Monday, May 23, 2011

Rethinking our last class: pris de conscience!

 Elizabeth Magill, Lower Lough, 2006.

There are a few things I want to come back to. One is Rosa's question of the value of samadhi and the questions on what meditation is good for (if I recall correctly). First, keep in mind that Yoga is a methodology, a HOW TO manual for spirituality. This is not a set of formulas one debates trying to find apriori reasons. It's more knowing-as-doing, doing-as-feeling.

To find out about Yoga's validity one has to try it.*

There are at least two ways of looking at this: You don't accept a whole model but take some of its parts, or you reinterpret the parts. I propose the latter. Let me address some of these concepts as I see them:

 Elizabeth Magill, Parlous Land, 2006.

1. Reincarnation is repetition. Is repetition the same throughout? The idea is that (R)eality is a ground of reverberating intensity. If that ground is difference (perpetual differentiation) then repetition cannot be of the same, but only of the different, i.e, the renewal of the different.

2. Purification is pris de conscience! (i.e., taking charge). As in quantum physics where the observation alters the result of the experiment, purification takes one's disturbing one's -ongoing- movie. 

 Jeff Wall, After Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, 1999.

We live at a par of our unfolding. So, as the moving-picture plays, there is a possibility to see it -AS IF- we were outside it. This position of "being-outside" as "being-inside" means that you can interact with yourself. This is what the yogis call niyama.

You have two options: (a) like so many people, you live inside the movie and just let the movie play (doing nothing), or (b) you choose to possibly change aspects of your own story as it unfolds.  

3. Attachment is as difficult as it is obvious. We are amidst a raja vortex of forces. We're matter, only in a high state of complexity. And matter craves matter. Yet, MIND being an emergent property of matter, can sort of detach itself from matter. This is the difference between sattvas and tamas.

Elizabeth Magill, Oncoming, 2006. 

4. Attainments. Now comes the big one: What is samadhi? Riding with the wind.

Finding oneself (being-one-with- ______). Of course, that is too general to make sense. What's key is that this finding of oneself needs to have a goal. Pursuing the goal is a way to do it. **

We must not forget Patanjali's caveat about samadhi which is a point he shares with Nietzsche's own idea of rapture: "... the path to one's own heaven always leads through the voluptuousness of one's own hell."

This is why Patanjali is so careful about attachments. If the voyage into the horizon of the infinite fills us with a "thrill," this is because something is glimpsed in samadhi which is in excess of the human, something that is "too much." A voyage into the eye of the maelstrom: Nobody can do it for you.

5. Dhyana asks: Why not thinking about non-thinking?

See you tomorrow with more nonsense.
*Only then, as the French say, en connaissance de cause one can say it's not good. But, is chess (as good as it is) good for everybody? **In keeping with Buddhism's central teaching of pluralism that there are many ways to heaven, we can say that Yoga is another way.


僊 (Xian) said...

For the topic of meditation, my thoughts at first were write about my experiences in meditating while I exercise. Though it may have been a bit more of a “scenic” setting to write about exercising on the beach at 8:00 a.m. in the morning when the Sun is usually having its first cup of coffee and the ocean is still in its inviting mood, I felt that instead I wanted to emphasize how the principle meditation can be constant throughout the day, not just silently sitting still in the Lotus position for two hours (which can actually negatively affect the body and in turn the mind). Based on what I’ve learned from reading about the practices of monks of various eastern traditions, the purpose of meditation is to relax the Self as well as yourself, and from that relaxation one can reconnect the worldly self with the Divine Self. Why is this “reconnection” necessary between the two? Because, for me at least, it helps me better appreciate the everyday occurrences of my material identity and how significant they are in the development (evolution) of my deeper Being.
I started off my Friday morning like I’ve been lately starting off most of my mornings, with an intense, cross-training workout routine, and had planned to use that as my example for meditating, but I found that I had a rather unique experience in meditation just from washing my dishes! After I got home from the beach I was pretty eager to get on my laptop and type up my experience but I saw how my kitchen sink was full of dirty dishes and how disorderly (chaotic) it looked. Keeping in mind what was said in class about how taking action contributes to the negation of entropy (Niyama), I knew I couldn’t leave those dirty dishes there for another day. I told myself that I had all day to get to writing and decided to take care of this tedious task with the help of some 90’s Alt. Rock to motivate me. As I tuned myself out to my music, I started to realize that my dishes are dirty because I’ve been cooking more frequently, making more use of them for the simple fact of feeding myself. I started thinking about how these culinary tools

僊 (Xian) said...

