Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Buck Moon: Midsummer Night's Dream (video)

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly; MIT; Rose Theatre Kingston
Tonight is the Buck Moon, a bright ball in the midsummer night's sky. Before a 6:00 am sunrise Wed., the full moon was still up over rare clear, chemtrail-free sky in Los Angeles.
Devi or fairy (Dairy of Moon)
Is it midsummer yet, time for a dream of woodland devas as Shakespeare imagined?

Buddhists observe the four phases of the moon (Chandra, Luna) in the ancient fashion the Buddha advised: keep the uposatha, the "lunar observance" replete with eight precepts.

In ancient times, people would gather at the monastic residences (viharas) and remain the whole day and night, taking one meal in the morning and listening to a sutra and meditating, often the whole night long.

This still happens in some Theravada Buddhist countries like Burma, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It is in Asia what later came to be celebrated as the "Sabbath" day in the West, the idea of setting aside Sundays for religious exercises instead of moon-days for spiritual exertions.

Golden Buddha with protector dragons or nagas (Polo D/flickr.com)
What is the proper observance? Day to day Buddhists keep the Five Precepts (to abstain from taking what is not given: life, property, sexual license; perjury, intoxication occasioning heedlessness). On the four moon-days three additional precepts are observed: to abstain from distractions -- using high beds and seats, singing dancing music and distracting shows and adornments, and eating after the appointed times. Here are Eight Precepts in detail.

 Why would anyone abstain from something that could be fun? Like why be celibate or fast for four days a month? There are higher, more subtle, more sublime things humans aspire to, if not in this life surely in the next. Until one lets go of these fetters, cravings, and attachments, one will not have access or even a clear vision of what those other better things are.

There are 24 days of having all the fun we can handle. If we set only four days aside to dedicate ourselves to the practice, that is what makes us "lay Buddhists." Monastics dedicate all 28 days (a month has four weeks, 4x7=28, each with a lunar phase, quarter moons, new, and full). Now today times are such that we can't be bothered with a weekly self-discipline or sadhana, so we settle for at least observing the full moon.

Midsummer Night's Dream

This is the Buck Moon, a time when deer begin to sprout horn, at least the young bucks. Four hundred years ago in a forest outside ancient Athens, there was a Puck, a mischievous sprite, who went around making merry at human expense.

This gave rise to Shakespeare's most popular play, A Midsummer Night's Dream:

A Midsummer Night's Dream
William Shakespeare (shakespeare.MIT.edu); Rose Theatre Kingston

SCENE I. A wood near Athens.

Enter, from opposite sides, a Fairy, and PUCK
How now, spirit! whither wander you?
Over hill, over dale,
Through bush, through brier,
Over park, over pale,
Through flood, through fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favors,
In those freckles live their savors:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I'll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.
The king doth keep his revels here tonight:
Take heed the queen come not within his sight;
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
Because that she as her attendant hath
A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king;
She never had so sweet a changeling;
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild;
But she perforce withholds the loved boy,
Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her joy:
And now they never meet in grove or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
But, they do square, that all their elves for fear
Creep into acorn-cups and hide them there.
Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call'd Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk, and sometimes labor in the quern
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Are not you he?
Thou speak'st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And 'tailor' cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.
But, room, fairy! here comes Oberon.
And here my mistress. Would that he were gone!
Enter, from one side, OBERON, with his train; from the other, TITANIA, with hers More
Fig at 7th: Downtown Los Angeles Festival 2016 (ArtsBrookfield.com/KPFK FM)

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