I used to practically sleep w/ my Tarot cards. Yup — one of those :). I actually taught Tarot for several years — along w/ several other arcane disciplines. But Tarot, beloved of Jung and several other honest-to-gosh scientists, has always been my favourite divination tool. Except I wouldn’t call it that — I’d call it accessing whatever it is inside the human heart that looks within.
The Fool — Le Mat, my first deck calls him — is one of my favourite cards. Part of the Major Arcana (the ones most folks think of when they think of Tarot), he is without number, without place, without guile. He carries over his shoulder all his possessions. And he is off on a journey — hero’s quest, or the Foolish Brother of the fairy tales, or perhaps self-realisation. Any, all, none.
There are wise fools in most cultures, and almost all religious traditions. There are jesters at mediæval courts, foolish animals in various folk traditions, and comic Buddha dancers in the annual Chinese lion dance. They remind me that wisdom isn’t always apparent to the material culture we live in. Sometimes it even looks like craziness.
This past spring the Buddhist journal Tricycle ran an essay commemorating the passing of Mark Rogosin. The essay, 13 Ways of Looking at a Madman, by Clark Strand, details the life in Woodstock of a man who lived his Buddhist faith every day. Suffered through cold w/out heat; relinquished his material goods; served as all holy fools do ~ to remind us that the Way is very difficult, but anyone can start the journey.
I’m no fool, unfortunately. At least I think this some days. Rogosin’s kind of ‘holy innocence, Strand calls it, is beyond me. I like my coffee — unavailable locally, although I do buy from a seed-to-cup business downtown. I wanted to be able to help my sons go to college, because of what I believe knowledge can do to open you. So I have a job, and I tell myself that I try, in as many ways as possible, to incorporate ethical behaviour into my everyday life.
But when I read about someone like Rogosin, I feel more than a little shamefaced. I resolve, once again, to try harder. And perhaps that’s their most generous gift, our holy fools: the inspiration for each of us to remember how hard it is to live in true alignment w/ our varied faiths. Rest in peace, Mark Rogosin, and know that even in death you are still giving to others ~