Monday, December 24, 2018

This Pleasant Lea

"If your religion excluded hearth and home, and was intellectual self-indulgence, then no wonder you jettisoned it," said Lekshe. It would be too much to say that was all it was, but some of it was. There was also Wordsworth's longing for attunement:

...For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Well and good, William, but you don't get attunement for free. A world in which you really believe in Furies is a far different world from one in which you saunter along pleasant leas and indulge a passing literary yen for wholeness. 

I've recognized in myself, and in some of my readers, a weakness for following the story rather than the discoverable and verifiable facts, which leads by easy stages to caging children in border camps. I and my people have been far too fond of having our cake and eating it too. 

Bread and stone, tree and water: a few things we all have handled daily, Pagans, Christians, and Buddhists alike. The morning sky and the bell. 

I am realizing my loyalty to science and experiment: to keeping alive the suspicion that if you can't dream up a repeatable experiment to demonstrate a difference, the difference may not be there. However obvious it may be. Lots of obvious things aren't true.

But also science is not enough, and a regular practice of compassion is necessary to keep me from "falling off the other side of the horse." Because in certain long views, who the hell cares? So the human species is experiencing an "outbreak," and will drown itself and many other species in its own shit -- why should I care? How is that different from any other biological shift? Much of what I cared about most deeply is already gone. The old growth forests of Oregon linger in a few little parks and sanctuaries, but the whole point of the old forests was their immensity, the fact that you could get lost in them. A lion on the savanna is magnificent, but a lion in a zoo is just sad. 

I don't know. I get muddled, I lose the thread, I repeat myself. And after all, the question of "am I a Buddhist"? is neither essential nor even interesting. The interesting question is, "what next?"


Lori Witzel said...


lekshe said...

Agree.. but an even better question is, "What's now?" Right now. Not back then, nor when/if, but right now. So often I can't answer. Forget to try.