Project #32795 - Asian philosophy

Hey scholars,

I need a 2 page essay as shown below: NO outside sources allowed.

6. Drawing on the stories read in class by Thich Nhat Hanh, say what "caused" you to be here, in Asian Philosophy class at SMC. Hint, hint: Remember Hanh's reminder to look deeply!  

The stories are: 

Story 1: The flower
 

By Thich Nhat Hanh

Impermanence is looking at reality from the point of view of time. No self is looking at reality from the point of view of space. They are two sides of reality. No self is a manifestation of impermanence and impermanence is a manifestation of no self. If things are impermanent they are without a separate self. If things are without a separate self, it means that they are impermanent. Impermanence means being transformed at every moment. This is reality. And since there is nothing unchanging, how can there be a permanent self, a separate self? When we say "self" we mean something that is always itself, unchanging day after day. But nothing is like that. Our body is impermanent, our emotions are impermanent, and our perceptions are impermanent. Our anger, our sadness, our love, our hatred and our consciousness are also impermanent.

So what permanent thing is there which we can call a self? The piece of paper these words are written on does not have a separate self. It can only be present when the clouds, the forest, the sun, the earth, the people who make the paper, and the machines are present. If those things are not present the paper cannot be present. And if we burn the paper, where is the self of paper?

Nothing can exist by itself alone. It has to depend on every other thing. That is called inter-being. To be means to inter-be. The paper inter-is with the sunshine and with the forest. The flower cannot exist by itself alone; it has to inter-be with soil, rain, weeds and insects. There is no being; there is only inter-being.

Looking deeply into a flower we see that the flower is made of non-flower elements. We can describe the flower as being full of everything. There is nothing that is not present in the flower. We see sunshine, we see the rain, we see clouds, we see the earth, and we also see time and space in the flower. A flower, like everything else, is made entirely of non-flower elements. The whole cosmos has come together in order to help the flower manifest herself. The flower is full of everything except one thing: a separate self or a separate identity.

The flower cannot be by herself alone. The flower has to inter-be
 with the sunshine, the cloud and everything in the cosmos. If we understand being in terms of inter-being, then we are much closer to the truth. Inter-being is not being and it is not non-being. Inter-being means at the same time being empty of a separate identity; empty of a separate self.

No self also means emptiness, a technical term in Buddhism which means the absence of a separate self. We are of the nature of no self, but that does not mean that we are not here. It does not mean that nothing exists. A glass can be empty or full of tea, but in order to be either empty or full the glass has to be there. So emptiness does not mean non-being and does not mean being either. It transcends all concepts. If you touch deeply the nature of impermanence, no self and inter-being, you touch the ultimate dimension, the nature of nirvana.


Story 2: Where Were You Before You Were Born?

By Thich Nhat Hanh

Sometimes people ask you: “When is your birthday?” But you might ask yourself a more interesting question: “Before that day which is called my birthday, where was I?” Ask a cloud: “What is your date of birth?” Before you were born, where were you?”

If you ask the cloud, “How old are you? Can you give me your date of birth?” you can listen deeply and you may hear a reply. You can imagine the cloud being born. Before being born it was the water on the ocean’s surface. Or it was in the river and then it became vapor. It was also the sun because the sun makes the vapor. The wind is there too, helping the water to become a cloud. The cloud does not come from nothing; there has been only a change in form. It is not a birth of something out of nothing.

Sooner or later the cloud will change into rain or snow or ice. If you look deeply into the rain, you can see the cloud. The cloud is not lost; it istransformed into rain, and the rain is transformed into healthy soil and the soil into pumpkin plants and the pumpkin plants into blossoms - and with the help of our friends, the bees - the blossoms into pumpkins and then into the pumpkin pie you eat. Today if you eat a piece of pumpkin pie, give yourself time to look at the pie and say:

“Hello, cloud! I recognize you.”

By doing that, you have insight and understanding into the real nature of the pie and the cloud. You can also see the ocean, the river, the heat, the sun, the soil and the trees in the pie. Looking deeply, you do not see a real date of death for the cloud, nor a date of birth for the pumpkins. Nothing has been created. It was all already there. All that happens is that the cloud transforms into rain or snow. There is always a continuation. A cloud continues the ocean, the river and the heat of the sun, and the rain continues the cloud.

 

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Note: The above two excerpts, by Thich Nhat Hanh, expound the Buddhist notion of anatman, or no self, and demonstrate the infinity of causes that are traceable when looking deeply at anything, or anyone. - DQ

Subject Philosophy
Due By (Pacific Time) 06/09/2014 12:00 am
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