Monday, April 27, 2020

The Great Game, the Art of Making Trouble, Rajanaka's Game of Rudra and Śrī

The Art of Making Trouble, Revisited The Great Game or How to Play Rajanaka's Game of Rudra and Śrī

I asked Appa once what we actually share with the Tantrikas and other philosophers since his views were so unlike the mainstream. To say the least. His answer was "the art of making trouble." This warrants a bit more explanation.

We can call this by all sorts of names and descriptors.  We can call it Rudra's Game, because of all of the gods of the Veda,  Rudra is the most respected, the most loved, and the most feared.  Rudra is ghostbusters, both sweeter than honey and more fierce than fire.  This Game also means Kālī Śrī's game with Śiva.  She plays to win, never any other way.  It's fun and it's often frustrating and difficult and it can hurt.  It is a game of intimacy and respect that will succeed and also fail but always aims for greatness, mahā.  Greatness means a game worth playing because it is has value past the immediate or apparent.

It is the Great Game.  We might liken it to the Magic Theatre.   It is not for everyone and the price of admission is your mind, your heart, maybe your soul. It is a game of soulfulness, not a war for the soul. It is for living, not for the feint of heart, and it is the learning (vidyā) of auspiciousness, that is, radical affirmation. If it doesn't bring you to health, you are playing too hard or have made mistakes. Revise. 

Appa always first described Rajanaka as having the values of the Old World and the Old Gods, that is, the Vedic gods and the Tamil Mother. Simply put, this means"give to me, I give", what we might just call "live long and prosper," and dismisses (or refutes) the foundational model of bondage/liberation that characterizes Hindu, Buddhist, and other later Indian worldviews. This also eliminates or ignores "achievements" like enlightenment, supernaturalism, supernormal powers, and most of what we associate with "religious" claims.

We turn towards the world, pravritti, rather than away from it (nivritti) and as for what others claim, that is for their consolation. Next, he said we share content with the later traditions---myths, rituals like puja, practices like darshan, and other methodologies that don't arrive until the Tantra puts down its markers. This is where we arrive at the Śrīvidyā with all of its imagery, narrative, and symbology---and with that a comprehensive interest in everything that enters Indian worlds through it, like poetry, music, literature, and "temple worlds."

But if we Rajanaka so deeply disavow and disagree with the philosophical and interpretive understandings, why do we still engage and are we any longer "Hindus"? Or to put it another way, why do we argue with them and what do we call ourselves if we are so unlike them?

Appa smiled and said, "Heretics?" But I pressed on, "Why do we engage them at all anymore? Is it because we share in their images, stories, and practices?" Of course this was an important consideration, he said, but the crux of the matter is _how_ we learn.  Rajanaka is built on how we learn, not merely what we learn.  We aren't told what to think.  We are taught how to think.  So how do we learn to think?

Tantra, like other philosophical discourse in India, is built on evolving a method of "argument." This doesn't seem "very yogic" to people who have no idea what these traditions are actually like, especially in philosophical Sanskrit. So let's explain why this isn't merely meanness or prattling sophistry.

The heart of the matter is simple: you only really learn _more_ when you never stop making trouble, either for the other guy or for yourself. You honor the goddess, to put it metaphorically, when you confront your dice-game accuser with another kind of skillful game. What you must learn to do is create a productive and progressive experience that challenges, that pushes you forward to explain, defend, argue, revise, reconsider, evolve your views. The paradox needs to be in place: take the stance that you think you are "right" or that you understand and then do everything you can to undermine your own position. 

You can explain this succinctly to civilians but they likely won't understand what you mean when you say, "read closely, think critically, write argumentatively."  So let's unwrap that present and tie with a bow.  Then rip it open like a puppy playing with something that she shouldn't be destroying.  Hehe...

Here, more basics:
*Take no quarter, give no quarter: be relentless, unremitting, rigorous, dogged, even ferocious. It's Rudra unleashed.
*You argue without end, without final conclusions. You argue to defend your best argument knowing that you must try to undermine yourself.
*No harm is meant, no ill will. You are permitted nothing petty or vindictive. Invective and accusation are wholly prohibited.
*Indian writers don't like sarcasm nor are they particularly funny, and that's a damn shame. So if you want to tease or self-immolate, feel free but be nice about it.
*You must represent the other's point of view with _more_ generosity and an even better, more gracious benefit of the doubt. You make _their_ case sympathetically and as powerfully as you can. Your opponent comes out smarter and better for your efforts to defend them. Then you rip it all to shreds.
*In the process you learn that your own arguments wobble, they have pitch and yaw, they are not airtight or perfect because nothing is. You can be wrong and you need to know that that is your advantage. You can learn from mistakes because you will make them.
*The goal is to wobble but not waffle. No careening from idea to idea. No floundering, oscillating, or lurching. Do not allow the ship to breach just because you are determine to skid the waves of this storm. You must learn how to sway and stumble and recover and keep going.
*Evolving means moving little by little, no big breakthroughs because if those happen then your argument wasn't very good to begin with. So, check that, change large if you are largely wrong. Change some every single time. Never be stuck, you are not permitted to be haughty, recalcitrant, fractious, obstinate, or contumelious.
*You can be wild, feral, and defiant but not at the price of being dangerous, willful, or undisciplined. Think risk, think more risk, then think if that is prudent at all. Never be so imprudent that you put at risk things that really matter.
*You can only do these things with others who are in the game. The game is Rudra meets a dissonant world in which recursive and order are always giving way to mutation and chaos.
*When you meet people who don't know how to play, teach them if they want to learn. If they can't learn for whatever reasons---they are sensitive, they are too imprinted or old, they just don't want to---don't try to make them. Just be nice, let them have their world. Not everyone needs to play Rudra's Game.
*Never forget that the point of this Game is to become Śrī and Śiva. That means, auspicious in every way possible and that means "always more", trying to be healthy and better for it to yourself and others. Never forget that Śrī is always Kālī and Shiva is always Rudra Nataraja. Never less fierce, or aghora in Sanskrit.
*If the Game gets easy, make it harder. Take up something more challenging, never get complacent, never too assured. You are either on the throttle or you are hitting the brakes. No coasting.
*Be Vyāghrapāda. That means, Have Tiger Paws. Never fail to use them. Know you can hurt yourself because you have tiger paws and use them as deftly, as soft hands.
*In other words, rage on, calmly.