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→→→→ vertical line TOPIC: LAST ESSAY--SEE THE BOLD PART
vertical line Posted on May.12.2008 @ 05:33PM EDT by 9999999



Phil 238 Jenkins

Paper 3

The Plague

Camus allows us to reflect on the meaning of life, our lives, and the lives of those around us in his book The Plague.  After examining the absurdities Camus sees in Oran we can clearly see what absurdities Camus might find in our lives and the lives of those around us.  The fact that the residents of Oran appear to find meaning throughout the story allows us to question whether or not Camus is prescribing a way for us to find meaning in our lives.  Consequently, one may see that life/death seems absurd because the questioner itself is absurd.  No questioner, no absurdities. 

            Camus thinks that even before the plague struck Oran people were leading absurd lives.  In the beginning of the book the narrator (Rieux) describes the people of pre-plague Oran as near robots who are enslaved by their habits and lead shallow routine lives.  Camus also thinks that the lives of people of Oran were also absurd during the plague.  We can especially note indifference to, and refusal to deal with the problem of the dead rats.  Rambert’s newspaper initially refuses to address the sanitation problem of the rats.  Michel says that pranksters were the cause of the rats ignoring the fact that they were all over the city and the asthma patient says that hunger is the cause while ignoring the fact that blood was spurting from their mouths.  The government didn’t take action until the newspaper went crazy about it and everyone else was unwilling to leave their comfortable isolated routine to deal with or even acknowledge the problem.  The people of Oran are too involved in their own well being to see and deal with the suffering of people around them.  Grand and Cottard are neighbors who don’t know each other until Cottard tries to commit suicide.   Grand is a poor communicator and can’t even go beyond the first line of his book. 

            The most absurd thing that Camus sees in Oran is the plague itself.  It was senseless and absurd for the plague to be there to begin with and it also kills in an irrational manner.  It has no regard for any personality, age, or social status.  It levels all activities as meaningless and it levels all classes of people.  The only thing the people can do is rebel against it—but even that is meaningless because people die eventually with or without the plague. 

            Camus is really addressing the absurdities in our own lives in The Plague.  He would say that everything we do and everything that happens to us is absurd—from our habits to our jobs to death.  None of it is justifiable and yet we rationalize every part of it.  Some, like Father Paneloux, even try to rationalize death.  Camus would say that death is absurd just as all of our pointless habits and strivings.  Camus might  liken the pea-counting asthmatic patient to anyone in society who does the same thing every day just passing the time.

            The residents of Oran seem to find meaning after the quarantine.  Rambert wants to escape Oran to be with his wife.  Grand wants to write a wife a letter.  By and large, the residents long for the loved ones, and may or may not have found some meaning by rising up against the plague.  Before the plague, the public remained unaware of the idea of death.  The only thing stopping them from “finding a greater meaning” was their own habits.  In the face of death, finding greater meaning becomes more urgent.  Eventually, Camus would probably say that deep down, the search for greater meaning even in the face of death is impossible to be justified. 

            On the surface we might adopt the idea that we can find meaning in our own lives via loved ones, happiness, and the struggle against death.  However, Camus might be urging us to ask the question, “Why?”.  Why do I want this? Why do I want to want this? Why do I want to want to want this? What is the meaning of life?  Why should I ask what the meaning of life is?  Why even ask one more question?

            Camus appears to be claiming that our lives are filled with absurdities.  He is correct in that the very idea that “we have our own lives” is absurd.  Camus’s inquiry about the validity of our rationalization for our actions is a good thing to adopt if one wanted to find the truth—only for a moment though.  We can quickly see that one will never ever get an answer to the question “why?” because the questioner itself is absurd.  The questioner is acquired.  Individual identity is acquired.  Thought is acquired.  Language is acquired.  The idea “I am so and so” is acquired.  Your body was given a name and when people saw that body they said, “There goes Jenny.”  Then the idea that “I am Jenny, I am this body” came about.  Not good, not bad, just acquired.

Without thinking there is no way you can tell yourself that you are so and so and there is no way you can see problems without thinking about it.  All of the problems in the world come from the “me” idea.  I  want what he has.  He stole my wife.  I am not happy.  I need more education, I need a new car, I need to make money, I need more of their oil, etc.  Wars are started over this.  He doesn’t believe what I believe so I have to kill him.

Before you learned language you had no concepts about yourself.  As an infant, you could not say “I”—but that doesn’t mean you didn’t exist—something was there.  You can see that an infant is aware before it learns any language.  What you were before you had ideas about yourself you still are already.  Anything you call what-you-are is only a concept, only a pointer.  Language is all just concepts.  For the sake of conversation we can call it awareness.  However, people can go through their whole lives paying attention to things outside oneself without paying attention to what is paying attention.  The body, thoughts, emotions, sensations, objects, goals, things that appear to be out there all arise in the awareness that you have always been. 

Nothing has ever been done for awareness to be aware.  You don’t have to wear certain clothes, make a certain amount of money, eat special kinds of food, or act a certain way to be aware.  The awareness is ever-present, self-shining, all-pervasive, and continuous.  It appears that the awareness wakes up in the morning and goes to sleep at night because of our habit of looking outward 100% of the time.  If one pays attention to awareness itself, awareness aware of awareness, then  one will see that the awareness is what-you-are and that there is awareness during the waking state, deep sleep state, and dream state.  It is beyond all “states”.  It just is.   Awareness is always unaffected by whatever appears to be going on.  Hungry? Tired? Angry? Happy?  Something is aware of it.  Awareness is a concept, but what that concept is pointing to is beyond all concepts and all opposites: love, hate, pleasure, pain, loss, gain, fame, shame, etc. 

It is not something that can be attained in any way.  It is not some far off mystical  altered state of consciousness—although there appear to be altered states.  For any status, pleasure, or state that can be attained, there has to be an awareness of that state.  Everything passes in time.  Nothing doesn’t pass in time.  Awareness is the no-thing that everything rises from and falls back to!  You are that.  You have always been that.  It is shining through your eyes right now.  Who has problems? Who dies? Who sees the absurdities?   

 


Go to Latest Reply   Reply to this Topic   Email 9999999
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Reply from 9999999
May.12.2008
05:35PM EDT 
Email 9999999
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about yourself.  As an infant, you could not say “I”—but that doesn’t mean you didn’t exist—something was there.  You can see that an infant is aware before it learns any language.  What you were before you had ideas about yourself you still are already.  Anything you call what-you-are is only a concept, only a pointer.  Language is all just concepts.  For the sake of conversation we can call it awareness.  However, people can go through their whole lives paying attention to things outside oneself without paying attention to what is paying attention.  The body, thoughts, emotions, sensations, objects, goals, things that appear to be out there all arise in the awareness that you have always been. 

Nothing has ever been done for awareness to be aware.  You don’t have to wear certain clothes, make a certain amount of money, eat special kinds of food, or act a certain way to be aware.  The awareness is ever-present, self-shining, all-pervasive, and continuous.  It appears that the awareness wakes up in the morning and goes to sleep at night because of our habit of looking outward 100% of the time.  If one pays attention to awareness itself, awareness aware of awareness, then  one will see that the awareness is what-you-are and that there is awareness during the waking state, deep sleep state, and dream state.  It is beyond all “states”.  It just is.   Awareness is always unaffected by whatever appears to be going on.  Hungry? Tired? Angry? Happy?  Something is aware of it.  Awareness is a concept, but what that concept is pointing to is beyond all concepts and all opposites: love, hate, pleasure, pain, loss, gain, fame, shame, etc. 

It is not something that can be attained in any way.  It is not some far off mystical  altered state of consciousness—although there appear to be altered states.  For any status, pleasure, or state that can be attained, there has to be an awareness of that state.  Everything passes in time.  Nothing doesn’t pass in time.  Awareness is the no-thing that everything rises from and falls back to!  You are that.  You have always been that.  It is shining through your eyes right now.  Who has problems? Who dies? Who sees the absurdities?   

vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81903
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Reply from 9999999
May.12.2008
05:47PM EDT 
Email 9999999
vertical line not seriously hEhE
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81905
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Reply from ______
May.12.2008
05:48PM EDT 
vertical line And yet....
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81906
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Reply from ______
May.12.2008
06:01PM EDT 
vertical line experience is consummated in joy and sorrow inseparable.
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81907
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Reply from 9999999
May.12.2008
07:09PM EDT 
Email 9999999
vertical line Quote: "experience is consummated in joy and sorrow inseparable."
.........


aye aye cap'n
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81909
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Reply from shayne
May.12.2008
07:15PM EDT 
Email shayne
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ok..this is all good and dandy and all.

but what again is i?

i just dont get that part.

to me mind is mind wether its turned inward or outward.

vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81910
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Reply from glorymind
May.13.2008
03:20AM EDT 
vertical line Quote: "

ok..this is all good and dandy and all.

but what again is i?

i just dont get that part.

to me mind is mind wether its turned inward or outward.

"
.........

"
.........

Who's asking?

Here's a guess: "I" is the artifact of sometimes-active thought-experiences, but not that conceptual. "I" is the (delusional) doer behind actions. Experiencer of experiences. And the thinker of thoughts - that's when we exist.

Lets go ahead and create a theory of mind!

Oh wait... here we go.

vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81912
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Reply from glorymind
May.13.2008
03:21AM EDT 
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And... isn't it absurd to call the questioner absurd?

All this talk of awareness... what is it again?

vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81913
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Reply from 9999999
May.13.2008
04:00AM EDT 
Email 9999999
vertical line Quote: "

And... isn't it absurd to call the questioner absurd?

All this talk of awareness... what is it again?

"
.........

ever awareness only
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81914
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Reply from shayne
May.13.2008
10:10AM EDT 
Email shayne
vertical line enoufe already................we exist.
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 81920
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Reply from Snibbler
May.14.2008
07:50PM EDT 
vertical line Quote: "

And... isn't it absurd to call the questioner absurd?

All this talk of awareness... what is it again?

"
.........
I`ts like.. Attentione, focus, where we choose to be, or rather...
What I want to say is more like...
Focus, yeah, attention, yeah, but no. More like being in tune.. or...
Eh... Anyway, Gloryhole, ha! There, I said it, godamn,
I tried not to but I`m just a little boy! I can`t help it!
I was born this way, it`s a curse!
:)
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 82009
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Reply from Woodsman
May.14.2008
10:18PM EDT 
Email Woodsman
vertical line No
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 82022
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Reply from shayne
May.14.2008
10:26PM EDT 
Email shayne
vertical line no what?
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 82024
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Reply from Woodsman
May.14.2008
10:30PM EDT 
Email Woodsman
vertical line You name it.
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 82025
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Reply from glorymind
May.15.2008
11:28AM EDT 
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Quote: "You name it. "
.........

Too wordy?

vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 82030
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Reply from Woodsman
May.15.2008
01:48PM EDT 
Email Woodsman
vertical line no
vertical line Quote & Reply   Post Reply 82031
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