The Value of Culture

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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:19 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Anders wrote:Ergo, an appreciation of culture and the diversity of culture, in the right perspective of it being a play of celebration and expression of life, can be a delightful thing.


Yes. Buddhists are too depressing and gloomy.


Been listening to Alan Watts on youtube this afternoon. In one of the vids, he talks about how serious people get, and especially in religion. 'Should we go play... or should we go do the dishes because mum wants us to?' He made a very good point that making these kind of choices, we forget that the original point of doing the dishes is playful. We do it because like to have clean and neat dishes on which to serve our food, in order to present a pretty array to each other. It's play, just one we've become so neurotic about, we start seeing it as a chore or duty, or a point of shame if the table is not in order.

Multiply by several orders of magnitude for Big Stuff like culture, religion, etc. I suppose. Someone on Youtube actually took offence at the 'Sickest Buddhist Ever' video.
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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:25 pm

Anders wrote:
Multiply by several orders of magnitude for Big Stuff like culture, religion, etc. I suppose. Someone on Youtube actually took offence at the 'Sickest Buddhist Ever' video.



Yes, or Buddha prints on bakinis. The fact is that a Buddha image on some cute girl's (or boy's) ass might waken a trace in someone and cause them to investigate the teachings.

Tathāgata Booty Beauty Buddha.

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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:36 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Anders wrote:
Multiply by several orders of magnitude for Big Stuff like culture, religion, etc. I suppose. Someone on Youtube actually took offence at the 'Sickest Buddhist Ever' video.



Yes, or Buddha prints on bakinis. The fact is that a Buddha image on some cute girl's (or boy's) ass might waken a trace in someone and cause them to investigate the teachings.

Tathāgata Booty Beauty Buddha.

Click at your own risk:
http://hediedformygrins.blogspot.com/2011/12/buddha-bikini.html


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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby kirtu » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:36 pm

Josef wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:I see little value in preserving elements of a culture that have become redundant, especially if these elements are at odds with other cultures.

I don't think a homogenized world would be very beneficial.


Did you read the famous Lindberg article published in Reader's Digest where he claimed that we were already living in a homogenized World? It was published circa 67-69. There is apparently not a reference to it online.

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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby daelm » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:53 am

kirtu wrote:
Josef wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:I see little value in preserving elements of a culture that have become redundant, especially if these elements are at odds with other cultures.

I don't think a homogenized world would be very beneficial.


Did you read the famous Lindberg article published in Reader's Digest where he claimed that we were already living in a homogenized World?

Kirt


and it's not very beneficial, is it?

:)

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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby shel » Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:49 pm

Anders wrote:Been listening to Alan Watts on youtube this afternoon. In one of the vids, he talks about how serious people get, and especially in religion. 'Should we go play... or should we go do the dishes because mum wants us to?' He made a very good point that making these kind of choices, we forget that the original point of doing the dishes is playful. We do it because like to have clean and neat dishes on which to serve our food, in order to present a pretty array to each other. It's play, just one we've become so neurotic about, we start seeing it as a chore or duty, or a point of shame if the table is not in order.

Sounds like Alan had been reading the adventures of Tom Sawyer that day.

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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby kirtu » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:23 pm

daelm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Josef wrote:I don't think a homogenized world would be very beneficial.


Did you read the famous Lindberg article published in Reader's Digest where he claimed that we were already living in a homogenized World?

Kirt


and it's not very beneficial, is it?

:)

d


I think the article might indeed be beneficial except that it hasn't been saved. Lindberg's thesis was that the world at the time of the articles publication (so 1968-72 or so) was already heavily homogenized. Lindberg applied this observation primarily to North America and Europe. This seemed to be the scope of his world. I thought Lindberg was wrong about that at the time, being pre-adolescent and having lived in two countries and having visited several more (so by the time I was ten I have visited at least six counties - this was highly unusual for an American kid at the time). But he was primarily talking about mass commercialization taking place and the loss of local culture, including in the US itself.

Along the same lines there was a pair of anthropologists who decried the loss of Ladahki culture in the 90's and claimed that commercialization was principally the aggressive marketing of adolescent boy culture worldwide. This results in viewing all of life through the prism of adolescent boy culture values.

