Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Dec 4, 2013 - 06:52pm PT
So, I'm re-reading the book that this documentary was based on:



First read it twenty or so years ago when the wu was strong in me.

It's very interesting in light of this thread, in that the author sets his sights on, of all things, "the Western discursive mind."

Stunner.

But instead of contrasting it with Zen, he sets it at odds with the the "primal mind" of the [mostly] Native American stripe.

Anyway, the critique is nearly identical. Discursivity is all about analyzing and quantifying and not seeing the forest for the trees, while the "primal mind" is wide open to the true nature of reality, and proves it in all sorts of cultural manners and mores, from the Athabaskans down to the Aztecs.

But just not quite exactly as Rinzai or Soto would have it.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 4, 2013 - 07:02pm PT
But just not quite exactly as Rinzai or Soto would have it.
-


I've spent decades in both Renzai and Soto camps and the diversity within them is as great as that on an NBA basketball team or in Camp 4. What is you're understanding about how Renzai, say, "would have it," in general terms, and what is your take on how the discursive actually works, in specific terms.

JL
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Dec 4, 2013 - 07:13pm PT
You are one of his chief enablers (Fruity)

Oh, that hurts! I am so ashamed.

(But I can't resist)


;>(

we can't have a more substantive thread (Fruity)

We could get so much done that way.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Dec 4, 2013 - 07:34pm PT
Gotta hit the sack right now, but my point was that the ideas of no-thing and what-not don't come up much per se in this "primal mind" critique of the discursive. There are still some inklings of it, though; he uses the examples of reflections and rainbows, asking all koan-like: "Where are they, really?" Of course, one could answer that they're photons flitting through space and time, but that would obviously be missing the point. Anyway, I thought some might find the video interesting. I haven't watched it all yet, but am just finishing up the book version to pass time in the lodge until we can make more snow. It's supposed to get cold again next week.
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Dec 4, 2013 - 09:15pm PT
The continual reference to wu wu keeps reminding me of wei wu, which is the action of non-action in the Tao. So every time I see the phrase, I think: "Well, right on! You've got it!"

I can understand just how it seems to materialists that a spiritualist could be an evader or dodger. The latter can't provide the kind of evidence the former demands. So they must be evading.

But look. . . what do you know? You know only what you have direct access to: your experience. And what can you tell anyone of that? Not much. You can't accurately describe it, you can't really grasp it or define it, you can't say what it's parts are, you can't say how it works (neuroscience notwithstanding, Fruity), you can't say what its context is, you can't resolve it, you can't stop it or start it, you seem to have no influence over it in the large (it's always on), etc. Under those unconditional non-conditions, I'd say that makes experience pure and simply . . . spiritual, as much as anything could possibly be. Of course, most people won't see it that way because they take experience to be mundane, commonplace, and identically across the board for all.

I'll grant one that spiritualists come in a great multitude of varieties --and maybe that's one of our problems here. If materialists and science adherents are being lumped into a box, then maybe spiritualists are, too. (That's why I said up-thread about the God question: it would be helpful first to come up with what one means about a category before asking if one is an adherent.) It might simply be better to ask what one believes in first, and then see where that takes a person.

Me? I try to believe in nothing. That's why, for me, spiritualism means to simply see what is, unencumbered by elaborations. Pure awareness. No filters. Just the unvarnished truth, however it shows up. Now, just how wu wu (there's that term again--cool) would that be? Just being able to see what is. That's all.

Now when "I" try to do that, I find I don't seem to see "just what is." What I find I see appears to be an endless set of veils, filters, programs, biases, labels, concepts, abstractions, etc. Hell, I don't need a peeler for that onion; I need a darned atom bomb. Just . . . to . . . see . . . experience . . . as . . . it . . . is . . . appears to be . . . well, difficult.

One more observation: I have yet to meet any practiced zen man or woman that was anything other than grounded--their feet planted about a foot into the earth. Imagining them as some sort of airy fairy, off-the-deep-end, new ager presents a hilarious image to my mind. Sort of like De Niro in a tu-tu.
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Dec 4, 2013 - 09:33pm PT
Millions of years of human evolution, tens of thousands of years of "discursive thought" ultimately to realize than humans are at the center of precisely nothing. Every step along the way of discursive thought has led to the inevitable conclusion that humans are still not very different than anything else with DNA, and no different than anything else at the atomic level. Even the best science that taxpayers can buy has shown our little blue speck to be no more than the inevitable result of the lucky placement of the right dust, x-distance from the right star.

