Sunday, January 8, 2012

The union of nothing and compassion: a spousal contingency

They are followers, above all, of tantric ritual and contemplation, and at the end the abbot leads me, as if in challenge, to two statues in towering em-brace. Here is the white-painted Buddha Vajrasattva - shiny, crude, abstract. In his circling arms clings a sinuous consort, her legs hooked around his waist, their loins intermeshed. This is not sex as humans know it, but a marriage of symbols .. The abbot says, 'This is the union of nothing and compassion.'
'The god is nothing. He realises nothingness .. she is compassion. She completes him.'

In New Hampshire, the youth 
climb Mt Washington. It would 
be false to conceive of the 
quality of their exertion with-
out this avidity for completion. 

Max Hastings, in his almost des-
perately outstanding new history 
of the second world war, repeat-
edly cites commanders' reliance
on this existential motivation, 
on all sides of the matter, as 
their 'ace in the hole' for or-
dering the impossible.

This quality, of an avidity for
completion, is an element of these
beings which (we have repeatedly
observed) places them in a fun-
damentally distinct moral posi-
tion. We don't expect the geni-
us of the feminine to be toler-
ated in our partisan discourse;
and for this complaisance the
shame is distributed equally
upon everyone. But we do ex-
pect the experience of the mas-
culine to inform the mature at
last. In this election campaign,
New Hampshire youth have not 
been granted that yet, and we
do not hold our breath that they
will be.

But there are people over 35 
who read this page, and they 
will know what it means when
our pretenders to leadership
stand on public rostrums and
demand more war, more inequal-
ity, more contempt for fact,
more waste of our young and
of our world, without their
exercise of mentoring respon-
sibility. To these readers, 
it would amount to an aban-
donment of our climb.

Colin Thubron
To a Mountain in Tibet
Chatto & Windus, 2010©

Max Hastings
All Hell Let Loose
  The World at War, 1939-45
Harper Press, 2011©

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