Much of the early talk in the Bell Hooks discussion focussed on body-image. I have not paid attention to my own image, and I want to consider why that is before considering what the panel said.
First and foremost when considering body image it is necessary to look into one of Buddhadasa’s maxims. He described all of Buddhism as “removing attachment to the 5 khandas”, despite apparent differences he claimed that fundamentally all Buddhisms tried to do this. Whether that is true or not, in this discussion it is important to note that one of the khandas is “body” – not being attached to the body or body-image.
In terms of society I was born fortunate although I have not always taken advantage of that good fortune. I was born a white heterosexual male, and in terms of the system this is an advantage. I do not subscribe to the manosphere, and whilst there is sometimes advantages to being in a minority these are small by comparison. At the same time I am just six foot, have no disabilities, in terms of mainstream it is all easy for me. In terms of appearance there is nothing lacking that would make me feel the need to focus on image despite others doing so.
At university I was shameful. My hair was long. To begin with I never kept myself clean, and I can’t remember about washing clothes – nor can I remember buying them. I drank all my grant so maybe that was why. After leaving uni the suit was a requirement so I got one, I somehow had shirts and ties, and washing them was never a priority. I suppose I only began to easily manage this when a maid became a requirement with my overseas teaching jobs; it was something that was not important and I was able to get someone else to do it within my budget.
I remember ties. As a teacher one is always expected to be “smart”, trousers shirt and jumper was enough for me to begin with. In my first job I taught in a working-class mixed race school and the students were always talking about clothes, I can remember feeling some pressure and did respond a bit. In the second school came the ties. I moved out of London, and the school had a tie policy although I was not told that in interview. It was common-place to wear a tie for interview so they never said …. until afterwards. I had an ongoing battle with the head who was a bully. I was the union rep and he misused his power not to promote me. At one stage he gave the excuse to my HOD that I did not follow school policies – the tie. I gave way in the end, but then there developed other excuses not to promote me. In the end he gave me a bonus when I was forced to resign from the union. In my leaving speech I gave him a present – my ties, and when I went over to him everyone said he looked petrified presumably he thought I would give him the smack he deserved (that had never crossed my mind – seriously). After that I taught in Africa and wore safari suits, and fellow teachers in shirt and tie thought I was overdressed. Nearly 7 years later I changed jobs and never gave a thought to shirt and ties, I became comfortable with matching shirt, tie and tie-clip. Now I wear shirts and shorts, black tie at funeral, and wonder why I got dragged into the tie issue. I have sometimes bought clothes for fashion – but rarely.
My image does not matter but 10 years ago I had a health issue – GERD. Over the years I was always overweight sometimes more than 20kg. This started with booze but didn’t stop when I gave it up. A natural health doctor suggested macrobiotics, and I follow a version of that to this day. For the first time my body matters because it is the product of fitness and healthy eating, and I watch my weight accordingly. At the moment I am 8kg over BMI, and not fit because my swimming has tailed off. This observation is not attachment to body, one religion describes it as “taking care of the body of the householder”. When I evaluate my body image I don’t see it as important, and wonder why it is important to others.
In Bell Hooks’ panel discussion I have a great deal of difficulty relating to Janet Mock and her glam. First and foremost society should respect her decision, and this ludicrous US toilet situation that led to the Fani interview discussed in Gender and Genitalia is crazy. She has the right to be who she wants to be without infringing on others. Ladyboys are readily tolerated in Thailand, they are relatively common-place (in each village). I remember a conversation with a gay friend. I had just visited Penang and stayed in a hotel near a tourist street – Julia Street. In the evening I walked past prostitutes – not unusual to see prostitutes on Asian streets near tourist hotels, and mentioned this to the friend. He advised me to be careful as they were ladyboys and had a reputation for luring clients and robbing them; he was not critical of this practise as if their crime could be tolerated.
But I do not understand the fixation with clothes. Janet wishes to portray herself in the image of a beautiful woman, but to me such stereotypes appear to be part of the patriarchy. Tell me why I am wrong but it seems to me that she is even more conditioned. I celebrate her desire to be Janet but as Bell Hooks asked would she be celebrated as a writer if she were not discussing the fashionable trans? Janet is beautiful, Beyonce is beautiful, Muslims can be beautiful, why the need for the glam?
Body-image is an integral part of patriarchal conditioning of women. The conditioning fashions women to appeal to male desire whilst at the same time filling the coffers of BigFashion. Within the conditioned framework such statements of intent as Beyonce’s and Janet’s show an element of control but in terms of conditioning they appear to me not to show detachment. I am unsure where they would stand in the mature model, whether awakening can be considered to have occurred – awakening from conditioning.
Posts Tagged ‘Buddhadasa’
Mandtao was in some sense a follow-on from the Treatise of Zandtao but at the time I was not clear why. It was connected to a notion of man but I wasn’t sure how. It was also connected to science as it began with Bruce Lipton’s epigenesis. So in some way it could be man and science.
It began with unity – ONE planet, and as well it began, following Bruce’s examples, with questioning all that the system called knowledge. But it kind of stuck on ONE planet.
