The Three Marks
A Wildflower Zendo Talk Transcript
|by Kobutsu Malone
|We are talking about the concept of Enlightenment and the fundamental path to the Awakened state of mind. And we are discussing the three marks of existence, which are the fundamental core teaching of Buddhism. These are anicca (the notion of impermanence), dukkha (the observation of the dissatisfactoriness of life, the fundamental underlying of pain), and anatta (the principle of no self no separate individuality, no core of being, no soul, no kernel of individuality.)
When we talk about enlightenment or it is discussed, what it means is the recognition of our true nature, the experience of the truth of anatta. Out of the three marks of existence, other traditions have said everything is impermanent; other traditions have said life is suffering or dissatisfactoriness. There is a distinction between dissatisfactoriness and suffering. There is a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is simply pure sensation; suffering is a response to pain. Suffering is what we add on to fundamental pain. I can feel pain or I can suffer with pain. Suffering is sort of an active hobby of what we do with the pain, no longer fundamental pain, but MY pain. It is not just a pain in my knee, its ow'w'w'.... my knee hurts.
But the unique truth of the three marks of existence is anatta, no self. And this mark of existence is not part of any other tradition. This is the mark that distinguishes Buddhism from all other traditions. And this is why the Buddha is called the Anatta Veda, the teacher of impersonality. Buddhism has as its basis anatta.
Buddhism did not just pop up. Buddha himself was a product of his environment, a product of the Vedic tradition, a product of the prevailing Hindu philosophies of the time. They weren't exactly Hindu at that point. They were pre-Hindu. These were sophisticated traditions. Even 2500 years ago they had an incredible history to them. But he was very much a product of that environment. He was well educated. He was a prince, so this guy did not come out of nothing. He had a framework to work with, and that framework became incorporated within the basis of the Buddhist tradition. What did not come was the anatta principle and that is what came through the awakening, the Buddha's what we call satori.
Two terms are used in the Zen tradition, satori and kensho. They are not interchangeable. Satori refers to the Buddha's kensho. You and I don't have satori. We have kensho. Buddha had satori. What it boils down to is enlightenment (and these are only words.) This is like the analogy of teaching sex to virgins. I can sit up here and expound forever on the nuances and the feelings and everything that is involved in having sex, but I can't convey the actual experience, no matter how much I talk. It's like doing a class on sky-diving. No matter how profound and eloquent the explanation, it ain't nothing like hitting the door at 2,000 feet and piling out. You can't convey that sensation in words. What we are dealing with here is that precise kind of situation, non-intellectual. We can talk about it until we are blue in the face but the actual experience is always elusive.
Now anatta, the experience of recognizing our true nature. The Buddha says, I say, the teachers say, the texts say, that there is no soul, no self, no separate individuality, either inside or outside. This is all illusion, all of it. Even the sense of there being actually anybody at home. And the recognition of that truth, the full experience of that, is seeing one's face, seeing one's true nature, awakening. If anything could be an approximate description of awakening, that is it, of truly experiencing the truth of anatta. This is the basis for the Buddhist tradition.
This is what happened to him. It has happened to others. This is not some isolated incident that happened to some god or demi-god 2500 years ago. This happened to a man, to a human being, and it has happened to other human beings along the way and no different, not a second-class enlightenment, but very much the same awakening. It's not like something secondary, When kensho happens, it is the actual awakening of the Buddha himself. No different, nothing else. It's not MY awakening; it's the awakening of the Buddha. The word Buddha itself means the awakened one. He who has woken up to the truth. So given that this is the fundamental ground, there is nobody, no self, no soul, no separate individuality. That is the nature of that which is born.
There is a lot of misunderstanding, particularly in the West and particularly in the American Dharma scene, regarding the terminology. Reincarnation and rebirth are not synonymous. We have the notion of reincarnation, which came out of the Hindu tradition, which has as its basis the idea of Atman or Greater Self. This notion of a universal cosmic consciousness soul, like one big giant soul that all of us are itty bitty parts of, and reincarnate means, I think, from a Western perspective, that (and this has been heavily influenced by our Christian background), we are working within a social framework, as was the Buddha. He had only his social framework to work from. We are all in that situation, but ours is a Christian framework. No matter whether we are Christian or not, our social structure has those elements within it. And one of those elements is the idea of self, of soul, the idea of separate individuality. Even if we are atheistic, that notion is there. It is part of our legal system, it is part of our psychology, its part of our social structure, part of our community structure, it's totally interwoven
The idea of reincarnation was also part of the Christian tradition for quite some time back in the early days of the Christian Gnostics. That was suppressed in the church because they decided they were going to set out a specific dogma that would not include reincarnation. That was too much for them so they created the dogmatic structure of one lifetime. This is it. And it's either Heaven or Hell. But the idea of there being something that would continue on after death was very much a part of it. So the concept of reincarnation involved the transmigration of a soul or some kernel of essence or quintessence of the individual would somehow transmigrate from one lifetime to the next. Depending on my karma, my action in this lifetime will determine whether I am born in the next lifetime as a rich man driving a Lincoln Continental or as some poor slob working in Bradley's or even worse, as a farm animal in a barn yard, or whatever. We have a notion that there is some kind of seed as me that's going to continue. It's very, very strong. We don't want to die. Where does that come from?
