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A ZEN DESCRIPTION OF GOD

 
mjhrobson
 
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mjhrobson
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11 April 2014 06:42
 
tenbones - 10 April 2014 07:25 PM
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.

I am sorry about jumping to conclusions about your reading practices. Moving on from issues of interpretation of Nietzsche, and back to Buddhism.

The accusation of nihilism which is still very much on the table stems in Buddhism’s approach to the Ego itself. The Ego is a fundamental scaffolding of human psychology, to deny it via any method (subjugation, annihilation, or sub-dual) is to turn away from what we are. This is precisely nihilism, rather than working with what is, one denies aspects thereof in an attempt to become something new… but in such ends up something less.

To shape something/oneself truly one should not subdue the ego (which is impossible anyway), rather it should be nurtured and grown through the introduction of experience, art, poetry, literature, and science. The ego is the source of human will, without it, with it subdued, we become listless ascetics arrested in our development within a cave/monastery doing nothing, thinking of nothing, and in such pretending to be profound.

The greatest monks where always the ones that left the monastery - defying their own teachings - and came among the people and tried to shape us. Those that followed their way of nihilism stayed within subdued and died unnoticed.

I am interested in us, the us possessed of an ego and will - which rages against the limitations of what is - and seek the nourishment of this ego and will. In Buddhism the nourishment of the Ego is distinctly lacking and in such its concern for us is nihilistic and detrimental.

Finally old boss becoming new boss is banal. That is like saying a president/prime minister is just a king/queen, ignoring the bill of human rights, the constitution, the ideals of equality and liberty, and that the society has changed around these distinct institutions of leadership. New boss is not just old boss if new boss is new and brings new ways for us to be.

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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11 April 2014 12:49
 
mjhrobson - 11 April 2014 04:42 AM

The greatest monks where always the ones that left the monastery - defying their own teachings - and came among the people and tried to shape us. Those that followed their way of nihilism stayed within subdued and died unnoticed.


I think this touches on a point about Buddhism that is often sort of glossed over in the west, though - it’s a religion. It’s also a philosophy, but in many ways the philosophy leads to the religion (with a lot of additional dogmatic baggage that has been accrued over the years, as with any religion). So if you believe the claim that we are all in samsara and the monks that stay in the monastery are getting out of samsara for the good of all sentient beings, it frames things a bit differently. If you believe this life is all that exists and it’s a total lights-out experience when you die, then yes, I think it follows that ‘goodness’ comes from how much suffering one actively alleviated strictly through worldly actions. (Although I might argue that people trying to ‘shape’ other people ultimately causes a whole hell of a lot of difficulties, so maybe in that sense sitting peacefully in a monastery and leaving other people the hell alone is, in a sort of global ‘hey, if everyone did this we’d have no war or conflict’, the way to go).


As far as shaping the ego - as I’ve said before, I don’t think a lot of focus on ego one way or the other is that helpful, I think it’s ultimately a matter of expanding the picture as much as possible. We can probably all picture a person who only cares, in the most sociopathic way, about his / her own ego. For most adults, as we grew, we came to integrate a bigger part of the world into this picture. Understanding how our actions can help / hurt others and in turn feeling pleasure or pain in the knowledge of others being helped or hurt - integrating a bigger picture, again, not just intellectually but at a level of emotional connectedness.

 
 
tenbones
 
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tenbones
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11 April 2014 13:48
 
NicLynn - 11 April 2014 10:49 AM

[
I think this touches on a point about Buddhism that is often sort of glossed over in the west, though - it’s a religion. It’s also a philosophy, but in many ways the philosophy leads to the religion (with a lot of additional dogmatic baggage that has been accrued over the years, as with any religion). So if you believe the claim that we are all in samsara and the monks that stay in the monastery are getting out of samsara for the good of all sentient beings, it frames things a bit differently. If you believe this life is all that exists and it’s a total lights-out experience when you die, then yes, I think it follows that ‘goodness’ comes from how much suffering one actively alleviated strictly through worldly actions. (Although I might argue that people trying to ‘shape’ other people ultimately causes a whole hell of a lot of difficulties, so maybe in that sense sitting peacefully in a monastery and leaving other people the hell alone is, in a sort of global ‘hey, if everyone did this we’d have no war or conflict’, the way to go).


