In eastern philosophies, spirituality is giving the monk your last bowl of rice so that he can pray for everyone.

In the domesticated west, spirituality is tossing an extra $20 into the collection plate and hope the priest will bless your wallet.

10 thoughts on “Spirituality

  1. This is true. A follower of Buddhism I once knew was fond of the begging bowl thing. Everyone would order a meal at a restaurant and he’d say he wasn’t hungry. And of course, everyone offered him something from their plates. He would take from those who had far less than he. You could say more of a mooch than a monk.

    The way he told the story the monk held out his bowl. Are there no female monks??? Anyway, the monk so firmly believed in the will of the universe to fill his bowl, he threw his life to the vicissitudes of faith for his very existence, should fate fail to provide him, he would rather die. A rather heavy burden to put upon one’s friends.

    Oh, why, why can’t I just say, “those godly monks!” “Oh, yes, Jesus is so beautiful,” “I am so blessed with my life” and so forth. Silly me.

    • There are buddhist nuns actually. I know one, knew one, she stopped, re-christianized herself, and asked me to forgive her on christmas eve. Why me, I wondered, I said ok, but now I’m even more worried that she’s born again. Western buddhists, they just don’t get it. Not even close. The middle way is the point. Buddha almost died waiting for god to feed him, he almost died from self indulgence as the princely son of a wealthy family. The middle way was the answer, don’t throw yourself at humanities feet and suffer unduly waiting for them to save you, and don’t take so much you cause others to suffer. Stay in the centre, balanced, kharma. The begging bowl of the buddhist monk is the same concept as the collection plate in christianity. The regular folk who work hard all day making food don’t have time to pray. The priest/monk has chosen the task of praying for humanity’s soul. Its supposed to be their full-time job, they don’t have time to grow food. At least thats supposed to be the idea. Frequently lost especially in the fat western churches. Even in the east, there is too much gold. They all miss the point. Pray harder for the person who gives them more donations? Sainthood can be purchased, goodness for sale. Its like Canada buying carbon credits from undeveloped countries so we can make the tarsands even bigger. See, Canada is a green nation. Canada is saintly. How did I get from buddhism to tarsands.

  2. I repeat, there are no female monks. A buddhist nun is still a nun. The men in one convent the women in another. And why are they in separate quarters? The Hasidim have something similar, I believe. The women who have many children are expected to work so the men can devote themselves full time to the rosary. I mean the torah. A Jewish friend once couldn’t remember if Catholics had ministers, and so she said”You know, the Jewish priest.”

    Well, of course you would end up in the tarsands (I had to look it up, and see your metaphor, but I am not conversant in the matter). The discussion went from hierarchy to another. Both male dominated. I can’t get too far into any discussion because invariably I find I am weighing the opinion of one man against another, many just air filled talking heads/pundits and I lose interest and wonder what kind of shoes are in this season and what does that foretell for women’s place in the world. No one is getting anywhere fast in the spike heel and is that a reflection of born-again ideology. It’s too bad that among political issues men can’t seem to find the gusto and enthusiasm for the rights of women they once had for the rights of slaves and the right of the black man to vote.

    From buddhist to born again, people can be quite baffling. I’m sure they have their reasons. I try to not openly dismiss everything outright as twaddle, but a friend who knows I have my doubts about prayer formally requested my permission to meditate on my behalf. Someone bent on spreading the message will always find a work around. I think I told him not to. I certainly would have never known if he meditated or prayed for that matter on my behalf……and what would I have done if I found out? It seemed silly to the point of comic absurdity. “No! I forbid you to meditate on my behalf! No, no a thousand times no!”

    I really can’t listen long to anyone’s opinion (including my own) about politics or religion or sports for that matter, without mentally meandering to what kinds of relationships people had with their fathers, their mothers, the bullies on the playground. Art for me is the theater in which I wonder. If I have opinions I am sure they are to some extent misinformed and I find the matter of having to have an opinion extremely frustrating. I am sure, for example, that life begins at conception, but I believe (I think) in a woman’s right to choose, and perhaps I am wrong on one or both counts. The pressure that comes up at election time here to go through that political football again and again irritates me to the point I was thinking about doing a painting of a fetus being used as a marionette. But that could be so hurtful an image to a woman who’d had a miscarriage or had regrets about an abortion. I think I would take a lot of heat from both sides. This is what happens when you don’t have an opinion.

