Twitter Conversation About Enlightenment

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner So, also no experience that makes anyone “scared”, “angry”. Really? I mean reeeally? 8O

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology I’m not sure what you mean. But I think I’d say yes.

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner You are saying our enlightenment is disconnected from our emotions, and our emotions are disconnected from our experience?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology Emotions are a kind of experience. Enlightenment is not.

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner OK, you are saying that enlightenment is not an experience? So are you saying it is imperceptible (in other words) disembodied?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology Someone asked my teacher, “Can you notice your own enlightenment?” He said, “No.” But I wouldn’t call it “disembodied.”

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner Do you agree with your teacher?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology Yes. Because for you to notice enlightenment would require you to stand apart from it, like looking at your own eyeballs.

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner So, how do you explain what happened on the bridge over the Sengawa River?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology I keep trying!

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner If enlightenment passes thru us like a neutrino, why single out the bridge over the Sengawa River for special treatment?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology I never said anything passes thru anyone like a neutrino!

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner Hmmm, seems a bit evasive. Look, you say you can’t notice/experience enlightenment – then you write the account on the bridge?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology if you’re asking if there is some other experience that is enlightenment then no, you’re on the wrong track still.

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner No, my question was to invite you to confirm that the bridge over the river episode was not enlightenment. So what say you?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology Only you can answer that since you have defined enlightenment for yourself already. So what say you?

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner Did you get enlightened on the bridge or not? Give an honest answer. It’s a claim based on your evaluation not mine. So?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology I did not make any such claims & I have been very honest. I’m going on a 5 week retreat now. See you in September!

 

107 Responses

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  1. Fred
    Fred August 3, 2013 at 11:00 am | |

    Brad:

    “in Tokyo’s Setagaya ward, I saw clearly and unmistakably that this most intimate something that I thought was mine and mine alone, this thing that I thought was so personal to me that it could not possibly be shared by or even connected to anyone else in any way, this thing that was so unequivocally me that it was the very definition of the word “me,” I saw that this was not me at all.

    In fact, this personal and private something was, I now saw, the personality of the entire universe from the beginningless beginning of time right on through eternity. I saw that this thing I thought was located so deeply inside of me that no one could ever even think of touching it was actually spread throughout all the universe”

  2. Fred
    Fred August 3, 2013 at 11:07 am | |

    Dogen:

    “Accordingly, in the practice-enlightenment of the buddha way, meeting one thing is mastering it–doing one practice is practicing completely. Here is the place; here the way unfolds. The boundary of realization is not distinct, for the realization comes forth simultaneously with the mastery of buddha-dharma.

    Do not suppose that what you realize becomes your knowledge and is grasped by your consciousness. Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent. Its appearance is beyond your knowledge. “

  3. Shodo
    Shodo August 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm | |

    What is all this? I didn’t know it was possible to talk on twitter… I thought twitter was just a place to make texts that have like a 140 character limit.

  4. Fred
    Fred August 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm | |

    dharmacology on Remski’s blog:

    “I don’t think your argument is very convincing because you are merely overlaying your own western approach, lopsided towards hermeneutics and exegesis to privilege a perspective over another where in fact much, if not most of the literature (vedas are perhaps the only exception) are not held in the same way as the Abrahamic literature is – but I accept your point about traditional-ism and *traditional-ist* not necessarily mapping out the same ontology – still – invoking the *traditional* retronym is a high risk game to play – and for what outcome? to call out all ‘dharmic’ traditions as some of the worst tokens among many other, perhaps more ‘progressive’ approaches? The type/token distinction is crucial here – traditional yoga – let’s say hinduism or buddhism for the purposes of these crazy small boxes are TYPES not TOKENS whilst the tyranny of western universalism continues to wreak havoc in the public mind, yoga with adjectives is being put forward as new paradigms, or at least as being more progressive when in fact the so called ‘traditional’ types have dialectic, iconoclasm, polyvalence, progression and mutual respect written into them, that is, if anyone cares to look beyond the obvious cultural and historical difficulties with context, which of course, many it seems are not and are simply looking to build on their fragile conceit as to the superiority of a secular, democratic and mostly Christian worldview.”

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot August 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm | |

      Isn’t it amazing how language functions equally well as bridge or wall?

    2. mjkawa
      mjkawa August 4, 2013 at 1:33 pm | |

      “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.”

      :)

      1. Andy
        Andy August 5, 2013 at 6:22 am | |

        Sometimes it can be unnecessarily obscure (see above); sometimes it’s on you. An example of someone’s writing being unnecessarily or excessively obscure does not prove your own ongoing deficiences, insecurities or biases as a reader the result of another’s lack.

        1. Shodo
          Shodo August 5, 2013 at 9:17 am | |

          Andy said:
          “An example of someone’s writing being unnecessarily or excessively obscure does not prove your own ongoing deficiences, insecurities or biases as a reader…”

          Yeah but we won’t know where the fault lies unless the one doing the writing makes their language as clear as they can, and the idea they are expressing as precise as possible.

          Dharmacology should read Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”… that section of his writing is filled with what Orwell called “Pretentious Diction”.

          (… this sort of thing is rife in college philosophy majors. You learn to be suspect of writers who feel the need to bust out the thesaurus whenever there is a paper due – obscure words and unnatural phrasing are often used to hide the fact that the ideas aren’t very good – readers tend to agree with the writer based mostly on that it SOUNDS smart, and they don’t want to look stupid for disagreeing. If you have a interesting perspective, write it as if your audience are a bunch of teenagers.)

