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

Page 1 of 2
  1. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 10, 2013 at 10:19 am | |

    Amma created God, and it is She.

  2. mtto
    mtto July 10, 2013 at 10:25 am | |
    1. Alan Sailer
      Alan Sailer July 10, 2013 at 11:21 am | |

      mtto,

      I started watching the Krauss video you linked because I wanted to give him another chance.

      He lost me (again) at the very start. He claims that scientists love not knowing, then claims most religions think they know everything.

      So apparently he does love knowing everything about religious belief.

      Bleeh. No need to watch the rest of the video with a start like that.

      In my second hand experience of him (two articles by him and his book “A Universe From Nothing”) he is a really unpleasantly arrogant spokesman for science.

      Given that attitude he will make a great cheerleader for the already convinced, but doesn’t stand a chance of persuading any fence sitters.

      At least he seems to be having fun.

      Cheers.

  3. mtto
    mtto July 10, 2013 at 10:29 am | |

    “Where does the universe come from?” is an interesting question, but I’m currently more interested in how I’m going to catch up on my back taxes.

    Also, I’m going to die. Even if I figured out why there is something instead of nothing.

  4. superdude
    superdude July 10, 2013 at 11:26 am | |

    I love these kind of discussions. I spend a lot of time thinking about the concept of god, and whether or not one exists (I don’t think so), but even more than that, I spend a lot of time thinking about the nature of existence and time, and infinity. Infinity in both directions: forwards and backwards. I probably spend way too much time thinking about these things, because 1) I’m stupid and don’t know shit. and 2) Everybody else has probably thought of these things, most likely when they were high. But in every case, I always end up on the quandary if the Incredible Shrinking Man, which I probably haven’t seen since I was five, and probably understood quantum mechanics even less than I do now (which is to say, zilch). But ultimately, I’m drawn to the conclusion that there is no beginning and no end, to either time or space. Why? Because of the Incredible Shrinking Man. If you cut something in half, it will be half that size. Why can’t you cut it half again. And again, and again? No matter how small something is, you can always cut it half again. Go in the other direction: is there some interstellar wall that prevents something from expanding? I doubt it. The universe is fucking huge, just think bigger. What is time? Nothing. Just something we use to keep track of shit. What happened before A? Yorfturd. That’s what happened before A. What happened before Yorfturd? Something, who knows? What will happen after Z? Koofshit. Or something. And stuff happened before Yorfturd and before that, and stuff will happen after Koofshit and after that. Ad infinitum. In both directions. We (or at least me, I won’t speak for the rest of you) have trouble wrapping our heads around this because everything in our lives, including our lives, but also our stories, movies and books, have a beginning, middle and end.

    See? This is what you get when I go to a bar for lunch.
    You’re welcome.

  5. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 10, 2013 at 11:32 am | |

    Grand Canyon, if you think no one else in the “Comments” section is holding Brad accountable for attempting to popularize the cross-legged posture by usurping the term “God” from the predominant religion:

    http://hardcorezen.info/buddhism-in-the-news#comment-58220

    Andy, I like your conclusions, even if I find your reasoning SUSPECT… (round ‘em up, all the usual ones)

    1. Andy
      Andy July 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm | |

      Reading it back, I’d have to agree that my words did veer at times from what I wanted to express. I should really do that before I post! Maybe you could give me a few clear pointers as to why you shouted ‘suspect’.

      1. Andy
        Andy July 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm | |

        Quite sloppy, in fact. A loss of acuity that has crept up on me these last few months, since I’ve been looking for a new career. I need to hone and not in the comments section. More exercise and a little longer on the cushion before bedtime, methinks.

  6. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 10, 2013 at 11:36 am | |

    Gotta hand it to you, Brad, for actually feeling your way along the wall.

    Mind like a wall, who said that. Maybe I’ll read your book, but I still think you will have to talk about reciprocal innervation someday, if you want people to find their way into the “cross-legged” posture. Also, you’ll want to avoid going to the bar at lunch…

  7. sri_barence
    sri_barence July 10, 2013 at 11:54 am | |

    Ack! Shut up Brad, the kids will hear you! How embarrassing.

