I believe that some people either may be purely evil or are influenced by evil to the point of control. I don’t believe that tragedies of this type are caused by misunderstood people who had a tough childhood. There’s more to it than that.
Philosophically, evil may be a force of its own, or may merely be a void where goodness has been denied a place.
When we see people doing “good” we see them helping others. We see that they don’t place their own wants, fears, needs and beliefs ahead of everyone else. They place others at least on par with, if not above themselves.
A quilt doesn’t necessarily have to cover a bed anymore…
A very good friend of mine is a quilting and fiber arts enthusiast/hobbyist, and she leases studio space at Studio 107, in Martinsville, VA. This past weekend, I drove up to their open house to see her latest accomplishments, get some ideas for Christmas gifts (and yes, there were a few buys), and possibly take some photos around town. After taking the studio tour and meeting several of her fellow artists, we ventured over to the Piedmont Arts building to view the magnificent quilt-works by members of the Virginia Foothills Quilters Guild. (Coincidentally, the Studio 107 group is currently presenting some of their artwork at the Memorial Hospital.)
Last night I had a dream which wasn’t a dream. I woke up in the middle of the night. Everything was silent. While I tried to fall asleep again, I started a slight meditation. Just observing my breathing. Somehow the word “love” was entering my mind and it wouldn’t leave. It was so particular present that I stopped to watch my breath and concentrated on this word instead. It came to me that my face began to smile more and more. I couldn’t stop it … and I didn’t want to as well. My whole body was full of peace and inner joy.
Have You ever had an experience like that?
Those moments come usually at night. I find myself not knowing anything any longer, it feels as if Knowledge and Thought are suspended…Only that unnameable Presence whispers, everything else has withered…
There is much to Teju Cole’s debut novel Open City, but there is also little to it. It’s a book of wandering ruminations without much of a narrative arc, and it ends as delicately and unobtrusively as it begins. Filtered through the perceptions of Julius, a Nigerian born-and-raised psychiatrist on his residency in New York City, Open City is a thoughtful journey into the impressions of a observant, sensitive, but emotional reticent character as well as into the nature of a city known for brashness and ambition but predicated on cooperative, laissez-faire individual self-interest.
Mostly, the novel consists of Julius’ thoughts, reactions, and observations of the city set during habitual long walks, his interactions with the people in his life (who tend to vanish, gradually, one by one), as well as reminiscences of his African youth. Not a whole lot happens, plot incident-wise, outside of Julius’ vaguely-reasoned holiday in…
“Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?”
This question seems nonsensical, but this is only so when measured against the linear logical requirements of society. The question is intended to open the initiated mind to possibilities beyond the rational. It is also designed to awaken the possibility that spiritual answers require a different mode of thought.
The Koan is “What is the sound of one hand?” Of course, in terms of the conventional world there can be no sound from a single hand. Sound logically needs two hands clapping. However, the question presumes that one hand clapping has already created a sound and that it can be heard. The question is not about sound or hands clapping, although this is quite conceivable within the literal context. The question is rather about hearing the impossible, which is only termed impossible within the framework of conventional reality.
The protagonist is therefore pressing and encouraging a criticism of ordinary reality and to force the mind into other areas of understanding. The purpose of a Koan is to open the mind and perception to the truth. Koans are questions or riddles designed as instruments to the discerning mind in finding the truth behind the everyday images of reality.
How do Koans function?
Koans are not rational questions with final linear conclusions. They are especially designed for one purpose; this purpose is to open the mind that has been closed by habitual responses to the world and reality. They promote out of the box thinking which is much beyond the traditional approach in its scope and purpose both.
Our perception of the world is clouded by, first, the habitual responses that we are taught by society and secondly, by the habit-forming creation of our own selves or ego’s. In everyday life and through societal education, we develop ideas about reality and possibilities that our peers verify. We accept these “laws” as immutable on the basis of their habitual occurrence and certification by society.
For example, scientific authorities state that there is a law of gravity and that time is linear and proceeds from one second to the next. These “truths” are supported and bolstered by schools, society and our peers until they become unquestionable fact. This also applies to our ideas of human personality and of us. Change then becomes an almost impossible task within the framework of conventional society.
The purpose of Koans is to upset or dislocate the mind from these habitual ideas of reality and open the mind to the other possibilities and, eventually, knowledge of reality. At its most elementary stage the Koan is intended to question what we take for commonplace reality and to question that which is seen to be logically impossible. It is the best way to prepare for spiritual reality that transcends or goes beyond ordinary logical knowledge.
