Monday, November 17, 2008

NEW SUICIDE GIRLS ARTICLE (FAITH NO MORE)

I got a new article up on Suicide Girls today. No politics this time. It's about faith and getting disappointed in religious authority.

Enjoy.

40 comments:

Squidward Tentative said...

"But when it comes to the subject of having faith in religious authority figures, you can always count me out."

Really? How about when it comes to Dogen? Your teacher? I can't remember reading anything you've written that even questions anything either have said or written. Good article.

Anonymous said...

Anarchy is the ultimate in
individual responsibility.

Tracker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Bungle (...did I overdo the FNM?) said...

I'm not sure, S.T., I hate to split hairs but I think there's a distinction between faith in a religious leader and use of a document.

I agree that this is touchy ground because, ultimately, unless you invent your own thing you will eventually have to decide to what extent you will rely on people who taught before you.

But he's always been clear that this stuff can be a guide, or a suggestion, but sooner or later people need to figure stuff out for themselves. So I took this as a heads-up about the cult of personality-- go ahead and learn what you can from people (or their teachings, whether it's "Shobogenzo" or "We Care A Lot") but ultimately you have to decide for yourself. [Be aggressive! B E aggressive!]

proulx michel said...

The French researcher Henri Laborit established in the '60ies that the brain is made of three different strata. The first being the hypothalamus, otherwise called the "reptilian brain". This drives mere reactions of survival: eating, and reproducing. And of course all that goes along with these.
Then you have the cortex, which we share with only the mammals. This more sophisticated brain allows us to organise in societies, based on the hierarchy of dominant over dominee. This is all rats and dogs have.
Then, some species, like elephants, dolphins and great apes like men, have a third level, the neo-cortex, which allows us to go further and cooperate, doing things which are not necessarily interesting at first sight, sometimes even detrimental, but which would allow for a greater benefit on the long term.
This is most developed in humans. It allows us to freely give, to help others without the hope of a reward, to obey certain rules even though nobody's watching, because it entails that, everybody doing it, it will make for a much better life for everyone.

Hume gave a good example of this, showing how farmers with fields that come to maturity with some discrepancy, by helping each other to harvest, lose nothing and gain a lot.
But Hobbes, who probably was not very attracted to peasantry, prefered to think that people only do what is of immediate benefit for them. Hence his immense popularity among the neo-cons.

All this being said, Laborit observed that most people make little use of their precious neo-cortex, other than using it for a justification of their relations of domination.

The "inner ruler" mentioned by Brad is that second brain, the cortex. But we become truly human only by using the neo-cortex to ensure harmonious and cooperative relationships. Lots of work impending...

Anonymous said...

“At one time, human nature was split in two,
an executive part called a god, and a follower
part called a man. Neither part was
Consciously aware.”
--The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
by Julian Jaynes

earDRUM said...

Excellent article Brad.
The military is another institution where people can be subservient and hand over the responsibility for their lives to someone else.
Sports teams fill that same function.
And I think trade unions do too – where the worker defers responsibility/blame to the employer.
Strangely, these groups are seen to be very masculine and tough… yet belonging to them requires being submissive and deferring responsibility for their own conduct onto others.
Isn’t that strange?
Maybe we all feel like little children inside, wanting to be taken care of by somebody?

Anonymous said...

Be careful whom you follow
or you might end up
Torturing Democracy

Nuremberg, anyone?
Anyone?
Anyone?
Obama?
Bueller?

Blake said...

Good post, Brad.

Well said, proulx michel.

mike the dog said...

You seem extremely loyal to your friends and teachers, to the point of seeing questionable musicians as being great artists, and quasi-scientific gibberish as unquestioned truth. If they are your pals, the people within your circle are given the benefit of your faith.

Squidward tentative said...

"I'm not sure, S.T., I hate to split hairs but I think there's a distinction between faith in a religious leader and use of a document"

So, faith in a document is OK, but faith in an individual is not? The fundamentalist christians will be happy to hear this. Like I said, it was a good article and I agree with most of it. I just question (!?) whether Brad applies this to himself and his own authority or that of his teachers. He may, I just don't see any evidence of it yet. As to relying on others, I like what some old dead guy said; "Be a lamp unto yourselves." Though I'm careful not to rely on what he said either. Perhaps a greater danger is relying on your own authority or the authority of your own experience(s). I try to question all authority, but especially my own.

