Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Quan Yin Sisterhood

NTodd's talking about this new study, that I love, finding that -- duh -- our happiness is connected to the happiness of those around us.

[H]appiness is contagious -- and . . . people pass on their good cheer even to total strangers.

. . . "Whether you're happy depends not just on your own actions and behaviors and thoughts, but on those of people you don't even know."

I was thinking about how much it amuses me to have confirmed by science what mystics and witches have always known: we are one. It's all just god pouring god into god. That fact explains what's been fundamentally mistaken with so much of what what's been going on in America since the days of Ronald Reagan: the odd notion that I can be happy while others are suffering and homeless, the Gordon Gecko, "greed is good," I've got mine, if I'm off in my McMansion or my Esclade I'll be happy no matter what's going on in your life ethos. And, yet, surprisingly, the people in the McMansion with the steam shower and the granite counters and the wine cellar are often -- unhappy. And we wonder why that is, how that could possibly be.

If happiness is "contagious" what do you think misery is? Only connect.

Then this morning I was listening to this podcast by Thorn Coyle and Medusa. It concerns the very human need to grieve when we are confronted with death. The whole podcast is worth listening to, but beginning at about 49:25, Medusa explains an image that she received during the Loma Prieta earthquake, of the Dead being able to use the tears of the grievers as the River Styx upon which their souls must travel. She says it's difficult for us to "hold the grief of a large number of people passing. . . . It does affect all of us. It is a disturbance in the force, Luke, when a lot of people pass at the same time and it is hard for them to be grieved because there are so many of them . . . . It's important that we hold that and we try and help in that process and I don't know exactly what that looks like, but I'm aware of it." Medusa and Thorn describe how grief can crack us open and give us compassion for the whole world.

And I thought immediately of Quan Yin, the Bodhisattva/Goddess who "hears" the cries of the world. (One of the Goddesses who has visited my dreams, Quan Yin came to me as an incredibly hip older woman with a younger lover/adept when my beautiful DiL was carrying G/Son. Quan Yin, in her house built like an indoor garden, assured me that a child of compassion would be born and then I pulled the tarot card that told me he'd come a bit earlier than the doctors predicted. The universe often laughs both at and with me. I return the favor.) Com-passion -- feeling the passions of others in common with them -- doesn't necessarily mean that we "fix" another's problems. It means that we acknowledge that we have a connection with everyone else, with those who are grieving, and with those, even those now "gone," who need to be grieved. It's so important to hear, to listen, to acknowledge the tears of the whole, entire world. (It's overwhelming work, but it's important work.) I cannot be separate from you. You are not separate from me, not even in your grief. Your happiness will ribbon into my life and light it up and your grief will affect me and season the flavor of my days.

A witch's job is to help to turn the wheel. Each of us finds our own way of putting our shoulder to the wheel. Certainly, not everyone is called to the work of Quan Yin, the work that Medusa has not yet envisioned, but is aware needs doing, the grieving for strangers who pass in numbers so large that they do, in fact, cause a disturbance in the force. And yet, it is work that needs to be done.

As our planet goes through Her death throes, that work is going to need doing with increasing strength and increasing frequency. And someone must grieve for the plants, the species, the planet Her Ownself. Where will we find the professional mourners that Thorn discusses? What would their training look like? How will these doulas of the second birth sustain themselves? How must we all change our practices at Sahmein and the Winter Solstice to do this work?

Tonight, I am v happy. And that, in itself, it turns out according to science, is important work.

It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more.

And, speaking of disturbances in the force and large groups who need mourning . . . .

Picture found here.


Aquila ka Hecate said...

I remember, also, William Irwin Thompson decsribing what happens when a whole lot of people pass at once - his picture of crowds of souls entering the bardo was one that'll stay with me a long time.

Terri in Joburg

nanoboy said...

It is a great study. Keep in mind that there are lots of things that people know (including scientists) that aren't described by scientific work. It isn't considered to be scientifically true until the experiments are performed, the results are analyzed, papers are written, papers are peer-reviewed, and they are published. All of this takes quite a lot of money. Yes, witches know lots of things that we scientists have proven yet, but you can know them for free.