Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mud and Loot-us

When I invited folks from my sangha to visit this blog, I mistakenly typed the functional link as "mud and lootus. blogspot. com." When a few intrepid friends clicked, they received the message,
"Sorry, the blog you were looking for does not exist. However, the name mudandlootus is available to register!"
"Mud & Lootus" -- that could be an interesting blog. It puts me in mind, for some reason, of The Iliad, which opens with a dispute over loot, war loot. The Greek hero Achilles falls into a sulking rage at having one of his war prizes, a young Trojan widow called Briseis, taken from him by Agamemnon, who had had to return his own war prize, Chryseis, to her father because he was a Trojan priest for Apollo, who in his divine annoyance had beset the Greeks with a plague of arrows raining from the sky. (It's complicated, epically so.)

Achilles responds the way many of us do (at least internally) when something is taken from us that we like: he taunts and withdraws from battle ("I quit!") and he complains to his mother ("It's not fair!"). His mother happens to be the goddess Thetis, and she, very unwisely (or perhaps with very subtle wisdom?) appeals to Zeus to turn the war against the Greeks until Achilles is properly respected again. This leads to the death of Patroklos, Achilles's dear friend, as well as thousands of Greeks, which leads to the death of Hector, as well as thousands of Trojans, which leads ... well, you get the idea.

The story is full of gods and men (and goddesses and women) behaving badly. But also, at times, honorably. The best and worst of our nature. Worst of all is wrath -- wrath over loot. If that's not mud, I don't know what is.

(And as we all know, eventually Achilles, too, met his mortal fate.)

The Wrath of Brad Pitt

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