The Meta-narrative of Awakening

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Khethil
 
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 07:56 am
@jeeprs,
Hey Jeep,

On the whole, regarding your meta-post, meta-narrating this meta-awakening of meta-philosophy, I'd meta-agree. Smile

Just kidding; In all seriousness this awakening through an enlightened and heightened self-awareness in the 'philosophy outside ourselves' is quite matter-of-fact. I'd add that your illustration of it speaks well of it (especially the framing of this as an 'evolutionary' process - that parallel works and has definite value).

A few clarifications/questions if I might....

jeeprs;78394 wrote:
... However the attainment of wisdom really means going beyond oneself, seeing beyond the me and the mine and its limited goals and small concerns. This is a spiritual, rather than philosophical, goal, in the modern sense of the word 'philosophical'...


Without getting too stuck on verbiage here, I'm curious about the interjection of the concept of 'spiritual' here. If I get the gist of this part of your post, it speaks to what one might gain in terms of: increased perspective, developing the ability to contextualize how one feels as they realize other lines of thought and the enhanced view one gains as they 'step outside themselves'. If I have this right, then I might call it: Enlightenment or Wisdom, or perhaps more accurately "mental growth through increased perspective". If I then look up the concept 'spiritual', I'm stuck wondering... how so? I'm hoping you can tell me how this connection exists for you in your view. Is it, perhaps, the sensation of mental growth? Consciousness of the larger picture?

jeeprs;78394 wrote:
But I am dissappointed by the attitude which says, in a triumphant kind of way, that everything is meaningless, life arose by accident, there is no purpose, and so on. I can't understand why this is a prize or a victory. Yet its exponents always seem to cling so determindely to it. Perhaps it is because they hate anything spiritual. Kind of a phyrric victory I would have thought.


Spirituality, insomuch as I understand it, is an awesome motivator and 'value enhancer' in our lives. I believe it to be as much a part of our existence as any other integral, human-defining, value-adding aspect. That being said, I must say that I'd agree with you here quite vehemently, I too wish I understood (or more accurately, could help alleviate and/or eradicate) this feeling of "meaningless"-ness. [INDENT]That we perceive many, who further this view, to be 'pushing' it might speak to Misery-Loves-Company. I, personally, prefer the view that says my purpose is my own to define, that this alone gives it more value than virtually anything else. Also, insomuch as my behavior jives with my consciously-defined purpose, it's value is increased. Where I deny such value (because something else hasn't infused it), there also its value is diminished.
[/INDENT][INDENT]Another observation here - talking about this mindset-of-meaninglessness. Above, you rightly characterized it by saying, "...that everything is meaningless, life arose by accident, there is no purpose...". I too often see these conclusions drawn, yet wonder how any of the two latter elements lead to the first - that meaninglessness. I don't take it that you, personally, feel this way. But I have to wonder why so many do; this mindset that says:
[/INDENT][CENTER]If life arose without a determined creative intelligence, it therefore was an 'accident', therefore meaningless
-and-
If there is nothing that gives us purpose, there we have none, and are therefore without meaning
[/CENTER]

These not only don't make any sense to me, they're what I'd call "doesn't follow" statements that try to force am unjustified two-dimensional view. I realized I may likely be preaching to the choir, but I think it's an important point and thought I'd express it here.

Good subject - Thanks
 
richrf
 
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 08:48 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;83232 wrote:


[CENTER]If life arose without a determined creative intelligence, it therefore was an 'accident', therefore meaningless
-and-
If there is nothing that gives us purpose, there we have none, and are therefore without meaning
[/CENTER]

These not only don't make any sense to me, they're what I'd call "doesn't follow" statements that try to force am unjustified two-dimensional view. I realized I may likely be preaching to the choir, but I think it's an important point and thought I'd express it here.

Good subject - Thanks


Hi,

I think the view that life is meaningless is an honest one. It is one that Camus addresses in The Myth of Sisyphus - i.e. the absurdity of Life. Camus might have found some solace in his conclusion, but I still found it somewhat wanting. But we each find our meaning or lack of meaning in life in our own way. No one way, I believe, being better than others.

For me there is a very, very fine line between knowing there is meaningless in life and knowing that there is meaning.

For me, learning a good golf swing is as delightful as learning about spirituality. There is no great awakening. There is exploring, observing, creating, learning, and sharing. It seems that for everyone it is the same. We are observers of life.

For what purpose? I am satisfied that participating in life is sufficient. I am also satisfied that there is sufficient tell-tale evidence that life is transcendental (e.g. that which is called inherited or innate characteristics), to also satisfy me for now that what we learn in this life time is not lost.

For others, this may not be satisfactory. But is there any better great claim to knowing out there? I have not observed it. We appear to be all in the same boat. Everyone seems to be rowing, navigating and searching. Smile

Rich
 
pagan
 
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 10:30 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;83232 wrote:
[CENTER]If life arose without a determined creative intelligence, it therefore was an 'accident', therefore meaningless
-and-
If there is nothing that gives us purpose, there we have none, and are therefore without meaning
[/CENTER]

These not only don't make any sense to me, they're what I'd call "doesn't follow" statements that try to force am unjustified two-dimensional view.


hi Khethil

yes those may be strongly held opinions but they are didactic.
 
salima
 
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 01:30 pm
@jeeprs,
my favorite buddha story was this-
student: what do we have to do to achieve enlightenment?
buddha: a lot of chopping wood and carrying water
student: what will we do after enlightenment?
buddha: chop wood and carry water
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 04:05 pm
@jeeprs,
Hi Kethil

Your analysis is pretty well spot on - thanks.

Now why spiritual instead of philosophical? Well I did qualify that by referring to the 'modern sense of the word "philosophical" '. At certain times and places the philosophical and the spiritual were one and the same. Certainly in Indian philosophy they are practically one, where a system of philosophy is 'darshana', 'a seeing' or 'a vision'. The same word is used to refer to visiting a spiritual teacher or guru (e.g. having darshan).

I also think classical Greek philosophy and much of traditional metaphysics were spiritual philosophies. This has been very much the subject of recent work by scholars Pierre Hadot and Peter Kingsley.

However, remember, David Hume recommended we commit all that to the flames. And certainly most modern philosophers have. So modern technical and academic philosophy is probably largely shaped by the effort to exclude anything remotely spiritual. My experience of studying it at university was that you had, on the one side, analytical and positivist philosophers, and on the other, leftist and continental philosophers - but they were all materialist (with a few exceptions). The ideas I was interested in were taboo. You could study it in Comparitive Religion - and I did, but even there you had to adopt the attititude of a museum curator or butterfly collector. (It has changed a lot since I studied it in the 80's and actually I am considering returning next year to do the recently-introduced Master of Buddhist Studies at University of Sydney. )

So I had to break out of the Western mind. The Western mind will never be spiritual. Its spirituality was destroyed by the Inquisition and the Thirty Years War. Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, the whole atheist/materialist bandwagon, and almost all Western philosophy, is still operating in the shadow of those events. This is why Indian philosophy in general, and Buddhism in particular, has come in to fill the gap. It is not an ideology, and it is not primarily intellectual. It is 'spiritual philosophy'. In fact, as I said in another post, it is not something that can be satisfactorily defined, only experienced (with the immediate caveat that it is also not the fantasy that the Western mind will invariably make of this statement.)

What is happening is that people are starting to grasp the perspective of non-dualism, Advaita (Vedic) or Advaya (Buddhist). This is historic in that this is a perspective from outside the Western universe of discourse. It is outside the whole dialectic of belief and non-belief as defined in the Western tradition.

Now there are going to be traps and pitfalls in this too. There will be plenty of people, I am sure, who misrepresent and misunderstand it (I pray I am not one). It will attract plenty of sideshow operators and carnival barkers, but there is also a genuine core of something entirely new. To which end I am going to the Science and Non-Duality Conference in San Rafael, October, to meet a lot of the people who are engaged in this work. Like them, I believe that the philosophy of the future will be informed by the union of Western science and Eastern 'Darshanas' - and that this has already started.

(Hey pagan sorry about embarrasing you with my 60's terminology:bigsmile:)

---------- Post added 08-15-2009 at 09:24 AM ----------

salima;83286 wrote:
my favorite buddha story was this-
student: what do we have to do to achieve enlightenment?
buddha: a lot of chopping wood and carrying water
student: what will we do after enlightenment?
buddha: chop wood and carry water


Hey Salima - this is one of the Zen Koans that in Alan Watts quotes in the Way of Zen. But I am afraid that out of context it is not actually very useful.

The teacher is actually whichever Zen master is giving the 'dokusan' (interview). So it is not the Buddha as such (except insofar as the teacher represents him). It is meaningful in the context of Zen. But it is nothing like the teachings of the Buddha in the Pali Cannon which are far less enigmatic, and, well, 'Zen'.

It should never give you the impression, moreover, that you will 'achieve enlightenment by chopping wood and carrying water'. There are plenty of people who do that all their lives and never come close to enightenment. The meaning is in the context in which the teaching is given. The part that is not said is 'AND live in a Zen monastery for a number of years and sit in Zazen for many hundreds of hours.'

Cheers
 
salima
 
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 06:13 pm
@jeeprs,
hi jeep-
i didnt take the koan literally though-i presumed it meant that there is a lot of hard work and trouble before one becomes enlightened-and once they have, nothing really changes except the attitude-in other words, everything has changed but nothing changes. so we do everything we used to do with a new outlook. we still take baths, wear clothes, go to work, etc-we may choose to participate fully in the world while understanding what it is and what is behind it.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 06:51 pm
@jeeprs,
Yes that is right. In Soto Zen, there is a big emphasis on 'nothing special'. Master Dogen, who started this school, said that 'practise IS enlightenment. When you sit in Zazen, you are already Buddha'. So you don't sit to become Buddha. You are expressing your inherent buddha-nature.

There is also an emphasis on acting with all your heart and mind, whether cooking, or sitting, or whatever else. This is the approach of Zen Mind Beginner's Mind which is one of the first and best 'American Buddhist' books. (Actually going to visit San Francisco Zen Centre in October!)
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 09:36 pm
@jeeprs,
I had posted Nothin You Can Do About It here but moved this to my blog again. Forgive my enthusiasm for this song.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 09:52 am
@jeeprs,
Good contributions guys, Thank you.

I think, Jeep, that in order for me to better understand what you've been saying, I'm going to need a more thorough definition of your idea of spirituality. I've looked around quite a bit, and the different notions of what_is_spiritual makes it difficult without consulting each individual person - even within particular philosophical contexts.

But thank you - again I appreciate the sharing.

EDIT: I think I may refer back to other Spirituality threads or perhaps pose another "Open Ended Please Share Your Idea"-thread for it.
 
rhinogrey
 
Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 11:44 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;78394 wrote:
Now of course not everyone will get this, or want to, and I am certainly not interested in evangalising it or pushing it to anyone.To each in his or her own time

I 'get' what you're saying but I also 'get' that it is a confused and escapist outlook on reality, whereby the individual fails to reconcile the line between his conceptualizations [models] of reality and reality itself.

Quote:
But I am dissappointed by the attitude which says, in a triumphant kind of way, that everything is meaningless, life arose by accident, there is no purpose, and so on.
I don't see what your 'being disappointed' by it has anything do with the philosophical truth of the matter. Reality is characterized by potential form, and life is characterized by a continual reconfiguration of elements, a constant fulfillment of lack.

