Monism is the view that attributes oneness or singleness (Greek:μόνος) to a concept (e.g., existence).

Buddhism is beyond monism, dualism, pluralism etc. Those -istic teachings are like photos. Monism says that there is the best perspective (camera angle) to make a good photo of that particular thing. For example, a person should be photographed from the front, to see the face and body well. Dualism says that there is equally important information in human photos from the back (for medical purposes, for example; some mystics say that looking at the back of a person we can see his state and thoughts easier). That two-photos approach also is used in criminalist photography: getting head photos en face and side-view. That’s like dualism. Then pluralism says that in various cases different angles can be best. Like when an artist paints some person, capturing unique personality and feelings…

What is Buddhism like?

Buddhism sees the difference between the object and its photos. That’s what we realize well in awakening. All the photos are dropped. We could use them but are not caught by them. So sometimes Buddhist teachings might look monistic; or not monistic — that depends rather on a person that perceives them.

A Zen Master asked a monk, pointing at the portrait of bearded patriarch Bodhidharma: “Why this foreigner has no beard?”

Advertisements

Today in class professor initiated a juicy discussion into the self. I thought you may enjoy diving into our conversation – and I’m extremely interested in your views of self, and your philosophies on life. I’m a firm believer that language IS arbitrary. But I also agree that our abilities, as storytellers and myth makers, define what it means to be human.

Thinking Philosophically

What Is Your Philosophy of Life?

Everybody has a philosophy of life. Identify some of the foundation beliefs that form your philosophy of life, using these questions as a guide. Express your ideas as completely and clearly as you can. Think deeply and beyond superficialities and refuse to be satisfied with the first idea that you have.

  • What do you most value in life? Why?
  • What moral beliefs influence your choices and your behavior toward others? How do you determine the “right” thing to do?
  • What role do religious beliefs play in your life? Do you believe in “God”? Why or why not? Is there an afterlife? If so, what is the path to it?
  • What gives your life meaning? What is the purpose of your life? What do you hope to achieve in your life?
  • How do we find truth? How do you know when you “know” something is true? What is an example of something you know to be true?
  • Do you believe that your choices are free? Do you hold yourself responsible for your choices?
  • What do you consider to be “beautiful”? Why? What is the function of art? Should “extreme” forms of artistic expression be censored? Why or why not?
  • Are all people entitled to basic human rights? Why? What is justice?
  • What are other important beliefs in your life?

Many Chinese fables tell an entertaining story to illustrate a moral lesson. Here are a few such stories.

Stopping Halfway, Never Comes One’s Day

In the Warring States Period, in the state of Wei lived a man called Leyangtsi. His wife was very angelic and virtuous, who was loved and respected dearly by the husband.

One day, Leyangtsi found a piece of gold on his way home, and he was so delighted that he ran home as fast as he could to tell his wife. Looking at the gold, his wife said calmly and gently, “As you know, it is usually said that a true man never drinks the stolen water. How can you take such a piece of gold home which is not yours?” Leyangtsi was greatly moved by the words, and he immediately replaced it where it was.

The next year, Leyangtsi went to a distant place to study classics with a talented teacher, leaving his wife home alone. One day, his wife was weaving on the loom, when Leyangtsi entered. At his coming, the wife seemed to be worried, and she at once asked the reason why he came back so soon. The husband explained how he missed her. The wife got angry with what the husband did. Advising her husband to have fortitude and not be too indulged in the love, the wife took up a pair of scissors and cut down what she had woven on the loom, which made Leyangtsi very puzzled. His wife declared, “If something is stopped halfway, it is just like the cut cloth on the loom. The cloth will only be useful if finished. But now, it has been nothing but a mess, and so it is with your study.”

Leyangtsi was greatly moved by his wife. He left home resolutely and went on with his study. He didn’t return home to see his beloved wife until gaining great achievements.

Afterward, the story was often used as a model to inspire those who would back out in competitions.

Ask a Fox for Its Skin

Long ago, there lived a young man, called Lisheng, who had just married a beauty. The bride was very willful. One day, she had an idea that a coat of fox fur would look pretty on her. So she asked her husband to get her one. But the coat was rare and too expensive. The helpless husband was forced to walk around on the hillside. Just at the moment, a fox was walking by. He lost no time to catch it by the tail. “Well, dear fox, let’s make an agreement. Could you offer me a sheet of your skin? That isn’t a big deal, is it?”

The fox was shocked at the request, but she replied calmly, “Well, my dear, that’s easy. But let my tail go so that I can pull off the skin for you.” So the delighted man let her free and waited for the skin. But the moment the fox got free, she ran away as quickly as she could into the forest.

The story can be well used for reference that it is hard to ask someone to act against his own will, even though only a little sometimes.

Bian Heh’s Jade

In the Spring and Autumn Period, Bian Heh in the Chu state got a rough jade on Mount Chu. He decided to present the valuable jade to the emperor to show his official loyalty to his sovereign, Chuli. Unluckily, the jade was judged as a common stone by the court jaders, which made Emperor Chuli very angry and had Bian Heh’s left foot cut down cruelly.

After the enthronement of the new emperor Chuwu, Bian Heh decided to submit the jade to Chuwu to clarify matters. Emperor Chuwu also had it checked by the jaders in the court. And the conclusion resulted in the same fact that Bian Heh lost the other foot.

After the death of Emperor Chuwu, the prince Chuwen was enthroned, that gave the poor Bian Heh a gleam of light of proving his clear conscience. However, the moment he thought of what he had incurred, he couldn’t help crying beside a hill. He could not stop crying for several days and nights; he almost wept his heart out and even blood was dropping from his eyes. And it happened to be heard by the emperor in the court. He ordered his men to find out why he was so sad. Bian Heh sobbed out “Call a spade a spade. Why was a real jade mistaken as a plain stone again and again? Why was a loyal man thought faithless time and time?” Emperor Chuwen was touched by Bian Heh’s deep grief and ordered the jaders to open the jade to have a close look. To their astonishment, in the rough coat, the pure content was sparkling and translucent. Then it was carefully cut and polished fine and at last, the jade became a rare treasure of the state of Chu. In memory of the faithful man Bian Heh, the Emperor named the jade by Bian Heh.

And so the term “Bian’s Jade” came into being.

People usually describe something extremely precious in its value with Bian’s Jade.

Cheap Tricks Never Last – The Donkey of Guizhou

Thousands of years ago, donkeys were not found in Guizhou province. But meddlers were always allured by anything. So they shipped one into this area.

One day, a tiger was walking around to find something to eat, when he saw the strange animal. The huge newcomer frightened him quite a bit. He hid between the bushes to study the donkey watchfully. It seemed all right. So the tiger came near to the donkey to have a close look. “Hawhee¡­” a loud noise burst upon, which sent the tiger running away as fast as he could. He could not have any time to think before he settled himself home. The humiliation stung in him. He must come back to that strange thing to see it clear though he was still haunted by the terrible noise.

The donkey was enraged when the tiger got too close. So the donkey brought his unique skill to bear on the offender —- to kick with his hooves. After several bouts, it became very clear that what the donkey had was so much. The tiger jumped upon the donkey in time and cut its throat.

People are always told the story to speak of one’s limited tricks.

A Painted Snake Makes a Man Sick

In the Jin Dynasty, there lived a man named Le Guang, who had a bold and uninhibited character and was very friendly. One day Le Guang sent for one of his close friends since the friend had not turned out for long.

At the first sight of his friend, Le Guang realized that something must have happened to his friend for his friend has no peace of mind all the time. So he asked his friend what was the matter. “It was all because of that banquet held at your home. At the banquet, you proposed a toast to me and just when we raised the glasses, I noticed that there was a little snake lying in the wine and I felt particularly sick. Since then, I lay in bed unable to do anything.”

Le Guang was very puzzled at the matter. He looked around and then saw a bow with a painted snake hung on the wall of his room.

So Le Guang laid the table at the original place and asked his friend again to have a drink. When the glass was filled with wine, he pointed to the shade of the bow in the glass and asked his friend to see. His friend observed nervously, “Well, well, that is what I saw last time. It is the same snake.” Le Guang laughed and took off the bow on the wall. “Could you see the snake anymore?” he asked. His friend was surprised to find that the snake was no longer in the wine. Since the whole truth had come out, his friend recovered from his prolonged illness right away.

For thousands of years, the story has been told to advise people not to be too suspicious unnecessarily.

KuaFu Chased the Sun

It is said that in antiquity a god named KuaFu determined to have a race with the Sun and catch up with Him. So he rushed in the direction of the Sun. Finally, he almost ran neck and neck with the Sun, when he was too thirsty and hot to continue. Where could he find some water? Just then the Yellow River and Wei River came into sight, roaring on. He swooped upon them earnestly and drank the whole river. But he still felt thirsty and hot, thereupon, he marched northward for the lakes in the north of China. Unfortunately, he fell down and died halfway because of thirst. With his fall, down dropped his cane. Then the cane became a stretch of peach, green and lush.

And so comes the idiom, KuaFu chased the Sun, which becomes the trope of man’s determination and volition against nature. 

Fish for the Moon in the Well

One evening, the clever man, Huojia went to fetch some water from the well. To his surprise, when he looked into the well, he found the moon sunk in the well shining. “Oh, good Heavens, what a pity! The beautiful moon has dropped into the well!” so he dashed home for a hook, and tied it with the rope for his bucket, then put it into the well to fish for the moon.

After some time of hunting for the moon, Haojia was pleased to find that something was caught by the hook. He must have thought it was the moon. He pulled hard on the rope. Due to the excessive pulling, the rope broke into apart and Haojia fell flat on his back. Taking the advantage of that post, Haojia saw the moon again high in the sky. He sighed with emotion, “Aha, it finally came back to its place! What a good job! He felt very happy and told whomever he met with about the wonderment proudly without knowing what he did was something impractical.

Custer, Charles. "Chinese Fable Stories With Morals." ThoughtCo, Dec. 4, 2018, thoughtco.com/chinese-fable-stories-4084028.

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

Tao Te Ching

“So a weird thing about making money writing words and making money doing art and sometimes making money writing code is that people really want to define what it is you do, exactly. This becomes especially important when people are, for example, a publisher who needs to see your book or a radio show that is having you on to talk about your book.

And one of the words those people decide to use is “journalist” and when you hear those words your internal organs start to collapse and maybe you want to have a nervous breakdown. For reasons. And you ask them not to use it and they use it anyway.

That being said: I have had bylines in real publications! Writing things that involve actual facts and not just opines about things in the world (OK sometimes opines too though). I interview people, I transcribe interviews, I file records requests, and I fact-check with sources before going to publish things. That all sounds like journalism, Ingrid. Why can’t you be an artist and journalist?

This isn’t a blog post about my extremely goth tortured relationship to why I can’t ever be a Real Journalist (TLDR: imagine how you’d feel about being adequate enough to be a journalist when your role model for journalism is your dead father who covered Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination). This is about the blurring of art and journalism as a consequence of late capitalism and the attention economy, and why that’s worrying. I don’t think that it’s bad to do art and do journalism, I just think it’s important to have clear boundaries between art and journalism, and in a moment where basically all forms of self expression (be they art, journalism, or tweets) are boiled down to interchangeable commodities, it’s really easy to ignore those boundaries, and that’s bad for both art and journalism.

ALthough, this is based on a very specific (and, probably, naively antiquated) idea of what constitutes “journalism” and what constitutes “art.” Journalism is a field that, as far as I understand it, is defined really strongly by its mandate to serve a “public interest” (which can mean a lot of things) and by an assumed code of ethics. It’s not really a Hippocratic Oath-type code. Guidelines and codes of ethics for journalism are mostly defined and published by professional associations and can vary from institution to institution.

Here’s one from The Society of Professional Journalists. A quick glimpse through this list is basically a sample of positions that, in contemporary art, would effectively be “conversation topics” or “just your opinion.” For example:

Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. (This exhibition brought to you by Credit Suisse…)

Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear. (The art world’s kind of getting better about this, kind of, but I invite you to look at the most recent Whitney Biennial and Joe Scanlan’s both insulting and embarrassing work to consider how that tends to get fraught real fast because institutional legacy.)

Never plagiarize. Always attribute. (so let’s talk about the history of appropriation…)

OK, there’s a whole section called “Minimize Harm” here, I don’t know if I need to belabor my point. This obviously gets way more fraught and weird with art that looks at pointed political issues and especially art that enteres into the weird blurry space of computers and things. People who do ethically questionable things as journalists have historically been excoriated and tend to lose their jobs. People who do ethically questionable things as artists tend to like, keynote fairly high-profile art and technology conferences in mid-sized Midwestern cities (ahem, ahem). So who sits between those worlds and how, exactly, does that work?

The people who I see do it well tend to have clear parameters. Molly Crabapple as painter with exhibitions produces very different work from Molly Crabapple who spends months reporting in conflict zones. And I am not saying that people who work in the ethically ambiguous space of art can’t work in the ethically non-ambiguous space of journalism. What has me kind of anxious are two things I see happening: the in-housing of artists in news environments with vague definitions of roles and expectations, and the classism implicit in labeling an artist who works with certain privileged political topics a “journalist artist”–as opposed to those dilettantish “activist artists” who, say, spend time with grassroots organizations or raise up the work of marginalized communities or address topics that don’t attract white hacker boys. Both of these topics probably merit their own write-ups, so I’m going to focus more on the emerging thread that makes these two things that worry me possible.

