Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Your turn #4: Update, Update2 Update 3 (last post, closes next Tuesday) keep it going-growing


Today: Zen techniques, "talking silence" (John Cage's 4:33), "the fool," (think of Arlecchino, Lazarillo, from Simplicius, Scapin, Melville's deaf-mute, to Felix Krull and Erasmus' The Praise of Folly), "doing poetry" (from the poet as "possessed" [manikos] in the same sense as the Pythia at Delphi), "doing nothing" (read: doing the laundry), etc. Anyone can be a master, Zen is nothing special. See you this Thursday for the final exam and later, dinner, chez moi. By the way, here is a review of Just Another Love Story (the Danish movie we talked about in class).
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Today: poesis as antidote for unproductive lives, The Art of War: Sun Tsu's meaning of "force," winning without fighting, contrarian philosophy, Tao's cycles, strategy, suntsuian "complete victory," Chuang-Tzu's dream thought experiment (or "how to connect verbal subjunctive with travel in parallel realities"), levels of insult, "the impossible is possible" as chuang-tzuian poetry, Tzu's "leveling of all things into ONE," Who is crippled?

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Since we only have a week left, let's make this post more ambitious and include Taoism (up to the post below on wu-wei), even if it means making your comments a little more comprehensive. Feel free to comment on Confucianism or Taoism or -better- both.
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I enjoyed our last discussion because of its socio-political dimension. Confucianism's social project strikes me as a sort of communitarianism. The jūnzǐ suggest a middle-point between individuality and community. Each one of us -as individuals- is embedded. “Li” is the social bond, a proto-ethical set of habits that translate as civility, the cohesion needed to foster individual happiness. Aristotle would agree with Confucius that personal fulfillment (eudaimonia) cannot exist without a community. Can “li” become petrified? Certainly, but this is no fault of its original purpose, not at least if “shu” is properly applied. Go ahead.

16 comments:

J.V said...

( quoted:..Confucius that personal fulfillment (eudaimonia) cannot exist without a community)

Without any community there wouldn’t be any reason for us to find fulfillment in happiness, because fulfillment comes from the need to separate ourselves from others. Individuality comes from setting ones ideas apart from that of the community, and by obtaining the privacy of those ideas and beliefs each person finds the beginning to fulfilling happiness.
If we don’t have people to compare our ways of life with, than we wouldn’t know whether the life we are living is a happy life or a life full of sorrow. Because we cannot really defined happiness if we do not know sorrow. Knowing only happiness will prevent us from understanding its real value, I don’t think it would be called happiness it perhaps would be called something else.
Which would mean that if only one human being were to exist he or she would know nothing about emotion, dreams or life itself, because they don’t know about the life as a community?

J.V.

Edyna said...

hi triff

Shane said...

I think the idea that personal fulfillment cannot exist without a community is a rich one. We spend so much time trying to discover ourselves, trying to investigate our thoughts..but we don't live in a vacuum. We are social creatures, and we are part of the world. Certainly there is an element of brainwashing, be it our parents or society etc, but we can't know if we are brainwashed without being brainwashed almost. Its as if we need the other to validate and distinguish the self. Like we discussed, I am what I am not.

Eastern philosophy is steeped in deep paradoxes, which I find to be very interesting. The Western tradition I have come from doesn't seem to find truth in paradox as much, or in contrary philosophies. Although that may only be so because of my own ignorance, the fact that the paradoxes of the West aren't as readily obvious as that of the East says something.

Even when we speak to one another, and we feel that we understand each other, even if its fleeting, there is this feeling of spiritual communion that I think is unrivaled. Art itself is an attempt to transcend out isolation by transferring our experience through different mediums. I think that's beautiful.

I admire Chuang-Tzu for his insight into many things, his dream argument in particular. I remember when I was younger telling someone how strange it would be if we were simply butterflies dreaming to be human, or the dream of some superior being. I've always been interested in dreams. More interestingly then, is examining what Confucius said about personal fulfillment when looked at through the light of dreams. Since dreams are part of the unconscious, we often learn things about our self through them. In dreams we meet many different types of people, and yet aren't they really coming from our self, from within? So couldn't it be possible that a perceived community could do the trick for personal fulfillment too, that perhaps others aren't needed but just the others within us all?

JDMR said...