Then I clued into Tan Ajaan, and began to look into mind. Understanding mind is the essential to understanding man, and as science hasn’t got to first base on mind it is no wonder that science is such a mess; effectively the search for knowledge has become a tool for the procreation of financial profit. Scientific method has typically disappeared out of the window as BigFood politics has determined that we need not consider the consequences of messing with Nature’s genetics. Why is understanding mind key to this? For me ONE planet is sufficient to say that science needs to be in harmony with Nature. But what about those who consider man above Nature, where can that come from? This is where understanding self comes in. Self is a mental construct. It does not exist so why do we think it exists? Because self seeks survival, promotes itself, and moves beyond its position in Nature. So this mental construct’s raison d’etre is to promote self-importance irrespective of what happens. Greed promotes self, and greed is the dominant human characteristic in the destruction of the planet. Self on a planet-wide scale is a description of our planetary troubles, and anatta, no-self, is the solution – on a personal level.
Previously I would have used greed to describe this situation but self is much more accurate. Attachment to self produces suffering. Whilst the search for increased profit at whatever cost is the most obvious consequence of self (normally seen as greed), self justifies this in terms of family and other such sensible rationales. If others are
In the inner journey to world peace recognition of self as not existing is the first step. Yesterday I described the meditation that led me to asking “where is I?” To counter this as a proof that I does not exist it would be easy to say that I asked the question. This is where understanding and some Buddhist theory of mind helps. There was a feeling there was no I. It felt like I was a perception. There is a natural function of mind to question, and I only starts to occur when consciousness attaches to the perception. In Buddhist theory these four recognitions of self can be seen to come from vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana – possibly translated as feelings, perception, mental formations and consciousness.
This is not strong in me. Whilst I am not stretching to fit into the theory, I know because of the way it happened in meditation, I could not convince a sceptic – nor could I convince the doubter in me. This anatta awareness is hard, if it was easy we would all have it. And squeezing into theory is not good for proselytising. It is necessary for the theory to be internalised and lead to an external understanding that can clarify it for others, otherwise it is just dogma. Time will tell.
I began asking about mara. Shamefully I don’t now the Buddha’s gospels well, but somewhere it says that he battled with mara under the bodhi tree. Now temptation is a very real problem, look at all the kilesa that arise from self. But how is it real? It comes from self. Self wants to exist, and if we become tempted into an action of
So mind is a sense that has four characteristics – vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana; these characteristics or aggregates make up the way the sense works. In excess this sense becomes self but if we live according to Nature the way Nature intended there is no self. And world peace.
Sloth is one of the 7 deadly sins – gluttony, lust, envy, wrath, pride and envy, and it is not something I thought I had an issue with. But it is a creeping sin, and it is a sin that does have a devestating effect. The problem is my day. For a day to be good it fits in with Nature. Listening to Tan Ajaan’s audios there are the cocks crowing in the morning. He is giving these talks at that time because it is the best time as the mind is empty – paraphrasing. I agree as I have woken a number of times with the mind being challenged then.
Now my day is not a problem because I don’t do enough, that doesn’t matter – I am retired. I am bothered that I am not spiritual enough, and that means meditation. As always there is a need to prioritise meditation, and at the moment it is not sufficient enough priority. And the cause of this is sloth, and what I allow to cause the sloth. I don’t go to bed early enough, and why don’t I? Because of TV. I allow the stuff I watch to relax and wind down at the end of the day shape the next day. This is absolutely stupid.
There is another aspect of sloth, and that is my evening meal. My weight is good so the food I eat is not a problem; the structure of my eating in a day is. I tend to have an early afternoon meal and an evening meal. This is not a healthy way of eating as it is best to have drips and drabs during the day, but my life is already too dominated by food – imposed on me by BigFood. But where sloth comes in is that I eat too much in the evening and then I go to sleep later whilst watching pointless TV. Eat less and make sure I go to bed early so that I can get up on time for morning meditation.
There is another problem with meditation. Once I finish meditation I do study and start chores. Then I prepare for the rest of the day – beach, Trat or teaching. The mind supposedly is emptied at meditation, and it just keeps filling and filling throughout the rest of the day. This contributes to the sloth because as the mind fills the easier the self allows what I am calling my sloth to take over. I need to take time out in the day to meditate. The mind does not have to keep filling and filling, make efforts to be sunnata rather than atta. One such session should be prior to “the rest of the day”. After first meditation do my chores and write my blogs, then meditate before teaching etc.
Structure of no sloth day
5.00 am Meditation
6.00 am Chores and Blog
10.00 am Rest of day – in or out. Try to slot in sunnata time during rest of day.
6.00 pm Rest of day finished – meditate.
Small meal and minimal entertainment
9.00 pm Bed
Tags: 4 Noble Truths, Anatta, Buddhadasa, Buddhism, intellect
My last post here was 24/2/13, but that has not been my last work. I have started work on a Buddhadasa blog but forgot to note it here.
The Buddhadasa blog did not last long, and all the entries are now part of my Buddhadasa page. there is a list on the page of the topics discussed, all relevant to Buddhism, anatta or both.
Here are my entries and you can follow when I have a new blog on Twitter:-
|Rather than a Buddhadasa blog, there is now a Zandtao page on Buddhadasa.|