Some think this a dry, bleak view of our place in "creation", others will see the awe-inspiring monumental achievement of finally recognizing that face in the mirror. Of course, there are those who'll say, "Well of course! We've known this for thousands of years- the one-ness of human/animal/stone!" But really... you didn't know shiht. It sounded good, gave comfort to your ignorance, and justified your laziness to repeat the things your masters told you. So, go ahead and think of your own breathing for 30 minutes. I'm sure you'll accomplish a lot.
WBraun

climber
Dec 5, 2013 - 08:02am PT
All the chemicals in the soup came together by pure "Chance" a long time ago and eventually thru evolution finally created HFCS .......
jstan

climber
Dec 5, 2013 - 08:58am PT
You know only what you have direct access to: your experience.

If it were this bad, you would have a point. But I think you poorly state reality.

If you take some number of individuals, all acting independently, and to within the accuracy of their instruments all of their measurements agree - then we have taken the you out of MikeL's statement. Just have 100 individuals together watch the sun rise. It is that easy.

Now it is possible as members of Homo Sapiens we all share some common defect. Exactly the same defect. But this same defect has to be so consistent we all are identical. For this defect between independent individuals has to yield the same result( within experimental error) anytime randomly selected individuals make any one of tens of thousands of diverse measurements over more than 400 years. For this to be true humans would have to rival the very constants of nature themselves in their consistency. Very unlikely. Even among identical twins we don't get this kind of consistency. Among randomly selected and unrelated individuals over the millennia - very implausible.

An example.

Since 700 AD followers of the prophet Muhammad have rigorously trained the brains of their young, from a common text, to follow a codified and very strict mode of thinking. Individuals have to be very careful to think this way or they are removed by stoning from the gene pool. How similar are the products of this regimen?

They kill each other as they sleep at night. Because they are not thinking right.

It was Galileo who discovered the only way known so far to find our way out the morass created when we think our thought is the basis for knowledge. Anthropocentrism at its worst.

Some day we may find another way. Digging in even deeper to the idea that thought is all there is ain't going to be it.

High priests don't work. Read this thread if you think they do.

Edit.
Moral psychologists. Ah yes. Those are the people who charge you $200 an hour to say "Um hmm" every once in awhile. This one has clearly not been reading the newspapers.
Dr. F.

Trad climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 5, 2013 - 09:27am PT
Credit: Dr. F.
jammer

climber
Dec 5, 2013 - 09:36am PT
topo cred...
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Dec 5, 2013 - 10:03am PT
When folks talk about meditation here in this thread, they may be thinking of sitting austerely in some room with golden idols, incense burning, and chanting in the background . . . maybe with some teacher hitting them with a stick now and then for better posture. Sure, that can be found.

Folks here will regularly say that meditation or some spiritual activity or the notions that are behind it are wu wu, silly, useless, and unimportant. But I've observed that most of the very same people will also say that they have plenty of room for mystery of the world around them, of life, of the wonder of a stunning sunset, or of topping out on the top of a tall rock formation overlooking miles of backcountry terra firma.

What is the difference between the mystery of a materialist and a spiritualist? I see that materialists don't call those amazing experiences "problems" that need solving. They call them mysteries. Doesn't that signal something that is incomprehensible, something that's impossible to truly describe, something that goes beyond words or labels or mathematics to properly express and understand? Something that transcends our mental-rational worldview?

(Maybe not. I suspect there are people here who sense no mystery or wonder in anything at all.)

In Dzogchen it is said that one should contemplate when rigpa (pristine awareness) shows up on its own, and forget about any effort towards a practice when it doesn't. Just do what shows up. QED.

If you ever feel wonder when you look out at a stunning scene or feel awe in your bones from some event, then that is the time to relax and be with your experience / consciousness. That's meditation, contemplation, wu-wu; that's spirit.

Of course, you can instead jump to proposing all sorts of theories and stories about how the scene, event, or experience works and its value, but I think when you do that, you've only made it less. You've left the experience and created something that's purely speculative.

I think Jstan above has done exactly that. I suspect his theorizing is more interesting and real to him than that sunset experienced by those 100 people.

"Experimental error." "Random sample." "Consistency." "Possible." "Yield the same result." "Diverse measurements." "An example."

Ok, look, if you're going to make a scientific argument, then let's do it right. We need: A theory and hypothesis and the background literature review of good studies; a data set that we can argue is drawn properly from the population; a method for gathering data and then analyzing the data set for the findings, and THEN you can present your findings and settle into your discussion. What you've written here is pure speculation. It sounds scientific and all, but it's empty of any real substance or rigorous thinking in any truly scientific sense. (But hey, we're just talking, right?)

WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE?
jstan

climber
Dec 5, 2013 - 10:08am PT
If all 100 people say, "Yeah. I just saw something bright come up into the sky" you know you alone did not create the sun rise. If there was no actual sunrise, all 100 people had to have had the same fantasy at about the same time. Like I said. Real easy.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Dec 5, 2013 - 10:14am PT
The next obvious step in the evolution of religion on this planet is the recognition that all religions have truth to one degree or another and all should be respected as the common heritage of human kind. Fundamentalists aside, this is certainly where the majority of still religious people are now in the West and the East was pretty much always there. Every time the subsistence level changes as into the information age, so does the belief system of the groups affected. It's already happening and the extremists are in their death throes if we can only see that, hang on and manage to survive it.