          1. Andy
            Andy August 6, 2013 at 7:32 am |

            “Yeah but we won’t know where the fault lies unless the one doing the writing makes their language as clear as they can, and the idea they are expressing as precise as possible.”

            I disagree. If there appears to be a ‘fault’ in some instance of writing, then that is a judgement made by the reader. Dharmacology’s words might or might not have been unnecessarily obscure in the context from which it was taken, and to the person(s) to whom the words were addressed. I haven’t looked, so I’ll leave my assumptions in the provisional box.

            What I can say about the quote, though, is that the syntax is not really an issue – not that much more or less precise than yours or others on this comment section. And on comments sections rather than books, we can give folk some leeway on that, surely.

            It’s really the academic vocabulary, used frequently and referentially that has been appropriated for some mockery. For all I know, the poster being addressed might be an academic and for them everything’s as clear and precise as needs be. For all I know, dharmacology might very well fit the thesaurus spewing grandstander you outline.

            What I also know is that mjkawa’s comment, itself in quotes, was taken from a discussion we were having, in which I tried within comment-section-ramble reason to be clear and precise, yet finished on a sentence that threw him/her.

            Rather than asking what I meant by those last words, or addressing the body of points I made preceding them, mjkawa decided to complain about my use of language in them, which were not couched in unclear syntax or vocabulary, but expressed ideas he/she was unfamiliar with, couldn’t make sense of, and decided to dismiss as unnecessarily obscure.

            mjkawa’s ego was getting in the way of mutual understanding and discussion at that point, and decided to reassert itself on that score in the comment above. And so my little ‘I’ took the opportunity above to remind mjkawa that it isn’t always so – and certainly wasn’t in the context where his/her words were first set down.

            Where there is the opportunity for dialogue, if there is sincerity as a writer AND sincerity as a reader then most wrinkles can be ironed-out and fault-lines understood as par for the linguistic course. We can ask questions or request further clarity in words we understand. And we can also accept that some folk are just going to insist on banging the same drum – whether it be willful ignorance or willful obscurantism.

            Orwell’s words were not intended for someone to scoff while ear-wigging a jargon-filled conversation between two engineers, any more than at two academics. It was about clarity in context, about not obscuring the language unnecessarily. Orwell wasn’t an apologist for anti-intellectual insecurities, but a class-conscious writer challenging such things as bourgeois mystification and exclusivity.

            As much as he might agree with your assessment of Dharmacology’s words, I imagine he would have the integrity and consistency to check it out at source, rather than indulge in the kind of group-think that baulks at things it doesn’t understand or isn’t immediately accessible to the mind-sets and assumptions of the individuals that feed it.

          2. Shodo
            Shodo August 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm |

            Andy said:
            “I disagree. If there appears to be a ‘fault’ in some instance of writing, then that is a judgement made by the reader.”

            Yes, it IS a judgement made by the reader, and at that point as the reader I would say “could you please rephrase it simpler?”

            “Dharmacology’s words might or might not have been unnecessarily obscure in the context from which it was taken, and to the person(s) to whom the words were addressed. I haven’t looked, so I’ll leave my assumptions in the provisional box.”

            Wait… you haven’t read the full post? I did. It’s here:

            http://matthewremski.com/wordpress/?p=1856

            …and no one brought up syntax…
            It’s the “Pretentious Diction” that makes his post eye-bleedingly unreadable, and his post is so opaque that no clear idea can be found, (and mremski says as much in his response.)

            Not to insert myself whatever fight you and mjkawa seem to be having… but why are you assuming it’s a problem with *their* ego, or that his/her intelligence was lacking?
            Try to make what you were saying clearer. When you make it crystal clear, you take away any claims of obfuscation as a defense.

            If you would like an outsiders opinion on what you have written, post a link to what you said… I’d be happy to measure both of your penises and we can see who’s packing the most heat. :3

            “As much as he might agree with your assessment of Dharmacology’s words, I imagine he would have the integrity and consistency to check it out at source, rather than indulge in the kind of group-think that baulks at things it doesn’t understand or isn’t immediately accessible to the mind-sets and assumptions of the individuals that feed it.”

            Maybe he *did* read it… the only person of the 3 of us we can be sure *didn’t* read it was you.

  5. SoF
    SoF August 3, 2013 at 9:31 pm | |

    Last night at the bookstore, I mentioned that Brad did some ‘heavy lifting’ in his ‘god’ book. That heavy lifting was “enlightenment porn.”

    Describing the ‘wakening’ is like describing what it’s like to urinate. Urination is individual and to know what it will be like for you, YOU have to do it for yourself. Somebody else doing it for you (e.g. Dennis) just doesn’t make the grade (climb the hill).

    The bad news is that after swearing off, I took on what I hope to be “one last student.” He happens to be a Sikh so I need to help him be a better Sikh (and perhaps not a ‘Buddhist’ at all).

    Read THIS and THIS and you might see a part of the inner conflicts he needs to resolve – or just let pass by.

    After this, never again.

    It’s not what your mentor/teacher/facilitator does, it what YOU do (or avoid doing).

