If you investigate the word “city”, you will find it has roots in the Latin civitas. Civitas is how ordinary people should treat each other in an urban setting: with civility. City is rooted in civility, indeed.

     Interestingly, the deepest etymological root of “civil” (PIE kei- “dear, beloved, home”) is also the deepest root of the Sanskrit Siva. Siva (pronounced Shiva) is Hinduism’s primary god of both pure consciousness and death.

     Si can be heard in hiss, hush, dissolve, and silent and va can be found in voice, voluntary, vote, vow.  Si-va.  The awareness of self-dissolution is spontaneously followed by the voice of self-awareness. Si-va, Siva, civil, cities, citizen, civilization. Fellow citizens! We die, and we have voice. Let us speak the blessings of civility.

     Adi Da tenderly underscored this truth:

     So let us not be stupid and cruel people. Let us be a little more humorous and loving, and acknowledge our friends compassionately. All of them are fleshily presented and dying. All of our women friends, all of our men friends—everyone who lives is dying and is confronted with the most incredible circumstance. All are deserving of our love and compassion, and also of our demand for the discipline of love beyond self-possession, so that they too can enjoy the Intuition of this happiness.

     And our happiness depends on the total inspection of this life. So let us not pretend that we exist in a Disney world of beauty. This life is many-sided, and we do not know what it is. Let us recognize the situation we are in and become strong on the basis of this observation, so that we may be lovers and friends. Let us acknowledge this terrible circumstance and be happy, and stop placing stupid obligations on one another. We exist in a place that is open-ended, an edge to Infinity, and we are dying. The only way we can comprehend this complication is by sacrificing it and becoming lovers and friends.

     What is it to be a citizen with a home?  How did civilization (siva-lization?) come to evolve from merely organic and lively matter?  

     Over eons of time upon this blue-green earth, a rich organic soup became more and more refined, more and more sensitive, evolving into subtlety and complexity within a vast light-life field for billions of years. As the sunlight numinosity grew more complex, noticing sharpened, developing tools, until the conscious contemplation of death bolted awareness to self-reflection, and thus man and woman to language and consequent knowledge. Having tasted of the tree of knowledge, man and woman, as man and woman, stepped from the ocean of living energy and mysterious awareness even as we are always only simultaneous with it.

     Self-death different from embedded-life is the origin of understanding. Knowledge of the limit of death defines us exactly. This awareness of mortality flashed a thunderbolt in the pre-historic dark sky, sparking dearest being and civility in primordial man and woman.  I die, therefore I am.

     It is said that the Yaqui shamans carry death on their left shoulder and so rightly size what they encounter. Knowledge of death carves the arc of discrimination and gives us inherent knowledge of soul and compassionate civility.


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