As far as shaping the ego - as I’ve said before, I don’t think a lot of focus on ego one way or the other is that helpful, I think it’s ultimately a matter of expanding the picture as much as possible. We can probably all picture a person who only cares, in the most sociopathic way, about his / her own ego. For most adults, as we grew, we came to integrate a bigger part of the world into this picture. Understanding how our actions can help / hurt others and in turn feeling pleasure or pain in the knowledge of others being helped or hurt - integrating a bigger picture, again, not just intellectually but at a level of emotional connectedness.

Let me posit this - and give more clarification, as I believe we’re getting down to the dirty details.

I think the co-equivocation with ‘annihilation’/‘subjugation’ are loaded. I do not use ‘annihilation’ because it’s a false statement, flat out. Buddhism and other contemplative practices do not *annihilate* ego. The practices do subjugate ego for very good reasons.

My posit is this: if one were to just assume for a moment, that ones emotional feelings color ones reason in even the most ‘microbrial’ sense - then it by definition would make ones logic ‘more subjective’ than not. The simple fact is, we as humans with emotions that are essentially evolved instincts that we pretend are absolutes are ruled far more than most people think. The very language we use is rife with it, because the cultural and subjective meanings in each word used is charged with those emotions. Saying “Jesus” to a die-hard Atheist is going to have an actual measurable physical registration that is different than a die-hard fundamentalist Evangelical.

As a species we mythologize everything. It’s completely unconscious. The things we mythologize and give emotional meaning, which many times are completely at odds with what we believe is our rationality, clouds our perceptions of things in some fairly significant but subtle ways.  Even many Atheists perspectives are only defined by what they claim they disavow, which has been pointed out by many, including Harris himself, as being irrational.

Contemplative practice, without the hocus pocus of religion, which is what myth and magic believing conscious-minded people do as routine to philosophy, subjugates those egoic impulses. The posit is that reason, tempered by unconditioned intuition is a more clarified state than letting ones ego rule you.

Claiming that the ‘ego is the natural state’ is literally self-serving, which by definition is what Buddhists particularly claim the ego only does. It serves itself. That is the fallacy as claimed by Buddhists (and other Eastern Traditions, and metaphorically by Western mystical traditions) that the self-identification of the ego is the real root of suffering.

BTW - I should probably mention since it keeps being insinuated through no fault of anyone’s, but I should make clear: I don’t consider myself “Buddhist”. It’s just a handy label that approximates things in order to help people that require such labels for the purposes of discussion. “Buddhism” is just that - a label. That it happens to denote a collection of philosophical history, and religious toe-jam smeared onto it by people of undeveloped conscious drives is irrelevant, ultimately. Ignorance in the name of anything is still just ignorance. Of course there are gradations of that.

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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11 April 2014 14:11
 

I think we just come from different schools of thought with the whole Vipassana vs. Zen thing, tenbones (for example, in my reading of the aggregates, ‘emotion’, as in mental states, not traditional western emotion, precedes logic and ‘rational’ thinking).


Again, that’s fine. Different areas of focus. Eastern philosophy has a lot to say about ‘the relative world’, and to be honest, I probably neglect this portion because at the moment all I want to do is swim in the ocean. I don’t think either one is ‘true’ Zen - it’s all true Zen. We swim for awhile until we see people or things or ideas calling to us from the shore; we play in the sand until we forget who we are and it makes us miserable enough to start looking around for water. It’s all Zen, ultimately, I think, even understanding the bigger picture there and not understanding it.

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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13 April 2014 14:58
 

Shows up not only in Zen and other Eastern paths:

Currently reading Peter Kingsley, Reality, which “...introduces us th the extraordinary mystical tradition that lies right at the roots of western culture….”

