Thursday, January 07, 2010

BRIT HUME, ZEN & YOGA RETREAT, BUDDHISM & SEX LECTURE SERIES, MONSTER ATTACK TEAM and AGAINST THE STREAM

Before we get started, two things I gotta mention:

On Saturday January 16th starting at 10 am we will have our first ever Zen and Yoga retreat at Hill Street Center (237 Hill St., Santa Monica, CA 90405). Full info can be found by clicking on the words "Zen and Yoga retreat" above. We're still working on the actual schedule. I mean the date and starting time are fixed. But the schedule within the actual day might change slightly from what's listed on that page.

And in February I will do a series of lectures about Buddhism and Sex also at Hill Street Center. Again, info can be found by clicking on the words "series of lecture about Buddhism and sex" above. And again, the actual schedule within the days themselves might change a bit, though the dates and starting times are fixed.

Also, on Sunday January 17th at 11 am I will be leading Zazen and speaking at Against The Stream at 4300 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles 90029. Be there or be a dope!

Also, I did a big ol' article about my work at Tsuburaya Productions for issue 8 of the magazine Monster Attack Team. I believe the on-line version is available now and the print version is soon to come. So get yours! I'm really pretty jazzed about the piece I wrote for them. Not much Buddhism in it. But I also have a whole other life.

OK. Now to the rest of what I have to say...

Did I ever complain here about how I have the world's slowest Internet connection? It's an AT&T deal called 3G Watcher that uses cell phone signals or some damn thing. Man, it's annoying! But I keep it cuz it keeps me from surfing the Internets and wasting time.

Anyhow, this could be why I completely missed my quote in this YAHOO! News article until someone posted it in the comments section of the article before this one.

The reporter talked to me on the phone for about 45 minutes. She kept asking, "What would you say to Tiger Woods if he asked you for advice?" And I'm like, well, I don't know Tiger Woods. I don't really know what's actually going on in his life. I don't like to give people advice even if I know them well.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, says the reporter, but if he asked you specifically for advice what would you say?

And I'm all like, first off I'd tell him that my advice isn't much good since I don't really know you...

And the reporter's like, c'mon, you must have some kind of advice!

And I'm like, well, I guess I'd just tell him what I tell everybody... y'know, do some Zazen, try to see clearly what your actual circumstances are without judging or thinking too much about them. Just see it for what it is. This takes years of practice.

"OK!" says the reporter, "Bye!" -click!-

Read the article yourself to see how I was quoted. Yes, I did say that. But no I did not say that at all...

I'm oversimplifying a little. The article contains a lot of good stuff, some of which I said but which isn't credited to me, probably because the reporter heard pretty much the same thing from every Buddhist she spoke with. The stuff about karma and the lack of any creator God who can prevent the law of cause and effect from smacking you in the ass when you do stupid shit. It's a pretty good piece, all things considered. Although I'm not real sure I understand Robert Thurman's use of the word "sin." Then again, his daughter is smoking hot. So I'll forgive just about anything he says. Anyhow, the reporter did listen to me, but the folks out there in Americaland wanted Buddhist advice. So that's what they got.

Whatever. This whole business is kind of amazing to me. I knew there was a ton of ignorance and misinformation about Buddhism out there in Americaland. But it's still kind of astounding to see just how deep it goes. You see Buddha statues and paintings and Zen-this and Zen-that all over the damn place. Yet folks out there really don't know squat about Buddhism.

I'd never even heard of Brit Hume before this whole business erupted. So I guess that shows my own ignorance. But thanks to him a few people will get interested in finding out more about Buddhism. Their interest will probably last all of seven and a half minutes. But it's better than nothing.

Jon Stewart had some of the best stuff to say about this matter. Here is the latest clip I've seen. Unfortunately this will probably be the end of the matter as far as the Daily Show is concerned.

As for Tiger, I really have no advice for him. Maybe he could advise me on how to pick up girls! If we're talking about a situation in which two people who don't know each other meet and one asks how to fix his marriage and the other asks how to pick up chicks, the guy who asks how to pick up chicks is gonna come out way ahead.

The problem with Buddhism is that it can't possibly fit into a sound byte. Neither can Christianity or any religion. But at least with Christianity in the West there's a significant existing base of knowledge to build upon. With Buddhism there is virtually no understanding at all in so-called "middle America."

What irks me about this is how a guy like Brit Hume, armed with pretty much zero understanding about Buddhism just mouths off on the subject like he knows it all. Think about it. If the entirety of Buddhism had no way at all of dealing with such a common thing as marital infidelity it couldn't possibly have lasted 2500 years and picked up several hundred million adherents. Feh!

My friend Bob Johnson of Sci Fi Japan made a real good point once that I'm sure I've mentioned here. Like me, Bob is a Godzilla geek. He said that every time he reads an article about Godzilla in the mainstream media they can't even get the most basic facts straight. After noticing this he started wondering if the "facts" he was hearing from the same media outlets about the so-called "real news" were any more trustworthy. He concluded they probably were not. I tend to agree.

Ah fooey! This is why I don't have cable TV.

140 comments:

anon #108 said...

I am the first to post.

I am deleriously happy.

Max said...

2nd!

Jinzang said...

A couple of years ago a reporter for the New York Times sat next to me on a train. He was writing an article about Al Sharpton, how he was now more moderate. When he finished writing, he started calling up reporters he knew, looking for quotes to support the article's POV. Probably the reporter who called you up was looking for something similar. To the reporter, your quote is just the sprinkles on a cupcake.

Jinzang said...

A small correction: "should have written "calling up politicians he knew". Gonna lose by Buddhist cred for my lack of mindfulness.

Jinzang said...

Oops again. Should have written "Gonna lose my Buddhist cred" Proofreading is a bitch.

cometboy said...

Jinzang,

Don't feel alone.

If it wasn't for spell-check I would read even more ignorant than I am.

And as for captchas, it's getting to the point where I'm afraid that I won't pass that particular Turing Test.

Anonymous said...

The noun is "advice," for God's sake. The verb is "advise." Good grief.

merco said...

"sprinkles on a cupcake."

now we're talking.

Robin said...

Hey B-dub, your Zen and Yoga retreat links are broken. Just FYI.

mtto said...

for your convenience until the link is fixed:

Zen and Yoga

mtto said...

Previous Daily Show re: Brit Hume for which Asif Mandvi apologizes in the Brad's link.

Naomi said...

advice*

PA said...

Haha, Jinzang and Cometboy :-)

Anonymous said...

And in February I will do a series of lectures --- "series of lecture about Buddhism and sex"

And I'm like, well, I don't know Tiger Woods. I don't really know what's actually going on in his life. I don't like to give people advise even if I know them well.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, says the reporter, but if he asked you specifically for advise what would you say?

And I'm all like, first off I'd tell him that my advise isn't much good since I don't really know you


Anybody else notice the inconsistency here. Brad is writing an advice book on sex, except for people he does not really know.

Anonymous said...

Ethan Nichtern is interviewed about the Hume comments on NPR's Tell Me More.

anon #108 said...

Hi anon 1.33am -

"Brad is writing an advice book on sex..."

Is he? Maybe not. We had a chat about this earlier:

http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2009/12/happy-b-day-nishijima-roshi-macalester.html

At 8.49pm Brad can hold his toungue no longer and enters the fray to clarify...

It's an interesting comments section. If you like that sort of thing.

anon #108 said...

...and here:

http://rebloggingbradwarner.blogspot.com/2009/12/hardcore-zen-happy-b-day-nishijima.html

Don't say I never do anything for ya.

KaliDurga said...

"As for Tiger, I really have no advise for him. Maybe he could advise me on how to pick up girls! If we're talking about a situation in which two people who don't know each other meet and one asks how to fix his marriage and the other asks how to pick up chicks, the guy who asks how to pick up chicks is gonna come out way ahead."

That's what you should have said to the reporter who called.

Kaishin Michael said...

Zen in a soundbite?

I liked Shunryo Suzuki's attempt:

"Everything changes."

Ok, it then takes several years to work out what the soundbite really means, but it's a good start!

Apuleius Platonicus said...

"Maybe he could advise me on how to pick up girls."

