Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Listen And Hear

Gratillonius sounds like a Christian when, as Father of the Mithraic congregation in Ys, he says to Rufinus:

"'My friend, if you would only listen -'"
-Poul and Karen Anderson, Dahut, Chapter V, section 4, p. 118.

Rufinus repeats that he wants to honest and can never be a Mithraist. That should be the end of the matter. Gratillonius sounds less like a Christian when Tommaltach, expressing interest in Mithraism, says that his native Gods seem small. Gratillonius replies:

"'Mock Them not.'" (p. 119)

That is better. The Mystery of Mithras is at a mid-way point between paganism and Christianity. However, I have attended a Zen group since 1985 and no one has ever suggested that I take refuge. I know that, if I attend the appropriate festival at the monastery, then I can take refuge (lay ordination), start to wear a kesa and formally become a Buddhist but I see no reason to do so and no one ever says, "If you would only listen..." The group advertises that meditation training and practice are available and leaves it at that. I prefer this approach but fortunately nowadays we have equal access to all the approaches, unlike in Gratillonius' time:

"'You remain obdurate?' asked the governor...'In light of Augustus' decree, handed you to read for yourself, that worship of false gods is banned, Their temples and revenues confiscated for the use of the state - you refuse your duty to promote the Faith or even to embrace it?'" (pp. 103-104)

Our only duty is to oppose such intolerance and discrimination.


David Birr said...

Perhaps a trifle off-topic, here's an amusing religion-related quote from *Peregrine: Primus* by Avram Davidson (1971):

"[S]peaking of [your immortal souls], may I point out to you that in the adjacent street yonder there are to be found no less than six churches, all formerly Temples of various Abominations, as well as four chantries, a monastery, ten taverns, fifteen wine-cellars, and twenty-five brothels."
Even Appledore seemed a trifle dazed.
"Twenty-five?" he repeated.
"Twenty-five. Is it not abominable?"
"It is more than abominable. It is superfluous."
Here and there oil-lamps had begun to twinkle. The good smell of supper cooking came wafting through the evening air, along with the thick scent of incense. Hawkers called their wares, the musical bonk-bonk-bonk of wooden bell-boards announced vespers, and, over and above it all, a young woman, obviously dead to all shame, leaned out of a first story window. She had on a very lowcut dress, and she had a cithern in her hands, and she began to strum and to play and finally to sing a love-song.
"Well," said Peregrine, shifting his saddle-bags and hitching up his belt and starting off into the street adjacent, "I guess we'll just have to skip the churches, the chantry, and the monastery."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I have to disagree with some of the things you said in this blog piece of yours. Gratillonoius almost HAD to tell Tommaltach not to scorn his "gods," because Gratillonius himself, in my opinion, was a pagan. I have done checking up on what historians now seem to think Mithraism was: it was mostly a Greco/Roman mystery religion, had almost nothing in its teachings that truly came from Persia, was more polytheistic than monotheist, etc. So I don't believe Mithraism was halfway between paganism and Christianity.

And I don't think of Buddhism as a religion--it looks far more like an at least agnostic philosophy indifferent to questions about gods or God. I know you think the "religious trappings" we see in Buddhism came mostly from beliefs about popular paganism seeping into it, but it still puzzles me.

As simply a philosophy Buddhism will seldom arouse the INTENSE loyalty persons who believe in a religion, any religion, will feel. An intensity of feeling which can be expressed in both good and bad ways. In the sheer viciousness of their persecution of Japanese Christians in the early Tokugawa Shogunate, the Shinto/Buddhists showed themselves almost alone among Buddhists in their PASSIONATE zeal.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

I had to laugh a little when I read this amusing quote from Avram Davidson's PEREGRINE PRIMUS. I'm something of a fan of Davidson and have a fair number of his books. My favorites among his works being his stories set in the Triune Monarchy of Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania.