MARCH, 2005


Mythic Prelude:

Holy and Other Fools


A year ago, the UFC's Mythic Prelude for March 2004 was about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and its connection with the grand celestial time design in which the Piscean Age of the Christian Agony Paradigm continues to recede, while the new Aquarian Age of All-Embracing Friendship grows and flourishes. The Passion of the Christ does belong perfectly to the time just before the coming sudden awareness that we do not live in a world of things, but a world of energy where human beings learn to create their entire conscious universe, and look beyond the Christian symbol to what the annual Pisces month brings.

March is usually show time for comedy, and not just because Pisces rules live theatre. Nor is it because Pisces is highly dualistic, filled with the doubleness of thought that is at the root of all comedy. Throughout the northern hemisphere, March has long been comedy month because it is the time when Earth has thawed out of winter and new warmth is on the way, and we laugh the ice and bleakness of winter away as we clear the heart for the quickening to come soon. Even as far south as equatorial India, the March Full Moon is the time to chase away the blues of the old zodiac year before the next life cycle begins at the Spring Equinox. This is why great comedy festivals like Purim and Holi are usually celebrated in early to mid-March, unless the Full Moon in Pisces falls in February, as it does this year, and the clowns abound at the Full Moon of Aries month, in the week of March 21 - 25. One way or another, whether the jokes are a splash with the Fishes or fast and furious in Ram time, March is still the month for cracking up the people, and honoring those who can do it well.

Before we get to the foolish business of the month, a note for UFC readers who've requested more astrology, of the kind each month's Prelude used to feature before it got less Astral and more Mythic.

Starting this month, every third UFC of the year will also have an Astral Notes page highlighting major astral dynamics that are still in effect, and new ones coming in the season ahead. The UFC's new quarterly Astral Notes premieres this month.

Do we still need March to be a comedy festival month, as we did in ancient times? Apparently not, for folly grows so pervasive in the initial Stupid Crook Decade of the new century that anyone, it seems, can bozo out like both of Pantalone's goofy uncles without even intending to, and we are mistreated to one strange story after another about the guy who rose to a place of high prestige, even power, then somehow found a way to undo himself.

The Greeks, as always, had the right words, using pathos for the tragic emotions of pity and fear that move the heart when a noble-minded hero infected by pride falls from grandeur and fame into misery; and bathos for the laughter and amazement that ripple through the mind when a less gracious character infected by temporary imbecility, or arrogance to the point of leading with his chin, or who knows what, does not so much fall as slip slide away. We experience double disbelief: that anyone could be so vacant, and that one so unfastened can get closer to the seat of power than most people of common sense and uncommon ability ever do. And now, a third comedy factor becomes ever more risible: the embarrassed fool's rationale for leaving his place up in the sun with the lions, and going back under a rock to hang out with the potato bugs again.

The march of folly, to borrow a title from the great Barbara W. Tuchman, accelerates. Bernard Kerik, former police commissioner of New York, is appointed to a top security position in the federal government, then gets exposed for crooked business practices and for having used city money to rent for trysts with two or more mistresses an apartment overlooking the remains of the World Trade Center. Critics debate what was worst: the dirty commerce, the misappropriated money, the indiscreet sex, or a love nest so near what is a hallowed site for so many. None of this matters in the official scheme of things, or gets into Kerik's bathos report. He explains he's retiring from government, and from a lucrative consultancy with former mayor Rudy Guiliani, because he's been guilty of having an illegal immigrant as a domestic servant. Right. Happens all the time.

Or consider the half dozen "journalists" who have recently been exposed as having been paid by the government for articles and broadcasts advocating partisan policies, or posing as reporters coming to you "live from Washington" when they were in fact impostors delivering government-scripted propaganda. In the most stunningly strange story of all, a gay prostitute and pimp who advertises his "escort" assets in seminude pictures on four websites, including one for men after "hot military studs," assumes an alias under which he represents a fake news organization, and is regularly admitted as an accredited "journalist" to White House press briefings. He helps out the president and his press secretary by lobbing them softball questions, and becomes their go-to guy when they need to evade a tough line of questioning from someone else. Eventually he overdoes it, poses a blatantly partisan question including a made-up quote from an opposition senator, and some bloggers nail him. He explains, of course, that the hue and cry against him was politically motivated. By now he is spending more time with his family, if any. There has been, so far, no comment from those who claim to hold sacred the values of the family and the honor of the armed forces.

