Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Non habemus papam

Dare I find parallels between the current situation Pope-wise and the final two volumes of Dan Simmons' Hyperion series?

The bureaucracy of the Pax endlessly recycles its malleable machine-politician pope, Lenar Hoyt; this last pope has been a similar, voluntary prisoner of the Vatican bureaucracy. Anyway, enough of that.

In his lead character Aenea's teaching, Simmons points out that the Buddha never taught the reincarnation of the self or soul. Googling (Buddha teachings on reincarnation) confirms this. The Buddha appeared to believe that consciousness, the self, is recreated moment-by-moment as a kind of dynamic standing-wave. An analogy would be a flame.

On death, an enlightened pattern dissipates; one which has not renounced the passions can persist and in some mysterious way inform the life of a subsequent creature .. reincarnation of a kind.

I think this makes more sense if we  consider that the meaning of our lives, for good or ill, is the effect they have on our families and communities.

A productive life will help progress our ongoing civilisation; an unproductive life will subtract from it.

This is, of course, so not a new thought - cf. "The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity" - Tolstoy. Recognising our human co-dependence, an evolutionary biologist would agree.

(Everything true about human life is grounded in sociobiology *smile*).