Thursday, June 2, 2011

Your turn #2: Nothing is sacred

 Ryan Riss, Life Cycles, via Juxtapoz

Thanks for a nice reading! It's time for post #2. And there is plenty to talk about. Pick any of the themes treated this week (Jainism and Buddhism) and build your own idea. Go ahead.
Apropos of Facundo's, Jose's, Chris', Monique's, Emily's, Rosa's, et. al., cold showers in class, here is a sequent, friendly, witty, thought -on laughter- by he who endlessly wait, Samuel Beckett:
The bitter laugh laughs at that which is not good, it is the ethical laugh. The hollow laugh laughs at that which is not true, it is the intellectual laugh. Not good! Not true! Well well. But the mirthless laugh is the dianoetic laugh, down the snout—Haw!—so. It is the laugh of laughs, the risus purus, the laugh laughing at the laugh, the beholding, the saluting of the highest joke, in a word the laugh that laughs—silence please—at that which is unhappy.
I like cold showers and what comes out of them. One leaves fresh, unpretentious, light headed and yes, ready for more (I close this post next Wednesday @ 11pm).
The duty of the sacred? Nothing is sacred!  


FacundoRaganato said...

I've been amazed limitless times throughout my life, as if each were a mainframe of ecstacy! But last class there were so many moments that it was hard to detach from the attachment of those moments; why would I? perhaps enlightment comes when one is detached and in peace, not desiring, but I feel the enlightment in those moments: during Triff's amazing insights in the reading, Xian's contagious laughter about laughing itself, Elizabeth's graceful reaction about betrayal, Emily's deep clearing responses, even when Rosa turned and gave me a peanut from her salad; moments like those, as small as the peanut itself mark that moment as eternal, full of life, full of love and so full of openess that I inmediately get the light of giving you all my world :)
In the buddist sence, living those microseconds, for me, is Nirvana itself, I'm not now who I was in those moments, in those moments I am who I am because you make me who I am, egoless, I am you; I am yours.
I hope the link comes out right :P

miamibourbaki said...

Facundo, almost. Is this one?

FacundoRaganato said...

Yes! that's the one :) Thanks!

Rosa Villa said...

From the Buddhist perspective, there is no permanent/ static self and everything is subject to decay and destruction, ie: entropy. What this translates to me is that it is safer (given our immutable flux) to be emancipated from our inner “self” and thus renounce all sense of entitlement and possessions; our self is merely an illusion and an interruption of realization/nirvana. So there is no specific entity in anything? Are we all to believe that there is perpetual emptiness/nothingness devoid of permanence? I find it difficult to accept this nihilistic view point. If there is no self, what is the point of being spiritual (is it not to be one with the self)? And if there is no belief in the self as human potential, self- efficacy, success, encouragement etc… what is the point?! This concept is far too cold and antagonistic to be reasonably instituted in a religion/way of life that emphasizes the interminable succession that is reincarnation. Here goes another question for the sake of my confusion: if there is no self/soul, what is it that we recycle? What does reincarnation mean once this self is annihilated, I mean “dissolved?”

Rosa Villa said...

Perhaps someone can give a face to this selfless concept? Any suggestions?

A.T. said...

Rosa, excellent presentation of the question!

To begin with, I'll let Sartre try respond, in p. 77 of Being and Nothingness. According to Sartre, when you posit "yourself" to yourself, i.e., when you self-reflect, you are not wholly yourself. He says: Presence is an immediate deterioration of coincidence, for it supposes separation. If we ask ourselves at this point what it is which separates the subject from himself, we are forced to admit that it is nothing. Ordinarily what separates is a distance in space, but in this case,nothing can separate the consciousness (of) belief from belief, since belief is nothing other than consciousness (of) belief.

What the Buddhists are saying is that when you look for your identity you will always find more than a body (one may hate her body and try to change it like transgender do), more than memories (people can forget and still retain their identities), more than a brain (brain transplantation presupposes that I end up with a different identity than the one I had), etc, etc. So, it becomes obvious that identity is not a thing.

This is the best I can do for now, but we'll keep talking about this in class.

僊 (Xian) said...

WOW!!!.... Pretty interesting, thought-provoking posts so far!... =)
Facundo’s link was a trip! And Rosa left some good questions to chew on!
I feel that mood on this post so far leans toward the negation of the “yourself” in order to attain Nirvana. I must note that it was interesting to see two distinct views on the same subject, Facundo’s pantheistic outlook and Rosa’s query over the more stoical aspects of transcendence. Rosa, what I gathered about Buddhism is that “myself”, as the Professor mentioned one’s identity, is not my true Self. Similar to the Atman/Brahman concept, when one rises above their self (identity, emotions, beliefs) they recognize that they are similar to an individual cell that is part of a larger organism. That larger organism exists due to each individual cell and each individual cell could not survive without the organism. Though I can see how it may come across as nihilistic in that ultimately as individuals, our role in the cosmos becomes demystified, the idea here is that one doesn’t have to give up their individuality but simply their ego.
Attachments (desires), whether to our bodies, traits, loved ones, achievements, anything we identify our egos with, is impermanent due to entropy so there is no sense in appraising much value to them. True happiness, not as an emotion but more like a state of acceptance, then comes from having that bird’s-eye-view of the intricacies in our lives and understanding that every event/action happens for the continued manifestation of this Reality so there is really “nothing” to worry about. I believe that the “nothingness” Buddhism talks about is not non-existence but rather “No Thing” as in no other thing other than this Universe/Reality. This plays in to what I mentioned above, about cells in/from an organism. When one looks at another person, they are not able to distinguish between each of the individual cells that constitute that person, the other person appears as one single, uniform entity. Such is the case I feel with the realization of Nirvana. The bliss comes from understanding that there is no need for separation (I and you, us and we, this or that) because everything in creation is all part of one single entity.

FacundoRaganato said...

I was writing a post after Rosa's question, but it has so many levels that it would take 3 pages to basically cover all of them lol! and now that I read Triff's 10 pages!
How deep is philosophy! :D

Xian, what a mouthful!
From my last post, yes "I am you" but, from Rosa' perspective I'm not renouncing to who I am entirely, I need my individual "I am" in order to reflect myself to you. It's a balance between giving and receiving, the balance of difference/similarity between the cells that makes up an union.

How do you differentiate 'individualism' and 'ego'? is the same!

FacundoRaganato said...

*it's the same! (?)

Rosa Villa said...

Xian, that definitely put things into perspective! Thank you : )

A.T. said...

How deep is philosophy! :D

Indeed. We're all students!

Michael Becke said...

I have paid close attention to all these posts and have come up with questions and ideas of my own. Rosa’s questioning of a “meaningless” existence is very interesting, and I know I do not have all the answers. I feel that our existence in this physical form is meaningless but the experience our true self gains from it cannot be. This nihilistic point of view that you speak of, in my belief is not the aim of the Buddhist way of being. The idea is to realize the self and break free from what is most evident and reach Nirvana. I agree that the contemplation of how to reach this pris de conscience is constantly in my mind. But is karma enough? Are good intentions and the will to fight past what is mostly standard righteous enough to grant you divinity? I know there are these moments Facundo speaks of, but are these moments enough to actualize one’s being? Or do we have to struggle to reach this realization, is it so simple that we just need to find ourselves as this “cell of society?” And, when we find this eternal peace, through meditation or life itself how can we know that we have reached full potential, even if we recognize we are part of a larger being or single entity as Xian states? It is impossible to bring all the ideas I have into light because it would take many pages to even explicate it in the simplest form. Thank you for all of the insight and all of the ideas.

Timothy said...

Today in class we spoke of evil and the differences between a necessary evil and an unnecessary one such as WW I and II, the fighting in Sarajevo or various genocides. I come to disagree greatly with these notions of evil. I might be too optimistic in my views of the world (which I hope won’t hurt me in the future) but I believe that the world is good. Although the theme of evil is one that is very hard to argue against, I tend to think that every evil is somehow necessary; necessary maybe not on the short term like the atrocities committed during times of war can be but rather in the long run, overall, evil is necessary for humanity to evolve, to learn, through experiencing the good and the evil. There is only more to learn. In my opinion the world in the end is good, with a hint of evil (I like my whiskey with a hint of coke too).
On another note, I have a hard time relating to the sayings in Dhamapada. Although I do not fully grasp the subject matter, I feel like it is in complete contrast of Sartre’s ideology that existence precedes essence. In my view (which I adopted mostly from Sartre), we cannot say we are - in this case, have reached a level of maturity, wisdom or what not, until we are dead in fact. We are always in the process of becoming so even if such a level of maturity has been reached, it does not represent much, for there is much more to become. Only once you are (dead), you can agree to be of certain maturity, purity, wisdom. How can we know that we have reached full potential, Michael asks; My answer is that I don’t believe there is such a thing as reaching full potential.

PS: it’s “une prise de conscience” :)

Jose Brown said...

