“that Cassandra feeling”

a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.

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Image by Pranjall Kumar on Unsplash || CC0

Practicing paradox

This week’s piece is in two movements. In just a moment we’ll pull a thread from last week’s post, “Smoking gun confession.” First, I’d like to begin by embracing the good/evil paradox native to waking consciousness.

When one stands back to contemplate humanity in the cosmic sweep of existence—the grand and small parts humans play in reality—it simply takes one’s breath away with an overwhelming presence of grace, goodness, love, and joy. In that very same moment, unwelcome bigotry, evil, hatred and sorrow—e.g., humanity when separated from grace, goodness, love, and joy—can also be overwhelmingly present, and that, too, robs us of our breath.

The paradox of good and evil.

On the latter: we witness the story of Aiden Leos whose last words were, “Mommy, my tummy hurts.” The six-year-old was fatally shot in an occasion of road rage on an Orange County, California, freeway. 

On the former:

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Reconciling the paradox

Celts say that the Divine (Spirit) and the mundane (matter) are shown to be one by what are called “thin places.” Aiden Leos’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, exposed a thin place with some of the words she spoke at her son’s memorial service. Describing her son’s innocence, Cloonan created a thin moment when she said: “He had a beautiful heart for others and the most pure thoughts regarding this world and the people in it.” The paradox here—Aiden’s beautiful light heart taken from life by the deadly actions of a grotesque dark heart—exposes a thin place, albeit in a heart-breaking, tragic way for Aiden, his loved ones, and also many bystanders, like us. 

Oneing good and evil

Tonglen (གཏོང་ལེན་) is a spiritual discipline that helps us practice holding this enormous good/evil paradox within our present awareness. Even better, practicing tonglen offers a way to transform the incongruent energy.

So, in one form of this mediation, the heartaches of existence are taken-in and embraced with the in-breath, transformed within by a contemplative thin moment, and, then, the joy and love of existence are freely exhaled and expressed in the out-breath.

This tonglen meditation teaches spiritual pilgrims they’re transformers, reconcilers (2 Cor. 5.19-20) who become the very instruments (“ambassadors“) who reckon directly with, and transform, the suffering that often creates thin moments and exposes thin places. Tonglen praxis means acting on the contemplative fruit, as in connecting action with contemplation—e.g., oneing our (personal and shared) reality, inside and out. 

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The Myth Of Cassandra

In Greek mythology, Cassandra received a blessing: e.g., the gift of true prophetic sight so that she could perceive/predict reality with great clarity. Subsequently, Cassandra also received a curse: e.g., no one listened to her, or her warnings! So, yeah. 

Last week I sketched the outline of what, e.g., political technologies [PT] and how conservative apologists and elected Republicans are exploiting them. Recall my kitchen-sink definition of American PT (political dark arts):

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Timothy Snyder (Yale history professor) recently published a blog piece entitled: “9/11 and 1/6: How an American nightmare becomes real.” [Please read it!] Snyder’s short piece describes a dream about 9/11, and his reflections on 1/6. On my reading, Snyder’s piece indicates why recognizing the ‘what and how‘ I described last week in “Smoking gun confession” is so important and urgent. 

Naturally, I hope what I write in my weekly missives is reliable and significant. I take comfort from a brief passage that Professor Snyder included in his piece. He had just described the helpless, no one is listening, aspect of his 9/11 dream, then he wrote: 

“I sometimes have, in real life, that Cassandra feeling that I had in the dream: ….”

“…. that Cassandra feeling….” —Timothy Snyder

Sigh. I’m feeling it, too, Professor. 

Thank you, Dr. Snyder, I appreciate that, even in the deep frustration of “that Cassandra feeling,” you don’t abandon writing your informed warnings regarding existential dangers in our present political context. I take you, Sir, as lofty inspiration to continue in my (nearly invisible) project.

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tl;dr

This piece is in two movements. 

First movement

We nod to the mystical side of the möbius and I step back to acknowledge a grand paradox. We consider a major example of paradox in human reality: e.g., good and evil. Children being indiscriminately murdered with guns covers the latter; and the witness of Jane Marczewski’s life in the face of rather long odds expresses the former [cf., incredible video of Nightbirde on AGT (full version)]. I also include a spiritual discipline (e.g., tonglen) to practice oneing paradox. 

Second movement

I confess to [frequently] having “that Cassandra feeling” with regard to my a mystical möbius writing project. That Professor Snyder feels the same about his passionate pleas gives me great comfort and I draw strength from his admission.

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Next week: No idea. Come and see. 

[this post approx. 825 words (3 min. read)]

Your thoughts? 

I never know what I’ve said until I hear the response. What did you hear me say? 

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