Illustrating Rising and Setting Sun Attitudes

Basics Rising Sun and Setting Sun

Whiteboard from today’s English 2307: Introduction to Literature and Creative Writing class on the small topic of the basis of human suffering (from a Buddhist perspective) and the role art (poetry and short fiction in our case) plays in helping us sort out and understand the emotional worlds that we develop in response to that suffering.

We have been reading Chogyam Trungpa’s Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior about the difference between the rising and setting sun attitudes that represent impermanence-change-courage-imperfection-life-transformation-community and permanence-no-change-fear-perfection-death-cocooning-isolation, more fully elaborated upon in chapters six “The Dawn of the Great Eastern Sun” and seven “The Cocoon.”

Illustrating a Consciousness Cycle

Whiteboard on Consciousness Cycle

At Angelo State, I am teaching a freshman seminar for 25 students under the title “Presence and Mindfulness.”  This is a 1-hour 8-week course for new students.

The photo above captures the whiteboard drawings I completed today as I lectured on two ways in which we behave toward ourselves, others, and the world, with consciousness or without.

I’ve written in other places about my teaching and the values of consciousness and courage here and here.  But I’ve always discussed the benefits of wakefulness or mindfulness in positive terms.

Today in class, I wanted to contrast these behaviors with their opposites to help my students see the consequences of falling into the dream state of an unconscious life.

Ultimately, I argued, the value of contemplation practice is the development of a wakeful attitude so that we can activate our moral imaginations as we develop our decision-making capabilities, as well as our confidence, to further encourage ourselves to not fall asleep on ourselves, others, and the world.