Basic ICM Concepts

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby ragamala » Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:07 pm

A paintbrush, a canvas and a tube of paint can convey an artistic idea. Are they part of the artistic idea?

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby David Russell Watson » Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:36 pm

povster wrote:Hi David,

Hi hi :)

povster wrote:When I think of science i also think back to how many then-current "scientific" facts are now debunked.

But how were they "debunked"? They were debunked by science, and if they'd been debunked by anything besides science, we'd have no reason to consider them actually debunked, and we'd still accept them as facts.

You can't very effectively argue against the validity of science by citing examples in which science is the authority behind part of your argument. Can you? :)

povster wrote:Consider, for a moment, where science will be in, say, a hundred years. Or a thousand years. Or a million years. If things go without a global incident these time frames will be here (eventually). Do you think our current science will stand the test of a hundred, a thousand or a million years?

I don't think the scientific method itself will change in any significant way, no. The importance and value of verifiability, falsafiability, experimental reproducibility, the logical consistency of arguments, etc. are fairly self evident and not likely to change.

What almost surely will change in a million years is that set of ideas, or that human "map" of reality, which the scientific method shows most accurately represents reality.

The fact that that "map" changes, or maybe better said "improves", over time and as we acquire more data to work with and sharpen our arguments should only lend to our appreciation of the scientific method, not detract. Moreover it doesn't change the fact that our present "map" is much better than older ones we had, and much better than those provided by religion or other irrational forms of explanation, regardless of how much better it will some day be.

povster wrote:I spent about a year doing a photographic project at the Harvard Museum of Invertebrate Paleontology. Stephen Jay Gould was there back then. I got to know and spend social time with the grad students and scientists there. What I observed was eye opening. There were marked evolutionist vs creationist factions. The creationists sought to prove their creationist beliefs with science. The evolutionists sought to prove their evolutionary beliefs with science. Often there were contradictions, yet all based in "science". It depended on whose science you adhered to and whose you rejected. Certainly something to ponder.

What you don't mention, or may not realize, is that whatever the creationists may have"tried" to do scientifically, they ultimately failed.

No offense, but the expertise you brought to that project was apparently photography, not paleontology, not biology, not science per se, and as such you may not be qualified to judge what is and is not scientifically sound when you hear it. Science doesn't support the claims of creationists, and does support biological evolution. If you've understood it to be any other way, you've simply misunderstood what you saw. I'm sorry to put that so bluntly, but it's simply not possible for all of us involved in this thread to train ourselves to doctorate level in paleontology and biology within the span of a few days, meaning we have to accept the conclusions of the experts in those fields.

Moreover proponents of so called "Creation science" have been found more than once to have been supported by and working for fundamentalist Christians groups even while denying the fact and claiming to have no religious bias.

You've not shown that science will support just anything, much less support two conflicting ideas at the same time, such as are Creationism and biological evolution.

povster wrote:Science is simply one aspect of exploration. It is not a god, but many people cite science as if it IS a god.

Well I'd say that nothing is a god, so I'm not sure what that means. Science has demonstrated itself again and again to be our most reliable means of testing reality, however.

povster wrote:How does one express in mechanistic terms such concepts as inspiration, intuition, artistry? Are these things quantifiable?

Of course they are. They belong to the field of human neurology, but then, as such, naturally are beyond the scope of this forum.

povster wrote:Can you bring them into a lab and measure them? Bring them into a hospital and map them with a scan? Express them in any scientific term?

Yes. They are processes of the human brain, which is a physical entity, made up of neurons, which are made up of atoms, which obey physical laws.

povster wrote:As I said, yes, a raga can be defined using things like aroha/avaroha, challans, sargams etc etc. But as I also said that is like defining a human by its parts.

You can define a human by its parts. Actually, you can't rationally define a human any other way. That's not a bad thing.

