Nota Bene 


February 24, 2024

Week 9Buddhism + Romance

I woke up this morning and wrote this to my "Deep Thoughts" friend. It's what he replies immediately to me after I send these kinds of texts to him. He thinks I'm ridiculous, I'm sure. But he most always responds quickly. 


"It’s because people like you and me are discouraged from or not interested in running for office. You have to be willing to give up your life, your privacy, your ego, your ease, your security, for that kind of job. It seems only the biggest narcissists/sociopaths or old, tired men fit that description these days. You need to be of selfless service to all others and have a deep, confident faith in God (and therefore yourself) every day to turn this country (and world) around. You need to be strong yet patient, open-minded and kind always but aggressive, firm and steadfast when necessary. You need to be in the middle of your life to have the greatest viewpoint and influence - not too young, but not too old. You need to be grounded in your own foundation yet comfortable and natural in anyone else’s home. You need to be educated and practical in the ways of the world yet still optimistic, creative and humble. You can’t keep expecting someone else to show up when you could be the one. You have to accept that you are not perfect and have sinned because that’s what it means to be human. You need to forgive and be forgiven. You need to surround yourself with trusted advisors from various backgrounds and expertise who have more knowledge than you yet respect you for your wisdom and character. You need to be able to laugh, dance and sing, but also mourn and cry when it’s appropriate. You need to have a solid and loving partnership to steer and comfort you during the highs and lows because no one can lead all alone, or be all those things as one human being.


Finding a couple like that is near impossible, and that’s why we’re in the apocalyptic state that we’re in today."


I have people - men, in particular - who help bring out these thoughts and ideas in me merely through their existence and our friendship. It's not romantic in the modern sense, but romantic in the large, sweeping way that Shakespeare imagined life and death. 


I can't always work in a vacuum. A writer needs to live in the world, not just comment on it. She needs to see and experience for herself what it means to be denied, rejected, manipulated, loved, hated, contested with, envied, admired and threatened by. She needs to feel this for herself, to be betrayed and captured and accepted by, given into, in order to write about it honestly. 


I don't know where I am in history nor who I am in the greater context of my life because I am still living. When Pontius Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews and when the Jews asked Jesus if he was the Son of Man or the Messiah, all he could answer was, If you say so (or something to that effect). He did not fully know. He only knew that his words came directly from the Holy Spirit and it was not his place to know or not know if he was the Messiah, only that his words and actions were true and loyal. 


Earlier, I read a couple of Psalms of David and a poem in Eccelesiastes. Prophet poems. They are very beautiful. To deny yourself from reading those words is tragic, especially if you are lover of great literature, like I am.


I have been wondering lately why I am often not chosen as the leader if I don't make my own self one. My answer comes from an article I faxed another friend (from London to New York) about 26 years ago.  It was in The Wall Street Journal and entitled, "Paying through the Nose for a Stiff Upper Lip: 'Emotional Literacy' Leads to Success, Psychologist Says (July 17, 1997)" by Nicholas Bray. In it, he shares the English psychologist Ido van der Hejden's theory that, "People who are successful in business are doers, not the sort of people who meditate...But people who are unable to reflect on themselves often are unaware of how they come across to others...If you want to lead a large company, people have to be able to relate to you. They can't mistrust you: that's a no go."


Even though I believe that I am a doer and also have an extremely high sense of self-awareness "that gives [me] the opportunity to make decisions which are more intentional in their content than automatic or habitual," I am not relatable.


Bray summarizes Mr. van der Hejden's work concerning a lack of emotional literacy as a "serious handicap in dealing with colleagues, particularly from other cultural environments." I am experiencing this personally in my professional life right now. Many of my colleagues and Directors (who were raised in different cultures than I was) can't relate to me and therefore they don't trust me; we most often fear what we don't understand. They assume the worst about me rather than the best. Regardless of all the years and types of evidence reflecting high performance before them, they refuse to view me as an asset. I have become a liability because of my unrelatability, unabashed self-expression and clarity. Oh, well. Time to move on, once again. 



From I Will Recount Your Wonderful Deeds, Psalm 9, To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben, a Psalm of David:


11 Sing the praises of the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.

12 For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

13 LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,

14 that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation.

15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.

16 The LORD is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.

17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.

18 But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

19 Arise, LORD, do not let mortals triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence.

20 Strike them with terror, LORD; let the nations know they are only mortal.


--


Who are the wicked and who are the afflicted? Who are the enemies and who are the ones who remember God? I'd say they exist on both sides, in both places - in and outside of Zion. 


It's more convenient for the mind to choose a side between who is right and who is wrong; leaving it up to God seems or may feel too passive, too laissez-faire. Cognitive dissonance is a heavy burden. Are there degrees of evil, to evil? Is this how God works? Does God judge and punish the levels of evil, like in Dante's Inferno? Is this Divine Comedy the reality of our collective reality? (Education matters.)


I suspect there's no fair answer to all of this, except that sacrificing your own people, using them to protect you and make you notoriously rich, leaving them to bare, stealing and destroying them, forcing them to starve and beg while you build concrete tunnels to prepare for war and massacre - that cannot be a civilization worth preserving. How can it be? How can a democracy that encourages technology, equity, discourse, art not be the better way? For what were we given minds? For why were we made in the Creator's image if not to create? Moses gave us the law, laws in general, for a reason. We must uphold the law, develop and enforce laws for truth and justice to prevail. 