I bow humbly at your feet.

Brad Warner said...

Thanks for the spelling advise... uh... advice. I knew it looked wrong. But I spent my Junior High years unlearning British spellings I'd learned in Kenya, so I thought maybe it was one of those variations.

And the Zen/Yoga link is fixed. Though for the life of me it looks like I just re-inserted the very same stuff over what was there. Yet now it works & before it didn't. Computers are weird.

Brad Warner said...

Is Junior High capitalized? Whatever...

King Kong Bong Chong said...

Question everything. No one knows for certain what the Tiger did.

The Devil's Douche said...

When comparing and contrasting Buddhism and Christianity it is important to understand the audiences to whom these teachers taught: Buddha, a polytheistic society in which the concept of Karma existed; Christ, a monotheistic society in which existed the concept of "sin."
Anyways, I went to Catholic school for kindergarten and first-grade and I think that the simple definition of "sin" that they present to five year olds as an act that obscures us from God's love is a more realistic way of looking at things than regarding "sin" as evil deeds that make God angry. I don't think God needs us constantly sucking him off and bloating his ego. For you Buddhistic-minded types out there, replace the phrase God's love with something that sounds more like the great compassion of the Universe and replace sin with negative karma if those terms are more agreeable to you. Both point to the same phenomenon we can surely never capture with a mere thought or word. What a Buddhist calls the Universe and what Christ called the Father are more or less the same things. Both sets of words and their corresponding meanings describe, but do not fully capture their intended purpose. For you Buddhist types, read through the Gospels, and when Jesus says "your heavenly father" try inserting your concept of "the Universe" and I am sure you will begin to see a great many similarities in the teachings. Once you get over the cultural differences.
"I" committed "sin" by purchasing unprotected, ultra-marital sex from a Hungarian midget prostitute and "God" punished me by giving me herpes, the gift that keeps on giving! Similarly, "sense" perceived a Hungarian midget prostitute, ignorant desire arose and created "self", "self" acted on ignorant craving, and now an "I" exists, and that "I suffers" as a result of that "negative karma", namely that m'boys itch! It's really just a cultural difference in how we perceive these things, and I believe that to be the reason that Robert Thurman chose to claim that, "Adultery is as much of a sin in Buddhism as it is in Christianity, the ethics are the same in both traditions. Adultery is a sin and causes the kinds of problems that Tiger Woods is in."

Ran K. said...

I hope my remark will not be taken too seriously, - but if a Buddhist master is unable to avoid wasting time on the internet else than by using a slow connection, one might actually question the redemption offered by Buddhism.


I liked Apuleius Platonicus’s last comment – the ignorant I am.

Though Brad is obviously cheating on us.

He’s just protecting Tiger 'cause he's concerned what's gonna happen the day we find out what he's been doing around "Suicide Girls". (I knew the initials over there remind me of something – “Shobogenzo".) Tiger's gonna come begging at his feet.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

I've never before had the opportunity to say, "Nice, Douche".

Rob

privall said...

Who needs cable TV when you have Material Reductionism?

anon #108 said...

Yes, twas nice, douche, thanks. But I fear that what you wrote is flawed.

"What a Buddhist calls the Universe and what Christ called the Father are more or less the same things."

To very many Christians the Father/God IS some kind of super-person who is made angry by "sin" and punishes...He (note!) is the 'being' that created the universe and is, therefore, other than it.

More than just a culturally distinct metaphorical device expressing the same thing as the Buddhist 'Universe', I think.

But - there are, perhaps, many 'Buddhists' who are in fact theists and 'Christians' who aren't.

And there are many Buddhists who don't believe in 'negative, or bad karma; karma as punishmment, but in karma as the recognition that actions have consequences - just that, with no moral/retributive aspect.


captcha = preop. Say it isn't so!

Stuart said...

Brad wrote... With Buddhism there is virtually no understanding at all in so-called "middle America."

The vast majority of middle Americans see blue when they look at the sky, and green when they look at a tree. The vast majority of middle Americans eat when they're hungry, sleep when they're tired, and help their neighbors when they're in trouble.

So I'd say that Middle America has a perfect understanding of true Buddhism.

Stuart
http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/booboo.htm

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Brad, when did you travel to Hungary?

Stuart hit it on the head.

Jinzang said...

So I'd say that Middle America has a perfect understanding of true Buddhism.

There's Buddhism as ground, but also Buddhism as path. Middle Americans do not lack Buddha nature, it's closer than their eyeballs. But they do lack an understanding and appreciation of the path. Not only Middle Americans, also hip Left Coast types, who can mouth all the cliches, but know little of the substance.

Anonymous said...

One time I ate a burrito. It was awesome.

The Devil's Douche said...

anon #108:

Read carefully. I wrote what a Buddhist calls the Universe and what "Christ" called the Father are one in the same. Not what "Christians" call the father. Or for that matter what the Jews of Jesus time called Yahweh. This is an important distinction.

"To very many Christians the Father/God IS some kind of super-person who is made angry by "sin" and punishes...He (note!) is the 'being' that created the universe and is, therefore, other than it."---This may be what many Christians believe, but I do not think it was what Christ was trying to teach. Remember, he died young, and a great many people fiddled around with what he said for several hundred years before an actual religious doctrine was formed.

There may be flaws in the point that I was making, but there is a definite flaw in our communication if you assume I accept Christian orthodoxy. The flaw of your response was that you were trying to understand what I wrote within the context of conventional Christian thought.

I ask questions. And I ain't got no time for Santa Claus Gospel. Most Christians take what's in the Bible as absolute fact. And sadly, most scholarship on the subject revolves around proving or disproving historical veracity, rather than weeding out useful wisdom from arcane mythology.

Personally, I could give a rat's ass what happened 2000 years ago in Palestine. What's important is what's going on in my life, right here, right now. And if Jesus were here he'd tell ya the same damned thing.

If you wish to seek the Shepherd, seek the Shepherd. Do not seek the sheep and think that you've found the Shepherd. All you will hear is "Baaaahhh!"

anon #108 said...

Hi DD -

Very fair point. I did re-read what you wrote and realised that I'd misread/assumed 'Christ' for 'Christians' and had rushed to the keyboard. Forgive me. I was bored. Still, you did kinda mix your whatevers, comparing "a Buddhist" (not the Buddha) to "Christ". But that's no excuse. My bad.

I don't assume for a moment that you accept Christian orthodoxy - I've no idea what your personal religious beliefs might be - but, as you say, "most Christians take what's in the Bible as absolute fact", and it was their understanding that I was commenting on.

What did Jesus believe 'the Father' to be? I've no idea. You might be right in thinking that his conception of the Father is 'more or less' the same thing as what a Buddhist calls the Universe (which Buddhist?), but I suggest we'll never know - I'm not nearly so sure as you appear to be just what damn thing he'd tell us if he were right here right now ;-)

anon #108 said...

EDIT

I mean "...realised that I'd misread/assumed 'Christians' for 'Christ'" [not the other way round].

Mistake after mistake!
Will it never end?

anon #108 said...

EDIT

I wrote: "...but, as you say, "most Christians take what's in the Bible as absolute fact..."

I'd rather stick to my earlier "To very many Christians..." - we're on dangerous ground, and that feels safer, although I've no idea if it's any truer. I don't know very many Christians. Just another assumption.

But for the sake of the/an argument...

The Devil's Douche said...

anon #108:

very enjoyable discourse, my friend. And I apologize if I sound arrogant by claiming I'd know what Jesus would say were he here today. I've been looking at this Christianity thing fairly intensely for about 25 years, and began considering it with a Buddhist perspective about eleven years back. I've come to appreciate so much similarity that it's not even funny! And usually if the same point is being made by both Christ and Buddha, it's something worthy of consideration.

As for me using "Buddhist" instead of Buddha when I used Christ in place of "Christians," that too was by design. Buddhists have a tendency to do a much better job of representing what Buddha actually taught than Christians do with the teachings of Jesus. Shit man, half the time organized Christianity's got it ass backwards! But it's all good.

Buddhism is about five hundred years older and the Christian faith is going through a rough maturation process. That's what happens when you kill the guy before he's even had the chance to explain himself and use his name to set up a state religion for your empire. But the wisdom is inherit. And the truth always floats to the surface.

