Friday, September 27, 2013

thank me for losing paradise (post for comment)

Two excesses: to exclude reason, to admit nothing but reason.- Pascal, Pensées.

The title of my post has a rebellious Adam saying those very words to his wife Eve after a long day or labor in the field, outside the Garden of Eden. He realizes that Paradise, at the price of ignorance, was not worth having. If the story is plausible, Adam is the first Yogi.
I get the impression that you think these ideas we're discussing are "utopic." Yet, there is no imperative here to bring back a paradise to earth. Why? Because reality is a duck-rabbit proposition. Tough, deceiving, at times sublime, inevitable, i.e., paradoxical? What Yoga seeks is a method for personal development and community enlightenment. A yogi understands that he cannot build a "world" of like-minded yogis, just as we cannot impose a paradise of like-minded proletarians. Paradise is another form of self-induced Alzheimer!

Thus, this closing of 3rd Section of the Sutras:
When the presiding-deities invite, there should be no attachment and no smile of satisfaction, contact with undesirable being again possible (III, 50).
Via ahimsa, Yoga is amenable to deep ecology and the plight for justice and equality, provided by asteya for all of sentient beings. of course we must include non-human animals. it makes perfect sense!
Let’s get into the enstasis part. We are trying to give the Sutras a different spin: Yama is now a techné aimed at perfecting the self. "Reincarnation" becomes a metaphor for the never ending process of identity renewal. Meditation means seeking worthwhile thoughts as a mean to achieve niyama, which depends of yamaAsana is comportment, a way of paying attention to my body (yes, the body IS important) while simultaneously being aware of other bodies, something not unlike the idea of an athlete in the West (a healthy body + a clean mind built through the discipline of the sport). I surmise that athletes have an x-tra sense of peoples’ bodies that neophytes simply lack (it'd be nice to have LeBron defending this point).
With dharana and dhyana we engage in a discussion about the form vs. content of meditation. When it comes to dharana, yoga practice exhibits a perplexing degree of fetishism. It seems that for the mind to get deeper into itself it needs to transcend itself (by purging itself). And so, dharana is an anteroom to dhyana.
Homelessness: Because of the very structure of pakriti and purusha, we are ontologically homeless. This idea resonates in Freudian psychoanalytic theory (Spaltung), where the Self is divided, and in Existentialism, where Being = Nothingness.
Why can one not be God? -asks the disciple.
You are, -says the master. -But you have to find out by yourself.-- Swami Vivekananda.
Coming back to Martin example of the moon being reflected on the lake. Some level of aesthetic abeyance can make one agree with the Romantic poet contemplating Nature's beauty and thinking “I could very well die now,” (which obviously doesn’t happen in all lakes at all times). This lucky teeny mini-samadhi is sudden, ephemeral, accidental and unregulated (Yoga aims at regulating these samadhis). Yet, it makes us aware that we’re capable of achieving high-quality awareness (the idea being that one can bring it forth through discipline and effort). Does it make sense to investigate this further?

Let's bring the point home. One may feel materially lucky for having and enjoying what lots of people in this world can only dream of having (i.e., driving a car, eating a nice meal, going to school and having these cool conversations about philosophy, etc), so that one may feel responsible for that demand of the invisible other(“invisible” in the sense that we avoid their gaze and pass them in silence). It makes me think of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas: In his book Totality and Infinity, he talks about “le rapport sans rapport,” (a demand that sometimes is quite heavy to bear and may go unanswered). Not unlike Jesus’s imperative on the Sermon of the Mount: “You shall love your enemy”. Now, what’s that?
Michaelangelo Pistoletto, Venus of the Rags, (1974).
Some of you may be thinking that all this Yoga stuff is a sham. And I could never prove to you it’s not. What I can do is plead with Pascal: you will lose nothing by trying it
(I'm closing this post next Wednesday at 11pm)


Martin Gross said...