The notion of rebirth is still misunderstood. The idea of rebirth in the Buddhist tradition, when you really come down to it and start questioning that teaching of rebirth, is on two levels. This becomes painfully obvious when you start looking at the Tibetan tradition. You have a level of understanding the tradition that essentially is the common level, and then you have the privileged level of understanding. The highly educated, highly trained lamas are sitting at the top of the pile. They have a very precise understanding of the meaning of all these things, but they are also dealing with a peasant population and their social structure that they have had for thousands of years. They are as much stuck with that as we are with ours. And of course they have used their position in that society to maintain that social structure and they are dependent on the peasants below them, so what they do is wind up giving them chachkas; they give them beads, amulets, trinkets, chants, beliefs. So the average peasant, even in non-Tibetan Buddhist countries of the world, and the Tibetan people very much have the idea of reincarnation and self-existence. This is a fundamental notion that we have. This is our condition, whether we are born in a Christian country or a Buddhist country. So the peasantry, the common people, have one level of understanding, and to their minds, they really think that if Lama Joe dropped dead and they found Lama Harry over here was the reincarnation of Joe, something from Joe somehow got over to Harry. But when you really question the lamas, really pursue the matter, what they ultimately say is that it is not a self that has transmigrated; it is something called karmic propensity, the result of the karma from the prior incarnation. But even the term incarnation isn't quite right.
What are we really doing? What is really taking place here? This Dharma, incomparably profound, minutely subtle, is hardly met with, even in hundreds of thousands of millions of eons. We can now see this, listen to this, accept and hold this. May we completely understand and actualize this true meaning. The chances of awakening to our true nature are slimmer than slim, can't be taught. Even sitting up here talking about this is dancing with words, dancing on books. It's a class on sky-diving in the dojo, doesn't quite convey the real thing, doesn't at all convey the experience. We talk about it and our efforts in sitting practice.
If you read Three Pillars of Zen, you know where that book goes and what that book is about. That was the first book on Zen that I ever read back in 66-67. I got the idea from reading that, that if I pushed hard enough and hard enough and hard enough, I'd make some kind of breakthrough and I'll be enlightened. I'll have kensho. Trungpa Rinpoche used to speak of dealing with spiritual friends and dealing with ego. His teaching very much involved an examination of the structure of ego, the functioning of the ego structure in mind. It has form, a structure that has elements to it, mechanisms within it that are universal, with many variations. These are describable, illustratable elements. He would say dealing with the ego is like wearing it out like an old shoe. We don't throw the shoe away; we wear it until it wears through, until we have a hole in it. Then we describe it. So given the situation that we are stuck with where we are and what we have to work with, we can't abandon what we have. We can't just say, the book says I don't have an ego, and the book says that I'm not really here, so let's just forget about that and presto-chango, here I am. We're still stuck with the fact that we're stuck.
The idea of the kensho is that we do have a tendency to want to make some kind of breakthrough. We really want to do that; otherwise, why in hell would we be doing this? What are we sitting here for? There are a lot of reasons. There are a number of ways that people approach this. In Kapleau’s book he talks about five approaches to Zen. I got a letter from a prisoner the other day who was very concerned about his parents. The guy is on death row and he wanted me to contact his parents and introduce them to Zen with the idea that it would make them healthy if they practiced it. His concern wasn't with awakening; he just wanted his parents to have a healthy and less stressful life. That's one approach. Then there is the idea of approaching Zen from the point of view of psychological health; there is the approach of wanting to gain power; the approach with the desire for enlightenment, for awakening. What it comes down to really is that we are stuck with what we have to work with. We can't pretend that we are not. So this whole idea of kensho.
