Zen is usually associated with,
yet distinguished from, Buddhism. Or else Zen is said to have come forth
in Japan from the merger of Indian Buddhism and Taoism in China, which is called Ch'an. But others regard Taoism as distinct, and even a dilution of,
Zen. Or else Zen may be regarded as a school of Mahayana Buddhism having
developed in China in the 6th and 7th centuries from the meeting of Dhyana
Buddhism and Taoism.
Or even perhaps Zen is Taoism disguised as Buddhism, such being 'The Tao of Zen.'
Zen, after all, remains a field of inquiry and controversy within which different views even as to the nature of Zen itself are known to clash, spark and contend.
And whereas Taoism constituting a body of reference recommending serene contemplation in quest for egoless and effortless harmony with all endeavor, abides, likewise, in emptiness, even in deepest meditation Zen remains expressly concerned with the journey, experience of such unexpected fiery inspiration, satori, as even the Taoist formulae may only seek for and indicate.
For ego and effort are regarded as disharmonious in Zen. And in the Zen, indication to show the way to direct experience is exalted over explanatory analytical comprehension scorned by the Zen as indirect and distorted. But we shall return to all of that later.
Of course, though paradox and contradiction are regarded by Zen no less than Tao as merely illusory, perhaps uninspired failure of Gestalt synthesis, nevertheless electric Zen elevates such inner struggle that the serene Tao seemingly rejects as pointless futility and Ecclesiastical vanity.
Zen, then, is all agitation in endless courtship of the ground state of the Tao,
A prime distinction of rational falibilism, is the rejection of despair over the admitted impossibility of perfect certainty or the recovery of innocence, both so vastly overrated. All struggle for perfection, innocence and certainty, all thereby become at best superfluous, at worst pernicious. Hence, popularly, from a falibilistic perspective, even Post Modern Nihilism becomes no more than an emphasis upon noninherency in rejection of privileged or intrinsic definitions or states, for example, conceptually, masculinity being no less contingent upon femininity than vice versa, likewise crooked or criminal and straight and upstanding, and even, in physics, not only Heisenberg principle of inevitable interference even from sheer observation, but solidity of any one object entirely contingent upon the solidity of other objects, hence relative, otherwise meaningless. All concepts and conditions are thus merely modified forms via Socratic participation in other forms in varying degree, even of their dualistic opposites, yin and yang. Indeed, returning to straight and upstanding versus crooked or criminal, what is authority and the law of the land, but fire to fight fire, coercion curtailing coercion? Indeed, behold the vigilante violating the law of the land actually in striving for preservation and enforcement thereof.
No less than East and West, feminine and masculine, Tao and Zen are reciprocally mirrored Yin and Yang, at the same time both interdependent and on every level in conflict, complementary and yet also in opposition and contradiction with each other, all in accordance with the law of unity of opposites which asserts the reciprocal inclusion and incorporation even among completely opposite abstract concepts and actual circimstances, describing as a matter of perspective, the underlying unity as well as the manifest polarity of things, events and processes, even divination, including the very point and relevance of Zen immediacy in the face of the idealism of Tao, historically, rhetorically, transitory politically and societally, iconoclastic individual independence in rebellion declared against established order but so often quickly aligning with and cultivating some new order of conservative cult authority, institution, comforting and inspirational mythology, hypocrisy and ultimately entrenched betrayal of all high minded principle. For indeed, how can that which is so transitory in the mind and too personal for transmission attain permanence in the very traps and trappings of this world?
Indeed it would seem that the Mystical doctrine of the Zen, so immoderate yet extolling moderation, so ultimately Manichean, nevertheless incorporates as prime tenet, such an ultimate caution against Manichean polarizational thinking. This is not paradox, but contradiction, and at best controversy. Alas, extol of the unity of opposites, tends to condemn controversy in and of itself, as unenlightened and unenlightening mere abstraction, inferior to the true Zen discourse. But moderation demands the softening of that condemnation in turn. Such much, bah humbug! In the famous admonition of J.R.R. Tolkien: “Never ask an elf for advice for he will say both yes and no.”
Experiential apprehension, the only important thinking by the poetical sensibilities of Zen enigma, is mercurial and elusive because everything depends upon context. But experiential Zen context remains transitory. Thus, to the Zen wise sacred fool, the world is chimerical, particularly as regards human interaction, wherein each individual consciousness, the Zen states of multiple human elements, are so variable (especially given all combinatorial optimization left to chance).
Hence, even usage of the very word: 'Zen' also in the sense of broadest apprehension, approach, or body of howsoever intuitive ways.
Zen is a deliberately inscrutable teaching, made even more enigmatic by its interpreters in countless years of innumerable writings upon as they insist, the utterly inexplicable, all under the same famous caveat of Lao Tzu: "they who tell do not know; they who know do not tell."
Truth seldom lies buried in the data and therefore knowledge is not simply an end product of induction by Empirical packrats. Massive unsorted garbage in, bloated and obscure garbage out. Esoteric knowledge, prescriptive and calculatingly encoded and camouflaged into intentional obscurity or else however entirely ingenuous and descriptive, is fundamental yet derived only via careful comparison of diverse knowledge from many fields with keen attention and sagacity. While the ineffable, even knowable, even transmissible, nevertheless defies explanation or description. Indeed, according to the TRIZ theory of inventive problem solving, only pioneering discoveries are more rare and precious than cross-disciplinary solutions, knowledge imported from one discipline into another. And relevant living knowledge (as opposed to knowledge that is rightly called: inert), serving renewal and vitality, is growth, the experience of change put into practice, learned behaviors never immutable but ever subject to re-adaptation, emergent in collective interaction, tacit, highly charged and redolent, profoundly with the sensibility of drama, may even skirt the ineffable, often defying ready articulation let alone routine management via knowledge-driven Epistemology.
Knowledge can be of information, cases, skills and processes, abilities ingrained to second nature. "Factual" [sic.] or declarative information is often the easiest to state and to assess and simply therefore often preferred, even though no less often of least practical importance, skills often being found the most difficult to articulate and of greatest practical importance along with processes and cases.
Hence, ever mistrustful and contemptuous of any verbal exchange of anecdotes and likewise the religious writings left behind by others, Zen spits forth many extremely harsh words against words at all, a reoccurring theme in many lands and times. Indeed, aside from a characteristic silly-clever discredit of arguments without the trouble of genuine refutation, the practice of analytic Deconstruction, Zen like, points to context and the lack of inherency, the relative conditionality, of constructed factitious language, without the foundation of supposed transcendental meaning or inherent clarity in even the simplest basic arbitrarily "privileged" and therefore unexamined expressions. But all such must come as little upset to Hypothetico-Deductive Method wherein science begins from unfounded conjecture, and thereafter problems are confronted as they arise, ambiguity ever seeking improved resolution and truth via closer correspondence with observable reality.
Relevance is to any external object or purpose. Otherwise, internal or inner processes, no matter how adept, no matter how efficient, are inherently irrelevant. Intrapsychic Mysticism is likewise therefore inheritably irrelevant. The Empiricism of Mysticism is timid and introverted, whereas the Empiricism of science is bold and extroverted. They could not be more opposite! Mysticism claims that deepest truth is ineffable. Mysticism is predicated upon Wittgensteinean paralysis, the Empirically refuted claim that subjective meaning cannot be shared because words fail and then become meaningless in grappling with their own imitations, thus rendering miscommunication repair impossible. But in actuality, Dialectics of Miscommunication Competence and Conversational Adequacy, however imperfect of course, are repeatedly observable in ongoing practice, teaching, learning and improvement, only every day! There is even a name for the use of language in discussion of language itself: Metalanguage. And metalanguage is put to good use, only every day. Wittgensteinean paralysis, then, is nothing more than another craven anti-intellectual copout.
Nevertheless, Mysticism continues to bemoan the limitation and futility of learning and communication in quest of truth. Mysticism contends that no one can impart truth to another, not by any means of reasoning or communication. Mysticism therefore advocates lone self-reliance in cultivation of experiential methods. Whereas Didacticism strives to discover, clearly express and to share discoveries of good logic and sound reasoning, thereby adding to and improving upon the sum of human knowledge, something which Mysticism cannot do. Truth is correspondence to reality in assertioms. Reality is singulars. Truth is therefore likewise singular. Verisimilitude means approximation coming closer to truth. But actual truth cannot be so ambiguous, much less as ineffable as poetry or meditation that defies clear expression in order to share whatever purported understanding or insight. An assertion in order to be true, must first be clear. Popper therefore advocates abandonment of the quest for intersubjective meaning. Subjective meaning is relevant, if at all, only to some external reality. Hence Karl Popper emphatically recommends: rather than quibbling over meaning at all, in the event of substantive disagreement, instead investigate whatever real phenomena (lower case) or circumstances in question. Even questions of linguistics may be settled by external investigation of actual usage. Whereas meditation has no Epistemological application at all. There is no special truth to be found in meditation. As the saying goes: Anyone may remain silent and pretend some secret wisdom! But then in such cases, it is only that very silence which separates different people from shared understanding.
In surreptitious retreat from ever more indefensible Mysticism, a lesser claim for meditation, is that meditation cultivates perspective. Such much. There are many and perhaps better paths to perspective, even didactically or Dialectically. All the above then leaves the way open for any more viable hypothesis as to the nature and purpose of meditation.
As to the function and limitations of human expression as in the use of language: In context primarily of elementary particles and such, the quantum physicist Feynman said that we cannot say what anything is, only say various different things about it. In other words: Incompleteness, even prior to every obstacle of linguistic intersubjectivity and Wittgensteinean paralysis. And we find much the same notion as expressed by Feynman but most broadly applied to life since antiquity in Buddhist thought, often as an Epistemological invalidation of individual being, identity (the much maligned ego), subjective Phenomenal perception, affect, comprehension and even reality to begin with, and a harrowing Existential dilemma besides! Incompleteness seems implicitly taken as gravely inadequate. But to what impossibly high standard and what allegedly unmet need or purpose? This conclusion is never made explicit, no matter how the initial supporting points are belabored at length. Implicit is that from acceptance of our Epistemological and Existential circumstances, the corollary is acquiescence to the futility of rational and sensory investigation, leaving thus the alternatives being either any meditation claimed to be more profound, sublime apathy, or any synthesis of the two.
Indeed, in answer to the apparent
non-problem of 'Practical Zen,'
chapter VI of 'AN
INTRODUCTION TO ZEN BUDDHISM,' one cannot but agree that words that indicate
their descriptive definitions are therefore all necessarily incomplete because
they only reference infinite
Existential modalities of being beyond finite
And awe is inspired, even via the artifice of the fable pointing, for the ineffable vastness of the territory howsoever woefully
inadequately mapped, is truly beautiful.
Nevertheless, how then does assertion and recommendation of a higher apprehension via wordless silence, follow therefrom, when the above perfectly Didactic initial assertion, again: that words indicate their descriptive definitions which, in turn. are all necessarily incomplete, is already crystal clear Didactic?
Zen here struggles quite unnecessarily. For in this instance, true correspondent dichotomous understanding of an intrinsic dichotomy is far simpler and more ordinary, plain and profane. -And as with all such didactic fundamentals, with no mischief in the repetition! Didacticism is the answer, not the problem.
For though the range of possible untruth remains infinite, there remain always many different strategies for adequate or better expression, comprehension let alone communication, of truth, featuring: selected details, emphasis and perspective, all towards howsoever adequate representations of reality; but never, outside the hypothetical mind of God, any actually comprehensive Zen meditation upon, let alone communicative transmission, of any totality of being, the senses of objectivity remaining, or so we must hope, ever distinct.
Indeed, if expression were possible such as to embrace any totality of being, would this even be desirable? Certainly, if such were not only possible but Zen mandatory, what good would that do? In truth, anything salient ever to be said of anything or anyone, must be howsoever selective particular to whatever necessarily narrowed context. Therefore, it is better to celebrate than to mourn or to deny even howsoever mere limited and specific human understanding and fallibility.
Indeed, leave us never forget the utter failure of Inductivism which strives to be comprehensive or representative, given the manifest impossibility of completeness. Likewise Zen, here in quest for totality as well as ever, futility, has at least achieved aimlessness! But such, or so it might seem, remains futility merely as an esthetic value or consideration, which is to say: simply by even somewhat arbitrary taste, and hence again: hopefully, at least, for art's sake and the serenity of appreciative amusement. Yet it remains all so often the Didactic which is plain and profane where Zen is even deliberately most obscure and even somewhat smug.
Bah, humbug! Being is not exclusive to any ineffable totality of being. Being is of innumerable aspects impermanent, unfolding, ever anything to look forward to. And in acceptance of things as they are, that a person, senses, ponders, discerns and changes as a person is just perfect for being and growing as a person, under the indisputable Epistemological circumstances of he human condition, that trouble no one so greatly, who has not been one way or another been indoctrinated to decidophobic perfectionism to begin with! So, there: Problem, what problem? Much like Theology, Zen only manufactures unreal conundrums in order to wrestle with.
Does our cultural involvement in
Psychology and Psychotherapy only make us all the more morbidly neurotic? Well,
it's not as though people have no problems before seeing a shrink! But can the
same be said of
Psychiatric illness of obsession consists of whatever initial trauma in the past or issues in the present, compounded by the vicious cycle spawning layers of reaction formation, obsessive and ambivalent patterns of struggle and denial misguidedly arising in order to cope, but only steadily worsening. Each layer of reaction formation, failing and creating further suffering, both internally and by self sabotage externally, inspires ever more of the same harm, suffering and futility. That is why the success of psychotherapy indeed depends upon the breakdown of the adaptation and upon despair, the loss of all hope in maladaptive reaction formation. Only then can issues be addressed and traumas released cathartically.
Similarly, the religion of Christianity replete with both the repressive and obsessive struggle with sin, and the release of the confessional, exists both to incubate and to treat the guilt complexes so characteristic of Christianity, And similarly, Mysticism the likes of the Zen, as with many Holistic treatments, consists of the exacerbation of the course of the illness, specifically, the obsessive struggle with the conundrums of Zen, until a controlled breakdown occurs, and thus the attainment of futility promising the peace of sublime apathy, by means of inducing overall behavioral extinction called: Zen cessation.
But much as Christianity is of little appeal to Hedonism and the embrace of healthy desire, likewise the Zen can only be that much less compelling to anyone who, for whatever reasons, simply does not find the abstract conundrums of Zen particularly dystressing, emotionally, even though the Zen effectively pathologies by far so much more than its own obsessive process, the somewhat draconian treatment, by demonizing en toto, the ego. Zen perfectionism seeks to end all suffering by crushing the spirit, by quashing all hope, not just sinful desire as in Christianity, or misguided hopes as of reaction formation in Psychology and Psychotherapy. Indeed, whereas in Psychotherapy compassion and understanding are seen as aiding transference and catharsis, Zen futility is such cold comfort because any expression of sympathy or compassion for the crisis of futility attained, might undermine intrapsychic self-reliance.
Sadly, fewer seek to sell their souls at any price, than simply to be rid of them at all, relieved thereof and grateful for it. So, who would actually sally forth in order to have their spirits broken and discarded as such an obstacle? Alas that all too many are so desperate for peace and acceptance on any terms. And there is never any shortage of ever the same cult snake oil from phony gurus and fakirs, Zen Masters and Behaviorists, all ever eager to oblige. Such is the most vile exploitation. Beware!
One way or another, the path to liberation is frequently illuminated by a dawning awareness of the Existential Absurdity of things hitherto considered of utmost importance. Zen Nihilistic value destruction simply assumes that if some is good and true, more can only better and more profound; hence adamantly resolving that all is Existential Absurdity and therefore nothing matters. That this enders even the Zen itself pointless and Existentially Absurd, Nihilism too, is often taken as no contradiction or refutation, but as profound insight of mere internal consistency. But from Zen moderation along the famous middle road of Siddhartha, a better recordation comes from Yamaoka Tesshu. Quoth he: "Zen is like soap. First you wash with it, and then you wash off the soap." In other words, indeed the Zen value even of Zen itself, must needs be recognized as transitory, in order to be liberating rather than merely obsessive and Existentially Absurd mischief of repetition.
Zen prescribes unselfconsciousness together with aware mindfulness in activities and tasks, while along with self-awareness, reflection and ego, demonizing by the same token intellectual discipline which, after all, is only mindfulness as applied and manifest appropriately and even meditatively in observational or reflective critical thinking rather than merely towards external behavior, thereby inescapably undermining the very Zen quest for transcendent acquiescence to all things that the very habit of criticism and even the most entirely appropriate dissatisfaction in the Zen deemed so threatening to begin with. According to Freud, the conscious and aware ego exists for the sake of impulse formation into the execution of strategy, serving the drives of the id within constraint of conscience which is an aspect of superego. But the Zen rejects completely, any escapism afforded by the unique features of the idle human mind, being: insight, especially into another's thinking, imagination and cooperation.
Indeed, as to the value of words, again, Axiology being the study of values, remains quite distinct from Epistemology and never derivable from Ontology in the first place, any more than from first principles. In the words of Kahlil Gibran: "You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts..." And expression thus motivated relieves distress and cultivates eustress. And isn't that a good thing? Well, never good enough, given extremely high standards of inner peace as only ever signified in the serene passage of silence. But then again, does not Zen controversy also prize and even seek to perpetuate the sparking clash in the mind, over human problems that must honestly stick in ones craw, impossible neither to swallow and stomach nor to expel?
Not merely in sheer Reductionism rests the failure of phoneme theory, but in the Phenomena of memory association and the nature of communication as a human behavior, after all consisting not merely in description, instruction and assertion, all variously Ontological reference, striving nigh transcendentally for precision and clarity in the quest for truth, but also of expression and intention, ambiguity, inner response to life without distinct objective external correspondence.
As illustrated in sophisticated dialogue with subtext, understanding one another then, may often only be conjectural, approximate and verisimilitudinous at very best. But then, what knowledge isn't? Allowing the indulgence of metaphoric Pathetic Fallacy, science, on this score, remains sanguine, cheerfully confident, optimistic and content if not actually somewhat smug.
But what of the Zen? Now, there can be a Zen of any solitary art, archery, motorcycle maintenance, or anything else. But can there be a Zen of graceful interactions, especially such as by which people are ever thought to relate to one another? Indeed, is the cultivation of conduct within dharma just such, a quest for the same insight of spontaneous authenticity and good faith striven for in Transactional Analysis between individuals?
In Transactional Analysis, like unto the Zen Master, similarly the practitioner of Transactional Analysis in hoped for deliverance from the snares of Ulterior Transactions or: headgames, aims at providing the patients a liberating satori of futility, in Transactional Analysis called the Antithesis. But where Zen promises private Mystical enlightenment, Transactional Analysis quests for honest Existential good faith defined and realized in human interaction.
So, is Transactional Analysis a properly dharmic liberation from karma? Or is the cultivation of conduct within dharma only a questing for impersonally cold-blooded and even shallow perfection in dealing with others? Indeed, must Zen prize or reject the same insight of spontaneous authenticity and good faith striven for in Transactional Analysis between individuals? Indeed, strictly speaking, can Zen ever even recognize as possible any insight of spontaneous authenticity and good faith striven for in Transactional Analysis between individuals? After all, bypassing, exchange which is not genuine communication because it lacks sufficient intersubjectivity and does not carry at all the same meanings or even purpose, intention or point at all between the participants, is all there really is, according to the Zen, traditionally.
To quote Stephen Levine, ‘A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last’: “[D]etachment means letting go and nonattachment means simply letting be.” But such is but more of the same empty sophistry so typical of Mysticism, another fine distinction that is actually no distinction at all, the villain as ever remaining attachment or desire. For in Psychology, dissociation is a denial process of separating shameful unwanted impulses, desires, and needs enacted, from cognition of ego and more importantly, superego, conscience, thus shielding self-system that Zen rationalizes and recommends by actually defining being fully engaged as abidance in the moment unpremediated, free from introspection and reflection particularly as in remembering the past and anticipating the future, in a word: innocent. But again, only premediation is what renders experience even intelligible to begin with. Moreover, introspection of knowledge accumulated from experience in the past, along with scenario planning in anticipation into the future, are clearly at the very core of fullest engagement.
Much as ostensibly rationalistic Stoicism quests for untroubled ataraxia (aταραξία), Mystical traditions including such as Buddhism and the Zen ever yearn for the peace of sublime apathy, by means of inducing overall behavioral extinction called: Zen cessation, emotional self violence in the cultivation of stunned shock, being the ongoing counterfeit of contentment, by means of inducing overall behavioral extinction called: Zen cessation, emotional self violence in the cultivation of stunned and exhausted shock, contentment that even according to the more Heraclitian Zen (in such colossal self contradiction) is so vastly overrated to begin with! And regardless all other exhortation to moderation along the middle road of Siddhartha, in the manifestly immoderate perfectionist Utopism of Zen, the entrenched stubborn measure and evaluation of all things against impossible ideal totalities, the Zen much like unto Theology, often generates non existent snares and worries even such as to put stereotypical neurotic Judaism to shame!
But whence derives Buddhist compassion let alone conduct in accordance with dharma, save from attentive empathy and connection, from mindfulness of one another specifically? For according to the Zen, individuals may be perfectly genuine, but dialogue, let alone the motivating attachment snare of relationship, never can be genuine or true. Hence, Zen must regard Transactional Analysis and good faith as quixotically futile. For Buddhist engagement is predicated upon life the moment, free from inner distraction and refection; and only the individual quelled into conduct within dharma can conceivably ever be however cold-bloodedly receptive to others, according to all such Mystical doctrines of self abnegation as the Zen. But is this realistic?
In the celebrated words of John Donne: "No man is an island." Indeed, being that engagement is the beginning of the state or condition of attachment which is an ongoing, remembered or anticipated and even yearned for state of engagement, hence according to Self-Determination Theory, secure attachment is characterized by attention and responsiveness to one another's needs when turning toward one another to obtain comfort and care. And in this regard, autonomy support, vital to engagement in challenge and mastery in one’s own activity, is no less crucial than any other comfort. It is true that sentiment differs from emotion, in that relevant emotion is elicited by external events in the present, whereas ordinary sentiment as in the wistful reverie, is introverited, an aspect of inner life and reflection that is a part of the Phenomena no less than perception of external reality. But sentimentality, resentment and self pity, much les the sublime indifference deliberately and painstakingly cultivated by the Zen, are well known so often to negate outwardly directed compassion. Emotional attachments are of actual relationship, while those of sentiment tend to the fantastical. And such illusion may even be understood as a bleakly anomic cultural feature of lonely conformity in a cold and unresponsive social environment.
Nevertheless, it is also not only true but important how we all tend to reflect, remembering the past and anticipating future scenario, engaging thereby in time-bound attachment to places or settings, social milieu, to objects, events, actions and interactions, even ideas and meaningful values, but most especially bonds of affection to other individuals as according to Attachment Theory of the first core strengths attained in childhood towards adult attachment in relationships such as for couples.
All mature, friendly and functional attachments of social relationship under autonomy are ethical, being predicated upon trust and fulfillment of such expectations, lack or abrogation whereof creating distance, even loathing and avoidance, or else ambivalence, mistrust and dysfunction, indeed if not amoral sociopathy outright, then the shattered confidence and compensations thereto of heteronomy. Weak attachment makes for weak conscience. Thus heteronymous covert relational hostility working to to undermine those attachments in society, shunning and mobbing, even well organized orchestrated harassment, thereby conspire with impunity by means of social exclusion, to harm and endanger the target of exactly such serial bullying.
Attachments may even be reshaped by sublimation. Whereas an attachment injury is the hurt from close quarters, so to speak, therefore that festers and engenders even pandemic attachment disorder severely enough to adversely affect future interactions and close relationships throughout life. Anti-Critical Bias let alone Fundamental Attribution Error exacerbated into Hostile Attribution Bias is all mistrustfully attachment injured and disordered, let alone the controlling possessiveness of bullying.
To quote Gian Vincenzo Gravina: "A bore is a man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company." But the irritation and lonely boredom from from insensitive or just unreceptive intrusion is the very least failure of intimacy. Intimacy risks far greater disappointment and betrayals. Therefore, even eustress in the most pleasant anticipation or prospect of intimacy is often marked by even sometimes threatening sensations of shyness, much as good sex is often preceded by the churning of proverbial butterflies in the stomach. And it's all just more sucker bait, and worldly snare according to the Zen, ever extolling Nirvana Principle of escape from the suffering of frustrated desire by the quelling of Pleasure Principle.
