Thursday, June 22, 2006

Really?

Do read this article:
http://go.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyID=12599331&src=rss/oddlyEnoughNews

Things can't get funnier. What did the head abbot expect them to do while watching a match? Count rosaries? And is it evil to watch a match? Just thinking... Would love to hear your opinion on the evil quotient of watching matches... :-)

8 comments:

  1. Well, the word "evil" is not even mentioned in the article. Buddhism is centered around a calm mind free from attachment and desire, and choosing to become a monk is different from choosing to become a wildly cheering football fan. They're simply different paths and that's what is being pointed out - according to me.

    As for what they're expected to do (according to Buddhist philosophy) - no they shouldn't count rosaries, they should be as fully absorbed in the match without allowing themselves to be identified with it - which is what leads to becoming excited and cheering and neglecting duties. In fact that way it would be a very instructive meditation. It's relatively easier to keep calm when sitting in a silent place surrounded by nature - but keeping calm in the midst of a world cup match - it takes some mastery to do that.

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  2. Since being a monk seems to entail duties concrete like any other profession, maybe a better management of their football viewing could ensure the efficient carrying out of these duties of theirs - a rotation of who should watch when what football matches while who else should do the monkly duties, should make all happy and satisfied.

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  3. agree with manan.

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  4. Dear M,
    Of course the word "evil" is not mentioned in the article. But that you need to seek permission to watch one, places it in a questionable category. Would they seek the abbot's "ok" for, say, helping a poor child who has fallen and broken her knee? So they recognise two categories: acceptable and not-acceptable. I call it good and evil, for my convenience.

    Regarding being unmoved, I agree that it is a different cup of tea. I have tried it very many times with different kinds of "stimulants" (details of which cannot be placed here ;-) and it is a wonderful experience. Have you tried not having any "stimulant" but reacting as if it were there? Not faking it, but really "becoming" that? Trust me, that is far far far more difficult.

    Why watch a match? It surely isn't part of their training. Why do it then? Is it not the desire to watch it that anyway stemmed the petition to the head abbot? Is it not the pull that anyway keeps them asleep? And if I am not supposed to react to something, then why am I indulging in it? General Knowledge for the entrance exams I am going to write? I could read the newspapers, right? If it is not a big thing, then why create an issue of it? If it is a big thing then why don't you acknowledge it and treat it as it is? Why can't the abbot say "Fine, watch it, enjoy it and then drop it as if it never happened"? If toughness is the measure, this is tough too (to lose all memory) and it also makes sense to drop something which is purely a piece of memory rather than drop something which is welling in my throat right now.

    If something in its natural course produces a specific reaction, it is not condemnable. If it is unacceptable, then don't indulge in it. That is my realisation. Being excited and cheering is something they would have to suppress and that gets you nowhere. So the monk can say "See? I didn't jump. I am a good Buddhist." but where does it take you? :-) If the monk has really mastered watching a match dispassionately, why would they stay up so late? Point is why define rightness based out of denying the true flow of things. If controlling is the measure (which doesn't seem to be stated in most of the articles I have read), are the monks really controlling themselves? To lay still next to the room where the match is being played and not be curious?

    Meditation is not denying and controlling. Meditation is being fully aware. In sanskrit, samadhi is a word that is perfect to describe that state (as in Japanese, satori). None of these are states where we deny the truth including our feelings. We simply watch them... meditate.

    All these ifs and buts and allowed and disallowed make me simply wonder: Who are we kidding?

    Dear P,
    Or they could record the match and watch it during their noon siesta? ;-)

    Dear W,
    Cool! :-)

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  5. Dear E,

    From the article: "The Sangha Council, ..., has not banned monks from watching the World Cup but said it should not interfere with religious activities."

    So you don't need to seek permission to watch the match. In my interpretation, it is "OK" to help a poor child with a broken knee. That does not interfere with your activities. However, if you want to help poor children with broken knees all the time, wouldn't it be better to join the Red Cross than be a monk? Not that either of them is "evil", just different. (Again this is my interpretation of it only).

    No, I have not really tried taking stimulants and staying non-reactive - life itself is hard enough to take with non-reactive acceptance for me.

