Tuesday, December 22, 2015

meeting yourself in the desert

No Better Place to Meet Yourself

--by Moussa Ag Assarid

- See more at: http://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=2133#sthash.TRMTPvuT.dpuf

Moussa Ag Assarid (MAA): I don’t know my age. I was born in the Sahara desert, with no papers. I was born in a nomadic camp of Touaregs, between Timbuktu and Gao, in the north of Mali. [...]

J: What do they do for a living?
MAA: We shepherd camels, goats, sheep, cows and donkeys in a kingdom of infinite and of silence…

J: Is the desert really so silent?
(MAA): If you are on your own in that silence you hear your heart beat. There is no better place to meet yourself.

J: What memories do you have of your childhood in the desert?
MAA: I wake up with the Sun. The goats of my father are there. They give us milk and meat, and we take them were there is water and grass. My great-grandfather did it, and my grandfather, and my father, and me. There was nothing else in the world than that, and I was very happy!

J: Really? It doesn’t sound very exciting.
MAA: It is. At the age of seven you can go alone away from the camp, and for this you are taught the important things—to smell the air, to listen, to see carefully, to orient with the Sun and the stars…and to be guided by the camel if you get lost. He will take you where there is water.

J: To know that is valuable, no doubt.
MAA: Everything is simple and profound there. There are very few things, and each one has enormous value.

J: So that world and this one are very different.
MAA: There, every little thing gives happiness. Every touch is valuable. We feel great joy just by touching each other, being together. There, nobody dreams of becoming, because everybody already is.

J: What shocked you most on your first trip to Europe?
MAA: I saw people running in the airport. In the desert you only run if a sandstorm is approaching! It scared me, of course.

J: They were going after their baggage, ha ha.
MAA: Yes, that was it. [...]

J: What do you dislike the most here?
MAA: Many people here have everything, and it is still not enough for them. They complain. In [the modern world] many people complain all the time! They chain themselves to a bank; many people are anxious to have things, to have possessions. People are in a rush. In the desert there are no traffic jams, and do you know why? Because there nobody is interested in getting ahead of other people!

J: Tell me about a moment of deep happiness for you in the desert.
MAA: It happens every day, two hours before sunset. The heat decreases, there is still no cold air, and men and animals slowly return to the camp, and their profiles are painted against a sky that is pink, blue, red, yellow, green.

J: That sounds fascinating.
MAA: It’s a magical moment… We all get into the tents and we boil tea. Sitting in silence we listen to the sound of the boiling water… We all are immersed in calmness: with the heartbeats tuned to the rhythm of the boiling water, potta potta potta…

J: How peaceful.
MAA: Yes…here you have watches; there, we have time.

Moussa Ag Assarid is the oldest of thirteen children in a nomadic Touareg family. Born in northern Mali in 1975, he moved to France in 1999 to study Management at the University of Montpellier. The above is excerpted from an interview with VĂ­ctor Amela.
- See more at: http://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=2133#sthash.TRMTPvuT.dpuf

Thursday, December 10, 2015

By my monastic life and vows I am saying No to all the concentration camps, the aerial bombardments, the staged political trials, the judicial murders, the racial injustices, the economic tyrannies, and the whole socio-economic apparatus which seems geared for nothing but global destruction in spite of all its fair words in favor of peace.


Today is the 47th anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton. The following text is extracted from his preface to the Japanese edition of “The Seven Storey Mountain”:

I have learned ... to look back into the world with greater compassion, seeing those in it not as alien to myself, not as peculiar and deluded strangers, but as identified with myself. In freeing myself from their delusions and preoccupations I have identified myself, nonetheless, with their struggles and their blind, desperate hope of happiness.

But precisely because I am identified with them, I must refuse all the more definitively to make their delusions my own. I must refuse their ideology of matter, power, quantity, movement, activism and force. I reject this because I see it to be the source and expression of the spiritual hell which man has made of his world: the hell which has burst into flame in two total wars of incredible horror, the hell of spiritual emptiness and sub-human fury which has resulted in crimes like Auschwitz or Hiroshima. This I can and must reject with all the power of my being. This all sane men seek to reject. But the question is: how can one sincerely reject the effect if he continues to embrace the cause?....

The monastery is not an “escape from the world.” On the contrary, by being in the monastery I take my true part in all the struggles and sufferings of the world. To adopt a life that is essentially non-assertive, nonviolent, a life of humility and peace is in itself a statement of one’s position. But each one in such a life can, by the personal modality of his decision, give his whole life a special orientation. It is my intention to make my entire life a rejection of, a protest against the crimes and injustices of war and political tyranny which threaten to destroy the whole race of man and the world with him. By my monastic life and vows I am saying No to all the concentration camps, the aerial bombardments, the staged political trials, the judicial murders, the racial injustices, the economic tyrannies, and the whole socio-economic apparatus which seems geared for nothing but global destruction in spite of all its fair words in favor of peace. I make monastic silence a protest against the lies of politicians, propagandists and agitators, and when I speak it is to deny that my faith and my Church can ever seriously be aligned with these forces of injustice and destruction.

— Thomas Merton
who died on the 10th of December 1968 while taking part in a conference of Benedictine and Trappist monks
(“Honorable Reader”: Reflections on My Work, ed. Robert Daggy; NY: Crossroad, 1986, p 63-67)


[HT: Jim Forest]

Pharisaism

Photograph of Gal Vihara by Thomas Merton We are all convinced that we desire the truth above all. Nothing strange about this. It is ...