Author Topic: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.  (Read 2257 times)

Mundus Imbroglio

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Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« on: April 04, 2016, 02:11:46 am »
I was a Buddhist for most of my life.  I was a Zen Buddhist for most of that time.  Zen Buddhism is a community practice, with half of the year being dedicated to Ango—literally translated as “dwelling in peace.”  During Ango, you work hard on yourself, and work hard to fit into the group.  In the chanting, your voice is lost in a sea of other voices.  In working, your work is done selflessly and with no hope or idea of ever finishing.  A teacher once compared Ango to the process rocks go through in a polisher—they bump up against each other, wear down the sharp edges, and come out more beautiful than before.  In a way, I suppose that’s true.  When you give up your will, things go swimmingly.  No need to think about your work assignment, food, clothing, or what you’ll be doing for basically all of your time.

Life is a rock tumbler, and when you take the metaphor out of the carefully curated and maintained monastic environment, you can see its dark side.  It’s not polishing—it’s grinding down.  Wake up early, spend the day at work, go home and sit in front of a screen until it’s time to go to bed and do the whole thing over again.  The Ango of everyday life grinds the fundamental nature and vitality out of a once-dignified, unapologetic, and real person.

What can you do?

Get the hell out.  Maybe you’re stuck in a job or a city or a circumstance from which there is no immediate prospect of extrication.  Realizing it is the trick—once you understand what’s going on, you get to make the choice of “in” or “out.”  Choose “out.”  Spend your eight hours a day at your job, because you’re an adult and you don’t shirk your obligations, but understand on a deep level that you’re moving upstream against a lie that washes all of us straight to hell.  It has to take time, and it will be subtle, but every person that moves against the stream puts pressure on the damned thing.  The lie is that “success” lies in how others perceive you, or the size of your paycheck.  The lie is that success is something that you need to get from Them.

Fuck Them.  The rock polisher changes you into something that other people find appealing.  Let them dive head first into the machine if it’s what they want to do.  Plot your escape; make good your escape.  Be wrong—vigorously, go to somewhere that makes you uncomfortable, find something important to do and do it like it’s the last thing you’ll do.

I escaped from the rock polisher, and I’m deeply okay with being lumpy and pointy and not nice to look at.  Ugly pointy rocks are the kind that people remember when they see the scars on their knees.  The pretty ones get tossed in a sack in a box in a drawer and are promptly forgotten.

What is enlightenment?



Q. G. Pennyworth

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2016, 02:49:30 am »
Some rocks will never be beautiful. You can chuck a hunk of feldspar in a tumbler for ten years, you can grind it and polish it and buff it but it will never, ever be beautiful. Some rocks can't survive the tumbler at all. Try throwing some limestone in there and see what happens. Some rocks are beautiful until you mess with them: peacock ore and pyrite and gypsum roses come to mind. All glittering and precious in their own way, and utterly ruined at the first well-intentioned intervention.

And some rocks? Some rocks are pretty after a day or two in the grind.

And it's important to remember that the rocks that aren't beautiful are no more or less special than the beautiful ones, and the rocks that are beautiful until they are fucked with are no more or less special than the rocks that are ugly until polished.

The value of a rock is what it can do. The same can be said of a person.
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Junkenstein

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2016, 02:30:20 pm »
That was pretty good. Interested in reading more, please do continue.
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Freeky

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2016, 03:33:35 pm »
I like this.
If someone does the “Fine, you’re right, I’m clearly a terrible person, I’m Satan, I’m the worst person alive, I should just die” thing in response to criticism of their harmful behavior, they are trying to manipulate people and flip the situation around so that they look like a victim.

As a neuroscientist I have to disagree with the perception that anyone is doing mathematical modeling of cognitive intelligence, yet; intelligence as an economist defines it, yes, but economists are worlds away from actual cognition.


Although it is outside the purview of this organization to offer personal advice, we can say -- without assuming any liability -- that previous experience indicates (and recent market studies corroborate) that given the present condition of the marketplace, continuing with your present course of action is likely to result in substantial in

Mundus Imbroglio

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2016, 09:52:47 pm »
The value of a rock is what it can do. The same can be said of a person.

I disagree.  The value of a person is, I would posit, found in what s/he does.  You don't have to cure cancer or invent a new musical genre or...I dunno...invent a pair of self-removing pants.  You just have to fucking do something.  And do it as hard as you can, then do it harder.

Love cooking, but you're piss-poor at it?  Do it anyway.  "Skill" is a fancy word for the huge pile of failures behind you.  Maybe you'll never be the best, but dammit you did something, and that's more than most of the people around you can say.

It's not in the mastery, it's in the doing that a person becomes a human.

I've been exploring the forums and I must say I'm a fan of your work.

Cheers.

Note: Modified in the face of a very good point.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2016, 11:22:16 pm by Mundus Imbroglio »

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2016, 10:46:42 pm »
It's not in the mastery, it's in the doing that a person becomes a human.


I'd argue that the default position is "human".
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Mundus Imbroglio

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2016, 10:56:39 pm »
It's not in the mastery, it's in the doing that a person becomes a human.


I'd argue that the default position is "human".

Maybe so.  Language is clunky and imprecise sometimes; I don't know of a good way to write that sentence.  Perhaps "...that a cabbage becomes a person"? 

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2016, 10:59:20 pm »
It's not in the mastery, it's in the doing that a person becomes a human.


I'd argue that the default position is "human".

Maybe so.  Language is clunky and imprecise sometimes; I don't know of a good way to write that sentence.  Perhaps "...that a cabbage becomes a person"?

