Friday, July 18, 2008

On Participating Joyfully in the Sorrows of the World: Isn't it Great to Love This Much?

Some final thoughts on the subject of identity, individualism, caste, creativity, and the human role in the pneumacosmic economy. Because if we have no role, then the Buddhists and Hindus are correct, that our humanness is "nothing," except perhaps an opportunity to realize our nothingness. In this view, nothing x nothing = a kind of paradoxical empty plenitude, or effervescent emptiness.

I agree with Warren that Schuon -- and this is really no secret -- was a more-or-less crypto-Vedantin, perhaps because this was the only way he could reconcile all the world's religions. But I don't think you can do this without eliminating something quite central to Christianity, and it is precisely this question of the eternal worth and infinite preciousness of the individual.

Part of the problem involves the definition of "individual," because in my view, most people do not become individuals, which is to say, themselves. And this is especially true in more traditional cultures, as there is no question that man's "social-ism" is chronologically, developmentally, and ontologically anterior to his "narciss-ism" (and I am using both of these words in a value-neutral sense; the point is, the individual emerges from the group, just as one's personal identity emerges from a matrix of unconsciousness).

Now, as I mentioned the other day, I believe the Buddhist path represents "the easy way out." It is one of resignation born of despair and hopelessness. I well remember once discussing this with my analyst some 20 years ago, and he made a wise crack that's stuck with me ever since. I must have been saying something about the superiority of "detachment" and such, when he said something to the effect that it wasn't difficult to see the wisdom in such an view when life was so obviously short, nasty, brutish, uncertain, arbitrary, tedious, and disease-ridden. But he was making a more direct point to me, having to do with an unconscious desire to essentially "refuse" my incarnation and withdraw from the game. (At the time, I was very much drawn to Zen and the like.)

Clearly, in my analyst's view, this would not represent any kind of advance, but a capitulation. Being that he was Jewish, perhaps this was a factor, in that Judaism, perhaps even more than Christianity, is very much this worldly. It is very much a religion of descent, of bringing the divine energies into this world rather than escaping up and out. The idea that a Jew could "leave the community," renounce marriage and family, move to a monastery, and obliterate one's personal identity is pretty much meshuggenah. In fact, there is a Talmudic idea that one cannot be a rabbi if one doesn't have children, because that is the only way to understand the depth of God's love for mankind. It's very concrete, not abstract.

But if you look at the conditions of life 500, or 1000, or 2000 years ago, who wouldn't want to move into a cave near the mouth of the Ganges and detach from it all -- just withdraw inward and ascend up and out? Obviously it can be done. But I sometimes wonder if it's just an elaborate means of self-hypnosis. Of note, none of the societies that adopt this view were particularly functional, at least until they began importing western values.

To paraphrase John Lennon, "I'm not anti-Buddhist, anti-Buddha, or anti-non-theism. I'm not knockin' it or putting it down. I'm just saying it as a fact and it's true more for Raccoons than for others. I'm not saying that we're better or greater, or comparing us with Buddha as a person or God as emptiness or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this."

To illustrate my point about the difficulty of the Raccoon path, I remember seeing an interview with Tony Snow ( a Catholic convert) about a year ago. They began discussing Snow's cancer, and he began to break down, fighting back the tears. The interviewer -- who was also close to tears -- said something to the effect of, "You've got a lot to live for." Snow's pained response encapsulated the Raccoon view: Isn't it great to love this much?

Looked at in one way, you could say, "hell no! It sucks to love this much. If I were a single guy living in a cave, I could just slip off into the infinite, and not even notice the transition." But here is a man who found a way to value his own crucifixion -- and for those of you with small children, you know what I mean, because that's what it is. And yet, Snow didn't back away from it. Just like you-know-who, he actually embraced his fate. He did not think "my attachment to my loved ones is the source of pain." Rather, he said "my attachment to my loved ones is infinitely precious. I must not back away from it, but throw myself into it even more passionately."

Passion. Where have I heard that before? Judaism also has a passion for this Life, which is everything to it. This is why it is such a monstrosity to exchange the Palestinian beasts of depravity -- who are "living death" -- for the dead Israeli soldiers, who are "stolen life."

