The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:56 am

Kim,

pt1 said in his extremely thorough contribution that "all external materiality (rupa) is conditioned by temperature" - being ignorant of this I used the word God - something arranges/acts upon/conditions the four-elements that is not man and I don't think it's imaginary.

Peace.
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Annapurna » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:47 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
but bringing 'God' into this discussion as the ultimate creator (i.e. inspiration, if not direct creator) of anyone's art work derails the discussion completely


I think if you believe that is what happened you misunderstood Mays and my exchange.

And actually, YOU are derailing the topic now... :o We had already cleared it up, and had moved on to something else, when you picked it up.

thought the easiest solution was to cut him/her/it out of the discussion


But hey, please don't try to suffocate our discussion with a gag order...ok?

Since I happen not to believe in the existence of this interventionist kind of God*


Belief in God was no discussion point. "Theist dogma" was. A fine difference.

*FWIW, I have grave doubts about any other kind, too.


Doubt about everything, or how do you mean?
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Annapurna » Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:12 am

Conclusion: For lack of a better word to describe things not man-made, such as nature, Maya used the word 'God'.

Can we agree on that and go :focus: ?
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:14 am

Annapurna wrote:Conclusion: For lack of a better word to describe things not man-made, such as nature, Maya used the word 'God'.

Can we agree on that and go :focus: ?

Isn't 'nature' a better word for 'nature'?
:thinking:
But OK, use 'God' if you must - so long as you then don't fall into the trap of believing that this "God" has wishes or intentions akin to our own and expressed through direct action in the world. (I know, I shouldn't need to say that. But it can be incredibly difficult to avoid falling back into the mental and verbal habits of our profoundly Christianised culture.)
I really meant it when I said that derails the discussion. There's a logical rule which I think of as, 'If [impossible] then [anything].' I couldn't find it when I went looking for it a minute ago but it does apply.

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Annapurna » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:30 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Annapurna wrote:Conclusion: For lack of a better word to describe things not man-made, such as nature, Maya used the word 'God'.

Can we agree on that and go :focus: ?

Isn't 'nature' a better word for 'nature'?
:thinking:
But OK, use 'God' if you must - so long as you then don't fall into the trap of believing that this "God" has wishes or intentions akin to our own and expressed through direct action in the world. (I know, I shouldn't need to say that. But it can be incredibly difficult to avoid falling back into the mental and verbal habits of our profoundly Christianised culture.)
I really meant it when I said that derails the discussion. There's a logical rule which I think of as, 'If [impossible] then [anything].' I couldn't find it when I went looking for it a minute ago but it does apply.

:namaste:
Kim


Isn't 'nature' a better word for 'nature'?


Maya didn't say nature....but "this something other"....that puts it into perspective i think. ;)



As you say chownah, both "ordinary objects" and "works of art" can provoke insight however "ordinary objects" (which by ordinary I'm presuming you mean natural/organic) have been fashioned/shaped by the designs of something other than the body-mind of man - let's call this something other God for convenience, "works of art" obviously haven't been fashioned/shaped by the designs of God.
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:19 pm

Hi, Annapurna,
I'm going to emphasise a different part of that quote:
Annapurna wrote:
MayaRefugee wrote:As you say chownah, both "ordinary objects" and "works of art" can provoke insight however "ordinary objects" (which by ordinary I'm presuming you mean natural/organic) have been fashioned/shaped by the designs of something other than the body-mind of man - let's call this something other God for convenience, "works of art" obviously haven't been fashioned/shaped by the designs of God.

"by the designs of" gives away the weasel phrase: nature does not have intentions or designs - only sentient beings do that.
But I'm not going to take this any further. It is a side-issue, really, and we're getting muddled about who said what anyway. If the discussion about art can proceed without invoking this concept, I'll continue to participate; if not, not.
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:44 am

Kim,

I know you said you don't want to elaborate but isn't the tendency/instinct of nature to strive toward balance/harmony/a certain order indicative of the fact it has an intention/a design/a purpose?

