Saturday, May 16, 2015

It's All Good

Image result for its all good

- Do you miss L.A.?
- I miss a kind of charming stupidity to be found nowhere else. I remember the man I used to see at Whole Foods Market every day who greeted me with, 'It’s all good!'
- What’s charming about that? Boring, fatalistic, new-age pseudo Buddhism. Nothing is bad you don’t make bad yourself by thinking about it, so don’t think about it. If that is all you miss about L.A. you should have answered me, No, It’s all stupid!
- The charming part is you can learn from the stupidity. One Buddhist text* describes meditation as contemplating the body in the body: “The monk, breathing in a long breath, knows 'I am breathing in a long breath’; breathing in a short breath, he knows he is breathing in a short breath." In order to say ‘All is good’, about our world of child slavery, prostitution, torture, war, etc. we call upon such a circling dance of thought and observation. We calm ourselves with ourselves. We can also calm ourselves in a dance with others in the collective behavior we call ritual. We do the dance and tell ourselves we are doing the dance.
- And we’re ready to murder and torture.
- Take the average Los Angeleno and put him in government and he’s ready to start any number of wars, rob the poor to pay the rich, in fact, do anything he can get away with. Up the coast in Santa Cruz, sister city to Los Angeles in spirituality, there is this professor of physics who has a remarkable idea.
- You mean charmingly stupid.
- Self-professed lesbian and feminist, she’s applies Bohr’s theory of complementarity to the social sciences and claims a lesbian, a woman, a human uses a different perceptual apparatus than a non-lesbian, a man, a non-human, and sees the world differently and inconsistently.
- Are you sure that isn’t true?
- No. I am sure though that this professor and no one else has yet looked.
- What are all the thousands of books on the subject doing then?
- Meditating! If a woman wants to tell me, a man, that women see the world more as a whole, I say, fine, what else is new, such has been known for thousands of years. Tell me how woman see a different world than men, then you will impress me.
- That woman just did.
- No she didn’t. She told me women see more often one part of the world, and men see more often another part. She hasn’t showed me that the two ways of seeing the world are inconsistent. One sees the glass half full of water, the other half empty, but in both cases the same glass is there and the world is the same.
- Why is it important that the world seen be inconsistent?
- Inconsistency is what tells us the world is being investigated, not merely used as excuse for meditation and ritual.
- And what is investigation exactly?
- Determination that when I do this, that follows.
- When Niels Bohr uses one experimental apparatus looking at photons, he sees waves, when he uses another, he see particles. Different, inconsistent worlds.
- Yes. If there is a lesbian or female apparatus of investigation, what world has it revealed inconsistent with the world seen by non-lesbians and males?
- Don’t ask me. But let them look.
- Who’s stopping them? But remember the story of Galileo and the Inquisition.
- Remind me.
- Contrary to popular belief, the Inquisition did not want to forbid Galileo from proposing that the sun was the center planets revolved around. What the Inquisition demanded was that he allow equal status the Church’s view that the earth was at the center.
- They were both theories, and theories were only ways of getting at the truth.
- Yes. But Galileo refused. Do you know why?
- Why?
- Because the Church’s attachment to theory was not the result of operating a research apparatus, but of not wanting to disturb the place the earth center view had in meditation and ritual.
- So the Church and Galileo's views didn’t differ like waves and particles at all.
- Right.
- Ok, put that aside. In L.A. and Santa Cruz they are just faking it. Let’s say though men and woman, and each of us as individuals, operate different apparatuses in Bohr’s sense, and see inconsistent worlds. We communicate because in the act of looking at the world we are living in the same world, and we know some things through that physical living in the same world? In addition to what we perceive though experiment?
- Yes.
- And the social role self-identifying meditator ritualists don’t live in the world so don’t communicate with each other?
- Yes again.
- I’ve heard that Galileo was both deeply religious and an astrologer. Maybe he believed his investigation into the world changed the world through the agency of “another” world.
- In fact, communication between inconsistent roles is not particularly mysterious. In every novel we read or theater performance we attend we get out of ourselves and into the represented characters. In fairy tales we are transformed into other species, the other sex, other social roles.
- It’s like we can sometimes be the wave, sometimes be the particle, because it is all not real. What’s real then?
- The world there to look at when we investigate. If the meditators and ritualists weren’t busy like the Inquisition protecting their meditations and rituals, claiming it’s all good, they’d be able to practice a very simple rule: when you see something bad, either do something to try to change it if you think you can and the time is right, or if not, look away towards something beautiful.
- Thinking and acting are different apparatuses.
- Try meditating on that!
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*Satipatthana Sutta