This past Sunday I called my classmate Moon in Jerusalem from the top of the Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacán, Mexico.
Moon, Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
Two ancient holy cities were thus connected by modern technology.
Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacán, Mexico
From the Pyramid of the Moon, a couple looks down on the Avenue of the Dead. No technology can stop anyone making their own walk down the avenue of the dead -- one reason we have holy sites, I suppose.
Couple viewing Avenue of the Dead, Teotihuacán
While the moon shines without blocking the light of the stars behind it (as Moon is fond of pointing out), it shines because of the sun, a star like those it shares the sky with. When the sun dies, the moon will remain, but it may not ever be seen again by any conscious being. With no one to see it, will it also be dead? No, a reader protests, it still exists. It is not dead. It simply cannot be seen. Likewise, when our body dies, do we still exist, merely unseen? Or to put the question another way: in the depths of consciousness, do we outlive even the stars?
Last Friday an old Mexican woman working behind a stall in Chicago airport asked me if I drank. She was happy when I said no. She left her husband in Mexico, she says, because he beat her and because he drank. She works long hours and everyday prays for her son. On the plane to Mexico City a Mexican man told me enthusiastically how he was going to visit some strip bars in a town near Cuernavaca, drink a lot of liquor, and sample the local women. All for much cheaper than is possible in Chicago. As he loudly told me of his plans, a woman sitting in front of him with her children asked him to shut up. He went on to recount a time when he was caught driving when utterly drunk by the police near Cuernavaca. A healthy bribe meant he avoided costly legal proceedings. He said you can murder someone in Mexico and a big enough bribe will set you free. If he was aware of how his willingness to bribe contributes to a culture of corruption, lawlessness and hence murder, he did not say.
"As a person acts, so he becomes in life. Those who do good become good; those who do harm become bad. Good deeds make one pure; bad deeds make one impure. So we are said to be what our desire is. As our desire is, so is our will. As our will is, so are our acts. As we act, so we become." - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
"When you keep thinking about sense objects, attachment comes. Attachment breeds desire, the lust of possession that burns to anger. Anger clouds the judgement; you can no longer learn from past mistakes. Lost is the power to choose between what is wise and what is unwise, and your life is utter waste. But when you move amidst the world of sense, free from attachment and aversion alike, there comes the peace in which all sorrows end, and you live in the wisdom of the Self." - Bhagavad Gita