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:51 am

MayaRefugee wrote:Kim,
I know you said you don't want to elaborate but isn't the tendency/instinct of nature to strive toward balance/harmony/a certain order indicative of the fact it has an intention/a design/a purpose?

Well ... it's your thread more than anyone else's ... here goes:
No. As I said, only sentient beings have intentions, designs or purposes.
Knowingly or (more likely) not, you are actually paraphrasing the classic 'Argument from design for the existence of God'. Look up that phrase or 'Watchmaker'. You will come across Dawkins' 'Blind Watchmaker' which is a thorough refutation, as well as a whole lot of 'Intelligent Design' stuff which is, IMO, best left well alone. :cookoo:

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Annapurna » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:46 am

If the discussion about art can proceed without invoking this concept, I'll continue to participate; if not, not.


Oh, Kim, come on.
If you don't want to reply to certain points that arise, then don't. Just ignore them and reply to what you deem fit, but please don't try to control the discussion with subtle forms of blackmail.

"If you....-then I....".
Last edited by Annapurna on Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:16 am

Hi, Annapurna,
I'm not in any way trying to blackmail anyone or control the thread.
I (really truly) didn't want or plan to say any more about 'God' but when the OP'er asked a direct question I figured, as I said, they had the right ...
:shrug:
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:29 pm

I've done a bit of investigating and have come across this:

the term ‘dhamma-niyama’ is used in the commentaries in a way that leans on the sutta expression ‘dhamma-niyaamataa’, which is a synonym for conditionality in the sense that there is an intrinsic necessity of things in nature and the universe.


It was taken from here: http://www.dhivan.net-a.googlepages.com/shortniyamasessay.pdf

Dhamma-niyaamataa: that which, as cause, invariably fixes things in our minds, as effects.


This was taken from here: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma2/distinction.html

'Bhikkhus, whether there be an appearance or non-appearance of a Tathaagata, this determination of nature (dhamma.t.thitataa), this orderliness of nature [dhamma-niyaamataa] prevails: the relatedness of this to that" [idappaccayataa]'. [S ii. 25].


This was taken from here:http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vol2/tanha.html

Things in nature, by obeying or acting in accordance with this "intrinsic neccesity", when observed seem to be carrying out an intent or a purpose - I'm probably anthropomorphizing when I observe this - :shrug:

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby pt1 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:56 pm

MayaRefugee wrote:Things in nature, by obeying or acting in accordance with this "intrinsic neccesity", when observed seem to be carrying out an intent or a purpose - I'm probably anthropomorphizing when I observe this - :shrug:


It's useful to remember that according to theravada, it's all conditioned. All things - dhammas (except nibbana) are said to arise based on conditions for a very brief moment and then disappear forever, never to arise again. So, it's a bit irrelevant to speak about a purpose/intent behind a conditioned process, just as it is irrelevant to speak about existence or non-existence of self.

You can read more about the 5 niyamas in The Manual of cosmic order, this is a work by a great Burmese scholar monk Ledi Sayadaw - I think he summarizes the commentarial position on the 5 niyamas there. These are basically 5 laws that have to do with temperature (caloric order) acting as condition for other dhammas, kamma as condition (moral order), etc. Either way, these are just laws, kind of like laws of nature, so it's important not to conceive some sort of a being or intent/design behind them, as one would in a theistic religion. Kind of like gravity, it just works when the appropriate conditions are there for it to work (two bodies with masses), and doesn't need some sentient purpose/intent behind it to work.

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:31 pm

Thanks pt1!

:thumbsup:

It's a very interesting topic and discovering it opened my eyes up to the presence of a "sentience projector" in my mind - I'm always asking what's the reason for or what is the thinking behind things being the way they are - I'm guessing when I understand the 5 niyamas better this will come to an end. When I was young whenever my curiousity had me asking my parents questions they couldn't answer it was always "Gods" doing so that's probably where I got it from.

