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Thread: instinctual inheritance and presumption

  1. #1

    instinctual inheritance and presumption

    Just something that popped up coming back from the store. I'm going to break it into 2 parts.

    Humans like other mammals are given instincts. I'm not sure about other animals, but we have the ability to control our instincts (to a certain extent). Given the modern situation of society, a lot of our instincts lay dormant at most times. The grocery store takes away the hunter in us, so to speak. So, is Zen a evolution? Through not being able to act out our instincts, man has found the need to search elsewhere for contentment. Usually a male's present day hunting situation requires him to fix computers, translate text, or present marketing strategies etc. As a result there is a dissatisfaction through out their existence, and an imbalance. These instincts seem to be tools that we once used, yet now they are obsolete most of the time.

    Part 2

    Presumption

    From our experiences throughout our life we are exposed to many situations, and results. We see our mother cutting bread with a knife and see that the result is a slice of bread, so from then on we presume that if we cut the bread with a knife it will produce a slice. Seeing a large bolder about to fall on a car, we have an understanding that the car will be crushed. So coupled with our instincts these experiences and presumptions cause us to act or react in a certain situation. Preventing this action could be said as being an inhuman act. The wisdom lies in the ability to see our presumptions of reaction/action and react to the situation in the appropriate manner understanding that the outcome is uncertain, but not hindering our instincts.

    Thoughts?

    Gassho

  2. #2
    I don't believe our genetic instincts are dormant or obsolete, I think there are only recontextualised in modern society. Are you saying man's "natural state" is one of illumination? I observe life in nature as mostly nasty, brutish and short.

    We do, however, have a heck of a lot more time to navel gaze.

    Skye

  3. #3
    Thanks Skye

    Gassho

  4. #4
    Are you saying man's "natural state" is one of illumination?
    Perhaps, given the context. We are more likely to watch Oprah these days then sit around a campfire enjoying the heat, the sunset, the moment etc. What we have lost touch with in a sense is our ability to respect that, given our present circumstances.

    Brutal being the natural outcome of survival and balance. Yet it is not completely full of that. Even deers have their moments I think.

    I don't believe our genetic instincts are dormant or obsolete, I think there are only recontextualised in modern society.
    Good point. hmmm...

    Gassho

  5. #5
    I wonder. I know I feel more in balance when I'm sitting around the campfire, watching the sunset, etc but I wonder how much of that is because I can appreciate it more as a contrast to my daily life. Maybe Og was wrapped up coveting the chieftain's wife or the latest fashion pelts. Probably not though - I'm sure the shaman ratio was pretty high back in the day, and they didn't have to deal with marketing bozos selling our lives back to us in the form of crass consumption.

    It seems plausible the ancient lifestyle was more experiential, but then again, what got Shakya so worked up 2500 years go? Rural Indian life can't have been too "modern" back then, heck, it's not too modern now from what I've heard. People still suffer, maybe differently. I'm always wary of sentimentality.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_savage#Criticism

    On a tangent, some of the theories lately are interesting. That our evolution has stalled because our technology has largely overcome natural selection (well, we'll see about global warming...) and that the next stage of evolution will be via genetic or mechanical (cyborg) manipulation... which brings up an interesting question, I think I heard on Buddhist Geeks podcast. If you could take a "satori pill" or strap on an "enlightenment machine", would you?

    Well anyway, I'm aiming to build a little retreat cabin this summer up in the mountains to sit around the campfire and watch the sunset

    Skye

  6. #6
    It seems plausible the ancient lifestyle was more experiential, but then again, what got Shakya so worked up 2500 years go? Rural Indian life can't have been too "modern" back then, heck, it's not too modern now from what I've heard.
    Good point. I think Shakya was perhaps an exception given his circumstances. Thanks for bringing that up, I might find out more about the various astetics and social situation at that time.

    which brings up an interesting question, I think I heard on Buddhist Geeks podcast. If you could take a "satori pill" or strap on an "enlightenment machine", would you?
    Heh heh. We'll save that one for another day.


    Well anyway, I'm aiming to build a little retreat cabin this summer up in the mountains to sit around the campfire and watch the sunset
    Sounds good

    Gassho

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Perhaps, given the context. We are more likely to watch Oprah these days then sit around a campfire enjoying the heat, the sunset, the moment etc.

    We've turned EVERYTHING into "entertainment" one way or another. Not needing to stalk wild game or grow our own meals, we've reached a point in so-called "developed" countries where we'd rather watch a moment than experience it. To "experience," we usually have to rearrange our schedules or go on vacation.

  9. #9
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    We've turned EVERYTHING into "entertainment" one way or another. Not needing to stalk wild game or grow our own meals, we've reached a point in so-called "developed" countries where we'd rather watch a moment than experience it. To "experience," we usually have to rearrange our schedules or go on vacation.
    This is exactly what Baudrillard talks about in his philosophical works.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra_and_Simulation
    http://www.egs.edu/faculty/baudrillard.html
    http://www.egs.edu/faculty/baudrillard/ ... tions.html

    This also comes up a lot in Philip K. Dick's fiction. The world of simulations--our world--is a world in which "the real" is incredibly hard to pin down, until it gets to the point where one might say, as Baudrillard does, that "the real" no longer exists at all. "The hyperreal"--the world of simulation--has replaced "the real."

    I've seen this a lot in person, especially when going out into the wilderness. Many people no longer know or understand the wilderness from firsthand experience; they know it instead from simulations. So being out in nature to them isn't being out in nature; it is the idea of being out in nature; it becomes something like a Disneyland.

    Case in point, when I went to Nova Scotia, I went hiking one day and we came across a moose--a beautiful bull moose--on the trail. I kept a safe distance, but other tourists got as close to the moose as they could, despite its increasing signs of agitation. Luckily, the moose did not charge at anyone, but he easily could have. To me, their utter "lack of respect" seemed to come from a lack of appreciation that this is a real animal, not trained, not caged, not bound by rules of decorum and proper behavior. To them, instead, it was part of the Canadian Disneyland Adventure--A Real Moose (TM)! Unfortunately, I think the only way the Real could have broken through in that moment would have been if the moose had actually trampled someone.

  10. #10
    Stephanie wrote:
    "The hyperreal"--the world of simulation--has replaced "the real."
    I agree, Stephanie. We live in a world where our ideas about family, religion, food, sex, etc. are created not so much by reality but by simulations of those (TV, movies, books, etc.). A simulacrum is so similar to the thing it represents that distinguishing between the two is difficult. When confronted with this difficulty, the easiest choice is most often the simulacrum because it is prepackaged, compartmentalized, easily-consumable, and less messy than the real thing. After a while, we habitually go for the simulation, until after years of doing this, we can no longer find the world of the real.
    These ideas are, I think, entirely relevant to Zen.

    I agree with Skye that we simply re-channel our instincts into socially acceptable actions.

    Will's question about Zen being an evolution . . . I don't think so. I think of Zen as a kind of spiritual technology. A tool used for human growth and happiness/peace. Tools require instruction and practice to use, like zazen. I don't know . . . tough question Will, thanks for posting it.

    Bill

    BTW, Kvon: There is a book by Neil Postman called Amusing Ourselves To Death that says something very similar to what you are saying.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    BTW, Kvon: There is a book by Neil Postman called Amusing Ourselves To Death that says something very similar to what you are saying.
    Bill, you beat me to it. I've read most of Postman's books but this one remains my favorite. I like how he compares our society with that of Brave New World (no need to ban books because no one is reading them anyway, etc.). I also attended a class of his at NYU. He was a great curmudgeon. I'm still amazed that he wrote this book in the early 80's, before the Net. I wonder what he'd say of our little experiment here!

  12. #12
    What a good point, Harry. Wow, it's so obvious!!! Yes, nearly everyone is wrapped in a cocoon these days... I often think when I or someone else complains about some comfort in life that we really live better than kings of yore...

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith
    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    BTW, Kvon: There is a book by Neil Postman called Amusing Ourselves To Death that says something very similar to what you are saying.
    Bill, you beat me to it. I've read most of Postman's books but this one remains my favorite. I like how he compares our society with that of Brave New World (no need to ban books because no one is reading them anyway, etc.). I also attended a class of his at NYU. He was a great curmudgeon. I'm still amazed that he wrote this book in the early 80's, before the Net. I wonder what he'd say of our little experiment here!
    Hi, Keith.
    Just getting around to posting this week... Yeah, I really dig Postman's stuff too. I've read Amusing Ourselves to Death, Technopoly, The School Book, and How to Watch the TV News. They are all fairly similar, but relevant to the times. My only beef with Postman is his recurring implication that the written word is superior to other ways of learning (I tend to side with Howard Gardner about the various intelligences, so the written word can only be useful for some of those). However, his idea that learning to ask questions is a more important skill than finding answers is spot on (and pertinent to Zen).

    Later,
    Bill

  14. #14
    Hey Bill,

    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    Hi, Keith.
    Just getting around to posting this week... Yeah, I really dig Postman's stuff too. I've read Amusing Ourselves to Death, Technopoly, The School Book, and How to Watch the TV News. They are all fairly similar, but relevant to the times. My only beef with Postman is his recurring implication that the written word is superior to other ways of learning (I tend to side with Howard Gardner about the various intelligences, so the written word can only be useful for some of those). However, his idea that learning to ask questions is a more important skill than finding answers is spot on (and pertinent to Zen).
    We are certainly cut from the same pedagogical cloth! I've also read those Postman books (as well as Teaching as a Subversive Activity and Death of Childhood); as you said I've found his books all very similar and make similar points. However, I also agree with Gardner and Robert Sternberg (and others) that there are many ways to learn and many forms of intelligence that go beyond IQ. I attended a couple of lectures by Gardner and he was inspirational; he has an amazing breadth and depth of knowledge. One of the reasons that I teach at a Montessori school is the overarching philosophy of "follow the child" and its “hands-on” approach to learning.

    Best,
    Keith

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