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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Personal Reflections ... Photo ...

Ah, Halloween, that secular celebration of impermanence. People in my town do up their lawns will all sorts of cheery things like mock tombstones and skeletons. It’s mostly for the kids of course, a celebration of “spookiness”; a reflection on the return of early darkness, sunset shadows, long nights and cold weather. That the decorations relate to human decay and death is irrelevant to them; they are young, and they are going to survive every winter and live forever. At worst, they might need to ponder the possibility of tooth impermanence from all the trick-or-treat candy.

For us adults, however, especially those like me pushing past the 60 marker, it’s not a game anymore. Impermanence is staring us in the face. The Buddha said that “all conditioned things are impermanent — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering”. So, the Buddha with all his wisdom could walk the streets of my town in late October with perfect equanimity; the skeletons, spiders and black cats wouldn’t bother him in the least. (And who knows, with his yellow monk robes and begging bowl as a “costume”, someone might give him some Halloween candy!) For the rest of us . . . oh well, just keep whistling past the mock graveyards. And Happy Halloween!


◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:37 pm      

  1. Jim, I’m not sure what I think of Halloween. I remember when it was spelled “Hallowe’en” – as in All Hallows Eve, i.e., the evening before All Saints Day, which celebrated all the saints that were not officially named. Thus, a Christian day. I’m sure this is no surprise to you. And neither will be this:

    But this “Christian day” was a change (when Christianity became the official religion of the West) from the non-Christian celebration which was a day all sorts of mayhem took place – a kind of scapegoating of one (or maybe more) persons for all the transgressions of the community. And thus the community could start anew for the new year.

    What has impressed me this year is how commercial the day has become. Businesses started to promote “buy your costumes, party items, decorations”, etc., in early October. Thus, extending the buying days for this “holiday”, which hardly was a “holiday” since this year of 2013. Before that October 31 was simply a few hours at night when little kids dressed up and went around trick or treating.

    Although I may not be totally accurate on that score either. I remember as a young girl, in my early teens a big ruckus at our house when a group of “seventeen year olds” (I remember my father’s words) came to the house trick or treating. He was irate that seventeen year old “men” would be out trick or treating; the evening for was little kids. Even I as a young teenager would not have tho’t of trick or treating – too old for that.

    This year it seems the commercial side has taken over. Businesses seem to have caught on to promoting the day for a month and thus hoping to increase sales for the year.

    In fact, Thanksgiving and Christmas are getting close to the same thing – just a way of promoting people’s spending money so that businesses can make it into the “black” by the end of the year. In fact, I actually heard last week an ad on TV saying, “Black Friday starts today”. Even though the sentence makes no real sense whatsoever, the meaning is clear: People start spending your money; we’ve got to get our account books profitable.

    It seems a shame that almost *all* spiritual meaning (and here one could include, starting with Halloween; one could also include both non-Christian, Jewish, and Christian religions that have flourished in the West) has been lost and the commercial has taken over.

    Somehow it seems to me that missing almost all the spiritual meaning of these autumn/winter holidays is a real loss to our society.

    I also wonder if other Western countries “celebrate” Halloween and Thanksgiving as the U.S. does. I think probably not. Most of the hype has become commercial. MCS

    Comment by Mary — November 3, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

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