left biblioblography: Profiles in Atheism - The Blanket of Hair

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Profiles in Atheism - The Blanket of Hair

"Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know major tom's a junkie
Strung out in heavens high
Hitting an all-time low"

- David Bowie, Ashes to Ashes

"In sudore vultus tui vesceris pane donec revertaris in terram de qua sumptus es quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris" - Genesis 3:19.

The Buddhists have a legend about Ajita Kesakambali - to wit: "he wore a blanket of human hair (Kesakambali in Sanskrit means "with the hair blanket"), "which is described as being the most miserable garment. It was cold in cold weather, and hot in the hot, foul smelling and uncouth."

The Wiki entry also says, "He was probably a contemporary of Buddha and Mahavira. It has frequently been noted that the doctrines of the Lokayata school were considerably drawn from Ajita's teachings. Like those of Lokayatins, nothing survives of his teachings in script, except some scattered references made by his opponents for the sake of refutation. Thus, due to the nature of these references, the basic framework of Ajita's philosophy has to be derived by filtering out obscure legends associated with him."

It's an oddness, that the materialist philosophies seemed to die out, the documents gone, and the evidence has to be parsed in order to cull a fragmentary picture.

Perhaps not so odd.

From here:

"According to an early Buddhist source (see: Rhys-Davids.T.W: Dialogues of the Buddha, 1899), Ajita Kesakambali argued that: : There is no such thing as alms or sacrifice or offering. There is neither fruit nor result of good or evil deeds...A human being is built up of four elements. When he dies the earthly in him returns and relapses to the earth, the fluid to the water, the heat to the fire, the wind to the air, and his faculties pass into space. The four bearers, on the bier as a fifth, take his dead body away; till they reach the burning, ground men utter forth eulogies, but there his bones are bleached, and his offerings end in ashes. It is a doctrine of fools, this talk of gifts. It is an empty lie, mere idle talk, when men say there is profit herein. Fools and wise alike, on the dissolution of the body, are cut off, annihilated, and after death they are not."

And from here:

"Once I visited Ajita Kesakambali, and asked him about the fruits of the homeless life. Ajita Kesakambali said: “Your majesty, there is nothing given, bestowed, offered in sacrifice, there is no fruit or result of good or bad deeds, there is no mother or father, there are no spontaneously arising beings, there are in the world no ascetics or Brahmins who have attained, who have perfectly practiced, who proclaim this world and the next having realized them by their own super-knowledge. This human being is composed of the four great elements, and when one dies the earth part reverts to the earth, the water part to water, the fire part to fire, the air part to air, and faculties pass away into space. . . Fools and wise, at the breaking-up of the body, are destroyed and perish, they do not exist after death."

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, is what sprang to mind on reading this (and guess what? That's not really in the bible - see above quote).

 For your viewing pleasure, David Bowie singing the song cited above.

Till the next post, then.

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beepbeepitsme said...

I have been wondering how I could use that bowie clip. You beat me to it. :)

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hehehehe - I had no idea you were doin' that, darlin'.
Great minds, & all that. ;)