Likewise, the Christian God does not evade embodiment, life, and history. To the contrary, he plunges in feet first, into all of the muck, slime, confusion, obscurity, and ambiguity of the human state. If you think I'm exaggerating, this is one of the things that even the wisest pagans of the time could not comprehend, being that they believed the highest wisdom to consist of detachment and ascent. They could scarcely imagine a God who would actually choose this horrible situation, much less in a worthless and screaming baby born of anonymous peasants. That's crazy! As Pierre Hadot writes, this

"was one of the reasons for pagan hostility towards the mystery of the Incarnation." Porphyry asked, "How can we admit that the divine became an embryo, and that after its birth, it was wrapped up in swaddling clothes, covered with blood, bile, and even worse things?" "One could say that every philosophy of this period tried to explain the presence of [the] divine soul in a terrestrial body. Each was responding to the anxious interrogation of men who felt like strangers in this lower world" (Hadot).

In fact, it was in this climate that the heresy of Gnosticism (not to be confused with gnosis) was born, as it was a form of life-denial, rooted in the idea that existence wasn't just a mistake, but the perverse creation of a hostile demi-god. One can easily understand how a sophisticated person of the time could arrive at this conclusion. Imagine the faith it took to think otherwise.

But is it more or less difficult for us? For the blessings of modernity only make the world all the more enticing. Two thousand years ago it wasn't that difficult to be detached from children, since infant mortality was so extraordinarily high. People realized this, and didn't put a lot of emotional investment in a child until there was some certainty that he would survive. But even then, without the experience of passionate attachment at the foundation of the personality, the person will grow up with a schizoid, or paranoid, or borderline core -- meaning that they will either be emotionally detached from others, or project the bad content of their mind outward, thereby creating an eerily malevolent world, or be driven to extremes of impulsivity and a kind of "stably unstable" bipolar moodiness.

I suppose the question is, how do we truly reconcile Eastern and Western approaches without artificially reducing Christianity to Vedanta? Perhaps sophisticated Westerners need to get over their inferiority complex, and say that it is incumbent upon the Eastern religions to get a clue and to reconcile themselves with the Judeo-Christian values of America. Can it be done? Oh, I think so.

It is surely no coincidence that Sri Aurobindo was educated in the Christian West from a very early age. He eventually graduated with honors from Cambridge, and it was only then, at the age of 21 or so, that he returned to India. At the time, he knew nothing about Indian philosophy, and only later developed his own version of it, still rooted in tradition but adding some clearly Western concepts.

Quoting from the wiki article, it states that "One of Sri Aurobindo's main philosophical achievements was to introduce the concept of evolution into Vedantic thought.... Aurobindo rejected the materialistic tendencies of both Darwinism and Samkhya, and proposed an evolution of spirit along with that of matter, and that the evolution of matter was a result of the former."

But perhaps most importantly, "Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is Maya (illusion) and that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new nature which could spontaneously perceive the truth of things, and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness, love and light" (emphasis mine).

Bingo! The Way of the Raccoon, whatever your religion. Elsewhere Aurobindo wrote that such an approach necessarily altered "our whole normal view of things; even in preserving all the aims of human life, it will give them a different sense and direction."

Isn't it great to love so much?

The first victory is to create an individuality. And then later, the second victory is to give this individuality to the Divine. And the third victory is that the Divine changes your individuality into a divine being.

There are three stages: the first is to become an individual; the second is to consecrate the individual, that he may surrender entirely to the Divine and be identified with Him; and the third is that the Divine takes possession of this individual and changes him into a being in His own image, that is, he too becomes divine
. --The Mother

61 Comments:

Anonymous Nick said...

Not so certain Buddhism originally meant "the easy way out" though I agree that most of its current western expression does. I'm inclined to see the Buddha as the first human to be in complete union with God. His message too was actually a moderate one for the times, that addressed the extreme asceticism that was popular. In reading the suttas he seems to be trying to create a group of monks that would go as deeply vertical as possible, yes at the expense of negating many wordly things.
In trying to get a unified cosmic vison I've sort of assumed that the founders of religions were mangods that had a mission that was critical to the development of earth at a certain time. As such I think the Buddha had a different goal than Jesus and that was to create a pool of people that spent their lives flirting on the edge of the infinite. It fit the culture and the times.

Jesus had a different message and arguably a more evolved message of setting the stage for bringing heaven to earth. Spirit to matter. So to me a comparison between buddhism and christianity might not be compairng apples to apples. Couldn't both be part of an evolutionary process?

7/18/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous ersamus said...

I'm tyring to picture Joseph Smith in my mind as a mangod with a mission. To create the pefect polygamous society...to bring the vertical magic of poylgamy to the United States.

It's not working as well as it apparently works for nick.

