Tuesday, October 25, 2016

your turn #6 Bhagavad Gita

pick a topic of the many: action in inaction, sacrifice, maya, faith, selfless action, service, ignorance, fighting the battle, moksha, go ahead.

desire according to buddhism

art by sam yong

Buddha based his entire teaching on the fact of human suffering.*

1- Existence is painful.

The conditions that make an individual are precisely those that also give rise to suffering.

Individuality implies limitation; limitation gives rise to desire; and desire (tanha) causes suffering because what is desired is transitory, changing, and perishing.

It is the impermanence of the object of craving that causes disappointment and sorrow (cause/effect: one suffers because one desires). I'd like to spin this idea of desire with the idea of EROS as an embodied striving for well-being that connects us with things, animals and people, which situates us in the world with others.

EROS is the fundamental energy by which we relate to all that is. SIN might be seen as human desire gone astray, a corruption of the basic potency for relation. SIN is a "desire" in the form of a will-to-control that aspires to secure itself by mastering all around it. Ridden with anxiety about its own lack of control, it reduces what is other to the self, placing a stranglehold on all that is not-I in order to guarantee absolutely its own self-perpetuation.

By effectively closing itself off from the other, a genuine relation is negated in a posture of solipsism. Augustine referred to this selfish attachment "cupiditas," a need-based form of desire that seeks its own satisfaction above all else and therein refuses its genuine relation to creation and the Creator. 

2- By following the "path" taught by the Buddha, the individual can dispel the "ignorance" that perpetuates this suffering.

3- Reality, whether of external things or the psycho-physical totality of human individuals, consists in a succession and concatenation of microseconds called dhammas.

4- Moreover, contrary to the theories of the Upanishads, the Buddha did not want to assume the existence of the soul as a metaphysical substance. Life is a stream of becoming, a series of manifestations and extinctions. The individual ego is a delusion; the objects with which people identify themselves -fortune, social position, family, body, and even mind-are not their true selves. Nothing is permanent.
*Suffering in this context is equivalent to disquietude. The mind is in a state of restless anxiety. Tahna (as mental state) is a vicious cycle (if one's desires are fulfilled it will, of itself, lead to one's lasting happiness or well-being). Such beliefs normally result in further craving/desire and the repeated enactment of activities to bring about the desired results.

Buddhism in a few points

First, the four noble truths and the eightfold path and

The Four Noble Truths: 

1- The truth of misery: Buddhism locates the suffering not in the khanavāda ("fleeting moments") of experience (for these are the "really real" elements in experience and the source of our aliveness and joy) but in the compulsiveness with which people attempt to stop the world and insist upon some kind of security and predictability in their lives.

2- Misery originates within us from the craving for pleasure and for being or non-being: As people become free from clinging and manage a degree of disengagement from their own compulsive drives, they can construct elaborate conceptual systems as instruments for widening and vivifying awareness.

3- Human craving can be eliminated: Freedom from the unsatisfactoriness of existence is found by extinguishing desire, which means the cessation of clinging aimed at self-possession.

Here nirvana means the "cooling" or "extinguishing" of the flame of craving that engenders ego-enclosed "I-ness."

Instead of an attachment to being, there is now generated a dis-attachment from being, which accordingly frees the enlightened person from the restless bondage of duhkha --and the wheel of karmic samsara, producing a tranquility untroubled by worldly occurrences.

This is not to say that pain and pleasure are no longer felt; they are simply no longer of ultimate consequence.  

4- The truth that this elimination is the result of a methodical way or path that must be followed

Eightfold Path: How can one escape the continually renewed cycle of birth, suffering, and death (samsara)? Here ethical conduct enters in: 
1- right views (the right perspective of things, not too much, not too little) 
2- right aspirations (one projected into the future) 
3- right speech (words need self-governance, constructive words coming from a constructive mind --- ahimsa)  
4- right conduct (our dharma) 
5- right livelihood (living a life which transpires our purpose) 
6- right effort (action in inaction) 
7- right mindfulness (self-government at the mental level, not allowing destructive thoughts inside, "not in this house") 
8- right meditational attainment (YOGA). 

The term "right" (true or correct) is used to distinguish sharply between the precepts of the Buddha and other teachings.

Nirvana: The aim of religious practice is to be rid of the delusion of ego, thus freeing oneself from the fetters of this mundane world (i.e., the endless round of rebirths). This is the final goal -not a paradise or a heavenly world. Though nirvana is often presented negatively as "release from suffering," it is more accurate to describe it in a more positive fashion: as a goal to be sought and cherished.  

Karma: The belief in rebirth, or samsara, as a potentially endless series of worldly existences in which every being is caught up was already associated with thedoctrine of karma in pre-Buddhist India, and it was generally accepted by both the Theravada and the Mahayana traditions. According to the doctrine of karma, good conduct brings a pleasant and happy result and creates a tendency toward similar good acts. This furnishes the basic context for the moral life of the individual.

