don't let yourself be "embedded"

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don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby mudra » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:09 am

For as long as we are in a samsaric state, it is always going to be a challenge to think straight. False conceptions
are the stuff of modern life it seems, perhaps more subtly so than in the past. Frankly a lot of people don't even realise that they have bought into subtle or not so subtle media campaigns.

For example, think "embedded". When I was an active photojournalist in what seems another lifetime, admitting to being 'embedded' would have been a cause for shame. Now journalists seem to be proud to 'embedded'. That in itself is damning, let alone sensationalist sound bites that buy and sell the perspective of state sponsored terrorism (eg the Weapons of Mass Distraction spiel, etc).

I have a lot of 'moral' (mainly western to be honest) friends who thought assassinating Osama and dumping him at sea, was totally justified - unlike Mladic who allegedly mass murdered thousands of Muslims (perhaps more individuals than Osama bin Laden was allegedly directly responsible for) but gets to have a trial at the Hague. Mladic too was hunted for years. Is there a fundamental difference? Osama became a much more hated figure than Mladic, yet look at the numbers. Please note the term alleged, because there is in modern jurisprudence the concept that people need to be proven to be guilty, no matter how much evidence there appears to be prior to verification.

The power of the media over the minds of the masses runs quite deep, much deeper than most people who like to think of themselves as educated would like to admit, giving us a kind of unfounded conviction. I worked in media for years, and still do the odd assignment (documentary/editorial). Though war wasn't my "gig" I have covered it a little and a few scenes of mass violence. Most people have just watched this kind of thing on their tv screens. It's different when you see how things actually unfold (and have to try and wash the blood off your shoes after covering the story).

I think as Buddhists we all really need to focus clearly on all aspects of cause and effect when we view samsaric events unfolding around us. It's all to easy to claim this or that group or person is inherently bad, yet we would be letting the Buddha Dharma down by not acknowledging the complexity of these (samsaric) situations.
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby tobes » Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:41 am

I have often wondered if it's possible to establish a Buddhist account of ideology.

As soon as there's a paradigm of the illusory and reality, which of course is the central paradigm of all Buddhisms, it's fairly natural to wonder about the mechanics of the illusory.

Thoughts?
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby mudra » Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:17 pm

tobes wrote:I have often wondered if it's possible to establish a Buddhist account of ideology.

As soon as there's a paradigm of the illusory and reality, which of course is the central paradigm of all Buddhisms, it's fairly natural to wonder about the mechanics of the illusory.

Thoughts?


Some rambling thoughts:

I suppose an ideology could start with a virtuous mental factor such as non-violence, and develop from there. It could also come from a 'klesha'/negative mental factor such as attachment to one's own kind. Either of these are samsaric, in the case of the former it would be so unless the underlying motivation was liberation/enlightenment.

But as far as I can tell even if it springs from enlightenment, the moment its interpretation falls into the hands of those who don't have the same mental factor or clarity dominating their minds then what is represented will be subject to distortion from what was originally intended. And then there are cultural and temporal factors of expression which might tamper with the original. These latter two certainly belong to the category of the illusion-like, if not delusion.

For example there are some learned and respected scholars of Pali who claim that quite a bit of the extant Pali scripture is subtly slanted in a different tone to what the Buddha actually said; I could, for example, conjecture that as it was written down many years after the Buddha's parinirvana it might be possible that some cultural shift affected it. (google Richard Gombrich).

The argument against that would be that it was a council of arhats who committed it to memory etc. In Mahayana (Tibetan and otherwise) there is a great emphasis on the realizations of masters who wrote commentaries, and even amongst them there is debate.

The situation with samsaric ideologies (communism etc) is far worse, and as human conceptual intelligence is so inventive, the possibilities for distortion are endless once delusions are reinforced and widely accepted. Even if we discount conscious acceptance of deluded view, our samsaric conditioning (for example if you are born and grow up in a specific milieu) can lead us anywhere if we don't make a strong, concerted and intelligent effort to overcome it (for us here, that would be the practice of Buddha dharma).

"Reality", absolute or conventional is not easy to access.
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby mindyourmind » Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:48 pm

mudra wrote:For as long as we are in a samsaric state, it is always going to be a challenge to think straight. False conceptions
are the stuff of modern life it seems, perhaps more subtly so than in the past. Frankly a lot of people don't even realise that they have bought into subtle or not so subtle media campaigns.

