Friday, November 30, 2012

which war? mine!


what is war? "a condition of active antagonism."

antagonism? the "condition of being an opposing principle, force, or factor."

as opposed to what? which force? to be is to continually wage a battle with opposing instincts within oneself. a dynamic conflict of domination and subordination. to be means taking sides against oneself.

with this premise of "internal opposition" i'd like to probe an ancient taoist text, the art of war.
let's backtrack to philosopher f. nietzsche, who speaks a constant "wrestling of opposite forces." reality for nietzsche, is a flux of contradictions. an authentic individual must not only acknowledge this fact, but seek to promote similar oppositions within himself:
(...) a given quality contends against itself and separates into opposites; everlastingly these opposites seek to reunite. odinary people fancy they see something rigid, complete and permanent. in truth, however, light and dark, bitter and sweet are attached to each other and interlocked at any given moment like wrestlers of whom sometimes the one, sometimes the other is on top. (PTAG, 5)
a wrestling act. here's another one: "one is fruitful only at the cost of being rich in contradictions; one remains young only on condition the soul does not relax, does not long for peace." (TI, morality as antinature, 3)

this nietszchean auto-poesis (the making of oneself) is fundamental to overcome the stagnation posed by self-satisfaction, which paradoxically is something we all seek change means (inner) conflict engendered by opposites (friend, enemy, self). authentic self is he/she who is determined by this intensity of self-oppositions.

let's not beat around the bush. we can now entertain the opening words in the art of war:

1. military action is important. it's the ground of death and life... so it is imperative to examine it.

how can there be a "military" of oneself?

military relates to armed forces. soldiers! what's a soldier? one who actively serves a cause. which?

one, any, whether event or condition in which one is responsible for an action or result. 

i can see myself as a soldier on my way to battle with myself in an unforeseen event. any situation is in principle a pure beginning. here we must accept the uncertainty principle: everything begins in confusion and obscurity. the emergence of clarity is the result of this internal wrestling which leads to never-ending clarification. am i not responsible for this most significant cause? is is not mine? is it not my duty to fight? (think of the literal? non- literal? meaning of the b. gita).  

is this the end?
(...) he who has overcome his passions has entered into possession of the most fertile ground to sow the seeds of good spiritual works in the soil of the subdued passions is then the immediate urgent task. the overcoming itself is only a means, not a goal; if it is not so viewed, all kinds of weeds and devilish nonsense will quickly spring up in this rich soil now unoccupied, and soon there will be more rank confusion than there ever was before. (WS, 53)
a new battle will have to be fought. and why not? 

enough said.

i'm closing this post next wednesday at 11pm.   


Anonymous said...

My war is continuos, there is no end, nor is there a begining. When reading the art of war I feel equiped, and ready. I know that I have some control admist the chaos,that even though I may not see the overall battle, I feel it, my family feels it, humanity feels it. Sometimes we play numb, but numbness is still a reaction. Sometimes we play naive, but naiveness is still an reaction. I (Man,Woman, and nature) must take action, while never forgetting how to play.
Innocence is not forgotten, it is buried, suppressed,electrified, stoned, beaten, and ignored.
A hidden treasure that has been stolen, and waiting to be rediscovered.
So the next time a child (inately) leads you toward your emancipation, learn how to follow them.I(woman, nature, man)Demand this.

I would like to extend my blessing to all under the sun.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of to be agreed with this in this posting. It is literally woven into the fabric of reality that there are two opposing yet paradoxically complementary forces. The one things I would have to disagree with though is " authentic individual must not only acknowledge this fact, but seek to promote similar oppositions within himself". I agree with this, but this is the art of war, not the art of never ending struggle. Is it not the goal of war to achieve victory? I would say that while an authentic individual acknowledges both natures, the wiser individual attempts to transcend the more animalistic of natures.

Jacob Sims

Francisco Silva said...

The principle of contradiction is once again illustrated in this context. Look around, listen to people, listen to friends and family, listen to yourself - authentic or ordinary?

Here, an authentic individual is one that not only acknowledge the fact of contradiction, but seek to promote similar oppositions within himself. It is much easier for an ordinary person to emphasize on what he wants, his desires, on what brings him joy and satisfaction. That's why people become blind.

As previously stated, "ordinary people fancy they see something rigid, complete and permanent." They can not or choose not to see reality. Reality can be painful, implies objections, frustration, nonfulfillment. It is so much more pleasurable and satisfying to live in a world of dreams and desires, to think of the good only, not to oppose, not to contradict.

Is this individual really being genuine, authentic, honest to himself? Or is he an utopian, or pretentious, or futile, trying to deceive himself, acting with bad faith? "To be means taking sides against oneself."

Back to listening to people, friends and family, and self - do they, or do you take sides against yourself? Or are you attached to your desires, deluded by your thoughts?

Yes, this flux of contradiction is a wrestling act that will lead to legitimate understanding, awareness and undoubted self-satisfaction. Attain the most compelling answers by contradicting. From B. Gita teachings, detach yourself, free your mind from desires, be intent on action and not on the fruits of the action.

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, I most definitely am experiencing my own internal battle. But I just can't help wonder if it is supposed to be this way. After reading only a little bit of "MEDITATION The First and Last Freedom" by Osho, I feel like my life has vividly changed. To quote Osho,

"Meditation is not something new; you have come with it into the world. Mind is something new, meditation is your nature. It is your nature, it is your very being. How can it be difficult?"

In the introduction, one of Osho's students explains the freedom of meditation:

"I have heard Osho describe it as 'just freedom': living in the here and now, moment to moment, living neither in the memory and oppression of the past nor the dreams of the future."

This is where I read that the mind is full of chatter:

"Mind is always jumping ahead or lagging behind, but it is never in the moment; it is a constant chattering."

