Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 17, 2013 - 12:12pm PT
Maybe one path is no better than another. But don't for a second believe that all paths can and do lead to the same terrain.

It’s worth understanding that there is a great and recognized specificity in these paths, arrived at through many centuries of trial and error. This is generally not know or appreciated per the subjective world. But in fact nobody encounters the heart of emptiness by happenstance anymore than someone ignorant of mathematics will accidentally encounter diophantine geometry during meditation.

Again, anyone arguing this point has not done the subjective work, bcause everyone who has, knows this as a fundamental truth.

JL
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 17, 2013 - 01:18pm PT
Whoa, Jogill. I'm not enlightened. I don't see all of the untruths for what they are (which would reveal what IS true). I have not de-programmed myself just yet. I'm just an egg. I do see a couple of things as well as you see the wall across from you, though.

My writing comes from reports that I've read, and they fit with what I've started to see (so far). I am a strong skeptic of everything (in case you didn't notice). I follow no one, and I claim no belief as true. What I've come to (the little bit that I have) I've done on my own--which I think applies to anyone's life. If I suggested I knew everything for sure, I mis-communicated. Sorry. I've read, I've studied, and I've tried many things looking for what was real so that I don't die at the end of this life like a cow.

Have I experienced ultimate reality? I don't think so. I have found myself in a movie of sorts, and the more I notice / look, the more the movie view abides. I find that view off the pillow now more than I find it on the pillow. Do I have peace and comfort? More often than not. (Don't most old people?) More important, I am finding out what is true for me.

Personally, things in my life are getting: lighter (less serious), easier (somewhat effortless), absurd (regular life looks more and more like some kind of bizarre sitcom), mysterious (I can't explain much anymore--not really), spontaneous (like how fireworks pop in the sky), intelligent (things are showing up exactly at the right times and in the right places for me--as if designed to be so), with equanimity (all things are looking equal to me). With that said, I care about people suffering (poor them), but I don't think I can do anything about it (suffering is an inside job, it seems). Pain and pleasure have become equal but different experiences to me; both are actually interesting.

I must report that my wife makes complaints about some of this. There is much I don't really care about so much anymore; that is, I don't think that anything much matters anymore (you name it . . . it's all just unfoldment to me). Chairs, mortgages, nations, and human rights seem ok not-to-care about; but when those same attitudes get applied to her or our marriage, then it's "Katy bar the door." My wife puts on the armor and gets ready for war. We have had some difficult conversations.

I'm detaching a little bit from this life in a gentle way with every passing day. I smile, I joke, and I get involved in probably most every kind of conversation that any normal person would, but very often I think I'm doing so because it's what my role calls for as a husband, teacher, or colleague. But . . . so much of it seems silly, meaningless, and inconsequential. Even Enlightenment, which used to be pretty important to me, no longer seems all that special. All objectives and achievements are obstacles. What I find interesting now is simply the journey / adventure / process and the truth. But I'm not driving this bus.

I don't know what I'm doing. I'm stumbling around probably as much as the next guy, the only difference might be that I'm doing that a bit more deftly than I used to. I'm feeling my way around like a person in a pitch black room--carefully, gently, with my hands out around me, using all of my senses (and some I didn't know were available to me) in an increasingly nuanced way. Nuance looks like infinity to me. It's becoming an art form. Earlier I had 5 senses and my thoughts to connect to reality. Those now seem the grossest of connections. My interface with reality is becoming more like a corpus callosum.

The sky hasn't opened up and shown me the final horizon, Jogill. It's just not like that. It's a little bit more like stumbling into Alice's Wonderland. (What a strange place this is. ) I don't even know if I'm sane or not. But, it doesn't matter, you know?
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 17, 2013 - 01:49pm PT
It’s worth understanding that there is a great and recognized specificity in these paths, arrived at through many centuries of trial and error.

I think that's an accurate assessment, John. I also think that Werner here has made some useful distinctions. He said, I believe, that some paths may not be right or appropriate for certain psyches. Jan may have some thoughts to add to that.

It was a disappointment to think that most of Tibetan Buddhism has not adapted to American or Western psyches. American (and other nationality) students left for Nepal and Tibet to learn from the most advanced practitioners, but have come back Tibetanized, speaking, praying, and strictly following Tibetan practices. But Westerners are not Far Eastern. Buddhism has something important to expose / communicate to Westerners, but it probably isn't the rituals, language, or artifacts.

Zen has done better than most in this regard. The Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York looks modern, pioneering, and suited to Western sensibilities. Buddhism escaped annihilation in India by transplanting itself in Tibet, Nepal, China, and later Japan. To do so, it adapted. Those states exported Buddhism to the West, but my experience (working for the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition under Lama Zopa) does not suggest that it has adapted to Westerner's' needs and ways. I think there are many people who would be ripe for some 'untruth realization.'

I think one must be their own guide by being really skeptical and seeing for themselves through their own experiences. I think the latter is what you've been saying all along.

I dropped out of teaching for about 7 years to consult, but when I returned, I had found that the generation of students had shifted while I was out. Generation-X had given way to Millennials, and what a different set of sensibilities they presented. It took me 2 years to "get" them so that I could facilitate communication. This younger generation is different, and they need different approaches. What I am and how I teach had to change as well.

I used to think that things happen for a reason. Now I think that things that happen are instead symptoms.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jun 17, 2013 - 01:55pm PT
I dropped out of teaching for about 7 years to consult, but when I returned, I had found that the generation of students had shifted while I was out. Generation-X had given way to Millennials, and what a different set of sensibilities they presented. It took me 2 years to "get" them so that I could facilitate communication. This younger generation is different, and they need different approaches. What I am and how I teach had to change as well.

Can you expand on this please? What is different about them from a teaching perspective and what are the different approaches? I'm curious as to your observations.... will you indulge me?

DMT
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 17, 2013 - 02:22pm PT
DMT:

Pardon my intrusion but generational research has been a sort of hobby of mine for a few years. I use to go on Neil Howe's website and argue several points of contention with some of the other members , including Neil himself.
My disagreements usually centered around the historical fine points of the generational archetypes , but I would also argue some of the metrics involving the start and ending points of the cohorts, which usually involved some sketchy historical implications.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss–Howe_generational_theory

http://www.lifecourse.com/
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 17, 2013 - 02:56pm PT
Thank you, Mike. I appreciate your candid and informative reply.And I too am interested in what you have to say about the current generation of students. I left the profession 13 years ago.

But don't for a second believe that all paths can and do lead to the same terrain

Of course they don't. I never even hinted they did, John.

But once again I sense a defensive posture and a patronizing tone in your message - am I wrong? - as if my pathetic journey can't measure up to the real thing, since much of what I do requires logical analysis and is not purely experiential.

And once again, the real thing may indeed be what you advocate. But at the present time that becomes a matter of belief, of faith, IMHO.

And once more I point out: If one believes that nothing is quite as it seems and truth, whatever that means, is vague and insubstantial, then how can one conclude that the void or emptyness or vacuum or ultimate consciousness that one experiences upon prolonged study and meditation is somehow the final and penultimate discovery?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 17, 2013 - 03:03pm PT
but have come back Tibetanized, speaking, praying, and strictly following Tibetan practices. But Westerners are not Far Eastern. Buddhism has something important to expose / communicate to Westerners, but it probably isn't the rituals, language, or artifacts.


I was always too proud (a character defect) as an American to start aping the customs of other nations. I would gladly have gone to an American meditation center had the teachesr seemed up to speed. They are now, for sure. And the best ones, in my eyes, stay centered with the practice and not the cultural trappings. But this is simplistic, and the whole shebang cannot be truncated or reduced to the basic parts since it's the overall Gestalt that helps break us out or our trances, mostly though ritualized pattern interrupts.

I'll have to think about this one . . .

John wrote: But once again I sense a defensive posture and a patronizing tone in your message - am I wrong? - as if my pathetic journey can't measure up to the real thing, since much of what I do requires logical analysis and is not purely experiential.

I think I come off harshly because I only take a second to dash off (sorry for all the typos) these responses and use very curt language. My bad.

I think all journey's are the real thing. My point is that, for example, tough science (or studying languages as well) and serious internal adventures are not accidental studies and they don't yield the goods via whim and slapdash efforts. You really have to buckle down with the internal stuff because it is so unnatural and counterintuitive, and our brains are so used to tasking on things.

Anyhow, to use your example, logical analysis will render results we can NEVER attain by, say, abandoning our atachments. You're simply not going to arrive there through that discipline, any more than I can take Pacific Coat Highway to Yosemite. Verily, that road don't go there.

JL
WBraun

climber
Jun 17, 2013 - 04:28pm PT
Relative truth is within Absolute Truth ......

but Absolute Truth is independent of relative truth ......
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
Jun 17, 2013 - 04:32pm PT


"Absolute truth" we will ALL know too soon!!!...
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jun 17, 2013 - 04:34pm PT
This younger generation is different, and they need different approaches. What I am and how I teach had to change as well.

I heard this a couple times lately. From the local schools.

Funny how we've gotten to where the teacher has to acomondate the pupil.

That's a difference between our teacher The Lord Jesus Christ. He NEVER changes!!

Seems to be alot of so called Teachers and Preachers telling the masses what they WANT
to hear. Schools handing out condoms like its homework. Schools helping 12+yro girls get abortions without the perents consent.
Now the schools are telling kids that if their not "happy" in their own skin. They can get a free operation through UC Bizerkly to change their sex. Now in L.A. a high school sophomore,
Joe, I mean Josephine wants to play on the girls tennis team. Should he, I mean she be allowed? I'm sure our "teachers" will tell us soon.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 17, 2013 - 05:53pm PT
You're simply not going to arrive there through that discipline, any more than I can take Pacific Coat Highway to Yosemite. Verily, that road don't go there

I agree without hesitation. Different paths lead to different outcomes. I suppose then it is the nature of the various outcomes we tend to argue about, and I am willing to entertain the notion that your non-discursive process yields a more fundamental result. It's not that serious a matter for me.

I'm just happy I don't carve wooden ducks.
MH2

climber
Jun 17, 2013 - 05:56pm PT
Somewhere a master decoy artist just felt a twinge which he took for indigestion.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 17, 2013 - 06:26pm PT
I'll address the issue of the supposed inflexibility of Tibetan Buddhism since I've wrestled a lot with this issue but especially the hierarchical aspects of it.

The main thing that Tibetan ritual, language and artwork does from the western point of view, is obscure for a long time, what the actual practice and philosophy is. Beneath it, one encounters finally, just plain Buddhism, but it takes a lot longer to get there. Then again, part of this slower process is that Tibetan practices aim at incremental stages rather than the instant enlightenment of Zen. Tibetan Buddhism also provides numerous methods and paths within itself as does Japanese Buddhism. The difference is that Zen is only one sect, reflecting only the most disciplined aspects of Japanese culture, and consequently is able to be very single minded.

For many people, the very mystique of Tibetan Buddhism, is the most helpful aspect at the commencement of their practice, and tends to appeal to people from one of two backgrounds. One such background are people who have been completely disgusted with the form of dogmatic Christianity with which they were presented, who then revel in being able to make spiritual progress mysteriously without being told what to think. The other, which often represents the majority around college campuses, are Jewish people turned off by the dry legalism and secularism they encountered in that tradition. They love the bells and smells approach instead.

Zen is very rigid about sitting a certain way and the accounts are full of western people whose knees were so painful they couldn't stand up after a sesshin. Tibetan Buddhism, probably reflecting the more severe climate, is much more active. They intersperse meditation with lots of sonorous chanting, prostrations and circumambulations, and chairs are not thought to hinder progress as long as a person doesn't slouch.

As for the future, one thing to consider in comparing them, is that both Hinduism and Zen were introduced to America at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893, whereas Tibetan Buddhism only encountered the West after 1959. India had already had a long encounter with the West and Japan had been modernizing for about 50 years by 1893. In contrast, Tibet had remained almost completely isolated until the later date. The first generation of Tibetan teachers had never even seen an electric light bulb, flush toilet or automobile when they encountered the West.

Even so, Lamas Thubten Yeshe, Chogyam Trungpa, and Tarthang Tulku, all made great efforts to simplify and modernize their message for Westerners just as the Dalai Lama has. Their success shows the value of a good education even in a medieval tradition far from the modern world, and also the flexibility of Tibetan culture, and of course, that something extra that all the masters have.

On my own first encounter with Tarthang Tulku's organization, I was struck by how intellectual, secular and cold it seemed compared to the indigenous Tibetan Buddhism I was used to as an anthropologist. When I remarked on this to one of his first generation American acolytes who was having a conversation with me, his reply was "Well, it's Berkeley after all". We both chuckled and then I had an out of body experience while sitting across from him in the lobby of the Nyingma Institute (following a week of intensive practice at a Self Realization retreat in the Sierras). What it did was convince me that the right energy was there, regardless of first appearances, a valuable lesson.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 17, 2013 - 07:47pm PT
John Gill wrote: I am willing to entertain the notion that your non-discursive process yields a more fundamental result.
--

To be perfectly honest, barren-ass emptiness might be the bedrock, so to speak, but the I-Consciousness you spoke of is a much more human and in most ways, more transformative experience IME. Seems likely that the I-Consciousness emenates from the heart center, to use the old 4th Way language. Simply sticking with raw emptiness renders an arid, even terrifying otherness that shivers many timbers because of the unfathomable time and magnitude and impersonal ambience. I'm not clear on the relationship between the impersonal and personal aspects of the so-called Pure Land. I do remember an earth-shattering experience I had concering the Trinity, which totally came out of nowhere, seeming that I had never given it any serious thought. That was an I-Consciousness moment where I encountered some very powerful material.

