Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo and Seokga T'anshin Il

May 5th!

If you're Mexican, then it's a day to remember the 1862 ass-kicking of the French by your people. Not a bad day to settle down with some tequila and watch Robert Rodriguez's fantastic "Once Upon a Time in Mexico."

If you're Korean, then you know that today-- April 8 on the lunar calendar-- is Seokga T'anshin Il, a.k.a. Buch'eo-nim O-shin Nal, or the Buddha's Birthday. ("Seokga" comes from the first two syllables of seok-ga-mo-ni, the Korean rendering of "Sakyamuni.") The old boy's 2550 years old by Korean reckoning (the calculation of the Buddha's age will vary from country to country, but most agree that he "arrived" around 550BCE).

So drink your tequila, do your 108 bows, watch "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," then meditate on whether you are, as Johnny Depp's character asks, a Mexican or a Mexican't.

The peace of Christ be with you.

UPDATE: Better pour some out on the ground for our homey Jean-François Revel, the French philosopher whose anti-utopianism should make him a darling of American rightists. Revel died on April 30.

Revel and his son, Matthieu Ricard (Tibetan Buddhist monk and French interpreter for the Dalai Lama), sat down a few years ago to talk about Buddhism, Western philosophy, and other topics. Their conversation became the book Le moine et le philosophe (The Monk and the Philosopher), which quickly became a bestseller in France, a country that has proved particularly welcoming to Buddhism.

A very good blog bio about Revel can be found here. It nicely sums up this political views. If you're into politics and haven't read Revel, I'd recommend him.


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