    • You’re right, there are no female monks, and even if there were someone would probably label them monkettes, or monkesses, or something equally demeaning and sexist. I think they separate themselves because they don’t trust themselves to obey the absurd rules they force on anyone foolish enough to listen to them.

      Buddhism to tarsands, I was, I think, trying to show how people tend to pay money for goodness. Give enough to the church and they will make you a saint, buy enough carbon credits and you can be a green nation no matter how much pollution you create.

      Women are definitely oppressed, and I think it would be difficult to find men that really want to change that. I think its the same kind of fear that men had when losing their slaves. Who will do all the menial tasks at home now? Who will wash my floors and dishes? That kind of childish fear/laziness. If women were paid equally at work there would be one more reason for them not to need men. Thats the fear anyway. Its in the childish nature of men. They want their woman to be dependent. They want to be in control. I don’t feel that way personally, as a man, and pay the usual price that men throw at each other if we don’t all agree about women’s place, I must be gay or something. I have a daughter and two granddaughters and I really wish they could live in a world of equality. That they could earn enough of a living that they could choose a man they like, rather than feel they have to depend on one they don’t like just to survive.

      Prayer, holy crap, what can one do about that. I keep telling people that wonder about me that way, that I paint. Thats where I pray/meditate. Thats where I’m in touch with something higher, and that I spend a lot more time there than any priest/monk/nun that claims its their job. But they keep pushing it at me. Don’t even ask permission like your friend did. It really annoys me, its absurd, they are forcing on me a remark or decision to say NO to something they claim is good for me. Like you say, how do you know what they are praying for. One of them, a christian one, even said point blank to me she wants and prays that I would stop painting what I paint, that I would find peace and rest for a while. Thats just creepy as far as I can tell. I didn’t think prayer was to be about personal requests. Thats what Santa is for isn’t it? I’ve never said no to them, and there are many now, its been easier just to say ‘Thank you’, then they leave me alone. The discussions of their good intent would take too much time away from me painting.

      It sometimes appears to be the artists place to say those things that no one else will. I take a lot of heat from well fed Canadians for making them think about hunger and its source. Why can’t we all just be happy eh? American politics seems to be guided by a lot of morality issues. Religion hasn’t been separated from the state at all. The richest and greediest also seem to be the most religious. Abortion and birth control appears to be their divisive issue of choice. They know how opinionated people get with that issue and it seems to be there with every election. They know how to get people to look the other way while they double the military budget. Don’t have an abortion, we’ll kill them when they are 20 or so in another country and then they will be honorable. How messed up is that. How much more grief does that bring. You should paint the image. Take the heat. You never know, the right person might see it and get it and then try to make a change. Thats the only way I can think of my work. If I can just get one persons mind changed then I’ve done what I meant to do.

  3. Yes, the US was founded on freedom of religion, but right from the beginning it was “one nation, under God” which I did not understand when saying the pledge of allegiance when I was six, and still do not understand. I suppose it’s the chanting in unison and unquestioning that matters. I neither understood the stories from the bible or why I was being “taught” them, what subject is religion, is it sort of like English and Math??? In English I do a book report, in math I calculate sums, in religion I……well, I what?

    Maybe they should start teaching ethics in grade school.

    I can’t hardly believe contraception has actually come up as an issue, but then again, as far back as I can remember it has been one of the stumbling blocks of I don’t know what to call it, government sponsored, tax paper supported, universal….national healthcare freely accessible. And who could have predicted how Viagra would stir the pot further, as it has not been invented at the time. One is not considered immoral if one eats to stay alive, but immoral for not cutting off one’s other needs, which have been branded as “sinful” and so forth and whose accompanying scientific potions and procedures are considered in the same category as cosmetic surgery. There are lots of people who’d immediately cut off any and aid of any kind leaving millions defenseless in so many ways. The worst of which would be dependence on any of the religious “charities.”

    I can imagine how disheartening this would be from a father’s point of view. It’s right up there with a parent knowing one day they will have to explain to their children that they are black.

    And kill them when they are 20, that is so true. The world could be a much safer place for men as well should they care to take on women’s issues. Maybe a few toppled over plastic GI Joes to go with my dancing fetus. There is going to be something of a collection of unknown/undiscovered never before and maybe never after seen work. I felt such a sense of recklessness after I had gotten the idea for the Wake and realized come hell or high water, I was going to do it even if it took ten years. I did work on it off and on for 10 years until it was finished, and sometimes I think I might touch up the flowers and the casket. That whole knowing when it’s finished, I should leave it alone.