Five hundred years ago the Catholic church was burning witches, harassing Jews, conquering Muslims, and debunking science. Today, the church has it's head slightly pulled out of it's arse, and accepts evolution and has worked to promote peace between different religious groups...now if we can just get them to leave the little boys alone!

But really man, I don't get too caught up in "-isms", there are many ways to represent the truth, and they are all forever incomplete representations.

Enjoyable conversation, take care.

Anonymous said...

Sin is the law of cause and effect.

Ran K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry said...

"I" committed "sin" by purchasing unprotected, ultra-marital sex from a Hungarian midget prostitute and "God" punished me by giving me herpes, the gift that keeps on giving! Similarly, "sense" perceived a Hungarian midget prostitute, ignorant desire arose and created "self", "self" acted on ignorant craving, and now an "I" exists, and that "I suffers" as a result of that "negative karma", namely that m'boys itch! It's really just a cultural difference in how we perceive these things, and I believe that to be the reason that Robert Thurman chose to claim that, "Adultery is as much of a sin in Buddhism as it is in Christianity, the ethics are the same in both traditions. Adultery is a sin and causes the kinds of problems that Tiger Woods is in."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Hi Devil's Douche (if that IS your real name!)

And a thanks to you for an interesting and refreshing perspective.

I'd just like to point out that the explanation above is not consistent with what 'karma' decribes in Buddhism. Karma is the law that states that a volitional action creates a result in the human mind in the form of a mental state and/or a 'seed' of inclination to act in a certain way in future... it does not relate to actual, physical results and it cannot predict physical results (i.e. getting herpes, craps, the clap or whatever) because they are governed by their own physical laws which are ultimately beyond human control, prediction and understanding (even if we can guess that doing certain things will have certain results).

The physical results are not governed by the law of karma. Karma is not a physical law but a law which relates to our own individual mind as it is effected by our actions.

This is why some people can hump Hungarian midget prostitutes and not get herpes.

Robert Thurman believes that, if people do not believe in literal rebirth (that we are born again as other beings after we die), then they will be immoral as they will have no reason to be moral (a common, and ill considered, religious tactic: present your belief as all that stands between peace/order and heathenish chaos). But the actual view of the law of karma is that we reap what we sow right at the moment of doing it in our own individual minds.

The wikipedia article on karma is actually pretty good:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma_in_Buddhism

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

ps.

This (from that Wiki article) sums it up pretty well:

"Every time a person acts there is some quality of intention at the base of the mind and it is that quality rather than the outward appearance of the action that determines the effect."

"...The theory is not deterministic, as past karma is not viewed as the only causal mechanism causing the present... Moreover, karma provokes tendencies or conditions rather than consequences as such."

So, if someone humped a Hungarian midget prostitute for a genuinely good reason, then a good karmic result would ensue in the humper's mind.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Jesus was never called Christ during his lifetime as far as most scholars believe. eg. Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan.
The whole sin/paschal lamb/messiah thing came about 50 or 60 years later as Jesus' life in terms of liturgy/Christianity began to be based on the Jewish lunar year.

anon #108 said...

Thanks Harry for the summary.

Yep. From the Tipitaka there seems little doubt - not that I've read more than a few highlights - that Buddha and the early Buddhists introduced into the rather deterministic conception of Karman current in India at that time a mental/intentional aspect.

But that's not the whole story. The Abhidharma goes into into fine detail - of course - describing the various types of causes, conditions, and outcomes - some mental, others physical - and their complex interaction.

That was a long time ago. FWIW, I don't believe I have to adopt thier conclusions - not that you or anyone else has suggested I ought; but I do regret that I can't swear allegiance to the whole Buddhist Bible. It would be so much cosier if I could.

So I try to read it all as a fascinating and often insightful analysis of the universe by an ancient culture attempting to understand its world, much of which still rings true. If I can temper my lust for neat, pre-packaged answers from books I might become braver when facing uncertainty, and might learn something.

Harry said...

Yeah 108, while those marvelous chaps tried earnestly to explain everything, unfortunately Buddhism has yet to crack the nut of how to beat the bookies or roulette table.

I don't think they ever claimed that personal karmic deeds and the physical universe manifest in a wholly consistent way though (that would suggest there was a basis for moral absolutes; ultimate 'right' and 'wrong' across every situation). I think Buddhism has always acknowledged that things are just beyond our understanding and predictions.

Regards,

Harry.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

108 and Harry, I like your comments very much, and I'm glad you made them. However, the point remains: Buddha and Jesus appear (at least to me) to be two people talking in two ways to two cultures about the same thing. I can see God as reality and His Kingdom as the present moment, Heaven and Hell as the result of karma, God's will as "things as they are", etc.

Buddha loves you.

Rob

anon #108 said...

I hear ya Rob.

Still, religious concepts (God, Kingdom, Heaven), metaphors and parables do allow much room for interpretation.

Although it's been a while since I read the Gospels, I do remember being struck by many of the correspondences between what was recorded of Jesus' and of the Buddha's teaching. Yet, to my ear, there were also differences.

But yeah...Jesus - cool :-)

TheDevil'sDouche said...

Rob:

"I can see God as reality and His Kingdom as the present moment, Heaven and Hell as the result of karma, God's will as "things as they are", etc"

I like to look at Trinitarian theology like this: that Jesus was the Great Example of our own role in the Holy Trinity. That The Father is the objective whole of reality, that The Son (in my case me, in your case you, in the case of anything we assign a name to, whatever name it has been assigned. Be it the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or the men's room at Yankee Stadium) is the subjective manifestation of reality, and that The Spirit is the moment of reality itself. The three persons of Christian divinity are not three separate entities. Nor is there any separation of the three persons. The Son is eternally begotten of The Father, and The Spirit proceeds eternally from The Father and The Son. Through The Father and Son The Spirit is worshipped and glorified. I threw that last bit in because understanding the relationship between The Father and Son as simply the whole of the universe and the individual aspect of that universe is incomplete. If The Spirit is to be taken as the moment of reality, than The Spirit is by nature imperceptible in that the moment passes to quickly for a single thought to form. Therefore, The Spirit can only be worshipped through The Father and The Son. The three things that create reality. The objective whole of existence (infinite and eternal), the subjective manifestation of existence (infinite and eternal), and the moment of existence (infinite and eternal). Mind, Matter, Moment.

Harry said...

Hi Rob,

Fair enough, but if you look at the role Jesus played (i.e. that he died for our sins), and the fact that he is widely held to have said things like “No one approaches the Father but through me” (i.e. the need for a redemptive saviour deity, not just a teacher and our own efforts) then you'll find what are substantial differences.

But I accept the gist of your post, even if I know many Christians (and some Buddhists!) who wouldn't accept it.

Regards,

Harry.

The Devil's Douche said...

Harry:

Yeah man, I get that karma goes deeper than what I described. Sin is also more complex than the way I described it. I was simplifying for the sake of describing that both cultures use those concepts to address the law of cause and effect. And my real name is Kevin, BTW. The Devil's Douche is the stage name I perform under in my band, The Petafiles! We're kind of like what would happen if Gwar and G.G. Allin had a baby and that baby had down syndrome. I use that name on here as a reminder to myself to not take any of this stuff too seriously.

If the idea that no one knows The Father except through The Son is looked at from my view point on Trinitarian theology, namely that we are to accept the role of The Son for ourselves (personal responsibility!), we can only know The Father (and for that matter The Spirit) through ourselves. We are to work out our own salvation through the wisdom that we are The Father (the objective whole of reality), we are The Son (the subjective manifestation of that reality), and we are The Spirit (the moment of reality).

That "God" sent his "Son" to suffer for sin is to me another expression of The First Noble Truth. That all sentient subjective manifestations of reality (Son) are prone to suffering. I see it staring at me from above the altar on the very odd occasion that I attend mass. Jesus nailed to the Cross. Even the "Son of God" was not able to escape this truth. To me, the other three Noble Truths do not make the First Noble Truth any less true. That Christ taught to set down yourself (ego) and pick up your own cross, is an acknowledgement that suffering is unavoidable, but through the setting aside of ego that suffering is transcended.