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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Jikan » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:46 pm

It's useful to make some distinctions. Monoculture of the kind described in the Frankfurt School (the homogenized products of Hollywood &c), which kirtu pointed to in the article by Lindberg, is qualitatively different in kind and quantitatively different in substance from the cultural practices of traditional cultures. Call that one "mass culture" or "masscult" for short. It's consumerism.

Oppose that to "popular" cultural practices which are not necessarily homogenous and are produced by everyday people for their own reasons. DIY practices, music people make at home, and so on would fit here. There may be some interface with the "culture industry" (you have to buy recording equipment somewhere, you have to buy yarn someplace if you're going to knit a cozy for your RV), but it's not exactly in the position of a passive consumer only. This, also, is different from traditional cultures in that it's something of recent provenance: knitting a cozy for an RV is qualitatively different from a tribal elder weaving a blanket as in the Navajo tradition.

That's one way to think of it, more or less corresponding to Raymond Williams' three-way split among residual, emergent, and domanant cultural forms. more here:

http://www.public.asu.edu/~kheenan/cour ... alysis.htm

Buddhism would be a "residual" in this context, but don't let that be an oversimplification. I brought up Williams because he's optimistic about residual cultural forms: he sees ways in which they are often more relevant to people's everyday lives than dominant forms. I think traditional Buddhism has a lot to offer for contemporary people at the level of practice. What I would really like to see, though, is a set of emergent Buddhist institutions: contemporary forms that are not commodified product lines fresh from BS Street, nor are they reproductions or colonies of Himalayan feudal monarchies (for instance), but are directly emerging from the needs of everyday people who seek the teachings in good faith.
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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jun 10, 2012 8:27 pm

Culture is anything that we were not born with. The only way we could live without 'culture' would be to go back to living in trees and not use any language, just going around foraging for fruit.

But that doesn't mean that all forms of culture are good as the politically correct believe. There are some aboriginal cultures that do some strange stuff and even criminal by most people's standards, for example where young men line up to lose their virginity with one chosen girl from the village. When the last boy is finished, the hut is deliberately collapsed on the couple, killing them. The novel, The Lottery, tells the story of a town that draws a lottery on a specific date each year. The 'winner' of the lottery is then stoned to death by the rest of the town's people. It is believed by engaging in this practice (culture) that the harvest will be good and other good fortune will occur for the town.

Some cultures should go extinct, but not necessarily all of them. Language, clothing, architecture, lifestyles; these are all culture. And like anything it can be good or wholesome or it can be bad.
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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Ogyen » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:10 pm

culture is simply the stuff you carry within you from where you come from... everywhere you go! You may not be born with it, but every human being is raised with it. We can group it, individualize it, but it's a wide-spread underlying, organic, always moving, changing and shifting with time matrix that evolves with people, as we do. Things get lost over time, new things grow... some others thing re-emerge after long periods of time having been forgotten... 'preserving' it may be as pointless as 'eradicating' it... sure you could do either, but what for?

Preservation is often fear based, trying to establish that we're here, we matter. Eradication is often fear-based, trying to establish that you weren't here, you never mattered. But the culture itself, that's the stuff and the notions that are carried within from everywhere where you've been... Maybe blend, mix, cross-pollinate, keep GOING, no matter how much you do it, it will never 'homogenize' - just continue to permutate... as long as there's geographical space, there will be diversity. It's an essential condition of our world that we share and divide. This will continue to the end of humankind, unless I missed something.

I agree with playfulness!!! These Buddhist men on this site are so stuffy sometimes... and yes, I say men, IT SEEMS to the casual observer, that there are more of the gents' voices chiming in than the ladies' thoughts in postings... Where are all our dakinis? For example, we could benefit from a female Malcolm-type posting here - :rolling:

I've often wondered what 'cultural factors' (virtual and physical) might play into the Buddhist internet forum posting 'culture' on this matter... see? We have diversity unrevealed already poking through the posting trends alone...

Asking what the value of culture is appears to me much like asking what the value of thinking is. To each human, it is simply intrinsic to existing, yet... it varies tremendously in manifestation via its varying conditions (age, country or origin, generation, gender, food, religion, ritual, preferences dictated by societal social norms, etc etc etc) It entirely human to venture out our own comfort zones as well as stay within them.
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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:51 am

Ogyen wrote: For example, we could benefit from a female Malcolm-type posting here - :rolling:


Step up, the post is vacant.

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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Ogyen » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:21 am

Malcolm wrote:
Ogyen wrote: For example, we could benefit from a female Malcolm-type posting here - :rolling:


Step up, the post is vacant.