    Why watch a match - why do anything? Because we have to do something, right? Either watch the match, or not watch the match. Eat, or don't eat. Get up at 7, or not. Life is about choices we have to make. So yes anything you do is fuelled by desire in some form (I desire to wake up early, for example) - but in the Buddhist philosophy too much desire (I call it attachment) causes suffering. So if you are a monk, you aren't disallowed watching matches (at all), you are simply encouraged not to be attached to external things - and that too because of a choice you made to be a monk - in fact you are supposed to teach these things to normal people.

    Nobody is condemning the monks or their actions here. Or football, or watching and cheering for football. Or even asking monks to suppress desires. All that is being said is that if you identify and attach with the football so much that you cheer for it, lose sleep and forget your duties - then you are losing awareness - which is still OK - but that is not a monk's path, who is supposed to be the epitome of awareness. A true monk does not "supress" his desire to become identified with football, he knows such identification to be trivial.

    For example, when I was 9 years old, whole hours in the evening would be spent wondering what I did wrong that day in the game of Pithoo (seven stones). As an adult I see kids playing the same thing and I feel compassion and lovely memories - but I simply will not become identified with it at this stage. That does not mean playing seven stones has become "evil" or "wrong" or "unacceptable" - nor do I willfully supress any desire to play it - I have simply moved beyond it.

    You are perfectly right about meditation - its a state of complete awareness, including awareness of feelings and thoughts that you seek to eventually move beyond. That is what I meant in the first comment about simply being aware of the match and your feelings toward it. If one is aware that one is excited - then u notice there is a shift from the excited - Presence behind the person is observing that the "person", not the Presence, is excited. And there is a glimpse that who you *really* are is the Presence.

    There are no ifs, buts, or restrictions (in this context). There are choices.

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  6. Ideally the behaviour of non reactivity should not be forced but should come from within.

    Suppression of reaction to adhere to a standard behaviour does not sound as the right way.

    However, one may say that controlling the behaviour is not a matter of suppression, but a matter of choice.

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  7. ...that if you identify and attach with the football so much that you cheer for it, lose sleep and forget your duties - then you are losing awareness - which is still OK - but that is not a monk's path, who is supposed to be the epitome of awareness. A true monk does not "supress" his desire to become identified with football, he knows such identification to be trivial.

    For example, when I was 9 years old, whole hours in the evening would be spent wondering what I did wrong that day in the game of Pithoo (seven stones). As an adult I see kids playing the same thing and I feel compassion and lovely memories - but I simply will not become identified with it at this stage. That does not mean playing seven stones has become "evil" or "wrong" or "unacceptable" - nor do I willfully supress any desire to play it - I have simply moved beyond it.


    Very well said Manan!!! :)

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  8. Dear M,
    Please read a sample article about the whole issue that surrounded this. e.g. http://www.terra.net.lb/wp/Articles/DesktopArticle.aspx?ArticleID=290582&ChannelId=49

    They did seek permission to watch a match.

    Do people become a monk because they don't wish to participate in the world's affairs and incidents? When you say interfere with activities, I fail to understand. Is the instinctive need to help someone weighed as an activity whose worth should be ascertained?

    Life is hard? Oh! Sorry, I didn't notice that.

    If you do not feel anything for the sport, why are you watching it? I find matches boring. I'd rather go out and play than watch a few dozen fellas having a good time. So I don't. But if I go to watch a play or a movie, I will not look at it dispassionately. Why watch it at all? Why are the monks watching the match? To know who won? As I said earlier, if you make a choice, there should be reasons. If the monks are dispassionate about the match and find "such identification to be trivial" then they wouldn't have a problem going to bed on time. But they did... So somehting is wrong here, isn't it?

    So you don't lose sleep over Pithoo now. You wouldn't watch a game of Pithoo by staying late hours would you? If you did, would you still say that you have "moved beyond Pithoo"?

    My point is simply this:

    1. Why seek/grant permission to watch a match? If you think you are a monk, you should be able to watch Basic Instinct without twitching a muscle.

    2. Aren't the facts (monks not waking up and not obtaining alms) indicative of an error in the method adopted towards realising monkhood?

    3. Why deny anything?


    Dear S,
    True. But controlling desire is desire itself. Its like trying to catch the floater in one's eye.

    Dear X,
    :-)

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