Anyway, this came about because chownah said "ordinary objects" can be just as insightful/beautiful as "works of art", where are we with this now?

Is it suffice to say temperature can create objects which seem to be at rest that can be insightful/beautiful and an artist can emulate this phenomenon?

:coffee:
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby pt1 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:21 pm

Good questions. Sorry, I don't have time at the moment, I'll answer you tomorrow as I'd prefer to give you a proper reply rather than just a few rushed sentences.

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Annapurna » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:58 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hi, Annapurna,
I'm not in any way trying to blackmail anyone or control the thread.
I (really truly) didn't want or plan to say any more about 'God' but when the OP'er asked a direct question I figured, as I said, they had the right ...
:shrug:
Kim


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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Annapurna » Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:07 pm

MayaRefugee wrote:Kim,

I know you said you don't want to elaborate but isn't the tendency/instinct of nature to strive toward balance/harmony/a certain order indicative of the fact it has an intention/a design/a purpose?

Peace.


We learn that there is no effect without a cause. So cause conditions an effect.

So if we think this through, then we also have to think about this universe.

What caused the universe to go "bang"?

I think here we arrive at the imponderables Buddha spoke if, or in theist religions: "God's inexplicable ways", or in the Tao Te Ching, chapter 1 : The unnameable Tao...
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:12 pm

since we're in the free for all, and since god has been brought into the equation, pretty much taking it out of a theravada realm i'll add this quote by the Dalai Lama

"This principle [of Buddhism] means that all conditioned things and
events in the universe come into being only as a result of the interaction
of various causes and conditions. This is significant because it precludes
two possibilities. One is the possibility that things can arise from
nowhere, with no causes and conditions, and the second is that things
can arise on account of a transcendent designer or creator. Both these
possibilities are negated." - dalai lama XIV
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby pt1 » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:24 am

MayaRefugee wrote:It's a very interesting topic

Yes it is. Just a general observation that seems relevant at this point - one of the most useful things I was told was to examine every topic from the perspective of whether it directly helps in reducing greed, hate and delusion, and increasing kindness, generosity and wisdom. I.e. there's a lot of attachment associated with speculative thinking, we just love thinking about this and that, but often, no matter what the answers the thinking leads us to, it still has very little to do with the path to ending suffering. So, choosing the right topics as well as the approaches to considering these topics intellectually is very important. If we're talking buddhism that is. If we're talking science/philosophy/new age, then sure, speculation is all there is.

MayaRefugee wrote:and discovering it opened my eyes up to the presence of a "sentience projector" in my mind - I'm always asking what's the Areason for or what is the thinking behind things being the way they are - I'm guessing when I understand the 5 niyamas better this will come to an end.

At this point it might be useful to understand the difference between buddhism and science for example. Science tends to look outside for answers, how certain outside existing entities or "things" affect other outside "things". Buddhism (at least as I understand it through abhidhamma) on the other hand directs to recognising first that all those outside "things" are are just products of speculative thinking - concepts , so it doesn't really concern with them, but directs us to understand through insight how the mind attaches to these concepts regardless of what they are.

E.g. regardless of whether we're arguing is it god that created the earth, or is it nature that did it, both of these would still be just speculative thinking, and so of no real concern to buddhism. What would be of interest is what are the mental factors and consciousness (so dhammas) that are involved in this speculation - are they wholesome or not? Is the mental factor of concentration at that momnet wholesome or not, how about intention, is there greed, or maybe there's kindness, etc? So these mental factors (dhammas) are basically objects of insight, and buddhism is all about direct insight, not about concepts and speculation (for reference, there are four kinds of dhammas that insight is concerned with - materiality (rupa), consciousness (citta), mental factors (cetasikas) and nibbana, so concepts are not a dhamma). That's the first important difference imo.