The most recent bungee performance, from only a few days ago, was a spectacular dive by the French Finance Minister Herve Gaymard, who resigned after only 12 weeks on the job when it was revealed that his family's $18,470 a month Paris luxury apartment was being paid for by the state. And, as outrages love company even more than misery does, it also came out that Gaymard had billed the French nation and people another $58,000 in renovation and real estate fees, and $3,300 a month for apartment maintenance. At the moment of optional truth, Gaymard explained that the whole fracas was due to the hardship of his boyhood. If he had grown up as the son of a rich bourgeois rather than a shoe mender, he would have owned his own apartment, and none of this would ever have happened -- though it turns out that he does own a $3,000 flat in the Latin quarter that he rents out. Gaymard has now pledged to pay back the misappropriated money. It is certainly comforting to know that such basic accounting has now been mastered by the country's minister of finance. Official comment has been muted, and Gaymard is lucky that France's most controversial comedian is too occupied attacking Jews to have much heat for him.

Shall we go on? Not here and now, but as 2005 goes along we certainly shall. This year and others to come will see more public figures pop like party balloons than any other year in our memory. They will not vanish permanently, you understand. They'll be back, because someone who's got what it takes to rise can flourish again, and the pyramid model of the rise-and-fall plot resembles drama more than it reflects life. It will not be long before we ask who are really the fools: the ones who have carelessly tripped themselves, or the ones who oppose and unmask them, and forget the famous adage from the book of Proverbs: when a man argues with a fool, two fools are arguing.

There are many kinds of fools, as you know. There's the gadfly of the Socrates type, who is jeered at for wearing only one garment but far too many ideas, and claims to know nothing. There's the trenchant fool of the jester type, who speaks truth to power so daringly that the audience can figure out, without having to hear any character say it, that the Fool in King Lear is "not altogether fool, my lord." Then there are monkish fools like the author, who owns a few more garments than Socrates, has not had a regular, full-time job in some 23 years, has traded the prosperous police state of America for the poor one of Egypt, and likes to test the premises that a person's true wealth is his family and friends, and the rich man is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least. Who but a fool would believe such things, would attract the means and opportunities to sustain life mainly by offering a prayer of thanks each morning to God and the amazingly prolific mango tree across the street, and, when walking through Cairo, would break out in broad grins and sudden laughter often enough that passers-by are clearly wondering, "Is he insane, or just foreign?"

This brings us, of course, to the Holy Fool like the one shown above in Pamela Colman-Smith's famous image in the Rider Waite tarot. While the Holy Fool appears most often in Russian myth, he is also well known in Africa and other cultures as the strange, solitary man who seems to have nothing, need nothing, wander without a fixed abode, and often say cryptic things that suggest his words and his life may not make much sense to most human beings, but his communications with God are effortless and clear. Like the Fool in this tarot, he has so few belongings that he carries them all in a bag over his shoulder. He is about to step over a precipice and fall to his doom -- unless he hears the dog who's barking to alert him. Will he see the danger in time? Probably yes, as fools, curiously, do not suffer accidental injury or death nearly as often as the "intelligent, sane" people whose minds are too crowded and busy to notice the calamity that's about to collide with them. There is no such clutter in the Fool's mind, which is so full of God that there is little room for any distractions. Thus the Fool represents the courage of the one who can step placidly toward the edge, knowing that God will bear him up.

Such people are figures of fun in most modern environments, such as my former home in New York, where one who walks lightly on the breath of God appears to be either a nice guy soon to be parted from his money, or one of those idiots let out onto the streets when Bellevue could no longer hold them all. Other cultures seem to appreciate such people, even honor and revere them. Central and east Asia certainly do. The one who's grinning and looks goofy may be a shaman, for all you know. Or he may be the Khambo Lama of Mongolia, the happiest man I've ever met. He is the spiritual leader of his people, Mongolia's counterpart to the Dalai Lama, and the most solid proof I've yet seen of the idea that one who masters advanced Buddhist meditative practices can achieve a life of continuous elation.

I've been in the presence of the Most Venerable D. Choiyamts twice, when he's been a dignitary at environmental conferences I've stage managed, and I briefed him in the wings for his appearance onstage. It is very hard to hold a conversation with him, and not because he's aloof, defensive or uncommunicative in any other way. He answers whatever you say with a happy smile, but in not one word more than is really needed, then goes immediately back into samadhi, then switches out of bliss to answer the next question, and so on. Trying to talk with him at all soon becomes a rude exercise in breaking in again and again upon another person's joy.

The question that occurs to one who meets such a man is, naturally: what would it be like to play tennis with the Khambo Lama? You serve, and he smiles as he watches your ace bounce by. You serve another ace, and get another smile, and another. You stop and explain that he's supposed to use that noodle strainer thing in his hand to hit the ball back, and he happily does so, hitting the ball right back to you every time as soon as he gets the hang of the swing. When he has to return a shot from deep in his court, you soon notice that this large, powerful man could probably slam the ball right through the fence if he wanted to -- but the desire to hit the ball where you can't reach it, to win the game and beat you, is not in his vocabulary of desire. It's best just to accept this, enjoy the healthful fun of volleying with him for a while, and compliment him on how agile he is for a man playing in heavy maroon robes. Who is really the fool -- the Khambo Lama, or the one who would actually play to win against him? And who else is really the fool -- the boy who says little but smiles a lot, or the other boys who say far too much when they tease him at every turn?

