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A ZEN DESCRIPTION OF GOD

 
tenbones
 
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tenbones
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10 April 2014 18:35
 
NicLynn - 10 April 2014 02:39 PM

burt, tenbones - I’m getting really frustrated, so I’m going to take a step back at this point. When I speak from frustration it becomes about ‘making’ people get my point while not noticing what message they are conveying in return. Tenbones - in your case for example, I see a ton of exuberance and enthusiasm for this path you’ve undertaken, and I see how quick I will be to ignore that and focus on “Goddammit, why don’t people understand what I’m saying?!” and try to steamroll my point home, which is about me, not you.

Whoa whoa whoa… hold on here. /brake screech. I have *never* directly commented on your experiences. Only my own. Nor am I bursting with exhuberance about my experiences (I’m way past all that nonsense). I’m only trying to relate to you a perspective.

I’m not pretending, NicLynn to know your background, what you’ve done, what you’ve read etc. I’m only speaking from a very general perspective in relation to your questions. So if I’m coming across as “pushy” or “condescending” - please accept my apologies, that’s never been my intent. Chalk it up to the medium. I certainly don’t want you to be upset about it (if such is the case).

I *do* understand your perspective completely. I was THAT person. WAS <—- that’s directed at me, not you. I’m not calling you a fool, I’m not implying you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not saying that anyone that believes as you do are those things either.

What I AM saying is: and this is a paraphrase of sorts for clarification - You’re saying my perspective might be invalid based on the legal verbal criteria of what I call a “non-dual"experience. That it might just be all in my head.

I’m agreeing with you: it’s all in my head.

But when I say that, and when you say it-  it means two entirely different things. The implication is that it might be dismissive like a concussion, or a “neural-misfire”, or the warping of perception via drugs (which is a difficult analogy since the change in perception is different depending on the drugs one does) is an aberration of sorts.

When I say it - I’m merely pointing out the fact that indeed: all experience occurs in ones head. ALL of it. That’s a purely rationalistic view. And I think it’s safe to bet on.

But there are some serious corollaries here that need to be understood. For me - the experiences is not something that happens in a vaccuum.

Let me give you an example in terms of your language you use, vs. the reality I’m trying to convey. You paraphrased me thusly -

“I had an experience that consisted of: feeling this amazing, empty state; thinking this state represented the unconditioned mind; and feeling 100% certain that this was true, the only thing you actually have evidence of is that:”

You are approaching my extremely reductionist explanation (which as I’ve said many times is not very conducive verbally) of a non-dual experience FROM an ego-contracted experience, like the one we’re having now. It’s like two fish trying to explain the concept of fire to one another, but only one of them has ever jumped out of the water and landed in a burning boat.

Reducing non-dual experiences down to “amazing, empty state; thinking this state represented the unconditioned mindl; feeling 100% certain this was true” etc. conflicts on *every* level of what I’ve been saying. I’ve said, initial non-dual experiences are overwhelming to the uninitiated. THAT is the “OMG amazeballs!” part. And they’re wrong. It’s not amazing. It’s not *any* *thing*. Its not me thinking “I’m in an unconditioned state. Look! there’s no conditions! There’s no feeling 100% certain of anything - because that would be a thing that one feels as a mental construct. That *IS* by definition - a duality.

When you’ve done this for a long period of time - it just is. It’s thisness. Nothing else. There’s no mind. No thinking. Just direct… (here we go again) access? Direct awareness? It’s just now. Right now. Nothing else. It’s not a preconception. It’s not a post-conception. There is no condition to consider, because there isn’t any that isn’t simply the manifestation of now. Or does one just chalk up, as a horrifying example, of the Vietnamese monk that lights himself on fire while meditating and not uttering a sound or movement “just an example of a crazy brain conditioned to withstand pain” free of context? I’m using that as an extreme (and let me be clear here: horrifying ) but clear example.

There is no hyperbole to be had here. The “amazing” feeling you injected into the explanation *IS* the illusion. It’s the illusion of ones own ego patting itself on the back for the first miniscule breakthrough as it re-asserts itself. Does that make sense?

NicLynn - 10 April 2014 02:39 PM

Now substitute alien abductions or those colorful Grateful Dead bears and tell me how the exact same logic doesn’t apply.

