FS4: Being aware of binaries

‘I cannot show you the way to enlightenment, but I can merely show you the path that I took’ – (Buddha’s wisdom? Or so quoted from a friend)

Had many good conversations about Buddhism with a Buddhist friend during this trip, was quite lucky to learn more, especially in my home stay as well. Most of the Thai population is Buddhist anyway. We have also been discussing about things like the problems with geography (overly micro/macro, amongst many many other things. We had heated debates and discussions as well. Loved it haha).

Anyway, just a short piece for us to question our comfortableness with binaries. I think this is quite a ‘Western’ (haha be cautious even with this binary) philosophy, quite a modern concept? With Christianity (ah, many people talk about this as well; we think the bible is full of contradictions because we read it with a very literal Western lens, things must be absolute and extreme). – Perhaps I should expand on this one day? There is much to write about this/much that I’ve thought about.

I think I’ve been pretty fortunate to have (been making) friends who are Buddhist/interested in this philosophy (or even other religions like Muslims as well). While I still believe there is such a thing as absolutism, I think we need to acknowledge that we all have our own paths that we need to take – instructions/truths are place and time specific and our own circumstances differ as well.

Most of what we hear are guides rather than truths.

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The Ideal

I’ve been watching some lifestyle videos this week and I stumbled across some videos by “thrivingminimalist” (or something like that). It was quite interesting, because of most of these similar videos that I’ve seen/random articles I read, people are always trying to persuade you to try what they do – be it a lifestyle (you should try meditation, yoga, you need a ‘work life balance’: lol in Sg) or different diets (try going on an all raw diet, eat coconut oil – it’s better for you compared to other oils) etc – but strangely this guy just said just do whatever is best for you/whatever makes you happy. Made me think about some things:

  • We are all searching for the same abstract ‘thing’, the same end point, but we go about it through different methods. Whatever this evasive good ‘thing’ is: happiness, joy, peace, health, a meaningful life, a good life WHATEVER

We try to get these things, through our diets, our lifestyles, our religions.

But there is, I suppose, a mainstream ideal. What exactly is it: a fashion? One that generally works for most people? How does it become the mainstream; why is it advocated? Is it because the people who promote it are particularly loud compared to others? (I’m thinking about the different city models that exist – what I learnt in school last sem. Why can’t things be mono-model? Why aren’t they in black and white? Why must there be diversity? Life would be so much easier if there was a ‘best’ way)

Is it true to say that what’s best for someone may not be the best for me? But is it because I simply did not try hard enough, or because my body is simply not made for it (e.g., I cannot remain idle).

  • We should not impose our ideals on other people?

But I’ve been thinking about Christianity (or other religions) where there is a command (arguably one of the most important) to evangelise and advocate/promote/persuade what we do (how we live, how we worship etc etc etc). The basis of me doing this (ok actually I don’t actively evangelise, I think. Not a good thing?) is because. I believe there is some sort of absolutism in the world; I believe in one truth. I believe that Christianity is really the ‘best’ and I believe that there is this true God (sure I don’t have all the answers and because I don’t some people would argue that I have no right to say this).

I think it’s a ‘passion’ for something. Honestly for me, I would advocate my religion because I’ve experienced all the amazing things from Christianity and I wish for everyone to have that same joy that I’ve experienced, the same goodness (I know I’m not the best person to advocate this; I’m not the most peaceful, the most joyful, the most anything. Although a friend of mine said that I’m the most ‘zen’ HAHA. She said that no matter what shit life throws at me, even if it’s bad, she thinks that I’m the kind of person who can take it? I’m unsure about that actually) but anyway. Yeah. It’s the same for all these people who advocate these diets and lifestyles isn’t it? They feel that that’s the best for them and want people to enjoy the same things (especially even more so if it is ‘good for the environment/world/health’, it’s a solution to various problems we seek).

I don’t know what to really think about all these things.

J thinks I’m overthinking these issues, but I think it’s interesting to ponder and realise that there are these ‘ideal’ models out there. Question is, what do we do with them? I am in fact, searching for something more (the/an ideal?), whatever that is, with personal variations or absolutism.