Sunday, April 08, 2007

Why Easter Makes the Cut (There’s a Reason for Miracles)

Because of the increasing secularization (trivialization) of society and culture, Easter has become a minor observation -- instead of the major one it used to be for millennia.

The first step is to make the “holiday” strictly a commercial event -- a reason for another sale -- but Easter has already been replaced by the success of Valentine’s Day as a greater inspiration and motivation for lavish and overgenerous gifts and testaments of worthiness.

But despite that success as the second greatest shopping season, Valentine’s Day is not as significant a passage on the calendar because of its timing -- of never coinciding with the turning points of the year around the midpoint of January, April, July and October -- the traditional markers of seasonality that have ruled the development of the world for most of history.

Easter marks the beginning of spring -- and the renewal of life, after the dormancy of winter. One could plant seeds any time of the year, but done at the precisely right time and conditions, the chances for success are much greater -- than arbitrarily deciding one would like to do so.

The famous fasting of Lent, is not a bad idea when one’s food supplies are likely to be exhausted without diligent attention otherwise. It has been remarked by many historians that the Church simply co-opted a lot of the “pagan” (secular) celebrations into their own -- as a distinctive ritualization of the seasons.

In modern life, seasonality seems much less important because of around-the-clock availability of most products and services -- but accountants and bean counters know, business is likely to be best in the first quarter of each year, while they are likely to be ignored entirely in the last quarter of the year, when overindulgence and excesses are likely to be encouraged.

So what has the celebrations of life come to mean through the ages? We know that July is the celebration of freedom at the summer of the year, and fall is the harvest of that summer and the anticipation of the cold and unfruitful season -- for which all one’s preparations will be put to the test.

At Easter, lives begins to renew -- and one must die to the old memories of hardship and scarcity, to be able to embrace the new realities of opportunities that those who have thought deeply over the past, can now bring to life. How deeply one has been affected by the challenges of the seasons is greatly determined by the severity of those challenges. Here in Hawaii, it is likely to be minimal -- with many even thinking that there are no changes at all, and there is no pattern to the length of days and changes in climate except what the gods arbitrarily inflict.

One is then likely to think that everything is arbitrary -- and there is no rhyme nor reason for anything. People say what they do because no one will hold them accountable for it. So while the discussions most offer -- center on the easy and lush abundance of the setting, the notable lack, whenever there is this rare discussion, is that there is very little depth in the feeling of being directly responsible for any of it.

And that is the meaning and significance of life for which Easter is the outward manifestation. What is one's personal responsibility to the life they live -- and therefore regard the significance of all of life? Many now, have no language for asking that question -- and having that discussion. And that's why they should -- at least once a year, or once in their lifetime.


At April 09, 2007 9:06 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

My interest in seasonality was because of my study in the (stock) market, and wondered if the stock market, was subject to the same seasonality as traditional farm markets -- that are so deeply rooted in the psychological experience that it was not by coincidence that every severe market scare occurred just before Halloween -- which was the celebration of this fright, in anticipating the anxiety of the ebbing of summer and coming of winter.

Another semi-annual bottom seemed to coincide with the tax filing deadline and Easter -- which removed a lot of the fear and uncertainty of the tax season.

Meanwhile, there was the well-known year-end stock market rally right through the middle of January, bottoming around mid-April and rising through mid-July, bottoming in mid-Oct before peaking in mid-January.

Gasoline consumption picks up with the well-known summer driving season. Real estate seems to have longer cycles -- and contrary to popular belief, do not always go up. There are prolonged periods when real estate prices actually go down.

However that decline is usually mollified by sales going down much more dramatically -- while the report will distract one to some statistic that is doing well. In fact, that's what usually happens -- is that the volume dries up, so while the median price seems to decline by only 1%, sales transacted, has fallen by 50%, so that the total dollar volume is down 50% -- but the price decline widely-reported is 1%.

Real estate are good advertisers -- as are cars. Regardless of how "objective" the source claims to be, there is a bias that most are not aware of -- thinking the version they have, is the "truth."

The truth is sometimes a deception or manipulation -- but most often, it is the best understanding of what is known at the time -- and not perfect knowledge, as social scientists tend to believe more than natural scientists do.

Because natural scientists have to deal with the real world phenomena, they expect to be wrong -- and therefore compensate to be right, or more exacting. But a person who takes a belief as absolutely right or wrong on some professor's say so, is more likely to assume it is an infallible truth -- because it cannot be tested in the real world.

There was a basic conflict between these two worlds of knowing -- that was actually resolved by digital information processing -- which is the rendering of all information into 1 or 0 representation, and so any "bit" of information, can be processed like any other "bit" of information.

That's the basic education anybody needs these days -- rather than carrying the baggage of all their knowledge around with them so that the mind is too full to take in new information.

One of the key teachings of the Easter season, is that one must die to the old, in order to be reborn in the new -- rather than dragging the old information to corrupt the fresh learning. This is a huge problem for the "old", traditional mind --that comes to live more in its memories, habits, traditions -- than responding to the new, changed world of the present.

Is memory necessary to function in a constantly changing world of new information -- or can one merely learn the new always by not being preoccupied with the old (memories of how things used to be).

That is a silent and attentive mind -- that processes real time information rather than searching their tapes for the "right" answer. Is a remembered truth the truth -- or just the truth from another time and circumstances that no longer exist?

But in the old manner of information processing, one compared it to the old, generalized the new to be the old -- when it probably isn't. A lot of that kind of knowledge has to be discarded -- and just let go; one doesn't have to unlearn it -- as many therapists will insist.

It just isn't reinforced as a strategy worth keeping around -- except in the schools. One wonders why children need to learn to read about a trip to an imaginary land and time -- when reality is the unknown worth investigating and learning about. Why do they need an escape from learning about life -- as their teachers project they do?

At April 09, 2007 9:36 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

There is an important concept in learning which is "freeing the mind," rather than shackling it with the facts of many instances gone by -- so that one isn't aware of the reality they are presently experiencing.

Such people are totally preoccupied with the good time they had last summer -- to enjoy their present vacation. They always live in that past experience -- and not in the fulfillment and enjoyment of the present.

Another version of that misplaced attention, is to be preoccupied always with the future -- causing many to be overwhelmed with those uncertainties, because the future is uncertain while the supposed past, is utterly certain even though, that past is largely inaccurate too -- because one was not fully attentive as that present was happening. One was again, living in the past, responding to the past - -and not the present.

The great thinkers and personages -- of a Jesus, Buddha, Krishnamurti -- advise living in the present moment fully, as the only escape from the past.

Blogs are actually a device for recording faithfully, things as they happen -- rather than in creating a fiction of what one wants others to think he knew happened. There is no need to create a fiction -- because one doesn't have a perfect knowledge of reality to call it non-fiction.

"Fiction" is the presumption that one does not know -- and not that one has to contrived the false and imaginary. That happens anyway, despite our best efforts. What happens in future literature is that the division between fiction and non-fiction is seen to be unnecessary because one's best understanding , is not the whole (objective) truth.

The reason Jesus spoke in parables was to make people think -- and not just to behave as they were conditioned to. That's what the Buddha also did -- cause people to awaken from their habits, memories, traditions -- to live a life they have never lived before.

That is a life in freedom -- which most people still insist, is not possible.

At April 09, 2007 9:48 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The implication for thinking this way -- is that one had to do whatever they did, and so they had no free will in the matter, and so no accountability.

That mentality and culture is responsible for all our problems.


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