So you’re saying “One Experience is Equal to All Others if one doesn’t believe or understand the perspective of the person who claims the experience”?

Then the answer is simple: Can I create a situation where the aliens will come abduct me? Because there is *nothing* special about people having non-dual experiences except for the fact they de-condition their egos in order to have them. Can the same be said for alien abductions? I mean, honestly, I’m *not* making a claim for the primacy of any kind of thought system, or that non-dual states are requirements for anything. That you don’t believe them (or find them dubious) is purely up to the individual. Right? As for alien abductions - I don’t generally believe in them due to the probability that alien life being as advanced as they would have to be in order to be here in our stellar vicinity would have to be that secretive about wanting to experiment on humans.

Again - it smacks very much of egoism too (alien abduction that is). But I’ll remain open minded.

I, personally, have no need to want to convince anyone of anything they aren’t interested in. I’m just relaying what I know based on the topic. Otherwise, why ask the question?

NicLynn - 10 April 2014 02:39 PM

So if you are 100% sure that your experience represents the truth of a certain proposition; good on you. From my POV, all I can say is that I’m chatting with someone who feels 100% certainty that their experience matches a given verbal proposition. I’ll even accept it would be possible for me to have an experience that would make me 100% certain my experience matched a given verbal proposition, and yet, from where I’m standing now, I don’t see how that’s evidence of anything except that you can make individuals feel 100% certain of things.

I’m a doubter. I’m not 100% certain of anything. What I’m GENERALLY certain of is 1) I’m not hallucinating (you’d be shocked at how ordinary I find this topic 2) I’m not drugged. 3) I’m not offering you evidence. I’m only offering my words on a screen. As I’ve said *repeatedly* - no amount of talking about it will give it to you. No amount of reading about it will help you. No amount of thinking about it will magically make it happen. Just like most things worthwhile in ones life: you have to be Nike and “just do it.”

NicLynn - 10 April 2014 02:39 PM

Apparently this is some weird part of my spiritual path where I keep waiting for someone to explain to me, via logic, how Nietzsche was wrong, and no one has an answer other than ‘faith’. Oh fer Chrissakes, saralynn, fine, get out the tissues and I’ll join you in your state of woeful uncertainty. Let’s order a bunch of pizza and make it a girl’s night.

Well maybe that’s your problem? I’m saying that in all humility. Maybe you’re waiting instead of doing? This ain’t “faith” like Christian Certainty where they pray to some extradimensional Sky Father in hopes he doesn’t send them to Hell. This is work. Nietzsche isn’t wrong. But nor is he 100% right. Guess what - I’m not claiming that either. Buddha isn’t 100% anything - in fact, he’s completely irrelevant. And that’s the issue I see with this last blurb - it sounds like you want all the answers without seeking them? Uncertainty isn’t woeful either - it’s a fact of life. How one deals with that fact is the basis of good spirituality in the non-religious sense. Wouldn’t you agree, all euphemisms aside? (I know you’re just being semi-playful in the last paragraph, but it does strike close to home on some persistent misunderstandings in this thread, imo.)

In Rinzai Zen (where I started) that expectation of *wanting certainty* is a big stumbling block, and you’d get hit with a stick. That is part of the root of a much larger problem. From a Buddhist perspective anyhow.

 
tenbones
 
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tenbones
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10 April 2014 19:01
 

Another consideration - given your last point NicLynn about requiring logic about Nietzsche… and this might require it being a new topic.

Well I am a Nietzsche fan - so doing this will require a little setup

Nietzsche derided mysticism. But his brand of mysticism as understood in ‘Birth of Tragedy’ as a weakness and the subjugation of will. Her derides Buddhism in particular for being nihilistic in its assertion that the world is illusory.

In his own words:

““Buddhism is the only positivistic religion in history; even in its epistemology a strict phenomenalism. In its age, Buddhism has become passive and complacent—feelings of unsatisfactoriness are just accepted without struggle. Buddhism is frail and withdrawn from the world and has resigned itself to weakness and weariness. It no longer desires excuses, it just wants relief.”

Heh. Fiery stuff!

