PSYCHO KITTY Q’EST QUE C’EST?


First off, I’m in Montreal now at a Second Cup coffee shop listening to cute accordian music. If you’re anywhere on the East Coast of Canada from St. John’s, Quebec on down to South Florida, please remember attendance is mandatory for the gig tomorrow. Here’s the info:

August 30, 2007 at 7 PM at McGill University’s Education/Counselling Psychology Department 3700 Rue McTavish Room 233

And don’t forget, there will be Zazen at Hill Street Center on Saturday Sept. 1st as regularly scheduled. But I won’t be there.

My very first Zen talks in New York City are done. Thanks to everyone who showed up. I think I spotted Aum Eye in the audience at the Interdependence Project thing on Monday night. Are you the one who asked a bunch of Yoga questions? A couple other readers of this here blog introduced themselves to me after the talk. Thank you for showing up!

The best of the three live gigs and two radio shows was definitely the Interdependence Project, although all of them were very cool. A couple of fellow Ohioans showed up at Bluestockings Radical Books in Soho and took me to a good place for Vietnamese sandwiches after. Thanks. One of Noah’s Dharma Punx showed me a great place to hang out and drink lemonade after the talk at the Interdependence Project. How come Noah never answers my e-mails? Granted I only wrote one and that was ages ago. But still. I woulda answered if he wrote me. Marc of Renagade Nation TV was also really friendly and showed me around town including a tour of the famous spots of Greenwich Village and his own very groovy office.

Anyway, it’s always really nice when people do stuff like this. I travel alone to these out of town gigs. No roadies, no drummer to pal around with. So it’s good to have somebody to talk to.

The Joey Reynolds Show on WOR was interesting, but I was sooooo sleepy I don’t think I was as “on” as I shoulda been for a show like that. The other show, “Soundcheck” on WNYC is already on line. Listen to it by clicking on this bunch of words here.

At the Greenwich Village Barnes and Noble the Q&A; at the end was briefly hijacked by some Christians who wanted to make some points of their own. That was a bit odd. One guy was definitely there to speak up for Jesus. The woman near him was either trying to be nice to him or was also there for Christ. It was hard to tell. Neither of them were rude or anything. But that’s the first time I’ve encountered anything like that.

The only downside of the New York City gig was the vicious killer cat I had to share an apartment with. Now don’t get me wrong. I am very grateful to the woman who let me stay at her place. But man-o-man her cat was a total psycho. She was gone, so for the first night it was just me and kitty. He attacked me twice without the slightest provocation. But I could deal with that by just keeping a safe distance. The trouble came at night when he’d station himself outside the bedroom door and growl and hiss at me when I tried to make my way to the toilet. Because I drink about 12,000 liters of water a day this is a frequent occurrence.

The first night I managed to chase him away long enough to get into the toilet. But then he waited outside for me. I grabbed a plunger and jousted at him to hold him at bay long enough to get back to bed. The plunger worked OK that night. But the second night some other house guests showed up. Rather than risk several noisy cat confrontations each night I resorted to peeing into an empty water bottle. From this experience I learned that I can pee out 500 ml of nearly crystal clear piss over the course of a night. I think it’s sposta be a good sign if your pee is pretty colorless.

The third night I’d had enough of that. So I set up a barricade to keep the cat out of the area between the bedroom and the toilet. This would keep him away from his food dish for the night. But since I arrived back at midnight and planned to leave at five AM, I figured he’d survive the intervening five hours without dying of starvation. However my host’s other house guests (who I assumed were out that night) got very, very, very upset at the idea that the poor kitty cat might be deprived of food for an entire night and called the host to complain. I was kicked out for my cruel abuse of the sweet, darling, helpless, little fuzzy-wuzzy animal. Fortunately, the woman who’d set up my gig at the Interdependence Project lived down the hall and I was allowed to use her couch for the night.

Look. I like cats. I had a cat of my own named Shithead who cost me hundreds of dollars in vet’s bills and special food due to repeated kidney infections at a time when I was making about $200 a month at shitty Dimentia 13 gigs and temp work for Kelly Services (I exaggerate not, I swear). When I moved into Tim McCarthy’s Kent Zendo there were five cats in the place among the various members of the house. I even get along with my friend Nina’s cat Lilly who is also famous for attacking visitors but who seems to love me.

Whatever. As my publicist says, onward and upward!