I don't buy it. I wonder sometimes. No desire is still desire, etc. Don't keep staring the donkey in the face if you want to ride it home. I just can't chew on this no-self concept. The experience of Nirvana implies an experiencer, does it not? Karma is created and gravitates back towards the individual does it not? I don't understand what self Buddhism is telling me to negate. Is it the ego-self? The one that has a name, address, desires, wishes, etc.? If that's the case then Hinduism answered that question for me a while ago. That self is indeed an illusion and subject to the inevitable decay into entropy. But the urge to even sit down in meditation and negate a self requires a will that arises from a self that wants to negate itself. Self to me means OM. Universal mind. The cells of an organism, even if they stretch on into infinity are still part of the process of becoming which is infinity. I believe in the eternal witness as the one SELF there is. Maybe when a fully realized being encounters another fully realized being there is no "self" in the way that we identify with our egos. He/she sees the other as literally his/herself only there is no his/her, only as a thin translucent layer, there is just SELF, knock knock, no one's home but you. Perhaps to some the concept of Atman, as confusing as it is to grasp, is an obstacle to enlightenment or nirvana, itself. You can't ride that donkey home if you keep staring it in the face. Buddha once came across a man who was shot by an arrow.

Jose Brown said...

There he was, bleeding to death on the dusty roads of Nepal, heart beat slowing to nothing, overcome by fear and he's asking Buddha "Who shot me? Why would anyone do this? I need to know who shot me, this is horrible!" And Buddha's just smiling at him serenely, all "let me help you" and he says something along the lines of, "I have medicine. It's right here. This is your bleeding body, it's right here, happening right now, here's the medicine, all you've got to do is take it, but you've gotta stop asking who it is that shot you. The answer to that question isn't going to stop your bleeding. Knowing why or who isn't going to stop you from suffering so please, stop asking me who it is that shot you. No one shot you, it doesn't matter. You are shot, it's all that matters! Normally I'd have a lot more to say on the issue, but I just got back from Nicaragua and the self that's doing the thinking right now isn't the same self that was doing the thinking last post. That one's gone, bye bye, fallen into winter, and the spring of my NOW bears new fruit. But the land upon which the fruit grows is the same...actually it's not.

Jose Brown said...

It's new soil and earth as well but the process of growing, of becoming, of the stillness, the pregnant void, is the same. There's that sense of continuity, unattached to anything but the witness of the experience. And even when the experience is gone, the turtle thrusts its feet back into the shell and the MANY once again become the ONE. But I cannot negate that ONE, only I hope I'm wise enough to not look at it too hard (how can I "look" at what I AM?) and stop my own process of becoming. I found some great quotes in a Joseph Campbell book I'm reading, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces."

"For the One who has become the many, remains the One undivided, but each part is all of Christ." -Saint Symeon the Younger (A.D. 949-1022)

"Among all those everyday things He appeared unexpectedly and became UTTERLY united and merged with me (no more me), and leaped over to me (no more me, only HE) without anyTHING in between, as fire to iron, as the light to glass. And he made me (he is me) like fire and light. And I became that which I saw before and beheld from afar. I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO RELATE THIS MIRACLE TO YOU (impossible)...I am a man by nature, and God by the grace of God." -Saint Symeon again. All in capitalizations and parenthesis are my own, yuck, "my own"...anyway...

Jose Brown said...

Here's a man who got a glimpse of the infinite. Like the man in Plato's cave allegory who got taken from his world of shadow to see the sun, he is thrust back into the cave and utterly dependent on the language of shadow (which is the ultimate extent of his knowledge) and left to relay what he saw using that limited medium. There are no words in existence for him that could communicate what he saw, and as a result he is chastised and feared by his peers. He seems cuckoo; it's like describing color to a blind person. All he can think is "He, me, christ, God, that, this, Yin, Yang." Netti, netti my friend, better to say there is no self. So he finds the best way he can using the language of shadow, and pointing to nothing but more shadow, and if by some miracle of karma, the person listening stumbles upon the same path to the sun, they'll understand and realize there really is no way to convey the message. One can show the path to the river, one can even leave footprints and breadcrumbs to follow and pray that the followers don't forget what they're going for and take the footprints and breadcrumbs to be the river, the coolness of the river though, one has to jump into themselves to understand. Thing about that river is, gravity itself will take you there, you don't even have to find those paths and breadcrumbs. One is like the cat who can roam miles and miles from home and still find it's way back (Every little thing is gonna be alright). It's just easier and saves a lot of suffering if you can follow those paths with the awareness that they're only paths, and faith in the idea that those who have left them have indeed found that river and are waiting for you to jump in. So to one who doesn't know, all is illusion and shadow, to one who knows, all becomes enlightenment itself and every path is the path. In fact there is no river to get to, the river is already here. To one who wakes up, he finds the snake that was constricting his breathing in his dream was nothing but the soft caresses of his lover lying next to him in bed. I rant, I know, if it's confusing, it's because it's confusing, if it makes sense, it's because it makes all the sense in the world. Swim at your own risk. Here's some Saul Williams, amazing spoken word poet who did wonders for me growing up.