My interpretation of your posted comment: (and I do want to stress my interpretation) runs like this
There are approximately seven billion people on this planet; therefore, this means there are seven billion different concepts of paradise on this planet. Yoga and its parallel Zen Buddhism declares itself a science dedicated to creating a union between the mind, body, and spirit, whose objective is to assist the practitioner in his/her following of the eightfold path that ultimately leads to the union with the divine(Samadhi).
My interpretation of what the Garden of Eden was is not so much a place but rather a state of mind, the mind of humanity while it was within the Garden of Eden was that of simplistic creatures with no ability to reason or question. We were on level with just any other animal on this planet with no concept of past or future. Ergo I agree with professor Treff’s thought that paradise at the price of ignorance is not worth having. The goal of yoga and Zen Buddhism is to realize paradise albeit fleetingly here on earth and in this lifetime. And paradise is an individualistic expression of all people.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Martin.
“Paradise” is a concept that is derived from an individual’s state of mind. For me, it’s all in the way you look at things. Take, for example, a person born into an impoverished country. While some of us (Americans) take for granted having clean running water and food programs to feed our homeless and hungry, mother’s in Liberia, or better yet, The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( the poorest country in Africa) have no clean water and a very finite amount of food for her and her children for who knows how long. To be able to stand in a line and get government assistance to make sure her and her children will be able to eat for the next few months would be a “paradise” for her. Something that a lot of people don’t even realize how blessed they are to receive .

Rosemary Session

Anonymous said...

I really like Martin's interpretation of the Garden of Eden as a state of mind, -not a place. As well as his statement that there are billion+ concepts of paradise on earth alone.

To problematize "thank you for losing paradise". What if there is no suffering; then there is no ignorance of suffering. Personally, while I savor this duck-rabbit life,..I would take the Garden of Eden if it meant no suffering, however NOT ignorance of suffering.

Rosemary is right about relativity; and I think it's an important to remember in our communications. I propose that Objectivity and Relativity are part of Duck-Rabbit.


I watched most of this documentary last night and it was really neat to actually see the land and the people. What I learned is that the interpretations of the religions/philosophies are rich and many. Thousands upon thousands perhaps because of the Guru system.

I saw one group that did a "Fire Dance" a ritual in which they danced on and around coals and grasped coals that were on fire in their hands and proceeded to put them in between their teeth and dance. They do this between 32-40 times a year. They do it because it differentiates them from others, and they do it because that is what their Guru did. Fascinatingly, upon inspection, the Fire Walkers feet, were noted to be very soft, bearing no scars. They respond by saying something to the extent that if one is pure, one will not be burnt, if one is not, one will be burnt.

Another group called the Aghoras, live with and around the dead. They believe all of Shiva's creations are perfect even death and decay. And to show their devotion and to overcome their fear they will live close to it; and embrace it. Even eating excrement and human flesh. These extreme practices are discouraged by the state and carried out in secret.

To conclude this segment; I'll say that I agree with the narrarator that this is one of most spiritual places he has ever been.


I think loving your enemy is about transcending hate. Martin Luther King said "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." This also goes along with ahimsa.

-Geoffrey Robbins

Anonymous said...

I agree with rosemary how in America many can take for granted what for others may be such a paradise. Yes I am also one of those you mentioned that saw the economic way of living as utopian but I do agree with the yoga perspective. I would like to ay from what I’ve learned when doing yoga, When one does yoga it is to strengthen mind body and spirit, you get yourself into these uncomfortable positions and it is not about who can do it better or faster or without pain it is about accepting your limit and yourself at that very moment and being in that moment with yourself, learning to be calm within the most uncomfortable positions. 1) Body: by gaining this strength from exercise 2) Mind: by learning how to be calm in rowdy situations. 3) Spirit: by self-acceptance and no judgment. Also i can agree that bringing back the paradise would do nothing great although it is just a great fantasy but without anything bad or ugly in the world how would we ever realize what is good is GOOD and well never appreciate anything. We’ll be living in this perfect society but since we wouldn’t know any other ways we would just see it as normal not Perfect.
I would also love to say I really liked Geoffrey Robbins post it is very interesting to know about those tribes. Thank you for sharing! (:

Kate Blazej said...

Paradise, at the price if ignorance, is not worth having. This phrase really caught my attention when reading this weeks blog. I interpret it to mean perfection, if can be attained, is not worth living or enjoying if one is in the dark about the true nature of the world. I feel many people live their lives with a blind eye to the truth. However, the practice of Yoga can aid an individual to seek enlightenment and acceptance of self. In the long run, community and familiar unity can be achieved. "To find out about Yoga's validity, one has to try it." I couldn't agree more with this statement.
After Tuesdays class, I decided to put my meditation skills to the test. Trying to think about non thinking wasn't going to work so I cleared my mind via a windswept valley. All my troubles, worries and woes got swept out to sea. Then slowly, each part of my being rose gently into the stream and was carried off to oblivion. I practiced breathing until I felt completely weightless. I found Samadhi, attainment of liberation. I transcended deeper into my mind until I was in a state of peace and almost total invisibility. The first part was easy, however I had trouble piecing back together my self to come out of the meditative state. Which leads me to believe I have a long spiritual journey ahead of me.

