Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Solstice! ("Rain" in a change of season)

Wisdom Quarterly

Winter has officially begun in the northern hemisphere on the same day summer starts for the southern side of planet Gaia. But it actually arrived days ago in Los Angeles, which has been experiencing more rain (our equivalent of lowland snow) in these few days than it usually gets in a year.

So the time of the Prophetic Visions, in a rare case of Buddhist dream interpretation (Jataka 77), seems to have arrived with the eclipse of the Moon:

The Reason for Weather Disturbances
"The Sixteen Dreams" (Mahasupina Jataka) derived from Ken & Visakha Kawasaki
"Tell me your tenth dream," the Buddha invited King Pasenadi, who reigned over Kosala. "I saw rice boiling in a pot but not being done," the king explained. "By not getting done I mean that it looked as if the cooking was taking place in three parts: One was wet, another hard and raw, and a third looked perfectly cooked. This was my tenth dream. What does it foretell?"

"This is a dream of future events," the Buddha explained. "In days to come rulers will become unrighteous. The nobles will follow the ruler's example, and so will the intellectuals (brahmins). The townspeople, the merchants, and at last even the farmers will become corrupted. Eventually, everyone in the country [mahajanapada, a tribe's territory or ruling clan's foothold], the sages and even the earthbound-devas [akin to mischevious Greek demigods], will become immoral.

"Even the winds that blow over the realm of such an unrighteous ruler will grow cruel and lawless. Because even the skies and the sky-devas over that land will be disturbed, they will cause drought.

"Rain will never fall on the entire country all at once. It may rain in the upper districts, but in the lower it will not. In one place a heavy downpour will damage the crops, while in another area the crops will wither from drought. The crops sown within a single country -- like the rice in the one pot -- shall have no uniform character" (Jat. 77). More>>

Winter Solstice
Wisdom Quarterly with help from Chiff.com

The winter solstice marks the longest night of the year. (Summer solstice marks the longest day). In the north, the predictably gloomy weather around the winter solstice has been responsible for many symbols, ancient myths, and religious beliefs.

In ancient Rome, the original "Xmas" was a Pagan celebration called the Feast of Saturnalia, in honor of the Roman "god" or "titan" (Buddhist deva or asura) Saturn. In pre-Christian England, the end of December centered around the Pagan Yule log holiday tradition, a special piece of wood blazing to defrost winter's handiwork.

Nowadays, of course, festive corporations have co-opted our natural desire for relief from the winter doldrums (as the triumphant pharmaceutical industry advocated for a DSM entry, S.A.D., that allows it to inflate its obscene profits from the joyous insurance companies when staring at light is known to safely remedy wintertime blues). We are convinced we are meant to be "consumers" who need buy our way to "celebrating" and enjoying Christmas, in honor of the Roman "god" the Sun.

So the West was taken from Kronos to Kristos to Kwanzaa in a modern festival of lights, to overcome the dark, and a lively social feast, to overcome the effects of Mother Nature's dormant season. Even Buddhists in India celebrate a festival of lights, Diwali. And because Buddhists in China have Bodhi Day, we say: Let there be light! Merry Winter Solstice from Wisdom Quarterly to one and all!

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