Wednesday, November 5, 2014

what is your favorite topic in the dhammapada?

we read about 9 chapters from the dhammapada:

the twin-verses
the immature 
the saint (guru)

there's plenty of wisdom in these chapters. what did you take with you?

let's discuss it in class next thursday.


Anton Martinez-Cid said...

"Like a lovely flower, full of color but lacking in fragrance, are the words of those who do not practice what they preach."
Following today's discussion about the male action in a feminine presence I found this verse particularly troubling. Despite all the feminine rhetoric I believe I still fail to move beyond the objectification of women. This creates monads within my reality that are both the pinnacle of desire but at the same time monuments of terror.
If feminism tells me to be honest of my intentions while not objectifying women then how can I act at all if I fail to move beyond the objectification. If a man approaches a woman in the guise of conversation while wanting sex then that is deception and he is a liar. If a man approaches a woman with his intention then he is either a creep or physically attractive enough to be absolved of his vulgar intention. The clear solution seems to be to work to move past the vision of women as sexual beings, however this task is immensely difficult with daily life flooded by advertisements, music and pornography. Even if one manages to move beyond the sexual drive then they approach a woman with the intention of friendship. This nulls the sexual tension and makes the man to be perceived as a friend but not a potential romantic interest. Paradoxically practicing the teachings of feminism leaves men with a situation in which they will make many friends but rarely if ever a sexual partner. That position of limbo is easily morphed into breakdowns of self-esteem or consumption by angst which becomes misogyny. The solution seems to be to live to live a life as a sexual pariah in which a man can make many friendships but must wander aimlessly until a woman finally desires him in the same way that he has accepted to be morally wrong.
Of course men could accept that they are sexually driven beings and make their intention clear. The problem lies in what "clear" entails. It could be interpreted as telling a woman he wants sex, but that is crass. It could also be interpreted as cultivating a friendship and then telling the woman she is attractive and he'd like to date her. The problem being that he cultivated that friendship under false pretenses, can a man really seek purely friendship with a woman who he is attracted to and then after seeking a friendship begin to want her as a sexual partner. This seems naive as men are aware of which woman they would like to be sexually active with to the point where it is common for male friends to tell each other which of the women passing by they would sleep with and with what amount of enthusiasm.
Perhaps changing the default mode in order to make a more perfect future generation is possible; but for men of today it is difficult not to become one of the many pigs or sink into the despair of knowing they will not overcome what was conditioned since the day of their birth.

atRifF said...

If a man approaches a woman in the guise of conversation while wanting sex then that is deception and he is a liar.

why? 1- we are not privy to our desires all the time, 2- there is an appropriate time to make disclosures.

If a man approaches a woman with his intention then he is either a creep or physically attractive enough to be absolved of his vulgar intention.

Why? If wanting sex was "vulgar", then we're vulgar through-and-through.

The clear solution seems to be to work to move past the vision of women as sexual beings,

Why? (again) Being "sexual" is part of being a woman, it's a physical attribute, though a woman is more than her sexuality.

... practicing the teachings of feminism leaves men with a situation in which they will make many friends but rarely if ever a sexual partner.

Anton: My girlfriend is a feminist, I can assure you that she enjoys sex, so that's a counter right there. :)

Leandro Mendez 807492 said...

My favorite topic is when it is said that the lotus flower can even grow in the garbage. Now, this is a very simple yet powerful statement. Personally, it is a huge shout out to hope. There are many dreadful things going on around the world 24/7; yet the Dhamapada suggests that in the midst of horrible things (garbage) even the fragrance of the lotus flower brings joy to who passes by, meaning that there are good things that can inspire us to bypass these horrible things and help us attain at least a better world, thus promoting hope.

Anton said...

I would argue that men are very much aware of their sexual desires. Men know exactly what porn category they enjoy, they know exactly which detail of which woman makes them aroused. We cannot approach a woman and absolve ourselves of being pigs by claiming ignorance of our intention. Wanting sex IS vulgar in our society because the cat calling video is no more than countless request for sex by strangers. It is by presenting their position in a thinly veiled context that they objectify woman. But if I court friendship for a couple weeks and then ask for sex through a "date" then I have done no better than the cat callers. My request for sex is better presented and hid but that does not make it right.
I believe to be human nature to enjoy sex, but how can a man who does seek a woman's physical pleasure, alongside the other joys of meeting a person, achieve sex without some level of deception. To say "I want sex" is wrong but to say "would like to see a movie (with the end goal being something sexual, EVEN if an emotional connection is also sought after) is somehow justified. Truth if important and as a feminist male it seems that the truth must be withheld until convenience allows, which is no more than a lie.

Amanda Collazo said...