I’m enjoying all the posture debate. As Smoggy Rob said, I never stop anyone from sitting in weird fucked up ways — including people who slump over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame after I’ve told them the point is to sit up straight and people who close their eyes even when I’ve said that in Zazen we keep them open and people who insist on putting their hands in bad imitations of gurus they’ve seen on TV after I’ve told them the right way to put their hands. Though I do discourage the use of chairs. Someone in NYC told me she went to a local Zendo there while eight months pregnant, and asked if she could sit in a modified posture or use a chair. They said, “No.” Just “No.” Not a word more. I don’t do that kind of stuff. But, seriously, 90% or more of the folks I see using chairs and seiza benches are just plain fuckin’ lazy. If you are really in a bad way and you sincerely want to sit somehow, accommodations can be made. But if you’re just a lazy sod, go someplace else. OK?

100 Responses

Page 2 of 2
  1. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 30, 2007 at 6:02 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. dan
    dan August 30, 2007 at 7:27 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. dan
    dan August 30, 2007 at 7:31 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. dan
    dan August 30, 2007 at 7:44 pm | |

    ” just in case anyone wasn’t aware. chiropractors are scam artists with zero medical qualifications. ANYONE can call themselves a chiropractor.

    Absolutely untrue. In the US chiropractic is a licensed medical practice requiring graduation from an accredited school, regulated by state boards.”

    Yep, Just checked I was talking bollocks.Apologies.

    “there is good evidence that they actually damage your back rather than fix it.

    The clinical trials to date show that chiropractic benefits back pain. Sorry for no cites, but they’re out there if you look for them.”

    ok someone’s been doing some editing on the wikipedia page for chiropractors because the last time i looked there was all this stuff about how it was dodgy and now it’s mysteriously vanished. i have heard the exact opposite from people who have used chiropractors though. i will look for some slightly better evidence if i remember later.

    “the only people who are good for your back (apart from zen teachers obviously) are physiotherapists and masseurs.

    Many medical modalities benefit back pain pain. It all depends on the nature of the problem. I usually recommend yoga, but also have friends who have benefited from

    “homeopathy,”

    placebo effect. homeopathy has failed every double blind study that has been done on it.

    Incidentally I have nothing against the placebo effect as a treatment for some things like psychosomatic illnesses and maybe headaches and such. what i object to is people charging an absurd amount of money for what are literally sugar pills and giving people with real illnesses false hope that they will be cured by homeopathy. a strong belief in homeopathy may even prevent someone from getting some real medical help since they will rely on homeopathy instead.

    you’re a scientist right? scepticism is supposed to be the default position of a scientist. doubt until proven otherwise. i’m suprised a scientist seems to be advocating homeopathy.

    however the day that homeopathy passes a double blind controlled test i will believe in it. although if it is shown to work then that will contradict the laws of ” physics, chemistry and the observed dose-response relationships of conventional drugs” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy)

    “acupuncture,”

    there is no evidence that chi exists which is the basis for acupuncture. the jury still seems to be out on how effective acupunctuire really is and how much is just placebo.

    “Try getting your information from places other than the skeptic sites. Obviously what you’ve learned there is biased and incorrect.”

    a sceptic is someone who doesn’t believe in something until they have convincing evidence that it is true. the idea of a biased sceptic is an oxymoron. you are talking about a cynic.

    sceptic sites are actually the ideal place to get information. if something has good evidence that it is true a sceptic will believe it regardless of how it makes them feel emotionally.

    conversely a woo will believe something regardless of the evidence to show that that belief is false and base their beliefs on how they make them feel.

    in my opinion, a buddhist should be a sceptic ready to drop a belief or gain a belief based on the objective evidence rather than their emotional response to the objective evidence.

    maybe i was a little dismissive of chiropractors’ effectiveness but i stand by my assertion that they are scam artists:

    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=85436&highlight;=chiropractor

  5. Boonton
    Boonton August 30, 2007 at 7:53 pm | |

    Just did a good 20 minutes of zazen with maybe 10 minutes of leg shifting in between. I tried something different tonight, I tried to think about nonsense stuff instead of trying to stop thinking.

    Well sometimes reverse psych. works. I ended up spending a good amount of time finding that spot Brad talks about…that balancing spot. The lotus didn’t hold up though. I had to switch to half-lotus near the end but I used the leg I usually don’t favor so it gave it a ‘work out’ of sorts.

    I also use a tea candle. I have it about 3-4 ft in front of me on top of a can of paint. I don’t really try to focus on the flame. I find it useful as a timing device since I know when it is all liquid that I’m getting close to the halfway mark.

    Very very nice tonight. Hard day at work and tomorrow will be hard too since it is month end….

