Tuesday, September 3, 2013

shu, li, zhong yong and the battle now!

early, late earth?

i'd like to stress the importance of li in relation with shu & try to problematize the quadrant of prudence (yan ren) with decisiveness (ming). the answer is zhong-yong. the right balance that best reflects t'ien. as it turns, the only way to achieve zhong-yong is practicing it.

this reflects the chun-tzu. one can read zhong-yong with aristotle glasses:
in everything that is continuous and divisible it is possible to take more, less, or an equal amount, and that either in terms of the thing itself or relatively to us; and the equal is an intermediate between excess and defect (ethica eudemia, 1106, a 2629)
intermediate between excess and defect, which is why zhu xi, the neo-confucianist master would advise,

"a friend should neither be too close or too remote." (a deep thought)

this middle is zhong-yong. one more thing. zhong-yong has two sides: xing is the internal (thought-driven), while li is external, (behavior-oriented). the problem of unifying the li and xing is exactly the problem of combining and unifying the internal and the external. zhong-yong can be seen as a balance between internal(self)/external(others)-axis intersecting a consensus/community axis. according to confucius, this is how we become political & social individuals. there is no possibility of jen (virtue) without a community.    
what we learn from confucianism concerning li is that as society, we face a disorientation. rituals have become fetishized. there's a fresh, redeeming possibility for genuine exchange, but it takes to turn the present value of the ritual upside down. 

perhaps in the face of fetishized and stereotyped rituals we have the imperative to create our own li from scratch. decisiveness is critical to find transcultural lost symbols, reinscribing them into new contexts. there is always room for transformation and novelty. our generation is in need of material and spiritual actions-and-reactions. we could help replenish our community with a renewed sense of purpose. in the end this yajna, only a bit different. an offering to our possible best selves. 

we have speculated in class whether we still have time to change things in the world. what if that vision needs to be revised? look at the astronomy and geology of things. the process at work, the flow that moves through things. the history of the world is a history of ghosts: people, traces, remnants scattered, dispersed into geological & historical time. the world is in constant flow. why fighting that? is a doomed planet in the distant future that unpalatable?

oh, but that's far away.

our task is the present. our deeds belong in this instantg, our future is NOW, this dharma. this defective, but always perfectible world.

our battle is in this generation!

i am closing this post next wednesday 11pm.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting post Triff. Are you offering this class in the spring by any chance?

atRifF said...

Angel, I'm teaching it next summer or and fall. Hope to see you if you're still here.

Marisabel said...

I enjoyed the new perspective on rituals. I had always considered rituals to be bad but they are indeed part of our humanity. I think it is no longer a ritual if it is done with an absent mind; at that point it is just a person acting like they were programed.

Anonymous said...

This is the 21st century. It is only recently that people are gaining their "freedom" around the world. We are finding out that our basic education was a bunch of non-sense, with Eurocentrism at the core of every curriculum, when it should rightfully be Afrocentrism(as we all came from Africa). It is only with the teaching of the West that all of our environmental problems have arisen, and now we are teaching our bad practices to others.
I firmly believe that most of this corruption comes from the harming of children. I would even go as far as to say that all the evil in the world is due to the harming of children. I am going off the Bible, but children are the purpose of life: "Be fruitfull and multiply." Jesus told us that you have to be like a child to enter heaven: innocent and pure. There are Native American cultures that believe children have a connection to the spirit world up until the age of 7. It's funny, I just learned in my race and ethnicity class that 7 is the age when children "learn" about race. This is also when kids begin to develop learning disabilities. Well, what do you expect, they are learning non-sense.
What if we taught children the right things? What if we learned from our children? What if it wasn't about "Just do it because I said so?" Every spirit is different, and has something to contribute. What if we acknowledged this and started at least respecting other peoples opinions. Afterall, when it comes down to it, thats what all of this is...OPINION...that's why we have no absolute truths.
But to get back to my argument, if people cared about children, and aimed to NOT hurt them, we wouldn't have any of these problems. Why? Because children are not the focus, money and power are. Future generations are not thought about, except in the sense that they are doomed.
I feel like that is the society that I was born into. But you know what, there is something we can do about it. We have to change our thinking, our mindset, our will. Our mind is very powerful, we can make things happen just by thinking about them. We can change the negative force in the world to a positive one if we truely put our minds to it. Of course, this requires action too. The mind and body must be on the same page.

