Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Re-Imagining Judas

[If you click on the subject line, the hidden link will take you to the National Geographic's page on The Lost Gospel of Judas. Very cool stuff. If you click on the "Explore the pages" prompt, it'll lead you to a downloadable .pdf file, containing seven pages of the translated text. Beyond this, things get a bit blasphemous, so if that kind of thing turns you off, well, tune in later. There's a long delayed Spout Off in the works.- tbo]

I think you've made your point now
You've even gone a bit too far to get the message home
- from Jesus Christ Superstar's Could We Start Again Please?

I think it's no great secret that I'm no longer a practicing Catholic; afact, that part of my life ended when I was about 15-17...So, it's no surprise that I have some convoluted thoughts about the man Jesus, his teachings and what has become of those teachings as it traveled through time.

Let's leave aside the thoughts about the religion that sprouted around his death for the moment, and let's get to some bottom lines, for me:

Q: Did the man Jesus exist? A: yeah, I think so. There's been some evidence supporting his existence beyond the bible.

Q: What about the miracles? A: Right. Yeah, the bible loses me when it comes to discussion of walking on water, raising the dead, water into wine and other events that portray Jesus as an ancient day David Blaine...I also don't buy the immaculate conception bit or the son of god bit. Generally, anything that makes the guy out to be something other than the rest of humanity, I don't buy.

Q: So, you're kosher on the other quotes and actions attributed to him? A: By and large, yeah. But then, I'm one of those people who believe that he went to India and soaked up some of the early Buddhist teachings during the missing years (you know how his story essentially goes from his being born to suddently being 30, with a gaggle of followers and hanging out with Mary Magdalene)...There's a correlation between what he says and what's been written in early Buddhism. Actually, reading the .pdf further supports this, if you're of a mind to believe that, and I am. There are several points in the Judas gospel that sound as if the guy is playing Don Juan to Judas' Castaneda...Check out the cosmos talk, very very Eastern.

Beyond all of that, I have a few problems with the defining aspect of Jesus' life; namely, the crucifixion, or the aspects of the crucifixion that have been highlighted and focused on for religious uses. I get it, in terms of narrative, and symbolically why it all ends that way...I just don't buy what's been made of it...He died for my sins? Who asked?

Also, was there really no other way to get the job done? God couldn't prove his "love for man" by arriving in 18 golden Hummers, getting out and going "heya, it's me, god, howyadoin'? Boy, my love for y'all knows no bounds, I tell ya." It really had to be this grisly?

Okay...

Bigger than this, however, is the incredibly raw deal that Judas got. So, you mean to tell me that Judas, a guy who seemed to be really into what the message was supposed to be about, betrays the messenger because things seemed to get off-point...That's a bit much.

Then, Jesus, in an act that is supposed to prove his omnipotence, tells the disciples that one will deny and another betray, and then does nothing to stop anything. Okay, you know, that proves the guy is a jackass; where do you think religious extremists get the whole "dieing for your beliefs" thing? Second, this knowledge basically admits that Judas' betrayal is supposed to be part of the mysterious godly plan, so...Why is he damned? Oh, the free will thing. But, wasn't that part of the plan also? No? God didn't know he'd do this? Oh, he did; well, in that case, why couldn't he forgive Judas? Because he killed himself...I see.

yeah, okay...

So, along comes this long lost gospel, as told from the perspective of the grand betrayer himself; and amidst the many revelations is the fact that Jesus actually approached Judas about the betrayal thing. So, the betrayal was something set in motion by Jesus himself.

Now, why was this dropped from the telling of the story?

Simply, I think the folks responsible for molding early Christianity found it difficult to sell people on the fact that they'd be following a man crazy enough to willingly get himself killed to show how holy he is. Judas then becomes the fall guy for the whole thing, wrongly blamed for causing the death of the son of god.

It's interesting, the bits I've read so far makes the Judas/Jesus relationship a lot more equal. The other disciples are portrayed as sheepish in every sense of the word, and Judas the only truth-seeker. It's the Siddartha/Devadatta relationship, except they're friends.

Even still, the new gospel sounds blown out of proportion, like the other ones.

You wanna know what I think happened at the end?

Jesus thought that a confrontation/debate with the Pharisees should be in order, and the only way to get their audience would be to have him arrested for something, so he goes off and does the market thing and they all go to Gethsemane to hide out. He then pulls Judas, his right hand man, aside and they discuss strategy. Amidst all this, it is decided that the plan would have more of an impact if Judas was the one that went to the Pharisees to betray Jesus; so he goes off to do that.

What neither of them counted on was the Pharisees escalating the whole thing, without debate, and getting the Romans involved. Things went haywire from there. Judas realizes that none of it would've happened if he hadn't gone to the Pharisees to begin with, feels incredibly guilty and kills himself. The rest went as written.

Despite my obvious bias in all of this, I'm glad this gospel was found, and that its contents are considered controversial. It really puts everything we've been hearing on its ear. I don't think the teachings of Jesus are irrelevant, though a lot has been done to distort those teachings over the years.

Hopefully, this discovery will cause some reflection and redefining of what that life was about.

71 Comments:

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Stine said...

Dude, you should read the Hiram Key. Goes into a lot of what happened with the early "Church of Christ".

I agree with much of what you say. Except, I have a problem with this:

What about the miracles? A: Right. Yeah, the bible loses me when it comes to discussion of walking on water, raising the dead, water into wine and other events that portray Jesus as an ancient day David Blaine...I also don't buy the immaculate conception bit or the son of god bit. Generally, anything that makes the guy out to be something other than the rest of humanity, I don't buy.

- See I believe that anyone, who has developed their ethereal talents to that extent, "could" do the things you mentioned above. What about telepathy, telekinesis etc.?

Jesus wasn't/isn't that different than the Buddha imho. Unfortunately the wackjobs that have propegated Christianity since AD 1 (Thank you Peter), have turned a life of service and a dude making some pretty good points, into a mockery.

 
At 11:11 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Once I survive this day (I've already had a fire on my porch), I'm coming back because this will be fuuuu-uuun.

But I will add this right now - I agree to some extent about the miracles and the IC and all, but son of God I handle this way - Thou art God, I am God, to be part of eternal and infinite is to be one's own father, one's own son.

I believe Jesus could claim to be God (remember the Trinity - being part is being the whole) because all sentient creatures can.

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I'm with JJ here; I have trouble accepting the "son of God" thing in the classic messianic sense, but can buy it in the, "I'm the son of God because you're the son of God, as we are all sons and daughters of God," sense.

 
At 11:47 AM, Blogger Stine said...

And in a sense, the whole "we are all God thing" is the same as "inherent Buddhahood" in all people.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

And in a sense, the whole "we are all God thing" is the same as "inherent Buddhahood" in all people.

In a sense, sure, but not at all saying the same thing, though JJ and I have already had this argument a dozen times over.

Sorry, but I'm a stickler as to where the power lay, and the "we are all god" thing still puts the power outside of the individual, period.

Inherent Buddhahood denotes that within you, you have the werewithal to be a Buddha yourself, and not "like" a Buddha.

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

So anyway, there's almost too much to comment on here and still, you know, work, be married, cook food, exercise, read, watch movies . . . but I'll say a few things.

First of all, this falls right in line with what I've been reading in the Nag Hammadi Library. I've been looking at excerpts from the Judas Gospel for a month or so now, and can't wait for the whole thing to get published. I find all apocryphal text terribly exciting, especially when you look into when, why and by whom it was denied canonical status (mostly under Iraeneus).

Some thoughts on your thoughts (and the thoughts inspired thereby):

Yeah, the bible loses me when it comes to discussion of walking on water, raising the dead, water into wine and other events that portray Jesus as an ancient day David Blaine

It doesn't strike me as all that different from the claims made by the Shaolin monks. The gnostics themselves have a tradition of magick that follows them all the way to the present (see stories of Simon Magus, and of gnostic magicians contemporaneous with William Butler Yeats). Given my odd experiences with body work, energy manipulation through martial arts, reiki and body manipulation, I'm willing to broaden the definition of miracle and buy that something happened. And some of it was just taught to us weird, fellow-former-Catholic. I read the NT a coupla years ago, realizing that I never really had except in excerpt, and was surprised to find that acts as with the fish, loaves and wine didn't play out as I'd been given to believe (rather than suggesting that Christ magically made more of it appear, the wording in the translation I read simply suggested that he made the people feel nourished with what they had between them--a very different prospect).

Basically, I'm supporting 'Stine's take and adding a bit on. I believe that the body and mind, our tools in this world, are capable of things we haven't fully been able to realize.

...I also don't buy the immaculate conception bit or the son of god bit.

Agreed on immaculate conception; I think that was early Christian propaganda. After all, if you're an insurrectionist fighting an empire that claims divine status for its government officials, don't you need a "God" of your own to act as figurehead for your fledgeling revolution?

Generally, anything that makes the guy out to be something other than the rest of humanity, I don't buy.

Agreed, except insofar as any one member of humanity may potentially be more than he or she is.

Q: So, you're kosher on the other quotes and actions attributed to him? A: By and large, yeah.

I find some of what he says--or what he implies, or what translation and paraphrasing attribute to him--problematic, but that doesn't really matter if we don't assume that he's "special", that he's THE messiah.

But then, I'm one of those people who believe that he went to India and soaked up some of the early Buddhist teachings during the missing years (you know how his story essentially goes from his being born to suddently being 30, with a gaggle of followers and hanging out with Mary Magdalene)...There's a correlation between what he says and what's been written in early Buddhism. Actually, reading the .pdf further supports this, if you're of a mind to believe that, and I am. There are several points in the Judas gospel that sound as if the guy is playing Don Juan to Judas' Castaneda...Check out the cosmos talk, very very Eastern.

You SO need to read Nag Hammadi, dude. A lot of the Valentinian cosmology sounds quite Taoist in nature, while "The Gospel of Thomas" definitely has that Eastern vibe.

Interesting theory held forth to me by a Sufi, of all people, recently: Middle Eastern religion took Eastern principles and, in the Western spirit inherited from the Greeks, attempted to formally anthropomorphize them. Hence we have a God that, unlike the pagan Gods, is singular, immutable, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, but like the pagan Gods is jealous, petty and vengeful.

Beyond all of that, I have a few problems with the defining aspect of Jesus' life; namely, the crucifixion, or the aspects of the crucifixion that have been highlighted and focused on for religious uses. I get it, in terms of narrative, and symbolically why it all ends that way...I just don't buy what's been made of it...He died for my sins? Who asked?

More problematic, what does that mean for us? For Calvinists, it means that the "elect", a preordained set of people marked for salvation, are already taken care of, that you will "know them" by their good works, but that no good works are necessary. For other mainline evangelicals, that means you have to be like Christ by being free of sin. For Catholics, good works count more than being free from sin or faith, but sin and faithlessness require purgatory for those who do good works but don't accept Christ, so they can be "purified" before bringing their faithlessness to heaven.

Also, was there really no other way to get the job done? God couldn't prove his "love for man" by arriving in 18 golden Hummers, getting out and going "heya, it's me, god, howyadoin'? Boy, my love for y'all knows no bounds, I tell ya." It really had to be this grisly?

Oh, see, I kinda think it did, or would. All cataclysmic change happens through blood. The pagans and Christians both understood (and to some degree continue to understand) this. 'Course, that could be the de Sade talking . . . Seriously, though, the value of western theology is that it does a better job, to my ear, of explaining that worldly life will remain mired in the grimy mechanisms of flesh no matter how "saved" you get.

In Valentinian gnosticism, you have the demiurge, the lesser God borne of wisdom's longing to know her creator, the impersonal all that is the "true" God. The demiurge, sometimes called Yaltabaoth, a bastardization of Yahweh or Jehovah, is the misguided soul, as lost as us, who creates material reality and jealously declared himself the true God. He breathed life into the first man, believing it was His life, but it was the life of his mother, Sophia (wisdom), whose essence is that of the Father, or the impersonal all of God. Hence the world is itself a deception and the "hell" to which we either succumb (usually through seeking power) or which we choose to trascend, but we are possessed of the spirit of the father (or some of us are--the Valentians also proposed that some people are strictly of this earth, some possess the spirit of the all and still others may earn the spirit of the all through piety).

So, along comes this long lost gospel, as told from the perspective of the grand betrayer himself; and amidst the many revelations is the fact that Jesus actually approached Judas about the betrayal thing. So, the betrayal was something set in motion by Jesus himself.

Kazantzakis postulated nearly the same thing in The Last Temptation of Christ.

Now, why was this dropped from the telling of the story?

Because it didn't serve the cause of revolt against the Romans, or it didn't support absolute authority for Apostolic succession, or it suggests a capricious God. Those are the three that come to my mind; there are probably dozens of possibilities. Take your pick.

Simply, I think the folks responsible for molding early Christianity found it difficult to sell people on the fact that they'd be following a man crazy enough to willingly get himself killed to show how holy he is.

Maybe. On the other hand, it seems to working out all right for radicalized Islamic fundamentalists.

Jesus thought that a confrontation/debate with the Pharisees should be in order, and the only way to get their audience would be to have him arrested for something, so he goes off and does the market thing and they all go to Gethsemane to hide out. He then pulls Judas, his right hand man, aside and they discuss strategy. Amidst all this, it is decided that the plan would have more of an impact if Judas was the one that went to the Pharisees to betray Jesus; so he goes off to do that.
What neither of them counted on was the Pharisees escalating the whole thing, without debate, and getting the Romans involved. Things went haywire from there. Judas realizes that none of it would've happened if he hadn't gone to the Pharisees to begin with, feels incredibly guilty and kills himself. The rest went as written.


That sounds plausible, but it's not much of a story. And it requires that you take "the rest" at face value, when that "history" is easily challenged.

We'll probably never know what "really" happened (unless the Christians are right, in which case you and I will find out just before being cast into eternal damnation). What becomes important is what we're supposed to glean about the nature of God and man, of ethical responsibility and moral fortitude, of temporal and spiritual responsibility, from these and other texts, from science and history, and from interpreting text and listening to intuition.

 
At 12:12 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Sorry, but I'm a stickler as to where the power lay, and the "we are all god" thing still puts the power outside of the individual, period.
Inherent Buddhahood denotes that within you, you have the werewithal to be a Buddha yourself, and not "like" a Buddha.


I grok that, but that may be why I prefer the "we are all God" thing. We are always going to be subject to things that are not us, not of us, not concerned with us in any way. We may be responsible for our own happiness, but sometimes that means being happy in situations that cannot be changed, i.e., against which we are powerless. Hence the need to assume that there's something greater than us--the Tao, the void, God--which may be served by whatever suffering we go through, even as we rightly seek to alleviate or transcend it.

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Stine said...

Sorry, but I'm a stickler as to where the power lay, and the "we are all god" thing still puts the power outside of the individual, period.

Inherent Buddhahood denotes that within you, you have the werewithal to be a Buddha yourself, and not "like" a Buddha.


And the Mormons believe that we, as humans do have the power to become God. With all the requisite powers, foibles, etc. that the current "Father and/or Mother in Heaven" possess.

In many western religions I've encountered, "we are all God", does denote the power of God within us to be as "he/she" is.

I believe there are more similarities between Christianity, as it was originally practiced by the early members of the Qumran community, and any paradigm of Buddhism, that any fundamentalist Buddhist or Christian would be at loathe to admit.

And Ly, thanks for the bodywork, power of energy clarification. See, that's what I have you around for, to interpret.

 
At 12:38 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Sorry, but I'm a stickler as to where the power lay, and the "we are all god" thing still puts the power outside of the individual, period.

You are so funny. I think it is you that is putting the power outside of the individual in the "we are all God" thing - and really maybe "we are each God" would help you along.

You've got God issues. Period.

And of course you found some Eastern-ness and would like to believe that Christ studied Buddhism (I wouldn't want to disagree - I mean sure, why not). What I never quite get with you is why this then drives the impulse to explain why other religions are wrong (or contradictory or re-hashings or whatever) instead of looking to the common elements between religions for something that might be Truth beyond any constructions of man.

Oh, right, because you have already found that. Yep - makes the discussion as boring and unproductive as any with the singularly devout. Period.

(Can you tell the "Period." thing bugs the snot out of me?)

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

You've got God issues. Period.

Well, of course he would. Of course we ALL would. We've grown up in a predominantly anthropomorphic monotheistic culture, and in the last decade, that community has been rumbling. The culture war is actually a more volatile mix than the cold war. You'll have to forgive us a little edginess.

And of course you found some Eastern-ness and would like to believe that Christ studied Buddhism (I wouldn't want to disagree - I mean sure, why not).

There's actually reason to believe Christ went not eastward, but to the African continent, specifically Alexandria Egypt, and became familiar with Hinduism and other Eastern disciplines, as well as neo-Platonism and the Hermetic writings.

What I never quite get with you is why this then drives the impulse to explain why other religions are wrong (or contradictory or re-hashings or whatever) instead of looking to the common elements between religions for something that might be Truth beyond any constructions of man.

The "other religions are wrong" angle is philosophically problematic, but you can't reason with an enemy who wants you decimated or even one that believes you're going to hell for not believing what they believe. Finding the contradictions in a faith is how you argue, socially, for the right NOT to participate therein. In the end, all of our faiths--including atheism--will be contradictory because God and spirituality demand that we at least turn somewhat sideways from that which is bourne out by empirical observation.

I also wonder . . . does the fact that most or all religions agree on a principle make it more or less likely to be "true" in any quantifiable sense?

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger Stine said...

That's a good question you pose Ly, but how do you quantify truth?

 
At 1:46 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

How indeed? I pose the question because the "find the stuff everyone agrees on" view as inherently unsatisfactory as any other.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

I'm not indicating that we find the right religion by majority rule, but that we use commonality as a more interesting guide to cross-tradition study than deconstruction or the hunt for contradictions.

And, I'm just generally of the opinion that to tell me what is Truth, the why of your religion, is a creative act, and to tell me the un-Truth of others is a useless and destructive act.

But, hey, seems Rushkoff is getting into the God talk, too, right now. I've only had the chance to skim so far, but it is interesting stuff:
Rushkoff Blog

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I'm not indicating that we find the right religion by majority rule, but that we use commonality as a more interesting guide to cross-tradition study than deconstruction or the hunt for contradictions.
And, I'm just generally of the opinion that to tell me what is Truth, the why of your religion, is a creative act, and to tell me the un-Truth of others is a useless and destructive act.


Fair enough. But finding the contradictions in, say, the Bible actually allows you to press the notion that it's sybolic, not literal; having done that, you're freed from literalism and empowered to draw parallels with faiths that don't insistently anthropomorphize their God. Debunking, then, isn't an instrinsically constructive act, but it can become a constructive act if pursued for the right reasons.

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Yeah, Ly, you're right on, especially in talking about the Bible as text and how it can be interpreted/studied/engaged.

And, I wasn't being clear because my computer time has been in 30-second blocks today.

The way I have said it to Beigey before is when he tells me what he believes, why SGI is empowering for him, I dig it and I listen, but when he starts trying to tell me why any other faith is not Truth, it becomes the droning BS or religion. True for Christians and others, too - I dig listening to a devout Christian in non-prosletyzing mode talking about their experience of faith up until the point they begin to condemn others or place others outside of Truth.

(And, believe it or not, not every Christian feels the need to make that move.)

 
At 7:11 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Okay, I'm going to be skipping around a bit, as things grab me:

*I believe that my wording in the entry itself has been thoroughly framed in the subjective; including commentary on the Catholic religion and the source material. I'm no scholar, nor do I aim to be; I am simply writing about my experience and my opinions. Which, duh, my blog.

*JJ's take on me: My problem with god, such as it may actually be one, may be that I continue to relate to the topic in the way I was brought up to relate to the word and "being." Much like just about everyone else.

What's funny is that when it comes to these things, for once, your approach is not pragmatic enough, JJ. For once, you are making a "should" argument.

Redefining how the world perceives the word "god," is a noble goal, keep pursuing it. Simply, I've noticed that the majority of people tend not to think that way. I choose to take them at that value.

I believe Jesus could claim to be God (remember the Trinity - being part is being the whole) because all sentient creatures can.

Is. This. Taught? To anyone? Is this spread?

Should it be? Yes. Is it?

I grok that, but that may be why I prefer the "we are all God" thing. We are always going to be subject to things that are not us, not of us, not concerned with us in any way. We may be responsible for our own happiness, but sometimes that means being happy in situations that cannot be changed, i.e., against which we are powerless. Hence the need to assume that there's something greater than us

I can't argue that one feels a need for it, but it's wholly unnecessary. If you believe in the interconnectedness of all things, then even events that seemingly have nothing to do with us have everything to do with us. Lastly, just are we are responsible for our own happiness, we are just as responsible for our misery, anger, jealousies, etc. The desire to have something greater than us is partly a desire to have something that lets us off the hook. We might be overwhelmed into thinking otherwise, but we are never powerless. Never.

And the Mormons believe that we, as humans do have the power to become God. With all the requisite powers, foibles, etc. that the current "Father and/or Mother in Heaven" possess.

This is interesting to me...Are practitioners encouraged to become and behave like god? Are they told to treat all others as an equal god? If you wouldn't mind breaking this down for me.

I believe there are more similarities between Christianity, as it was originally practiced by the early members of the Qumran community, and any paradigm of Buddhism

Agreed, though the telling bit here is the phrase "as it was originally practiced by the early members of the Qumran community."

How does this apply to the here and now?

In many western religions I've encountered, "we are all God", does denote the power of God within us to be as "he/she" is.

In all of my encounters with the phrase, it has been "we are all a part of God."

Can you take that to mean the universality that is being applied to the word "God" by y'all? Sure, but is it how it's applied by everyone else? Every attempt to do so seems to be essentially ignored except for the few it happens to grab. By and large, we live around people who refuse to see "God" in the way you describe.

And you can scream "no, 'God' doesn't mean what you've been taught to mean, 'God' means this; look at all of these texts like this" until the cows come home, but you're gonna meet a lot more resistance from what has been established than you are getting from me currently.

But, hey, seems Rushkoff is getting into the God talk, too, right now.

THANKS FOR THIS LINK!!! If nothing else, this quote best sums up my thoughts on the matter:

No one can grasp this, however, if they're stuck believing.

I would only add the word "blindly" to the end of that sentence.

And that is what I'm talking about when I put the word god in quotation marks, that's what I'm denouncing here, not the people, not their personal faith, but what they are attaching that faith to. The dogma.

Because, bottom line, I agree with JJ, Ly and Stine: The similarities are there. However, those similarities have been subverted, along with the proviso that you can't question these subversions; and most are happy to do leave it at that.

Any and all religions, including my own, must guard against this sort of thing, and, again, my opinion, the Western mold allows too much room for distortion to be applied.

Where I disagree with Rushkoff, and with you, JJ, is that I think it's too late for the Bible, God and Christ. Look at your reaction to my take on the Bible, you're saying I spend my time denigrating when I should be constructive. I believe I'm pointing out the fly in the ointment. Nowhere in this entry do I say "but in Buddhism blah blah blah."

I'm giving the religion the same treatment you give me over in the other blog.

Over the last 20 years we've had a number of pieces of art that have co-opted characters from the Bible (Last Temptation, Preacher, Dogma amongst many others) and what kind of impact has it had, overall?

I believe that anyone, who has developed their ethereal talents to that extent, "could" do the things you mentioned above.

I note that Ly supports this. I can't argue with it. Me, I'd say it's more of an evolutionary deal. Regardless, we are all talking about it on the individual basis. Again, does the bible explicate things in this manner? Was it explicated thusly when you were taught these stories?

Interesting theory held forth to me by a Sufi, of all people

IMO (because I need to couch everything that way now, apparently), Sufi Islam and Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism are the only two currently practiced religions that place the focus of religion where it should be: in empowering the practitioners.

Seriously, though, the value of western theology is that it does a better job, to my ear, of explaining that worldly life will remain mired in the grimy mechanisms of flesh no matter how "saved" you get.

Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy...

That sounds plausible, but it's not much of a story.

Oh, I agree, but I wasn't trying to sell it. Just my postulation of events.

(Can you tell the "Period." thing bugs the snot out of me?)

yeah, and in saying so gives me another weapon to use whenever the jester needs deflating.

instead of looking to the common elements between religions for something that might be Truth beyond any constructions of man

I believe Ly did a much better job than I could in explaining this (and thanks).

And because universal truth is not quantifiable, what you see as the impulse to explain why other religions are wrong, is me simply saying "these are the things I don't agree with." I also do this when people ask me if I rub the Buddha's belly daily, or if I empty my mind, or what I think of the Dalai Lama...

to tell me the un-Truth of others is a useless and destructive act

So, what you're looking for is the information that bolsters your beliefs in the universal...Look, I'll put it this way: Is everyone as discerning as the readers of this blog?

 
At 12:03 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Is everyone as discerning as the readers of this blog?

No, but I'm not and never will be a fisher of men. I preach to choirs, and ask them to adjust their pitch that the non-congregants might hear.

 
At 9:56 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

start building the choir, then, mon ami.

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

>>I believe Jesus could claim to be God (remember the Trinity - being part is being the whole) because all sentient creatures can.<<
Is. This. Taught? To anyone? Is this spread?

It's actually at the heart of much gnostic theology, so yes. Remember, early Christianity had the influence of Eastern disciplines and neo-Platonism through Alexandria in the first few centuries B.C., so the idea that Christ was a boddhisatva was fairly widespread.

If you believe in the interconnectedness of all things, then even events that seemingly have nothing to do with us have everything to do with us.

But can we truly control them, or can we only recognize our part in them and take responsibility for any behaviour that results from them?

Lastly, just are we are responsible for our own happiness, we are just as responsible for our misery, anger, jealousies, etc.

Yes. But that doesn't negate the assertion that we have limited control over the circumstances that surround those, if unlimited control over the way we respond to those circumstances (within reason). All questions have a finite number of applicable answers.

The desire to have something greater than us is partly a desire to have something that lets us off the hook.

Not necessarily. One can accept responsibility for living in hurricane alley and not having insurance, but that don't mean the storm was bigger than the little speck of you. Apply that metaphysically: the universe has a destiny of which you are a part, and even the failures you meet in pursuing your values are in turn a part of that picture. You're responsible for all things, but that doesn't mean you control all things.

We might be overwhelmed into thinking otherwise, but we are never powerless. Never.

Like I said, you're never necessarily powerless per se, but you you're powerless over certain things. What you have, what belongs to you, are your choices, and the rewards and consequences that result directly therefrom. All else, IMO, is chaos.

Can you take that to mean the universality that is being applied to the word "God" by y'all? Sure, but is it how it's applied by everyone else? Every attempt to do so seems to be essentially ignored except for the few it happens to grab. By and large, we live around people who refuse to see "God" in the way you describe.
And you can scream "no, 'God' doesn't mean what you've been taught to mean, 'God' means this; look at all of these texts like this" until the cows come home, but you're gonna meet a lot more resistance from what has been established than you are getting from me currently.


Sure, dude, but this is how a new paradigm gets started. Veritable waves of gnostics were wiped out by various chapters of the Inquisition.

>>I believe that anyone, who has developed their ethereal talents to that extent, "could" do the things you mentioned above.<<

I note that Ly supports this. I can't argue with it. Me, I'd say it's more of an evolutionary deal. Regardless, we are all talking about it on the individual basis. Again, does the bible explicate things in this manner? Was it explicated thusly when you were taught these stories?

Again, the gnostics. After the infamous Simon Magus came into the picture, the notion that "miracles" were a combination of ascetic feats, disciplined transsubstantiation and crowd pleasing illusion--i.e., magick--was put forth by many early Christians. It all came to a head when Simon had a "magical" duel with Peter that left Simon broken and soon to die. Fascinating stuff.

Moreover, the Cathars--the gnostic sect who ran the single most successful military campaign against the Inquisistion--apparently practiced a martial art of some sort. I don't think anyone knows it anymore, which is too bad (I need to start looking into some of the Western disciplines: Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing, etc.).

>>Interesting theory held forth to me by a Sufi, of all people<<

IMO (because I need to couch everything that way now, apparently), Sufi Islam and Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism are the only two currently practiced religions that place the focus of religion where it should be: in empowering the practitioners.

I think that's an overly broad statement, but I see what you're getting at. But Sufi's also recognize the chaos/completion aspect at the heart of the all just as Taoists (and, in different terms, Christians), i.e., they still postulate that there's some sliver of your destiny that has nothing to do with your efforts.

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

I'm still in dash-in-dash-out mode, but...

start building the choir, then, mon ami.

That's what I'm doing, brother - I'm trying to pull that choir robe over your head, and over the head of discerning Christians, Taoists, agnostics, deists, whatever.

I don't try and convert the fundamentalists, no matter their stripe. It's their hell - let them burn in it.

I'm not always successful telling the difference. I ever tell you about the Mayan lady that said "You are the devil!" to me at a Los Lobos concert?

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

It's actually at the heart of much gnostic theology, so yes.

I generally don't have a problem with the...uhm, Gnomes. Kidding, just wanted to say that. But, I'm not familiar with the Gnostics. From what I gather, it is a lot like the Tao, but even that feels like an assumption on my part.

More on the general aspect of this momentarily.

But that doesn't negate the assertion that we have limited control over the circumstances that surround those, if unlimited control over the way we respond to those circumstances (within reason).

Buddy, if you have the latter, why do you need to worry about the former? By effecting change in the micro, you'll be doing the same in the macro; and in that sense, yes, you can control the macro.

And if you can control how you view the macro, why set yourself up to view it in a negative function, beyond natural dispositions (which can be altered)? Never underestimate the power over the small to affect power of the grand.

Apply that metaphysically. Apply that politically. Apply that liberally.

That aside, with all your power, why would you choose to live in hurricane alley, and not build a properly designed home, not put insurance on it?

Lastly, throughout this entire section, you don't address the issue you raised regarding the need/desire to have something larger than yourself.

If you look at your current life as a contiguous string encompassing your past, present and your future, and keep in mind that the actions taken in the past affect the circumstances of the present and how you react to that will determine the future outcome, what else is there to control?

Sure, dude, but this is how a new paradigm gets started. Veritable waves of gnostics were wiped out by various chapters of the Inquisition.

I'm not against new paradigms, in fact I welcome them. I respect similarities, but don't expect me not to call bullshit if bullshit is involved; or not to question something that doesn't make sense to me, or not to say "I disagree" with something that I disagree with. It's the same thing that I was encouraged to do with this Buddhism.

It's not a beatdown, it's a boundary setting.

None of that stops anyone from respecting each other and getting along.

>>Again, does the bible explicate things in this manner? Was it explicated thusly when you were taught these stories?<<

Again, the gnostics.

Thanks for the history/perspective, but that doesn't answer the question posited.

RE: Gnosticism, here are some questions: why hasn't it caught a foothold since? Why hasn't it been brought back? Are the lessons found therein applicable to daily life in the modern world, and how easy is it to learn and spread? Can those lessons be corrupted? How passionately can you follow these rules?

I'm trying to pull that choir robe over your head

Dude, I'm an ornery fuck when it comes to this shit, as you know. Can you deal with the items I layed out re: paradigms?

Maybe I'd better serve as an ambassador from my corner of the world.

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

The stuff about personal power is too complex--and my disagreement with you too profound--to get into right now (I have some work errands to run). And the stuff about the gnostics is just plain too complex, so we run into the same time constraint. This, however, I can address briefly:

Lastly, throughout this entire section, you don't address the issue you raised regarding the need/desire to have something larger than yourself.

To avoid solipsism first and foremost; crypto-Marxist assumptions about a humanitarian common good aside, if I don't convince myself there's a greater good beyond the ME, I'm inclined to view people only within the context of whether their lives contribute pleasure or meaning to my own, and value my own life only insofar as it is, itself, pleasurable or meaningful. Secondly, to eliminate the possibility for chastising myself when things happen that I can't control. If I do good work in a good show, tell everyone I know to come see it, contribute to the marketing push, etc., and 5 people and a coupla sewer rats come see the thing, I can either assume that somehow I didn't WILL for them to come hard enough, or fucked up my karma, OR I can imagine that, even given the force of my effort and ernestness of my pursuit, some things just happen. In other words, one may use the notion of personal control to be happy where one is, or one can use it to move elsewhere . . .but failure to do the latter is often the result of more than a lack of (or misdirection of) effort on the part of the individual, which is why the former is the more sensible thing to ask of the self, the latter a mroe sensible thing to accept as being at least largely influenced by outside forces.

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

The stuff about personal power is too complex--and my disagreement with you too profound--to get into right now

Oh, this oughta be interesting. Ready whenever you are, chief.

I can either assume that somehow I didn't WILL for them to come hard enough, or fucked up my karma, OR I can imagine that, even given the force of my effort and ernestness of my pursuit, some things just happen.

I don't know why you'd have to treat these as mutually exclusive. Also, let me give you a couple of other options of what you can think about (which will probably lead to more discussion): Maybe they are creating their own karma, OR maybe you are burning through some negative karma of your own.

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

>>But that doesn't negate the assertion that we have limited control over the circumstances that surround those, if unlimited control over the way we respond to those circumstances (within reason).<<

Buddy, if you have the latter, why do you need to worry about the former? By effecting change in the micro, you'll be doing the same in the macro; and in that sense, yes, you can control the macro.

You can influence the macro, but that doesn't mean that competing wills, chance, destiny, natural law, cataclysm, etc. can't also influence it in ways that, in turn, effect your own influence. Additionally, even the most enlightened souls, I find, regularly encounter adversity beyond that with which they know they can deal. What I'm getting at is not that one oughtn't strive to make good decisions in good faith, but that we oughtn't assume that will create a given result. Once you accept that, you can either assume that the things that happen that thwart, or at least tacitly oppose, your will are completely random, or that they're part of a larger design of which you are merely a function. Which of those two you decide to acknowledge changes nothing with regards to your responsibility to continue to make choices, to keep "becoming" in the existential sense.

I continue to submit that assuming more control than that amounts to either solipsism or, in the context of misguided anthropocentrism bourne of the assumption of an anthropomorphic deity, a bastardized form of manifest destiny-cum-virtucracy.

And if you can control how you view the macro, why set yourself up to view it in a negative function, beyond natural dispositions (which can be altered)?

Not sure what you mean by natural dispositions, but . . . I suppose there's NO reason to view it in a negative function, other than how you interpret your facts and observations.

Also, this bagging on the "negative" gets tiresome. There's destructive negativism and constructive negativism; and true positivism will never be reached by pretending the world is something other than you observe it to be, but by realistically approaching the question of what it could become, what good lies latent, in the context of both changing and immutable truths.

Never underestimate the power over the small to affect power of the grand.

Affect the power of the grand, yes. Even change its direction. Control the grand, no.

That aside, with all your power, why would you choose to live in hurricane alley, and not build a properly designed home, not put insurance on it?

Well, probably for the same reason we live in the shadow of a volcano on a major coastal fault line without renter's insurance. You balance your risks and benefits--latent or realized--and move on.

Basically, just because the gambler is ultimately responsible, because he chose to play the game, doesn't mean the cards, the dealer and the other players didn't affect the outcome.

If you look at your current life as a contiguous string encompassing your past, present and your future, and keep in mind that the actions taken in the past affect the circumstances of the present and how you react to that will determine the future outcome, what else is there to control?

Any choice has a finite but manifold number of possible outcomes (some would say infinite; I'd cast some doubt on that, and would, in any case, have to insist that it varies depending on the choice); these outcomes are influenced by factors that arguably have nothing to do with you, an many of which unarguably have nothing to do with the nature of that particular choice. So there's still something outside the realm of what you can influence.

Again, none of this takes ANY responsibility away from you. But sometimes, when asking whether you could have done anything differently, you have to be able to admit that you couldn't have, that you'd do the same thing again, and that your choices might have played out differently under different circumstances.

But, I'm not familiar with the Gnostics.

The point is that JJ's conception of "God" isn't new, and isn't all that radical (though not exactly mainstream).

From what I gather, it is a lot like the Tao, but even that feels like an assumption on my part.

Well, it is when it is. "Gnosis" means secret knowledge; the thru-lines of gnosticism are the notion that only you can define your relationship to salvation, and the assumption of a dualistic universe (hylic vs. pneumatic, though the psychic shows up in the Valentinian paradigm, just to make things confusing). It becomes more like Taoism under hermetic philosophers like Giordano Bruno, and, to a lesser extent William Blake. Carl Jung, Herman Hesse and Philip K. Dick all postulate a quasi-secular, psychologically based understanding of gnosis, Abraxas (a reconfiguration of the gnostic demiurge) and the dualistic universe as held forth by the Manichees.

Think of gnosticism as being most immediately relatable to Sufiism in Islam or Kabbalah in Judaism, the headier, more mystical understanding of the principles (though there can be non-Christian gnosticism).

Gnosticism, here are some questions: why hasn't it caught a foothold since? Why hasn't it been brought back?

A philosophy based on the notion that no one can tell you what God is or what "He" wants, but that you can come to know "Him" in yourself, isn't likely to manage as an institutional religion. Plus many gnostic sects fell victim to various chapters of the Inquisition.

Also, see above re: Jung, Hesse, Dick. Hans Jonas also wrote a book that I'm interested in reading where he postulates a connection between gnosticism and existentialism a la Heidegger.

Are the lessons found therein applicable to daily life in the modern world, and how easy is it to learn and spread? Can those lessons be corrupted? How passionately can you follow these rules?

I'll let you know. :^)

Seriously, though, the lessons are as applicable as anything in Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, or any of the religions from which it borrows or to which it refers. And Jung offered fascinating insights into how these principles can be used to elucidate psychological truths, solve personal puzzles, and maintain theistic belief without the moralist baggage of canonical Christianity.

 
At 5:58 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

>>I can either assume that somehow I didn't WILL for them to come hard enough, or fucked up my karma, OR I can imagine that, even given the force of my effort and ernestness of my pursuit, some things just happen.<<

I don't know why you'd have to treat these as mutually exclusive.

They're not necessarily. But one can analyze will and karma and come to the conclusion that no, I didn't fail to do anything; no, no past actions have earned me any bad karma yet to be paid . . . basically, without the wiggle room to assume that some things happen with or without (or even through) me regardless of my efforts to the contrary.

Also, let me give you a couple of other options of what you can think about (which will probably lead to more discussion): Maybe they are creating their own karma, OR maybe you are burning through some negative karma of your own.

They meaning whom? The competing interests?

In any case, if THEY are creating their own karma, that seems to support my point more than yours, i.e., if the mechanisms of someone else's karma can change the course of my own, then karma, like all the little caprices of the physical and metaphysical world, carries with it something of an element of chance and/or outside influence.

If you get too into tracing the "maybe I'm working off karma of my own thing", you end up describing a rather circuitous path through past actions. Accepting responsibility doesn't mean asserting absolute dominion. We are, after all, an organism. With or without eternal souls/personal power/Buddha natures, whatever, we share all of THIS, whatever we make about it, with other organisms and phenomena that take place (so far as we know) without the benefit of ANY organism's assistance. We're not going to reign that in or wall it out through any mere act of will.

 
At 6:22 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

By way of analogy: In Herman Hesse's Demian, Demian is telling the narrator about how you can create almost any desired effect through force of will. But he qualifies it, noting that if he were to wish for the professor to take his glasses off, he'd be making a game of it.

I'm suggesting that the game aspect doesn't stop at the professor's glasses. Striving to be as revered a physical actor as Bill Irwin may or may not be futile; striving to act physically with integrity and devotion is an effort towards something within my control. The former depends on the audience, the critics, the academic establishment and the theatre market--which includes, but is not limited to, all of the aforementioned--to come around to a way of thinking in line with what I have to offer. The latter, on the other hand, only assumes that I will carve out the niche as I see fit; my success in such endeavour relies only on my own effort. Yes, repeated effort could build an audience, repeated exposure could bring critical notice, academic nods, what-have-you. But the one doesn't guarantee the other, and failure to achieve the first goal could indicate nothing more than that shit happens, or that popular aesthetic tastes differ from my own aesthetic theory.

Whichever assumption I make, I'm still responsible for my own happiness and actions in service thereof.

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

I'm still way back in reading but this...

The stuff about personal power is too complex--and my disagreement with you too profound--to get into right now

Oh, this oughta be interesting. Ready whenever you are, chief.


...makes me say God/notgod & cocktails. That'd be way fun.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

You can influence the macro, but that doesn't mean that competing wills, chance, destiny, natural law, cataclysm, etc. can't also influence it in ways that, in turn, effect your own influence. Additionally, even the most enlightened souls, I find, regularly encounter adversity beyond that with which they know they can deal. What I'm getting at is not that one oughtn't strive to make good decisions in good faith, but that we oughtn't assume that will create a given result. Once you accept that, you can either assume that the things that happen that thwart, or at least tacitly oppose, your will are completely random, or that they're part of a larger design of which you are merely a function. Which of those two you decide to acknowledge changes nothing with regards to your responsibility to continue to make choices, to keep "becoming" in the existential sense.

well...yeah. An influence on the macro is still an influence, and as long as you remain true to what you'd like to see happening, those outside influences are meaningless. Dude, I see nothing here that amounts to a "profound disagreement," except...You know what I notice here? It's best exemplified by this sentence:

Once you accept that, you can either assume that the things that happen that thwart, or at least tacitly oppose, your will are completely random, or that they're part of a larger design of which you are merely a function.

so, it's either chaos, or you're just a wee cog in the grand scheme of things. To me, my impression, all of this is belittling to the self. Why belittle oneself?

Further in the next paragraph, I read:

I continue to submit that assuming more control than that amounts to either solipsism or, in the context of misguided anthropocentrism bourne of the assumption of an anthropomorphic deity, a bastardized form of manifest destiny-cum-virtucracy.

If you broke down the $8 words, down to some commonly priced words, you'd see that this is just a fancy of way of saying "if you think more of yourself than either chaos or wee cog you're a pompous windbag."

I'm sorry, but the human being, and everything that makes up the human being is a powerful thing, and I'm about feeding and manifesting that power to reach unlimited potential.

But if it works for you, man, go nuts.

There's destructive negativism and constructive negativism; and true positivism will never be reached by pretending the world is something other than you observe it to be, but by realistically approaching the question of what it could become, what good lies latent, in the context of both changing and immutable truths.

Who said anything to the contrary? But, do you want to know why people react to negativitism so negatively? Negative generally begets more negative, until you end up in a spiral.

Beign able to face reality is more than just constructive negativism.

Affect the power of the grand, yes. Even change its direction. Control the grand, no.

And to this, I'll reply with something I wrote:

If you look at your current life as a contiguous string encompassing your past, present and your future, and keep in mind that the actions taken in the past affect the circumstances of the present and how you react to that will determine the future outcome, what else is there to control?

Okay, now this bit:

these outcomes are influenced by factors that arguably have nothing to do with you, an many of which unarguably have nothing to do with the nature of that particular choice. So there's still something outside the realm of what you can influence.

This is where the fundamental disagreement lay, but as I'm done with work, it's gonna have to wait for a further point.

Thanks for the Gnosticism primer.

 
At 5:28 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

To me, my impression, all of this is belittling to the self. Why belittle oneself?

Oh, come on. Our culture is so obsessed with self that even the vast Christian empire hasn't been able to make a dent in it. I don't seek to belittle the self, but I see nothing but good in deflating it a little. Surrender is one of the keys to achieving indivual empowerment.

It's kind of how I feel about the whole self-esteem thing: one must esteem himself realistically. Inflated self-image, in the practical or the metaphysical, serves no one.

>>I continue to submit that assuming more control than that amounts to either solipsism or, in the context of misguided anthropocentrism bourne of the assumption of an anthropomorphic deity, a bastardized form of manifest destiny-cum-virtucracy.<<

If you broke down the $8 words, down to some commonly priced words, you'd see that this is just a fancy of way of saying "if you think more of yourself than either chaos or wee cog you're a pompous windbag."

I think you need to better acquaint yourself with those $8 words if that's all you got out of that. Recognizing that you're part of a picture that includes wills and influences outside of yourself, that your interests represent a small piece of the interests at stake, and that some events happen outside the scope of ALL interest (so far as we can discern; one may make an argument for divine interest, but that's another debate) . . . these are not tantamount to suggesting one is a cog or that one is adrift in chaos (though I'd probably defend those views separately). The notions can coexist, but they are not synonymous.

I'm sorry, but the human being, and everything that makes up the human being is a powerful thing, and I'm about feeding and manifesting that power to reach unlimited potential.

I'm interested in reaching maximum potential, and I think we as a species have barely touched on our capabilities. But I think that absorption in neo-objectivist deification of the self--which isn't what you're saying, but I suspect it's where the line of rhetoric eventually leads--is problematic.

But, do you want to know why people react to negativitism so negatively? Negative generally begets more negative, until you end up in a spiral.

It depends on what you mean by "negative". I'm not actually sure what "negativism" you refer to. That nature functions on chaos and annihalation needn't, to my eye, be seen as "negative"; and indeed, that's the closest thing to a negative assertion I can find in my posts on this matter.

So "life sucks" and "I'm powerless", which we can all agree are negative phrases, are certainly counterproductive; "nature functions through violence" is essentially neutral until we know the nature of that violence, whether/how we defend against it, if/how we participate therein, etc. I think what I was responding to was your assertion that there was something negative in what I was saying. If the doctrine of creation from chaos and through annihalation, which predates formal nihilism and figures prominently in Hindu cosmology, is "negative", then I continue to assert that we need such negativism.

Beign able to face reality is more than just constructive negativism.

Agreed. But constructive negativism is a necessary ingredient.

 
At 5:33 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

This is where the fundamental disagreement lay

Think of it this way: if people come to the show because I didn't try hard enough to get them there, who's to say Daddy doesn't drink because I cry? It seems that we can always find circuits by which we are responsible for the way things outside of ourselves happen, but eventually we have to recognize that things happen, and that maybe if all the hoping, all the chanting, all the hard work and all the visualization don't get us what we want, then maybe what we want isn't what the world had in store for us. Therefore, we're only really in the position to seek happiness with the current state of things, and effect change when and where we can. The fact that you didn't even bother to tackle any of my examples says to me that you recognize, on some level, the futility of assuming absolute control over all things. You may dismiss the difference in our viewpoints as semantic, and you may be right; I just happen to believe language really matters.

 
At 10:39 PM, Blogger Stine said...

The Middle Way man, the Middle Way.

Man I'm high.

And I'm with JJ on the God/No God convo - WAY fun! I'll even bring the nipple clamps.

Ok, nevermind.

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Funny thing is, we both pursue more or less the same "way". Now we're arguing cosmology (and, by implication, escatology--and for me, still intrigued by gnosticism, soteriology). So we're arguing the "why" of the "way". Which may or may not matter (to the existentialist, we are only our actions, and the reasons for them don't really matter; to the Christian, or at least to the average Protestant, God judges the heart, and intention is of fierce importance).

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger Stine said...

IMHO, the why is the way, and visa versa. And both/all "whys" are the way.

Other than that, I'd have to go look up a few vocabulary words to comment further.

:)

I agree with you about intention though, intention fuels karma.

 
At 7:29 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Our culture is so obsessed with self that even the vast Christian empire hasn't been able to make a dent in it.

Our culture is obsessed with the self, but not in a healthy way. Our culture is also obsessed with denial, of self and responsibility. Our culture is obsessed with instant gratification without earning it. Our culture is pretty fucked up and why? Because we don't give ourselves enough credit to get the happiness we want, and because we're too scared to get that happiness when it's in our reach.