"even if I know many Christians (and some Buddhists!) who wouldn't accept it."

---yeah, that's why I'm discussing this stuff in a Buddhist forum, and not a Christian one. They'd string me up for blasphemy, but that's fine with me I guess, considering blasphemy's what got J.C. in such hot water with the Jews. Because Jesus dared to proclaim his own part in the Divine Mysteries, and in my opinion, declared our own part in the Trinity.

But it's all speculation. Lots of thinking and meditating. Lots of reading both canonical gospels and apocrypha. Lots of reading about Buddha. And lots of Zazen. When I sit, I do so at the foot of the Cross. Lots of looking at my life here and now, and looking for practical applications of this wisdom to promote peace and harmony within myself and within the world that is me. All things are of this Trinitarian Nature.

anon #108: I know there are differences, but in looking at the similarities I find a lot of useful wisdom for my daily life.

Thank you to all who have joined this conversation. I enjoy this discourse thoroughly!

Harry said...

Hi Kevin,

"I was simplifying for the sake of describing that both cultures use those concepts to address the law of cause and effect."

No probs. The difference is that in Christianity there are statements seen as coming from God which are moral absolutes (the Commandments) while, in Mahayana Buddhism in particular, the law of karma presents the right and wrong to do as being a matter of the actual current situation; so there is no absolute 'right' or 'wrong' in Mahayana Buddhism (although it's a pretty good thing to keep in mind that killing things, for example, is generally not a good thing to do of course).

In Christianity the traditional model is that you don't sin because God, a supreme intelligence, says it's bad and that he will hold us to account on it, while in Mahayana Buddhism we try to observe the Precepts so as not to create states of mind that are potentially harmful to ourselves and others. I'm not saying these two positions are mutually exclusive, but we should be aware of the distinctions I think.

Funnily enough the ten Grave Precepts of Mahayana Buddhism and the ten Commandments are remarkably similar in outward form.

Regards,

Harry.

anon #108 said...

Hi Kev,

On a technicality(?):

"They'd string me up for blasphemy, but that's fine with me I guess, considering blasphemy's what got J.C. in such hot water with the Jews."

You mean, of course, '...in trouble with the religious authorities.' They was all jews - himself, his disciples and all the other fans/followers. I know you know that, but from such slips of the finger come the sentiments and consequences which follow on from "The Jews killed Christ".

Just sayin.

The Devil's Douche said...

anon 108:

yeah man, that's what I mean. wasn't tryin' to get all Mel Gibson on ya!

the Devil's Douche said...

Harry:

Duly noted! But when questioned about the Commandments of Judaism, Christ taught us to love God first and to love our neighbor as ourselves (which are same things!). If one loves his neighbor as himself (and sees his neighbor as himself,and sees his neighbor as both the subjective manifestation of reality--The Son, and sees his neighbor as the objective whole of reality--The Father, and sees his neighbor as the moment of reality--The Spirit) he would not be inclined to murder, steal, commit adultery, and so forth. The ten commandment are Judaic, not Christian. Jesus gave us but two commandments: Love God with your whole heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. And in doing this the ten commandments were put in a new perspective.

I really appreciate you guys taking the time to read my babble. I've carried these ideas around in my head for quite some time, and have just recently began discussing them with others. Thank you.

anon #108 said...

Another nit to pick, Kev -

It seems that summarising the commandments/Law/Torah in terms of "do unto others..." was already current in Jewish thought at the time of Jesus; the idea didn't originate with him.

"At the time of [Rabbi] Hillel, an elder contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth, the negative form of the golden rule already must have been proverbial, because of the accordances with Tobit 4:15. When asked to sum up the entire Torah concisely, he answered: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn." (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)"

- from Wikipedia -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Rule_%28ethics%29

Worth noting that Rabbi Hillel doesn't put the principal AFTER 'Love God with all your heart...', but says it is the WHOLE law.

Of course the idea wasn't unique to Judaism, let alone Jesus, but does appear thus in the Old Testmnent -

(Leviticus 19:18): ""Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.")

anon #108 said...

...and:

"Leviticus 19:34 ("But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God"). Crucially, Leviticus 19:34 universalizes the edict of Leviticus 19:18 from "one of your people" to all of humankind."

Same Wiki article.

apocalypto said...

Buddhist Monks in Thailand offered instant rebirth for $5. People lined up every day to for the chance to climb into pink coffins. Monks chanted over them, and they climbed out, reborn.. Hear that Brad?

Harry said...

"The ten commandment are Judaic, not Christian."

Hi, Kevin.

I'd love if Christianity would jetison the wrathful God of rage who killed things en masse for going against his will... but how many Christians do that? And what would people like George W. Bush fall back on when it was time to brush aside the long haired hippy Jesus and open up another can of whip-ass? I think most Christians generally see the God of the Old Testament as Jesus' father, right?(...Which I personally have always found oddly inconsistent).

The two books, Old and New, look quite distinct from each other to me as well.

Regards,

Harry.

anon #108 said...

...and the many books of the Old Testament are quite distinct from each other too, Harry - different periods, different authors, different ideas, including God/Gods; sometimes vengeful, sometimes loving...

It's by no means a consistent document presenting one consistent view.

Ran K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jehovah Tampax said...

Harry....you'll never approach buddhahood with your obvious hatred towards Christians. Keep in mind that Christianity is just one more "dharma door" to the same awakening.

Buddhism, Christ-ism, Mohammedism, Dalai Lama(ism?)....just another "ism" used to explain the unexplainable.

Jehovah Tampax said...

....forgot atheism. The biggest bullshit religion of all!!!

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Jehovah's comments make me want to note that, while I can see similarities between Buddhism and Christianity, I'm an atheist and I think that God as depicted in the Bible is an evil, genocidal, bat-shit-crazy motherfucker. One of the great mysteries in my life is how belief in such a god can produce some of the very nice Christians I know.

Rob

Harry said...

Hee hee, yes, 'I'm either with you or against you', Jehova. Sounds familiar, eh?

I was brought up a Christian of course, so I'm really questioning myself and some beliefs and assumptions that are deeply rooted in myself. I know some practicing Christians who do the same.

You can keep your buddhahood.

Ran K,

Angry genocide as 'skillful means'? Well, I've heard it all now. :-0

The Samurai would have loved that!

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

p.s.

“all holders of sword - by sword shall be lost". (I personally have never come across a better expression of the law of individual karma.)"

How do you see this as expressing the law of volitional action?

There are murderers who live long and die peacefully in their sleep. There are war criminals living the high life who sleep in comfortable beds at night. There are professional soldiers who retire to live full lives and who die sorrounded by their freinds and family. There are people who have lived and died in luxury who amassed their wealth from the misery of others... Etc etc etc.

Karma, as the Buddha taught it, is not a simplistic law of universal revenge but is the law of how the human mind is effected by a volitional action. If we observe humans (inc. ourselves) we can see that what karma describes is not simplistic or wholly predictable or deterministic.

Regards,

Harry.

Jehovah Tampax said...

"Hee hee, yes, 'I'm either with you or against you', Jehova. Sounds familiar, eh?"

??????????

It's amazing how I could write a somewhat passive sentence, yet another person can completely interpret it to acknowledge their prejudice......

That's the problem with semantics.

All I can tell you is what I see from my front porch. To me, Jesus, Buddha, Dogen, Gandhi, John Lennon etc...are just Avatars to the same destination.

Religious pseudo-intellectualism and theological scholarship will only bring you to more pseudo-intellectualism and
theological scholarship.

Harry said...

"Harry....you'll never approach buddhahood with your obvious hatred towards Christians."

Erm... 'passive'... 'open to interpretation'? Hmmmmmm.

"All I can tell you is what I see from my front porch. To me, Jesus, Buddha, Dogen, Gandhi, John Lennon etc...are just Avatars to the same destination.

Religious pseudo-intellectualism and theological scholarship will only bring you to more pseudo-intellectualism and
theological scholarship."

Yes, that's fine by me. It's also your bias. We all have our bias.

Regards,

Harry.

anon #108 said...

Sup Jehova!