  6. Shodo
    Shodo August 4, 2013 at 9:53 am | |

    This was me after reading the quote from dharmacology Fred posted… :3

    http://1-media-cdn.foolz.us/ffuuka/board/a/image/1341/93/1341933548751.jpg

  7. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 4, 2013 at 10:13 am | |

    I hear you Shodo, here I am after the same experience…

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

  8. minkfoot
    minkfoot August 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm | |

    So, is Brad not going to post anything for FIVE WEEKS?

    1. stonemirror
      stonemirror August 5, 2013 at 11:59 am | |

      We have some audio files of the Q&A sessions after some of Brad’s recent readings floating around that — with any luck — I’ll be posting now and then over the next month or so. Last I heard, they were being edited down at Dōgen Sangha in LA…

      Otherwise, Brad’s incommunicado, so you’re just going to have to manage to amuse yourselves somehow…

  9. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 4, 2013 at 5:57 pm | |

    “Brad? Brad’s not here, man.”

  10. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm | |

    “Here is the place; here the way unfolds. The boundary of realization is not distinct, for the realization comes forth simultaneously with the mastery of buddha-dharma.”

    Here, there is no Brad. Brad is not here. You may hear voices imploring you to open up, that the stuff is now at hand, but in this place, while infinity in ten directions without distinct boundary is present, Brad is nowhere to be seen.

  11. Fred
    Fred August 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm | |

    “So, is Brad not going to post anything for FIVE WEEKS?”

    “I’ve asked some folks to put up audio files of a few of my recent talks during my Northeast Tour while I’m away. So you’ll have those to listen to. And I’ll be back soon!”

  12. Fred
    Fred August 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm | |

    “. You may hear voices imploring you to open up, that the stuff is now at hand, but in this place, while infinity in ten directions without distinct boundary is present”

    There were no voices, there was no inside or outside or boundaries, the stuff at
    hand opened on its own.

    “The boundary of realization is not distinct” I wouldn’t know. I’m just a guest on
    the back of the ox.

  13. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm | |

    What ox?

    1. Fred
      Fred August 5, 2013 at 6:14 am | |

      The call of the Ineffable; the song it hums to itself.

  14. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 4, 2013 at 10:05 pm | |

    The place where I am riding the ox is here, the step is distinct but the body of the ox is not; could be the sound of water, or the sight of marigolds at the Day of the Dead festival in Petaluma or Oaxaca: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33Gcl5mX7r4. Rock and roll at 6:45. “Cuerpo, y alma”.

  15. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 4, 2013 at 10:07 pm | |

    er 7:30.

  16. Steve
    Steve August 5, 2013 at 7:10 am | |

    Can someone explain the Twitter conversation to me? What is Brad saying? Is he saying that what happened on the bridge was not an enlightenment experience because enlightenment is not an experience? But rather a way of experiencing? Which is why you can’t notice it?

    1. sri_barence
      sri_barence August 5, 2013 at 10:14 am | |

      You can’t notice your own enlightenment because enlightenment is just the state of reality at the present moment. If “you” notice “enlightenment,” this is just another delusion, because there is actually no you and no enlightenment (and also no extinction of them).

      But these words are a poor substitute for practice-and-experience. Which is one of the reasons why we do zazen.

      “And though it is like this, it is plainly that flowers, while loved, fall and weeds while hated, flourish.” — Dogen Zenji (Genjo-koan)

      This is what Brad is [always] trying to point out; if enlightenment is some kind of special experience or state, then it is not enlightenment at all.

      That pencil you are looking for is behind your ear.

  17. Fred
    Fred August 5, 2013 at 9:06 am | |

    There is no one to experience it. What is looking is the Universe, or God in Brad’s
    terms.

    Does it make sense to say that the Universe is having an experience that is
    enlightenment?

    You could say that this self here that is an illusion is having an
    enlightenment experience which is an illusion.

    Or you could just sit back and not pigeonhole the vast expansiveness

  18. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 5, 2013 at 10:04 am | |

    …by calling it the vast expansiveness, or an ox, or the Universe, or God or…

  19. Fred
    Fred August 5, 2013 at 10:32 am | |

    Yes John

  20. stonemirror
    stonemirror August 5, 2013 at 12:05 pm | |

    “Enlightenment” — whatever that means — isn’t something “you” “do” or somewhere “you” “go”. It’s not something “you” “achieve” or “accomplish”, it’s not something that “happens” to “you”.

    Asking whether “that” was “enlightenment” suggests that there’s somehow a “this” that isn’t “enlightenment”, and that’s simply not so.

  21. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm | |

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFyDNmpnGv4

    “If you think the harmony, is a little lost and out of key; then you’re right, ’cause I sing it myself.” George Harrison

    “If you try to grasp this, you cannot get it; it has no form, so it is not existent. If you try to get rid of it, you cannot separate from it; because it is forever with you, it is not nonexistent. It is not cognition or thought; it is not tied to any physical or psychological elements.

    That is why Zen master Hongzhi said, ‘There is a wisdom apart from intellectual assessment and discrimination; there is a body which is not clusters of elements.’ In other words, it is this mystic consciousness. “Always teaching clearly” means it is always manifest–this is called teaching. It has one raise the eyebrows and blink the eyes, it makes one walk, stand, sit, and recline. Rushing, hurrying, dying here, being born there, eating when hungry, sleeping when tired–all is ‘teaching’. Speaking, working, all activities are also ‘teaching’.” #39, Denkoroku

    No doubt the subject of Brad’s book.

    Wobbling along without really trying, what a joy!