Your imagination, your creative potential, as a human being, is a component of a consciousness that is biological reaction to reality, as a [survival] mechanism for coping with that reality, a negation of its components into an abstract framework. A tool to help resist life's most basic condition: lack.

From this resistance spawns an Intellectual conceptualization of the Absolute Purpose to which you refer. What this is is a byproduct of consciousness' nature as a reaction against reality, its dualistic-&-simplified models of reality. The purpose does not exist in reality, but in your interpretation of it. It is a subjective-objective drive, a Will to-, a process, not an existent thing-in-itself. There is no linear (absolute) direction, there is only change.

Quote:
I can't understand why this is a prize or a victory. Yet its exponents always seem to cling so determindely to it. Perhaps it is because they hate anything spiritual.
Spirituality is not identified with wishful-thinking, it is characterized by an awe for something greater than oneself. Once one begins to mistake his abstract projections of reality for a greater reality than the dynamic one in which we are entangled, one begins to reject life for what it really is. True spirituality comes when man loses his contempt of his own condition and embraces life as it really is, and not how one would ideological hope it to be. Spirituality is not about blind faith, it is about acceptance of what can be clearly seen.
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 12:34 pm
@rhinogrey,
rhinogrey;83457 wrote:
Spirituality is not about blind faith, it is about acceptance of what can be clearly seen.


Yes, this is how I feel. Enlightenment is right there, right before our eyes, for everyone to see. It may be so obvious that we just overlook it. The more we look the more we see. It is like Heraclitus said: Nature loves to hide.

Rich
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 04:34 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;83445 wrote:
I'm going to need a more thorough definition of your idea of spirituality.


Definitions in such topics are problematic. A definition is to explain one thing in terms of another, or perhaps to say what something is not. So 'my idea of spirituality' is really a practise and an attitude to life (even though some seem to think I am hopelessly confused about it all). My adopted faith is Buddhist. In 2005 I formally 'took refuge' in a ceremony at the Nan Tien temple and subsequently have endeavoured to live according to the Buddhist precepts and to practise sitting meditation regularly. I have not said too much about it on the Forum but I think henceforth my contributions will be more in line with the Mahayana school of Buddhism that I took refuge in.

So, if you want a 'definition', and if you can get your hands on it, I would strongly recommend T.R.V. Murti's 'The Central Philosophy of Buddhism'. This text was first published in about 1960 but is still in my view the best on the topic. And what is especially useful about it for students of Western philosophy is the extensive comparisons between the Mahayana outlook and various Western philosophers including Kant, Hegel, and Hume.

Meanwhile I hope various aspects of this perspective will become clear through my interactions on the forum. And thank you again for your interest and courtesy.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 16 Aug, 2009 05:00 am
@jeeprs,
"Students of recent times cling to their own emotional views and go by their own
subjective opinions, thinking Buddhism (or any religion) must be as they think it is,
and denying it could be any different. As long as they are wandering in illusion
seeking something resembling their own emotional judgments, most of them will
make no progress on the way of enlightenment." - Dogen Zen-ji
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 16 Aug, 2009 06:45 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;83549 wrote:
"Students of recent times cling to their own emotional views and go by their own subjective opinions, thinking Buddhism (or any religion) must be as they think it is, and denying it could be any different. As long as they are wandering in illusion seeking something resembling their own emotional judgments, most of them will make no progress on the way of enlightenment." - Dogen Zen-ji


Don't we all.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 16 Aug, 2009 06:48 am
@richrf,
richrf;83563 wrote:
Don't we all.

Rich


No. Only some. ......
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 04:02 pm
@jeeprs,
The meta-narrative of Man waking up to the truth that he is God: it's a good one. It's also how I interpret Hegel.

If man identifies with a powerful myth, he experiences what I would call emotional or subjective closure. This is Nirvana or Serenity or Wisdom.

