Oops

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Speculum
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Joined: March 28th, 2005, 3:28 am

Oops

Postby Speculum » November 12th, 2008, 7:40 pm

Two thoughts –

The other evening we watched the movie City of Angels. It’s a nice story, except for the sad ending, of course. I particularly like its idea of having to choose between human nature and divine nature. Anyway, one of the lead characters is an angel (played by Nicholas Cage), and, as such, does not experience touch, taste, and so on. He develops a relationship with a human (Meg Ryan). At one point, their conversation turns to pears, to which he says he does not know what pears taste like. Surprised (she is not aware he is an angel), she says, “You don’t know what a pear tastes like?” And he replies, “I don’t know what a pear tastes like to you”.

That line really caught my attention. Think about it. Subtract the angel part, and consider simply among us humans. I can say that I know what a pear tastes like, but can I say with certainty what a pear tastes like to you? I don’t think so. Surely “taste” (how we react to a thing, whether we like or not) is determined by the brain’s response to stimuli at the taste buds (and scent receptors). That is, the brain receives and processes the stimuli, and determines how we “feel” about them.

Now, let’s say you’d had a bad experience with pears in childhood. Would that not affect how your brain reacts to them, and therefore how they “taste” to you?

As I see it, there’s no getting around the fact that relationship is all about allowing for these kinds of realities in others. I cannot assume I know how you (whoever you are) will react or respond to any stimulus (thought, word, gesture, piece of fruit). And whenever I do, whenever I insist that you react or respond as I expect you to react or respond, whenever I become annoyed or angered when you respond or react in a manner I consider innapropriate, do I not bear blame for some of (all of?) the damage the event may cause to our relationship? I don't see how it can be otherwise.

Okay, the second thing –

A while ago, ihavesayso sent the following –
Sometime in late 1956, or before May of 1957, it dawned upon me that "God is all there is!" Until I read this newsletter from David Cameron at Images of One, the overwhelming significance of its meaning and effect on me were still in limbo. This is the best explanation of why "What Is, Is," I have ever come across!

The e-newsletter to which ihavesayso refers is here. I agree with his assessment of it. But for me, one paragraph leapt out. Here it is:

Law of Gratitude - You have heard it many times that an attitude of gratitude has the power to get you realizing your dreams at record speed. Why? Because gratitude completes the cycle of knowing. Remember, you cannot know what is without knowing what is not. What you like and what you hate are two ends of the same thing. For example, if you like being with your spouse and hate being separated from them, realize that you are working within the same essence, which is your spouse. It is because of the moments of absence that you appreciate and recognize the moments of presence. When you are grateful for both what you like and what you don't like, you complete the knowingness and you are released from having to experience what you don't like. This cannot be explained logically, but some very significant shifts occur in your mind and soul (and you can feel this releasing shift) whenever you are genuinely grateful for all things, even the ones you don't like. Gratitude will speed you through your growth and success more than any amount of hard work ever can. Gratitude completes the lesson, and as a statement of completion rings that tone of success, pulling to you the end result desired. Another way to put it is that you cannot leave a situation permanently unless you appreciate the gifts it brings you, and all situations bring a gift, no matter how terrible the situation may appear to be. This law ensures that you will always complete your knowing and embrace all that is before moving on.

That's good stuff. Particularly the part that reads, “When you are grateful for both what you like and what you don't like, you complete the knowingness and you are released from having to experience what you don't like. This cannot be explained logically, but some very significant shifts occur in your mind and soul (and you can feel this releasing shift) whenever you are genuinely grateful for all things, even the ones you don't like. Gratitude will speed you through your growth and success more than any amount of hard work ever can.”

A wonderful woman who crossed my path when I was still a boy taught me about the importance of gratitude, and her lesson has served me well (please see the article Please and Thank You) . But I have rarely seen it explained as nicely as does that paragraph.

Now, let's jump back to my first thought about the movie "City of Angels". There I said,
It’s a nice story, except for the sad ending, of course.


How does that square with
When you are grateful for both what you like and what you don't like, you complete the knowingness and you are released from having to experience what you don't like.


Oops.

Georg
Posts: 29
Joined: December 20th, 2008, 8:23 pm

Re: Oops

Postby Georg » December 22nd, 2008, 9:14 pm

Your first thought reminds me of a story from "One Minute Wisdom" by Anthony de Mello.

Here it is (hopefully the translation back from German is ok):

---

The master walked at the riverside together with some scholars.
He said: "See, how the fish are swimming around where they like. They really enjoy it".

A foreigner passing by heard this remark and said:
"How can you know, what fish enjoy - as you're not a fish?"

This impertinence took the scholars' breath away,
but the master smiled, because he recognized the foreigner's thirst for knowledge.

He answered kindly: "And you, my friend, how can you know I'm not a fish - as you're not me?"
The scholars laughed about this - as the perceived - well-deserved reprehension.
Only the foreigner was struck by it's deep sense.

He thought about it for a whole day, then he came back to the monastery and said:
"Maybe you are not as different from a fish than I thought. Or me not that different from you."

---

In the enclosure of a separate existence & experience, the same pear tastes different -
but take these "individual" additions away, in here & now doesn't "it" (whatever it is) "taste" (whatever this is) the same?

Or the master and the foreigner - either they can not communicate at all
(which is what the scholars perceive - just from words!) -
or they are sharing the experience, actually being non-separate.

---

P.S.
Just - in writing this - I stumbled across the notion that the term "individual" is synonymous to "personal" but also means
"non divisible" (and therefore "being one") but could be well replaced by "separate" in the sentence above...
How our language reflects the condition of those who use it ...
"Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses" (Boethius)

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Speculum
Posts: 151
Joined: March 28th, 2005, 3:28 am

Re: Oops

Postby Speculum » January 1st, 2009, 8:20 pm

How our language reflects the condition of those who use it.


How true. Like you, it seems, I like words and wrestling with their meaning.

And thanks for the de Mello story. Very nice.

Years ago (I think I wrote about this somewhere on TZF, maybe in the forum), Anna and I attended a talk given by a couple of Tibetan monks, during which they frequently used the term, common to Buddhism, "sentient being". During one of the breaks, I asked them to what the term referred. Their answer seemed to me to leave out too much.

How do we know that plants are not "sentient"? Or, for that matter, stones. I know, I know. But I can't help being a little suspicious of measuring devices which are designed by the people doing the measuring. I mean, is it any wonder that mankind puts mankind at the top of the "animal kingdom"? I wonder where dolphins put us.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust


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