But again, as I, and others far more scholarly than myself have asserted (and this isn’t a big shocker) - Nietzsche’s exposure to Buddhism was very limited. So from his egoic worldview - That mankind should be struggling at all costs to define their own destinies, (sic the Will to Power) He ignores both ends of the spectrum of his philosophical thesis on Buddhism. Buddhism asserts the world AS the one that man creates for himself. THAT is the illusion. Not that the world is literally AN illusion. That mere premise changes the entirety of his preconception of what Buddhism is about.

Which under no real surprise on my part - is endemic of the West, generally, (including myself) who hold our self-identities to be sacrosanct, without real regard to the fact they are comprised of our own fictional narratives and those handed to us by our cultural traditions. The double-irony here is these are the very things that Nietzsche was railing against. Likewise despite his vitriolic thesis of the Overman - who will slice and dice his way through religious morality and the chains of systemic control, he ignores the downside effect of the fact it’s using the very ego that *creates* those systems to simply replace rather than rooting it out. Which happens to be the aim of Buddhism, but on an individual basis. (no one said it was efficient.)

Now I’m not making this as a case that Buddhism triumphs over Nietzsche, I’m saying his stance on Buddhism is wrong only because his assumptions and understandings of it were limited by the time and place of his life.

 
burt
 
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10 April 2014 19:47
 

I’m going to continue this from a different perspective.  The term non-dual state doesn’t really fit for me, in some ways, and neither does the Sufi term fana (annihilation), although both are accurate technical descriptions.  I think maybe the term awake may provide a bit of a fit that is more congenial for my point of view.  In my main School of practice we distinguish various levels of subjectivity, all of them categorized under the general term of asleep.  The highest level of subjectivity is simply the realization “I am asleep.”  Followed by beginning to search for a means of waking up.  And, as the saying goes, “thereby hangs a tale.”  One of the problems with simply telling a person that they are asleep, however, is that when you do that, they either go directly into denial, or wake up briefly and say “No I’m not.”  Then go right back to sleep.  The Kensho experience is the realization of the actual difference between waking and sleeping states with a reorientation towards being awake.  In one sense, it’s a choice of the red pill or the blue pill—your life can go on very nicely while you wander through it in a state of sleep, you can make lots of money, have nice children, live in a nice house, have good friends who agree with you (at least in terms of social superficiality), etc., etc,. etc.  I’ve heard it said that at some point a person makes a conscious choice between becoming completely mechanical or trying to wake up, and a person who chooses the former, so long as they follow the social rules, don’t commit crimes, are a decent hard working upright citizen, and so on, is blameless.  Most people, however, don’t know that they have a choice and simply fall into the mechanical mode of existence which, bracketing the suffering induced by all that mental chatter, anxiety, fearfulness, etc., can be quite comfortable. 

Of course, this is not an either/or sort of thing.  Very few people, if any, are awake all of the time and almost everybody has at least brief moments of wakefulness.  That’s where much of the work comes in: Kensho being the first experience of the awakened state, that is a taste.  The work is in (1) learning how to experience this state again after inevitably falling out of it, and (2) learning how to maintain it once there.  And part of that can involve exercises (either provided by a teacher or self selected) that act to bring various aspects of the ego that lead to loss of awareness (i.e., sleep) into consciousness so the underlying mechanisms can be observed and dealt with in an appropriate way.  One way of saying this is that self-observation is (at least a part of) the path to self-remembering.

 
tenbones
 
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10 April 2014 20:03
 

... and there you have it. I couldn’t have said it better, burt.

I think my problem is in trying not to get too technical about it… it leaves the big picture with blank spots. Thanks.

I loved your kensho/Matrix analogy. Perfect.

/bows

 
saralynn
 
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10 April 2014 20:25
 

  Nic: I see a ton of exuberance and enthusiasm for this path you’ve undertaken, - See more at: http://www.project-reason.org/forum/viewthread/27919/P45/#350380

Well, he might be a tad more ebullient than usual because he’s found someone to talk to.  Remember….he’s living in the Bible belt. This means he is a misfit like the rest of us and has found the right place to hang out.  Now, to make it official, both Mario (our notorious theist) and GAD (our notorious atheist) have to insult him to make it an official welcome.

 
tenbones
 
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10 April 2014 20:28
 

Everyone has to get hazed in every social circle. It’s a tradition!

Living in the Bible Belt has its own rewards. You know who your philosophical allies and enemies are with astounding quickness… LOL

 
mjhrobson
 
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10 April 2014 20:43
 
tenbones - 10 April 2014 05:01 PM

Another consideration - given your last point NicLynn about requiring logic about Nietzsche… and this might require it being a new topic.

Well I am a Nietzsche fan - so doing this will require a little setup

Nietzsche derided mysticism. But his brand of mysticism as understood in ‘Birth of Tragedy’ as a weakness and the subjugation of will. Her derides Buddhism in particular for being nihilistic in its assertion that the world is illusory.

I myself am a reader of Nietzsche. I do not and would not call myself a fan. Nietzsche’s treatment of disciples within Thus Spoke Zarathustra makes me think he does not want fans/disciples… That would be a discussion for another time. 

tenbones - 10 April 2014 05:01 PM

In his own words:

““Buddhism is the only positivistic religion in history; even in its epistemology a strict phenomenalism. In its age, Buddhism has become passive and complacent—feelings of unsatisfactoriness are just accepted without struggle. Buddhism is frail and withdrawn from the world and has resigned itself to weakness and weariness. It no longer desires excuses, it just wants relief.”

Heh. Fiery stuff!

But again, as I, and others far more scholarly than myself have asserted (and this isn’t a big shocker) - Nietzsche’s exposure to Buddhism was very limited. So from his egoic worldview - That mankind should be struggling at all costs to define their own destinies, (sic the Will to Power) He ignores both ends of the spectrum of his philosophical thesis on Buddhism. Buddhism asserts the world AS the one that man creates for himself. THAT is the illusion. Not that the world is literally AN illusion. That mere premise changes the entirety of his preconception of what Buddhism is about.

Which under no real surprise on my part - is endemic of the West, generally, (including myself) who hold our self-identities to be sacrosanct, without real regard to the fact they are comprised of our own fictional narratives and those handed to us by our cultural traditions. The double-irony here is these are the very things that Nietzsche was railing against. Likewise despite his vitriolic thesis of the Overman - who will slice and dice his way through religious morality and the chains of systemic control, he ignores the downside effect of the fact it’s using the very ego that *creates* those systems to simply replace rather than rooting it out. Which happens to be the aim of Buddhism, but on an individual basis. (no one said it was efficient.)

Now I’m not making this as a case that Buddhism triumphs over Nietzsche, I’m saying his stance on Buddhism is wrong only because his assumptions and understandings of it were limited by the time and place of his life.

Your reading of Nietzsche is limited. Nietzsche is not railing against our narratives of self, rather the opposite he is astounded by them. For example, He is blown away that through an act of narrative self-invention the Christians were able to conquer the Romans. Not in force but in weakness, guile, and cunning. For example: The Christians transmute Pagan Roman values through narrative and re-description from Good into Evil, and their weakness in the face of Roman might into being Good (through the narrative of the martyr). He still thinks this morality is a denial of reality, but in this narrative denial of reality he sees potential, the possibility of the Overman. Herein as the Christian reinvents their position with respect to the Romans, so we might create and re-create ourselves. Through similar narrative mechanisms that were employed by Christians the Overman could sculpt himself into something new and wondrous, but from a position of strength not weakness. Yes such an act would slice and dice through Christian morality, but he has no illusions about what he is suggesting. He knows he is replacing, he seeks to transmute values not discard them.

As to Buddhism, obviously Nietzsche is going to see it as Nihilism. It is so because it sheds the ego - for fear of suffering. Nietzsche wants the Overman to be forged in the fire of suffering as tempered steel; as the Christians were (in On the Genealogy of Morals) at the hands of their Roman masters. He seeks to produce the ego as a work of art. An ego that denies nothing (including itself), that acknowledges itself fully, warts and all, and then works to overcome what was/is moving towards becoming. He does leave this becoming vague… But he does not want to tell us what to become, he wants to act for ourselves in becoming and not be reactive products of our history and culture.