Jose Brown said...

Sorry for the long post

A.T. said...

Nice thread kids! (indluding complex commment from Xian) and Facundo's.

I feel that our existence in this physical form is meaningless but the experience our true self gains from it cannot be.

Michael: Excellent point!

I might be too optimistic in my views of the world (which I hope won’t hurt me in the future) but I believe that the world is good.

Timothy: Better to believe the world is good (or has the potential for good) than the opposite. T, I share your courage.

If that's the case then Hinduism answered that question for me a while ago. That self is indeed an illusion and subject to the inevitable decay into entropy. But the urge to even sit down in meditation and negate a self requires a will that arises from a self that wants to negate itself.

Well put, Jose. When Buddhism says that there is no self, it's making a metaphysical point, not a nihilistic manifesto. We'll talk about self more in class.

I'm off to class.

Chrisss said...

Greeting Philosophers,
Last class, Professor Triff proposed a question, which caused hay wire in the room because it is the ultimate question of direction into the unknown; where are we going? My colleagues and I moved uneasy on our seats, playing futuristic movies in our head of the “maybe” and “hopefully”. But I want to shine light on something else. Now please take this as a thought and not some hippie illusion :). What if I am pleased to answer that same question with… nowhere? I’m not necessarily canceling all aspirations all together; but if we are aspiring to go deeper into the rabbit hole, deeper into the impurities of the maya to continue life’s revolutionized path, then I’m not going. It’s hard to manage or even grasp this contempt feeling for idleness, but why not take it into consideration. Don’t dream up the Lamborghini or Nottingham Castle. Think of walking aimlessly like the ant, and let life move around you. I have to say some of my most enlightening thoughts have come about when I sit and converse with Sunny; the homeless man that calls my neighborhood home. My mother thinks I’m crazy of course, sitting with a Vietnam Vet, who is prone to PTSD and has schizophrenic tendencies. On the other hand, in my heart, he is more human than any of us. His ideas, although tainted with life’s continuance of horror, are fresh and not barricaded with tradition or hearsay. He walks up and down 22nd ave, not seeking, not wanting, but observing and realizing. Everyone around him has aspired for the end. You get your dream car, two years pass and you can’t pay for it. Your house was gorgeous! Now it’s shuttered up for foreclosure. Material goes more than it comes. To not have direction is reckless; but this is my chosen path. Young, reckless, and with no direction. I will not be tied down to my life’s choice, which I had no say in. Go nowhere and you will enter the most beautiful place (only for the strong; the spiritual strong!). Sunny may not have the new NIKES or the nice car. He has more. He has legs and feet that feel the world breathing, and the mind of a man who is detached from direction.
Thank you- Shanti

DGSA said...

Interesting comments guys! (:

The idea of reaching Nirvana or letting go of Dukkha from the Hinduism and Buddhism perspective is still hard to grasp. Basically, being detached is the same as having no interest. How can I reach wisdom without interest? How can I even have compassion without it? Also, the idea of Maya intrigues me. Then, what about perspective? We tend to see the world from different angles so we all have our own illusions? Or maybe we should just create our own meanings.

I already created mine and I think that we just can't truly reach Nirvana or eliminate Duhkka. It is just life-negating! Indeed, we can learn how to deal with them and that is when meditation comes to the picture. I meditate in order to clear my mind and eliminate negative thoughts. "Negative thoughts" Why do they even come to me? If I don’t meditate, what do I do to eliminate them? Read the Dhammapada? Listen to a nice song from The Beatles? Go party with my friends? While I fight against Dukkha, I am simultaneously accepting it's possibly permanent existence. It’s a constant fight in order to change my thoughts. If we change them into positive ones, we can deal with whatever comes our way, karma or not karma, reincarnation or not reincarnation. We are able to open the doors for a tranquil mind and good deeds that will only lead to better decisions/better actions.

“Go nowhere and you will enter the most beautiful place (only for the strong; the spiritual strong!)” Chris, I respect your opinion and admire your liberated thought but the word spiritual is the key here. It's all for the spirit but not for the person itself.

We might want to see beyond reality and contemplate our own bubble of bliss but what is reality for me is not what it is for others. In my own personal reality, Dukkha made me who I am today and I am better. If anything, I can always use meditation or a good song.

Danney Salvatierra

Jaii Smiles said...

