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On the nature of Beauty - Dhamma Wheel

On the nature of Beauty

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Jeffrey
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Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:08 am

On the nature of Beauty

Postby Jeffrey » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:56 am

I am interested in the intersection of dhamma and art and have come across something of a puzzle. Maybe some of you here have insight, or can point me in the right direction for further reading or investigation.

Contemporary theories of learning rely on an interactive model, in which subject and object build meaning. This seems to fit pretty squarely with Buddhist concepts of the ultimate nature of emptiness. But recently reading text from Ven Pategama Gnanarama, I was surprised by his assertion that beauty, in Buddhist thought, is objective and resides in or with the object.

I’d like to learn more about this, but not sure where I would go to look up additional resources. What field of philosophy are we dealing with here? What related concepts may be relevant? Do you know of any sources that discuss this specifically related to art and aesthetics, Buddhist or otherwise?

Aspects of Early Buddhist Sociological Thought pp111-114
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/social-thought6.pdf

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Ben
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby Ben » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:24 am

Hi Jeffrey,

Our friend, Zavk, is a PhD student in cultural studies, specifically Buddhism and postmodernism and popular culture. He doesn't post here much but I often see him on facebook. I'll send him a note to come and check this thread out as I am sure he will be a good contact for you.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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zavk
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby zavk » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:48 am

Hi Jeffrey

I don't know of any particular works that approach the topic from the angle that Ven Pategama Gnanarama takes. It seems to me that others here who are more well read and conscientious in studying the Pali Canon could help to clarify your question: it appears that Ven Pategama Gnanarama's argument turns on a so-called 'objective' understanding of 'dhamma' as mental objects.

In terms of Buddhist-inflected discourses on art and aesthetics, the first things that come to mind are mostly Mahayana-related works, such as D.T. Suzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture, and also the works of Chogyam Trungpa. These would typically adopt the perspective that you mentioned: the co-dependently arisen relationship between the subject and object. Some resources are (I may be able to help you access academic journals if you can't access them; in fact, the one about bell hooks looks very interesting!):

'Buddhism and bell hooks: Liberatory Aesthetics and the Radical Subjectivity of No-Self'
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... x/abstract

'Aesthetics and Art in Modern Pure Land Buddhism'
http://japanese-religions.jp/publicatio ... _Porcu.pdf

'The Buddhist Aesthetic nature: A challenge to rationalism and empiricism'
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ADM/indian.htm

This one by Padmasiri de Silva touches on the topic of aesthetics but it's main concern is with Buddhist understandings of emotions: http://www.what-buddha-said.net/library ... /wh237.pdf

So, this is really all I can suggest on the matter. I will have to leave to others who are more knowledgable about Ven Pategama Gnanarama's preferred mode of discourse to explicate his arguments.

All the best.
With metta,
zavk

Jeffrey
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Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:08 am

Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby Jeffrey » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:39 pm

Thank you, Ben, for calling Zavk, and thank you Zavk for the links. The Inada article didn't seem to say very much - the aesthetic is asymmetrical - but maybe I read it too quickly. Kalmanson appears even more mystifying - and that was only the abstract! Inada was interesting, but at the moment I'm curious about what the Pali sources have to say. Still haven't looked at de Silva. Maybe on the plane tomorrow. Off for a little year-end vacation.

Anyone else care to take a shot at Gnanarama's idea?

All the best.

detrop
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby detrop » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:42 pm


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DAWN
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby DAWN » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:11 pm

Beauty is harmony.
All is beautyfull.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

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gavesako
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby gavesako » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:55 pm

Compare:

'Noble power' ariyā-iddhi is the power of controlling one's ideas in such a way that one may consider something not repulsive as repulsive and something repulsive as not repulsive, and remain all the time imperturbable and full of equanimity. This training of mind is frequently mentioned in the Suttas e.g. M. 152, A.V. 144, but only once the name of ariyā-iddhi is applied to it D. 28.

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... .htm#iddhi

This would put the idea of beauty clearly "in the eye of the beholder" rather than in the object. But the Abhidhamma theory tends towards objectification and putting such subjective qualities into the objects out there.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
- Translations and history of Pali texts
- Sutta translations

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Dhammanando
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:15 pm


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mirco
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby mirco » Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:59 pm

"An important term for meditative absorption is samadhi. We often translate that as concentration, but that can suggest a certain stiffness. Perhaps unification is a better rendition, as samadhi means to bring together. Deep samadhi isn't at all stiff. It's a process of letting go of other things and coming to a unified experience." -

Jeffrey
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby Jeffrey » Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:46 am

Good morning, all, and thanks for joining in.

Dhammanando, it appears so based on this quotation. Repulsiveness is of the thing, which the arahat can see through. So, if beauty resides in the object, detop, how do we properly distinguish beauty? Is beauty available to anyone but arahats? Is beauty inherent in all things?

Micro, what is it you want to say?

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gavesako
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby gavesako » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:20 am

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
- Translations and history of Pali texts
- Sutta translations

detrop
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby detrop » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:32 am


Sylvester
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby Sylvester » Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:47 pm

I think the suttas do describe the objective potential of contact, which may account for the Abhidhamma taking up the same position.

A prime example is SN 36.10, which looks at the standard description of 3 feelings. Each of these 3 feelings are generally described by the term "tajja.m vedayita.m" (corresponding feeling) and it seems that each specific contact is seeded with the objective potential "to be experienced" (vedaniya) in a particular hedonic tone.

The special cases mentioned in MN 152 can still fit into this objective scheme, given that meditation furnishes the necessary sankhara to condition contact.

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mikenz66
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:45 pm


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daverupa
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby daverupa » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:50 pm

I'm away from my books, but there's a sutta which declares that the same contact can be pleasant or unpleasant for different people; so, there's no objective pleasant or unpleasant stimulus which can be parsed apart from the experiencing of it.

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tiltbillings
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:06 pm


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daverupa
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby daverupa » Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:20 pm


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tiltbillings
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:43 pm


Sylvester
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby Sylvester » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:00 am

Last edited by Sylvester on Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

Sylvester
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Re: On the nature of Beauty

Postby Sylvester » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:30 am



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