Surfing the internets can churn up some interesting stuff and here’s a snippet that I found which gave me some food for thought,
The Hindu Goddess Durga manifested when
evil forces threatened the very existence of the Gods. To destroy
these demons, all gods offered their radiance to her creation and each
formed part of Durga’s body. Durga also obtained very powerful weapons,
such as the chakra from Vishnu and a trident from Shiva.
name "Durga" in Sanskrit means "invincible". The syllable "du" is
synonymous with the 4 devils of poverty, sufferings, famine and evil
habits. The "r" refers to diseases and the "ga" is the destroyer of
sins, injustice, irreligion, cruelty and laziness.
Mythological and religious definitions right? For some reason, the definition of Durga struck me – after all what is mythmaking or storytelling but an attempt to grasp and grapple with forces larger than ourselves and often, beyond any one human being’s control. Also stories and explanations, particularly in the form of parables, were the way that so much was passed on down through history.
So in that context, I began to wonder if at some point in the distant past whether there had been some kind of global or environmental or pandemic crisis? Restating the paragraph above in contemporary terms, it seems as though this crisis required ‘shakti’ or power or energy or the feminine creative force to manifest in some tangible form in order to fight against the "4 devils of poverty, sufferings, famine and evil habits" – something that India still has to deal with. And not just India either.
On Sunday evening – and I should have blogged this sooner – I had a lovely conversation with Tom Guarriello – where he discussed his thoughts on the "big ideas that move people" – whether they stem from a basic human need to feel connected to community, or, be a part of something much larger than ourselves. He’d just finished the TED conference in Monterey and was inspired by the energy and conversations there, the grand ideas and sweeping visions.
I don’t know where I’m going with this thought… right now it just seemed as though there was a dot or two that seemed to connect somehow. Oh well, back to navel gazing.
[Update] Tom’s posted his thoughts on TED and here’s a snippet,
Pinker’s explanation for these changes (civilization=deterrence; the
increased economic value of life [life’s no longer "cheap"]; the
reciprocal benefits of cooperation; the enlarging circle of empathy
which we feel for our distant fellows today) are all valid. Alfred
Adler posited a deep current in the human spirit. In German he called
it, gemeinschaftsgefuhl. "Fellow feeling," is a tepid translation.
Ah, now I see that Wiktionary translates it as: "a profound sense of caring [for] others and a desire to improve the world." Yes, that’s more like it.
A profound sense of connection with others and a desire to improve
our lot, environmentally, economically, physically, socially,
As we become increasingly visible to one another through media and,
now, the direct connections of social media, that sense of fellow
feeling grows. It’s difficult to shut out the "distant" atrocities
(Darfur? where’s that?) after seeing images of Auschwitz, the Killing
Fields or Rwanda. Like Martha said, we got nowhere to run, baby, nowhere to hide.
And if you just add the spice of Adam Curtis’ new documentary The Trap to the mix as a condiment, it seems to me that while the problems facing this big blue marble of ours remain yet to addressed, putting them in perspective [for a moment I felt a pang] allows us to come to terms with them and see them in context of humanity’s lifetime. Yet another snippet,
The central argument in The Trap is that modern society is based on a bleak view of humankind hatched during the Cold war, when US military tacticians studied game theory in an attempt to predict what the Russians would do. They concluded it was better to selfishly stockpile weapons than work toward mutual disarmament – because what if the other side didn’t play ball?
The result was years of terrifying détente. But this beat a nuclear holocaust, so game theory seemed to work. It brought stability. And it was then applied to mankind as a whole: the belief grew that we’re fundamentally selfish creatures concerned only with our own interests – and that, paradoxically, this very selfishness should be encouraged, since the end result is widespread economic stability. When everybody’s continually screwing everybody else over, it all balances out. In game theory, that is. In reality, the rich grow richer and the poor become virtual serfs.
At this juncture, all one can really do – as preparation before action or response – is put one’s feet up on the hummock, pick up the cut crystal glass, watch the smoke rise slowly up in the dark night and listen for the bird. Damn Tagore.