Some more story like examples:-
A Shorter Line
One day Akbar drew a line with his royal hand on the floor of the open court and told his wise men that if they wanted to keep their jobs they must make the line shorter without touching any part of it.Wise man after wise man approached and stood staring at the puzzle, but they were unable to solve the problem.Finally Birbal stepped forward and drew a longer line next to the first one, without touching the first line.Everyone in the court looks at it and agreed. The first line was definitely shorter.
The Value of Education
Nasreddin had a leaky ferry-boat, and used it to row people across the river. One day his passenger was a fussy schoolteacher, and on the way across he decided to give Nasreddin a test and see how much he knew.
“Tell me, Nasreddin, what are eight sixes?”
“I’ve no idea.”
“How do you spell magnificence?”
“Didn’t you study anything at school?”
“In that case, half your life is lost.”
Just then a fierce storm blew up, and the boat began to sink.
“Tell me, schoolteacher,” said Nasreddin. “Did you ever learn to swim?”
Religion has always had a bearing on all aspects of human life. Weber’s idea is about the influence of religion on the spirit of capitalism in the west. In his book, he studies and analyses the main causes of the development of capitalism in the west and its faster progress as compared to the other parts of the world till the 20th century. He is trying to establish a positive correlation between the spirit of capitalism in the west and the ethics of Protestantism. According to him, the main reason is the doctrine of Calvinism, also referred to as predestination. He thinks that the development of the modern Calvinist faith along with cities and centralisation of productive enterprises were the chief contributors to the idea of Western Capitalism. Although Capitalism is often criticised as a system based on greed and accumulation of wealth, Weber feels that it is based on restraint and seeking of profits in rational manner.
The idea of Protestant ethic that labour is an end in itself instils a sense of moral obligation in an individual towards fulfilment of his/her worldly duties and this is central to the spirit of Capitalism. Weber believed that Luther’s idea of worldly labour as an expression of brotherly love was traditionalistic and not supportive of the spirit of capitalism. The Calvinist doctrine of predestination believes in the idea that the fate of the man and the universe is predefined. Whatever good is there in a man is by God’s grace and his existence is to serve Him. Man’s destiny has been already written and this uncertainty in a man is the key motivating force for him to do his best, to contribute and be worthy of getting elected amongst the saved ones and thus getting salvation. This is Weber’s idea of asceticism as described in his work. It is these ideas which lead to the development of rationalism and Calvinism was the key motivating factor for its promotion. Its main stress was not about refraining for accumulation of wealth, but on individuals’ good deeds. It encouraged rational use of wealth for greater good of humankind and it is this combination of accumulation of rational wealth which generated additional capital for the economic expansion of the system.
Towards the end, though Weber laments at the greed of the modern capitalists who according to him have forgotten asceticism resulting in a situation where a man is forced to work today instead of loving to work.
In The Interpretation of Cultures, Clifford Geertz outlines in broader sense the job of an ethnographer. The ethnographer’s role is to observe and analyse a culture by interpreting signs to understand deeper meanings within the context of that culture. He asserts that the essentially semiotic nature of culture has implications for the social sciences in general and political science in particular. His idea of culture is taken from Kluckhohn, where he feels culture is
1) “the total way of life of a people”;
2) “the social legacy the individual acquires from his group”;
3) “a way of thinking, feeling, and believing”;
4) “an abstraction from behaviour”;
5) “a theory on the part of the anthropologist about the way in which a group of people in fact behave”;
6) “a storehouse of pooled learning”;
7) “a set of standardized orientations to recurrent problems”;
8) “learned behaviour”;
9) “a mechanism for the normative regulation of behaviour”;
10) “a set of techniques for adjusting both to the external environment and to other men”;
11) “a precipitate of history”;
12) a behavioural map, sieve, or matrix.
Geertz prescribes interpreting a culture’s web of symbols by
1. Isolating its elements,
2. Specifying the internal relationships among those elements and,
3. characterize the whole system in some general way—according to the core symbols around which it is organized, the underlying structures of which it is a surface expression, or the ideological principles upon which it is based.
According to Geertz’s, ethnography is by definition “thick description”—“an elaborate venture in.” By example of “winking,” Geertz observes how—in order to differentiate the winking from a social gesture, a twitch, etc.—we must carefully analyse the action in terms of both the particular social understanding of the “winking” as a gesture, the real intention of the winker, and how the the meaning of the winking action itself is interpreted.