Okay, so today alone, 175 children under the age of 3 died in Equatorial Africa, from either violence or plain old starvation.

They were or were not human beings and/or persons?
" It's just that Depeche Mode were a bunch of optimistic loveburgers."
- TGRR, shaming himself forever, 7/8/2017

 "Billy, when I say that ethics is our number one priority and safety is also our number one priority, you should take that to mean exactly what I said. Also quality. That's our number one priority as well. Don't look at me that way, you're in the corporate world now and this is how it works."
- TGRR, raising the bar at work.

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2016, 11:00:16 pm »
Boy, I wish I was a person.   :sad:
" It's just that Depeche Mode were a bunch of optimistic loveburgers."
- TGRR, shaming himself forever, 7/8/2017

 "Billy, when I say that ethics is our number one priority and safety is also our number one priority, you should take that to mean exactly what I said. Also quality. That's our number one priority as well. Don't look at me that way, you're in the corporate world now and this is how it works."
- TGRR, raising the bar at work.

Mundus Imbroglio

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2016, 11:18:45 pm »
It's not in the mastery, it's in the doing that a person becomes a human.


I'd argue that the default position is "human".

Maybe so.  Language is clunky and imprecise sometimes; I don't know of a good way to write that sentence.  Perhaps "...that a cabbage becomes a person"?

Okay, so today alone, 175 children under the age of 3 died in Equatorial Africa, from either violence or plain old starvation.

They were or were not human beings and/or persons?

That's not what I'm saying at all, and I sincerely hope that isn't how you read that.  However, your point is well taken and perhaps I should have taken more care to clarify that the above rant is my particular view of the particular culture in which I find myself.  Everything has a context and I was careless when establishing mine.

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2016, 11:30:28 pm »
Thing is, there are no cabbages.  Just billions of people who more or less all assume they are one of the few awake people in a world of sheep/robots/cabbages/whatever.

Fact:  Nobody is a cabbage all the time.
Fact:  Nobody is a fully-functioning human all the time.
Fact:  No special religious (or any other) training will change those facts for anyone.

" It's just that Depeche Mode were a bunch of optimistic loveburgers."
- TGRR, shaming himself forever, 7/8/2017

 "Billy, when I say that ethics is our number one priority and safety is also our number one priority, you should take that to mean exactly what I said. Also quality. That's our number one priority as well. Don't look at me that way, you're in the corporate world now and this is how it works."
- TGRR, raising the bar at work.

Mundus Imbroglio

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2016, 11:45:54 pm »
Thing is, there are no cabbages.  Just billions of people who more or less all assume they are one of the few awake people in a world of sheep/robots/cabbages/whatever.

Fact:  Nobody is a cabbage all the time.
Fact:  Nobody is a fully-functioning human all the time.
Fact:  No special religious (or any other) training will change those facts for anyone.

I concede that point completely.

rong

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2016, 12:21:26 am »
I like the opposing perspectives on the rock tumbler analogy.

can one conclude, that what makes you beautiful is also what kills you?  (or something to that effect - it reminded me of a bukowski quote about finding what you love and letting it kill you . . . is what i was getting at i guess maybe)
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Q. G. Pennyworth

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2016, 12:12:52 pm »
The value of a rock is what it can do. The same can be said of a person.

I disagree.  The value of a person is, I would posit, found in what s/he does.  You don't have to cure cancer or invent a new musical genre or...I dunno...invent a pair of self-removing pants.  You just have to fucking do something.  And do it as hard as you can, then do it harder.

Love cooking, but you're piss-poor at it?  Do it anyway.  "Skill" is a fancy word for the huge pile of failures behind you.  Maybe you'll never be the best, but dammit you did something, and that's more than most of the people around you can say.

It's not in the mastery, it's in the doing that a person becomes a human.

I've been exploring the forums and I must say I'm a fan of your work.

Cheers.

Note: Modified in the face of a very good point.

I think you're right in dropping the "can" from that sentence. We Are What We Do and all that.

I've been falling into the same cabbages/SHEEPLE trapinoneof my other series, too. It's such a common one I should probably start digging to see if there are any good essays already written about it to help. It really is a challenge to talk about "my personal path to being a less shitty me" without disparaging the shittier version of yourself, and by extension the shittier versions of people you see around you. And Roger's right that it's unfair, because we're all shitlords from time to time, and you might just be catching someone on a shit day, or you might just not be paying attention to the bipedal stuff they're doing right in front of you. At the same time, self improvement takes work, and motivating yourself or someone else to do the work (whatever it is) almost always relies on DON'T BE A SHITHEEL ALL THE TIME.
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P3nT4gR4m

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Re: Notes from the other side of Buddhism.
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2016, 12:34:36 pm »
It really is a challenge to talk about "my personal path to being a less shitty me" without disparaging the shittier version of yourself, and by extension the shittier versions of people you see around you.

Excellent point. I am guilty of this although, hopefully, less so than in the past. I try to remove the value judgement from the equation and especially any anger this value judgement may cause. Hard to do sometimes but I have to remind myself that it isn't the other persons fault that they're trapped inside a pernicious reality tunnel, choking on dumb memes and sneezing bad signal. Personality can become infected just the same as biological machinery.

If you wouldn't blame someone because they were infected with aids, why is it okay to blame them because they're infected with Ayn Rand or Adolph Hitler? People are just dumb apes (me too) it's not really their fault.

Also - holding other people up to ANY standard is a hiding to nowhere. Best you can hope for is to live up to your own standards
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 12:37:39 pm by P3nT4gR4m »
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