The following day was one for sharing stories, tales tall and short, tells of love and heartbreak, life and death, good and evil, stories of coming of age and passing along of ancient wisdom. The ancient stuff came first as Haile recapped the ideas that Hari had shared with the group on the way down into the city.
“Ah yes, Krishna and his chariot, what a grand start to your adventure in learning of life!” The big Greek was truly enamored of humanity and its rational capacity. “We Hellenes like to focus on the every day dimensions of life, how the human animal might best live well and flourish. Granted, it’s intellectually entertaining to think of the cosmos and the grand scheme of things, but it’s far more important to do the right thing.”
“So do you propose there is some right thing that one ought to do? Some difference between good and evil, some wrong choices that one might make because of some fundamental laws that govern appropriate behavior?” Ja had jumped in already, the conversation was getting good.
“Yes, there is right action based on goodness.” He said it with authority.
“Karma yoga.” Yin added.
“Knowledge of goodness is based on practical wisdom, knowledge.” Aristotle was his hero.
“Jhana yoga”. Yang chimed in.
“But right action also requires moral strength, resistance to temptation and freedom from fear of pain.” He looked morally strong as all get out as he said it, like Hercules unchained.
“Cosmic Devotion to the middle way.” Their telepathy was complete.
“Self discipline?” Tante.
“No, it’s not about Patriarchy at all. There is some self discipline involved. The fact of the matter is, people are social animals, it’s our most basic state.” Juno the psychologist added her thousand lira worth. “We’ve got appetites, we’re keen and smart and nomadic. We get around."
“We’re rational thinkers.” Zeus was definitely a left brained kind of guy. “If we are to live in social groups, as is our nature, we need to examine our lives within the larger context of that group.”
“Our place within the cosmic whole.” It had come full circle back to Haile, who had recorded Hari’s lessons verbatim, something his fingertips had come to do with his laptop over time when the two media of exchange were in contact.
“Our destiny?” Tante.
“Or at least our place within our tribe or world or culture.” Ja had been thinking about how societies might possibly be structured without government, or if pure libertarian chaos was possible.
“Look at self as reflection of other and other as reflection of self.” Baltha did a lot of reflecting.
“So what is good? That’s what we need to know, right?” Tante was kind of single minded at times in terms of that good/evil question.
“That which is done as an end unto itself.” Haile, straight to the point with logical reasoning.
“That which leads to flourishing for all, perhaps. Until we house and feed people, meet their basic needs, we cannot flourish.” Zeus had clearly been thinking about it for a long time.
“That which leads to happiness, the external support we get from friendship and love, community and tribe.” Ja.
“Moderation between extremes.” Yin and Yang.
“Action in accordance with virtue.” Tante was still concerned about her role as Antichrist. She just did not want to be the evil one and that’s all there was to it.
“Speaking of stories, I’ve got one you’ll be interested in, Tante.” Haile was smiling the Mona Lisa smile. “I gained expertise in GIS over the weekend. The use of spatial coordinates in the system of 0’s and 1’s.”
“Like the GPS, right?” Tante was definitely among the most tech challenged of the group.
“Similar, yes. At any rate, you once said that your birthplace, Wilcannia, is the antipodal location to the birthplace of the Christ of old, correct?” The contralto was haunting.
“That’s what Mom and Tamminya always said.” Baltha was in the background, making odd motions with her hands at Haile, who was well within the range of diagnosable autism spectrum disorders in terms of the subtleties of communications skills.
“It is not correct. The antipode of Wilcannia is out in the middle of the Atlantic.” Haile’s fingers were dancing on the keyboard.
Tante’s existential ride on the roller coaster did a few turns and loops. She swooned.
“Fine, fine, it was just a story!” Baltha rushed to her friend’s side.
“You mean I’m not the Auntie Christ?”
Baltha sighed as she led Tante over to the love seat to sit and have a drink of water. Hydration is important.