    I have been making a little project of drawing on the bottom of paper bags, which I notice are date stamped and accompanied by a name. Different names and dates for ongoing batches of bags out of the bag factory (whereever that is). I stopped into a deli by chance today and found Jesus on the bottom. Well, Jesus Garcia. Jesus and Jerry Garcia? I thought it was amusing. I’m going to have to come up with a very special picture for that bag.

    • Maybe a homeless GI Joe, in a wheelchair too. Seems to me a lot of soldiers end up homeless and left out of society in general. After they risk their lives, sacrifice their youth and innocence. I don’t blame the soldiers at all, most of my family were in the army, my father, grandfather, all my uncles. I’m the first one that didn’t join the army. The soldiers are usually too young to be making decisions about life and death and politics. Its the pleasant grey haired politicians explaining why its so reasonable and necessary for the good of the nation, or for god, or just so we can all have cheap gasoline and keep driving, good for the economy seems the most used in Canada. If its good for the economy it must be good right? War seems profitable, especially if you go to war with the people your borrowing the money to go to war. Wipe them out and the economy is just fine.

  4. Sadly, this is all too true. Yes, GI Joes in plastic wheelchairs and prosthetic legs. The public at large wouldn’t take too kindly to that, especially here, and I will get a dose of how freedom of expression is doled out to pro-war marketing executives. The one thing that differentiates the most current wars is the lethality of the weapons and the higher costs of future medical and housing that will need to be handicapped accessible. And also the killing of non-combatant women and children has become fair game for all sides. The volunteer military is a joke, absent jobs and family wealth, it is the only way many young people see to get an education and earn a salary (not much of one) and that’s if they live long enough and don’t come back crippled.

    And the sacrifice of the young, we have outdone the tribal cultures whose religious festivals had young people clamoring to jump off the cliff in order to see god (their version of it). Like 9/11. They wasted no time cranking up that war machine. For someone who has no opinions, well…..my other take is the sacrifice of the sensuality of the young, once it was sought to deprive them of that, until they were old and feeble women deemed unattractive and no longer objects of even that narrow sphere and cast aside (whereas old men are always gods, if not adonis, but sagelike, god like in grey beard old age and usually with a few more pennies than the women) but the sensuality, the very physical existence of children is falling by the wayside. No gym classes, recesses, art classes…. how can they learn aesthetics, the joy of bodies maturing into strength…….it is no idle saying we are re-entering the dark ages. It bothers me when parent or anyone else hold up the Asian children of whom there are a high percent here in universities, but a minority in their own countries and say “see they study, they are way ahead of you in math and science……be more like that.”

    With all the hysteria here over whether little Johnnie or Janie might smoke some pot or pop a few xanex from Mum and Dad’s medicine chest, it occurs to me no one wants give them something else to do besides math and science and rote tests (which exist for test maker manufacturing companies), let them draw or paint, or play a game at recess and perhaps they will find other things to do with themselves. The only game they are allowed to play is war. And all the science makes more bombs.

    • I’ve always had this idea that war was promoted by old men to get rid of the young men so they could have all the young women to themselves. Its horrible but I think its got some truth to it. More noticeable in smaller cultures maybe, also where women are oppressed and need to have a man to survive at all. The old men have money and power and would usually prefer to take the younger woman. Much easier for them if all the young men are gone or crippled.
      I’m pretty sure if they legalized, or even decriminalized pot the military wouldn’t have as many volunteers. Imagine how many jobs would be created in cultivation, and sale of the many products that pot plants can be used for. But its the effect of smoking it that worries the war mongers. Its hard to aim your gun while your giggling.
      It seems to me that in education people have lost the idea of difference. Everyone wants to do what the latest advertised highest paying job is. No variation, no imagination at all. And no one really paying attention either, with all the wonderful promotion of japan as a great model, the country is on the verge of collapse again. Economically. They may be good at maths, but they are having to import imagination. Do these parents really want a world filled with engineers and economists.
      The same thing is happening here, gym classes and art classes are being sacrificed for more math more computer, kids are getting laptops instead of school books etc. The university I was at 10 years ago has sacrificed its entire art department for more engineers. And thats the attitude that spreads to the public, we can do without art can’t we? Makes me crazy sometimes, especially when I see people going to walmart for a picture for their wall. Well, proof that people really can’t do without art, or decoration of some kind, they just don’t want to pay for it.