"Religious pseudo-intellectualism and theological scholarship will only bring you to more pseudo-intellectualism and
theological scholarship."

That was me as well wasn't it?...I too posted something from Wiki. Well, I don't agree. My bias tells me there's plenty of room in this universe for a little fact-based knowledge. Puts things in perspective and helps put the brakes on wishful thinking - one of the causes of suffering, I submit.

Jinzang said...

Gumby creator Art Clokey has died. Also responsible for the religious series Davey and Goliath.

"In the 70's, Clokey ... began to grow interested in Zen Buddhism and went to India, experimenting with LSD and other drugs."

Harry said...

R.I.P.

"... began to grow interested in Zen Buddhism and went to India, experimenting with LSD and other drugs."

I love that sentence: If he got interested in Zen... why did he go to India? And it's written as if getting interested in Zen (and/or going to Indian) is to 'experiment with LSD and other drugs'. That gives a false impression and is only true of a mere 89% of the people who visit this blog! (I take acid, but I never inhale).

Regards,

Harry.

Jinzang said...

From the look of your photo, you weren't around in the 60's, but back then the standard deal was you dropped acid, saw God, went to India to find the truth, and came back a Hindu or Buddhist (or both). Read Bob Flaw's blog for a pretty typical version of this.

I don't know what kids today make out of their experience with acid. All I got out of my (limited) experience was some half-baked Hegel.

Harry said...

The 60s, yeah, I've heard of those... people had beards and unprotected sex. Cool!

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Some difficulties.

Aren't mental processes types of physical processes? Aren't volitional actions also, therefore, types of physical processes?

Shouldn't Karma then be seen as 'ultimately' indistinguishable from what we describe as physical processes (describing by means of such complex physical processes as our mental processes)?

How can I regard myself, then, as having 'intention' and the universe not?

If a man acts, and then is convinced he was, or had been, acting from good intentions but, later, through whatever method of further realisation, discovers or realises he was, in fact, acting from pain or anger etc., should it not also be true that some bad intention could also be realised as concealing, say, a kinder intention, unable to be realised as such, through whatever mental filters?

What is volition, if it does not describe actions that are, so to speak, collaborations between processes that constitute a discrete human nervous system's awareness of performing actions and those that don't.

Walking through a busy city, for instance, would surely be difficult to maintain if one had to be conscious of all the mental processes involved, including why I suddenly found myself following that tasty hungarian midget.

Could it not be the case, then, that the physical universe is as predictable/unpredictable as my mental universe, and that it is only my mental processes that say different-- most of the 'weather' in both being some relationship between two manifestations of essentially the same thing, each thing being about as predictable as the length of a piece of string.

Physical and mental results can surely be both variously predicted.

I note Harry here saying:

"I don't think they ever claimed that personal karmic deeds and the physical universe manifest in a wholly consistent way though (that would suggest there was a basis for moral absolutes; ultimate 'right' and 'wrong' across every situation)"

I am wondering whether it is in fact possible for 'personal karmic deeds and the physical universe' to not manifest in a wholly consistent way, unless one posits two essentially different substances along the lines of, say, spirit and matter, for example.

I think that the question of 'moral absolutes' leading from such a consistency is also interesting.

It seems to me that that relies on there being physical absolutes: i.e the physical universe is a mechanism, and absolute good and bad as real (even if as yet hidden) as the laws that govern that mechanism. I find it interesting to note that if one tried to measure a piece of string objectively to find its ultimate length one might need to invest so much energy one (if one could) might create a black hole. Also what we call our physical universe needn't comprise the totality of physical laws, only those that apply to our totality in the honeycomb of totalities. And so on with pointy ears etc.

Absolutes may very well be the case, at every possibly conceivable and non-conceivable level or dimension etc, and be relative to each other.

And I don't feel as though I have to drift into sci-fi land for my experience to be one of the absolutely relative or relatively absolute and so on. To, for example, wonder how absolutely so THAT length My piece of string is to US.

I have a problem with the notion of the one living a wonderful life and dying peacefully in his bed though, having smashed into the mind of a young girl who, from such pain and despair and contorted intentions committed suicide -- what if my and her lives were deeply entwined, and he a stones throw away and loved by the crowd, who would hear nothing of it? Who the fuck would I be then?

Ran K. said...

To Harry:

I do not have time to refer to your comments.

Meanwhile I'm just posting this URL which I have not read myself and which I do not stand behind.

http://www.defendingsteiner.com/misconceptions/Karma.php


(Even though I am confident that Steiner is wrong about certain things, I suppose he might be a good source for understanding karma.

Due to the nature of this blog (- or its comment section – which is what I mean, - of course) I might, and perhaps should, - note in advance: - some of what you may find there might seem inconsistent with what I have written.)



If I do have time to answer I'll have this one erased. – Ran.

anon #108 said...

Yes indeedy, anon @ 11.06pm -

If I understand you correctly...

Your comments raise the question: what is 'intention/will'? We experience it as an expression of our 'self', don't we? But as a modern, scientific kinda person I don't believe that my physical body includes or hosts the kind of 'self' that's akin to a non-physical spirit or soul. And only such a self/soul could act outside the confines of the laws of a material/physical (however subtle) universe. As Susan Blackmore has remarked (are you the same anon that sent me to that SB link? If so, thanks): the idea of a'self' freely willing or intending an action and then performing it requires us to believe in magic - the ability of something to operate while not subject to the laws of cause and effect which govern everything else in the universe. It seems to me the notion of free will, along with a self that 'has' it, may be an illusion...an illusion it may be impossible to transcend.

So I wonder if the Buddhist notion of 'intention' and it's karmic consequences - as Harry discusses it - merely describes an aspect of our experience: (what we experience as) unpleasant/unhealthy/unhelpful consequences will follow from (what we experience as) unpleasant intentions. If so, the debate certainly isn't over, but that would make more sense. To me.

I have a feeling your comments may already have addressed this, but I confess that some of what you wrote I found difficult to follow.


Point of information for Ran K -

The long and interesting comment before your last post was written by Anonymous, not by Harry. I think that may be the comment you haven't had time to read.

The Devil's Douche said...

To the original blog: not only does Brit Hume show a fundemental ignorance of Buddhism, he also is representative of a lot of the ignorance about the teachings of Jesus. Were he to understand both of these faiths better, he would appreciate the similarities and understand that every moment is redemption in and of itself. Also, he would be more conceerned with his own redemption, rather than that of Tiger Woods!

Harry:

You wish that Christianity would jetison that old wrathful God mentality? Me too! And so did Jesus! That's why he 'tore down the temple' and rebuilt it: to show that 'original sin' did not remove us from God's love. That we always have been God's love, that we are God's love, and we always will be God's love. If Christianity did a better job of teaching this we wouldn't have Brit Hume spouting off at the mouth like he has!

Harry said...

"Aren't mental processes types of physical processes? Aren't volitional actions also, therefore, types of physical processes?"

Hi Anon,

From a physical perspective, yes, they are indeed. From the point of view of seeing it as it is in Zazen/ action, it's not confined to just that perspective, nor a subjective/idealistic perspective.

Buddhism, at least Dogen's Buddhism, in addition to the idealistic (thinking) and materialist or physical persepctive (objective), looks at things in terms of our ability to act in the present moment regardless of what we think or feel, or don't think and feel.

"I am wondering whether it is in fact possible for 'personal karmic deeds and the physical universe' to not manifest in a wholly consistent way, unless one posits two essentially different substances along the lines of, say, spirit and matter, for example."

I think, if I get your point, that Buddhism looks at this in terms of delusion and realisation. In Buddhist practice we can realise that our personal karma (arising as thoughts, feelings and impulses) need not determine our manifest actions. Not to realise/ actualise this is delusion and is to be 'tossed around' by the results of our karma. So, when we realise this, our life is manifesting in a way consistent with how it is actually manifesting (we see the results of our karma arrising as what they actually are, or, if we don't at least we don't act them out, and in doing this we learn). When we don't do this we might act out karmic inclinations like some sort of inevitable, predetermined reality.

This is not a matter of different substances, but of our real actions in the present moment, which Buddhism sees as already completely unhindered and free. This is why Master Dogen often refers to zazen as the 'standard' of Buddhism.