For example, think "embedded". When I was an active photojournalist in what seems another lifetime, admitting to being 'embedded' would have been a cause for shame. Now journalists seem to be proud to 'embedded'. That in itself is damning, let alone sensationalist sound bites that buy and sell the perspective of state sponsored terrorism (eg the Weapons of Mass Distraction spiel, etc).

I have a lot of 'moral' (mainly western to be honest) friends who thought assassinating Osama and dumping him at sea, was totally justified - unlike Mladic who allegedly mass murdered thousands of Muslims (perhaps more individuals than Osama bin Laden was allegedly directly responsible for) but gets to have a trial at the Hague. Mladic too was hunted for years. Is there a fundamental difference? Osama became a much more hated figure than Mladic, yet look at the numbers. Please note the term alleged, because there is in modern jurisprudence the concept that people need to be proven to be guilty, no matter how much evidence there appears to be prior to verification.

The power of the media over the minds of the masses runs quite deep, much deeper than most people who like to think of themselves as educated would like to admit, giving us a kind of unfounded conviction. I worked in media for years, and still do the odd assignment (documentary/editorial). Though war wasn't my "gig" I have covered it a little and a few scenes of mass violence. Most people have just watched this kind of thing on their tv screens. It's different when you see how things actually unfold (and have to try and wash the blood off your shoes after covering the story).

I think as Buddhists we all really need to focus clearly on all aspects of cause and effect when we view samsaric events unfolding around us. It's all to easy to claim this or that group or person is inherently bad, yet we would be letting the Buddha Dharma down by not acknowledging the complexity of these (samsaric) situations.


I don't have too much to add to a rather beautiful post, other than to say that I like the use of us being "embedded" in this manner. I must say that, other than the other self-evident Dharma challenges I face as a trial lawyer I do not really have too much trouble in seeing through the media hype and perceived "truths" of society, the "good" and the "bad". I suppose that is one plus point I can derive from my work - you question everything.

A really thoughtful post though, thank you.
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby Quiet Heart » Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:32 pm

:smile:
I think I understand what you are saying...but I believe you have to ask yourself when you became "embedded".
If you are like me you were born in the U.S. You watched the news programs, your parents may have told you stories abot what they did in World War 2, you went to church (probably a Christian church), you were taught in an English speaking school...etc.
You grew up with those experiences, and to you they were "normal". Everbody did them, it was just how life was.
You probably didn't realize then that all those experiences were "programming" you. They were "embedding" you in an "American" culture...and telling you that such "embedding" was just a "normal" lifestyle. I went through the same thing.
In my case, and just to show you how old I am, I was sent as a 19 year old in 1967 as a soldier to Vietnam. It turned out to be a blessing for me, because I had a chance to see firsthand how I had been "embedded" in an American culture...and in Vietnam I had my first chace to see something and have experiences not from my native "American" cultural preconceptions. I remember when I got home a well-meaning relative asking me if they usually had snow for Chritmas in Vietam. I had no idea of how to explain to her why that question was a silly question. So you see, we are all "embedded" in our cultural roots.
Now I spent much of my working life outside the U.S., working as a electronics technician on Communication Systems for the U.S. government as a civilian contracter employed by U.S. companies under military contacts. I worked in Puerto Rico, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iceland, Turkey, and Greece. So I had first hand experience seeing and living in countries where my native "American" cultural pre-conceptions were not the norm.
I am now retired and living in Thailand. In my 45+ years of woking experience I had to overcome my "embedding" in my native culture and learn, or at least accept, new and different cultural "embedding".
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
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The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby Jikan » Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:46 pm

tobes wrote:I have often wondered if it's possible to establish a Buddhist account of ideology.

As soon as there's a paradigm of the illusory and reality, which of course is the central paradigm of all Buddhisms, it's fairly natural to wonder about the mechanics of the illusory.

Thoughts?


Do you mean ideology in the Frankfurt School sense of a false consciousness? if so then I can see some points of contact

Althusser might be a place to start too (on the omnipresence of ideology, and on ideology as a necessary condition for coming-to-consciousness), but there you have a near-renunciation of linear causality that makes the diamat version work so nicely
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby mudra » Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:05 pm

Quiet Heart: I think I understand what you are saying...but I believe you have to ask yourself when you became "embedded".