What must one do to reach enlightenment, the age of reason; enlightenment is less a set of ideas than it is a set of values. Critical questions and “problematizing”. Am I to deal with my own inner enemies to achieve such a state. Maybe… Waiting for this “unique” experience to transform me from this state to samsara. If not in this life then the next life I will be able to reach enlightenment or is it once I reach enlightenment then the samsara stops, am I to accomplish a certain goal? If not in this life then the next, will I have a new goal? For surely I am not the same entity that lived before. I compare this to a leaf growing on a tree, the leaf will eventually wither and fall off and a new leaf will replace the old. The new leaf will be similar to the old, but it is not identical to the original leaf. Through one of my many cycles surely I will be able to release my attachment to desire and the self/Nirvana-Moksha the state of liberation and freedom from suffering.

-Jheanelle Gilmore

Rosa Villa said...

Cris that was deep. Seriously. (No sarcasm)

A.T. said...

You guys are on fire. Don't mind me.

LYDIA said...

After we read from the Dhammapada on Thursday I kept thinking about mindfulness: of my speech, company, and especially my diet. My love for food got me thinking about my eating habits, the quality of food I ingest, while the other part of me became consumed with the blog posts questioning the actual possibility of living without desires. Somehow the two thoughts came together . . . Our taste buds have become so dulled by processed food, salt, and sugar we can forget how things actually taste. We drown food in sauces, fry it, add Caesar or Italian dressings, but when is the last time we ate a tomato that was actually picked red from the vine? When is the last time we ate a fresh pepper or a berry still warm from the sun? Tasting these foods in their natural state we realize they don’t actually need anything added to them. When we desire we are looking for things outside of ourselves to add to our being. Which can be dangerous or even unnecessary, like over seasoning. You can also lose the essence of what you started with. Some things are simply perfect in their purity, maybe our “self” included.

Side note: When we read from the Upanishads in class all I could think about was the Beatles “I am the Walrus”

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. . . ”

Anonymous said...

I’ve been thinking about the discussion we had about evil on our last meeting. Timothy brought up an interesting point: “humanity evolves from experiencing the good and the bad.” If I’m not mistaken, someone in class expressed that human beings “come” with a tendency or nature to do or be evil. Imagine a rock that is polished to become a beautiful piece of jewelry. A merchant would probably consider the refined form of this rock to be good and its raw form to be bad, but perhaps a geologist would consider the raw form of this rock to have the most cosmic value and its processed form to have the least. That is to say that nothing “comes” evil or good. A human being is not born good or evil; he/she floats above both of these socially constructed concepts. When we interact with the frontiers of social relations we are exposed to throughout our experiences, our perceptions of “good” and “evil” are shaped and this enables us to legitimize how we identify ourselves with these notions.

-Ray Jimenez

Anonymous said...

Right View, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct are the three gems of Jainism. While I might not agree with all of the teachings of Jainism, I do believe these three principles can be very beneficial towards someone. If more people just tried to practice these three things it would be greater for the world. When they say right view I think they mean understanding, patience, and be able to put yourself in others shoes. You know half of the worlds conflicts are because one side can’t try to see the others point. Then we go to right knowledge, this one I believe is the hardest. For this one has to except that he knows very little and be open to learn from others. In other words one should not be ignorant or hard headed and seek knowledge in all places. Then when we say right conduct I think they mean treat other s as ends not means . Armando Guerrero

Anonymous said...

I hate the whole idea of Jainism it just doesn’t sit well with me and to its teachings I would be a less evolved person, which I think is bull shit. I think the whole idea of me having to go through a process of lives to become good or holy is crazy. So does that mean that at the beginning of my cycle I was an evil murder? I think if people do come back and live multiples lives that in their soul their essence they stay the same. Also, I am just way to selfish for this philosophy. I want to be the best, and if that means using or stepping on other people to get there I will. Now that might make me a bad person but I’m just trying to do right by me. So if anything you can say I am an extreme egoist and I’m fine with that because really what other people think of me doesn’t way to heavily on my mind. Joel Duran

Danny said...

When the word Nirvana comes to thought there are always two initial things that I think of. One is the traditional Buddhist meaning of enlightenment reached through detachment and then the famous 90’s grunge band.
When problematizing Nirvana I often linger at the question of how it feels when you reach it. Is it a blissful feeling, is it an empty feeling, is the feeling transcendent, does it feel like opening your eyes at birth or is it more like turning off the last light before you got to bed? What if reaching Nirvana is filled with sorrow and chaos, similar to when you find out someone dear to you has passed away. I cannot get past the mental, physical or spiritual qualities if there are any to begin with. When I think deeper the thought of detaching the self from everything the self desires or any aspirations of the self, it its almost like letting the self die. I believe it to be true that we suffer because we desire, but we also know we live and we feel because we suffer. It is a constant reminder of our mortality.