  22. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm | |

    Let the dead bury the dead.

    Live inside your own understanding.

    Make of yourself a Living Word

    that only reveals its reality to you.

    Abide there in peace.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evxrVjW-aeg

  23. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm | |

    But seriously, nevermind all that.

    “I can put a round through a flea’s ass at 100 meters.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1vZq3bTS_Y

  24. Harlan
    Harlan August 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm | |

    “Utterances are deemed meaningful (or not) insofar as they trigger associations, and in the absence of associations no utterance is intelligible”. Richard Taruskin – Introduction to the Oxford History of Western Music 2005.

    Here is a piece of music mercifully free of utterances.. enjoy it or not.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zucBfXpCA6s

  25. zacharythax
    zacharythax August 6, 2013 at 2:54 am | |

    Sunday at the local Soto Zen center here in Columbia, SC we always have tea with the monks after the service the subject of enlightenment came up.

    From what I gather enlightenment is simultaneously everything and nothing. It is a gradual process AND instantaneous. It was said that Dogen taught that enlightenment is training itself. Once one reaches enlightenment, one doesn’t stop training.

    Look and expect for some great white light experience and it’s not going to come.

  26. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 6, 2013 at 4:32 am | |

    “In a classic sutra, the Buddha had said that if someone shoots you in the foot, don’t pick up the bow and shoot yourself in the foot again. Don’t make your suffering worse by arguing with what’s so. That’s a second arrow. Accept pain. Don’t criticize yourself, or others, for feeling pain: that is a second arrow. Don’t regret what cannot be changed, or try to predict what cannot be known.” – Katy Butler

    ……………………..
    Nice, Harlan, that section is a bit frantic, but impressive;
    I prefer this quieter slower part, played by Glenn…only by Glenn…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD6pGV69fJI

  27. Fred
    Fred August 6, 2013 at 4:59 am | |

    Deludedness is the volition of sitting down, crossing the legs and waiting for
    a magical state to appear.

  28. Steve
    Steve August 6, 2013 at 7:13 am | |

    Thank you!

    And if we’re posting wordless piano music, I think this one has something to do with enlightenment.

    http://youtu.be/7OYm2P0riks

  29. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm | |

    Someday you’ll find everything you’re looking for:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-9nlETnSUI

  30. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 6, 2013 at 5:41 pm | |

    Wow, Mark. I’m assuming that’s from the “Greendale” (sp?) cd, one of a v. few I don’t have. Is it all as great as this tune?

    That’s a crazy rattling E string that totally makes the guitar part work in a weird and wonderful, unexpected way. Wonder if he happened on that by chance w/a broken string or sumpthin’. Genius.

  31. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm | |

    Now back to our favorite (and this is my all-time fave) wordless piano pieces…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8as_BN5h5YQ

  32. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 6, 2013 at 7:03 pm | |

    And here is my fave of Part’s cyclical more frantic pieces…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-J8LNcZgTA

  33. Andy
    Andy August 6, 2013 at 9:28 pm | |

    response to Shodo from above

    Yes, it IS a judgement made by the reader, and at that point as the reader I would say “could you please rephrase it simpler?”

    So you agree, then, with my “We can ask questions or request further clarity in words we understand. ”

    [I get the impression that you're trying to get the maximum quota of disagreement out of our dialogue]

    …and no one brought up syntax…
    It’s the “Pretentious Diction” that makes his post eye-bleedingly unreadable, and his post is so opaque that no clear idea can be found, (and mremski says as much in his response.)

    Syntax can also be important, so why not include it when talking about being clear in what we write? Also you cited unnatural phrasing as well as obscure words – syntax includes phrasing. As for ‘Pretentious diction’, I wrote ‘ academic vocabulary, used frequently and referentially’. There’s a great deal of overlap and agreement there. I just withheld the more subjective ‘pretentious’, as such pejoratives can lead us away from distinguishing between the same diction used in a context in which it is appropriate and that which is not – or used unsuccessfully.

    As I suggested, it is not that such diction is used at all, but that it is used so frequently and referentially. Sometimes such density shorn of passages where the terms are defined and explained can be an accepted short-hand between two people. That it was not taken in this way will be one reason for the ‘eye-bleeding’. In other words Dharmacology was insisting on using a certain register, and on using it perhaps too idiosyncratically. The reason for this might be pretentiousness or it could be some form of insularity. As for no clear idea being formed, the quote above suggests that this might also be due to a lack of re-read and punctuation. One sentence could have been at least three.

    Not to insert myself whatever fight you and mjkawa seem to be having… but why are you assuming it’s a problem with *their* ego,…

    That is the clear impression I formed, just as you formed the impression that Dharmacology was being pretentious. mjkawa felt strongly about an issue and was being dismissive. That he/she quoted their own response to me in this thread kind of underlines this. That I responded shows that, as I said, “And so my little ‘I’ took the opportunity” to respond – i.e Both our egos were/are at play.

    …or that his/her intelligence was lacking? … I did not say that. I wrote:

    “Rather than asking what I meant by those last words, or addressing the body of points I made preceding them, mjkawa decided to complain about my use of language in them, which were not couched in unclear syntax or vocabulary, but expressed ideas he/she was unfamiliar with, couldn’t make sense of, and decided to dismiss as unnecessarily obscure.”