Inflated self-image is one thing, but there is nothing wrong with aspiration.

For a good example of everything I'm talking about, let's use a mutual acquaintance of ours: Your people would call him Corn.

I think you need to better acquaint yourself with those $8 words if that's all you got out of that.

Oh, I could get a lot more, but you know, as you said earlier, time is of the essence, and I have no desire to spend three entries in thesaurus speak to get to the same point in the conversation. So, while you were not saying "you're either a cog in the machine, or a speck in the chaos" that could be where that line of rhetoric would lead, to borrow your language.

There's an awful lot of energy spent here about what's outside of our realm, and here and now I am going to say that what's outside of our realm does not matter, in the grand scheme of things. The road to happiness lay within.

Let me agree here with you, attempting control over everything is futile. Not only that, it's foolish. But not impossible. Let's leave that for the moment.

Neo-objectivist deification of the self - which, dude, come on - is problematic, if it goes unchecked. This would be tantamount to me saying "I am the Buddha, all you other motherfuckers can suck it." Which is not what I'm saying, nor what I'm trying to expound.

It certainly goes against the notion of all of us being Buddhas in our own right. And seeing as we're all Buddhas, therefore equal to each other, it behooves us to treat each other with the respect due. The moment you, I, or anyone else goes against that, they are creating negative karma for themselves.

Now that the K-word has been brought forth, let us clear the table and start with a fresh concept to battle over.

What you call chaos, I call karma, particularly in as much as that chaos touches upon our lives, or trajectory, to use your analogy. I stand behind the assertion that any of that karma you are dealing with was something you put out there to begin with, regardless of whether you believe you're responsible for it or not. If your goal is auspicious in any way, the obstacles thrown your way are your karma to deal with...the dues to pay to get where you want.

Using your example, Ly, you'd like to be known as a modern day Bill Irwin. Knowing you can't get that status over night, you start laying the groundwork. You work with UMO, you do Action Movie, that opera, until, finally, you get a part in a show that you think best exemplifies the type of work you can be doing. In the meantime, you've created something of a pastiche of your work that will create a resonance, a recognition of your talents, each time you add something new to your arsenal.

So, you get the part, but it's such an odd sell of a show, you start doing your part to try to ensure people come to see it. The people you do get to see it are blown away by your performance, but no one's come out with a banner saying "the second coming of Bill Irwin has arrived." Your friends may think it, but that's not what you're going for. The critics praise your performance, but not the show, and that has something of an influence over who gets to be baptized into the "LW = BI" club, because by and large, the people aren't coming. So, you invite the casting director at ACT to come see it, and she is impressed with your performance.

This last, in and of itself may not get you where you want to be, but in every instance up to this point, you're driving towards your goal. Karmically, you've done what you're supposed to, taking advantages of the opportunities presented and laying the groundwork for future advances, hopefully.

What elements of chaos stopped you along here? What parts of it deterred forward progress?

Or did you want the skies to open and declare you the next Bill Irwin? Bill Irwin himself didn't get that.

What do you do from here? Keep auditioning, keep moving forward, or give up. Which sounds more palatable?

Now, let's address the "getting people in the door" thing, and how that works out, karmically speaking: Do you mean to tell me you've never skipped out on a show because of previous engagements, or lack of interest? Or simple inability to get to that show?

What of those people whose shows you've gone out of your way to see? Barring karma created in a previous life (which we haven't even touched on), they are creating karma with you. I guess in this instance you could say that this is an outside force at work, except that belies the interconnectedness of all things. Regardless, will you be as likely to attend their next show?

Lastly, the critics. It is my belief that every frustrated artist out there once spent a lifetime being an asshole critic. Does this mean a lifetime of frustration? Only if they give up.

Because, in the Buddhism I practice, practicing gives you the opportunity to expiate any and all negative karma in this lifetime. Expiation takes the form of the calamities and setbacks we're talking about (particularly in the case of "the most enlightened souls regularly encountering adversity beyond that with which they know they can deal"), and only through overcoming them can you get rid of their influence.

To use myself as an example: Looking at my current life and its inequities, I must have spent a number of lifetimes blithely abusing my circumstances, whether financial, fortunes, or the company of the other sex (at least, when it comes to the heart). The question becomes do I actively pursue the means to overcome this, or do I just cast my fates to the wind, and just take it as it comes?

 
At 9:15 PM, Blogger Missuz J said...

Did someone say something about no god + cocktails? I vote for that one.

Beigy--did Stine answer your question about Mormons believing that they can become gods? I read, and then skimmed, and might have missed it.

If remember correctly, much of that is based on a scripture (too lazy to look it up) but it's probably in the BOM or Doctrine and Covenants, that states, "As man is, God once was." So if you're good, and manage to make it to the highest level of heaven, after a while you get to go make your own world and be God of it. Bitchin', huh? Of course, I'm sure there were some additional strings attached. Like being an insufferable pain in the ass, and a total bore, and having to sit through 3 fucking hours of church every Sunday, and having to tell the bishop if you masturbate, and drinking your caffine cold instead of hot, and having guys tell you that they can't date you because you give them unclean thoughts, and giving all your power to men because only they have the priesthood, and constantly feeling like the end of the world is comming so you'd better be ready, and realizing that you are just too fucked up to ever be good enough and you might as well just settle for the fact that you'll be in the 3rd level of heaven--but that's ok, because it's supposed to be at least better than earth, and people from the higher levels can visit people at lower levels, so mom and Jesus will probably drop by and say hi every once in a while, and...oops. Mormon rage. A little of topic. Sorry.

 
At 9:37 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

There are some important points I need to hit here, Beige, and some assumptions about my character and/or the options available that require clarification. That said, I agree with your essential ideas as to how karma works. Really. Which is why I think we're debating semantics. I still say karma is chaos, and that competing interests represent something over which we have no control. But I'll have to explain all that later.

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I think I need to make just a few things clear before we begin:

1) There seems to be an assumption here that I'm in a state of despair, or at least complaint about the state of my life. My belief in a hostile reality is a matter of observation, not just of my (relatively blessed) circumstances, but of nature, history, etc. I am, for the moment anyway, quite happy with where and who I am.

2) The hypothetical "show" I used as an example was just that: hypothetical. If anything, I was still thinking of Edmond, which only shows how content I was with The Swan despite middling attendance.

3) I don't really want to be Bill Irwin. It was just an idea that I could relate tangentially to what I might want in terms of a dubiously attainable goal.

4) I'd be the last person to suggest giving up. I don't think every dream or goal is attainable; but whatever destiny a higher power or random circumstance has in store for us, the pursuit of that dream, the adherence to (and evolution of) our value systems are going to be the mechanism by which we reach it. To my way of thinking, it is more rational to invest in the pursuit than in the outcome (though, of course, visualizing the outcome is an important part of the pursuit), and this shift of investment contains, implicitly, an awareness that the outcome isn't 100% up to us.

Our culture is pretty fucked up and why? Because we don't give ourselves enough credit to get the happiness we want, and because we're too scared to get that happiness when it's in our reach.

Partially. But I also think we have unrealistic expectations regarding what that happiness is supposed to look like, and part of addressing that is learning to accept what is. Acceptance of what is would seem, from where I sit, to require an acknowledgement that much of what is functions independently of your influence, or at least without direct accountability to your wishes. Serenity to accept the things you cannot change, and all that. Even classical Buddhism acknowledges such a need.

Inflated self-image is one thing, but there is nothing wrong with aspiration.

Well, no. Spirited pursuit is a necessary.

For a good example of everything I'm talking about, let's use a mutual acquaintance of ours: Your people would call him Corn.

I've been thinking of him since the beginning of this "empowerment thread". He seems like a particularly troubling example of an overinflated sense of self. Of course, you could also use him as an example of a tendency to blame others gone overboard, which is why, in either of our positions, I recommend eliminating "blame" entirely from the equation. Blaming one's self for the failure of events to live up to one's aspirations and blaming others for same both strike me as equally harmful.

I have no desire to spend three entries in thesaurus speak to get to the same point in the conversation.

For years, I never knew I was using big words. Apparently I still don't. That's just the way I speak/write. It actually allows me to express my thoughts in fewer words if the words themselves can be a little more ripe, more pregnant with their own context.

So, while you were not saying "you're either a cog in the machine, or a speck in the chaos" that could be where that line of rhetoric would lead, to borrow your language.

Heh, heh. I don't agree with your analysis, but I probably deserved the turnaround.

There's an awful lot of energy spent here about what's outside of our realm, and here and now I am going to say that what's outside of our realm does not matter, in the grand scheme of things. The road to happiness lay within.

I agree, actually. I just think that knowing what's outside your realm allows you to adjust your expectation regarding outcome, so you can focus on process and pursuit, the parts that really ARE within.

Let me agree here with you, attempting control over everything is futile. Not only that, it's foolish. But not impossible.

Arguably impossible. The real question, though, if I allow that it's possible, is, "Would it be desirable?"

What you call chaos, I call karma, particularly in as much as that chaos touches upon our lives, or trajectory, to use your analogy.

I'm willing to accept that. But . . .

I stand behind the assertion that any of that karma you are dealing with was something you put out there to begin with, regardless of whether you believe you're responsible for it or not.

Maybe. But herein really lies my problem. I see no difference between saying that your obstacles and setbacks now are the result of past or future "negative energy" which you're responsible for putting out there and saying that those obstacles are God's punishment for your looking at porn, at least in terms of function. Both again operate on a notion of blame. Maybe, just maybe, I (for instance, hypothetically) didn't put out ANYTHING to bring those obstacles into existence; maybe I'm responsible for some but not others. I think you can believe those obstacles exist independently of you and still accept that it's no one's responsibility but yours to face them.

Using your example, Ly, you'd like to be known as a modern day Bill Irwin. Knowing you can't get that status over night, you start laying the groundwork. You work with UMO, you do Action Movie, that opera, until, finally, you get a part in a show that you think best exemplifies the type of work you can be doing. In the meantime, you've created something of a pastiche of your work that will create a resonance, a recognition of your talents, each time you add something new to your arsenal.
So, you get the part, but it's such an odd sell of a show, you start doing your part to try to ensure people come to see it. The people you do get to see it are blown away by your performance, but no one's come out with a banner saying "the second coming of Bill Irwin has arrived." Your friends may think it, but that's not what you're going for. The critics praise your performance, but not the show, and that has something of an influence over who gets to be baptized into the "LW = BI" club, because by and large, the people aren't coming. So, you invite the casting director at ACT to come see it, and she is impressed with your performance.


I guess this is fair analysis, though, like I said, it's not really my goal to be recognized as a Bill Irwin, and I was happy with how things worked out for the show (honest!).

This last, in and of itself may not get you where you want to be, but in every instance up to this point, you're driving towards your goal. Karmically, you've done what you're supposed to, taking advantages of the opportunities presented and laying the groundwork for future advances, hopefully.

Maybe. Advances towards what is a puzzle I'm still working out, since it's not really a desire to be an actor per se.

What elements of chaos stopped you along here? What parts of it deterred forward progress?

In this case, nothing. I accomplished precisely what I want. That doesn't mean that there isn't chaos, only that it didn't interfere with my "progress".

Or did you want the skies to open and declare you the next Bill Irwin?

Again, no.

What do you do from here? Keep auditioning, keep moving forward, or give up. Which sounds more palatable?

Again, I think you took my example too literally. But since we're playing this way, my personal thoughts are not necessarily, of course, and of course not. Not necessarily to auditioning because, frankly, this was the only show I wanted to do this last year; despite some positive elements, I frankly wish I hadn't done the last two shows before it. So I'm only going to audition for shows that I've read, and only for the roles that suit what I wish to accomplish artistically, which is NOT to be a functionary for the current direction of American theatre. On the second point, though, I'll certainly try to keep an eye out for odd little gems like this one (and despite any problems people had with the script, I did think this one was a gem for what it tried to do thematically, and for the opportunity it gave me to reinvigorate my love of physical performance), continue to develop the body, etc. I already have plans to continue martial arts study and and pursue teaching projects already in the planning with a mutual friend we'll call "she who rides". And, of course, I'll continue to pursue philosophical and spiritual truth, literary knowledge and the creation of a theoretical model for performance, that I may make those things part of the still-forming future plan, since mere acting is clearly not the goal.

So on the last--giving up--I can only suggest that sometimes giving up isn't giving up. Realizing that I DO love theatre when I love it, and that it's a colossal fucking waste of time when I don't, is incredibly freeing, because it allows me to accept that NOT doing it, not auditioning, no pursuing some dubious "respect", is part of the active pursuit of what I'm really seeking. This is where my clarity of value justifies a lack of specificity of goal.

Now, let's address the "getting people in the door" thing, and how that works out, karmically speaking: Do you mean to tell me you've never skipped out on a show because of previous engagements, or lack of interest? Or simple inability to get to that show?
What of those people whose shows you've gone out of your way to see? Barring karma created in a previous life (which we haven't even touched on), they are creating karma with you. I guess in this instance you could say that this is an outside force at work, except that belies the interconnectedness of all things. Regardless, will you be as likely to attend their next show?


I'm not sold on the previous life idea, though I'm no more inclined to deny the possibility outright (on a side note, I think that once you accept the notion of spirit and of an afterlife/multiple-life paradigm, dialectic reasoning REQUIRES a God, an argument C. S. Lewis made better than I ever could--though I disagree with Lewis that this could would have to be either anthropomorphic or morally preoccupied . . . but that's a whole 'nother can o'worms). And while I believe there's an element of karma to what you're talking about, I still think that some of the reasons people can't attend a show fall under the heading of random events; another person's financial or logistical circumstances, his or her aesthetic tastes and interests . . . I see these things more as evidence for the chaotic than the karmic insofar as the relate to the failure or achievement of my goals.

The fact is, sometimes I don't see people's shows because they don't interest me, just as some people don't like to listen to music with me because the music I like (and the music I'd like to make) doesn't interest them.

There was actually someone who came to see The Swan whose show I intended to see , but missed because there was only one night I could see it in the midst of a busy week, it involved a bus ride out to Greenlake, and the tickets were $20 (I'm getting annoyed at rising prices on the fringe). Did my lack of attendance have anything to do with her karma? I guess her insights on that might be interesting, but COME ON!!! I was tired, I was broke, and I was more interested in seeing the show because the reviews were good than I was in engaging with the subject matter, which sounded a little more prosaic than I like my art to be. None of this had anything to do with her. Conversely, it seems silly to blame low attendance at The Swan on any "karma" (shit, maybe I'm being punished for not going to her). It's obviously just as silly--and more harmful--to blame it on people being assholes (which is kind of where I was at with Edmond, though, to be fair, the show itself probably fostered a bit of that--I'm not a method actor, but anyone can stumble accidentally into the method bog). It seems to me that, well, sometimes people can't do the things I'd prefer they do, either because they have other lives separate from my own that randomly, chaotically fail to connect with my own wishes for myself, OR because they, like me, are functioning as part of a larger design that requires me to diligently pursue my goals and values, but may not end in my realizing them as I imagine them.

Again, though, whether I go with my dualistic paradigm (chaos/design=completion) or your inner-Buddha empowerment paradigm (I create all circumstances), we still pursue things more or less the same way: chanting, reflection, defining of values, hard work, visualization, acceptance of the now, faith. Because of my observations and studies, and the beliefs that have emerged therefrom, your position may appear, at times, naive or solipsistic; mine, conversely, may appear to you, because of your own observation and studies, to be fatalistic or inadequately empowering. What seems important, though, is that we both follow the rational channels towards accomplish--or failing spectacularly to accomplish--our goals, that we're living our values, and, paradoxically, both pursuing these separate paths through different takes on the same spiritual sources, even if my understanding of Nichiren Buddhism--the understanding that allows me to practice it to the degree I am--is as different from the current wisdom on its tenets as the gnostics' vision of Christianity was from that of the early Catholic church.

