Writing by invitation to the author of a local magazine article about dealing with socially-induced family grief and hardship, "You Can't Teach Desperation" by Joanne Sales, who describes herself as a freelance writer, blueberry farmer and teacher of what is called EFT or the Emotional Freedom Technique, a self-hypnosis religion.
I read the above article in the Aug 2017 issue of Eyes on BC and took note of the annotation inviting comments and questions.
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire article, the liberal references to personal family history and its antecedents (or the ones you allude to) in religious and cultural (in this case Buddhist) mythology and philosophy.
A real pleasure to be sure.
Admittedly quite tangential to the substance of this article, I have of late become interested in the recurrence of the tree in religious mythology (Nordic, Christian and Buddhist, to name three) as linked to wisdom and knowledge.
And so I found the blend of your Family Tree (if I may take the liberty) and the Bodhi Tree very enriching and stimulating.
Trees have to do with life and I always enjoy their inclusion.
Now, if I may, and at your leisure, please allow me to add some additional comments.
I will be brief, and if you have found my comments thus far acceptable, I would allow that you are by no means obliged to humour me.
Good day and I look forward to reading more of anything you should pen. I hope you are a regular contributor to this publication, as I am having a personal renaissance of appreciation for local personal interest news and literature (I consider yours both).
Now, if you should like, I would like to venture into a more I hope not entirely self-serving comment about your title and premise that "You can't teach desperation."
I wish that life was not so difficult for so many in as much as I am gladdened that there are those who can make the most of it and, as you lay out very well, even gain some greater appreciation and character from either experiencing or witnessing the vast discrepancies in health and wealth that our world has to offer (or forces people to endure).
Personally, I am not sure that I can ever accept such a world, almost because and in spite of the fact that we are, as a race, so good at accommodating its rather inhuman demands. I can well imagine that the more Machiavellian among us quite rely upon it.
That being said, I entirely agree with and commend the lustrous maturity of your closing thesis, that "happiness comes from meaning."
So often we are treated, as readers, to overly trite commentaries on the travail of our fellow man, either for political (or religious) ends, or alternately treated to platitudes of little substance that rather serve to further insult one's intelligence, however well meaning they may be. (This will, of course, differ according to one's mood and personal suffering.)
You succeed in avoiding both. Again, thank you.
I thought I might take issue with your inclusion of Buddhist apocryphal history, but I dare say you did not use it as an excuse to resign your commentary to "that is just the way the world is. Deal with it." I never lost the sense, reading your words, that you and yours were not deeply empathetic. That sings through the entire article and lifts it and the soul to the very kind of reflections I think most beneficial to us all.
I am left then to take up my objection to Buddhist and religious philosophy (not necessarily how it is used or employed by anyone) on the whole, namely that the conclusion that "life is suffering" may be accurate to how experience pans out for most people if not entirely to how life or society should really be (and we should endeavour to make it for our young if not for the world as a whole, which is by all evidence dedicated to its own perpetual denouement, serving to sober the mind for its personal odyssey in resolving its life to that of its whole environment as it is and as we would like it to be, or even as we are born with every reasonable need to rely upon it being, as irreverent as such a declaration may be to the inordinately inhuman claims of evolutionary biology, claims which have outpaced the leisure and capacity for anyone but its own priests to subject to even a modicum of moral and critical scrutiny, very little of which were enough to impugn most of its basic assumptions about a genesis or evolution of Man that bears little to no reference to a mother's womb proper, much less to the celestial biology* of our human heritage, to the symbiotic importance of the organs of communication of a family tree or an individual human being, quite in keeping to the colonial and as often "religious" claims upon our brain development, such as it is, an issue which I have taken up at length in order to mitigate generations of insults to my whole family heritage).
*Please See Axiom 1053 - Electrochemical Celestial Heritage
Furthermore, the dearth of dignity afforded most people for no very good reason makes its own argument that we are capable of better and that this capacity (our sense of service, virtue and justice) has been blunted by a shameful commensurate dearth of personal responsibility that should be spread liberally over all of us, not as a condemnation (though it is a shame of sorts) but as a moral imperative to equate our own personal satisfaction in life with improving our level of agency in matters as often as important as lost in a dizzying degree of logistical complexity (like running a society or a government) and to enjoy, no less, the prospect of using our incredible capacity for thought and feeling to explore a deeper sense of what it means to communicate living intelligence (a matter of personal interpretation that must commend one to one's own beliefs as such and which should never be dictated to anyone, a principle that flies in the face of all modern culture, religion and education), even and especially if this kind of odyssey must needs throw most of our social customs and beliefs into some proportional degree of disrepute if forever burgeoning restitution and restoration: I do not believe Man is "born this way."
Society is never right. And it may be that it never will be.
But it is also true that a concerted effort to recover a sense of mental, emotional, and social equilibrium in a world whose very mooring is forever escaping what grasp we may like to have (and under the power of every financial, religious, and martial instrument that people world over have alternately learned and been forced to accommodate and even thus gain the propensity to extol everywhere we extol the virtues of a liberal society, an inconsistency that must betray considerable dislocation of brain function) of such a world must always force us to confront travails that I would like to propose no human being should ever be forced to endure and which have the unfortunate effect of constraining how we think, what we see, what we hear, and what mandate we give ourselves while paying adequate tribute to religious and political orthodox that would extract human capital with an ever growing efficiency of truly Biblical proportions.
I do not think that "life is suffering," in the technical sense that life is Necessarily suffering.
That is, logically speaking, I would argue that it does not necessarily follow from the fact that people generally tend to suffer from every freedom we impute to them that this is a necessarily permanent component of life itself. As Charles Dickens writes in "The Old Curiousity Shop," and I paraphrase, "We only suffer so much because of how happy we know we can be." I dare say that Charles Dickens did not believe that his society was how life was "supposed to be." And he was thus able to change it.
This may seem like a small or trifling comment.
For me, it is the entire fulcrum upon which my personal growth depends.
Thank you so much.
Judging from your byline, I hope and grant that most of this is, at least, quite intelligible to you.
Again, I only take the issue I do because of your reference to Gautama. Not because I take the least exception to how you employ this cultural and philosophical reference.
So I take the liberty of digressing, as I do you the intentional respect of assuming that you wish to stimulate, respect, and console the minds of your readers.
Certain it is that you are blessing to those around you.
Much Respect and Thanks,
*See Alice Monro's "The Found Boat"