The Three Pillars of Zen did a great service, I think, because I had not had any notion of this prior to reading the book. I was 16, 17 years old when I read it. It was like wow, this is really far out. There were enough testimonials in there, everything is different, the whole universe dropped away, and you read this stuff and you think, wow, I'm going to be this great big god thing, and of course, this is the only way we have of relating to it because we are stuck with our own egoistic impressions of how things are. We are looking at some external concept and relating to it as an ego entity and we co-opt this thing into our own egoistic concepts of desire. When I become enlightened I am going to become so and so and such and such. It's going to be grand. Yeah. Maybe. Maybe.
From the book you get the idea that if you push and push, you are going to make the breakthrough. It's like a giant cosmic orgasm. Cosmic masturbation. I'm going to pump and pump and pump and all of a sudden bleagh. So that is what we do. We hang around Zen centers; we do sesshins, push the limit, But this is infantile practice compared to what goes on in a Rinzai monastery, where you are training for years and doing 7-day sesshins, four times a year, doing six-week sesshins each year. The level of intensity and pushing that takes place in these things is phenomenal; you are pushing yourself to the limit. This is not lightweight practice. They can be brutal. I remember coming back from Jusan's execution and my contact with him to the monastery and talking to a Roshi about this, and telling him about all the things Jusan and I went through. His comment was, living on death row under threat of execution is far more beneficial practice than the artificial stress that we induce during sesshin. What we induce during sesshin is an artificial stress designed to push you to the limit. I think that is very true. I have known people who have attended many many sesshins and done intensive Zen practice over the years. I know some of them who have really awakened, who have this insight, this kensho, and for most of those people, the kensho did not come out of just the intense practice of sesshin. Invariably it comes through the occurrence of natural stress and difficulty in life. Life itself, the losses we are presented with, the depression, the dissatisfaction, our daily stress, the loss of a loved one, the negative experiences we may run into in our life are very much a part of waking up.
Awakening is a desperate act. Desperate! Critically desperate. To get to the point of realization of our true nature is desperate beyond belief. Utterly desperate. Giving up the notion of self, the notion of this separate individuality is not a lightweight matter at all. It's an ultimately desperate act because all the time we are trying constantly to maintain it, a constant maintenance affair. So perhaps the idea, the approach that we get from the Three Pillars of Zen, of pushing, pushing for kensho all the time perhaps is not the way to proceed at all. Perhaps this is wearing out the old shoe. Maybe we are confusing the process with the result. In the process of wearing out the old shoe, of pushing for kensho, if we keep doing that, we could end up saying, what the fuck am I doing this for? But we can't because we know there is something out there to push for. But we keep doing it. The teacher will support that. Go for it, go for it, push, push, push, kensho, kensho, kensho, wake up, wake up, wake up. You keep beating your head against the wall. You get the idea you shouldn't stop. Go for it. Don't take my word for it. Go for it.
It seems we have a dilemma. We can't think of any other way other than making the effort. We don't have a clue other than to make this effort. Because that is everything we have done in the past, all our schooling, we study and we learn all these things so we can take the test at the end and get the prize, the grade on our report card. Everything that we have done in life, if you're good you will get a cookie, if you do this, you will get that, It's all a mechanistic approach, a materialistic approach to living, to life.
I'm reading a book now called Future Primitive. In the book, the first essay talks about the approach of indigenous peoples to life and the advent of agriculture, how going from a hunting-gathering way of existence to an agricultural way of existence and the changes that take place in a culture making that transition. The hunter-gatherer having no concepts of boundaries, no ideas of personal property, equality of sexes. In a foraging community a woman who forages is as good as a man. A man can forage as good as a woman.
It was only when the domestication started taking place, when I am going to plant vegetables now. Instead of simply going out and foraging for vegetables, we are planting them. Well, I can't just plant. I have to plant them in a plot. So here the idea of territory starts coming into play. And then we start talking about division of labor. And then this all develops into what we have here, this giant product that we produce here, 8,000, 10,000 years of so-called civilization. But when we back-track, when we start looking, our stress level is decreasing. Now it's getting worse and worse and worse. Why start? Get the hell out. Chögyam Trungpa used to say, it is best not to begin, but once you've begun, it's best to be finished with it.
I remember walking by the lake one day, talking to Roshi and he was saying Ignorance really is bliss. Certainly, if I had remained in ignorance, I wouldn't have spent 30 years of hell doing nasty ass practice, driving my butt all over the country and sitting in zendos and temples and all of this shit. Hell, I could be a doctor now, making real money. Why am I in prisons teaching Zen? Why am I corresponding with all these prisoners? I could be an executive somewhere.