Hegel thought he had attained a conceptual closure. As impressive as his system is, I cannot agree with him. In fact, I think conceptual closure is impossible. The game of interpretation is endless.

I think mysticism is an automatic part of human nature, and that philosophy gets much of its energy from echoing religious myth. Hegel's Absolute is a sophisticated monotheism, for instance. So is Nietzsche's Will-to-Power.

I would argue that man finds meaning even in meaninglessness. Such meaninglessness allows him to play a rather impressive sort of hero. The essence of all meta-narrative is arguably the hero with a thousand faces. The gloomy existentialist is display of nerve and dignity in world that doesn't value such. It's a show for oneself and perhaps for other ever-so-noble existentialist.
Those who reject all comforting world-views on principle are caught up (I think) in the thrill of an austere sort of heroism. Ascetics in regards to meaning, you might say. And then as a Dostoevsky character might say: If there is no god, then I am god.

In this meaninglessness is the proper backdrop of Satanic role-play, and I mean Satan as myth, of course. Satan in Paradise Lost says: which way I fly is Hell, myself am Hell. This reminds me of the idea of man as a nothingness. It's all quite sexy and romantic. And indulgent. Just as Goethe was suspicious of the Romantics, so am I suspicious of those who refuse to find meaning and structure in life.

I don't think we can avoid enacting some heroic metanarrative. It is as we are programmed to enact some sort of heroism or nobility. But this program is indeterminate. As if there were indeed a nothingness at the core of our being after all, but one that is the foundation (and not the negation) of meaning.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 05:57 pm
@jeeprs,
one thought that has occurred to me recently is that a major impetus behind materialism is that it places the human will at the centre of the universe. Why? Because in its world picture, nature is dumb matter and nothing happens intentionally. There is no purpose to the universe or the evolution of life. So humans have the only purpose or intention. Actually you can see by the state of the planet that modern man thinks like that.

Nothingness as foundation of being - this is true in the Buddhist sense of 'sunyata' which is pure potentially, the no-thing out of which everything manifests and to which it returns. So by 'realising nothing', which means, allowing the ego to realise it's no-thing-ness, instead of fantasising about it or dreading it.

I think you're right about Hegel but he did no favours to philosophy by writing such impenetrable verbiage. I often wonder if he was the Last Western Philosopher, for this reason.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 07:41 pm
@jeeprs,
I agree with you on materialism, that it puts man in the center. You might call it Satanic. If there is no God, then Man is god. If Nature is a blind machine, then Man is obviously superior to Nature.

Heidegger's attempt to define Being fascinates me. At point he put a bar thru the word to make clear that the word Being was certainly not Being itself. I think this Being is equivalent to Consciousness. And one must put a bar thru the word Consciousness. It's as if Nothingness, Consciousness, and Being are three terms that point to some sort of limit, or root. Just as the blind spot of a human eye occurs at the place where the retina attaches to the optic nerve.

I've mostly read Hegel via intermediaries. Especially Kojeve. Also Coppleston. Thank Absolute that someone put in the time, because I despise murky prose.

With respect,
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 07:49 pm
@jeeprs,
Interesting - thanks for the mention of Kojeve, he looks very interesting indeed. Will have to add him to the ever-growing list.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 08:34 pm
@jeeprs,
Kojeve's book is great. Passionate exposition, in the light of Heidegger and Marx. I know what you mean about the ever growing list.

One of the reasons I got into Hegel was that Rorty would mention him now and then in his essays. He suggested that Hegel might be waiting for us at the end of our apparently radical post-modern path. I had to know what sort of philosophy would make Rorty say that. And I think I know what it is. The Hegelian Dialectic (from my limited perspective) is philosophy. Since it includes the concept of constant negation and then the re-assimilation of this negation, it arguably includes the entirety of the Future. (Buy, hey, I'm an ironist...)(And yes I got that term from Rorty, but also from F. Schlegel.)

regards
 
 

 
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