“If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires.” — Epicurus (Quoted in A Cyclopedia of Education, 1911)
“The secret self knows the anguish of our
attachments and assures us that letting go of what we think we must have to
be happy is the same as letting go of our unhappiness.”
— Guy Finley
“The wise are so totally detached,
Pain is for those who are attached.”
“From the dear comes grief;
From the dear comes fear.
If you're freed from the dear
You'll have no grief, let alone fear.”
— Anonymous, The Dhammapada
So, can Zen non attachment really be the answer, the release into perfect Buddhist compassion as promised? -Or just more of the metaphorical baby out with the proverbial bath water... At best, extreme perfectionist Utopist all-or-nothing polarizational Manichean exhortations to sublime apathy, let alone all harrowing Mystical trials in pursuit thereof even as supervised my the Zen Master, even denounced as wild-eyed extremist heresy, may then be subject to moderation as of the famous middle road of Siddhartha, into any more sensible measure of detachment, indeed of that lucid gain which is called: perspective and any moderate ambition of mere pain management in living life. Such much. For it remains that in the equivocation and Apologetics of the closet perfectionist Utopist all-or-nothing Manichean, Hell bent upon the literal and complete elimination of suffering, there are no diminishing and negative returns: if some is deemed good or helpful, then more must be better; and therefore the extremes only remain implicit from the moderate and common-sensible that provides a gateway to initiate the callow unsuspecting prospective new disciples, poor silly venial Americans not yet ready for more.
It remains, all nevertheless, that genuine love, compassion and friendship are all distinctly marked by such features as patience and kindness rather than envy, rude and boastful pride, ever self-seeking and quick to wrath and grudge collecting, by forthright honesty rather than hollow deceit, by protection and trust with every hope for the others' best interests, with perseverance through conflict, wanting for another all that the other person desires for themselves.
Hence Transactional Analysis quests and strives towards the cultivation of more intuitive interaction in good faith intrinsic to more genuine relationship between individuals. But the however optimistic Nihilistic value-destruction of Zen nevertheless scorns all such attachment as relationship without distinction. Bohmian dialogue however, does seemingly strive for vindication of human communication at all, even within holistic Zen sensibilities. But even that remains problematical.
In the most Heraclitian Buddhist thinking nowadays the more current than ever in modern physics, all objects, phenomena or other events are deemed empty of self sufficient inherency which illusory. For example, the hardest rock cannot really be inherently solid in and of itself, save that it cannot readily interpenetrate any other solid mass, because to exist is to be effective upon anything else at all at large.
In accordance with the law of unity of opposites which describes in matters of perspective, the underlying unity as well as the manifest polarity of things, events and processes, Mystical doctrines the likes of Zen and Buddhism partake of a controversy and synthesis (systems theory) familiar in science and Philosophy, that of profound marvel delving into the reduction of anything and everything that exists or occurs to the smallest and most basic self sufficient monads, versus serene appreciation in contemplation of the universal Gestalt of all things and phenomena existing only contingently, in context, dependant upon conditioning factors, upon other things, hence empty of adequate independent self-existence and intrinsic properties.
All such, however, is relationship in a strictly dharmic view. Whereas for Zen, dialogue, literally from dia- "across" + legein "speak," let alone human relationship, remains all quite oxymoronic. And that is why Jews do not Zen. Judaism and even Jewish Mysticism to begin with, let alone the Zen, are intrinsically irreconcilable because, after all, community and the attachment and belonging of human relationship, a value so Nihilistically rejected by solitary Mysticism such as the Zen, has ever been, indeed, the very central focus of Judaic thought and life.
Bohmian Dialogue strives to circumvent the inadequacy of conceptualization according to Zen, specifically as applicable in the effort at dialogue, only via the most protracted and arduous efforts of reciprocally Zenning of one another.
No wonder, then, that in Zen, conversation is less important as an exchange at all, than as a catalyst. Because, though each party can never be entirely on the same proverbial page, fortunately, they need not even be for the attainment of insight and even the achievement of personal growth! -All rather suggesting, if anything, the support group exchange of Constructivist Listening rather than any techniques of engaged Active Reading Strategies no less applicable to Effective Active Listening, Constructivist Listening being a process of passively allowing a person to talk without being interrupted, with nary ever a care regarding Miscommunication Competence or Conversational Adequacy, indeed wherein listeners neither overtly respond nor interpret at all, neither to paraphrase, analyze, proffer advice nor seek to relate via personal stories, all because people are simply held to be capable of solving their own problems by thinking aloud. -All very much in accord with Nihilistic value destruction as implicit to the Solipsistic Zen position upon dialogue.
For to reiterate, the Zen rejects the escapism afforded by the unique features of the idle human mind, being: imagination and cooperation. Indeed, the traditional humorous anecdotes of Zen are most often descriptive of stunning private insight, satori arising from outright miscommunication.
Now, did Zhouzhou quite unsuspecting and no doubt to his great delight, bare witness and share in the monk's delight? Or, all the more comedic, did even the great sage, comfortable in his own routine, remain entirely oblivious and innocent of the momentous event that had transpired, no matter the sagacity accrued by his illuminated disciple of the second, the muddled monk? Did Zhouzhou and the monk ever truly connect or forever only bypass? And does it matter either way, if both should show their hearts and neither see, if nevertheless they are content and in accord? For in Zen, the important truths, universally human as they may be, are only to be found within, all along. For as the saying goes: “The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there.” Indeed, the notorious Zenslap, even masterfully executed, adds nothing, but only connects unassociated thoughts into fresh realizations, even if need be, of the obvious.
In the words of Rebecca West "Any authentic work of art must start an argument between the artist and his audience." for, to quote Michel Eyquem de Montaigne "The word is half his that speaks, and half his that hears it." But more than this, in modern Western artistic sensibility, the very ambiguity of just such fusion is seen to validate shared experience even from differing perspectives, of that larger event, the interaction which is communication. However, in Zen, the differences between the two sides of the exchange, regardless of whatever balanced counterpoint in which they are perceived together participating, signifies far less, but merely demonstrates the futility and illusion of communication at all, save, with random luck, interaction and even misunderstanding as catalyst for individual satori.
For Zen, thus all such metaphorical argument is not Dialectic but at best, merely Heraclitian. All despite the observable cycles or renewal in societies that so closely parallel that of the individual psyche. Regardless, also of all profound immediacy of individual experience in any social historical context whatsoever, the intersubjectivity nevertheless remaining conjectural, approximate and verisimilitudinous at best, hence to be scorned by Zen as somehow inauthentic, except by the mythic legacy of direct telepathic transmission down the ancient lineage of Zen masters and their chosen protégés.
The Zen professes and exhorts practicality and acceptance of things as they are, but in succumbing to Wittgensteinean paralysis, Zen decidedly does not accept things as they are at all: Indeed, mere conversational adequacy in cooperative miscommunication detection andrepair as via hair splitting and the painstaking negotiation of reciprocal incomprehension, all has no place in the Zen, given that originality and novelty are taken as entirely subjective inspiration, intransmissible, with, objectively, Ontologically, no new thing under the sun.
Instead, the skilled Zen Master helps to bring about the causes and conditions of insight, which, nevertheless, remains subjective and solitary. Indeed, ever it is said that the vantage for such awakening, regarded as purest, most reliable and most perfect truth and unassailable, is never far for anyone. And any seeming practical consideration of the time, effort and discomfort is to be dismissed as ego and worldly illusion, so we all may rest assured!
Zen, after all, remains a field of inquiry and controversy within which different views even as to the nature of Zen itself are known to clash, spark and contend, and over human problems that must honestly stick in ones craw, impossible neither to swallow and stomach nor to expel. Indeed there have always been many reasons why it may even be deemed a deadly mistake to strive for ultimately boring inner harmony or tranquility of ataraxia, Nirvana, or Zen Cessation. Heraclites compared the personality to salad dressing, of constituents as incompatible as oil and vinegar: boring even to oneself, until agitated! Heraclites said: "All is fire!" For Heraclites, nature is the agora or market of clashing forces in exchange, elements ever in transformation, and human nature likewise, is of inner conflict and tempestuous passion. Therefore, true insight is likewise thereof, honestly. And so is engaged creativity that makes even ones own company at all the more interesting and congenial. And so, orthodoxy likewise may be rejected even along with oppressive demands for unity.
In the words of Kahlil Gibran: "You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts..." But isn't agitation to be valued? Yet Zen Epistemological Nihilism so bleakly insists that the instant even to speak about anything, one is only doomed to miss the mark. Whereas, rational skeptical science and Philosophy frankly lower any such impossible bar of perfection, spurning the futility of mythic unpremediation, optimistically enacting any hope that the more we examine and discuss any phenomena, the closer thereby we may draw to better understanding thereof.
The difference between Zen and the democratic values of Scientific Rationalism and Socratic Method remain, nevertheless, that Zen is the quest for futility, while in the Epistemology of Scientific Rationalism and Scientific Method, doubt is fruitful and far from futile or even suffering. If Zen so values inner turmoil with difficult Existential problems, then why not embrace science and controversy? Indeed, scientific curiosity is optimistically deemed eustress and all precious little contingent upon the transcendence of Zenning the matter nor any sense of ultimate truth, wherein Zen may still fail to commit to human fallibility and will tend still to quest if not after the mythic true guru that should by spurned as the proverbial Buddha on the road, then yet after some true and infallible inner light for attainment of whatever the motivating lofty goals ever put forth of the Zen, that should have been rejected. It is futility itself that is most futile.
After all, the observers observe and influence one another, not any other distinct object. Hence the sheer vanity of any Isolationist mythic 'Star Trek' Prime Directive of non intervention! We are all one and part of nature, anyhow, according to Zen. For as Werner Heisenberg pointed out, another's perspective at all, even simply being observed,in however minute the impact thereof, may nevertheless profoundly perturb.
In accordance with the law of unity of opposites which describes in matters of perspective, the underlying unity as well as the manifest polarity of things, events and processes, Zen and Buddhism partake of a controversy and synthesis (systems theory) familiar in science and Philosophy, that of profound marvel delving into the reduction of anything and everything that exists or occurs to the smallest and most basic self sufficient monads, versus serene appreciation in contemplation of the universal Gestalt of all things and phenomena existing only contingently, in context, dependant upon conditioning factors, upon other things, hence empty of adequate independent self-existence and intrinsic properties.
Zen is the quest for oneness. For the enlightened man is said to be one with dharma, the law of causation, and the perceptions of Determinism on the one hand, or of freedom,willful choice and influence, on the other hand, are both error, presumably from uninspired failure to synthesize frames of reference (subjective willful choice and objective Determinism) into the correct Gestalt. Hence, again, the sheer vanity of any mythic 'Star Trek' Prime Directive of non intervention, from the same false and distorted construct of ego.
Doing no harm is impossible, then, save not only by the rejection of ideological extremes, but also by committed benevolence. Indeed, is not the hottest circle of Dante's Inferno reserved for those who cultivate neutrality during moral crisis? One might consider that surely, if not actually doing nothing at all, then not-doing, must be the surest guarantee of committing no evil. But that can never be. Because continually bystanding in the face of suffering cannot be harmless! Only thus does Zen obtain the devout compassion of Buddhist Universalism, for which Zen austerity, The Dark Side of the Tao as notoriously manifest in Zen and the Art of Divebombing, Zen brainwashed fatalism gone war-like and cruel must and indeed should forever stick in the craw of collective memory and conscience.
But then, thereby, is not the purported great truth of futility attained and embraced by persuasive practical demonstration via Zen cessation of attachment and relation, being no more or less than in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely repeated elicitation, frustration, extinction actually of all impulse rather than any mores specifically targeted impulse or range of impulses, then itself no more than just yet another illusion?
Indeed, since when is anything so Reactionary as Isolationism, the damnable paralytic sin of Zen indifference politicized, a Leftist bleeding-heart Liberal Progressive agenda? We can thank Noam Chomsky, George Orwell's Renegade Liberal par excellence, who has never met a Communist despot he didn't like. For to quote Carl von Clausewitz: "The conqueror is always a lover of peace; he would prefer to take over our country unopposed."
Such intuitionist transcendence of ego and intellect as in Zen detachment obviously flies in direct opposition to any ideal of any Hellenized Jewish intellectual transcendence of brutishness, I and thou, deep thinking, attachment to and regard of principles or values of Universalism such as justice to occupy the minds of the righteous, only intellectual detachment in service to compassionate involvement even amid the temporal world of iniquity, integrity from the quest for fortitude in decency, to be a mensch? , in short, indeed, the very embrace of all that Stoical Zen seemingly flees to escape.
So, what unity or convergence can there ever be found in in these manifest polar opposites, particularly? Only, if ever, in the dawning of responsibility, of Zen and Accountability.
Futility, indeed! And all how true, no understanding can ever be certain or total and no happiness ever brings complete and permanent contentment. Mystical traditions including such as Buddhism and the Zen ever yearn for the peace of sublime apathy, by means of inducing overall behavioral extinction called: Zen cessation, emotional self violence in the cultivation of stunned and exhausted shock, being the ongoing counterfeit of contentment, contentment that even according to the more Heraclitian Zen (in such colossal self contradiction) is so vastly overrated to begin with! Regardless all other exhortation to moderation along the middle road of Siddhartha, in the manifestly immoderate perfectionist Utopism of Zen, the entrenched stubborn measure and evaluation of all things against impossible ideal totalities, the Zen much like unto Theology, often generates non existent snares and worries even such as to put stereotypical neurotic Judaism to shame!
"You can't solve a problem on the same level you created it." admonished Albert Einstein. Indeed, in the words of Yamaoka Tesshu: "Zen is like soap. First you wash with it, and then you wash off the soap." In other words, indeed the Zen value even of Zen itself, must needs be recognized as transitory, in order to be liberating rather than merely obsessive and Existentially Absurd mischief of repetition.
After all, this before you. gentle reader, is merely a page about Zen, a Zen-despicable philosophical discourse, and not a page of Zen practice at all.
For any however lasting scientific progress of civilization even amid transience and imperfection as extolled by Scientific Rationalism must be rejected as vanity by the Zen in quest only for the acceptance of Ecclesiastical futility. -Unless, indeed, the futility of futility itself, proverbially comes out in the metaphorical wash.
Indeed, whereas the serene Tao, dwelling far less in any appeal to the terrors of disorientation, almost conjures a ghostly form in it's explorations of the void as metaphor for the untroubled life and understanding, Zen, as the quest for emptiness amid enigma, may even resort to the surreal, non sequitur, enigma and contradiction, replete with nonsense and incongruous juxtapositions.
For Zen may prize such paradox and contradiction, where in, by a sort of Existential Heisenberg Principle, the act of repeating the right answer, even to the extent of the Tao, makes it wrong again, even the mischief of sheer irrelevance. For to quote a sage neither partakes nor shares with or imparts to others, that bygone Zen flash of insight. A dilemma!
And all such seems by far more recommendation than an admonition, as regards the metaphorical reinvention of the proverbial wheel. Indeed, the Eastern Philosophy of Zen thus rejects any such shared legacy as in Western style social progress in favor of a strange and solitary personal quest by Zen practice, meditate and clear the mind of thoughts, progressively purging and emptying all that is habitual, peripheral and extraneous, and to focus attention upon one inquiry oneself rather than by placing faith in the religious writings left behind by others.
For, unlike conventionally factitiously thematic religions and philosophies, it is claimed that there can be no such object or conceptualization in Zen upon which to affix thought, much less meditate. Indeed, in the ardent cultivation of immediacy and awakening to mindful heightened awareness of experience, and thence the rejection of conceptualization as burdensome self-conscious encumbrance and suffering, Zen quests for the complete abandonment of understanding as such.
Rather, the bottomless abyss of Zen is transcendentally noncommittal with nothing whatsoever to fathom. Indeed, unlike other brands of Mysticism, erratic and apart from day to day life of the prosaic, only the systematic training of the mind by observation and deconditioning of the encumbered thought process itself back into an empty ordinary native condition, unperturbed, free and sufficient, a quiet, self-confident, andtrustful existence of one's own, is ever of any much value to the Zen.
For to the mindful, by heightened awareness undistracted, the Zen is revealed in the most uninteresting practical commonplace and uneventful life of the plainest person, by simplicity and unencumbered open eyed recognition of living in the midst of life as it is lived, the greatest mystery that is actually already possessed by everybody, as it is daily and hourly performed; ever serene heart enlarged to embrace Eternity of and beyond time and infinity of space in its every palpitation.
But if the no-mind is thought to perceive, thus does Zen assume perception free of self conscious preconception howsoever to be actually passive? After all, physiological sensation alone is not perception because perception is now known to be an active thought process even physiologically, neurologically, let alone psychologically, which must be learned over time by experience and practice. For it is the mind, not the eye, that sees! Hence any quest for unaltered perception is oxymoron and futile. And so, which such learning of perceptual habits are to be considered natural and wholesome as constituent to naive perception, and which are to be considered civilized and debased? And what preference can be anything but reflective and prejudicial no less?
Indeed, in so far as perception is learned by trial and error, conjecturally, then how much conjecture is possible without provoking reflection and self consciousness? Zen is a value preposition also prioritizing a certain kind, field or view of knowledge, rather than an Epistemology as such. Thus, in so far self consciousness and reflection play any part in perception, then perhaps if preconception cannot be eliminated without actually disabling perception, then conceivably self consciousness and reflection may still be to any degree deconditioned nevertheless. Or if not, then at least any hold of self consciousness and reflection upon self consciousness and reflection upon affect even if not upon cognition, may be howsoever deconditioned. Or so may be claimed by the adepts. But this all remains unclear.
Indeed, with plethora of variations and syntheses, the two major schools of Zen are Rinzai, typically focusing on koan practice, and, in any departure therefrom, Soto stressing zazen meditation.
Central to all Asceticism, Eastern or Western, is the ultimate value of peace of mind, and the conclusion that the only path to the attainment of peace of mind is training in meditation towards the avoidance of worldly action by the achievement of worldly inaction that is not borne of frustration or of helplessness but of free choice: in full resignation yet in full control. But what is all of this, but Existentially dishonest sour grapes and denial, only all the more Absurd? Much is written at great length, in qualification of correct or incorrect, right and wrong, methods and procedures of meditation. But there remains also skepticism without such qualification. Meditation is correlated with both whatever subjective experience thereof, and with objective changes in brain activity, and that very correlation of subjective experience with objective changes in brain activity, is sited in support of all manner of claims regarding the efficacy and benefit of meditation. But in truth, any of that hardly follows. Such claims include all manner of insight and self improvement, even morally and virtue, unless of course those are already demonized as attachments.
Of course, similar claims are made for every mode of indoctrination under the sun, most anciently from religion and prayer, to the bleeding edge of Cognitive Behaviorism in brave new worlds of formal education, not to mention, most clearly of all, for ever more widespread and potent psychoactive medication which most certainly of all, correlates both subjectively with unique experience and objectively with changes in brain activity. Zen in a pill? Even the claim of correlation of subjective experience with objective changes in brain activity, is no more unique than it is persuasive of much anything else. There is scarcely anything that can be done, even sports, sex or sleep and dreaming, that does not correlate subjective experience thereof with subjectively real brain activity. To begin with, objective changes in brain activity in no way validate or corroborate subjective experience and anecdotal reportage, much less tradition, much less at whatever face value to any Mystical experience by whatever means or circumstances. Such typically wishful low standards of clarity, argument, reasoning and evidence, lack adequate skeptical credulity to be taken seriously outside the circle of doctrinal faith. Indeed, what all these tiresome flavors of indoctrination all really bear in common is much the same self abnegation and compliance as either instrumental or essential to whatever notion of virtue.
Opposition to practices of meditation at all, may be premised upon fantastic supernatural claims that meditation endangers by opening vulnerability to demonic possession, or more rationally, upon Empirical observation of how meditation and chanting, indeed correlated both with subjective experience and objective changes in brain activity, serve as ready tools of propaganda and methods used in cult brainwashing. After all: Only the oppressor exhorts the masses to be still, silent and not to think!
Chanting has been likened to mind numbing advertising jingles. Like prayer, meditation and chanting are, after all, traditionally religious practice. And Marx famously condemns religion as the opiate of the masses. Speaking of literal opiates for the masses, indeed Zen in a pill, there is real evidence that the right drugs can be used to make people more sociable and compassionate. And yet, the very efficacy thereof, may give pause all the more, from balking at false miracle. And why so, if not because compassion first of all for oneself, cries out, first of all, for nurturing relationships fostering nondirective acceptance of even our most shameful and unhappy feelings, not their abnegation, mastery and extinction, by whatever the means? Similarly, it may be observed that no less than whatever comfort taken in prayer, meditation extolled for coping with human suffering intrapsychically, serves to quiet and pacify the oppressed, extolling benumbed virtue in selfless service, slave mentality. This offends values of individual freedom and dignity. Humility is therefore vastly overrated.
And all of that is precisely why there are Marxist influenced Dalit (Untouchable) activists who so fervently claim that the Buddha was a liberator who never actually taught meditation, denouncing Vipassana meditation in particular as a pernicious tool of ancient and enduring caste oppression and the cruel exploitative untouchability of the outcast Dalits, most ancient, bitter and terrible of all class struggle, a scam of the fakirs, the colorful tales of the Vedas serving merely as cunningly seductive vehicle of religious propaganda rewriting history in distortion of true indigenous Buddhism and uprising. After all, to reiterate, only an oppressor actually extols of others not to think and not to resent but to love the oppressor! In the words of Carl von Clausewitz: “The aggressor is always peace-loving (as Bonaparte always claimed to be); he would prefer to take over our country unopposed.”
Weird and regrettable crackpot conspiracist anti-Semitic afterthoughts as above notwithstanding, be not deceived by all the beguiling and disarmingly dishonest apologetics, sophistry, doublethink and doubletalk obscuring the seeds of abuse residing in the heteronomy of Mysticism inspiring real practices of meditation. One only need listen and read more carefully in order to understand:
Much like Vipassana, Zazen practice contends with protracted and crushing boredom, all predicated upon aversive conditioning of painful slaps to punish and close off the peaceful escape of dozing off. Sit down and get glad!" is their motto. -Or just: Sit down and shut up! Just like students from childhood all the way into adulthood, held captive in compulsory formal education, chided to sit still and stop fidgeting. -But even worse, expected to enjoy it! Zazen is body oriented and yogic, concerning itself with posture, discipline, breathing and patience. Hence, the zazen concept of doing nothing, not even thinking, pursuit of a void in which all potential choice of willful action resides, is put into practice by, instead of slouching or plopping down dead, sitting quietly in limber balance and readiness, poised as though about to rise. Some also practice a Zazen lying posture, especially when too sick for anything more, but otherwise proper sitting is said to demand more attention all too easily forgotten in the comfort of reclining.
And the Judo equivalent is said to be the neutral Mugamame stance, from which an easy transition to every offensive or defensive move most easily and readily flows. Although, Mugamame just as every other traditional martial arts stance, is passively stable much as are fixed wing aircraft in flight, where as the Pilipino Mutai Pantadyakan, like unto ballet En Pointe and therefore likewise even at whatever far higher cost in energy, but thereby free from the resistance of passive stability, must instead maintain dynamic stability like unto a bird in flight in constant fluid change, for such advantage as of those notorious devastatingly powerful kicks. So, perhaps Mugamame should instead be likened unto the quiet Tau, and the en pointe of Pantadyakan to whatever center of Zen agitation. Not to digress, however.
With the practice and experience yielding the subtle cultivation of sensitivity, Zazen is said to promote certain attractive and healthful pleasurable sensations, along with the meditative free flow of transient thoughts and emotions, vanishing, it is said, as the drifting clouds passing to reveal the moon, for such likened is the observation of serenity.
And on the path of moderation, Siddhartha's famous middle way, relaxed and healthy posture may accrue. But from the extremes of time and dedication, comes numbness, even atrophy, hence effective escape not only from reason but embodiment, the rewards of blissful vegetation. For, indeed, Vipassana meditation claims to foster insight into physical sensation with sharper awareness, unconditioning all predisposition to favorable or unfavorable reaction at all into sheer indifference.
