A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.
And as I spoke thus I fell asleep, and I saw a sacrificer standing before me, high up on an altar, which was in the shape of a bowl. There were fifteen steps leading up to the altar. And the priest stood there, and I heard a voice from above saying to me: “I have performed the act of descending the fifteen steps into the darkness, and of ascending the steps into the light. And he who renews me is the sacrificer, by casting away the grossness of the body; and by compelling necessity I am sanctified as a priest and now stand in perfection as a spirit.” And on hearing the voice of him who stood upon the altar, I inquired of him who he was. And he answered me in a fine voice, saying: “I am Ion, the priest of the inner sanctuaries, and I submit myself to an unendurable torment. For there came one in haste at early morning, who overpowered me, and pierced me through with the sword, and dismembered me in accordance with the rule of harmony. And he drew off the skin of my head with the sword, which he wielded with strength, and mingled the bones with the pieces of flesh, and caused them to be burned upon the fire of the art, till I perceived by the transformation of the body that I had become spirit. And that is my unendurable torment.” And even as he spoke thus, and I held him by force to converse with me, his eyes became as blood. And he spewed forth all his own flesh. And I saw how he changed into the opposite of himself, into a mutilated anthroparion, and he tore his flesh with his own teeth, and sank into himself.
Sunday, ten a.m. Ram Dass was sitting in front of a window; because his face was backlit by brilliant sun, the features were difficult to distinguish and at times dissolved into blackness. “There is a Sikh saying: ‘Once you know that God knows everything, you’re free,’ “Ram Dass said. “We all have rooms in our head we keep closed and guarded, as part of our social posture. That guarding is energy, and it makes the things real. Freedom lies in realizing that everything you were protecting isn’t who you really are.”
The world is on fire!
And you are laughing?
You are deep in the dark.
Will you not ask for a light?
For behold your body –
A painted puppet, a toy,
Jointed and sick and full of false imaginings,
A shadow that shifts and fades.
How frail it is!
Frail and pestilent,
It sickens, festers and dies.
Like every living thing
In the end it sickens and dies.
Behold these whitened bones,
The hollow shells and husks of a dying summer.
And you are laughing?
You are a house of bones,
Flesh and blood for plaster.
Pride lives in you,
And hypocrisy, decay, and death.
The glorious chariots of kings shatter.
So also the body turns to dust.
But the spirit of purity is changeless
And so the pure instruct the pure.
The ignorant man is an ox.
He grows in size, not in wisdom.
“Vainly I sought the builder of my house
Through countless lives.
I could not find him…
How hard it is to tread life after life!
“But now I see you, O builder!
And never again shall you build my house.
I have snapped the rafters,
Split the ridgepole
And beaten out desire.
And now my mind is free.”
There are no fish in the lake.
The long-legged cranes stand in the water.
Sad is the man who in his youth
Loved loosely and squandered his fortune –
Sad as a broken bow,
And sadly is he sighing
After all that has arisen and has passed away.
Relations of power are not in themselves forms of repression. But what happens is that, in society, in most societies, organizations are created to freeze the relations of power, hold those relations in a state of asymmetry, so that a certain number of persons get an advantage, socially, economically, politically, institutionally, etc. And this totally freezes the situation. That’s what one calls power in the strict sense of the term: it’s a specific type of power relation that has been institutionalized, frozen, immobilized, to the profit of some and to the detriment of others.
– Michel Foucault. Power, Moral Values, and the Intellectual.
A section of the Buddhist scriptures, the Peta Vatthu, describes the state of those reborn in the Duggatti spheres, and how they can be helped by the living. The word ‘Peta’ may be roughly translated as ‘ghost’, though it is related to the Sanskrit Pitri, meaning ancestor. In the Peta Vatthu it is shown that those reborn in the spirit world nearest the earth-plane often have an inferior type of consciousness to that with which they were equipped in their previous existence. Far from having access to wider realms of knowledge they re-manifest with a limited consciousness and intellect, with imperfect memory of the past life, and inhabiting a vague, in-determinate half-world. At the same time because of their strong attraction to the sphere they have left, their contacts with it are relatively easier and more frequent than those of beings in the higher lokas. In a sense, they exist side by side with the ‘living’; the step between their place and ours is only small and one easily taken by the psychically-sensitive. It is from these beings that the trivial messages and meaningless phenomena emanate. They have not the same ‘personality’ they had on earth, but retain only the accumulated characteristics most predominant in that personality. This condition prevails until that particular kamma-resultant is exhausted, when they are reborn once again in the ceaseless round of saüsàra, from which final escape is only possible through the realisation of Nibbana. On the human (manussa) level of the kàma-Loka there is pain and pleasure, good and evil, hatred and love. It is the sphere of opposites, from which we, as free agents, have to make our own choices for the fulfillment of our evolution. All the lokas must be regarded as planes of consciousness which are attainable… in the physical body.
– Ven. Suvanno Mahathera. The 31 Planes of Existence. From buddhanet.net
Always desiring to be superior to others, having no patience for inferiors and belittling strangers; like a hawk, flying high above and looking down on others, and yet outwardly displaying justice, worship, wisdom, and faith — this is raising up the lowest order of good and walking the way of the Asuras.