Sunday, August 12, 2007

Buddhism, Plain and Simple

Plain and Simple? Anything but. I really don't understand what I'm supposed to see, or the nature of the types of reality I might realize. Also, he claims that if I pay attention to my feelings, my feelings will become less "urgent" (but not less "vivid"), and that then my feelings won't influence my emotions so much.

Also, all those thoughts you've been having? You know, your whole life? Well, there's your problem right there.

I think my point is, if this is what life is like in the buddha dharma, I don't quite understand why a person would choose that. No pain or discomfort, because you've realized that everything there is is irrelevant. Might as well just give up the ghost.

I've been looking at Eastern philosophies lately, a bit. I read the Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tsu, which I didn't get either. The Art of War was much more interesting and straightforward--even when it was being dreamy and philosophical, you could tell it had a solid grounding in psychology and observation of reality (as distinct from Reality, which this Steve Hagen guy keeps telling me I should be able to see as Truth).

Anyway, I think a practitioner would tell me that dabbling is not the way to approach these philosophies; ironically, it seems to me that they're oddly like Western religion in that it doesn't really work without you've got the faith.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sad State of Affairs

Don't you think I'd have more free time, to read and to blog? Not so much. Unemployment is eerily time-consuming.

Anyway, July was the Month of the Young Adult Book. I read about 5 regular books and at least 7 YA novels. They varied a lot. The Babysitter's Club is consistent, the same way those little cheese-and-crackers packets, the ones that come with a little red paddle for applying your cheese whiz to your butter cracker, are consistent. Yum. Julie of the Wolves was not bad, but seemed kind of obscure and distant. The sequel, the crappily-titled Julie, was much better, I thought, and much more full of character development. The end was weird and I didn't get it, but other than that, it was great. Fever, 1793 was pretty good, in a solid, historical fiction, YA way. Nothing to write home about.

Knowledge of Angels, by the way, which I was raving about before? Just lovely. Kick in the gut there at the end, but just a gorgeous book.

Now I've hit one of those lulls where I started a bunch of books at the same time, so I haven't finished one in ages. I'm reading The Spiral Staircase, by Karen Armstrong. It's a sequel to her memoir about her seven years as a nun, about trying to make her way in the world (as the nuns call everything outside the cloister). I'm also reading My Latest Grievance, by Eleanor Lipman, which, while still dealing with her theme of how annoying people sometimes improve our lives, is kind of more fun than a lot of them, mostly because, so far, the main character is keeping one step ahead of the annoying person. And I couldn't help it--in spite of the 5 books I borrowed (it's getting on toward stole) from Brenda and the 5 other library books I have out (including The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, which is a tome), I've started re-reading (RE! As though I didn't own a dozen books of my own that I haven't read yet) The Seige by Clara Claiborne Park. This is a fabulous book about raising an autistic daughter who was born about three years before the word "autism" existed, and back when it was commonly called "refrigerator mother syndrome." It's not a miserable book; it's a beautiful, hopeful, honest book.

I'm thinking of quitting the whole unemployment thing to read full time.