  5. There is no question war was designed to kill off “surplus” young men. I live in what was once a poor and jobless place, I have had the good fortune of not having grown up here at least and to have had a college education, little future for men, and none for women. I have seen what kind of relationships that has bred and am appalled beyond what you can believe about the kinds of attitudes the men openly have about women (and maybe misogyny is no different in wealthy communities, but I don’t know, I’m a semi-isolated artist regardless of financial circumstance and social mores), and women about men for that matter. It took two decades to begin to understand because it was just to awful to think certain things were really true and could be considered that acceptable. Scrabbling for what little there is doesn’t make for equality or peaceable families. A preponderance of women (women with dependent children) to men is definitely an exacerbation of the issues.

    Yes, it’s hard to shoot when one is giggling. That “war on drugs” has merely served to give prison guards and the DEA jobs and created all kinds of non-essential government positions. Destroys families.

    What I hear from computer people here is those jobs too, software developers, computer engineers, and so forth are disappearing as that has been outsourced as well. Medical billing as well, and also if you call for a number in your local city, you will be speaking to someone in India, just as if you were calling about your computer/printer/scanner/camera…..in walmarts and so forth, they are firing their cashiers for the drive through check out.

    I remember a woman who liked one of my paintings and might have bought it, but I knew she had no money. People are yes, used to paying so little, but many couldn’t afford an original work if they wanted it, unless it’s junk, but here they make the best of it and decide the spare time art of their desk job friend is the new chic thing. An acquaintance here does some not so bad artwork and his huge selling point is to brag that he has never set foot in art school is entirely self-taught (not really true), he won’t admit he had some art training because well, that’s just how low an opinion we are beginning to have here about education of any sort. With the disappearance of small shops how many people ever see mid market original artwork? Most of what you will see at a fair or a festival here is often some company selling cheap mass market junk that can afford a few hundred dollars for a booth and local artists can’t afford to show or even rent studios.

    And of course, without art courses, even less knowledge or interaction with artwork or its appreciation, it’s value as a commodity, a craft, the pleasure of doing it, of learning a skill. Of course people will bring home souveniers from vacation trips — all made in China, of course, or whichever designated country. Some of the little things I draw I acquired many years ago, now it would be almost impossible to find something that isn’t Disney, Mattel, trademarked toys. I have my eye on a few things on ebay.

    Math and science are just the smokescreen. Pretty soon, when we outsource all that too, they can do away with education altogether. That would be just fine with the Born Agains.

    The very wealthy do not, however, deprive themselves of art. They can afford to go to the museums, the theatre, the opera……the ballet…..their children get MAs in art and their friends parents’ friends will buy their wares. They fight amongst themselves over which looted piece of Holocaust art belongs to the wealthy museum or wealthy family…..or as recently, the case of I think it was a Jackson Pollack, had a bunch of millionaires quibbling over the authenticity and demanding their money back because they must have the “real” thing. The same people whose companies churn out $10 knock off prints for the masses overseas.

    • The dark ages, yes, that seems to be what’s coming, again. A denial of education, even a repulsion of it. A lot of people just don’t want to know or learn anything unless it will bring them more money. They aren’t doing things for the pleasure of it, or for the sense of achievement. They would rather be blinded and deafened by the roar of reality tv. Many things are the same here in canada. The internet phone company here, Bell Canada, a proudly canadian company is almost entirely based in India now. The only people you can get on the phone are in India. Banks and check-outs at various places are being replaced with electronic devices. The do-it-yourself thing has taken over customer service.
      I know enough about computers to know that most the jobs are going to computers. There is software available that designs software. And much faster and cheaper than any software engineer can.
      We have the same issues with artshows too, I can’t afford to risk money on a table at a show where I have to compete with those same corporations that are dumping last years prints. I tried selling some work to use in printing, at a gift card company based locally. Their buyer, who was stunned that there were artists that live here, showed me what the get from china and india. The colour separations for 10 different images, finished and ready to go on their equipment for $300. $30 per image, and they can print as many as they want. I didn’t go for it but a friend of mine did, providing them with some images for children’s cards, similar to your Teddy #1 drawing. She made a few dollars, but you don’t get commission. Good for a promo.

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