Or to put it another way, protracted passive endurance of extremes of mounting boredom achieves the purported great pacifying truth of pointless futility and Ecclesiastical vanity attained and embraced by persuasive practical demonstration that is Zen cessation, being no more or les than, in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely repeated elicitation and frustration and extinction, but of impulse globally, in general, wholesale and in total at all rather than merely any application only to any specifically targeted impulse or range of impulses. The Zen test of faith demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter. The unquestioning endurance of boredom and dystress is even by design, a key characteristic of slavish heteronomy.
Is there then, any benign meditation? Is meditation redeemable to any entirely constructive purpose? Is anything left of meditation, once ruling out deliberate indoctrination, conditioning and autosuggestion? It can all sound so reasonable, Indeed, one possible focus of meditation is the beneficial improvement of bodily self-awareness specifically, as opposed to anything else, let alone indoctrination, conditioning and autosuggestion on the one hand, or body oriented Psychotherapy on the other. Because as Alexander Lowen M. D. expounds, bodily sensation, unless suppressed in denial or by conditioning, is the natural feedback mechanism that normally produces conscious experience of emotion. Even Psychotherapy aside, benefits of improved bodily self-awareness may in include better posture, movement etc.. -At least, in theory. And some may claim that such is all that was recommended by Siddhartha, And who can say? Be all that as it may however, in practice, clearly things are often sadly and ominously very different. At very best, the problem remains that meditation is a form of conditioning that can add layers of reaction formation, repression and denial. And hence the Freudian injunction upon suggestion. Meditation requires the control and suppression of the very stray thought and distraction which bring insight, catharsis and healing in Psychotherapy. So its a good thing that there are other methods of improving body awareness and posture etc., including the Alexander Technique, the Feldenkrais Method, and even body oriented psychotherapy.
Whereas, the koans are often surreal paradoxes intended for meditation, typically a statement with an opposing corollary, to derail or simply exhaust linear thinking and aid in the attainment of satori. Koans, fables or questions as case study for contemplation, are like unto the Bodhidharma's unanswered "questions which tend not to edification." There is no answer because they are object lessons in the futility of all but once again, the serenity of apathetic Zen emptiness, that great truth of futility attained by persuasive practical demonstration, again in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely in the repeated elicitation and frustration and extinction, but of impulse globally, in general, wholesale and in total at all rather than merely any application only to any specifically targeted impulse or range of impulses. Again, by whatever path, the Zen test of faith demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter.
For, in the words of Huang-Po: "The ignorant eschew phenomena but not thought, the wise eschew thought but not phenomena."
And because, unless merely seeking to vent and express the confusion and dystress of alienation, Surrealism either seeks to disorient an audience unless they are slyly in on the gag, either way, Surrealism demands it's own blithe conviction, never overt superiority. Hence, the true relevance and impact of Surrealism is only undermined by vastly unfunny adolescent smug camp. And likewise with the Zen.
So how may one ever respond to whatever the question to the satisfaction of the Zen master? With an answer just as meaningless, irrelevant non sequitur and surreal as the question. Or if all else fails, then perhaps by administration to the Zen master a long over due and well deserved beating himself!
Never so hard core in Relativism, and too common sensible as to actually deny Ontology, Zen, nevertheless, disdains any achievable clarity of intersubjectivity as failure, on grounds of purported dearth of inspiration. Hence, despite all Radicalist spirituality or Progressive Humanism, their remains in Zen the enduring temptation to Reactionary Ludditry, save by the restraint of moderation and common sense. And even then, the vaunted Zen synthesis of opposites may tend only to superficial modernity, admitting nothing uplifting in any progress save that of the private spirit.
Indeed, analysis is, literally, deconstruction. And even Gestalt, concerned with overall structure and network of relationship, still then works with parts to resynthesize the whole. But Zen Epistemology and practice insist only upon whole perception realizable only in the wonder of natural immediate experience as authentic and revelatory of innate self even if not otherwise certain as such.
In short, Zen Epistemology is Heraclitian. Indeed, understanding is a verb, an act, an event, arising as a transitory flash of inspiration, satori. But knowledge (especially of anything valued as profound by the Zen) as an enduring artifact that can be shared, much less built upon, is deemed a dubious proposition. And so Didacticism never obtains, neither experientially, Empirically and Phenomenologically, nor from First Principle even of self, even though all of that remains fundamental to Zen no less than to Didacticism.
Thus, indeed individual character development, growth, perhaps sagacity, even that ineffable Zen wisdom, is the best to be hoped for Methodologically. But claims thereof are anecdotal, and it remains unclear that any esoteric discipline at all, much less any in [particular, actually helps more than any other path though life.
Metaphysics especially as concerning the nature of being much less any broader range of usage even unto the transcendently magical and Mystical, by extension then often embraces the most arcane controversy upon nothingness. Indeed, Physics delves into vacuum finding therein plenum, and Cosmology into void, and chaos finding even therein some qualities giving rise to existence in our universe. But even any of this is still something. And even sheer self consistent logical validity demands that nothingness, zero, be defined indeed as no more than the number of items in the empty set, the absence of anything, thus rejecting as oxymoron any notion of nothingness as an entity, thereby mooting as specious all profitless and futile arguments premised thereupon.
Indeed, the quest emptiness is central to the Zen much as the quest for truth is to science, even if likewise the destination will never be arrived. But whereas the fruitfulness of science is manifest and tangible, by contrast the yearning of is for transcendence, even as in the Zen, without trifling that there may be indeed, nothing of any need to transcend and nothing at all to transcend into. It is Buddhist concepts of emptiness of self sufficient inherency in specific, that is to say: of context and the contingency of being, that find relevance in modern science, and not the emptiness of the Tau. Nevertheless, rational scientific Philosophy and Zen Mysticism may still agree that by opening ones eyes to just how silly the transcendent quest emptiness truly is, any measure enlightenment may be achieved. In the words of Yamaoka Tesshu: "Zen is like soap. First you wash with it, and then you wash off the soap." Zen isn't clever anymore. It never was. At last the light dawns: Futility is ever futile, while value remains valuable.
If the impossibility of perfection is not accepted as refutation of Perfectionism, the unreasonable demand for only perfection, then only Nihilism remains. Zen Nihilism so bleakly insists that the instant even to speak about anything, one is only doomed to miss the mark. Whereas, rational skeptical science and Philosophy frankly lower any such impossible bar of perfection as entirely unnecessary, spurning the Ecclesiastical futility of mythic unpremeditation, engagement in the joy of working ever closer to truth, improvement upon error, ever less wrong, even however fallibly, by conjecture and refutation, in creativity, freedom and autonomy, even love.
A prime distinction of rational falibilism, is the rejection of despair over the admitted impossibility of perfect certainty or the recovery of innocence, all so vastly overrated. All struggle for perfection, innocence and certainty, all thereby become at best superfluous, at worst pernicious. Hence, popularly, from a falibilistic perspective, even Post Modern Nihilism, stripped of needless angst, becomes no more than an an entirely benign emphasis upon noninherency in rejection of privileged or intrinsic definitions or states, for example, conceptually, masculinity being no less contingent upon femininity than vice versa, likewise crooked or criminal and straight and upstanding, and even, in physics, not only Heisenberg principle of inevitable interference even from sheer observation, but solidity of any one object entirely contingent upon the solidity of other objects, hence relative, or more precisely: contingent, otherwise meaningless. All concepts and conditions are thus merely modified forms via Socratic participation in other forms in varying degree, even of their dualistic opposites, yin and yang. Indeed, returning to straight and upstanding versus crooked or criminal, what is authority and the law of the land, but fire to fight fire, coercion curtailing coercion? Indeed, behold the vigilante violating the law of the land actually in striving for preservation and enforcement thereof.
In any case, while only few philosophers would actually claim to be Nihilists themselves, nevertheless the indifference of Nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and Metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history. From the Psychological disintegration and decline of the individual, follows a rage and despair of all else in any similar sorry state. Such is the sweeping somber contemplation called: Nihilistic Violence, the central theme of the Literary Nihilistic Romance fiction genre.
Indeed, Nihilism is often associated with the pointlessness of anomie," the situation which obtains when 'everything is permitted.'" Cf. Rosen, Stanley. Nihilism: A Philosophical Essay. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1969. p. xiii.
To be, or not to be? Or in the words of Albert Camus, father of Existentialism:" There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy." And gloomy Nihilism is the position or conclusion that life really is not worth living, after all, whereas Zen in quest of futility, exhorts complete surrender to the Existentially Absurd, as the next best thing to being dead.
In ‘The Myth of Sisyphus,’ Camus writes: "killing yourself amounts to confessing that ... [life] is not worth the trouble" One who commits suicide recognizes "the absence of any profound reason for living, the insane character of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of suffering".
In the 20th century, such Nihilistic themes as Epistemological failure, value-destruction, irrelevant meaninglessness, alienation and even surreal cosmic purposelessness and Antinatalism, have all preoccupied artists, social critics, and philosophers. Mid-century, for example, the Existentialists are said to have helped popularize tenets of Nihilism in their efforts to blunt its destructive potential. Surrealism followed. By the end of the century, Existential despair as a response to Nihilism increasingly gave way to an attitude of gloomy indifference often associated with Postmodern social Relativism, indeed all as often expressed in depressing sheer Postmodern Literature.
In 'The Deconstruction of Reality : What Modernism and Postmodernism Say About Surface and Depth' author Ken Sanes expounds:
And here on FoolQuest.com the proposal: Creativity can be Popular seeks at all to apply the above recommendation.
However, in defiance of Nihilistic value destruction, it should first be cautioned that the above approach, perhaps more appropriate in relating to social reality than in relating to objective physical reality, is actually nevertheless and nonetheless no less experimental, responsibly and as a matter of feasibility demanding no less skill, resources and wherewithal, not to mention morality and kindness, than any traditional scientific and journalistic investigation, discovery, mastery and function within objective physical reality or: conduct within dharma.
In the striving of Existentialism to blunt the terrible despair of Nihilism, Camus makes something of such recommendation in response not to our Epistemological condition of uncertainty, but rather to the Existentially Absurd and the certainty of the clear objective reality of imminently impending death. Camus, of course, fails to consider Emortalism. But I digress.
Nihilism is constituted from the positions that because all thoughts and feelings are merely the deterministic effects of prior causality, all values, are all arbitrary unprovable unjustifiable nonsense (Existential pointlessness) and that nothing can be certain or knowable (Epistemological failure) or even communicated (Wittgensteinean paralysis).
Nihilism is more than mere unhappiness out of hard realism. Nihilism is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that actually condemns existence. Like unto the Zen, Nihilism spurns any hope of growth and progress via learning from our mistakes.
Hoping for no other liberation and embracing no love, theme or value, save that Zen Ecclesiastical futility, a true Nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an indifferent impulse to destroy anything and everything. And such, indeed, is the thrust of Anarchistic political Nihilism holding that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake, independent of and even pessimistic towards any constructive program or possibility.
As with the Zen, some may even hold Nihilism as transitional to enlightenment emergent from the rubble, and personal liberation from the folly of the herd. And such is precisely the precious hope at all for any progress in Philosophy which Nietzsche wrests from the bottom of the Pandora's box of Nihilism.
Existential Nihilism means that because all thoughts and feelings are merely determined by prior causality, there is actually no willing choice. Therefore, even such cherished illusions of virtue as equality, pity and justice, are no more commendable, moral or praiseworthy than wrath, malice or any other shortcoming or misdeed can be anyone's blame or responsibility.
However, exactly to the contrary of all such Post Modern gloom and despair, and yet from exactly the same karmicly deterministic view of situational forces, Zen and Accountability extols Buddhist compassion and forgiveness,
Zen influenced Existential social Nihilism and detachment from everything, is distinctly manifest within the sense of isolation, futility, veritable well of sorrows and black hole of despair, angst and the hopelessness of existence increasingly prevalent in the modern world, all consistent with Nietzsche's prognosticated downward spiral.
Zen Nihilism standing in denial and value-destruction not only of objective material wellbeing, improvement of situation and circumstance, but subjective wellbeing and intrinsic reactive happiness in response thereto as well, naturally engenders inward turning futility. Intrinsic reactive happiness stands perhaps as no less than the prime target of alienated Nihilistic value-destruction against any enticement whatsoever howsoever of engagement within the external world at all.
Nihilistic value-destructionregards all motivating human values as entirely arbitrary and senseless, giving rise to Post Modern Behaviorism. Indeed, all values, even so much as survival instinct to begin with, cannot be logically reducible, but are simply a matter of human nature, biological and in that way indeed arbitrary. For as Socrates famously argues, how can the oblivion after death be any more painful than the oblivion before birth? Thence, the Nihilistic value-destruction of the Zen in particular, is premised upon Nirvana Principle which aims at the alleviation of suffering by reducing and indeed even eliminating all need and desires on a purely subjective Phenomenal level. The Zen, devaluing objective reality at all, perhaps even somewhat obsessively strives at complete subjective destruction, effective Phenomenal annihilation of ego and maya and thence liberation from their intrinsic fraudulence. For any variety of Mysticism despises all worldly desire, yearning and extolling instead purported riches divinely and spiritually transcendent all thereof. Indeed, as the saying goes: "If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything."
The glorification of abject surrender is characteristic of Nihilistic corruption of the instinctual will to power and survival exactly as bewailed by Nietzsche in ‘The Antichrist’. “I call an animal, a species, an individual corrupt, when it loses its instincts, when it chooses, when it prefers, what is injurious to it. [...] the values of decadence, of nihilism, now prevail under the holiest names.”
Hence, Psychiatrically, Nihilism even denotesSolipsism, and behaviorally, peculiar involvement and engagement in actually self defeating and counterproductive action. But then again, Anti-Psychiatry, Anti-therapy or Therapeutic Nihilism is the disbelief in the efficacy or value of therapy! After all, a particular long standing criticism of Psychotherapy and Psychology, by Thomas Stephen Szasz most notably, is the assertion that we do not know why Psychotherapy works when it works, or why it fails when it fails, only that anyone often benefits from getting attention from others under any pretext, all equally bad and equally good.
Hence another ready defense of such Mystical practice as the Zen, is that the ineffable poetical ideas and mysterious procedures only serve as prompts to inner progress, and therefore do not need to be precise or even true at all, much less literal. Ultimately then, deliberate obscurity is the final bulwark of defense, for Mystical traditions such as the Zen, often hiding from the scientific quest for truth, behind the engineering emphasis upon results. Worse, even the results remain not only subjective but ineffable. And this is only refinement of the same as ever Theological doctrine of the two truths, classic doublethink, sweeping aside all effective tools of criticism in order so blithely to excuse whatever anti-rationality of the adherent, cleaving only to what passes for learned controversy, whatever minor dispute of sheer personal taste within whatever insider community. The utter circuity of Zen equivocation and Apologetics is now complete, the gateless gate slammed shut. Aum! in the words of Bliss Carman, "What are facts but compromises? A fact merely marks the point where we have agreed to let investigation cease." But even worse however than "facts" [sic!], Zen Mystical surrender to the ineffable only persists in whatever indistinct travesty of investigation, in utter capitulation to ongoing obfuscation.
Indeed, Psychotherapy, as ministration to the soul, has long been practiced in various religious and Mystical context, long before entering secular medicine. But as Nietzsche said: “Mystical explanations are considered profound. The truth is that they are not even superficial.” Whereas, Anti-Psychiatry, Anti-therapy. Therapeutic Nihilism and general condemnation of Psychobabble, all not withstanding, Psychology seeking to rationalize, explain and at all guide Psychotherapy, has at all served to demystify. Indeed, ought not any whatever howsoever specifically particular and preferential recommendation of whatever religious or Mystical practice, as ever claiming legitimacy by comparison and similarity to Psychotherapy, therefore depend neither upon sheer cache of Psychotherapy nor upon whatever stated ideals of whatever said religion or Mysticism, in other words: upon Moralistic purity of intentions, but rather more responsibly upon any particular hoped for clear therapeutic advantage in whatever religious or Mystical practice? Secular Psychodynamic Psychotherapeutic working through of emotional inner conflict, turmoil and distress, is distinct from abstract reasoning which is characteristic of the Freudian ego or Transactional Adult Ego state, and must struggle with psychological defenses and denial, whether emotional, neurotic or even hysterical, or as so often, with intellectual rationalizations. In Psychotherapy, insight is often not enough without catharsis. Abstract reasoning can only be at all therapeutic or remedial in application to any symptom of actual at all fragmented cognition. Otherwise, the emotional process of Psychotherapy is merely distinct from abstract reasoning, not hostile thereto. Indeed, practice is not merely intuitive, but indeed guided by a great deal of abstract theory, never whatsoever condemning rational scientific investigation. Whereas in Mysticism such as the Zen, there is longstanding condemnation of reasoning and the ego, in favor instead of practice. Furthermore, Psychotherapy seeks to liberate repressed emotions, not freedom from desire. For that matter, whatever cognitive inner "mental chatter" is no problem, only whatever anxiety as ever attached thereto or repressed thereby. Psychotherapy extols not self abnegation, but to the contrary, the validation of self. Psychotherapy does not quest for inner stillness beyond resolution or at least management of troublesome inner conflict. - Freud's famous transformation of extreme emotional misery in to ordinary unhappiness. Psychotherapy is so opposite of Zen Mysticism, as even to pathologize apathy as depression and to treat attachment disorders, far from ever extolling non attachment.
Perhaps at all more so than Communism is indeed an Atheist religion, Zen as neatly excised from Buddhism, remains the Atheistic Mysticism. However, without entering any deeper thence into the semantics of whether or not Zen qualifies as a religion or a cult, both or neither, Zen indeed does qualify in one other additional regard, to wit that even after frankly owning up to every dark excess and even to the worst prior crimes against humanity in nigh demoniacal non attachment from Buddhist compassion, entirely, nevertheless Zen and even Buddhism likewise, must ever either succumb and embrace the evils of its own fundamentalism once yet again, or else dance forever round and thereabout, coy, fetching and flirtatious. Because, any temperance in Zen practical values of plain and profane common sense and moderation, remain all quite opposite and not only dualistic counterpoint but entirely irreconcilable with the overreach of Mystical idealism and perfectionism in the totality of being. The unraveling of the core enigma thus annihilating all Zen coquettish bad faith, is in that obviously, the overreach of Mystical idealism and perfectionism in the totality of being is all intrinsically immoderate and, honestly, in the very name of sanity, for freedom from the notorious vexation that is attachment to nonattachment, inauthentic authenticity, must be utterly surrendered as impossible and Ecclesiastically futile. However didactically, that is the truth, the Zen of the Zen.
And any impression otherwise must be attributable only to the façade of reasonableness standing before the Zen abhorrence of all such conceptual dichotomy as ought to expose such flagrant doublethink to any adequate intelligence. But critical thinking in defense of autonomy, clearly depends entirely upon any sort of naive set theory for the grasping of principles. Indeed, it's and old cult intimidation maneuver to quickly disparage any such categorical thinking as indeed demonstrating on the part of the mark or duped disciple, any slightest hint whatsoever of any dangerously discerning knowledge of metaphorical shit from proverbial Shinola!
Indeed, erosion of individuality and thereby invalidation undermining and suspension of critical faculties always forms the first wave of attack in standard methods used in cult brainwashing. Only oppressors admonish the masses not to think! Indeed, there is also typically on offer, some alleged superior gnosis and a perception of high stakes. For the oneness of all things and ideas, makes for an ideal platform for every abusive hypocrisy.
Combating cult-like mind control
In the words of Yamaoka Tesshu: "Zen is like soap. First you wash with it, and then you wash off the soap." The subjectivity of Zen thereby restricted is by far the less problematical than any promise of enlightened life in the world, whereof it is said that desire inevitably must ever flow even into the mind of the Mystic or Zen Master, indeed according to the tendencies of one's own nature, ordinary, plain and profane, and yet, nevertheless, all entirely without perturbation, as if the desirability of any such thing where so obvious as entirely to go without saying. It isn't. And if Zen moderation upon the famous Middle road of Siddhartha is to eschew seduction into heresies and extremes of perpetual trances states and the like, then sensation, initiative and judgment must also continue in resuming and living life, no matter what enlightenment ever gained transcendentally. For the self abnegation unto sublime apathy extolled of such Mystical traditions as the Zen also makes promises to promote and liberate spontaneity and every joie de vivre and well being. -Indeed, in all the more seeming contradiction, by the quest for enlightenment out in the world at large rather than by whatever introverited transcendence. In short, they just can't make up their minds, and want to have it both ways.
Whatever fine point or shade of meaning in protest of alleged misinterpretation, inevitably only leads back to whatever position the apologist strives both to maintain and yet evade. For example, selflessness isn't selflessness in the mundane normal usage, but rather that Mystical poetical selflessness of the marvelous Zen oneness with all being. But that oneness's arrives by overcoming dichotomy, offering thereby the only hope of saving the world from division and strife: Again, Utopist Moralistic diatribe against individual selfishness, exactly as initially understood. It all goes round and round much the same, unless finally explicitly disowned and rejected as howsoever not the true way, leaving then only disappointing platitude. And of course, they never so cut to the quick, Instead the path is drawn out by every scholarly discourse in linguistic, culture and science, into every conceivable roadblock and evasion, so that the conclusion never quite stated, is left to hang upon inference from other prior and similarly mealy mouthed convolutions. The inevitable unvarnished truth is of the untenability of Solipsistic renunciation, not just Epistemologically and Methodologically, but Psychologically.
So does Zen Surrealism truly strive to derail rational abstract thinking in order to open fresh Mystical insight, or simply in order to protect propaganda confiscation from lucid scrutiny? Zen promises the return to trusting innocence, but only out from sublime introversion and radical mistrust of the world we live in. Indeed, Zen all too often embraces all humanistic values, but only amid the flower beds springing up from the Zen Nihilistic rubble of the soul quieted by the sheer weight of draconian turmoil, because, after all, no lesser or worldly measures may ever be deemed adequate. Indeed, the Zen test of faith ever demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter. For in order to learn everything, one must first forget everything, and in order to gain anything, first one must lose everything. Although, perhaps, sitting cross-legged and staring at the cave wall until the limbs atrophy and shrivel, may seem somewhat like tastelessly showing off! Hence the appeal to the value of Zen moderation, often entailing defensiveness and denial regarding the draconian nature of the purported great truth of pointless futility and Ecclesiastical vanity attained by persuasive practical demonstration that is Zen cessation, being no more or less than, in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely repeated elicitation, frustration and extinction, but not merely of any specific targeted impulse, or range of impulses, but of impulse globally, in general, wholesale and in total at all, for example, evasive qualification to the effect that conduct within dharma is to be practiced only to whatever degree necessary in order to forestall risky excessive attachments that can lead to suffering. However, plainly, such is life indeed, exactly as Zen complains in the first place, that any attachment whatsoever still risks consequent suffering. Thus the manifest ambivalence of only partial nonattachment can be useful only for all of the foment of Zen melodrama vicissitude and excruciating self-conscious torment ultimately to liberate by impossible tormented striving under what amounts to careful suicide watch provided within the Zen Dojo, unto nervous collapse breaking ones spirit, or in jargon to express the idea less threateningly and more equivocally: crushing the ego shell! Thus, implicitly, it remains that the only allegedly adequate nonattachment is exactly the complete and utter nonattachment or Zen cessation, that purported great truth of futility by persuasive practical demonstration being no more or less than, in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely repeated elicitation and frustration and extinction, but of impulse globally, in general, wholesale and in total at all, rather than merely any application only to any specifically targeted impulse or range of impulses, so prized of the Zen all along, and the embrace of pointless futility and Ecclesiastical vanity. Lesser measures are embraced only as points of spiritual progress towards the ultimate objective, indeed, of utter cessation and the embrace of pointless futility and Ecclesiastical vanity, or else as the best that any silly Bourgeois American will likely ever accomplish.
But the truth remains that only an explicit rejection of Mystical idealism and perfectionism can truly and clearly prioritize moderation, the middle road between ideological lunatic extremes, and truly abandon perfectionist immoderation. Indeed, as will be expounded at greater length later on, perhaps exactly such was the true intent of Gautama Siddhartha.