M


... those are some BIG shoes to fill *Namdrol* and I still have little feet... nonetheless, I contribute where I can in this forum, no matter how small or minor the steps, I aspire to make them meaningful steps. Thanks for calling it out. Stay tuned for the next episode of "Stepping Up."

:namaste:

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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby daelm » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:22 am

kirtu wrote:Along the same lines there was a pair of anthropologists who decried the loss of Ladahki culture in the 90's and claimed that commercialization was principally the aggressive marketing of adolescent boy culture worldwide. This results in viewing all of life through the prism of adolescent boy culture values.

Kirt


that's very interesting - i'd go along with it, and it ties in with a subject i've been thinking about on and off for a while.

basically, where i grew up and at the time i grew up, there was a practice of mandatory conscription - 2 years in the military - when a young boy reached 17 or 18. i went through that, one of the last such exercises before it was abandoned.

in the subsequent 20 years, a number of people i know (usually women) claimed to see a maturity difference between people who had that experience and people who didn't. that got me thinking about formal and informal rites of passage. with a friend of mine who is a native traditional healer, we looked into rites of passage and their slow erosion in his country. interesting things stand out: firstly, formal, organized rites of passage are often focused on young men. they also tend to follow a pattern - the young boy is separated, dies to their childhood, simulates a new birth as a man, receives a new name as a man, and - often - is scarred or marked as a mnemonic device. at that point, they take on a sobriety and maturity as adults.

even more interesting, while there are rites of passage for women, they tend to be less focused on a forced transition to adulthood and adult-style thinking, and more on welcoming the extensive changes in biology. one of the things that comes to mind immediately for me, courtesy of an education in biology and chemistry, is that the female transition to adulthood is massively supported by the maturation of a complex reproductive system that - like the gut and digestive tract does - acts as a type of brain, regulating hormonal ebb and flow. at the same time, certain brain changes take place that assist in the transition too. so a basic level of emotional and mental maturity is a given for many women (though obviously each individual can still be socialized into infantile lifestyles by their community).

in men - who are essentially incomplete females from the biological point of view - these changes are much less influential and so it's much more possible for men to get bigger, to mature physically, and still have the emotional range of an adolescent. as a consequence, cultures all over the world implemented formal transition rites, often brutally, that ensured that the male transition occurred successfully. this was so important that it was usually marked by physical violence, injury, scarification, stress on the adolescent, duress and so on, all of which create a intense trauma experience that cannot be easily ignored. (like insurance, actually. :)) basically, men seem to rely on external crutches and prostheses ("method") and women tend to rely on internal changes ("wisdom").

it would make sense to me, in this context, that commercialized culture is exporting the world-view of adolescent boys, since it's the commercialization of a culture that no longer does formal maturity rites. in further support of this idea, the core activities of commercialization are marketing and advertising, which depend heavily on generating a sense of the merits of immediate gratification. this works against the capacity for deferred gratification, obviously. what's interesting about that is that the ability to defer gratification - to ignore range-of-the-moment impulses - is an accepted criterion of adulthood in human beings.


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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Ogyen » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:09 pm

daelm wrote:that's very interesting - i'd go along with it, and it ties in with a subject i've been thinking about on and off for a while.

basically, where i grew up and at the time i grew up, there was a practice of mandatory conscription - 2 years in the military - when a young boy reached 17 or 18. i went through that, one of the last such exercises before it was abandoned.

in the subsequent 20 years, a number of people i know (usually women) claimed to see a maturity difference between people who had that experience and people who didn't. that got me thinking about formal and informal rites of passage. with a friend of mine who is a native traditional healer, we looked into rites of passage and their slow erosion in his country. interesting things stand out: firstly, formal, organized rites of passage are often focused on young men. they also tend to follow a pattern - the young boy is separated, dies to their childhood, simulates a new birth as a man, receives a new name as a man, and - often - is scarred or marked as a mnemonic device. at that point, they take on a sobriety and maturity as adults.

even more interesting, while there are rites of passage for women, they tend to be less focused on a forced transition to adulthood and adult-style thinking, and more on welcoming the extensive changes in biology. one of the things that comes to mind immediately for me, courtesy of an education in biology and chemistry, is that the female transition to adulthood is massively supported by the maturation of a complex reproductive system that - like the gut and digestive tract does - acts as a type of brain, regulating hormonal ebb and flow. at the same time, certain brain changes take place that assist in the transition too. so a basic level of emotional and mental maturity is a given for many women (though obviously each individual can still be socialized into infantile lifestyles by their community).