Sangha: Sangha refers to the assembly of believers. There are two meanings, the monastic Sangha of ordained Buddhist monks or nuns and the assembly of all beings possessing some degree of realization.

what a midterm "A" test looks like (so you can compare this one with the one you will receive)

an "A" represents the class of --comparatively speaking-- the best-answer tests. here is one example of that class:

p. 1, see that in question 5- "karma," she goes in detail to explain the concept. or in question 7- "ahimsa" how she develops her idea. this student doesn't answer a question just with a one-liner, she actually explains what she knows.

p.2, see for instance in the question 10- "gunas," how the student specifies each one and goes further to explain each one. she doesn't miss one.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

a preamble to the gita

first, the idea of dharma: doing what must be done, its stoic translation is "doing the best we can at all times."

dharma is not passivity. it means pursuing our duty, diligently, intensely. 

which duty? what we have chosen for ourselves; the milieu we've inherited (dna, family, commitments). 

the idea of detaching oneself from the fruits of one's action may seem a bit counterintuitive, particularly in the West. it takes a hierarchical view of things.

krishna admits that one can win or gain, no matter the outcome.

sure, but that's too general. how does it apply to me? the idea of "gain" (profit is a bad synonym) in our post-capitalist times is very entrenched. we're often caught up in a means-to-ends cycle. 

suggestion: how many times one invests and makes money and the general outcome of the investment leaves much to be desired? how many times we've won arguments than in retrospect we wished we had lost? how many actions we choose which we later resent? what cuts through these examples is time. 

we don't have enough time to see the movie because we're in it. only then one can understand krishna's advice.

as we've discussed before, sacrifice (yajna) turns upside-down all received notions of economic exchange: sovereignty. 

yajna is a form of sovereignty. the existentialist metaphor of devenir. in a sense, we're born again every time we choose ourselves. self-rule is a sign of inner development. 

we're born again every time we choose ourselves. self-rule is a great sign of inner development.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

your draft's first two paragraphs and the conclusion

Dear class:

Your first two paragraphs are the most important in your draft. They contain all the arguments you will develop. No argument should appear in the draft's body that has not been already announced in the thesis' (or counter's) paragraph. In a sense, your thesis and counter paragraphs are your argument plan. They announce what you will do in the draft's body.

This is how your two paragraphs should look like.

Paragraph 1: Thesis
In this paper I argue in favor of increasing the minimum wage in America. Increasing the minimum wage can potentially lift people out of poverty, help low-income families make ends meet and narrow the gap between the rich and poor. This last point is underscored by the exorbitant salaries earned by CEOs and other corporate executives, which are the same people generally arguing against an increase in the minimum wage.
Analysis: The first sentence (in red) of your draft is the thesis statement. It's a short sentence stating your position (in favor or against). The following sentence (in blue) presents the actual arguments. See that the sentence states three points defending the thesis:
1- Increasing the minimum wage can potentially lift people out of poverty, 2- help low-income families make ends meet and 3- narrow the gap between the rich and poor.

I need a minimum of 2 points and no more than 3 points in your thesis.

Paragraph 2: Counterargument
Critics of increasing minimum wage disagree. They believe that increasing the minimum wage hurts our economy: it hurts small businesses by squeezing their profit margins, it encourages employers to downsize their staff increasing the cost of goods to consumers. 
The first sentence of the counter (in red) simply disagrees with the thesis. Then, the following sentence states 2 points:
1- increasing the minimum wage hurts our economy by hurting small businesses by squeezing their profit margins, 2- it encourages employers to downsize their staff increasing the cost of goods to consumers. 

The conclusion of your draft should read:

I hope I have shown that______________________________ (make it two sentences summarizing your results ).

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How to prioritize your points in your thesis and counter

In the construction of your thesis and counter, you need to be able to move from a general thesis point, say: "In this paper I argue against Fast Food (FF)," to actually provide reasons to support your thesis.

To do this I suggest we come up with three points. Which points?

Think about it. What's your angle? You want to discuss health issues linked to FF? If so, pick one say, 1- obesity, and then 2- Type II diabetes 

we have two points, we need one more. Move to a different FF issue, say
FF & advertising,  or
FF and factory farms, or
FF and low wages 

See that this is what we have:

When it comes to Same-sex marriage, Government surveillance or Police brutality:   

1- issues of justice,
2- issues of individuals rights,
3- economic aspects,

when it comes to Fast Food:

1- issues of health, or animal or ecological,
2- economic aspects,

Factory farms or animal welfare,

1- animal welfare (this is a moral issue),
2- ecological issues,
3- economic or social issues,

list of terms for the midterm and instructions

find the list of terms for the midterm here.

the test consists of a bunch of fill-in-the-blank questions like this.

atman: _______(your answer here)____________

Try to be as exhaustive as you can.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016