Friday, September 26, 2008

Not Exactly Dante...










Heaven is a place
where nothing ever happens
David Byrne





There’s an Opus comic strip with Opus the penguin sitting in a grassy field while Lola Granola does yoga poses nearby, and the two talk about heaven. According to Lola, everyone goes there. Opus, having clearly seen far too much of what passes for religion in our great American public sphere, incredulously asks about liberals, evolutionists, feminists, ACLU lawyers, Kennedy Democrats, French people, and manly women who don’t shave, receiving a yep for each. At last he asks with Jerry Falwell? and receives another yep. Goodness must he be annoyed, he says, to which Lola replies eternally.

A year or so ago, I was working through a lot of stuff, through, among other means, a lot of really intense personal writing. At one point, digging into the past, I started writing out the names of some people I knew a long time ago...and cursing them...damning them...it was a rush...it was cathartic...it felt good...left me kinda wired, though, incredibly edgy...so I started doing some yoga to try and mellow out...and then, not being the kind of advanced yogi who comes even close to stopping those endless waves the Yoga Sutras talk about from flowing in the brain (full disclosure: I thought up this post while lying in savasana in yoga class earlier today), I started thinking about other stuff...also from the past...times when I was mean...cruel...nasty...one or two incidents when I really should’ve had my ass good and kicked...and, not surprisingly, I started feeling really, really bummed out...seeing myself as every bit as damnable as anybody I’d been writing about...and realized that if you don’t want to hate yourself, you can’t hate anybody else either...it’s as simple as that. Jean Paul Sartre famously wrote Hell is other people, and I won’t try to argue with him (it wouldn’t be fair, anyway, with his advantage in being considerably smarter than I far outmatched by his disadvantage in being a whole hell of a lot more dead). However, thinking of Lola Granola and Jerry Falwell, I might wonder if Hell is, in fact, nothing other than hating other people....

11 comments:

Linda Sama said...

is that a Hieronymous Bosh painting? yikes...looks like the dreams I had when I did my first Goenka vipassana retreat! scary!

FANCY said...

Our Lords road is odd said the Priest when he drive into a ditch...;)

The Disturbed One said...

sounds about right.

ecko4inc said...

Every soul is a world unto its own; for every soul, every other soul is an afterworld.
Nietzsche

Yes, Dr J. Several years ago in the midst of some personal turmoil, whilst sitting on my own eggsistential crisis, I wrote out the names of everyone I knew from years and years ago. I didn't exactly curse them, just brought them to account in a kind of genealogy of personal relationships. I agree - the process was cathartic.
The idea of being affected was my problem. Imagining myself to be alienated and alone, I came to realise we're not worlds unto our own, completely alone. Everyone shares this similar position of an afterworld where "hell is other people."
But we carry ghosts and spirits that haunt us even (and maybe even especially) in yogic trances. Hatreds gnaw away at us from the inside if not voiced - "hate speech" - but I agree with you about the hatred, hell and other people. Hate - from a simple economic viewpoint - just takes more energy, more work.
Since the days of the ancient Greek symposium to the modern weblog, we have all of us been striving towards what is eternal and becoming in mankind (who be kind to?): the countless laughter of yogic waves.

Dano MacNamarrah said...

You are a swami of words, sir!

It is close to impossible to describe a visual experience, such as art or dreams, to an audience that cannot see it. To make an invisable cartoon appear in my head and make me laugh, is a fine talent.

At this point, I'd like to add a personal disclosure. I'm a member of a 12-Step program and my therapist is a Cognitive Behaviorist.

Both encourage rigorous self-examination. In a 12-Step, we make a list of "resentments", looking at the part we've played and the area of our life that each one has affected.

In CT, Aaron Beck, the founder sets forth that depression is not the Freudian anger turned inward. That it is the way we view ourselves and our world that is skewed.

Both end up with us changing the way we handle ourselves and our world. It seems that yoga has done that for you.

I'm not too worried about the after-life, it's how I die that concerns me. But if Heaven included Jerry Falwell, I'd opt for a warmer spot. Enough's enough, already!

Lydia said...

I think you're onto something here. What else could the essence of hell be but hatred?

Lana Gramlich said...

I was "liberated" many years ago when I realized that I had no right to judge anyone else. Sometimes pain makes it hard not to hate, though. Or at least greatly resent. Still working on some aspects of that.

timethief said...

You're right about hatred. It is Hell. I strive not to create the kind of resentments that lead to that state but sometimes I fail.

svasti said...

Certain sects within Kasmir Saivist traditions would say that hell is no more than the experience of the Self as seperate from Siva (or the Universe, however you want to put it).

The sense of seperation is what causes feelings of loss, being alone and so on. And if you can feel those things, then you can feel fear and hatred towards anything you perceive of as "not Self".

I'd actually say hating other people isn't hell, but it sure is the grease on the wheels that keeps it turning...

human being said...

great post...
your definitions of heaven and hell are so close to those of mine...
:)
think you're much smarter than Sartre...

Christine Vyrnon said...

God, I Love this Bosch painting. It's always a great adventure.