Actually, Dogen, in Shobogenzo Bussho, states that the karmic conditions (the 'roots, stalks, branches, and leaves') of each being is already the buddha-nature/total existence which suggests, to me, that each individual, relative thing, is it's own reality, it's own microcosm of existence:

"Thus, even if we rely on the view of the common person, roots, stalks, branches, and leaves may all be the buddha-nature that is born with them, which dies with them, and which is just the same as their total existence."

You wrote: "I have a problem with the notion of the one living a wonderful life and dying peacefully in his bed though, having smashed into the mind of a young girl who, from such pain and despair and contorted intentions committed suicide -- what if my and her lives were deeply entwined, and he a stones throw away and loved by the crowd, who would hear nothing of it? Who the fuck would I be then?"

I think, if you are referring to the situation that I think you are (i.e. 'my' situation, or 'our' situation) then your understanding of it seems very partial and incomplete, and I don't recall your trying to make me hear anything of it. I'd suggest that you are already your self at all times. This is a responsibility that Buddhist practice emphasises; personally speaking, that is not always easy to accept. From my own experience I would say that things seem to have a way of balancing themselves... or at least lurching one way and tother towards it, and that this is sometimes very painful, but I can't say that I understand it or that humans have ever understood it, or explained it well at least.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

Hi Ran K,

Yes, in the page you pointed out, Steiner seems to be blurring the law of karma or 'mental results of volitional action' with some bigger law which includes chance physical circumstance and/or explains everything:

"The implications of this are several. First, if something bad happens to you, there are actually three possibilities:

1. You deserved it - you did bad things, and this misfortune is the past coming back to you.

2. You are the victim of someone else's bad choices (bear your fate as best you can, and rest assured that every bad deed must be made good again, if not in this life, then in another).

3. It may be a chance occurrence. Yes, Steiner’s view of karma also allows for chance, or a random influence in the universe."


This may be a common view of karma, but it is not consistent with the Buddhist view of it.

Regards,

Harry.

Ran K. said...

I was referring to Harry's answers to my earlier comment. (Which is no longer there.)

I really didn’t read the comment you referred to. (108, "confusin aintit?")

I might, when I have time.

I very easily get a headache. (I do, this is not a joke.)

(I thought things were understood.)

Ran K. said...

P.S.

What I have written regarding Harry's earlier comments applies to his last one as well.

anon #108 said...

So no one can sort out for me the mental/volitional aspect of karma as it might relate to the absence of self/free will, then? Mind you, I'm not sure what the question is. It is confusin aintit, Ran!

As Harry says, "I can't say that I understand it or that humans have ever understood it, or explained it well at least."

But we won't stop trying. Fortunately, I don't think it matters if we fail - it is what it is and we are what we are whether we understand it or not. We can't grasp it, but we can't fail to experience it.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hungarian midget Ho said...

B-Rad?

Mysterion, I am not understanding your hip American brown noser talk.

Morya ashrama said...

Only Buddha is legal here! Not Jesus! Brit Hume is christian!
Proof!
Proof found in British Museum!

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet. said...

Goodbye myterious man.

\0

Perhaps you could pop back in a kalpa or two.

Anonymous said...

From Jesus' Sermon on the Mount "pearls before swine" implies that things should not be presented to people who are incapable of recognizing the value therein.

That would be Matthew 7:6
"Do not give what is holy (sacrificed sheep, goats, etc) to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."

I do not recall the Buddhist Parallel. It's from a Sutra regarding placing wisdom in a horse's ear.

Buta ni shinju
(giving a) pearl to (a) pig

The Japanese equivalent is "neko ni koban." (giving a) coin to (a) cat.

Harry said...

We shouldn't feel so bad. Even the great Albert Einstein was not ready to hear other than 'God does not play dice with the universe':

"Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the 'old one'. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice."

Regards,

Harry.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry said...

Hi, M.

Not-theology:

"I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God."

The question of scientific determinism gave rise to questions about Einstein’s position on theological determinism, and whether or not he believed in God, or in a god. In 1929, Einstein told Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein "I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind."

In a 1954 letter, he wrote, "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.”

In a letter to philosopher Erik Gutkind, Einstein remarked, "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."


(Wiki article)

Regards,

Harry.

Matt said...

"Agnosticism is watered down atheism. Pantheism is sexed-up atheism."

--Richard Dawkins

Harry said...

"Richard Dawkins does not exist."

--God

Anonymous said...

The temperature of Heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is Isaiah 30:26, "Moreover, the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much radiation as we do from the Sun, and in addition 7*7 (49) times as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or 50 times in all. The light we receive from the Moon is one 1/10,000 of the light we receive from the Sun, so we can ignore that.... The radiation falling on Heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation, i.e., Heaven loses 50 times as much heat as the Earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E) temperature of the earth (-300K), gives H as 798K (525C). The exact temperature of Hell cannot be computed.... [However] Revelations 21:8 says "But the fearful, and unbelieving...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, 444.6C. We have, then, that Heaven, at 525C is hotter than Hell at 445C. ~From Applied Optics, vol. 11, A14, 1972

Ol' Al Einstein said...

Harry's had a little too much to THINK....someone please drive him home.

Harry said...

Take me drunk, I'm home.

Regurds,

H.

Matt said...

...er...the question does not fit the case?

Anonymous said...

"The future of the universe is not completely determined by the laws of science. God still has a few tricks up his sleeve.." - Stephen Hawking

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Anonymous said...

For the record, Stephen Hawking, like Einstein, is an atheist and uses the term 'god' to refer to the laws of the natural universe itself, not a supreme being demanding worship or answering prayers. Physicists think they are being cute and communicating in language the common people understand when using 'god'. Sort of like Brad's use of the term.

Harry said...

One Hundred, thank God.

Regards,

Harry.

padmo said...

"Physicists think they are being cute and communicating in language the common people understand when using 'god'. Sort of like Brad's use of the term."

Einstein, Hawking and Warner?..

Mysterion said...

while the gods (or god) may or may not be real - let alone realistic - dogs are real. and many dogs are cute and lovable.

Ran K. said...

With regard to my comments from 1:14 AM and 7:14 AM:

I realized it will not be possible to bring my response properly in a way I thought I might. It would carry me in different directions I partly would not want to get into – if I want to do it in an appropriate and responsible manner – and if I want to do it in a full and as detailed as required way I feared it would also be very long.

So – anyway – here are a few points I wanted to note which also turned out to be very long:



A. I do not accept what Harry says karma is.

B. With regard to Steiner: he intended to found a science that would investigate the occult. i.e. – objectively.

So he wouldn’t be interested what does karma mean “in Buddhism”.

His interest would have been to investigate it as a phenomenon.

It does seem like the right reasonable attitude to me. (Though one might question the idea of a spiritual science in itself. But this is beside the point here.)

If you speak of the existence of something “in Buddhism” it might mean you do not believe in its existence at all. Note Brad. And Nishijima Roshi. I don’t mean this so explicitly but you’d understand.

C. The law of karma is never a law of vengeance.

D. The law of karma is never a law of “justice” as well.

Justice only exists in hard cored minds or unclean hearts.

E. The law of individual Karma was obviously introduced as a didactic tool by whoever was bringing our planet and the humanity which reside upon it into its present existence as we know it.

With the sole purpose – I might assume – of enabling living beings the attainment of Buddhahood through the use of the human body. Though I suppose – on our particular planet there is also the development or the perfection of love as a virtue.

F. I might note there is a difference – in my view at least – between religious or spiritual precepts and secular law.

Secular law might seek to enable us to share our lives together or believe in “Justice”.

Religious rules are mainly aimed at bringing us to a situation in which correct behavior will become part of our nature and be performed out of our own happy free will and understanding. As you know zazen is too. These are two methods. I believe there could be said to be three.

Ran K. said...

G. Still, a few more things – with your permission:

1. If one does not believe in reincarnation I don’t see a point in discussing the law of karma. Very little, perhaps but I don’t see more than that, not significant.

2. As for the “Angry genocide” Harry mentioned – I believe genocides which are mentioned in the Bible to have been in place.