Lastly, the critics. It is my belief that every frustrated artist out there once spent a lifetime being an asshole critic. Does this mean a lifetime of frustration? Only if they give up.

Ah, who gives a fuck about the critics. The only one who had anything negative to say about me praised my physical work and suggested I was sexy (so far as I know, the first time any woman has put the words "Lyam" and "sexy" anywhere near each other in print), and I stand by the vocal choice she didn't like. Actually, the critics were quite nice to me. And if they hadn't been, well, again, so what? No problems, no regrets. This show was a triumph in every way I could have hoped for it to be.

Because, in the Buddhism I practice, practicing gives you the opportunity to expiate any and all negative karma in this lifetime. Expiation takes the form of the calamities and setbacks we're talking about (particularly in the case of "the most enlightened souls regularly encountering adversity beyond that with which they know they can deal"), and only through overcoming them can you get rid of their influence.

I certainly agree that my practice thus far has helped my perspective and lead to my being able to process both success and failure in a more productive way. I just don't look at karma in such circuitous terms. Faith is a function of intuition; and while intuition is a separate function from observation, my intuition, in this case, still asks me to trust what I've observed. So my faith simply grows from a different starting point than it may otherwise. As I grow in faith--wherever I ultimately place it--that may change.

To use myself as an example: Looking at my current life and its inequities, I must have spent a number of lifetimes blithely abusing my circumstances, whether financial, fortunes, or the company of the other sex (at least, when it comes to the heart).

Or maybe the world is just fucking harsh, capitalism doesn't work, luck transpires without regard to virtue, and relationships and sex are complicated. I don't know which set of postulates is true, and I don't know that we CAN know in this lifetime. But regardless of the point from which we start, is the prescribed attitude and course of action really all that different?

The question becomes do I actively pursue the means to overcome this, or do I just cast my fates to the wind, and just take it as it comes?

That's the question whether it's chaos or karma. And everyone from Nichiren Daishonin to Jean Paul Sarte would say that it's the former.

 
At 1:32 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

By this . . .

And everyone from Nichiren Daishonin to Jean Paul Sarte would say that it's the former.

. . . I was referring to this . . .

The question becomes do I actively pursue the means to overcome this, or do I just cast my fates to the wind, and just take it as it comes?

. . . not this:

. . . whether it's chaos or karma.

I'm re-reading my Strunk & White; I promise to be a better writer . . . eventually.

Point is, I was saying that vigorous pursuit will always be preferable to the alternatives.

Although . . .

do I just cast my fates to the wind, and just take it as it comes?

While the Answer is, "Of course not," I don't see how it could hurt to know that the wind is blowing . . . and that whatever comes, you have to take it before you can work your way around it.

 
At 6:14 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Something really quick, as I'm running behind, as usual:

some assumptions about my character and/or the options available that require clarification

Though I did get somewhat specific, please know that I, too, was speaking hypothetically about the whole schmear, which is kinda hard to do when a) we know each other so well, and b) we're speaking of such personal matters.

If it seemed I was intruding upon ground I shouldn't have, I apologize. It was merely done in the interest of moving conversation forward.

More to come!

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

I think that once you accept the notion of spirit and of an afterlife/multiple-life paradigm, dialectic reasoning REQUIRES a God, an argument C. S. Lewis made better than I ever could

Ly, I'd like to read this. Can you give me the reference?

 
At 10:11 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Beige - No sweat on the close, personal stuff. It wasn't so much that I thought you'd directly inferred those things as it was that I wanted any observer of the conversation to understand that my views on a chaotic universe AREN'T bourne of some desire to kvetch about the way things are going, 'cause I'm pretty cool with the way things are going.

JJ - There's the infamous 3rd chapter of Miracles--ostensibly refuted by Catholic theologian Elizabeth Anscombe in direct debate with Lewis, though not to all satisfaction--but my primary understanding of Lewis' central argument on the matter comes from Surprised By Joy. That should give you enough google fodder, anyway.

The best Lewis book, though, is The Great Divorce. It posits a view of heaven and hell that's decidedly NOT in line with the way mainstream American Christians are teaching the doctrine today.

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Firstly, Miss Uz J, Thanks for the mormon "we can be god" update! curious stuff.

Okay, fellow nit-picker, because, that's where we're at here. Though some of these nits being picked are something else...Like this bit:

but whatever destiny a higher power or random circumstance has in store for us, the pursuit of that dream, the adherence to (and evolution of) our value systems are going to be the mechanism by which we reach it. To my way of thinking, it is more rational to invest in the pursuit than in the outcome (though, of course, visualizing the outcome is an important part of the pursuit), and this shift of investment contains, implicitly, an awareness that the outcome isn't 100% up to us.

I disagree with a couple of things here, the biggest one being the either/or proposition at the top of the paragraph. So, only a higher power or random chance? Such binary thinking surprises me. And there can't be a different option? Right.

I reject the notion that this is all there is.

I believe I've pretty much laid out why I disagree with the "not 100% up to us" bit.

Serenity to accept the things you cannot change, and all that. Even classical Buddhism acknowledges such a need.

Good for "classical Buddhism" and by which you mean what, exactly?

Nowhere in Buddhism does it say that you gotta be stuck with what is. Temporarily maybe, but for all time? I'm pretty sure not.

I've been thinking of him since the beginning of this "empowerment thread". He seems like a particularly troubling example of an overinflated sense of self.

Amidst everything else, we could also use him as an example of how, with determination and perseverance, one could achieve one's goals. Under the circumstances, this is akin to saying "at least the trains run on time," but you can't deny that the motherfucker got shit done. If only he could adjust his means...

For years, I never knew I was using big words. Apparently I still don't. That's just the way I speak/write.

Yeah, but in person, a bit of meaning can be gleaned from what you're saying. On the page, the big words, while not an affectation, does a lot to mask meaning. "Neo-objectivist deification of the self," couldn't be condensed to "Ayn Rand-esque build up of the ego to the point of being a god?" or this:

submit that assuming more control than that amounts to either solipsism or, in the context of misguided anthropocentrism bourne of the assumption of an anthropomorphic deity, a bastardized form of manifest destiny-cum-virtucracy

That couldn't be condensed to, well, what you later ended up having to write?

Just sayin'.

I see no difference between saying that your obstacles and setbacks now are the result of past or future "negative energy" which you're responsible for putting out there and saying that those obstacles are God's punishment for your looking at porn, at least in terms of function. Both again operate on a notion of blame.

And here's where the "sez you" portion of our discussion begins, because at least the former encourages personal responsibility, whereas the latter places responsibility outside of the self. And who, exactly, is assigning blame in this action?

That aside...

I think you can believe those obstacles exist independently of you and still accept that it's no one's responsibility but yours to face them.

...I don't have a beef with this sentiment.

I'm gonna skip ahead to where we seem to be at loggerheads again, though I do appreciate the explication of your situation...

I'm not sold on the previous life idea, though I'm no more inclined to deny the possibility outright (on a side note, I think that once you accept the notion of spirit and of an afterlife/multiple-life paradigm, dialectic reasoning REQUIRES a God, an argument C. S. Lewis made better than I ever could

Noting your ambivalence regarding reincarnation, and leaving it aside for the moment; all I have to say is: What makes you think I'm going to be likely to accept something simply because it comes from the mouth of C.S. Lewis? He argues that? Great for him, but there are a large number of people who would disagree with him, myself included, obviously.

Again, I question what looks like binary reasoning from this standpoint, even though you take the pains to say this:

though I disagree with Lewis that this could would have to be either anthropomorphic or morally preoccupied . . . but that's a whole 'nother can o'worms

I'd argue that this is precisely the can of worms in question...

I'm likely to get razzed for positing this notion because it adheres to neither the higher power/chaos minded, and goes right back to the power of the individual: The individual chooses the circumstances and elements of their next life.

"So, why not choose a life of luxury? Or that of a cat?"

Nothing saying you couldn't, but the idea is to make a choice that will help in the advancement or betterment for all; and how many instances of that can you think of that began from the priviledged classes?

Put it another way, whose success stands out more: Jennifer Lynch or Kevin Smith/Robert Rodriguez?

Carnegie was a cold hearted bastard, but he was a self-made man whose guilt led to some enduring donations to humanity. Can you say the same of his offspring?

Think of the circumstances surrounding Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson; I'm sure there are plenty of other examples...

Are we all to have such monumental impacts on our worlds? Who's to say? Frankly, that's up to the individual.

How'd I get here? Oh, right, no need for a god to decide your next life when it's you doing it.

I see these things more as evidence for the chaotic than the karmic insofar as the relate to the failure or achievement of my goals.

...and I, simply, disagree...

I guess her insights on that might be interesting, but COME ON!!! I was tired, I was broke...None of this had anything to do with her.

Again, I disagree, but arguing the merits of this is like getting into it with a tar-rabbit. For mine, you have to accept this working notion of Karma as being both positive, negative, and amorphous enough to apply to every given situation. For yours, you have to adhere to the notion of chaos/machine that, in my opinion, limits the influence of your actions amongst the cosmos.

As you say, "I just don't look at karma in such circuitous terms;" while I can't see what the function of simple chaos would be in the grand scheme of things.

I don't know which set of postulates is true, and I don't know that we CAN know in this lifetime.

Agreed, just that my set makes more sense to me, and vice versa.

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

So, only a higher power or random chance?

Or solipsism. Or unconscious design, but there's not a dialectical argument for that one solid enough to even bother with it, IMO.

Such binary thinking surprises me. And there can't be a different option? Right.

That depends on your definition of higher power. I wonder why your definitions of a higher power would be so few or so uncomplicated that the very introduction of a higher power would seem such a potent limitation.

Good for "classical Buddhism" and by which you mean what, exactly?
Nowhere in Buddhism does it say that you gotta be stuck with what is. Temporarily maybe, but for all time? I'm pretty sure not.


If you read it in context with the Hinduism from which it grew and the Taoism by which it was influenced, most Buddhist Sutra can be construed as recognizing a chaotic universe at its textual root. We're not bound by such a reading, of course, but it's there.

Oh, and I'm absolutely certain that I'm not saying, "you gotta be stuck with what is", only that "objects, persons and events exist and transpire independently of our goals and desires". A pretty different assertion; it's a pretty sloppy generalization that reflexively conflates the two.

Amidst everything else, we could also use him as an example of how, with determination and perseverance, one could achieve one's goals. Under the circumstances, this is akin to saying "at least the trains run on time," but you can't deny that the motherfucker got shit done. If only he could adjust his means...

Sssssssure . . . I guess, because of my ambivalence about mainstream theatre, and an ongoing, acrimonious debate about how to define good art, what art's for and who "should" be allowed to practice it (ooh, that subject got me hot under the collar) that had been festering between he and I for about a year before he left, I'm kinda eh about some of the shit that he got done. But to the degree that we're talking about determination and perseverance, I see what you're getting at.

For years, I never knew I was using big words. Apparently I still don't. That's just the way I speak/write.

"Neo-objectivist deification of the self," couldn't be condensed to "Ayn Rand-esque build up of the ego to the point of being a god?"

Look again. That's not condesation, that's dilution: more words, more letters, a proper name . . .

submit that assuming more control than that amounts to either solipsism or, in the context of misguided anthropocentrism bourne of the assumption of an anthropomorphic deity, a bastardized form of manifest destiny-cum-virtucracy

If I actually broke down the text into the points it contains, it'd take paragraphs. Solipsism, as a word, should be in common usage to people in the arts; anthropocentrism--the assumption that man is the center of known life, or the peak of evolution--leads to manifest destiny, while the anthropomorphic deity leads to the assumption that humanity can be ranked according to merit based on "closeness" with said deity. I've already taken longer than the aforemention paragraph to break down the words by meaning; if you plug that meaning back in, you can get a good sense of the interrelation of the parts. Creating that relationship without the words . . . I woudn't even bother.

>>I see no difference between saying that your obstacles and setbacks now are the result of past or future "negative energy" which you're responsible for putting out there and saying that those obstacles are God's punishment for your looking at porn, at least in terms of function. Both again operate on a notion of blame.<<

And here's where the "sez you" portion of our discussion begins, because at least the former encourages personal responsibility, whereas the latter places responsibility outside of the self.

I don't see that. Both place responsibility on some perceived "sin". You may not call it that, but if you postulate that your actions (or your inaction, or your "bad energy" or whatever) create bad circumstance, you're essentially introducing a notion of sin. In works-based Christianity, sin can be counteracted with, well, works: selfless acts, altruistic acts, etc. Whether you're doing this to please God or satisfy some notion of cause and effect makes little difference.

And who, exactly, is assigning blame in this action?

Well, when one encounters adversity, it tends to feel like punishment; and whether you postulate that you're being punished by God for your sin or being repaid "karma" for past action, you're still suffering for your action. Hence, the tacit assumption of blame. What I'm suggesting is that maybe not ALL suffering is tied to actions, at least not in a way that can be observed, corrected or controlled. It's worhwhile, I think, to try to observe the trajectory which led from some ill-defined action to our present suffering, but if we fail to find such an action, such a karmic misstep, I think it can be an act of good faith to imagine there may not have been one.

If we build up from basic biology, cells begin to deteriorate from the moment they begin to interact with an environment. Suffering exists at a molecular level. There are different kinds and different levels of suffering, and we have control over those nuances.

I'm not sold on the previous life idea, though I'm no more inclined to deny the possibility outright (on a side note, I think that once you accept the notion of spirit and of an afterlife/multiple-life paradigm, dialectic reasoning REQUIRES a God, an argument C. S. Lewis made better than I ever could

What makes you think I'm going to be likely to accept something simply because it comes from the mouth of C.S. Lewis? He argues that? Great for him, but there are a large number of people who would disagree with him, myself included, obviously.

I wouldn't expect you to accept something because it comes from the mouth of C.S. Lewis. I only mentioned it because I find it interesting that you're willing to go with the past lives thing, but not with the God thing. TO ME, dialectically, the one makes no sense without the other. Indeed, "God", if we divorce it from the anthropomorphic tenets of which I speak, seems to be the first step I'd take before accepting the notion of reincarnation. Lewis's arguments are a big part of why I feel this way, not because they came from Lewis' mouth, but because he mounts a dialectical argument which I can't refute. I know, I can't believe it either.

Again, I question what looks like binary reasoning from this standpoint

I think my sentence may have mislead you into believing there's a binary standpoint there. It's not a matter of "reincarnation or God", but "is there an argument that would convince me that there'd be reincarnation without God", i.e., once I accept that we're not just meat puppets, can I accept the postulate that it isn't all centralized somehow?

>>though I disagree with Lewis that this could would have to be either anthropomorphic or morally preoccupied . . . but that's a whole 'nother can o'worms<<

I'd argue that this is precisely the can of worms in question...

I'd be interested to hear why, 'cause I don't think so. The one thing of which I'm pretty certain is that I don't believe we're under an invisible man in the sky, a morally preoccupied being possessed of will, pettiness and jealousy ("thou shalt have no other gods before me"). Lewis's argument that a "higher power" would, of necessity, have to be an anthropomorphic, "personal" God is less compelling than his argument that a soul would require a source (a less controversial term, perhaps, than "higher power").

I'm likely to get razzed for positing this notion because it adheres to neither the higher power/chaos minded, and goes right back to the power of the individual: The individual chooses the circumstances and elements of their next life.

Not really a razz, dude. You came out swinging at Christianity, and I threw out the notion that, dialectically, some aspects of it make sense. I'm not interested in what "works"; I'm interested in what's true. I think, though, that the individual controls some of the circumstances of this life, and that imagining either a next life, an afterlife, a positive impact on the world, etc., gives any individual impetus to strive not only for his/her own success and happiness, but to do so in an ethical manner and take responsibility for those around us.

Nothing saying you couldn't, but the idea is to make a choice that will help in the advancement or betterment for all; and how many instances of that can you think of that began from the priviledged classes?
Put it another way, whose success stands out more: Jennifer Lynch or Kevin Smith/Robert Rodriguez?
Carnegie was a cold hearted bastard, but he was a self-made man whose guilt led to some enduring donations to humanity. Can you say the same of his offspring?
Think of the circumstances surrounding Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson; I'm sure there are plenty of other examples...
Are we all to have such monumental impacts on our worlds? Who's to say? Frankly, that's up to the individual.