  “Wherever we look, the very act of looking means that separation simply doesn’t exist.  And this absence of separation is not some intellectual or mystical idea, something reserved for spirits or angels.  It’s the reality of the everyday world that we live in.
  “Until we realize this we are always endlessly wandering from place to place.  Once it has been realized, there is no longer anywhere to go.  Our consciousness is no longer something lost, somewhere, inside a world that hems it in on every side—but the other way around.
  “Wherever it seems that you go, or come, everything happens in your consciousness.  And that consciousness never moves, is always the same.” Peter Kingsley, Reality, p.80

“The plainest sign that people are badly disorientated is when they start orientating themselves by their disorientation.  Then they become so confused that they believe everything is perfectly in order; proceeding just fine.  They are so helplessly lost they forget they are lost, even if they happen to be reminded.  And this, Parmenides is softly saying, is the case with us.”  Reality, p.90

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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13 April 2014 18:58
 

Thanks for posting that burt. This is certainly at the basis of a lot of contemplative traditions, the idea of oneness, and I like the way many roads seem to lead there. Science seems to support this idea to an extent (certainly there is no actual ‘self’ or solid, rock-like external reality that science has pointed to thus far); philosophical reasoning can lead down this road; examination of subjective experience appears to as well. Whether those are all ultimately hat tricks? Who knows, but obviously I have a bit of a biased hope on this one.


I’m still not clear on what trans-humanism is but I think tenbones was pointing to the idea that, in the relative world, concepts build on concepts and the resulting experience changes at each ‘level’. Experience comes to know more and more experience. I’ve been thinking about this with Easter coming up, what a powerful archetype the Christ story is and what it conveys. It must have really captured some truth about the age in which it was created, something people were intuiting. To me this is - without an absolute moral code in the world - a rulebook showing a right that is always right and a wrong that is always wrong - with a world in which morality is essentially a program run, in a relative manner, as the collective outcome of the moral sense of billions of minds - the innocent will always suffer. In fact, factor in determinism / no free-will with relativism, and no one but the innocent will suffer, and there is no way around this. The image of Jesus tells us our own story, in that sense, it says something powerful about the state of the universe that obviously resonated with millions over the years.

 
 
tenbones
 
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tenbones
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15 April 2014 20:36
 
NicLynn - 13 April 2014 04:58 PM

I’m still not clear on what trans-humanism is but I think tenbones was pointing to the idea that, in the relative world, concepts build on concepts and the resulting experience changes at each ‘level’. Experience comes to know more and more experience. I’ve been thinking about this with Easter coming up, what a powerful archetype the Christ story is and what it conveys. It must have really captured some truth about the age in which it was created, something people were intuiting. To me this is - without an absolute moral code in the world - a rulebook showing a right that is always right and a wrong that is always wrong - with a world in which morality is essentially a program run, in a relative manner, as the collective outcome of the moral sense of billions of minds - the innocent will always suffer. In fact, factor in determinism / no free-will with relativism, and no one but the innocent will suffer, and there is no way around this. The image of Jesus tells us our own story, in that sense, it says something powerful about the state of the universe that obviously resonated with millions over the years.

At this point - we’re talking less about Zen, and more about what non-duality, points to.

And in this regard, I would disagree with your conclusion. The power of the story of Jesus is not in the archetype of someone greater than normal humans dying for magical redemption. That is the illusion. It’s about the fact that in the presence of this very moment, in the heart of suffering that he spoke about compassion to all mankind despite the suffering. And as the tale shows - walks willingly into it. Whether you believe it or not, it’s a powerful story in context with the time.

In Western society it’s very easy to get caught up in the ego-stroking idea that “I’m with that guy, Jesus Christ” - see? I go to his fan club meeting every week, and I follow his rules everyday, and I make sure I tell all the non-believers that they can go to Heaven (whatever that is) if they do what do, say the words I say, and warn those that don’t they’re going to suffer for eternity in the fiery torments of Hell.

OR - define ones position on religion (which are also constructs of smoke and mirrors free of deeper understanding) - and say “I’m Anti-That”, that’s what I am. . To the degree that one will defend taking a position of a non-position strictly as an identifier is probably telling that the issue in both cases is the same, though the two positions are cognitively different.

Non-duality, and transpersonal psychology are co-terminus at the point in which the very same morality and ethics that *all* cultures and societies acknowledge - Don’t kill, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t abuse ones reproductive power (note - sex is just one thing - it’s not EVERYTHING contained in that), treat people as you want to be treated. This is the BASELINE.

Consider how little progress we’ve made in those few things. Seriously think about it. We create systems that predate upon the worst aspects of our pathological emotions: fear, anger, greed. While we’ve soared in other psychological capacities like our reason and rationality. In this - Buddhism (and other traditions including a lot of messages central to Jesus - minus all the hocus pocus) are more relevant than ever: the world suffers. We’re all going to die. The question is what will be our position and contribution to ourselves and our communities and our reality while we’re in it?

If you’re grasping at straws without understanding the crux of who that is that’s doing the grasping: you’re proving the point of the problem. This is why many Christians don’t believe in Reason. It’s far too comfortable for ones ego to believe in the fairytale of Heaven. Or Atheists sneer at terms like mysticism - because it’s far too easy to cleave to the bad idea ‘mysticism = magic’.

A good adage for contemplative practice: These rocks ain’t gonna move themselves. But if you like rocks, well there’s plenty cluttering up the place.

 
hibrahim svi
 
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hibrahim svi
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20 July 2014 16:21
 

Imagine if this universe evolved out of the pure essence of a pure creative feeling such as love. A pure feeling is knowable as a one word poem. It’s without need of explanation. To live a life as love as your base is to live by “right action” in the way of Zen. And as such, with no need of theories or explanations.

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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20 July 2014 17:54
 
hibrahim svi - 20 July 2014 02:21 PM

A pure feeling is knowable as a one word poem.

Word.

(It’s a one word poem.  It’s hard to rhyme those.)

 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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20 July 2014 17:58
 
LadyJane - 20 July 2014 03:54 PM
hibrahim svi - 20 July 2014 02:21 PM

A pure feeling is knowable as a one word poem.

Word.

(It’s a one word poem.  It’s hard to rhyme those.)

lovey-dovey.

With a hyphen is it one word… maybe..  might not count.  smile

 
EN
 
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EN
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20 July 2014 18:55
 
MARTIN UK - 20 July 2014 03:58 PM
LadyJane - 20 July 2014 03:54 PM
hibrahim svi - 20 July 2014 02:21 PM

A pure feeling is knowable as a one word poem.

Word.

(It’s a one word poem.  It’s hard to rhyme those.)

lovey-dovey.

With a hyphen is it one word… maybe..  might not count.  smile

Now you had to add an explanation.  Very un-Zen-like (one word).

 
MARTIN_UK
 
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MARTIN_UK
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20 July 2014 19:23
 
EN - 20 July 2014 04:55 PM
MARTIN UK - 20 July 2014 03:58 PM
LadyJane - 20 July 2014 03:54 PM
hibrahim svi - 20 July 2014 02:21 PM

A pure feeling is knowable as a one word poem.

Word.

(It’s a one word poem.  It’s hard to rhyme those.)

lovey-dovey.

With a hyphen is it one word… maybe..  might not count.  smile

Now you had to add an explanation.  Very un-Zen-like (one word).

I know… it’s a life time of gentle returns for me.  cheese

 
hibrahim svi
 
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hibrahim svi
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21 July 2014 18:35
 

when a feeling is felt unconditionally, it’s felt without need of explanation. when conditions are involved, there’s a degree of pollution. when you can think of a thing or person who’s unconditionally loved (or hated), if the feeling is pure there’s a gap in space where the feeling means what it is, without need of explanation. as such, it’s a one word poem because poetry comes from the heart, not the brain. one word, felt, bring you to the verge of not-thought, of null thought, where what is is what it is.

when you think a thought that’s followed by another thought, pause to sense that gap in space between the two thoughts where nothing is because nothing is there. when there, you are with your soul. which, if created out of the stream of love, is in harmony with the universe, which in its original state was one of purity, as love. (but that’s another tangent).

 
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