 
GAD
 
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10 April 2014 21:05
 
saralynn - 10 April 2014 06:25 PM

Now, to make it official, both Mario (our notorious theist) and GAD (our notorious atheist) have to insult him to make it an official welcome.

Well he is able to match Niclynn’s word count which is impressive, and on Buddhism no less, that’s double damned. But the only thing more mind numbingly boring then Buddhism is watching people mentally masturbate over it, and so I’m usually headed for real porn before the end of the first sentence.

 
 
sojourner
 
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10 April 2014 21:24
 
GAD - 10 April 2014 07:05 PM
saralynn - 10 April 2014 06:25 PM

Now, to make it official, both Mario (our notorious theist) and GAD (our notorious atheist) have to insult him to make it an official welcome.

Well he is able to match Niclynn’s word count which is impressive, and on Buddhism no less, that’s double damned. But the only thing more mind numbingly boring then Buddhism is watching people mentally masturbate over it, and so I’m usually headed for real porn before the end of the first sentence.


I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that sequence of events, GAD…  What kind of porn? Is it nice wholesome porn, at least, with a spiritual bent? Eco-friendly? Fair trade pay for any and all actors involved? Do they spend 45 minutes talking about the ethics of porn? And then…  wink

 
 
tenbones
 
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10 April 2014 21:25
 
mjhrobson - 10 April 2014 06:43 PM

Your reading of Nietzsche is limited. Nietzsche is not railing against our narratives of self, rather the opposite he is astounded by them. For example, He is blown away that through an act of narrative self-invention the Christians were able to conquer the Romans. Not in force but in weakness, guile, and cunning. For example: The Christians transmute Pagan Roman values through narrative and re-description from Good into Evil, and their weakness in the face of Roman might into being Good (through the narrative of the martyr). He still thinks this morality is a denial of reality, but in this narrative denial of reality he sees potential, the possibility of the Overman. Herein as the Christian reinvents their position with respect to the Romans, so we might create and re-create ourselves. Through similar narrative mechanisms that were employed by Christians the Overman could sculpt himself into something new and wondrous, but from a position of strength not weakness. Yes such an act would slice and dice through Christian morality, but he has no illusions about what he is suggesting. He knows he is replacing, he seeks to transmute values not discard them.

Correction. My reading of Nietzsche is extensive. My discussion of him and his philosophy here is limited, on purpose, because it’s not germane to the thread.  Just thought I’d mention that before we go traipsing off to Debateville.

mjhrobson - 10 April 2014 06:43 PM

As to Buddhism, obviously Nietzsche is going to see it as Nihilism. It is so because it sheds the ego - for fear of suffering. Nietzsche wants the Overman to be forged in the fire of suffering as tempered steel; as the Christians were (in On the Genealogy of Morals) at the hands of their Roman masters. He seeks to produce the ego as a work of art. An ego that denies nothing (including itself), that acknowledges itself fully, warts and all, and then works to overcome what was/is moving towards becoming. He does leave this becoming vague… But he does not want to tell us what to become, he wants to act for ourselves in becoming and not be reactive products of our history and culture.

... which arrives precisely at the point where I say - he didn’t have enough understanding of Buddhism, therefore his conclusions on it were wrong. Note the Overman as a concept does *literally* nothing but replace, as we both indicated in our own ways, the problem that comes before it - *because* it is an ego-construct. Nietzsche never speaks about how as a philosophy this exemplifies human achievement enmasse - rather it only, ironically, puts a pessisimistic borne hope that this Overman will appear. New Boss, ultimately will devolve into the Old Boss. It’s not that I don’t think it doesn’t have any merit - it does. I think as a product of his time, it’s unsustainable as written. But again - this should go to the philosophy forum.

 
tenbones
 
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tenbones
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10 April 2014 21:27
 
GAD - 10 April 2014 07:05 PM
saralynn - 10 April 2014 06:25 PM

Now, to make it official, both Mario (our notorious theist) and GAD (our notorious atheist) have to insult him to make it an official welcome.

Well he is able to match Niclynn’s word count which is impressive, and on Buddhism no less, that’s double damned. But the only thing more mind numbingly boring then Buddhism is watching people mentally masturbate over it, and so I’m usually headed for real porn before the end of the first sentence.

