An Alternative to East vs. West (Oct 2003)

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The Following is a Brief Statement of Purpose Written for a Friend Fall of 2003

You said that life contains a personal choice between the Greek mind and the Hindu mind. I said that there was an alternative. You asked me to explain that alternative. My claim is that dancing our attachments consciously is a third way. Admitting our attachments and learning to move well among them is an ideal distinct from the Hindu mindís path of non-attachment and distinct from the Greek mindís definite attachment ("This is really what it is.").

For those of us who make the choice to open our mouths we have begun to make attachments. To speak is to insinuate our meaning on someone else. To listen is to have some measure of non-attachment to what we have known up to the present. We are pushing our meaning and being asked to let go of our meaning all the time. Communication is a dance of paying attention to our and others' attachments. My claim here is that communication is not just an innocent domain of description but that it is fundamentally a domain of attachments, assumptions, wants and nudges of the other.

In my opinion psychology points to a new frontier where we can live in an ecology of our cares, feelings and attachments, but we have birthed the field doubly stillborn. Firstly, in the culture where the Greek mind holds sway psychology is an activity that is done behind closed doors in therapy in a pretend sort of way to the objectivity outside and secondly, it is primarily a tool of investigation to invade its domain into less vulnerable sectors and others. A better solution is to recognize all reality as composed of our different degrees of attachment. The external world of science gives us relatively more confidence of attachment based on a long history of others' attachments while the daily world offers a changing constellation of values where attachments are made based on the attachment portfolios of our characters. Now consider the paradigm shift implied. We are not the Greek story of little Prometheans appearing on a given world stage nor some Hindu story of falling out of godhead into ignorance. We are still living organisms cobbling together networks of alliances and cares with which to continue our economies of attachments. Psychology fosters that intelligence.

In this view all meaning is a form of attachment. Meaning is neither bestowed upon us (the Greek line) nor an illusory nuisance but is a co-creation of creature and the environment. To know that a tree is what I take a tree to be is to adapt a relation to a tree-feature and then hold this feature to retain the qualities I expect of it. I build a relationship to a "tree" and expect it to stay like this into the future. Meaning then shows three important features: it is co-created; it is an element that is added to the world; and it is inherently time bound in the sense of holding meaning to endure into the next moment as in expecting the tree to allow my similar tree behavior tomorrow. Incidentally, this view is a welcome relief to the anti-Greek injunction to live in the present since our meaning is inherently reaching into the future and since what we are more accurately saying is to balance our future reaching with some present being.

For myself I live from the joys of my cares and attachments and of my play with those of others. My attachments and cares are how I know myself. I prefer to think of my particular constellation of attachments as my bodyĖas my meaning body. It is the health, vitality and expression of this meaning body that I value as my miracle to let grow and as the best dance partner I can be to the other bodies of meaning I encounter on lifeís dance floor. The objective world of the Greek legacy and the divine presence of the Hindu legacy of non-attachment are but odd and wonderful far ends of this dance floor.

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