The second important difference is about conditionality. I.e. when said that one dhamma (like greed) conditions another dhamma (like intention), it's not meant in terms of things and existing entities affecting each other (like cause and effect in science), but pretty much the opposite - there is no existing entities - whether it's an external "thing" or a mental event, it's just dhammas arising together based on conditions (other dhammas past and present) for a split second and then falling away forever. So, it's very much irrelevant talking about existing entities, objects or things being created, etc.

MayaRefugee wrote:Anyway, this came about because chownah said "ordinary objects" can be just as insightful/beautiful as "works of art", where are we with this now?

I tend to think that as long as we're focusing on "objects" no matter how we define them, we're focusing on the wrong end - i.e. we're still in the world of concepts and speculation, instead of directing our attention to the world of dhammas and insight.

MayaRefugee wrote:Is it suffice to say temperature can create objects which seem to be at rest that can be insightful/beautiful and an artist can emulate this phenomenon?

According to my understanding of abhidhamma, temperature is just a dhamma (rupa-materiality in this case) that acts as a condition for other dhammas (other great elements - earth, water, wind as well as other derived rupas - materialities) to come together in one instant and then fall away for ever in the next instant. So, in reality there is no creation of "objects", nor can they be really said to be insightful/beautiful, at rest, or anything else. That's possible only in the world of concepts. It's due to attachment to concepts that things appear to last, be beautiful, etc.

Anyway, you seem to have a very inquisitive mind, so I'd wholeheartedly recommend Abhidhamma in daily life by Nina Van Gorkom. I remember that it gave me a lot of answers I was looking for, which I couldn't find neither in science/phylosophy nor in the suttas directly. Abhidhamma also helped to direct the inquisitiveness in a useful direction - dhammas instead of endless speculation.

If you're particularly interested in the outside world, the universe, matter, etc, even though buddhism never really set out to explain the outside world (e.g.see Simsapa sutta), there is a lot of detail in abhidhamma on rupas (I even heard this called buddhist quantum mechanics) and how they come together (5 niyamas are a related topic), but even so, it still remains in the domain of insight, not speculation - i.e. it is a sort of an account of how dhammas would be seen to "operate" with developed insight. Nina has also written a short book on rupas if you're interested. One good thing about her books is that you can ask her directly if there's something you don't understand - she participates in this yahoo group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby pt1 » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:41 am

Annapurna wrote:We learn that there is no effect without a cause. So cause conditions an effect.

So if we think this through, then we also have to think about this universe.

What caused the universe to go "bang"?

I think here we arrive at the imponderables Buddha spoke if, or in theist religions: "God's inexplicable ways", or in the Tao Te Ching, chapter 1 : The unnameable Tao...


All this is explained in the abhidhamma as it relates to insight. The problem I think is when we start thinking in scientific/philosophical terms - e.g. "cause conditions an effect" might be, but doesn't seem to be related to dhammas being conditions for other dhammas just for a split second. I mean it seems to postulate that an existing entity causes some lasting effect on some other existing entity. Dhammas on the other hand are said to arise and fall away conditioned by other dhammas, which means it all happens in a split second and that's it, never again. No entities, no lasting effects, etc, which are only possible if we get attached to concepts. Similar applies to the universe, big bang, gib gnab, etc. Not sure how thinking about this stuff really helps in terms of reducing greed, hate and delusion in the present moment.

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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:39 am

MayaRefugee wrote:Is it suffice to say temperature can create objects which seem to be at rest that can be insightful/beautiful and an artist can emulate this phenomenon?

Hi, MayaRefugee,
pt1 has already commented on this in one way. I was going to comment on it rather differently, like so:
"... it suffice to say temperature can create objects ..."
OUCH!! Here comes that pesky creator-idea again!!
:tongue:

I don't know if this is as useful to you as pt1's comment, but it's all I can offer.
:namaste:
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