I think there are circumstantial aspects beyond the individual that play a part, but we're just gonna go in circles on that. You're gonna argue why it works, and I'm gonna say, Yeah, but that doesn't mean it's true, and anyways, we both move forward in essentially the same way anyways. And we'll make that impact, if we're to make it, even if we believe that existence is chaotic and random (see: Satre, Camus, Cave, Robert Smith, Nietschze, Ian Curtis--the transcendent empty has made its own mark on the culture--not that I believe, or am postulating, the transcendent empty, only noting that believing you have power over those parts of the universe that aren't you isn't necessary to make one's mark).

How'd I get here? Oh, right, no need for a god to decide your next life when it's you doing it.

See, this is where your limitation on the notion of "God" becomes the wall against which I bang my head. No one's deciding anything but me; I DO NOT believe in an anthropomorphic God; this belief is the closest thing to a certainty I experience in my life. Insofar as my life is governed by choice, the choice by which it is governed is mine. I simply do not accept, and will not accept without an ironclad dialectical proof, empirically observable, physical experiment or revelation to the cause of spiritual gnosis, the premise that all aspects of my life are governed by choice.

>>I guess her insights on that might be interesting, but COME ON!!! I was tired, I was broke...None of this had anything to do with her.<<

Again, I disagree, but arguing the merits of this is like getting into it with a tar-rabbit.

To me, it's pretty simple. If my staying home was a function of her karma, then I do not have free agency, and my actions are not entirely functions of my will. If I'm functioning fully of my own will, then my actions are independent of her karmic obligations.

OR, both aspects--my will, her karma--are able to function because time is non-linear, there's predestination involved, which again brings us to any of the myriad higher power arguments.

I know you'll say it doesn't have to be either or, but again, I'm going to need to be convinced of that; and again, my behaviour is essentially the same either way.

For mine, you have to accept this working notion of Karma as being both positive, negative, and amorphous enough to apply to every given situation. For yours, you have to adhere to the notion of chaos/machine that, in my opinion, limits the influence of your actions amongst the cosmos.

Actually, it doesn't really limit the influence so much as it limits the visible results of that influence from which I'm likely to benefit. If I put out the good, it has positive effect on wherever I end up next: heaven, hell, purgatory, reincarnation, absorption into the soil, whatever. Or it may benefit someone else, someone far away. It may or may not ever make me "successful" in the ways I'd like to be successful, but I don't imagine that should be the whole point anyway.

As you say, "I just don't look at karma in such circuitous terms;" while I can't see what the function of simple chaos would be in the grand scheme of things.

Chaos is incredibly functional. See: Youth, Sonic; Banana, Melt. ;^)

 
At 6:17 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Response, the first:

I'm gonna break this up, time constraints and everything. though, I'm doing this one and the next, and then I'll be moving on...

>>So, only a higher power or random chance?<<

Or solipsism. Or unconscious design, but there's not a dialectical argument for that one solid enough to even bother with it, IMO.

And this is why I have such a hard time dealing with dialectic reasoning, as if these four options basically covered the whole of this topic.

It's not that NSB-SGI can't stand up to the scrutiny, it can and does heartily, it's just that I'm not that guy. I particularly hate being tied down to these options (and nothing either you or JJ can say will move me from this general distaste)...

I wonder why your definitions of a higher power would be so few or so uncomplicated that the very introduction of a higher power would seem such a potent limitation.

...because what could ostensibly "fill" the role of "higher power" in NSB-SGI, The Mystic Law of Cause and Effect, does not function as a higher power, in either the traditional or the dialectic sense of the word, and I'm loathe to lump it into that description. In fact, I simply won't lump it into that description, and so, no, I'm not your best bet to discuss this topic with dialectically.

Later in May, an 80 year old philosophy professor, from Europe, will be getting his gohonzon. I'm attending the celebration at the Koyano's house. Y'all want to have that discussion, I welcome you to attend and have it out with the man. I'll keep you both appraised of the date.

Another reason for this distaste is that it is a bloodless pursuit, and, as far as this topic is concerned, I'm much more experientially inclined.

only that "objects, persons and events exist and transpire independently of our goals and desires".

I want you to note how different the above reads compared to the following:

Acceptance of what is would seem, from where I sit, to require an acknowledgement that much of what is functions independently of your influence, or at least without direct accountability to your wishes.

Our battle over how much influence we have over what is continues, though...

If you read it in context with the Hinduism from which it grew and the Taoism by which it was influenced, most Buddhist Sutra can be construed as recognizing a chaotic universe at its textual root. We're not bound by such a reading, of course, but it's there.

Generally true, but if you're calling early Buddhism "classic Buddhism," you're treading on murky ground.

Firstly, which, of the hundreds upon hundreds of Sutras are you referring to?

Secondly, does it fall within the Mahayana or Hinayana sets of Sutras?

Thirdly, Siddartha-era Buddhism--arguably the period where Buddhism could be said to have been formed, for lack of a better phrase--concerns "what is" as follows: "the sufferings of birth, and death." Everything else is karma, and therefore mutable.

>>"Neo-objectivist deification of the self," couldn't be condensed to "Ayn Rand-esque build up of the ego to the point of being a god?"<<

Look again. That's not condesation, that's dilution: more words, more letters, a proper name . . .

A dilution of words, maybe, but a condensation of meaning.

More to come.

 
At 7:11 PM, Blogger Stine said...

So, only a higher power or random chance?
>>Or solipsism. Or unconscious design, but there's not a dialectical argument for that one solid enough to even bother with it, IMO.<<
And this is why I have such a hard time dealing with dialectic reasoning, as if these four options basically covered the whole of this topic.

"Higher power" can be defined in so many ways that I again submit that it doesn't qualify as a particularly limiting option.

It's not that NSB-SGI can't stand up to the scrutiny, it can and does heartily, it's just that I'm not that guy.

I'm not scrutinizing NSB-SGI; I'm scrutinizing your take on it. Just as there are multiple takes on Catholicism, there are--or SHOULD be--multiple takes on the the theological tenets of Nichiren Buddhism. It is, after all, already a later interpretation of the Lotus Sutra, which originally emerged as a supplement/rebuttal to Hindu theology.

I particularly hate being tied down to these options (and nothing either you or JJ can say will move me from this general distaste)...

Nor will anything you say likely dissuade me from feeling that assuming the level of control you claim to have over not only your own actions and contentment, but the mechanisms of reality itself, constitutes solipsism.

Think of it this way, dude: do you think I like to be tied down to either believing that every mosquito that bites me is a function of my karma or admitting that I'm trying to avoid responsibility for something when I suggest that the universe might operate at least somewhat independently of my actions? Why is my view seen as limited and yours seen as unlimited?

Moreover, as a matter of practice, what exactly are you accomplishing believing you have absolute control that I'm not accomplishing believing that I have mitigated control? In what way are you taking responsibility for your actions that I am not? I still see no practical, functional difference in the net value of our theologies.

...because what could ostensibly "fill" the role of "higher power" in NSB-SGI, The Mystic Law of Cause and Effect, does not function as a higher power, in either the traditional or the dialectic sense of the word, and I'm loathe to lump it into that description.

The wording of the Lotus Sutra itself--at least in excerpt--would seem to imply a higher power, albeit one that works in and through you, and of which & on which your own desires are both a reflection and an influence. Which I buy, since it jibes with my own experience. The individuation of this power/God/void/lifeforce is the thing to which I cannot submit or concede (at this juncture), the assumption that it resides to deeply within us as individuals that we can relate every success or triumph to a notion of karma.

Moreover, I still see the notion of karma, the way you explain it, as a notion of "sin", a way of saying that bad things happen because you deserve them. You can dress it up and say it may have to do with the sins of a past life, or the potential rewards of a future one, but it doesn't really allow for the a good faith deduction, based on observation, that maybe bad things just happen because all life and renewal grows from death, extinction and decay.

Later in May, an 80 year old philosophy professor, from Europe, will be getting his gohonzon. I'm attending the celebration at the Koyano's house. Y'all want to have that discussion, I welcome you to attend and have it out with the man. I'll keep you both appraised of the date.

If time permits, fine . . . but you're missing the point. Any dialectical line of reasoning begins from observation and hypothesis. I see the world I see, and the sources that explain what I see (or feel, or taste . . . what I experience, essentially) will either become part of my "canon" (if we must) by virtue of whether I, or another philosopher/guru/hippie mountain biker, can defeat the argument or not. I'm open to being convinced, but I don't see why it's necessary. I don't see that your view would make me any happier or more effective, I don't see that my view is in contradiction with what the texts of your theology say, my view jibes with my own experiences more than does yours, and even if I DID have reason to believe your views WOULD make me happier or more effective, I am, as I said before, more concerned with what's true (as best I can discern) than with what works.

Another reason for this distaste is that it is a bloodless pursuit, and, as far as this topic is concerned, I'm much more experientially inclined.

Me too. Another point to hammer home: my views are primarily reached experientially, though certainly bolstered by other accounts and defended intellectually. Experience will always trump intellect; the latter is most useful in filling the holes in the former.

>>only that "objects, persons and events exist and transpire independently of our goals and desires".<<
I want you to note how different the above reads compared to the following:
>>Acceptance of what is would seem, from where I sit, to require an acknowledgement that much of what is functions independently of your influence, or at least without direct accountability to your wishes.<<


The latter actually has more layers of meaning; the former is clear, but says less.

. . . if you're calling early Buddhism "classic Buddhism," you're treading on murky ground.

"Classic" generally refers to canon or antiquity (or both). It's not a value judgement. I'm pretty confident as to the stability of the ground.

Firstly, which, of the hundreds upon hundreds of Sutras are you referring to?

Again, I'm familiar primarily with excerpts, and then through other critical or historical sources. I'm just saying that Buddhism itself doesn't necessarily reject either a higher power OR a chaotic universe.

Secondly, does it fall within the Mahayana or Hinayana sets of Sutras?

I'm really only familiar with Mahayana (like most westerners). And not very much so, at that.

Thirdly, Siddartha-era Buddhism--arguably the period where Buddhism could be said to have been formed, for lack of a better phrase--concerns "what is" as follows: "the sufferings of birth, and death." Everything else is karma, and therefore mutable.

Sigh.

I, too, am primarily concerned with such. Oh, and mutable doesn't necessarily mean "entirely under individual control". Mutable, I buy. Illusory, even. But just because reality is an illusion doesn't mean it's my illusion.

"Neo-objectivist deification of the self," couldn't be condensed to "Ayn Rand-esque build up of the ego to the point of being a god?"
>>Look again. That's not condesation, that's dilution: more words, more letters, a proper name . . .<<
A dilution of words, maybe, but a condensation of meaning.

But is the condensed meaning adequate and complete? Does mentioning Ayn Rand pigeonhole you as an objectivist (which I don't think you are), or does it allow that I think you stumble into objectivist territory through inadvertant solipsism? Again, it seems like I got more meaning into fewer syllables the other way.

Bottom line: I don't always choose my words perfectly, but I always choose them thoughtfully, to convey precisely the meaning I intend to. I'm glad to clarify, but your paraphrasings are woefully inadequate given the intended content. I'm willing to improve my syntax, but not to compromise the intent in so doing. And for that reason, the one and only aspect of this discussion with which I'm officially done is discussing my use of language. If you want clarification, just ask.

 
At 8:03 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Damn, you guys have been married a long time. Stine, you sound just like Lyam!

 
At 8:30 PM, Blogger patrice said...

holy fuck, pun intended. I didn't read this right away when it was posted and now look. 46 fucking comments. well, I don't have time to read them all right now, so I'm going to pretend I am commenting first and hope that I am not saying the same thing as someone else. if I am, forgive me, as jesus would do.

here's what I think is possible. the bible is a written form of folk teachings. like nursery rhymes. things to teach us lessons. based in kernels of fact worn down by years of retelling even before any bible was actually written. jesus was a folk healer, a philosopher, a smart man, an insightful man. in order to get people to believe what he says, his "disciples" bestow upon him certain traits that would mean to other followers (or rather, non followers) that he is definitely to be believed. sort of like "yo, you totally should listen to Beige - dude was not only AT the first showing of les miserables on broadway, but he fucking WROTE that shit." holy fuck, he wrote that shit? and now he's telling me to go see Rent? I'm so there. what? buy a coke too? you got it.

the people need to be controlled somehow. every single age of man has done it in one way or another. I often wonder if the people who wound up writing the bible, and the people who subsequently changed it to suit their needs (king james, anyone?) knew it would be followed and debated about till 2006 and well beyond.

that said, I can't begrudge anyone their faith in jesus and the bible, because for some people, it's all they have. a world where things are randomly happening, or where there isn't some grounding idea to attribute bad things (and good things, if only to balance) is too much for some people to bear. and inner conscience isn't enough for some people to do right. so what can you do, you know?

after saying all that, I do have to say that I hope jesus isn't mad at me now. as a kid, though, every time I'd have a doubt about his existence, I'd tell myself that god gave me a brain and free will and free thought, so it's only right that I use it to try to figure this stuff out, even if it means being blasphemous to do so.

see you soon unless I find myself smote.

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

That post above, that says it's from 'Stine, IS, in fact, by Lyam. I always forget that while my work computer assumes I'm me, my home computer assumes I'm her (keep your Freudian analyses to yourself, thanks).

 
At 6:17 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Response, the second:

Both place responsibility on some perceived "sin". You may not call it that, but if you postulate that your actions (or your inaction, or your "bad energy" or whatever) create bad circumstance, you're essentially introducing a notion of sin.

That's going on the assumption that the "bad circumstance" is "punishment." If, however, you look at that circumstance as an opportunity to work through your negative karma, these events become less of a punishment and more of a welcome obstacle to overcome. You start looking forward to the obstacles, so that you could work through the shit.

I'm not sure why a given circumstance which would be described as simply random in the "chaos" argument, suddenly has to be "sin" related when the element of causality is introduced, but I never made either that argument, or connection.

I'm saying that by taking an action towards the positive, it will generally result with a circumstance you have to overcome (I'm trying to think of an exception to this). There's no positive or negative attached to the circumstance, but it is your karma that brought it up and also your karma to deal with it.

Also, I'm definitely not advocating that you stop and ponder exactly what cause it was that brought about the effect that is the circumstance...I'd say that only if you find yourself at the same crossroads repeatedly, or if you keep coming up against the same obstacles. In the case of our friend Corn, the obvious questions like "why do I always have problems with the lead woman when I'm an actor?" or "why is it I run into the same creative wall at these different theater companies?"

>>And who, exactly, is assigning blame in this action?<<

Well, when one encounters adversity, it tends to feel like punishment; and whether you postulate that you're being punished by God for your sin or being repaid "karma" for past action, you're still suffering for your action. Hence, the tacit assumption of blame.

ooookay...I don't buy it. I mean, I get it, but I don't buy it. Phrases like "it tends to feel like judgement" and "you're still suffering for your action" denote some subjective assignation going on, and since I didn't place that there, I'm not picking it up.

What I'm suggesting is that maybe not ALL suffering is tied to actions, at least not in a way that can be observed, corrected or controlled. It's worhwhile, I think, to try to observe the trajectory which led from some ill-defined action to our present suffering, but if we fail to find such an action, such a karmic misstep, I think it can be an act of good faith to imagine there may not have been one.

And I'm fine with all of this, except for those areas where it is obvious that I disagree.

I am skipping forward the next few bits, because they amount to a lot of dialectic equivocating on both of our parts, and, as stated previously, I am done with that. Perhaps I am ill equipped, currently, to approach this topic in that manner. So be it.

I do object to the description of the original entry as "coming out swinging at Christianity," as if I were bruising the gentle nature of Christianity's soul. If you believe that, please refer to my reply to JJ earlier on this same topic.