Maybe one one reason for the conflating and collapsing of art and journalism into each other is just an aftereffect of the fact that the tools digital artists employ don’t look all that different from the tools employed by digital artists (a D3 visualization on the ProPublica website and a D3 visualization by an artist both…look like they were made by Mike Bostock; videos in the Whitney and videos on the New York Times website could have the same production company working on them). But I also think it has to do with the economic model of journalism increasingly resembling the value metrics applied to art–attention and “engagement” rather than, say, public interest or service. So maybe it’s less that I worry about what it is for artists to do journalism as I worry about how an attention economy rewards the worst and most ethically problematic tendencies in both fields.

I’m thinking about the similarity between an egregious art project and an egregious act by a journalist, both of which happened in the past year: artist Dries Depoorter’s Tinder In, in which he found womens’ LinkedIn and Tinder profile pictures and presented them side-by-side as artworks (without permission, naturally), when Nico Hines outed gay Olympians in Rio for a Daily Beast story, potentially risking the lives of Olympians from countries where homosexuality is essentially a crime. Very different contexts, but similar ethical dilemma–using pseudo-public data from social media and placing that data in some context for public viewership, without the individual’s permission.

Depoorter has since apologized and now shows the work with faces blurred–but he’s obviously very cheeky and aggrieved by the kerfuffle, pointing out that he’s included himself in the series so isn’t he, too, under surveillance? But he’s a white male media artist in Europe. He doesn’t owe anyone decency, and I don’t assume as an artist he’s entering into any “do no harm” contract–that art project isn’t bad because he’s acting like a cretin (although I think he is), it’s a bad art project because it’s an insipid premise (surprise, people present themselves differently on different social media platforms, welcome to 2011, buddy).

But Nico Hines does owe the subjects of his reporting basic decency. While the Daily Beast took the story down and the editors issued an apology, Hines himself has yet to issue any public apology. In fact, his online activity has pretty much stopped since the Olympics. If he was fired from his job, it happened quietly–no epic Stephen Glass-style denouncement (although the distinction between the kind of shaming of a journalist fabricating stories versus the shaming of a journalist potentially harming someone’s life with their reporting is itself a pretty interesting thing). In all likelihood, Hines will land on his feet.

In the case of both Hines and Depoorter, both ultimately got a fuck ton of attention for doing ethically questionable things and neither, apparently, faced particularly heavy professional consequences for it. And frankly, in the case of the *Beast it was professional damaging, but ultimately also probably got them a lot of traffic. Those pageviews of the now taken-down story might cover the cost of Hines’ severance package.

(Reminder: this is a blog post where I am speculating about things, please don’t sue me Daily Beast you of all people who know the bloggers vs journalisms dichotomy too well.)

Anyway this was supposed to be a blog post and now it’s a few thousand words, and maybe it’s not clear what my point was. As my very goth backstory suggests, I have a really, really high, arguably romanticized opinion of journalism as a field. I believe that the denigration of journalism is one of the biggest contributing factors to the fucked-up discourse of the present moment–and I consider the denigration of journalism into vacuous attention-economy commodity by people like Jonah Peretti as bad for the field as its denigration into blunt ideological tool by Roger Ailes. Artists who choose to enter into journalistic spaces or take on the badge of journalist have to do so with the understanding that journalism is not in the eye of the beholder or something done merely to provoke. The political choices of journalists need to be held to a higher standard than the political choices of artists, because if the politics of both are merely contingent conversation pieces with no real cost, the work of both (and the human beings and ethical harms potentially implicated in both) become mere fodder for capitalist churn.”

See also: notes

Truly profound essay written in 1952

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Uncovering the modern identity of an African Kingdom. A beautiful and rugged society, multicultural, secular in some ways, rigid in others.
I cannot stress enough the vast beauty and sacredness of Morocco. A great country to learn of Islam’s strides in science, medicine and even literature (Moroccan authors absolutely rock.) I feel that to understand the world at large this is a great place to start. But by starting you’ll only realize that you know nothing at all. And that we’re all as confused and bizarre as one another. But isn’t this the lesson anyway? In less words: #takemeback