By every such evasive convolutions of such sophistry as ignoratio elenchi: either deliberately evading or else simply missing the point, by way of valid argument that, however, in actuality demonstrating an entirely different position than as purported, by shifting ground, by splitting hairs, by irrelevant qualifications and empty semantic quibbles trying to have things both ways in violation of the excluded middle, by blaming and attributing all problems and excesses merely to American Zen, that are actually fundamental and indeed entirely Japanese and traditional if not, indeed, truly Buddhist to begin with, or then again, even by implicit appeal to values of Zen moderation and conceivably even Buddhist compassion, Zen adherent apologists often deny that Zen says what it actually says, even while continuing to say it even ever the more emphatically! For among the oldest tactics of intellectual equivocation, is the cultivation of deceptive ambiguity via the insidious blurring of context or indeed emptiness of context, as in deceptively leading statements that seem reasonable only until removed from whatever larger picture and restored into the actually intended context of the Zen. For example, to recommend abnegation of ego and self awareness, only to the extent required in order to banish suffering, actually knowing full well that the complete elimination of suffering indeed demands eradication of self aware ego. Thus typically do the most Draconian measures of the Zen often seek to camouflage behind Zen moderation, in order to lead on the gullible for our own good without telling us more than we are yet ready for.
To promise anything so impossibly extreme as complete escape from all suffering at all, only tempts if not actually extorts, hypocrisy. All too often, getting to the root of a problem demands bloody mindedly throwing out the proverbial baby with the metaphorical bathwater. And the core radical premise of Zen is extremist to the ultimate, and simply irreconcilable with Zen moderation on the famous middle road of Siddhartha. Given ongoing controversy within Zen, any number of conceivable qualifiers can always be attached, indeed in evocation of such Zen values as of moderation and practicality along the middle road of Siddhartha. All such qualifiers seem disingenuous, typical Zen equivocation, remaining as they do, implausible and irreconcilable, unless until ever even moderation and practicality are openly accorded priority and core fanatical extremes of perfectionist idealism of the Zen can first be explicitly abandoned, rather than all cloaked in evasive sophistry and qualification in order the inexorable logic later to reassert itself surreptitiously as perhaps somewhat disingenuously intended. As things stand, indeed, even the infamous moral vacuum of Zen seems the more consistent than much lauded Buddhist compassion requiring all manner of ad hock doctrine tempering the uncompromising extol of sublime apathy, wherein successive qualification consistently reduce such prevalent wild eyed grandiose claims, even ultimately disowned and rejected as howsoever not the true way, all then into into disappointing trite platitude.
Perfectionism can only lead to frustration, denial, despair and Nihilism, all redeemable only by the embrace of Falibism and the imperfection of uncertainty, nevertheless rejecting despair. If anything constructive and uplifting is every truly to be lucidly and incisively salvaged from the Zen or Mysticism for all time, then compassion demands nothing less than the explicit renunciation of all such enthusiastic and Moralistic violence and hate speech against the long suffering and unjustly maligned ego! We all know full well that any healthy ego needs love too! Therefore, to find clarity, do not meditate in oblivious serenity, but free yourself to reflect abstractly and self-consciously thereupon:
In the effort of Sophistry and denial, insistence that Zen non attachment is not utter Psychotic detachment and sublime apathy, leaves only the qualification that the non attachment of Zen, Buddhism or any other brand of Mysticism, all in proper moderation of course, is much the same sense of detachment at all, as recommended by any rational disposition. In the effort of Sophistry and denial, striving to purge Mysticism from the stench of all Nihilism and generally misanthropic lowered expectations as of Nirvana Principle, all that remains is the broadest idea that whatever process of Mystical practice and meditation achieve a fresh sense of perspective, much as do Psychology, Psychotherapy and even much Philosophy, and with terminology and concepts that become likewise similar. Such much! No wonder Zen traditionally despises Philosophy! The mystery is indeed too fragile. Claims of the ineffable begin to ring hollow.
The ideology of what might best be classified as Mysticism lite, is still rules based reasoning, resistant to correction by sound arguments or Empirical evidence. Case Based Reasoning from observation, is always superior to rules based reasoning. Psychology and Psychotherapy, whether in modern medicine or in whatsoever more ancient ministration to the soul, to observe and explore and expose what are defenses and denials without crushing the spirit or denouncing ego, and to find what pent up and unformed emotion is most intense and true, in order to achieve catharsis and create meaning. You cannot change a hair on your head [as sp often paraphrased from Matthew 5:36] save by the hope, attitudinal faith, basic trust, to let down the guard of repression in order heal past trauma and work out issues in the present. Whereas extolling equanimity is self absorbed, puerile and insensitive, flying in the very face of all compassion and altruism.
Eschewing whatever indefensibly blatant excesses of non attachment practiced by the sternest of ascetics, Mysticism lite, as in the form of American or Engaged Buddhism, so called, asserts that people are unhappy because they are excessively wound up in worldly things, desires and mishaps, even often howsoever somewhat petty, granted. That with a better balanced sense of proportion regarding the small irritations and the greatest tragedies alike, people can choose to better enjoy life in the moment. This deceptive reasonable seeming ideology, only puts people under the more stress, much as Christianity and sin, for failing to live up to such expectations, denial that obsessively engenders the notoriously neurotic attachment to non attachment, and ever greater striving in futility. No less than power of positive thinking, any dubious virtue of equanimity remains the same Existential lie as ever, because human nature is that of a range of emotions in every range of intensity, from individual motivation that cannot be dictated by whatever meditation or autosuggestion of any brand of Behavior Modification, no matter how ancient and romanticized. Equanimity, one of the so-called four noble virtues, is in truth the ignoble poison of fear even of risking the pursuit of an uncertain thought, much less bolder life changes; only complacency and despair, as ever masquerading and fobbed off as brightest hope. Bah, humbug!
Weasely qualifications never withstanding, equanimity, even in moderation or in the name of moderation, still raises the threshold to action and effects the preference to inaction. For all claims and promises to the contrary, indeed of improved balance to better further and more engaged action, remain among the much extolled and perhaps mythical ideal results so far from typical of the average end user. And in the words of Benjamin Disraeli "Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” For Buddhism or any other brand of Mysticism, however lite, even in moderation or in the name of moderation, remains a religion, and in the famous denunciation of Karl Marx, the opiate of the masses.
In the words, again, of Yamaoka Tesshu: "Zen is like soap. First you wash with it, and then you wash off the soap." And it may well be that the washing off endeavor, has been largely neglected: Zen is not this, Zen is not that. Therefore, tautologically, must it not be true that Zen is not Nihilism? Indeed, as we have seen, it is so often put forth, in effect, that Zen isn't even Zen! But the answer is: no. For Zen not to be Nihilism, an effective double negative, Zen would then have to be something, anything specifically. Zen quests for emptiness and futility. And what better describes Nihilism? Indeed, what has Postmodern Nihilism ever been, if not Zen inspired?
Have you found The Root Cause of Unhappiness? Spoiler: it's ego of course, consciousness, the mind itself intrinsically, thought at all. Happiness is just spacing out! Or so we are assured. Paradoxically, motivational power of positive thinking often appeals to the Nihilistic de-motivating adaptive Zen ideal of universal acceptance, loving whatever one does, taking joy in any task that comes to hand, and likewise the embrace of every experience with equanimity, in truth all too often a desperate psychological rationalization not merely of acetic self denial, but blocking out suffering via bad faith, by living a lie, even to the extent of moral void and no-mind of not-doing in blithe and listless service to evil, deadly hypocrisy exactly as the fictional character of Misuzu the exploited would be acolyte of Panaru, instead fallen into the orbit of the facile and predatory Manticore, recognizes to her own desperate horror but only far too late, in 'Boogiepop Phantom' episode 3: 'Life Can Be So Nice' scripted by Sadayuki Murai. Indeed, Zen is also referenced as by George Orwell in '1984' as Eastasian death worship, the Oriental counterpart to doublethink in Oceania, ever extolling noninvolvement and the virtues of inertia, automatic obedience, not-doing achieved by no-mind, the extinction of ego and autonomy, Oh, double plus good!
No surprise, then, how just as Zen questing for cessation and the embrace of pointless futility and Ecclesiastical vanity, aim at the Behavioral elicitation, frustration and final extinction of desire and thus dissatisfaction in the individual, likewise, with or without the animus and hostility of soft-flame, the committee ambush of Zen apologetics aim at the obliteration of the very topics of desire and dissatisfaction as taboos from public discourse, accomplished by changing every conversation in pursuit of worldly happiness by doing what one loves, particularly interpersonal interaction and bonding (another word for attachment) therein, or even the very concept of happiness as state variable inner subjective response to external favorable circumstances, hence a transitory but renewable experience to be enjoyed only in leading life, all abhorrent ideas of such deadly error to the Zen sensibility, instead into yet another discourse upon the Zen, indeed consistent with Zen practice, a debate inevitably proceeding forward until exhausted cessation (in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely repeated elicitation, frustration and extinction, but of all impulse globally, in general, wholesale and in total at all, rather than merely any specifically targeted impulse, hence the embrace of pointless futility and Ecclesiastical vanity), never returning to initial topic. Comedian and pundit Bill Maher even has a gag about Columbus facing constant agenda highjacking on the part of chronic Zen inertia, had he lived today: All his pals would all kvetch and schmaltz: "But Chris, first explore the new worlds on the inside? " By design, the loneliness of Zen has no bridge. You might as well beat metaphorical head against proverbial wall. By contrast, the most superficial Behaviorist crass materialistic Reductionism of whatever stripe, simply tends toward the stone-deaf powerplay when likewise confronted with such incomprehensibly alien values as intrinsic motivation, never recognized as ends unto themselves but merely subverited into further manipulative "motivators". Zen cessation, that purported great truth embraced in futility and Ecclesiastical vanity attained by technique of such persuasive practical demonstration that is no more or less than. in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely repeated elicitation, frustration and extinction but actually of all impulse rather than any specific targeted impulse or range of impulses, also comes in handy for inevitable and inextricable extinction or cessation also of such features of autonomy as doubt and curiosity as to truth (assertions in correspondence to reality) and desire for knowledge. (awareness of truth). No wonder then, how Zen cessation in pursuit of Nirvana Principle, independence by the elimination of all needs, readily comes into service of the most oblivious and obedient heteronomy and atrocity.
The Nihilismof Deathism: Actually in opposition to Emortalism advocating and striving for practical immortality, technologically, in progress and the advancement of science and medicine, Deathism, is the name given to the morbid glorification of death as actually something necessary, not so bad, or even very good. So good we gotta share! The condemnation of practical immortality as sought for by Emortalism, is at least a qualified condemnation of life. But such qualification is ultimately disingenuous. For in order so to condemn life, one must condemn the human condition, either situationally or by condemning human nature, or else resolve that human character and circumstances are always intrinsically and irresolvable mismatched, for everyone, and always will be. Indeed, in order to reject practical immortality, without utterly and openly condemning life to begin with, it must be resolved both that no value endures, and that there is nowhere to go from there. -both eternal verité and progress must be discredited forever. And if that is not Nihilism, then what is?
“To be, or not to be? That is the question” pondered by Shakespeare's Hamlet. Or less succinctly in the words of Albert Camus: "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy." - a question only afforded fresh new relevance by the practice of Cryonics and by Radical Life Extension research, so promising towards the aging cure and the eradication of natural death, much as lethal pandemics the likes if Polio were eradicated, instead of continuing merely to treat the symptoms. But the question remains somewhat imprecise. Rather, it is a matter not of deciding only whether life is always worth living, generally speaking, but of judging whether life is ever worth living or not, whether, even in principle, life can be worth living at all or even endured temporarily, never mind, in all human frailty, limited resolve and finite endurance, preserved and extended indefinitely. Indeed, judging whether life ever can be worth living, and perhaps even under what abstractly possible or conceivable conditions of practical implementation, might even be deemed the most central of all questions to the human condition. And hope for life worth living is either actively vested in the quest for honest integrity together with the pursuit of happiness and functional relationship or else Nihilistically rejected and condemned as by the Zen Mysticism that is rightly so often called out as a cowardly religion, being after all so loath even to risk living life unadulteratedly burdened by the human condition of ego and often even morbid Phenomenal inner reflection, conscience that makes cowards of us all ever dwelling upon suffering from misfortunes occurring in external reality, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Indeed, Zen explicitly and Nihilistically condemns and rejects worldly life as worthless, questing, regardless, only for some comfortably numbed inner life devoid of attachment, from which a return to introverited solitary innocence will bring a promised Narcissistically rapturous unpremediated satori. Zen, in short, famously and fantastically preaches it's optimistically Procrustean half measure of suicide, practicing the selective self-disavowal of bad faith.
A familiar traditional theme in prevailing religions remains Mysticism that despises all worldly desire, yearning and extolling instead purported riches divinely and spiritually transcendent all thereof. Hence the age old question persists: Is Zen a religion? Well, Communism is is often called an Atheist religion though that may be taken as a figure of speech; but Zen, even however distinct from Buddhism and hence no matter how Atheist remains no less Mystical. Indeed, speaking of Nihilism, the only ultimate remaining reality pursued in the Mysticism of the Zen is so nakedly and undisguisedly introverited and Solipsistic. And as to criteria of religion, certainly as with any other more modern motivational Behavior Modification, Zen qualifies no less as yet another rancid flavor to Marx's famously proverbial opiate of the sheeple, a force for inaction likewise so often faddishly prescribed to dull Proletarian discontent. Surely all such exhortation to sublime apathy or willful positivity even by means of Behavioral Modification is actually initiated from the controlling parental ego state of Transactional Analysis. Indeed, how callow and self serving to castigate, ostracize and even terminate from gainful employment, those deemed excessively critical or negative. How judgmental they all are against judgmental people! And what poor judgment thereby. Indeed, how cruel and lonely, how bereft of all animal compassion, to deny those who suffer, even dying cancer patients, their fear and anguish all in the name of relentlessly willful positivity! Why, in any public discourse as on every online forum, any salient agenda such as any quest whatsoever for happiness by actually seeking to improve one's actual circumstances in order better to fulfill Intrinsic values, or any call to stand to against the debilitating oppression of continual and destructive serial bullying, is regularly quashed, obstructed and tabooed by immediate puerile soft-flame outcries of Zen Nihilistic value-destruction in blanket invalidation, admonition instead only to search within for sublime apathy. Bah, humbug!
We all know just how perversely people can actually wallow in their own misery! Indeed, paradoxically, in extreme cases, often many actually seek dangerous refuge in the depth of their own despair by simply giving up and effectively discounting, meaning to invalidate themselves. Such are typically inconsolable in their Nihilism, denying not only the reality, possibility or feasibility of happiness, but the desire and very value. All such surrender offers relief in the short term, but only deepens depression soon after.
And of course, there is no counter argument from pure reason, simply because needs, desires and hence values, are at best only reducible biologically, never logically, and hence, indeed arbitrary after all. Indeed, in the words of Steve Novella: "You can't argue someone out of a position they didn't argue themselves into." Nevertheless, much as anyone might ever struggle to deny it, the very agony evidenced of such an individual in so wretched a condition only corroborates and affirms how greatly and deeply we all do care after all.
No indeed, all such harrowing misery certainly falls somewhere short of the indifferent serenity and joy in the moment ever extolled of Zen futility! So, is such a wallower in misery simply stranded foolishly somewhere on the harrowing path to enlightenment, or is Zen just unrealistic or simply unreasonable? And is invalidation perhaps the actual lie, rather than the ever despised maya?
"Happiness is fine as a side effect," opines Adam Phillips, British psychoanalyst and author of 'Going Sane' “It’s something you may or may not acquire, in terms of luck. But I think it’s a cruel demand. It may even be a covert form of sadism. Everyone feels themselves prone to feelings and desires and thoughts that disturb them. And we’re being persuaded that by acts of choice, we can dispense with these thoughts. It’s a version of fundamentalism." Adding: "Read a positive-psychology book, and what would a happy person look like? He’d look like a Moonie. He’d be empty of idiosyncrasy and the difficult passions." Indeed: “It seems to me that if you were to take a rather stringent line here,” concludes Phillips, “then anyone who could maintain a state of happiness, given the state of the world, is living in a delusion.”
And of course, lest the point be missed, every such criticism as above of the rank self-dishonesty of bogus Power of Positive Thinking as ever may be redeployed and marshaled in quest of futility, however applies no less readily also to the discipline of Zen. Indeed, Isaiah Berlin considered vibrant and creative Stoical inner happiness an heroic resistance to oppression, yet deplored glamorization thereof that might even be twisted into recommendation of tyranny as incubator for great dissident literature.
Sadly, fewer seek to sell their souls at any price, than simply to be rid of them at all, relieved thereof and grateful for it. So, who would actually sally forth in order to have their spirits broken and discarded as such an obstacle? Alas that all too many are so desperate for peace and acceptance on any terms. And there is never any shortage of ever the same cult snake oil from phony gurus and fakirs, Zen Masters and Behaviorists, all ever eager to oblige. Such is the most vile exploitation. Beware! Maybe its already time long overdue, just to give up on giving up! Perhaps futility is, well, quite simply even only the more futile, and Nihilism itself should be approached more Nihilistically.
The Maya and Samsāra: Eastern Ontology
According to Richard Schecherer, ”The Future of Ritual. Writings on Culture and Performance.” Routledge. London & New York, 1993, p. 27 ff. in Sanskrit the word ‘maya’ at one and the same time denotes ‘play’, ‘magic’ and ‘to discover (or create) the world’. By what rigid and fearful austerity then has so plainly even fanciful and romantic a sense of wonder become instead so virulently demonized as the dire worldly snare of egotistical deception? Scientific discovery at least replenishes the wonder after slaying Fairy Tales!
The central at least seemingly fantastical premise or Solipsistic metaphor of all schools of Buddhism and Hinduism, including also the Zen, is that of the maya, the veil worldly illusion masking the true unity of all being, that there are not really many living beings populating the universe, but that, actually, a dreaming and multiple personality disordered God is essentially trapped veritably multitasking countless simultaneous nightmares, innumerable illusory POV sharing some element of narrative cross-continuity, in each of which eventually struggling by the means of Eastern religion and practice, to pierce the dual illusion of self and the outside world, by the cultivation and attainment of void, totality and sheer serene apathy, purportedly achievable in Zen futility, all so as to escape the snares of attachment and involvement, regard whatsoever, in illusion and Ecclesiastical and otherwise vanity and thus awake, to finally halt each ongoing karmic cycle, until none remain, and ever completely return to innocence in the blissful unaware nonexistence that is the ultimate, the self-communion of God.
Otherwise, the nightmares never end, even in ostensible death, but only begin again in the tragedy of rebirth, and even proliferate in ever more simultaneous incarnations, presumably as population rises.
The Qabala, however, takes a more optimistic slant, claiming gnosis of how God willingly and eagerly casts off Divine perfection, simply for the joys, even however arduous, of ascension, and reunion. -In other words, all for the sake of progress. Because even God needs something to look forward to!
Whereas the fantastical premise or Solipsistic metaphor of the maya is popularized for the cinema in the Matrix movie franchise. But unlike the Matrix, the maya is more than the machination of sinister conspiracy, rather the maya is metaphor for samsāra, being merely our Existential conundrum of hapless bumbling involvement as the offish hard luck chumps, losers and utter schlimazels that we are.
Axiology is not Ontology
Mystical traditions such as the Zen Nihilistically deny or invalidate the self (ego, so much maligned) particularly as Phenomenal, that inevitably must be readmitted via the proverbial back door. In stubborn denial of the human reality of vulnerability and dependency, in rejection of all that might ever need to be accepted, they can only extol as freedom, whatever benumbed sense of self alienation, detachment or non attachment and appeal to intuitive apprehension anything ineffably beyond. But all such notorious Zen attachment to non attachment, may be inspired by no more than wishful thinking and a false positive in the brains tagging mechanism of important ideas, even when there was no idea at all. Ah, now there's Zen emptiness! If nothing particular can seem important, does that not irrefutably signify that nothing at all can ever be important? No. Bah, humbug! There can be no such thing as nothingness as an entity. The word: 'nothing' merely denotes the empty set. Maybe the aching emptiness of Zen is only the sickness of Zen itself.
What exactly is signified by condemning the maya and deeming the world merely an illusion? The very notion is ambiguous and polysemic, leading to several possibilities: Literally, to deem the world illusory, asserts the Phenomena as an hallucination with no connection to any outside reality. Otherwise, instead freely interpreting the Solipsistic metaphor, perhaps experience is so woefully inadequate and distorted as to be considered illusion, even admitting Ontology, even however Epistemologically inaccessible. Or else or perhaps hence, to deem the lives we lead illusion is complaint of how we are so frequently and continuously confused, harassed and beguiled by howsoever trivial or unworthy concerns ofsamsāra throughout the maya. Or any notion to the contrary may be asserted. And all such are value judgments, Axiology rather than Ontology.
Therefore, likewise, what exactly can be signified by howsoever deeming the self merely an illusion?
The parameters of identity for self preservation, a memplex guarding its own consistency and integrity, remain largely an Axiological question. All hence the reevaluation thereof even in contemplation of drastic enough personal change as might hitherto hold all dread than of no less than spiritual death, even in circumstances even far short of utter dissolution and the end of consciousness, may instead open the way more to spiritual rebirth. Mysticism the likes of the Zen, and the sacrifice it calls for, is an Axiological proposition, because the inherent Nihilistic value-destruction entailed is itself, in and of itself, an Axiological position to begin with. But there are less drastic alternatives, and every need thereof: It is always possible to be both too touchy and too changeable. Tragically, people are known all too often in clinging to the obsessively superficial, to compromise essential values. In contrast to the fabled attainment of unwavering Buddha Nature, Existential good faith, entails the acknowledgement of plurality in facets of being and identity, along with constant change and evolution of being and identity, ongoing error detection and course correction much as with knowledge in Evolutionary Epistemology, all as inalienable from the human condition. Only this opens the way to any good faith sensemaking, evaluation and sense of proportion.
Others cannot understand us but misinterpret, and one can never see oneself as others do. Therefore, what is left? What accurate perspective can be available? To quote Oscar Wilde: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” The conviction of a chronic stutterer in their own self knowledge, dooms them to stuttering and despair. But putting self aware self consciousness aside, as by playing a character role, and the stuttering abates, Though the snares of Existential bad faith, another denial or illusion of self, may be found the more morally complicated in their deadly false investments. To cite the Zen parable: If the nibble sharp and pointy toed mountain goat, where self aware and prey to self consciousness, she would constantly stumble and fall. People trapped in any pattern of behavior, speech or thought, invest apparent and evident great efforts in adherence to their own sense of character and never acting out of character. And to what end? What is the point? To claim that the self is an illusion may mean that all identity is similar even perhaps anal fixation: identity crisis, at least to some degree. But in the alternative, is complete spontaneity possible, practical or even desirable? The innocents in Eden where not chaste, but tranquil and unashamed with their nakedness and nature, but for all of his good will, the sociopathic innocent Parcival is not peaceable, but merely without guile and ignorant in his murder and mayhem. For in Christian Moralism, good intentions are everything. For sin is the awareness of sin, knowing better, guilt and the troublesome burden of moral debt to God. Likewise, in Zen Mysticism, ego is but the illusory sense of self, the chimera of self image, because there is no self according to Zen Mysticism. Again, the very notion the self dismissed as illusion, is ambiguous and polysemic, leading to several possibilities: Putting aside conundrums raised thereby, literally, to deem the self illusory, asserts no such thing as self, and inner reflection thereupon and hence all sense of self at all, if not actually hallucination, then howsoever vaguely misguided. Indeed, Otherwise, again, instead freely interpreting the Solipsistic metaphor, perhaps reflective sense of identity is so woefully inadequate and distorted as to be considered illusion or delusion. Therefore, we often do not know ourselves at all, and it is self image specifically, that is so false, so unreal an illusion. Or else or perhaps hence, to deem the self illusory is another value judgment to the effect that identity and/or ego to begin with, are howsoever trivial or unworthy by whatever standards and for whatever reason. After all, the denial fostering false dishonest self image has many names: the rationalizations of neurosis and layers of reaction formation, Existential Validation and Existential. Indeed, even rejecting sheer Solipsism and embracing objective external reality that is the subject of Ontology, who then in this world, is honestly for-real, including oneself?