  6. Gregor
    Gregor August 30, 2007 at 8:22 pm | |

    I used to think that half lotus or lotus where impossible positions for me. . . but after just about a week of trying for it very seriously and gradually working at stretching my legs during Zazen, first in Burmese position, then to half lotus, I’m sitting my Zazen twice a day in a decent half lotus. I think I just needed the will to make it happen. The physical limitations I thought I had were just delusions I had created.

  7. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 30, 2007 at 9:19 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 30, 2007 at 9:35 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Smoggyrob
    Smoggyrob August 30, 2007 at 9:37 pm | |

    Hi everyone:

    Gregor, you’re an inspiration. My story is similar to yours, substituting “about two years” for “about a week.” By the by, Brad’s article, “Proper Posture Required,” s still a great read. Hit the link on the main blog to “Sit Down and Shut Up (my web page).”

    As for low attendance at Brad’s zazen classes, it climbed from an average of about five to the ten to twenty that show up now. We’re getting to the point where more growth will require new digs, and we’ll need to get zafus and zabutans.

    The last time I let everyone in while Brad was gone, there were five of us. Sheesh, there are 17 million people in this town. So, this Saturday (the 1st) I’m offering nude zazen, to draw in more people. That’s right, live nude zazen. 18 and over, and there’s a two-drink minimum.

    Rob

    P.S. The part about there being zazen this Saturday is true.

  10. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 30, 2007 at 9:45 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous August 30, 2007 at 11:39 pm | |

    And I can get members of the band Free Beer
    to come and do a gig after sitting!–Hell, why not before and during too?
    Daddy should go out of town more often!

  12. Blake
    Blake August 31, 2007 at 7:02 am | |

    Mysterion: was there a case or news story that prompted that bill? Just curious.

    As far as chiropractors go, I found one I adore. He’s a tiny Sikh with a big ole beard. He also smells of cabbage. I wonder if he was a cabbage in a previous life…

  13. Lynn
    Lynn August 31, 2007 at 7:07 am | |

    It’s been 30 years since Oregonians first slapped “Don’t Californicate Oregon” bumper stickers on their cars, but, like the song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication” is still alive and well.

    When Californians move in, things change for the worse. They infect the rest of the west with their dumb politics and bad driving, and make housing prices soar.

    For many Westerners, California is seen as a state of excess and an example of how things shouldn’t be done. (These people keep electing movie stars as their governors.)

    Other western residents aren’t so interested in a lot of government control over how they behave, and therein lies the problem.

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous August 31, 2007 at 8:20 am | |

    As far as jinzang”s opinions on skeptics, let’s remember that he has studied “tibetan” buddhism which is laughed at by most zen guys, especially Nishijima and Brad. If it sounds to good to be true, probably is!
    Don’t ever miss an episode of Penn & Teller’s “Bullshit” tv show to get the straight stories.

  15. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 31, 2007 at 8:28 am | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 31, 2007 at 8:43 am | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Blake
    Blake August 31, 2007 at 9:35 am | |

    Mysterion: I suppose the AMA is quite active in lobbying the California State Senate. I mean all that money should be going to MD’s not DC’s!

  18. Anonymous
    Anonymous August 31, 2007 at 9:54 am | |

    “there is no evidence that chi exists”

    Dan, you know how you know you have a hand because you can see it, feel it, move it? Same thing for chi, for those who can perceive it.

  19. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 31, 2007 at 9:56 am | |

    Read PAGE 7 of SB 801

    It’s not about AMA, it’s about consumer fraud. And Jerry Brown is the State AG.

    “governor moonbeams” was correct – a state communications satellite would have saved California $$$Billions over the life of the hardware. Corporations (profiteering) went after him big time.

    GREED is the #1 sin in Buddhism.

  20. Anonymous
    Anonymous August 31, 2007 at 10:11 am | |

    “there is no evidence that chi exists”

    Dan, you know how you know you have a hand because you can see it, feel it, move it? Same thing for chi, for those who can perceive it.”

    sorry i should have clarified. i meant there is no evidence that chi exists outside of the minds of those who believe it exists. you know? like there’s no evidence that it exists in reality.

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous August 31, 2007 at 10:13 am | |

    And before some smart arse says ‘ ah! but what is reality?

    ” Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away” Philip K Dick

    dan

  22. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 31, 2007 at 10:40 am | |

    Tai Chi = essential circulation
    ‘Qi’ or ‘Chi’ means the energy or Prana of circulation and digestion.

    So, if circulation (of the blood) does not exist, then Chi does not exist.

    Tai Chi Chuan may mean “supreme ultimate fist” – but only in Anime.

  23. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 31, 2007 at 11:39 am | |

    Jerry Brown studied for the priesthood at Sacred Heart Novitiate before leaving to major in Latin and Greek at U.C. Berkeley. He graduated in law from Yale and in 1969… in l975 became the youngest governor in California history.

    Brown’s eight-year tenure as governor was unconventional. He lived an austere lifestyle, dated Linda Ronstadt, and occasionally repaired to Zen retreats with Buddhist friends.

  24. Jinzang
    Jinzang August 31, 2007 at 1:19 pm | |

    Okay, let’s get a few things out of the way first.

    You’re a scientist right?

    No, I’m a computer programmer.

    Let’s remember that he has studied “tibetan” buddhism which is laughed at by most zen guys, especially Nishijima and Brad.

    Neither Gudo Nishijima or Brad has ever been anything but respectful to me. In my experience “most Zen guys” respect Tibetan Buddhism. It’s the tyros and wannabes who feel otherwise. If your intent was to provide an argument against Tibetan Buddhism or to impeach my credibility, this is pretty thin stuff.

    Now that that’s done, let’s get to the meat of the matter.

    a sceptic is someone who doesn’t believe in something until they have convincing evidence that it is true.

    No. a skeptic is a person who shares a common world view of what is so with their fellow skeptics, including a view of what constitutes “convincing evidence.” Skeptics have their heroes and villains, social norms, and conventions just like any other world view. It a characteristic of every world view to hold that it has a privileged position that allows it to judge the value of every other world view, and here skepticism is no different.

    The anthropologist Gregory Bateson said he had the hardest time conveying to his students what a word view is. It’s not a fact, belief or theory. It’s a frame that organizes these. I think it’s an important concept becaause successful Buddhist practice exposes the frame of self and other that we use to organize our lives as just another view.

    It seems that many Zen practitioners are in search of a rational or scientific Zen, meaning one that is consistent with the world view of skepticism or the view that they hold of science. I believe this search is an impediment to the genuine understanding of Zen. The skeptical or “sceintific” world view holds very strongly to the distinction between the observer and observed, experimenter and experiment, all those dualities that Zen transcends. The attempt to fit Zen into this world view devalues Zen into just another relaxaation exercise

  25. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 31, 2007 at 1:51 pm | |

    Einstein’s Moon: the Curious Quest for Quantum Reality

    Einstein and Bohr debated over reality – i.e., if external reality exists apart from the observer (“Is the moon there when noone is looking?”).

    Einsteinian wanted a local reality, independent of the observer.

    Bohr defended the Copenhagen Interpretation which describes matter as a “standing probability wave.” In the absence of an observer, there is no matter and thus, no reality.

    I doubt that the moon exists in the absence of an observer.

  26. Anonymous
    Anonymous August 31, 2007 at 4:03 pm | |

    “cute accordian music”

    ahh, c’est la vie!

  27. dan
    dan August 31, 2007 at 5:28 pm | |

    jinzang,

    first i’d just like you to know that it wasn’t me who was dissing tibetan buddhism earlier. that was some other guy. one of my best friends is tibetan buddhist and although i admit that i think a lot of the stuff he believes in is pure nonsense, this has never come in the way of our friendship.

    this is what i had in mind when i said ‘sceptic’: from dictionary.com

    A doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind; dubiety

    A methodology based on an assumption of doubt with the aim of acquiring approximate or relative certainty.

    i.e. never take anything on faith or believe something just because it feels good to believe it or because some guy with a beard told you it was true.

    convincing evidence is evidence that does not rely on anyone’s beliefs. evidence that speaks for itself

    it would be interesting jinzang if you could provide an example of ‘sceptics’ arbitrarily creating a benchmark of what constitutes convincing evidence that is in any way controversial or open to dispute. which is what you seem to be suggesting they do.

    out of interest what is your criteria for convincing evidence for homeopathy?

    i do think it is very important that buddhism agrees with science.
    if buddhism makes some extraordinary claim that has no scientific evidence for it and importantly no way to prove the truth of the claim then it is no different from any of the other nonsense and superstition that has plagued human thinking since we first appeared.

    mysterion, as i understood it chi is not the flow of the blood but some kind of ethereal energy force that flows through the body taht can be harnessed to cure disease and other such extraordinary things. there is no evidence taht such an energy force exists.

  28. Jinzang
    Jinzang August 31, 2007 at 6:15 pm | |

    i’d just like you to know that it wasn’t me who was dissing tibetan buddhism earlier.

    Understood.

    convincing evidence is evidence that does not rely on anyone’s beliefs. evidence that speaks for itself

    That’s the point. Evidence never speaks for itself. Only people, with their differing world views, speak for the evidence. And they do so by first interpreting it in terms of their own world view.

    it would be interesting jinzang if you could provide an example of ‘sceptics’ arbitrarily creating a benchmark of what constitutes convincing evidence that is in any way controversial or open to dispute. which is what you seem to be suggesting they do.

    About ten or twelve years ago some researchers took two groups of college students, gave half steroids and half placebo and had them lift weights for six weeks or so. Not too surprisingly, the group on steroids made faster gains. The researchers published the results in Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals. The issue with the article also had an editorial saying that there finally was evidence that steroids enhanced athletic performance.

    I find this quite remarkable. At that time every high school football student knew about steroids and how they worked. Yet the editors of Lancet, without a trace of irony or self-consciousness could say that they finally had evidence steroids worked. None of experience gathered by athletes using black market steroids counted, you see, because it wasn’t “blessed” by being part of a sanctioned double blind study. It was completely invisible to the editors of Lancet.

    You see the same nonsense when you read an article about an MRI study of meditators that “proves” meditation works, ignoring the experience of over two thousand years of meditation practioners. None of that counts, you see, but a short study of a handful of meditators strapped into a MRI machine does count.

    Is my point clearer now? I call this “double blind myopia.”

    if buddhism makes some extraordinary claim that has no scientific evidence for it and importantly no way to prove the truth of the claim then it is no different from any of the other nonsense and superstition that has plagued human thinking since we first appeared.

    I think you miss the point of what Buddhism is trying to do. Buddhism is a practical and not a theoretical system. The practice aims at producing an understanding, but it’s a non-conceptual understanding, one that can’t be expressed in words.

    out of interest what is your criteria for convincing evidence for homeopathy?

    That’s off topic for this blog. Another time, another place.

  29. Anonymous
    Anonymous August 31, 2007 at 7:06 pm | |

    Jinzang posted at 1:19
    absolutely, one of the clearest explanations I’ve come across.
    Thank you.

  30. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 31, 2007 at 7:11 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. Boonton
    Boonton August 31, 2007 at 8:08 pm | |

    After starting on meditating on my own I sought out someplace near me and found a Tibetan place in Maplewood NJ (Dharmachakra Center, http://www.meditationinessex.org/) whose main teacher is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. My limited wikipedia research on him indicated that he had some type of falling out with the Dali Lama and he has been criticized for being a little bit cult like in England.

    I have to say, though, that I found the people to be very nice, the teachers were not dogmatic or arrogant in any way and the experience was very positive for me. I like trying to do the lotus position so I’m not a fan of their laid back, everyone just sit on a chair, style of meditation but I found some of the guided meditations very useful.

    My knowledge is very limited here but if I had to sum it up, it is their technique is to attain enlightenment by performing a series of guided meditations. Two ones that interested me were called the death meditation and the other one ‘kind mother’. The death meditation was focusing on the fact that I will someday die. The idea is that a lot of our suffering is because we do not really believe that in our heart…we assume we will live forever. But if you concentrate on the fact that you will die someday any problem you have now seems rather small in comparison. The ‘kind mother’ meditation is based on their belief in reincarnation. Again the idea here is that if we have all been through uncountable reincarnations in all kinds of forms then just about anyone or anything we see today could have easily been our mother in some previous life (either human or not). Just as we feel grateful towards our mothers today, we should feel the same towards all living things because they were probably once our mother at some point.

    My mind leaps to reject such supernatural talk. But compare the above to what Brad writes in his books when he says that since there is no essential difference between us we should feel compassion towards all. Another example is Geshe writes that we shouldn’t get angry about ‘bad luck’ but we should take responsibility for it. Such things happen as a result of bad karma from previous lives. Compare this what Brad wrote about living as if you are fully responsible for everything that happens to you even if some stuff doesn’t seem like its your fault.

    I honestly don’t think I can intellectually accept the reincarnation beliefs so I feel myself drifting away from them and towards locating someplace that’s a bit different (NJ isn’t exactly full of Zen…). But I see some value in how they have set up their system. To me it seems like a major contradiction to say your self is an illusion…the present moment is what is real and what matters but ohh yea…you had countless lifetimes before. If ‘I’ don’t exist in the sense that I’m permanent then how can ‘I’ have been mopping around in the 1800′s, 1700′s and so on? I wonder perhaps if the Tibetans use some of the supernatural claims the way Christians use Santa Clause with children; as a way to ease the mind into more complicated doctrines to be studied later on. Or perhaps it is just that Tibetan Buddhism represents a mix of Buddhism with native Tibetan culture.

    I wouldn’t bash them. Whatever the faults of the first place I visited I’m very grateful for the experience and probably will come back to them now and then. If anyone here has more knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism I’d love to hear if I’ve gotten it even partly right.

  32. Mysterion
    Mysterion August 31, 2007 at 8:31 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 1, 2007 at 5:27 am | |

    “chi is not the flow of the blood”

    I think chi includes the flow of the blood. it’s a band of energy that ranges from the solid to the etheric/electo-magnetic.

  34. Mysterion
    Mysterion September 1, 2007 at 1:49 pm | |

    As a life-long explorer of FOLKLORE, I can only state that in my opinion most of these esoteric concepts boil down to a simpler scientific rendering. Conceptually, the ancients were attributing an outcome (good health) to a mystic force (chi).

    Another example: “If an apple falls from the tree and hits Newton on the head, leading him to a theory of gravitation, then it is ‘the will of god(s)’ that the apple so falls.” (so sez the Skype).

    Every force has an electrical and magnetic component to it – even the force of Hipshot Scotty crossing the carpeted lobby.

  35. steve
    steve September 1, 2007 at 4:08 pm | |

    I am not lazy just cannot get my knees anywhere near the mat, and would take years of stretching probably to do that.( and I am not a young guy either )

  36. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 1, 2007 at 4:10 pm | |

    it won’t take years steve. trust me. it just seems like it will. if you do a little hip stretching yoga everyday you’l be fine

  37. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 1, 2007 at 6:15 pm | |

    jinzang,

    “That’s the point. Evidence never speaks for itself. Only people, with their differing world views, speak for the evidence. And they do so by first interpreting it in terms of their own world view.”

    no, some evidence does speak for itself. to a certain extent you are right that people’s world views bias their judgement but at the same time people who disagree that the evidence that morphine stops or that chemotherapy is good at treating cancer are called delusional.

    “About ten or twelve years ago some researchers took two groups of college students, gave half steroids and half placebo and had them lift weights for six weeks or so. Not too surprisingly, the group on steroids made faster gains. The researchers published the results in Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals. The issue with the article also had an editorial saying that there finally was evidence that steroids enhanced athletic performance.

    I find this quite remarkable. At that time every high school football student knew about steroids and how they worked. Yet the editors of Lancet, without a trace of irony or self-consciousness could say that they finally had evidence steroids worked. None of experience gathered by athletes using black market steroids counted, you see, because it wasn’t “blessed” by being part of a sanctioned double blind study. It was completely invisible to the editors of Lancet.

    You see the same nonsense when you read an article about an MRI study of meditators that “proves” meditation works, ignoring the experience of over two thousand years of meditation practioners. None of that counts, you see, but a short study of a handful of meditators strapped into a MRI machine does count.

    Is my point clearer now? I call this “double blind myopia.”

    So your point is that because steroids passed a double blind study and homeopathy didn’t this somehow shows that what? steroids work and homeopathy doesn’t?

    The reason that scientists ignore anecdotal evidence is because it is not an effective way to determine if something is true or not even though much anecdotal evidence will be true. there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the loch ness monster exists but every controlled experiment has come up with nothing. Obviously it seems stupid to test steroids like that in hindsight. since they passed the test it seems like testing the obvious. but if steroids had failed and been shown to be no better than a placebo then that would show that steroids were no better than a placebo and thus pointless in spending money on.

    plus these examples you gave are not incidences of sceptics creating and arbitrary benchmark of what constitutes convincing evidence. Passing a double blind test is not an arbitrary criterion.
    there is very good reason to use it because it filters out all the stuff that doesn’t work – like homeopathy.

    I think you miss the point of what Buddhism is trying to do. Buddhism is a practical and not a theoretical system. The practice aims at producing an understanding, but it’s a non-conceptual understanding, one that can’t be expressed in words.

    If it’s so practical and can;t be expressed in words then why all this stuff about god’s and demons and hungry ghosts and psychic monks ?
    i’m not saying the point of buddhism is to prove some theoretical system, i’m saying that IF ANY religion makes an extraordinary claim like “when you die you will be reborn as another being” or ” there is such thing as as the subtle mind that transfers from one vessel to the next in each life” or “some monks can predict the future”, then these extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to prove them otherwise they are no different form any of the other woo that humans like to fill their minds with.

    in case you are interested i’ve posted you position on scepticism on a sceptic website if you want to see what they all said (some partially agreed) http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=91966

    dan

  38. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 1, 2007 at 6:17 pm | |

    incidentally, if scientific studies had found no evidence that meditation was in anyway good for you that would have made me seriously question the point of doing it.

  39. Mysterion
    Mysterion September 1, 2007 at 7:26 pm | |

    Anonymous said…
    “incidentally, if scientific studies had found no evidence that meditation was in anyway good for you that would have made me seriously question the point of doing it.”

    EXACTLY (I’ll say aum-en to that!)

    “Likewise, surveys of experienced meditators show an accentuation of positive factors and a diminishment of negative ones (Ferguson & Gowan, 1976; Goleman & Schwartz,1976; Nidich et al., 1973; Schwartz, 1973; Pelletier, 1974; Seeman et al., 1972; Lesh, 1970; Leung, 1973; and Garfield, 1974, cited in Hall & Lindzey, 1978, p. 375).”

  40. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 2, 2007 at 1:15 am | |

    What the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves :)

    A lot of so-called scientific study is little more than paid for advertisements by Big Pharma.

    You doctor might be giving you the best care and the best meds, or he might be giving you the meds that get him the best kick backs from some company rep.

    Buddha advised people to try his teaching and make up their own minds. If it works for you, good. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else.

    I would suggest the same attitude towards so-called “correct posture”. Everyone’s body is different, so if you cannot do the “correct posture” then find a posture that works for you. If the ‘zen master’ doesn’t like it then go find someone less blinded by zen dogma.

  41. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 2, 2007 at 4:38 am | |

    there are tons of schools of buddhism.. if you want, you can find one to match just about any type of meditation you can imagine. however, if you are interested in soto zen.. you better start working on your flexibility.

  42. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 2, 2007 at 7:25 am | |

    About Carolina Morning’s inflatable zafus:

    someone asked:

    Anonymous said…Inflatable zafu?!!
    Could anyone who has used such an item please comment…do they really work?

    I can tell you that an inflatable zafu worked great for me. I was packing up to leave the house and do a 7 day sitting retreat. I had planned to bring my ordinary zafu but my luggage was crammed, so at the last minute, I deflated the Carolina Morning zafu, jammed it in, and went off the to retreat.

    That little puppy was excellent. Its a bit bouncy to sit on, but it has the effect of really assisting you to learn balance.

    Later, I gave my CM zafu to a zennie who had to ship out to go to Iraq.

  43. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 2, 2007 at 7:46 am | |

    Another thing that can help loosen people up for zazen.

    You need to get one of those rolling styrofoam cylinders one sees at gyms and physical therapy set ups. These are fantastic for self administering massage.

    I’d been sitting half lotus for years and had spent months working to extend into full lotus. But despite months and months of practicing full lotus, I remained unable to do it for more than a few minutes at a time.

    I told this to a physical therapist who was offering free sessions to AIDS Ride participants. She showed me an intervention that helped.

    (Note: I do not have any knee, back or hip troubles and do not (at least not yet) have arthritis.

    I will try to describe the manuvere the PT taught. You can do it at a gym if you can get one of the styrofoam rollers or purchase a roller and do it at home.

    The PT told me to walk a few stops, then stop. She looked at how I positioned my feet. She drew my attention to the fact that my toes pointed outwards when I stood still, and said this was indicative of tight hip flexors.

    (So take a look at how your feet naturally fall into alignment when you are standing–see if your toes point outwards)

    The PT, then used the syrofoam cylinder and showed me a trick to loosen up hips to facilitate full lotus.

    She directed me to sit my butt on top of the cylinder. The thying tends to roll, so you need to keep it stable.

    Then, I was told to keep my right leg extended, right heel on the ground to stablize myself, and to tuck my left leg into half lotus.

    Once I tucked my left leg into half lotus, knee tucked, left foot in right groin, the PT
    directed me to lean down, put my hands on the ground for stabilty to keep the roller from shifting and dumping me to the ground.

    Then, still seated on the cylinder, she had me rock my butt slightly to the left, putting my body weight onto my left hip, pressing my left hip onto the roller, with my left leg in half lotus, still seated on that styrofoam cylinder.

    Then, leaning my weight onto my left hip, with my left leg tucked in half lotus, I was told to roll back and forth on that cylinder, administering focused massage to the left ass cheek and to the the muscles in my left hip socket.

    Then, I was told to untuck my left leg, then tuck my right leg into half lotus, then lean right and do that same kind of focused, rolling massage to my right hip.

    Guys, when I then did a full lotus, the difference was *astounding*. That focused massage did the trick.

    The PT stated that tight hip flexors are very common in those who spend hours sitting in ordinary chairs, and most athletic activity can tighten the flexors further.

