An Interesting Course

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W4TVQ
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An Interesting Course

Postby W4TVQ » January 29th, 2010, 8:02 pm

I have just begun a 12-lecture course on audio CD, on "the Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis." I've always been a fan of Lewis, as of his mentor J. R. R. tolkine; few men, if any, ever really approached the questions Lewis approaches, with the degree of detachment and dispassionate reason that Lewis exhibits. He is of course quite orthodox in his Chrisian faith, but not puritanical or patronizing in his approach to it.

I've heard lectures 1 and 2, and came away pondering the idea, which I first encountered in the magnificent movie Shadowlands, and again in this course, that "All of this is shadows: real life has not yet begun." Lewis compares us to "a child who contents himself to play with mudpies in a slum, being unable to envision what is meant by an invitation to a holiday by the sea." That vision of the holiday, that "relity" which is, in his view, only foreshadowed here, gives rise to what Lewis calls "joy." "Joy," in his definition, is not "happiness," but an inescribable yearning for something that is not immediately apparent, yet which one senses cone cannot do without. Perhaps it is what Augustine meant when he said that "our soul is restless until it rests in Thee, O God." Perhaps it is the restlessness of the inhabitants of Plato's cave, knowing that something makes those shadows, and that that something is what is real. I have often embodied this idea for my own purposes in the image of a fish, immersed in, dependent on, water, swimming about the reef trying to persuade other fish that there is not and cannot be such a thing as "water." Like those other fish, I am too close to the water to perceive it, but I know (somehow) that it is there and is in fact the foundation and support of my very being.

This would suggest to me that there is in fact a spatial/temporal separation between the shadows and the reality. Ultimately, given the nature of the universe and theerefore of its maker as infinite, there cannot be "two things," but only one thing ... but what I [i]perceive differs, in that respect, from what "is." [/i]If there is only "thou," without any "not thou," then who is it that is perceiving the separation between "thou" and "not thou?" Is the only One Thing That Is, infinite, all inclusive, omnipresent, omniscient, etc., perceiving an untruth? Not only perceiving it, but sharing it with us, who are He? And if so, why?

Maybe I am erecting a mountain on the foundtion of a molehill. "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly," I know. But I'll bet I keep pondering this anyway.


Jai Ram
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"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Speculum
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Re: An Interesting Course

Postby Speculum » February 1st, 2010, 7:16 pm

I like Lewis, too.

Sometime ago I asked for copyright permission to post an excerpt from one his writings on TZF's Ampers&nd. I can't remember now what the passage was. Unfortunately, I was denied permission.

Real life has not yet begun.


Yes, I wonder about that, too. Increasingly, for me it is a question of perspective. Thus, it isn't spatial or temporal, because clearly there is no other "somewhere" to be. Neither is there any other "someone" to be. So, it is about how we perceive where we are, what we are, who we are.

Chapter 11 of the Gita has a wonderful consideration of this issue. Here's the way I wrote about it to a friend of TZF (for more on that see here):

In one of my favorite passages of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna (who is you and I) asks Krishna (God) to reveal Himself to him. In this wonderfully poignant exchange, humanity says to Divinity, "Show Your Self to me." To that, Krishna replies, "these eyes of yours cannot see Me." Then, in his infinite love, Krishna gives to Arjuna "a divine eye." So equipped, Arjuna Sees God as He (She, It, Whatever) Truly Is.

And what exactly does Arjuna see with this "Divine Eye"? Does he see God as something outrageous, something extra-ordinary, something even "heavenly"? The Gita says: "There, in the person of the God of gods, Arjuna beheld the whole universe, with its manifold divisions, all gathered together in one."

Arjuna saw what he had always been seeing, the universe. It was not a new or different or higher or esoteric or even more spiritual universe; in fact, it was not in any way a better universe. It was just the universe.

But there was one difference, and that difference makes all the difference. With his "human" eyes, Arjuna saw the universe as consisting of "manifold divisions." With his "Divine Eye," Arjuna saw the universe "all in one."

The difference was not in WHAT Arjuna is now able to see, but in HOW Arjuna sees what was already there!


A few minutes ago, Nancy called me into her room. She was working on a letter in Microsoft Word, and all of sudden, she said, it looked "all wrong". It turned out that for some reason her display had changed from "Print Layout" to "Web Layout". Thus, she was looking at the same thing, the same text and so on, but it looked "all wrong", and the reason was that she was looking at it "wrongly". When I restored the word processor's "View" to "Print Layout" it looked right again.

I think that's what it is about. And as I understand them, it's what the Self-Realized Teachers are telling us, too.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

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phyllis
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Re: An Interesting Course

Postby phyllis » February 1st, 2010, 7:51 pm

I loved the film "Shadowlands". After that, I watched the "Chronicles of Narnia" and liked it, too. I have not read anything by Lewis about Christianity per se. Perhaps I should take this as a prod to do so.

Georg
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Re: An Interesting Course

Postby Georg » February 1st, 2010, 8:15 pm

Is the only One Thing That Is, infinite, all inclusive, omnipresent, omniscient, etc., perceiving an untruth? Not only perceiving it, but sharing it with us, who are He? And if so, why?


Remember Mumon's famous koan: Does a dog have buddha nature or not?

To reword / elaborate: Can a dog - which "I" perceive as "separate" or "shadow" (in Plato's sense of the word) or "untrue" - represent the infinite, all inclusive - which also includes "me" ?

The japanese answer to this is "mu".
Wittgensteins answer in western terms would be: "Division by zero error. Wrong use of language - can't be answered yes or no. Don't worry about the seeming contradiction."

Or in other words: "The mind hits a wall here. But it's an open door to the non-mind ... so don't worry to let the mind standing there ..."
"Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses" (Boethius)

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Speculum
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Re: An Interesting Course

Postby Speculum » February 7th, 2010, 5:12 pm

Remember Mumon's famous koan: Does a dog have buddha nature or not?

To reword/elaborate: Can a dog - which "I" perceive as "separate" or "shadow" (in Plato's sense of the word) or "untrue" - represent the infinite, all inclusive - which also includes "me" ?

The japanese answer to this is "mu".


First, I should say once again, in three-plus decades as a seeker, I have never come across a spiritual tradition I did not love, including Buddhism generally and Zen specifically.

That said, I have an issue with Buddhism's frequent use of the phrase "sentient beings". As an example, consider this by the Dalai Lama (quoted at TZF's Ampers&nd): "Human beings, indeed all sentient beings, have the right to pursue happiness and live in peace and in freedom."

Some years ago, Anna and I attended a presentation by a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks during which the term "sentient beings" came up several times. During a break, I asked one of the monks what precisely Buddhism meant by the label "sentient being". His answer was "all living things".

Okay, if there is no God but God, and God is All There Is, then where in all the Universe is there something which is not included in the expression "all living things".

Yes, yes, I know, I'm nitpicking.

But are we sure that mountains and rivers and oceans and deserts and planets aren't "living"? To be sure, they are not "alive" in the same way that we are "alive" but is our form of "alive-ness" the only form of "alive-ness" there is?

In other words, they are not alive according to the definitions of biology (in the hierarchy of which, of course, we put our selves, homo sapiens, at the very top!), but was it not we who wrote those definitions?

I sometimes wonder whether porpoises have a Bible, and if so, what does it say about us?

So, does a dog have Buddha Nature?

Surely nothing has Buddha Nature, for in order for me to have something, it must be "mine", and Buddha Nature Itself precludes "my" and "mine", doesn't it?

Maybe here a response, like mu, is, A dog is Buddha Nature.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust


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