Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Moments of reprieve

"Hungry ghosts," according to some Buddhist teachings, is a segment of life whose inhabitants are achingly empty, constantly hungering for things outside themselves, without being fully there for others.
This is from Gabor Mate's book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction:

In writing about a drug ghetto in a desolate corner of the realm of hungry ghosts, it's difficult to convey the grace that we witness — we who have the privilege of working down here;  the courage, the human connection, the tenacious struggle for existence and even for dignity.  The misery is extraordinary in the drug gulag, but so is the humanity.

Primo Levi, the insightful and infinitely compassionate chronicler of Auschwitz, called moments of reprieve those unexpected times when a person's "compressed identity" emerges and asserts its uniqueness even amid the torments of a man-made inferno.  In the Downtown Eastside [of Vancouver, Canada] there are many moments of reprieve, moments when the truth of a person arises and insists on being recognized despite the sordid past or grim present.

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