The Bodhisattva has no concept of the Bodhisattva path. The Bodhisattva path is the lecture on sex. When we sit here, the Bodhisattva path involves six levels of this, three elements of that, the great vows, involves this, and the Bodhisattva has to be that. We've got all these prescriptions, but the Bodhisattva has no need for any of that crap. The Bodhisattva is simply doing the Bodhisattva, not talking about it, examining it. The Bodhisattva is not out there saying, I can't do this because it's got to meet with the precepts and it's got to, let's see, however innumerable all beings are, I vow to save them all, okay. It's not like you've got a check list, let's see, I've got to check my Bodhisattva activity here. It is this, is it that? Check them off. No, it's not like that at all. It's far more spontaneous, far more outrageous and wild. We have the concept -- and in fact I'm writing an article on this -- that the Bodhisattva is somehow Mr. Rogers.
Trungpa was outrageous. No question about that. He drank like a fish; he screwed like it was going out of style. He did all kinds of wild stuff. My friend John spent eight years with the man, living with him and taking care of him, dressing him, the whole nine yards. He was completely wild. Some of the stories that John tells about Trungpa Rinpoche are incredible. His students and his followers who are now a part of that organization do not want to hear those stories. They don't really want that stuff out there. It is just too wild. We all had the idea that somehow by imitating his behavior we would also be privileged to his insight. That's not the case. Again, that's his style. It's his choice to drink all that booze. Personally, I tried that. Not my trip. It's our dilemma, isn't it? We know there is something wrong. I remember one day we were walking out of the tent. We were walking out and somebody asked Trungpa Rinpoche a question. His response was Things really are as bad as they seem. They really are. And I go even further. Things are not as bad as they seem. They're worse! The problem isn't as bad as it seems. It's worse. We don't want to hear that. We want them to be better. Things are not really as bad as they appear. You poor deluded wretch. Well, hell, they are that bad. They are as bad as they appear. As a mater of fact, our delusion is in the opposite direction. They're worse!
So that's why we're here. We're here to figure it out, to awaken. The question of the Bodhisattva. What is the Bodhisattva? Is it Mr. Rogers enlightened? Is it Trungpa Rinpoche intoxicated? Is it neither? Is it both? The only thing we can do is we can say the Bodhisattva is he who is brave enough to walk on the path of the awakened state of mind. Brave enough. So we come and we sit. We go to sesshin; we bat our head against the wall. We do, we do, we do. We walk. We are willing to take action, deal with it. Far better not to begin, but once begun, best be done with it. Far better not to begin, not to question life at all, just go out there and make those bucks. Don't question any of it. Everything is just fine.
A lot of the political activities, a lot of the demonstrations I hear reported in places, and I heard a report about a demonstration that talked about dissidents. For the first time the word struck me. Dissident. I guess I am a dissident. I never considered myself that. Dissatisfied. I'm not satisfied with things the way they are. I'm a dissident. My problem. I'm not satisfied with the prison system. It would be far better were I satisfied with it. I could just go in and teach meditation and everything would be just fine. But I've seen enough of it and recognized enough of it to realize that I find this a problem. I’ve got a problem with it. I'm dissatisfied. There are those who can go into the prisons and teach meditation and say everything is fine. The prisons are the prisons and I'm just there to teach meditation and every thing's okay. That's one perspective. I go into the prisons and when I first went in there, yes, a prison is a prison and everything is okay and I am there to teach meditation. Years later I come to the point where I realize, wait a minute, something's very, very wrong here. The whole thing is very, very wrong. I'm dissatisfied with this. I'm a dissident. My trip. And I have to live with that. Better not to be a dissident. Certainly. Less problematic. Better to remain ignorant. Ignorance is really bliss. Truly. If we were ignorant, we wouldn't have to be getting up at 7:30 on Sunday morning and dragging our ass down here, sitting on these cushions, maintaining these postures and doing all of this stuff. We could be going up to the church and listening to nice organ music and sitting in pews among flowers and eyeballing the chicks.