There was something that called my attention regarding Confucianism. I'm talking about "Li."Since it's not a word that we have in our vocabulary it has many translations: Habits, rules, morals, good behavior but the one that most intrigued me was "ritual." In Confucianism, ritual does not necessarily refer to arbitrary religious practices, but rather every routine that we participate of either knowingly or uknowingly. And according to Confucius, as we all know, by mastering Ren and Li we can become ubermensches (chinese version though). What's interesting about Li, aside from the fact that it improves the metabolism of society, is that it creates this sort of huge metaphor (we've been using that word quite often haven't we?) for living. In the sense that what we westerners consider as monotonous, dull and sometimes useless (routine), it's transformed into this force that helps shape our society and ourselves. And this takes me to my main point today. The awkward power of metaphors. As we all know, philosophically speaking, metaphors show us something that normal logic can't. I've been doing some research on my own and I came up with a possible reason for this phenomena.

I believe we're all familiar with the bicameral mind, namely, the function of our right and left brain hemispheres. The left would be the logical, linear, language processor. Whereas the right would take charge of empathy, facial recognition, and yes, metaphors. If we apply this idea to both western and eastern philosophy it is evident that western philosophy has worked lefty while eastern philosophy functions in right brain territory. Think about it, even the whole definition of Zen or Nirvana--of grasping ultimate knowledge but then having to let go so that the knowledge remains unobtained (and thus ultimate). It's in those moments of sudden realization and temporal loss (right brain symptoms) when we can experience that special thing that we can't in our daily lives. Sorry that I sidetracked a bit.

susan marie said...

12- How can that be? It is asked. The true Sage keeps his knowledge within him, while men in general set forth theirs in argument, in order to convince each other. And therefore it is said that one who argues does so because he cannot see certain points.

This particular selection from tales and aphorisms of Chuang-Tzu called out to me- I think it encompasses one of the predominant themes in Taoism, as well as the Art of War. A realized, higher-thinking individual is one that doesn't feel the need to incessantly detail facts and information to the point that whatever is being said loses all meaningful essence. The person that does so is driven by insecurity and the yearning for some validation, evidence, and proof that they are "intelligent" by the standards of society. This overcompensation leads to arguing which devalues the subject that is being argued as a whole. In turn, this verifies the fact that those engaged in argument do not fully apprehend what they are verbally squabbling about; they must fill the silence with noise because they believe noise is better.

Taoism whole-heartedly embraces this silence, for this silence is the true measurement of a person's wisdom. One that has attained this wisdom doesn't feel the need to be pretentious. I feel this is crucial because it also incorporates the act of humility. Someone that is pompously talking away, yet saying nothing at the same time (only to guise their inferiority complex) is not being humble; they want to show everyone how "smart" they are and how much "smarter" they are than everyone else. It is pure egoism.

One of Taoism's goals is simplicity, and I think that is something that is unfortunately void in the Western world. In the Western world, we value things by quantity, not quality. We relentlessly want more more more, and we don't even know why. We feel that in being excessive, we can fill the emptiness within us. Truth is, we only render ourselves more hollow and delude ourselves from what really holds intrinsic meaning. Taoism strips everything down to dialectics- this thesis-antithesis way of arriving at truth. Does it get any simpler than that, contrary philosophies? I feel this simplicity brings us much closer to happiness than this self-fabricated complexity we all find to be so captivating and enthralling.

Quazo said...

I must say that like a vast majority of westerners I was introduced to Eastern Philosophy through music; primarily 60’s Rock and Roll. I bought my first George Harrison Vinyl (33 1/3) when I was 17, I remember taking out the record and seeing a symbol that at that point didn’t even recognize, but I thought it looked cool. My further obsession with the Beatles and George Harrison’s solo work brought me to these foreign and exotic concepts, and time after time seeing that symbol that I didn’t understand. I researched it and learned that it was OM. After that, I knew that there was an entire world of poetry, music, philosophy and ideology that I desired to explore and with much to learn from.
From everything we’ve discussed in class and learned, I feel that these foreign concepts that seemed so distant and colorless have been given life and an entirely new spectrum of colors. The study of the Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammapada and the Tao Te Ching have really given me a new appreciation to one of my favorite Harrison compositions
“Within You And Without You”
We were talking-about the space between us all
And the people-who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth-then it's far too late-when they pass away.
We were talking-about the love we all could share-when we find it
To try our best to hold it there-with our love
With our love-we could save the world-if they only knew.
Try to realize it's all within yourself
No-one else can make you change
And to see you're really only very small,
And life flows ON within you and without you.
We were talking-about the love that's gone so cold and the people,
Who gain the world and lose their soul-
They don't know-they can't see-are you one of them?
When you've seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind,
Is waiting there-
And the time will come when you see
we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you.
I thought it would be a nice post to share these lyrics with you since this is now something we are all familiar with and we can all dissect and appreciate.
-Jorge

Yvette said...

