Archive for the ‘Weekly Journal Entries’ Category

“This, then is my true religion, my simple faith.  In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma.  Our own hear, our own mind, is the temple.  The doctrine is compassion.  Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need,” (the Dalai Lama, 234).

Of all that I have read this semester, this was brought me the most happiness, a genuine smile across my face.  It is so essential to remember who we are in this world, where we fit into all this – the cosmic energy that we were born out of.  As my title suggests, we just all need to go back and revisit where we came from. Not necessarily in a literal sense where we visit our hometowns, place of birth, etc. (though this could very well help guide us) – but more so the ideals that we had growing up as pure youth.  Untainted by concepts of social norms and forced concepts of good & bad, right & wrong.  Quite honestly, we forget who we are as we become so wrapped up in society, be it with school, religion, work, or whatever becomes ritual to us.  The mind is so precious, but so often do we undervalue it and how much influence its held on how we’ve grown.  Why then was I so happy to read the statement above?  It reminds me that each individual is important, and that love is at the foundation of it all.  So long as we carry that love and respect for ourselves, that love and respect can be reflected upon others – as is our “universal responsibility” (162).

Chi sem (literally “universal consciousness”) is another Tibetan term that the Dalai Lama introduces as he emphasizes the need to have our heart open for others.  While this may sound contradicting to what I discussed above in the need to love and respect self – I feel that love, for whomever is still the root of all that is “good”.  While it is true that we must love others, it is also crucial that we love ourselves for who we are in order for that love of others to be pure.  In this sense, we accept ourselves and our values paving our way to be able to carry out this love for others.  We should, as the concept suggests, work towards the benefit of others – but not necessarily through harming ourselves.  This, however, is so misguided in society today especially in the pursuit of economic or social gain.  As this form of society becomes stronger, individuals delve themselves into an unhealthy sort of competition, where material goods become of greater value than that of a knowledgeable and responsible person.  Sure these qualities could land a well-paying career, but does that not then only feed into the system?  Where exactly does it end?

It’s scary to even consider the thought of dropping our ways of consumerism, capitalism, etc. as we have become so comfortable with living in such a way and have accepted it as the most efficient way of living.  Would it ever be possible for everyone to start with a clean slate and a fresh, pure mind?  How exactly does greed, power, and other notions that fuel the need for social hierarchy stem from anyways?  Perhaps this place is somewhere only we know, but don’t retreat to in fear of falling behind.

Where am I going with this? I’m not sure anymore. It went from happiness to complete questioning.  I think it’s time to center again and pick up one bowling ball at a time.

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ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/congressional-hearing-focused-radical-islam/story?id=12867145

SF Gate: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/opinionshop/detail?entry_id=84016&plckOnPage=2&plckItemsPerPage=10&plckSort=TimeStampDescending (Rep. Mike Honda’s piece)

MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41958327/ns/us_news-security/

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/08/AR2011030802876.html (Japanese American community (incl.  Rep. Mike Honda) opposition)

Freethought Nation: http://freethoughtnation.com/contributing-writers/72-tawfik-hamid/496-muslim-reformer-supports-congressional-hearings-on-radical-islam.html (Muslim reformer in support of hearings)

 

To say the least on this subject, I am confused.  Prior to Stacy’s request that we read and discuss this current event, I actually did not know what was happening.  Having read through multiple reports and opinions on the matter (though I am evidently wary of a certain view on the subject..), I wouldn’t say that I’m confident in what I’m about to discuss, but this is at least what went on in my mind.

For my journal entry, I will focus on the last link that I posted above from “Freethought Nation”.  The writer, Tawfik Hamid, is a Muslim who supports the congressional hearings on Radical Islam.  Now at first, just the idea of a Muslim supporting these hearings completely confused me.  Why would any person belonging to a religion support specific targeting of their religion? The idea of having a large political discussion targeting only a specific group of people is quite disturbing and reminiscent of historic actions of racial profiling, or even debates over immigration that primarily focuses on the Mexican community.  Alas, I digress.

