17 April 2015
At the table to my right, a young girl with braids is making eyes at me. I wink -- all children remind me of mine and of each other. Distilled, life may be children, sex, and death. On my other hand, some students study comparative religion. All children remind me of me. Surely -- children, sex, and death. We, though, self aware, need work, learning and meaning. We are silly with our self-awareness, our words. Is it possible to compare religion with a book and a class and so little breadth of life? Can you know the penitence of redemption without calloused knees? Can you know the reverence of power without words you cannot speak? The brilliance that shines through the pain of ritual like white bone exposed by flame, the mad clarity of the ascetic fasting? A man sets himself aflame, protesting the pain of others with incommunicable pain, with the embers of his life. What is to compare? The knowledge is in life and death. When meaning transcends distillation, what is to compare? It is in those moments when the individual becomes the manifestation of what they have been practicing (as religion is practiced, so it is realized). The practitioner manifests themselves as what they have practiced -- becoming the god, the power, munificence. The extra-universal or intrinsic-universal. Like every failed prophet and holy teacher, they would fail to teach or instruct what is subjective mind steeped and clarified in experience so objective as to be inimitable to language and logic and the other meager tools of human understanding -- objective to each other perhaps, but certainly subjective in the scheme of the universal. So, ultimately, we can compare the framework of the practices of any religion but is there any point in doing so when when the manifestation is only individually knowable? No. But there is a much more powerful lesson to be extrapolated and studied. If we become the ideas we practice, if we have practiced successfully, if the ideas do not drop out and fail when immolation occurs, then what powers do we have as our own gods to frame the days we live, the way we touch others as gods might -- blessing, cursing, forgiving with compassion and grace or with wrath.