    1. sri_barence
      sri_barence July 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm | |

      Yikes! That was bad!! I wish I hadn’t posted that. Awkward…

  8. shade
    shade July 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm | |

    Personally, I find these creationist/evolution debates terribly depressing – because nine times out of ten they aren’t debates at all (still less conversations or dialogues, which would be much more interesting). What they are is two people with opposing and deeply entrenched ideas about the nature of the created universe using the “debate” as an excuse to lay their theories on the table, impress anyone tuning in with their erudition and rhetoric, and maybe win a few acolytes. Everyone’s talking and no one’s listening. For all the intellectual rigor on display, it’s more often about ego then about truth (for both parties).

    But what I really want to talk about is the concept of the infinite vs. the eternal because there seems to be some confusion between the two. The notion of creation, like the notion of causation, is related to the temporal order of things – creator proceeds creation, cause proceeds effect, ect. Thus both are also related to the notion of the infinite, which is also a temporal concept. Dawkin’s question about who created God fits within this paradigm (as does the whole scientific method). This is why the answer “God is eternal” probably makes no sense to him.

    But the eternal is not the same as the infinite. The infinite reaches to the outer limits of time and space; the eternal transcends time and space altogether. So to say that God is eternal is not the same as saying that God was around before the universe came into being and will still be here after the universe has flames out into nothingness. This also makes the judeo-christian concept of “God the creator” problematic, or at least limited, because again, it presents God as a temporal entity. In my opinion God IS a creator and also exists within His own creation – but to say that that’s all He is does not do Him justice. Better than the concept of “God the creator” to my mind is “God as Love”. Because creation is infinite while love is eternal.

    (of course my argument depends on a belief that God actually exists; that there is more to life than the material universe, waste atoms whirling chaotically through an endless void. Which, unfortunately, I’m not entirely convinced of. But I don’t want to over-complicate things, so let’s just say I am)

    So what then do I mean by eternal? Well, that’s where my linguistic skills – and my understanding of such things – hits a brick wall. It has something to do with the miraculous which I know Zen Buddhists reject. Anyway, I think the best way I’ve heard it expressed is in a lyric by a musician out of Denver named David Eugene Edwards (himself influenced by CS Lewis in this case): “It’s always forever/It’s never or now” (a song called Coal Black Horses if you care to know). I still don’t know exactly what that means but it’s always cut me to the heart somehow. If that doesn’t hit the bulls-eye, I expect it gets pretty damn close.

    1. bat5jamma
      bat5jamma July 11, 2013 at 12:38 am | |

      amen brother, amen.

  9. superdude
    superdude July 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm | |

    shade, it might come off the way you perceive it in the “debates” (it’s true that they are not really debates at all, when it turns out that one side always shows up with a knife at a gun fight), but in reality, if you pay close attention to Dawkins and those like him who get sucked into these inane arguments, they genuinely are waiting for the other side to present something to sink their teeth into, good, bad, or indifferent. The problem is that the creationist side never brings anything to the table of substance. Dawkins and many scientists would jump all over some evidence or revelation that actually demonstrates an intelligent “designer”, god or whatever you want to call it. Can you imagine the scramble for grant money for the new research? But there’s nothing there. Nothing. Ever. Not even crumbs. Just half-baked, recycled presentations based on myths, tired religion, philosophical bong-water, and if any science is ever presented, it’s of the pseudo-science flavor.

    When you raised the notion that “But the eternal is not the same as the infinite.” my first thought was “huh?” what does that even mean? Then as I read on, I watched as you stumbled and failed trying to explain that yourself. That pretty much falls into what I am talking about completely. Believe me, if I could get a satisfactory explanation that explains “eternal” as opposed to infinite, I would be all over it, and very interested. Because, that’s science, and science is cool.

    1. shade
      shade July 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm | |

      If creationists never “bring anything to the table” – which I agree, they rarely do – then why do Dawkins and his ilk keep engaging in these debates over and over and over again ad nauseum? Obviously the same question could be asked of the religious types on the other side of the table. Let me make it clear I’m no fan of zealots and fundamentalists either (I can rarely recall their names anymore, actually).

      As far as distinguishing between the eternal and the infinite, yeah, I do think they are two different things, and no I can’t explain it any better. I wish I could – though any compelling explanation I would offer would probably sound more like mystical poetry than anything “scientific”. All I can say is that it has to do with the divine, and I don’t think that’s something that can be understood unless you already believe in it anyway, at least a little bit. Which is fine if you don’t – I’m not trying to convent anyone to anything, especially when I’m not entirely sure I believe in it myself.

      I’m not opposed to science – I just think it has its limitations. It can be very good at discovering and describing things in the material universe, but I don’t believe that the material universe is “all there is”. Only the tip of the iceberg can be discerned by science – and most scientists these days seemed convinced that the tip of the iceberg is the whole iceberg; that there’s nothing below the water line. This is where me and science part ways.

      Anyway if you find what I say to be incomprehensible slush you are welcome to ignore it.

      1. Shodo
        Shodo July 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm | |

        Shade said:
        “If creationists never “bring anything to the table” – which I agree, they rarely do – then why do Dawkins and his ilk keep engaging in these debates over and over and over again ad nauseum? ”

        Because creationists actually want to pander that crap as equal to science, and teach it to kids as science… Those sorts would love to get their hands on some real power in this country, so they can begin to legislate their beliefs and their morality.

        Hell, they are trying to do this sort of thing all over the country right now.

        1. shade
          shade July 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm | |

          Hm. Okay, fair enough, except it doesn’t seem to be working. Creationists, fundamentalists, conservative christians, ect., already have a great deal of political clout and have had for awhile. So I can’t help but think of that thing Einstein said about insanity – doing the same thing again and again but expecting different results?

          And in Dawkins case I don’t really buy it. I think the main reason he engages in these debates is so he can show off how much smarter he is than the person he’s debating. I admit I’m prejudiced though – that cat really rubs me the wrong way. Anyway I’m not really a supporter of compulsory education… but now I’m getting way off topic. Excuse me. Time to turn in, I think.

          (ps when I wrote I wasn’t trying to “convent” anyone I meant convert. ha. But I’m not trying to convent anyone either.)

  10. Marys
    Marys July 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm | |

    Hi Brad,
    Just got back from your talk at Upaya. Glad there was a short sit; wish you could have spoken longer…Thanks for writing this book. I’ve never had a problem with the whole god thing…from being raised a catholic to having a guru in the hindu tradition to finally finding the dharma until….I started working the Steps in AA. Although throughout the literature “A god of your own understanding” is encouraged it sure has that feel of, “you’ll finally experience that god, and it most assuredly is of the Judeo-Christian bent.” It’s all good though, because I do believe in god, just not THAT one! And this whole process has done a fine job of messing with my ego and all it’s righteousness and boy, that is rich and deep. What has really helped me to understand at the deepest level I’ve known yet is a wonderful description of God, by Buddhsdasa, a twentieth-century Thai Buddhist master, in Kevin Griffin’s book, “One Breath At A Time.” “…God is neither person, nor mind, nor spirit, but is naturally self-existent Dhamma, or the Power of Dhamma….God doesn’t have emotions…isn’t angry or loving, joyful or funny. That is what humans do, not God. God isn’t human or anything like a human. God isn’t a being. God is power.”

    I should have bought the print copy of your book but I was impatient and bought the Kindle version. I hate electronic books.

    Thank you for writing this book and keep asking the questions. I value your insights!

    metta
    Mary

  11. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm | |

    There ain’t no god, that’s just the devil sobering up.

    1. bat5jamma
      bat5jamma July 11, 2013 at 12:31 am | |

      giggle

    2. minkfoot
      minkfoot July 11, 2013 at 4:10 pm | |

      There’s a reason I monitor this blog!

  12. bat5jamma
    bat5jamma July 11, 2013 at 12:22 am | |

    Are science and religon not the same thing? An effort of langauge to describe phenomena. Its rather amazing I can say “Bird” and you all know what I’m talking about, but I bet the bird in your head is different then the bird in my head.

    -Zen.

    1. Andy
      Andy July 11, 2013 at 5:45 am | |

      I’ve a weakness for brunettes

  13. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon July 11, 2013 at 3:28 am | |

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

    All absurd concepts of gods are equally absurd.

    “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!”

    *sigh*

    That’s it. I’m done here. The copies of Brad’s books that I bought will be donated to the local used book store.

    Thank you, Cleveland, and good night.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWS1JiREmhY

  14. Harlan
    Harlan July 11, 2013 at 5:56 am | |

    mtto makes a good point. Even if these are semi-interesting questions they are not very practical. Does it really matter if you have nailed down an understanding of God if you don’t have any idea where your next meal is coming from? Why is there something instead of nothing? Maybe it’s the most important knowledge attainable but it doesn’t seem like it matters much.

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

  15. Andy
    Andy July 11, 2013 at 7:04 am | |

    For me it’s a matter of well-being at many different levels. When people don’t know where their next meal is coming from who is there to help out? Why did this situation on a individual and societal level happen in the first place? What happens to us when we gloss right past him in his rags in the street, on our way the Apple store, or reach for the zapper when another Oxfam child turns up with a distended stomach? Who do I vote for, after filling in my tax returns – the guy who promises lower taxes or the guy who bails out the car factory?

    And what about that time when, having so often had something to fall back on, nothing seems so dead, lifeless, pointless?

  16. Fred
    Fred July 11, 2013 at 7:41 am | |

    Formlessness is unborn.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot July 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm | |

      Then what gets born?

      (Straight Lines ‘R’ Us)

  17. Harlan
    Harlan July 11, 2013 at 9:18 am | |

    Are dreams something or nothing?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wX4FkD-MGE

  18. Jules
    Jules July 11, 2013 at 11:40 am | |

    Most people think they already know what the word “God” means. I understand why you use it, Brad. But still, the word is so loaded I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to avoid using it most of the time. Even if it’s a better representation of the real universe than the word universe conveys… it’s still not how most people use the word, I think. Trying to redefine any word is tough, and trying to redefine “God”… good luck.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot July 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm | |

      Then what gets born?

      (Straight Lines ‘R’ Us)

    2. minkfoot
      minkfoot July 11, 2013 at 4:25 pm | |

      Damn! That was a strange glitch in the site software. I blame iOS!

      Jules, what people mean by “God” has always been incredibly diverse. No two Catholics, frinstance, have the same idea. There’s just conventional verbal formulas.

      Why people object to Brad using the term in his way, must depend on what they think the word ought to mean, and what they think most other people think about what the word ought to mean.

      Why are there a jillion Protestant denominations?

      1. Jules
        Jules July 11, 2013 at 11:47 pm | |

        Minkfoot writes: “Damn! That was a strange glitch…”

        Not sure if related to the glitch, but the site’s SSL cert expired a couple months ago. Only see it on the login page though, as it should be.

        I agree, everyone has a different idea what “God” means… and I’m not really against using it the way Brad does. I hope this point of view is useful for some people — I think it probably is. The more, the better. I guess what I really wanted to say is that I just wish there weren’t so many people who are so rigid in their thinking. Many of them really good people… just very stubbornly convinced they’re Right(tm). And those people (fundamentalist, atheist, or anywhere in between) tend to get ever more rigid whenever that G-word comes up.

  19. Jules
    Jules July 11, 2013 at 11:40 am | |

    “The starship’s warp drive propelled it across God at faster-than-light speed.”
    “This is the most delicious God I’ve ever had.”
    “What a pain in the God.”

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot July 11, 2013 at 4:27 pm | |

      Yes. “God” is to philosophy/religion as “x” is to mathematics.

      Though x is not definite, it sure is useful.

    2. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon July 12, 2013 at 4:17 am | |

      “Hitler is the Universe.”

      “The Universe is Nigger.”

      1. The Grand Canyon
        The Grand Canyon July 12, 2013 at 4:39 am | |

        Coming next year from New World Library: “Hitler is God and the Universe is a Nigger.” Available at all fine book stores and online at Amazon.com.

        1. minkfoot
          minkfoot July 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm | |

          Should we be horrified to think God has any part of Hitler, or vice versa? Right now, there’s at least a few molecules of O2 in you that have been in him, I bet.

          The second part of the title is perhaps the point of the following poem.

          From Kerouac’s friend, Lew Welch:

          Nigger.
          Nigger town.

          Nigger car. Nigger suit. Gypsy.

          Nigger gypsy poet wop. Jew.

          Spic.

          Nigger gypsy poet wop beatnic. Spic wop. Wop wop.

          Jew nigger beatnic poet wop spic commie. Beat commie.
          Poet commie. Faggot wop. Nigger.

          Nigger house. Nigger fence. Nigger poet beatnic wop.

          Wop wop. Dope fiend.

          Dope fiend nigger. Yellah nigger. Nigger lovin’ beatnic wop. Nigger.
          Ashtray nigger. Billboard nigger. Nigger wall nigger
          suit nigger shoes nigger.

          Nigger nigger.

          Sunset.

          Flower.

          Nigger flower.

  20. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm | |

    (Quoting Antony Hegarty -from p 84 in The Believer 2013 Music Issue- on Christianity and Catholicism:)

    “I believe in that creation. But it’s not even about believing in it – I am a part of it. I don’t want to be a part of that crazy male fantasy that they’ve superimposed on us and forced us to ingest like poison…

    …If I believed in aliens, I would think, This must be some religion invented by aliens, because why are they so uncomfortable with being a part of the earth? Why do they seek so desperately to divorce us from that? That was the first thing they did: subjugate the female, and cut off any sense of a relationship with a female diety and the earth as a creative source. Immediately it was like, ‘We come from the sky, from a sky god, we come from the heavens, our creator is up there, and one day we’ll come back to him as quickly as possible, we’ll be away from this serpentine natural environment!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNpCx_TDO24

  21. Harlan
    Harlan July 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm | |

    I would prefer not to hear anymore of this God talk. It’s just my preference..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVwAMx0dRAs

  22. Harlan
    Harlan July 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm | |

    Just for the Hell of it..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqgtsai2aKY

  23. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 11, 2013 at 7:19 pm | |
  24. Harlan
    Harlan July 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm | |

    God talk is muddling. Music on the other hand is less so.
    But go on with your God talk. I’m still reading unlike that quitter the grand canyon..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSWjOoXS-Pk

  25. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm | |
  26. zaroff
    zaroff July 12, 2013 at 4:15 am | |

    One has to believe evidence or believe there is evidence to the contrary of what is presented.

    Either way, fallible human perception is All.

  27. Wedged
    Wedged July 12, 2013 at 4:44 am | |

    Grand Canyon, dude, you need to chilax man. I let go of most of my anger after years of sitting. If it’s not working for you you should probably talk to someone about that. I don’t get the point in bashing the book or Brad. You don’t like it then that sucks and I feel bad for you but how is trashing his book on his site of any value? Is that really the “Zen” way? You’re bringing me down, man! I like the comments section but people like you keep forcing me out. You’re anger comes through your comments…and gets passed on to me.

    I’ll take you’re books no problem and re-donate them to someone else who also strugles with anger. Then maybe someday they’ll work themselves back to you. Tich Nat Han (?) has an OK book called Anger. I’ll donate it to you, serious.

    On that note…i’m going on a long sit – and i’m not coming back to read my comment get trashed.

    Brad, the Karma section of your book is incredible. Really, really helped me. The book is a f*cking Zen masterpiece.

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon July 12, 2013 at 6:51 am | |

      I’m not the least bit angry. Honestly. You might be confused because when I use the words “Hitler” and “Nigger” and “God” I don’t intend the same narrow definitions that most people ascribe to them. You see, when I say “Hitler,” I mean the Universe. And when I say “Nigger,” I mean the Universe. And when I say “God,” I mean the Universe. But when I say “the Universe,” I mean something completely different than the Universe.
      I am disappointed, though, that Brad’s understanding has apparently not progressed at all since he wrote his first book and he still asks ignorantly constructed questions such as “who feels pain when you stub your big toe. Does nothing feel pain? Is pain an illusion?” That shit is Zen 101, first week of class.

  28. Wedged
    Wedged July 12, 2013 at 5:09 am | |

    hmmmm….

    “Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner”

  29. daiho
    daiho July 12, 2013 at 5:53 am | |

    Discussions of concepts is like mental masterbation…feels good. Any word used to reference God, whether as being or Infinite or Absolute must fail as these nouns are conceptual and bounded. I think the Jewish word, the verb, which cannot be spoken, was a wise choice, as was the commandment not to make a graven image. The truth, it seems to me, is not in the answer, but rather, in the question. Brad ‘s book is a fine attempt to personally explore the question. It took a lot of courage and willingness to be vulnerable to both write it and publish it. To me this is what it means to be a fearless bodhisattva.

  30. Harlan
    Harlan July 12, 2013 at 6:31 am | |

    There are times when anger is appropriate. There are times when hate is called for. That shit can be ugly but feeling only love is not good.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XYFJUP84lE

  31. shade
    shade July 12, 2013 at 8:20 am | |

    depends on what you mean by “love”. If by love you mean affection or the warm fuzzy feeling you get toward someone who’s personality is agreeable to your sensibilities, then yeah, too much love is definitely a bad thing. Turns life into a damn laundry soap ad. But I happen to think love is something bigger and deeper than that – and scarier. It’s not a feeling, though there are feelings attached to it, sometimes unpleasant ones. But I think that’s as far as I’ll go on that right now, cause my comments are getting way too long anyway. I’ll leave that for another post maybe.

    Anyway, I’m a little disappointed to see so many of the “haters” jumping ship lately (or threatening to do so). If Brad’s comment section consists only of devoted acolytes it’s gonna get pretty dull pretty fast. A little contention is by no means to be avoided, as long as it doesn’t get TOO nasty. You don’t want too much blood in the water, after all. But compared to some other comment boards I’ve seen – especially on anything that touches on spirituality or religion – this one is pretty civil.

    It seems like the main problem a lot of people are having right now is that Brad isn’t saying what they want to hear – especially in regard to “God” and science. But that’s a little confusing to me, cause Brad has always said that he believes in God (well, sort of); and while he’s a pretty strong supporter of science he’s always said that he thought there are places that science can’t reach – that goes as far back as Hardcore Zen (the book).

    As far as not progressing past “Zen 101″ – isn’t 101 what Zen is all about? Like beginners mind and all that?

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon July 12, 2013 at 11:18 am | |

      “As far as not progressing past ‘Zen 101′ – isn’t 101 what Zen is all about? Like beginners mind and all that?”

      There is a big difference between so-called “beginner’s mind” and ignorance. The first step of the eightfold path is Right View or Right Understanding which does not contradict “beginner’s mind” but is the opposite of ignorance. This should also be covered during the first week of Zen 101. Anyone who doesn’t understand this should get their ass back to class like Billy Madison.

    2. mjkawa
      mjkawa July 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm | |

      “and while he’s a pretty strong supporter of science he’s always said that he thought there are places that science can’t reach – that goes as far back as Hardcore Zen (the book). ”

      Yeah, this is a big part of what bothers me about the new book, and I do realize that it does go all the way back to HCZ. It has always bothered me, and I have always thought it a consequence of Brads lack of science knowledge or education.
      You can learn a lot of things by staring at a wall, and many very important things, I will give you give you this. But there are many, many things that you can NEVER learn by staring at a wall. These also are Very important things.
      So when you plainly state that there are things that science cannot reach…
      Really shows a lack of science knowledge, and not that you know something that science doesn’t.

  32. Harlan
    Harlan July 12, 2013 at 8:45 am | |

    Hi Shade. Yes, meaning is a problem. Some people would say that if possible feeling only love is being dangerously out of balance. Some of the worst atrocities ever committed were done by people thinking they were acting out of love. So what is the difference between hate and love if the resulting actions are the same? There is no difference..

  33. Fred
    Fred July 12, 2013 at 9:03 am | |

    ” Some people would say that if possible feeling only love is being dangerously out of balance.”

    Out of balance for an ordinary, deluded human or out of balance for an
    ordinary, deluded Buddha?

    Some people might say that ” no-self upon the Absolute ” is psychosis. Some
    people might say that all religion or practice is sh*t. What people say is just
    entertainment unless it wakes you up.

    “Some of the worst atrocities ever committed were done by people thinking they were acting out of love. So what is the difference between hate and love if the resulting actions are the same?”

    You would have to give some examples for that. Did Hitler say that he loved you
    so much that he was going to turn you into a lampshade?

  34. shade
    shade July 12, 2013 at 9:10 am | |

    “You would have to give some examples for that. Did Hitler say that he loved you
    so much that he was going to turn you into a lampshade?”

    No, but he did claim to be acting out of “love” for the “Aryan race” (whatever the hell that was supposed to be). This is the kind of love that is questionable – a love based, in essence, on hatred of someone else.

    (scuse me for putting my foot in)

  35. Shodo
    Shodo July 12, 2013 at 9:34 am | |

    I have another question for Brad…

    Why did you choose the word “god” to describe what you are describing in your book?

    1. Shodo
      Shodo July 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm | |

      Daiho said:
      “The truth, it seems to me, is not in the answer, but rather, in the question.”

      well said!
      … and as a follow-up question, Why did you anthropomorphize the term “god” by calling the term a “he”?

  36. Harlan
    Harlan July 12, 2013 at 9:38 am | |

    Hi Fred. I was referring to ordinary deluded humans as those are the only kind I ever see. As far as Hitler goes I don’t think his primary motivation was love but I have no way of knowing that. He might have said it was. That wouldn’t surprise me at all. I was thinking of more recent attrocities in the Middle East where young people are sent to war and think they are doing God’s work. A lot of soldiers on both sides think this. Civilians probably don’t think it as much.

  37. Harlan
    Harlan July 12, 2013 at 10:21 am | |

    I think that is why I am bothered a bit by Brad’s God talk. It seems like he’s trying to fit in what he feels with what he’s learned. That seems unnecessary and a little dangerous. I think what daiho said about the Jewish tradition with the G-word is better. Don’t even mention it.

  38. Fred
    Fred July 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm | |

    Daiho said not to mention the G word, yet he has invited Brad to speak about
    the G word.

    Maybe he dropped any attachment to the the G/no G argument.

  39. Harlan
    Harlan July 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm | |

    Maybe he did.. Or maybe he’s just covering all the bases.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUyC2l–fSw

  40. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm | |

    “What people say is just
    entertainment unless it wakes you up.”

    Bit of a trick, to drop the sandwich between the lines without getting mustard and such all over; I’m not too especially good at it, myself. Sometimes when I’ve made the sandwich, I actually eat it. Wow.

    Have a godwich, there, Grandy; you’ll feel- something…

  41. Fred
    Fred July 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm | |

    Hi, I’ll have a godwich with extra enlightenment please.

  42. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm | |
  43. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 12, 2013 at 11:04 pm | |

    “Godwich special”… we gotta special on the ‘wich with extra, the delusion comes free- you want the special, right?- hey Beelz, make that the special!

  44. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel July 13, 2013 at 12:39 am | |

    I’ve said all this before, but I’ll dare repeating myself.

    Brad wrote:
    “About using “he,” it’s just a linguistic convention. God is neither male nor female. But English forces us to choose one or the other and the convention is to use “he.” ”

    Hell, no! In English, you’ve got the neutral “It”, which French and Spanish don’t have. “It” would be better suited.

    The, the Jews never pronounce the four letters YHWH. They’ll use all sorts of circumlocutions in order not to, but fundamentally, they consider that those letters should not be pronounced. Why is this? Because pronouncing a name is taking some power upon that name. Likewise, the North-Africans living in France, when they translate litteraly “Allah” in French, will say “le dieu” (the god).

    When we, on the other hand, use “God” as a name (or “Christ”, for that matter) we make it into a name. By that, we give it a personality, and therefore limit it (exercising a power over it).

    Saying “THE God” insists upon the idea that “there is only one”. But that is also a limit. Saying it’s great is also a limit.

    For all those reasons, I’m much more comfortable with saying “the Universe”. It automatically puts no restriction, no personality and no limits. Probably because I live in a country where those matters tend to be irrelevant for everyday life.

  45. Harlan
    Harlan July 13, 2013 at 4:20 am | |

    “For all those reasons, I’m much more comfortable with saying “the Universe”. It automatically puts no restriction, no personality and no limits.”

    Hi Michel, That approach makes a lot of sense to me. If God is the Universe and the Universe is God, why start naming names? Even though Brad has written an entire book explaining his thinking on the matter, I wonder if ultimately all his God talk won’t just make him less understood than he already is. I will say I am enjoying the book tho.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeF7jqf0GU4

  46. Brent
    Brent July 13, 2013 at 6:51 am | |

    Naming, liking and disliking. Sorting out symbols. Is the purpose to explore interpersonal differences with the intent to nurture compassion and acceptance?

  47. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel July 13, 2013 at 9:32 am | |

    Well, of course, I’m no native English speaker, but I was always taught that animals are referred to as “it”, as well, with the exception of very familiar animals where a gender pronoun can be used. Conversely, ships are referred to as “she”.

    But I can readily understand the argument that “it is always with you” would have distracted the reader. I’m rather referring to a more general attitude in conversation, where “it” could be used as a neutral, without reference to a sex. “He” means God (personal name) is a male being with a dick and a pair of balls. Most theists would not feel that to be dignified…

    But, as I said, France is a country where it is considered bad taste to bring that three letter word in the conversation.

  48. Fred
    Fred July 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm | |

    Brad Warner ( April 11 ):

    “If we become comfortable with not knowing, our life becomes easier, and we become freer. Krishnamurti talked about “freedom from the known.” It’s a wonderful feeling. We often become mired in that which we think we know. We become trapped by it, stuck in it. This is a problem because knowing is always to a greater or lesser extent an illusion.”

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

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