Going into this, I was wary of Hamid’s view as I already made point not to read more conservative opinions (FOX..) in fear of total anger and frustration overcoming me.  The poignant aspect to this article, though, is that Hamid is himself a Muslim reformer who once was involved in a more “extreme” group of Muslims. The issue I often have with strong opinions over religion is that they are frequently made by those who do not practice that religion, hence my avoiding of articles where White Christians were the main speakers in the subject of Islam.  It’s like asking any random White American to discuss the Southeast Asian refugee experience.  It just doesn’t work.

Hamid, in his article, present reasoning for these hearings on challenging Radical Islam.  Much of it has to do with statistics correlating radical Muslims to large scale incidents.  He argues that there should be more work in addressing the teachings that are influencing Radical Islam in favor of a “new understanding of Islam that challenges values of hatred or violence”.  He ends by calling for greater recognition and admittance of the things that are going on within the Muslim community and to work on addressing it rather than ignoring and defending Islam on a whole.

I have to admit, that I found myself agreeing to much of what Hamid stated.  Many times, I take issues with religious extremists who choose not to see things in different perspectives.  Often viewing their religion as the only right way, they reach the point where they can be downright harassing to other groups.  This is in no way reserved to Muslims, but those of other faiths as well.  I for one have feared extremists within the Christian community for their acts of defamation against those not aligned with their views.  It honestly scares me what some groups who are so fervent in their beliefs will do in order to persuade that others are “wrong”.  In this sense, I agree with Hamid that religious extremism needs to be addressed, however unlike him, I would not exclude it only to Muslim extremists.  But what role does the government play in addressing the practice of religion?  With instances of the Westboro Baptist Church, their actions have been permitted under the First Amendment.  I am unsure if they ever committed actions as extreme as that of certain terrorist groups, but there is no doubt that they are causing psychological damage within some communities.

Where am I going with this? I guess I understand much of Hamid’s argument in that there needs to be acknowledgement and some form of action in addressing Radical Islam, but is the government really the appropriate approach?  I greatly fear that as this continues to be debated in congressional hearings, the public view of Muslims will only continue to become more negative as people will accuse those opposing the hearings to be terrorists and perpetuating the stigma against Muslims and Muslim Americans.  What is the solution then?  I don’t know.  Religion just frustrates me to no end sometimes in how it affects some individuals to act.  I respect religion in its capability of providing those who practice it guidelines to be a more ethical and wholesome person, but some just take interpretations of scriptures far too extreme and lead to the tension and fear that exists today.

I shall precede this entry by saying that though I read Aristotle’s piece in its entirety, I will NOT discuss it in this entry as it honestly felt so ridiculous reading through it.  Not necessarily his ideas, but rather the manner in which he wrote.  Could anyone else (beyond all these philosophers) write so much only to say so little?  The sections that were underlined in the reading were really the only necessary points when trying to understand Aristotle’s verbosity.  Alas, I digress.

I actually really enjoyed the reading on Existentialism.  For one thing, it was not incredibly dense (yes, I will continue to display annoyance over this) and it presented clear points while also providing provoking questions.  One line that stuck out most with me was:

“What we choose is always the better; and nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all.”

Essentially, then, should not we as the chooser be removed from the in-between?  If what we choose is best only when it is better for all, why would we ever choose what is better for us as an individual?  Now, that’s not to say that the questions I just proposed are actually how I feel, as there are definitely times where the choices for one’s own benefit is necessary – but this statement seems to suggest that we must always work towards the “greater good”.  Yikes, that sounds like some cult saying or something.  Regarding the statement again, do we then consider the “all” our first priority before choosing for our own good?  Rather, is there a realm where one must care for self over all and the other realm where we do as the statement suggests?  I would think so.  For example, if I were in a situation where I had to either finish my final project or attend a larger conference as one of the lead coordinators/organizers in order to best support everyone else, what would I be expected to do?  For self-care, the final project is far more important to me as it could determine my future, even my future in working as an organizer.  One could argue that the statement above applies for long term reasoning, but it definitely does not state out right what it intends.

 

Today’s lecture caused me to take a step back at times and just wonder more about certain things.

