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Immortality

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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14 September 2016 11:49
 

“There are children playing in the streets who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.” -  J. Robert Oppenheimer

NL:
...if these little kids are so great at solving complex problems in physics, why is there no empirical evidence that little kids actually, you know, do that? Where’s the list of discoveries in physics made by toddlers?

Exactly; well said.
Of course, kids’ out-of-the-box utterances can trigger adults to consider new perspectives.  The idea of “out-of-the-box” is that our standard education and cultural training sets limits on our thinking.  Still, Oppenheimer obviously is using hyperbola.

 
sojourner
 
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14 September 2016 17:55
 
hannahtoo - 14 September 2016 11:49 AM

Exactly; well said.
Of course, kids’ out-of-the-box utterances can trigger adults to consider new perspectives.  The idea of “out-of-the-box” is that our standard education and cultural training sets limits on our thinking.  Still, Oppenheimer obviously is using hyperbola.


Yes, I think the general societal intuition at the moment is that there is maybe a sweet spot to be found between enculturated norms and free-for-all ‘all brainstorming all the time’ thinking. I’ve noticed my liberal friends and acquaintances wax poetic about the play-and-creativity-based, “to heck with standardized testing and homework” style of education that seems to be prominent in parts of Europe and particularly in Scandinavian countries. My conservative friends and acquaintances speak with admiration of more Asian systems where, according to women I’ve known from places like China and Taiwan (going on their anecdotal report but have no reason to think they’d lie about it,) preschoolers sit still at desks quietly for hours on end learning and practicing the incredibly complex written language system and a child’s full time “job”, from the school day to hours with their after-school tutor, is to learn (no doubt there’s a socioeconomic component to that, that’s beyond my knowledge, but for children who do go to school and on to higher education.) Similarly, while I very much like the mindfulness movement in this country, one of the few reservations I have about it is that American culture has become what it has based on some sort of “anti-mindful” concepts - dream big, follow your dreams, imagination is most important, reach for the stars. I think we could pursue that way of being more responsibly and sustainably, of course, but I would hate to see that cultural component simply lost.

[ Edited: 14 September 2016 17:57 by sojourner]
 
 
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14 September 2016 19:04
 

I don’t think there is one best way to educate.  Especially when looking at the wee ones, just starting their socialization into school. 

My second son was always very calm and focused.  He went to Montessori preschool and loved all the fine motor and organizational stuff.  One day I watched him methodically, neatly, building a pattern with blocks, while another little boy was running around near him being an airplane, or some such.  My son needed time to explore patterns; the other kid needed space to zoom around.  Actually, my first son was a bit more like the airplane boy.  He got sent home from kindergarten one day for biting another child.

I like that more options are being created for education, at least in my state.  We have a “choice” school system, where parents don’t have to enroll their kids at the nearest school, but can choose others nearby.  There are environmental outdoorsy schools as well as structured schools where kids wear uniforms.  Some emphasize the arts; and others, technology.  Many families homeschool, but may supplement with public school classes in art or PE or math.  Private schools, religious and non-, also thrive.

I can’t imagine that sitting in rows of little desks is a good fit for all kindergartners.  And I’ve read a bit about the stress engendered by the high pressure Japanese and Korean school systems.  Again, choice seems like the way to go, still realizing that parents don’t always choose what is most fitting for their children.  As for me as a tot, I’d have loved the outdoor kindergarten.

 
unsmoked
 
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15 September 2016 10:42
 
hannahtoo - 14 September 2016 07:04 PM

I can’t imagine that sitting in rows of little desks is a good fit for all kindergartners.  And I’ve read a bit about the stress engendered by the high pressure Japanese and Korean school systems.  Again, choice seems like the way to go, still realizing that parents don’t always choose what is most fitting for their children.  As for me as a tot, I’d have loved the outdoor kindergarten.

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”  - Albert Einstein

 

 
 
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15 September 2016 11:00
 

Immortality

“If you want to be free, get to know your real self.  It has no form, no appearance, no root, no basis, no abode, but is lively and buoyant.  It responds with versatile facility, but its function cannot be located.  Therefore when you look for it you become further from it, when you seek it you turn away from it all the more.”  -  Zen master Linji

Q:  Is the real self consciousness?

“When you look for it . . . when you seek it . . .”  -  Q:  Is this consciousness seeking to become conscious?  Consciousness looking for consciousness?

“When will you ever stop?”  -  Zen

(Linji quoted from the book ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

 
 
sojourner
 
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15 September 2016 17:15
 
hannahtoo - 14 September 2016 07:04 PM

I don’t think there is one best way to educate.  Especially when looking at the wee ones, just starting their socialization into school. 

My second son was always very calm and focused.  He went to Montessori preschool and loved all the fine motor and organizational stuff.  One day I watched him methodically, neatly, building a pattern with blocks, while another little boy was running around near him being an airplane, or some such.  My son needed time to explore patterns; the other kid needed space to zoom around.  Actually, my first son was a bit more like the airplane boy.  He got sent home from kindergarten one day for biting another child.

I like that more options are being created for education, at least in my state.  We have a “choice” school system, where parents don’t have to enroll their kids at the nearest school, but can choose others nearby.  There are environmental outdoorsy schools as well as structured schools where kids wear uniforms.  Some emphasize the arts; and others, technology.  Many families homeschool, but may supplement with public school classes in art or PE or math.  Private schools, religious and non-, also thrive.

I can’t imagine that sitting in rows of little desks is a good fit for all kindergartners.  And I’ve read a bit about the stress engendered by the high pressure Japanese and Korean school systems.  Again, choice seems like the way to go, still realizing that parents don’t always choose what is most fitting for their children.  As for me as a tot, I’d have loved the outdoor kindergarten.


I think that’s great there are options like that in your area! I feel like the schools are more uniform here but are a relatively well-rounded mix of “hands on” and “drill down” style learning (we have many of the top rated schools in the country and were actually churning out so many overachieving students that I know at least UVA and possibly other schools had a cap on the number of students they would take from this area, just so there was some diversity of in-state students geographically.) Still, I think a larger number of distinct options is more ideal overall.

 
 
sojourner
 
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15 September 2016 17:27
 
unsmoked - 15 September 2016 11:00 AM

Immortality

“If you want to be free, get to know your real self.  It has no form, no appearance, no root, no basis, no abode, but is lively and buoyant.  It responds with versatile facility, but its function cannot be located.  Therefore when you look for it you become further from it, when you seek it you turn away from it all the more.”  -  Zen master Linji

Q:  Is the real self consciousness?

“When you look for it . . . when you seek it . . .”  -  Q:  Is this consciousness seeking to become conscious?  Consciousness looking for consciousness?

“When will you ever stop?”  -  Zen

(Linji quoted from the book ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’  -  translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)


I am going through a phase of becoming annoyed with the vague-aries of Zen. Again, that’s on me, not Zen, but still. Animals appear to spend zero time looking for their real self, they don’t appear to be enlightened beings. If the self is always there anyways then what’s the point of the teacher saying “When will you ever stop?” - when will who or what stop doing what? It’s just is-ness being more is-ness being more is-ness, why did he even feel the need to comment? Even if it is an illusory shift, it’s a shift, and there are things that can be said - at least sort of said - about it. Dreams are dreams and yet we can talk about dreams without resorting to brush-off “you just don’t get it” style language (Sri Ramana Maharshi’s “self inquiry” meditation” is a good example of this more precise approach, I think.) Zen, of course, is from a different time place and culture, so I am no doubt imposing my more analytical western 2016 preferences on to it, but I personally prefer the more systematic approach in some forms of Buddhism. Ambiguousness creates confusion where there is not a common experiential referent.

 
 
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15 September 2016 19:40
 

Maybe I’m just feeling out of sorts tonight, but the Buddhist sayings start sounding like the Christian hand-waving.  You know, Jesus is all God and all human.  Or the Trinity is one.  Or in heaven, all the contradictions will be resolved. 

Whatev’.  I wake up tomorrow, and I still have to put one foot in front of another.

 
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15 September 2016 20:15
 
hannahtoo - 15 September 2016 07:40 PM

Maybe I’m just feeling out of sorts tonight, but the Buddhist sayings start sounding like the Christian hand-waving.  You know, Jesus is all God and all human.  Or the Trinity is one.  Or in heaven, all the contradictions will be resolved. 

Whatev’.  I wake up tomorrow, and I still have to put one foot in front of another.


Yeah, I just go kicked out of a meditation retreat due to a disagreement that began with my having more conservative leanings than the members of that group (ergo my signature for now, to commemorate breaking up with the idea of ‘sangha’ for good,) and I’m feeling both bitter and enlightened about how predictable organized religions tend to be. Bitter for obvious reasons - everyone wants the beautiful, spiritual, enlightening ‘fruit’ of spirituality without all the cultural baggage and bossy boots crap that tends to come with it, and I feel like I just lost that (in a group setting, at least) - but enlightened because a part of me sees how it’s like every young teenager thinks they know way better than their parents. To some degree, yes, new movements and religions and spiritualities do get things ‘more right’, or at least more in tune with the conditions of the moment, just like one hopes that every generation improves on things a bit compared to the last. But to some degree, they all learn the same hard lessons that every idealistic teenager does - there are pragmatic realities to the material world, and unfortunate things like tribalism, power plays, control via social pressure and exclusion, and so on would not have existed for eons if they didn’t serve some sort of purpose. Religion, like society, has its version of “law and order” and paradigm building / enforcement, for better or for worse.


Similarly, I think every new wave of spirituality must contend with the fact that while ‘oneness’ is a sort of distant ideal in religion, if a being were experiencing it continuously, they would not actually be here to talk about any such thing, so the ideal can only be discussed from the POV of ‘divided’ beings - the salt doll in the ocean again! On that point I agree with the Buddhist idea of middle path in such things. Understanding of commonality and unity and wise discernment are both important.

 
 
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16 September 2016 05:01
 

...grumbling to add, I’m even finding that Buddhism and Christianity have sexism in common. I understand why I was un-invited to this retreat, because if you’ve seen my writing here, you know I don’t mince words and occasionally go for blood if I see an illogical point being made - something I fully own I should be better about. I can be a jerk about that sometimes, and I apologize. In this case, this group had made some anti-law enforcement statements previously that I disliked so I did not hold back in letting them know how I felt about it (signed up for this retreat because I thought they had implicitly acknowledged their error there and moved on.) But instead of saying “Listen She Devil, you and that tongue of yours can get right the hell out of here for being a bitch,” I get a spiel about how the isolation of a meditation retreat (which I’ve been on at least four of!) would be too much of a “shock” for my delicate system and there might not be enough staff available to help me should I come down with the vapours or hysteria (the evidence of my unstable temperament being the nasty emails I sent, apparently). I mean - really?!? Because it’s the Victorian era and my wandering womb might also be bothering me? Just have the guts to come out and say “This is a club, and if you insult us you get kicked out”, period. Grrr.


Ok, that is kind of gratuitous venting, but my larger point is that I see the mixed messages about female empowerment (You’re empowered! But fragile if you’re Buddhist! And should listen to your husband if you’re Christian!) and open-mindedness (We love everyone, be true to yourself! Except if you really loved Jesus or had True Wisdom you would stopping acting in ways which annoy me, so anytime you do something we don’t like that doesn’t apply!) in pretty much all religions. And I actually think the problem, to some extent, is blindly assuming that one is going to build groups where those things don’t come into play - better to know they will, almost inevitably, come into play, and set some clear guidelines around them - but then I think when religion becomes nothing but bureaucratic rules and regs it loses the ‘soul’ that made it great in the first place. So again, I think that middle path is a fine line.

 
 
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16 September 2016 06:50
 

After throwing myself into religion for awhile, I realized it’s not for me.  But I had to go through that to find out.  And it’s not that all religion are worthless—they fulfill a very strong bunch of desires for a lot of people.  Just not for me.

I get more out of organizations that have less lofty goals.  Rather than representing the esoteric “meaning of life,” how about, let’s have fun teaching children about nature?  Or let’s meet interesting people while doing a public art project?  Or let’s deliver meals to shut-ins?

 
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16 September 2016 14:33
 
hannahtoo - 16 September 2016 06:50 AM

After throwing myself into religion for awhile, I realized it’s not for me.  But I had to go through that to find out.  And it’s not that all religion are worthless—they fulfill a very strong bunch of desires for a lot of people.  Just not for me.

I get more out of organizations that have less lofty goals.  Rather than representing the esoteric “meaning of life,” how about, let’s have fun teaching children about nature?  Or let’s meet interesting people while doing a public art project?  Or let’s deliver meals to shut-ins?


Yeah, I agree, although I have a really hard time internalizing the old truism “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is”. I think I get it, but then it pops up in a new manifestation. When I was a teenager, of course it was having a Romeo and Juliet perfect romance; early in my career it was dreams of being a Miracle Worker-esque “didn’t Lovaas prove about half of autistic children can be totally cured” mentality; and with spirituality I think I really did envision accessing some sparkling “other realm”. I do still have what I would call ‘spiritual’ sentiments - I believe in the possibility of an afterlife and a loving ground of being one could call ‘God’ - but I understand how easy it is to mix those up with the dopamine rush that comes with novelty and excitement and the weird altered states that come from meditating for hours on end with little food or sleep. I won’t lie, a part of me knows that the places where I feel a more steady, stable, loving calm - volunteering, investing time in my family, attending to clients - are most likely the best for my personal and spiritual development, and yet some part of me would like to inject a bit of that ‘thrilling’ element into them. The rush that should send up giant red flags that go “Too good to be true it probably is! Too good to be true it probably is!”, ha ha.


