Friday, April 29, 2016

You are too much into your ancientness

You are way too much into your ancientness. It's not a good thing. I'll cut to the chase. If you're the ancientest one in town or the most ancient one on the island there's no room for anyone else's ancientness. It's as though ancientness gives some kind of permission to be the "owner" and this at the expense of everyone who's less ancient. Or at least who you can yell at louder, "we're the ancient people! Not you!!!" It's part of the sick myth of nation and blood. "Origins." As if. All I see is a bunch of people fighting over who's more ancient just like they fight over every street and every piece of land and every province. It's silly and it's stupid. Don't get me wrong. It's cool to be ancient. Just not to have that be your only thing. Maybe it's your inferiority complex after half a millennium of colonial invaders? Maybe it's because you're afraid of being stepped on by the tens of millions of people on the mainland who are of a different ancientness? The ancientness of your supposed enemies? Get over your inferiority complex and your fear. I know. I truly know your religion says something about "no fear." Why do you suppose it dies? Because like the Fassbinder movie's title: Fear eats the soul. Whatever. If you can't get over your fear please don't take it out on the other people in your country who are also vying for the status "most ancient." Let it go. 

In the meantime you've commodified your ancientness in a peculiar and most un-tasteful way. I'm not saying you shouldn't have giant plastic statues of your most important religious figure all over the country. I am saying it's an eyesore for travelers who have seen a lot, and I mean a lot of other beautiful places. What does this say about your country? Also. Not that you shouldn't charge foreigners the big bucks to see your ancient sites, all of which brim, by the way with bad energy. The worst energy I've ever seen. So much worse than the Mayan sites or the Aztec sites where human sacrifice was celebrated. We look at that practice as abominable. But they didn't. And the "energy," if you can visualize such a thing--maybe you can't or don't want to--in those places is remarkable. Positive. Spiritual, even with the lines of hawkers at a place like Chichen Itsa in the Yucatan. It was a market place then, as people bought statues and stuff for offerings, and it is now. Just the statues are being used for something else. There's something beautifully congruent about it. About the space being used in this way and the millions of tourist steps taken on a sort of pilgrimage. Here?  A patricidal king builds a rock fortress and zillions of tourists come there? He controlled water? First king to ever do that? And had gorgeous murals painted there? Yes. They are gorgeous and that's why they're a world heritage piece. But the rest of that rock. What's the message? It comes a little bit too close to what your country is about. Violence, treachery, submissiveness, ultimately stupidity by selling itself out and other chicanery. And I don't like it. Sorry. It may not be mine to like or not. I don't have to visit there ever again do I? But I'm just opining. You don't like? You can stop reading. 

It's just that your sites are so full of ancientness mixed with the way contemporary people use and abuse them. It's a huge parade of contradictory behaviors. Imagine how stupid it is that you don't want a foreigner wearing his short pants to some site but for sure if he throws a woman's beach sarong around him that's appropriate. It happened to me when I mixed up sightseeing and religion and truthfully I could have done without either. I like to discover on my own and conform because I sense it's right, not because a man in brown demands it of me as part of the pleasure I get for that extra 200, 300, 500 rupees. Take it down a notch, would you? It's bad enough to have to sense so much police and military presence everywhere. Can we keep them out of the holy sites, now that the evil thirty years' war is over? You condemn Israel in the UN over the very things you do in broad daylight. Why not take a look in the mirror and consider at least some of that compassion your religion's so famous for. 

The truly old sites in your country, the irrigation lakes, the backbone of your civilization, lie ignored and despoiled. You wash your tuktuks and your tractors in them. I saw it with my own eyes. You dredge them to remove silt and make room for water, so you can grow more rice for your ever more sedentary people to grow thicker and huger and more sedentary and more metabolically challenged. You kill your ancient sites with agrochemicals so you can kill your people. Your government contractors don't do the job right so repairs will have to be undertaken again in another couple of years. You abuse the environment for the stupidest, most short-sighted reasons. Hey. I'm not claiming that the same thing doesn't happen all over the world. But these are YOUR ancient sites. 

Not just your village tanks are neglected and misused. Your massive tanks are too. They're beautiful and impressive and significant and ancient. But the cool thing is not the kings who built them, which is the thing you go on about nonstop. It's their ingenious incorporation of nature and water and human enterprise. Or it was anyway. I noticed them when I visited the heartland of your country and I detected so many of them had the Tamil word for lake, "kulam" attached to them. There in the very heartland of Sri Lankan Buddhism. You could capitalize on this, use it as a national brand, to focus on how your history is a diverse set of cultures that goes way back. Way way back. Everyone's ancient here. You should face it. Use it. You could capitalize on the coolness of Ganesha rocks at every tank, still in use, still venerated, even though though they're outside the "official" bounds of Theravada Buddhism. Why not face up to and embrace the syncretic nature of your religions and folkways? Rather than making one the "majority" culture and one the "minority." And then beating it and beating it like a dead horse. One is the victor and one is the loser. Really? Could it be you learned this from the Christian missionaries who overran your country, destroyed your places of worship, forbade your practices, forced their "dominance" on you? I don't know. I'm not from a missionizing religion. I just don't know where you picked up your bad habits. You should take a look at your bad habits and think about where they may have come from. A little truth-telling after you meditate--I know your religion looks kindly on meditation--would be a great thing. 

We're all one aren't we? Or is that just another crude joke, more oil thrown on the fire? Can't someone give me a cogent answer?

Why do you have to be so old and ancient, to the exclusion of your neighbors? Is it because you're a relatively new civilization, only 2500 or 2600 years old, while India to your north is so much more ancient? Is it because you're a country of migrants, pretty much the same as every country and every culture on Earth with its own myths of migration? Could your needing to be "old" have anything to do with the native people here who you displaced? The "yakkas" your Buddha "tamed?" Is there no other way you can make peace with this story, this reality?

What does being ancient do for you? How do you get off on it to such an extent? Isn't there anything better you can do with your national identity or your ethnic identity? Wouldn't it be great if people could just feel proud of who they were instead of having to back it up with spurious evidence of purity and essence of ancientness? Take a look at Mexico my friends. They've struck a balance. And their colonial history and their recent history haven't been that kind to them. Ancientness is good but it shouldn't be the end all and be all that it seems to be for you. It shouldn't exclude and splinter when it could embrace and strengthen. Re-evaluating your "ancientness" and your relationship to it might be a good step toward rebuilding your civilization. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we are proud of our ancient stuff. Of course many are unaware of the "ingenious incorporation of nature and water and human enterprise".

    But then again many citizens of some countries are proud of their freedom, democracy and human rights etc. However, much of the population is unaware of the drones killing innocent people named collateral damage, the highest rate of incarceration in the world and invasion of privacy.

    I'll take the misguided pride in ancient works which causes no real harm over misguided freedom (R2P), democracy and human rights which has caused a whole lot of death and misery in the world.