And with even the value of self in question, one by one, values pertaining to every facet or experience and need of the human condition likewise must come into question. Indeed, there can be no scientific reason to live, and neither any scientific refutation of however optimistically Nihilistic value-destruction as of the Zen, because no matter how biologically innate, values, the only thing that makes life worth living, simply are not Ontological. So, can Zen be made scientific? That would require conditions of failure and refutation. And what would those be, if not already long obtained? The famous paradox of elusive Zen, is how it's all there for the taking. Indeed, the very same may be said of suicide outright. And yet, most people neither Zen nor suicide, and most that attempting either tend to botch t job because its not what they truly crave. All they really need so desperately, is attention. And true indeed, even amid our human condition and circumstances of endless miserable suffering, the culprit in common remains no more or less than those ever demonized persisting motivating attachments of bored lonely unresolved fear, frustrated desire and yes, even Philosophy especially Axiology.
And in the face of such failures, one is left either like any other religious zealot, either Moralistic demands of Behavioral compliance, all self blame in lamentation of one's own shortcomings and laxity of determination and conviction of faith, and futility of ever redoubled effort, or else, to responsibly reevaluate all such draconian solutions, return to Axiology, being: the endless reflection upon the values ultimately derivative Psychodynamically from the human condition and human needs, even biologically. Then to strategic application of Axiology, by seeking to meet human needs, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, social and material desires, indeed ultimatly even via the overthrow of biological destiny, by reproductive choice, eradication of sickness, and even the elimination of aging and natural mortality.
Otherwise, modern medicine always offers ever more extreme interventions into unhappiness, most directly:
The very best and most fortunate outcome from lobotomy indeed conferred peace from anxiety, but also the loss of motivating drive. And Thorazine was initially marketed as a less invasive means to similar results. The increasing resort to lobotomy was never a scientific error, but a classic Zen Nihilistic value destruction inspired either by circumstantial desperation and suffering or simply obsessive questing for the perfection of peace and tranquility over unhappy struggle, at whatever cost to ineffable intangibles of flawed and troubled humanity.
Involuntary detachment arrived at under coercion, results in depression and despair, and not the relief or peace afforded by voluntarily letting go of whatever vexation. From the observable benefits and peace of mind from voluntarily letting go of whatever vexation, Mysticism the likes of Buddhism including the Zen, enthusiastically recommends the embrace of ever the greater and broader the scope of detachment, voluntarily, as therefore all so much the better. Sometimes as in scholastic educational indoctrination generally, the counterproductivity of coercion is taken only as a spur for greater zeal. Or unintended and undesired pressure becomes the prevailing Existential conundrum, the notorious and insidious attachment to non attachment, not unlike unto the purported tension between underachievement and student potential that is the self-serving guilty and evasive problem statement of educational pseudoscience, ever striving to excuse the perpetuated detrimental educational failure of coercion and indoctrination. For all such is hallmark of Perfectionist Ideology and variants of Salvation Anxiety.
But from Moore's rejection of pleasure as an objective unto itself, the fundamental clarity of modern Psychology may be restored: One does not choose to let go, or arrive at a conclusion that anything of oppressive and deceptive seeming importance, might actually turn out the more trivial, by criteria merely of arbitrarily abandoning and relieving dystress. Rather, to be at all resolved and honest with oneself, there are Ontology and Axiology to be addressed. Otherwise, there is only self deception and ever greater inner pressures of ambivalence.
We all care and we all need to care. A sane person is neither unemotional and unmotivated nor manic with perpetual bliss. But a neurotic embroiled and even stalemated in conflicted inner turmoil, may disapprove of their own feelings, suffer guilt, and even become all the more upset about being upset in the first place! Whereas, to be free of the turmoil of inner conflict, is acceptance of one's own emotions. Indeed, one might simply assume that one may even be, one way or another, that whatever emotional response, pleasure or displeasure, to whatever circumstances, past, present or anticipated in future, may be entirely meaningful and even appropriate. Indeed, Psychotherapy never demands or extols pure undistracted presence in the moment, as does Zen Mysticism.
Or then again, rather, is happiness not even merely a condition, but actually a disorder?
Ancient and enduring Zen strives to embrace and reciprocally assimilate outside ideas and cultivate any superficial modernity in accordance with ideals of harmony via synthesis. However, if ancient Zen will never truly modernize, nevertheless, Zen may nonetheless, so to speak, find itself reborn in contemporary incarnation. Indeed, Zen pragmatic Nihilism in dismissal of human needs and values as arbitrarily meaningless Ecclesiastical vanity, futility and the illusion of ego, reoccurs as bleeding-edge psychopharmacological neurochemical Reductionism, palliative psychopharmacology questing after bio-happiness, in treatment of everything under the sun, including, and I quote: "the human condition" as nothing more than evolutionary maladaptation behind the times and civilization.
Yet exactly all such distressful evolutionary traits or response that are defensive may nevertheless be valued as useful even if aversive, rather than blithely pathologized as maladaptive. For even though nowadays many threats are psychological rather than physical, the same primitive impulse to destroy the threat yet arises. And the ability to quickly discern friend from foe is essential to survival because mistaking either can be deadly. Disgust motivates the avoidance of all that which is toxic and corruptive. Contempt distances one from the unworthy. Suffering mobilizes escape from harm. All hence, how may be assessed the prospect of ongoing neurochemically assisted cessation or Behavioral extinction and retreat from life?Vs. HEDWEB bio-happiness,
In truth, life drug free demands responsibility at all for one's own safety and any cultivation whatsoever of self-agency, and self-efficacy. Otherwise, narcotics, prescription or recreational, really do become Absurdly necessary to survival. And of course, leave us face it, at least given current state of the art, addiction rather might qualify as emotional baggage, a considerable and burdensome attachment. Modern Psychopharmacology is almost exclusively uppers and downers, prescription addiction in service of further reaction formation for the sake of repressive Behavioral Modification. Other few drugs to the contrary inducing disinhibition lowering hardened defenses and liberating repressed emotions to the promising facilitation of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for the most severely disturbed, quickly become controlled substances deemed threatening to the social order.
For 'Scientism' is the term coined by Karl Popper for what he saw as
the religion of science, the making of science into
the object of a religion and the practice of science,
likewise the more superstitious, all
in clutching so desperately for the chimera of certitude or whatever certitude surrogate therein,
much as in conventional religion likewise the appeal
to faith. But the scientific attitude herein dubbed as Scientism Lite, instead of actually expecting certitude or whatever
certitude surrogate in science, nevertheless derives a satisfaction, even
dependable reassurance and
meaning in the deeper
sense, in a word: solace, from hope in the rational and
explainability of the universe embraced through science. But
Scientific Method is
entirely distinct from human
And, strictly speaking, the
Ontology of science investigated via the
Scientific Method and
evidence, experiment and repeatable observation, is entirely empty of,
judgment or attitudes, even
towards scientific rationalism.
And indeed by contrast, in the ardent cultivation of immediacy and awakening to mindful heightened awareness of experience, and thence the rejection of conceptualization as burdensome self-conscious encumbrance and suffering, Zen quests for the complete abandonment of understanding as such that is, indeed, the goal put forth of scientific investigation.
In the story, Katharine Janeway, redoubtable captain of the starship Voyager, lost in the reaches of uncharted deep space and ever burdened with command, must undergo a baffling and protracted ritual ordeal in order to safely traverse a dangerous and mysterious symbolic ceremonial archway or gateless gate in order to save her vulnerable dear friend and crewmate Kess from the consequences of her own unsuspecting curiosity and the puzzling injury resultant of a fateful accident at an alien temple cave where sensor readings are forbidden.
The rituals, however, are all confabulated from Janeway's own projected
expectations, ambition and determination, all as so obliquely provoked by the
oracular and obscure guidance so affably proffered her in the shrine.
And by the time Kess is saved and conscious once again, and the riddles both of the somewhat bizarre malady or injury and also of the rather paradoxical cure (The mysterious cure for Kess, unconscious and in critical condition throughout, apparently first requiring biochemical changes in Janeway's own biochemistry as manifest from her final state of desperately bewildered and demoralized near collapse and acute exhaustion) are finally open to rational scrutiny, Captain Janeway, harrowed, dazed and exhausted beyond caring, helpless throughout the baffling and seemingly arbitrary ordeal and desperate leap of faith, has attained enlightenment of Zen futility, cessation. that purported great truth of futility as attained by technique of persuasive practical demonstration being no more or less than, in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely repeated elicitation, frustration and extinction of impulse, forever beyond the former solace of any scientific attitude or Scientism Lite now quite crushed.
And so, in the end, though optimism strictly in the quest for literal truth being correspondence to reality and even knowledge thereof, the efficacy of science in rational Empirical inquiry reestablished as a matter of ordinary practicality, stands plausibly enough vindicated once again, nevertheless the enthusiastic technobable rings somewhat hollow forever more in Janeway's ears.
Hence and thus does the striking and deeper pent-up irrelevance exposed in the dénouement form the true climactic anticlimax of the tale. But the question must remain open if ever thence accrues any grace and more serine acceptance for Janeway of her situation.
For the question of meaning in the deeper sense, especially as in the proverbial meaning of life actually signifies whatever valued prospect of fulfillment or else only futility, sheer Ecclesiastical vanity. And in case of just such utter futility, then there is no use bemoaning thereof. Yet even so much as the aforesaid common sense may seem easier said than done, given actual human nature and behavior. And indeed, the embrace of apathy and surrender to futility is the primary motivating goal put forth of the Zen.
Thomas Szasz famously defined happiness as "[a]n imaginary condition, formerly attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children and by children to adults."
Life is suffering of one kind or another, an Earthly Hell in which to abandon all hope. Thus the cold succor and sublime satori of stunned Zen apathy is merely requisite pain management. Or then again, is Zen really all just colossally sour grapes, maybe?
Some say that one becomes addicted to shame when another's heart is closed to one, because, however excruciating, the sheer megalomania of taking the blame protects one from the ugly truth that we really have no control over others and the universe or God. We can't make either love us or, ultimately, even protect those who do. Put more simply, then, and in complete good faith, powerlessness, the impotent helplessness of the human condition is terminally demeaning.
"To die, and to be dead. That must be glorious!" rhapsodizes Dracula, eternally and relentlessly driven and ostensibly empowered by a superficially ecstatic yet actually demeaning burdensome nightmarish unquenchable void of all consuming and destructive urges, and secretly yearning for peace and sweet release. Indeed, an extreme metaphor for one of the bleaker views of the human condition, and the more so, given also the belief in samsāra, perpetual reincarnation, wherein real death, escape from karma and the Wheel of Life, of perpetual rebirth only into greater and lesser degrees of eternal damnation, is cherished as so elusive an achievement.
Indeed, in this or any one life alone, let alone any others past or to come if such there be, all human suffering is seen in Zen as the emotional baggage of the ego; the ego, baggage and all, being an Ecclesiastical vanity that must, in a stunning cathartic moment of insight and confrontation with the truth of all such Ecclesiastical vanity in worldly things and attachments and desires, all regard whatsoever, be relinquished entirely, for the attainment liberation, Nirvana during this life, by which to overcome this world. The Zen test of faith demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter. And all cooperation in baffling and perplexing cult initiation persist upon suspended judgment and the hopes that things will begin to make sense later on. -A false hope to be dashed in Zen Surrealism. For Zen seeks to duplicate or simulate, less dangerously, an overwhelming effect sometimes observed of sudden devastating and even life threatening trauma, that of renewed vividness and shattered priorities, sometimes called: enlightenment.
Sadly, fewer seek to sell their souls at any price, than simply to be rid of them at all, relieved thereof and grateful for it. So, who would actually sally forth in order to have their spirits broken and discarded as such an obstacle? Alas that all too many are so desperate for peace and acceptance on any terms. And there is never any shortage of ever the same cult snake oil from phony gurus and fakirs, Zen Masters and Behaviorists, all ever eager to oblige. Such is the most vile exploitation. Beware!
Indeed, the authoritarian peer pressure of traditional Japanese society engenders such crushing self consciousness that might even be metaphorically envisaged as a great rising bullying tsunami wave of shame and anguish such as might, at long last, in a moment of great and dramatic suspense, finally crest and crash at the threshold very sanity, redolent with the promise of well earned peace and gentle sunshine on that beach of the land beyond all cares! For the Zen test of faith demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter. But without fundamental catharsis or transformation one will be unable to advance, and only remain, metaphorically, asleep. Drastic measures, harsh regimen and great sacrifice may be indicated in order to be jolted from complacency and crack open to finally attain the serenity of blissful apathy. Est is a similar practice.
And so, the Zen Master provokes or evokes the disciple's distress, by sympathy or cruelty, sense or nonsense, by any means fair or foul that the Zen Master may choose in whatever opening as may ever present itself, until nothing makes sense, and so nothing matters any more. -In terms of Behavioral Modification, eliciting response repeatedly only for purposes of frustrating every impulse to reach out emotionally, unto behavioral extinction. Because the painful Existentially Absurd conundrums of life, none the least of which surround Zen itself, investigated by uncompromising Zen must stick in one's craw, impossible neither to stomach nor to expel. And freedom from Mammon and maya must be attained by passage through the barrier (for such is the role of the Zen Master) and not the gateless gate.
By paradoxical intention, never striving or exhorting to
disciples, but actually struggling to drive them away, thus does the Zen
Master leave it, instead, to the disciples to try to
the Zen Master himself, thus perhaps allowing the disciples the latitude for
developing a sense of responsibility for their own wishes, be that a minimal,
moderate, realistic and healthy self accountability, or else an impossible
transcendent ideal of responsibility engendering or revealing desperate
Thus, whereas the professional compassion of the basically Freudian talking cure of traditional Western Psychotherapy coaxes out Catharsis from the patient via acceptance and even affirmation of the values of human needs, by the oblique approach to past traumas and to issues in the present, actually striving to heal whatever damage to self image, indeed to open the range of options in life for patients who feel so trapped, by contrast, Zen seeks to liberate inner Buddha nature finally by crushing the ego shell which is seen as the root of all suffering, fear and doubt, according to Buddhism and Hinduism the motivating goal put forth of which is to need less and cease caring so as to finally embrace not simply any Western value of ingenuity and creative problem solving born of frustration, but the great truth of Ecclesiastical vanity, sheer futility. But what is "breaking the ego shell" but romanticized Mystical doubletalk for crushing the spirit? The cruel, helpless, heteronymous and irresponsible Existential Validation of the The Zen Master, alas generally traditional in education, is of all harshness excused as mere reflection of reality and an indifferent universe. For the Zen test of faith demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter. For only hope at all makes despair possible, making beguiling hope only the worst of all plagues and demons escaping from Pandora's box, according to all such Mystical sensibilities as the Zen.
And they're not kidding!
Sadly, fewer seek to sell their souls at any price, than simply to be rid of them at all, relieved thereof and grateful for it. So, who would actually sally forth in order to have their spirits broken and discarded as such an obstacle? Alas that all too many are so desperate for peace and acceptance on any terms. And there is never any shortage of ever the same cult snake oil from phony gurus and fakirs, Zen Masters and Behaviorists, all ever eager to oblige. Such is the most vile exploitation. Beware!
For as long as the world abides in tragedy, mad and damaging, madness of some kind or another, especially collapse beyond caring anymore, will have it's plausible defenders as the only true sanity and succor. Hence, Zen is Draconian pragmatism in the service of optimistic Nihilism. And the Zen test of faith demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter: That in order to learn everything, one must first forget everything, and in order to gain anything, first one must lose everything. Such is the cynical rationalization and justification for systematic invalidation at the hands the anciently venerable and authoritatively severe Zen Master, the austere midwife of Zen cessation, futility, resignation and crushed spirit. By contrast the disarmingly manipulative Existential Validation and bad faith of the cutting edge Cognitive Behaviorist, is a dharmic aptitude of complete well-meaning innocence. Indeed, manipulation is best defined as undue advantage from trickery via the exploitation of affective innate and conditioned triggers or "push buttons" to undermine and overwhelm, even barrage, resistance, better judgment and autonomy of the target, via subtext of emotional incentive and disincentive. –As distinct from open coercion alone or substantive disinformation, lies. Typically, the manipulator obfuscates the nature of their coercion exercised, along with whatever self-serving advantage thereof. And for the Zen, life amounts no more that to an endless and wearisome succession of manipulation, via the diabolical "push button" triggers and strings attached, escapable only by surrendering all attachment without regard. Whereas, in the alternative, Transactional Analysis, by contrast, is less radical and more selective in seeking to disable triggers, and therefore may even be found appealing to Zen moderation.
So, if anything in life does deserve to be accorded any greater importance or legitimacy, then what is essential and what is extraneous? And essential or extraneous to what purpose, motivating goal put forth, agenda or value? Unless relative to any clear and discrete purpose or strategy, assertion or implication of the primacy of one aspect of human nature, Phenomenal condition or state of consciousness over another is surely more often the very height of value judgment, not objectivity and Ontology of reality per se. And, indeed, the ancient and ongoing debate to this very day, is one over not only purposeful strategy but very much of value preference. Even the Zen rejection of values is in and of itself an ultimately pragmatic value. And madness of any stripe is perhaps more often marked by the lack or distortion of values than by any other more concrete delusion. Hence, arguably, values, then, are inherent to perspective and hence indispensable to clarity and sense, no less than reason itself. Yet the greatest sense of clarity often belongs only to madness, exactly as advertised by the Zen.
Because, whereas in Western Psychology, the break from involvement in external reality leaves only desperate lonely Narcissism, in Mystical traditions such as the Zen, only a fully realized psychosis facilitated in Zen practice, achieving the lofty abandonment of worldliness, is the only path to restore genuine spontaneity, clarity and compassion, by freedom from suffering. Hence the Zen test of faith demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter.
Little doubt can there be that there is no despair save by even the last fading embers of hope. And with the abandon of all hope, most beguiling and mesmerizing of all motivating snares of illusion, so too, obviously, will despair be quelled at long last, and peace attained. And such exactly is the radically pragmatic and advice of the Zen, indeed, the Socratic next best thing to being dead.
The ever begged Axiological question remains, however, in that another somewhat less flattering euphemism than the perhaps somewhat cavalier lofty and romantic metaphor of crushing the ego shell, and no less value loaded, is in the tragic pathos of the expressive figure: to break one's spirit. -Indeed, surely a high cost and a grave risk for contentment, such as ever may accrue thereby, from resignation and utter complacency in the literal abandon of all hope! In Psychiatry, after all, futility and loss of interest are considered signs of disordered depression, not revered as the royal road to enlightened serenity, and nervous collapse is seldom actually a recommendation, even under what amounts to the scrupulously careful suicide watch provided within the Zen Dojo.
If anything constructive and uplifting is every truly to be lucidly and incisively salvaged from the Zen for all time, then compassion demands nothing less than the explicit renunciation of all such enthusiastic violence and hate speech against the long suffering and unjustly maligned ego! We all know full well that any healthy ego needs love too! Therefore, to find clarity, do not meditate in oblivious serenity, but reflect self-consciously thereupon. For it is only from the rational Adult ego state of Transactional Analysis that our full measure and reasoning ability and information are available to guard us from deception and manipulation.
And ironically, perhaps whatever famous
achievements of Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha, where necessarily contingent
upon exactly the sheltered posh life that he came to reject as such a sham.
Indeed, whereas perhaps the closest
Western analog of the Eastern concept of
namely Mazlow's famous model
of self-actualization, abiding or episodic, very much depends upon social and
technological progress towards the very highest standard of living and comfort,
explicitly making prerequisite any experience of the satisfaction and satiation of worldly
physical, emotional and social needs of deficiency, rather than at all, transcendence
thereof via their abnegation, suppression, reduction and elimination in
accordance with Nirvana Principle, and even though any such Western
Psychopathological characterization as Psychotic break may seem harshly
prejudicial in connotation, it may rather even be just such stunned apathetic
detachment, in turn exalted as true inspiration into long
denied dawning grasp
and acceptance of overwhelming reality, the awakening that is the specifically Zen Catharsis
pain management, suffering unto burnout ad apathy at
the natural safeguard tolerance threshold of Ecclesiastical vanity, sheer
futility, all cold comfort as such may
offer, thence enlightenment, attainment of the
Socratic "next best thing to
death," a perfect neutral balance and harmony, inner
peace, awakened undistracted mindful heightened awareness of the momentary and common
place, awakening to freedom and true
autonomy that will
be extolled as
the path to perfect selfless compassion, sharper wits even from perfected
detached rationality (though never exactly Rationalism per se), or even better
sex, depending upon who one asks. After all, according to the Zen, even
without the sheer Nordic sense of darkness and menace of an Odin the Mysterious Stranger,
nevertheless, the Buddha performs
not only as Psyche Pomp and guide but scam artist trickster! For, to find
oneself, one first must loose oneself.
And, there fore, all this dissertation is useless. Because in Zen, explanation actually undermines persuasive practical demonstration of Zen enigma. Only the harrowing experience may be beneficial. For the essence of Zen is Ecclesiastical vanity, sheer futility! -Ecclesiastical vanity. Thus, it must be presumed that if any of this is utterly confusing or, perhaps better still, emotionally unimaginable, then understanding may dawn!
Or, else, perhaps, also if the information rich juxtapositions may be pleasing, even despite being coherently and logically sequenced, and not because of it.
Although, in the words of Yamaoka Tesshu: "Zen is like soap. First you wash with it, and then you wash off the soap." And to that latter very end of sobering letdown, Didactics of critical demystification may yet find paradoxically Zen application.
Indeed, even the traditional Zen scorn towards Philosophy typically rife with contradictions and also conundrums such as in this very sentence, is, in and of itself, nevertheless, a crucial Philosophical position. Much as Zen embraces the void by process of elimination ad infinitum, likewise the Socratic Method strives for enlightenment by refutation, also questing for truth in a process of elimination. So why does Zen tradition, so prizing of paradox, spurn the contradictions discovered in philosophical discourse?
At any rate, the prized karmic misanthropy of Zen is lofty and paradoxical. Indeed, by the rationales of Zen, perhaps even the most exploitative liars and frauds do God's work in crushing ego. For the sincere tough love of Zen, or so we are assured, is not intended as any sort of demonic and heartless Sadistic gloat, but, rather, just to the contrary, a sacred quest into the heart of the tragic human condition that is the rightful object of causeless perfect compassion.
Zen claims to offer nothing that isn't there for the taking. And yet, Zen is supremely difficult and troubling. If Zen ever patronizes, then even such a position might even proceed from integrity and consistency. And so, hypocrisy is seen only entering from human weakness thwarting true ideal Zen, to gullible disciples and their arrogant Zen celebrities. And so, is any of that indication of the radical utopian overreach of the Zen?
In confrontation with this very question, what will be the demands of Zen moderation and controversy?
Comedian and host of the Daily Show, Jon Stewart, lamenting the polarization of politics by extremists, and yearning for the better centered and generally less excitable masses to rise and storm the seats of power, assailing the clashing ideologues, chanting: "be reasonable! Be reasonable" also likewise has suggested a qualified pledge of allegiance "one nation under our reasonable God."
But is such ever to be Zenned? And in which heaven abide reasonable gods?
Indeed, can whatever distortion of ages past ever be pierced, even today? Can the Zen mischief of repetition only yet compound and confound upon itself? Or in all this time, might we dare be optimistic ever of better readiness to receive and to understand?
Perhaps the clue may yet be had in that which does not reconcile, not even as dualistic opposition. Namely, moderation, the famed middle way of Gautama Siddhartha the Buddha on the one hand, with such flagrant ideal Manichean extremes of Perfectionism as manifest in any motivating goal put forth of total release or escape on the other hand, thereby necessitating, instead, such jarringly immoderate Draconian self negation, crushing of the ego shell (meaning: nervous collapse breaking the spirit under what amounts to a careful suicide watch provided within the Zen Dojo) and utterly complacent resignation and surrender of all attachment and regard in the abandon of all hope.
For Zen engages in the denunciation of human sympathy as a deadly attachment ensnaring the unwary from attainment of Zen futility and emptiness awakening into mindful heightened awareness of the transitory and common place. Indeed, Zen extols dissolution of the bonds of society, all because of suffering in society. Zen is so Philistine and anti-intellectual in such dread of risking disconnection as entailed in the employ of layered abstract reasoning.