Having said that, let me come to this climactic statement:

I simply do not accept, and will not accept without an ironclad dialectical proof, empirically observable, physical experiment or revelation to the cause of spiritual gnosis, the premise that all aspects of my life are governed by choice.

A fine platform; a sentiment I can stand behind without any hesitancy. But if you expect me, or anyone else--be they scholarly or laypeople, in a book or spoken to you--to supply this dialectical proof for you, then I wouldn't be the only one here who could be described as naive. You have to provide your own proof, and I highly recommend that you go about doing so. Do so vigorously, without any regard for the end result.

I did, and I steadfastly refuse to give up that premise.

If I put out the good, it has positive effect on wherever I end up next: heaven, hell, purgatory, reincarnation, absorption into the soil, whatever.

Here's another spot where our dialectical differences greatly change how we view the world: Why limit it to what happens after you die? Why not define the "next" in your sentence as the next minute, hour, week, month, year?

Chaos is incredibly functional. See: Youth, Sonic; Banana, Melt. ;^)

Dork.

I'm not scrutinizing NSB-SGI; I'm scrutinizing your take on it. Just as there are multiple takes on Catholicism, there are--or SHOULD be--multiple takes on the the theological tenets of Nichiren Buddhism.

So which is it? Me or NSB-SGI?

Either way, do it up. I think you're pretty aware of what you'll be dealing with from me in either case.

And still, more to come.

 
At 6:54 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

That's going on the assumption that the "bad circumstance" is "punishment." If, however, you look at that circumstance as an opportunity to work through your negative karma, these events become less of a punishment and more of a welcome obstacle to overcome. You start looking forward to the obstacles, so that you could work through the shit.

I don't think that this welcoming attitude requires that I assume I somehow caused these imbalances as I encounter them.

I'm not sure why a given circumstance which would be described as simply random in the "chaos" argument, suddenly has to be "sin" related when the element of causality is introduced, but I never made either that argument, or connection.

Sin, broken down to its earthiest component, is really just causality, as is karma. I causality is something we can afford to leave behind.

I'm saying that by taking an action towards the positive, it will generally result with a circumstance you have to overcome (I'm trying to think of an exception to this). There's no positive or negative attached to the circumstance, but it is your karma that brought it up and also your karma to deal with it.

But circumstances DO come with positive and negative value attached. Not every circumstance, but a reasonable plurality. I accept that it is invariably my karma to deal with it, but NOT that it is necessarily my karma that brought it up.

In the case of our friend Corn, the obvious questions like "why do I always have problems with the lead woman when I'm an actor?" or "why is it I run into the same creative wall at these different theater companies?"

Fair enough. I can't disagree with that. On the other hand, even without "karma", I'm already worlds more circumspect than our chosen example.

>>I simply do not accept, and will not accept without an ironclad dialectical proof, empirically observable, physical experiment or revelation to the cause of spiritual gnosis, the premise that all aspects of my life are governed by choice.<<

A fine platform; a sentiment I can stand behind without any hesitancy. But if you expect me, or anyone else . . . to supply this dialectical proof for you, then I wouldn't be the only one here who could be described as naive. You have to provide your own proof, and I highly recommend that you go about doing so. Do so vigorously, without any regard for the end result.

Um . . . is that not what I'm doing? That said, I don't seek proof for a postulate that seems counterintuitive. And neither do you. Presumably you arrived at a belief in karma--as you see it, because I actually do believe in something along karmic lines that functions differently from the way you postulate--because karma made intuitive sense, and you set about seeking evidence for it. Or karma didn't make intuitive sense, but you had a revalatory experience that turned what DID make sense on its head. Regardless, you didn't decide to believe something that was the opposite of what you saw in the world and only dubiously related to what you wanted from life because your best friend seemed to think, for reasons you couldn't really discern, that you should. Oddly enough, that's precisely what the evangelicals over on the Fray want me to do with regards to Christ: open my heart, submit humbly to God, and wait for a sign. You say it's not the same thing, but it is. You're suggesting that I seek proof in my heart for something my heart, mind, and eyes already tell me isn't so.

I seek literature on the matters to make my own thinking clearer, my own expression more precise and to develop a certain pre-emptive skillset for experiential recognition. Experience will continue to be my primary guide. All I'm suggesting is that if experience doesn't change my mind, a well-framed argument might.

>>If I put out the good, it has positive effect on wherever I end up next: heaven, hell, purgatory, reincarnation, absorption into the soil, whatever.<<

Here's another spot where our dialectical differences greatly change how we view the world: Why limit it to what happens after you die? Why not define the "next" in your sentence as the next minute, hour, week, month, year?

You're such a bloody literalist. OF COURSE!! Everything I do will determine the course of THIS life. Not only did I accept that long before even meeting you, but it struck me as so axiomatic that it didn't bear saying. So we really haven't come to a spot where our dialectical differences change how we view the world at all. Indeed, I know of NO worldview that assumes that action in this life wouldn't affect this life. Even nihilists and existentialists acknowledge a continuum of action, consequences and rewards.

>>I'm not scrutinizing NSB-SGI; I'm scrutinizing your take on it. Just as there are multiple takes on Catholicism, there are--or SHOULD be--multiple takes on the the theological tenets of Nichiren Buddhism.<<

So which is it? Me or NSB-SGI?

So . . . which is what? I don't remember positing an either/or . . . My point was, I believe one can practice Nichiren Buddhism without accepting your take on it, that my rejection of this one principle (really, the internal nuances of the principle; my guess is that our take on the overarching principle--individual empowerment, the seeds of enlightenment residing internally, etc.--is probably more the same than different) needn't constitute a rejection of SGI.

 
At 9:58 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

That's going on the assumption that the "bad circumstance" is "punishment." If, however, you look at that circumstance as an opportunity to work through your negative karma, these events become less of a punishment and more of a welcome obstacle to overcome.

Much like a sin that is already forgiven, which would be any sin save renouncing God given the way I was taught as a yung'un, is more of a challenge than a punishment.

Again, dude, be careful of confusing your Catholic experience with the rest of Christianity. My people didn't believe in penance and such - learn and move on was the lesson of sin.

Also, I'm definitely not advocating that you stop and ponder exactly what cause it was that brought about the effect that is the circumstance...I'd say that only if you find yourself at the same crossroads repeatedly, or if you keep coming up against the same obstacles.

A wily little visiting preacher talked a similar line to my United Methodist congragation once. He warned against broad pronouncements of what is sin and waht is not, and talked about the nudge you feel when you fall into a destructive pattern. I call it the "uh-oh" feeling, as in "Uh-oh, I think Uncle Joe is touching a naughty part."

I do object to the description of the original entry as "coming out swinging at Christianity," as if I were bruising the gentle nature of Christianity's soul. If you believe that, please refer to my reply to JJ earlier on this same topic.

Bra, maybe you think you can play you no have beef, Bra, but you have beef, Bra. You have serious beef, Bra. It's all good. We all have beef. Just no try and tell me it chicken or fish. It beef, Bra. It "recovering Catholic" beef.

You have to provide your own proof, and I highly recommend that you go about doing so.

50 fucking posts and we've hit wisdom, folks! I'd say "Amen" and "Can I get a witness?!" but don't want to offend the host. How do your people celebrate, TBO? Group chant?

That said, I don't seek proof for a postulate that seems counterintuitive.

Holy shortcoming, Batman!

Oooh, dudes, you better both do this. I mean, fuck, what? You trust you intuition that much? How else does your mind fuck with you than through your gut?

Ly, I'm guessing if you press this, you don't believe it.

It's how I make Jurassic Park into fiction with relevance - if you stop counting dinosaurs when your reach the number you expect, you risk leaving dinos running unsupervised in the world.

You're such a bloody literalist.

Point well made, point well taken. And you are pedantic to the bone. You are both pretty. Now play nice, girls.


I love jumping into the fray late. Much more fun, much less work.

 
At 9:10 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

>>That said, I don't seek proof for a postulate that seems counterintuitive.<<

Oooh, dudes, you better both do this. I mean, fuck, what? You trust you intuition that much? How else does your mind fuck with you than through your gut?

Being open to the idea that reality can disprove what you believe, even actively watching for said disproof, is different than submitting, for the sake of acquiring faith, to that which is opposite what you intuit, observe AND deduce. Obviously you study opposites, but by that token, Beige should be trying to "prove" that there's a higher power (or a tendency towards chaos and annihalation). My guess is that he's spent some time in those waters and found the wade unconvincing; I know I've spent some time in his pond. But that's not the same as what he's holding forth: that I should seek proof in myself, not of my own premises, but of his. Surely a man as clever as you can see the difference. Allowing that you know nothing is one thing; wasting time following a path that doesn't seem to lead where you're headed is another. That path might lead where I'm headed, but all evidence indicates TO ME that the path I'm on is more likely to get me there.

Ly, I'm guessing if you press this, you don't believe it.

I think I qualified it more than I pressed it. If I pressed it, it's to remind you that if you think you've thought of something I haven't, you're probably wrong. :^)

It's how I make Jurassic Park into fiction with relevance - if you stop counting dinosaurs when your reach the number you expect, you risk leaving dinos running unsupervised in the world.

Sure. But you don't abandon your control group to chase after strays. Bird in the hand, and all that.

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Allowing that you know nothing is one thing; wasting time following a path that doesn't seem to lead where you're headed is another.

Right. The former is just good sense, while the latter is the lack of good sense gussied up with rationalization.

Yes, TBO should look for proof of what he doesn't believe, and so should you. So should and do I. (How's that? THREE shoulds in one tiny paragraph).

It's how I make Jurassic Park into fiction with relevance - if you stop counting dinosaurs when your reach the number you expect, you risk leaving dinos running unsupervised in the world.

Sure. But you don't abandon your control group to chase after strays. Bird in the hand, and all that.


Wha? Bird in the what? I'm just going to shake that off and assume you have never read JP.

What I mean is if you stop looking once you find what you are looking for, you are likely to miss a lot.

Sorry, but I see both of you leaving dinos running around.

(word ver = xlikr. Apparently I no longer lick.)

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I've only seen the movie.

What I mean is, if I'm studying something, fully aware that there's something else outside of that which I'm studying, why would I abandon the current study--one which I presume will lead to a breakthrough, one which is already succeeding at facilitating that breakthrough, to pursue the opposite line of reasoning? Isn't that the same as "following the path that doesn't lead where I'm headed", an exercise in the "lack of good sense gussied up with rationalization"?

Now of course, if an anomaly in the study indicates a separate line of reasoning, if one of the stray dinosaurs wanders back into my control group and out of the jurisdiction of the Costa Rican government, then of course the nature of my research changes. If proof of my absolute control becomes part of my practice, or I see any indication that my will, my actions, my "karma" collectively supercede any apparent grand design that would indicate a higher power or rich stew of random events that would indicate chaos, then obviously that line of inquiry may change the nature of my practice and philosophy (though, tellingly, Beige and I live our lives in more or less the same way, with more or less the same degree of success, so there mightn't be much change at all even under such circumstances).

 
At 11:28 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Boy, you tire me sometimes.

Maybe we should try babysteps with you. Instead of looking beyond what you expect to find, maybe just take a deep breath and wait ten minutes before replying to something you don't intuitively believe. Let it soak a little.

Sheesh. Dude, the dinosaurs that wander off, that you don't know about, whether they are in your control group or not, may well EAT YOU UP!

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

More from the kinda pissed solipsistic literalist:

Yes, I am a literalist. I dare you to find anyone for whom English is not the primary language who is not, is some way, a literalist. I'm sorry that's so problematic, I'm sorry that gets in the way of the ideal dialectic argument.

Relevant example: Higher Fucking Power. I could almost guarantee you that, were this argument held in Spanish, it'd be just as passionate, but not as long, because we wouldn't have the various meanings of "Higher Power" in the way.

Higher. Power. It's in the language, it's the fucking meme that has done its job. So, yeah, "source" would not only be more sensical, but it's such a better word for your general purposes, I wonder at the insistence on using the former.

This goddamn language is ugly. I'd say I have more beefs with it than I do the Catholic church. And Lyam, this is the real reason I recommend having this discussion with the Philosophy professor, because he'd play your goddamn game by your rules, and everyone is on equal footing. It's not that the professor would fluster you with your own logic...hell, the guy may even agree with you...It is simply that which I've been saying for the last few days: I'M NOT YOUR DIALECTIC REASONING PARTNER. I don't want to be, nor do I care to be.

Should I want to? Should I learn? If for no other reason than to be able to say "shut the fuck up," hell yes. Because if someone I call a friend is able to get me this tongue-tied on something this minuscule...

Currently, I don't.

Now, that said, I gotta say that I find the sighing and occasional condescencion to be oh so charming (probably about as charming as calling someone's text into question on a public forum)...

I know I'm taking time to respond to everything, but really, I have limited time, and I want to make sure that I can stand behind what I say. Believe it or not, I'm actually building up to something, and if you'd let me get there, perhaps we can avoid further frustrations.

gotta go.

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:31 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Now, that said, I gotta say that I find the sighing and occasional condescencion to be oh so charming (probably about as charming as calling someone's text into question on a public forum)...

What can I say? I'm sorry. Frankly, I felt that I was being condescended to, and asked to buy a dogma. My only intent was to point out that one can be a good Buddhist and a highly empowered individual without turning his back on what he perceives to be inescapable evidence of the smallness of any one organism's concern. Period. I called 'Stine from work last night asking why YOU were being so abusive. Only goes to show how hard it is to get a good read on these things. So sorry it came off that way.

Oh, and on the text: are you referring to your post on the Judas text, your points on the Bible, or a perceived attack on my part on the Lotus Sutra? Just wondering; I'm not overly concerned, except in that I hope you understand I'm NOT at all interested in debunking any aspect of the Lotus Sutra.

Yes, I am a literalist . . .Im sorry that's so problematic, I'm sorry that gets in the way of the ideal dialectic argument.

That was actually a bad word choice on my part, and it was only in response to the fact that you jumped on me (from my perspective) for failing to state the glaringly obvious: that my actions in this life will affect the course of same.

Higher. Power. It's in the language, it's the fucking meme that has done its job. So, yeah, "source" would not only be more sensical, but it's such a better word for your general purposes, I wonder at the insistence on using the former.

I still object, fundamentally, to this limitation on the language. Are we not they whose violence against the language will be the agent of its alteration? I don't know about you, but that's my primary goal in life. Nonetheless, for the sake of keeping the peace and keeping on track, I'll agree to that compromise. "Source" it is (unless "source" limits us from elucidating a point).

I'M NOT YOUR DIALECTIC REASONING PARTNER. I don't want to be, nor do I care to be.

OK, OK, sorry again. My only question, though, is this: Given that you don't want the position, why exactly would you keep arguing the points at all? Presumably you're getting something out of this rhetorical workout.

Should I want to? Should I learn?

Up to you, dude. But if we're limiting ourselves to the experiential, you're gonna have to allow that my views are also thus informed, and that my experiences are as valuable as yours.

I know I'm taking time to respond to everything, but really, I have limited time, and I want to make sure that I can stand behind what I say. Believe it or not, I'm actually building up to something, and if you'd let me get there, perhaps we can avoid further frustrations.

Please. This post was merely a peacekeeping mission.

Oh, and I think you'll appreciate my post on the Stephen Merritt matter. Stop by The Baying Hound.

 
At 1:37 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I dumped this and re-post to clarify something: Beige, most of this salvo is for JJ. Your last post slipped in between mine and his, and I didn't want you to read this as a response to that. Just so there's no misunderstanding to add to this veritable sea of misunderstanding.

So JJ: After wiping off and disinfecting the stain left by your patronizing tone (babysteps?), I started to wonder why anyone imagines I haven't let alternative viewpoints soak in. Indeed, I've let every viewpoint I've come across influence the direction of my rhetorical stance. I study all things; I seek to prove that which strikes me as truth, and allow all other studies to either inform or redirect the pursuit of that truth.