I first met Abdullah (not his real name) a few days ago. His mother Rada (not her real name) had brought him to a meditation workshop because, I thought at first, he was a brilliant boy, ready to handle metaphysical material that people in the room old enough to be his grandparents were having trouble hoisting aboard. Only on getting to know Abdullah better did I glimpse what might have been Rada’s main motive: to get him out of the usual school and social ordeals, full of people who misunderstand, mock and hurt him, and into a place where more loving and compassionate people can accept and treasure him for what he is.

I hardly noticed him the first day. He came and went quickly and quietly, and sat on the other side of the room. There was nothing unusual about him, except his hearing aid. I hardly connected with him at all until the closing “circle of love” meditation, when his mother placed him at my left, saying “He needs you, Dan.” I held his hand and felt nothing at first, neither warmth nor stiffness, neither a reach toward connection nor an urge to pull away. As the meditation moved along, his hand relaxed in the part about visualizing the people we love. When we got to people we don’t like and who’ve hurt us, and whom we can now forgive, Abdullah began to shake with nervous laughter, and his hand drifted up and away. I moved my hand with his, staying in contact, following wherever he wanted to go. He relaxed and let his hand settle when the recorded music began, then his laughter got louder and wilder, and as others began to sing along with the music, I sang too in the soothingest voice I have, as others whispered Arabic phrases for “It’s all right.” I felt that Abdullah wasn’t really freaking out from the music, but was literally jumping with his urge to play it better. As the meditation ended, the image of Mozart blandly listening to Salieri play ran through my mind, and I mentioned it to Rada when she thanked me. I gave Abdullah a gentle hug, feeling his heart field very carefully, and he responded with a quizzical smile, as though he’d just experienced something very unusual.

He turned away toward his sister, and I talked for a few minutes with Rada. We agreed at once that Abdullah must be an indigo child. When I asked how old he was when he spoke his first words, she didn’t answer directly, but said “he was delayed.” I suggested this might not be so, as his native tongue might not be words, but feeling and sound, and told Rada the famous story about Einstein, as recollected by his sister Maja. Little Albert spoke not a word until well after his second birthday, by which time his parents had tried everything they could think of to reassure themselves that their son was neither mineral nor vegetable. One day the boy suddenly spoke a perfectly articulate sentence, to point out that his milk was too hot. When his amazed parents asked why he had never spoken before, he replied that until this moment, “everything has been in order.”

Abdullah says few words, though he surges with rhythms that are trying to get out. Some features of his story are predictable: the endless tests from doctors who can't figure out the boy’s problem, and wonder if he might be hearing-impaired or mentally incomplete; the indirect hurtfulness of relatives and others in one of those cultures where a handicap, even an unusual condition that only looks like one, can bring bitter judgment from those who feel that the bearer of the burden, and those who must care for him, are somehow disfavored by God.

As he hits puberty, Abdullah lives at the extremes of light and dark. He’s had a chance to develop his musical gifts, becoming so proficient at the organ that he impressed the adult professional musicians with whom he played last year at the city’s most prestigious concert hall, the Cairo Opera House. He’s very likely not the only very gifted child who’s wished many times that he could just play music and do nothing else. But he has to interact with the world sooner or later, and when he does, the teasing by other children can be relentlessly cruel.

When one remembers the viciousness of children in middle school, and how some of them must be toward Abdullah – Rada doesn’t say, but the tearing in her eyes tells the tale -- the other famous figure who comes to mind is the one who was “despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Is it as extravagant to compare Abdullah with Jesus as it is to put him in the same paragraph with Mozart? Perhaps. Yet it is worthwhile to pause for a moment and wonder about the indigo and crystal children whose stories don’t make it into the books because they aren’t told with wonder and joy by parents and others who love and cherish them. Consider the indigo children born in places that have never heard of an indigo child. The ones for whom fitting in seems all but impossible, and who’ve had to bear scorn that other children never know. Imagine the extremely tough birth choices that some indigo children have made, and we can see what does not get into the books, but that Abdullah and other children like him have: the leonine fire of their courage and the sheer heroic beauty of their hearts.

Of course such people will appear to be fools to those who fear them, and for a little longer, until the years to come deliver the plain facts to us: that the one who lives in laughter and joy, in love of beauty and oneness with God, was the wise one all along, waiting for others to see what is so plain to him. When the moment of awakening comes for all, and the rest see as clearly as the fool does, there will be no geniuses and no books for dummies, no tricksters and no fools. There will be only one mind, vast and light and free.

Until that time -- Keep Holding That Frequency.


Copyright 2005 Dan Furst


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