Syllabus 5

Marvin Garbeh Davis posted 1 year ago, 1 Responses
When we study Buddhism, we are studying ourselves, the nature of our own minds. Instead of focusing on some supreme being, Buddhism emphasizes more practical matters, such as how to lead our lives, how to integrate our minds and how to keep our everyday lives peaceful and healthy

Understanding our own minds instead of focusing on some supreme being is one of the underlying reasons of studying Buddhism. It is important to understand how to lead our lives, how to integrate our minds and how to keep our everyday lives peaceful. Without this understanding we can’t understand the world outside us. We will not be able to understand the conflict and dilemmas of others. 

It has been said one cannot ask a fish what water is. When something so surrounds us, it is often invisible to us. The same thing can be said of our environment. It exists in the background and often by-passes our conscious attention. Yet, it affects us in subtle ways which can affect our feeling of power (or powerlessness) and desire to cooperate or compete.

The way we perceive ourselves in relation to the rest of the world influences our behaviors and our beliefs. The dynamics of psychology — cognition, perception, learning, emotion, attitudes and relationships — all play a significant role in how humans see themselves and the many elements in their environment. 

Psychologists study how human behavior — from interpersonal relationships to recycling — affects our world. They study all aspects of the ways that psychology can improve our interactions with other people, places and things. Their research on human behavior can include issues as wide-ranging as prejudice, romantic attraction, persuasion, friendship, conformity, group interaction, learning, urban and city planning, environmental design, the influence of different environments on loneliness and stress, environmental health, and human responses to natural and technological hazards.

Jiddu Krishnamuti in his talks with American students explained that the division between the individual and society does not really exist at all. When one tries to carve out a life of one’s own, the individual is not different from the community in which he lives. For the individual, the human being, has constructed the community, society. This according Krishnamuti is artificial, and utterly unreal.

In bringing about a radical change in the human being, in you, you are naturally bringing about a radical change in the structure and the nature of society. I think it must be very clearly understood, that the human mind, with all its complexity, its intricate work, is part of this external world.
It is funny how we sometimes agree intellectually that there is no separation between a person and his world but are still convinced that we are separate. So unless there is the seeing of this reality we don’t change. And we will never see it until we are convinced to be separate. It is like a dog which is trying to catch its tail; it will get it.

To feel I am the world I need to see what it is; without the distortion of conflict with myself, with other and with things.
I know it is easy to say “we are the world,” but to see it deeply and live it is an enormous challenge. Do we really see that we are violent, greedy, ambitious like the rest of the world? That we are totally self-centered, mainly concerned with our own wants, our problems, the image we have of ourselves?

Dear Marvin,

you brought this reflection to a very deep point. What came to my mind was (getting back to your example with the fish): ‘You can not separate the fish from the water. It is not only the fact that the fish is surrounded by water, but the water is also inside of him.’ That could mean that your environment builds the space where you live, but it also creates in your mind the perspective of how you see the world. And thereby, your environment has an impact on all the other environments that we get in touch with. And this can be the point where we see that everything is connected.

BR, Daniel