This Day 12 of my 1000-Day MFA, a DIY education project I’ve undertaken that I learned about from writer Shaunta Grimes. You can read more about how I’m engaging with it here. By the way, there often is no rhyme or reason to how I choose the poems, essays, and short stories. But today, just for fun, the theme is evil.
Poem: The Mask of Evil by Bertold Brecht
Essay: Buddhism and Evil by Monty McKeever
Short Story: Word Processor of the Gods by Stephen King
The Mask of Evil This is my first venture into the world of Bertolt Brecht. I’m slow to admit this, because I’ve spent so much of my life loving all things poetry/plays/etc. And Brecht is a giant in the field. But, better late than never, right?
The fundamentals of Buddhism (love, compassion, wisdom) are tools I’m trying to learn in life. And while your first thought when I say “Bertolt Brecht” may not be “Buddhism,” there is a lot in this simple poem of his that walks in that world. Noticing the bulging vein in the forehead, feeling compassion for “the strain it is to be evil.” These are the very seeds that, when watered and fed with enough sunlight, can become full fledged, transformative love, compassion, and wisdom.
Buddhism and Evil A post on Facebook about Sarah Palin becomes the fertile soil for working with the concepts of hatred, for remembering that whatever we see “out there” is a direct reflection of something we hold within us. The woman is encouraged to see Palin as a teacher, to use her as an opportunity to remember that we all want happiness, we all avoid pain — therefore we all have that in common with any of our so called enemies.
Mr. McKeever points out that while
“[d]ark malicious energy does exist. . .it arises from causes and conditions just like everything else and can always be conquered by wisdom and compassion. Mental poison has no central source at the fiery center of the earth.”
This is an important distinction between evil seen through other lenses and evil seen through the Buddhist lens.
Word Processor of the Gods
This is from Skeleton Crew: Stories, a collection of short stories by Stephen King. I was never a Stephen King fan. I hate scary movies, wouldn’t go if you paid me. But I’ve become an ardent admirer of his since reading his book, On Writing. I had no idea how hilarious he was.
With a desire to expand my horizons and develop a tolerance for styles not directly in my strike zone, I picked up a copy of Skeleton Crew, and randomly chose “Word Processor of the Gods.”
I’m susceptible. I read “The Exorcist” in 1973 became afraid of the dark, coats hanging on a coat rack, radiators and my own step children. It was ludicrous. But I learned a lesson about how strong my imagination is, and how I must respect what I feed it.
I took a deep breath and dove in, comforted by the fact that it wasn’t very long. The experience was nothing short of thrilling!
So. More Stephen King to come, now. I’m hooked.