Hello to all!

Triff,

I owe you a few blogs so this is the one from the beginning of class I had written but I hadn't correctly posted.

I have been reading my classmates blogs and I must say we have some very interesting discussions going on. I have to start off by saying that I haven’t taken a philosophy class in some time. I took Professor Triff’s Intro to Philosophy years ago and I absolutely loved it. The beauty of philosophy is that it is all around us. Philosophical discussions are being had by people that don’t even know they are having them. For years I have been talking on and off with various friends about destiny. It is quite a fascinating subject for me. But I have been discussing it in its basest of terms, in everyday conversations, were we use movies and news stories as examples. Not until I started this class did I even know what determinism was. According to Wikipedia, “Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition and behavior, decision and action, is casually determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences.” I had a theory about that that I had discussed with some friends some time ago and there you go it has a name, a definition.

When I was young I was that inquisitive child that always wanted to know why. I had to know everything. I went through books in a single day. I had such a thirst for knowledge. I always questioned everything. I thought that my questioning was wrong, that it was weird, and that I was weird for just not being happy and living life without having to question everything. Coming from a devout Catholic family I even questioned them and their beliefs. I never felt I got a good enough response, they believed simply because it was what was taught to them. I felt as though I didn’t fit in. I got to a point that I lost that thirst for knowledge and that inquisitiveness; I just wanted to fit in. I went many years just following the crowd, being popular and living a lie. It wasn’t me. This class has regained that thirst for me and made me realize just how much philosophy is a part of my life.

Today in class we were discussing Western Philosophy and Christianity and taking the Bible too literally. The bible was written nearly 3,500 years ago. It was written over a period of 1400 to 1800 years by more than 40 different authors. The Bible is a compilation of 66 separate books, divided into two primary divisions: the Old Testament (containing 39 books) and the New Testament (containing 27 books). How can anybody take it literally???

Edyna said...

Eastern philosophy has definitely allowed me to view certain situations in my life with far more clarity. The Art of War truly impacted my ability to understand characteristics of certain individuals, including those of my own family.

My twelve year old cousin is currently living with us, waiting for my parents to sign the adoption papers. He’s seen and lived through so much that no one should ever have to experience. He’s a good kid at heart. Sweet, kind, compassionate, but lately he’s become quite indifferent towards everything in his life. He used to love to skateboard, play guitar, play video games, and do magic tricks, and lately his passions for such hobbies have faded. Of course he enjoys them while he partakes in them; however, he has no desire to improve. He holds onto nothing, and drops it prior to it becoming a love of his. My family and I have struggled to try and figure out why he’s taken on such apathy, but we were at a loss. However, the other day in class, it was as if a light bulb went off. “If you are formless, it will be difficult to calculate against you.” Immediately I thought back to my cousin.

He’s so tired of being disappointed by whom he loves, that he chooses not to love. He cares very little for his friends, and is extremely impassive with us. Nevertheless, it now makes perfect sense. Understanding the instability of the Department of Children and Families, he holds onto nothing because he’s never sure if he’s about to loose it. He’s been told several times he’s going to remain in my home, and then the system decides otherwise. He’s been bumped around from our home to his mother’s home to many times for him to trust the Department. Thus, he chooses to be listless because it will spare him the disappointment that he expects.

On another note….

“Don’t see yourself with anyone else; see your self with your self.” Perhaps I am misconstruing the very meaning of this, however it truly impacted me. We as humans seek the acceptance and desire the company of others; it is in our nature. However, we often loose ourselves trying to become what the other person desires. It correlates with the saying, “before you can love others, you have to love yourself.” We often forget our ability to be independent and self sufficient, particularly at our age. We are young and susceptible to falling into situations that we use to define who we are. Perhaps this is in relation to the western world we live in. No matter what we do, who we are, or where we’ve been, we are never enough. Thus we seek the companionship of another in order to somehow justify the life we are living. Perhaps if we incorporated Taoism into our everyday life, we would find internal contentment. Breaking our life down to the basics would allow us to simply enjoy ourselves, without the company or approval of others. We could enjoy the art WE produce, without comparing it to that of other artist. We could find joy in OUR music, OUR poetry, OUR paintings and realize that we, too, are capable of producing something beautiful and incredible, something that the western world alludes to being out of our reach and only for the “talented”. We need not the company of others, rather the satisfaction to be in the company of ourselves. I believe that this will lead to the idea of invincibility rather than vulnerability. I believe that will lead to true happiness and self discovery

Edyna said...

Hello Triff,

Here are my past two Blog Responses.

Blog #2
The idea of moderation is in fact the wisest way to live ones life,
however, is it wise to partake in situations that the risk may very
well be detrimental to the body and state of a human? The idea of
predisposition is in fact something to be taken into great
consideration.

There are several experiences in life that are very well worth the
risk, however, one must also balance the pros and cons prior to
engaging in any activity that may very well lead to an addictive life
style (i.e. alcohol and drugs).

It is a fun and an enjoyable experience to participate in drinking or
drugs. However, is that momentary fun worth putting oneself at risk of
being an alcoholic or drug addict because of pre-disposition?

It’s insisted that we not live our life in fear of our genetics,
however, how can we fight science. If it is in our nature to become
addicts, why subject ourselves to the possibility of an addictive life
if it can very well be prevented?

The idea of conditioning ourselves to not become addicted to certain
subject, whether to drugs or alcohol, is naïve and ridiculous. If one
has an addictive personality, how can they prevent themselves from
becoming chemically dependent on a substance? By telling themselves
they will not become addicted? If that were the case, then addicts
would not exist.

The argument was also raised that we can also partake in the action
and stop engaging in such activity before it becomes an addiction.
However, to come to such a realization, one must realize the excess
use of the substance, and their longing for their drunk or high state.
Then have they really managed to end it prior to becoming addicted, or
have they simply caught their addiction in its early stages?

Blog #3
If the premise of Buddhism is to surpass the conscious state of being,
then are we even human anymore? Although I find Buddhism to be
fascinating, I find the idea of disconnecting from our conscious a
little absurd. In order to reach the enlightenment we must reach a
“deeper consciousness” by giving up that of our current state.
However, if we give up our conscious state, do we not give up all the
beauties that do indeed exist in our current world? As Victoria
originally asked, where does that leave art, music, poetry? Would we
grasp the same appreciation for the little things in life that make
our very existence worthwhile? Or are such things considered
un-important in the beliefs of Buddhist? If so…why? Why is it that
we cannot partake in love or passion? Why must we disconnect in order
to learn? I understand entirely the idea of controlling one’s anger.
In fact I believe the lessons taught in Buddhism regarding such an
emotion to be wise. Yet, love and sexuality is an entirely different
state. It comes natural to us to seek companionship. As such, why must
we disassociate ourselves from what comes natural to us in order to
become enlightened? Furthermore, if once we’ve reached a deeper state
of consciousness, will we be able to recall the life we lived prior to
our disconnection of the world? After all, if we remain in the
enlightened state, have we not simply tricked ourselves to escaping
what is the “real world” for a place far more pleasant? Consciousness
is what keeps us linked to reality. If we let go of our conscious, are
we not living in a ‘coma’ like state, unaware of our surroundings? Is
that even realistically possible? And if it is, how is being oblivious
to the world we live in enlightened?

Jiryu02 said...

"A monk asks Ummon 'What is Buddha?' Ummon replies 'A shit stick'"

Today's lecture on Zen and the discussion has led me to renounce Buddhism all together. I wish to show my line of reasoning.

When the discussion arose on the difference between Eastern and western philosophy, I took particular notice in the way students romantacize the east and criticize the logical west.

First of all, we cannot seperate philosophies based on geography even though philosophies developing near by tend to have an influence on each other. Still, the east was just as much logical as the west. In fact, the Indian philosopies are completely parallel to Greek philosophies. The Indians had objectivism, determinism, etc. Any philosophy that could develop anywhere in the world. Intuition is not a seperate characteristic either.