There was a little chart sort of thing that the Professor had displayed that was called “Expression of States of Character”.  While there were combinations of “Good, Good, Good, Good, and Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad”, I was actually wondering if there were more combinations available than the four that were shown.  Is it ever possible for a person to have a ‘Good’ emotion while having ‘Bad’ intention?  I guess I’m a little confused as to what emotion actually pertains to.  Is it, similar to the column for ‘outcome’, based more on society?  Or is it based on the individual?  Wouldn’t then a person who is “Evil” have “Good” emotion for their “Bad” intention?  Perhaps someone can clarify that for me, or maybe I’m just thinking too hard about this.  I mean.. wouldn’t a super villain who is “evil” feel quite happy about their bad intentions?  Guess that’s just the fantasy world perceived in cartoons?

Another thing that came across my mind during lecture was about the Emotional Range.  While we came to an understanding that it is not necessary to live only a moderate lifestyle, especially when passion comes into play – which spectrum do we end up swaying towards with passion?  Just on first thought, I thought passion could only push us into the direction of “excess” where we become so dedicated to ideas or actions that we are in favor of.  Could passion work the other way around and make us passionate into being “deficient”?  It doesn’t sound right to me as passion tends to suggest a stronger emotion or feeling for something which would lean on the end of “excess”.  Is the deficiency spectrum, then, something that we are supposed to avoid?  Or, like passion, are there times where swaying across to that side of the spectrum is natural and expected?

The reading has seriously started getting more and more dense in terms of subject material.  It was so enjoyable reading about the Enneagram and the various concepts regarding types that jumping into ethics and other spectrum of philosophy seems so abrupt and unappealing.  While readings like the excerpt from Introduction to Ethical Reasoning and Virtue Ethics provide some good ground knowledge of key terminology and concepts, other readings such as Kant’s piece and Plato’s are just so long-winded and redundant that I find myself more annoyed than interested while reading.  Plowing through Apology (or Socrates’ Defense for a better title), there definitely were some good messages to be gained.  Acknowledging that one has no wisdom is something that really stuck out to me.  Amidst all the speaking to Athenians and the judges, that message alone really speaks out and shines.  Is this acknowledgement a sense of humility and even-temperament?  Is it something that those who are established in the moderate level of emotional range are able to express more than others?

As such, I question Socrates and his willingness to surrender his life so easily.  Not so much for his own life, but the life of his family.  To leave behind his sons and wife.. although he acknowledge that he had gained much from life and saw no point in fearing death, what about fear for the well-being of his family?  Was he so devoid of that to reconsider arguing for his own life?  While one can argue in favor of Socrates based on what was expressed in Plato’s writing, I just cannot tolerate the thought of leaving behind your family when you are fully capable of saving yourself.  I know it’s important to recognize self need, but I have grown up with the need to protect my family before all else.  And to read Apology just frustrated me upon the reading’s end.  How can it even be considered ethical to leave your family behind?

One last note: I was REALLY disappointed by the lack of guided centering/meditation today! Meditation is at times difficult for me and the guided meditation really allows me to refocus and better improve my practice.


I want to say that I am familiar with the virtue of patience, so pa.  For the most part, others have described me as a patient individual who reacts not with anger but with thought.  The Dalai Lama states that so pa/patience “acts as a powerful antidote to the affliction of anger – the greatest threat to our inner peace, and therefore our happiness” (106).  While I agree with this statement and try to practice patience in all settings, is it ALWAYS the antidote?  There are instances where I feel as if patience is a short-term antidote that allows the mind to stray away from the situation at hand until it returns as a source of annoyance again.

I guess the issue I am trying to approach is again that roommate of mine.  He has many habits that annoy and frustrate me, but none are done intentionally to anger me (or at least I hope not).  I try to practice patience in most, if not all, aspects of my life, but often allow that patience to just let situations handle themselves rather than acting rationally upon that patience.  While it works for the most part as others realize their actions, it just does not work with my roommate.  In this case, is it necessary to raise discussion with him on every single point of annoyance/anger that he causes?  I have come to understand that his mannerisms reflect how he grew up in his own household, but they are just so conflicting with my own mannerisms and values!  Do I then approach him after quelling anger through practicing patience each time, or is it best to accept his habits so no tensions may exist in our living and working relationship?

To share a bit more of my personal life, I have actually posted a note on our door asking people in general to knock before entering if the door is closed.  This is because every single time I have closed my door to change my outfit, he opens the door without a care – one time when guests were visiting so that he could show them our room!  I was luckily dressed already, but imagine how embarrassing that situation could have been and the reactionary anger that could have erupted from me.

Moving away from that persistently annoying individual, I want to mention the optical illusions that the Professor has presented in lecture.  He mentioned a take away message with those illusions that not everything we perceive is what is actually there.  Is this a connection to the idea of the practice of patience?  Is the message then that we are to not jump to conclusions or hastily react to things without patiently taking matters into consideration?  I’m not sure if the Professor was trying to make that connection, or if I just made that up myself.  So pa is a great virtue, no doubt.  In many situations, it has saved me from rash decisions or enraged arguments.  Is there a limit to it, though?  Can patience only run so far before action must be taken?

“What is love? Baby don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me, no more.”
I have no idea who sang that song, but it’s what came to my mind initially when I thought, “What is love?”

That’s the thing with me, I once romanticized love as that wonderful experience between two individuals you so often see in movies.  I observed it as such a beautiful experience, especially seeing the blooming relationships around me as all my friends got together in high school.  Everyone around me, including my best friends, got into relationships and it made me wonder what was wrong with me.  There were definitely attempts at getting into relationships, but I just was not the kind of person to really go all out and begin an “official” relationship.  In fact, the closest I got to one was when I confessed to a special young woman that I liked her.  She reciprocated that feeling, but we did not start anything because of her parents’ advising on dating only after college.

Since that experience with her, I have not attempted to get into any other relationships.  Three years into my undergraduate life and the passion for finding a partner has not sparked.  That’s not to say that I haven’t been attracted to individuals I have met here, but I feel as if I’m not even trying or bothering to “find love”.  Do I sometimes wish I had a partner? Sure. Is it something I have my attention set on? I don’t think so.

This brings us back to the discussion that we had last week in section – having love versus being in love.  What is it truly like to be in love?  I wish there was a concrete answer to it (Type 5’s need for information acting up?).  I feel as if I can never pursue for love, as in that I feel it should be brought about organically – when the right moment arises and both parties just know.  How realistic is that? I’m not too sure, and perhaps that’s just the romantic in me acting up.  Can it actually happen naturally?  Or has our growing dependence on social media platforms (eharmony, for example) established a path for relationships that start at “having love” in hopes of becoming “being in love”?  While I applaud those who have been able to find their life partners through such sites, I guess the traditional side of me just can’t envision myself ever pursuing that route.

Having read The Skeleton Woman, there seems to be the suggestion that love must be actively sought before it can grow and develop over time.  While I understand that viewpoint, I really don’t see myself as the “hunter”.  All of the stages of a developed love in The Skeleton Woman are what I have viewed as important, save for the “Accidental Finding of Treasure”.  The accidental finding aspect sounds beautiful and is what I envision – but that doesn’t seem to be what the hunter pursued as he was seeking for something big.  One could argue that his search was for a larger prize not related to love, but could it not still be related to an active pursuit of love?  Like I said previously,  there’s a part of me that just wishes for love to blossom out of thin air, as if fate is to determine everyone’s love life.  Fate is a tricky thing, as depending on it could lead to endless waiting – yet acting out could also be acting out in fate.  What do I believe? I don’t know anymore.  Love is just too confusing!

Despite all that romantic love nonsense spewed out just now, I will say I do have loves in life.  I love my family, I love my close friends, I love to live life in general.  There are many smaller things that I will proclaim my “love” to, but now I wonder.. are all of these loves a form of having or being?  Am I in love with my parents or do I have love for them?  Having love seems to be relegated to so many things, that including family within the realm of having love seems so odd to me – yet I can’t say that I am in love with them.  It’s been so established by media and society that to be in love implies a personal and intimate relationship.  Is being in love then really restricted only to that romantic partner?  In this sense, I have a lot of love, but I’ve yet to be in love.  Do people need to be in love to live?  Or is having and being supported by what we have truly enough?

