|Illustration credited to Alex Hill|
Sunday, 21 September 2014
written by Denis Kurmanov
Friends and Readers,
This is not an exposition on the phenomena of anger, but it is my anger that I will be pouring out. As the religious have for eons written confessions, dreams, and their angers as well, it is my turn.
We Buddhists attempt to channel our anger (hopefully not just get rid of it, ultimately impossible) in the proper ways, through meditation, through action, through illumination and through community activities. These can all be either positive reactions or negatives to the anger that is boiling within us, but I am getting off topic. Let me tell you what is making my own blood boil.
I am angry that many have lost the need for depth in life. In fact, I am furious. Just today I was serving a gentleman (I’m a waiter, which is the fate that befalls us philosophers) who looked at me after I told him I study philosophy and said,
“Why don’t you study something useful like economics?” I am still infuriated by this notion and I am now shifting by belief that I have no reason to prove to anybody why philosophy is still important, they have to show me why it's not.
I am angry that we believe we can ultimately be pleased by a surface existence. Popular culture has no evil intrinsically, but my satisfaction cannot be sustained by watching the latest TV show, no matter how good, by the most recent fashion fad (which will change in a few hours anyways).
My anathema is the continuation of staring into screens, onto pages, into each other and only seeking information. Catalogs only suffice to those who want more of the surface. The ocean is much more than just how far it stretches, but its depths make it the most mysterious of all. We are like this. You will only find some life on the surface of the ocean but to be a functional habitat for the trillions of life-forms that live there, depth is required.
Walt Whitman said there is a multiplicity within us, there are lives within us, depths to be explored, criticized, praised, changed, and kept. It infuriates me to state that our lives can be lived happily enough if we just stay on the surface. Yes, the depths are dangerous, dark, sometimes bringing from themselves nightmares and poisonous serpents but without those depths, there would be no surface for us to frolic on.
There is ferment within me. The inferno within wishes to engulf the sick belief that money automatically means anything at all besides being money. This is hardly anything new, in fact, I am beating a field of dead horses by writing any of this, but the inferno is only growing and cannot be contained. Money automatically means happiness? No. Money automatically means evil? No (despite how lovely this view looks).
Our egos have exploded and grow to disproportionate sizes—a sex tape conjures the belief that one is a celebrity who requires attention, fame, money, power. The surface, it seems, has satisfied us and has turned us into monsters. We are zeppelins that are inflated with the thin hydrogen of our most basic desires. We fly around, slowly, demanding awe from the onlookers who will only shortly burn up in the crash along with us and just another moron (pardon my French) will attempt to rebuild it, alter it just slightly, and set it up into the sky.
I am tired of dogmatism—certainty stains the eyes and the souls. I am not arguing with matter-of-facts, I am not proposing, asking, or trying to even all together persuade why all of these lead to horrendous ends, we have seen it time and time again. I am demanding that it STOPPPPPPPPP.
Has our beasthood (which is not to criticize the animal world, which is not ‘beastly’ as we like to believe, in order to inflate our own egos some more) taken over? Soon we shall be shedding our skins and underneath will not be another layer of skin, but bones and muscle. We have become this dull. We have become boring, incapable of opening our minds to foreign concepts (and the more tragic part, to “foreign people.”) We treat those who are different with disgust because they are not us.
This has gone so far that we even spread democracy with the gun. Really?????????????
What is all of this for? For life? For happiness? This provides no happiness for me, it drives me to the belief that there’s something wrong with me. How sick. Am I to believe that my belief that we have dimensions of us (and the world) that are unexplored and won’t be, that things change; there are variations and perspectives, that philosophy is dead, that the humanities are dead—no—that humanity is dead.
These are not my wishes. Humanity shouldn’t continue to decay in its iniquity, it should reach and fish within its own dangerous depths to find the pearls that only lurk at the bottom of the seas. I don’t have the answers my friends, I have my frustrations, my convictions, my love and my hope and for now, I have my life and that will suffice. But know, because I have my life, hope, convictions etc. I will not just sit idly and be satisfied with only things that I’m “supposed” to be satisfied with. I am furious that people are becoming automatons because I know for a fact they are not, but reorienting themselves to be. Let’s stand together, move together, love together and all go fishing together, within ourselves, so that we may come to the bottom and bring the pearls to the surface, which will illuminate the waves that crash along the shores of our lives.
Thursday, 4 September 2014
written by Denis Kurmanov
In this world of plurality, New Age movements, and a more intense cultivation of our curiosity has led us to, individually, be able to synthesize religious practices from a number of different faiths. This happens through history in more mass-cultural ways as well, but now, as I said, we have the power to do so individually, and within our own communities which may, demographically, be completely different. For example: I am a Buddhist with Jewish heritage and practices. The community around me is mostly Christian (although I am in a cosmopolitan area that has a large Jewish and Buddhist community).
Anyway!...sorry to get off topic...
My question is....is doing such a thing a good thing? Should we and can we really blend religious beliefs and practices to suit our own ends? The Dalai Lama says no, we shouldn't because it's takes away the integrity and validity and hopes of perpetuating the good of a certain tradition. There's truth to what he says and I'm curious for your opinion!
Write below and discuss!
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