samedi 14 mars 2015

BUDDHISTS AND AMERICAN INDIANS: COMMON PHILOSOPHICAL THREADS

On Reading about Buddhist Philosophy
Peace in the world begins with us
What works?
What works to free the mind from Suffering?
What works to engender the heart of compassion?
What works to awaken us from ignorance?
Love  Compassion Peace
In Sanskrit  Maitri, in Pali Metta and the Burmese say Mitta
All meaning  LOVING KINDNESS
Attitude of Friendliness
Good Will
Generosity of Heart
I noticed that many people, both in USA and Europe, are very suspicious of the Other. Always thinking that the Other is harmful, devious or trying to leech something out of you.
In Cuba, you can only thrive if you can trust the Other.
Paranoia is a wall built up of Ignorance. Ignorance is the basis of the structural defects in our ways of thinking.
With ignorance of the OTHER, the mass of people and environment outside of our own, we can never grow to become good human beings, a good relative as Indians would say or be effective in our efforts to make this world a better place.
To exist in your own isolation, you don’t have worry about your human connections outside those of your work or necessary or obligatory ones.
A psychologist friend of mine from Havana would say: You can thrive as a human being only if you can thrive on human connections.
Among the Indians the human connections are not technical, not quantitative, nor calculated with benefit in mind.
Let us practice Loving Kindness
Without expecting anything in return, let us be friendly towards the OTHER. We, especially in the European world, have been taught to be frightened of the Other, from the time of the Plague in the middle ages which they thought was brought on by the Other. Currently the atmosphere in Europe is poisoned against certain minority groups and Jews have suffered more than their share. Let us cultivate an attitude of friendliness towards the Other, in our daily dealings.
My good friend Joe, the Buddha of Bogor, would say: Smiling is a must. He smiled at me repeatedly on that early morning at an airport in the USA, we began talking and became very good friends. If I had thought, what does he want? He looks like a Chinese businessman, I want nothing to do with them, I would have lost a wonderful chapter in my life.
Let us not have any ill will towards people we encounter during the course of the day, especially if they are the Other. It is difficult to cultivate this, but if you have an attitude of friendliness, then it is easier to cultivate this. So important to cultivate the attitude of friendliness and good will in the hearts of children as they are so fertile in their mind and imagination. Perhaps this is what is meant when we say, the Children are our future
I have never met any group of people more generous than the American Indians. Americans in general are far more generous than their European counterparts , but the Indians steeped as they are in the long millennial history of their people living in isolation in this large continent, had developed the concept of Gift. (so well delineated by Marcel Mauss, Father of French Ethnology who was  nephew of Emile Durkheim, father of French Sociology) Just last night I was at a dance celebration (please don’t confuse dance celebration of the Indians and equate it with a Party, fiesta or Disco, these dances are usually symbols of prayer, accompanied by age old songs). The little girl was turning Four, a significant birthday. Songs and dances were those of the times when they were preparing for war and you could feel the intensity, the power and the thrust of the music and dancing. Most people who attended left bearing gifts from the family, substantial gifts for which the family has to sacrifice some other material comfort. The gifts consisted of quilts or blankets or shawls or baskets of food or artifacts of  culture. I thought of the birthdays of four year olds in Europe. Among the Indians, it is the children who have to observe and learn, they are not taught how to dance but they observe how the elders dance and imitate them.
If your mind is full of loving kindness, it would be easier to cultivate this generosity of heart.
 
This can be seen in the stark contrast of Networking among Indians and Non-Indians, when non-Indians meet to network, they are interested in, What can YOU do for ME? But when Indians meet each other, it is What can I do for YOU?
It is a great paradox that it is some of the poorest on this earth that is the most generous. Europeans have lost the gift of time, neither to receive nor to give. The Birthday party, last night, lasted well into midnight with singing and dancing, eating together and sharing an atmosphere which have been constant for them for centuries.
As Laurens van der Post had eloquently stated talking about the San/Bushman of Kalahari: these men who continue to cultivate the innocence of children, are the closest on this earth to the original creation of the Great Spirit.
To be with Indians, is to understand this never loosing innocence about the beauty of life and connections and relationships and generosity of spirit.
With all these in mind, we can honestly wish:
May all being s be happy.
Loving kindness does not seek self-benefit.
Loving kindness arises from purity of heart not associated with anything harmful
Many relationships fail because the love is mixed with desire or attachment.
As I write this, at the Reservation of the Omaha Indians in Nebraska, I realize that those who truly need to read this will have no time to read it. I feel my heart full of content with no malice towards anyone, also without any attachment to anybody.
To those who say, I have no time, I will say what the ancient philosophers of all persuasion have said:
When the student is ready, the teacher would appear.
American Indian food at the dance celebration: meat soup with hominy (traditional), FryBread (post contact), pasta salad (modern)