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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008



No, today’s post will not be dealing with religion as such – although the verse above derives from the book of Ecclesiastes found in the Old Testament, and the complete verse is:

“Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.

What hath a man more of all his labour, that he taketh under the sun?

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth standeth for ever.”

(Ecclesiastes: 2 – 4)

I find that this verse contains within it a deep, yet simple, philosophy that is often obscured through religious ritual and unquestioned devotion and belief. I have never spoken of my religious views on this blog before because I hold that religion is a very personal issue. Indeed, although I have been brought up a Roman Catholic, I have moved away from the institution of the Church for a number of reasons that I won’t tackle today.

I do not deny that the Church itself may have value for groups of individuals but I have been witness to intolerance and fast judgements from those who allegedly espouse a religion of love and acceptance. Indeed, the fact that I had an impairment often meant that my life tended to be explained off either as a source of tragedy and passion with religious types in my childhood assuring me that they will pray for a ‘miracle’ to cure me from my impairment.

However, today I wish to talk about this verse. Why did I choose it? I find that it talks about the temporal nature of our existence. It talks about the fact that when we stop thinking, the words we use and the labels we impose on ourselves are meaningless. Science, language and our very names will one day disappear when no one will be there to utter them. Or to remember us.

After all, who remembers the man who lived next door to Jesus? Or the man who talked to the Buddha before he was enlightened? These might seem to be stupid questions but they are a central concern of major world religions. Indeed, this verse seems to bring together the idea of impermanence found in Buddhist tradition with the idea of our essential mortality and temporal natures as found in the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

As I write this I am listening to a work by Beethoven. Don’t ask me what is the name of the piece as I wouldn’t really know and, besides, I need to relax right now after a long day. Once the music stops, the silence will return. For a while at least. But, then this is like our lives. .

I was born the last of a large family and had to ask myself why things were as they are earlier on. Of course, I hear you say – I asked questions about my impairment and all that. Yes, my impairment prompted me to ask probing questions as I was faced with many different interpretations of my impairment.

Some were flattering as when they told me that I was an inspiration and an example to others and some made me feel morally responsible for my impairment. I don’t need to tell you that none were correct but that didn’t stop me from believing them during parts of my childhood and even in my adolescence. However, apart from this I was asking questions about life and death as my brother had died only a few months after I was born. Indeed, this ‘absence’ of my brother David forced me to search for answers as I grew up with the knowledge about someone who was closely related but whom I never got to know.

I'll leave you here for now but I know this is incomplete! So wattch out for part 2!