God is Eternal

god-monty-python-holy-grailI like looking at YouTube videos about the creationism vs. evolution debate. They’re so silly! Unfortunately I think a lot of people involved don’t realize it’s comedy.

The other day I came across one in which Richard Dawkins is debating some Catholic theologian about God. Dawkins hits the theologian with the old schoolboy question, “If God created everything then who created God?”

The theologian’s answer is cleverly phrased but comes down to basically, “Nobody created God, God is eternal.”

This is such a dumb argument. It’s like saying that the Hulk could beat up Superman because Superman is vulnerable to kryptonite and all the Hulk would have to do would be to throw some kryptonite at Superman. It’s an argument over concepts that exist only in the human imagination. We have invented an idea of God as an eternal being so anyone who asks who created God doesn’t understand the parameters of the character we’ve made up. (Godzilla could beat up Gamera, by the way, because Godzilla’s breath is atomic and Gamera’s is just plain old fire. So there!)

But science deals with real evidence. It examines closely how things work. It’s the study of cause and effect relationships in the natural world.

In terms of cosmology, though, we really do have a gap. Everything we see around us seems to be the result of some sort of cause and effect relationship. So it’s reasonable to imagine there must be some kind of ultimate cause. We can say very reasonably that the Grand Canyon was caused by millions of years of erosion and not by the flood that floated Noah’s ark because the evidence points much more strongly to millions of years of erosion. We can say that the planets formed by banging each other around for hundreds of millions of years and not because God magically wished them into existence in their current condition 6000 years ago because there is far more evidence for the former theory than for the latter.

But when it comes to why there is something in this universe rather than nothing we have a problem. Nobody has yet come up with a convincing scientific hypothesis that makes sense of this. However, there are many scientific hypotheses that are far more compelling than the idea of God snapping his fingers one day and saying, “Let there be light!” So I, for one, am far more inclined to go with science on this debate too.

If believers in God insist that they believe in him because someone must have created all this since some kind of intelligence had to have been involved in making a thing as complex as the universe then it’s perfectly logical to ask who created God. Because if God created the universe he must be even more complex than the universe, if you insist that only very complex beings can create very complex things, and so by that logic even God has to have a creator. But then whoever created God must therefore be even more complex than God. And if that’s true then another God even more powerful than that God must have created the God who created God. And so on and on and on to infinity.

When I talk and write about God I’m not referring to that kind of absurd God.

And yet… and yet… and yet…

This universe is not dead matter. To say that life is an emergent phenomenon explains nothing about who feels pain when you stub your big toe. Does nothing feel pain? Is pain an illusion? If so, what of it? It still hurts, dammit!

Quietly, quietly look into this for years and years. Don’t accept anything that anyone gives you as an answer. Don’t even accept your own conclusions. And certainly never accept the conclusions offered to you by so-called “Masters.” They haven’t got a clue in the world! Don’t accept my conclusions for sure! I’m just some guy who plays bass in a punk band, after all.

But just look and look and look and look.

You’ll see it for yourself.

*    *    *

UPCOMING READINGS

10 July 5:30 pm
Upaya Zen Center 1404 Cerro Gordo Rd Santa Fe, NM 87501

• 13 July 2:00 pm

Hope and Anchor 4012 North Mesa, El Paso, TX

• 14 July 7:00 pm

Center for Spiritual Living, 575 N Main St., Las Cruces, NM 88001

*    *    *

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146 Responses

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  1. Fred
    Fred July 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm | |

    Krishnamurti:

    ” What can be described is the known, and the freedom from the known can come into being only when there is a dying every day to the known, to the hurts, the flatteries, to all the images you have made, to all your experiences – dying every day so that the brain cells themselves become fresh, young, innocent”

  2. Fred
    Fred July 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm | |

    101F in El Paso.

    “Brad will be here speaking from 2PM to about 3PM. This event is open to anyone and everyone so come by grab a drink and be at one with the wuniverse.”

  3. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 13, 2013 at 3:21 pm | |

    “There is an Unknowing, and It is always with you. ”

    “ehhh… I knew I shoulda toined left at Albuquerque.”

    “There is Deliverance From Thought Without Grasping, and It Is Always Right Here”;

    “Gotcha, you cwazy wabbit! (blam! blam!) Now, where did he gwo?” “Nyah… what’s up, Doc.”

  4. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 13, 2013 at 8:38 pm | |

    and more Krishnamurti (just kidding):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Swbj9jR4rZY

  5. Harlan
    Harlan July 14, 2013 at 6:02 am | |

    Good stuff mumbles. I can’t hardly stand it..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX3UEGFrINI

  6. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 14, 2013 at 9:48 am | |
  7. Steve
    Steve July 14, 2013 at 10:15 am | |

    Hey Brad, this is an excellent post. A very clear and to the point teaching. I said this to you in person, but I’ll say it again. I really appreciate the manner in which you communicate. And I think one can see the benefit of the practice simply in the manner in which you communicate. And so it inspires to continue, regardless of whether I’ll ever understand the ultimate mysteries with the same obviousness of stubbing my toe on a rock.

  8. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 14, 2013 at 5:57 pm | |

    God has the Catfish Blues.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_q5HCm2_WQ

  9. Harlan
    Harlan July 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm | |
  10. Andy
    Andy July 15, 2013 at 6:53 am | |

    In pages 176-177 of Brad’s new book he addresses succinctly expressed and, to my view, legitimate points on ” ‘gods’ ” made by one Rev. Uncle Willie (also Grand Canyon, since this new blog format) in the comments section, while the book was being written.

    The contrasting views contained therein bring up a similar core issue, which Grand Canyon has expressed directly and indirectly on a number of occasions, which have helped to bring to the fore how our attitudes to language can be informed by our attitudes to objectivity and subjectivity and vice versa.

    I think if we take what can be described as a materialist, scientific view, then our inclinations towards language will be consonant with that. In ascribing truth values to expressions, I believe this view will, necessarily and for good reason, adopt stances that take what can be objectively verified, defined, and communicated, as the wheat, and what can’t as the chaff.

    In this sense I can understand the opposition to a phrase like God is the Universe, because ‘God’ is an unreal, fabricated imposition, and/or ‘Universe’ has to be used to mean something subjective and arbitrary rather than denoting an objective category underpinned by legitimate objective verification, by which humans can share and negotiate meaning. Science requires us to be taking about the same thing.

    But if one’s attitude comes from seeing subjectivity and objectivity as co-extensive and co-dependent, one’s attitude to language is not only going to be (or at least holds the potential to be) very different to the above, but will also contain statements of truth value which, from an objective point of view, are going to be contradictory and tainted by the (often delusionally harmful) vicissitudes of subjectivity.

    To my mind, taking the second view on things leads to pragmatic attitudes towards language and to expressions of truth. It doesn’t disavow or completely defease the materialistic view, but acknowledges also the thorough-going subjective aspect of all its projects and expressions. It reminds us that even in the areas to which it is best suited, science proceeds from human beings to human beings.

    It also seems to me that in not fully acknowledging the story-making aspect of ‘objective’ explanations, it encourages an attitude to human discourse that demotes what can be called the mythic aspect of language. The truth value of many ways language is used lies not so much in what can be objectively verified and believed, but in what its terms are being used to enact or express.

    1. mjkawa
      mjkawa July 15, 2013 at 8:45 am | |

      “Science requires us to be taking about the same thing.”

      What is a conversation if we are not (talking?) about the same thing?

      Not sure that it is just science that requires this. Not sure what can get done if we are not talking about the same thing.
      Just a bunch of farts in the wind.
      May feel good to release the gas. But doesnt convey many worthwhile ideas.

      Poetry, or music/song, or some other cases need the subjectivity of language, but when having a conversation/discussion on a complex topic, and someone keeps breaking into verse or song, it can really derail an important train of thought.

      1. Andy
        Andy July 15, 2013 at 9:52 am | |

        Hi mjkawa

        What is a conversation if we are not (talking?) about the same thing?

        Yes I meant ‘talking’ (Sorry for the typos and crap grammar, and other sloppinesses!)

        Well, a conversation can be so many things going on at once,whether we recognise it or not. But to focus on the ‘same thing’ slant of your question, it’s important to remember that the ‘same things’ of language are primarily the words. And because that objective fabric of a common language refers to ideas, concepts and things in our subjective noggins, a conversation is often about the attempt to find common ground. Sometimes though a conversation can just be a natter where we assume we’re talking about the ‘same things’, as a way have some sort of intimacy – with friend or strangers.

        Not sure that it is just science that requires this. Not sure what can get done if we are not talking about the same thing.

        I agree. It’s not just science that requires it, but it’s a good example re. objectivity. When we use the phrase ‘same things’ we really mean the same category. Vets need to know the difference between cats and dogs, a vaccine and a sedative. Because my experience of reality has objective characteristics we can make and use objectively true statements at that level. Because my experience of reality has subjective characteristics, I’m going to have to put some work into my conversations with the vet for her to be able to fit my cat’s symptoms into categories that apply to her expertise about cats.

        I remember my vet telling me that my kitten could be kept in the house all its life, and would shape itself to that life and be ‘perfectly happy’. I disagree. I think the vet was using a great deal of experience and expertise on that score, but I’m not sure all vets would agree on that as a general rule for all cats. And ‘perfectly happy’?

        I’m not sure what you were getting at was in that last para, but as for the person breaking into song, they sound like a person with either a mental illness or someone with an agenda to disrupt the conversation. People with mental illness can confuse the mental constructs which make up their experience of the world, with mental constructs they have imagined. A person who wishes rudely to be disruptive might just have an attitude which sees others the way they see material objects – as there to provide experiences for them and on their terms (a narcissist for example). perhaps if they saw the other as what constituted their subjective experiences they might act differently.

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 15, 2013 at 9:05 am | |

    Well said, Andy.

    One of the things that drew me to Zen, and probably drew most of the Westerner admirers of Zen, was the way in which the masters of the discipline expressed themselves. Their choice of words was reputed to make sense to anyone who had mastered the art, and yet the words were mostly incomprehensible to me at the time. The words were represented as expressing a truth about the most important kind of experience a human being could have.

    What I can say after all these years is that in order to sit the lotus, I have had to come to an understanding of my experience where some of the words of the Zen writers apply. Yet my understanding is Western; my ability is intertwined with my beliefs, and apparently my beliefs don’t permit me to take an entirely mythic approach to the explanation of meditative phenomena. I can’t talk about chi without understanding a little bit about hypnogogic phenomena; I can’t listen to discussion of actualizing the fundamental point without knowing the significance of Olaf Blanke’s research on the sense of location in our experience of self.

    “When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves.”

    Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself… you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

  12. Harlan
    Harlan July 15, 2013 at 9:12 am | |

    If words are human tools for trying to communicate more clearly then the G-word has failed miserably because it performs an opposite function. Jews didn’t stop naming God as a sign of reverence. They stopped naming it because it communicates nothing. The word is precisely defined by what it doesn’t say.

  13. Andy
    Andy July 15, 2013 at 10:20 am | |

    Mark wrote: “Yet my understanding is Western; my ability is intertwined with my beliefs, and apparently my beliefs don’t permit me to take an entirely mythic approach to the explanation of meditative phenomena.”.

    I think folk who can use and appreciate language in all its variety, richness and potential are giving themselves and others more of life. I want scientists to keep being scientific about anything and everything – including such things as zen and poetry. For me this doesn’t diminish investigating or becoming intimate with reality through such things as:

    “filling a silver bowl with snow, hiding a heron in the moonlight.”

    What concerns me is the inclination to demote certain modes of expression or to explain them using terms that strip them of their real contexts and expressive potential. This goes hand-in-hand I think, with the desire to think of language in the narrowest of utilitarian terms because certain situations require it. Language is not just a tool of communication for us to use; we are also tools by which language expresses/fashions the world.

  14. Fred
    Fred July 15, 2013 at 11:14 am | |

    Your assumption is that what you think is science is actual science in 2013,
    when the concepts you employ may be obsolete.

    Secondly, there is something called the myth of communication, that the
    vibration of molecules in the air means the same thing to each receiver.

    Thirdly, and I have already stated this, that it useless to try to force the
    parameters of conversation to fit the memes in your intellect.

    And there is no reason to get pissy

  15. Fred
    Fred July 15, 2013 at 11:46 am | |

    “filling a silver bowl with snow,
    hiding a heron in the moonlight”
    ………………………………….
    ……………………….
    “It is like facing a jewel mirror
    form and image behold each other
    You are not it,
    in truth it is you”

    A koan/metaphor that goes beyond words.

  16. mjkawa
    mjkawa July 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm | |

    “we are also tools by which language expresses/fashions the world.”

    This is where you loose me… Dont these words have meanings that we all understand? “language” seems to me to be pretty clearly defined.
    Something like, a means by which beings communicate.
    How can this “means” use us as tools. Or how can this “means” fashion the world.
    So the world doesnt exist, until language fashions it???
    Obviously, language changes the world. But we are using language, not the other way round.
    Sounds a little Deepak to me. Like how our “consciousness manifests reality”
    not the other way round.
    Reality is here, reality is now, it will continue long after my consciousness is gone.
    I really dont mean to be so literal, or materialistic, but Im not sure how we can communicate ideas back and forth, when we use words in such an obscure way.
    Im not saying that your concepts are wrong, I cant really say right/wrong/indifferent if the meanings are unclear.

  17. Harlan
    Harlan July 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm | |

    “I cant really say right/wrong/indifferent if the meanings are unclear.”

    Hi Mjkawa. It’s like that around here sometimes. Everyone knows what they mean to say but we have to pass it through the Zen encryption device to make it sound properly meaningless.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xod14bpm3UE

  18. shade
    shade July 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm | |

    Can two people have an intelligible conversation if they don’t “speak the same language” – i.e. have a common vocabulary with a shared set of meanings? Though there are obvious limitations, I would say yes. In fact there are two excellent movies I can think of that feature that very situation – the Jim Jarmusch picture Ghost Dog and a film that takes place in Finland during WW2 called The Cuckoo. But to take an example from “real life”: I have a relative who married a woman from Mexico, and at the time of their betrothal she spoke very little English and he very little Spanish. When I first heard about this I thought it was totally crazy. Now I’m not so sure. Admittedly the marriage did eventually fall apart but by that time they had both become essentially bilingual. I sometimes wonder if the mutual fluency didn’t actually add to the conflict…

    It reminds me of a line from a Shel Silverstein poem: “maybe the way to make everything right/is for God to come down and turn out the lights”. I.e. there would be less strife among human beings if we were “blind” to each others superficial differences (race, gender, age, nationality, ect.). A possible caveat: “Maybe the way to make everything right/is for God to step down and cut out our tongues”? (figuratively speaking, of course). Anyway, I often feel a great deal of trouble in the world – including violence – is caused by a social discourse which attempts to communicate certain “truths” that simply can’t be expressed by recourse to language.

    1. mjkawa
      mjkawa July 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm | |

      shade “Can two people have an intelligible conversation if they don’t “speak the same language” – i.e. have a common vocabulary with a shared set of meanings?”

      Not “speaking the same language” Yes, can have an intelligible conversation.

      Without ” a common vocabulary with a shared set of meanings” I dont believe so.

      I have spent many years working with may people of very low levels of English, and myself with very low levels of co-workers language. Many different languages also, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Vietnamese etc.
      These conversations work well every day, and in many cases can be quite technical. The only imperative is that there IS a ” common vocabulary with a shared set of meanings?
      This most definitely will not be dictionary English, or Chinese, or Spanish, but communication can and does absolutely happen.

  19. mjkawa
    mjkawa July 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm | |

    Thanks Harlan, Made me smile :).

    Ill have to get me one of those encryption devices, and run some of the comments back through, and see if I can understand.

  20. Fred
    Fred July 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm | |

    “we are also tools by which language expresses/fashions the world.”

    “I really dont mean to be so literal, or materialistic, but Im not sure how we can communicate ideas back and forth, when we use words in such an obscure way.”

    These words are not obscure to me. He says that language shapes the world
    using humans to do its work.

    I say that the universe realizes itself through the body mind.

    Dogen says that the myriad things come forward.

    ““It is like facing a jewel mirror form and image behold each other
    You are not it, in truth it is you”

    You and the universe behold each other; but you are not becoming enlightened,
    in truth its the universe that is becoming more and more of you.

    1. mjkawa
      mjkawa July 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm | |

      Not obscure??

      “language shapes the world
      using humans to do its work.”

      Language certainly does shape the world. But it is humans who are using the language. Not the other way round.

      As far as I know, humans use language.
      Language does not use humans.

      Now a human can certainly use language to influence other humans, and the universe. But there is a human, (or other creature) at the controls. Not the other way round.

      1. Fred
        Fred July 16, 2013 at 4:25 am | |

        ” But there is a human, (or other creature) at the controls”

        No one is at the controls. The illusionary I was shaped by the circumstances of the moment and has no continuity..

        Memes drive the world acting through the miasma of human consciousness.

        The universe is unfolding through the body-mind entwined with this
        miasma.

  21. Fred
    Fred July 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm | |

    And what is the universe that is becoming more and more of you? It
    might be the underlying ground that is the nameless God.

  22. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm | |

    “Language is not just a tool of communication for us to use; we are also tools by which language expresses/fashions the world.”- like that a lot! In truth, the language and the vernacular is changing all the time, and who’s in charge of that- no one. Our ability to communicate feeling with one another depends, I’m convinced, on our shared cultural context- I watched Bullwinkle, and thanks to Nick at Nite so did the guy who just turned twenty that I meet in the street.

    I had to look up meme.

    Our ability to communicate with feeling also depends on the continuing evolution of vocabulary that can describe our experience in terms that touch on all the physical and mental senses involved. The more senses are involved in the experience, the more likely we are to remember it, a fact someone demonstrated scientifically if I remember correctly. Part of the art of communication and the value of cultural context is the ability to communicate multiple senses in just a few words.

    “filling a silver bowl with snow,
    hiding a heron in the moonlight”

    We can’t be anywhere other than where we are, and yet especially with the eyes open (god should turn out the lights?) we can have the illusion that the shore is moving instead of the boat. When we are falling asleep, we sometimes experience our sense of location as shifting, instead of as stationary.

    If I relax completely and distinguish the proprioceptive contribution to location from the visual, I can discover that the continuity in the sense of location is an illusion, held together by relaxation in the activity of the movement of breath.

    I can neither practice this nor avoid the necessity of actualizing this to my well-being, and so I find myself:

    “filling a silver bowl with snow,
    hiding a heron in the moonlight”

    1. Andy
      Andy July 16, 2013 at 4:42 am | |

      “the proprioceptive contribution to location from the visual”

      This is one example of something I address below to mjkawa. The technical and scientific terms you often use are beyond contexts of knowledge I can refer to for me to be confident I understand. Nevertheless, I trust that what you are expressing is sincere. So I often have a stab at trying to understand what you’re getting at, with the sense that, if one day I do some reading or research that includes such terminology the little pieces of what you have written might come together.

      Our ability to communicate with feeling also depends on the continuing evolution of vocabulary that can describe our experience in terms that touch on all the physical and mental senses involved. . I like the ‘continuing evolution’ part, for what is the cornerstone of teaching kids to express themselves in their writing.

      I used to find that saying “Your brain is cleverer than you” always lit a few eyes up in the class, with some quite magical results across the ability range.

  23. mika
    mika July 15, 2013 at 10:33 pm | |

    When I tried to log in, my Chrome browser gave me a warning that the security sertificate for this site has expired. Is this a known issue or should somebody do something about it?

    Anyway, I glimpsed at the new book at the store the other day, and yeah, my initial impressions were correct that I’m not outright interested in buying a book that’s peppered with the word God so liberally. :)

    One thing I noticed though, in a chapter about Finland Brad praises the guy who invited him, Markus, and says how he is very dedicated to zazen practice. I wonder how Brad feels about that now that Markus has left Zen practice and is a devoted Hare Krishna ISKCON member. :)

    In a recent blog Markus wrote how all the years of zazen have led him to finally find God in the form of Krishna. I wonder if Brad’s next book will be something similar, given the direction he’s going lately…

    1. Harlan
      Harlan July 16, 2013 at 4:36 am | |

      Is it April 1st?

  24. Fred
    Fred July 16, 2013 at 4:04 am | |

    In his next book Brad is living with the Amish and driving a horse and buggy
    across the country.

  25. Andy
    Andy July 16, 2013 at 4:21 am | |

    mjkawa wrote:

    Not obscure??

    “language shapes the world
    using humans to do its work.”

    Language certainly does shape the world. But it is humans who are using the language. Not the other way round.

    As far as I know, humans use language.
    Language does not use humans.

    Now a human can certainly use language to influence other humans, and the universe. But there is a human, (or other creature) at the controls. Not the other way round.

    Please note that what in wrote was not so one-sided (‘ not just’ and ‘also’):

    “Language is not just a tool of communication for us to use; we are also tools by which language expresses/fashions the world.”

    Humans use and change language, but language also plays a part in constructing who you are and how you see and relate to the world.

    This understanding came to me from my studies in linguistics, long before I’d read a book on Buddhism or crossed my legs on a cushion.

    A really readable but fascinating book on this is a book called “Metaphors We Live by” – If look up ‘conceptual metaphors’ you’ll find a wiki article on it.

    But notice how you, in your original response to it, went from not understanding to a set of assumptions about it, which Harlem reinforced, with dismissive talk about zen language use on these comments sections.

    What I actually did was just reverse and modify Harlem’s own “If words are human tools for trying to communicate more clearly”, which was a true, but limited statement as far as I understand language.

    Not only does it frame language use in terms that highlight only human usage of language, but it also conceives of language use in narrowly utilitarian terms, which is also true, but not then thing we can say about our use of language. We are expressing so much more than we might often realise, even in the most mundane of circumstances.

    As for the zenny language thing, I think the point being made applies to all forms of language which include knowledge about stuff that might not be mainstream. Work jargon, technical terms, Group idiosyncrasies/short-hand, etc., incl. formulaic types of phrase (mystical :”do you drink the drink or does the drink drink you?”)

    We can’t always avoid such language, anymore than we can or should always avoid using conventional cliches. And as much as we should guard against a kind of vacuous and exclusive showmanship in what we write, I think it is also important not to leap to dismiss out of hand language we do not at first understand or agree with – either through our assumptions, biases or insecurities.

    When one set one what one’s thoughts are, one’s always going to miss the mark in some way, and even when we’re very clear what we right has the potential to be read in many different ways. I always feel that my understanding of whatever I write is insufficient – especially when I read it back! But making a sincere fool of myself is something I’d rather do, than wait to express my thoughts until I felt I’d got to the bottom of everything.

  26. Andy
    Andy July 16, 2013 at 4:24 am | |

    typo: “it also conceives of language use in narrowly utilitarian terms, which is also true, but not then thing we can say about our use of language.”

    should read

    “it also conceives of language use in narrowly utilitarian terms, which is also true, but not the ONLY thing we can say about our use of language.”

  27. Andy
    Andy July 16, 2013 at 4:50 am | |

    Second type (jeez!)

    “When one SETS OUT what one’s thoughts are, one’s always going to miss the mark in some way, and even when we’re very clear what we WRITE has the potential to be read in many different ways.”

    sorry

  28. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 16, 2013 at 5:13 am | |

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d-7ReYQkUc

    …………………………………………………………………………………..

    Mika: cite chapter and verse or at least link us to Markus’s blog puhleez.

