Tagged: Alan Watts Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 12:04 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alan Watts, bicameralism, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Bicameral Mind: License or Liberation? 

    True freedom is not license. True freedom is liberation. And if that at first glance sounds like some little word game that a poor man’s Alan Watts might play, on further notice, in fact it reveals a fundamental difference between ‘mind-sets,’ if not belief systems. For it is more than just the difference in a couple of letters that define the difference between the words ‘from’ and ‘to.’ It is indeed a world of difference, not just the difference between East and West, Buddhism and Christianity, but possibly—and ultimately—the difference between the right and left sides of the brain.

    According to the American Psychological Association: “The terms “left-brained” and “right-brained” have come to refer to personality types in popular culture, with an assumption that people who use the right side of their brains more are more creative, thoughtful and subjective, while those who tap the left side more are more logical, detail-oriented and analytical.”

    And then they go on to pooh-pooh that notion while at the same time admitting that “Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right.” So how would you know, anyway, whether a person is one or the other? This is the big clue: Right-brained people are left-handed and vice versa. Boom. Hopefully those of us who are ambidextrous, Geminis, or at least switch-hitters can maybe find work as a Jack-of-all-trades, if not a Jill-of-one-special-one.

    But the point is that we’re talking about two different kinds of freedom when we talk about the freedom ‘from’ as opposed to the freedom ‘to’. The one is liberation, while the other is license. One is the traditional goal of all Eastern philosophy, while the other is the traditional goal of all Western philosophy. One allows you to gloriously do nothing, since you are now free of those prior obligations that demanded something of you.

    The other implies that you really should do something, regardless, not just that you have the right to, but in fact almost an obligation to act upon Nature, rather than just passively accept it. One is Buddhist, while the other is Christianity, which thought has largely dominated the modern world of technology and skyscrapers and restless hearts and minds.

    But now we know definitively, by genome analysis, that those early Indian Buddhists and those early Roman Christians were in fact not-so-distant cousins of the same original fathers, if not mothers. And both had their dealings with Greeks, bearing gifts or not. Does that mean that indeed these are possibly the differences of left-brain and right-brain, according to two different given sets of circumstances?

    If so, then we can access our right-brain Buddhist feminine capabilities to undo the damage that our left-brain Christian Capitalist macho tendencies have foisted upon us, understandable given a young world feeling its teenage oats for the first time, my version of racehorse theory. Nirvana is freedom. Freedom has responsibilities. So now we have come full circle…

     
    • TheFlowIntoWords 1:33 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting topic! I loved Julian Jaynes book “Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”.

      From my limited understanding, I see Buddhism as opening our eyes to the freedom we have from the “need” to do anything. This gives us a grasp of free-will. No longer is it I “must”/“need” to do X.

      For me Christianity sort of stepped into that newly opened space. Jesus’s teachings on radical love are beautiful to me. They are helping me see the beauty I “want” to grow and nourish in myself, others, and the world. I no longer feel I need to or should be doing anything in particular. I feel I am finally free to see the deep beauty of everything. And free to follow what the beauty inspires within me because I want to.

      • hardie karges 1:47 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I read Jaynes’ book way back when, and liked it, though this scrib is a different take, of course. Life and the world are beautiful, per Jesus, but they are suffering, per the Buddha. Who is right? They both are, I suppose, though we will all die, no eternal life, so I am Buddhist, not Christian. But I like the dialectic between the two, so utilize it often. Christianity was right for its time. Buddhism is right for these times IMHO. Christianity’s capitalist conquest mentality gives us global warming, so that is not sustainable. Eventually I think we will achieve a successful mix of the two, hopefully without another pandemic. Thanks for your comments…

        • TheFlowIntoWords 2:40 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink

          I also suspect we will achieve a successful mix of the two one day. Both have such deep wisdom to offer.

        • hardie karges 2:41 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink

          Yes, I agree…

    • Dylan Raines 11:01 pm on October 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful thoughts. I see true freedom as being something which produces the qualities of compassion, generosity, contentment, peace, etc. The freedom simply to do anything without consequence is a freedom that usually has some fear attached with it. I think the more we allow people to be free, letting go of attempting to control others, the more we capable of encouraging one another to move into a place of true freedom.

      • hardie karges 8:38 am on October 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds good to me. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 11:08 am on September 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alan Watts, , Bhavana, Chan, , jhana, , , samatha, ,   

    Meditation and Mediation, Buddhism on the Half-Shell… 

    The best meditation requires no app. Only silence can solve the problems caused by language. Not that I don’t find ‘guided meditations’ interesting, I just don’t think that they are the best form of meditation.

