Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Does West have monopoly on romantic love?

Ashley Wells, CC Liu, Pat Macpherson, Seth Auberon (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; Catherine Winter (The Really Big Questions, The World,; "Big Bang Theory"  VALENTINE'S DAY
Finally, "Big Bang Theory" lives up to its name as Raj and Penny fall into each other's arms.
"The roof (brain), the roof, the roof is on fire!" explains the Bloodhound Gang (

Romans/Greeks knew "Desire."
Is romantic love a universal emotion? In the West it often seems we live, die, and even kill for love.

(We have "Nothing Higher to Live For"? A Buddhist View of Romantic Love).

Love is passionate, foolish, and cherished. But in many cultures, arranged marriages are the norm. And romantic love is, well, disruptive. It turns out people across the globe feel romantic love, but they do not necessarily act on it.

Yes, people around the world fall in love. That seems like an obvious truth today, but it used to be quite controversial in the social sciences.

"Love feels like you're walking on a beach hearing the sound of waving coming over and over and over again while your feet is touching the sand softly." - Suzette Chu, 30, Shanghai

Tell the World in a tee (SpencerFinnley/flickr)
In fact, some scholars still believe that romantic love was invented by European troubadours in the Middle Ages, and that people outside of the Western tradition do not really experience it.
“We decided to see if that was true,” says anthropologist Ted Fischer, who teaches at Vanderbilt University.
Oh, this is what they're talking about? They think we didn't know about this? (Dan Zen/flickr)
In 1992, he and William Jankowiak, an anthropologist at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, did a survey of anthropological research on 166 different cultures around the world.
“We looked for evidence of romantic love, and that could have been love poetry, or elopements, or just general descriptions of what we’d consider to be romantic love,” Fischer says. “And we found it in an overwhelming majority of cultures.”

We're gay. State mandates you accept it (TW).
Fischer says in the few places where they didn’t find evidence of love, the anthropologists who did the original studies were not looking for the factors he and Jankowiak were looking for. 
So elopements or love-related suicides might have occurred and just not been noted.
“So we thought it’s very likely romantic love is found in all cultures,” he says.
Jankowiak and Fischer’s paper made a big splash, and today it’s widely accepted that people in cultures outside of the West experience romantic love. More
(BBT) Penny finally hits on Sheldon, America's favorite nerd!

Worshiping a "devil" on Valentine's Day
Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Ven. Bhante, Wisdom Quarterly (COMMENTARY)
We don't like to admit it, but whom do we "worship" on Valentine's Day? Surely, it is not Roman "Saint Valentine" or even the great Italian-American actor Valentino. Is it Clark Gable, Clark Kent, Sofia Vergara, Lady Gaga?

No, since the time of the ancient Romans and Greeks it is a menace in the form of a comely child -- Cupid (cupido, "desire," aka Eros).  
"Cupid" in Buddhism is Mara Devaputra, the angelic beguiler, the Lucifer figure, the great Satan when he's angry, the puckish mischief maker when he's out to besot our vulnerable hearts.

Cupid/Mara (
Ancient India recognized "Cupid" as Kama-deva (the Indian personification of "sensual desire" called kama as in the famous Hindu classic the Kama Sutra). And many Hindus must give in to Western temptation because of modern American hegemony and the ancient Greco-Romans, which as Bactria/Afghanistan overlapped on northwestern India (Gandhara) many centuries ago.

What does Mara, the great tempter and discourager in Buddhism, want? It is not that living beings fall into the hells or to be tested for the god (Great Brahma). No, his terrible aim is that living beings remain distracted from liberation, freedom, enlightenment, and nirvana and instead wallowing in ever-disappointing sensuality. 

Thx, Catty Purry, you're doing Mara's work!
So from a modest celestial world or heaven in the "Sensual Sphere" (Kama Loka), Mara/Cupid/the Devil makes it his business to keep everyone tempted and running around like Greek and Roman godlings, filled with lust, pride, jealousy, envy, and avarice. This deviant artist captures it:

Greek "Cupid" (aka Roman "Eros") is prominent in the pantheon (Wandering 39 Soul)

Hey, don't judge. The third wheel is still a wheel, and as long as everybody knows. ;-)
Americans lust (Status Fitness Mag)
QUESTION (Robert Thomas): I read a book about the occupation of Japan after WWII. I became suspicious that the emphasis placed by the author on what even then seemed to me to be a simplistic understanding of the idea of the Japanese emperor as a Shinto "divinity" (kami).
Understanding of this cultural and spiritual idea (Showa emperors and their place in superstitious Shinto beliefs) is better explained in English texts these days. But it struck me back then that words such as "divine" were likely to have been translated poorly, by persons with little sociological (much less, theological) understanding, to the point that the translated description of their meaning was useless. 
Why should we accept that Mandarin-speaking people and English-speaking people have the same thing in mind at all when talking about "romantic love"? How is this not utterly contingent on the competence of translators?

(Big Bang Theory) Yoga, Penny, and Sheldon, the Third Wheel
ANSWER (Catherine Winter): Xiaomeng Xu addressed the language question when we talked to her. She said researchers wondered the same thing, but even taking into account language differences, cultural differences showed up on surveys. She called [the] findings "robust." In surveys, people in Eastern countries are more likely to stress negative aspects of love, such as jealousy and heartbreak, than Westerners are. We Westerners tend to have a rosier view of love.
Flaming love in Tibet
Producer Matthew Bell (PRI's The World, Feb. 11, 2014)
Jampa Yeshi, 3-26-12 (
When a 29 year-old Tibetan Buddhist man set himself on fire (another misguided self-immolation) earlier this month to protest cruel Chinese rule there, he was among more than 100 who have chosen this form of shocking suicidal protest. The world might not have heard of any of them except for the writing of blogger Tsering Woeser.
Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser on a visit home
Woeser grew up in Tibet, but she now lives in Beijing with her Chinese husband. Catching up with her there in November, she had just returned from a three month trip to Lhasa, the capital of China's Tibet Autonomous Region. LISTEN

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