Now... the value we each may personally place on a thing, including a person we know, naturally is not dependent on the value we may place on any individual part of that thing, such as how I love my mother more than I would love a crate containing all the same elements in her body in the same proportions found in her body, but to take that fact to mean that her nature can't be entirely understood in terms of of those elements and their physical properties doesn't logically follow.

povster wrote:The sum of a person is much more than the parts expressed by science or mechanistic terms. It is the same with a raga. A raga is much more than a collection of notations on a piece of paper.

So you say, but have not proven. It's also important to recognize that no complete notation of all the properties of any given rag yet exists, as far as I know. For that matter the physical (neurological) reasons why some sound combinations and sequences are musical to human beings and others are not is itself not yet properly understood. It's for these reasons, I feel, some resort to mystical explanations.

It is, unfortunately, in our human nature that we fill in those gaps in our understanding of the world with mystical or spiritual explanations. Before we understood that the human brain is more than complex enough to explain thought, memory, emotions, etc., we attributed the latter to a invisible weightless ghost that drove the machine and floated off after death to Heaven or to birth in another body. That's a mistake, however, as history shows. "Unknown" does not mean "a ghost did it"; it simply means that we don't yet know.

Beside that it is also in human nature to dislike, deny, and dismiss any claim that, if we accepted it as true, would make us feel unhappy... about ourselves, about life, about ones we love, etc. Science doesn't support the idea that we survive death in the form of an invisible spirit, and if we accept that, the comfort we take when we contemplate our own death, or the death (yet to come, or already done), of Mom, Dad, Aunt Jane, our first born child, etc. suddenly all goes away.

Finally, a world full of lephrechauns, fairies, karma, angels, yetis, demons, Cleopatra reincarnated, ghosts, haunted houses, snake-like chakras rising, good luck charms, magical incantations, loch-ness monsters, flying yogis, fortune tellers saying our future mate is going to be good looking and rich, etc. is also fun and exciting, whereas having to learn higher math to understand why an apple tastes good is not, for most people, very fun or exciting. :lol:

These are the real reasons people dislike, distrust, and wish to discount science, but as far as showing us what's real, nothing in the world has a better track record than science :)

David

P.S. Ok, sorry. I know I said I wasn't going to do that :lol:

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby povster » Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:14 pm

I will say I actually agree with a lot of what has been said. A raga can be defined by its core elements such as scale, challans, key phrases, note relationships. Presentation of these core elements occurs in the various performance aspects such as alap and bandesh. In a sense both are correct as the definition of raga could encompass two definitions: a) the entity itself or b) the performance itself. At the most basic level I would go with a) the entity itself.

I am a little leery about pushing the rest of this much further simply because I can see it being perceived as becoming totally non-ICM. So I will try keeping it brief.

1) The point I was making was that science indeed debunked many of the old scientific theories. That itself speaks to the change and evolution of science itself. Which is why I used the hundred/thousand/million years concept. What will be debunked then that is considered fact now? Honestly, I have no clue.

2) I am not a PhD in anything. Thing is, though, both sides of the creationist/evolutionist arguments I witnessed were done by either PdDs or PhD candidates. These are people "qualified" to theorize on the subject.

3) I AM definitely a fan of science. I have little patience with many of the things you mentioned. I can add to the list crystals, stargates (that is currently a big one), Hollow Earth, Hollow Moon, reptilians in the guise of humans (a la the tv series V and David Icke), channeling of members of the Galactic Federation and the "Archangel Michael", Lemuria ad naseum. That you would bring these up as a counter-argument speaks, I think, more to your own perception of my perception, as I have no "faith" (pesky word) in much of that.

4) "Facts" expressed by science and the areas encompassed by science change over time as new areas previously unthought of or unknown are initially examined and then expanded on. But the actual "why" remains a mystery. Quantum Mechanics is delving more closely into some of the areas I am talking about. But it is still, relatively speaking, a young science. I look forward to seeing what Quantum Mechanics continues to bring to the table, as it ultimately may address the why rather than just the how. Or at least further the why question.