“No, you’re the Auntie Christ all right. Tamminya and I came up with the bit about Wilcannia when we saw the actual coordinates of where you were supposed to be born. Bloody Ahurei.”
“Ahurei?” the whole room posed the question using a variety of words, chaotically.
“It’s a tiny little dot of French Polynesia a thousand miles out off the coast of New Zealand. Getting your mother and Josef and me out there was out of the question, we had to improvise.” She was holding Tante’s hand, rationalizing her head off.
Of course Haile wasn’t done.
“The antipode of Ahurei is a spot of nothing between Duba and Almuwaylih, Saudi Arabia. It’s not a little town in Bethlehem.” Lyrical music did still hold sway in the tall, thin, black and wired one’s ways.
“And you think the folks who wrote the stories were any more accurate than I was with the Unholy One here? Do you suppose the people who recorded those histories had GIS? Do you think that maybe the author of the particular story you’re looking at might have a little influence on how it’s been told?”
Baltha had indeed been around the world a time or two.
Tante wasn’t sure what to believe any more. If she couldn’t trust Baltha, she couldn’t trust anyone. But she did trust her. She trusted everyone. Her time living among the homeless in the city had confirmed the innate goodness of humanity to her.
“Maybe there are seven billion different stories.” She sighed. “When I asked people about evil, I got a whole lot of different answers. An awful lot of them seemed to be kind of a vague reference to something other than self, somebody or group or entity not them. Of course there are those who like to point fingers at individuals. Scapegoats are handy.”
“So are sacrificial lambs.” Arnold chimed in.
“Wow, that’s kind of harsh.” Ja was considering Veganism, something the woman he met at Berkeley had turned him on to. He seemed to find himself surrounded by all sorts of isms and archies of late.
“Was there any more unifying theme in terms of what people considered good? What they considered the antithesis of evil? Zeus speaks of flourishing and happiness; did those things show up on your list?” Juno was a great therapist and a truly cheery person.
“Yes, happiness was an answer that some people gave. Some people said sad things, like booze or drugs or sex. Some said good food, nourishment. Some even said money, the same thing that others consider evil.” She smiled as she looked up.
“But the most common answer was love. Love is good, all by itself. Even the old man who said love stinks laughed and then changed his mind. He said it only stinks because it’s so good.” She chuckled at that, a sad chuckle with a tear. Her truly beloved Baltha had lied to her.
“Yes, love is good.” Ja was wistful, thinking of the girl with the flowers in her hair, she who had awakened the cry of the Yeti within him, the girl who had broken his heart. “And it stinks.”
“It is good.”Zeus wrapped himself around Juno on the chaise.
Baltha had grown sullen as well. Lies were always painful.
“Love is from the infinite, and will remain until eternity.
The seeker of love escapes the chains of birth and death.
Tomorrow, when resurrection comes,
The heart that is not in love will fail the test”
She spoke the words solemnly.
“Wow, that sounds kind of Apocalyptic.” Tante was getting an odd vibe off of Baltha.
“It’s Rumi, great stuff. I believe I will walk on the beach today.” Baltha excited gracefully.
The room grew quiet.
“Our hearts are in love.” Yin.
“Tomorrow they will come.” Yang
“And we’ll tell of escape from the chains of birth and death.” They nodded at each other as they set off to fix up a place to host their guests.
"I think I'll sit in the woods and think." Ja, out the back way.
Zeus and Juno were napping, Piwi and Bast curled up with them in the warm sunlight streaming through the big back window. Haile exchanged ideas with Mac.
Yanaha had remained quiet, once again patching old clothes in the same light that bathed the young ones so beautifully. Arnold looked from his bride to their sad faced guest the Crone and knew just what to do.
"Ladies, there's still some pie left, and I'll make some coffee. We'll teach Tante some more about our American culture and western philosophy, how's that sound?" He was so cute and his offer so sweet that it sounded just fine.
It sounded a bit like love.
The End is Near