Of course, I tried the same thing yesterday when I tried to picture Van in Vegas with his own acolyte.

I got the same result. The same...uh...picture in my mind.

7/18/2008 09:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Who said Joseph Smith was divinely inspired, or that all religions were divinely inspired?

7/18/2008 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous ersamus said...

Nick,

The entire Morman church.

Ever try arguing with a true believing mormon?

7/18/2008 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

And Nick - it was the word you used..."mangod"...made me think "Joseph Smith."

7/18/2008 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

ersamus, mangd is defintely a bad choice of words, but its actually something I got from reading Schuon.

7/18/2008 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Kudos to you, GBob.

I knew we had common ground.

This raccoon statement returns the alchemist's view to the modern discussion. Soul transformation.

7/18/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

The word is 'Theosis', ain't it?

7/18/2008 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous dloye said...

"The entire Morman church.

Ever try arguing with a true believing mormon?"

Why bother. Discussions should probably be saved for at least flat path seekers. (Extreme seekers being so far past me that I'm now the fence post.)

7/18/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Erasmus said "Ever try arguing with a true believing mormon?"

When they came to the door, I used to tell them I was a reformed Druid.
"Wha...?"
"Well, we don't do the whole flaming wicker baskets of gentiles thing anymore... but the rest still holds... and I know you get that, what with the whole polygamy thing, right?"
Good for hours of fun.
Course... that was back when I lived in Vegas... so that's gone the way of the whole groupie/acolyte thing.

7/18/2008 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"The interviewer -- who was also close to tears -- said something to the effect of, "You've got a lot to live for." Snow's pained response encapsulated the Raccoon view: Isn't it great to love this much?"

The truly 'solid' people you meet, you find that sense of calm rootedness, an unflinching grasp of reality, they don't turn away from the unpleasant, they don't try to pretty things over. In trying to deny or evade what doesn't meet with your approval or expectation... you remove yourself just that much from Reality as a whole, you diminish your ability to enjoy or recognize what you do approve of... and those that love life, those integrated into their lives, and through whom Love truly flows, refuse to impede that flow.

Surely not for the sake of something that is unreal.

7/18/2008 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

it was grace that pulled
my feet from the miry clay
a bucket of crabs

7/18/2008 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"But perhaps most importantly, "Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is Maya (illusion) and that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new nature which could spontaneously perceive the truth of things, and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness, love and light" (emphasis mine).

"Bingo! The Way of the Raccoon, whatever your religion. Elsewhere Aurobindo wrote that such an approach necessarily altered "our whole normal view of things; even in preserving all the aims of human life, it will give them a different sense and direction."

Isn't it great to love so much?"

Just had to see it again; I couldn't agree more.

7/18/2008 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Yes, me too. I'm with Julie on this. I add to it: reinsert maya with the idea of illusion shifted from unreality to "play" as in the play of God. Maya itself was not really rejected but reinvigorated with a closer point for point connection to the truly Real. Maya is essential as it really is, a kind of infinite dance. It is not that the illusion doesn't exist but that it isn't a barrier when one awakens.

7/18/2008 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger bobyu said...

Nick,

Agree with your essential point.

I am studying with a former Zen priest, and he explained that much of Western Buddhism is based upon misunderstanding and mistranslation.

For example, the first noble truth is translated as "life is suffering." The more precise translation would be "life is suffocating" because that's what the word "dukkha" connotes (or is it denotes? I can never remember).

Now the more explanatory translation would be: life lived as an ego with all the mind parasites is suffocating because the fears and desires of ego are endless, forcing you to live and re-live the same patterns (karma) over and over again (samsara).

The Buddhist goal is to get us out of samsara into nirvana where the Transcendent Self-Identity is revealed, then we know we are no longer of this world, but we are still in the world.

Hence the Buddha's injunction: be in the world but not of it.

Maya is another term that's misunderstood.

Noumenal world is the Reality; phenomenal world is the appearance of Reality. Phenomenal world becomes illusory when one lives as ego.

Buddhism offers a cure to wake up from the world of maya, not to escape the phenomenal world. After all, even after enlightenment, one's bodymind is still here.

I don't know how accurate this teaching is, but it helped me tremendously to reconcile the needs of the horizontal and vertical worlds.

7/18/2008 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous ersamus said...

Christopher, I think that I understood what you said, but can you try that post again, only this time use different words?

Not necessarily more words, not necessarily less words, just different words.

7/18/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Now bobyu made me think of a Scientologist trying to achieve the state of "Clear".

It's just one of those days.

Bobyu,

Just out of curiousity, what is the "former Zen priest" doing now, spiritually speaking? Still Zen but not a priest?

7/18/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

"I believe the Buddhist path represents 'the easy way out.' It is one of resignation born of despair and hopelessness."

I agree with this, although it's a hard thing to say and is bound to be taken badly by some Coons who have Buddhist leanings. I came to much the same conclusion re Buddhism (at least "original" Buddhism) some years back, when I was a Neo-Vedantic pagan. It just suddenly struck me with great force that the whole doctrine of escaping from suffering was basically ignoble and... well, escapist. It took me longer to see that the same criticism (with some qualifications) could be made of the Vedic tradition, as well as the ancient Greek schools I most admired (Platonism, Stoicism). In Islam as well, suffering is considered shameful, a mark of defeat, failure and God's displeasure. Christianity's attitude towards suffering - as a great central Mystery, a clue to the secret of the universe - is really unique as far as I know, and is probably the main wedge that sets Christianity apart from all other religions. It's "a scandal to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles". It's also where the rubber meets the road.

7/18/2008 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Bobyu is going with the same kind of rethink. Maya is not in itself something to resist. Instead wake up. Then Maya becomes a joy instead of the burden it is made out to be, because the illusion is no longer difficult. Life in Maya not awakened is suffocating. Life in the world awakened allows the dance of Maya to be a dance, no longer a problem but a deliberate playful complication.

Why walk when you can dance?

7/18/2008 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous coonified said...

"But I don't think you can do this without eliminating something quite central to Christianity, and it is precisely this question of the eternal worth and infinite preciousness of the individual."


Oh, mercy mercy me...

I'll be the first to admit that I have a sort of "bi-polar" complex, something that's been going on my whole life, and something that's only recently (the last four to five years)--thanks to the descending force--come to a kind of livable equilibration. I hope that when I said (the other day) that I was "half in love with easeful death" that you folks didn't take it as me rejecting life, the world, and my own incarnation. I love that the "forest echos with laughter." But standing outside (or as I like to think of it, being push off into the abyss), the laughter can at times sound like madness, because mysteriously, the forest feeds on itself.


See, even though manifestly God is his own impossibility, I believe, as I said, that I am an "instantiation of a personality above and beyond myself"; and the Person above, though created from the perspective of the Transcendent Father, shares in the delight of the uncreated essence, hence his being a "Divine Being," for essence is uncreated intelligence, an intelligence that "knows [even] the depths of God." (which is to say, God is beyond even himself! Just a thought.) His Being is "ontologically prior" to my own accidentally bound personality, and so to be "half in love with easeful death" is not so much to reject the gift of a temporal life as to realize the limits thereof, and not push it into places it doesn't belong, i.e., living an everlasting horizontal life. If I'm to make it to heaven, it can't be horizontal.

(As I said: an everlasting marriage between the horizontal and vertical. Maybe. But that's a loooooong way off! Lets grow wings first!)

What it comes down to in constrasting Christianity and Vedanta, though I'm not "expert" on the topic, is that for the Christian God, Personality is essential to manifestation, and in alot of ways, the manifestation of the image is the end. The Hindus, on the other hand (if it's even another hand), envision the supreme Godhead as One Peronality above manifesting multiple temporal personalities below. It's a difference between the Image Personality, and the not-the-number-One personality; and if I'm understanding this correctly, I have a problem. Because the more one ascends the three stages, that of

"[becoming] an individual...(secondly) the consecration of the individuality, that he may surrender entirely to the Divine and be identified with Him; and thirdly, that the Divine [must] take possession of this individual and change him into a being in His own image"

the more one incarnates the Person, i.e., one increasingly has the Divine Image dwelling within them, and therefore, we increasingly find that we are a unique individual. Maybe I'm wrong, I just have a hard time envisioning that Person as a simultaneously uniform/muiltiform person; a schizophrenia of Cosmic proportion and consequence. We all have our "original face," the one that's exactly the same, but if we place this as the end of things, it basically means that we are ultimately alone. :( That's not good. So I think that God did something about it, which is not to say he wasn't perfect since eternity. Oh paradoxes! (Wispers: "Essence is the ultimate simplifier")

Anyway...

