The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Friday, February 24, 2006

An Answer to my Vexing Question

In a published dialogue between a well-known Buddhist teacher and myself, the teacher challenged me persistently on this issue of desire. “After all,” he said, “if you give up the desire of life, then death will not be horrifying and painful.”

“No,” I responded, “if I give up the desire for life I would already be dead.” Since the debate took place in a kitchen in Jerusalem, I picked up a knife. “If I took this knife and cut my arm, would it bleed?”

“Of course.”

“Now what if I, with the same knife, cut my hair? No blood. Why? Because the cells in my hair are dead. And dead cells do not bleed.” Part of the eros of longing is to experience pain as well as joy. That is why biblical mystics viewed the inability to grieve and weep as a sign of great spiritual illness.

From the day the Temple was destroyed all the gates are closed; the gates of tears are not closed. So reads a fifth-century Hebrew wisdom text. The eros of tears, an inevitable corollary of longing and desire, is the way back to the eros of the Temple, to the inside, and to a full sense of your own aliveness. Nachman of Bratzlav, an erotic master of the inside, writes, “A human being is like an onion: strip away layer after layer and all that remains are the tears.” To reach the inner recesses of a thing one must be willing to weep.

- The Mystery of Love


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