First, a little practice report. I did second only up to Karandavasana today. So it appears that I have gotten my Karandavasana muscles back (after yesterday's less than stellar "performance"; see previous post for more details): I landed the duck on my first attempt! Coming back up still seems very far away. After being on my upper arms for five breaths, I tried with all my might to lift up, and my knees lifted off by, maybe, half a millimeter? And then my strength gave out, and I had to simply come down into padmasana. I think coming back up has lots to do with landing the knees closer to the armpits; I have the feeling that one gets more leverage that way. Will keep trying.
A very strange thing has been happening with my laptop at work. From time to time, it would take the longest time to start up. But whenever I bring it in to the campus IT office for the IT people to look at it, it would work perfectly fine! It happened again this afternoon. I brought my once-again-slow-to-start laptop in to IT, and it worked perfectly fine once I tried to get it to repeat the problem there. Which is starting to make me look very silly, since this was already the third time I brought it in! I'm starting to believe that computers are like cranky pets; they act up when they want you to take them out for a walk.
Anyway, because of my computer issues, I had to prepare and teach my classes today the old-school way, i.e. using the chalkboard. Which is a very interesting experience. On the one hand, I didn't particularly enjoy getting chalk all over my hands, or the sound of chalk scraping the blackboard (yeah, that sound really disturbs me...). On the other hand, however, there is just something almost magical about writing things out physically; it's almost as if the act of writing physically reinforces certain grooves (samskaras?) of knowledge in one's brain, and causes knowledge to sink deeper into the grooves of consciousness. I also had the feeling that my students paid more attention when they had to read and follow words that are written on a physical surface in real time, than if they simply passively stared at words on a projector screen. Sometimes, I think that less technology makes for more learning ;-)
In any case, in my Introduction to Western Philosophy course today, we discussed St. Anselm's Ontological Argument for the Existence of God. Here's my formulation of his argument:
1. Things that exist in reality are greater than things that exist only in the understanding.
2. A non-believer in God (a "fool") understands what is meant by the phrase "a being than which none greater can be thought."
3. For the fool, a being than which none greater can be thought exists only in the understanding (since he does not believe that such a being exists in reality).
4. But if a being than which none greater can be thought exists only in the understanding, then it is possible that there exists a being which is greater than such a being (i.e. a being than which none greater can be thought, which exists in reality, and not just in the understanding).
5. Therefore, if a being than which none greater can be thought exists only in the understanding, then such a being would be at the same time a being than which none greater can be thought, and also not a being than which none greater can be thought.
6. But this is absurd, for something cannot both be and not be a being than which none greater can be thought.
7. Therefore, the fool is wrong: a being than which none greater can be thought cannot exist only in the understanding.
8. Therefore, a being than which none greater can be thought has to exist not just in the understanding, but in reality as well.
9. God is the being than which none greater can be thought.
10. Therefore, God exists.
I don't know what you think of this argument, but we had a lot of fun in class putting this argument together, taking it apart, and thinking through its implications. Perhaps if you have a spare moment, this might also be a fun argument for you to contemplate :-)