    Not that there need be many forms of meditation in the first place, but that comes with the turf, the modern commercial turf, that just one more thing under the tree will get us through the next year with flying colors, the colors of Christmas and New Year in joy and celebration of what I am not sure, but it seems that abundance is the common theme, my cup running over and all that jazz, eternal life and all that rap.

    But is the ‘special insight’ of ‘vipassana’ really some sort of qualitative improvement over the ‘awareness of breathing’ in anapanasati? Is there really any difference between the ‘calm abiding’ of ‘samatha’ and the ‘concentration’ of ‘samadhi’?

    Self-described experts go on and on about the ‘four different kinds’ of meditation like bloggers slicing and dicing adverbs and artichokes for the special garnish to Sunday brunch, to be ladled over with the special sauce of ‘mindfulness.’

    Then there is the ‘mental development’ of bhavana holding lengthy sessions, while the ‘trance-like states’ of ‘dhyana’ and ‘jhana’ morph into entire schools of Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen, so that entire cultures can be exported overseas a millennium later, and Alan Watts can make a living without ever having to plant rice, much less harvest it.

    So I suppose that there is a difference between a ‘one-focus’ meditation and a ‘field-focus’ meditation, but I’m really not sure, if the underlying concentration is upon the breath, or if you’ve got a really quiet place, then worth noticing the heartbeat, which our ears normally block out as background noise.

    But there seems to be a more significant distinction between meditation ‘upon’ something and meditation for meditation’s own sake. And this is where guided meditation comes in, because it is certainly a meditation upon something, if it is meditation at all.

    And I’m not sure who started this, because I have practiced the art in formal and semi-formal settings in three SE Asian countries, all of the Theravada school of Buddhism, and I can assure you that there was no bloke holding forth at the time. But I do see this online with monks of the Tibetan school, and saw it myself with a Western ex-monk of the same school in Nepal. So which is better, guided or silent?

    That I can’t say, but when I discussed all this with research neurologists interested in measuring the effects of meditation on the brain, all they wanted to know was, “Were you able to stop the internal dialogue?” To which I giddily responded something like, “Yes.” To which they responded with a dubious, “Do you understand this concept?” “Of course. That’s all I remember of Don Juan’s ‘Tales of Yaqui Power.”

    Guided meditation won’t do that, so you still need silent meditation IMHO. But to be a good Buddhist, more important than the sutras, the precepts, and all the meditations are the simple acts of kindness and compassion, ‘metta karuna’…

     
  • hardie karges 7:16 am on April 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alan Watts, , , , , , , , , , , , Rinzai, , , , ,   

    Buddhism is all about love—sweet dispassionate love… 

    img_1111It has long been predicted that Buddhism’s future is in the West, and for better or worse, that may very well be true. So the question then becomes: what kind of Buddhism would that be? For purposes of dialog and dialectic, I see the two chief protagonists to be the Thai Forest Tradition and Zen, both of which have numerous and faithful adherents in the West, and both of which can claim some purity of faith and doctrine…

    Tibetan Buddhism I imagine has as many or more adherents as either of the above, but is already mixed-and-mashed to the max, so the purity of doctrine is just not there, for better or worse, not to mention modern sex scandals, a dubious devotion to physical reincarnation, and a generation-jumping karma of retribution that just won’t quit. This was the final chapter to a previous crossroads, in Asia, and what worked there, and then, will not likely work here, and now… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:25 am on February 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alan Watts, , Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, , , , , , Zen in the Art of Archery   

    Zen and the Art of Non-Cyclic Existence… 

    There have been a plethora of ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of’ books, since the original was published, some seventy years ago now, e.g. ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Faking It’, ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Happiness”, ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Housekeeping’, ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Living’, and more, but did you know that the original was published in 1948, in German, and with a slight but important difference in the title, so ‘Zen IN the Art of Archery’ (CAPS mine), which seems to actually be a serious discussion of Zen Buddhism, unlike the best-known ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of’ book…

    Which was ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, of course, which sold a cool 5 Mil, published almost fifty years ago, and apparently has changed many people’s lives, hopefully for the better. I thought it all sounded very interesting way back then, as much for the motorcycles, my early passion, as for the Zen, but my own personal tastes at the time ran more to the Beats and the Existentialists than something that sounded like a slightly sullied Jonathan Livingston Seagull. But I finally got around to it, a year or two ago now (any book I’m seriously interested in, I try to read within 50 years of publication)… (More …)

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel