Thursday, September 15, 2011

The future anterior: Notes to Thursday's class


let's come back to the idea of the binary karma/dharma (action). in the context of the gita "discipline in action" is called  karma yoga.

karma yoga makes sense if seen from the pov of "we are in the middle of," arms length of our duty, which brings forth the idea of time. we never have enough time! time is our nemesis. when we virtually interact with our own movie "as if" we were in the future of our present whereby we can tap into what is yet-to-come, what is still "on the verge" of happening.

karma is connected with the idea of immanence. why should arjuna fulfill his karma? recall that in the gita, the narrative is twofold: on the one hand, we have this actual battle where kin will die; on the other, we have Arjuna's inner struggle. going to battle is a virtual way of getting outside his own movie.

krishna counsels arjuna to "disturb" the normal order of things (which for the latter appears as chaotic). arjuna's desire is to call off the battle, but this path of inaction is wrong. this is why: Krishna is -as it were- outside, in Arjuna's distant future. by doing his duty, arjuna moves from immanence (his inner battle plus his actual battle) to transcendence, i.e., changing himself and things for the better.

how about the pair action/inaction? we get a complicated picture. you would've thought that asceticism, which we encounter in the upanishads, would be a good example. after all, the ascetic lives a life of dedication and commitment to self-governance. but this is a point we've discussed in class: if the ascetic left his own milieu to pursue a life of transcendence at the cost of his most immediate duty, he is not achieving much. he may end up desiring what he tries to avoid! in the context of the gita, asceticism is like burying one's head on the sand like an ostrich, in order to avoid the relentless chaos of the world.

what is chaos? inner battle the very thing what arjuna is really afraid of. he wants to go his way with inaction, not disturbing, not facing his own demons.
__________
notes: karma" comes from the root kri, which means "doing" and includes all the actions that a person performs. "yoga" comes from the root yuj, which means, "to join." the idea combines three aspects: 1- a sense of duty towards others, 2- an absence of desire for rewards, 3- a sense of equanimity, which enables one to be as neutral to environmental influences as possible. *what's future anterior? watch La Jetée. **in the future, one looks back to another moment (it doesn't have to be the past). for instance, last week's class is in the future of classes we didn't have before. imagine a person who makes the mistake of marrying the wrong person. by the time s/he feels happy, there will be many failed attempts at being happy. so, in a sense, happiness is the repetition (& resolution) of non-happiness.

12 comments:

FacundoRaganato said...

Oh sorry ignore the Music Club name

-Facundo Raganato

Alex said...

I find the karma yoga point of view from the milieu very interesting and true. Most enormous impacts has to begin from somewhere close to us, at arms length. Bringing change within yourself will lead change on the outside. A change of thought patterns to a more positive way of thinking would ultimately lead to positive actions, since our thoughts give a foundation to our action. Just like the protesting in Downtown Miami, Wall Street and around the world, it starts from awareness within the community (locally) that would hopefully cause change to the corruption in the country(periphery).

Gerald said...

As the external does its duty in its spheres, so must the internal do its duty. If all live in the ongoing story of existence, it is important to note that one’s story is connected and interdependent with all other stories. Therefore, one’s dharma/karma affects all of existence both higher AND lower on the hierarchical scale. Due to dharma/karma interactions, one exists in a state of empowered insignificance. Because of this, inaction can cause more damage than even a bad decision. Imagine if the sun decided upon a path of inaction. I bad decision can still lead to a positive and it keeps the wheel moving. To choose inaction ignores one’s role in reality and lets down all the beings (forces, etc.) that rely on action. Since we are part of existence, and existence is part of us, inaction to its call for action is a denial of the self.

Vanessa Quiroz said...

Have you ever seen the ripples in water? How they start at the very center and continue to expand? Truly amazing. That image came to my mind as I was reading About the Karma Yoga milieu.In order for one,anyone really, to make a difference... Any kind of difference,whether it be internal or external for whatever reasons.. They must begin from inside out.Arjuna has this internal struggle concerning an external struggle that is ongoing. Isn't it interesting how,Although his struggle is inner it affects very much so his external environment? But,this is not as simple as it seems,for everything in life has its complexities. In chasing this inner change,inner evolution within the Milieu, one already shows desire to obtain it. We fall prey to the karma cycle!! That which we want to avoid becomes the very same thing we desire most! How can it be so?!Anyways, I'm probably just rambling on. My point is, desire almost seems inescapable really BUT when taking action or inaction it begins in one place and grows. It begins from the innermost core to expand to the outer limits

Lava Arms said...

If you are not empty,
and fill your heart with desire,
you will become lethargic,
and lose agility.

Therefore, when going to battle,
empty your heart from desire,
and let Krishna hold your burden,
so that you may be nimble in battle.

