Thorns, and Scars

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April 15, 2022- The weary Teacher completed the task assigned Him, by the feckless Roman Governor of Palestine. He carried the wooden cross that was to be His final abode on Earth, laid upon it, at the designated spot on Mount Calvary, was nailed to it hand and foot, and watched as slaves using ropes, raised Man and Device to uprightness and secured it in the ground.

It was asked of the onlookers, “Who do you wish us to absolve, this day?” Legend says that the crowd chose a suspected insurrectionist, Barabbas, to be released, leaving the Teacher to be left to die on the cross. The rest that transpired is solemnly commemorated, by all who love the Teacher, as Good Friday, the day on which the sins of the faithful were subsumed by His death.

The Creator has forgiven His creatures, throughout the life of the Universe. It has always come at the expense of the suffering of the Divine Teachers, sent to show us just what the cost of ignorant and feckless behaviour is. Jesus the Christ wore a crown of thorns and later appeared to His Disciples, showing them the scars on His hands and side.

Some Hindus believe Krishna, the Founder of the Hindu Faith, was tied to a tree and shot with arrows until dead. Al-Bab, the Herald of the Baha’i Faith, was executed by a firing squad of 750 soldiers. Baha’u’llah, while not executed, was tortured at various times, before and after He proclaimed His Mission. Such acts have always been carried out by the powermongers of the time, who know that the Teacher has come to bring purification to the human race, thus potentially ending their reigns and bringing true knowledge and power to the common folk.

Today is the most widely observed commemoration of such a travesty, and may its lessons be truly brought home to human consciousness, after nearly 2000 years of its Story being told.

Whose Truth?

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August 28, 2016, Prescott- I attended a couple of spiritual gatherings, this weekend. Last night, several faith leaders and community activists gathered at Scottsdale Baha’i Center.  The purpose was a delayed Race Unity Day.  The weather has cooled, just a tad, from June’s more extreme temperatures, thus making a late August version of “Juneteenth” more palatable to many.

The array of speakers was far more concerned with solving the ongoing problem of race relations, than in any semblance of showmanship or exclusive claim to truth.  The gathering of about 100 people were able to engage in well-balanced discourse, without resorting to recrimination.

This evening, I joined a much smaller group, at an observance of  Janmashtami,(Krishna’s Birthday), one of the key Hindu religious observances.  It had been 32 years since I last attended any kind of Hindu gathering.  Prescott’s small community is made up of white Americans- an anomaly, with the South Asian community here seeming to be mainly Christian and Muslim.  They are no less fervent, though, than the multitudes of India and Nepal.

The swami, who hails from Sedona, is, like me, a child of the 1960’s.  His inspiration to become Hindu came from the Beatles and others who flocked to the feet of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  I must say, he has done a fair amount of homework on the body of Hindu  Scripture. Anyone who can cite the data of the created Universe that is listed in such detail ,as it is in the Bhagavad Gita, is worthy of profound respect.

There is, though, a common thread woven through all the religious traditions, from time immemorial.  Each does build on those before it, as Man becomes more conscious of, and in tune with, his unique station on this Earthly plane. Truth, to me, did not stop with Hinduism, Christianity or Islam.  It has not stopped with the Baha’i Faith.  There will be other Spiritual Teachers, Avatars, Buddhas or whichever name one sees fit to apply to a Divine Messenger, and They will come when mankind needs them.

Truth, though, remains One- and none can claim a corner on its entirety. I was gratified to see that the swami and his community has sensed this, and dispelled some misgivings I was about to have, about their faith and its possible trend towards fundamentalism.  I will be able to maintain the same dialogue with the Hindu community that I am still working to establish with devout Christians.

It was a fine, useful weekend.

The Road to 65, Mile 302: Pontification

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September 25, 2015, Prescott-  I spent the day with groups of students, in a couple of Band Rooms- one at Prescott High School, the other at Mile High Middle School.  Supervising band, for someone who can barely read notes, is an interesting stretch of my exchequer.  Two or three students lead the class, actually, and I am there mostly to maintain order.  There are always a few who challenge the authority of whoever is leading the class.  Today, however, I needed only remind the assemblage that it is the upcoming concert that matters, and not the whims of the moment.  The young people set back to work.

Challenges to authority have always been the lot of the common man.  They most always result from a disconnect between the aspirations of the worker and the “Big Picture” agenda of the overlord.  So it is with our current crop of candidates for President, with their immediate predecessor and with the Pope of Rome.  Seven billion souls are each going to see things differently from their neighbours, from their family members, and even from their former selves-or later selves, for that matter.  Baha’u’llah states, with regard to a married couple, “Between them is a barrier, that they overpass not.”  By this, He is referring to the DNA-rooted individuality of every soul who ever lived on this planet, and of every soul who will ever live.

I think of this, while pondering the current visit to the United States, by the philosopher king formerly known as Jorge Bergoglio.  Pope Francis I is astride two worlds, and receives advice and criticism from those in each world, and from those who regard themselves as living in neither.  On the one hand, he seeks to define humaneness as ‘seeing each and every person as a true human being, an individual worthy of respect.’  On the other hand, he, along with every other man who is in a position of sectarian authority- with the possible exception of the Archbishop of Canterbury, sets limits on 50 % of the populace.  Women are given only a certain place in the papal firmament- and there is, to his mind, to be no deviation.

Everyone of us has a duality about us.  We have higher aspirations, most of which have to do with doing right by other people, and by the environment in which we live.  Then, there is the “Me” factor.  Self-preservation is a constant weight on our upwardly-springing feet.  From time immemorial, this self-centeredness has been given a countenance:  The demon.  Putting a face on something, especially on a vile something, separates it from us.  We go to great lengths to lengthen this distance- with talk of Satan walking the Earth and infesting the minds of the wayward.

In the end, though, it falls to the individual to rescue him/herself.  The only one who can take me out of my lower nature is yours truly.  The only one who can overcome the deeply-ingrained senses of racism, sexism, class prejudice and nativism that infest so many, is the person who is weighed down by them.  Others can only stand aside and criticize, point fingers, or turn their faces away in disgust.  They may also offer constructive criticism, which is welcomed by any sincere soul.  The change, however, comes from within.

As Krishna is credited with saying:  “Point a finger at another, and, behold three fingers pointing back at you!”  Godspeed to Senor Bergoglio, and to all who seek a better world.  Let them continue to push away the weight that ties them down.