It is exactly, as you say, David. "What almost surely will change in a million years is that set of ideas, or that human "map" of reality, which the scientific method shows most accurately represents reality. The fact that that "map" changes, or maybe better said "improves", over time and as we acquire more data to work with and sharpen our arguments should only lend to our appreciation of the scientific method, not detract." This I am in 100% agreement. What I am in disagreement is your seeming adherence to the current map as if it were the end all. When, in fact, we are only a short way into a very long voyage.
...Michael
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby ragamala » Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:41 pm

I am 100% against the use of the term "raga" to denote a performance. This is to my mind at best misleading, at worst plain damn wrong. To use the term in this way has led, as we have seen in this thread, to confusion and misunderstanding. The very basics a newcomer to ICM should appreciate are the concepts of melody as embedded in the raga system, and how that is experienced in practice.
Please, ditch any idea that performance genre or performance mode shed light on raga theory. What place does taal have in defining a raga?
The current debate is making a mockery of the thread title.

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby povster » Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:59 pm

ragamala wrote:I am 100% against the use of the term "raga" to denote a performance.


I can live with that. One would better say "an alap in raga Malkauns".

As far as a mockery? That is too strong. If the concepts of raga definition vs raga performance were not brought out, if they remained unexpressed, I will bet some, especially newcomers, would continue believing that an alap, for example, is the raga itself.
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby ragamala » Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:23 pm

Fair comment. Especially as looking back at the OP it lists terms which are not "basic". I have lived for many years without knowing what a shithil is, for example :P

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby jaan e kharabat » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:05 pm

I said that like 3 pages ago and now that Alan chimes in, he agrees in like 3 seconds. :roll:
If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby povster » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:21 pm

ragamala wrote:A paintbrush, a canvas and a tube of paint can convey an artistic idea. Are they part of the artistic idea?


I wold say they are tools utilized by the painter to externally express the artistic idea, allowing others to also perceive it. How's that? :D
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby povster » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:33 pm

jaan e kharabat wrote:I said that like 3 pages ago and now that Alan chimes in, he agrees in like 3 seconds. :roll:


Jaan, if you are referring to me you definitely misinterpreted me.

I had said that things like alap "express aspects of the raga" and you interpreted and responded by saying I said they ARE aspects of a raga.

"Express" is the operative word. My saying some things "express aspects" of a raga was very deliberate on my part. It is VERY different than saying they ARE aspects of the raga.

When I get involved in these types of conversations I am very careful about the wording I choose. But misinterpretations, especially on an internet forum, are unfortunate realities.
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby jaan e kharabat » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:58 pm

Michael,

you hadn't stated your position as clearly in your initial posts, for example you said 'alap, jor, jhala' were 'aspects of the raga', which is why I disagreed with you. Exact words: "While it is certainly valid to discuss aspects of a raga, such as alap, jor, vilambit gat etc".
If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby povster » Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:20 am

jaan e kharabat wrote:Michael,

you hadn't stated your position as clearly in your initial posts, for example you said 'alap, jor, jhala' were 'aspects of the raga', which is why I disagreed with you. Exact words: "While it is certainly valid to discuss aspects of a raga, such as alap, jor, vilambit gat etc".


Apologies, jaan. I am certainly not immune to the potential foibles of the internet, and as shown here, I was not actually expressing what I thought I was expressing. :oops:
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby OM GUY » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:15 pm

Well, for nothing else, you have all given me pause to think and to do further research, which is one of the greater benefits of the forum.

As far as I'm concerned, at the moment, raags do have parts, simply because of the methods learned under a western perspective, for me. But, like I say, you've all caused me to open more books and more web pages, so should I discover differently, and I am not so bold as to say if I was wrong.... it's all in the process of learning. :roll:
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby Kirya » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:11 pm

I don’t think that the discussion is off-track at all, as the most basic question of all is ” What is a raga?” For ICM this is the most fundamental question, and one that any serious ICM sadhak should always be asking, and I maintain that what can be said is a small fraction of what cannot be said or put into words.