What we see and what has somehow developed as the Buddhist tradition and the Christian tradition through the social fabric of the West, is a notion that we somehow need to suppress or avoid negativity. At all costs. And this is the idea of the Mr. Rogers Bodhisattva; this is the idea of Puritans, this idea that somehow the problem is ourselves, rather than our social order. All of the problems that we have are based on our psychology. There's something wrong with us. There's something wrong with me because I'm a dissident. There's something wrong with me because I stand up and say, you people running this prison are beating people to death and torturing them and creating an environment that is unhealthy. Something's wrong with you. You are a dissident. I just see it clearly. You want Mr. Rogers? Or do you want the truth? You want purity or you want the truth? Do we have a concept that we have to follow a specific pattern of behavior in order to be something that we're not? Well, we have to be this, we have to be that.
A supposed Zen teacher a couple of years ago told me, well, we have to be inclusive. What the fuck is this shit? We have to be inclusive! We don't have to be fucking anything! I don’t have to be anything. I can be exclusive if I want, thank you very much. We have to be this and we have to be that. Who says? Whose idea is this anyway? I'm going to become Thich Nhat Hanh? Give me a break. I've broken the bonds. I'm not some little oriental man who is going to go around bowing and maintaining. I would be faking it if I did that shit. And I wouldn't be very good at it. I'd be downright clumsy. Better to be who I am. For all of us. Better to be who we are. I'm me. I got the shit kicked out of me on the streets of the Bronx. I was in prison. I got beaten and raped there. I've done all this shit all my life, I can't deny all of that and pretend I'm something other than who I am. Why should I do that?
Love and light, peace and joy? Oh hell, hatred and darkness, disharmony. What's the difference? It's all the same. It's all stuff, ideas, concepts, pigeon holes. We're going to pigeon-hole the Bodhisattva into a set of rules and regulations? The Bodhisattva does what needs to be done. It's not some self-checking process. Bodhisattva check list: #1, #2, #3. That's absurd. That's the watcher principle. We run into this a lot when people have asked about mindfulness practice. I went to a Thich Nhat Hanh retreat once. It was done at a place where there were a lot of separate paths going from building to building and from place to place. The whole campus had these paths. I had things I was doing and there were various lectures and things taking place there and people would go from one place to another. They had it set up so there were two lunch periods in order to handle the volume of people. People were constantly moving along these paths going from place to place. I remember one day I got stuck behind a bunch of people who were mindfully walking. I felt like kicking them in the ass. Ever seen mindful walking? It's an affectation. It's a practice. What am I doing mindfully? It's moronic. Simply walk! Just walk and get the fuck out of my way. Its lunch time and I want my lunch; I don't want to be walking behind you people. One foot behind another. Great. Do it to the right. Let me get by.
Look what goes on in here, in this dojo. Initially, when the teacher comes in, and is working with people, he's teaching them essentially moves, ways of responding moves, and initially they are done mindfully or what we would call mind-fully. It's part of training. For example, painting. Anybody who's done any kind of house painting, when you're doing trim, you are generally using a semi-gloss paint, you've got an angle paint-brush, and you're doing the trim. You can do it mind-fully at first, bringing intense concentration, making sure you're stripping it in just perfect, but a professional painter is not painting mindfully. If anything, he's painting mindlessly. They simply strip it in. You get so good at something; it's no longer an affected action. It's your action. It's who you are, it's beyond developing a skill, it's inherent. You watch a professional painter; he's not paying attention to every nuance of the brush. He's just painting.
In driving shit happens. You miss your exit. We do the best we can. When he went beyond his exit, He didn't crash into things. Instinctively, without even thinking, he hit the brake and accelerator properly and steered properly. It's that kind of level of practice. You may have been thinking of crap but on another level it was driving very well. You didn't hit any trees or drive into an abutment. You didn't get a traffic ticket. You didn't hit pedestrians. You are driving perfectly.
It's better not to be human, but we're here, we're caught. Getting back to our point of anatta, there is no you to be controlled. It's emptiness. It just washes through. And that's the point of the sitting practice that we're doing. Somebody walks in off the street and we sit them down and say here's the posture, here's what you do. You begin by counting the breath. They count their breath and then they come in and do an interview. How are you doing? And they go, well, I keep getting distracted. There's nothing wrong with that. That's perfect, exactly what's supposed to happen. But I'm getting distracted and I can't get to ten. Good, you've learned something. You've learned the nature and the function of the mind. And it ain’t pretty. That's the lesson. This is the value. Oh, but I can't get beyond three. I keep thinking about this girl I had a couple of nights ago. Well hey, great, wonderful. This is how it works, Oh, but there is something wrong with this. Aren't we supposed to be getting free of all this? No, we're not. The job is to see the true condition of things.
