In Vietnam this summer, at the Temple Of Literature, there was a pond of pink lotuses in bloom. These beautiful, dignified flowers in Buddhism represent enlightenment, being raised and far away from the soil; an emblem of grace and the search for something higher.
The flowers are also drunk as tea. As green tea, the leaves are put inside the day-blooming flowers overnight so that they cannot close, in order to suffuse the tea leaves with scent, an almost cruel-sounding practice that I nevertheless was very enchanted by: so simple, yet so effective.
Lotus tea is available everywhere, in sachets at supermarkets, and is delicious; refreshing, but floral with a beautiful, balsamic aftertaste, and I bought a couple of boxes of it which I have already got through at work. I also, however, bought some of the highest grade variety from a gorgeous tea shop in Hanoi, and have just opened it for the first time and we have been drinking it upstairs in the beautiful afternoon light – this taste and delicately perfumed savor putting me, slowly, into a dreamily relaxed state, detached for a moment from the horrors of humanity and the contemporary world, where everything seems to be going crazy, where interlinked violence that began centuries and millennia ago, through endless intolerance, and arrogant colonialism, and racist bloodthirst, and greed and exploitation, and is still reverberating now through the world on a daily basis, as we hate each other and kill each other and gun each other down…..and so much of it caused by religion.
And despite this purifying tea I am sipping as I rant this pointlessly, even the Buddhists, in Myanmar, are persecuting and ‘ethnically cleansing’ the minority Muslim Rohingya (er, don’t you wonder for a brainless second what the Buddha himself might be thinking about this, people?); that asshole Modi is stoking up Hinduist nationalism in Delhi and persecuting Muslims; Conservative ‘Christians’ in America walk around with rifles and have no compassion for those in less fortunate social positions , and ‘Muslims’ shout glory to God and then slay people with grenades, slaughtering teenagers at a pop concert. Great. Well done. I am sure that Allah is delighted with your work you evil fucks.
No one seems to be able to RELATIVIZE and understand the simple fact that we are all human beings, and that the only reason they are following their (usually twisted) religion in the first place is because of geography, because of the place that they HAPPEN to be born, and that if they had been born somewhere different they might be just as fervent about that other religion as they are about this one; that if you had been adopted, say, by an Iranian and were living in Tehran, that you would in all probability be a Shiite Muslim, and that if you had been adopted by a Japanese (though you never would be because of the intense xenophobia), but if somehow you were, you would probably grow up as a gently atheist Shinto/Buddhist materialist shopping mindlessly in Yokohama.
Why can’t people understand this fact. We love our country and think it is superior simply because we ARE FROM THERE, not for any intrinsic actual superiority, and the same goes for religion. It is completely, and entirely arbitrary. You believe what you believe purely through circumstance, through chance, through ‘education’, through brainwashing, not through some kind of geographically specific celestial selection process where everyone else on the globe is automatically consigned to hell just because they are different from you, just because the particular religion that you just happened to be born in was for whatever historical reason influenced by that particular belief system. And while we are at it, how about asking how many GENUINE Christians there are out there anyway? Or Jews. Or Muslims. In their hearts, not just methodically going through the liturgical motions. Really, in actual truth? Those who actually follow the teachings of Jesus Christ? Or Muhammed?
I am sickened by it all, by a world that is peopled with idiots who can’t fucking think for themselves for a moment and stop and just use their limited, moronic brains and THINK. Just THINK. T.H.I.N.K. A little bit of relativity is all we need; we don’t need to KILL other people just because they have adopted a different religion (whose God, or central spirit, if he/she/it exists, is probably one and all the same in any case, the spirit of the universe, the creator).
I don’t know. I have no idea either, I am an open-minded agnostic who is interested in religion but full of the most bitter contempt for prejudice, mindlessness and hypocrisy, and despair at the profoundly imperfect species that we are (er….created, supposedly by this vindictive ‘God’ who then punishes his people a la Noah for perverting its ‘free will’…even before I heard about the horrors in Paris on Saturday afternoon, I had, the night before, watched an abominable Nicolas Cage film called ‘Left Behind’ in which pure little children and Christians were suddenly all zapped into heaven from the world (leaving just their clothes behind on the floor, in shopping malls and in drivers seats, to unintentionally hilarious effect), but black comedy or not, the film left a very jarring sensation in my mind as I went to bed, about what kind of religion this must be, where the creator just spitefully picks out a few people he likes and then annihilates all the rest, even though he is meant to be all about love……..this film was in fact really quite nauseating and in any case, mister, er, well in that case, you didn’t have to make human beings so flawed in the beginning did you? You could have literally made them ‘perfect’ (boring as hell though that would have been), and then we would not be in this ridiculous mess that we are in now, would we? where peope are totally incapable of accepting each other and die for their ‘god’.).
Anyway, I know I shouldn’t really put this up because it is badly written and will cost me readers, because some people are just so prissy and ‘offended’ by ‘swear words’ or whatever and this is meant to be a ‘perfume blog’ and this is just tossed off in anger, but then again why not, I might as well, I can do what the hell I like on The Black Narcissus, and my freedom of speech and thought is far more important than any other considerations. I have to express myself. I feel so furious. Not just fury towards those ISIS fucktards who are causing such mayhem and sorrow, but to ‘we’ who invaded Iraq needlessly and created them in the first place, towards people’s hideous limitedness of thought and adherence to ‘scripture’, even though it was written by humans, often centuries after the fact, and that so many of the world’s ‘religious’ people are not actually religious at all, not following the religious tenets, nor truly understanding the often beautiful and inspired messages that Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha and all the rest actually wanted to tell us.
So let me just drink my simple, and naturally beauteous lotus tea, let me sup on its delicious fragrance, and sink into the peaceful moment for a silent second, and pretend that everything is alright.