, yours is invalid"). From where I'm at, religion is neither valid nor invalid the way scientific theories are valid or invalid; it's more like art, poetry, or sports, and how much sense does it make to say that football is valid but baseball is invalid?

What's more, none of this has anything to do with your original claim. You stated that Catholicism is derived from Mithraism. Surely you're not just doing the octopus defense -- squirting a big cloud of ink to distract people?

The early history of Christianity is a fascinating subject. There's a marvelous tangle of influences -- philosophical, religious, ritual, hierarchical -- from all over the place there, some of which may, indeed, extend all the way to India, and some of which certainly extend to mystery cults in the Roman Empire. I hate it when someone dumbs it down to "Catholicism is Mithraism." As you said yourself, simple answers are never simple and rarely answers at all.

Petteri Sulonen said...

@Mysterion: Oh, and, one more thing: December 25 isn't the birthday of Mithras. It's the feast for Sol Invictus. Mithras is occasionally given the same epithet (Mithras Sol Invictus), but the two cults were entirely distinct -- Mithraism was a mystery cult, whereas the cult of Sol Invictus was an open and official one. If Mithraists celebrated his birthday, we don't know what day they did it.

Anonymous said...

Catholicism lacks gravitas.

Anonymous said...

Neeeeeerd fiiiiiiiiight!!!!!

Kidding guys,
peace

Mysterion said...

I have spent the last decade, in part, studying the Mithraic Grotto structures beneath Rome. The biggest one, by far, is under the Vatican.

The entire structure of the Roman church remains unchanged since the 2nd c. BCE. The old gods were replaced with newer gods but the older STRUCTURE remained.

So to with Buddhism, the Mantras predate the Sutras. I point in that general direction over at my "Jaytay" post.

One factor that helped me forever walk away from teaching is that self-imposed injury (belief) which, like a bullet between the eyes, prevents thinking in the brains of students. Religion is properly directed at elementary school drop-outs. Philosophy and thinking require that fluidity of thought that is so often missing in the younger generations. TV and video game exposure have rendered many minds to the atrophy of uselessness.

In the Mantra or magic formula, meditation on Aum is said to bring about the identity of Atman within. Atman is the bodhi nature among the sleeping.

Is it all bullshit? Perhaps.
It really doesn't matter - especially to me, here, now.

Abu Byn Adam said...

speaking of video games, who want's to help me write:

"Pope Bowling"

Mysterion said...

correction:

So too with Buddhism...

Mike Rock said...

That Ultraman statue is *awesome*

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

I'm glad you enjoyed Christmas, Brad. The holiday is intended to be inclusive. Whether or not you choose to believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ (that's what Easter's for!)is irrelevant. I do, but no more or no less than I believe in my own divine nature, your own divine nature, or the divine nature of hookers and crackheads. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists are all welcome to celebrate the birth of a great teacher by practicing peace on earth and goodwill to men.

First read Hardcore Zen five years ago, loved it. Not because you brought up points I had never thought of before, but because you put similar thoughts that I have had into such direct words. Just got done reading the "God" chapter of "Sit down and Shut Up" (sorry I didn't read it sooner. stopped reading books on Buddhism for a bit because I had a tendency to intellectualize everything and knew I was off the mark with that) and you've come amazingly close to my thoughts on what Catholics call the "Holy Trinity."

You've equated God as being the whole of the universe, present in every single manifestation of the universe, and that the universe only exists in the current moment. Father (objective whole of creation), Son (subjective manifestation of creation), and the Holy Spirit (the infinite and eternal moment.) I could break down some scripture to illustrate this point, but no one needs to hear me babble.

Just wanted to thank you. I enjoy your writings and look forward to checking out that Cocoa-Buddha book you got out now. Peace.

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