Indeed, what oversimplification can there be the worse and falling further from the mark in any hoped for apprehension of the totality of being, than perhaps among the greatest of immoderation nigh inherent to the Zen even abandoning perfectionism in practice, nevertheless enduring in the fanatical Radicalist insistence upon pure Cartesian justification for every cognition or affect whatsoever!
And, surely, what a fuckin' drag! For to quote Thomas Moore:" But, faith, fanatic faith, once wedded fast to some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last."
Again, in the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: "Man can only endure a certain degree of unhappiness; what is beyond that either annihilates him or passes by him and leaves him apathetic." Indeed, any feeling creature in suffering and sorrow can reach a threshold of despair into learned helplessness lauded by the Zen as sublime apathy, the endorphin biological defense mechanism of disassociation ramped up to its utmost extreme, Zen enlightenment into the great inner truth of futility, thus promising life in the moment without attachment, indeed an achievement of immeasurable practical value, but only given Nihilistic value destruction in such profound contempt for Mammon. -And thus all whether by intent or merely as a byproduct, nevertheless no less intrinsically, thereby dangerously disintegrating all manner of emotional and intellectual defenses against conditioned cult obedience and bad faith into the dissociative behavior of automatic action. For dissociation is a denial process of separating shameful unwanted impulses, desires, and needs enacted, from cognition of ego and more importantly, superego, conscience, thus shielding self-system.
And it can never be enough simply to qualify that the true Zen master should never be so gullible. For all such as above, indeed, is exactly the dilemma of the human condition that should stick forever in the craw of Zen agitation, impossible neither to stomach nor to expel, at least until Zen, indeed, exactly as according to Yamaoka Tesshu, like unto soap to wash with, must finally likewise be washed off as well, cleansed in the crystal clear water of the transparently obvious and therefore often forgotten and nigh invisible, the return to common sense practicality. -Not by dropping the soap in the shower and bending over blindly groping to find it! Especially not when life is regarded as such a prison. -metaphorically that is.
Instead, if any sort of Zen practice is truly to be all that much safer than real life tragedy, then perhaps deconditioning of mind and body, like anything else, will generally be more fruitful in harm reduction, progress, improvement, systematically correcting errors and deficiencies, traumatic or otherwise (-and ideology, especially!), as they come to light, than so immoderately clinging to, and thereby turning truth into, the dire Manichean falsehood of exhorting wholesale attack upon whatever will howsoever be simplistically and enthusiastically demonized as the ultimate root of all our suffering, whether as ever the case may be, the demon of the hour be attachment as in Zen, desire as in traditional Christianity, property as in Marxism, or any other woefully half-baked target.
Indeed, just as fancy upscale Psychotherapists are often so roundly mocked for treating" the worried well,", likewise Gautama Siddhartha is sometimes criticized and perhaps unfairly misunderstood, for allegedly addressing only posh ennui of the privileged ruling class instead of overcoming far greater worldly suffering,
But by contrast to Zen perfectionist idealism, the motivating goal put forth of Sigmund Freud was far more modest, the transformation of the extreme emotional misery that he witnessed constantly, just as he often said, into ordinary unhappiness. For surely such must be the first step to anything at all grander. And perhaps, likewise, Gautama Siddhartha, who rejected extremes both of excess and of deprivation, was also not such an ideal perfectionist at all, but only sought, more reasonably, to address such suffering as he discovered out in the real world, only via sensible harm reduction, improving life tolerably by common sense healthy living, mind and body. -Indeed, the optimism of progress, imperfect, open transparent reasonable and fallible ongoing improvement, being a position frequently misunderstood, nay, if not quite entirely incomprehensible, from any all-or-nothing transcendental ideology doggedly insistent upon the perfect ideal as the only true measure of all situations for anything to be knowable at all, that it must be complete and certain.
Perhaps the idealists deserve praise for any vision of anything however impossibly better even amid the most crushing conditions of the ancient world and endless human suffering. Nevertheless, such may yet profit from a gentle reminder how even the fire-bringer and redeemer Prometheus sacrificed all only for the sake of progress and opportunity, in other words: to improve the hitherto dim, damp, chill and dismal human condition, howsoever incrementally.
Another definition or hypothesis of the middle way of Siddhartha, just possibly consistent and reconciled with any sort of Zen idealism, is again, of Stoical neutrality and hence void, returning to the putative great redeeming truth of Ecclesiastical vanity, sheer futility, awakened totality and sheer serene apathy free of distraction from mindful heightened awareness of the ordinary and transitory. So the question remains: is the latter rationalization actually reconcilable and consistent with Zen moderation? Indeed, can the middle way metaphor expand to encompass both latter and former definitions as aspects in Gestalt synthesis?
To promise anything so impossibly extreme and complete as total and comprehensive escape from all suffering at all, only tempts if not actually extorts, hypocrisy. All too often, getting to the root of a problem demands bloody mindedly throwing out the proverbial baby with the metaphorical bathwater. And the core radical premise of Zen is extremist to the ultimate, and simply irreconcilable with Zen moderation. Given ongoing controversy within Zen, any number of conceivable qualifiers can always be attached, indeed in evocation of such Zen values as of moderation and practicality along the middle road of Siddhartha. Yet all such qualifiers seem disingenuous, typical Zen equivocation, remaining as they do, implausible and irreconcilable, unless until ever even moderation and practicality are openly accorded priority and core fanatical extremes of perfectionist idealism of the Zen can first be explicitly abandoned, rather than all cloaked in evasive sophistry and qualification in order the inexorable logic later to reassert itself surreptitiously as perhaps somewhat disingenuously intended. As things stand, indeed, even the infamous moral vacuum of Zen seems the more consistent than much lauded Buddhist compassion requiring all manner of ad hock doctrine tempering the uncompromising extol of sublime apathy.
For the manifest immoderation and human perversity to be explained away, remains so manifest in all of the melodrama of uncompromising Zen rectitude and cathartic breakdown, perhaps only long overdue for a big Zenslap or just a gentle smile, from some latter-day avatar or inner specter of serene and clean living Siddhartha. For the reasonable moderation to truly walk the middle road of Siddhartha may first demand the open and explicit abandonment of impossible Perfectionist Ideolog excess baggage.
Alas, Zen, preaching Nirvana principle, lowered earthly expectations, instead so often remains fixated upon impossible and ideal Perfectionist demands of miraculous introversion. For such are the notorious snares attachment to non attachment. But even so, in calmer alternative to the Zen foment of inner crisis, yet there remains the seemingly safer, gentle, simple and moderate recommendation of the mind with no reference point in meditation toward the quiet cultivation of Zen inner peace, void, indeed, fruit of the very same great redeeming value of totality awakened in mindful heightened awareness of the ordinary and transitory, sheer Ecclesiastical futility and serenely apathetic surrender of all attachment without regard, and most especially the goodbye to agitated worry, especially lunatic ideology.
What is "Not-Doing?"
Even in the stillness of sitting meditation, Not-Doing needs must remain distinct from mere inertia, laziness, sloth, laissez-faire or, indeed, any mere passivity, but perhaps more properly, action in disregard, without attachment. The point being that apprehension is often known even to bring about the very dreaded results. Don't force it, just let be.
By the sense of relief from pressure of Not-Doing, Wu-Wei, the Taoist precept of action not from agenda but rather with with zijan, natural spontaneity, may one gain the freedom and sense of relief to simply be (or Not-Be) oneself. In equilibration, free of the striving and preoccupation of intention, the bliss of ever unfolding oneness may reveal itself to the quieted mind.
Not-Doing defined as action from Buddha Nature, however, only shifts the question. And Buddha Nature as opposed to what else? Why, ego, of course. So, Not-Doing, not by explanation or conceptualization, but as the fruit of practice of Zen just as any other system of principles and methods employed in the performance of any routine or set of activities, denotes automatic skill, easy effortless action ingrained to second nature without even trying, as in the practiced facility granting the sense of ease in the conduct of any art achieved in unselfconscious perception without distraction from the process that has finally become second nature, all from No-Mind, fearless and free of all cares, empty of thought and without self conscious premeditation nor by impulse either.
The arrow is said to fall from the Zen archer like the first snowflake, with salvation from sin, escape from karma and no weight of responsibility on his own part as he acts without attachment or regard, without the ugliness of thinking about it. For the Zen test of faith demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter.
As a glittering generality, mythical promise of the miraculous is epitomized
in the immortally trite platitude of Yoda the Jedi Master: "Do or do not, there
is no try."
Likewise, skilled dharma is thought to accrue in Not-Doing, supremely adaptive and unpremeditated right action going with the flow and rising to situation unfolding, behavior that arises from a sense of connection to others and to one's environment and the experience of unity, for everything to take care of itself, including morality, all too easily dismissed with all other passions, emotional attachments, regard or conceptual and rational issues.
Yes, yet another charming Zen snow job! Have you found The Root Cause of Unhappiness? Spoiler: it's ego of course, consciousness, the mind itself intrinsically, thought at all. Happiness is just spacing out! Or so we are assured.
And a similar fashionable pseudo-sociological rationalization for the same age old cowardice likewise frequently snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, might be that of spontaneous collaboration, especially when likewise to the exclusion of intentive planning and action by association with crank ideologies of paralytic radical anarcho-holism, the diligent cultivation of memetic influence upon the sublime confluence of appropriate conditions for whatever particular desirable and foreseeable outcomes, and all to the rigid exclusion of events in crude linear progression especially as from any such abhorrent crassness as of direct action.
In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: "Man can only endure a certain degree of unhappiness; what is beyond that either annihilates him or passes by him and leaves him apathetic." Indeed, any feeling creature in suffering and sorrow can reach a threshold of despair into learned helplessness lauded by the Zen as sublime apathy, the endorphin biological defense mechanism of disassociation ramped up to its utmost extreme, Zen enlightenment into the great inner truth of futility, thus promising life in the moment without attachment, indeed an achievement of immeasurable practical value, but only given Nihilistic value destruction in such profound contempt for Mammon. -And thus all whether by intent or merely as a byproduct, nevertheless no less intrinsically, thereby dangerously disintegrating all manner of emotional and intellectual defenses against conditioned cult obedience and bad faith into the dissociative behavior of automatic action. For dissociation is a denial process of separating shameful unwanted impulses, desires, and needs enacted, from cognition of ego and more importantly, superego, conscience, thus shielding self-system.
Paradoxically, motivational power of positive thinking often appeals to the Nihilistic de-motivating adaptive Zen ideal of universal acceptance, loving whatever one does, taking joy in any task that comes to hand, and likewise the embrace of every experience with equanimity, a mechanism of psychological denial to rationalize not merely acetic self denial, blocking out suffering by living a lie, but even moral void and no-mind of not-doing in blithe listless service to evil, deadly hypocrisy exactly as the fictional character of Misuzu, acolyte of Panaru, recognizes to her own desperate horror, but only far too late, in 'Boogiepop Phantom' episode 3: 'Life Can Be So Nice' scripted by Sadayuki Murai. Indeed, Zen is also referenced as by George Orwell in '1984' as Eastasian death worship, the Oriental counterpart to doublethink in Oceania, ever extolling noninvolvement and the virtues of inertia, automatic obedience achieved by doublethink and the bad faith of selective self disavowal towards extinction of ego and autonomy, Oh, double plus good!
And make no mistake, such was not the merely a tragic abuse of Zen, historically, but nigh inevitable from the inherent flawed weakness of Zen all along and unto this very day, still crying out.
There is even a fashionable Anarchistic concept of collective not-doing somewhat disingenuously designated: spontaneous collaboration.
How can autonomous equals best interact and cooperate freely and responsibly? Some maintain that collaboration on the part of the individual must be entirely spontaneous, unpremeditated by will and ego. But that more often turns out to be a pretext for abrogating upon promises made, after extracting and then wasting the efforts of others. Actual spontaneous collaboration is indeed observed in different species including humanity, arising organically under various particular circumstances to serve whatever particular range of needs. But that has been taken as pretext for spontaneous collaboration as an ideology, which is radical anarchism questing for personal liberty via the attachment disordered and Nihilistic rejection of all intentive and structured interactions throughout society. But realistically, the latter dubious Anarchism may be dismissed as pipedreaming wherein the intention and striving characteristic of autonomy are despised in very principle as in Not-Doing and the irresponsibly indifferent Behaviorist heteronomy to situation as extolled by the Zen. The ideal of reciprocal and symmetrical spontaneous collaboration is manifest in the Open Source format of entirely noncommittal voluntary collaboration on a whim, both the achievements and practical imitations whereof are all well known and understood, in the world of computing. But it is no secret that in actuality, behind most every successful Open Source initiative, there is somewhere a committed steering committee securely nested within the very corporate world so scorned by would be spontanious collaborators.
All cooperation in baffling and perplexing cult initiation persists upon suspended judgment and the hopes that things will begin to make sense later on. -A futile hope to be dashed in Zen Surrealism. All other revelation is deemed fraudulent. For the Zen rejects the escapism afforded by the unique features of the idle human mind, being: insight, imagination and cooperation, as burdensome self-consciousness. Have you found The Root Cause of Unhappiness? Spoiler: it's ego of course, consciousness, the mind itself intrinsically, thought at all. Happiness is just spacing out! Or so we are assured.
According to Freud, the conscious and aware ego exists for the sake of impulse formation into the execution of strategy, serving the drives of the id within constraint of conscience which is an aspect of superego. But Zen is the paradoxical cultivation of non-cultivation and striving to non-striving, for a return to a romanticized natural state which will be empty of artifice, prior conditioning, premeditation and premediation whatsoever, and release from all thereof, in recognition that only the illusion of non-enlightenment, ego, self consciousness born of inner reflection brought about by life in society, all trivialized and demonized and believed to obscure becoming enlightened naturally.
And ever the function of propaganda is to lighten conscience in savagery against whatever is demonized or trivialized in the first place. And from whatever core values, typical cult conditioning reinforces the pivotal rationalizations of a shared world view rarified of empathic common sense. But in the struggle against abuse, Zen in particular, does not merely contend with inevitable distortion. Rather, Zen is forced to confront problems and contradictions inherent to any such radical optimistic Nihilism.
And Not-Doing, to live in accordance with the way is for one’s hand to be guided thereby, becoming perfect in action only when one no longer consciously considers what one is doing. Not-Doing means letting actions control the doer rather than the other way around. But whence all said action? Motive, as any other truth, does not actually go away simply by being ignored instead of being considered.
Indeed, one may quest for whatever sort of inner knowledge from the unconscious, or to trigger operations and response thought howsoever healing. Or else, one may seek to add to, change, control, overwhelm or seduce the unconscious by whatever content of behavioral conditioning or suggestion. And the slight of hand comes in blurring the distinction, in bait and switch of the latter instead of the former. Yes, there's the rub!
Indeed, either way, superficially, there may be a similar result in unselfconscious action. But precisely because each is harmoniously adaptive to completely different situation, likewise the core motivations remain irreconcilably distinct.
Much thus, one way or another, Fascism of whatever stripe, typically contrives to actually fob off conformist and dutiful blind obedience as rugged individualism. Much as with the Hindu adaptation of Buddhism to Arian domination, in the particular Feudal Japanese appropriation of the Zen, the crucial slight of hand is in the conniving reversal of inward soul searching for whatever the innate inner knowledge from the unconscious, into conformist Behavioral conditioning and fatalism via deceptively superficially similar striving towards No-Mind, the unconscious reservoir of dissociative automatic behavior without regard or attachment. For dissociation is a denial process of separating shameful unwanted impulses, desires, and needs enacted, from cognition of ego and more importantly, superego, conscience, thus shielding self-system.
But Freud condemns all such abuse as violation of his famous injunction against suggestion, the crucial distinction being between the open endedness of what Sapir Handelman categorizes as expanding manipulation as often seen in psychotherapy, consisting of whatever indirect oblique approach, with emotional incentives and even diversionary tactics, yet, similarly to Socratic Method as applied to open questions, all scrupulously directed toward liberation via the inculcation of doubt towards various beliefs, complexes and double binds, by which individual action of the person, willing choice, and well being is effectively constrained and imprisoned, as entirely district from limiting manipulations designed only to narrow, constrain and specifically direct the range of belief, conviction, behavior and action taken by the target thereof, objectification and exploitation all in accordance with the aims of the manipulators.
Alas, the core ethic of Zen is often perverited and abused. Ah, but is that merely mischief and misfortune? Indeed, are not the perverting contradictions inherent and the abuse therefore imminent and innate? Then again, are not all proverbial swords two edged? After all, there is always far darker negation. Indeed, any tool of liberation, be it the Nihilistic Zen bludgeon or whatever incisive Zen scalpel of inspired thinking, may also all to easily and suddenly be turned about to degrade, enslave and destroy. Indeed, a quest for something ineffable may readily engender servitude to an unquestioned master renowned as exalted beyond mere mortal rational mentality and mere intellectual defenses such as question or criticism.
For all such is typical of devious coercion and consensus manipulation towards exploitation until the collapse into disillusionment or, if not, then long term cult brainwashing into the eager and highly capable sycophancy and career advancement of the true believer.
And it is the realization of such uncomfortable truths that must always inform our most difficult meditations. For example, no uncompromising quest for human truth can ever simply ignore the Second World War! But an historical account alone, no matter how detailed and unflinching, runs the risk of simply dismissing brutality as pure aberration rather than delving any deeper, let alone Zenning the matter.
Indeed, if abasing and humiliating oneself is ever truly so fruitful in vanquishing ego and achieving the bliss of humility, then why do Masochists so often tend all the more towards the most morbid and chronic egocentric obsession?
in the ardent cultivation of immediacy and awakening to mindful heightened awareness of experience, and thence the rejection of conceptualization as burdensome self-conscious encumbrance and suffering, Zen quests for the complete abandonment of understanding as such. And this next quotation, however Didactic, fairly strikes to the heart of the tragic Orwellian doublethink and antirational Wittgensteinean paralysis of Feudal Zen Fascism in the eager and ambitious service of fanatical ancestor-worship and war crime atrocity:
Inductivism: Science without attachment. Or: Not-Doing your homework.
The Zen rejects the escapism afforded by the unique
features of the idle human mind, being: insight, imagination and cooperation.
is the futile quest premised
upon a long refuted doctrine of science as an invariant systematic process
without personal emotional attachment.
Induction is an invalid inference wherein conclusions of generality (all swans are white) may not contradict observations of specific instance (particular white swans) taken as premise. But many allowable possible conclusions may still contradict one another. Nevertheless, that the premise and conclusion may not contradict already narrows possible conclusions, perhaps even closing upon truth, which is correspondence to objective reality. And the more varied the particular instances taken as premise, the more narrow the range of conclusions that won’t contradict with premise from subjective observation. But can the possibilities ever be narrowed all the way to truth before perception; entailing even tentative hypothesis and opinion, must inevitably arise?
The core falsehood of Inductivism is the notion that hypothesis, opinion and therefore attachment to pet theories in jeopardy from trial and error, conjecture and refutation, with pursuant controversy and strife, are avoided simply by the patience to gather sufficient instances open-mindedly. Thus again the myth of infallibility in innocence, assuming induction to be natural and therefore glamorized and hypothesis and deduction civilized and therefore demonized. Indeed, numbering among the most needlessly misleading of attachments and suffering is anti-argumentative anti-critical bias, the angry, emotionally injured and hypersensitive anti-Socratic fixation that strife must ever attend upon controversy, destructively and unproductively.
Inductivism never really forestalls controversy nor eliminates doubt and hence even the most entirely intellectual of responsibilities entailed in free choice at all.
""A good rider has balance, judgment, and good timing. So does a good lover." — Unknown
Though tantra is juxtaposed to Vedic traditions as a heterodox, life-affirming tradition, which is both ancient and basic to Hindu interpretations of being, its hedonistic contents have been purposely neglected or suppressed, partly because of the continuing hold of Victorian morality (imbibed from the British missionaries and colonial rulers), and partly because the erotic route to mystical achievement has always been a secret, minority path."
— Prem Saran, Tantra - Hedonism in Indian Culture
At minimum, much as the famous Buddhist Shaolin warrior monks renounce aggression, even practicing their renowned martial arts without aggression, Tantra aims at non-thrusting sex likewise all without the passion of aggression. Thus do the disciplines of Tantric sex promise such benefits as slow, prolonged and even entranced love making in tranquil Yogic positions, relaxation and greater heights of ecstasy, and some would say, enhanced intimacy as well. Or are they actually expressly seeking to avoid it? That rather depends whom one asks, and it should come as no surprise that once again the question typically comes subject to much qualification.
Indeed, what exactly is meant even by the common parlance: casual sex? (What, as opposed to formal attire debauchery?)
Why must it ever be so hard just to be easy?
That vibrant lust momentarily fulfilled still escalates unsatiated, seems little tragedy. By contrast, the sex in sexual addiction must be pretty damn awful just miserably bad sex to be so depressingly joyless! What are called addictive behaviors such as gambling, never mind actual substance abuse, are the most Existentially Absurd, Ecclesiastically futile,unfulfilling of so-called recreations, indeed leaving no afterglow no speak of.
Casual sex so-called, is often anything but! -rather instead, excruciatingly awkward and actually uncomfortable, all the more so for the cultivation of disassociated sexuality, cavalier attitudes of the same antique Zen quest for indifference in struggle of denial in order to cope with deep seated shame and disgust engendered by the no less archaic and ugly bigotry that so demonizes Eros as the enemy of Agape and, more to the point: vice versa; either way, as often expressed poetically: that love demands the sacrifice of love. Is casual sex like casual conversation, interminable delusory small talk, a snare of doom into an oblivion of unfulfilled superficiality?
Answer: Only insofar as anything howsoever more substantial is actually howsoever deliberately ruled out as actually impolite as typically in the name of willful positivity. And the same goes for sex. typically, it is actually the onus and dire presumption or outright premeditation of attachment disorder that truly raises any such neurotic dire conflict between Eros and Agape, in such dire self fulfilling prophesy. Nothing endangers or destroys deep feeling the way that pressure under demand thereof as any sort of prerequisite does. Freedom from precisely such common place ideological demands, freedom to grow, is always precious. Whereas, under conditions of distress, such as school, emotional support seems more of a determinant of success than sexual activity or not.
Indeed, it is so often the anhedonic that are so unsympathetic and Moralistic. Nevertheless, it is the pleasure centered who are so often maligned as therefore callous and indifferent, attachment disordered. And yet, in truth, many close relationships grow from sharing pleasures. Why should it be any different with the intimate gratification of lust? Answer: Compartmentalization that is, indeed, repressed and attachment disordered. Compartmentalization as a defense or denial, a coping strategy for dealing with overwhelming ambivalence, as from the equally intense craving and terror at any prospect of intimacy of any kind at all. Agape can be as painfully suppressed as Eros. And as we shall see, some actually recommend it!
Declares Laura Wood, The Thinking Housewife: “The well-educated slut has been fed a pack of lies. Let’s face it. For all her credentials and impressive grades, she is stupid! Promiscuity plunders a woman’s soul and wrecks her ability to love.” Indeed, along the slutty Tantric path upon the sadly misguided Zen quest of futility and non attachment, such precisely, is actually the deliberate goal put forth! “It keeps many from ever marrying at all or from having children. It is ultimately unappealing to men.”
But are any of the three preceding claims scientific? What would be the Empirical standards of refutation? Under what conditions, particularly of culture and especially self fulfilling prophesy, might any of the assertions in question, tired traditional truisms as they may be, nevertheless ever tend to be true (correspondent to reality)? What would be the controls? And are there pertinent statistics?
Actually, it turns out that initial sexual interaction and encounters as readily leads to longer term relationship as anything the more at least ostensibly Platonic. Although differing expectations can lead to misunderstanding and disappointment. if only by the expression: "casual sex" nothing more was ever meant than that everyone involved in entitled to be comfortable with all that they do together, at their ease and free. Alas, the very expression: "casual sex" is loaded euphemism, instead signifying nothing more or less than morbid detachment, yes: those Zen ideals of non attachment, and cynical compartmentalization. But there is even worse in the implication of all such as the natural human disposition, indeed remedied only by repressive indoctrination into controlling jealously, possessiveness and fear based relationship. But in any better alternative, surely any coherent quest for individual wholeness, must value the genuine and natural integration of self, integrity and principle, often at the vulnerable danger ever of openness, approachability, and even heart worn on sleeve.
