Monday, October 14, 2013
fight this battle!
ok, so in our last reading of the gita we got a number of good questions. frankly the reading invites them. krishna is telling arjuna to fight the battle, kill his own (enemies are in this picture not even relevant) the reason he has to kill is that this is his duty (his milieu) and this is the argument, the wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead (...) these experiences are fleeting, they come and go ( 2, 11) one can imagine arjuna, who is not one to go without responding "yeah, but this is me, krishna, not a prototype." the impermanent has no reality, reality lies in the eternal. hmm, yeah, deep, but i feel my stomach twisting right now, isn't that real?).
gita's points worth revising:
fight this battle! (2, 18). what battle? this one is kind of easy: our life is our battle. i like the hegelian angle of struggle. there's no postponing it.
when you mind has overcome the confusion of duality (2, 52). this is the duck-rabbit of confusion. which side should i look at when confronting a problem? it depends. you call the shots. just don't fall for believing neither IS regardless of contexts!
self satisfaction is the inveterate enemy of the wise (3, 39). am i allowed some satisfaction? satisfaction is important, but as it turns out, we're never satisfied.
let the atman rule the ego (3, 43). but how do i know it's the atman talking and not my own bad faith or a brainwashed idea of me? being in the path is already knowing a little bit. the more one walks the more one knows. again, it's trial and error.
better to succeed in your own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of another (3, 35). someone made the point you cannot realize someone's path, you have to make your own. we're all brahman but the path is individual. ah, but what about this one:
at some point we got to the discussion of universal moral values. who is to say what's right? then the suggestion was that if each value is relative, there is little to talk about. "treat others as you'd like to be treated" is a better principle than "treat others as you feel they deserve given your whim" the former stipulates a sort of symmetry that points at balance, the second doesn't. but then, the relativist can say, yeah, but even your golden rule can be practiced by a none other than a masochist/sadist pair! then what? well, either you rule out masochists and sadists or you include them as a lesser of evils. better to have an imperfect balance than have none.
from this one, we talked about the idea of duty and whether it's better to have it instilled as behavior or to find it oneself. and i think it's not mutually exclusive. for example, aristotle's idea of arete (virtue) implies a degree of early "training," very close to yoga's idea of yama/niyama.
the idea of sacrifice is deep. we've been over the economy of yajna: you habitually you give to receive (where is the renunciation when you get something anyway?) well, some people get a sense of duty (dharma) and do it for its own sake independent of the fruits of the action (karma-phala).
one cannot escape the economy; even renouncing it gets you back with a desire. well, yes, but if one learns the economy and the paradox of balance, one is in a better position to renounce. that is to say, you know you're not really renouncing or, you know this particular act made you better at self-control. and this is important.
same with moksha: salvation cannot get rid of its possibility of doom. if salvation was an apriori (karma) guaranteed process we wouldn't need the path of betterment (dharma). again, time plays the devil. time is the factor of surprise, the black swan. order or chaos? all paths lead to me (4,11)
gita's chapters 1-4 is like a cold shower for the mind.
death is inevitable for the living, birth is inevitable for the dead. (2, 27) what? samsara! time is a unpredictable wheel and we're caught in it. no fighting that anymore brings a sense of peace.
what do you say?