Anonymous said...

Tis refreshing, this type of philosophy coming from the east as opposed to the ideas formed in the west. In the west God is personified to give understanding to this very abstract idea in human terms. The western ideas focus on actively *desiring* which as a result leads to actively suffering through actively being delusional (I think tis called having faith but moving right along)about things that may or may not happen. If that certain thing decides to happen tis seen as this and when it does not... well tis basically justified which leads to a higher state delusiveness. On the contrary in the east foremost focus is given to the self, betterment of the self through betterment of the mind which is the true self... all other aspects come thereafter. No wonder when individuals are 'lost' they tend to gravitate to the eastern way of doing things perhaps as due the the mere nature of things.

Among many insightful ideas A. Einstein has shared lies this one "Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity."

And I leave the discussion with this quote verse me going endlessly on and on about the details and what this means and what that means to me. Because the details as presented just profoundly ARE... besides the western language isn't equipped with words parallel to the deepness of the philosophy in the east. One must take with them the mere essence and run with it

Monique W

Anonymous said...

I find it humorous that I am probably writing the very last post of this thread. This is funny because A. this means I have more than obviously slacked off and B. probably no one will read this. But there is something Triff said that I remember from one of our first few classes: "When you call the shots, you are speaking to yourself. And yourself knows it." I think, grammatically, this may not make any sense. But conceptually, it's the greatest piece of knowledge I have gained from this class thus far. So, for all intensive purposes, I write this post more to my self than anyone else. Hopefully, my self knows it.

The idea of Sangha has bubbled up to the surface of my thoughts quite a few times since it was first mentioned. I kept thinking, how is that supposed to be defined? What level of understanding must be reached for a group to be a Sangha? And again and again I kept trying to conquer this concept with my intelligence. Here is the problem with this: I was trying to "box" this Buddhist concept, which is a very western-christian habit of mine. And it is a concept that one can attack intellectually only to a certain point. It is at this point that we look towards our intuition and experiences to tell us what's true.

I do think that Sangha needs to be thought of more carefully. Just as "friend" must be re-examined. I think we need to be more careful when we refer to the entire Eastern Phi class as a "sangha". Let's think about that for a moment. A sangha is a sort of community with a common vision or goal. Hm, ok, yes. On the most basic level, we all have a common goal: to earn a credit. But what is the next level? To learn? Okay, we can add most of the class to the next level. To impress? We're all on that level. To perceive? To question? To argue? Add a few more to this level and please include me. To question ourselves? To look inward? How many of us can honestly raise our hands to that? How can this class be a Sangha when our goals and visions are scattered from level to level. When our ability to understand and perceive varies per individual. When our experiences are all incredibly unique and different and unshared? Is it quite possible to have a sangha amongst a community of strangers?

There are arguments that can be made for a "yes, of course, it is" and a "f*** no, it's not". Take into consideration the idea of the human race as a sangha. Or think about how we can never truly know any single person except for ourselves, perhaps making a sangha impossible.

Defeatist, or optimist.
Which one are you?

-Emily Binnie

DGSA said...

"We can never truly know any single person except for ourselves, perhaps making a Sangha impossible."

Emily, the word impossible is so strong and absolute.

I get your point but I think that the idea of Sangha does not necessarily imply having the exact same goals or visions. Also, it's not about knowing people because even if we try, we'll never get to really know a person, not even ourselves. However, remember the statement "We're all students."

The experience might not be the same for all of us but the energy is the same. The way all of us connect with each other and help each other to reach a better understanding of the class. Everything we say involves the same level of creativity and passion. It's about all of us supporting each other so there is indeed a Sangha inside of the classroom.

Danney Salvatierra

FacundoRaganato said...

Of course our class is Sangha, and all of us as humans too; it all depends on how you see it. Shall we create our own government? ;)

Perhaps it was kind of "evil" from me to introduce the pessimistic idea of never reaching a happy world full of benevolence, but when Chris mentioned that once we build an Utopia this would mean that the end is near, then I thought that maybe I wasn't that wrong in the first place.

Let me present what I believe about evil to send myself to the cleaners :P it might get a little perplexing so I'll try to be as clear as possible. This is the third time I try to write this, just because is so freaking deep!