For the searing ambivalent inner conflict between desire and inhibition is untenable and irreconcilable, save either that lust be quelled or insecure jealousy, fear, guilt and aversion overcome. But as Thomas Szass points out, either such profound change is easier lip service than accomplishment, and so it is more common for anyone simply to go through the motions either of liberated sexuality on the one hand or of chastity on the other, than truly to conquer either desire on the one hand or inhibition on the other, at all.
"I'm just a Westside lover, I leave females in my sheets and all my feelings in a rubber." — Big Sean
Indeed, to what lengths should one be willing to strive for pure, innocent precious freedom at long last, from the falsehood and suffering brought about by the entire range of frustrated needs obstructed by all manner of confusing, painful and debilitating anxious, guilty and self-conscious sex hang-ups? Everyone is one way or another familiar with the grand stereotypical societal myth of how the quest for acceptance into the Sixties, with the ideals of peace, love and understanding, and practice of flamboyant free expression, somehow collapsed into such now hilarious self-involved Narcissistic Disco era self caricature into the Seventies.
Behind enshrouding Mysticism, Tantra can be perverse and prudish all at once. Consistently to every other context of life, Tantric sex is the ancient and venerable application of Yogic contortions and sublime Zen apathy and transport of utter detachment even to such weird and dissociated sexuality. For dissociation is a denial process of separating shameful unwanted impulses, desires, and needs enacted, from cognition of ego and more importantly, superego, conscience, thus shielding self-system. And during the Seventies, porn icon Emmanuelle as most famously portrayed by Sylvia Kristel, was the skinny blond catatonic shiksa goddess slut and traveling guru, the ideological cheerleader and role model for entranced and detached dissociated sublime apathetic carnality, attended upon by robust and lustful male performers doing all of the work for their limp, entranced and passive pretty ragdoll!
So, are such truly The Joys of a Woman and aught anyone actually to envy Emmanuelle and aspire to become more like her? Indeed, can complete introversion truly be the key to sexual liberation? Answer: Obviously, not for natural extroversion and curiosity. For once again, the pangs of loneliness and sexual boredom are portrayed as anything to be quelled introveritedly and Narcissistically by regaining taste only for one's own company, because extroverited Hedonistic passion actually reaching out for human connection even for the sheer gratification let alone actually ever in order so much howsoever as to alleviate any suffering of loneliness, is once again cynically and prudishly dismissed as Quixotic, Ecclesiastical vanity, Zen futile. Have you found The Root Cause of Unhappiness? Spoiler: it's ego of course, consciousness, the mind itself intrinsically, thought at all. Happiness is just spacing out! Or so we are assured. And hence the dysfunctionally misguided appeal, also, of all such disassociated sexuality in quest of radical disengagement.
The Zen Master Dog-Poop
Again, in the cutting prose of Kathleen Norris: "When you are unhappy, is there anything more maddening than to be told that you should be contented with your lot?" Indeed, it is said that happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have. And indeed, what annoying sanctimony! For is that truly happiness, or merely indifference precisely as cultivated by the Zen?
If so, then far best to let the tired homily be afforded a quite death, with no further torturous rephrase to sidestep and omit the now invalidated very concept of happiness. Alas, however, such peace was never to be! So let the games begin:
"To manifest a stated intention you must begin by intending what's happening
to be happening, to choose what’s so to be so." What utter linguistically
meaningless pseudo-profound sophistry! As a transitive verb, to manifest means
to show or demonstrate plainly or to reveal. And to show, demonstrate or reveal
an intention, stated or otherwise, does not first require to
choose what is so to be
so. Intention and apathy are mutually exclusive, after all. Indeed, nor, tautologically, can one
choose what is so to be
so, because in order to
there must be alternatives. And obviously,
decision alone, however arrived at, seems precious little efficacious causality
so long as passive rather than active or at least at all however harmoniously
Hence, the only willing choice, as such, here, so extolled, is acquiescence, of course. Not-doing. And so-called intention thereafter, is actually anticipation. Because intention is actually purpose of action. Non causal manifestation of intention is an ideation of action at a distance in magical power of positive or wishful thinking. And so, the notion of manifestation of intention only provided intention of what already occurs, is ironic and Zen futile. -Like unto the crowing rooster, taking credit for the dawn!
And to actually encourage quest thereafter, can only be yet another harsh practical joke of Zen tough love under what amounts to careful suicide watch provided within the Zen Dojo, in order to wear down the disciple into eventually nervous collapse, breaking their spirit into the utterly complacent abandon of all hope and sublime apathy and untroubled docile adaptive resignation to convention, inducing Bodgictta/ PTSD.
All nevertheless hopefully no
more than a humorous anecdote rather than any serious recommendation or
prescription, all perhaps best taken as another cautionary jibe against
Malignant Narcissistic Zen Masters or celebrities and their determinedly naive sycophantic
disciples. Not unlike unto the fabled deranged foolish Wise Men of Gotham or Chelm.
"To create something you first must know how to create nothing." But that is demonstrably quite false! "Until you know how to create nothing, the space in which something is created, you can't be certain you are creating anything." But so what if one cannot be absolutely certain? Must uncertainty regarding inevitable preconceptions whatsoever necessarily provoke such unmanageable responsibility anxiety or: heteronymous decidophobia in the first place? Why?
Nor, for that matter, is sheer vacuum actually the requisite medium for creativity. There is no emptiness, no fresh start, nor ever need thereof: "All is fire!" proclaimed Heraclitus, a sea of glorious clutter and ever roiling bricolage therefrom. Indeed, the new is always created out of the old, by inventive readaptation or else simply by change over time and engagement rather than apathetic Zen cessation of all attachment, that purported great truth of pointless futility and Ecclesiastical vanity by persuasive practical demonstration which is no more or less than, in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely repeated elicitation, frustration and extinction actually of all impulse globally, in general, wholesale and in total at all, rather than whatever specific targeted impulse or range of impulses. Indeed, though the solitary Zen may spurn the joy of creative exchange and collaboration, nevertheless, Empirically, such is known to occur. Indeed, observably, every thing, event or idea today, is contingent upon some antecedent, natural or artifice. Even satori, the flash of new connections, inspiration, insight and Gestalt, cannot spontaneously occur in a vacuum!
Verily, there can be nothing so purely private and internal as in the loftiest ideal of Zen. Again, utter freedom from preconception is neither feasible nor actually desirable.
Moreover, nothingness as an entity is oxymoron. Nothing is absence of all, void, the contents of the empty set. Hence, to create nothing, if not actually to annihilate, only means simply not to create. Nor need one know first how not to create, in order at all to create. Hence, is there anything more here beyond poor and transparent rationalization and sophistry for creative block and sheer Zen paralysis? After all, in truth, not knowing how not to create, would only mean not knowing how to stop being constantly imaginative and creative, creating quite naturally, even unbidden!
Indeed, one can be creative at any time and in any place! And while there are, indeed, people just too full of themselves to contain any new impression that otherwise might enter or occur, there are others who positively drink in surprising new information every day, even without first emptying their minds or else somehow or other overflowing like a cup of tea. For even the weightiest of ideas are not actually imbued with such spatial limitations as of physical volume like unto the tyranny of numbers in engineering!
Nevertheless, as a poetical notion, perhaps one might bring delight to conceive, notwithstanding, of some Zen paradoxical concept of Not-Creativity in application of Not-Doing: For Zen Aesthetics ever extol simplicity, subtlety and elegance in the suggestive rather than the descriptive or obvious, with naturalness barring all strain of artifice, even at play, achieved often by the use of empty or negative space, literally or fugitively as in the Haiku or the vignette, all by the elimination of all that is non-essential, in the cultivation of stillness and tranquility.
In the ardent cultivation of immediacy and awakening to mindful heightened awareness of experience, and thence the rejection of conceptualization and the escapism afforded by the unique features of the idle human mind, being: insight, imagination and cooperation, all as burdensome self-conscious encumbrance and suffering, Zen quests for the complete abandonment of understanding as such. Perhaps the real end motivating goal put forth of Zen, much as with most any other body of faith, remains no more or less than any hoped for tranquility in some anticipated state of acceptance and surrender. After all, remember that even for all of the high hopes inevitably raised by the fervid illusions of positive transference, Freud was perhaps even less ambitious when it comes to the benefits of whatever arrival at closure, only seeking to midwife the transformation of acutely debilitating suffering and disturbance, particularly hysteria, into ordinary unhappiness.
There is a view of Zen not merely as esoteric secret wisdom, but actually as something of a great inside joke, a colossal put-on, if not, indeed, something of an exceedingly shaggy dog: The secret is that there is no secret! Indeed, are we not extolled that all we struggle for in our confusion, is actually well within easy reach? Many people secretly and desperately hope to get all that they shamefully yearn for, simply by pretending not to. Some even pull it off! Except for the absurdist tag about the monkey, the title of the Beatles song 'Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey' notoriously derives from a remark by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the celebrity "gigging guru" in such frantic demand for his purportedly crucial secret transcendental wisdom as to become effortlessly privileged and wanting for nothing in this life. Thus, it seems, had the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi found his vaunted blissful non attachment. Such much, the great Zen in-joke. What a puerile put-on! A true and more considerate Buddha would have long departed in order to spare all others any further injury of wasted time and passion that comes of devoted service -Nietzschean snares of altruism and selfishness alike, veneration and rapturous goggling at another's sublime focus and apathy. It's like feasting in view of the starving, or striptease before the unloved. Worship frequently obscures the message. Even retreat into contemplation becomes needless distraction, unless inspiring to action and self care.
Perhaps also the derivation of koan #36, Goso's No Words, No Silence, Línjì Yìxuán famously cautioned against all misleading worldly entanglements and recommended cutting free thereof (incidentally, a goal as ever put forth, shared also but approached very differently, by Transactional Analysis). Indeed, the shortened proverb: "if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him" is often interpreted as an admonition to Zen for oneself, and, like Siddhartha, to reject any possibility of external sources of meaning or enlightenment and any teacher save for oneself, denounce and fend off any sort of cult of personality, of any Buddha that can be met, named, externalized and described discretely from selfhood or apart from the totality of being, but rather, "Seek out your own salvation with diligence!" Indeed, the Zen test of faith ever demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter. For in order to learn everything, one must first forget everything, and in order to gain anything, first one must lose everything. And to kill the Buddha on the road, is to cast aside the last crutch in order to ascend and attain Buddha nature oneself. The Buddha cannot be seen. And this is as it should be. For once perceived and distinguished separately from the totality of being and experience, that which must be traversed instead becomes an obstruction clung to instead of blessed and released with due gratitude. And hence, again, the admonition of Yamaoka Tesshu comparing Zen to soap to be washed with but then washed off again. For winged truth cannot be possessed.
In fairness, however, the mischief of repetition does come forth in that it's all easer said, understood, even opined or believed, than done, than embraced, than Zenned, than apprehended and experienced with such immediacy as may enlighten, transform, heal and liberate.
Indeed, as Alexander Lowen M.D. put it, "Conviction lies not in the Ego."
And, in Zen, for all these deficiencies, Didactic conceptualizations are spurned as Buddhas on the wrong road.
Of karma and dharma
Understanding is explanatory abstraction enabling cogitation upon and employment of concepts effective and pertinent to whatever subject matter at hand. Explanation is of causation in context and likewise of consequence. Rational construction comes intermediate between objective reality and subjective perception and experience at all, the Phenomena, let alone abstract or practical comprehension.
Different phenomena (lower case) emerge as sufficient causes converge under favorable conditions, and disintegrate as causes or conditions dissipate. People understand and relate to the plot logic of polemical drama and the linear causality of stories, even though events in the real world unfold as the confluence of all manner of even dharmic and karmic cofactors in the outcomes of complex systems, perhaps even amenable to some common theme, similarity or generality, if not any other serviceable narrative.
Problems and types of causality are divided into the categories of dharma and karma, - in the polemics of drama, dharmic plot, with "unity of action," Sequence and logic, and situation plus karmic character motivation, which together equal dramatic destiny, fateful choice of free will, because karma accrues from volitional intentional action without which worldly happiness is impossible. That is why sublime Zen apathy promises freedom from karma, ego and responsibility. Karmic destiny, particularly: as of bad karma, is predictable outcomes unfolding as inexorably driven by inflexible fixed attitudes, position or POV, in short: dramatic failure of growth.
inherent meaning as a poetical figure, actually alludes to purpose of personal fulfillment, what matters deeply growth towards self-actualization or at least freedom and autonomy, relevant value, and without which life itself threatens Zen futile Ecclesiastical vanity! and such as may be expressed, also, in the intention of deeds, including that which is most broadly signified in communication of message, information content, ideas, conveying Phenomenal subjective experience or understanding, TEXT and subtext all in CONTEXT, unless, most narrowly, scientifically, literally and precisely, denotatively or referentially, that which is signified and thus conjectured, is simply and clearly whatever corresponding objective reality, Ontologically, hence, also, implication, logically inherent consequence and Deterministic inescapable causal effect that inspires bleak fatalism but also liberation, hope from knowledge and even wisdom, for discovering better choices, willfully, autonomously.
Mythical karma is not actually a system of the universe at all. Because there actually can be no Ontological foundation of morality, the so called law of karma is actually mere truism not really consistent enough to qualify as a physical law of nature. The principle at all of karma is merely a fateful tendency however as universal as anything in the soft social sciences or humanities, stating that, in life's drama, good results tend to follow from good, skillfully detached and responsible causes or motivations and bad results, intended, foreseen or otherwise, from bad, malicious or simply ineptly irresponsible, often impulsive, reactionary and misguided causes and motivations. Which, in any momentary reflection, all seems manifest in human affairs, functionality and dysfunctionality, both privately, psychologically, and in the wider scheme of events in society. Thus even sans mythic past lives, one way or another, we remain all nonetheless and nevertheless the inheritors of past actions, decisions, experience and history culminating and calumniating in each our own situation amid the world about us, karma. Universal justice, however, is by no means assured. Besides, in the words of William E. Gladstone: "Justice delayed is justice denied." -Let alone through eons of mythical reincarnation! What would be the point?
By contrast, dharma, in the many significations of the word, may be thought to refer to the more straightforward material and perhaps even the familiar mechanistic problems and types of causality and effect such as that in the polemics of drama, differentiate the "unity of action," Sequence and logic as of plot distinguished from sheer chronological sequence of narrative. Dharma is constituent from all that simply is, unmotivated, morally neutral and devoid of passionate human values, such as is the concern of natural science and particularly physics. Dharma also refers to the nature and function of any thing or event, as most lucidly as we may so apprehend, which, of course, is the motivating goal put forth of science. But all too often, it may be observed that the more transcendent the passion for science, the more detached, socially inept, graceless and impractical have been many of the most famous and accomplished scientists in ordinary life!
Which brings us to conduct within dharma:
Now, there can be a Zen of any solitary art, archery, motorcycle maintenance, or anything else, even perhaps including the conduct of science, even the Chivalric Kama Sutra Tantric sexual etiquette extolling adroit arts of love. But can there be a Zen of graceful interactions, especially such as by which people are ever thought to relate to one another? Indeed, is the cultivation of skilled conduct within dharma in order to become good at life, and much such a quest for the same insight of spontaneous authenticity and good faith is striven for in Transactional Analysis between individuals? Is Transactional Analysis then a properly dharmic liberation from karma?
Or is the cultivation of virtuous right action or Stoical oikeiosi, conduct within dharma, rather a questing for sublime unmotivated impersonally cold-blooded perfection in dealing with others? And what would that amount to, but manipulation without attachment? Indeed, must Zen prize or reject the same insight of spontaneous authenticity and good faith striven for in Transactional Analysis between individuals? Indeed, strictly speaking, can Zen ever even recognize as possible any insight of spontaneous authenticity and good faith striven for in Transactional Analysis between individuals? After all, bypassing, exchange which is not genuine communication because it lacks sufficient intersubjectivity and does not carry at all the same meanings or even purpose, intention or point at all between the participants, is all there really is, according to the Zen, traditionally.
According to Zen, individuals may be perfectly genuine, but dialogue, never mind the attachment snare of relationship, never can be genuine or true. Hence, Zen must regard Transactional Analysis as quixotically futile. For only the masterful Zen liberated superhuman quelled into conduct within dharma can conceivably ever be however cold-bloodedly receptive to the challenge of effectively dealing with others in order to feed them the correct stimuli in order to steer them along the most benign causality, according to Stoicism and Zen alike.
In the most Heraclitian Buddhist thinking more current than ever in modern physics, all objects, phenomena or other events are deemed empty of self sufficient inherency which is illusory. Such, however, is relationship, indeed, in a strictly dharmic view. Whereas under Zen Wittgensteinean paralysis, any meaningful conversation, dialogue, literally from dia- "across" + legein "speak," let alone human relationship, remains all quite oxymoronic, being after all, inescapably doomed to human imperfection. And that is why Jews do not Zen. Zen and Judaism are intrinsically irreconcilable because, after all, the attachment and belonging of human relationship, a value so Nihilistically rejected by the solitary Zen, is, indeed, the very central focus and very cornerstone of Judaism.
The sublime sagacity and skill promised of conduct within dharma mythologizes and romanticizes the irresponsibly indifferent proto-Behaviorist heteronomy to situation much as extolled by such doctrines as the Zen. Conduct within dharma refers to Not-Doing without attachment or self conscious contemplation, thus immediate, harmonious and perhaps even somewhat superficial, individual conduct in even nigh fundamentalist conformity with the dharmic principle of universal order, behavior that arises from a sense of connection to others and to one's environment or situation and the experience of unity, balanced, unselfconscious, adaptive, detached and karmically neutral. A lofty ideal of sagacity, contemplative Gestalt comprehension accruing the skill to act beneficially for oneself and others, a more scientific caution towards moment to moment human transaction, the lesson of exaggerated responsibility in hindsight as the quest for perfect compassion must demand, once the deceptive illusion and snare of attachment, regard, desire and unhappy frustration is overcome and the transitory nature of things can be accepted and embraced.
Hence, arguably, the transgression of hamartia, after all, more often so unwitting, is only figurative, because, literally, the only transgression in question is against dharma in the sense of the laws of nature. But the laws of nature, literally, are inviolable! After all, who needs to enforce the law of gravity or thermodynamics? Hence, the only conceivable violation can be against prudence, soundness of judgment. Hence, hamartia is only poor unskilled dharma, error indeed, often quite innocent and impulsive.
Whereas science, no matter how exacting, remains volitional intentional action, deliberate exercise in trial and error bound to anticipate and forever accept imperfection. Hence, like unto science, is Zen likewise sanguine or not? And if not, why should the surrender to futility be deemed more commendable than commitment to scientific rigor? The Zen rejects the escapism afforded by the unique features of the idle human mind, being: insight, imagination and cooperation. Indeed, Philosophy is typically belittled in Zen because every solution only tends to fresh contradiction. But then, what of Zen paradox? nevertheless, as the sages admonish, Philosophy is not Zen. And perhaps the real practical and practicable limits of any Zen practice are somewhat overdue to be at all established in clinical trials. For tragic and damaging attachment to the same old myth and pursuit of transcendent perfection remains, tantalizing and tormenting, especially when and as abused and exploited by the infamous domineering controlling Zen celebrities, authorities, fakirs, tricksters, the paradoxical Buddha on the road and hence, with any luck, ego crushing barrier to the gateless gate to Nirvana in this life. -Or so we are assured...
Dharma in the sense of virtuous right action according to divine law, of Stoical oikeiosi, also denoting one's role in life and the challenge to play it well as conduct within dharma, perhaps connotes a somewhat jaundiced and detached view of plot, such as might fail to be properly acknowledged as the more intimate problem of growth and character development. Drama, after all, from the same root as the Sanskrit dharma but in Late Latin drma, drmat-, via the Greek drn, to do or perform, is conflict inherent to situation; conflict on every level within and without, being, as it is, more than merely an event, but like unto karma itself, a condition, a relationship.
Indeed beware! for in true life no less than in the equivocal representation thereof, poor staging or presentation of any level of conflict is effectively misdirection dissipating inherent drama, reducing promise to catastrophe by losing sight of what matters deeply. Where, then, does that leave the ideal and motivating goal put forth of sheer detachment?
Is Zen itself, then, no more than the hamartia and even cowardice of turning one's back on life?
Why Jews do not Zen
Who is a Jew? Indeed, what is a Jew? -let alone an Israeli... The answer is that the Jew, much as the Hobbit, is a mythical creature of mythical extraction and legend. -Just like everybody else! And so, then what are, if not differentiating factors, then key values, as in being a mensch?
Be a mensch! For Menschlichkeit or creditable humaneness and integrity, is the art of being a mensch, upfront, honest, autonomous, responsible and accountable, yet gentle, with benevolence, empathy and sympathy. Indeed, a synthesis of single minded convergent thinking with nuanced situational Gestalt may be achievable in the intellectual cultural Jewish trait or aptitude of justice, proportion, perspective and whole integrity, especially as refined in prewar Germany, by Einstein, Freud and Marx, Relativistically, via the integrative synthesis of divergent frames of reference or POV, everything from time dilation and inner life to a larger view of economics, overviews and special cases. - All factors that may play into differing values and levels, priority and autonomous coping in case of inner conflict between responsibilities and/or interests, honestly true to oneself and straight with others.
We all tend to become attached to places or settings, social milieu, to objects and even ideas, but most especially bonds of affection to other individuals as according to Attachment Theory of the first core strengths attained in childhood towards individual adult attachment in relationships with autonomy and respect, risk taken in friendship and vested in talent rather than social advantage, with trust placed in content of character, indeed also particularly such as for couples. Whereas an attachment injury is the hurt from close quarters, so to speak, therefore that festers and engenders attachment disorder severely enough to adversely affect future interactions and close relationship throughout life. Anti-Critical Bias let alone Fundamental Attribution Error exacerbated into Hostile Attribution Bias are all mistrustfully attachment injured and disordered, let alone the controlling possessiveness of bullying.
To quote Gian Vincenzo Gravina: "A bore is a man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company." But insensitive or just unreceptive intrusion is the very least failure of intimacy. Intimacy risks far greater disappointment and betrayals. Therefore, even the most pleasant anticipation or prospect of intimacy is often marked by even sometimes threatening sensations of shyness, much as good sex is often preceded by the churning of proverbial butterflies in the stomach.
So, can Zen non attachment really be the answer, the release into perfect Buddhist compassion as promised? -Or just more of the metaphorical baby out with the proverbial bath water...
For genuine love, compassion and friendship are all distinctly marked by such features as patience and kindness rather than envy, rude and boastful pride, ever self-seeking and quick to wrath and grudge collecting, by forthright honesty rather than hollow deceit, by protection and trust with every hope for the others' best interests, with perseverance through conflict, wanting for another all that they want for themselves.
In the most Heraclitian Buddhist thinking more current than ever in modern physics, all objects, phenomena or other events are deemed empty of self sufficient inherency which illusory. Such, however, is relationship in a strictly dharmic view. Whereas for Zen, dialogue, literally from dia- "across" + legein "speak," let alone human relationship, remains all quite oxymoronic. And that is why Jews do not Zen.
Mysticism at all, even Jewish Mysticism let alone Zen, are, in truth, all intrinsically irreconcilable with Judaism, because, after all, the worldly attachment and belonging of human relationship, a value so Nihilistically rejected by the jaded and solitary Zen, is, indeed, the very central focus of Judaism. Zen inertia, futility and inner peace from complete surrender are irreconcilable with the Jewish value of persistent hope even amid life's most crushing tragedy.
in the ardent cultivation of
immediacy and awakening to mindful heightened awareness of experience, and thence the rejection of
conceptualization as burdensome self-conscious encumbrance and suffering, Zen
quests for the complete abandonment of understanding as such.
Indeed, in the Zen, whole and directly intuitive apprehension is extolled as superior to
dichotomous logic. But: How so?
