During the Sat interactive Dave Oshana event, “Taking Transcendental Love to the Next Level,” our neighbor, Otelia, an old lady who lives down the road, with a very large dog that is kept chained up its entire life, came and knocked on our door.
She was the first person we met in the village. In fact, the day we came to look at the house, back in May, I made a point of going to meet her, the only neighbor around, to ask her about the area, and to connect to a possible future neighbor, should we decide to buy the property. We did buy the property, and took ownership on June 18th (lots of sixes), and spent until the end of July doing what renos we could, so as to be able to move in at the start of August.
Of course, the locals were curious, and very friendly, and we had a number of encounters with Otelia and even met her son, a metal worker who visits her regularly. A few days ago, Otelia brought us eggs, which she can’t eat because of her intolerance to cholesterol. Since then, she has been bringing us regular lettuces, saying that her veg will only spoil if she doesn’t give it away. She also brought a large batch of green peppers, which I have been cooking nightly in new ways (they are delicious).
I ran into her one morning recently, while she was out walking with her lady friends and I was on my way to pick up my car from the local mechanic. She told me, “Here in these parts, neighbors are family.”
When she showed up at our door on Saturday night, however, I was annoyed. It was late and she was interrupting the Dave interactive. Her son had also called us in the evening, two nights running, the second time interrupting our dinner. Enough was enough! I called through the window that we were busy. She wanted to engage me anyway, so I repeated my decree and withdrew, irritated. I could see that she had brought more lettuces, in a white bucket, and she left them by the door. It turned out that she had also brought (what I later figured out is known as) quince cheese: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quince_cheese
Quince cheese (also known as quince paste) is a sweet, thick jelly made of the pulp of the quince fruit. It is a common confection in several countries. Traditionally and predominantly from the Iberian Peninsula, it is called ate or dulce-de-membrillo in Spanish, marmelada in Portuguese, marmelo in Galician and codonyat in Catalan, where it is a firm, sticky, sweet reddish hard paste made of the quince (Cydonia oblonga) fruit. It is also very popular in Brazil (as marmelada), France (as pâte de coing), Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay (as dulce de membrillo), Italy (as cotognata), Peru (as machacado de membrillo), and Turkey (as ayva peltesi).
The recipe is probably of ancient origin; the Roman cookbook of Apicius, a collection of Roman cookery recipes compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD gives recipes for stewing quince with honey.
Historically, marmalade was made from quinces. The English word “marmalade” comes from the Portuguese word marmelada, meaning “quince preparation” (and used to describe quince cheese or quince jam; “marmelo” = “quince”). Nowadays (in English), “A marmalade is a jellied fruit product which holds suspended within it all or part of the fruit pulp and the sliced peel. It is prepared from pulpy fruits, preferably those that contain pectin. Citrus fruits are especially desirable because of their flavor and pectin content.”
. . .
Its cultivation can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, where it served as a symbol of love and fertility. Although considerably less common today, quinces are close relatives of popular fruits like apples and pears. They’ve been used in folk medicine for decades, but scientific research on their benefits is still in the early stages.
Here are 8 emerging health benefits of quince, plus a few simple tips for including it in your diet:
- Rich in nutrients. …
- Contain potent antioxidants. …
- May help manage pregnancy-induced nausea. …
- May relieve digestive issues. …
- May treat stomach ulcers. …
- May reduce acid reflux symptoms. …
- May protect against certain allergic reactions. …
- May support proper immune function.
I had asked Otelia recently what sort of fruit was growing on the tree at the front of our property, and she had told me “membrillo,” a sweet fruit that has to be cooked to be eaten. Now she had brought us a sample.
We tried some and it was quite tasty, like strawberry jam. The next day, I took her bucket back and thanked her, and explained that evenings are not good times to visit, as we often do video conferences. She understood and said she would visit in the morning instead.
“Fathers and teachers, I ponder, What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”
~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
The larger context for this anecdote is that, when we agreed to buy this property in Galicia, we were under the impression that there were almost no regular neighbors in the area, just Otelia and Antonio, an old man opposite, coming and coming a couple of times a week, and the others only visiting a few times a year, if that.
But because we moved in at the start of August, the summer month, the village has been fairly teaming with people, most of whom seem to walk past the house on their morning and evening strolls, and even congregate on the little junction where the natural underground spring is. Plus, with harvesting time, there has been the frequent noise of tractors and other vehicles passing in front of and/or alongside the property, and I have been constantly feeling affronted and annoyed, wondering how on earth I ended up buying a property that fails to meet the primary requirement I had for our future home: privacy and no neighbors!
Since one of my mottos is “Obey the law of matter” (a fancy way of saying “surrender”), and since everything else about this property seems just about right; and since the main reason we bought it was the extensive land behind the house, that is, more or less, private and isolated, if and when we ever get to use it; I have been allowing these unpleasant feelings to come up and be there, accepting that somehow, this is all only as it is meant to be.
Community relations (as evidenced by the free produce we are getting), after all, are an essential element of surviving the apocalypse. Whatever my false identity thinks it wants, regarding the particulars of this new life, my soul, the land, and God above (and within), inevitably, inexorably, and inescapably, have Other Plans.
All this seems pertinent to the last Dave Oshana event, Sunday’s “Wisdom Eye,” and how the essential way to live is, Gospel-like, to Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself, and as part of Existence and of God’s infinite glory, regardless of our personal feelings of repulsion or frustration about our fellow humans.
I came away from the Sunday event (which I slept through the first half of) thinking of Sartre’s famous maxim: “Hell is other people.”
Oft-misunderstood, the intended meaning of this line from Huis Clos, surprisingly enough (to me at least), is almost exactly what was articulated by Dave (sans mention of Hell or Sartre) in the Sunday event: “The No Exit play by Sartre perfectly illustrates the difficult coexistence of people: the fact that others – and their gaze – is what alienates and locks me in a particular kind of being, which in turn deprives me of my freedom” (ref). By extension, as Dave made explicit, it is also our gaze towards others that potentially closes our wisdom eye, and keeps us trapped inside the private hell of the false self. Our inability to love.
The reason my attention went to Hell was not Sartre but two dreams I recently had and had shared with Dave. In one of them, I was realizing that we, the human race, were on the verge of entering indefinitely into an internal state of collective Hell on Earth, and that this experience was one I knew all too well from my childhood (it related to my mother’s psyche).
The second dream was of Dave preparing us, the participants, for a sustained series of head-to-head encounters with Satan, and that this entailed being fully immersed in Satan’s body and being, in a kind of dark communion, until we developed the capacity to be completely calm and relaxed in the midst of raw terror, and thus able to receive and benefit from the Great Wisdom of the Adversary.
I note in passing that The Devil card in the Tarot corresponds Kabbalistically with the Hebrew letter Ayin, ע, meaning Eye. I once asked a Spaniard, after I drew the card, what he saw as a positive attribute of the Devil. He said, “He’s wise.”
So, while Dave was talking about connecting to all of Humanity, I was hearing, “Join the Body of Satan, and prepare to meet thine Inner Hell.”
The gaze of the Other.
In a related note, in a recent interview I did, I said this: “… the mind, which is the only Hell there is …” Hell is a loveless theory of mind that creates its very own huis clos.
I now think it is time to update and amend Jean Paul Sartre’s statement to this:
“Hell is only other people.”
So relax, and make yourself at home there.
(More on the GRASS HORSE project here; email me with an encrypted email account for password)