Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

My teacher passed his on to me from her teacher, so from the late Jiyu Kennett.

Day of remembrance, day of sad recalling
Of those who died in battle so appalling;
To them we bow remembering their falling;
Thanks to our fallen.

Proudly they fought upon that day so hateful,
Proudly they fell upon that day so fateful,
Proudly they died; to them we are so grateful;
Thanks to our fallen.

Now here they lie; their graves tell al their story,
They are at peace, war's horrors but a mem'ry;
Now here we stand remembering their glory;
Thanks to our fallen.

Day of remembrance, day of grief and sadness;
Days of fierce war, the days of utter madness,
Bought for us all this time of peace and gladness;
Thanks to our fallen.


At May 28, 2007, Blogger Michael said...


At May 30, 2007, Blogger MudderPugger said...

First, may we give thanks to the old, rich men responsible for making these heroes by creating glorious wars for them to fight and die in.

"Proudly they fell upon that day so fateful,
Proudly they died"

Shameful words. Imagine dying proudly on a battlefield. War is nothing to be proud of.

Remember that.

At May 30, 2007, Blogger Michael said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At May 30, 2007, Blogger Michael said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At May 30, 2007, Blogger Jordan & The Tortoise said...

Pretty emotionally charged comments on an emotionally charged issue. In times when I feel that way I think it best to take a step back and look at the big picture. The folks fighting and dieing are not thinking about the politics. They are thinking that it is better to be alive. No person can possibly want peace more than the man who has seen the carnage of war first hand. Those who go to war and live will suffer the images of destruction for the rest of their lives.

There is no pride on a battlefield. The Rev Master Jiyu had never been to combat and could not possibly know that. I still found her verses worthy of posting up here. I think the words were meant as an expression of gratitude for the veterans of all wars. I appreciate that effort in showing that gratitude. I also have an enormous sense of gratitude for those who went before me.

On Memorial Day I visited a Vietnam War memorial, something created due to an earlier unpopular war, one on a much larger scale. I found myself wondering what kind of memorial would be left for my generation. Would I weep at it like I saw the old men there doing? I think so. War is something we will have to deal with for a long time to come. There will be many more long after I have left the Military, until there is no conflict, but peace. I will appreciate the efforts of those fighting it even if I do not agree with the causes. I will try and do my part, by not clinging or having aversion to the causes and conditions of the ebb and flow of birth, life, sickness, and death.


At June 01, 2007, Blogger jundo cohen said...

Thank you, Jordan, for so clearly presenting the War Koan.

Gassho, Jundo

At June 05, 2007, Blogger TedinAnacortes said...

In "Heart of Darkness" (by Joseph Conrad, - later interpreted by Francis Ford Coppla in "Appocolypse Now"), Kurtz's final words, "The Horror, the horror..." seem to me a perfect response to the reality of War.

This utterance would also apply to a host of other aspects of reality; cancer, starvation, ignorance, brutality, etc...

Reality, when viewed from the intellect, often appears horrific. The mythologist's tell us that the great spiritual traditions developed out of the need to come to terms with these horrors. The fact that life lives on death is not easy for the brain to deal with (even the vegan must kill in order to live).

It may not be to our liking, but nevertheless, it is reality... If we do not accept it we can opt out. A friend of mine says, when he hears someone complaining about something that cannot be changed, "I will loan you my gun, and for a small fee I will even pull the trigger." Crude yes, but he does make a point.

Yet, horror is only one aspect of reality. Beauty, wonder, bravery, love, and compassion are as valid to reality as horror.

I read a news story about a guard at a bank that was being robbed. The robbers at one point fired their weapons. The guard threw himself in front of a child he did not know, taking a bullet and dying as the result. That, to me, is a beautiful demonstration of the reality of true love, compassion, or whatever term you use to describe the act of a "hero." Someone who risks their own life for something other than themselves...

If it happens in a bank or on a battlefield, the impulse is the same. Maybe we will some day reach a point when war will be eradicated - I hope so! - but the warriors who have layed down their lives for others, in all times and places, should be remembered as the true heroes they are.

It is they that demonstrate the "pride" of humanity as defined in Webster's; "6. The best of a class, group, society, etc... and 9.(a) magnificence; splendor."

The bank guard that sacrifices his life for a child, the warrior that sacrifices his life for his friend or country (whether we agree with the reasoning of the war or not) illustrates the Buddhist principle that the "other" is no "other" than myself. And with this realization in ourselves, the act of the hero is in some part our own act. So, also are the acts of the robbers, villians, and the perpetrators of war.

I do not know what I would do if called upon to act in a war I disagreed with. I hope, though, that if my life could be layed down to save another I would do so. And it is only the examples of those that have made such sacrifices that allows me to harbor such hope at all. For that I am truly grateful.


At June 05, 2007, Blogger Jordan & The Tortoise said...


Thank you for your comments, I had not looked at pride from that angle.

With gratitude,

At July 02, 2007, Blogger Jinzang said...

All of the expressions of Zen are true in that they direct us to the truth. At the same time, they are all false in that they are not truth in themselves. Truth in Zen is not concerned with semantics.

If a Zen teacher says you will find it easier to meditate while sitting in a quiet room than in a the middle of a game at a football stadium, that's true in the most pedestrian, "semantic" sense of the term.

Ultimate truth cannot not be expressed in concepts, but Buddhism teaches TWO truths: the ultimate and the relative. Relative truth is important, because it is the means by which we reach the ultimate, and for that reason is not to be despised or belittled. Otherwise we would sit around poking each other with sticks, getting nowhere.

Rejecting or mishunderstanding ultimate truth falls into the extreme of eternalism. Rejecting or misunderstanding relative truth falls into the extreme of nihilism. Buddhism teaches the middle way, accepting both truths and seeing them as a unity.


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