the dreams of bees

Among other things, I have spent the past day or so educating myself more about the schools of Buddhism and revisiting my own belief structure (as something to be examined neutrally). The impetus to do this all stems from the FB conversation Jen and I had (along with a few other voices) a day or two ago that focused mostly on definitions of what love is and the role of emotions in life.

Just a side note, during the comment convo, there were a few people who jumped in midstream to add their own thoughts and were a little bit apologetic about breaking in. Please do add your comments if you have thoughts on the subject, no matter what two or three people may be dominating the conversation, all are welcome.

Now, having said that, there are some rules. The reason that Jen and I were able to have a 20+ comment exchange that then has moved into communicating blog posts is because we are having a dialogue or discourse about a topic that we disagree on in many areas and agree on in others. Within a dialogue or discourse, rhetoric is toned down, respect is shown and there is a willingness to suspend the defense or strict adherence to one’s own beliefs in order to explore and consider another’s opinion. The language used seeks to avoid aggressive or insulting presentation and criticism is balanced with validation.

I am responsible for what appears in my blog and I am responsible for what is attached to it. I moderate comments (which is why one does not see many) and there are only two sites in which comments are posted as soon as they are written and that is because they are closed membership sites (as far as comment postings).

Comments that do not in some way participate or feed the growth of the discussion either do not appear or are removed. Comments that treat other posters with disrespect are also barred or removed.

While I encourage people who disagree with me to join into the dialogue, I will tell you that there are limits to that as well. If your opinion, to me, according to what I believe, is evil and morally heinous, and is presented in such a way that it does not invite examination and discourse as part of the conversation of discovery, it will be barred and removed because I will not allow for the promotion of such ideas on my pages. Civility is the rule, discourse is the exercise.

Now, that last bit, brings us back to Love, Buddhism, emotions and morality. I doubt I will cover all of that, for these are complex topics. But at least I can add a bit more to the conversation.

Now, Jen has agreed that what she believes is close to (but not exactly) the schools of Buddhism. That is important to know because having an understanding of where a person’s influence and relation lies, especial in matters of belief and/or practice helps to put their comments in perspective. You cannot assume that by reading a book on what ever discipline they relate to will explain what that person believes. People; as they grow in practicing their beliefs develop unique and personalized forms of them. It is why, for all the emphasis in Buddhism, across the many schools of Buddhism, on not being dogmatic or following a strict set of beliefs but discovering your own truth — there is a very strong line drawn between the distinction of being a Buddhist and discovering your own truth and going out and making up your own form of Buddhism. The latter is frowned upon across the board. Christianity carries similar warnings about people who bend the belief to suit their own purposes.

Now, as for me, I identify as a Christian Pacifist. I consider myself an “Independent.” This would be why I am the founder and senior pastor of Grace Independent. It is close too several schools of Christian Pacifism, but has some unique differences. One of which is the prohibition on the group ever owning a building unless its primary purpose is to provide shelter and care for those in need. If you want to know more about the nitty-gritty of Gracie, you can visit graceindependent.mobi on your cell phone. You can also go to blogtalkradio.com/grace-independent and listen to the services and homilies to get a better idea of the focus Grace has, and yes, I do refer to it jokingly as a separate person because it helps me handle the overwhelming work involved with it.

So, for the sake of an overview, I am going to vastly simplify things and say that one person is a Buddhist (generalization) and the other is a Christian (again, using generalizations).

There are two generalized statements of skepticism and suspicion that lie underneath the conversation between the two (and I have now left Jen and I behind and am speaking wof the metaphoric characters; Guatma and Malachi, to carry all these oversimplifications).

Guatma, a Buddhist, is highly suspicious and skeptical of Christian beliefs since it comes from an organization with a profound history of violence and oppression toward others.

Malachi, a Christian, is highly suspicious and skeptical of any belief system lauding giving up possessions and attachments that comes from a rich man who decided to be poor.

Guatma believes that all emotions are attachments and subjective delusions that must be overcome to the point of being removed from the experience of living in order to be wholly one with the universe. Only by doing so can the human life be freed from pain, suffering, and know true living through being an inseparable and indistinguishable part of the whole.

