“Making Life a Celebration – Only when festival and values merge does life become a true celebration. Many a times we sacrifice values for our pleasures. To cultivate values we need a lot of patience, effort and time, but to destroy it is easy.” —Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
Augury: A sign of what will happen in the future; an omen. Merriam-Webster
Celebration:To observe a holiday, perform a religious ceremony, or take part in a festival; to observe a notable occasion with festivities
Values: Values especially of a traditional or conservative kind which are held to promote the sound functioning of the family and to strengthen the fabric of society
Learning to Live Life As A Celebration: When Values Merge…
This past weekend, I was chatting with a friend about hunger in the US and around the world. Yes, we were discussing kids who go to school hungry for a variety of reasons; including poverty. We segued into the subject of health and the challenges faced by those who need it the most but can’t afford it, and many who wait until a condition becomes chronic before they take the first step to get care. We had a hard time reconciling the fact that in a world with enormous wealth, natural resources, and many billionaires, many children go without clean water, food, or basic treatment for curable diseases. How often do we think about this? I suspect not as often because we have our own struggles… right?
Auguries of Innocence by William Blake(1757–1827) English poet, painter & print-maker
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell through all its regions.
A dog starved at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.
A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipped and armed for fight
Does the rising sun affright.
For those who don’t believe in reincarnation, life begins at birth and culminates at the end of life; each a celebration of sorts. In between, we learn a moral code of conduct, a set of values that help us grapple with the yin and yang of life’s many challenges. Our choices are not always black and white but sometimes fraught with gray areas that force us to go back to basics; to the principles we learned from childhood. Yes, those rules that mom and dad intimated would help us navigate the world and stay out of trouble; rules like sharing and caring, do matter. So, when did we forget the rules?
Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
Raises from hell a human soul.
The wild deer wandering here and there
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misused breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won’t believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever’s fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be beloved by men.
He who the ox to wrath has moved
Shall never be by woman loved.
The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider’s enmity.
He who torments the chafer’s sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother’s grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the Last Judgment draweth nigh.
When I look around our beautiful planet, I can’t fathom why we still can’t feed all our children, open all the doors to learning, provide universal health care and basic amenities that would pull many from the edge of living a savage, brutal life. Can you? Sure, it’s a rhetorical question but you understand… We need to value life more and things less, perhaps, only then would life have more value, and the hunger for war and revenge would end. What is the point of being fabulously clad as we walk by a street urchin, or driving our fancy cars as we splash water on a mother walking miles to get her baby to a clinic? What do we gain from our window-seat above the daily grind of the poor and hungry masses?
He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar’s dog and widow’s cat,
Feed them, and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer’s song
Poison gets from Slander’s tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of Envy’s foot.
The poison of the honey-bee
Is the artist’s jealousy.
The prince’s robes and beggar’s rags
Are toadstools on the miser’s bags.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so:
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The images I remember from my childhood of the faces of poverty and oppression haven’t changed very much; in some parts of the world, conditions have gotten worse, while in others, greed and embezzlement is couched in confusing language to convince us the money was well spent. What happened to the voices of those who fought for universal human rights?; for freedom and equal opportunity for all? How did we get here with millions unemployed? Yet, a sector remains; unfettered, distant, immune to the pain and loss… Do we need a sanctimommy parade to bring us all back from the precipice of a fragmented, wounded society?
“Om lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu – May all the beings in all the worlds be happy and peaceful.” Sanatana Dharma
The babe is more than swaddling bands,
Throughout all these human lands;
Tools were made and born were hands,
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;
This is caught by females bright
And returned to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar
Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes Revenge! in realms of death.
The beggar’s rags fluttering in air
Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier armed with sword and gun
Palsied strikes the summer’s sun.
The poor man’s farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric’s shore.
Where were we when greed and excess wrecked havoc on our economy, overturning all we held dear? We will need to make great effort, for even the augury of a Blake poem filled with the cause/effect of questionable actions might not help us quite yet … I’d like to see a global celebration with everyone helping, sharing and uplifting each other… when do we meet? Where do we gather to share our goodwill stories? How do we convey, to our fellow humans, that basic needs ought to be available to all on planet earth?
One mite wrung from the labourer’s hands
Shall buy and sell the miser’s lands,
Or if protected from on high
Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant’s faith
Shall be mocked in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne’er get out.
He who respects the infant’s faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child’s toys and the old man’s reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner who sits so sly
Shall never know how to reply.
Some see Blake’s poem above/below as an omen filled with paradoxes and conflicting thoughts. I suggest we read it again for it speaks of things that are familiar to us all. Read it again and let me know if it points at what ails you or what keeps you up at night? Perhaps it points at what ails our children and those who can’t speak for themselves. Does the poem pull you in and ask you, again and again: what do you hold dear? What do you value? What would you like to celebrate and how does it empower your neighbor? How?
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar’s laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour’s iron brace.
When gold and gems adorn the plough
To peaceful arts shall Envy bow.
A riddle or the cricket’s cry
Is to doubt a fit reply.
I’ve divided the poem into several stanzas. I had to do this to accommodate the poem’s length on the post. Read, reflect and share your thoughts. What in Blake’s poetic words catches your eyes and ears?
A riddle or the cricket’s cry
Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet’s inch and eagle’s mile
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne’er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt,
They’d immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation’s fate.
The harlot’s cry from street to street
Shall weave old England’s winding sheet.
The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
Dance before dead England’s hearse.
When we look at the world, we see the impact of our actions on the immediate landscape of our communities. Even if we remain complacent about the inequities, we are all affected by it. Why? When a parent cannot afford health-care or food for their hungry child to eat before they go to school, we lose one more fully productive soul who could make a difference in our world. We become partners in the oppression of our neighbors and even of our loved ones. How do we celebrate our largess while adding value to another person’s life?
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born.
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie
When we see not through the eye
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light
To those poor souls who dwell in night,
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.
Our President speaks of the need for radical change in our schools, I agree… We also need radical change beyond our schools; each of us can make a difference. How have we helped a hungry, sick, angry person today? Tomorrow it could be you, me, us … suffering. If we help one another live, grow, rekindle faith, trust and prosper, the world will be infinitely better. Your thoughts? What have we done to help offer others blessings? I would love to hear from you: Please leave me a comment. Thank You! 🙂
NOTE: * Happy 57th Birthday, Amma, on September 27th!