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“It doesn’t come from outside.”

 
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sojourner
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24 October 2016 12:16
 
unsmoked - 24 October 2016 11:31 AM
NL. - 22 October 2016 08:52 PM

Yet if how any person in the world feels right now is the ‘true’ self that zen masters reference, then this true self is also everything from neurotic to sociopathic to sadistic, or any state that a human mind (or any sentient mind) somewhere in the world can be in.

Zen master Mazu comments:

“Human delusion of time immemorial, deceit, pride, deviousness, and conceit, have conglomerated into one body.  That is why scripture says that this body is just made of elements, and its appearance and disappearance is just that of elements, which have no identity.  When successive thoughts do not await one another, and each thought dies peacefully away, this is called absorption in the oceanic reflection.”

Q:  Does deceit, pride, deviousness and conceit need thought to flourish?  If we reach the point where we can see the self operating, have we also reached the point where we know it’s not operating?

A conceited idea begins to dawn on us but it’s - “Like a snowflake landing on a red-hot stove.” 

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


This kind of highlights to me why I’m actually not sure if being a good Buddhist is the same thing as being a good human. If you are a stark materialist, total selflessness sounds like an infantile, vegetative, or chaotic / entropic state (or, alternately, another way of saying “everything is what it is”, depending on whether or not you view it in dualist terms or not - if it’s a state you ‘get to’ it’s the former, if it’s already present, the latter). If you posit some “field of being” that one taps into, then to me this is a claim about God repackaged and I don’t get the big deal about Buddhism being a secular philosophy - why not to say to heck with that and call it a path to knowing God or, if that word rubs you the wrong way, some kind of ‘spiritual realm’?


I don’t think that applies so much to ‘mindfulness as brain training’, btw, but when one gets to the ‘big’ claims of Buddhist paths, they are pretty big metaphysical claims.

 
 
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25 October 2016 12:09
 

Can you see Zen, or Zen Buddhism as a small-scale science project for adults in which you are the investigator and your own mind is the subject being investigated?  Why call such a project religious?  If your feet aren’t bothering you, why go to a podiatrist?  If your mind isn’t causing problems . . . let it be.

Zen master Dazhu comments: 

“You are luckily all right by yourself, yet you struggle artificially.  Why do you want to put on fetters and go to prison?  You are busy every day claiming to study Zen, learn the Way, and interpret Buddhism, but this alienates you even further.  It is just chasing sound and form.  When will you ever stop?”

Q:  Try to imagine anything less religious than the statement, “You are luckily all right by yourself.”  (or, “It doesn’t come from outside.”)

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

 
 
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25 October 2016 12:42
 
unsmoked - 25 October 2016 12:09 PM

Can you see Zen, or Zen Buddhism as a small-scale science project for adults in which you are the investigator and your own mind is the subject being investigated?  Why call such a project religious?  If your feet aren’t bothering you, why go to a podiatrist?  If your mind isn’t causing problems . . . let it be.

 


I think this is essentially asking why I should want to understand the logic of something. This is the same roadblock that comes up again and again and again in debates on religion. Someone says you ‘just know’ it’s true or it can only be discovered personally / experientially, someone else points out that we would never accept that standard of evidence in other arenas of life. Harris uses the example of someone who meditates on religious figures until they really do see a vision of Jesus, Buddha, or Muhammad, and take this as evidence of the truth of religion.


In other words, if my foot was bothering me and I went to a podiatrist who said “We have this great new neuro-nano-technology where we can download software right into your brain and nervous system that makes your foot stop hurting!”’ and I said “How does it work?”, and s/he said “No idea, we just unleash it in your brain and it does something. But your foot doesn’t hurt anymore!”, depending on how bad it was, I might choose to live with the pain. Spiritual paths generally call for a ‘leap of faith’ at this point and that’s fine, but I don’t understand the logic of decrying that in the case of other religions and brushing that general philosophical issue aside when it comes to Buddhism. If you’re the leap of faith type, that’s great, maybe that’s the right way to be, but it then it becomes difficult to criticize other religions for the same thinking.

 

Q:  Try to imagine anything less religious than the statement, “You are luckily all right by yourself.”  (or, “It doesn’t come from outside.”)

 


Try saying that with a straight face to half the world’s population, though. Or, honestly, way over half. Try saying it if someone tossed you in a pot of boiling water, that you were totally alright. These quandaries always end up with something like “You must make effort to end suffering to see that there was no effort and their was no suffering” in an “it’s beyond words” kinda way. That’s fine, but if it’s beyond words, it’s beyond words, you won’t be able to describe it to me here.

[ Edited: 25 October 2016 12:45 by sojourner]
 
 
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25 October 2016 19:55
 
unsmoked - 25 October 2016 12:09 PM

If your feet aren’t bothering you, why go to a podiatrist?  If your mind isn’t causing problems . . . let it be.


PS… alternately - your mind is causing you problems, and you chose to say “It’s the most beautiful pain in the world”. I think the idea of “letting go” in Buddhism, as translated by the 2016 mind, often equates to flakiness and benign nihilism (not the angsty nihilism of yore but a “C’mon dude, we’re on to the next thing, let it go, let it goooooo (cue singing from Frozen)” mindset). But to me spirituality is more closely described as the experience of total worldliness held within total equanimity.


Just my possibly wrong POV, but it seems to me that total equanimity is pure peace, but is also insensate. A rock has a ton of equanimity, you don’t see them clinging to or bitching about anything. And yet most of us don’t strive to know “what it’s like to be” a rock. I think what spirituality - nirvana and samsara are one - points to is something more than selflessness or equanimity in isolation. Just as a painting of a boat is more than splotches of paint on a canvas (it really does represent and mean something) but is not a ‘real’ boat in the sense that we understand that word, my intuition is that there is a way to hold nihilism and objectivism in a combination that makes as much intuitive sense as knowing what a painting is.

 
 
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28 October 2016 11:23
 
unsmoked - 25 October 2016 12:09 PM

  Try to imagine anything less religious than the statement, “You are luckily all right by yourself.”  (or, “It doesn’t come from outside.”)

NL commented:  “Try saying that with a straight face to half the world’s population . . . or, way over half.”  (end NL quote)

Also with a straight face, Zen master Linji said, “Trust yourself, there is no one else to trust.”  (again shouted-down by over half the world?)

Undeterred by the ‘booos’, Linji goes on:  “What I point out to you is only that you shouldn’t allow yourselves to be confused by others.  Act when you need to, without further hesitation or doubt.  People today can’t do this - what is their affliction?  Their affliction is in their lack of self-confidence.  If you do not spontaneously trust yourself sufficiently, you will be in a frantic state, pursuing all sorts of objects and being changed by those objects, unable to be independent.  You impulsively seek elsewhere, looking to others [Jesus or Muhammad, or Buddha?] for your own hands and feet.”  (end Linji quote)

Suppose a monarch butterfly emerges from its chrysalis in Canada, dries its wings in the sun and says to Linji, “How do I get to that grove of trees in the mountains of Mexico?”
Linji replies, “It doesn’t come from outside.”

As you say, more than half the world’s population disagrees.  It’s Jesus or Muhammad, or Buddha that tells us how to get to the promised land . . . right?  People aren’t butterflies.  Humans are poor sinners who can’t tell right from wrong; can’t tell which way is up or down.  Unlike butterflies, we were born incomplete.  Right?

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

 

 
 
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28 October 2016 17:29
 
unsmoked - 28 October 2016 11:23 AM
unsmoked - 25 October 2016 12:09 PM

  Try to imagine anything less religious than the statement, “You are luckily all right by yourself.”  (or, “It doesn’t come from outside.”)

NL commented:  “Try saying that with a straight face to half the world’s population . . . or, way over half.”  (end NL quote)

Also with a straight face, Zen master Linji said, “Trust yourself, there is no one else to trust.”  (again shouted-down by over half the world?)

Undeterred by the ‘booos’, Linji goes on:  “What I point out to you is only that you shouldn’t allow yourselves to be confused by others.  Act when you need to, without further hesitation or doubt.  People today can’t do this - what is their affliction?  Their affliction is in their lack of self-confidence.  If you do not spontaneously trust yourself sufficiently, you will be in a frantic state, pursuing all sorts of objects and being changed by those objects, unable to be independent.  You impulsively seek elsewhere, looking to others [Jesus or Muhammad, or Buddha?] for your own hands and feet.”  (end Linji quote)

Suppose a monarch butterfly emerges from its chrysalis in Canada, dries its wings in the sun and says to Linji, “How do I get to that grove of trees in the mountains of Mexico?”
Linji replies, “It doesn’t come from outside.”

As you say, more than half the world’s population disagrees.  It’s Jesus or Muhammad, or Buddha that tells us how to get to the promised land . . . right?  People aren’t butterflies.  Humans are poor sinners who can’t tell right from wrong; can’t tell which way is up or down.  Unlike butterflies, we were born incomplete.  Right?

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


I admire your effort, but I just don’t think these are contradictions you can verbally solve. Either you are saying it’s ok to throw a child into a fire because they’re not really suffering anyways - or if they are, it’s their own fault, because suffering and its cure comes from within - or you’re saying that there is in fact some sort of ‘external teaching’ component involved and / or that people, at some level, do in fact suffer because of external circumstances.


Another paradoxical verbal contrast - how can one say there is no self and therefore no ‘within and without’ in the first place, and then say the answer doesn’t come from ‘within’? If you have no self, ‘within’ can encompass all sentient beings and seemingly external events and objects anyhow.

 
 
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