As for Galileo, he was motivated by thought. In order to conceive of measurement as a way of attaining knowledge, he had to have the visionary thought that it might be the a forward and that he could accomplish it. Perhaps he was motivated by a love of exploration or perhaps by a revulsion against the thinking of the time or most probably both, but his accomplishments were the result of his thoughts.

And there have been instances where 100 people or more swore they saw the same thing which could never be proved by anyone who was not there. There are other examples of 100 people who saw something that another person present from a different culture did not see. The British often described such scenes in India. Mass hysteria and mass hypnosis are two of the explanations that have been given.

Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Dec 5, 2013 - 10:23am PT
And what exactly makes the general principles of religious ethics unfit for the 21st century? And the traditions of good works and charity? And the associated art and music? And what's wrong with trying to integrate them with a more modern viewpoint? You really should hang out with some modern educated religious people who don't have a fundamentalist mind set.
jstan

climber
Dec 5, 2013 - 10:25am PT
And what's wrong with trying to integrate them with a more modern viewpoint?

The claim of absolute truth. Get rid of that and you got no religion.
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Dec 5, 2013 - 10:31am PT
When folks talk about meditation here in this thread, they may be thinking of sitting austerely in some room with golden idols, incense burning, and chanting in the background

Some people here may think that meditation may be supremely useful as a way to re-organize neural pathways and improve particular skills. There are plenty of other proven techniques that do similar things....particularly in sports, for example. As for meditation providing insight to an alternate reality... I call BS.

I see that materialists don't call those amazing experiences "problems" that need solving. They call them mysteries. Doesn't that signal something that is incomprehensible, something that's impossible to truly describe, something that goes beyond words or labels or mathematics to properly express and understand?

You're detailing limitations of our tools to understand... these tools include language. Some are left "speechless" witnessing a volcanic eruption. Largo is speechless when describing what his mind supposedly does when meditating; you might claim that this manifested "speechlessness" is the result of a mystery, I'd claim it's the other way around. As language improve, mysteries become increasingly particular, more esoteric, more abstract, and more profound.

Consider the child...there are no mysteries for children as they take their world at face value. Magic tricks are lost on little kids as are sunsets and starry nights. You think a little kid spends time thinking of the nature of his/her reality? Why is that?
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Dec 5, 2013 - 10:32am PT
Jstan: . . . you know you alone did not create the sun rise.

Here it is: here's the gravamen. Finally.

So you're concerned about creating things that don't exist?

My dear friend, sincerely, if that is your most critical concern or worry, let me introduce you to a wealth of literature in psychology, sociology, anthropology, cognitive science, and economics. Ye Gods, people are making up things all the time, and with the help of everyone else, at that. It's called, "consensus reality," "social construction," "groupthink," "escalated commitment," "categorization," "labeling," "classifications," "objectification," "typification," and a few more acts of determination that I can't think of right now.

You and I are much closer than you think. I'm a greater skeptic than you are.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 5, 2013 - 11:13am PT
If all 100 people say, "Yeah. I just saw something bright come up into the sky" you know you alone did not create the sun rise. If there was no actual sunrise, all 100 people had to have had the same fantasy at about the same time. Like I said. Real easy.


What John S. is trying here is to prove, by way of the first person reporting of 100 subjects, that said sun rise exists independent from all 100. Meaning, you could get rid of the 100 and the sun rise would still be there because it exists outside of the consciousness of the 100, which when commenting on same are simply reporting the "reality" vouchsafed by John's instruments.

Mike's point is that "you know you alone did not create the sun rise" is data only available by way of your direct experience. It can be no other way for humans. It's that simple. No human can come to any knowledge by indirect experience, which is a contradiction.

And Fort, when calling "BS" on meditation, what personal experiences are you drawing upon for your conclusions? You make those statements with such assurance we can only assume you are an expert who has arrives at your conclusions like any viable scientist has: by way of laborious and exact trial and error.

FYI, there is no "alternative reality." Meditation only fills in some of the gaps left by the discursive.

JL
WBraun

climber
Dec 5, 2013 - 11:17am PT
In the beginning there was just stuff.

It all came together by pure "Chance" as there was no intelligence.

Out of pure chance all this sh!t somehow came together and by miraculous chance intelligence arrived thru evolution of chance.

The modern scientist takes all the proper individual chemicals that are required for "life" and
sets them all individually on the table and waits for chance to come to mix together the "soup" and make "Life" .......

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Dec 5, 2013 - 11:19am PT
Classic!
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