“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Saturday, July 30, 2011

“Waiting for Something to Happen”

There it is, staring me in the face on page 310 of my edition of Being and Time. It's now rather faded from many readings and delvings. But it's only now that the magnificence of it is catching up with me.

So imagine my sense of the uncanny (if you like) when I saw Heidegger describing the “everyday” (as opposed to “authentic”) notion of time as “awaiting.”

In other words, something is already “happening” (but you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones: let's just call it death, to be clear) and confused being ignores it, projecting into the future as if it were living in a rigid series of instants.  

This is precisely what Trungpa Rinpoche used to say about samsara. “Samsara is waiting for something to happen.” He is not on record as having said it, however, since he said it in talks that have not yet been published. But some of his closest students have told me about it, since they are among my best friends

Now it's clear that Trungpa read a lot of phenomenology and I'm betting that he read Heidegger. So the interesting question arises, who is influencing whom there? Here you have an immensely powerful (make of him what you will) German philosopher channeling something like Buddhism and Taoism, and influencing an immensely powerful Tibetan teacher.

Think about it: samsara is waiting for something to happen. It's defined variously as a cycle of confusion and suffering. But why is it a cycle? Why is it confused? Why does it involve suffering? It seems to me that Heidegger's and Trungpa's overlapping definitions are very profound.

The Wheel of Life mandala depicts samsara occurring within the jaws of death.  It struck me that Trungpa and Heidegger are both trying to look fairly squarely into the mouth of death there.

1 comment:

Tyler Phan said...

i have always been taught that within the various bhavacakra depictions samsara is in the jaws of impermanence.

i mention various bhavacakra depictions because there seems to be a significant difference in artistry regarding manusya (human realm), especially during jati (birth).

when i was doing my nyingmapa training/clinical (drungtsho) residency in bhutan, it seems that jati is depicted with a woman in complete agony giving birth while standing up (i saw this at dzongkhadzong, tashichoeddzong.
punakhadzong, and trashichodzong). i could be wrong but it seems that that was not the case in the U.S. at karma triyana dharmachakra in (woodstock, ny) or kunzang palyul choling (bougie, va where there were also excessively large amounts of million dollar crystals scattered around). there is either an augmented birthing or a woman with a docile smile on her face (the gaze is worth a thousand mantras) while giving birth.

responding to "waiting for something to happen", in ecrits, lacan mentions death drive and how it approaches an excessive jouissance; it's at that moment where the attachment of pleasure becomes that of suffering (844, lacan). this posses an interesting non-dual-duality in regards to samsara, where pleasure and suffering are all lumped into dukkha.

i can see your point with heidegger and trungpa but i will also add that samsara could be described in what heidegger references dasein as "being-in", which in essence is the sixth realm of bardo (sidpa bardo) by padmasambhava (guru rinpoche) in bardo thodol. wondering into sidpa bardo, guru rinphoche describes it, "As a sign of this, if thou lookest into water, or into mirrors, thou wilt see no reflection of thy face or body; nor doth thy body cast any shadow." (177, wentz, 97, baldcock) i think guru rinphoche was trying to convey the reality of pre-skandha (five aggregates), post-jaramarana (death) or possibly lacan's pre-symbolic order?

is that a picture of trungpa at the bottom? he totally acculturated the southwestern 70's aesthetic. he was kind of a colorado cowboy...