Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Conquest through Compassion


“There are two urns that stand on the door-sill of Zeus. They are unlike for the gifts they bestow: an urn of evils, an urn of blessings.
If Zeus who delights in thunder mingles these and bestows them on man, he shifts, and moves now in evil, again in good fortune. But when Zeus bestows from an urn of sorrows, he makes a failure of man, and the evil hunger drives him over the shining earth, and he wanders respected neither of gods nor mortals.” ………Homer’s Iliad

The above stanza is taken from the section where Priam, the aged king and father of Hector who has been brutally killed by Achilles in revenge and whose corpse has been desecrated and a decent burial denied, begs Achilles, his arch enemy and the murderer of his son, to hand over the corpse for a proper burial so that Hector’s soul may rest in peace.

In the scene that precedes this eloquent saying on the nature of what drives man to evil and how it is the dispensation of the Gods that drive man to evil, the hard hearted Achilles is moved by the picture of Priam as he is able to see in Priam his own father who was killed in battle. The ten year Trojan war has taken a heavy toll on both sides and both the families and friends of Achilles and Priam.

The three urns from which Zeus dispenses various attributed on men are Evils, Blessings and Sorrow.
While man is subject to his lower and higher nature of operating in the evil mode or in the nature of goodness, when he is bestowed sorrow, a total alienation takes place as he views himself falling short of his ego driven expectations and employs all means to achieve the ego driven expectations though this is not beneficial to his human or Divine nature.

The perception of sorrow is a very subjective experience. As the great Gautama said “perception of sorrow is the consequence of desire”. This also raises the question how God can induce desire and hence sorrow. Zeus is the Olympian God and In Neo-Platonism, Zeus' relation to the gods familiar from mythology is taught as the Demiurge or Divine Mind. The Demiurge is the divine artisan and hence the primary source of human emotions and resulting actions.

The change of mind of Achilles demonstrates that though one is bestowed with sorrow and the resulting evil action, there is the original divine mind, not subject to the whims and fancies of Zeus, in each person which can be evoked to show compassion which is a Divine attribute. The scene of reconciliation and compassion between the two men is captured by Homer in these words:
“Priam, son of Dardanos, gazed upon Achilles, wondering at his size and beauty, for he seemed like an outright vision of gods. Achilles in turn gazed on Dardanian Priam and wondered, as he saw his brave looks and listened to him talking. . . .[Then Achilles] took the aged king by the right hand
at the wrist, so that his heart might have no fear”

Though we encounter evil in our lives, the dictum of Toba Beta, the author of “My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut” is the essence of what Priam did; “Respecting people is my default state of mind. But if there is a man does the otherwise to me, I'll make him understand in anyway he'll listen.”   
This is a great lesson for us to follow.

Love to you all

3 comments :

  1. Zeus just like the Buddha using expedient means...for the attainment of enlightenment for all human beings.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We are a bundle of evil, and good. Sorrow as it is said is often a
    outcry of desire for some good or even pleasure. Blessings according
    to me is a sheer gift from the Almighty. The latter we experience in
    our lives.
    Coming to the account of the "Conquest through Compassion" it is human
    reason mingled with a sense of true freedom that gives one courage to
    ask for what one deserves, even though it may be for the sake of the
    OTHER. A decent human burial is a right of every human being.
    God rings a bell in our hearts and wakes us up to realization when we
    are open to the other and condescend.
    Though it is a myth a lot of lessons can be learned for life.
    Love. Sr.Sabina.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We are a bundle of evil, and good. Sorrow as it is said is often a
    outcry of desire for some good or even pleasure. Blessings according
    to me is a sheer gift from the Almighty. The latter we experience in
    our lives.
    Coming to the account of the "Conquest through Compassion" it is human
    reason mingled with a sense of true freedom that gives one courage to
    ask for what one deserves, even though it may be for the sake of the
    OTHER. A decent human burial is a right of every human being.
    God rings a bell in our hearts and wakes us up to realization when we
    are open to the other and condescend.
    Though it is a myth a lot of lessons can be learned for life.

    Love. Sr. Sabina.

    ReplyDelete