"This constant chatter literally robs us of life, preventing us from enjoying what each moment of life holds for us."

So he presents a solution:

"A key which can open the door to a universe beyond our imagination. This master key is witnessing: a simple but profound state of watching and accepting ourselves as we are. Osho tells us that: 'Witnessing simply means a detached observation, unprejudiced; that's the whole secret of meditation.'"

I don't really know if this meditation works, as I have not yet tried it, but when I read all this, it was like something clicked. Language is complicated, and it's complicated on purpose; most definitely not the easiest thing to express. Of course it messes with our minds. But we do have the natural ability to sense things. The thing is, we are numbed from our senses. With pollution affecting air, land, and water, our bodies are suffering. We don’t know what we are eating unless we grow it ourselves (even then, what about the soil?). The FDA allows all kinds of poisons and garbage to go into processed foods. We have the natural ability to heal ourselves through our Chi; but our current health care system generally deals with side effects, not the root problems (they want our $). I think this is our fight: a fight within oneself to save oneself. But if we are neither our thoughts nor our actions, then how can we be our fight? Of course, fighting is just a reaction to being threatened; but we can turn it into poetry. At least that’s what I think I have come to understand.

About the last quote, as far as weeds go, I don’t think we should be judging even plants. Something created them for a reason. It could be as simple as the Earth made these plants because the plants had certain properties that the Earth realized it needed and therefore produced. They are discovering now that the form of agriculture we use is not the best method. The ecosystem is out of balance, lacking seriously in species richness. Maybe the Earth’s Chi is trying to fix this. Oh, and I thought that being confused was a good thing, because now you know exactly what you don’t know.

Fatimah Chavez said...

I agree with allot said in your posting . Particularly the last section towards the end , which i found very true and mind bottling . "overcoming itself is only a means, not a goal; if it is not so viewed, all kinds of weeds and devilish nonsense will quickly spring up in this rich soil now unoccupied, and soon there will be more rank confusion than there ever was before. " .

Anonymous said...

I think that your posting is rather important, but I would like to add the difference in which words can be limited by our education. Our education system sometimes only teaches us to interpret texts in a literal, and when it is interpreted, the interposition is thrown at others and there is no natural curiosity that is fulfilled. Through learning that most texts have deeper meanings than what the literal connotation can read, allows us to enrich our experience. To the point that we are no longer justt skimming over, we are understanding and questioning.

The word 'war' although can define a complete text for some, which is sad. The mind is so different and all, and there are internal battles which some can infer as being the ultimate war. The war with yourself and your ability to be at peace with your self but still understanding your environment is what I think the art of war optimizes. Not every text is meant to connect with everyone, no. If it were mainstream, then it wouldn't be so important to teach and learn from. If you find yourself nodding, to every text that isn't the westernized version of current philosophies, I think it is important to step back. Are you agreeing with these texts because they touch your soul and tell you something about yourself, or are you looking to agree with everything that isn't your present reality?

I find that I can try understand and problematize everything. There is no rejection, there just isn't a connection sometimes. =)

H Louis-Jeune

Anonymous said...

We all have our own wars some sort of rule of thumb we should accept--maybe its what makes us human? I get the feeling that this war is almost fun. Im not necessarily afraid of loosing the war (as long as I know Im loosing). I know my war, problem is Im afraid to win. Its almost epic that we know we cant win, for example we discussed in class all the problems in our society and how we know we will never get paradise but we keep on trying. Maybe even a degree of masochism, like when someone throws a hard riddle or a math problem at you, you dont want the answer, all you want is some time, once you solve it, you want more and more--its why I hope I never win. I think the most epic part is the music in the background. Something like Wagners Ride of the Valkyries, this epic music in the background, ready to fight, whatever Ill lose, Ill learn but tomorrow, Ill be a bit more prepared for this fight..
Jonathan Kohn

Brian Daniel Farin said...

I relate to this idea of life being a war/series of wars. However, not in the sense of an opposing force, because really everything is a functioning system and even the negative aspects of a situation are there to teach us and give us insight. I wonder though, is it only humans that so called wage war? Is it our developed sense of self and ego that hinders our ability to see things in their true sense? Of all the philosophies we've studied, Taoism is the one that speaks most to me. According to the Tao, really nothing is what it seems to be. This is where Sun Tzu comes into play, explaining how to truly navigate oneself amidst the constant mental noise. It is the war against our developed agreements with society and the world. If only each individual would become a master of self--then collectively the world would become a purposeful place---meaning that people will evaluate their actions intellectually.
Peace and love as medicine for the world.

R Kitchens said...

While the allegory of war can be preoccupying, I think the heart of this text is rather that one force is always gaining dominance over whatever antagonistic force. Not necessarily, that one person is to manipulate his/ or her opponent until absolute defeat.

When you gain a personal victory(promotion, A+, award, etc.), you or someone else is always losing something because of your actions. To be self satisfied would mean not being cognizant of this balance, this inner war.

Anonymous said...

The importance of being self-aware of one's internal battles, such as those evaluated within The Art of War, is that such battles are reflective of humans' wars with each other (here, for me, the atman/brahman notion kicks in). "Wars" are seen all around us... they are propagandized, publicated, and made into "for-a-cause" ordeals when, in reality, they are all projections of unresolved, unapproached internal conflicts within war (in the literal sense of the word) frantics.

Let us all, then, confront ourselves and win victoriously against the angry/angsty demon inside all of us. After each and every internal battle is won there will be an armistice between all of us. This is for me the true utopia, not one that has been colorfully painted for us time after time, for, much like with war (literal), its propagandization has tainted our understanding of truth.

-Juan Lopez