They say the victor writes the history. Today, we are celebrating a chapter in our past that is in rather drastic need of a rewrite.
In school, I truly hated how history was taught. I wondered how we got to where we are by putting so much emphasis on battles and conquests and so little on cultural achievements. This said, the other axiom we often hear is that if we do not understand history,we are doomed to repeat it. Given the current lay of the land, I plan to join with you today, on a new server, with a little history . . . and a dab of philosophy.
Hildegard of Bingen
All other things equal, people with Jupiter in Cancer love history. I was about fifty before this became true for me. It started with the research for my book on botanical cancer treatments. The late Jane Heimlich said that to make the treatments credible, I needed to provide a very strong history. This took over a year and was a turning point in my own adventure with education and indoctrination. You see, Hildegard of Bingen was very fond of galangal. Not only does it not grow in Europe, it is native to Thailand, but different varieties can be found in South China to Indonesia.
Hildegard was a twelfth century mystic and healer who lived on the Rhine in, of course, Bingen. I visited her Abbey when I was consulting in Germany. The doctor had arranged a private tour and invited one of my dear friends to join us. The abbess of the monastery was extremely friendly and informative. She showed us St. Hildegard’s bones in a glass coffin in a beautiful resting place with various aquamarine and blue mosaic tiles. The bones were a shock. The coffin seemed very small, but the beauty of the chapel was deeply moving. Sister Hiltrud noted that St. Hildegard had corresponded with many people all over the world, including voluminous exchanges with the Cathars, who, of course, were heavily persecuted at the time and almost annihilated years later, after St. Hildegard has passed.
Since our guide was so well-informed, I asked her if St. Hildegard herself had believed in reincarnation. She was quite humble and said she did not know, but one would think that the topic of reincarnation as well as vegetarianism would have come up in the correspondence. The Cathars were humble people who left very gentle footprints on the soil of Southern France.
Since this particular line of inquiry was fizzling, I asked about galangal, still somewhat open to the possibility that galgant is perhaps not really galangal. Sister Hiltrud took me to the shop to show me galgant, and it was indeed galangal. She said the Abbey owns plantations of galangal in Thailand. For the record, Marco Polo’s journeys took place two centuries after the death of St. Hildegard.
The map above was taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica web site. The essay does not mention the Inquisition though it arrested Marco Polo. We hardly learned anything about the Inquisition in school. It began in the twelfth century, yes, in the South of France, with the specific purpose of rooting out “heresy” and, of course, targeted the aforementioned Cathars. Other targets of the Inquisition were Spiritual Franciscans, another group with very light footprints. The Hussites and Beguines, pious groups that lived in communities that cared for the sick and emulated the life of Jesus, also were in the crosshairs. The early inquisitors were mainly Dominican evangelists who spread the doctrines far and wide, including to the Mongol courts of China. Interestingly, neither the Encyclopedia Britannica nor Wikipedia mention Marco Polo’s arrest by the Inquisition.
Today’s post is not about such details but rather the quest for religious freedom that prompted many to leave Europe and build new lives in the Americas. This was a chapter of history that was taught in school, but exactly what the risks were in holding views of one’s own was not particularly well communicated . . . unless I slept through that part of history. Since I was brought up in the Protestant faith, we were taught a little about conflicts with the Roman Catholic faith as well as a little about the history of the founders of the various sects of Christianity.
The Black Death
To tell you the truth, I do not recall much mention of the Plague when in school. Though the epidemiology varied, the Plague spanned 700 years of our history and was felt across several continents. The fatality rate was extremely high; and, truth be told, there is an outbreak in China as we speak. In short, there were abundant reasons that individuals might seek their fortunes in places unknown.
Early in the 15th century, i.e., before Christopher Columbus, there was a Moslem admiral who commanded seven maritime expeditions. Zheng He was an imposing individual, very tall. He had been captured and castrated before puberty. Since the hormones of the reproductive system signal the body to cap the ends of the bones so they stop elongating, castration can interfere with this normal process . . . which, of course, is why castration was also performed not merely to preserve the voice from deepening but also to cause the growth that would also make the vocal cords longer.
In any event, in Chinese terms, Zheng He was a eunuch, but he was favored by the Ming emperor and put in charge of an expedition consisting of 317 ships. There were 28,000 crew members, and they sailed throughout Southeast Asia and as far west as Arabia and the coasts of East Africa. Trading posts were established, mosques were built, and diplomats were exchanged. Zheng He brought samples of Chinese goods for exchange and also collected exotic animals, all of which were brought back to China, including giraffes, zebras, and ostriches. Compared to the ships of Columbus, the Chinese fleets were enormous. Some may have been 600 ft. in length and four decks high. There were nine masts on these larger ships, and the Chinese were obviously superb navigators as well.
Winds change and much of Zheng He’s writings disappeared, but there are speculations that the travels were even more extensive than the sketchy remnants available to modern scholars.
What we learned about the voyages of Columbus was that Columbus was in possession of maps that were persuasive enough to warrant funding by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. This is actually not hard to believe because if one goes to a place like Istanbul, there are travelers from Europe as well as the East and they no doubt exchange stories and information about the places they have seen. In 1968, I drove a Land Rover from England to India. Wherever you are, you are at the center of your own world, but in that world, you interact with others who have different views of the world. In short, if you want information about the roads, the best places to restock, the sites of historic interest, the customs regulations, or the weather, you ask those you meet on the road about what to expect as well as what not to miss.
With modern communications, we get a lot of our information via the media, but if you want straight fact, it best to build your knowledge base using as many eye witnesses as possible.
This brings me to our present point in time, interestingly called the year 2020, a time when we are perhaps perfecting our vision but experiencing many of the same issues faced by our predecessors — or even ourselves in one of our past lives. We have divisiveness, censorship, pathogens, and editorializing, much of which is biased, unfactual, and misleading. So, if there is a risk that we may repeat history, we should do our utmost to escape the perils of ignorance and insist upon not just facts but straight facts that lead to wise decisions
Taking this post full circle, this is the day we celebrate the survival of a dream that became the foundation of a new country. The pilgrims took the risks of sailing across an immense sea and establishing a small colony in a foreign land where they built primarily friendly relationships with the First Nation People who joined in the feast of Thanks. It was a day celebration for there was cause for gratitude and hope for the future.
For a while, everything seemed to be working, but look at what has happened since. We need to fix the problems: reestablish friendly relationships between all people and create the safety needed to preserve our right to freedom of speech which is dependent upon freedom of thought which in turn is dependent upon freedom of information.
Bias is a sign of weakness. It suggests the mind is fettered. Perhaps the mind and mouth are rewarded for speaking the party line, but regardless of the motivation or justification, bias is a sign of distortion so it is an indication of weakness, not of strength. In theory, we should be impervious to persuasion if the words are not supported by integrity and facts. This needs to become the new gold standard for communications.
When we are not afraid of what others think, we can hold our own beliefs firmly. To be honest, I do have concerns today. I am worried that many people are brainwashed to the point of delusion, that their thinking is not clear, and that if their thinking is not clear, their judgment and the actions taken as a result of their judgments will also be faulty. The solution is total freedom to express oneself without the thought police interfering with the authorship of the history we are making today.
As was true in times fast, we live with the risk of disease. It is caused by failure to support health in a sufficiently meaningful manner. Health is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance. It is threatened by imbalance so polarity is not healthy. My prayer is thus to find inner peace and share that bliss. Anger will cause divisiveness. Fear will weaken our vitality and clarity. The Middle Way is the safest way. Find it!
First posted to Subscribers on 26 November 2020
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2020
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