I guess thrills aren’t the worst thing, but there’s always a corresponding up and down. High school romances? Well, I’m sure everyone can relate to the feeling when those end. Curing special needs children? I’m sorry, but I have seen no real world evidence for those original Lovaas trials, and there was a real grieving process for me upon realizing that. As for spirituality - right now I just feel pretty hurt and betrayed by the spiritual community (acknowledging, of course, that I give as good as I get, except of course on the law enforcement thing I felt justified because I was sure I was right.) But really - I mean, to have a teacher tell me I wouldn’t be able to handle the shock of isolation is not only infantilizing; but up until a few months ago, it would have been cruelly ironic - I have been very isolated in my life due to working alone, a previously hellish commute, spouse traveling a lot, and feeling too apathetic and socially phobic to reach out to friends. Isolation? Um, kinda Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch over here. Please don’t tell me I can’t handle it because I was living it - what that teacher was doing was taking a chance for me to be with a community and almost forcing me into isolation again instead. Thank goodness things have shifted a good bit this year so that I have much more social contact, but still, to watch someone who I thought was the spiritual bees knees act that way and kind of try to force me out of a group while saying it’s because I shouldn’t be alone, which clearly makes no sense - well, again, every up has it’s downside I guess, and that was such a disappointment. Again, I get it - I probably should have been gently told that retreat was not the place for me given what I now know about the attitudes of people in those groups - but a part of me hoped for total acceptance or at least total honesty, not the usual worldly bullshit excuses. I forget humans are humans, no matter how ‘spiritual’. 


It’s hard to remember that the truly worthwhile activities in life are often a bit, well, boring - but maybe that should be a green flag, a sign of being on the right path of perseverance and hard work. Rewarding but effortful, I guess.

 
 
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17 September 2016 11:04
 

Zen master Yuanwu comments:

“You should just be empty and quiet, transcending everything.  Once the main basis is clear, all obscurities are illuminated.”

A good time to try this is when bored, or slighted, or supremely irritated.  It’s an interesting science demanding careful attention.  Boredom is then not an irritation but an opportunity for further observation - not to dispel it, but to watch it carefully without disliking it.  Probably some people stay in a boring, irritating job all their life, being slighted by their boss and coworkers every day, or being bored, slighted or irritated by their spouse every day.  It’s an interesting science to see these states arising and to be inwardly empty and quiet, watching them.  You can’t do it expecting results or cures since expectation isn’t empty and quiet . . . but something else might happen.  Energy?  A creative response?  Something new?

Years ago I had a Japanese-made camcorder.  I think the instruction manual was written by someone who had never been out of Japan, whose English was ‘school English.’  There were several pages explaining what the different icons meant.  One icon, which always appeared flashing on and off, meant “SOMETHING ELSE MAY HAPPEN.”

Clearly, very few people value being empty and quiet.  People associate it with all kinds of negative traits.  Very few ever look into it far enough to see that our usual mental activity is enervating.

(Yuanwu quoted from the book, ‘ZEN LETTERS - Teachings of Yuanwu’ - translated by J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary)

 
 
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17 September 2016 15:13
 

Never mind - this one was a ramble.

[ Edited: 17 September 2016 19:30 by sojourner]
 
 
hannahtoo
 
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17 September 2016 15:42
 

For me, it’s easier to accept the dragon in theory than in practice.  Right now, the dragons are snapping at me in life, and it sucks.  I’m sure when this period passes, I’ll feel like a survivor and I’ll have gained wisdom.  But right now, it just sucks.  And yeah, sometimes I step back and observe my emotions and mental gymnastics and think, “Hey, interesting, this is what chaos looks like.”  Doesn’t help though.

St. Paul wrote that famous line in Romans about trouble:  “...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts…”  Rejoicing seems like lunacy.  (I wonder if it’s the translation, or if Paul was just crazy.  After all, he created his own suffering by traveling around proclaiming his gospel and stirring things up.  He was confrontational by nature.)

 
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