I don't really know . . .

JL
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 17, 2013 - 08:51pm PT
These last two posts, from Jan and John, are exemplary.

Thank you.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jun 17, 2013 - 09:12pm PT
Ward, I've read Generations and was fascinated by it.

I'm still interested to know from your perspective how you altered your teaching in order to better work with millenials?

DMT
MH2

climber
Jun 17, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
What jogill said.


For someone like me, who wants to learn and/or get a sense of what others are up to, those posts were very good.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 17, 2013 - 10:06pm PT
I'm still interested to know from your perspective how you altered your teaching in order to better work with millenials?

I am not a teacher. I think MikeL is the person you originally asked that question of.
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 17, 2013 - 10:29pm PT
Great writing, Jan. Lama Yeshe was da bomb. The old timers (Americans) still gush about him.

DMT,

Gen-Xers were cynical, particularly advertising and promotion savvy, and ambitious. i don't think they were at all political, but mainly oriented to themselves and their interests without being over-the-top egocentric. I would teach them using their own cynicism to make points, as though we were all comrades in the same boat, maybe even a wink of conspiracy.

Millennials, I found, were very difficult to categorize. They are liberal and conservative at the same time; they are local and global; they are collaborative--that is, they must be connected and working with others in groups. Too long outside of any group at all, and they begin to search them out or complain. Of course they are savvy on Web 2.0 technologies, social networks, media, and all of the typical things that young people like (music, vogue fashions, etc.). They want and expect to lead fairly quickly, but their sense of leadership is not grandiose. They want and expect some responsibility. They like feedback, also--even tough feedback. If you are sincere and show them your foibles, you score a lot of points. So, you can use both to get the best out of them: keen honest feedback but with some love. You'll need to give them kudos too, but not quite as much as you think you would. This generation sees things automatically from multiple perspectives simultaneously. They can see something from the view of the past, the present, AND the future, all at the same time. They also demand / expect full transparency from everyone, no questions. Of course they are green-minded, automatically so. (It's a given with them.) And they believe in democracy as much as any group I have ever met. It doesn't have to be an American variety.

What I've done is to show them more loving care. I don't hide my concern for them in order to be the leader or the teacher. (But I don't lead from the front anymore; I facilitate from the side.) It's important for them to know that I like them and that I expect the best from them. I go out of my way to see them one-on-one or in very small groups as often as I can (office, starbucks, library, bar) so that instruction can become more personal and customized for them. I also let them know that I'm not driving. . . they are. I'm just here as part of a support team. My age is so advanced in comparison, that we don't have to think about whether I get their respect, so I try to reach out to them and smile warmly as often as I can. I often start class with a question about how they're doing, how the class is going for them, and what their challenges are at the moment--in as personal of a way as I can muster. (It's so much easier when you really care). Not all millennials are equal, but some of the smarter ones can be shockingly creative, bright, and quick on their feet, but casually, you wouldn't think that of hardly any of them. They look rather relaxed. You have to give them big challenges, support them, and then try to get out of their way. Last, I have found that many of them are almost worldly because of all the traveling that they've done at early ages. Even as sophomores, some of them have resumes that I didn't think was possible. Being smart or quick is no longer enough to stand out in this generation. A young person must also show organizational initiative, creativity, and humane achievement to be recognized.

Of course I see many slackers in this generation, but mainly from the guys. The best young women are awesome and generally more advanced or evolved than the best young men. Guys need to step us their game to compete with them. (They're still playing "Animal House.") I think one of the worst sins one can do with this group is to bore them or put them in a job just to earn their stripes. They see through that ploy and think it's a waste of time.

Hope this says something to you. I'm probably forgetting some important things.

EDIT: Oh, yeah. They really believe in work-life balance, and they'll forgo really good jobs and live in apartments with 6 others to achieve it. They'd rather wait. In this respect, anyway, they know what they want, and they won't be taking a job for expediency's sake.
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 17, 2013 - 11:01pm PT
Jogill you wrote but I did not answer:

I fail to see how you conclude what you have experienced is ultimate reality if you also conclude nothing is real or true. Isn't it possible your epiphany was a delusion, like so much else you have encountered?

So I answered the bit about me experiencing ultimate reality--sort of. I sort of said no, but that's not quite right, either. We are all experiencing reality, but (here's the nutsy part) we aren't aware of it. Think about the TV or movie screen, again. When the movie or TV is running, you can't really see the screen once the lights start up. Takes training and detachment.

More important is your second question about delusion. The answer is, "Yes," it is possible. I don't think so because of its effects, and IT is resolving every question I have, one by one. But, yes, you're right. It's possible. The only thing I think is impossible anymore is impossibility.
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