    1. Harlan
      Harlan July 16, 2013 at 3:09 pm | |

      mumbles, It looks like Uku discontinued his English blog.

      http://www.markuslaitinen.com/blogi/

    2. Harlan
      Harlan July 16, 2013 at 3:19 pm | |

      From his blog, June 27: “Did that sound like a cause for concern? Awesome? But it’s true. I am no longer engaged in zazen, but I have jumped to the Krishna movement, and I have owned my body and my mind to love Krishna and His sovereign to service. I am happier than ever before. My life is now a clear goal and purpose.” – Uku

  29. Harlan
    Harlan July 16, 2013 at 6:13 am | |

    Hi Andy. My jest was not directed at you or any other possibly offended serious writer to this blog. It was only for my friend mjkawa. He said it made him smile and that was the sum of what I was going for. I did not mean to wound you or any others if I did. That is the way it is sometimes with the written word. We hit and we miss. It is an imperfect form for sure. I certainly enjoy almost everything you put down. It’s always very thoughtful and sincere. I just need to pay closer attention to what I might be saying.. We are expressing so much more and less than we might realize, both consciously an unconsciously.

    Oh, ABTW, My name is Harlan, not Harlem.

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

  30. Andy
    Andy July 16, 2013 at 6:46 am | |

    Sorry – Harlen!

    (Just goes to show how these things can work. Harlem was what I thought your name was the first time I (mis) read, and a I’ve had to check that mistake a few times).

    On what you wrote, in jest or not: It was a legit point, in my view, and applies to everyone, I think, in different ways and at different times. Beyond your intention, it was connected to mjkawa’s words on that particular phrase of mine, and so I felt I should address it.

    Just goes to show again, how language has a life of it’s own, even though it’s not apart from us and our intentions.

    1. Andy
      Andy July 16, 2013 at 6:49 am | |

      ‘its own’ – I’m often habitually adding apostrophes where they don’t go too.

    2. Harlan
      Harlan July 16, 2013 at 7:15 am | |

      ‘Sorry – Harlen!”

      It’s Harlan Andy.. Hehe

      1. Andy
        Andy July 16, 2013 at 7:38 am | |

        …where did i put my meds?

    3. zucchinipants
      zucchinipants July 16, 2013 at 7:39 am | |

      Andy, have you heard the expression, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”?

      Judging by the how often you comment, time seems not to be an issue for you. So, why do you blab so indiscriminately? There’s a lot of scrolling past your tirades and numerous typo corrections. Get a blog.

      1. Andy
        Andy July 16, 2013 at 8:52 am | |

        Yes, I have certainly been a heavy presence at times on this thread. I do have time on my hands at the moment, which is not not very nice; and I’m having to spend time job searching and writing CV’s, which isn’t so nice either. So my apologies to one and all, if I’ve been an irritable comment hog.

        To be honest, I was thinking about that being a problem myself. But this particular subject interests me a lot and I felt it worthwhile to show my workings out on that score and in my responses.

        I type pretty quickly, so I don’t spend as long as you might think, but that has resulted in some sloppiness, for sure.

        I think the last time I indulged in a ‘tirade’ was when I was taking Adam Tebbe to task, while coming down with the flu. But then your choice of words suggest that you’re more interested in letting off some steam and being shitty. That won’t work out so nice for you, either, as I know all too well.

        Good luck with your poor little scrolling finger on this comments section! I’ll try to be more succinct, accurate and take unless space. How about you?

        1. minkfoot
          minkfoot July 17, 2013 at 3:36 pm | |

          I want to take unless space, also!

  31. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 16, 2013 at 8:39 am | |

    “When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves. Similarly, if you examine myriad things with a confused body and mind, you might suppose that your mind and essence are permanent. When you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that nothing at all has unchanging self.” Dogen, Genjo Koan

    and a tad more:

    “Now, if a bird or a fish tries to reach the end of its element before moving in it, this bird or this fish will not find its way or its place. When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point.”

    From Wikipedia:

    “Proprioception (/ˌproʊpri.ɵˈsɛpʃən/ pro-pree-o-sep-shən), from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own”, “individual” and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.[1] It is distinguished from exteroception, by which one perceives the outside world, and interoception, by which one perceives pain, hunger, etc., and the movement of internal organs.”

    “Now, if a bird or a fish tries to reach the end of its element before moving in it, this bird or this fish will not find its way or its place. When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point.”

    How’s that.

  32. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 16, 2013 at 8:59 am | |

    and from “The Forgotten Sense- Proprioception” by David Brown, Education Specialist with California Deaf-Blind Services:

    In the field of deafblind education we have traditionally, and for obvious reasons, focused on the senses of vision and hearing and on strategies for improving the use of any residual function that may be present in both of these distance senses. At the same time we have also, as I have said, paid some attention to the sense of touch as an important information channel that can help to compensate for loss of visual and auditory information. The other sensory systems, the taste, smell, proprioceptive, and vestibular senses, have received very little attention from us, even though together they provide the essential foundation upon which all of our higher vision, hearing, and touch skills are based.

    …Rhythmic joint compression and stretching of fingers, arms, legs, or the head and neck can be extremely motivating for
    children with this type of sensory difficulty and might be a useful strategy to help you to build a relationship with a child who is avoiding social contact. They can also help to ‘wake up’ the proprioceptive system for a period of time, which may facilitate better perception and performance in specific activities.

    As with any sensory deficit, poor proprioceptive functioning can be difficult to identify and assess, particularly when it is only a part of a wider pattern of sensory and other impairments. However, like the other ‘forgotten sense’, the vestibular, it is crucially important to all areas of functioning, so proprioceptive abilities and challenges need to be assessed carefully for any child with deaf-blindness. The pressure that they feel needs to be primarily through their proprioceptors, rather than from people in their lives who look at them and can only jump to quick conclusions and think in terms like ‘clumsy’, ‘aggressive’, ‘mean’, and ‘lazy’.”

    And here’s Dogen’s version of the above:

    “Now, if a bird or a fish tries to reach the end of its element before moving in it, this bird or this fish will not find its way or its place. When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point.”

  33. Andy
    Andy July 16, 2013 at 9:07 am | |

    Thanks, Mark. I think that understanding such stuff will take more than perusing wiki definitions. And I have done that some times in order to get to grips with what you write some times. Not a gripe in any way, mind you.

    I’ll leave it at that, as I’m taking the better part of what being expressed through zucchinipants’ jab and take an indefinite break from splurging about on here. You’ve been a voice of comfort through some tough times, Mark.

    Now were did God go…

  34. Harlan
    Harlan July 16, 2013 at 10:35 am | |

    Andy.. Do you really want to take the advice of someone whose real name might or might not be zucchini-pants?

    I say the more posts the merrier. Type on.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lao306nah3w

  35. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 16, 2013 at 1:22 pm | |

    I agree with Harlan, Andy; you’ve been a real steadying influence for me on the comment thread, and I appreciate that and the opportunity to offer up things like the “education specialist” David Brown’s remarks above. So thanks for asking ever-so-politely for an explanation! Sorry if I couldn’t quite get it the way you need it.

    A ramble can be a good thing. Just a question of, is this comment thread and the mild-mannered bunny that serves as its host a miracle, or not?- if so, then you never know, and have to go blind.

    In which case proprioception and equalibrioception (the vestibular contribution) become very important senses, indeed.

  36. Andy
    Andy July 16, 2013 at 6:23 pm | |

    Thanks Harlan (yey), but I said the ‘better part’ (amen) – not the hipster-with-attitude-venting part! I’ve had a damned hard two years and used this space as a bit of a somewhere else place during that time – a tad too much. I’m letting go of many such play things.

    And cheers, Mark. Have a stab at seeing if you can get Fred to give you a flesh n bone answer to the question “What is the absolute?”

  37. daiho
    daiho July 17, 2013 at 10:30 am | |

    Excuse my butting in here: What is the Absolute? Damned if I can say. Any word would by its nature be limiting. Best we can do is experience it in the quiet of zazen or the racket of public life. There in the blink of an eye and just as quickly gone. Its like asking “what is wholeness? ” See ya.

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