Evolution seems to be about the ascent and descent forces approaching deiformity; and the more that we approach the Image, the more that we realize that we've been a unique individual since eternity. Weird. I must be wrong. What I'm saying is that the cosmos is at once solipsistic and polytheistic, but one unique Person. He doesn't have to think twice about throwing himself into it all, because that's what he is and has been and will be.

To shorten all this, I think:

Intelligence=Personality=being divided by O.

7/18/2008 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

By the way, in Buddhism when Mahayana split from the Theravada or Hinayana original it was partly on this point of escapism. The capstone of Mahayana thinking (the majority of the Buddhists in the world) is the Bodhisattva ideal which is hardly escapist at the individual level. Taking Bodhisattva vows essentially says you are turning down the escape in order to assist not only men but all sentient beings. Only when we can all go, men and all, only then is it time to escape.

7/18/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

I also feel compelled to add that none of us probably understand the depth of the samadhi states that are promoted in the original suttas. The suttas are very clear about the promotion of jhana states that emphasis exceedingly deep levels of meditation absorption. If you read up on some of these states you realize these guys were some very very serious pyschonauts, like deep space 9 variety.

I believe that the world hasn't seen this degree of inner exploration since. So it seems the Buddha was the first to open up the map for some of these brave new worlds. Jesus seems to be the guy to begin promoting the colonization of these states on a mass scale for all people.

So again I see it is an evolutionary sequence.

7/18/2008 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

If science has confronted and accepted paradox in the quantum realm which is the foundational realm (no longer even exactly physical because energy=matter very closely at that scale), then I should think that paradox will manifest more certainly the closer I get to God.

Paradox is perhaps not in the vision itself but locked into the qualitative scale divergence and/or the requirements of communication on the human level.

7/18/2008 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

You can't help promoting the space when you are the space.

7/18/2008 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Bob

Damn your good, thanks for the insights, especially yesterdays and todays. Made me realize why I’m so different from most of the people I meet.
I was in the Navy for 22 + years and miss it after 23 years retired, still dream about it most nights and not the women I knew. I loved controlling the F4 or the F14 to the perfect position to shoot down the “Bogie” or bringing the S3 to the point to drop his torpedo where the sub had no possibility of escape or launching our missiles on a target that their first indication of a problem was a massive explosion in their superstructure. Explaining the almost erotic experience of doing it right to someone not born to the warrior cast is a waste of time and they end up thinking your some sort of homicidal manic. They don’t understand that someone has to be prepared to do it. I did some other things after I got out like computer programmer and selling real estate and though the money was WAY better it didn’t have the same feeling of completeness with my real self.
Since having a” Road to Damascus experience” and finding your blog I’ve joined the Orthodox Church and spend my time praying and doing penitence, but would not have changed anything. I think there might be some genetic component to caste since two of my sons took similar paths and my daughter married one. Your insights have sure helped me understand mysoph as they say at OC.

7/18/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

river cocytus, I didn't mean what I said in any zen koan type of way. What I meant was that the original buddhist suttas, written in Pali language, give very clear instructions on how to withdraw from ones physical senses and obtain jhanna states of conciousness. It was not an intellectual venture at all.

7/18/2008 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

GB says: If you think I'm exaggerating, this is one of the things that even the wisest pagans of the time could not comprehend, being that they believed the highest wisdom to consist of detachment and ascent. They could scarcely imagine a God who would actually choose this horrible situation, much less in a worthless and screaming baby born of anonymous peasants. That's crazy!

Back in my sadly misspent youth I was talking to a Muslim inmate in a state prison. Knowing I was a Christian, he asked, "How can you believe the Great God could become a man?" In response, I pulled a beat-up copy of the New Testament out of my hip pocket and read to him the quintessential description of the kenosis of the logos -- Philippians 2:5-11. He stood in silence thinking until we both had to move on.

7/18/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Warren said: It just suddenly struck me with great force that the whole doctrine of escaping from suffering was basically ignoble and... well, escapist.

That occurs in Christianity, too. There are a number of Christians who will tell you that the world cannot be improved and that we need to get our families saved and get out via the Rapture. Look how many copies of the abominable "Left Behind" books have been sold.

7/18/2008 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Not that it matters, but just for clarity, I was not a fellow recipient of the state's hospitality at that limited access institution. I was there doing a job rather than for having done one.

7/18/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Amen to the "Left Behind" post. Escapism is part of humanity, and probably not part of any genuinely inspired offering from God through man. Thus the Mahayana "correction" to Buddhist thinking was not exactly a correction, meaning the original Buddhism is actually escapist even though it looks like that, only that people insist on taking it that way on this side of awake and need more clarification.

