Tuesday, November 17, 2009

zizek on sacrifice

"what IS sacrifice? The most elementary notion of sacrifice relies on the notion of exchange: I offer to the Other something precious to me in order get back from the Other something even more vital to me (the "primitive" tribes sacrifice animals or even humans so that God will repay them by sending enough rainfall, military victory, etc.)

The next, already more intricate level is to conceive sacrifice as a gesture which does not directly aim at some profitable exchange with the Other to whom we sacrifice: its more basic aim is rather to ascertain that there IS some Other out there who is able to reply (or not) to our sacrificial entreaties.

Even if the Other does not grant my wish, I can at least be assured that there IS an Other who, maybe, next time will respond differently: the world out there, inclusive of all catastrophies that may befall me, is not a meaningless blind machinery, but a partner in a possible dialogue, so that even a catastrophic outcome is to be read as a meaningful response, not as a kingdom of blind chance."

from zizek

Immanuel Levinas on Ethics and Infinity

Without the other, I could not see myself--and even when the other sees me inaccurately or with a bias to do harm, I am still his debtor for what he reveals in me. At times, the enemy may even see me more clearly than does my friend. I am a debtor to him for a perspective about me that invigorates my search to know who I am.

An enemy is also the window of truth. If I am humbled by what my enemy reveals in my heart, then I am better prepared to listen to his claims against me. Our enemies would not be troubling to us if they did not bring to our attention truths that we have not taken into account or articulated well for life. An enemy not only invites us to intimacy but provide clarity to grow in truth.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Snow rain and seeing the chief abbot

It was raining when I woke up.

The music of the rattling drops began when I felt the kerosene heater was getting heated up too much. I was lazy to wake up to turn the heating knob down. I preferred to breathe in the suffocating kerosene smell. But listening to the rain was solace.

This was the first winter rain known to bring snow with it. I opened the curtain, expecting to see flakes on the hill that rises from outside my bedroom window.

“The weather is crazy,” my landlord, who stays in the bungalow around 10 meters away from my log cabin, said. The snow rain pours only in late December or in January.

As I write this, the dark clouds still weigh their options to descend as snow or rain. But there is a general feeling of goodness. On reaching office, a colleague said it rained today as the chief abbot of Bhutan left for his winter residence in Punakha, around 60 kilometers from the capital, yesterday.

I was fortunate to receive blessings from His Holiness on his onward journey yesterday. I was returning from Punakha, and villagers and school children were lined up along the streets burning pine leaves. I sneaked into a line, stood next to a woman in her late 80s. Tears welled her eyes as she bowed before Trulku Jigme Choeda, who was in his ‘Bhutan’ number plate Land Cruiser. The last time I received blessing from His Holiness was three years back. I was in Punakha then, standing in a line of students.