If you will lose nothing by trying it, you may gain a whole world of understanding.
-Thanks for reading, Kate Blazej

Vini Giannattasio said...

The statement that Adam would be the first Yogi is quite interesting. By my understanding of Yoga so far, it aims at perfection and enlightenment; the very definition of paradise. As I gather, by quieting one's mind, one may gain awareness of imperfections in the being. By meditating, different levels of consciousness may be created and alienated, as means of shedding said imperfections. Now I assume, such levels of consciousness are also kindred to the levels of manifestation of Brahman?? That is Kabalah. And Adam was the first Kabalist indeed. However, you confuse ignorance with purity. Disparity came into existence so that chaos could reforge Adams mind into the image of God. It was a way of achieving development though suffering. Because he was born perfect, does not mean he was born fully developed. Adam was fully aware of the serpent and its evil because he was initially given authority over it. Moreover, evil is not a moral concept; it signifies an alternative creation, regardless of its perfection or imperfection. When he eats the fruit, he starts a new creation, the desert, which will lead to a new Eden, now fully developed. He was never ignorant. If one is enlightened, there is omniscience.

Anonymous said...

“Some of you may be thinking that all this Yoga stuff is a sham. And I could never prove to you it’s not. What I can do is plead with Pascal: you will lose nothing by trying it.”

Before I ever tried yoga, I thought it was a complete and total sham. The price of a yoga session in most places in Miami is ridiculous (expensive) and ultimately led me to think that someone like me could never enjoy the benefits of something that only privileged people could afford. When MDC opened up its new gym, the affordable price and new schedule of in-gym classes allowed me to explore and gain access to yoga-and a gym in general. I was very skeptical at first-but after my first session I felt like yoga was something that I could benefit from. The meditation, kinesthetic, and dietary processes made both my body and mind feel good, but the teachings themselves are what made my soul feel a sense of, as Kate said in her post, liberation along with acceptance.

Everybody’s comments on this post have been very pleasant to read-and I thank you all for sharing! As a few of my other classmates said, I believe that paradise is relative to the individual. To my mother, who arrived from Cuba at about the age of 16, the United States of America is paradise. Going to the point of paradise not being worth much at the price of ignorance -had my mother never come to the United States, she probably would not have even known that this was her paradise. For me on the other hand, this is no paradise…I have a hard time accepting that I have all these blessings and things to appreciate while there are so many people out there who do not. At the same time, I realize that I must use these blessings and continue to prosper so that one day I can help those who have not been so lucky. So, I’ll problematize it in this way…can I ever truly have a paradise of my own if I cannot see the justice in my having it when others don’t? I do understand that most of these things are out of my control…but in my paradise-I would be out there helping those that need it in any way that I could.

-Veronica Gomez Musa

Anonymous said...

The mind, body and spirit are one. To neglect the body is to neglect a part of your self. Yoga is one of the best exercises to stimulate the body’s natural functions. In order to maintain inward harmony the body must be functioning correctly. The Yogis understood this, plus they understood the spiritual realm. By mastering their bodies, yogis were better prepared to access the unseen.


Anonymous said...

I do very much like the paragraph referencing that euphoric feeling that the artist feels while looking upon the lake. If I may relate, I have had a similar experience while meditating. ( I believe there are multiple forms of meditation, reading, singing, watching, yoga!)
While meditating, I had that same euphoric feeling mentioned, better than any high, sexual or drug induced, I had every experienced.
Now being aware of that is amazing in itself BUT the act of becoming aware of that feeling inflates my ego and thus the feeling dissipates.
Practice is needed while meditating to simply let yourself be! Let yourself go with the flow of the universes energy and you will be peace. Literally be the peace and serenity that you seek.

I just read Martin's comment and I think it ties beautifully into what I just mentioned. The Paradise is a state of the soul. Again for us to attain it ego is a variable that must be left out.


Fabio.V said...