Does your analogy really work? Is the paradigm assuming absolute control over events going to "eat me" because I'm too preoccupied with cracking the mystery of self-empowerment in the context of universal destiny or chaos? Given that I've already held forth that I could be wrong, but the evidence--experiential, dialectical, intuitive--shows me otherwise, am I really all that shut off to the idea? It seems to me that if I'm chanting, reading the Buddhist lit., asserting what control I clearly DO have over those aspects of my life that are within my reach and hewing to a goal that I pursue no less vigorously for my suspicion that it lies at least partially outside my control, I'm already allowing for the possibility that his viewpoint is correct. I'd be happy to be proven wrong, though not particularly disappointed to be proven right, since I think the functional difference is nil. What "study" of the opposing viewpoint am I therefore neglecting? In what way have I turned my back on those dinosaurs, leaving myself vulnerable to their appetites? I'm studying his Buddhism, for God's sake (pun-with-a-blade most definitely intended)! Whether I arrive at his interpretation of its texts remains to be seen, but . . .

If someone has literature explaining how the whole spectrum of events can be tied to individual will, I'll gladly read it when I've the time--just as I took the time to read the New Testament and the Tao Te Ching two years ago, just as I've taken the time to immerse myself in the practice of Nichiren Buddhism.

I'm looking back at the original back and forth that started this line of inquiry, and I'd like you both to take a look at it, maybe answer a question for me:

>>I simply do not accept, and will not accept without an ironclad dialectical proof, empirically observable, physical experiment or revelation to the cause of spiritual gnosis, the premise that all aspects of my life are governed by choice.<<

. . . if you expect me, or anyone else--be they scholarly or laypeople, in a book or spoken to you--to supply this dialectical proof for you, then I wouldn't be the only one here who could be described as naive. You have to provide your own proof, and I highly recommend that you go about doing so. Do so vigorously, without any regard for the end result.

>>Um . . . is that not what I'm doing? That said, I don't seek proof for a postulate that seems counterintuitive.<<

The "is that not what I'm doing?" part is what you've left entirely out of your analysis. My question for both of you would be, "In what way have I cut the line on the other thoughts on the matter?" Hell, I may even be wrong on Jesus Christ being the messiah, or on God being the pissy, morally-preoccupied, omniscient whojamawhatzit he seems to be in the so-called "good book". Are you suggesting I assume my bisexuality is a sin and throw myself on God's mercy? No. You may suggest I read the Bible, which I've done, and read/hear/absorb arguments by Christian apologists like Lewis . . . which I've done. And I've done as much for the tenets in which I currently don't believe. I've read my Rand and my Nietzsche, I'm making headway on the Lotus Sutra and the Nag Hammadi Library . . . in what way am I NOT allowing these possibilities to become part of the argument? I've prayed, I've chanted, I've been a Catholic, an atheist, a pantheist (well, I sort of still AM a pantheist), an agnostic, and the single most potent kernel of wisdom I've gleaned from all of this is that I don't know anything. I don't KNOW that the universe has to be either chaotic or designed (both apparently equally outside of Beige's reading of Nichiren's theology); I only know that's what the evidence seems to indicate from where I sit. It seems to me I've stepped WAY outside my box here, and continue to do so. Unless you can come up with some point of rhetorical compromise or some action that would constitute a greater openness to alternate possibility that isn't the equivalent of what I stated above with regards to Christianity--assume it to be true despite my intuitive, evidentiary or dialectical misgivings; submit, therefore, to the moral, cosmological or theological underpinnings based on that assumption; abandon pursuit or study of that which contradicts it--well, I'm all ears.

To clarify, I'm no more seeking to prove my postulate than his, simply behaving based on what I perceive as more convincing evidence--including my own experience and observation--for mine. What I'm seeking is a pattern worth recognizing; what that pattern is will be as big a surprise to me as it will be to anyone else.

Given that . . .

Beige: If you'd like to continue debating the matter of absolute will vs. higher powers/overarching principles, bring it on. But I have no stake in convincing you of my position, only in convincing you that my position is as rhetorically sound as yours, not incompatible with the essential tenets of Nichiren Buddhism, and not particularly limiting to my action and/or success. I'd also appreciate some recognition that the books and rhetoric are used as supplement and confirmation to and of my experiential insights, and not a subsitute for same. I'm hoping this reframing of the debate will change what I've come to perceive as a hectoring tone (and I gladly admit that I may have unknowingly and inadvertantly helped steer it that way).

JJ: If you're going to try to to criticize either of us for failing to adequately study the other side, you might wish to be more specific about our particular failings. In what WAY should I be looking more actively for proof of that which opposes what I've come to believe?

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Yes, I was being totally condescending for fun and to get your attention, and I'm sorry. But it was fun.

But, look back at what I quoted from you. I was reacting to your words. Here is one piece that pretty well sums up what I was responding to:

Allowing that you know nothing is one thing; wasting time following a path that doesn't seem to lead where you're headed is another.

It is a state of mind. You can read all you want, but if it is along a path you have limited the inquiry. I don't know you well enough to say "here, this place, this is where you limit the inquiry." But, if you are willing to talk about "where you're headed" then I see the limitation as a danger.

And I think Beige should just try and look for commonality as an exercise instead of spengding so much time making distinctions (and I'd call them arbitrary).

Ly, you know you are my cyber-intellectual love monkey, but the fact is I was being condescending and annoying because at times you get so into the dialectic that you stop paying attention or listening or living up to your half of the meaning-making in dialogue. There are times when I see you making little effort to understand what someone is trying to say and are too busy preparing your response, couching what you believe in their terms.

But, dude, I do this too, especially when drinking whiskey, so I'm not trying to get righteous. Just saying it can be annoying. And, potentially avoided by the mindset that is always trying to get to more places than "where you're going."

Love and kisses to you both, but I'ma bow out of this one from here out.

(Did I just hear signs of relief?)

 
At 1:58 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Oh, wait, Ly, here is the better line from you that got me on the dino-counting thread:

That said, I don't seek proof for a postulate that seems counterintuitive.

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I suppose that's something I do, and fair enough (though I'd suggest I'm FAAAAAAR from being the only one doing so in this dialogue).

And if you go back and read my last post to you, you'll note that I did include that same quote in my rebuttal to your use of it out of context. Note, also, how I included it therein; you'll see it was preceded by "Is that not what I'm doing?", which is the question still unaddressed.

And isn't all religion about forming a "path"? Indeed, if we look at "path" not as the trail to chaos, God, or absolute self-determination, but rather the path to peace, happiness, self-reliance, then I'd say a) there's nothing really limiting about the path and b) there's nothing all that different between the path I'm on and the path Beige is on. Right? If we reject that spiritual self-determination implies a path, how is anyone to follow any religion?

My perception--and this may be a misread, I grant you--is that Jose perceives my "path" as somehow incorrect. That is the notion against which I am defending. Conversely, I see his path not as incorrect, but as currently outside the realm of what I experience/intuit/deduce, and that if I'm to adopt his view in the interest of engaging in what I see as his version of "correct practice", I'll need something that will sway me from my own experience/intuition/deduction, primarily because I've already made incredible strides with what I have. Insofar as what he offers is information, I'm all ears; and if that information convinces me of anything, well, bully for the both of us.

I imagine I probably used some language that implied that I'd closed the book on absolute self-determination. I haven't. I find the distance between it and what I imagine to be true great enough that I'm not focusing a lot of energy on it, but that's not the same as an outright rejection. What I reject is that I have to turn my back on what I know to understand what I don't know as yet, the ONLY step I haven't taken (so far as I can see) towards understanding the other viewpoint.

If nothing else, your argumentative nature is at least leading me to clarify my terms.

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger Stine said...

Man, it's a damn good thing I don't give a shit what any of y'all think about my relationship to Buddhism. I know what I know, and I believe what I believe. I have no interest or desire to debate the issue, and couldn't do it nearly as specifically as y'all have done.

That said, I told Jose I would come in for a station identification, and so I have a few thoughts:

What I'm suggesting is that maybe not ALL suffering is tied to actions, at least not in a way that can be observed, corrected or controlled.

From this week's World Tribune:
(in describing the ten factors of life)
Relation the interrelationship between indirect causes and internal causes. Ind irect causes are various conditions, both internal AND external, that enable the mechanism of internal causes to produce an effect.

This reads to me as an understanding that there are some external causes over which we have no control.

Latent Effect the effect produced within a life entity when an internal cause is activated through its relationship with various conditions.

It would seem that this also refers to conditions, both internal AND external.

I skimmed the discussion, so pardon if I jump into the deep end without a paddle, but it would seem that Nichirin Buddhism does acknowledge that there are influences, factors, conditions that do exist outside oneself, and do exert force, influence, and energy into our lives. In addition, you add these "factors" into how they interact with the 3000 realms in a single moment of life, and I don't think there are any cut and dry dogmatic or dialetic answers for anything.

That said, I do think it is up to us to realize our power in directing our lives, and acting in accordance with what want to create.

Whether Christianity, Buddhism or Satanism, for me, the minute any "religion" becomes dogmatic is the minute it can kiss my ass. I practice Nichirin Buddhism because of the observable benefits it has created in my mind, my body, my life, and my heart. Period.

Ly, you know you are my cyber-intellectual love monkey...

- Stop teasing me.

Beige and Ly, you are both so alike it's amusing to me.

Ok, carry on with the head banging against the brick wall.

 
At 10:49 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

No thanks on the headbanging; I've not hair to cover the scars.

Awesome on all other counts. Now let us never speak of any of this again. ;^)

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

I don't think that this welcoming attitude requires that I assume I somehow caused these imbalances as I encounter them.

Required? No, it's not.

Sin, broken down to its earthiest component, is really just causality, as is karma. I [think] causality is something we can afford to leave behind.

Kind of hard to do when you're following a philosophy built around the concept of cause and effect and sees it as a neverending loop, or am I being a literalist again? How do you reconcile this?

But circumstances DO come with positive and negative value attached. Not every circumstance, but a reasonable plurality.

And I posit that, like Schroedinger's Cat, it is just circumstance until we place a value on it. Which value we place on it is dependent on how we decide to view it. Some days it'll be the end of the world; others, a mild niggle; and others still, an unexpected boon.

Okay, I'm going to jump forward in order to jump back:

My point was, I believe one can practice Nichiren Buddhism without accepting your take on it, that my rejection of this one principle...needn't constitute a rejection of SGI.

Man, I never, never said otherwise. If I had, please point to it and I will apologize post-haste.

At the time you introduced the notion of chaos, I'd already been giving numerous volleys on these other concepts, and simply jumped torward the notion with full ferocity.

I need to be more careful, both in this blog and the other one, in stating that what I say is mine, my opinion, and to please take it that way.

That said, I stand behind everything I've said so far about the function, if any, that chaos serves in our day to day lives. It doesn't make sense...to me.

So, does this make your take on it any more or less valid than mine? No.

Because if there's one thing you're right about, Lyam, it's that NSB-SGI is a solipsistic philosophy, IMFO. I'd put forth that it's a beneficial solipsistic philosophy, in that it takes into account the solipsistic nature of everyone who is practicing the philosophy--hell, the solipsistic nature of humanity's lives--and fosters us to respect that whatever trip that dude is on is their trip, which is just as valid as your own.*

However, that doesn't mean that I have to grok with everything that dude's trip is about. And so, I'm saying that your take on chaos is valid for you. It sure as hell isn't for me.

Kosher? And still more ground to cover.

which originally emerged as a supplement/rebuttal to Hindu theology.

Considering how its conclusions (and the conclusions of numerous previous sutras) are pretty anti-thetical to Hinduism, the Buddhist texts came as an alternative to Hindu belief.

I accept that it is invariably my karma to deal with it, but NOT that it is necessarily my karma that brought it up.

I'm telling you, man, I couldn't disagree with you more, and yeah, it's still on, though, god knows the blog will need to move on, and so, we may move this over to the other blog or personal email at a point in the near future.

It will never end. Still more to come.

[*so, solipsistic, but yet not. Just as the source is not really a Higher Power. To a literalist like myself, this philosophy can't really be pinned down using dialectical reasoning; though, again, I'm not a fan nor a practitioner.]

 
At 9:11 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Kind of hard to do when you're following a philosophy built around the concept of cause and effect and sees it as a neverending loop, or am I being a literalist again? How do you reconcile this?

By accepting that action influences--rather than determines--outcome.

And I posit that, like Schroedinger's Cat, it is just circumstance until we place a value on it. Which value we place on it is dependent on how we decide to view it. Some days it'll be the end of the world; others, a mild niggle; and others still, an unexpected boon.

Granted. But since we're stuck on "triumph of the subjective", I'd also suggest that the values we place are themselves happening for a reason (you can't postulate "karma" on one value without applying it to another; if I'm going to play your game, you have to apply the rules to all elements).

Man, I never, never said otherwise. If I had, please point to it and I will apologize post-haste.

Fine. Then I, too, never posited a point of dogma (again, equlilateral application).

That said, I stand behind everything I've said so far about the function, if any, that chaos serves in our day to day lives. It doesn't make sense...to me.

Fair enough on the "it doesn't make sense . . . to me", as that's what I'm experiencing from the other side. As someone who's been a borderline atheist before, the notion of soul simply doesn't make sense without an overarching design, or an energy that functions without one.

Because if there's one thing you're right about, Lyam, it's that NSB-SGI is a solipsistic philosophy, IMFO.

This is where I disagree. My practice is as valid without the solipsistic tone. Christine pointed out the contradiction better than I could.

I'd put forth that it's a beneficial solipsistic philosophy, in that it takes into account the solipsistic nature of everyone who is practicing the philosophy--hell, the solipsistic nature of humanity's lives--and fosters us to respect that whatever trip that dude is on is their trip, which is just as valid as your own.*

I still don't like the condescending tone of someone who's yet to provide a satisfactory contradiction, but otherwise, fair enough.

However, that doesn't mean that I have to grok with everything that dude's trip is about. And so, I'm saying that your take on chaos is valid for you. It sure as hell isn't for me.

Fine. I'll keep it 'til someone comes up with something more satisfying.

Kosher?

Sure.

Considering how its conclusions (and the conclusions of numerous previous sutras) are pretty anti-thetical to Hinduism, the Buddhist texts came as an alternative to Hindu belief.

Not necesarily antithetical, depending on interpretation. But, essentially, fair enough.

To a literalist like myself, this philosophy can't really be pinned down using dialectical reasoning; though, again, I'm not a fan nor a practitioner.

Then why are you arguing? What's the stake? What, exactly, do you expect to be the point of departure for a thinking individual? That's what I'm still trying to understand. I could ask the same question of myself, but the answer is dialectical: I can't imagine that anyone can outreason me. If you have no stake in being right, which seems to be what you claim, what are you trying to accomplish?

 
At 10:08 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

To a literalist like myself, this philosophy can't really be pinned down using dialectical reasoning; though, again, I'm not a fan nor a practitioner.

Then why are you arguing?


Ok, this is tangential to something I've been wondering, TBO, but in an only curious, not trying to catch you in something, way.

Why is it that you choose to engage Christianity in some level of discussion at all? What was your intent or goal with the original post?

I guess I just want to bring it back through 66 levels of argumentation and ask what your point was originally.

Not that I can't see one, or in fact many, but I'd like to hear the author of the original text weigh in with intent.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger Stine said...

Word JJ. So Beige, what is it?

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

General P.S. - That last post of mine was typed up after a LOT of beer & barbecue at the office that evening. Assume anything that sounded combative was meant to be in jest. We seem to be functioning on a marginally more productive level.

Disclaimer over--please continue.

 
At 2:38 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

There's still more to say (my homework for Sunday), but my last post was written during spare moments on Friday and posted without knowledge of, first, Stine's and, then, Ly's responses.

Sorry if its appearance immediately on the heels of yours made it sound "batten down the hatches"-y.

You chaos-lovers will be my undoing. ;^)

TTFN

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

For a summation/continuation of all of this, go to the Buddha Blog.

 

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