    That syrofoam roller can also be used to self massage quads, hams, the back, and if someone shows you how, the ileo-tibeal band.

    You feel a kind of ‘good pain’ when doing this correctly, just like the good pain that comes from zazen. It aches but you feel your muscles releasing and you feel more free.

    You should not feel hot, sharp, shredding deep pain. That’s of course orthopedic, bad pain, not dharma pain and means ‘stop.’

    The rollers cost $25 or so bucks at a medical supply store.

    There are much more durable ones, coated in dark blue rubber, but they probably cost more.

  44. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 2, 2007 at 8:36 am | |

    “When Californians move in, things change for the worse. They infect the rest of the west with their dumb politics and bad driving, and make housing prices soar.”

    I would trade my place in Salem Oregon for Huntington Beach so fast it would make your Oregonian head spin. Sometimes i stand in absolute disbelief at the stupidity of soooo many Oregonians.

  45. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 2, 2007 at 11:14 am | |

    “You doctor might be giving you the best care and the best meds, or he might be giving you the meds that get him the best kick backs from some company rep.”

    In the US maybe. Here in the UK doctors get paid by the government and prescription drugs cost the patient a flat rate of, wait for it, $10 no matter what the medicine is. can you feel the smugness? :)

  46. Mysterion
    Mysterion September 2, 2007 at 12:53 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. I Am Not Trying To Ruin Your Day

    Maybe the cat was there for Christ too?

  48. wahzoh
    wahzoh September 10, 2007 at 3:15 pm | |

    Hi, Brad – I myself have often sung the song “Psycho Kitty” to my cats. They enjoy it and it helps them sleep. However, I must point out to you that the correct spelling is “Q’est-CE que c’est” – in other words, you left out a couple of letters. Even though these letters are silent, they are extremely important. Like farts – the silent ones are the deadly ones.

    Anyway, I’m sure they pointed out the missing letters to you in Montreal, as the French and even French Canadians take this sort of stuff very, very seriously.

    Not silent and not deadly, Byrd in LA

  49. Anonymous
    Anonymous November 29, 2007 at 7:38 am | |

    Back Pain is a pain in my… well… back!
    I was hit by a car a few years ago and since then I have suffered a lot of lower back pain and back ache! I was on strong painkillers for awhile but then I was getting addicted to them so had to drop them before it got too bad. That was about a year ago now and since then I have been looking for alternate ways of relieving the pain and aching until a month ago I was struggling to find anything that helped but I managed to get hold of some Cheap Rest Assured Beds and I finally got a good nights sleep! It was great!
    However!
    Upon waking from my beautiful bed the relief only lasted until I got to work then the suffering began once more.
    Can anyone give me any advice to ease my pain?

  50. lijialefw
    lijialefw August 29, 2008 at 4:21 am | |

    To a nail, lost a war.(wow gold) In a particular press to see(wow power leveling) such a foreign minyan: In order to (wow gold)receive a nail, we have lost a mati Tie In order to(wow power leveling) get a piece of mati Tie, we have lost a Pi Junma In order to get(wow gold) a Pijun ma, we (wow power leveling)have lost a(wow gold) jockey; To be a jockey, we lost a war victory. This is the first (Rolex)under general minyan at(World of Warcraft gold) first glance, but careful consideration, you(wow power leveling) will find that it contains a layer of the important essence of life: learn to give up, have a maturity. To a mati Tie and eventually lead to (wow gold)lose a war, this is not know how early to give up the consequences. Wise said: two disadvantages of the value comes light, the right to( World of Warcraft gold)choose the two-phase benefit. a folder to be the tail of the gecko already know how to give up the tail, the preservation of(wow power leveling) life, let alone we are full of (power leveling)the wisdom of mankind? ! in everyone’s life, always (powerleveling)have in the face of choice, a choice, there is bound to give up, we have to learn is to( power leveling)pay a painful price, to give up local interests and preserve the overall interests. In chess, there are not “abandoning single-car” this trick? as the saying goes: not old, not new. sometimes, even (power leveling)the most precious things to know in good time to give up. when you( powerleveling)graduated from junior high school, in the face of a sincere friendship, you(powerleveling )will Yiyibushe. But think back, and only bid farewell to middle school, high school usher in a(rs gold )new life, can meet new friends. The recent shift is not on this? Finally, a celebrity’s life motto In( gold wow)conclusion: Life is like theater, everyone is their own lives in the only director. Only Institute of choice, people will know how to give up the Chewu life, Xiaokan life, the life Habitat has Seasky.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.