The way I see it, they are all the same, none of them offering anything special, anything worth following. If anyone were to practice Taoism, Zen, Jainism, etc. they'd be getting themselves in the same mess that religon has made in the west.

Were any of these philosophies meant to be taken literally? I beleive so. The teachings of buddhism are very direct, the metaphors are made distinct from the teaching. Its the same with Christianity, either we take the Bible literally or we speculate on meanings in which we could make it seem like any philosophy.

Therefore, we must put them all under the same test of reason. If any of them passes then we must ask about who we were before this new belief. What is wrong with things the way they are? What is wrong with our state without any position?

Why do we feel that we're in a position to accept or deny any position?

I propose that we are not in that position and therefore we cannot prove anything external. The answer cannot, in anyway, be seperate from the only reality we have in front of us. There is something simple and obvious about existence. I beleive existence is the only truth, my nature is my appropriate attitude.

To be yourself, you don't have to do a thing!
This may be the message behind Zen but this goes without saying.

AndreaC said...

I enjoyed listening to the discussion you guys were having today in class about Western Philosophy (left hemisphere) and Eastern Philosophy (right hemisphere). What I specifically liked was when Edyna mentioned God and Victoria mentioned atheists.

It made me recall a conversation I had with a friend.

To start things off...

The class discussion made it seem like Western and Easter Philosophy were constantly challenging each other. Even the hemispheres of our brains were not spared. We have to either be logical in our religion and follow science (which also brings up a completely different battle within the Western world) OR we have to be artistic and free. There's no reason to pick one though because we can be both. Each side compliments each other. There is no good side or bad side. If there is then we still need both the good and bad.

Anyway.

The conversation I had with my friend was about God. This is always a bad topic but we somehow made it work. As I listened to him, I noticed how trapped he seemed by language, science, and religion. I guess he can represent the Western world. He was telling me how God loved us all and how there was no hell. I was trying to tell him that there must be a hell, otherwise, how could people like Hitler make it to Heaven. If God allowed that, what kind of God was he. We both eventually stopped because we weren't getting anywhere. A conclusion eventually came up; one that combined what we both had said. It was this:

"God loves us and is like a parent, and like a parent, He punishes us. He does not judge us on whether we're Jewish, Christian, or Atheist. But He does judge our ethics and morals. No, there is no hell but there is punishment, which is measured according to our bad choices."

It's still a work in progress but that shows that we need both sides. I hope this made sense...I really do. Sorry for any typos.

Andrea Cebrecos (T/R @ 11:40AM)

Carla Abad said...

I think it is very natural for us to compare and contrast the religions we have been exposed to since we were babies (or at least that is the case with me) and the new ones we are discovering as we take different courses like this one. Especially since many of us are still trying to figure out what we believe in and why at this very age. At least for me, the comparison between the Eastern and Western philosophies and religions help me understand both and understand myself better than having both in separate "compartments" in my mind.
I find it fascinating how the basics of religions that seem so different from each other can be so similar. I also find the different interpretations of their teachings equally interesting.
During the past years I slowly detached myself from the religion I was "born into", and through this course I was able to understand and reconnect in some way to the beautiful aspect of religion, and not just my own but in other religions and philosophies I never thought I would feel so attracted to and intrigued by.
I think it is beautiful how teachings that seem so distant can complement each other so beautifully.
We learn so much from so many different sources (our families, our friends, our teachers, art, etc), it seems natural to form our spiritual and religious knowledge and beliefs from many different sources/religions/teachings/classes/people/etc.

A.T. said...

We should not ignore that Hinduism has its fanatical branch, just as much as Christianity or Islam does. Buddhism was a state religion under Ashoka. There is some truth to the fact the Western Philosophy has concentrated more into epistemology and logic and axiology in light with the scientific discoveries of the West. But make no mistake, there are important philosophers in the East that pursued logic and epistemology.

susan marie said...