Malachi believes that man cannot be freed from pain and suffering because mankind can never be wholly returned to unity with the whole while living. It is that knowledge that gives to mankind the unique and irresolvable state of despair. He believes that there is nothing he can do to change this, but that through the emotional experience of empathy, can return to the unity of brotherhood, alleviate the pain of despair and govern his individual life to reflect the eventual unity of the whole of existence. (note: despite the popularity of the school of the prosperity gospel, I am not including any of that in my oversimplification, I am using a classical and academic assessment of gospel Christianity).

Guatma is guided by the Four Noble Truths, The Eight Fold Path, the Middle Way and the three Marks of Existence; these are used as both teachings and goals. The cautions of Buddhism come in the Three Poisons. Across the schools, only two are agreed upon – Ignorance and Greed, the third changes from school to school.

Malachi is guided by the Ten Commandments, Christ’s Two Commandments, the Beatitudes and the parables of Christ. The cautions of Christianity are best found in the listing of the seven deadly sins, among which Ignorance and Greed are included.

Morality, for Guatma, is based in the ability to realistically and objectively evaluate each situation to find guidance for what is the valid and rational response.

Morality, for Malachi, is governed by 12 Moral absolutes (the combined commandments) against which all response to any given situation is bound with no exception (technically and ideally).

For Guatma, the “I” is something that is seen as a barrier to being in existence.

For Malachi, the “I” is something that is seen as necessary for being in existence.

For Guatma, a universal love with no distinction or conditions is desired.

For Malachi, a universal love with no distinction or conditions that coexists with distinctive and conditional love is desired.

For Guatma, the path to what is desired is dependent on his actions, practices and understandings.

For Malachi, the path to what is desired involves his actions, practices and understanding but also requires the interaction from something that is beyond his control and understanding.

For Guatma, coming to the stage in which there is a sense of “no-place” within the world is desired, by that I mean no specific role of existence because there is no differentiating factors between all things seen and unseen.

For Malachi, coming to the stage in which the sense of place is known is desired, and by that, I mean an awareness of responsibility and uniqueness in relation to all things seen and unseen.

For Guatma, answers are available through acceptance of being, yet the understanding of the answers may be unique to each person.

For Malachi, no answers are available and acceptance of that is being, and the understanding of the “no-answer” is universal.

Both, like it or not – and this comes from a strictly academic assessment, are religions and philosophies. Buddhism does not like to be called a religion but it meets the criteria. Christianity does not like to be called a philosophy but it meets the criteria.

I am grateful for the discussion that has started because it is making me look again at my own beliefs and choices. I have traveled a long path to what I believe in now, both spiritually and philosophically. I started out as a pagan, then became an atheist, brushed against being a Christian and went back to atheism before coming to where I am now in being a Christian Pacifist.

If you were to ask me if being a Christian Pacifist has made things easier to understand I would tell you quite honestly, “No.” If anything, it has made me more aware of all the things that make no sense, that cause pain and suffering. Life was easier, the “answers” more easily found and rationalizations made back in my pagan, atheistic and “Churching” days.

I was raised a nominal Christian (church on major holidays and that is it). But I lost my faith, if I ever had it to begin with. At one point in my adulthood I returned to “Church” but again – and if you have been reading me you know exactly what I think of Organized religion as found in The Church – I lost my faith. It didn’t fade away as it did in my youth. It was a short, hard slice removed from my body.

Years later, while standing on a rooftop in another country, I suddenly knew I it had returned. But that is a long, and honestly, very personal story.

I ascribe, in all my views on emotions, to a Logotherapy and Jungian understanding of them. Not just emotions, actually, but life and society. It is important to note, in trying to understand what influences me, that both came from men deeply influenced by the Old Testament and the Holocaust.

I also have found Psychosynthesis to be profoundly accurate in understanding our relationship and place in the universe and time.

So…I will go on and on about love in a few days.

But I will leave you with this – some of you might have read or heard it before, but perhaps you will read it with a little deeper understanding given what I have written in the rest of this post –

you can follow this link to hear the audio

http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_3970632

the dreams of bees

Is this then,
what love is?