Many things take care of themselves in the awakened condition, like if awakened I cannot not love, love being an essential part of being awakened. I cannot not be generous for the same reason. Making an explicit Bodhisattva vow is actually having faith in how easy it will be to fulfill that vow, once I am actually a Bodhisattva. Until then I shall peacefully resign myself to those rare moments when God and I both agree to permit me to act in that way.

Oh and keep practicing, the same as with my musicianship.

7/18/2008 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"Who said .... that all religions were divinely inspired?"

If (a) religion is not divinely inspired, can (it) even properly be called Religion at all? Not some other name, such as cult or heresy?

Deepak, Obamessiah & lightbulb-as-higherpower come to mind.

7/18/2008 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger bobyu said...

Hey Erasmus

He is teaching/sharing the fruits of his own spiritual exploration and evolution.

I would never be taking his courses had he not had rigorous grounding in a tradition, in his case Zen.

But I would never taking his course had he remained exclusively a Zen priest.

I have also been learning a lot about Rudolph Steiner and Gurdjieff in his course.

All I can say is that anybody who dismisses any tradition without understanding their esoteric teachings are idiots. One lesson that I have definitely learned is that I don't understand the deeper aspects of the traditions.

Based upon what I have been learning, I can see now why Ten Commandments from Christianity, Ten Paramitas in Buddhism are so necessary to contain our "lower" selves.

The teacher also makes a very interesting links between Eightfold Path in Buddhism and Eight Beatitudes in Christianity.


Another Bob

7/18/2008 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

nick: In truth it must have been, for it was said of the ancients, "They were deep, subtle and fathomless." The problem is not necessarily, like Enoch, connecting with God until one is carried up the vertical, but communicating how that happens so that others may bear fruit as a result.

My point is that while Buddha, Enoch, Lao Tzu, and so forth, probably experienced a level of union with God, they were distinct from the Christ, who was unified with the Father by nature rather than by grace.

That is, he couldn't help encourage people to adventure into beyond-knowing - for he himself is beyond-knowing and not just a partaker of it.

Does that clarify my potentially snippy remark? (Apologies if it came across that way.)

7/18/2008 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

It may have been Buddha's experience of the Logos that made his teaching; but what made his teaching popular may have been the idea of using it as an escape from the particular harshness of the time and place it came into.

To put it in a certain way, Christianity is meant to be not so much the transmission of a teaching of how to attain this state, but rather a transmission of the state itself through 'The Spirit' indwelling.

Therefore, not to be offensive, but it is clear that a lot of what is mainstream Christianity is really missing something.

7/18/2008 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

'couldn't help but encourage'

- big difference, there.

7/18/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous coonified said...

O-->k I guess I'm talking to myself like always. But I thought that what I said was suiting since we have been on the topic of individuality-personality, its relation to Reality-ousia-intelligence, Christianity's view of the importance of the person in relation to the "East" (primarily Hinduism), and how all of that relates to what has happened in the last 300 years with the birth of the modern "person."

While Aurobindo and Ramana Maharshi were here, there occurred an interesting dialog between the two, mainly through the medium of messenger disciples between the two ashrams. In this one , Maharshi gets at something that I think is what I am trying to say:


"The jiva [the individual person], the world and God, all of these are relative ideas. So long as there is the individual sense of 'I', these three are also there.

From this individual sense of 'I', from the mind, these three have arisen."


The "three" (trinity) have arisen from the sense of "I"; Is this "I" not the person that Christianity values so? This has to be the "relative absolute" I am-Being of the scripture, and the Atman of the east, though I think the two might be different in function and measure, like Fahrenheit and Celsius are different measures of a fluctuating state of object, i.e., temp. But the Trans-dimensional Object is still there...before Abraham.

7/18/2008 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

Christopher,

I agree with you about Mahayana and the Bodhisattva ideal versus original Buddhism. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Mahayana is basically "Christed" Buddhism.

Mushroom,

I fully agree that Christianity has its full share of morons, just like all other religions. ;-)

7/18/2008 01:47:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Oh bad. My bad.

...the original Buddhism is NOT actually escapist...

It is inherent in the example of the Buddha who lived to a ripe old age and insisted on teaching, instead of departing as the "escapist" he was made out to be.

Mahayana made explicit the original example.

7/18/2008 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

I'm continually amazed at the entire Rapture sub-culture business model.

