What makes a small(ish) town in 1500 produce Michelangelo, Leonardo, Gallileo, Bruneschelli?
The Christian stories don't seem tailor-made for a commerce-dominated society. Maybe the Christian empires deserve a little credit for that. Christianity may have been quite the humanizing influence, maybe.
We all live in ignorance. Of course, peasants in the dark ages presumably lived in more ignorance than intelligientsia in the 21st century. But what is the great materialistic fallacy? That this time it is different. We live in ignorance, just way way WAY less ignorance than serfs in the dark or middle ages. But ignorance none the less. We don't know where we are before we are born, or where we go when we die. We don't even know IF we are before we are born or IF we are after we die. We do not know if we have free will or not. We do not know whether conscious life is a miracle, or whether we just mix the right things together and we get some.
What is the lesson of zen? On one level it seems the lesson is that life is. It hits you in the face and you keep trying to figure it out, then it trips you in the mud and hits you in the face again. Maybe it is not so much that this is some great virtue, but that this is what we do in our state of ignorance. Every time we perseverate over figuring something out, we have missed the point that we are still ignorant.
The place in Tuscany is beautiful. Two little girls to keep Melissa and Julia company in the pool. A miraculosly beautiful villa in a tiny community of perhaps three or four families, secured by a long dirt road/driveway to get there. Iron rail around tiled patio with stone walls, wood beamed ceiling. While it was hot(ish) when we got here, we rolled in the pool for an hour or two and at 6:45 PM the sun is still reasonably high over the hills, but the breeze is blowing lightly through the pines and olive trees. I am sitting here with Julia and Melissa at the rough table, (probably a few hundred years old) while they eat buttered toast. There is an ancient scale hanging above the porch. All this, and internet!