Saturday, January 4, 2014

Heroic Journey: The Bridge of Death (video)

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly; Monty Python, "Holy Grail"
Avian (Garuda) guards on the temple of Emerald Buddha, Thailand (Zennn/

Monty Python's Flying Circus comes to the Bridge of Death (Holy Grail)

Devi (Travis Charest/
When a heroine/hero is on a heroic journey, the road is treacherous. One must stay in possession of one's wits. There are rivers to ford, bridges to cross, and tricky questions to answer.

Every moment is imperiled. We teeter on the edge of ruin. We are staring into the gaping chasm... and loving it, of course. Just so those brave European Crusaders conquering and enslaving the world.

Warrior (cronesmagicalcrafts)
Camelot was comfortable, but not so the forays into the territories of "enemies" the Knights Templar Crusaders made. Their avarice and religious fanaticism, motivated more by greed for personal glory and riches than favor with their tribal Jewish God now co-opted to a nominal "Christian" one in Greco-Roman form.
Coming to a bridge at the end of life is not unusual. There is the River Styx to cross, the Cerberus to navigate, and in Asian mythology the idea of a very fragile rope bridge which can bear no extra weight -- and, bad karma being very heavy, it frequently gives way.

Asian deva watcher, Burma (Dondoc-foto/flickr)
What is "bad" karma, then, and how do we avoid accruing it? Any word, thought, or physical deed motivated by greed, hatred/fear, or delusion is demeritorious. Not all desires are ethical issues compromising one's virtue. There are wishes for good, for liberation, for helping others, for wisdom, for compassion, and so on. Not all aversion is misplaced. There is an aversion to harm, to coarse and harsh things, to base and destructive habits. 

All delusion is harmful, though not knowing somethings at some times (and being at peace with that) can be a relief, a respite, an opportunity to strengthen our mettle and grow prior to having to deal with the raw truth, which itself is not bad. Truth is good. But our deluded reactions to it, our misunderstanding of it, lead us to harm. If we knew more, we would hurt less -- in the long run. Every single step does not get easier along the rocky and narrow road.

Garuda guards close up Emerald Buddha temple, Thailand (Zennn/
Euro deva (Joe Temmel/flickr)
What is "good" karma that lightens us for "crossing over" at death? The three opposite categories: nongreed, nonhatred, and nondelusion or, taken at their broadest, the categories of unselfishness, compassion, and wisdom. How can we not be selfish in this selfish world? 
Wisdom helps. If we begin to grapple with the idea that things, ultimately, are impersonal, it is easier to let go. Giving externally while clinging internally is painful and likely to strengthen our ego as the "great giver." Giving rooted in wisdom is likely to foster more wisdom and a joy of release, of letting go, of being unburdened. That wisdom is a beginning. It culminates in the first stage of enlightenment with the arising of the insight (vipassana) that the ego -- the essence of any "thing" -- was a flawed view of reality, not a reality.
When we begin to see that IT IS NOT REALITY but the illusions, the fantasies, the hallucinations we are enduring that are the problem, we see that the truth is the answer. Let's ESCAPE to reality.

No comments: