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Jundo
02-25-2017, 03:06 PM
Dear Loy-alists,

I was going to make the assignment a but longer this week, but the previous discussion is still cooking, and there is A LOT packed into these few pages. So, we will focus on "The Problem of Transcendence" this week.

Nishijima spoke of "idealistic" religions this way. He said that Zen was not an idealistic religion although, as David Loy notes, there are certainly (maybe most?) idealistic forms of Buddhism.


For example, in most [idealistic] religions, the central focus of the teaching is the idea of a superhuman, ideal entity such as a god, and each such religion is formed having as its centerpiece a belief in that god. This type of religion is most like what we usually bring to consider as being a religion, and thus is the most conventional. If we ask the true nature of the entity represented by these idealized, yet anthropomorphic, human-like gods, we can say that it is actually a concept of the ideal which we human beings each carry within our hearts.

We human beings are the animal that has developed the highest ability to think. Accordingly, each moment of each day, we think that we wish circumstances to be like this, or to be like that, or that things should be like this or should be like that. We contrast this with the state of the world before us, the state of circumstances we see around us, that are just as they are with all their seeming imperfections. In such manner, the state of the way that things should be that we human beings have the capability to envision within our heads is typically called the ideal. Those religions that arose centered upon such higher ideals, focused on images of the ideal, and setting high value on the ideal, are the ones we most usually think of as being religions. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and many others—even many flavors of Buddhism—most belief systems that we commonly call religions belong to this category. They each hold up some perfect, idealized state or other world, in the light of which this world we live in is just a shadow. They point to some other state of being, or some heaven, toward which we aim, but in contrast to which human beings and the unsightly human world fall far, far short.

From: A Heart-to-Heart Chat on Buddhism with Old Master Gudo


I posted the following in the prior thread in response to the comment that Loy advocated an "immanent" approach:


I believe that Loy later in the book actually encourages a path that transcends and embraces both the "immanent" and the "transcendent" without neglecting either, and I certainly feel that Dogen was a pretty "transcendent" and mystical fellow but with an "immanent" view of Practice in the here and now. Let's see what Loy says in later sections when we get there.

I also don't think that the "transcendent" view is all bad, nor wrong and to be completely abandoned in Zen Practice. It is just that there are some problems with approaching it in certain ways. I believe Loy later addresses how to avoid the problems.

Anyway, please discuss whatever strikes your fancy here. I might toss out:

-It must always be rather simplistic for someone to try to sum up all world history in a few pages, but he may have some good points here. What do you think?

-Do you really believe that the transcendent world view is a major factor in environmental degradation and the second class status of women?

-Anticipating later chapters, what might be good and a "keeper" about transcendent views?

Gassho, Jundo

SatToday

Mp
02-25-2017, 03:48 PM
Thank you Jundo. =)

Gassho
Shingen

s@today

AlanLa
02-25-2017, 04:27 PM
It never occurred to me that the hierarchical structure of religions gets replicated in the hierarchical structure of societies and gender relations, but now that I have seen it I can't not see it anymore :eek: God gave man dominion over the earth, according to the Bible. I tend to interpret dominion as stewardship but all too often it becomes exploitation, the idea that the earth is here to serve us however we want with little thought to longterm, or sometimes even short-term, consequences for us and the earth. Power differentials are a reality that need to be acknowledged and worked with, but getting stuck there weakens that process and thus causes problems.

Transcendence is a fine direction, but less fine as a goal. To make it a goal can blind a person to all the other important things surrounding them, things like their fellow man and environment. If you put blinders on a horse, all they can see is the race, beating everyone else in order to win becomes the goal. And sometimes a single focus on a goal is appropriate, but there are also times when it is appropriate to take the blinders off and let the horse romp directionless in the pasture. A horse can't race to win all the time, and without that pasture time there will be no winning time. Sweating blood to realize MU sounds to me like trying to win transcendence, which just creates a spiritual hierarchy. On the other hand, Zen helps me take the blinders off so that I can romp and run to win when each is appropriate, which better allows me to acknowledge the hierarchies in my life without getting stuck too deeply in them.

Kyousui
02-25-2017, 08:33 PM
All things in our life are filtered through our mind. How I preceive the world may or may not be the same as how another preceives the world. In fact, a large portion of what is called reality the perception of a majority. Back in the bad (unskillful) days of Russia, dissent against the state was categorized as a mental illness. And, in that society, it may well have been. it certainly affected one's safety. Even the quote above "We human beings are the animal that has developed the highest ability to think " depends on our perception of what thinking is. We really don't know fully how other beings think.

Where thestic religions see a separate diety, it seems non-theistic still see an underlying philosophy as a form of god.

coriander
02-28-2017, 05:05 AM
I get a little confused at first by the either/or of transcendence vs immanence. At first glance I feel they both sound right but that is because I think of 'transcendence' in terms of transcending a state of mind or an unhelpful attitude, which is done now in this world and thus is also 'immanent'. However, if by transcendence we mean our soul travelling outside of our bodies to a completely different realm with a defined form then...yeah, I have trouble believing that because I have no reason to believe it: no logic or epiphany or anything I have seen has led me to believe in this (excepting perhaps some experiences on drugs).


It never occurred to me that the hierarchical structure of religions gets replicated in the hierarchical structure of societies and gender relations, but now that I have seen it I can't not see it anymore :eek:

I agree! But it makes so much sense that if people are building their view of what is ideal then it will reflect what their own personal ideals already are. Which seems only to serve as an argument against the use of cosmological ideals, since they seem so clearly to have been only extensions of people's existing beliefs and not a reflection of any objective true ideal as they purport to be. But I guess this itself doesn't prove that there isn't an objective transcendent ideal...

I do like the point from the book that aiming for a transcendence outside of this world can lead us to stop taking care of what is in this world right now. Doesn't seem like a good idea from a zen perspective!

Gassho,
Charity
SatToday

RonanJH
03-01-2017, 08:39 PM
It ends up getting too preachy for my liking, but that 90s book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn does a pretty good job in showing how the old stories echo a kind of lament for the hierarchical turn in religion and society.

I spoke to my local Pure Land priest yesterday and she expressed a kind of agnosticism for the some of the transcendant stuff. There may well be a Pure Land waiting for her after death -- and it certainly sounds great! -- but if there's no Pure Land for her in the here and now, it's all a bit useless. (Or might be.)

S@t
Ronan

Kyousui
03-01-2017, 09:47 PM
Whether there is a heaven or any kind of afterlife or continuation of exhistence is really mental bubblegum. When we die,either the light bulb goes out or the harps get handed out. We can only wish to know.
I suppose it is a useful concept as a motivator in this exhistence.

Byrne
03-01-2017, 10:55 PM
Here we are learning about Buddhism under Jundo's guidance. He learned it from his teachers who learned it from theirs who learned it from theirs who learned it from....

Some of em probably had some unusual beliefs. Some of em probably spoke in cosmic terms that may not sit well with us more "rational" types. Still, here we are studying Buddhism thanks to the efforts of so many before us.

Gassho

Sat Today

Jundo
03-02-2017, 03:10 AM
I sometimes say this about Gods and Buddhas, Heavens and Hells ...



If there is a God named Jehovah or Bob, a Buddha name Amida, if there are future lives, heavens and hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

And if there is no God named Jehovah nor Bob, no Buddha name Amida, if there there are no future lives, no heavens or hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

Thus I do not much care much if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell ... but I know for a fact that it will go far to do so in this life, today, where I see people create all manner of "heavens and hells" for themselves and those around them by their harmful words, thoughts and acts in this life.

And if there is a "heaven and hell" in the next life, or other effects of Karma now ... well, my actions now have effects then too, and might be the ticket to heaven or good rebirth.

In other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.

Is there a God named 'Jehovah'" or "Bob" or a Buddha in the sky? .......... If so, live human life, fetch wood and carry water.

Is there not some God named 'Jehovah'" nor "Bob" nor a Buddha in the sky? .......... If not, live human life, fetch wood and carry water.

Sometimes it helps -not- to put a name on something said to be beyond all name. The earth and sky and life (not two, by the way) just keep turning whatever we might call the source.

But if it helps one to think and feel in such terms, then it is lovely and please do so ........ as you do your best to live gently, fetching wood and carrying water.

That is just my personal approach to such questions.

Gassho, J

SatToday

Jishin
03-02-2017, 11:55 AM
4038

Must have money too in this lifetime.

[emoji2]

Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

Onkai
03-03-2017, 12:56 AM
Thank you, Jundo. I don't know if the Axial age religions created dualism or just projected further dualism that was already there or was forming on its own.

n other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.

Is there a God named 'Jehovah'" or "Bob" or a Buddha in the sky? .......... If so, live human life, fetch wood and carry water.

Is there not some God named 'Jehovah'" nor "Bob" nor a Buddha in the sky? .......... If not, live human life, fetch wood and carry water.

I find these statements from Jundo very uplifting.

Gassho,
Onkai
SatToday

Tom
03-03-2017, 04:23 AM
This interview with Gil Fronsdal has some interesting insights, excuse the pun, on the immanence vs transcendence question in relation to practicing both Zen and Vipassana traditions.


Did working within the two different traditions bring up any conflicts for you?
I struggled a fair amount, trying to reconcile goal-less Zen practice-in which practice and realization are thought to occur together-with the goal-oriented Theravada tradition, in which you work toward later realization. Eventually I came to understand that these approaches not only complemented each other but could be seen as two sides of the same coin. Soto Zen taught me to emphasize the purity of the moment-to-moment process of sitting in meditation; Vipassana taught me how that process opens to greater freedom even when we don’t fixate on freedom as a goal. My Vipassana practice taught me that the radical acceptance of myself and of things-as-they-are that I learned in Zen included an innate, natural impulse toward liberation. I didn’t have to be goal-oriented as much as I needed to let go of any obstacles to this innate impulse. One of the hindrances I had faced in Zen practice was complacency-a comfort-able, lightweight acceptance-in which I lacked the motivation to see the ways in which I was still subtly attached or resistant to reality. Vipassana, especially with its emphasis on seeing clearly what is happening in the present, helped break me out of my complacent state.
http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/articles/living-two-traditions/
Gassho, T.
Sat.

Jishin
03-03-2017, 12:00 PM
Thank you, Jundo. I don't know if the Axial age religions created dualism or just projected further dualism that was already there or was forming on its own.




4040

Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

Jeremy
03-04-2017, 03:23 PM
Just one comment about this section: What David Loy calls "depreciation of this world" in Axial Age religions is called "world rejection" by some sociologists.

Certainly food for thought when you compare this description with modern Zen and David Loy's vision for a Buddhism that can change the world.

Jeremy
SatToday

Jakuden
03-05-2017, 12:51 AM
It may seem overly simple to say that this section is interesting just because studying the origins of anything, in this case spiritual practice, can shed light on its current form. Since the need to understand and interact with the great "Why" seems to be somehow hard-wired into our species, and is one of the major characteristics that makes us unique, studying its beginnings as far back into human history as we can is fascinating. One could speculate that first came the conscious realization that there were forces outside human control... then, somehow that evolved into the belief in the interaction of the Transcendent with us through Earthly representatives... then that evolved, as described in the book, into the relationship of each individual separately with the Transcendent. As a social species, we developed guidelines and rituals each step of the way--first how to interact with the Earthly representatives and how to treat them, sacrifice for them, etc. Then by the time we were into written history we were constructing Bibles, Korans, etc as a guidebook about how to behave to best please the Transcendent.
Most religions seemed to take the path of reward for a certain behavior--at first it was simply to have better luck in everyday life, then it became to find reward in the afterlife. Western Science seemed to diverge along the path of abandoning spirituality altogether, in favor of the idea that if our brains understood enough, we could control the Transcendent, thus making spirituality unnecessary.
It may seem like a simplistic summary, but I guess what I am trying to say is that Transcendence is the whole reason we practice in the first place--somewhere with that first spark of realization of our lack of control over our circumstances, we started wanting it to be different somehow, and voila--there was dukkha. If we could only understand/communicate with the Transcendent somehow, it would be OK.
Buddhism does seem to bypass this duality of Immanent vs. Transcendent by allowing it to just be, as Jundo says--it does not change according to whether there is a God/Amida/Allah etc. or not. It addresses dukkha directly without the need to communicate with a deity or the representative of a deity. Transcendence is still there, as is our desire to somehow know it, grasp it, and control it, but the practice is to realize we are already inseparable from it.
Gassho,
Jakuden
SatToday

Risho
03-06-2017, 07:49 PM
Oh man, I'm behind; I wish I could transcend work lately, but I wanted to at least post something as I just read this passage yesterday. I'll be getting back on track, but just posting it. bla :)

In any case, I like practice because I really feel it empowers me to face directly all the mental crap floating around: negative thoughts, etc. It also helps me not let euphoric, happy thoughts take control of my life. It gives me balance, and that balance directly helps others because being around someone who can accept their faults, admit them and work on them is always a good thing.

The one question that captures me is about the transcendental view and the view of women as lesser beings. I don't think you can really summarize cultural views into one nicely formatted box. I find it suspicious when authors do this because I feel as if they are trying to justify their viewpoint and sell books rather than seeking the truth. In any case, this may help to explain it, but I think back when we were primarily physical creatures that had to defend our territory, the sex that would be more physically powerful (typically males) would probably take a leading role in society because they were the ones that had to protect against outside male invaders. In addition, women had to have children or humanity would die out, so the roles were pretty well defined and primarily based on survival.

So I think that maybe this is another place where we need to evolve out of habits of the past now that our roles are not so black and white any longer and we no longer live in caves.

I have no scientific basis for this; it's just a theory.

Gassho,

Risho
-sattoday

Geika
03-06-2017, 10:50 PM
I would like to say that I have been rereading along, but as of yet, I don't have anything to add to the discussion. Thank you all for your observations.

Gassho, sat today