Creation Vs. Evolution Debate

bill-nye-ken-ham-640x365So I kept seeing posts on Facebok about some debate about Creation Science vs. Evolution between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham, founder and president of the Creation Science Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.

Usually this kind of stuff is only of passing interest to me. But I had to start packing for my move to Philadelphia next month. So I put it on and got to work.

As I expected, it was pretty silly. It’s always mildly fascinating to me to listen to religious people trying to defend whatever they believe as “science.” The Hare Krishnas used to (and no doubt still do) try to present their stuff as scientific. But whenever science contradicted their literal interpretation of the Hindu scriptures, science was obviously wrong. Ken Ham is the same way but with a different set of scriptures.

There are lots of bloggers out there weighing in with their assessment of who won the debate and why. It seems like there is a lot of support for Bill Nye and not so much for Ken Ham. Many seem to agree with Bill Nye that there are a whole lot of Christians who don’t accept Ham’s ideas about a literal six day creation approximately 4,000 years ago, who accept evolution and do not see science as a challenge to faith in God.

My quick run through of a few blog postings about the debate indicates to me that, for many people this assertion by Bill Nye (about religious people who believe in science) was the deciding factor. A few others said that Ham’s saying that nothing could change his mind while Nye said that if the creationists could come up with real evidence they should “bring it on” was what swung things.

That may be so. But for me the crux of the debate came at around 2:03:25. After over two hours of back-and-forth that was largely just plain silly sounding to me (Nye made sense, Ham spewed nonsense) my ears pricked up when Ham said, “I have a mystery. You (Bill Nye) talk about the joy of discovery. But you also say that when you die it’s over and that’s the end of it. But if when you die it’s over and you don’t even remember you were here, what’s the point of the joy of discovery anyway? I mean ultimately. You won’t ever know you were here and no one who ever knew you will know you were here ultimately, so what’s the point anyway?”

To me, that was the heart of the debate on the theological side. I fully comprehend exactly what Ham is saying here. After making no sense at all for a solid two hours, he finally said something that revealed what was actually going on for him, and for most of those who fight against science. This says all you need to know about why there is a Creation Science Museum at all, why some people don’t want evolution in school text books, why the attacks on September 11, 2001 happened, why the Tokyo subway gas attacks happened, why there are UFO cults, why religious people all over the world seem to be going bananas at the moment.

We are all afraid of death. We all want someone to tell us we’re not really going to die. Many of us will throw out all other logic in an effort to believe we will live forever. We will attack those who threaten that belief. And there may be completely logical reasons to do so, or at least it can seem that way.

When I was younger that was the crux of the debate for me. I understood science and accepted it. But at the same time I was afraid of death. I didn’t like the fact that most of the people I was aware of who sided with science also believed that “when you die it’s over and you don’t even remember you were here.” I grasped at the same straws poor Ken Ham and his followers are grasping at now to try to find some way to make myself believe in something that was clearly not sensible.

Unlike Ham and his peeps, though, I had a broader worldview. I’d grown up in Africa and had been exposed to non-Christian religions at an early age. There was no reason I could see for favoring the Christian Bible over the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita or the oral creation traditions of the Masai and Kikuyu. When I became acquainted with some of the creation myths derived from Buddhism (unlike most religions, Buddhism has no single creation myth but there are a few creation myths that have attached themselves to the Buddhist tradition) I could see no reason to accept them any more than the others.

Still, I wanted to be told by someone who knew that death was not the end, that I would not die and never even remember I was here. I heard from my teachers the Buddhist idea that our human lives are like bubbles on a river. I understood that individual lives are like those bubbles, made out of the same stuff as the river, and that when our bubble/lives burst nothing really went away.

And still I did not believe.

Oh, I liked the idea. It made more sense than any other notion I’d heard about what happens after you die that still preserved some kind of hope that maybe in some vague way I might “remember I was here” after I breathed my last. Yet science still made more sense. And if I had to be fully rational about it I would have said that the notion that death is the end and nothing came after made better logical sense.

So what is the point? This is what Keith Ham very rightly wants to know. This is why there seem to be some good logical reasons to fight for religion against science. If we die and then we’re gone forever, if there is no punishment for our sins or reward for our goodness, then who cares? Why not just forget morality and do whatever the hell we feel like? If we allow the belief in science to spread, what’s going to stop things from descending into complete chaos? Isn’t that what we’re seeing in the world today? Isn’t it a provable fact that as the belief in religion wanes, crime rates go up, murders increase, sexual assaults become commonplace, people do drugs, fornicate with each other’s spouses, and so on and on and on? If there’s no good karma or bad karma why try to be good?

It is a scary prospect. I think Ken Ham has a valid point.

But turns out he’s wrong about what happens when people stop believing in traditional religion. Steven Pinker demonstrates in his book Better Angels of Our Nature that as the belief in religions has waned, violence has actually decreased. It is simply that better communication systems have led to us being able to know more about the many horrible things people still do to each other, not that these things are actually happening more often than when we didn’t have access to flashy reports about them 24 hours a day. It’s fascinating. Fewer people believe that God will punish their sins and reward their good behavior, and yet that has been accompanied by a tendency for people to behave better towards each other. It’s hard to know if there is a direct correlation. But the facts are facts.

Interesting as all that is, it still leaves open the question — what does happen after we die? Is it the end? Or are we bubbles on a river? Or maybe Ken Ham and friends are right after all and God just put all kinds of stuff around to fool us into doubting His word as a kind of bizarre test of faith.

My experiences in meditation have led me to the conclusion that the whole either/or debate here goes in entirely the wrong direction. When one becomes very, very, very quiet, one begins to see the world in a way that is entirely different from the supposedly “rational” beliefs of the mainstream on both sides of the debate.

It takes a lot of work to get to that point. But it’s totally worth it, if you ask me.

*   *   *

I just got my 1099 tax forms from my publishers. In 2013 I made about $6000 from book sales. That’s it. The biggest support I have is your donations. A while back I saw where a very popular Buddhist blogger set up a goal of $3000 a month in donations to his blog. I don’t know if he got that. But I do not make anywhere even close to that amount here. Still, your continued donations = my continued ability to make rent. Thank you very much for your support!

(If you get a warning about an expired security certificate, ignore it. It’s just some company trying to get money from us. We’re gonna fix that. The PayPal link is not associated with my blog and is completely secure.)

• February 18-23 I’ll be hosting a retreat with Kazuaki Tanahashi  at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico

You can see the documentary about me,  Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen, at the following locations (I’ll be at all screenings):

• March 11, 2014 Ithaca, NY

• March 15, 2014 Brooklyn, NY

• April 20, 2014 San Francisco, CA

 

136 Responses

Page 1 of 2
  1. CatsareInfinite
    CatsareInfinite February 7, 2014 at 11:28 am | |

    Brad, don’t you think other methods other than Zazen show “that the whole either/or debate here goes in entirely the wrong direction”? Couldn’t deep poetry, solitude in natural scenery, or other meditative practices (like Dervish whirling) make “one become very, very, very quiet, [and] see the world in a way that is entirely different from the supposedly ‘rational’ beliefs of the mainstream on both sides of the debate”? Panentheistic beliefs that devalue the reality of “I-me-mine” are not wholly exclusive to Soto Zen, and one can find such things in Sufi poetry, Western poetry (e.g., Emily Dickinson), Gnostic Christianity, and etc.

    It’s been shown prolonged periods of sitting is bad for the knees and the heart:
    http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/sitting-kills/

    Why then do you tout Zazen as the best expedient means, especially for old Westerners? You have claimed this numerous times, and you have in the past said sitting in chair is not equivalent to Zazen on the floor. Don’t you think by heralding Zazen as the best means, you are creating a new “cross” and attachment, which creates a kinda complex of Dukkha? I feel as if this is one reason Toni Packer left Soto Zen. You guys talk about having no divisions in the form of ideology, but then you go back to praising Zazen, treating Japanese rituals in a rigid way that shouldn’t be altered for different cultures, not judging oneself as good or bad (but it is fine if it’s regarding “proper” posture), and etc. These double-standards don’t make Soto Zen’s current state in the West any better than fundamentalist Christianity.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot February 8, 2014 at 11:14 am | |

      Catsareinfinite, it would be easier to take you seriously if you did not use a page that points out health problems associated with sitting at a computer for work to attack sitting in meditation.

      Was it Taiun-sensei who insisted you wreck your knees? Did he make you sit full-lotus for forty minutes at a time? Seems quite odd for any teachers in this country to insist on that.

      1. CatsareInfinite
        CatsareInfinite February 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm | |

        He would give advice about “distributing the pain between one’s knees” and etc. Half lotus can be just as painful as full. I prefer sitting in a chair, but there is a kind of “gung ho” attitude that treats lotus posture as having some sort of divinity because it resembles the Buddha statues.

        Also, long-term sitting is bad regardless of it being on computer or anywhere else. You can Google or search pubmed. Long retreats, Sesshins, are not good for blood pressure or the knees, especially since you’re sitting there for 9 hours or more a day… for a whole weak. You have occasionally breaks to eat and walk outside, but the over-emphasis on sitting is destructive. Toni Packer, at SpringWater Center, only do Zazen once in 2 months and not for obscenely long period.

        Soto Zen Buddhists have a destructive attachment to sitting and they try to pull people in touting it as the one and only true Dharma that is actualized in the sitting itself. If Toni Packer were still alive, I would move near her Center to practice and not amongst these buffoons.

        1. minkfoot
          minkfoot February 9, 2014 at 8:55 pm | |

          No one ever talked of the difference between simple coincidental pain and actually damaging yourself? As an instrument of Dharma, the body is to be learned, so as not to abuse it and diminish its capacities.

          Also, long-term sitting is bad regardless of it being on computer or anywhere else.

          That’s nonsense. The relaxed, alert, and balanced posture promotes health. You can safely train to sit for long periods for many days, though the body should also practice moving forms. I know this directly, and see it in old Zen friends. I know some people who blew out their knees, but they admit they were careless about discerning the signals of their body.

          You can Google or search pubmed.

          Presumably, the example you linked was your best shot. No need to waste more time on it.

          1. CatsareInfinite
            CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 8:04 am |

            I know it’s hard to connect the dots, but you can continue living in denial. You are worse than flagellants.

            https://www.google.com/search?q=prolonged+sitting+blood+pressure&oq=prolonged+sitting+blood+pressure&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.4245j0j7&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 7, 2014 at 1:25 pm | |

    That’s a weird first comment, in my opinion. Are you trying to argue Brad into doing something else with his life? Perhaps not, but I don’t know what your point could possibly be. I don’t want to be misconstrued as being aggressive with this comment of mine…. just curious.

    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm | |

      Look at my response to Brad. I have a feeling he won’t respond to it. I cited where he said ““Shikantaza style meditation seems to me to be the ultimate way of truly letting go of the known.”

  3. navybsn
    navybsn February 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm | |

    I remember reading an article in a Psychology Journal a few years ago where the author asked the question “You weren’t afraid of not being alive before you were alive, so why do think it matters when you’re dead?”

    “But turns out he’s wrong about what happens when people stop believing in traditional religion. Steven Pinker demonstrates in his book Better Angels of Our Nature that as the belief in religions has waned, violence has actually decreased. It is simply that better communication systems have led to us being able to know more about the many horrible things people still do to each other, not that these things are actually happening more often than when we didn’t have access to flashy reports about them 24 hours a day. It’s fascinating. Fewer people believe that God will punish their sins and reward their good behavior, and yet that has been accompanied by a tendency for people to behave better towards each other. It’s hard to know if there is a direct correlation. But the facts are facts.”

    I’ve had this argument with my mother in law for years. She swears the world is “going to hell”. Some people cannot be convinced.

    1. robert
      robert February 19, 2014 at 8:44 am | |

      > …“You weren’t afraid of not being alive before you were alive, so why do
      > think it matters when you’re dead?”

      How did the questioner know that the person hadn’t been afraid of not being alive before they were alive?

  4. Harlan
    Harlan February 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm | |

    You are wrong about all of us fearing death. I think a lot of us no longer have that fear. The fact that we are all going to die and will not be able to remember our lives doesn’t hold much terror for me. So little in fact that I don’t spend any time considering it anymore. The idea that life will start becoming a struggle to stay healthy as we get older is a little more frightening. I’ve never liked being sick and and the thought of being sick enough to die miserably is scary. But I decided a long time ago that there is also a part of all life that can never be extinguished. That part is immortal. I am quite positive that it exists and feel no need to convince anyone else about the details. But I’m not going to call that thing God because I think the word is misleading, distracting and ultimately wrong.

    1. tombo
      tombo February 9, 2014 at 10:05 am | |

      You don’t fear death? Try playing russian roulette sometime. That’s not a fear of loud noises coming up.

      1. Harlan
        Harlan February 10, 2014 at 9:21 am | |

        I’ll pass on the Russian Roulette. It might be a messy way to go. Besides, the end is coming quickly enough. I rather appreciate living right now.

        Death is not the same thing as dying you know. Dying might be something to fear. Many dying people actually wish for death to relieve their suffering at the end. Death is a release from all that. There is literally nothing to fear there.

        1. tombo
          tombo February 11, 2014 at 3:15 am | |

          Fear of death is the motivation for everything we do here. Why do you think people hang in there in the face constant pain and suffering? Suffering is fear of death. The idea that people wish for death is irrelevant. That’s basically just fantasizing about not having to deal with the fear any more.

          You can put a plastic bag over your head and wait. The fear you will experience is fear of death. It’s always there.

  5. boubi
    boubi February 7, 2014 at 4:41 pm | |

    Hi Brad

    Just a few …

    – The counter is at 6000 years, not 4000.

    – The 9-11 is about world domination, not about fear of death,

    – It’s not over when you die.

    Remember “what you do in life echoes in history”?

    Heard about Achilles and other thugs of yore?
    “Sing, Muse, the fatal wrath of Peleus’ son, Achilles , / Which to the Greeks unnumbered evils brought, / And many heroes to the realms of night / Sent premature…”
    Maybe they never existed, but we still, some of us at least, remember them

    – “This is why there seem to be some good logical reasons to fight for religion against science. If we die and then we’re gone forever, if there is no punishment for our sins or reward for our goodness, then who cares? ”
    Brad, you missed the karma caused reincarnation train, so don’t complain
    and because of this you justify some loony who wants to fight for religion vs science?

    then you go out of whatever realm

    “If there’s no good karma or bad karma why try to be good?
    It is a scary prospect. I think Ken Ham has a valid point.”
    What did you smoke lately? Some cheap synthetic carpet? This loony has a point?

    “Or maybe Ken Ham and friends are right after all and God just put all kinds of stuff around to fool us into doubting His word as a kind of bizarre test of faith.”

    Yeah, whatever.
    Good Jesus That Sat Under The Body Tree, a-men, bodiswaha

    1. tombo
      tombo February 9, 2014 at 10:07 am | |

      It’s over for you when you die, heh, heh.

      1. boubi
        boubi February 9, 2014 at 11:49 am | |

        tombo
        “It’s over for you when you die, heh, heh.”

        If i’ve been a good dharma boy yes, if not karma catches up … and back in this rollercoaster again and again and again … got a little sea sick as of late

        1. tombo
          tombo February 9, 2014 at 1:16 pm | |

          Well, that’s all speculation at this point. More than likely the memory portion of this existence doesn’t “transmigrate” anywhere, as it’s entirely a brain function, so we’ll never know about that reincarnation stuff. Of course, the fact that we’re all here, living these separate experiences means just about anything is possible. It’s all so improbable and mind blowing, this thing we’re in. (Unless of course, the infinite universes theory is correct, then it’s inevitable, heh, heh!)

          1. minkfoot
            minkfoot February 9, 2014 at 8:35 pm |

            Once you let anything into existence, what’s to keep everything out?

  6. boubi
    boubi February 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm | |

    “If there’s no good karma or bad karma why try to be good?
    It is a scary prospect. I think Ken Ham has a valid point.”

    And here goes down the drain the “morality” core of buddhism, which is according to some, the last remaining thing of all the dharma.
    Not living everyday sunnyata, not anything described in Heart and Diamond sutras, but “morality”.

    So dharma “morality” is not enough?

    Some need a reward or a punishement for they actions? And this is cause to fight science?

    Next time don’t go to a doctor ot to the hospital, try some “speaking in tongue church” or similar, it’s cheaper too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGTRgV2thac

    And yes, we are just bubbles on a river,
    “Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
    Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
    Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.”

    “So is all conditioned existence to be seen.”

    Sorry if some feel uncomfortable.

  7. mtto
    mtto February 7, 2014 at 5:47 pm | |

    Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality on Hulu.
    http://www.hulu.com/watch/173530

  8. shade
    shade February 7, 2014 at 5:51 pm | |

    “Facebok”? That sounds like a Cardassian polka band.

    Okay, sorry, just being silly. My real question for No One In Particular is: why are these debates always set up the same way, i.e.: Articulate Atheist Scientist vs. Pigheaded Christian Fundamentalist. Yeah, sometimes they’ll mix it up a bit and throw a Muslim in there, but the schematics are pretty much always the same. Why isn’t it ever, like, Agnostic Scientist (yes, they exist) vs. Metaphysical Theologian Who Actually Finds the Theory of Evolution Plausible. I think something that would be a lot more illuminating.

    But it wouldn’t be as “entertaining”, would it? Yeah…. there lies the rub, I imagine.

    As far as people who say they have no fear of death – well, I don’t want to presume anything, but I’m always skeptical. I used to say the same thing until I felt death breathing down my neck. Not to be all ominous and spooky, but death isn’t something that just happens to old people – even with all our 21st century medicinal marvels. I’ve known plenty of people my age (mid 30s) and younger – sometimes much younger – who died suddenly, and I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life.

    But I could be wrong, maybe there are people who can truly face the prospect of eternal oblivion with perfect equipoise. I’m not one of them.

  9. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm | |

    ‘So without words this self would not sit balancing on a pillow. Yet emptiness
    itself, the “actualizing of the fundamental point”, is without words.’

    True, I have words, but without that funny happiness beyond material sense I wouldn’t sit. “Actualizing of the fundamental point” sits, therein lies the happiness.

    I live with a paradox, one tan and the other black and tan.

    If you want to experience action without words, sit and breathe until your breath gets up. Relax, calm down, free the mind/actualize the fundamental point, breath sits. I don’t have any doubt breath will die, and if some doctor or nurse has doubt about their breath dying I might say “pass the salt”.

    Pass the peas, pass the butter. I hope we are all stark enough to watch it.

  10. SotoZ
    SotoZ February 7, 2014 at 7:46 pm | |

    Good people do good things; evil people do evil things; it takes religion to get good people to do evil things.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot February 8, 2014 at 10:49 am | |

      People are not good or evil, except as they do good and evil. How else explain evil people who do good, or good people who do bad?

      And how much is it that religion causes people to act evilly, vs how much people use religion as an excuse?

      1. SotoZ
        SotoZ February 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm | |

        not when religion is the cause

  11. dougleader
    dougleader February 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm | |

    Woha, woha, WOHA!

    You’re moving to Philadelphia?!?

    Speaking as someone who was born and raised there, and cares about your well-being, I have to ask, why in god’s green earth would you do that? It’s really kind of a terrible place…

    Best of luck to you.

  12. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 8, 2014 at 9:54 am | |

    Birth and death are just words, concepts like “god” that some people who use them invest with arbitrary, agreed upon meaning. Meanings that may be universally accepted, but which are actually empty… deep meditation wordlessly demonstrates this:

    “When one becomes very, very, very quiet, one begins to see the world in a way that is entirely different from the supposedly “rational” beliefs of the mainstream..”

    In my work we help people with end of life planning. There is a lot of fear to overcome with most, and a lot of guilt. In the end, there is peace. What is there to be scared of? Pain? It will pass. Then…

    Where do we go? Where does a flower go when it dries up and blows away in the wind?

  13. boubi
    boubi February 8, 2014 at 10:59 am | |

    Brad

    Find yourself a job, as Nishijima told you.

    Personally i work, try do the same, beyond the fact that i’m already buying/giving food to people living in the streets.

    Wash dishes, usually you also receive food, i did it. Get a cleaning job, i did it too.

    Stop begging.

  14. Mudo
    Mudo February 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm | |

    You’re moving to Philly? When? Why?

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot February 8, 2014 at 2:06 pm | |

      For the Cheesesteaks, obviously.

      Except for playing tourist on South St. once, my experience of Philadelphia is nonexistent. It seemed like just another big Northeast city. Must be a lot of good stuff to find along with the bad, no?

      Spoken as an ex-Bostonian who lived in Cleveland for six months.

  15. boubi
    boubi February 8, 2014 at 4:28 pm | |

    The final answer about this debate is to be found at 4:45 of the soundtrack
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RduPZ2FIZPc

    1. boubi
      boubi February 8, 2014 at 4:35 pm | |

      Think positive
      http://dilbert.com/dyn/str_strip/000000000/00000000/0000000/000000/00000/2000/000/2057/2057.strip.gif

      In here you will find all the main points of the debate
      – life as pain
      – we are aggregates
      – oblivion/annihilation (mahaparanibana?)
      – world as representation
      and much more

      PS
      If you see a ragged poor soul on your way home, share some of your grocery with him, and thank him, and let him feel empathy, he will reward you with his most sincere blessing.
      Just avidya separes us from him.

  16. boubi
    boubi February 9, 2014 at 5:27 am | |

    As said other times, IMO, there are as many “ways” as there are people and activities.

    Why folks do you think that just in Japan there are
    – Tea “way” (Chado)
    – Bow “way” (Kyudo)
    – nani-nani “way” (whateverdo)

    When the ultimate goal is to come to know “the real nature of mind” it’s “no hold barred”, just get a look around.

    Even knitting could be a “way” ™.

    Just to cite your revered dharma ancestor Dogen (so not to look as if intruding in this hallowed space with some heresy), the key resides in “(practicing*) as if your hair were on fire”.

    Mahasiddhis teachers threw they students in situations similar to the ones the Aghoris put themselves nowaday. It was swimming or drowning “as if your hair were on fire”.

    Reducing dharma to a feel-good sense of (relative, whose by the way?) “morality” seems to me as … ???

    “xxxx** said” another “ipse dixit” that gives a nice “feel good” sensation, what did he lived? Anybody knows?

    Anyhow check this distinguished singer, “Gram’ma Funk”
    http://sandrarose.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Picture-372.jpg

    performer of the following song

    =====
    * in fact whatever you decide to do
    ** favorite ancestor

      1. boubi
        boubi February 9, 2014 at 5:29 am | |

        Notice

        The whole thing gets a clearer meaning changing shaking with shagging

        enjoy

  17. Fred
    Fred February 9, 2014 at 7:48 am | |

    “fornicate with each other’s spouses”

    What’s wrong with that, Brad?

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot February 9, 2014 at 11:28 am | |

      Nothing at all, so long as it doesn’t involve lying, breaking promises, or creating I’ll feeling in others.

      1. minkfoot
        minkfoot February 9, 2014 at 11:29 am | |

        “Ill feelings” — damn you, Autocorrect!

  18. buddy
    buddy February 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm | |

    For a different Christian perspective on this topic, here’s something by Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest who manages to say stuff like this without incurring the suspicion of any church authorities.

    ‘“God has let us in on a mystery: the mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made from the very beginning in Christ” (Ephesians 1:9-10). Whenever Paul says “in Christ,” he is not talking about Jesus of Nazareth. He’s talking about when matter and spirit come together, reveal and expose one another. Jesus is the concrete personification in time of what has always been true, which is the Christ Mystery, or the “anointing” of matter with eternal purpose. This hidden plan will become apparent when time has run its course, when we can finally see that “there is only Christ, he is everything and he is in everything” (Colossians 3:11). How were we able to miss such passages as this? (We only see what we are told to pay attention to.)

    What we call “salvation” is happening to the whole of creation and not just to humans (Revelation 21:1). Our inability to recognize and appreciate this is a central example of our dualistic thinking and even our narcissism. Why would God’s great plan just be about us? The irony, of course, is that we are—by far—the most destructive species on the planet, and refuse to take our proper place in the entire “family of things,” as Mary Oliver calls it.

    The very fact that Christians have fought the notion of evolution shows we did not minimally understand the Cosmic Christ. We should have been the first to recognize and honor evolution: the glory, patience, and humility of God is that God creates things that continue to create themselves—from the inner dynamism God has planted within them. Many of us would call this inner creative dynamism the Holy Spirit which “hovers over the initial chaos” (Genesis 1:2) and then stands at the end of history with a constant and beckoning “Come!” (Revelation 22:17). These two verses are the very bookends of the Bible.’

  19. tombo
    tombo February 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm | |

    Dear Brad,

    Why don’t you just get a job? It seems this would resolve a lot nonsense around money for you. Not to be flip or anything, it’s just easier.

    Sincerely,

    Tom

    p.s. If you can’t make it to the S.F. showing of your movie, keep the twelve bucks. I’ll send along some money if you’re still struggling next time I check in to this blog.

  20. Daniel
    Daniel February 9, 2014 at 2:25 pm | |

    “It’s always mildly fascinating to me to listen to religious people trying to defend whatever they believe as “science.””

    Just for the record Brad, you’re aware that you’re on the religious side too (at least regarding your blog posts and your last book about your “god”) not on the scientific one right? Just asking because it’s not 100% clear from this post…

    1. robert
      robert February 19, 2014 at 8:57 am | |

      > … you’re on the religious side …
      > not on the scientific one

      There are sides? What, are we living on a giant upturned saucer or something?

  21. Fred
    Fred February 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm | |

    Sepehr,
    Examine this sentence

    “Shikantaza style meditation seems to me to be the ultimate way of truly letting go of the known.”

    Poetry exists within the known. The words elicit emotional and intellectual
    responses that keep you locked in the known.

    Just sitting in goaless practice is where ” zen Buddhists ” go.

    You may wish to find some other way of experiencing or not experiencing
    something. It is not really of concern to the people posting here. Best wishes.

    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm | |

      Obsessively or rigidly fixating one’s attention on one phenomenon is problematic! This exclusivist attitude is my issue. You act like other forms of practice cannot be goaless and Zazen really is ultimate… Good poetry captures this because it doesn’t herald itself as the absolute, unlike proponents of Shikantaza. Why don’t you look a bit into Wang Wei, Lo Po, Han Shan, or the other poets of Chan influence? Soto Zen Buddhists treat Shikantaza like the Evangelistic cross. There needs to serious reformation of Zen. You guys act as if you aren’t being proselytizing, but you guys really are! When someone exposes your proselytizing attitude, all you do is go back to parroting rather than speaking deeply from your own experiences. I’m not asking you guys to totally throw down your practice and adopt my own approach; I’m telling you guys to be more accepting of other approaches where Zazen/Shikantaza is not the focal point… by doing this you’d realize Zazen/Shikantaza by no means a necessity.

      Having experiences on the cushion is great, but what about such experiences elsewhere? Why fixate on the cushion? Why make the cushion a necessary pre-requisite. Also, stop using my name.

      1. zucchinipants
        zucchinipants February 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm | |

        Sepehr,
        I’m no fan of Mr.Warner and am not interested in defending him, but your crusade is a bit off-key.

        First, own up to your identity — at least Brad has been able to do that throughout the years. You’re a “pet detective” kid from Georgia; don’t run away from that. (hiding behind a persona is one of the problems on the internet, and certainly a problem among internet zen people, as far as I’ve seen. They’ve got layers upon layers of robes and masks. Don’t be like that).

        Second, learn more about shikantaza and zazen. You’re blinded by your (possibly truthful) painful physical experience. Everybody can see you’ve got an ax to grind. If you look into meditation, you’ll see that what Toni Packer and Krishnamurti describe is analogous the shikantaza (at its best). Criticize the emphasis on posture if you like, but at least know what you’re criticizing.

        As for getting people to be open to other approaches, it’s hard to see anybody listening to you as long as you’ve got that ax to grind. Besides, would you go to a dervish blog to tell them to try something else?

        What is your actual critique? Knee pain and vascular issues are really not the issue, when you look into it…

        Dave

        1. CatsareInfinite
          CatsareInfinite February 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm | |

          I’m not a pet detective… I’m a student in Neuroscience and will get my Bachelor’s at the end of this year.

          I did Zazen at ASZC for 3-4 years before being disillusioned with it. I had the opportunity to become a priest but I opted out. Go figure.

          1. CatsareInfinite
            CatsareInfinite February 9, 2014 at 7:49 pm |

            Not the end of this year… At the end of Spring 2014 I’ll get my Bachelor’s.

            I work as a Pet Detective part time…

            But this doesn’t relate to my criticisms. They are thought-out.

  22. esfishdoc
    esfishdoc February 9, 2014 at 6:15 pm | |

    This is because that is….

    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm | |

      Your blog reminds me of the band Tenhi. It’s very lyrical too. Check it out.

      I got out of that phase though.

    2. boubi
      boubi February 10, 2014 at 7:26 am | |

      Beautiful pics.

      You do them?

      Remind me of the times of HP4 .

      1. boubi
        boubi February 10, 2014 at 7:28 am | |

        WOW !

        Scales of greys, white black, details … would say fine grain but pixels killed the thing

        http://esfishdoc.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/LoneTree.jpg

        1. boubi
          boubi February 10, 2014 at 7:30 am | |
      2. esfishdoc
        esfishdoc February 10, 2014 at 1:04 pm | |

        boubi,

        Thanks. All the images are mine. The “blog” is just a few that I set aside with some quote that catches me. The blog catches spam and rarely does anyone leave a message. My stream of consciousness is here:

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/33755787@N03/

        I shoot both digital and film. I still develop my own film and from there scan negatives on an Epson V700. My favorite film camera is a medium format Rolleiflex. I’ve got way too many cameras… I do like Ilford HP5+. Back in the early to mid 70′s when I started with film it was all TriX with the occasional PanX.

        1. boubi
          boubi February 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm | |

          No joking !!
          There are still 120 format, paper wrapped negative film? Unbielevable.
          Rolleiflex 6×6

          I was a Ilford unconditional fan, did 35mmm and 120, on a 4,5×6 cm pre IIWW camera with a pre war IKON lens, with Ilford glossy paper, blowing the grain up on some, on others nearly NASA acuity. Pushed some HP4 400 ASA till 3600, took logaritmically some 60 minutes to reveal the film but worth it.

          Digital fucked everything up. :(

          Very nice pics :)

          Do you like Prodigy?

  23. Fred
    Fred February 10, 2014 at 6:16 am | |
  24. AnneMH
    AnneMH February 10, 2014 at 6:51 am | |

    I think this really gets to part of the issue. The debate has been floating around my circle of friends and we lean on the side of Bill Nye but it has always been of interest to me to have some understanding where other people are coming from. I spent some time in a community of more fundamentalist Christian types and got to some understanding and respect for most of them. To make them the evil other without examining that we all have the same fears, hopes, struggle is not in my mind the most skillful Buddhism (which is not to say I have got it mastered). This is the type of conversation I come to this blog for specifically since it is still rare.

    I noticed that we still see the ‘get a job’ thing here. I am not sure what to say, it used to be that if you wrote a column or blog then someone like a newspaper or advertisers paid you. If you were teaching then you were supported by the community. Now things are pretty different and most people do not understand that having relatively successful books do not pay well (it is even less than I thought). I don’t see how spending a lot of time writing books is not having a job and pointing out the dana system is begging.

    And moving? I had not caught that.

  25. Fred
    Fred February 10, 2014 at 7:24 am | |

    Toni Packer

    “Awareness cannot be taught, and when it is present it has no context. All contexts are created by thought and are therefore corruptible by thought. Awareness simply throws light on what is, without any separation whatsoever. ”

    Just sitting allows the awareness of what is without thought forcing the direction
    of attention.

    1. boubi
      boubi February 10, 2014 at 7:34 am | |

      Mickey Mouse

      “Goofy, you’re talkin’ through the wrong end of the phone again!”

    2. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 8:02 am | |

      You post a quote from Toni Packer, but you end it with dogmatic Soto Zen nonsense? Toni Packer left Soto Zen precisely for those reasons.

      Stop butchering quotes from people you haven’t read about.

      “Just sitting allows the awareness of what is without thought forcing the direction
      of attention.”

      What about other activities, like just walking in the woods alone? Wasting my time.

      1. Fred
        Fred February 10, 2014 at 8:28 am | |

        Sepehr, you got a problem kid. Are you autistic like Andrew, or do you
        just enjoy the aggressive Zen trolling.

        1. CatsareInfinite
          CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 9:38 am | |

          Why don’t you directly address my points rather than fling ad hominems? Unlike Andrew, I am trying to keep things as impersonal as possible.

          I’m not trolling. There is a severe, almost debilitating, issue in contemporary Zen. I do not think it’s right to put creationists down, as wrong as they are, when the current state of Soto Zen is much worse in its dogmatic, exclusionist approach. The Buddhists still think that with some magical Indian pose, they will change the universe.

        2. Daniel
          Daniel February 10, 2014 at 9:40 am | |

          Look, the religious believe that only sitting in a specific body posture is it…is even more rediculous than that Maria was a virgin. Seriously.

        3. Andy
          Andy February 10, 2014 at 9:50 am | |

          Btw Mark:

          The wind blows over the trees, and anyone with any sense has long since left, but I am here with the memory of who I was.”

          Just thought to say I really appreciated that from a couple of threads ago. It’s been wonderfully stormy and bracing this past week, and that sentence found companionable aloneness on a number of occasions.

      2. Daniel
        Daniel February 10, 2014 at 9:38 am | |

        I agree strongly. It’s that sort of comments that are really ridiculous. It’s like starting to talk about Mindfulness-Meditation and then throwing Zazen in…just worse.

        Like Packer was teaching a very open kind of meditation practice, she even tried to avoid to call it like that. Compare that to the nazi styled “Only sitting in full lotus posture is right zazen!” and then the guys sooner or later say something like “zazen just means sitting in meditation” etc. I mean cmon, Packer was openly exploring things…Soto-Zen cult is just a believe-system where zazen is more or less like god or prayer in other religions.

        Really guys stop mixing everything up. Zen is a religion and it’s not science. And Toni Packer is not at all a good example of a shikantaza-teacher, faaaaaaaaaaar from it.

  26. shade
    shade February 10, 2014 at 7:43 am | |

    okay about this “get a job” business….

    Brad isn’t putting a gun to anyone’s head. He’s not knocking on anyone’s door or hassling them at the bus station (well, I assume). Any and everyone can read his postings free of charge and comment on those postings – at great length, incoherently or even maliciously if one wishes.

    If you don’t want to give him money or support him financially in any way – then don’t. He’s pleas for donations always come at the end of his posts so if you find them annoying, as soon as you get to those little asterix at the bottom of the page, just stop reading. It’s easy. Trust me, I’ve been doing it for years (Forgive me for being flippant and stingy but my own financial situation is less than spectacular).

    If he finds himself in a desperate situation, obviously he’ll have to get a “real job”. That’s his concern. And I’ve said this before about a dozen times but I think it bears repeating – just because someone isn’t officially employed or receiving a weekly stipend doesn’t mean they’re not “working”, or that their work is less valuable than those who are.

    End of rant (for now.)

    1. boubi
      boubi February 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm | |

      No he’s not putting any gun to anybody head … but … after all the right critics to successful dharma scoundrels, but when he says that another buddhist blog had a 3000 $ month/target …

      I leave the rest to you.

      So Brad my advice is that since you seem to have some free time in your hands, do as the vast majority of americans do, take an extra paid activity. And maybe (as i said some time before) write a book kind of “a Zen monk in the belly of the capitalistic beast”

  27. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 10, 2014 at 9:28 am | |

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post, buddy.

    I even address Zen masters by the funny names they have adopted, that’s not a problem. My name means very little to me, but using it ensures that I bear in mind that I’m responsible for what I say.

    I appreciate that catsareinfinite has a problem with the cross-legged posture, and feels it’s unnecessary. I think one of the first students Shunryu Suzuki sent to Eiheiji messed up their knees there- can’t find the exact facts right now. My take is that it is possible to learn to sit cross-legged without injury or pain, and that it has to do with the inclusion of particular senses rather than with yogic exercises or willful exertions. But you all know that. Sometimes I think I could teach it, if anyone where interested, and this has caused me no end of hours of fun on the internet. It’s a thing Zen teachers don’t do, apparently- they rely on students who have a knack for it, and regard it as not directly teachable (which may be true, we’ll see).

    And I love poetry (why is it that so many websites cut out the part of Rumi’s “Sing Loud” about the whiff of wine-musk from the room where the lovers are doing who-knows-what?).

    Meanwhile, over on David Chadwick’s cuke.com, I find he has today posted a rewrite of his remembrances of Kobun; he opens with this:

    “While looking through Grahame Petchey’s photo album of the great root monastery, Eiheiji, he pointed out Kobun Chino as a monk assigned to watch over him. It’s interesting to hear Grahame talk about Kobun back then in the early sixties because it’s not the Kobun we knew in the States. Grahame says Kobun rode him and Phillip Wilson hard, would chastise them for the tiniest infractions. Grahame says Kobun was “the perfect monk, the epitome of Japanese militaristic Zen.” Wow. Not at all so here in the States. I guess our hippy magic worked on him like it seems to have on Shunryu Suzuki whose children described him as strict, severe and distant.”

    http://www.cuke.com/dchad-writ/kobun-great-friend.htm

    Looking forward to reading this, and seeing if he retained the portion about the times when Kobun would “give up all his power, if he caught one whiff of the wine-musk”.

    Where were we- oh yes, and I must have it here somewhere…

  28. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 10, 2014 at 9:30 am | |

    ah! here it is…

    1. Andy
      Andy February 10, 2014 at 9:52 am | |

      (posted above as reply by accident!)

      Btw Mark:

      “The wind blows over the trees, and anyone with any sense has long since left, but I am here with the memory of who I was.”

      Just thought to say I really appreciated that from a couple of threads ago. It’s been wonderfully stormy and bracing this past week, and that sentence found companionable aloneness on a number of occasions.

  29. Fred
    Fred February 10, 2014 at 9:57 am | |

    “Why don’t you directly address my points rather than fling ad hominems? Unlike Andrew, I am trying to keep things as impersonal as possible.

    I’m not trolling. There is a severe, almost debilitating, issue in contemporary Zen. I do not think it’s right to put creationists down, as wrong as they are, when the current state of Soto Zen is much worse in its dogmatic, exclusionist approach. The Buddhists still think that with some magical Indian pose, they will change the universe.”

    That’s funny Sep, the universe doesn’t change . What changes is the I that you
    cling to.

    There is no magic in it. And you are trolling.

    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 10:03 am | |

      Fred, I recommend reading Daniel’s recent message on February 10, 2014 at 9:38 am. I agree with him. He’s doing a better job expressing my frustrations at Soto Zen’s dogmatic approach.

      1. Fred
        Fred February 10, 2014 at 10:07 am | |

        Sep,there is nothing to talk about. Arguments going this way or that way,
        aren’t it.

        Either you see it or you don’t.

    2. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 10:07 am | |

      Also, Fred, I hope you realize I’ve read much of Dogen’s Shobogenzo, Warner’s Sit Down and Shut Up & Hardcore Zen, Realizing Genjokoan, and a lot more. I was actually almost made a priest at my center, but I backed down after I realized how dogmatic it is. Maybe you should stop viewing opposing beliefs as being “trolling” and actually think deeply about what I and Daniel (February 10, 2014 at 9:38 am) are saying.

      1. SotoZ
        SotoZ February 16, 2014 at 7:24 pm | |

        There is no dogma in zen

    3. boubi
      boubi February 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm | |

      “There is a severe, almost debilitating, issue in contemporary Zen. I do not think it’s right to put creationists down, as wrong as they are, when the current state of Soto Zen is much worse in its dogmatic, exclusionist approach. The Buddhists still think that with some magical Indian pose, they will change the universe.”

      That’s funny Sep, the universe doesn’t change . What changes is the I that you
      cling to.”

      – Who gives a blip about “issues” , take what you like and leave the rest.

      – It is right to put down people who wnat to bring us back to the dark ages, or at least their political agenda

      – Who gives a shit about Soto Shu, if they are wrong it doesn’t make other wrong more right

      – The universe doesn’t change, right BUT the world is “will & representation” too so you can change the world (what is the world BTW?)

      try to get the metaphysic message hidden in the following , paying attention to the percussion section ;)
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0lsYBZWg_E

      1. boubi
        boubi February 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm | |

        … and a particular attention to the lyrics (the actual ones)

        Gasho (you see i’m a good person)

    4. SotoZ
      SotoZ February 16, 2014 at 8:44 pm | |

      There is no dogma in Zen

  30. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 10, 2014 at 9:57 am | |

    thanks so much, Andy!

    Weather here too, look forward to the next episode of altered but extremely poetic reality from straw man.

    The close of D. Chadwick’s piece, from cuke.com:

    “There are many mentions of Kobun on cuke dot com, a website I run. Here’s Stan White, an old Shunryu Suzuki student who moved to Taos and whom Kobun ordained: “Kobun is a mystic He’s an existential teacher. He does not know what he’s doing, but what he does makes people practice Zen. He has students who would crawl from Albuquerque to see him for five minutes. He comes here and he disappears into the woods and we never see him – but we practice. People involved with Kobun practice.”

    In November of 2009 my mate Katrinka and I offered incense with Vanja at the memorial shrine for Kobun at Felsentor. Kobun’s death with his daughter was a true tragedy. Everyone was so sad. Everyone loved him. Once again he has left us with an empty room, an open window – and warm memories of Kobun.”

    “He does not know what he is doing.” There you go!

    1. Fred
      Fred February 10, 2014 at 10:29 am | |

      Sep:

      “Also, Fred, I hope you realize I’ve read much of Dogen’s Shobogenzo, Warner’s Sit Down and Shut Up & Hardcore Zen, Realizing Genjokoan, and a lot more.”

      Too bad you didn’t get anything from it

      1. CatsareInfinite
        CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 10:33 am | |

        Fred, you are extremely difficult to speak to. You quoted what I said out of context.

        I’m really tired of talking. While Andrew has his problems, I feel I learn more from him than you. You’re literally like a robot, Fred. You’re just spouting the nonsense they drill into us in the Zendo.

        While I am glad it gives you hope, do not shove it down the throats of those who have a different approach(-less) way. I feel as if Daniel gave a good closure to this conversation. He did a very good summing up feelings concisely at February 10, 2014 at 9:38 am.

        I like Toni Packer’s more progressive and all-encompassing. While you may claim that Shikantaza is the same (or better), I beg to differ, especially after 3 years.

        I agree with you that I am better suited spending my time elsewhere. I was wrong to converse here, but after my knee damage and etc., I do not find Soto Zen to be any better than fundamentalist Christianity. Thus, it does not make sense for them to patronize such people.

      2. CatsareInfinite
        CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 10:57 am | |

        Let me quote something written by Elsebeth Holm for Toni Packer’s memorial that captures my “own” approach to Zen that I feel is more opening than Soto Zen’s restrictive way. The poem she wrote is very moving:

        Elsebeth Holm – A couple of years ago I was on retreat here, and I think it was at the end of October or November and it was a miserable day. It was one of those days, it was cloudy and rainy and drizzling, and I went out for a walk in the meadow, and of course it was very still. I had never written a poem before in my life well maybe unless it was assigned in grade school or something like that and not at all good at it. But in this moment it kind of just flowed out of stillness. It never felt right to share it at the time, but it feels right now.

        So it’s called “Presence.”

        “Venturing down a path unknown, a gentle rain begins to fall, so easily absorbed by the Earth. I gaze up, overpowered by the ominous clouds gathering and gliding across the sky, Pausing, mesmerized by their myriad of shades and the vastness of the sky, simply embracing the earth and gracefully holding the space. A sudden shiver runs up my spine as the fury of the wind makes itself known. Wildly thrashing the blades of grasses in the meadow. The now fading leaves of autumn hurriedly making their escape while the majestic trees stand sturdy, waving their branches in unison. Then struck by the expanse of the rolling hills, with an eerie fog lingering in the valley slowly rising. This morning I thought, ‘What a miserable day,’ but now I can see the mystery reveal itself in the timeless presence of Oneness.”

        I share this with deep gratitude, respect and love for Toni, who I only had the opportunity to meet three times by her bedside, but whom I love and feel like I know her through her tapes and her talks and the light in her eyes.

  31. Fred
    Fred February 10, 2014 at 11:01 am | |

    “I’m really tired of talking. While Andrew has his problems, I feel I learn more from him than you.”

    Are you sure you are tired of talking?

    The only real teacher is not the words that
    come out of people’s mouths, but ” holding the hand of the
    Absolute” ( to return to Kobun Chino. )

  32. Fred
    Fred February 10, 2014 at 11:06 am | |

    Kobun

    “It is very important to experience the complete negation of yourself, which brings you to the other side of nothing. People experience that in many ways. You go to the other side of nothing, and you are held by the hand of the absolute. You see yourself as part of the absolute, so you have no more insistance of Self as yourself. You can speak of Self as no-self upon the absolute. Only real existence is absolute.”

    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 11:18 am | |

      His use of discursive of logic seems to me that he’s just parroting, rather than deeply speaking of his experience. For example, when I read Bukowski’s poetry, I feel different than when listening to a lot of these so-called enlightened Zen teachers. There seems to be something more real behind his voice.

      PULL A STRING, A PUPPET MOVES by Charles Bukowski
      each man must realize
      that it can all disappear very
      quickly:
      the cat, the woman, the job,
      the front tire,
      the bed, the walls, the
      room; all our necessities
      including love,
      rest on foundations of sand –
      and any given cause,
      no matter how unrelated:
      the death of a boy in Hong Kong
      or a blizzard in Omaha …
      can serve as your undoing.
      all your chinaware crashing to the
      kitchen floor, your girl will enter
      and you’ll be standing, drunk,
      in the center of it and she’ll ask:
      my god, what’s the matter?
      and you’ll answer: I don’t know,
      I don’t know …

  33. Fred
    Fred February 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm | |

    I thought that you were tired of talking?

    Shouldn’t you be in class taking notes?

    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm | |

      “Shouldn’t you be in class taking notes?”

      Are you implying that I’m a tool? I would have stopped if you just said let’s respectfully disagree, but I’m going to say one last thing:

      You’re the tool, asswipe. Why don’t you go back to Zendo and let them drill you with more repetitive, uninspired, and insincere Dharma talks?

      Why don’t you say something original for once – besides regurgitating a bunch of rubbish that references metaphysical abstractions rather than lived experience?

      Talking to you is like talking an automaton or a Chinese Room.

  34. Kid Coleco
    Kid Coleco February 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm | |

    Hey Brad, I can’t wait to meet you personally in Philly! This is wonderful news and totally unexpected. Please keep us informed. I hope you stay on the east coast for a bit. I hope you can partake in the ever evolving music scene as well. Take care and may you continue to smile and spread your wisdom.

  35. boubi
    boubi February 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm | |

    Goofy

    “pass the cake”

  36. Fred
    Fred February 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm | |

    Sepe said

    “You’re the tool, asswipe. Why don’t you go back to Zendo and let them drill you with more repetitive, uninspired, and insincere Dharma talks?

    Why don’t you say something original for once – besides regurgitating a bunch of rubbish that references metaphysical abstractions rather than lived experience?”

    It’s only a metaphysical abstraction when you haven’t lived it.

    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm | |

      “It’s only a metaphysical abstraction when you haven’t lived it.”

      It makes sense to speak of one’s own personal experience without reference to “doctrine” when describing personal experiences aligned with actualizing BuddhaNature. That was the point of quote from Elsebeth Holm I gave. This is why one’s own creative expression is more important than rigid obedience to a set of procedures, such as a regimen of Zazen. You cannot come across the fluidity of truth, of meaning, through a rigid, imposing means – through constantly defining what is proper or improper posture.

      This is why I moved away from Soto Zen more towards one’s own creative work and understand, and silent observational capacity, as having more importance.

  37. Fred
    Fred February 10, 2014 at 5:33 pm | |

    “You cannot come across the fluidity of truth, of meaning, through a rigid, imposing means”

    The fluidity of truth is what occurs within the discipline of zazen and the rigidity
    of procedure.

    What you experience as the movement of human culture and its products such
    as poetry, isn’t it.

    One’s own creative expression is just cultural output. It isn’t enlightenment.

    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 10, 2014 at 5:42 pm | |

      Fred, you cannot “actualized” the truth through mere imitation. Imitating the Buddha statue pose, imitating what the teacher says is “right”, etc. It is simply seeking for a new sense of security, both psychologically and physically. The fluidity of truth occurs within one’s own creative expression, living in line with Buddha Nature, or etc. It cannot be given through any formulation. The ultimate koan inherent in Shikantaza is it is ultimately useless; heralding it as anything else is absurd. It has nothing to give.

      The movement of like, as a totality, and being idolatry towards the All, is of a different matter. One’s own creative expression when it is sincere and a product of solitude, is no different than enlightenment. Sitting too can be enlightenment, but when it is given precedence over other life experience, it becomes its own prison.

      1. minkfoot
        minkfoot February 11, 2014 at 5:24 am | |

        The movement of like, as a totality, and being idolatry towards the All, is of a different matter.

        I am dumbfounded.

        1. Andy
          Andy February 11, 2014 at 5:40 am | |

          I like The movement of like. Sounds like a Wallace Stevens poem title.

        2. minkfoot
          minkfoot February 11, 2014 at 7:08 am | |

          That’s of a different matter, too.

          1. Andy
            Andy February 11, 2014 at 7:34 am |

            bidum-tish!

        3. CatsareInfinite
          CatsareInfinite February 11, 2014 at 9:54 am | |

          Typo, I meant “life”.

  38. Andy
    Andy February 10, 2014 at 9:42 pm | |

    I feel some definitions of enlightenment might aid understanding of a few points of view, here, Cats/Fred. Otherwise, claims about what it is or isn’t just become more hot air.

  39. Fred
    Fred February 11, 2014 at 4:22 am | |

    Mr. Zepehr is a troll Andy. Better than Andrew.

    http://sweepingzen.com/thoughts-on-not-thinking-about-non-thinking/

    1. Andy
      Andy February 11, 2014 at 5:22 am | |

      Some ( the glaring straw man and rudeness) but not all of it. And there was some effort made to have a dialogue, so I thought it might help if a few of the terms being used were defined.

      I think Andrew still has a good claim for most passionate, tenacious and immovable troll! But that’s enough nostalgia.

      I’ve read that excellent article by Franz Koun before. Shame he doesn’t post so much.

      1. Fred
        Fred February 11, 2014 at 7:17 am | |

        Sepehr: “The movement of like, as a totality, and being idolatry towards the All, is of a different matter”

        Krishnamurti : ” the question then is how to look at the totality of life non-fragmentarily”

        Nice try Sepe

        1. CatsareInfinite
          CatsareInfinite February 11, 2014 at 10:08 am | |

          J. Krishnamurti’s answer is you cannot look at life through any form of “rigidity of procedure” or the “discipline of zazen or [any other path - it must be pathless]” (your quotes). This is the ultimate problem of Soto Zen: it creates its new prison. You’re just quoting people you haven’t read deeply…

          His answer leads to this quote by Kodo Sawaki:

          “Losing is satori. Winning is illusion.”

    2. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 11, 2014 at 10:03 am | |

      You are just as rigid as your Zazen. The truth you impose, in the form of a belief, is just rigid as your Zazen:

      “The fluidity of truth is what occurs within the discipline of zazen and the rigidity
      of procedure.”

  40. jiesen
    jiesen February 11, 2014 at 8:51 am | |

    That is to be host and master. If you are not affected by internal or external states, and if you have real wisdom and the six psychic powers, then you have a very ordinary talent working for you – nothing spectacular, just something very ordinary.

    And even less can the winds and rains of the eight directions cause alarm. “The winds and rains of the eight directions” refers to the last two lines of a famous poem by Su Dong Po (1037-1101):

    I bow to the god among gods;
    His hair-light illuminates the world.
    Unmoved when the eight winds blow,
    Upright I sit in a purple-gold lotus.

    Su Dong Po sent the poem to the Great Master Fo-yin (1011- 1086), and the master’s reply was two words: “Fart, fart.” As soon as Su Dong Po saw Great Master Fo-yin’s criticism, he couldn’t get it out of his mind, and he rushed across the Yangtze – he lived on the south side of the river and Great Master Fo-yin lived on the north side – to find the master and scold him. He wanted to tell the master that he had written an enlightened poem, so how could the master possibly have replied, “Fart, fart?”

    In fact, when Great Master Fo-yin criticized him, not only did Su Dong Po fart, he blazed forth and wanted to scorch Fo-yin to death. So he rushed across the river and burst into the master’s quarters without ceremony and shouted, “How could you possibly scold someone and slander him that way by writing ‘fart, fart’?”

    Fo-yin replied, “Who was I slandering? You said that you were unmoved by the winds of the eight directions, but just by letting two small farts I’ve blown you all the way across the Yangtze. And you still say that the winds of the eight directions don’t move you? You don’t have to talk about eight winds; just my two farts bounced you all the way up here.”

    Then Su Dong Po thought, “That’s right, I said that I’m unmoved by the eight winds, but two words have been enough to make me burn with anger.” Realizing that he still didn’t have what it takes, he bowed to the master and sought repentance. What are the winds of the eight directions?

    1) Praise. For example: “Upasaka (Sanskrit term for a Buddhist layman), you are really a good person, you really understand the Buddhadharma, and your wisdom really shines. Furthermore, your genius is unlimited and your eloquence unobstructed.”

    2) Ridicule. For instance: “It’s the scientific age now, and you are studying Buddhism. Why do you study that old superstitious rubbish?” Really ridiculous ridicule, and yet you think, “They’re right. How can I study Buddhism now in the scientific age? Cause and effect, no me and no you – how can such metaphysical theories be worth anything in the age of science? I am I, and people are people.” You become confused and are moved by the blowing of the wind.

    3) Suffering. The wind of suffering makes you suffer. To be unmoved while ceaselessly performing ascetic practices is an example of being unmoved by the wind of suffering.

    4) Happiness. To eat well, to wear good clothes, to have a good place to live, and to be especially happy all day long, thinking, “This certainly is good,” is to be moved by this wind.

    5) Benefit. You think, “All I do is go to a lot of trouble cultivating. I don’t even have any false thoughts. Consequently, people come to me and make an offering of a million dollars to build a temple, and they are very, very happy.” That is to be moved by the wind of benefit.

    6) Destruction. Perhaps the wind of benefit blew yesterday, but tomorrow people may come and ruin everything. They’ll tell people, “That monk is no good. Don’t believe in him; he will do anything. Believe in me instead.”

    7) Gain.

    8) Loss.

    Those are the eight winds. The verse says, “And even less can the winds and rains of the eight directions cause alarm.” It means that the eight winds blow, but I don’t move.

    He rolls it up and secretly hides it away. When you close this sutra, you should store it in a good place, not a place that indicates your lack of respect. You should respect it.

    And lets it go to fill the entire world. When you open it, the wisdom of prajna fills the sixfold union – that is, north, south, east, west, above, and below, which together represent the world. This prajna dharma-door is very wonderful. http://www.cttbusa.org/heartsutra/hs5.htm

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot February 11, 2014 at 9:33 am | |

      That’s a hell of an addition to a lame-duck thread!

      (Standing, marveling, upwind of Fred — My! How the wind shifts!)

  41. Fred
    Fred February 11, 2014 at 9:19 am | |

    Yes, fart fart.

  42. CatsareInfinite
    CatsareInfinite February 11, 2014 at 10:09 am | |

    Your arrogance is better suited for Crowley’s Magick or Chaos Magick rather than Zen/Chan.

  43. jiesen
    jiesen February 11, 2014 at 10:13 am | |

    @CatsareInfanite,

    Meditation is a luxury. The Kyosaku is a very compassionate stick.

    May you have great doubt ;)

  44. CatsareInfinite
    CatsareInfinite February 11, 2014 at 10:14 am | |

    “Losing is satori. Winning is illusion.

    Not coveting a single thing is the greatest gift you can give to the universe.”

    - Kodo Sodowaki

  45. jiesen
    jiesen February 11, 2014 at 10:20 am | |

    yeah, absolutely.

    but i don’t know much about gods. haven’t meet with any in my life so far.

    but i do know that we can utilize the relative to achieve the absolute. and that is worth so much.

    only one thing is perfect. and it’s hard to come by. but if you retreat, everything is lost.

    everything is test. min by min. as long as you can see it this way, you are like a patriarch. a very ordinary person in a very upsidedown world.

  46. Harlan
    Harlan February 11, 2014 at 10:22 am | |

    There is a problem with engaging someone that you have categorized as a troll.

    You are self-defining yourself as a fish.

  47. jiesen
    jiesen February 11, 2014 at 10:26 am | |

    as everyone can plainly see…words just lead to more words.

    we intellectualize things to describe the inconceivable. actions speak loudest.

    bodhisattvas don’t gain things, they look to lose them. they say “oh that idea, that was last week. we’ve moved on. tea?”

  48. jiesen
    jiesen February 11, 2014 at 10:35 am | |

    there is nothing wrong with having doubt.

    if any one tries to have a battle of intellect with you, just knock off a fart. if the other guy doesn’t get all upset, well, may be he is sincere in his point.

    i’ve had my fair share of doubts.

    and i met a few friendly teachers along the way :)

    this “thing” you are going through…as far as i can tell it seems to be part of the teacher student relationship.

    1. SotoZ
      SotoZ February 16, 2014 at 9:43 pm | |

      Well said

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