I agree, it does start early. In my case I am not American, I was brought up in an Indonesian+international environment. Though living in different countries when I was young did help give me more of a perspective, there are definitely traits which I picked up as a result of 'nurture' which of course get mixed with 'nature'/karmic propensities - embedded in my character. So though I can understand, for example American viewpoints, they are not my viewpoints. Vietnam affected me in a different way - I had a couple of American friends from school who I learn't later didn't make it back.

The great thing about Buddha Dharma which attracted me was that I learnt that: a. this conditioned existence is really flawed b.we cause it ourselves, no damnation from on high c. that conditioning could be eliminated. d. some pretty practical steps how to do so. Of course no one said it was easy :)

M
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:36 pm

On the specific of Mladic and Osama B there is not a direct parallel. Maladic was strcitly local and not any threat as a hero or figure to emulate by others.
His vision of things has been discounted even in the areas of its inception and has few few followers, a common criminal he is perceived.
Some help and helped him but mainly with the intention of helping one of our own, not with the intent of spreading or upholding his political agenda.
Many locally hold those views but like racists in southern america they realize it is a cause long gone and best kept secret.

Osama B...he was a figure that was widely globally known with real followers and a real threat of becoming a hero to his followers. A public trial would become quite public theater and may have enabled OBL's views to be front stage as result with potential negative consequences. And this would go on for years.
Wearing the hat of a global political strategist, less harm for the greatest amount of peoples.....he should be killed and his body dumped at sea.
Wearing the hat of a international global citizen he should have gotten a fair trial.
Wearing the hat of a buddhist in a philosophical context....there are as we know no inherantly bad peoples all are a result of circumstance. A trial and conseqence if guilty(which it seems he was).....complete total solitary confinement would be I consider a helpful thing for such a person(I personally conject)

Keep in mind the US still at present is one of the few countries which does not recognize the international criminal court tribunal.
So there was no possibility he could get a global trial. Mladic will go before that court eventually.

I agree totally the intent thusly in part is to make this or that group appear bad or inherantly evil. Embeddedd most are and it is quite quite subtle, this thing. A normal person to my opinion in america and in similiar places.... just cannot shake it. A journalist a intelligence operative or such.... may see it more clearly. One not in the field to see that thing and how it is used for purpose...almost imposslble.

US western media is a completely a hopeless case. American don't know a single thing about things it seems and are consistantly told in various contexts what to think. It is all simple and kept simple for reason a part of which is.... simple understandings may incite more easily, simplistic emotional response to things such as anger and hatred. Those then being used for purpose.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby mudra » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:24 am

Ron I accept your argument that Osama and Mladic are not 'direct' nor perfect parallels. Mladic is certainly seen as a hero by thousands of supporters (witness all the demos) but yes true more of a local phenomena for Americans and perhaps some Europeans, but rest assured for many Muslims around the world he was a figure to be hated - so in that negative sense he was more than local.

And yes the 'embedded' thing is subtle yet pervasive.

Regarding the public trial of OBL becoming a theater, that is precisely the 'embedded' argument used to have the "strategy" trump the morality. So in the end will that make it a better world?

So finally when it comes down to our personal stance that we dare to defend publicly: What do we as Buddhist's stand for?
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby ronnewmexico » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:37 am

I'd say as a buddhist(though I don't necessarily abscribe to the term)....the role should be(to my opinion) to explain and infer the immense complexities of the situational presence of the things that lie before us.

It is not as simple as having a fair trial nor it is as simple as killing him and dumping him in the sea.
Such we should reflect that. To my opinion the mistruths half truths partial truths and blatent untruths are always what leads to the creations of OBM M and their opposites.

I see nothing of this sort being done by buddhists or anyone else for that matter. Propoganda from the buddhists point of view is the same as propoganda from any other point of view. I am not stateing there is no truth findable in these things but that rarely is the truth made the issue in these things.
Never I could say in certain contexts.
To get to the reality of things and actually serve not humanities eventual demise, we must firstly and most importantly see what exactly are the cards on the table. Till that is done nothing can ever be solved.

This is complex...I personally must reflect that complexity.

This is not to state I do not agree with your initial post and applaud your stateing these issues in this context.
In every ones personal situation we must all certainly do what we can to educate and understand it all.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby tobes » Fri Jun 03, 2011 5:45 am

Jikan wrote:
tobes wrote:I have often wondered if it's possible to establish a Buddhist account of ideology.

