Adonis Diaries

“The Soul of the World”? And what it has to do with Tibet’s monastery of Toulanka?

Posted on: January 19, 2013

“The Soul of the World”? And what it has to do with Tibet’s monastery of Toulanka? 

What is it that westerner authors lack imagination when it comes to writing fiction stories on religious dogmas?

Invariably, moderate clerics from various sects must meet in Tibet, in a Buddhist isolated monastery, among lamas, to share their wisdoms on the best manner to reach common denominator principles for the sake of this unified “soul of the world”…

Like the latest of the French Frederic Lenoir.

He had to dispatch 8 wise moderate religious clerics, many over 80, and barely able to stand, and had to be carried 12 km at 4,000 m altitude to this monastery of Toulanka.

You have this rabbi Schlmo, (there is no other names for rabbis in fiction stories), a liberal Jews teaching kabbala in Jerusalem (no imagination even here), after relocating from New York (a tad imaginative here), hearing a voice, sitting in his kitchen, the voice repeating “Go to Toulanka”, and his grandson being asked to connect to Google so that internet sends Schlomo to Toulanka.

You have Ansya, a young chaman girl from the steppes of Mongolia, being invited “mysteriously” via a luminous spirit to get packing.

Or Padre Salvador de Bahia, well settled in his forest hermitage in the State of Oregon, and a dream of a little girl (not a boy, too many rumors…) pointing the way for an adventure, long overdue…

And Ma Ananda, a Hindu mystic, running a small ashram in north India, and up and joining the group of travelers ( a great trip to Tibet, at stone throwing distance…)

And Master Kong, a very old Taoist, living in Shangai and a technology freak. His GPS mysteriously displayed the coordinates of Toulanka…

And this Muslim Sufi from Nigeria, Cheikh Youssef with a dozen kids… Capital letters visible on his Koran T, O,U, L… and a breeze shuffling the pages to the sourat (verse) of the “Departure”

Vast Europe, mainly western Europe must also be included, one way or another.

And here Gabriella from Amsterdam, teaching geek philosophy, specifically the stoic and Spinoza, is invited. Gabriella is watching a documentary on Toulanka and her entire body is captured with a spiritual frenzy.

The next morning, Gabriella hear her neighbor ordering her dog “Toulanka, sit”. That’s it: Gabriella is off with her young daughter Natina of 14.

Why western authors lack imagination when they set their mind to writing “serious” and heavy books?

Wouldn’t it be funnier if Gabriella heard the parakeet going mad, setting a racket and screeching “Toulanka, Toulanka you witch…” and the entire block going crazy and organizing a cruise via FB to Toulanka, just to appease the demon of their mascot parakeet…

And lama Dorje descending with only two horses to bring up his invitees, having to rent a dozen horses to accommodate these curious Dutch retirees, demanding their own Reality TV…

And why invariably the monastery must be run by a boy of 12? The reincarnation of the late Rinpoche (the very precious)? Great idea to attach Rinpoche to every name: Every son and daughter are rinpoche to their parents.  “My rinpoche baby did this and that and said his first word and…”

All these wise clerics are meeting to answer the same essential old questions:

1. The meaning of existence

2. How to be successful and happy

3. How to find a harmonic balance between body and mind

4. How to know myself and explode my creative potentials

5. How to cross from fear to love

6. How to contribute to the transformation of the world…

The same old essential questions, which only authors make fortune regurgitating the same concepts and abstract notions…

Why the wise 8 clerics have to be moderate?

Moderates never reformed anything or changed anything…

Wouldn’t it be beneficial for a change that the clerics be extremist jihadist with penchant to terrorist activities to meet in Toulanka?

Fact is, it is the extremist religious clerics who are hired and financed by governments in all political systems for specific “Law and Order” schemes…

And why invariably a world calamity is foreseen everytime the wise guys meet?

Why two-third of humanity must perish at the sacrificial alter of spreading a new unified universal doctrine?

The 8 wise creatures settled on the premise that an end of time catastrophe is the most plausible reason for this mysterious invitation.

The essential question was: “On what support system the teaching must be enshrined?”

Since the lamas turned out not to be skilled mason or stone engravers, the alternative stone tablets “support system”, like the one of Moses (that never existed in the first place) was dropped.

The resolution came when the two youths Natina and the boy Tenzig had the same dream: Each one dreamt of floating on a small stream and 8 rivers converged to form a mighty river.

Not surprisingly, the 8 decrepit old wise asses figured out that they are the mighty rivers…

And their purpose is to orally teach the two youths their wisdom, to transmit to the remaining surviving of mankind…

It is good to reflect, now and then, on the “meaning of life”, as long as we don’t take it seriously that we should get a definite answer, or an irreversible answer…

Fact is, there is no viable long lasting answer to the question: If you are not ready to change ideas, and reconsider alternatives during your life adventure, best to play dead, a cadaver charred by the river downstream.

It is good to reach first base and come to the realization that “learning to survive and giving life priority is necessary for any further and deeper reflective power…”

If you are satisfied resting on first base, you are a living cadaver, clinging from time to time to a rock, by the river shores, but descending relentlessly to your inevitable destiny of us all “we the dead”

It’s not that any alternative answer will extend your life beyond “life expectancy“, this horror statistics, but as long as hope is alive and kicking for this dream of eternity, try not to mingle with with people whose life purpose is to kill grains of hope.

I am assuming that you are not a criminal, a member of a secret sect founded on spilling blood of virgins, or a member of an institution of an elite class working toward a select race species…

It is good to reflect on eternity, and on almost anything, but never on the Absolute.

