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light? tunnel?

the fever seemed to break last night. either that or the coffee is momentarily making me feel ok but I think I decided that since I did not get the email of doom yesterday that the most likely explanation for the lack of reply is that she's busy. I will email her tomorrow and ask if we can meet if I don't hear from her today but for now I've decided that I will just keep writing as though no one is about to tell me that I must trash the whole thing.

that is, I would keep writing if I didn't have a ton of grading to do. still there is a paragraph I'd like to get out so I will do that first after sitting and showering this morning and then move on to grading. I can't keep dreaming up scenarios without risking my sanity so I will see if it is possible to avoid that temptation.

I suppose zen would have me give up this attachment to getting a phd but I'm not ready to do that yet. I'm willing to suffer for the desire for now. that seems reasonable to me and I'm not sure the answer to a life that offers you various things is to completely efface your desires but rather to refigure them in such a way that the ego doesn't become a big devouring monster.

anyway. so maybe today I won't be the bundle of anxiety and gloom that I was yesterday. we'll see what happens when the first coffee of the day wears off.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
daisydumont
Dec. 13th, 2005 02:10 pm (UTC)
i have a problem with seeing all attachment as bad. my experience of my ownself is that attachment is where it's at, man. i LOVE attachment, even when it leads to pain. maybe that's dumb...

i've had brief conversations before with westerners who are drawn to buddhism (never with anyone born to it), and i always wind up passionately yapping about incarnational theology and the pleasures of the body. probably means that i don't get buddhism at all!
eriktrips
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:05 pm (UTC)
I'm not well-versed in buddhist writings yet but I think that desire and attachment get short shrift in western interpretations of it precisely because of our addiction to dichotomous "all-or-nothing" thinking, which I'm fairly certain buddhism is trying to dismantle entirely. it seems to me that what buddhism wants to do away with is the acquisitive ego, the part of us that says "mine mine mine mine mine," but it isn't that clear to me that every kind of desire and attachment must go out the window with it.

see I think there is a way to enjoy sensory experience and desire without making the mistake of thinking that you own any of it. the psychoanalytic model of desire is way to parsimonious for me; I don't think it has anything to do with trying to make up for some lack in the self. I think there is a way to think desire within the limits of buddhism and other self-deconstructive discourses.

but I'm a heretic no matter where I go. we've discussed this before I think.
daisydumont
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC)
oh, have we? i'm so forgetful any more.

i'm definitely always a heretic. i LIKE desire. i like to yearn & burn, even when it hurts. it's nutty as hell. i probably define myself by my desires, actually.

come to think of it, that likely makes me hopelessly Romantic and western (not that i know much about it). :D
eriktrips
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:27 pm (UTC)
I think it depends upon where that desire leads. if you think you are desiring that which will finally complete yourself and let you live to the fullest, then yeah you are a romantic westerner. if on the other hand you just want to experience everything that you possibly can, then I don't think you are normatively western except insofar as hedonism is a western phenomenon.

oh who knows. I don't think there is anything wrong with enjoying desire as long as no one gets hurt. that was my mistake.
daisydumont
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:31 pm (UTC)
hedonism? hmmm. no, i think that what i Most Want from Life would definitely complete me, and i'm 100% sure i'm never going to get it. but i still want it, and i'll always end up hurt. duh, stupid me.

detachment would be a much better idea. i'll try it in another decade or so. the older i get, the less sharp and pointy the pain is.
eriktrips
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:45 pm (UTC)
I'd say that if you are 100% sure you are never going to get that final object of desire then you are way ahead of most westerners. in fact you are well on the way to becoming truly postmodern to the extent that what you enjoy is the desire and the longing, rather than its fulfillment and end.

see I think I prefer your position to that of complete detachment, so long as I don't hold any illusions as to whether I'm going to get what I'm looking for. I'm very interested in the search itself much like I prefer driving to reaching my destination.
zyrc
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
i don't really get zen's focus on not having desires. the buddhism i know equates desires with enlightment in that we are one with our environment - this saha world is exactly where we can attain enlightment - and having desires is a function of this world. i see it in a sort of existential manner - finding that passion which defines the meaning in your life enables you to direct your life in a meaningful manner. also, since we are of this intersubjective world, in the challenge to achieve what you desire you find compassion for others' struggles in their lives. i coudl go on, but i have to direct all my energy toward these flipping papers.
eriktrips
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:12 pm (UTC)
no I think you are right, and I am not sure that it is zen itself that emphasizes letting go of all desire or if it is western interpretations of it that read it that way. see my reply to daisy, above. I think a buddhist desire would be the kind of nietzschean desire that gives rather than takes, and out of a fullness of feeling rather than because of some lack.

I need to read more primary buddhist texts instead of these western interpretations of them. we have a very difficult time articulating non-duality especially when we are trying to square buddhism with our own traditions. I think maybe the western appropriation of buddhism gets a number of things quite simply wrong.

but what do I know.
zyrc
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC)
hrm, don't be too quick to trash it as a Western thing. ceratinly Buddhism in Thailand follows the earlier teachings of Guatama, which advocating surrending all worldy possessions and begging for alms to survive. mayayana (the latter version of buddhism) makes the appeal that the earlier teachings of giving up everything were necessary to prepare for the latter teachings which sort of reject/clarify things.

anyway, it can't hurt to read the direct stuff, and not the western versions. just be aware of the distinction between the two forms of buddhism - the earlier sutras espouse no desires, the latter ones change that tune.
eriktrips
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC)
interesting. well mostly I'm reading about zen itself, and all the primary texts I have so far are zen texts. I might work my way backwards from there, but I've never seen a religious system with so much damned literature! judaism isn't even as prolix.

so far I've listened to a d.t. suzuki text that sounded exactly to me like it was trying to make up for what it perceived as failed attempts to articulate non-duality, and I've read a number of western interpretations of zen that, if the suzuki is accurate, are still caught in western metaphysics to the detriment of being able to conceive of a oneness that is not a totality of sameness but a kind of consistent fabric of non-identical yet non-self-sufficient singularities. the appeal of buddhism for many postmodern thinkers consists in this, I think.

I've read a couple of shunryu suzuki texts and about half of a dogen text as well. it is not always clear to me just what they are saying about desire and attachment but it does seem like they are all addressing a paradox of the unity of non-identical and non-self-identical beings.

personally I've never bought the simplistic version of buddhism that reads that desire is the cause of all suffering and that eliminating suffering requires eliminating desire. I think it is much more complex than that and that one has to think of different models of desire and different models of beings between which desire passes. not to mention the question of whether one's goal should be to reduce one's own suffering or the suffering of others.
zyrc
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:54 pm (UTC)
hmm. yea. i say, go to the sutras themselves rather than rely on interpretations of them.

listage:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sutras
http://www4.bayarea.net/~mtlee/
http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/sutras_main.html
http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/sutras.html

again, bearing in mind that the early ones are thervada, the latter ones are mahayana. of the mahayana, i like the diamond and lotus sutras the best.

happy trails!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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