The world, amazingly enough, keeps not ending and the money keeps being made on the business model.

7/18/2008 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Bobyu,

"All I can say is that anybody who dismisses any tradition without understanding their esoteric teachings are idiots. One lesson that I have definitely learned is that I don't understand the deeper aspects of the traditions."

Perhaps I am misreading things, but today seems like one of those days in which everyone is talking somewhat past or at each other, instead of to each other. As Walt has often noted, it is difficult to express deeper metaphysical meanings in Blogger boxes.

I think it's fair to say that, with a few rare exceptions, hardly anybody truly understands the deeper esoteric meanings of any particular tradition. If their depths were so easily plumbed, they wouldn't be worth much, I think. So we must work with what we can grasp, and when we find that something as it is generally practiced and understood is lacking, we must either delve deeper, possibly in vain, or look elsewhere. For instance, mainstream Islam as it is generally practiced, whether moderate or wahabbi, is pretty much the opposite of what we seek here. But Sufi Islam does have some Truth to offer, at least via Schuon. It is no affront to Sufism to say that, in general, Islam has a pretty negative impact on the world.

By the same token, while there may be some esoteric traditions and understandings under Buddhism (with which, if possible, I am even less familiar than Sufism, so take this for what it's worth) that are extremely valuable to raccoonish thinking, Buddhism as it is generally practiced and understood (at least in/ by the West) does not seem to offer as much in the way of individual value as Christianity. This is not dismissing or disparaging Buddhism; it is simply making the best use of the knowledge that is available.

To achieve any true depth of understanding in even one tradition is a rare and remarkable feat, so much so that those who make such an achievement tend to be remembered for centuries. To expect that someone should have anywhere near such a depth of understanding of more than one tradition before they can decide one or another is not a good fit for them seems to be asking a bit much.

7/18/2008 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Of course, having said all that, I freely admit that it's entirely possible that I'm the one who's missing the point. In which case, feel free to ignore me.

7/18/2008 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

In the few areas in which I have any real experience, what could be called "esoteric" knowledge is experiential, revealed through various practices. Book l'arnin' may speak about it, but can only refer to it, not be it.

There is a tremendous amount of literature now accessible about "esoteric" teachings, but they cannot ----> understanding. Still, one can find them, and one can read.

Huge numbers of ancient texts from China and Tibet have been published in the last 20 years or so, discussing subjects that were unheard of before. Many are obscure, a lot of them don't translate into English well, but they can be had. Writings by Gurdjieff and some of his pupils, that used to be "unpublished notes," handed about in groups for their eyes only, are now available to the public. A lot of Sufi texts, such as the writings of Ibn Arabi, have been translated into English and published in just the last 10 years or so. Certainly the Traditionalists that Bob refers to are another example.

Such information is difficult on its own; finding real help in understanding it is very tricky. When we cross-reference traditions based on the "visible" portions, or via conventional wisdom, a lot of times I think Julie is correct: we talk past each other.

Perhaps we could use Bob as an example, and try to work at refining our meanings and use of terms, just as he does?

Of course, then we might start hesitating to comment, and things wouldn't be as lively.

7/18/2008 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Heh - your final point is demonstrated, Walt. Next time, I'm just going to try really hard not to say anything.

7/18/2008 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Judaism also has a passion for this Life, which is everything to it."

Thank G-d for your therapist!
Willingly embracing pain, the more difficult path, requires courage, even when we gno how glorious the results of this passion are in every Way.

7/18/2008 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

BBL...I gotta make an unexpected run to our local Wally's.
I got more to say about this, and hopefully I won't forget what I don't know I'm gonna say while I'm gone.

Perhaps I'll run into Walmart Shopper. :^)

7/18/2008 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Reliapundit said...

hi bobby;

you "wrote":

Some final thoughts on the subject of identity, individualism, caste, creativity, and the human role in the pneumacosmic economy. Because if we have no role, then the Buddhists and Hindus are correct, that our humanness is "nothing," except perhaps an opportunity to realize our nothingness. In this view, nothing x nothing = a kind of paradoxical empty plenitude, or effervescent emptiness.

"EFFERVESCENT EMPTINESS"

a much better title/description of your blog!

7/18/2008 08:24:00 PM  
Anonymous walmart shopper said...

Ben -

Me and my date will be in aisle 22 checking out the throw rugs.

7/18/2008 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Isn't our buddy Johan due to catch Van Morrison in Stockholm today/tomorrow or hereabouts?

hmm...... hear abouts?