We use what 10% percent of our brain potential? we are conscious and aware 10% about our reality, ourselves, and those around us. The other 90% is the iceberg under the water; the subconscious, unconscious, or whatever label they wanna give to "that which we don't know"
Carl Jung revolutionized my mind when I learned (became conscious) of the "Collective unconscious" [according to the wiki: It is proposed to be a part of the unconscious mind, expressed in humanity and all life forms with nervous systems, and describes how the structure of the psyche autonomously organizes experience]

[I quote "Evil" just because we also label it, without our conscious mind of labeling it, "Evil" wouldn't exist]

So "Evil" comes from our unconscious/subconscious mind. For instance: Danney grabs my book and tears it apart because of some unconscious reason that lead her do this terrible evilness, or maybe she thinks consciously about it but does it anyway to fulfill some unconscious desire.
Of course, I react at such action, either I let my unconscious act [revenging the negative energy that Danney triggered] by saying: "What the FUCK are you doing??!!"
[as some human beings are accustomed to do] I filter that reaction through my conscience (light the darkness) and instead of revenging the negative energy, I recycle it and say "Danney, why did you tear my book apart?"

So, I say that evolution is the expansion of our conscience!

*sighs* OK, so coming back to our "collective unconscious" what if the iceberg under the water is where all the answers are. We sit on the ice, looking down at our own reflection on the surface of the water; the reflection with each other; the reflection with the world itself.

"Know thyself and you shall know all the secrets and the mysteries of the Universe and the Gods." - Socrates

The more we evolve, the more we become united and Oneself with all of us and the world itself. The more we face and "light the darkness" the more we become of aware of things we don't know [we DO know what we don't know, we just don't know it YET]
and perhaps once we reach 100% we become Gods and there's no more reason for us to exist; thus, we create.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a glimpse of my future thesis :P

Yes I may be crazy :) but if I have to be crazy to explore the darkness in all its spontaneity and improvisation of who I am (which also will reflect to you) then yes, I'm crazy and I'm proud of it! :D

Alice Kingsley: This is impossible.
The Mad Hatter:
Only if you believe it is.

DGSA said...

Wow, Facu, wow.

Jonathan Montesino said...

I remember how in yesterday’s class we spoke about how “A virtuous man does not know he is virtuous” and hearing this caused me to think about enlightenment and Nirvana. Does an enlightened man know that he is enlightened? Or are we only able to recognize those that are enlightened around us and hope that we are living our lives with the Jainism thought of being divine and fulfilled and reaching that state of moksha? It is a lot like Monique told us yesterday as well “When you speak, you repeat something that you know already. So maybe if you listen it might be more profitable for you to learn something new.” Could the same thing go for us thinking we are enlightened? Could this cause for us to be less enlightened for patting ourselves too much on the back? Or do we have to just live our divine lives pushing for our atmans to be free liberated souls? I think that it is great to think that we are living our lives to be the best that we can but also realizing that no one person is perfect, so although we are striving to be the best it can not be done. Is anyone with me?

Jonathan Montesino

Ian said...

I didn't get a chance to read everyones comments but I did read Emily's and I wanted to see if I can clarify something we spoke about. At the end of your comment, Emily, you asked which one are you? optimist or defeatist to which I answered both( you agreed) and niether( you didn't seem to understand) So I'd like to explain how I can see it as both and neither, maybe it can stir up more questions for you lol ........

In order to understand what I want to express you would probably have to agree that words can limit our understanding of the world around us, without that you'll probably just see gibberish...

If this is too abstract for anyone feel free to bless me with a cold shower =]

Anonymous said...

Last class when we read some excerpts from Confucianism, one didn’t sit right with me:

“Only in the good man are emotions of love and hatred right, and to be
depended on.3: The Master said, "It is only the (truly) virtuous man, who can love, or who can hate, others."

This idea of hating others doesn’t make sense. If a person is truly virtuous wouldn't they hate the action not the person? Can we learn not to hate Dennis Rader as a person but hate the actions he did? This is something I learned awhile back that I still can’t put into practice.

Going into Ian comment, I agree. If I understand right, I connect it to our emotions and ideas. They both are always turning in every direction, why? Because we are both optimist and defeatist (not to say this is the only reason why). Our ideas are always going to be questioned by ourselves. Where there is certainty there was first doubt. Going to the idea that we don’t know everything. We always have doubt, but I think having doubt is a good.


Anonymous said...

I’d like to add to Priscilla’s comment about hate. I don’t think any of us knows what it truly means to hate somebody, the most we can fathom is usually a big dislike of something or someone. I don’t think we have the capacity to “hate” anyone as much as a virtuous person can because they have a greater understanding than most of us will ever have. But either way no matter how you look at it the action will always be associated with the person. Good examples are Hitler, Stalin, etc. Personally I don’t hate most people history deems evil or hateful, I rather look up to some of them. In the first book of the Dhammapada there is a verse that says “He abused me, mistreated me, defeated me, robbed me. Harboring such thoughts keeps hatred alive.” But can we really say that we hate them because none of them have done this to us personally. Sure you can say that if your family was directly affected by their actions, but if not there is no grounds to say you hate them at all. I think if one really wants to dispel hatred from the world everyone should have cancer. And I cite the first book of the Dhammapada again: “There are those who are aware that they are always facing death. Knowing this, they put all quarrels aside.” Because when you think of it the majority of people who have terminal cancer have come to peace with everything and don’t hate or dislike anything, I like to think of them as bodhisattvas.