(continued from previous post)...... contribute to my well-being by giving me the means to properly prepare the kinds of foods that will keep my physical body healthy. Most of the items in kitchen have been with me for a little over a year now and considering that I bought most of them at Walmart, I’m quite surprised they’ve lasted me that long. Thanks to these tools, I have been able to involve myself more in the well-being of my two daughters and have been able to teach them how to enjoy all different kinds of food. If it wasn’t for these utensils, like my Chef’s knife for instance, I’ve would’ve missed out on all the beautiful, gratifying smiles my two little princesses have given me after cooking any of their favorite meals. These tools have also helped me avoid having to rely on fast food for sustenance from time to time.
As I continued with this household chore, that I had dreaded doing earlier, I stopped seeing these tools as objects. I overcame and erased those boundaries that made me separate from those objects (Pratyahara). I started thinking about how in ancient times hunting tools, weapons, construction apparatuses, etc. where often used in rituals, symbolizing some form of sacred power. I felt that my dishes and kitchen items aren’t any different from the tools of an artist’s or an engineer’s, in that they are simply an extension of my Self through which I can be creative. They are a part of me.
Meditation allows me to focus, to help me clear up my incessant thoughts, like if I were removing a smoke screen or anything obstructing my view ahead of me (Dharana). I feel that the state of consciousness, Shunyata/Samadhi, so many seek when engaging in meditation is a level of understanding that at the same time will minimize the objectification of the material Universe and maximize the significant intricacy of everything around us and better helps one understand that Mind’s affect on the Physical, and vice versa, is what shapes how each of us.....

僊 (Xian) said...

....(continued, yet again)....
experiences Reality. I remove any restrictive boundaries and limitations so that my path in front of me will be more free of illusions, less chaotic.
I have found that I can achieve this level of consciousness but it requires constant practice in diverse ways (trying out different asanas) to maintain it, or the very act of meditating can become stale, the mind will be institutionalized to do it in a specific way and eventually become atrophied. Though emphasis of this post is supposed be on the Yoga approach to meditation, I feel it’s necessary for me to touch upon what I learned from studying Chan Buddhism which teaches that the goal of meditation, active or non-active, is to relax, expand, and cleanse the mind and body simultaneously because they are inseparable. Physiologically, when one is engaged in an activity that requires concentration, whether it be running (physical) or writing (mental), the brain will release endorphins, neurochemicals that alter the body’s perception of pain, throughout the rest of the body in order to soothe it and regulate homeostasis. This in turn gives one the sensation of being “in the zone” or “in flow”, at state of intense alertness, tranquility, and creativity.
I feel that I have reached a level of meditation now in which my goal now is to attempt to keep my it going throughout the day, being mindful about staying sharp on whatever activity I am engaged in, be it physically exercising or carrying out simple everyday tasks like driving to school, cooking a new recipe, talking to a loved one, or even cleaning my toilet.

A.T. said...

I had a rather unique experience in meditation just from washing my dishes!

Bravo, Xian. Your experience demystifies meditation, and shows its bare bone: Philosophy!

DGSA said...

Professor, I'm sort of in love with Elizabeth Magill's work. I feel as when I look at the pictures, I am indeed meditating because I can't think of ANYTHING ELSE but the surreal feeling I get from them.

Perhaps that has to do with what Ian said about music or what Elizabeth said about concentrating on a certain object or meaning.


Danney Salvatierra

LYDIA said...

The discussion we had about watching yourself as a movie immediately made me think of a quote Timothy Leary made after he had begun his research. Instead of trying to paraphrase I thought I would post.

"I have never recovered from that ontological confirmation. I have never been able to take myself, my mind, or the social world quite so seriously. Since that time, I have been acutely aware that everything I perceive, everything within, and everything around me, is a creation of my own consciousness. And that everyone lives in a neural cocoon of private reality. From that day I have never lost the sense that I am an actor, surrounded by characters, props, and sets for the comic drama being written in my brain."

A.T. said...

Lydia: Leary's quote is so appropriate!