    Being unfamiliar with a notion, not being able to make sense of a notion, and dismissing a notion do not mean a lack of intelligence. They are prerequisite experiences by which we can become familiar, are able to make sense, and thus perhaps be a little less dismissive of future examples.

    Is it of any value to point out that your reading of my words in this instance fall below the exacting levels you appear to require of a writer? For my part, I don’t expect them, so I’m less inclined to write things like “Try to read more….”.

    …Try to make what you were saying clearer. When you make it crystal clear, you take away any claims of obfuscation as a defense.

    This is where you and I have very different views on language. (I’ll half-sidestep the worryingly prescriptive headmasterly tone!). After all, what is ‘crystal clear’? It’s a metaphor. And hyberbollic. You have already clouded a sentence intended to express that I should always attempt to make my language as sensible as possible to an addressee! Or do you mean to suggest by ‘crystal’ that some kind of linguistically fixed absolute can be achieved, and in all instances – lest I leave myself open to ‘claims’? (But really you were expressing a lot more through those choice words than merely matter of fact advice.)

    I’m sorry but this is not how language works in every day life. What happens in discussions in speech or writing at best is that people express themselves in different ways and with different mind-sets depending on the occasion etc etc. And we attempt to understand each other, or we challenge and bounce off each other. We bring interpretive and emotional baggage, different types or levels of knowledge and expertise; we generate implicature and make inferences. There are occasions where it will be appropriate to do the taxing work of trying to be as clear as possible to the widest audience possible. But then some things are so wonderfully elusive that countless bookshelves of such attempts are stacked with them.

    As for my discussion with mjkawa, I attempted to be as clear as possible – indeed the words (in italics below) he/she took to task were pretty clear (and addressed to Mark):

    “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. (on the God Is Eternal post).

    And finally, you wrote:

    Maybe he *did* read it… the only person of the 3 of us we can be sure *didn’t* read it was you..

    That’s right, the only person we know who has said he didn’t go over and read the comments in context is me. That means we also don’t know who formed their opinions on Fred’s quote alone, who after reading it in context – or even if someone did the former and has claimed or will claim untruthfully (or expediently) that they did the latter. Some things you never know – and thankfully some of those somethings are really quite irrelevant.

    I didn’t need to swan over to read words that didn’t effect my points, as my very first response was to mjkawa, and in that case to suggest a general truth: that one example of unnecessarily obscure writing (ie dharmacology) doesn’t prove that one’s claims about obscurity hold in all cases (ie in his reaction to my past words, which he/she referred to by re-quoting his/her self).

    I was neither defending nor criticising Dharmacology. But that’s how you appeared to take it, and I thought your emphasis on the writer’s burden was imbalanced, and that your insistence on clarity misjudged.

    Look how much space I’ve used trying to be as clear as I can! This is a relapse, not a return to bad form.

    1. Shodo
      Shodo August 7, 2013 at 8:00 am | |

      Yeesh… let’s just cut to the chase shall we?

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

      And then I say:
      Ok. I am not really sure what you meant here… could you perhaps make this more clear?
      (are you happy I didn’t say “crystal”? oi vey.)

      Now, at this point, one of 2 things could happen.
      Either, you can think I am lacking in brains, or that my ego is getting in the way and not explain what you mean here – in which case the conversation is over.
      Or…
      Just explain what you mean in a way that is more clear. (ha! no crystal again…)

      You can quibble about where the burden lies, but there is only 1 move here that advances the possibility of further conversation.

      1. Andy
        Andy August 8, 2013 at 6:52 am | |

        Shodo

        (Sorry to those pissed by all these words. I hear you. Keep on scrolling!)

        Now, at this point, one of 2 things could happen.
        Either, you can think I am lacking in brains, or that my ego is getting in the way and not explain what you mean here – in which case the conversation is over…
        Just explain what you mean in a way that is more clear. (ha! no crystal again…)

        This addresses no view that I have expressed, and disregards the one’s I have on more than one occasion. I’ve already cut to the chase on that score, which is one reason why I’m responding to ‘yeesh’ proportions.

        Why, once again, are you suggesting that it is not my own view that questions can be asked of a writer and that they can then come back with further clarification/explanation?

        In my first response to you on this thread, I wrote of mjkawa:

        Rather than asking what I meant by those last words,…

        Further down in the same post:

        We can ask questions or request further clarity in words we understand

        Then I had to reiterate:

        So you agree, then, with my “We can ask questions or request further clarity in words we understand. ”

        That’s pretty clear, don’t you think?

        So, not matter how clear I am being in my responses to you, you’re still responding to my posts as if I don’t think and haven’t expressed that a writer has a responsibility to make themselves clear, when it’s their ‘move’.

        Clearly a writer trying hard to be clear, or even succeeding in being clear, is not enough to prevent claims, accusations, suggestions or responses that imply things about what he/she has written that are really due to something about the reader’s reading.

        I’ve already explained that mjkawa’s previous-post response to those words (which were addressed to Mark – amidst a discussion mjkawa and I were having), were used,by mjkawa, as exemplifying what he/she considered ‘obscure’ and ‘unclear’ language.

        There was no ‘fight’.

        Yet, there was no simple or genuine request for me to explain. The assumption was being made that I was being obscure and unclear. It took the form of a mild rant to all about a sentence used in my post – not a personal request for further explanation. He/she had already made their mind up.

        Remember the how mjkawa quoted their own words again in this thread?

        “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.”

        I was being accused incorrectly of using language that disabled effective dialogue.