-Ernesto Monge

FacundoRaganato said...

For me, Hate is the feeling one reacts because it reflects something we still haven't surpassed or fully recycled in the light of our conscience.

If someone kills my dog, I would get the immediate reaction of hating the killer, unless I surpass Cruelty, Detachment, Forgiveness, Acceptance, Vengeance,and some other things that trigger at that moment.

But we are not that evolved yet, so we hate.

Elizabeth said...

In response to Rosa'a comment; the Buddah didn't incorporate a chapter about "The Self" to then proclaim there is no self. I believe this chapter is more about the "self" that has desires that are parallel to "kama". The desires that feed our egos. The Self that gets in the way of us living our lives according to our "dhamma".

"By oneself is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself is one made pure. Purity and impurity depended on oneself; no one can purify another."

Then there is a contrast shown in this versible that gives us an example that there is also The Self that can be disciplined, and use their "action or inaction" to follow or leave the path of Dhamma.

Elizabeth said...


Jose Brown said...

Ah, the sound of 41 ruby heels clicking in unison. Beautiful, truly beautiful.

Anonymous said...

To start I would like to say that I feel blessed to be in a class full such amazing young minds (including triff) and have learned a great deal from each and everyone of you. Being in such a class is promising in the sense that there are many others who share the same hunger and thirst for knowledge as well as understanding outside of our classroom. We are all in the process of becoming and I feel that we are on the right path and with that said I am willing to wager that the world is a good world. We are all equals as students and as teachers alike because knowledge comes in many forms. The greatest lesson in life can come from the most unassuming situations. This class has confirmed this idea. In reading and meditating upon the teaching of these masters ones own morality and finite existence cannot be avoided. To say the least, It has been a very humbling experience and has further shown (and reminded) me of the one fact that I am only a man and remain human after all. There is no escape from this existence and to seek such would be foolishness and pointless, almost as if looking for a tuna in the dessert. It will not and cannot be found. We must acknowledge this world as it is and actively seek positive change. With that said, I wrote a poem which I thought would fit the spirit of the class. Enjoy :)

This Life is a Gift and should be treated as such.

I do not ask for much
only that which is just
someone to trust
a soul to love

not to lust

what do I do?
Where do I go?

Liberation is of the self
not discovered in the attainment of wealth

nor in having the greatest appearance or health

There is a thought which plagues us

an Idea which we trust

and if I may

one of our many manifestations which keeps us at bay

I am only Human

who am I to reach nirvana, that moment of realization?

attempts at concentration only lead to shorter patience

more frustration

I am incapable of such

I am only human

In lust with our creations, we forget where the take root

In our minds they run loose

our notions of inadequacy do not allow for development and growth in time

Dreams to momentous to be realized after all, our past failures serve as a sign

Why even try?

I am only Human

We all play the fool

We all play the genius

We all play the hero

We all play the fallen

The very dreams we give life too

attribute a face
assign it a place
construct it a temple and a city are many a times the reason we as humans live in mediocrity.

Our very creation becomes our demise

Twisted lives of lies and deceit in which we all play a role

I am no different from my fellow man whom struggles to break free of this hold

I am only human

Christopher Jitta

Melissa Grafton said...

I know its a bit late to be posting this but I have a bit of trouble with these posts. I never know what to write because I honestly don't get Jainism or Buddhism. I don't want to act like I do, throw in a few big words and try to put together a semi-decent post. Why is winning the same as losing and losing is winning? What is the point of reaching nirvana when once you get there, you're back to the beginning again...because reaching your goal means you have obtained your true desire and we all know that desire is bad. Am i missing the point? When we read in class, I really like the teachings, I enjoy learning but immideiatly after I like one of the versicles, it's contradicted.  Mature only sits at the lunch table with the other matures while they laugh at Immature...but Immature doesn't know they are laughing at him. Immature is supposed to become mature by hanging out with Mature, yet how can he hang out if Mature is constantly ditching him? Do you see where my problem arises...I just don't get it, and it's not because I'm blonde lol :p

A.T. said...

Beautiful poem, Jitta. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Melissa: You're honest and that's more than good. Confusion is always good. You're not the only one confused. I'm too.