In the third century B.C., the great Buddhist Emperor Asoka of India, following this noble example of tolerance and understanding [the Buddha requesting Upali, a petitioner for discipleship, to continue to respect and honour his old teachers], honoured and supported all other religions in his vast empire. In one of his Edicts carved on rock, the original of which one may read even today, the Emperor declared:
One should not honour only one’s own religion and condemn the religions of others, but one should honour others’ religions for this or that reason. So doing, one helps one’s own religion to grow and renders service to the religions of others too. In acting otherwise one digs the grave of one’s own religion and also does harm to other religions. Whosoever honours his own religion and condemns other religions does so indeed through devotion to his own religion, thinking ‘I will glorify my own religion.’ But on the contrary, in so doing he injures his own religion more gravely. So concord is good: Let all listen, and be willing to listen to the doctrines professed by others.
It’s hard work, this practice of understanding the other, but I make it my New Year’s Resolution.
Lee and I wish everybody, but especially our friends, peace and well-being in the New Year.
By the way, journalist Debbie Nathan
took this picture of Lee and me. She was visiting from New York City with her daughter, the artist Sophy Naess who now lives in Sweden. Debbie is addicted somehow to El Paso and Juárez. She gets pissed off about all the stuff that happens here—this weird nexus of border energies, federal and state and local law, Spanish and English, interesting people, poverty, perplexed but funky imagination and good friends—so she comes back for another jolt from time to time. This time she came back with experience in hair removal earned in pursuit of a story. The story didn’t pan out, but not to worry: Debbie delights in body waxing. In this photo she has just completed doing Lee’s eyebrows. Obviously, she didn’t do the single white hair that has sprouted on my nose.