        I have never strayed, here or in other places, from the view that both the reader and writer have to make an effort for effective dialogue.

        Indeed, it can sometimes be the case that a reader, rather than ask for further explanation or clarification, will dismiss out of hand an expression, and start accusing the writer as a result of their own lack of understanding, knowledge, or simply their unwillingness to make the effort to read and respond constructively. And we can say broadly in common parlance that they are most likely letting their ego get in the way of constructive dialogue in such instances.

        Surely you’ve experienced the same from others and within yourself. I would say everyone has.

        Their is no need to characterize or suggest that I or any writer think of a responder ‘brainless’ or lacking in intelligence, for seeking clarification, mis-reading, a lack of understanding/knowledge/experience, or for being dismissive etc. Such things are, in almost all cases, a matter of attitude, especially where certain subjects or types of expression touch a nerve.

        Please, again, understand that in talking about the reader’s responsibility, I am not disavowing the writer’s. And never have I.

        (are you happy I didn’t say “crystal”? oi vey.)

        (Use of vernacular to come across as a worldly man of common sense in contrast to the verbose intellectual noted! Good PR)

        I was not unhappy that you used the word ‘crystal’. You used the phrase ‘crystal clear’ emphatically as a way to express (as you had previously) the expectations you have of a writer. Alongside my view that what you were expressing – again – seemed one-sided and unrealistic, I thought to illustrate how that is the case on a very basic linguistic level using your own words.

        I noted also that the tone of…

        Try to make what you were saying clearer. When you make it crystal clear, you take away any claims of obfuscation as a defense.

        … was prescriptive and kinda head-masterly. (I’ll leave the emotive content on that one out in the open. Can of worms).

        More importantly, the second sentence contains a false claim, and in my view one at the heart of our dialogue, because my intention from my first post in this thread, and throughout, has been to address a perceived imbalance in certain views and responses that lead to or derive from such false claims – or those like them.

        Claims of obfuscation can be made about very clear language.

        Claims of obfuscation are regularly made when a writer writes or speaks in a register that a reader is not used to – especially when the subject may be one that the reader has some emotional stake in and feels they already have some grasp of, or strong views about. And sometimes the reader is going to have a point. Sometimes – although not always as strong a point as they think to justify certain levels of response or generalisation (Baby and bathwater).

        Sometimes hitting the other over the head deflects from one’s own insecurities (“”You calling me stupid!!!?”)

        I had a quick glance at the thread you cited from which dharmacology was tying his language up in some knots.

        mremski, who you quoted as having an eye-bleeding response to dharmacology’s posts, provides this expressive sentence later on:

        I can’t be sure, but I think that working hard at full disclosure isn’t going to show me bigotry, but rather the oscillation of passion, woundedness, and ambivalence towards western and eastern things alike. In the end, it always seems that it’s the metaphysics of power and distraction that is my target, wherever it shows up.

        Taken out of context or read within it, I’m pretty sure that claims of obfuscation or pretentiousness can be claimed and from some quarters would. But it seems that on that blog, a more academic (esp. cultural theory/philosophical) register is deemed acceptable, and with a dab of spiritually lyrical too perhaps.

        Although not immediately accessible to me, it would be churlish to wade in with accusations of pretentiousness or obfuscation – even if there were elements or strains of it.

        Who can honestly claim to not be possessed now and again of a few ourselves?

        Even the length or detail to which a commenter might indulge in can be deemed to have an obfuscating effect – and this is something I’m painfully aware of, even as I type like a rutting rabbit.

        I hope you realize that in this instance and in others on this thread, at least, that it comes from a sincere attempt to be clear and as objective as possible unders the circumstances, and to unknot certain things that are difficult to unravel or highlight in a few words.

        I grate too at many forms of obfuscation and pretentiousness, as well as uncooperative, unconstructive or insincere writing.

        But it’s also the case that human beings can often fall into the trap of expecting others to dumb down or limit the variety through which they can express themselves.

        It is immature to expect the world to shape itself to one’s own expectations without, first and foremost, having attempted to open oneself to it.

        First and foremost, it’s my move, it’s about what I am doing as a reader and what I am doing as a responder. Otherwise we might not be aware that, even with stuff where we find many things that are wrong or counter-productive, there might be much to understand, learn and contribute to.

        Shodo,I don’t think at heart there is much we would actually disagree on. I do think that an element of normal combativeness has marked our exchanges, and that can cloud things, and is to expected.

        I hope you appreciate, even if you have just skimmed through my words (many as they are), the good faith in which they have been written to the point where once again I’ve provided much rope for annoyed scrollers to take issue with.

        Nobody’s ego (or whatever we’d like to call it, in the broadest terms) isn’t operative in these spaces. For me it’s about how flexible and tolerant we can be, so that it doesn’t divert us too much from being mutually constructive and beneficial.

        Apologies to those annoyed, by all this. (I’ll go back to zipping it for a good while now).

        1. Shodo
          Shodo August 8, 2013 at 7:48 am | |

          Holy crap…

          http://i2.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/237/621/c8a.gif

          I began typing out a response, but then realized that I would rather do other things than unpacking your responses just now by putting them into context with my responses by putting them into context with your response to my original response that started this whole thing (which was a response to your original statement.)

          You talk too much.
          (which by the way, is another kind of obfuscation.)

          “But it’s also the case that human beings can often fall into the trap of expecting others to dumb down or limit the variety through which they can express themselves. ”

          And maybe it’s just attaching fancy words to an idea that is essentially smoke.