Aww that it? I was expecting more.

Buddhism is pretty boring, granted. But then being tempted by porn is so much easier. Path of least resistance and all that…

 
GAD
 
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10 April 2014 21:35
 
NicLynn - 10 April 2014 07:24 PM
GAD - 10 April 2014 07:05 PM
saralynn - 10 April 2014 06:25 PM

Now, to make it official, both Mario (our notorious theist) and GAD (our notorious atheist) have to insult him to make it an official welcome.

Well he is able to match Niclynn’s word count which is impressive, and on Buddhism no less, that’s double damned. But the only thing more mind numbingly boring then Buddhism is watching people mentally masturbate over it, and so I’m usually headed for real porn before the end of the first sentence.


I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that sequence of events, GAD…  What kind of porn? Is it nice wholesome porn, at least, with a spiritual bent? Eco-friendly? Fair trade pay for any and all actors involved? Do they spend 45 minutes talking about the ethics of porn? And then…  wink

Well it does involve phallic shaped crosses and nonprofits.

 
 
GAD
 
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10 April 2014 21:39
 
tenbones - 10 April 2014 07:27 PM
GAD - 10 April 2014 07:05 PM
saralynn - 10 April 2014 06:25 PM

Now, to make it official, both Mario (our notorious theist) and GAD (our notorious atheist) have to insult him to make it an official welcome.

Well he is able to match Niclynn’s word count which is impressive, and on Buddhism no less, that’s double damned. But the only thing more mind numbingly boring then Buddhism is watching people mentally masturbate over it, and so I’m usually headed for real porn before the end of the first sentence.

Aww that it? I was expecting more.

Buddhism is pretty boring, granted. But then being tempted by porn is so much easier. Path of least resistance and all that…

More formal insults will have to wait for a topic I can stay awake for and not get so easily from smile

 
 
sojourner
 
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10 April 2014 22:22
 

saralynn - I know, it does look interesting, although honestly, my reading list is so endless that it’s like hoarding at this point - I know I’ll never get to them all, yet I can’t bear to part with them and just cross them off the list.


GAD - Oh my! Now listen, there will be none of that at book club. It’s a very proper affair with tea and genteel manners. Saralynn doesn’t know that yet, so don’t tell her.


burt, tenbones - I think we’re at the going-round-in circles part of contrasting ideas here, so again, going to leave it for now. Essentially, as we’ve hashed out many times before on this board, it comes down to whether you do or do not accept subjective experience as ‘evidence’. Despite whatever hopes and ‘well hey you never know’ ideas I might have, I’m just not comfortable adopting that as an actual position, the idea that one can say “I have the evidence I need via subjective experience” (well, ok, in a very broad sense I’ve been debating with ASD that everything is ultimately subjective - oh look, we’re all already enlighted! all over again - but within my version of functional reality, I mean). If others have different standards of evidence, well, ok - for me, I ask for external verification in terms of correlates that can be measured reliably.


mj - Not to get too tangential, but interesting thoughts on Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s conclusions about what one should do after noticing the nature of reality (the nature of it via his reasoning, at least) I do not particularly agree with. And I do think Buddhism takes Nietzsche’s ideas and goes ‘further’ with them, in some ways - but it almost gets into something like mysticism via reasoning. For me, again, I’m not totally comfortable following eastern thought down every path it goes without some additional verification. People these days seem to get terribly excited about Buddhism and vague quantum concepts that I don’t particularly understand and how they seem to align, so if that’s the case, great - but again, for all my interest in philosophy, I don’t know how comfortable I am saying that because something is logical it must also be true about the world. That’s putting a lot of faith in logic and chains of human reasoning and the nature of those tools.

 
 
burt
 
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11 April 2014 01:25
 

Not familiar with Nietzsche really, but as described here the Overman idea seems to bear conceptual resemblance to the Shattari method in Sufism (the “rapidness”) which works, in part, to directly strengthen the ego (building it into an entity appropriate for the time and place) while at the same time becoming detached from it.  It is considered very fast, and also dangerous in that it’s easy to go wrong.

[ Edited: 11 April 2014 01:29 by burt]
 
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