What is a Raga? There are at least 3 dimensions to answering this question (maybe more) and but most of the discussion only happens around the first two categories.

1) Raga Melodic Rules & Regulations

This is the aroh/avroh, vadi-samvadi, pakad, chalan, vistaar and other melodic development guidelines. Understanding the key phrases to emphasize, phrases/notes to avoid, determining which swar to rest and pause on. I think also things like sthai-manjha-antara which helps to define melodic behavior in the different tetra chords and also encapsulate the raga rules in real-time in a frequently repeated melodic structure that provides a foundation for improvisation. Most of us learn these fixed compositions when we are introduced to a new raga. This is the seed, not the tree and it is very important in driving your understanding of the raga so take great care with these. This is why good teachers will always teach you a gat/bandish first before ever delving into alap.

2) Raga Presentation Structure

This is the actual performance presentation which usually means things like alap, jod, jhalla and then vilambit (slow) and drut (fast) gats. All of these core elements can have much finer granularity as seen in the discussion so far. To some extent, this can get pretty formulaic/mechanical and few artists have the will to do ONLY what the Raga dictates.

e.g. Deepak Raja describes Kishori Amonkar’s approach in presenting a raga which typically happens in the vilambit bandish part of a Kishori performance or raga presentation :
An important feature of her music -- which partly explains her awesome influence -- is her fastidious organisation of musical material. She is one of the very few vocalists who sings her alap-s in four distinct phases -- sthayi, antara, sanchari and abhog. All improvisatory movements are neatly in their place with never a blurred separation between them. This feature of her music imparts an unusual transparency to her aesthetic intent.


But if you hear Kishori talk about a raga she talks about a living relationship to something, that for her is alive and giving her feedback and interacting with her. She has mentioned often how Bhoop unveils different aspects of itself to her when she pays attention.

Kishori actually felt the focus on rigid performance format is detrimental to really bringing Raga to life as described in this interview in The Hindu:

Kishori summed up a profound concept in simple words.

She said: “We have given an entertainment value to our music. Singing, practicing and performing, all are different. These are the three aspects of music. I give importance to singing. It is like talking to your soul. It is an inner communion which you are trying to communicate … in the (entertainment and performance) process, naturally it will diminish in value.

“I believe that Indian music is nothing but the expression of a feeling. If I say, ‘I love you,’ can you measure it? You just have to feel that vibration. We have limited our music to formats. In North India, every raga is sung in a typical form. First alaap, then vistaar, then you put words into the alaap; words in the thana, then dhrutha … We repeat the entire repertoire. I don’t think one needs to sing dhrutha here. Dhrutha conveys an entirely different feeling. You sing it when you are restless or have an intense feeling. But we don’t do that. Apologetically, I accept these faults. You do the same in Carnatic music. In a performance you give a break, you give some time for the violin, some time for the mridangam. It (performance structure) is a break from the emotion.”

How does one break away from the routine formula (of concert performance structure), to resurrect this other music hidden behind a form that has a set formula, a set pattern? “You should learn these (performance structure)formats when you are a student. It’s high time that I took the plunge and followed that feeling and experienced it myself. I pray to God to give me the strength to go to that level, which is abstract.”



3) Raga Rasa & Emotional & Aesthetic Intent

Having some mastery of 1) and 2) is critical to even beginning to approach the third dimension where a raga really comes to life. In 2013, Computers can be programmed to produce raga-like music formulations using coding from section 1) and 2) from above, but there is usually something missing for most of us, and this is also why some performances are just plain unsatisfying, even when they sort-of have the right notes.

This is the part of what a raga is, that there is greatest amount of vagueness on, and even many “top-rank” artists sound incoherent when they talk about this. (It is really hard to talk about this except in really dry scholarly arcane language or even worse, sounding like some new-age stoner (like me) talking about contacting spirits). But this is also where the real artistry is in IMO, and in most cases it is instinctive and based on the artist reaching “states of flow” where everything (section 1 and 2 elements from above) start to really make sense. Most real artists cannot tell you how to create emotional impact but they know when they are making this happen and are aware it is happening.