          1. Andy
            Andy August 8, 2013 at 8:18 am |

            “You talk too much.
            (which by the way, is another kind of obfuscation.)”

            Yes, I made that point in that very post.

            Also sometimes it’s necessary to write a lot in order to be as clear as possible.

            And sometimes that’ll provide someone with an excuse not to respond, and save face. Long post; not normal = too much. Not always so.

            There might also be some generosity in my efforts Shodo, in responding to someone who seems determined to gloss points where we agree. We could have had a more tightly focussed discussion on where we don’t.

            “And maybe it’s just attaching fancy words to an idea that is essentially smoke.”

            Yes. Yes! And that can sometimes be the case, too.

            Perhaps you’ve a blind-side to how throughout, I’ve constantly expressed that such can be this sometimes and it can be otherwise sometimes.

            So, I talk too much. And you get too emotional to read clearly.

            Howzat for cutting to the chase.

  34. zaroff
    zaroff August 7, 2013 at 5:36 am | |

    Having arrived on the Brad Warner webpage, he looked over the reams of drivel & twaddle permeating that page in absence of any thing of substance and he did leave swiftly.

    What a load of self-replicating mind-viral nonsense, he did say unto not much at all…

  35. Fred
    Fred August 7, 2013 at 8:58 am | |

    It’s possible that electrons tunnel through matter for the scientists because they
    have wave like properties.

    It’s possible that humans act as vessels for language, culture and memes to manifest themselves..

    It’s also possible for self-replicating mind-viral nonsense to resonate through
    the halls of not much at all.

    And for meaningless twaddle to vibrate through the illusion of substance.

    It’s all good.

  36. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 7, 2013 at 10:09 am | |

    I agree, Fred. I’m back to guru Brad being good at what gurus do do: be all things to all comers. Who is Brad as represented here, exactly? Zen master (check), Author (check), Musician (check), Actor (check), Monster Movie dude (check) and on and on. He’s evolving. Its fun to watch.

    That the expectations of a curious few are occasionally not met is moot, he (still) does a damn good job of creating a space where people feel safe to come and talk and play and intellectualize “Zen,” whatever that is, or anything they find interesting to share.

    Check your projections of what this blog should be at the door, or let ‘em hang out, or just have an opinion. Whatever. Discuss.

    It IS all good.

  37. zaroff
    zaroff August 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm | |

    while the cat’s away the mice talk endlessly about Their cheese.

  38. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm | |

    zaroff, what I like about Andy’s contributions is that he, more than most contributors to the blog, can separate connotation and spin from content. The words he uses, the care and the detail, can lead someone to say “drivel & twaddle”, yet Andy has the cold detachment of a clinical psychologist who must reflect what a person is really saying, what their actions really reveal, without an overlay of emotion. This is where I am willing to read on even if I think he is taking a long time to unwind things; I see the art in the unwinding, and I feel a positive effect.

    Mumbles, I don’t have Greendale, but I like “Bandit” a lot. Somebody online said it’s drop D and then tune the whole thing down two steps, and it sounded like it- but I love it, too. Don’t think it represents the album. I’m reading his autobiography, “Waging Heavy Peace”, which title really refers to his attempt to restore a decent sound quality to MP3′s and CD’s (he’s waging heavy peace against i-Tunes, he said, when someone asked him if he was waging war against them).

    Enjoying Arvo Part, listening to the cello-piano piece now (1989). I agree with you, Mumbles, Brad is out there on behalf of us all. Probably serving cheese even as we speak, in the deep canyon at Tassajara.

    I need to hear myself think sometimes. Bach’s sonata for cello and piano (in D major- they’re all good!):

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

    1. Andy
      Andy August 8, 2013 at 7:50 am | |

      Thanks for the kind words, Mark. I think if I had the sort of detachment you speak of, I’d not take up the challenge so often, and sometimes a tad neurotically, to be as clear as possible, through showing my working out as I go along and in trying to cover as many bases where potential misinterpretation may lie.

      And as I said in my tiny new post to Shodo above, the very length of my posts are going to having some obfuscating effect on their own. I’m pretty sure that they’ve led Shodo to skim and miss points where we are in agreement. I honestly always think I’ve written about a third of what I actually have.

      But then the very act of criticism can lead to an obfuscating red mist descending like a veil over the eyes of the one whose words are being analysed. I think that’s normal, but I try to hang in there and show that it’s not personal. If anything I’m passionate from the same place that get pissed about Dharmacology’s words on that thread.

  39. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm | |

    hmmm… yes, actually, those sonatas were written for cello and harpsichord, and I like Starker & Ruzickova as here (the sonata in G-major):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wdxFafHu4Q

  40. Fred
    Fred August 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm | |

    “and no one brought up syntax…
    It’s the “Pretentious Diction” that makes his post eye-bleedingly unreadable, and his post is so opaque that no clear idea can be found, (and mremski says as much in his response.)”

    Exactly. It’s almost seems as if words are being used to create some type of
    impression about something that he has no experience with.

    Remski was the one that shredded the Diamond Mountain crowd and was being
    very kind to this gentleman.

