Monday, September 22, 2008

The Many To the Few...

Our friend Nancy is an artist, who heads out from Los Angeles to the country each week for a sheep-herding lesson for her border collie, Jasper. This past weekend, she had him entered in a sheepdog trial--entry-level, as I understood, for the beginners--and was happy to report that he did well in his class. That means, of course, that she did well. Only one snag, she told us: at one point, just as the sheep were about to be herded into the pen, one of her ovine charges decided it was time to lie down and play possum. A moment's panic. All the rest of the flock were behaving according to plan, how to deal with this one recalcitrant beast? It could be a disaster, to have the dog go back to fetch the one and lose the rest of them.

"And then," said Nancy, "I kept hearing my teacher's voice saying, 'The many to the few. The many to the few...'" So that was the solution, to have Jasper bring the whole flock back to surround the one exceptionalist--who then stood up and went along meekly with the gang.

And as she told the story, I could not help but think how relevant it was to our political situation. With those hold-out independents lying there stubbornly in the grass, better for the all rest of us to go back there and work on them through a process of inclusion than to whistle and beckon them impatiently from afar, with the demand that they catch up with us.

Does that work? I thought it was a nice metaphor anyway. Or at least a very nice story.


mandt said...

--A delightful, wonderful and wise parable from the reality of life!

citizen of the world said...

That's a lovely metaphor, and an idea seldom followed.

Cardozo said...

I would love to reach out to undecided voters and talk to them about Obama.

But have you noticed that nobody wants to talk about politics...unless they already agree with you?

carly said...

I'm just getting around to last week's arguments.

1. re: Cardozo's "the hope for such an implementation is no more a pipe dream than the hope of scientists for a cure for cancer"

C. You had implied changes could be made within capitalism, saying it is an essentially good system. And I still disagree. Hope is not what will find a cure for cancer, nor theories in physics. Persistence in search and searching in the right way is the only way to unlock discoveries which will leave behind the old and bring on the new. Hope is irrelevant. Like praying, hope is merely a rallying tool employed to mislead the ignorant and naive masses. Clinging to hope is delusion. Get your basics going, man.

"Humility and passion" HAVE been implemented in governing. However, reality, the nature of things, cycles....and decay is always in the balance. Capitalism upsets the balance, makes things too full, creates excess, cannot be checked in time, favors the immodest, lacks virtue, and does not follow the functionality of natural law. In Buddhism, there are poor explanations and inadequate counteractions to things such as these. That is why I say it doesn't serve you well within the reality of a political world. Though some teachings are related and seem like panceas, a Buddhist view of politics is inadequate.

2. re: Peter's "Not true, at least in my understanding of the teachings."

P. You are good at mixing SOME of the B-teachings with your own perceptions of things. But, as you know, I have always said, you are more of a taoist sage than a Buddhist. However, you still lack clarity. A true sage is not deluded, therefore delusion is not his problem. If you were to learn of the path to inner peace through natural principles, you would find the serenity you are looking for. But you seem to have found Buddhism first and are stuck with it. Ergo, you attempt to justify your sagely way with a philosophy not suited to you when it comes to things like anger and your ego and losing weight and interpreting the outside world, etc. Were you to learn natural law, you could practice following the mean and other harmonic principles and ultimately the world would not seem like turmoil. Plus your waistline would go down.

I recently heard a radio interview with a famous man, who found himself in your position. He dropped everything and spent two years in a Buddhist monastery. But what he learned was, he was wasting his time there and now regrets those two years of his life.

If you must stick with Buddhism because you cannot change, I suggest you lean heavily toward Zen which employs at least some of the ancient Chinese principles.

If I seem as arrogant to you and Cardozo as Bill Maher, it is because we are past the point of suffering fools. Many a Zen master reached that point and took a stick to the incorrigible.

carly said...

....the way Christ took a stick to the money lenders.

carly said...

and one more thing, democracy and capitialism are incompatable. Don't confuse the two.

carly said...

I just consulted the Book of Changes on these matters and it gave me this:

"Social structure which, evolved by mankind in meeting its most primitive needs, is independent of all political forms. Political structures change, as do nations, but the life of man with its needs remains eternally the same. This cannot be changed. Life is also inexhaustible. It grows
neither less nor more; it exists for one and for all. The generations come and go, and all enjoy life in its inexhaustible abundance.
However, there are two prerequisites for a satisfactory political or social organization of mankind. We must go down to the very foundations of life. For any merely superficial ordering of life that leaves its deepest needs
unsatisfied is as ineffectual as if no attempt at order had ever been made.
Carelessness is also disastrous. If for instance the
military defense of a state is carried to such excess that it provokes wars by which the power of the state is annihilated, this is a disastrous misfortune." (US Military)
"This hexagram applies also to the individual. However men may differ in disposition and in education, the foundations of human nature are the same in everyone. And every human being can draw in the course of his education from the inexhaustible wellspring of the divine in man's nature.
But here likewise two dangers threaten: a man may fail in his education to penetrate to the real roots of humanity and remain fixed in convention. A
partial education of this sort is as bad as none. Or he may suddenly collapse and neglect his self-development.

Thus the superior man encourages the people at their work,
And exhorts them to help one another.

The superior man organizes human society, so that, as in a plant organism, its parts co-operate for the benefit of the whole."

PeterAtLarge said...

Carly, your commitment to Taoism is in every way admirable. My path is different. I doubt that you'd claim clarity in all things (maybe you do!) Neither do I. As I see it, it's all a learning process. Wisdom lies in acknowledging I do not know, rather than asserting that I do.

carly said...

P: I sense disingenuousness in your focus on my definition of clarity, sadly. The egos of Leos bruise easily.

For me, anything ahead is a learning process, but what is past is well-learnt. One should give actuality to the past in the present. If everything was uncertain, there would be no constants whatsoever. I would not agree with that. Things I have learned that don't change, don't need re-learning, only proper and creative application.

For me, wisdom is a mixture of what I know and what I have yet to learn. And clarity is knowing the difference. If I read your sentence correctly, you are saying that wisdom is acknowledging (I do not know) - that one can't know anything. That's typically Buddhist and, I think, inaccurate in describing reality. If that's what you think, you have picked a suitable philosophy. However, I think you think you know things too.

Asserting that one knows things, and knowing deep within one's heart that one knows things are two different things. Clarity is knowing the difference between the two. I feel sorry for anyone who has no certainty whatsoever. Reality in that case, would certainly be dust and one could feel hopelessly lost.

An old Zen proverb goes: "The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced." That includes profound intuition, knowing things to be true, without knowing how or why.

None of these things are a question of tolerance toward others. Among friends, one can say the deepest truths, and not be taken for intolerant. Forbearance and consideration are outside deep knowledge communicated and are aspects of influencing people politically by showing or not showing one's wisdom. That pleasant manners succeed is a taoist teaching, but not appropriate in all cases. Pleasant manners can also be taken for insincerity.

By the way, I am not committed to Taoism. I correspond with certain truths of ancient Chinese philosophy, long before they were incorporated into the religion, Taoism.