What peaceful person, what peaceful nation wants thousands of women and children, or any human, to be murdered? Who wants them brutalized, raped, corpses on the street? Who starts these conflicts? What kinds of people want death and destruction for their own glory? Whose history is this? And whose is it not?


Of all people, races and religions, the Jewish people do not seek war. Israel is never on the offense, always on the defense. They may act foolishly and/or avariciously, but not, by default, pugnaciously. Well, to be fair, Buddhism is a lot more peaceful a religion than Judaism is, but their followers have also been persecuted since the 2nd Century BC (see: China, Cambodia, Burma, etc). Yet Buddhists represent about 8% of the world's population today*


One reason the Buddhists have grown more in numbers than the Jewish people have is this: "Unlike Christianity and Islam, Buddhism does not require exclusivity of belief or practice. Buddhists do not need to affiliate with a local temple or Buddhist association, nor must they participate in the formal ritual of “taking refuge” (guiyi 皈依) to identify with Buddhism.**" Buddhism is an idea more than it is a tradition. Buddhism is a philosophy about life while Judaism is a way of life. 


Buddhism may have been the actual way that Jesus became the spiritual way (John 14:6). (Or something to that effect.)


Buddhism flourished because of the Silk Road, which carried goods and ideas from as far East as China and West as Rome, Italy. "The Silk Road is neither an actual road nor a single route. The term instead refers to a network of routes used by traders for more than 1,500 years, from when the Han dynasty of China opened trade in 130 B.C.E.until 1453 C.E., when the Ottoman Empire closed off trade with the West***."


The Silk Road passed through Israel. Recent evidence has revealed that, "Cotton and silk fabric imported from the Far East dating back to the early Islamic period some 1,300 years ago was recently found by a team of Israeli and German researchers in Israel's Arava region, suggesting that the ancient Silk Road trading routes from the Far East passed through Israel en route to Europe.****" It's safe to assume then that this trade route existed at least 1,800 years before this discovery even if the archeology to prove this has not yet been unearthed. 


I'd even say it's even more safe to assume that Jesus, with his travels up and down Israel, whose life story is a complete mystery between the ages of 13 and 30, learned about the Buddha***** and the Buddhist ways before returning to Jerusalem as a preacher. Many people familiar with the tenets and history of Judaism, which is unarguably at least 3,500 years old but among Jews definitively 5,784 years old, believe that Jesus studied Buddhism during his life and is where he received many of his progressive and advanced insights. The merging of Judaism and Buddhism, many could argue, is Christianity in its purest form. (The term for this kind of believer is a "Ju-Bu"). 


Despite (or perhaps because of) all this history, we are at the beginning of, or on the verge of, or already in the middle of (if you want to be optimistic) the Third World War. How can you deny that the major forces at play are not all opposed everywhere right now? Can you not see or feel it in your own small town, bubble or circle of friends? We mistrust each other more than ever. We disagree with each other more than ever. We are less open than we have ever been in our lifetimes. (While we are also returning to our roots.)


The hope and prayer is that we are beyond the ultimate stupidity of using nuclear arms against one another. That's just plain dumb. I don't want to move to the Moon or Mars, places I can't breathe without heavy contraptions (not to mention the dearth of natural beauty). Perhaps Thomas Jefferson needed to add to the Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty, freedom...and breathable air. Jesus. What the f*** is going on?


Let's return to the impetus of this piece, though, shall we? The catalyst, as usual, is my lack of physical affection and my abundance of passionate desire for it. It is true: girls just wanna have fun...but some of us need more of it to balance us out. 


Seriously, what does it take for a (neuro-divergent) girl [like me] to have some fun around here? I'll always be a sucker for a cute boy...God help (and bless) me. I never said I wanted to be a saint or a nun. 


--


*https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-buddhist/

https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/buddhism/

**https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2023/08/30/buddhism/

***https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/silk-road/#:~:text=The%20Silk%20Road%20is%20neither,off%20trade%20with%20the%20West.


*****Buddha (Sanskrit: “Awakened One”) (born c. 6th–4th century BCE, Lumbini, near Kapilavastu, Shakya republic, Kosala kingdom [now in Nepal]—died, Kusinara, Malla republic, Magadhakingdom [now Kasia, India]) the founder of Buddhism, one of the major religions and philosophical systems of southern and eastern Asia and of the world. Buddha is one of the many epithets of a teacher who lived in northern India sometime between the 6th and the 4th century before the Common Era. His followers, known as Buddhists, propagated the religion that is known today as Buddhism. The title buddha was used by a number of religious groups in ancient India and had a range of meanings, but it came to be associated most strongly with the tradition of Buddhism and to mean an enlightened being, one who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and achieved freedom from suffering. According to the various traditions of Buddhism, there have been buddhas in the past and there will be buddhas in the future. Some forms of Buddhism hold that there is only one buddha for each historical age; others hold that all beings will eventually become buddhas because they possess the buddha nature (tathagatagarbha). All forms of Buddhism celebrate various events in the life of the Buddha Gautama, including his birth, enlightenment, and passage into nirvana. In some countries the three events are observed on the same day, which is called Wesak in Southeast Asia. In other regions the festivals are held on different days and incorporate a variety of ritualsand practices. The birth of the Buddha is celebrated in April or May, depending upon the lunar date, in these countries. In Japan, which does not use a lunar calendar, the Buddha’s birth is celebrated on April 8. The celebration there has merged with a native Shintō ceremony into the flower festival known as Hanamatsuri.

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