Thursday, October 22, 2009

Allegory and Illustration



At the Dharmaling site, they have this cute little animated GIF of a character doing prostrations, together with discussion of the practice aimed at beginners. Since I am a beginner, I like things like this very much.

I should probably also explain that today's three posts about fuel containers, snow in Ladakh, and witch beatings in India are individually allegories, and collectively illustration.

You see, I started to think about the legitimacy -- or lack thereof -- of the renunciation motive, or disgust we might feel with samsara. On the one hand, we might be truly disgusted. On the other hand, we might only be disappointed that our expectations are not met. You see this all the time: a love affair turns bad, and somebody runs off to the barber.

We keep refilling this scenario over and over, and we believe it is driving us somewhere, but actually, we are just driving along the same old, rutted road in the same old, rusty car.

You get the idea?

We can go along this way until something unmistakable happens: until we get well and truly stuck. Then, we are forced to just sit there and consider not only the matter at hand, but our relationship with the matter... our role, or interaction, or even (shudder) our responsibility, as it were.

We might even begin to recognize the theatrical war we are having with each other for what it really is: a woefully misguided aggression we have with ourselves.

Like that.....

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5 reader comments:

Stephen said...

That’s the problem with allegories and illustrations. They are open to all sorts of different interpretations if no direct message is provided. They could be off tangent. The part about the witch-hunt is significant. One should always examine a matter carefully before making assumptions about a certain person, which I shall call Person “S”, instead of relying on a few messages he posted on a forum, or some remarks he made in private. Also, never rely on what other persons have to say about Person “S”, as what they have to say may be totally unreliable. This is compounded further if some of those persons (who are giving their opinions of Person “S”) are not of the same religion. Otherwise, one will only be a half-filled container (the fuel containers) of half-baked assumptions, eventually stranded anyway, whether in a snowy region or in a desert, because he got the wrong directions. This is what samsara is famous for.

TENPA said...

Love your movies. They remind me of my own.

Stephen said...

Further to what I said in relation to Person "S". Person "S" had always had a keen interest in the monastic life, even as a young boy. Initially it was Buddhist monasticism. in the late 80s and much of the 90s, it was traditional Catholic monasticism (pre-Vatican II version). Then it was back to Buddhist monasticism. There is also the addition of interest in being a lay hermit in strict retreat, and not necessarily being a monk. His early interest in Buddhism was superifical. His current interest in it has greater depth. His recent return to Buddhism and renewed interest in Buddhist monasticism and related things happened before a person he loved died (he discovered he loved that person in a strange way), many people have since speculated, assumed, etc, that it was because of love that made him convert to Buddhism and have the desire to either be a monk or at least a lay hermit. In short, they assumed wrongly that Person "S" had the wrong reasons for converting to Buddhism and having an interest in monasticism and lay eremiticism.

TENPA said...

When someone you love dies, it can awaken bodhicitta in a very powerful way. You are in such agony, you think "I don't want anybody else to experience this. I want to do something so that nobody has to experience this."

Stephen said...

That is true. However, some people assume wrongly that something else misguided is behind it - that is, escapism...