Friday, July 30, 2010

Buddhist Logician: Art of Reason

I finished another Asian Classics Institute class. The latest one is Logic: Art of Reason. The class taken from Master Dharmakirti (650 AD) and his Commentary of Valid Perception, which is a commentary on Master Dignaga (440 AD) and his Compendium of Valid Perception. The Tibetan monastery book used for this course was The Key to the Logic Machine by Purbochok Jampa Gyaltso Tsultrim (1825-1901) who was the tutor to the 13th Dalai Lama. The lecture series was online and taught by Geshe Michael Roach and available at

The Art of Reason was one of the most challenging classes I've ever taken. And yet, I'm aware that the text was just a brief overview of all the major points of Buddhist logic. This is possibly something I'm going to have to sit with for a while. Even though I've done the homework, could memorize the study questions and complete the quizzes and final exam next week, it wouldn't feel right. I think I'm going to have to re-listen to the major of the lectures if not the entire series. Logic requires so much concentration and energy on my part that it's easy for me to get distracted. There are points that I get and have memorized but I don't truly understand.

They say studying this course puts into close contact with understanding dependent origination and that eventually leads to deeper understandings of emptiness. I expected a dry, dull series of lectures of negation (which is, after all, the ultimate point of emptiness). By the end of the series when I was reading the scripture I started to cry. To believe that this knowledge was almost wiped out by invasion of Tibet in 1959 is profound. But what's more inspiring is that great masters like Khen Rinpoche helped keep logic and debate series alive when the monasteries were struggling in the early days of exile in India.

The Art of Reason will be the 14th full course I'm trying to complete with ACI. There are a total of 18 full course courses. If I'm fortunate to complete The Art of Reason I will have 4 more full courses in the open series. It would be nice to finish the last 4 courses this year but I can't rush it. It's better to actually understand these subjects than just to do the paperwork.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

King Lebron and the Cleveland Mythmakers

I'm a Heat fan just b/c I'm lazy and just adopted all the teams of the town I was raised in. But I wasn't enraged when Shaq slammed the Heat or overjoyed when they get good players. It's sports. Chill out, people. The rage people have toward sports is proportional to the insecurity and self-hatred those same people have in their personal lives. For a town like Cleveland, this rage reveals more about its lack of character than the flaws of Lebron James.

Frankly I always thought the King James stuff was...silly. The throwing of chalk in the air at the beginning of games, the 'we are all witnesses,' I would see and think 'is there any irony in this or are you really pitching a 19-year-old basketball player as a Biblical prophet?

But people in Cleveland appeared to be quite serious. Didn't anyone notice what egoism such statements required and an entourage of enablers to feed this? Didn't the NBA, David Stern, Nike, the mayor of Cleveland, ANYONE feel a little embarrassed? Michael Jordan earned his crown. But Cleveland and the NBA was so desperate for another king that they held the coronation before the boy grew up. What they ended up making was a enfant terrible. It can't be completely Lebron James fault. He was a teenager being showered with millions. What about the adults in this scenario, what about Cleveland?

In Cleveland, no one could stand up to Lebron. The one possible upside about being in Miami is that plenty of people will stand up to him. He does not run the town, there will be no 'witnessing' and other fluffed up stuff. That just won't be tolerated without laughter and eye rolling. If any sports athlete tried to do that in Miami, they would be ridiculed. The great thing about ridicule is that it has a humbling effect. Even a king needs a court jester. In Miami he will find plenty of people willing to tweak King James and slap his crown off. Now the question is, will he be able to adjust to that? LBJ will either learn to grow up or isolate more within his circle of enablers.

Dwayne Wade, Bosh, the owner, and especially Pat Riley will not hesitate to sit him down and tell him 'it's time to grow up, King James. Enough with this.' And as a good role model, D. Wade rolls with almost no entourage. Riley, Alonzo Mourning, Bosh, these are all people who move as independent adults, not in need of coddling.

Detractors grasp at straws, 'what about you wanting to be a billionaire, Lebron?" That won't happen in Miami. But James spoke about being a billionaire like a rich kid who wants more. He already has hundreds of millions of dollars (and in FL, there is no income tax). Maybe he realized the difference between hundreds of millions and a billionaire is pointless. Why chase after a bank statement? Life is short. Get your rings, get your house on the beach, and be on a team of great players.

Cleveland was the ugly girlfriend who pampered and spoiled the immature but gorgeous lover. And then when the lover rightfully leaves because he has no real respect for her (b/c she has no respect for herself and is desperate to cling on) she goes into a rage. The hunky boyfriend has moved on to dating a more mature and more gorgeous supermodel. The supermodel will have no problem slapping his feet off the coffee table and yelling at him when he doesn't come home on time. Will the relationship be forever? Probably not, but the supermodel has a hot hunk, and the immature lover may grow up and become a man capable of being in a real relationship.

Sure, people in Miami will throw a party for you and let you party on their yacht, shoot confetti off and dance in front of a smoke machine like a U. of Miami throwback to the days of the Orange Bowl. But that was all after UM had already won championships (plural!!). But don't expect too much myth making down South without championships. He will have to earn the crown.

Cleveland never would have allowed Lebron to grow up. You need to leave home for that to happen and that's a truth even a king knows.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Tanka

Naked man on train
Lounging in makeshift bedroom
Scaring away shy,
Staggering up to bare feet
Blindfolded for beauty sleep