|This is the Center, Core, Meat and Heart of Assyrianism|
- Wednesday, December 12 2007, 21:45:07 (CET)|
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These few lines from the Epic of Gilgamesh express the world-view and wisdom of the ancient Sumerians on down through the Assyrians and Babylonians into whom they merged. The sentiment for and the moral and ethical treatment of those nearest and dearest to an ancient man’s heart, his wife and children, are here expressed so simply and beautifully that they take your breath away for their elegant brevity and no-nonsense approach to what matters most of all.
In their religions there were still rituals and rites to be followed closely, gods to propitiate, evil spirits and prophecies to be accounted for, divination and magic and all the hocus pocus ever invented by any religion. But...and it’s a big and most crucial reservation; all of this business was intended, not to feather a bed in eternity…one nobody had ever seen or felt or known…but to build the best possible life, here on earth.
We’re so used to hearing praise for the ancient Hebrews, the people who took 40 years to go a couple of miles, that we frown on anything that isn’t nine-tenths sheer and utter nonsense. Had everyone in history been as determined to forego knowledge and arts and sciences as the Hebrews, content to wallow in the dusty and drab village they dwelt in, preferring to gaze at the stars and imagine a mighty general coming down who could do for them what Rameses and Ashurbanipal and Dariush did for their people…we never would have advanced past cannibalism and human sacrifice. For it wasn’t that the Hebrews despised and scorned earthly wealth, palaces, goblets of gold and fancy clothing…it’s just that they could never figure out how to get these things or make them for themselves. Their utter lack of ingenuity was at the base of their “morality” which turned their ineptness into a “patient waiting” for a celestial handyman to come do it all for them.
This is something the Assyrians placed no faith in...had no desire for and, most importantly; could damn well do for themselves. It wasn’t that genetically or racially they were vastly superior to their neighbors. It was because their natural talents were challenged and the best they could do called for in making THIS life the damn best paradise on this earth. And for this marvelous ingenuity and hard work they were called “savages who luxuriated in sloth and vice etc.” They rose to the challenge because they had no need or inclination for a Messiah. Their concern for the welfare of their families, cities and people drove them to invent and refine every implement and ideology that would secure them the good life on earth.
Undoubtedly they feared death like everyone else…but not enough to waste life seeking to avoid its finality…which is the subject of the Epic. In fairness to the Hebrews they never taught a paradise after death…they looked to a rich empire here on earth under the leadership of a Messiah…and their views on an afterlife, Sheol, was very like that of the Assyrians….a place of darkness where the good and bad were transformed into birdlike creatures who had nothing but dust to eat. A life after death with the possibility of parole to a resort spa never entered the equation…not till Christ failed to return in the first millennium and an embarrassed Church declared there would be pie in the sky by and by.
The Assyrian identity was all about using your talents and energy, at whatever cost, to build paradise on earth…and they damn near succeeded…at least this was a paradise you could see and touch…and one which benefited so many others the world over…and the simple secret to their moral philosophy is expressed by Sidhuri, the Divine Barmaid, though Goddess of Brewing , a very important source of nourishment back then, would be more appropriate and respectful…although the other name is fun.
Here is what she has to say to Gilgamesh…feverishly yapping after the BIG questions, like the Hebrews, and running into parked cars, like they did.
“Gilgamesh, where are you roaming?
You will never find the eternal life
That you seek. When the gods created mankind,
They also created death, and they held back
Eternal life for themselves alone.
Humans are born, they live, then they die,
This is the order that the gods have decreed.
But until the end comes, enjoy your life,
Spend it in happiness, not despair.
Savor your food, make each of your days
A delight, bathe and anoint yourself,
Wear bright clothes that are sparkling clean,
Let music and dancing fill your house,
Love the child who holds you by the hand,
And give your wife pleasure in your embrace.
That is the best way for a man to live.”
Making due allowance for the role women were forced to play, as men forced themselves into back then….this is as near to divine guidance as anyone needs. All else can flow from the simple admonition to leave the big questions alone, at least until you’ve done right by yourself, your family and city and can find nothing better to do, which the Assyrians always managed to find. People with such beliefs would feel inspired to do their best, here on earth, neither sitting in squalor and waiting on someone else, nor imagining a place beyond the clouds where everything has been prepared for them. This could be the reason the Assyrians, among a few others, achieved so much and have barely a napkin to cover their nakedness since being “saved” by a Jewish knock-off faith.
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