As soon as there's a paradigm of the illusory and reality, which of course is the central paradigm of all Buddhisms, it's fairly natural to wonder about the mechanics of the illusory.

Thoughts?


Do you mean ideology in the Frankfurt School sense of a false consciousness? if so then I can see some points of contact

Althusser might be a place to start too (on the omnipresence of ideology, and on ideology as a necessary condition for coming-to-consciousness), but there you have a near-renunciation of linear causality that makes the diamat version work so nicely


Well I suppose I never wander too far away from the Frankfurt school; it's hard not to think of Marcuse when we start talking about 'embeddedness', mass culture and media.

But you're quite right: if you deploy the concept 'ideology' it often seems to invoke Althusser, and probably, many of the limitations of his work. I think that the Buddhist account of subjectivity is much more convincing, and from that, a much more plausible account of ideology can be established ~ however, we don't usually think of Madhyamaka for example, as providing an account or explanation of ideology, because the language game is oriented towards soteriological ends......the discourse is usually about metaphysics, logic and epistemology and not how someone's conceptual framework is constituted by their intersection with social and political phenomena.

The starting point would probably be to ask: where do dispositions come from? To what extent are they given by external phenomena? I think it's very hard to answer this: the Buddhist subject is neither coherent as an internal production, nor as an external production. There clearly must be elements of both.....which makes it a delicate project to work out precisely how a subject may be shaped by external forces.

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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby LastLegend » Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:09 am

tobes wrote:The starting point would probably be to ask: where do dispositions come from? To what extent are they given by external phenomena? I think it's very hard to answer this: the Buddhist subject is neither coherent as an internal production, nor as an external production. There clearly must be elements of both.....which makes it a delicate project to work out precisely how a subject may be shaped by external forces.

:anjali:


This can only be understood through practice. Especially with Tantra such as visualizations, recitations, sitting positions, etc and how this practice can transform the person from inside out. Same with Pure Land. When the mind is truly pure, its natural powers will come back. Like an Arahant who has got rid of attachment of self, and now he is able to walk on water, spit fire, read others' minds, etc.

If it is not inside or outside, then does it have a boundary? If it does not have a boundary, then what is outside?

Lastly, Buddha is one without inside or outside...we still experience inside and outside but we cannot observe the phenomenon of how they interact.

Truthfully, I am not qualified to answer your question. To answer your own question, you must become Buddha yourself. Even Arahants and most Bodhisattvas cannot observe the phenomenon of death and rebirth or falling and arising. Only Buddhas can.
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby tobes » Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:14 am

LastLegend wrote:
tobes wrote:The starting point would probably be to ask: where do dispositions come from? To what extent are they given by external phenomena? I think it's very hard to answer this: the Buddhist subject is neither coherent as an internal production, nor as an external production. There clearly must be elements of both.....which makes it a delicate project to work out precisely how a subject may be shaped by external forces.

:anjali:


This can only be understood through practice. Especially with Tantra such as visualizations, recitations, sitting positions, etc and how this practice can transform the person from inside out. Same with Pure Land. When the mind is truly pure, its natural powers will come back. Like an Arahant who has got rid of attachment of self, and now he is able to walk on water, spit fire, read others' minds, etc.

If it is not inside or outside, then does it have a boundary? If it does not have a boundary, then what is outside?

Lastly, Buddha is one without inside or outside...we still experience inside and outside but we cannot observe the phenomenon of how they interact.

Truthfully, I am not qualified to answer your question. To answer your own question, you must become Buddha yourself. Even Arahants and most Bodhisattvas cannot observe the phenomenon of death and rebirth or falling and arising. Only Buddhas can.


Well, neither am I. I never said it would be easy!
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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby ground » Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:04 am

tobes wrote:As soon as there's a paradigm of the illusory and reality, which of course is the central paradigm of all Buddhisms, it's fairly natural to wonder about the mechanics of the illusory.

Thoughts?


Feelings are not illusory. They arise and cease, again and again. They tend to somehow affectively "color" the perceptions but after having acknowledged this I wonder what "illusory" refers to. I conclude that what is meant is that the feelings or their direct cause do not inhere in what is being perceived.


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Re: don't let yourself be "embedded"

Postby catmoon » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:11 am

What IS this "embedded" thing you are talking about?
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