I have taken great liberty in copying excerpts from this link (http://www.padminirao.com/rasa_theory.php ) to show how difficult it is to talk about Rasa, but this is the issue on which, IMO the great artists dwell and THE place where one really discovers and understands what a raga is. The link is worth reading in full.

The Rasa Theory was expounded by Bharata muni in his treatise ‘Natya-Shastra’ [2nd BC- 4th AD] where we are told that we can produce the following rasas in the dramatic arts: Shringaara [erotic], Roudra [anger] Haasya [ comic], Bhibhatsa [ludicrous] Jugupsa [disgust], Vismaya or Adhbhuta [wonder], Karuna [pathos], Veera [valour] and Shaantha [tranquility].

In music, one takes into account only four of these, namely: Shringaara, Veera, Karuna and Shaantha. So what notes do you play to create these?

The great musicologist Sharangdeva [ 13th century] put forth his interpretation of the Rasa Theory in his magnum opus on music the Sangeet-Ratnakara. Sharangdeva, expounded the theory that each note carries its own emotional cloud around it.
‘Sa-Ri veeradbhutey raudrey,dha bibhatsa bhayanakey; kaaryo ga-ni tu karunaa haasya shringaaryormapou’

This theory’s validity was questionable however, because a ‘raga’ is a combination of notes and phrases, hence the element of ambiguity and in some cases sheer confusion would set in. One may assume that the mood of the raga would be dictated by the dominant notes in it, which would impart their emotional colour to the melody. E.g.: if madhyam was the dominant note it would probably be shringara rasa and so on. He tabulated the fact that it was of the utmost importance to choose the right tempo to convey the desired emotion. E.g : a composition depicting valour would obviously have to be in a fast tempo and conversely a composition full of tenderness and pathos would have to be in a slow tempo.

Shri. V N Bhatkhande was of the opinion that a direct one-one correspondence of raga-rasa was not only difficult but impossible. It was too simplistic a way of looking at something as complex an abstract form like music in relation to an equally abstract and complex parameter like the mind and its emotional states. After all, if Sa-Ri evokes Veera Rasa and Ma-Pa- evokes Shringaara Rasa, then every raga should evoke these two aesthetic responses since these notes are present in almost all the ragas which is obviously not the case.

The theory put forth was that, besides mere notes, laya and rhythm patterns, there are several other factors which combine and interplay to create the phenomenon of Raag-Rasa

Factors responsible for inducing Rasa:
[1] the most important factor is the ‘Raaga-Time ‘theory. This is the mystical bond between melody and time in a 24 hour cycle when it is sung or played.

[2] Consonance and Dissonance in Music:
These are musical effects that produce opposite emotions - they come into play when 2 different notes are sung or played together. The drone provides the base notes of the musical scale. To quote Shri O Gosvami [The Story of Indian Music]-“The tanpura provides a dark background of infinite potentiality against which the music stands out as intricate embroidery”.

Different note-combinations can lead to different effects of consonance and dissonance, which in turn cause different Rasaas to be induced.

[a] Perfect Consonance: Sa-Pa; Sa-Ma
[b] Imperfect Consonance: Sa-Ga;Sa-Dha
[c] Perfect Dissonance: Sa- Re [komal/flat]; Sa-Ni; Teevra Ma-Pa; Pa- Dha][komal/flat]
[d] Imperfect Dissonance: Sa-Re;Sa-Ni [komal/flat]; Sa-Ga [komal/flat]
The musicologist Shri G M Ranade has attempted to draw a co-relation between the tonal intervals and raasa as follows-
Perfect Consonance- Veera rasa
Imperfect Consonance –Shringaara rasa
Perfect Dissonance –Karuna Rasa

Depending on the prominence given to a specific note interval in the development of the raag , the desired rasa will be induced. Raagas like Marwa, Shree and Todi use the tonal intervals of perfect dissonance to create the phenomenon of tension and relief. The sense of the sublime is experienced from the interplay of conflict and serenity as it were. The combination of Shadaj and Shuddha Gandhaar imparts a tranquility which is the characteristic feature of the ‘sandhiprakaash’ ragas-melodies of dawn and dusk.