This past week we were up in Nyack, and there's a New Age building up there. They've got a health food store and a book store, a crystal shop. Upstairs they've got healers and hoojemo psycho, holistic, cosmic consciousness places. I'm walking around and we went to the book store. When you walk in, the first thing that hits you is that sickly sweet smell from cheap Indian incense and candles, big smelly candles and everybody in there is all clean and proper and everything, Tons of books and shit. There's angels and crystals and healing and Atlantis and past life regression, the healing of the ancients and on and on, endless variations of this crap. I'm looking around and wow, somebody is making some money here, but it's all the same thing. You look at it and you see what is really happening is that these are commodities that are being offered to people who have recognized that they are dissatisfied. Or maybe they haven't recognized that they are dissatisfied. They be disconsciously dissatisfied. They don't even know they are dissatisfied. But something is missing. The Guide to Higher Consciousness. Higher than what? What is the nature of that that this is higher than? And what we learn here is the answer to that question. What it is that is the groundwork. Before we can get higher, we need to know what is. Higher than what? Higher consciousness. What is our consciousness that we are getting higher than? First we need to know that. Then we can worry about getting higher.
So let's really examine the nature of our problem, the nature of our dissatisfaction. Let's recognize that we are dissidents, dissatisfied. Really get it into our being, then maybe, maybe there is an opportunity for some kind of insight to take place. There's an expression up in Maine, Can't get there from here. We need to know where are we? We need to know what the situation is before we start to make it better.
Better than what? Higher than what? We have somehow got the idea that by following the precepts we are going to be a better person? Are you going to follow these precepts because there is something wrong with you as I am? Wait a minute. Maybe we need to really examine this. This is where the questioning comes in and it’s not an unintelligent questioning process. The preacher up at the church there may say, don't have any doubts. The Lord will save you. And I am standing here saying, Doubt everything. Question it because without that, without that questioning, without those doubts, we don't have a clue. Without our negativity, our willingness to work with our negativity, we can't really see clearly. Don't be so negative. Think positive. Everything will be hunky dory. Horse shit. It doesn't work that way. Anymore than going to the macrobiotic people convinced that you can somehow eat your way to enlightenment. Ain't gonna happen. All the tofu in the world ain't going to get anybody enlightened. You can be a veggie gobbler from now until doomsday, and it has nothing to do with awakening. Can't get there from here.
I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.
It depends on where we are coming from and how deeply and intelligently we ask our questions and how willing we are to deal with negativity. We live in a social structure that is fundamentally flawed. We live in a world of illusion and unreality. Our history, where we came from is covered in veils, hidden. When we go through school, and I've seen this with my own kids in school, the history that we are given is nothing more than a reader's digest version and our history makes up our social structure. We are very much connected to where we come from as a culture, as a people, as a nation. We're tied into our history. In dealing with just a matter of sitting in a zendo to come to awakening is not enough. Personal wakening, kensho, insight, in and of itself is not sufficient. There is more than just personal awakening. There is awakening to social truth, psychological truth, political truth, ecological truth. All of these make up the totality of who we are. We are as much a part of our society and our community as we are individuals. So part of that is to look at our real history, and what do we find? If we go back, just dealing with the history of the West, in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and he landed in Hispaniola. And his first act? I claim this in the name of Queen Isabella. Mine, ours, hers. Conquer-ment. This man brought conquest to this hemisphere. This is the start of hemispheric genocide. This isn't the discovery of the new World. There was nothing new about it. It was fully populated with indigenous people for hundreds, thousands of generations. The new World wasn't new. It was new to those people. It was new to the conquering mentality that came over from Europe, and what did it do? It killed, it raped, it enslaved, it brought disease and within 50 years, the people that Columbus originally contacted were either all dead or enslaved. There was nothing left. Columbus died a slave-trader. That's what he was doing. From there the conquistadors decimated the people of Mexico. Our own foray into slavery when we so-called conquered the primitive people, we took them as slaves.
If you look at Columbus's diaries, he said these people are wonderful; they would make wonderful slaves because of their attitude, their generosity, their notion of giving, their lack of the notion of property. He describes these things and you look at it and wonder who the hell is civilized here? What is the nature of civilization? If these people are bringing civilization, horse shit. It sounded like the people who were here had more civilization than they did. All they brought was conquer-ment. Well, that is part of the fabric of our society. But it's hidden. It's hidden within the stories, in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and we celebrate Columbus Day. But what are we celebrating? Who was this man and what did he do?