Rodrigo Sandoval said...

I do not agree that rituals have been fetizzhized, because, me, being mexican, we still have a lot of rituals, which we call traditions, "customs" (tradiciones ,costumbres). I do believe that the meaning might shift, that is normal, and to a certain point inevitable, but the essence of the celebration is still there.
I sincerely believe that American culture generalizes its problems and applies them to all the rest of the world.

jacob sims said...

Your posting towards the end was very uplifiting. This ship is going to run its course and there's no denying that but like you said, its up to us to man (or woman) the rudder.

As for the difficulty between unifying the internal and the external, I think theres barely any separation between the two. You can have thought without external action but you can't have an external action action without thought.

would actually agree that rituals have been fetishized. The purpose of carrying out these rituals and traditions have almost completely lost their purpose. People tend to carry out their tradition/ritual just "because thats how we've done things". Anything will become stagnant if it remains the same for hundreds or thousands of years. Look at religion, while maybe their are some things that have stayed the same, there have been MANY changes in order to modernize. How can the rituals for said religions not change as well?

Angel Martelo said...

I'm not sure what to write about.

A verse which has been mentioned already, that stood out to me since I came acroos is "Truly I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

It's interesting to note that the experience of "growing up" from childhood into adulthood is awfully, and almost eerily, similar to the concept of adam and eve's "falling away from grace/innocence."

As adults, we are now mindful and even considering of certain actions that would never cross our minds as even possible at one point in our lives. Actions like lying, stealing, etc. Actions that are only possible to commit if one gains the "knowledge of good and evil." We have lost that purity which would negate the possibility to ignore our inner compass(spiritually inherited morality), thereby freeing ourselves to commit harmful words and deeds(including acts of ommision.) In essence, we have become impure.

And to enter into the kingdom of heaven(which can apparently, by the words of Christ, be found within as well), one has to reattain(by being converted/born again) that purity. This concept of redemption promises that it's definitely not too late to turn back.

The idea of people "going through the motions" like hardware programmed by different softwares(depending on the particular situation) is also pretty interesting.

Sometimes, it really does seem like individuals, and groups of people for that matter, are possessed/controlled/guided by some larger, metaphysical, coordinating, and therefore, intelligent (and sometimes even malevolent) force.

Something to ponder on.

herlan quintana said...

rituals perhaps the term fetishized is abit much, but in a way understandable. people are alot more dependable on rituals i believe then before and not the traditional sense of it this due to how society and its implementation of how it creates it a part of our lives with technology: phones, i pods, computers, social networks, t.v etc all these things are a part of us and we use it sometimes in an obsessive manner. it kills the purity of the traditional essence of the human ingenuity. i feel towards the progression of time it will only get worse.

"The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots."
Erich Fromm

Fatimah Chavez said...

The Neo-confucianist matter '' A friend should neither be too close or too remote " . I was fascinated with this piece of advise . For some strange reason It makes me relate and speculate the enforcement of change and how much emphases we put on change to others.After all how much energy does one have ? we cannot change the world and live a life of constant preaching . In the end it is up to US .

Brian Daniel Farin said...

I think of all your posts this semester, this is the one that I most resonated with. I think you touched on something that I've been thinking about a lot. Basically nature is pretty perfect. There are cycles of life. Birth. Death. Exercise. Rest. Predator. Prey. etc... There is a certain discipline and balance in everything. In the human realm however, we struggle tremendously with achieving a balanced life on Earth. We run after physicality excessively, manipulate others and the environment, etc. If we learn the art of balance (as you put it: intermediate between a defect and excess) then we'll be getting somewhere, that somewhere that each of the philosophies that we've stuided are kind of pointing to: e.g: nirvana, moksha, salvation, enlightenment.

