Friday, April 14, 2006

In search of lost humanity

Mencius said,
'Benevolence is man's mind, and righteousness is man's path.
How lamentable is it to neglect the path and not pursue it, to lose this mind and not know to seek it again!
When men's fowls and dogs are lost, they know to seek for them again, but they lose their mind, and do not know to seek for it.
The great end of learning is nothing else but to seek for the lost mind.'

Just watched a National Geographic presentation " The Lost Treasure of Afghanistan" on PBS.

I remember the day when the Taliban blew up the giant statue of Buddha carved into the rock in the side of a cliff. I am a Buddhist and though I know only a tiny bit of the history of Buddhism's transmission along the Silk Road from India to China, I do know that one of the most well-known translators of Buddhist sutras was from central Asia, perhaps even modern day Afghanistan. The Taliban showed themselves to be truly evil that day. Not because I am a Buddhist, but because they have so little respect for humanity. I consider the burning of the Library at Alexandria to be another such crime against humanity. Although that act was done by a different religious group.

If there is one thing these two groups share it is a penchant for insanity, though the one more than the other.

Just as the 1930s was a time of fascism, it seems we have re-entered a time of religious fundamentalism which tends to heave like an earthquake when cultural techtonic plates shift from time to time.

While watching the program, seeing and listening to the men involved with either saving, destroying, or re-discovering Afghanistan's cultural treasures, I wish I had the power to make it and Iraq and all the world a hate-free no-war zone.

I am so sick of hate, war, intolerance, superstition, zenophobia, unreasoning closed-mindedness, and just plain stupidity. I am also tired of all the debasing of culture and humanity that goes on in our art, literature, performing arts, architecture, and music. [There is such as a thing as good and bad taste in art.]

I want an end to these things. I want humans to see the divine spark that is in all of us and appreciate each other's expressions of the miracle of life we have been granted in our time on earth. I want a real peace and a real culture of life that celebrates life rather than seeks to destroy it and stamp out all its sweet joys. I know I am asking for a lot. But I too have a dream, the same dream as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and all who have come before me and all who will come after me of life as human beings who are neither gods nor animals but divine nonetheless.