My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Holidays Entry

I would like to wish everyone out there, whether religious or not a Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Yuletide Greetings, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Winter Solstice, whatever holiday of choice you might prefer. Even for the non-religious you must at least be enjoying the days off, the food, the parties and alcohol. Though I do miss the holiday season back a home with friends and family, I 100% do not miss the commercialism and the consumerism that arrives with the various processions of holidays, meaning from Halloween to about Easter. Being in India surrounded by Hindus and Buddhist one has no feeling that today is Christmas, no Christmas carols, no holiday’s sales, and no creepy old pedophile in a Santa Claus costume to have your picture taken with. I find it quite nice. This natural lack of holiday commercialism that tends to relentlessly attack you at every step that you might take, even when to only thing you might want to buy is a loaf of bread or a bag a sugar is so nice. Even during huge Indian holidays, like Diwali, the commercialism is not nowhere like it is at back stateside though around Diwali time I received quite a few spam SMS’ to my cell phone advertising for pictures of ‘Pataka (firework) babes’ to download on my phone for a nominal fee. Being here feels like a weight that I did not know existed was lifted off of me. Anyways, I hope that everyone enjoys spending time with their loves one and friends though. That is to be the most important thing of all, folks getting together sharing food and sharing themselves with each other. There is no greater gift than that. Fuck that you might not have gotten the new I-Pad or whatever new doodad for Christmas, boo hoo! Enjoy friends and family instead, you just might learn something.

Recently, something that has left me in a state of wonder was the previous lunar eclipse than happen on the winter solstice. It is said that such an event has not happened in 500 years or so. Now really think about that please. That a winter solstice, which is the longest night of the year for us northern hemisphere dwellers, our Gaia’s “dark night of the soul” was accompanied by a full smiling face of the moon and on top of that that it will fall into or be devoured by Gaia’s starving shadow as the Sun shone and brought a new day to the other side of her circular body, and that we are alive at such a time to witness it in the raw. If this is correct, then the last time such an event happened most of the quote unquote Americas were ruled by its rightful and original inhabitants. Those folks dwelling where they did at that time, gazing in wonder at the eclipsing full moon on the winter solstice, probably performing some ritual, could not have fully known that their way of life was soon to be ended forever by the hands of a few pale bearded metal-clad men from faraway bearing swords and firearms.

The same could be said for us in our “modern junction” of time, though any kind of all-out invasion seems highly unlikely (for now!), we don’t know what changes lay in front of us as a modern society in the near future, especially if what those experts predict might happen if and when we have or passed the climax of global peak oil production, which does not sound to good; unless they are full of shit of course. Regardless, we are all some lucky son-of-bitches if we haven’t realized that already. I know that it hard to think like that. But it is more that just mere positive thinking. I work and continue very hard at it and it has not come inherently and I always fall back to my habitual self-hatred/ self-absorbed mode but the duration of the times and the frequency of occurrences becomes less the more I get accustomed to it. Plus, some might think, who could give a rat’s ass about a bunch celestial bodies floating space? They don’t affect my daily toiling life at all right? That question should have been asked to the dinosaurs.

We, on this side of Gaia were not able to witness the lunar eclipse because as the sun was shining on this side on the 22nd , it was at the same time creating the same shadow that ate the moon and regurgitated her back out blood red for all of you on the other side to see on the 21st. I hope that you who were able and willing to brave the cold and a slice of your busy lives to see it in its entire splendor and that you enjoyed it for me, too. Remember, though you probably won’t be alive to witness the next winter solstice full moon eclipse, that 500 years is ultimately not even an electrons worth of water the in universal bucket that we call home.

It’s seems like we have lost one of our classmates and seeing all the problems that had arisen from his literary activities it was only an eventuality that he was going to leave. Takbum has “dipped to the bird” so to say, leaving us for another institution. I know that part of it he told me was that Buddhist dialectics is too damn hard and the studies are too demanding and he felt like he was not getting anywhere, though I begged to differ and tried to convince him to stick through with it. Part of it might have been that there was still some animosity amongst some of monks about his criticism about monks. I remember just last week when a discussion between him and some of our classmates erupted on the right side veranda of the temple during study period. Obviously bygones were not left to be bygones. It is quite unfortunate; but I hope that Takbum has a better time at the other institute. I will miss him for sure!

As we progress in our studies of “The Presentation of Signs and Reasonings”, we are presented with various syllogisms that come from other ancient Indian schools of thought mostly Hindu, though so far one is a Jain assertion and learning the basic ways in which these syllogisms to do not hold-up to basic Buddhist reasoning standards. I am sure in a vice-versa scenario the syllogisms that we are learning to be valid or correct might not fit the logical requirements of those other traditions, the traditions of which the authors of our texts have considered their assertion to be invalid. But I guess that it just how it goes. One very famous personage from not a so distant pass in Tibet, Gendun Chöpel, was well known from a young age as a neophyte monk when he starting studying this very topic to uphold the Jain position sitting as a defender, which from amongst master dialecticians is considered extremely difficult to do, especially as a novice monk. The syllogism used is: the subject trees, it has sentience because of folding its leaves at night and sleeping (ljon shing chos can, sems ldan yin te mtshan mo lo ma ‘khums te nyal ba’i phyir). This syllogism is used to show the Jain assertion that they supposedly used to prove that trees are sentient beings. Gen la says that all Buddhist do not agree with this statement but I have my doubts.

The reason it does not work is because within the syllogism the property of the subject (phyogs chos, paksadharma) or in other words the reason ‘folding its leaves at night and sleeping’, does not only exist (yod pa kho na) in the subject ‘trees’. In order for this syllogism to work, according to our root logic text, the reason ‘folding its leaves at night and sleeping’ would have to only exist amongst the subject ‘trees’, meaning that all trees fold its leaves at night and sleep. But we know that pine trees for examples do not fold its leaves at night. So even though that is the reasoning behind disproving the reason of this syllogism, it does not disprove that trees are not sentient but that the Jain reasoning does not work for proving the status of trees as being amongst sentient beings. But the enigmatic prodigy Gendun Chöpel had managed to hold his assertion for the sentience of trees in the early 20th century in a monastery’s debate courtyard eastern Tibet and that brought to him as a young man the beginnings of an unknown notoriety that eventually surpassed his life.

Enjoy the next couple of months of increasing daylight and warmth.


1 comment:

anon said...

I always felt the weight you mention, it just wasn't until I left the U.S. that I was able to identify it as insane commercialism and advertising as well as a total lack of non-consumer public space to chill in a community. Sarah being my first stop after a recent stint in the states, I'm feeling especially refreshed--never an ad shouting at me, obnoxious biscuit and chip wrappers exist, as do the U.S. toothpastes and laundry detergents, but they don't scream here and there's always an alternative, generally local and/or natural. It's amazing how much more time there is in the day and how much more freedom to think, as self absorbed as my thoughts are anyway, when one doesn't have to cut out that shit.

Your description of the tree syllogism makes me want to learn Tibetan and join the philosophy class!