Lately, the Sino-Balinese post-mortem ceremonies have been intensifying, to the extent that I am in constant transit between Tabanan and Denpasar on a daily basis. The thing that's bugging me is that I don't see much of a point for all these ceremonies, especially for those who claim to be Buddhists, since the original purpose of these ceremonies is to purge the deceased of their "sins" so that they'd be able to move to a higher realm, to which they're shown by -- wait for it -- Sakyamuni Buddha! This is a completely outrageous belief for a Buddhist -- at least the Theravadins; I'm not too sure about the Mahāyāna perspective regarding this matter -- to hold, since as a Buddhist one is to relieve oneself of all attachments, most importantly of attachments to rites and rituals. On top of that, Buddhism teaches that all sentient beings will suffer or enjoy the karma they have sown for themselves, so that no amount of "prayer" (to which I, as a Buddhist, do not attach myself), rituals or any other acts of another sentient being can affect one's karma. It's the highest-ranking law of the universe. This is not, of course, to say that Buddhism does not believe in forgiveness, because forgiveness is required in Buddhism to break the chain of suffering a being experiences. By continuing a war, for example, one will sow karma which one will reap. As long as karma is still sown and not experienced, one is never freed from suffering. The monk giving a sermon last night mentioned something along these lines, to which I added my own two cents' worth, in a sermon I find myself agreeing to for the first time. After hearing this sermon, I felt much braver to go against the flow and decline offers to worship a deity, since this makes much more sense that wafting sticks of incense back and forth for good fortune. Anyway, I humbly ask the reader's thoughts and feelings regarding this matter in the form of a comment below.
Anyway, I want to continue this post with my two cents' worth of opinion about the development of the plot of Gossip Girl, so those who have not watched it up to the twenty-third episode and do not want the story spoiled for them should refrain from looking below, since I consider that the time is ripe enoguh for a review, having watched the episode as soon as it came out.
I will begin by expressing thanks and praise for the writers who have decided to place Michelle Trachtenberg -- as Georgina Sparks -- back in the show! I was completely in love with her acting as Dawn on Buffy and was severely torn between disappointment and gratitude when Georgina left the show at the end of Season One, since it was too hard to bid farewell to one of my favourite actresses, but I was also so annoyed by Georgina's character and would have screamed had they not taken her away at that time. I guess it just shows how amazing her acting skills are, since she is able to elicit such a violent response within the audience. For some time, I almost forgot that she was Michelle Trachtenberg, the innocent girl from Buffy, and was constantly cursing at my laptop monitor while watching, so credible was her acting. The story of her "finding Christ" and the subsequent loss of her religion is also brilliant! I have the old Georgina back, and she's pro-Serena! This is a cause for celebration, I say.
Another aspect I should laud the scriptwriters with praise for is the ... well ... script! It's incredibly witty lately, adn they have not disappointed me and the rest of Queen B's fans by making her lines the most hilarious in the show. I mean, honestly, the reference to "Jesus Take the Wheel" as a "Carrie Underwood song title -- not a life choice" is just brilliant! I also love Georgina's closing line which uses the well-recycled, yet aptly placed, "the bitch is back". Brilliant.
1 week ago