The very question provides Zen persuasive practical demonstration, in it's manifestly daunting complexity. And seeking an answer in simplicity, simply cannot make simple, whatever, indeed, is not actually simple to begin with. After all, Occam's Razor seeks for the simplest workable explanation for whatever available observations. Indeed, in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "Perfection is reached, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away." But when distortion finally arises in further pressing the quest for simplicity, in heedlessly continuing to subtract even what turns out to be essential after all, this is rightly called: oversimplification. Indeed, oversimplification is often a grave drawback of all Radical Holism and one dimensional thinking!
For such, precisely, is the poverty of the Zen, in that though Zen claims to transcend words, actually, direct apprehension can be limited and limiting. For example, the numbers one, two and three, may ever be known at a glance, but who can understand even the number six, except by imagining twice three? And is merely grasping principles at all, even by whatever agency of howsoever dichotomous reasoning, truly anything over which to feel guilty and inadequate? Do suffering innocent cherubs actually bleed from every hair split by philosophers?
Despite the ancientness of the golden rule, to do unto others as one would have them do unto you, nevertheless, only via intellectual Humanism is embraced the real great truth that only an individualist can be altruistic, because, after all, how can one care for another without first recognizing and endorsing their individuality?
At this point, to escape the Zen moral vacuum, even Buddhist compassion must invoke relationship in order to support oneness, because, putting aside all dangers of whatever twisted horrors as ever may arise to fill the moral vacuum, amoral Zen makes by far the more consistent sense than Zen altruism, because even assuming as given, all due moderation, nevertheless, sublime apathy in prudish Zen cessation (in terms of Behavioral Modification, merely repeated elicitation, frustration and extinction, but actually impulse at all globally, in general, wholesale and in total at all, rather than merely any specific targeted impulse or range of impulses, especially including those of desire, relation and attachment, all as the royal path to altruism, is far more problematic; because, as the famous biologist and developmental psychologist Piaget understood, sympathy as requisite to service to others can not be even possible without selfishness that can in turn be projected onto others; because only the individual liberty and open desire of a healthy ego can be extrapolated into the experience of others so as to engender ones own sympathy.
Indeed, tyrannical self
denial is far
more often seen only undermining exactly that very developmental process of
actually accomplished, however reasonably and imperfectly, quite without the
scoundrelously unnecessary and impossible transcendence of the life and
experience to which such development is even
And for that matter, by what mitzvah or kindness, how is charitable service to a selfless person even possible? Indeed, what could ever be the point of, as it where, cooking a meal for a person forever quelled of appetite? Moreover, tautologically, the closeness of reciprocity requires both selfish desire and altruistic benevolence on all sides.
Have you found The Root Cause of Unhappiness? Spoiler: it's ego of course, consciousness, the mind itself intrinsically, thought at all. Happiness is just spacing out! Or so we are assured. Indeed, Zen seeks cessation, that purported great truth by persuasive practical demonstration towards the embrace of pointless futility and Ecclesiastical vanity, being no lore or less than, in terms of Behavioral Modification, repeated elicitation, frustration and extinction, but of all impulse globally, in general, wholesale and in total at all, rather than merely any specific targeted impulse or range of impulses, and especially of attachment or relation and thus of the suffering born thereof, whereas dialogue actually builds relation and attachment, seeking thereby any resolution to the troubles and suffering of isolation. All accord born from true open dialogue (literally from dia- "across" + legein "speak") still recognizes the sovereign individuality of one the other. Indeed, exactly thus must such blatantly obvious dualistic synthesis in particular nevertheless be reasoned, abstractly from fine distinctions, not Zenned in compassionate oneness.
And for the Jew, duality is not the constructed deceptive fracture of whole and singular reality so despised by the Zen, but rather culture, perspective and harmonizing depth perception to be embraced and valued. And so, for the Jew, there can be no notion of regret over intellectual categorical thinking. Indeed, even in meditative traditions, duality has even been regarded in Jewish thought as the very will of the Creator, rather than any flaw, gnosis of which to overcome.
The Nihilism of the Zen ever gravitates towards oneness of the Tao, whereas the exploration of Judaism ever embraces the duality of Diaspora.
By no accident where the three most important thinkers of the Twentieth Century all assimilated and cosmopolitan German Jews, living their lives from the dual perspective of the Jewish experience on the one hand and the German cultural mainstream on the other, and each rediscovering the world in fresh dimension from some innovatively dualistic perspective and synthesis. Freud focused upon the workings of the subjective inner world of the human mind in contrast to those of the external reality, Marx sought to place the economics of Capitalism and the market into a larger ongoing historical context, and Einstein fathomed relative frames of reference in space-time.
Psychologically, morally and socially indispensible self-conscious emotions include embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, pride, and shame. The self is apprehended by distinction from other. Therefore, the truly unselfconscious are indeed untroubled by reflection, blithely insensate and irresponsible to the feelings of others whom they treat utterly without regard and trammel under foot.
For Judaism, true to itself, hardly need strive at dichotomy, but one way or another, already abides ever in dualistic counterpoint to argue Existential controversy with the world, hence intrinsic complication even quite without affectation. Indeed, dialogue and controversy are intrinsic to the essential moral Jewish role of loyal opposition in struggle with God: "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him" (Job 33:15, NASB).
Thus, if the innocent uncomprehending tiger evinces neither guilt nor remorse in
slaying it's dinner in accord with it's own inalienable and harmonious nature,
why then should the thinker be any more vexed simply with the habit of thought?
And what's so awkward about self-consciousness introspective preoccupation
Why is analysis, however abstract, deemed any less true to the self of the
rational being born into this world endowed with cerebral cortex, than quiet
respiration and photosynthesis are to the humble and placid bamboo? To the Jew,
it is not. Therefore the silly Zen equivocation and
blanket Ad Hominem of dismissing all
heterodox opinion as manifestation of ego, remains utterly unconvincing. Only
oppressors admonish the masses not to think! And anyhow, isn't the naivety of innocence so often vastly overrated?
-Let alone as in
amoral Zen inspired and one dimensional Nazi
sociopathic veneration and emulation of
tigers, wolves and other natural predators!
For despite the ardent exhortations of misanthropic hermits and heteronymous conformists alike, nonetheless, never might I conceive that compassion could move me to crush another's spirit/ego into utter complacency of nervous collapse under what rather amounts to careful suicide watch provided within the Zen Dojo. For the peace embraced thereby in resignation and the abandon of all hope, nevertheless inspires more pity than envy.
Indeed, if anything constructive and uplifting is every truly to be lucidly and incisively salvaged from the Zen for all time, then compassion demands nothing less than the explicit renunciation of all such enthusiastic selective self-disavowal (bad faith), taboo, violence and Moralistic hate speech against the poor long suffering and unjustly maligned ego! Awkward self consciousness results from whatever undermines healthy self confidence. We all know full well that any healthy ego needs love too! Therefore, to find clarity, do not meditate in oblivious serenity, but reflect self-consciously thereupon:
Accepting all things with undifferentiated equanimity as extolled of the Zen, would mean to accept the very opposite thereof instead of seeking or demanding all acceptance of all things with undifferentiated equanimity as extolled of the Zen. Of course Zen means not making effort, but that doesn't resolve the inherent contradiction. Accepting all things with undifferentiated equanimity as extolled of the Zen, means accepting and even embracing also arousal, discontent, judgment and ego no less than all else howsoever deemed simpler and more spontaneous. The only conceivable reconciliation of such paradoxical manifest contradiction into any constancy, comes in the admonition of Yamaoka Tesshu comparing Zen to soap to be washed with but then washed off again. Enough already. Zen isn't clever anymore. It never was.
Again, does not Zen exhort the acceptance of things as they are? Why then not acceptance and even appreciation of the much and unjustly maligned ego, just as it truly is? It is no cowardly Nihilistic introversion that overcomes ego, in the first place of no need of being overcome, violated or crushed. Zen scoundrelously promises the impossible and the unnecessary in order to evade even minimal accountability. Rather, it is love among all attachments so anathema to the Zen, that penetrates and uplifts egotism, altruistically redirecting any self-centered focus instead upon the emotions and interests of others, thereby even overcoming bored and lonely Ecclesiastical futility. That very capacity defines who we really are, or else one truly is nothing, a failure as a human being. Who knows if love indeed ever conquers all. But love for all of its chimerical ephemerality and pointless suffering, still handily trumps Zen cynicism. For as John Donne so famously wrote: "No man is an island." If all of this is trite, then by that very token, the poverty of all Mysticism such as the Zen should be obvious.
Indeed, both the Zen
Mystical disciple and the patient in
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy among others through any range of life experience
and transition or process of maturity, may report a certain particular change, despite sameness
otherwise. - to whit: continued experience
of all the same even hither to vexing cognition and affect, and yet somehow no
longer so troubling or overwhelming. So perhaps non attachment is simple
detachment after all, and enlightenment perhaps even into better conduct within dharma,
is nothing more than any dawning of what we call perspective or proportion, and
nothing more. After all, what is the unenlightened Cretin, Philistine or
lunatic fool, but one so utterly lacking all perspective and proportion? The adept
bragging of being so
quelled beyond any urgency at all, apathetic and only going through the motions,
can always be thrice
denied, dismissed and disowned as an extremist heretic, an aberration or anomaly. But that
can be no less disingenuous than hiding him under the proverbial bushel. As
whatever ancient doctrines
are increasingly qualified and explained away in whatever
apologetics, less and less remains, plain and
profane indeed, unless the apologist strives to metaphorically back peddle by slipping
anything more in via the proverbial back door.
Otherwise, successive qualification consistently reduce wild eyed grandiose claims into into
disappointing trite platitude.
It is only natural and healthy for ego to wax and wane in the transition between conscious states, even waking and sleeping. Awakening is awakening to ego, reason and even self knowledge, not out or away from ego. All value judgment aside, the escape from ego is in sleep and dreams by any other name, especially exaltations of transcendental meditation, with or without drugs. To call any such awakening is to claim lucidity or insight therein, in other words: inspiration. As if inspiration where ever any more escapable than ego!
And for that matter, perhaps satori is a function not of true oneness, but merely of harmony. Harmony or Gestalt is of the whole and may be experienced or apprehended in a multitasking simultaneous congruence rather than the dichotomous sequence of counterpoint. Nevertheless, counterpoint remain no less rich and complex even than harmonies. And harmony or counterpoint howsoever created, recognized and apprehended in the mind may be transient, precisely because of the effort entailed in the nigh orgasmic mental complexity that even however pointless, is the lure of the obscurantist Kabalistic esoteric complexity junkie. However flawless execution, even as however sort of columniation or fluke outright, like unto consummate ballroom dancing, only promotes the illusion of effortlessness, albeit unlike ballroom dancing, even however subjectively.
And the actual totality of being remains exclusive to external objective reality, and we can only reflect thereupon to the best of our phenomenal faculties of factitious artifice, which is to say, according to our own natures. And exactly that dichotomous relationship, being knowledge, is what makes love possible. -hence the Biblical usage...
And so sayeth the Bard: "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all." Suffering, then, has not been Zen-futile. Hope for better has endured.
And that is why Jews do not Zen.
Zen truth... ?
My Zen Master Fail Me For Writing This Article?', Patrick Cox writes:
"The purpose of Zen is to become fully aware at every moment. One is supposed to
become mindful of things in the world or the situation one is in at each
instant: to become fully aware of the tea that one is drinking, for example. “In
short, the whole philosophy of the various methods is to broaden a person’s
vision, sharpen his imaginations, and sensitize his mind so that he can see and
grasp truth instantly any time and anywhere.” (A Source Book in Chinese
But is the above claim objectively testable? What would be the conditions of refutation? For that matter, what truth, and in correspondence to what reality?
"In other words, the goal of Zen is maximum awareness of reality, unmediated by false concepts. (Although Zen resists the tendency to define ‘reality’, let me provide a definition of what I understand to constitute reality for Zen, acknowledging my inability to do full justice to the reality Zen mind can make known, and which experience verifies. "Reality is everything that can be perceived by the senses and conceived by the intellect. Zen considers the non-Zen mind to view reality through concepts and sensory data, which results in a failure to fully understand it. Zen does not regard this common partial understanding of reality as completely wrong; rather, our normal conceptions are regrettably far from the perfect understanding of reality that Zen mind tries to help us achieve.)"
But because perception itself, gathered by the sensory apparatus into the mind for processing, is therefore well known to be interpretive in very nature, unmediated perception remains oxymoronic. And because we are all fallible, there will always be false concepts often undetected. Hence there can be no perfection or certitude. And calling any claimed mode of apprehension perfect, or better or even merely different, is still uninformative, most specifically, Axiologically, as to what about it may be deemed even desirable, or indeed how and why so. Zen is but another expression of the cowardly and nostalgic quest for the recovery of lost innocence.
There is much apologist denunciation of American Zen as heretical from authentic Japanese Zen, or indeed with any clearer justice, of Japanese Zen and its worst liberties with Buddhism from India, indeed historically, literally Zen entranced war crime instead of Buddhist exhortation to somehow or other no less detached (or: non attached) compassion, But don't buy in! Briefly, the central bad idea called Nirvana Principle of reducing ones needs by simply quelling pleasure principle, remains ancient, enduring and international.
Indeed Freud observed: "That which is not expressed is actedout,." And Freud's famous observation well accounts for the most notorious cult hypocrisy and abuse, and within Zen particularly. Yet the answer given to that problem by the various mystics remains no more or less than exhortation, under what amounts to scrupulously careful suicide watch provided within the Zen Dojo, to desperate striving unto nervous collapse and the breaking of the spirit or in more romantic and pleasing euphemism: crushing of the ego shell.
Again, Zen is but another expression of the cowardly and nostalgic quest for the recovery of lost innocence. But leave us face it that innocence may be vastly overrated. Otherwise, why change at all? What need for the sacred fool ever to sally forth? Innocence is often extolled particularly for clarity from preconception and thence certainty or anything of the sort. But sheer naivety is not infallible after all, whereas uncertainty need never so terrify or paralyze curiosity and responsible autonomy.
in the ardent cultivation of immediacy and awakening to mindful heightened awareness of experience, and thence the rejection of conceptualization as burdensome self-conscious encumbrance and suffering, Zen quests for the complete abandonment of understanding and even curiosity as such.
Thus many a disciple must wrestle with the Zen-futile Salvation Anxiety (so to speak), attachment to nonattachment, of Zen's unstated implication of, or desperation for, the numina, of somehow unmediated direct apprehension of essence, in the blithe ignorance of the constructed subjectivity of meaning, how even experience, psychologically, culturally and even neurologically, is, after all, no less factitious, an artifact, conjecture, conditioned upon Gestalt relational context and empty of self sufficient inherency, than all hearsay, hindsight, preconception and preoccupation which the strict Empiricism of Zen so vehemently scorns and deplores, but worse, any regard whatsoever, distress and attachment of all such futility as in any demand to the contrary, for only transcendent authenticity, even if not deeper meaning per se. For, indeed, just what does all that matter so?
Such patently false conundrums that have inspired such enthusiastic violence and hate speech against the long suffering and unjustly maligned ego, emanate from the ill reputation of meta-cognition, of awareness of self, as an irksome burden to be spurned at all cost, including as self consciousness so often and consistently does, time binding and character building, rebellion, regret, worry, ofttimes painful change and growth, all emotional baggage of the past and concern with plans of the future to come. The all to familiar yearning of Zen, then, is for the unperturbed innocence of some sort of pure spontaneity, or else, in truth, at least to cherish, with enthusiasm, every delicate illusion thereof.
Hence, Zen takes neither savor nor solace in the scientific questing and testing for literal truth which is the correspondence to reality in assertions, despite the lucid dharmic neutrality of any such scientific agenda, because, after all, it is people who yearn for truth, not statements, and therefore the process of the mind, experience and reflection that together comprise the Phenomena, which must somehow ever arrive, even however briefly, at some clarity, validity and true accord with reality that constitute such transitory insight, satori, as constitutes the only kind of knowledge valued and exalted by Zen beyond whatever sheer practical utility.
Zen is often likened unto the '60's. For, as the
saying goes, If you remember it, then you where never there! For Zen is also the
appreciation of the elusive, the cultivation of the experiential and intuitive,
of immediacy, especially where definition may fail. The intellect of Zen in
not seek to grasp
Dialectically, but only to point, to indicate
what must be caught, not taught, and often seeks
to fall back upon such common sense as that will be apprehensible
experientially, even reliably, repeatedly and at will.
For example, the Zen Master will not state for us a definition of self. But if one responds to one's own name, then, momentarily, it must be presumed that one does apprehend what is self! So, why struggle with difficult definition and explanation of self awareness, when the experience thereof is always simple and imminent?
For the skilled Zen master helps to bring about the causes and conditions of insight, which, nevertheless, remains subjective and solitary. Indeed, the vantage for such awakening is never far for anyone.
Indeed, all else is distraction. Static in the attic! Especially, of course, the needlessly complicated construct of the ego shell. We are all Buddha. Further more, Buddha is not this, and Buddha is not that, and so on, elimination ad infinitum, questing for emptiness, oneness and, seeking there in, but quite literally, "the peace that surpaseth understanding".
For this is all there is. And there is no hidden meaning. The only secret, and an open secret at that, is that there is, indeed, no secret. For "it is your true self, it has nowhere to hide." and "a dunce once searched for fire with a lighted lantern," thus written are the koans, plain and profane.
Indeed, as a matter of Zen practicality, had the poor frantic dunce, or sacred fool, only known what was the fire of his lantern, one must imagine that he'd have cooked his rice that much sooner. After all, we each tend to miss the obvious, one way or another. For, like unto the quenching and crystalline water drawn for the hungering dunce's cook pot, where the answers any clearer, they'd only be that much harder to see, transparent and therefore nigh invisible.
Does a dog, then, partake of Buddha Nature? For cheerful dogs are attentive while desperate men are intentive. A dog, after all, responds to it's own name without encumbrance or factitious artifice of fixed meditation, and never complains of identity crisis or Nihilistic Existential angst!
Have you found The Root Cause of Unhappiness? Spoiler: it's ego of course, consciousness, the mind itself intrinsically, thought at all. Happiness is just spacing out! Or so we are assured. Bah, humbug! Happiness or even tranquility, cannot be owned, possessed, or transcendentally achieved by the detached (or: "non attached") adept. The very relevance to life at all, of happiness, is that happiness is, indeed, a state variable in subjective response to howsoever favorable circumstances or situation, and particularly by doing what you love, indeed, together in collaboration, because human interaction is likewise well known and understood to be crucial to happiness. That is what I seek to discuss, always, indeed, to bring onto the agenda for action. That is the motivation of this very website, FoolQuest.com
A prime distinction of rational falibilism, is the rejection of despair over the admitted impossibility of perfect certainty or the recovery of innocence, both so vastly overrated. All struggle for perfection, innocence and certainty, all thereby become at best superfluous, at worst pernicious. For that matter, according to science, happiness cannot so blithely be deemed the same thing as tranquility, because observably, stress is dystress when unhappy or displeasing, and eustress when happy or pleasant. Suffering is not always the result of anything intrusively displeasing or injurious. And any objective of the entire elimination of suffering is impossibly Perfectionist. Worse, as we have seen, elimination of the very capacity for pain, valuable no less even simply for being aversive, would likely be catastrophic. But most saliently, often dystress is indeed from frustration with unmet needs and desires, even very much according to Buddhism. Not to beat about the bush, what is intrusive according to Buddhism, are needs and desires at all, or at least beyond a modest minimum, according to different degrees of such extremism. An Existential position upon what Zen calls: futility. I flatly reject all such Mysticism, out of a profound respect for need, desire and even the very struggle so despised by the Mystics, struggle even uplifting and spurred on in the name of compassion, a struggle inspired by worldly hope because of observable progress and improvement, or in a word: Humanism.
We are all too often entirely justified in unhappiness with our circumstances or situation. Discontent and ambition have driven humanity to confront and overcome the challenges we face. Is there any greater good fortune for a human being, than a position upon what is so disparaged as the Hedonic treadmill? - at least, only given whatever the correct personal calibration... Therefore, the rejection of reactive unhappiness is nothing more than a manipulative exhortation to compliant docility. The conscious and aware ego so demonized by the Zen, exists, at least according to Freud, for the sake of impulse formation into the execution of strategy towards implementation catering to the drives of the id, but within constraint of conscience which is an aspect of superego, all exactly the point of FoolQuest.com: Rational agenda of problem statement and strategy towards implementation, all towards fulfillment of unmet needs by improving adverse circumstances via engagement in meaningful and pleasurable activity and interaction.
The Zen test of faith demands the breaking of the spirit first, promising exaltation only thereafter. But that is nothing more than the typical ruse of a charlatan, the Buddha on the road, for there is nothing simply to quell, and just as any other needs addressed alleviate their painful deprivation, the gnawing ennui such as of loneliness and boredom finds catharsis in expression as anger and sorrow, relief accruing first of all, in the attentive exchange genuine interest, even sheer humane curiosity, then lastly in understanding and compassion. Loneliness and boredom fade before conviviality in joyful passions of pleasurable and meaningful engagement and fulfillment . -all, indeed, transitory but ever renewable. For such is the dignity of risk in good faith, learning by trial and error necessarily rejecting the futility of impossible Perfectionism and heteronomy ever inspiring only Nihilistic value-destruction in scorn of inevitable worldly imperfection.
In defense of the Hedonic treadmill: From consciousness accrues the capacity for intentional activity, known key to the flow of intrinsic reactive happiness. Far from non attachment, happy people are known to involve themselves reaching out and exerting every effort in order to actively make things happen, pursue new understandings, seek new achievements, and thereby uplift their own thoughts and emotions and even improve their circumstances. -To celebrate fulfillment precisely because it awakens fresh desire and vitality of eustress. Not to extol lonely boredom for the morbid peace it brings! -repugnant Zen Nihilism ever extolling noninvolvement and the virtues of inertia, mired in the salvation anxiety of desperate Zen attachment to mythic non attachment questing for the emptiness of holier than thou stagnation, and standing in denial and value-destruction not only of material wellbeing, improvement of situation and circumstance and intrinsic reactive happiness in response thereto, naturally engenders inward turning futility. Indeed, intrinsic reactive happiness stands perhaps as no less than the prime target of alienated Nihilistic value-destruction against any enticement whatsoever howsoever of involving engagement within the external world at all.
Hence, if Zen is indeed like unto soap, in turn to be rinsed away along with the day's soil, grime and strife, then then washing off the long proverbially scabby encrusted and mildewed soap of the Zen is long overdue. And good riddance! For I shall speak my egotistical Western mind: Truth to tell, futility isn't clever or romantic, but merely futile. The standard flavors of passive-aggressive cyanide Kool-Aid being: Zen, motivational positive thinking, touchy-feely bogus support group marshmallow throwing, Behavior Modification and adherence all such to, have been sucking up all the air in the room, especially now online, for far too long!
In the immortal words of Protagoras "Man is the measure of all things" because there is no intrinsic meaning; for meaning at all, let alone value, is an aspect of human experience and comprehension that the Zen mystics strive so quixotically to transcend as unjustified. Just as Socrates points out, how can the nonexistence after death be any more distressing than the nonexistence before birth? Indeed, desirable values even as far as sheer necessities of life at all, let alone any further amenities or loftier concerns, are not logically reducible, but simply a matter of human nature, ultimately as innately biological and therefore arbitrary as survival instinct to begin with, let alone Pleasure Principle or meaningful engagement. And I am, among other things, biological as are we all. So that latter is self knowledge and self acceptance and sign of life coming of no particular moral distress, nor should it.
Indeed there have always been many reasons why it may even be deemed a mistake to strive for ultimately boring inner harmony or tranquility: Heraclites said: "All is fire!" Nature is of clashing forces, and human nature likewise, is of inner conflict and passion. Therefore, true insight is likewise thereof, honestly. And so is engaged creativity that makes even ones own company at all the more interesting and congenial, particularly as in the eustress of. scientific curiosity.
Thus, no, I am Humanist, finicky, and find no particular
temptation into the embrace of any crusade
of self abnegation for to quell desire and
Indeed, to be
the very notion is quite repugnant! The
of life is that
happiness is neither: a trait cultivated
via intrapsychic discipline, nor merely circumstantial let alone simply
material, but an individually reactive state variable to howsoever
favorable circumstances, hence
achievable only in living life not in turning away into Zen
detachment any more than by compulsive substitution, joyless workaholic material
success or prestige.