in men - who are essentially incomplete females from the biological point of view - these changes are much less influential and so it's much more possible for men to get bigger, to mature physically, and still have the emotional range of an adolescent. as a consequence, cultures all over the world implemented formal transition rites, often brutally, that ensured that the male transition occurred successfully. this was so important that it was usually marked by physical violence, injury, scarification, stress on the adolescent, duress and so on, all of which create a intense trauma experience that cannot be easily ignored. (like insurance, actually. :)) basically, men seem to rely on external crutches and prostheses ("method") and women tend to rely on internal changes ("wisdom").

it would make sense to me, in this context, that commercialized culture is exporting the world-view of adolescent boys, since it's the commercialization of a culture that no longer does formal maturity rites. in further support of this idea, the core activities of commercialization are marketing and advertising, which depend heavily on generating a sense of the merits of immediate gratification. this works against the capacity for deferred gratification, obviously. what's interesting about that is that the ability to defer gratification - to ignore range-of-the-moment impulses - is an accepted criterion of adulthood in human beings.

d


Much of what I have studied is in this field. You are in essence describing the very nature of how much of the world has dealt with ensuring men fulfilled their proper role in their societies. Rites of passage held a crucial function in precisely allowing the becoming of both men and women through their childhood (selfish) minds and into an adult (selfless) minds that would harmoniously allow both co-existing and the propagation of the strongest in our species. They were not meant to be cushy, they had to forcefully induce the changes in boys, scare them into being men, basically. But for women, the rites of passage were definitely more tied to their fertility, their acceptance of the pain and burdens of shedding their girl and sacrificing themselves into the women they become. There is an old saying that can be seen through many a practice and rite of passage in the world where boys turned to men. The male becomes through the female, but the female becomes through her Self.

The physiological differences in development are key. Men have a different process (not better, not worse, just different) and therefore historically speaking required a different care for their maturation process. Women's physiological development is such that it is practically 'self-contained' not needing to spill its seed into anything outside itself, or 'stick it to anyone.' The roles socially are bound to be drastically different, though complementary. Nonetheless, it is women who have been largely suppressed for centuries across many cultures.

I've sometimes wondered if at a basic level, the Buddha made a distinction in not having co-ed monastic for this very reason in the differences in how men and women come to be in their maturation processes, and is there be an impact in how we come to our realization due to our physiological differences (down to the brain composition)? Is this even something that is acknowledged by the modernized world?

Sorry about going slightly off-topic, :focus:
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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby LastLegend » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:27 pm

Ogyen wrote:Nonetheless, it is women who have been largely suppressed for centuries across many cultures.


May I ask which cultures have women been suppressed? And in what ways?
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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:57 am

LastLegend wrote:
Ogyen wrote:Nonetheless, it is women who have been largely suppressed for centuries across many cultures.


May I ask which cultures have women been suppressed? And in what ways?


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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby daelm » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:29 am

LastLegend wrote:
Ogyen wrote:Nonetheless, it is women who have been largely suppressed for centuries across many cultures.


May I ask which cultures have women been suppressed? And in what ways?



mainly human ones.


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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby conebeckham » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:55 pm

Perhaps the question should better be "in what human culture(s) are females NOT oppressed, as compared to males?"

Precious few, I think.
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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Sönam » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:19 pm

conebeckham wrote:Perhaps the question should better be "in what human culture(s) are females NOT oppressed, as compared to males?"

Precious few, I think.


It depends how you view oppression. I think thousands years of male education have created some habituation that men have to deal with ... and it's not easy for them. I can easily compare that man's oppression to the woman's oppression, and I'm not sure which one is the heaviest ... if even there is one heaviest.

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Re: The Value of Culture

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:27 pm

Sönam wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Perhaps the question should better be "in what human culture(s) are females NOT oppressed, as compared to males?"

Precious few, I think.


It depends how you view oppression. I think thousands years of male education have created some habituation that men have to deal with ... and it's not easy for them. I can easily compare that man's oppression to the woman's oppression, and I'm not sure which one is the heaviest ... if even there is one heaviest.

Sönam



Yes, women's.
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