Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Annoying people...

So I was sitting here, doing my work, and for some reason I had this feeling that someone who is here was going to come up to me and try to say something friendly to me, and it was going to be something that I didn't want to hear. I know this sounds very hypothetical, but it was based on past experience being annoyed.

So I'm hacking, and I'm in the mood to deconstruct things logically, so I deconstructed this fear that I was having. Basically, the person coming up to me to be friendly is doing it because, perhaps, they want me to like them, or think I don't like them, or whatever, and they want to be nice to me either because they want me to enjoy the experience of them being nice to me, or because they want me to like them.

The way I normally react to an unwelcome overture like this is to say something polite that I hope will give the impression that the overture was unwelcome.

To deconstruct the overture further, you could say that the person is making an offering to me, or trying to serve me, and my reaction is to reject what they have done. To complain about the bad service.

And then of course my next question is, where the fuck do I get off complaining about the service?!?

So to anybody to whom I have complained about the service, please accept my humble, groveling apology.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greets Ted

Its interesting that you would offer an apology at that point, though, when it too is nothing but an utter failing.

It always struck me how an enlightened being could murder another person and 'collect perfect good karma' while me at the moment when i can actual carry some sort of love dont collect anything even remotely similar. No?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

Why is apologizing "failing"?

Buddhas neither collect karma nor are even capable of committing murder.

And how do you measure the scope of the merit you collect from holding some kind of love in your heart? Why be pessimistic about it?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont know what its like when a Buddha does something or how it could be easily explained but i accept that a Buddha may commit what to our idea seems negative and leads to immense suffering on our part. Is this mistaken? I know the general debates about Buddhas not being able to suffer period, if they meet anything lower than 10th level bodhisattva etc, so without going into it like that is it mistaken to say simply 'a Buddha can very easily walk up to you and stab you in the throat'? (Furthermore its not a bad 'deed'.)

I suppose quite separately now since it has become a separate discussion, is apologizing not a failing, since it is not a perfection? You have to be pessimistic about something that will create future suffering?

Actually i am just looking for hints as to how to read your post. See i can read it another way:

The bit that starts "To deconstruct the overture further" can mean what you judged about the other person is deluded and thats why its inappropriate to complain.

The normal'er way of reading it is that the act of judging the person is ok and that denying their service is a question of harmony.

"where the fuck do I get off complaining" for the 1st means there is no connection (GMR: "its asking the wrong question", from one of the tonglen courses) while the 2nd is more like relationship management, apologies and all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

Basically, I was just expressing how I felt at the moment I wrote the post. I am so well taken care of, for me to complain about anything having to do with someone expressing kindness towards me seems churlish, and at the moment I wrote the blog entry, I was feeling, on the one hand, upset at myself for this churlishness, while on the other hand, happy that at least I'd noticed it and could try to put a stop to it. The apology was as much a part of expressing that feeling as it was an attempt to get anybody in particular to forgive me.

When you suggest that a Buddha could come up to you and stab you in the throat, and not suffer as a result, I think you're running the risk of falling into a nihilistic view.

It's true that if someone comes up to you and stabs you in the throat, it would be better, for you, to see that person as a Buddha and see what is happening to you as part of your process of reaching enlightenment. Holding some kind of anger at the person for stabbing you, in the moment of your death, or in the event that you survive, is immensely harmful to you. Seeing that person as a Buddha might help you to avoid the anger; that is immensely beneficial to you. And trying to find a teaching in some unpleasant thing that's happened to you is also beneficial, because chances are that you will.

But as for a Buddha going up and stabbing you, and then not collecting negative karma from it, the only reason that that might be true is that a Buddha might do something like that to you because it was the most beneficial thing to do to you at that moment. And that is the only reason a Buddha would ever do something like that to you.

So the reason the Buddha doesn't suffer from the action is because it's not a negative action, not because the Buddha can't suffer. Or, from the other side, the reason the Buddha can't suffer is because the Buddha is constitutionally incapable of ever committing a negative act - to commit a negative act you have to be fooled by deceptive reality, and the Buddha is not fooled by deceptive reality.

It is not that the Buddha's wisdom renders an otherwise negative act virtuous, which sort of implies that the Buddha is above the law. When you say that the Buddha can murder and not suffer for it, it feels like you're saying s/he is above the law of karma, which seems like a mistaken view to me.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 2:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know, I agree. Buddhism denies a separate self that exists outside of the parts right so the Buddha is acting through, from a desire realm beings pov, still with 'mind'. There was just something about what you wrote that made me rethink of this point.

One shouldnt complain about service is true because compassion demands it. Unfortunately compassion is mostly meaningless without wisdom.

Why could a Buddha 'kill' and you have compassion but they are the ones creating the cause for perfection? It means your proof isnt a proof at all (the intention for accepting service). No?

I know you know all of this type stuff (im not saying i'm correct) i am mostly just thinking aloud, and thinking of ACI 13 class 1+.

Friday, October 20, 2006 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger mellon said...

You left out one thing in your definition of emptiness: things do not exist other than through labels that you are forced, through your past karma, to place on a collection of parts.

The reason not to complain about service is really that it's wrong view. If someone is serving me poorly, my perception of this service as poor is coming from my past karma. So it's completely stupid to blame *them* for something that *I* caused.

My real take on it, though, is not compassion, but gratitude. I guess in a way compassion and gratitude are two faces of the same coin. If you think about it, the world is full of people who are trying to please me. Sometimes they fail, but they're trying.

The people who pick the food I eat, the people who cook it, the people who serve it to me or sell it to me. My parents, who spent a huge part of their lives providing me with what I needed to become the person that I am now. The people who make sure that when I flick a light switch, there is power so that the light goes on. It's endless, the kindnesses that are heaped upon us.

And we tend to see them as our due, rather than as kindnesses, and we tend to complain when they're not done just as we wish. And this is just an obstacle to happiness, because isn't it more fun to receive something as a gift, than it is to receive it as a purchase, or an imposition? And isn't complaining about service the cause of having people say unpleasant things to us?

As for the Buddha killing, I think that's a topic that people focus on because it's fascinating, but it's really not that helpful for ordinary folks like me because I don't have the ability to send someone to a higher rebirth, nor the ability to read minds, and those are fundamental parts of the Jataka tale to which you are referring. I think it's more profitable to talk about practice and emptiness using a different basis for discussion, to avoid the emotional content of talking about killing.

Saturday, October 21, 2006 2:25:00 AM  

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