Could my personality be complicating the notion of love beyond what others perceive of it?  I wish I didn’t overthink things sometimes.  It’s quite constrictive to be honest.

It also doesn’t help when I’m listening to a song with “Nothing lasts forever.  Nothing really matters,” as repeated lyrics (but it is such a hauntingly beautiful song!)
Care to listen? Just a note, it’s a Korean song (I don’t understand Korean, but happen to love Korean pop):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7F98s1CkW4&feature=player_embedded

Enjoy your three day weekend.  Here’s hoping I don’t spend too much of it within the realms of my sinuous mind.

I’ve had this page open with only the title filled out for at least an hour now.  What am I looking for before I fill this out? Something amazing? Or am I just prolonging it in fear of not knowing what to say? If this was an active discussion where I could listen in to everyone first, I’d probably have something to say by now.

And here I am coming back to this 25 minutes after the first paragraph.  More time passes, but I’m not gaining anything intellectually.  In fact, I’ve only set up more meeting times for my upcoming weeks.  It’s ironic that though I want to retreat away from everyone to just think or focus on my own tasks at hand, I still can’t help but find myself in more positions of interaction.  Its times like these that make me question whether I am a Type Five.

Meditation has become quite difficult for me.  If it’s not being led by Professor Phillips, Stacy, or just any person who is able to guide the centering, the thoughts just keep flowing within my mind.  I acknowledge them, let them move on, but then a related thought pops up and so the chain continues.  To all those that may be reading, where do you take your 5 minute retreat? I can’t do it at home as my roommates are distracting (particularly one who is constantly sniffing or sneezing).  Campus would seem ideal, particularly in the larger grassy areas – but they’re so crowded throughout the day that only the evening seems fitting.  Would the library be an odd choice to try?  Any insight here would be appreciated, as aside from a setting where everyone else is in the process with me, I see little appeal elsewhere.

Finally catching up with the readings.  The most recent readings have really been interesting, not saying that the readings of the first two weeks were dull at all.  I often find my mind drifting when I find connection with something I read to something else in life, but one reading kept me focused and thinking only of what I was reading.  The Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millenium reading for Monday captivated me in the sense that it started to challenge a lot of what I thought I believed before.  Being somewhat of an Agnostic (my family is “Buddhist” but we don’t really practice our religion other than during the passing of a family member, sadly enough), I have always revered science for providing answers.  Dependent on facts and “truth”, I often times found it difficult to accept others’ devout faith in their religion, when there seemed to be no proof of anything besides the claims within their texts.  The Dalai Lama suggests that “science begins to look a bit like another religion itself.  With this comes a similar danger…to intolerance of alternative views,” (11).  While I do believe in certain aspects of the “supernatural” and unexplained, I have never placed myself fully within a single religion.  There have even been times where I became intolerant to the idea of adopting a religion, in fear of being forced to believe everything without a second thought.  Could this be because of my personality that influences my questioning nature and the need to dwell over my collection of thoughts?  I hope to never reach the level of intolerance where I am led to hate a particular religion – I do wish that certain groups of individuals would leave me be in pondering my faith and beliefs, though.

I have a confession to make.  On Monday, for the reading quiz – I put wealth and life as the things that humans want most.  I read through the reading, understood the importance of happiness to humans.. and yet I could only think of the section where the Dalai Lama discusses wealth and the greed built within humans.  Am I so negative with my perception that humans are genuinely greedy – or does that reflect my own desires?  I’d like to think not.. who knows.

Before ending this week’s entry I need to confess again.  I’m afraid that my shadow may be creeping in.  I have been constantly annoyed with a roommate of mine, who just so happens to be one of the coordinators I have to work with in the student organization I’m part of on campus.  I don’t favor confrontation, so the annoyances have been accumulating and the snowball effect has come into play.  To “get back” at him, I honestly sometimes want to play juvenile pranks (polishing the apartment floors to see him slip since his carelessness led to me almost slipping).  Luckily I’ve resisted to preserve the calm that seems to exist within our apartment, but I think it’s time to integrate that shadow of mine into my consciousness before it takes full control.  Maybe April Fool’s Day..

And there he goes sneezing for the umpteenth time today.