When I say that his is the most beautiful blog on the Web, I don’t say it lightly. I mean his IS, and at all levels. It’s illustrated like no other, with photographic and graphic art often blending the real and the surreal, mirroring the interpenetration of the spiritual and physical worlds often sensed by those on the Path.
But its beauty isn’t pixel-deep. Mark’s blog is beautiful in its communication as well. Mark writes both sensitively and sensibly about the most inexpressible things, and transcends the language and conceptual problems that have been snaring people embarking into these realms for thousands or years. Whether you’re theistic, non-theistic, panentheistic, or don’t know or care about theological positions, Eternal Awareness can communicate to you. I’m not talking about a watered-down, “something for everyone” offering. I mean everything/no-thing from the One, for the One in all.
The third way in which his blog’s beauty shines, is by the fact that it’s Mark’s blog. And it’s his soul that will be meeting yours through his writing and insights. And that, my friends, is a very, very beautiful thing.
The Boy from Lebanon is a thought-provoking and intense depiction of a true story, a plot by Hezbollah to assassinate then-president François Mitterand by using a child. It’s one of the most striking foreign films I’ve seen in the last few years, and it far surpasses “Syriana” in showing how rather ordinary young people become terrorists. But The Boy from Lebanon is a more than a mere consciousness-raiser about the plight of children in war-torn areas—it’s a shocking drama, and an wonderful portrayal of the power of friendship.
Djilali (Teufik Jallab) is a scant eleven years old when he’s sold—literally—into terrorism. Djilali is emotionally shattered, detached, and empty. Even his hatred of “the Jews and the infidels” is something he holds out of duty, and his lack of emotion and whole-hearted dedication to his mission makes him ideal for Hezollah’s purpose.
To get close to the French president, though, he must not only go to France, but meet and prepare to take the place of Karim (Younesse Boudache), a Lebanese-French kid who will meet the president at a Christmas party. Karim, who knows nothing of the plot, is practically Djilali’s direct opposite, an ebullient Huckleberry Finn of Paris’ Arab slums, who hates no one.
To play his role, Djilali must live with Karim for a few days, and the interaction between them is the heart of the film. Djilali regards Karim as despicably frivolous, while Karim sees Djilali as hopelessly out-of-it. The few days they spend together will shatter both of their worlds completely.
Sometimes it gets a bit confusing; shifts between Karim’s French slum and Djilali’s flashbacks are difficult to catch at first, and in my case I had to watch it a second time to understand everything. In addition, the adult actors are sometimes less-than-convincing, but The Boy from Lebanon isn’t about them. The main characters are memorable and masterfully portrayed by these child actors. The director, Gilles de Maistre, is an award-winning French journalist, who presents the characters compassionately, along with a side of Paris that most movies assiduously avoid.
My teacher commented on the Virginia Tech massacre with the observation that Seung-Hui Cho had had no friends, and wondered would he have done what he did if he had. A similar question is brilliantly posed by “The Boy from Lebanon.”
So big, in fact, that I put off posting this for days. I can’t quite process it. Perhaps you my friends, can help me to do so. Since childhood, I’ve been a science-fiction fan, and as someone who grew up with the privilege of being able to look into fairly clear desert night skies, I’ve never been able to believe we’re the only sentient life form in the universe.
But I’ve always shied away from UFO-ology. I’ve been better able to accept aliens “out there” than “right here,” especially after thousands of reports of abductions supplanted the image of ET with something much more sinister. And there always was the possibility that psychological displacement, optical illusions, astronomical phenomena, or secret R&D was behind it all. In a nutshell, I was comfortable filing the UFO phenomenon under “interesting,” and letting it go at that.
I can’t stop at that point anymore. The cover is being blown from a number of sources simultaneously: astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Buzz Aldrin are talking about their knowledge of UFOs, and in Mitchell’s case, his knowledge of the cover-ups as well. The governments of Brazil, France, and the UK have all declassified their documents on UFOs within the last four months. Possibly in response, the Vatican published an article entitled “The Extraterrestrial Is My Brother” (!) in L’Osservatore Romano in May.
So, although I’ve never had a UFO experience myself, here’s the evidence that’s made me a believer in the last few days:
Dr. Edgar Mitchell on Kerrang! Radio:
CNN reporting on the above interview:
Buzz Aldrin discussing a UFO encounter on Apollo 11:
Dr. Edgar Mitchell discussing the Roswell incident:
I’ve just returned from a trip to Montréal for a joint conference of the United States’ and the Pan-American Esperanto associations. I had a wonderful time, and my only regret was that I had to leave early for travel and work considerations. It was a wonderful experience. In the year since I began seriously studying Esperanto, I still hadn’t met another Esperantist (they’re hard to come by in Norfolk!) and now I was completely immersed in Esperanto, surrounded by hundreds of speakers, mostly fluent, from not only the whole Western hemisphere, but from as far away as Japan.
