Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Passover, Ritual, and Enlightenment

Submitted via text message:
Hi Edahn please explain Passover I think it's cool Bc spiritual is cool and suffering is not that cool   
Buddhism believes in enlightenment and that all suffering cease if you stop desiring!!! Hey that's a great thing to focus on 
I think that our society needs to focus more on enlightenment rather than money & war &  money 
I just did cocaine so I am very talkative and I think that [my city] is um, complicated. And I was wondering about los Angeles and if it's a better place to live??? Did you buy convertible???
Dear Charlie Sheen,

WTF. Coke, really? Be careful with that stuff, seriously.

It's impossible to say what Passover is "really" about because it's meaning is subjective, so you're bound to get an infinite number of different answers. For me, Passover is about community and interaction. One of the things I enjoy about Jews and Judaism is the way they/it places importance on ritual gatherings and the way Jewish people have crafted and modernized those ritual gatherings. Passover is a good example. Passover is a day when Jews commemorate fleeing Egypt as slaves and emerging free people. But the ritual gathering (the Seder) really doesn't have anything to do with that. Sure, we tell stories and read some stuff about Egypt and eat food that reminds us of the ordeal, but the value for me and for others (I suspect) is in the communal gathering with food as a centerpiece. Everyone comes together to interact, laugh, drink, talk, and belong. Suffering quietly dissolves.

In today's society, those opportunities are rare. We work at one place, we hang out another place (now, on the internet), and the frequency and consistency of our interaction is very low. As a result, we lack real communities. We don't have people we run into consistently enough. How many of us know our neighbors? How many of us feel like we belong? These things are integral to a community's health and individual health, and we're missing them. We're in serious trouble. Like you said, we've designed our societies, cultures, and lives around profit instead of really valuable things like purpose and belonging. We're in trouble.

Buddha's thing about desiring is tricky, isn't it? If desire is causing you to suffer and you're desiring, what can you do? If you desire to get rid of desire, you're still stuck! So what can you do? Tell me.

I've only been to [your city] a handful of times, so I can't say if it's any less complicated than LA, but LA's okay. I'd prefer to live somewhere more remote and quiet. And no, I'm not getting the convertible, but thanks for asking. :) I'm still cool though, right???


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