Uku said...

Good post, Brad.

Still, we need sometimes road signs or teachers to help us. Still, we have to walk by ourselves through the door opened by religion or a teacher.

Reality is just as it is. And if someone is happy with his/her God, let her/him be happy. Believing in religions etc. ain't a bad or ignorant thing. And shit would happen without religions.

What counts is our thoughts and acts, what are we doing to help this world to something better.

Yes, the truth is inside us but sometimes we need some tools to get it out from there, to realize it.

Peace,
Uku

Rich said...

That was a good article. Zen may became the most popular practice someday, because most religions don't quite match reality anymore.

Jinzang said...

Brad aims, fires, and misses the target. Different people have different levels of psychological and moral development. Kohlberg developed one theory of the stages of moral development. The authoritarian theory that Brad criticizes corresponds to the fourth of six levels. People can be found at all six levels both inside and outside of organized religion. Atheists and skeptics are no exception to this. I once argued with a skeptic who couldn't understand that an idea could be scientific and yet false. Science, you see, was THE TRUTH. This is no argument against skepticism, just against his level of maturity. And similarly, just because you find religious believers whose idea of God is that he is a cosmic cop whose beat is the planet Earth, it doesn't follow that all believers are this immature.

Anonymous said...

disappointed in religious authority? Wow... that's new.

Anonymous said...

"I once argued with a skeptic who couldn't understand that an idea could be scientific and yet false."

I didn't know turnips could be skeptical, Jinzang, but anyways, I suggest you desist from arguing with them.

Anonymous said...

jinzang, you are totally gay. did i guess right?

Anonymous said...

not there is anything wrong with that..

Anonymous said...

Please, read the Kalama Sutra most of what Brad talks about is here also.

GUESS WHO? said...

"Hit a drum then wander on to the piano, hit a few notes, just wander around. So that's what we did and then put a bit of an echo on it. It's very free."

Anonymous said...

your SG article is an interesting ramble of thoughts
all over the page, going all kinds of whichaways

I didn't get a sense that you knew what you were talking about, as much as I had the sense you had something you wanted to say

kinda like a guy behind the wheel who just wants to go for a spin and ends up at a cul de sac, looking out over a ravine or what have you:

at the end of the pavement-- a different kind of order, called 'nature' meets our view
we say what we do is 'unnatural', but hey, we are part of 'nature' too, we can't NOT be a part of nature, we are inseparable from it/it from us.
Even in our most 'unnatural' of acts, it is still part of nature and at our most inhumane, it is still a human act, committed by a human.

you say religion causes guys to fly into buildings
That ain't religion
Religion gets you to straighten up and fly right

things get perverted and co-opted, religion is no exception (and in fact probably is the original 'sheep's clothing, if you will) and something else with it's own agenda and desired outcome lurks under the umbrage of 'religion'
religion is quite the cover up for a lot of land grabs and such
what could be more noble that to 'save the soul' of another while in the process of killing them, (sure beats going in with the intent to murder--how cold could that be?).

Faith? Feh!! I say forget the noun, which really does not exist--it's only an ideal after all
get to the adverb--that is a form of action and that is what we humans do, we embody (or should it be said we embody/mind)--not do you have faith? but are you faithful to? (to what?, to whom?)

religious authorities?
there is no one else who can be an authority on your relationship with (fill in the blank here with your favorite name for deity)


now church, or temple, zendo what have you: different thing: as soon as you own/rent a building or even if it is given to you, there is still upkeep and taxes and plumbing and painting and roofs. If you are ministering to the housebound, the elderly, the sick; if you are taking collections to keep up a food pantry or some such for those without--now you have to have an authority, be it a democratic governance, a board or whatever--things have to be organized somehow and organization means some entity, be it a person made leader or a group of persons must be 'in charge.'


Some people do this well, or well enough
some people just can't be trusted; power is addictive to them and they abuse it

I guess that leads me to the SM lingo you bring up again, the 'doms' and 'subs' (didn't you recently write or quote another's writing about SM 'tops' and 'bottoms' and the 'top' being responsible for the way the event goes and the bottom needing to communicate clearly what they want, etc...)

