Thursday, January 22, 2004

I Need Something to Read

The words I heard most often during childhood and my (thankfully brief) marriage were "There you are with your nose in a book again!"

Well, yeah. Duh.

I like mythology and religion quite a bit. A person's religious viewpoint will touch every aspect of life; I like to try to get inside it. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, and my personal favorite, the christian Bible, are all online for free. Other religous books, that so far as I know have to be purchased, include the I Ching and the Popal Vuh.

I read all of them years ago, cover to cover, except the Koran. I tried to read the Koran several years ago, but it just struck me as nasty. The only other book I picked up and didn't finish was The Autobiography of Moshe Dyan - hopelessly convoluted, at least for a 15 yr old, as I was then.

Polytheistic religions don't thrill me; their gods are almost invariably tied to a piece of real estate. It's all very well to worship Pe'le (polynesian volcano goddess) if you're actually living next to her volcano, but what if you move to Alaska?

I can't remember anything now about the Book of the Dead, and next to nothing about the Popol Vuh, except that it says civilization as we know it will end on the winter solstice (Dec 21?) 2012.

I couldn't wrap my brain around Hinduism and the Bhagavad Gita. To an American, the thought of being helplessly stuck in a position for life is just not on the boards.

From what little I know of Buddhism, I think I like it. I agree with some scholar or other who stated that Buddha and Christ were alike in the reason they are revered - they made a sacrifice for humanity. Buddha gave up his death and Jesus gave up his life. Interesting switch, with similar intentions although not similar effects. Buddha gave up Nirvana so he could just keep getting reincarnated over & over again, to hang around and teach people how to get to Nirvana. Jesus gave up his earthly life as a substitute for our spiritual deaths. These are powerful and touching acts, whether or not you accept the underlying philosophies.

The above are all actual religious texts. If you're interested in serious commentary, Joseph Campbell's Myths to Live By is a must-read.

The above reading matter is not to everyone's taste, and I spread the reading out over a space of several years. I wanted to read these for myself, without exraneous hoopla, and enjoyed them all. The only ones I continue to read are the I Ching and the Bible. Maybe I'll try the Koran again, although I doubt that my attitude will have improved since I first (tried to) read it. Bad things have happened since then, sort of sours the intellectual appetite.


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