Value

The value of a thing is its contrast to all other things.

Valuable artworks are perhaps a good example of this. What makes the art of Da Vinci valuable is not only its craftsmanship but also its rarity. If I remember correctly less than two dozen works are in existence. For these two reasons his works fetch a premium.

But also how much work is required to produce something will affect the value as well. Something which can be manufactured quickly will mean many are available. So the ubiquity of it brings the value down. And demand too will be dictated by the perceived value of something will also change its value.

Value is a complex and changing thing.

Modernism

Modernist movements believed their own movement could replace all others, that there was no question of their perfection, and no question of their progress.

Postmodernism, on the other hand, believed they owed their existence to Modernism, that perfection was impossible, and they were no better than or worse than the Modernism that came before them.

While Modernism believed it was internally consistent and readily self-definable, Postmodernism saw itself as play and a system of difference.

hospital ward

the smell of dying
and death overflows
into the hallways
fills the rooms

they wait seemingly
in silence resigned
to the inevitable
carers indifferent
to it all and
visitors numbed

but life
must make way
for new life
in its march
to the song
of evolution
to the harmony
of survival

wedding ring

well worn
and
worn well

the band
has kept its shine
over the years

scratches here
and there perhaps
from ‘08 and ‘14

but as cliches go
the ring
is unbroken

like the promise
we had made
all those years ago

The human animal

There is always an anthropocentric view with being human. Yet if we take Darwin’s conclusion seriously then we are just another animal on this planet.

This being so we are not “unnatural” but truly just part of the entire animal kingdom and should be treated as such.

The way we consume resources is as natural as that of other animals. We are genetically programmed to take as much as we do. If natural selection is to work on us as it does on other animals then some kind of balance will come about.

Apparently some lobsters and eels form a symbiosis for survival. From the point of view of natural selection it would make sense that lobsters or eels who do not form this symbiosis may have a power chance of survival thus such animals being “weeded out” naturally. Perhaps just in the same way humans are weeded out by the system.

What should we believe in?

Perhaps you are wondering how I can be a Buddhist and not believe in a god. According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English religion is defined as “a belief in one or more gods”. Few would argue with this definition.

I said few.

There are thousands of religions out there. If Justine religion does not include a god or gods within it, then, the definition fails. And Buddhism is one such religion. (Another is Jainism.)

Buddhism is atypical of religions in that it rejects the worship of gods. Buddha is not a god and had never said he was. It should be noted it was those who came afterwards that added the gods, perhaps incorporating aspects of the local culture.

But far from rejecting existence of a god or gods it is, in my opinion, far healthier to accept the concept of a god or gods as part of what it means to be human.

Sramana

To understand the conditions of The Buddha’s time is an important aspect of understanding his thinking. Key to this is the tradition of sramana, the wondering of ascetics which do not follow the “orthodox” Vedic or Brahmanic tradition. It is interesting that persecution of unorthodox traditions seem to be minimal in the culture at that time. Even when persecution occurred it seemed to be at the hands of non-Vedic non-local traditions like Islam, for example the destruction of Nalanda in the beginning of the 12th century.

What links Sramanic traditions is the rejection of the authority of the Vedas, and also the rejection of god or gods. There is a mix of acceptance and rejection of the soul among these unorthodox traditions.