The whole experience was a blast. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a great desire to travel, and other cultures, languages, and belief systems have always fascinated me. Here I was having “three-language” days, speaking with the other attendees in Esperanto and with the locals in French and English. (I tried to use French as much as possible, and to switch to English only when necessary—it usually was … my French is very limited).
Although some of the presenters were sometimes challenging for me to understand, it was mostly because of their poor public speaking abilities rather than a matter of language itself. In conversations, I could understand everyone almost perfectly for the duration (with one notable exception!) and I only “crocodiled” for a very few, short instances (krokodili is Esperanto slang for speaking your native language with with other Esperantists). Ninety-nine percent of the time I spoke and listened in Esperanto, and I now feel I can truly consider myself a bilingual person.
Esperantists often speak about the “internal idea” (interna ideo) of their language. The entire reason for the existence of the language is for people of all cultures to have common access to an extremely powerful, descriptive, and fairly easily-learned means of communication, that belongs to no one culture or country and so, puts none at a disadvantage. Somewhat ironically, the desire of a planned “universal” language is to protect linguistic and cultural diversity. The conference exemplified the internal idea quite well, as its theme was diversity and sustainability regarding ecosystems, languages, and cultures.
The “internal idea” has other names outside of the context of Esperanto: love, compassion, tolerance. Interestingly, the more we realize universal truths, such as the fact that everyone of us is simply embodied Spirit, just as every other one is, the more we can appreciate the uniqueness of every wonderful soul.
Seven years ago, I made the bodhisattva vow. And now, I’m feeling it. There is nothing more I want to do with my life than to set people free. Everywhere I go, to whomever I speak, I see bondage and brainwashing.
—This is who you are.
This is the way it is.
This is what you should do.
—Because I / your Mom / your Father / the teacher / our minister / the pope / the Bible / the Koran / the law / the president said so.”
The dialogue continues like that until the only change for most people, is that the “Why?” stops being asked. At that point, you enter the mind-made cell.
Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? —Rumi/Barks
The irony is no one can free another… all we can do is inspire them to freedom.
(Time for absolutely shameless plug!) Well, after months of work, it’s here… RockOm.net is now live! I’m proud to be a part of the RockOm team. RockOm is an online music community with a spiritual focus… but inclusive of all musics, and all spiritualities, from rock, Gospel and bluegrass, to Hindu kirtans, and Sufi chants, and all the yearning, questing, and questioning in-between.
The bottom line is that if you have any love of music, or any interest in the spiritual aspects of life, you are who we built RockOm for. So check it out, listen to our podcast, download our featured track, read and comment on the articles, and join in the discussions that are beginning or start a new one… And oh yeah, it’s OK to tell your friends and help us get the word out, too!
BTW… RockOm is in “Beta,” which in English roughly means “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” We have big plans for it and really would love for you to be a part of it!
I could tell you that its five chapters, Rebirth, Adolescence, Manhood, Family, and The Getting of Wisdom, form a remarkable portrait of renunciation and self-discovery in the mystical journey. I could tell you how it reminded me of my teacher’s wise counsel to me when I was “hell-bent” on getting enlightenment as soon as possible. (And, of course, I just did.)
But there’s something about profound experiences that demands a restraint of the tongue, a savoring of the sublime, and a respect for silence, so that the fewer the words, the better.
You see, watching Into the Wild is a sacred act. It is prayer. And, as prayer, there is nothing to say afterwards but “Thank You,” or “Amen.” Thanks to Trev for pointing me to this inspiring, but insightful and honest examination of one man’s incredible journey.
OK, I’m blogging less, and I’ve admitted it. But what about you? Out of my formerly blog-active friends only Carl and Bob keep on at their impressive posting paces. It seems to me that most of my blogging friends have slowed down, just as I have.
So, just curious:
Is it my imagination, or are you blogging less?
Is it just my circle of friends, or is this a broader phenomenon?
What’s the reason?
Said it all already, nothing left to say?
More real-world and "wetware" activity?
More online community / social networking activity?
Lack of interest / comments from others?
Assuming this is a trend, what is it’s implication for the Web? What takes its place? Is it a negative phenomenon or positive?
This is the second time in the last two weeks that I’ve lost a long post that I was working on just a bit before I was going to click the "Publish" button. Somehow, it seems to happen in between the auto-saves and, yes, I AM too dumb to remember to manually hit "Save" every 5 mins.
Also, the Akismet spam filter is getting annoying… I’m being asked twice a day now to manually flag absurd random spam posts which any spam catcher should be able to recognize.
WP and I have come a long way, but our relationship is going through some difficulties now. We’ll get through this, I’m sure.