The sparkling radiance of ragas like Durga, Khamaj, and Kedar are highlighted by the tonal intervals of perfect consonance.

[3] Other factors like the artiste’s mood, the receptivity of the audience, the physical setting of the concert [the venue, ambience etc] are lesser but nonetheless important components playing their role in the overall effect of inducing Rasa.


Padmini Rao sums it up nicely here:

The theory of raga-rasa attempts to bring about a specific co-relation of music with emotional states. However, a recital is an outpouring of emotions and is highly subjective and spontaneous in nature. Each artiste interprets and presents the music according to his ideas, techniques , the school of music that he belongs to and his overall understanding of the musical idiom .The whole beauty of this great art is that it says so little and conveys so much. A gentle hint here, a whiff of a long forgotten memory and it thus evokes a pleasant emotion, leaving it to the listener to analyze his feelings. This degree of abstractness is further experienced in instrumental music which does not have lyrics to convey the meaning.

To quote the poet Shelley:

Music, when soft voices die,
vibrates in the memory

The most important aspect of rasa is that it lingers on long after the stimulus has been removed. We often ruminate over a concert for days and savour the joy of its memory. Thus, although the stimulus is transient, the rasa induced is not. The ultimate rasa is ‘Mahaarasa’ and is equated with ‘Aanand bhaava’ – or one of deep joy. When the artiste and the listener reach out together for a shared moment of joy and discovery, the result is the essence or rasa of music.


As I said before, I think the problem is in trying to pin down what a raga is, just in terms of it's structural elements and in words alone. All the definitions about the elements that make a raga are all useful, and give you some sense of rules and a formal concert presentation of a raga, but none of it really touches the living thing.

The only definition for raga that I find satisfying is "Ranjayati iti ragah" = That which colors the mind is raga. रंजयति इति रागः |(जो मन को प्रसन्न कर सकता है वही राग है )

This could be further clarified as that sound which colors the mind, or organized sound that produces a definite emotional and perceptual impact and a sense that there is a living "sonic" presence which exists while the sound form is active and can sometimes persist even after the sound has stopped. IMO Raga is a living sonic presence and quite possibly a sentient being that interacts with humans through sound vibrations.

As Krishnamurti said about describing living things: "The description is not the described" even when talking about a mountain. Saying a mountain is a large rock form primarily composed of granite and ferrous oxides is not quite the same as standing before a mountain and just taking it in. Even from the same spot it will look and feel different on most days.
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby OM GUY » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:13 am

"...The only definition for raga that I find satisfying is: .... That which colors the mind is raga...."

After delving into many books and websites, etc., in order to learn more, I keep coming up with the same definition....as above.

With 1/2 humour and 1/2 tongue in cheek, if it doesn't colour the mind, as in some screech owl attempting to render a singing version of a raag, is it then, no longer a raag?

It's a real shame, in my opinion, that such a highly used and regarded word as "raaga", is under-defined, causing such a stir. :roll:
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby Kirya » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:51 am

It's a real shame, in my opinion, that such a highly used and regarded word as "raaga", is under-defined, causing such a stir. :roll:


Sometimes things are difficult to define without reducing them to something much lesser. Maybe we need to be wary of the need to define -- I wonder why we have to define things? Because that makes it easier to tell others that we know it? So that we can confine it in the sphere of "my" knowledge?

I think the ancients tried what we have tried to do here, and came to a point where the only thing that could be said was noted and said. Perhaps leaving it unsaid and somewhat mysterious (beyond the basic rules) is entirely appropriate and wise.

Try defining a River, a Mountain or a Redwood Tree and see what you are left with. A bag of words that have little or no resemblance to the living reality?
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