7/18/2008 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I had a funny feeling you were going to use the word "meshugeneh" today. :) Really, I did.

I'm not certain eastern religion and western are all that reconcilable, but I'm a dyed-in-the-wool orthodox Evangelical, so there it is. Your final quotes come close, and if they went so far as to name the true Door, I'd ratify them (with qualifications on "becoming divine"--transformed into the image of Christ, I guess).

In Sunday's WaPo magazine, I read the recollections of a Chinese man who came to the U.S. on a student visa. He was not allowed by the government to bring his wife and small child with him. Imagine the cognitive dissonance he experienced when his Indian neighbor suggested he sue his government.

More cognitive dissonance described here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/08/AR2008070801933.html

Point being, it made me realize how one's culture affects one's expectations, or sense of possibility, particularly the possibility of individuality as you describe it, Bob.

As usual, I'm on the tail end here and haven't read all the other comments yet, so apologize for any irrelevance.

7/18/2008 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/18/2008 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Susannah, one word I would never use to describe you is "irrelevant." As always, your observations are well worth reading.

7/18/2008 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous coonified said...

Well, to add more to what I was saying, the main disagreement between Maharshi and Aurobindo was on the issue of Eternal Brahman vs. the jiva--->Atman, the first being a realized state of cessation, or extinction (which is really death while we're still alive. Nevermind, it's nothing), and the latter being the individual subjective existence of the temporal-bound personality of varying degree.

Christianity is the archetypal victory of the Person over the accident, or nature; and those who inherent the kingdom of God will know and be known as a person in ways that we can yet fathom. By way of Uncreated intelligence (O), hence all things being divided by it, we may know the depths of God as the Person that he is, and by knowing him we complete the perfect circle; and that's that.

"one who understands the Tao in the morning can die contently in the evening."

One who understand that his personality in an instantiation of the eternal Person is most certainly rocken!, and will never be lonely, even when alone.

7/18/2008 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

A rittle ronery?

(Sorry, I couldn't resist. I really am going to shut up now.)

7/18/2008 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Just to be less clear, pain (in all it's various forms) can be a very usefull tool if we have the right attitude...if we perceive, realize and actualize it as a...Blessing.

As I mentioned at Walt's place the other day, I would be lying if I said there is never moments where I dread it...'cause hey! It freakin' hurts!

However, those moments are rarer than they used to be, and despite my strong desire to avoid pain, or the hard Way, I'm able to choose to override my emotional impulse to run away like hell.

Speaking of desire, I don't believe it's a bad thing, and in fact is a Good thing, if we focus that desire on the Good, True and Beautifull.
That's the kind of Self-fish-ness that helps to establish our
purpose(s), and, I believe that the Jews have it right: the concrete, the Rock is what we need to build our foundation of belief, awareness, realization of revelation and actualizing this into our lives because the Rock is the purest form of Life!

While there certainly is Mystery in regards to G-d, there is no "gray" areas, only gray understanding on my part.
Obviously (and Bobviously) I'm slackin' on defining those gray areas of my understanding into definitive mythunderstandings.

Bob, and all of you Raccoons have helped me tremendously to gno my purpOse(s) "down to the marrow", as Van Morrison sings.

Yes I'm real Real gOne on the Bright Side Of The Road!
Slack on my fellow Coons, Slack OM!

7/18/2008 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Walmart shopper-
Damn! I just missed you! I was in aisle 8, the spice n' sugar AyeO!
Ha ha!

7/18/2008 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ah Reliapundit...just can't stay away can you?
Ever wonder why?

7/18/2008 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

There's a new Spengler up this week.

7/19/2008 03:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Bob, have you read this one (Both the book and the review)?

7/19/2008 04:25:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"Speaking of desire, I don't believe it's a bad thing, and in fact is a Good thing, if we focus that desire on the Good, True and Beautifull."

The argument at Desiring God.

http://www.desiringgod.org/

"Christian hedonism," etc.

http://www.christianhedonism.org/

7/19/2008 06:24:00 AM  
Anonymous rabid said...

Ha Ha. Very humorous Julie. Ha ha ha. ha.

7/19/2008 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger bobyu said...

Hello Julie,

I agree with you completely.

It's one thing to know that I don't understand traditional religion (that has been hammered in by One Cosmos blog); it's another to be demonstrated through intellectual principles.

Darn, running out of time. I will elaborate more.


Un autre Bob

7/19/2008 10:51:00 AM  

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