(These conversations with SG girls and the like must be quite stimulating)

At any rate
if I were to be faithful
to the sometime habit
of taking my coffee
my tea
seated outside
in the first light of day
and everyday
this habit

if I were to be faithful
daily
to the practice of zazen
30 minutes or 15 or 40--whatever it is I have established as 'my' sitting time
and
no matter how I 'felt' about it
whether I wanted to or was in the mood or not
I did it
no more than allotted
no less

I would find that my faith in myself was well placed
that I was trust worthy
reliable
dependable
that I would see things through
and could count on myself
I would not let myself down

now I know what it takes
to do it about anything
for anyone

Bob Wilsons Ghost said...

As Saint Bob once wrote (in his novel trilogy Schrodingers Cat)

"There is no governor anywhere; you are all absolutely free. There is no restraint that cannot be escaped. We are all absolutely free. If everybody could go into dhyana at will, nobody could be controlled -- by fear of prison, by fear of whips or electroshock, by fear of death, even. All existing society is based on keeping those fears alive, to control the masses. Ten people who know [this] would be more dangerous than a million armed anarchists."

Anonymous said...

Brad:

How many times have you written "My teacher Gudo Nishijima said that what Dogen meant was...."

That's quite different to "I have found that....".

ratboy said...

"Brad:

How many times have you written "My teacher Gudo Nishijima said that what Dogen meant was...."

That's quite different to "I have found that....".


BINGO!

For example: I was very skeptical of the (dogma) claim that sitting full-lotus was somehow superior to other positions. As my muscles allowed, I began to experiment. I found for myself that the claim was indeed true....for myself. Zazen seemed much more stable and clear in the lotus.

On the other hand, there are similar claims about hand mudra and eye focus. Again, I've experimented with these. But this time I find that there is no correlation for me. I've sat with eyes both focused and unfocused, with hands on knees and in traditional zen mudra. If anything, I found that these alternatives are better for more stable, clear zazen. So now I sit in full-lotus with eyes open but unfocused and often with my hands resting on knees.

There are many other similar examples I could give. But Brad does not seem to like this experiment and find for yourself approach when it differs with his own (or teachers) conclusions.

I confess I follow a what-works-for-you philosophy. It's what led me to zen in the first place and what has kept me practicing zen for decades. Zen is what works for me. I could care less what various teachers and their dogmas assert, whether it's Genpo and his Bigmind claims or Brad and his various claims about true buddhism and correct posture.

Stephanie said...

Excellent article, Brad. Best in a while. Kudos.

Anonymous said...

flowers

fall

weeds

flourish

obama

sucks

Anonymous said...

Nice of you to give him a chance. He's not even in office yet..

anony"just-one-more-fix"mous(E) said...

oh venereal master roshi buraduri wana-san sensei, please leave us an E.T.A. on your next book.

please.....

... said...

...pritty preez...

annoyingmous(e) said...

goddammit...lively up your selves...bitches!

Anonymous said...

:P

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

The ETA for Brad's next book, at least on Amazon, is February 1, 2009.

Rob

andro said...

Good timing on the book's release.. Now we can buy copies and give them out as valentine's presents.

Anonymous said...

book 3 sounds pretty tame
I'm waiting for #4 in which Brad reveals he used to be 'Brenda' before his sex reassignment after his operation, and that (s)he's finally coming out as a lesbian, even though she's now a he 'technically' speaking, and that (s)he's pregnant, having volunteered to be a surrogate for (gasp) Genpo, but all that comes out in #5!
Stay tuned for "Turning the Wheel of the Dharma!

Anonymous said...

no faith in church or state
but the kids are alright

Anonymous said...

In Hardcore Zen, doesn't Brad already address this? Question Everything.

I know he gets new readers all the time so it is probably good to re-address the situation.

As for "What Dogen Meant..." criticism - you OBVIOUSLY haven't read Shobogenzo or you are freakin brilliant. Because there is a lot of text in there that I ask myself "what the hell did he mean?" To have Nishijima there to answer those questions had to be great!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

What if Gudo Nishijima is wrong - after all he's not Dogen....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

What if Dogen is wrong - after all he's not the Buddha...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

What if Buddha was wrong; after all he learnt from someone else!

But wait; there is a way out.

Buddha said "You can prove this stuff for yourself"

Taking the word of some guy alive or dead is at best only a temporary and expedient thing.

Anonymous said...

"Taking the word of some guy alive or dead is at best only a temporary and expedient thing."

Yep, yep, yep. Even if his name is Ven. Brad Warner.