Blog#3- Buddhism

In regards to Buddhism, while I feel it is one of the gems of
Eastern Philosophy, I still suppose the entire concept of being completely detached from desire is unfathomable. Perhaps it is meant to be perceived in the metaphorical sense, that which implies desire as an addiction of sorts, but that would be too small-minded. However, in desiring to not desire, you are still desiring! I feel desire is healthy in the world, healthy to live. The desire to wake up in the morning and seize the day, the desire to want to love and help others. These desires aren't malevolent to one's soul. On the contrary, it allows one's soul to flourish. It is likely that Buddhism means that in desiring you are blinded, and you are supposed to be as fluid as water and not necessarily limit yourself and be bound by these desires. If you are neutral, you do not desire, allowing growth- this I do understand clearly. Void of attachment allows one to continue evolving. I still feel it is almost an impossible feat to achieve in many ways, but in the grand scheme of things (which is the overall lens that Eastern Philosophy uses) lack of desire gives rise to a more fulfilling life, closer to self-realization.

Blog#1-
I have always been an advocate of free will, and believe that determinism and free will, if both coincide, have an elusive relationship. The belief that "everything has a reason" I think has been misconstrued over the ages to implicate a beautiful destiny that probably doesn't exist. Sure, everything has a reason; the reason we choose for it to possess. We are taught to believe that there are these supernatural "signs" bestowed upon us, but I can't help but believe that we LOOK for these signs, and these signs are entirely subjective. Humanity cannot imagine things happening because... they just happen. Because it is part of a process. Because of emergence. And humanity especially cannot fathom things happening if it does not bring forth some type of consolation and promise. Truth is, nothing is promised to us, except that one day we will not exist in the form that we currently exist in today. It is not pessimism nor cynicism, in fact it personifies neutrality, one of the fundamental tenets of Eastern Philosophy.

Yvette said...

Hi again!

Blog #3 in reference to Buddhism

I really want to talk about the Dalai Lama's Buddhist program for world peace. I was so moved by his essay. The Dalai Lama says, “If we adopt a self-centered approach to life and constantly try to use others for our own self-interest, we may gain temporary benefits, but in the long run we will not succeed in achieving even personal happiness, and world peace will be completely out of the question.” Of course this essay is about world peace but we could really use this idea in our everyday lives. It is so true that we may gain temporary satisfaction but eventually we will just feel empty not happy. He also says that, “Hatred and fighting cannot bring happiness to anyone, even to the winners of battles. Violence always produces misery and thus is essentially counter-productive.” I know I feel miserable when I fight with a loved one, even if I “won” the fight. As I have gotten older I have acquired the attitude that I rather concede than to fight with someone I love. Life is too short.

“World leaders must realize their own and others' humanness. Without this basic realization, very little effective reduction of organized hatred can be achieved. I suggest that world leaders meet about once a year in a beautiful place without any business, just to get to know each other as human beings.” This is the best idea of all! Amazingly simple yet so profound! I have often thought that if people were to get to know each other as human beings, rather than as a title (in this case world leaders), they would realize they have much more in common than they originally thought even if they are from different cultures and backgrounds.

From the words of the great poets, Depeche Mode:

People are people so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
People are people so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

So we're different colors and we're different creeds
And different people have different needs
It's obvious you hate me though I've done nothing wrong
I never even met you so what could I have done

I know they are no Dalai Lama but I think the sentiment is the same.

:-)

Alex Uribe said...

I must say I appreciate the foundation of Confucianism, particularly the focus on morality. I found it particularly interesting that it stays clear of speaking about spiritual beings and instead chooses to focus on the way in which to live life. However I was not entirely taken away by the material and yet still I find myself reading a random part or two everyday.

After reading The Upanishads, The Dhammapada, and the Tao Teh Ching (now working on the Bhagavad Gita) I must admit Buddhism has managed to strike a chord with me because it seems that all my youth I've grown up (unintentionally) with a very buddhist sense of being. But still I would not consider myself to be a buddhist by any means.

As both Taoism and Buddhism support, I agree (in a moderate understanding) that many of their points, particularly with separation of desire, exercise of control of the mind and body and finally of duty, are all simple notions which to me offer a way of life that can be very fulfilling. It seems that there is particular resistance on the subject of being able to separate desire from the self, but as with all things, individuals must not go to an extreme and give up all things because then we miss the value of being alive. Simply said, we should wish to attain a state of [nearly] complete control of our actions (of mind and body); in so doing we have much to gain as well as offer.

What Shane brought up in class the other day was head on: Eastern Philosophy/religion offers more attainable goals whereas Western Philosophy/religion offers jesus, which is [virtually] impossible to attain.