A strong cold fire
that burns through my soul
reducing to ash
the things I have used
to build my walls?

I have searched and searched.
I have been
to books
and fires
and circles
and roads
and at least I learned,
or so I thought,
that love begins
far above us all.

I thought that,
the worship of things
we can never know,
the rituals and romance,
would bring with it
reward
that I could hold.

So I set about
to build a life
that begged for the right
to be happy and whole.

So that,
when I bent my head and prayed,
someone else would decide
that I deserved
for all that I cried.

And the gods,
laughed,
and made fun
of my small attempts
to worship them.

For what were my offerings,
my sacrifices,
my words and prayers,
when offered to the ones
who had created those very things?

What use is it to offer to a God
that which they made?

And what was I really offering?
I was so lost and bleeding
in the puzzle of my own world,
wanting God to fix things
that I hadn’t a thought as
to what a God might need.

God does not want songs,
and prayers,
and incense,
and pretty things.

God doesn’t want
my complaints and needs
all in a few minutes of my day

God wants everything.

And so,
the gods laughed at me.

In my robes and beads
trying so hard
to ignore
what they were trying
to give to me.

I was like the woman
who hides in the dark
in a city made of light,
clinging to a twisted
image of a god in death
when all around me,
on every street corner,
for anyone to see,
there were statues of a God
laughing and free of pity.
And the people would come out
and pour water over the stone
when the heat had grown
and threatened to burn the day.

That was the god of life and love.
That was a life of worship.
For they asked not
of the God
but took care of it.

And I watched them,
from the dank coolness
of my moss covered grave.

I watched them,
and wondered why it was
I never had a cause
to celebrate.

My god,
my lord,
my savior,
my saint,
how long would you have left me
there in that tomb?

How long would you have left me?

And I am angry,
although I understand,
that it is not for a God
to reach out a hand.

I started with the means
to be
and it is my own fault,
my own fault,
if I have chosen
not to be free.

But,
I choose it now.

I choose it.
I demand it.
I deserve it.

And look,
this is what happened.

For the first time,
I did not
bow my head and kneel.
I threw myself down on the ground
knocking aside the bells and candles,
crushing all those pretty words.

For the first time,
I threw myself down on the ground.
I rent my clothes in two.
I pounded the earth
and shook my fist at the sky
and I demanded
of the things
I have no name
that I be given
the life
of which I dream.

And look,
what happened.
You appeared,
from out of nowhere,
with no guile
or guise,
or reasoned desire
on my part,
trying to talk myself into believing
that you were something
that you were not.

As I have done
before,
time and time again.

Neither of us were looking,
yet both of us had received,
invitations
to a feast.

Yet instead of food,
instead of wine,
I have filled my cup with you,
and ever so slowly,
I drink.
But you pour over the rim
laughing to think
I would try to sip
what must be consumed
drowning the pulse of my heart
with the flood
of my need for you.

Drowning me,
flooding the well of my being
lifting my soul
on the tide of your joy
higher
and higher
shattering my mind
and setting it free.

It is crying,
I love you,
when all reason
deems,
there can be no way,
no how,
too soon.

But,
I do.

I love you.

And I will always love you,
because I have loved you
before you came.

And even if you left again,
this love
would be what remained.

You,
are a part of something
so much larger,

a gift,
a blessing,
an answer.

How can I deny you,
when you are what I dreamed?
How can I deny you
when my body
thunders your name?

And I feel,
I feel the smile of the Gods above,
as for once,
for once,
they see me accept
a gift they have given.

For once,
they have spoken,
and I have listened.

And life changes,
I know life changes
and nothing remains the same.

Forever sometimes
may only mean
a year and a day.

Life exists
not in our memories,
our safety
and security,
but in
ever changing moments.

Forever is built
not on a promise,
not on words,
but on moments –
seconds.

And God above,
let me
have this dream.

So human.
So small.

Just for now,
let me dream
the dreams of forever.

Let me drink and be full,
of something
that is
so –
beautiful.

c.2011 Cassandra Tribe

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About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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