Sympathetic Magic

I just read an article on Bon Beliefs about emotions. What I found quite compelling was how they understood and treated human feelings like love & hate. But before going there, I’d like to give you a quick runabout on what Bon is. Today Bon is commonly associated with Tibetan Buddhism. This may be due to similar traditional practices and cultural aesthetics but Tibetan scholars and records claim that the Bon Spiritual tradition Sympathetic Magicactually pre-dated Buddhism by a thousand years. Some say that Bon actually originated from Iran sprouting from the fertile mind of an obscure fellow named Shenrab before he decided to do a quick stroll to Tibet. Given the history, we could logically say that Bon is uniquely separate from Buddhism in terms of origin but through the years became similar due to philosophical and cultural coitus. Like a longtime couple who broke-up, Bon and Buddhism retained both similarities and animosities they shared through the years. One particular issue is the Buddhist contention on the aspect of Shenrab’s enlightenment status. Their argument is simple: Buddha is enlightened while Shenrab is not. My personal comment is simple as well…”Show me someone who can freak’n prove it.” Will the real illuminated one please stand up? After 4000 years can anyone really tell?

Going back to subject…love, hate and other emotions according to Bon are treated as persons or external forces not as innate human emotions. Baffled? I won’t blame you. I was confused as a seahorse in the mating season when I first read about it. To make things simpler, try this…imagine enjoying an afternoon tea in your room called life. Suddenly someone rings the doorbell, you put the tea away and hesitantly stand up. You wonder who the hell it could be knocking on your door this late in the day. As far as you know you haven’t bumped into any Mormon Brethren or Jehovah’s Witnesses lately. In a vain effort to shoo the unwanted visitor away, you shyly shout “If you’re selling Bibles…I already got one!’” But nobody answers…Annoyingly, you make your way to the door. You gently turn the knob half hoping to see an Avon lady…the door creaks open…there’s nobody there. You look to the left then to the right…not a soul. Your mind gives you a nudge to look down and to your surprise you find a little creature…the kind with big fluffy ears… one with dough eyes…a cute member of the K-9 species…a beagle breed of some sort. Worse of all it has a sign hanging from its neck saying “adopt me please”.

Now you find yourself in a conundrum. Will you keep the mutt? Or will you just shoo or shoot the animal and close the door? Never had a harder choice since the 3rd grade didn’t ya? As innocent and simple a choice it may seem, it’s just the same thing when it comes to emotions. Anger or in this analogy…Love as the beagle might more appropriately symbolize is nothing more than an intruder or a guest depending on how you see it. Emotions according to Bon don’t emanate from you as most western religions and philosophies suggest…therefore you don’t have to carry the guilt of expressing them when they visit you. All you can do is manage them at the door after opening it or deal with them as a visitor after deciding to let them in. At the end it all boils down to choice and management when living with the consequences…without the guilt of course. That’s why I keep my door shut closed, double locked with an external security camera installed…specially at night when crows and monsters abound. Though sometimes I forget to close the windows…where mice and spiders tip toe and crawl in. But what the heck…an occasional afternoon tea time guest won’t hurt you after all…well…sometimes.


1 Comment

  1. My understanding of the aforementioned is that emotions, like people, are being treated with individuality, too. And the best thing to do whenever each of one pays us a visit is to welcome it and just let it take control. On a scientific definition, however, emotion is more of a physiological state triggered by sensory inputs causing automatic responses.

    But on a different perspective, I think emotions are also easily comparable to spirits and demons simply because of the fact that they have the capability of possessing us, leaving us helpless. And all one can ever say is… “My emotions got the better of me”.

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