The fruit of action
is the perfect sacrifice
for a god who seeks only
to lead virtuous men to victory.

Therefore, cease the consumption of the fruit of your actions
and instead, act so that Krishna may appear from the sacrifices of your actions,
and in this act of trust,
in this show of fearlessness,
you will allow yourself to be lead to victory.

Know that in the future, your enemies have already been slain. Know that you are merely an instrument in the constant unfolding of the great cosmic drama.

Hold your posture with discipline.
Hold the string of your bow with strength.
Focus on your target with intent.
Let your aim be guided by Krishna.
And without fear, release.

You must allow the space for Krishna to manifest, and you must feed him with the fruit of your actions!
This is true fearlessness.
You have nothing to lose.
You have already won.

Allow yourself to be led to the future. Observe. There is a teacher hidden among the noise- we need only quiet our demands and let him speak. He wishes to find a place in our hearts - we need only rid ourselves of fear and create the space for him to grow.

Anonymous said...

I do find it agreeable that for change to occur on the outside it must start within us. I think it is our duty to change over time, it helps us progress in live. It helps up evolve from who we are like a never ending self-improvement cycle. Being stuck with struggles from within and not being able to change it will only destroy us because we carry that burden. It is a chaotic battle to overcome but life is a series of inner battles as I’ve previously mentioned above. The fact that someone may not want to face his own demons signifies the fear of not conquering these demons but maybe the uncertainty of what these demons may reveal. Maybe something we’re not aware of? We as humans have a habit for fearing the unknown. I don’t know why, you’d think we’d be thrilled to not knowing where we are going but also be thrilled for the experience of it all.

Anthony DeCollibus

Tim said...

I've read over this post a few times now and I'm trying to make some intelligent observations but im not sure that i can do that with this one. I can, however, relate it to my own life. this idea that one must face the inner battle rather that distract themselves with outside influences is something that has affected me time and time again. i am a very lazy person and instead of facing my own laziness and desire to be inactive, i distract myself with everything that comes my way. i have always been aware of the fact that if i do not focus my attention inward and face my own demons, i wont really make any progress. it reminded me of one of my favorite songs by rapper/producer "Despot" of Queens, NY. the song is called "look alive" and the hook(chorus) in that song says "look alive, nobody moves nobody gets anywhere" and it repeats a few times. in the context of the rest of the song i believe he is making a poignant social commentary on the western worlds complacency with outside distractions and our lack of desire to focus inward. i am at least aware of the fact that i am lazy and i do recognize that if i don't face my own demons then i will never truly be happy. maybe i'll get around to it one of these days. There is another great line in that song goes " the kid never let a bully hit him/ he keep his head up even if he need a pulley system" that really has nothing to do with this post but i just love that line and felt like sharing.

Vanessa Quiroz said...

http://www.fullbooks.com/The-Dhammapada.html

Alivia Poirier said...

Arjunas unwillingness to fight the physical battle mirrors his unwillingness to fight his own, inward battle. He wants to choose the path (or really ,the non-path) of avoidance of the chaos. I remember reading something when we were discussing non violence, that said it is better to act on the vengeance or violence or hate that is in your heart if it is it ture, rather than be fake and unfaithful to yourself through inaction.

Sometimes any action is better than non action, because at least you have the ball rolling, youre moving forward, hopefully in the direction of your future. We cannot just stand still and hope something will happen to us or for us.

flotsam jetsam said...

Karma is ignorance

Ignorance = self

Buddhism is like religion, clouded by shit.

RF said...

Krishna steps down to show Arjuna his many faces. Why does Arjuna get up and fight the battle? What makes a man destroy all he loves? What does he see?

Those are more important questions.

Desire isn't what causes change. Krishna showed him his many faces.

God is everything.
We are all god, undivided.

Anonymous said...

Krishna proves a point, perhaps not to the person who believes in non-violence, the person who believes in ahimsa. But he has a point, nonetheless. I'd have to argue that though he has a point, that regardless if Arjuna was trying to faithfully practice ahimsa, the battle that was about to happen wasn't going away, but why didn't Krishna anticipate that the reason why Arjuna didn't want to pertain to violence was because that's what he valued and to who ever that did, should do so himself? Why didn't or couldn't Krishna take the fact that the battle that was to come ahead could have been prevented, that everything doesn't always get solved by violence. And if that was the cause, of course, Arjuna's arguement would be wrong and everyone if not most people would agree that he's just being selfish. It's unclear to me how Krishna couldn't just look at Arjuna and say "since you won't do it, then I will" and have Arjuna ponder rather if what he did was right or wrong. There's always an action that has to be taken but sometimes, to what cost? Life?

Dulange Absolu