I think it is only natural for the drive of sex to be there. Sex is natural I don’t think it should be portrayed as vulgar. So if a man spends weeks dating and getting to know a woman but desires sex and desires an emotional connection, how could it be a lie? It’s a natural drive, the problem is expecting for it to happen. I think this premise is inaccurate in saying that “practicing the teachings of feminism leaves men with a situation in which they will make many friends but rarely if ever a sexual partner”. If that need isn’t met then it should be taken cordially and can be fulfilled with another potential sexual partner that comes along. In essence, you may desire sex but don’t expect it is guaranteed and don’t not be overwrought by sexual rejection. There is always a possibility for when that desire is met. You could have many friends but also plenty of possible sexual partners. To this premise “The clear solution seems to be to work to move past the vision of women as sexual beings” Sexuality is only a facet of identity. I also wanted to add, women are sexualized however frowned upon if engaged promiscuous behavior. It’s not wrong for a woman to seek sex in a relationship. The double standard is still present today and words like “slut” are still attributed. Feminism also includes women exuding sexual confidence and enjoyment without being shamed for it.

Amanda Collazo said...

As for the Dhammapada, one of the chapters that resonated in me the most was Vigilance. Its opening line in particular struck me. “Be vigilant and go beyond death.” I always like to think that we are infinite. Our identity is ever changing, growing, and reaching different points in our own evolution. Also in Immature, the lines “they are not worth a sixteenth part of one who truly understands the dharma” I have some ambivalent feelings toward this verse since I like the idea of being able to try and to show the immature to try and pave a path of discipline. However a mature or realized person can’t make the person understand dharma; it’s more like having to come to understand it for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Maria Beltran

The concept of love dissolving hate has always been very appealing to me. While reading the Dhammapada, I came across many meaningful quotes that I strongly agree with. Love is truly the ultimate answer, hate only contaminates our being and makes us weaker in the long run. Hate cannot be conquered with hate, only love can do that. Love can overcome anger, fear, guilt and all things that do nothing but contaminate our mind and heart.

gabriela gallardo said...

Gabby said...
The chapter on immaturity fascinated me the most I would have to say. "If you find no one to support you on the spiritual path walk alone. There is no companionship with the immature" I believe that a lot of the time we surround ourselves with people that may be holding us back and a lot of times we don't even realize that they are. For reasons like not wanting to be alone, we think they are good for us ect. I do believe that knowing who is and who is not good for you comes with maturity and once your able to distinguish the difference if that means it is just you and yourself then that is perfectly fine. Your on a path of spirituality and by getting rid of negative, unencouraging people you are already one step closer. I remember a class discussion we were having the other day where one of the students was talking about Siri and wanting to help but seeing that what he thought was doing good was really doing no good at all. So some students were saying that he should just focus on local problems that he knows he can do good in. The problem with that is that he's path could be to actually save or make some kind of dent for Siri and just because what he did first was not helping him that does not mean he can't research other options. If he has any kind of feeling that he should be helping Siri then he should and ignore all the discouragement.

Derek Lewis said...

In the Thousands chapter, my favorite verses are the following: “If someone conquers a thousand times a thousand others in battle, and someone else conquers his or her own self, the latter one is the greatest of all conquerors. One’s self conquered is better than all other people conquered.”

As someone who battles with an addictive personality, I understand how difficult it can be to conquer one’s self. I have been trying for such a long time and the most progress I have ever made has been while associating with people who are on the same path as I am as well as using tools like chanting mantras on prayer beads.

Other verses from the Mind chapter which go hand in hand with these verses are the following: “Whatever a hater may do to another hater, or an enemy to an enemy, one’s own mind wrongly directed will do to one even greater harm. Neither a mother, nor a father, nor any other relative will do to one as great a service as one’s own well-directed mind.”

As someone who often falls victim to a wrongly directed mind, I frequently do greater harm to myself than my worst enemy would do to me. And at times when I have had my mind well directed, associating with others on the same path as myself and utilizing the tools that I have learned, I have been able to do a greater service to myself than any of my relatives could do have ever done for me.

I say all this to say that in my experience, conquering my mind has been far more gratifying and rewarding than retaliating on any of my foes could have ever been. I am very glad to have read these couple of verses because they have been an inspiration to keep fighting the good fight.

Christopher Arias said...

I came across a book on the Buddhist perception of gender/sexuality and it brings up a book called Manimekalai, where a girl is harassed by a prince. In the end of the book, the prince learns that "the failure to realize the impermanence of female beauty leads to suffering." Now, we live in the real world where men (and women) are allured by beauty. And I cannot figure out a way to go about ethically disclosing your intentions, expect by empathizing with women and not compromising their autonomy.

I think if women made their intentions clear it would help change the dynamic. Men would not have fight for their attention, which in many cases results in harassment.

Now about the Dhammapada, I like the chapter on the Guru. However, I had trouble understanding what sets the criteria of who could be a Guru. A person with wise words and actions? I don't think there are specific classification of Gurus. Anyone could be a Guru. Whenever I hang out with someone I admire I find myself adapting and mirroring certain aspects of their behavior in a positive sense. For example, my friend has a certain attitude about taking life lightly and I see myself adopting the same outlook. You don't have to be perfect person, you just have to exhibit good qualities, and people will absorb them.