Now, what do we do to ensure balance in our society? Just ensure that your own emotional, spiritual and physical health is in check, be enlightened yourself and affect your children, spouse, and close friends. Pay it forward.

Anonymous said...

I really liked the idea of rituals. there are all kinds of different rituals which nowadays seem to have more of a negative connotation, however, i think they are a very big and important part of society. And more so, because they are changing all the time, and they shape us/ help us to become who we are now and who we want to be in the future. Therefore I agree with your statement where you say that "our generation is in need of material and spiritual actions-and-reactions.". Because we need some guidance and a certain start point..


Anonymous said...

Talking about rituals, Ill go ahead and elaborate on some things that really hurt me when I see whats going on with this society. One example is music; I cannot believe I am hearing this stuff on the radio, and people are actually listening to these people. Rappers for example that are now in the mainstream, these lyrics that don't produce any emotions or convey any messages (unlike for example classical music which produces much emotions). I cannot believe that there was a rapper in the white house when the white house was celebrating poetry. Or for example the sciences; math, physics, chemistry and biology, how the hell is it possible for 50% of Americans take creationism over evolution. Failure of our institutions to provide decent education. This society is in decline, I would say there is a correlation between these 'rituals' such as this rap music, and just total decline in intellectual stimulation at the educational institutions (this includes higher education). For instance University of Florida defunding its computer science program to provide more funding football!? Or the Obama administration defunding the NASA constellation program. This society is in decline, I doubt it will get any better, I am sort of curious as to which society will flourish. I wont be that pessimistic, we do have some people that seem to sort of inspire future generations..We need more of these.. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-april-10-2012/exclusive---elon-musk-extended-interview-pt--1
-Jonathan Kohn

Francisco Silva said...

The correlation between 'xing' and 'li', internal and external, thought-driven, bahavior-driven - brings back what have been discussed in our previous classes. Control of thoughts, which equals to control of actions, which in turn equals to balance. Effectual concept when applied conciously. People tend to be impulsive, act without reasoning, be enganged in careless attitude. This simple but not easy approach of thought-control implies omnipotent chain reaction as well as end result. BALANCE; not too close, not too remote, no expectations, no deviation from the norm; contradict desires, wishes, hopes, assumptions, probabilities. Ask WHY, ask IF NOT. Having understanding, being aware, being detached - will lead to BALANCE.

Applying and practicing this concept is primordial for attaining 'peace of mind', tranquility. Everyday interaction with people and issues become more obvious, more apparent, more evident. It's easier to accept, it's easier to understand, it's easier to establish preferences and resolve dilemmas.

Anonymous said...

The rituals that society are indulging in are, unfortunately, sad and pointless. The rituals of being excessive in partying, shopping for clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, watching television, and the list can go on. Many people in today are devotional or bhakti and they do not even know it. They idolize and copy the wrong person. Some individuals are constantly attempting to be like a certain super-model or celebrity, doing whatever's popular for the time being. Being bhakti for those celebrities, i think, will not get you far. There are many Great spiritual teachers and extraordinary human beings in the world on can idolize.

If we all can become conscious of our habitual actions, which are pretty much our daily rituals, and transform them into a greater task then we can shift towards more optimism for the future.

Alexander Valdes

Anonymous said...

For me, this post seemed inspiring yet distant, forceful yet in a state of surrender, unified yet scattered, and political yet deeply introspective.
What I mean by all of this is that what was discussed on this one post and in our past classes reflect how our world is in a constant urge for balance/meaning. We wish to be absorbed into the world but at the same time just find meaning to our own lives, either through rituals/gatherings or deep meditation. How is the best way to find meaning/balance? Experience. I am beginning to see things very clearly... or perhaps, however, evermore obscure. The answer to true happiness and peace of mind is thinking you've grasped the answers to all your questions while still leaving room for new answers and ideas.

It is possible that our species will never truly come across to understand why we are here or if there is a divine entity that governs our universe, but that is not to say we should lose all hope and let our searches go to waste.

In the words of Steve Jobs, "Stay foolish, stay hungry."

-Juan Lopez