Friday, April 24, 2015



I tried to be a Muslim, then a Christian, then a Jew,
But failed at being each of them – and Hindu, Buddhist too.
And all the other paths I tried, from Bahai, Shinto, Jain
To Zoroastrian – all, alas, I struggled on in vain.

But then, among the shamans, I retired and beat the drums.
And so, in time, the spirits all around became my chums.
I blew upon the didgeridoo, I danced beneath the stars,
In places far from cities and their speedsters and their cars.

But then the cities called to me.  I rode upon a train,
And soon enough, I found myself among the cars again.
I wondered, if by worshiping those cars, I could be free,
But found instead my bit of shade beneath a ragged tree.

And begging for my food one day, among the bhikkus, I
Saw Humpty Dumpty sitting on a rainbow in the sky.
"Oh HD, save me now!" I cried.  He vanished right away.
And where he went, I do not know, until this very day.

2015 April 24th, Fri, 9:17 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
Note: The Pali word bhikku (Sanskrit bhikshu / bhikshuk) means  "beggar". But Buddhists also use this word for Buddhist monks.  These, like their Jain and Catholic or Orthodox Christian counterparts, are supposed to have few or no possessions of their own. In theory, and to some extent in practice, the bhikku monks are supposed to beg for their daily sustenance, relying on the charity of the laity.

Unfortunately, as happened also in other religious orders, this had led, in certain places, such as Tibet, to a theocracy that fed off the labor of the peasants, with a hierarchy paralleling that of other feudal systems, presided over by a head lama who was worshiped as a god-king.  This clearly violated the basic precepts of Buddhism as expounded by Gotama Sidhatta and preserved in the sutras, including the core atheism that Buddhism had in common with Jainism and some other spiritual traditions of south and east Asia.

It is possible for people of diverse cultures, including theistic and atheistic ones, to coexist in mutual respect and so also to intermingle, sharing cultures as well as genes. Indeed, this seems to have been the normal situation for most people in most places.

The great swaths of 
populations ravaged by the extreme aspects of the monotheistic faiths of the Abrahamic tradition have been the most well-known and perhaps most long-suffering exceptions to the normal tendency towards cultural intermingling.

And then there were the other great sections of humanity afflicted by policies of separation that barred intermarriage. Among these, we had, until fairly recently, the official apartheid policies in South Africa and the segregationist policies in the United States. In the subcontinent, we had the Hindu-Aryan caste system.  

Policies of separation of cultures and/or genes are often based on perceived notions of cultural or racial superiority, along with collective insecurities. Together, these are used to justify atrocities. The attitudes, policies and actions of the National Socialists in Germany were a horrific example. But genocide was hardly invented in the 1930's.  Entire continents had been largely cleared of their indigenous human populations over the past several centuries. And there are many other fascists and their little or great Hitlers rising and flourishing all over the world, even in our times.  

Of course, genes and cultures tend to mix, no matter what barriers to this mixing may be imposed, short of outright extermination. 

Sadly, every organized religion has both its cynical and corrupt exploiters and degenerates on the one hand, and its fanatical zealots on the other. This is also true, as we have seen in our lifetimes, of every economic system and its ideology, 


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