2005-12-05 23:23 in /life/philosophy
I got to spend 6 hours this weekend with two of my favorite people: Noah and Tiffany. I first met Tiffany almost 4 years ago, and was immediately struck by what a joyful person she is, and how it’s nearly impossible not to be happy when you’re around her. Noah has an amazing intensity, which I originally found a little intimidating, but grew to view as an inspiration. In addtional to the physical aspects of yoga, I’ve found them both to be powerful philosophical teachers.
Noah started the workshop with a story from the Mahabharata. For those without the patience for 100,000 lines of Sanskrit, he jumped to the very end of the epic. After the war has ended, it tells of one of the heros ascending to heaven. As he approaches the gates of heaven, he hears voices from the other side. He hears the voices of his family and friends, and of great heros. But, as he continues to listen, he also hears the voices of the great villians of the war, the torturors and genocidal. And there the story ends, without further explanation.
In the tantric philosophy, the answer to the question of why the evildoers are also in heaven is simply, “where else would they go?”. That is, it holds that all souls come from the same place and end up in the same place, regardless of their choices in this world. However, this doesn’t mean that there is no reason to choose to do good in life. On the contrary, our choices can allow us to experience the divine now; or not. What the evil lose is the experiences available to us here in our physical existence.
Regardless of your precise philosophy or religion, I think there’s a powerful lesson here. Every day we make choices, and we are free to choose averageness, mediocrity, or even degradation. Or we can make choices that help us to experience grace, the divine, awesomeness; whatever term you wish to apply.
The big synchronicity of the day came from what I was listening to on the way to the studio. There was a rememberance of John Lennon on the radio, and the last thing I heard before Noah telling this story and sharing this philosophy was a little song, that goes like this:
Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No Hell below us
Above us only sky.
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say I am a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one.
2005-03-01 23:25 in /life/philosophy
In class today Tiffany made a comment about how some philosophies view desire as a bad thing, but in Anusara desire is a key trait. However, I’m not sure that the word is being used to mean the same thing.
Disclaimer: I’m not at all an expert in either of the philosophies I’m about to discuss.
As I understand it, when a Buddhist claims that “desire is suffering”, what is being talked about is desire for things to be other than they are, or desire for thing to change (or to stay the same) simply to conform to the expectations or prejudices of the individual. So, a Buddhist must accept the imperfection of the world, and of himself, but he also strives to follow the Eightfold Path as a way to improve himself and alleviate this suffering.
In Anusara, I feel like the specific desire that is sought is to be and to express the greatness inherent in each of us, through the practice of yoga. So, what we desire is to find the core of who we are, and bring it out and make it shine. The yogi might seek to express a particular aspect, but this shouldn’t manifest in either violence or suffering, whether it be physical, from exceeding the limits of her body, or mental or emotional, from not accepting her current limitations.
Looking at things this way, it seems to me that the philosophies actually have a lot of similarity, even though the particular language expressions used seem to be contrary to one another.
2005-03-01 22:59 in /life/philosophy
I recently got pointed to the essay One Less Act of Violence by Cheri Huber. I found myself really agreeing with the philosophy espoused there, although not with the particular context. (I’m not sure why no moral vegetarion ever seems to acknowledge or address the question of why plants are less worthy than animals, but that is beside the current point.) In short, the idea is that if you adopt a philosophy of non-violence, you shouldn’t beat yourself, or anyone else, up over your, or their, shortcomings. This isn’t to advocate complete non-action; on the contrary, awareness and education are stressed with the belief that these will, over time, inexorably lead to personal change.
I find this idea quite appealing, and it’s in line with how I’d ideally like to interact with people. On the other hand, it’s a pretty tough philosophy for an INTJ to actually implement, given our tendency to put high expectations on others, and even higher expectations on ourselves. Even “leading by example” connotes a desire to change others, which can lead to this sense of violence: pummelling the led with examples, and distressing the leader when it doesn’t acheive the desired effect.
I guess that there is a big question of whether this sort of philosophy can any hope of being useful in a typical corporate culture. I’ll need to give that some more though.