Nothing good ever came from reflecting on the absolute in this long history of mankind.

The wise man is this humble person who mocks the notion of the Absolute, the Perfect System for governance, the Perfect Crime, and Perfect Faith…

3 Responses to "“The Soul of the World”? And what it has to do with Tibet’s monastery of Toulanka?"

I do believe you have missed the point with this story.

Much of your criticism is toward the story component of this book. The way I see it, the story was written by Mr. Lenoir was secondary to the ideas that he wished to convey. Your criticism of it being an unimaginative location is fair. The use of the coming calamity and the tragedy of the loss of two thirds of humanity is unnecessary. Also, you criticize the stereotypic nature of many of the sages characters. But I don’t think that these are the important parts of this book.

When looking at a painting, why criticize it for its frame? There are many points to this story that I found incredibly well done and I believe Mr. Lenoir’s intentions to be very pure.

I take issue with a belittling of the themes of this book. You ask what is the value in an author “regurgitating the same concepts and abstract notions.” Take a look at the world we live in. There is intense mistrust and hatred between many religious secs of the world. Many of whom profess to worship the same God. Never before have I been able to read a book that tries to tie these belief systems together in a way that seeks to ask what the fundamental beliefs are.

I believe that one of the pleasures and duties of life is to ask ones self how they want to live. Every being born into consciousness will one day ask themselves why they are here and for what purpose we are given life. The core of many of our philosophies, worldviews and religions seek the answer to those questions. This book does a wonderful job presenting those questions and a diverse summation of our collected thought.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that Lenoir continues the tradition of the parable. I cannot tell you whether they are of his own making, or sourced from the religions he has studied. But he also does something else that I found to be a graceful touch to the matter. As the sages teach the children, he does not identify which one of them speaks. This reinforces the notion that these lessons do not belong to the speaker, but to the listener. I as listener am free to learn from any one of these religions.

I believe strongly that the core beliefs of religions seek the answers to the question of a good life. A life spent in that pursuit is noble. This book invites its readers to ask of more themselves in light of this pursuit.

Now I would like to turn to your words on the moderate qualities of his characters.

“Moderates never reformed or changed anything”

There is a lot of truth to this statement. Wars are not waged by moderate people. Revolutions are not started, and protests are not marched. Many of the freedoms that the lucky few of us are able to claim were bought and paid for by the blood of those who dared take issue and proclaim their rights.

But you also mention that this book would have been made better if these were religion extremists meeting in Toulanka to plan some sort of terrorist activity. Then a comment about governments financing religious extremism.

This book stands against that very form of religion. Any religious extremist does all they can to focus on the differences between them and others. They promote language of elitism. I see more alike in a jihadist militant and the quad-gods of my college years than they would care to admit. Seniors word defies that non-sense. It celebrates that we have more to learn and share if we would sit and listen.

Governments made have had some shading dealings with religious extremists in their past. Many are probably guilty on that front. But from where I stand, that is not the heart of religion or faith. The heart of religion is in the universal lessons that they teach. The kindest, most caring people that I have ever met are moderates. They are willing to put aside themselves in order to not judge another. They do some of the best works of kindness in this world. And while yes, they do not change governments, or lead reform, they do much of the daily good in our world.

The essential questions that you mocked:

The meaning of life.
The meaning of success and happiness.
How to find a harmonic balance in body and mind.
How to know your self and explore creative potential.
How to cross from fear into love.
How to contribute to the transformation of the world.

I understand if you feel like we have been continuously rehashing these questions over and over. But that is because they are noble pursuits. If a person was able to find any sort of answer to half of those questions it could give some meaning to this existence that we are both blessed and cursed with.

I know you don’t disagree with this. But you said that there is no point in reflecting on the Absolute. This isn’t about that. It is about reflecting on Life and the present day. Since man first looked at the stars he has asked why he is here. From that has sprouted the religions of the world. Lenoir simply tried to take the collected views of many religions and tie them together. Yes his story isn’t the best, but it was always secondary to the lessons he wished to share.

I don’t mean for any of this to come off as personal. But I do wish to defend a book that I found to be uplifting in its message. I found this book to be thought provoking. Your comments felt unfair to its nature.

I am glad you extensively commented on an article, a review of a book: it is rare people take the time to fully express their opinions. You gave me the want to re-read what I posted in order to diligently reply . You must have comprehended that I find all kinds of religions as “closed sects”, regardless of their proclamation of being Universal. Jesus spoke in parable (stories extracted from the customs and traditions of his Land in current Palestine , Lebanon, Jordan and Syria) because only stories attract the attention of listeners and make some sense to convey the messages. The Evangelical “Christians”, the backbone of staunch supporters of Zionism, rely on the Jewish fabricated myths, simply because they used stories (same stories of the Land) to describe the behaviors of people with a sectarian cultist twist. Beware of the Absolute if you want to remain a moderate and flexible in your quests: Quality of Life is the purpose in freedom of speech, in demanding equitable treatment and conditions to all people, regardless of where they were born and in which religion.

Okay, I did read my review and discovered that I was frankly funny in conveying my suspicions of what the story is meant to convey. I find that I got the gist of this story from the beginning and yet I read the entire book . And I liked my comment: “Why 2/3 of humanity must die for another new universal religion be instituted?” Most bloody wars where either initiated by religious clerics or supporting a political decision to occupy and subjugate other people.

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January 2013

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