06 August 2008

The Self and the Other.

I mentioned in my previous blog that I sat for a while in a temple at Hyang-iram in a lotus position. This is not to say that I meditated. Neither is it to say that I didn't. Frankly, I don't know what I did. I do know that there is a reason that people go to places like this and spend years sitting still in contemplation. It is because the mind, just like the body, responds to training. The Buddhist monk, to me, is a kind of mental gymnast, training the mind to revert to what seems to most of us an unnatural and ineffective way of thinking: the complete rejection of the ego and a complete assimilation into the Other. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and, finding myself inconveniently bereft of my personal library, have turned to the internet for some thoughts on the matter. I have found a short video (10m), a multi-media adaptation of an old lecture by Alan Watts which sheds some light on the distinction between these worldviews. Even if you don't agree with it you will enjoy the pretty pictures. By the way. I am not trying to convert anyone to Buddhism. I am not even trying to convert myself. I am just trying to understand what is a fundamental part of the culture in which I find myself immersed. Plus, I find the subject fascinating and it touches on my specialty within the humanities: phenomenological ecocriticism.

Please watch video here.