On the subject of paradise: Oh what a wonderful concept paradise! Paradise is generally given a tone of perfection that is even beyond ultimate and absolute happiness, for not only does one find unparalleled happiness but one also supposedly becomes untarnished by any form of impurity lurking among the non-ascended minds. Perfection and paradise might go hand-to-hand, one might be found within the other; culminating to supremeness, however, to claim that such a state is possibly determined by a simpleton; a simple minded individual is insulting and degrading to supremeness itself. Embellished ideas, adorning ideals all contrived by spiritually ‘enlightened’ individuals cannot be anything else but the fervor of imagination. Assuming that some form of paradise or to the very least a facsimile, did in fact exist, would be first off, unimaginable let alone establish a probability in regards to what paradise ought to be like. The main point is that paradise or something paradisaical would be characterized by such grandeur that even through prolonged meditation, the slightest conception would be misleading, unascertainable and entirely fanciful.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Martin, and Rosemary. Paradise or utopia where one is at rest of stress or problems, occurs only when the person himself or herself have brought this paradise onto themselves. For example, one must not see the negatives in situations, however overcome those negatives, and realize the positives to come with whatever the situation is. For example, I have recently began believing this topic of yoga and it's ability to see the real positive of life. For example, an incident once occured in my life when I had got into a very minor accident. I stayed up for days beating myself up with those negatives. Now I have realized I should have thought way differently. I should be lucky for not being dead, I should be lucky my car is not totaled, I should be happy nothing happened to my passengers. These are all positive outlooks after a negative situation, therefore I highly believe in the idea of yoga, and believe everyone should embrace it.

Ethan Epshteyn

Anonymous said...

I really liked what you said that reincarnation became a metaphor for the renewal of one's identity. To that I have to say that I personally find it amazing how much we change as our lives go about. On Yoga, I always thought (and this was kinda confirmed yesterday.. last Tuesday in class) that yoga was the taming of the body and the stretching of it and the mind, as a semi-physical metaphor for how we can only reach enlightenment (for lack of a better word) through disciplining ourselves via our body and mind. To move aside the nescience that corrupts our lives and prevents us from seeing our lives and reality for what they truly are. On what Martin said, I think it's mentioned in the story of the four rabbis that the Garden of Eden is a different plain of existence from this one, and the tree of knowledge was the acceptance of the material.
-Manny Alonso

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes paradise is something you make up yourself. So, I also agree with Rosemary! Although the way she used paradise in her second to last sentence didn't really click for me because I don't think it'd be exactly 'paradise' for the mother but more like security and comfort and responsibility..her paradise, I think, would be where she wouldn't have to do that at all, it would simply be. But besides that, yes, I do agree that "paradise" is derived from an individual's state of mind.

As for yoga and meditating, I don't think it's a sham at all. I just think that one really has to try to actually reach some sort of understanding towards it because it really isn't easy and takes a lot to silence your mind...and when I read your line "yoga practice exhibits a perplexing degree of fetishism." it made sense to me, but I cant really relate it to "magical powers" because although it feels magical, it's real. At least for me it's real! And I think it's definitely worth a shot with nothing to lose.

-Carolina Vera

Anonymous said...

I believe paradise varies person to person and it is what you make of it. My paradise would not be the same as hers, his, or yours. Simply put it depends on your own perspective and what puts you at easy. My paradise could be found on Earth... for others, that is not the case.
"Some of you may be thinking that all this Yoga stuff is a sham. And I could never prove to you it’s not. What I can do is plead with Pascal: you will lose nothing by trying it.”
Yoga is not a sham in my opinion but it is no easy task. It takes deep concentration to clear your mind and is rather difficult for me to accomplish even though it is ultimately worth it. At first, I only knew it as a stretching and work out method... it was later on that I dug deep and found is inner ability. I have never obtained such clarity and relaxation simultaneously from one activity.
Manuel Valdes

Anonymous said...

The idea of entering meditation to better oneself and attain niyama for me is not problematic at all.

The noise that we discussed in class is, according to hindu principles, proof that we have not understood the true form of reality. It only makes sense that this be done through the process of blocking out that noise with the power of the mind.

A peer asked a question about whether or not it was psychologically possible to do this. It would be a worthwhile question to entertain for it would make or break the idea that, through meditation and yoga, one breaks the process of reincarnation.

The reading of the sutras, on the other hand, seemed to me to clarify the free will issue. All of a sudden I understood that all that is jive has an ounce of brahaman in it. If so much as an infinitesimal amount is present, the soul cannot tend towards complete destruction, for how could something that contains complete perfection in it devolve into something less than perfect? The perfection of brahaman does not let that happen!

I'm starting to get the hang of this eastern philosophy thing. The other day, when I was in that giant roller coaster people call the metrorail for thirty minutes without moving I thought to myself, "Ahimsa Jose. Ahimsa!"

Jose Giron