The wrathful image might correspond to time it was presented.

Einstein’s quote – I suppose – is a testimony to his own stupidity.

If you truly seek a genius in the field – you might check out Carl friedrich Gauss in Google.

But generally – as one who had to do with exact science for a short while – I could say it – generally – and more than that – usually isn’t the thing a wise person would choose to engage in. It is also possible to say that without being really familiar with the subject.

I might suppose the distraction we come across in the Bible was never the result of anger but always with the aim of improving humanity.

Things have been viewed differently in religions so far, I tend to believe the future will bring different views. With further development of religion.

I believe those guys, or guy, we know as “God” deserve the credit.

Actually the criticism seems most stupid to me.

It is of the same spirit as that of Job in the Bible. Though the answer he received was not appropriate to him – (well it was of course – he became a Buddha on hearing it – but it does not refer to his wrong idea of “Justice”) it may be appropriate to you. I am merely suggesting that you consider the possibility by yourselves.

3. One note to “Smoggyrob”: (6:03 PM) What we know as “Hell” is not part of the working of the law of karma. We only pay our karma down here, on Earth, in the flesh.

According to Steiner “Hell” (or ”Kamaloka”) is about a need of purification in order to ascend to higher plains which may be called “Heaven”.

It is not to be confused with the results of our accumulated karma which manifest on the physical plain.


(I suppose you understand – this is not to be a full answer, these are points I thought I should still bring even if I do not supply you with one.)


As said by Vimalakirti:

“Long live all Hungarian midgets, and the Buddhas of the three times and the burning seed of hope among slugs of America and Mexico”. (Hungarian translation by B.W. 1998. ©, y’now.)


So far,
Ran.

Harry said...

Hi Ran,

"If you speak of the existence of something “in Buddhism” it might mean you do not believe in its existence at all. Note Brad. And Nishijima Roshi. I don’t mean this so explicitly but you’d understand."

I'm not sure I do understand what you mean here, or rather, it does not make any sense if I get your meaning.

My use of the words 'In Buddhism' just refer to the system of Buddhist philosophy. Brad and Nishijima Roshi do not deny the law of karma as it is explained in Buddhsit philosophy.

All the best,

Harry.

Harry said...

"Buddhsit" philosophy...

'Guddshit' philosophy...

'Goddsit' philosophy...

???

H.

Jinzang said...

Zen as soap opera: woman moves to Zen monastery to escape a failed relationship.

Matt said...

I feel like this whole conversation has been everyone tripping over their own attempt to set definitions, and it's being combined with vestiges from other spiritual/cultural traditions to make something even that much more confusing.

I wonder if that's remotely useful?

But then, one thing that "sold" me on Buddhism was the phrase that essentially meant "discard it if it's of no use." Not that it's an anything goes philosophy, but I'm wondering if it's not time to take a breather here?

Matt

PhilBob-SquareHead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ran K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry said...

Hi Ran,

I think I have discussed above the uncertainty of 'karma', that it is not some 'scientific' or rock solid rule of 'this happens therefore this must happen', but it is still a feature of the Buddhist philosophical system and it should remain so.

Certainly we should clarify what karma describes (and/or what it deos not describe!) in our own lives, I have done this, it's not really that difficult because we have been living with what it describes all our lives. An understanding of the simple Buddhist principle of it helps us understand what it is, and what it is not.

All the best,

Harry.

Ran K. said...

to Harry: (at 2:52 PM)

I wasn't referring to your use of the expression.

You're right about that and I knew that.

I was referring to what Brad has written in his previous post and things Nishijima Roshi sometimes say. I can't think of an example but I recall I've once noted this to him about something.

Like if you say the sun rises in the east "in Buddhism" it means you're not really sure the sun rises in the east.

That was my point in the quote you referred to.


[Or if you say that “in Buddhism there is no idea of sin to begin with” it does not include the conviction that “sin” does not exist at all in reality or in a true view of it.]

Ran K. said...

To Harry:

I somewhat agree with Matt at 9:50 and I wish this conversation was over.

But there seems to be again a misunderstanding.

I have written that I do not accept what you say karma is and that is so.

Karma exists, explicitly, outside of us and not inside of us.

Your use of the expression “in Buddhism” is legitimate.

Though what you say I take to be wrong.

Karma is a phenomenon and what you are talking about seems to be some other thing.

I do not negate that our actions are conditioned by our state at the present moment which is – partly at least – a result of our own actions in the past and influences we suffered through it. However – this is not karma. Part of those influences is. And new karma is produced by our actions – unless we have attained Buddhahhod (I wish we could stop using this word, for a while at least, we seem to be wearing it out, and ourselves as well) by that present moment.

(P.S.,- I seem to have made a mistake on my previous post, so I’ve deleted it and posted it again.)

Ran K. said...

to those to home things may seem strange: Harry's last comment is a reply to mine below it.

I've posted it again since there was a mistake, and within that time Harry posted his.

This blog is quick.

Ran K. said...

Just to your attention: In Buddhism "whom" is spelled "home".

Harry said...

Hi Ran,

It's strange that people can't have a simple converstaion about philosophy and Buddhism without getting freaked about about it. It's just a chat, folks.

You wrote:

"I do not negate that our actions are conditioned by our state at the present moment which is – partly at least – a result of our own actions in the past and influences we suffered through it. However – this is not karma. Part of those influences is. And new karma is produced by our actions – unless we have attained Buddhahhod (I wish we could stop using this word, for a while at least, we seem to be wearing it out, and ourselves as well) by that present moment."

In Buddhist theory, 'karma' or volitional action is (theoretically) seperated from the results of such actions. The results are called 'vipāka'.

As the big 'B' said:

"Intention (cetana), monks, is karma, I say. Having willed, one acts through body, speech and mind".

Buddhism explains other causal agents in distinct catagories:

Kamma Niyama — Consequences of one's actions

Utu Niyama — Seasonal changes and climate

Biija Niyama — Laws of heredity

Citta Niyama — Will of mind

Dhamma Niyama — Nature's tendency to produce a perfect type...

This may all seem a bit 'dry' and philosophical, but the essential point of it, from the point of view of our own practice/conduct, is that we are masters of our own fate in terms of how we act intentionally regardless of exterior circumsatnces.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

Here's a more full explanation of the five niyama:

"According to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes (niyama) which operate in the physical and mental realms.

They are:

1. Utu Niyama - physical inorganic order, e.g. seasonal phenomena of winds and rains. The unerring order of seasons, characteristic seasonal changes and events, causes of winds and rains, nature of heat, etc., all belong to this group.

2. Bija Niyama - order of germs and seeds (physical organic order), e.g. rice produced from rice-seed, sugary taste from sugar-cane or honey, peculiar characteristics of certain fruits, etc. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.

3. Karma Niyama - order of act and result, e.g., desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results. As surely as water seeks its own level so does Karma, given opportunity, produce its inevitable result, not in the form of a reward or punishment but as an innate sequence. This sequence of deed and effect is as natural and necessary as the way of the sun and the moon.

4. Dhamma Niyama - order of the norm, e.g., the natural phenomena occurring at the advent of a Bodhisattva in his last birth. Gravitation and other similar laws of nature. The natural reason for being good and so forth, may be included in this group.

5. Citta Niyama - order or mind or psychic law, e.g., processes of consciousness, arising and perishing of consciousness, constituents of consciousness, power of mind, etc., including telepathy, telaesthesia, retro-cognition, premonition, clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought-reading and such other psychic phenomena which are inexplicable to modern science.

Every mental or physical phenomenon could be explained by these all-embracing five orders or processes which are laws in themselves. Karma as such is only one of these five orders. Like all other natural laws they demand no lawgiver."

From:

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm#4

Regards,

H.

Jack Haldane said...

Theories have four stages of acceptance. 1) this is worthless nonsense; 2) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view, 3) this is true, but quite unimportant; 4) I always said so.

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anon #108 said...

Thanks for that summary of the niyamas, Harry; putting mental/volitional karma into context in early Buddhist philosophy.

That stuff, fascinating and insightful as it is derives from the Abhidharma, I believe - an attempt by ancient Indians/Buddhists to understand and classify phenomena. We can admire it and ponder it, but we're not obliged to accept it as gospel, of course...

