Author Archives: signature103

About signature103

Language teacher and researcher. Buddhist.

Sensation and perception

There needs to be a differentiation between sensation and perception. Sensation is purely sense data, and perception is processed data. Sensation can one of five (there are more) basic sense data from the eye, ear, nose, skin and tongue, in the form of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Perception is the processed from these five senses as well as from the mental data (thought and concepts).

A video camera and its connected monitor is like sensation. The video camera thinks  nothing of the signal coming through its system, only to pass it down a wire to a monitor to be displayed. Certain limitations are placed upon the data through how it is displayed on the monitor but nothing more.

A processing unit attached to the monitor then can analyse, organise and categorise the data in the form of light that is formed as a representation of the external world. A video/monitor unit is useless without the processing unit. And the processing unit is useless without some kind of data.

In this way, the video/monitor unit is the experiential component while the processing unit is the rational component of the transcendental idealist model.

On the id, superego and ego

There are conditions and your reaction to these conditions. The conditions are 1) what you want to do, 2) what your society wants you to do, and 3) what you decide to do and do in response to your desires and society. Freud called your desires id, societal pressures superego and your decisions ego. There should a balance for all of these. Otherwise there are problems.

Another way to put this is that the id is the internal world, the superego the external world, and the ego view and interaction of the internal and external worlds.

sunday afternoon

slow but not
slow enough
is the sunday rest

tapping keyboards
before going to listen
to that strum and rap

all so uncanny
what technique is that
talking, talking

to lost acquaintances
before being bored
with the sunday afternoon

Multiplicity

not one, many
sometimes
we come together
but in the end
we come apart
into regression
a reverse infinite

nothing (no thing)
is missing
like a complete set
only to be added to
supplemented
to start all over again
never coming to a close

identities
by difference
& differance
only in differences
that things (yes, things!)
shall contain in it
imperfect meaning

Buddhist Texts

Just before the Buddha’s passing he told his followers that everything he knows has been taught to them. However, he taught them orally, that is, he left no writings behind. While his followers did their best to continue the oral tradition of the teaching (an expression of impermanence) they eventually decided to put what he taught down in writing.

The written teachings became known as the Tripitaka or ‘three baskets’. The baskets consisted of rules of the community (sangha) are called the jataka. The “actual” words of the Buddha were called the sutras. And the commentaries are called the abhidharma. These were confirmed and laid down over several “councils”. The most important writings are the sutras. The Pali Canon consist of five divisions. They are 1) the long discourses (Digha Nikaya), 2) middle length discourses (Majjhima Nikaya), 3) the connected discourses, 4) the numerical discourses, and 5) he miscellaneous collections.

In these we get a sense of the time of the Buddha, the culture and society to which he belonged. Sometimes theses are the only written we have of this place and period.

The Pali Canon being the oldest collection is considered the most authentic. But these are not the only writings. From around the 1st Century CE we see a new set of writings appear, those in Sanskrit. These were developed in the North-West of the Indian sub-continent in present day Pakistan and Afghanistan. Different to the Pali they were less concerned with the Historical Buddha than with the spiritual or Transcendental Buddha. The settings for his discourses in these are generally in celestial realms and concern deeper more abstract aspects of Buddhism. Furthermore, they develop upon the earlier teachings in ways which are beyond the contents in the Pali Canon.

Eventually this led to the main divergence  of Theravada (also called “Hinayana”) and Mahayana Buddhism. The Theravada stresses the arhat ideal, which sees striving for one’s own enlightenment is important. Whereas the Mahayana chooses to stress helping others (the Bodhidharma ideal) to reach enlightenment. The Mahayana also uses emptiness over the non-self where the nature of impermanence is extended to everything (though I do not think the Buddha had meant to limit the non-self to just beings).

Eventually the various Buddhists schools developed their own texts. For example, the Dhammapada is popular with Theravadins. The Japanese Jodo Shin Buddhism takes the Tannisho by Shiran as an important exposition of their position. And Zen Buddhism has its Mumonkan (koans), art (Sengai and Enku), poetry (Basho, Buson, and Issa) and commentaries (Dogen and Hakuin). The abundance and variety of writing in Buddhism cannot be stressed more.

nude

it isn’t being “naked”
they are different things
meaning is there from
our point of view
pet dogs see
nothing in our
flesh anymore
than we see
eros in theirs
in art the nude
is a symbol of
some deeper
misunderstanding
as man nothing more
rushes to our heads
than those very
curvatures and
as woman
lean strength
signals
security
that more
or less
guarantees
our future

(In response to Nude: Art from the Tate Collection exhibition currently showing at Yokohama Museum of Art.)

What the Buddha taught

Upon discovering the way to liberation from suffering the Buddha went to his former companions who had abandoned him. Noticing his changed disposition they listened and realised that he had reached their common goal.

He taught them that everything without exception is impermanent, that to understand otherwise is the cause of suffering, and that the most expedient way to liberation is to accept the impermanence of the self (non-self).

The Buddha summarised it in this way:

      1. life is suffering,
      2. it is cause by our desires (thirst),
      3. to cease suffering one must detach from desires, and
      4. the way to do it is by having correct
        1. understanding
        2. thought
        3. speech
        4. action
        5. livelihood
        6. effort
        7. mindfulness
        8. concentration

He also taught the nature our personality (skandha) and explained what the chain of rebirth (paticca-samuppada) is in detail so that we can deal with it practically. He taught that we must end rebirth (samsara) and not to perpetuate it by sowing the seeds (karma) that bring about further becoming, and he showed that a careful moderate lifestyle will quell future becoming.

He taught this one teaching (Dharma) for forty-five years until he died from accidental food poisoning.