  41. Fred
    Fred August 7, 2013 at 6:42 pm | |

    http://michaelroachfiles.wordpress.com/category/geshe-michael-roach/

    “Robert Thurman, a professor of religious studies at Columbia University, met with Roach and McNally shortly after Roach published his open letter. He was concerned that Roach had broken his vows and that his continuing as a monk could damage the reputation of the larger Tibetan Buddhist community. “I told him, ‘You can’t be a monk and have a girlfriend; you have clearly given up your vow,’” Thurman says. “To which he responded that he had never had genital contact with a human female. So I turned to her and asked if she was human or not. She said right away, ‘He said it. I didn’t.’ There was a pregnant pause, and then she said, ‘But can’t he do whatever he wants, since he has directly realized emptiness?’” On the phone I can hear Thurman consider his words and sigh. “It seemed like they had already descended into psychosis.”

  42. Harlan
    Harlan August 7, 2013 at 10:14 pm | |
  43. Andy
    Andy August 8, 2013 at 8:37 am | |

    Oh Shodo!

    Just clicked that giff with “didn’t read LOL” “haters gonna hate”

    Why didn’t you just say so, instead of pretending that you had and had decided against a response, for for the sake of good ole life?

    Just say “Too long, can’t be arsed” or something. I got something from writing all that, so it’s no skin off my nose.

    I’ve been polite to you throughout, Shodo, and no ‘hate’ on my part I can assure you. I thought you wanted a sincere dialogue. My mental formation of a better Shodo has taken a reality bite! And I’m genuinely saddened by that.

    Haters gonna hate, indeed.

    1. Shodo
      Shodo August 8, 2013 at 8:59 am | |

      “Why didn’t you just say so, instead of pretending that you had and had decided against a response, for for the sake of good ole life?”

      I did just say so, right after the .gif

      “I thought you wanted a sincere dialogue.”

      I did – until I realized what a laborious process that was going to be.
      Also, I don’t think you are sincere in this dialog…

  44. Andy
    Andy August 8, 2013 at 9:37 am | |

    This is what you wrote immediatety after the “i didn’t read, lol” giff.

    I began typing out a response, but then realized that I would rather do other things than unpacking your responses just now by putting them into context with my responses by putting them into context with your response to my original response that started this whole thing (which was a response to your original statement.)

    So no, you didn’t come straight out with it, and say you didn’t read it.

    “Also, I don’t think you are sincere in this dialog…”

    Really? I strongly suspect some dishonesty on that one.

    Call me a waffling old idiot, with a ego the size of his posts. But reading even a part of them shouldn’t really lead anyone to doubt my long-winded sincerity in discussing an issue.

    Sounds to me like you’re doing a bit of back at ya. The giff suggests much about your sincerity.

    That’s a shame because you appeared to be a smart and relatively mature lad or gal.

    You know, it’s okay to get wound up when someone takes issue with you. Especially at great lengths like I have. The nature of our first responses,which you initiated, led me to believe that you weren’t allowing that to spill over.

  45. Shodo
    Shodo August 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm | |

    You don’t know what the meme “LoL didn’t read” means do you?
    (My mistake, I thought you did…)

    “Call me a waffling old idiot, with a ego the size of his posts. But reading even a part of them shouldn’t really lead anyone to doubt my long-winded sincerity in discussing an issue.”

    The issue -WAS- who’s responsibility it was to clarify statements… I believe it was the person who made the statement, you believed (initially) that it was the reader’s burden to bear. That such a fault was “a judgement made by the reader.”

    Long, Looooong, L O O O N G story made short – you made a statement that made little sense – and mjkawa got your goat with it.

    That statement was: “…we are also tools by which language expresses/fashions the world.” – a poetic, but silly statement. Everything you have written since your dialog with mjkawa/myself has it’s original source in that butthurt.

    You can believe whatever you like about my emotional states, or my intellect…
    But I know a conversational black hole when I see one, you will have to pardon me if I don’t want to be sucked into your event horizon.

    http://www.science20.com/eye_brainstorm/blog/language_does_not_shape_thought-112409

    1. Andy
      Andy August 9, 2013 at 4:03 am | |

      You have made claims about our conversation that again are not supported by the evidence. I have replied below, pointing the facts, not my imagination. If you don’t want to read it, just say. If you do wish to respond, please make the effort to.

  46. Fred
    Fred August 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm | |

    x

    From An3drew’s blog:

    “fred writes
    On transcending or transmuting from the I thought.

    The Universe slowly woke up and remembered itself

    my reply

    another “ i thought ”

    you are absolute fucking scum fred

    and brain damaged beyond the slighest ray of hope”

  47. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm | |

    I think An3drew’s thoughts have been unduly influenced by language, myself.

    Thanks for the article, Shodo. People have thought about this a lot!

    I do know that the description of relationships can open a person to experience or close a person off from experience, regardless of the language employed, depending on the extent to which the description accurately reflects the incomplete nature of understanding. That is to say, understanding in language or in symbols is in discrete units in an infinite universe, and there is really no way to bridge the gap. Moreover, any attempt to bridge the gap through the use of words such as “god” or “universe” or “mystic consciousness” in my experience tends to condition people to ignore the discrete reality from which the sense of continuity arises in favor of an affirmation of continuity apart from discrete reality which is entirely mental, and to suffer as a result.

    Mostly to suffer as a result, although it may be that such affirmation is a way of callousing over a thorn that could not be removed, in some cases; I’d like to think that removing the thorn would be a better solution, but you know how people can get very anxious around the extraction of something that causes pain whenever it is touched, especially if they don’t see removal as a possibility.

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