There's an aspect of Guatama's notion of volitional karma that I don't get (putting the free will debate aside, which I notice you all have). It was queried earlier by...can't find it, and you dismissed the query as indicating a 'partial understanding'. Well I don't get it either. It's not been explained to me, and I can be pretty thick. It's this:

I believe that Hitler acted in what, for him, were the best interests of the nation he led and of the world at large - as he understood it. So the intention informing his actions was good/wholesome/noble...it came from a caring, committed place. That's if we're assessing intention by the subjective standards of the individual whose intentions they are . But I think we'd agree that the the outcome, the phala/fruit; the vipaka/consequences of his actions were not good/wholesome etc.

Or does the theory hold that some objective standard of goodness operates?...That wouldn't be consistent with holding that it's the actor's intention, as he sees it is the determining factor. And, if it IS an objective standard that's to be applied, how and by whom is that determined? Where does it come from?

These guys weren't stupid, so I assume I'm not understanding something. I'd appreciate a Buddhism for Dummies explanation.

anon #108 said...

...or perhaps we haven't yet seen the (ultimate) outcome of (all) Hitler's actions: we're told that some karma's vikalpa manifests immediately; other actions take a very long time to manifest their goodness, or badness (must check Dogen's Sanji-no-go/Karma in the Three Times) - perhaps Hitler's good intentions'll come right in the end :-)

BTW, I'm not taking the piss.

Harry said...

Personally, I don't think we need a philosophy to see that causing intense human suffering is not a good way to go.

Certainly, as a species, philosophy has obscured our inherent humanity at certain times in history.

Regards,

Harry.

anon #108 said...

I agree, Harry. But that's doesn't address my confusion.

I'm not seeking to justify Hitler - I'm trying to understand just what Gautama's volitional karma is all about; how it's supposed to work...or if it's a simplistic, primitive piece of wishful thinking dressed up as 'science'/truth.

(It reminds me a bit of Karl Marx's attempt to predict the end of capitalism and the triumph of socialism not as the fulfilment of an idealistic hope, but as the inevitable working out of an economic historical necessity - a scientific fact. Looks like he was wrong (too?).

Harry said...

108,

I'd say don't accept a dead man's philosophy until you have verified it in your own real life.

In Buddhism we have zazen to help us to reflect on and clarify our intentions and, maybe, see things from a broader perspective.

Regards,

Harry.

anon #108 said...

My query was a (I hoped) a simple question about the theory of intentional Karma: Is it the subjective intention of the actor that counts? Or some other measure of intention?

But I hear ya Harry - you don't know the answer ;-)

As far as my own insights into my intentions; the ones that produce my actions, as revealed to me in my zazen - yep, that's the real deal, but my simple question remains unanswered. So far.

Harry said...

"Is it the subjective intention of the actor that counts? Or some other measure of intention?"

Hi 108,

Well, it's a good question.

Looked at from a perspective beyond, or before, intention, is there an identifiable actor as our intentional actions, and the resulting conditions, usually suggests to us?

What is the implication in this for 'subjective intention'?

From the Buddhist perspective there is action based on delusion, which is always deluded action, and there is realised/realising action which is not dictated by our karmic inclinations one way or the other.

It may be that there is no good outside of good action (or good inaction), there is no bad outside of bad action (or good inaction) and no neutral outside of neutral action (or neutral inaction)... and all this regardless of the intention.

There is, as Nishijima Roshi might say, a 'dimensional difference' between what we think/feel/percieve/discriminate and what we actually do.

In saying that, the world would likely be a better place if people though nicer thoughts as it would likely translate into them doing nice things.

In zazen we can learn very directly that doing the right thing is not a matter of our intentional efforts, nor is our intention and our 'karmic condition' or 'karmic consciousness' as it's sometimes called the sum of our being. It needn't call the shots.

Buddhism recognises, and is really based on, a good that is not karmically conditioned. We learn this in our own direct practice.

Regards,

Harry.

Anon@12:28 said...

Philbob,
You off your meds or something?
You can tell by that post that I'm a far-left racist (weird in itself) elitist?

My comments were based upon extensive readings of Einstein (biographies) and Hawking (his books). Simple folk in this case refers to people like myself who are not cosmologists or physicists.

The term God can mean many different things to many different people. Hawking and Einsein have made it clear that their use of the word does not refer to a personal deity. But saying Fuck alot does make you really punk.

Yours in fucking fuckness,
anon@12:28

anon #108 said...

Thanks for that, Harry.

Much of what you say - to the extent that I understand it - contradicts, or certainly calls into question, the simplistic notion of "an act performed with good intentions will produce a good result", which, as I understand it, accurately summarises the theory of intentional/volitional karma as (allegedly) expounded by Gautama and elaborated by the Abhidarmins. And that's fine by me.

So when you say "From the Buddhist perspective..." and "Buddhism recognises..." I note that the Buddhism you're referencing is Nishijima's (your take on it). And that too is fine by me. Gudo's insights into Buddhism make a great deal of sense to me, and inform my practice too. But there's much that's incompatible between his Buddhism and that of the cannon. Which is also fine by me. Just sometimes attempts to reconcile the ancient Indian tradition with the more modern zen tradition I find forced - even unworkable.

Which "Buddhism" is it? It'd be nice if it were Gautama's, seeing how folks are so fond of claiming him for themselves. But it often isn't, I think. And I'm trying to be fine with that.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon #108 said...

You talkin to me, Philbob?

Thanks for caring.

Harry said...

Hi 108,

That Buddhist practice-realisation is not confined to our usual 'karmic' thinking/responding has been established in Buddhism from the start:

"Every volitional action of individuals, save those of Buddhas and Arahants, is called Karma. The exception made in their case is because they are delivered from both good and evil; they have eradicated ignorance and craving, the roots of Karma."

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm#1

This does not contradict that a 'good' volitional action does not produce a 'good' result in the usual 'karmic' conduct sense, but the 'good' of Buddhist practice/conduct (e.g. zazen) is really not confined to the 'good' of conventional 'good' as opposed to 'bad'.

...So, from the point of view of Buddhist practice, particularly the Mahayana view of Master Dogen that sees zazen as practicing-realising the state of buddha, this is really not a matter of our karmic 'stuff' (e.g. what we usually feel is 'good' and 'bad') as we just let it all (both 'good' and 'bad') come and go without 'doing it' as we usually might. We can learn about what it really is in this way.

Master Dogen and Nishijima Roshi never deny the law of karma and neither did I, nor do they say that we must fully 'transcend' karma or anything like that (and this is another subtle point that should be questioned). It's just the view of a particular Mahayana Buddhist practice.

Regards,

Harry.

anon #108 said...

Thanks again for taking the time, H. But I fear you over-estimated the depth of my question. It's my fault...

I went back to wiki, and I think I've found the answer to my dummy query:

"Buddhism links karma directly to the motives behind an action. Motivation usually makes the difference between "good" and "bad" actions, but included in the motivation is also the ASPECT OF IGNORANCE such that a well-intended action from an ignorant mind can subsequently be interpreted as a "bad" action in the sense that it creates unpleasant results for the "actor". (My capitals).

So, IGNORANCE/avidya is the factor that would account for Hitler's good intentions paving the road to hell. And I assume it's ignorance that rendered the fruit of his acts not merely unpleasnt for him, but for others too. That's all I was missing.

Told you I was thick.

And I didn't mean to suggest that you, or Gudo, "deny" karma, but that there are differences between the understanding of the early Buddhists and the later Buddhists; between Indians, Tibetans, Chinese and Japanese. I'd worry if there weren't. Yet every school, sect, and lineage claims to have the authentic understanding. That's all I meant. Hardly an original point.

It was fun while it lasted though.

Harry said...

No worries. 'Authentic is as authentic does'... didn't Forrest Gump's ma say sumting like that?

Regards,

H.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papa Joe said...

Please see YOUTUBE

Anonymous said...

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Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eyes & Ears said...

even the local police are not going to 'stick around' for what is coming next...

"The national police had all but vanished, and officials reported looting at a collapsed grocery store."

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