Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Remembering My Death

In the Canal Zone, near Fort Clayton, there is an old cemetery, filled with the graves of Panamanians and Americans. Some of the graves are very old. One afternoon, in 1998, I walked through the cemetery, thinking about the life I had known before, remembering the old faces. They were fine people; I never
knew how fine they were until I'd lost them. It had been in its way a life of soaring spiritual passion and adventure, globe trotting in the company of aspiring saints. Now there was this petty life grubbing for money, working among strangers, people who were so different from me in every way, and I was so strange to them. As the afternoon rainstorm gathered, I sat down under a mango tree, among the whitewashed gravestones, while parrots scolded overhead, and for the first time in many
years I cried hard. I cursed God. I cursed my life. Above all I cursed the small, frightened person I had become.

I died.

I was weeping for my own death, with an honest sense of grief.  I had been a certain person, passionate and serious, devoted.  I had known a simple life where the basics of survival were taken care of by all of us together.  And it was gone.  And the people were gone.  Most of all – that person, that incarnation I had been up until then was gone.

I am in this life now, as I live it.  This is another time of difficult transition and a sense of dying.  Sometimes a sense of weariness.  A person has to find a path.  Something consistent.  We are always dying.  That is the secret of life.  We are always changing from one person to another, I’ve had so many incarnations in this one life.  I’ve grieved for myself a couple of times.  Why can’t I grieve for others?

Back in The Old Days, in that particular incarnation, the one that died in the cemetery in Panama, we were taught to pray with tears.  Tears for the suffering of God.  Tears for our sins.  Tears to accomplish whatever project we were unworthy to do but were doing anyway.  I remember weeping with repentance for having lost my virginity before finding my religion.  Now this seems strange to me, as though weeping at discovering I was a man.  It would be easy to look down on that way of life, but life is a moving stream, a river of events, good and bad.  We are different people bound to absorb our experiences and our tears.


Whatever God or life force imbued this blue rock in space with teeming life had only one clear goal – that life should survive. Life does not resist chaos and randomness, evolution had used the continuous turnover of sex and death to bring randomness into the mix.  It absorbed and used the creative force of contingency and chaos to create such a variety of life that no matter what happens to this planet, no matter what you do to it, something is bound to get through.  I’m thinking these days, absorbing within the laughter and tears, that this is how the soul evolves as well.  Not by resisting suffering and pleasure but by equally opening the heart to both.   

10 comments:

  1. I've never heard of a religion that advocated praying with tears, Garce.

    But the notion of God suffering does resonate--suffering with us through all the growing pains--all those deaths.

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    1. Oh - many religions. Its a wonderful image whether there's anythig true to it or not. You can't imagine the baggage behind that sentence I just wrote.

      I'm reading a book of short stories called "Pump Six" and enjoying it. I recommend it to anyone who likes smart Silence Fiction from a Thai view. I'm reading a story called "Yellow card Man" which kind of hits home.

      Garce

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    2. "Science fiction" not "Silence Fiction." That might be a new genre.

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    3. While I go off and think on what Silence Fiction would be, I'll second your recommendation for Pump Six. Though I am confused about what you mean by "from a Thai view." As far as I know, Paolo Bacigalupi is American. I like that he typically includes a diverse set of characters in his work and that he uses a lot of different settings, though.

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  2. What if an all-powerful being wanted to experience pain, pleasure, learning and physicality from an ignorant perspective? This being might instill its essence within ignorant species and let it fly. Dispossessed of itself, instilled with an evolutionary element. Just for the random quality it couldn't control. Maybe it's all a big cosmic dream.

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    1. And if what I said above is even remotely true, losing your virginity is more important than finding your way back. As far as we know, we only go around once in this body.

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    2. Many mystics like me would say this may be exactly what is happening in this universe.

      Garce

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  3. I haven't heard much about praying with tears as a requirement, although individuals certainly do it on occasion. But tears do seem to have a place in religion, especially tears of blood reputedly seen on statues of saints. I knew I'd heard of such cases, so I Google "tears of blood," but I came up with so many instances that I gave up on being specific.

    If Greek mythology counts as religion these days, there's the case of Niobe, who cried incessantly after all her fourteen children were killed (by Apollo and Artemis as a punishment for Niobe belittling their mother Leda for only having two. Niobe finally went to Olympus to beg to be put out of her misery, so Zeus turned her into a rock, but even the rock kept on shedding tears.

    None of this pertains to your evocative story, Garce, but it does indicate that crying has been linked to multiple religions in various times and places.

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    1. Hi Sachhi!

      Looking back I think the tears were as much as for ourselves as God. Its actually a very heart opening way of praying. I'm rethinking a lot of my ideas about religion these days.

      Garce

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  4. "Not by resisting suffering and pleasure but by equally opening the heart to both."

    You ended on such a beautiful line, Garce. Every time I get a glimpse of something that feels like wisdom to me, it runs along the lines of that sentence you wrote.

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