Monday, January 27, 2014

Celibate or Celebrate

In a small Italian village, two family lineages have been feuding since the time of the Medici dynasty. The descendents are still involved in a centuries old lawsuit and these current day relations don't even know what caused the initial argument! Following like blind sheep, they continue to hate the other lineage and press on with the unresolved legal dispute. (Obviously, no one else in the case can figure out the problem either or it would have been resolved at least a hundred years ago.)

This ridiculous scenario reflects another trend - the telling and retelling of history until it has been so revised that the original intent has been obliterated, relegated to rituals and beliefs useless for the modern mind. Tragically, people who believe in these texts don't know they are no longer viable, continually fighting wars over smoke and mirrors.

To lighten up about this unfortunate human flaw, a Tibetan lama related a great joke. Back in the 6th century, a wise master wrote a treatise on the codes of conduct for a monk. In order to preserve the teachings for future generations, this text was recopied by monks over the centuries as the original delicate parchment had began eroding.

Flash forward to 1995. A young novitiate enters this monastery high on a Tibetan plateau. An ancient abbot who resides in his cave-retreat requests the young man to come see him. The reason? The old man feels that so many hand copies have been made of the original text that he wants to carefully open its fragile remains to make a new copy from the original - instead of the novitiate making a new copy from copies of copies.

The novice completes his work and delivers it back to the senior monk. A few hours later, he hears wailing coming from the cave and rushes back, fearing the worst for the ancient one. As he enters the cave, he sees in the monk's one hand the fresh and accurate copy, and in the other, the original text. 

The elder cries out, "Our ancient text said CELEBRATE, nor CELIBATE!"

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