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What should we have in the other hand?


tariki
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With a bit of trepidation I enter the "Debate and Dialogue" section. However, the subject should not be too controversial. 

For quite a few months I have taken a break (as much as possible) from what could be called "current affairs". I barely look at a newspaper and the News on TV is switched off soon after the main headlines. My decision to do this was because of my total alienation from the direction of my country (the UK) and my low opinion of its current Government. You can consider "low" a bland euphemism for what I actually think. All this was seriously affecting my mental health. 

Long ago I took notice of an opinion of the Protestant theologian Karl Barth, when he said that we must always read our Bibles in one hand with a daily newspaper in our other. I've always thought this good advice. I've carried it over into Buddhism. Now I seek clarity of mind given my decision.

In the past, on a Buddhist Forum, I admired this guy (his "screen name" was Jabberwocky, a Lewis Carroll character, which i assumed he at least saw as relevant in some way to his zen practice) Jabberwocky would often relate his zen to current affairs. I think its always easy to have "principles" and beliefs which yet have no interaction - or even any particular relevance - to what happens in the wider world. Not so with Jabberwocky. 

Anyway, I've drifted into waffle as usual. 

The question:- "What should we have in the other hand?" 

How do others relate their faith/beliefs with the world around us?

 "In protecting oneself one protects others.

In protecting others one protects oneself"

(Theravada Text)

 

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On 10/12/2021 at 4:17 PM, tariki said:

With a bit of trepidation I enter the "Debate and Dialogue" section. However, the subject should not be too controversial. 

For quite a few months I have taken a break (as much as possible) from what could be called "current affairs". I barely look at a newspaper and the News on TV is switched off soon after the main headlines. My decision to do this was because of my total alienation from the direction of my country (the UK) and my low opinion of its current Government. You can consider "low" a bland euphemism for what I actually think. All this was seriously affecting my mental health. 

Long ago I took notice of an opinion of the Protestant theologian Karl Barth, when he said that we must always read our Bibles in one hand with a daily newspaper in our other. I've always thought this good advice. I've carried it over into Buddhism. Now I seek clarity of mind given my decision.

In the past, on a Buddhist Forum, I admired this guy (his "screen name" was Jabberwocky, a Lewis Carroll character, which i assumed he at least saw as relevant in some way to his zen practice) Jabberwocky would often relate his zen to current affairs. I think its always easy to have "principles" and beliefs which yet have no interaction - or even any particular relevance - to what happens in the wider world. Not so with Jabberwocky. 

Anyway, I've drifted into waffle as usual. 

The question:- "What should we have in the other hand?" 

How do others relate their faith/beliefs with the world around us?

 "In protecting oneself one protects others.

In protecting others one protects oneself"

(Theravada Text)

 

I do find news so depressing, but often I find myself unable to 'look away'.  Sometimes I avoid it for days at a time, at other times - perhaps if there is a particular relevant item of interest - I'll watch or read as much as I can.  Sometimes it makes me anxious, other times perhaps sad, rarely does it make me happy.

I wonder if I am one who has both hands free in some ways, as I carry neither a bible nor Buddhism nor any other particular guide in either hand.  I'm not recommending that course - it's just where I find myself.  I don't really have any particular faith or belief other than we are here, now, and soon we won't be.  I try to enjoy now, but I do find it quite hard work with what I feel is lots of responsibility and a ticking clock.

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34 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I do find news so depressing, but often I find myself unable to 'look away'.  Sometimes I avoid it for days at a time, at other times - perhaps if there is a particular relevant item of interest - I'll watch or read as much as I can.  Sometimes it makes me anxious, other times perhaps sad, rarely does it make me happy.

I wonder if I am one who has both hands free in some ways, as I carry neither a bible nor Buddhism nor any other particular guide in either hand.  I'm not recommending that course - it's just where I find myself.  I don't really have any particular faith or belief other than we are here, now, and soon we won't be.  I try to enjoy now, but I do find it quite hard work with what I feel is lots of responsibility and a ticking clock.

Hi Paul, maybe having "both hands free" as you describe it is the best way of actually becoming "responsible" in truly affective ways? It seems to me that more often than not when anyone plans and plots any activity towards the world (and I would include any form of evangelisation) the consequences are abysmal! Most revolutions are just that, revolving, and the wheel continues to turn. It is the "sideways" step, the non-step, that proves affective. The way of no-calculation. 

Today we often see people confronting personal challenges, born of circumstances they never anticipated. People of no particular faith or belief system, even perhaps living the "unexamined life." The suicide of a daughter, a cancer diagnosis, dementia in the family, and a life is transformed as a human being seeks to begin giving , growing in empathy and a wider concern for the world around them. In the UK, three dads at the moment are creating a few "headlines" actually worth catching, each having lost a young daughter to suicide. The terrible emotional pain, grief and loss, the unanswered questions........becoming a 300 mile walk, money being raised for various charities. The three dads would never have met each other if not for the deaths of their daughters.

I suppose, in a way, the walk had to be "planned" yet as I see it this all fits the way of no-calculation.  And not one Bible verse or any other scripture being quoted. So I'll quote one..... "Out of darkness light will shine."

I'm not seeking to suggest any form of theodicy to "justify" evil/suffering or whatever. That in itself I see as counter-productive. As you say/imply Paul, keeping the hands free, keeping the mind free of any theology or system, is a better preparation for meeting the next moment with any degree of compassion/understanding. 

 

 

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Given the way my mind seems to work I often find it difficult to decide where to post my latest ramblings. Dogen, Finnegans Wake and 3 Dads Walking all jumble together, suggestive in multiple ways. 

Speaking of "walking", I usually walk into town prior to my cappuccino in Costa's. I've made jokes about this on other Forums, alluding to a phrase often used by those seeking to demonstrate some sort of insight into the ways of zen. "When walking just walk". Yes indeed! The whole mind simply dedicated to the act of walking, void of all else. Well, for me, as I walk my mind is active, mulling over various things. Such as what may or may not tumble out of me when I hit Costa's. 

What I was thinking of today was the 3 Dads Walking, the guys raising awareness of suicide in the young, each having lost their own daughters. The first video in the link I gave above tells most of it. Deeply moving.

There is a song, The Pilgrim, by Kris Kristofferson, which has the lines:-

"From the rocking of the cradle to the rolling of the hearse,

The going up was worth the coming down."

 At the beginning of T S Eliot's Four Quartets are the words of Heraclitus, "The way up and the way down are one and the same"

(Push the two together you can get a decent Theodicy, not to mention the implications of much by Dogen)

Thinking of the 3 Dads, they are "turning darkness to light", not quoting a verse, not "believing" in the words of any book, however "holy". That said, using some words, this - as I see it - is truly "incarnational", the Word truly becoming flesh. 

The old slogan about Christ needing to be born in our hearts, not just believing that he was born in Bethlehem. Again, God's word being written on human hearts and not simply on tablets of stone. The tragedy is often created by those who insist upon "Jesus" coming into it, the "only way", the "one gate" - and obviously they have the texts to "prove" it!

As I've indicated, I'm more into Buddhism and the Mahayana teaching of Upaya (expedient means) whereby the truth (though "one") can be known/ found/realised in infinite ways. The Mahayana also has its texts, but in the end it is not the "authority" of any text, not the Word as text, but the Word made flesh. For me, as I see it and understand it, the video of that dad was/is an instance, a moment in time when any "truth" became substance. 

Anyway, I continue with Dogen and his insights, his poetry, his sermons, the words he left behind - this after finding his very own path, time and place. He seems to say all this, in zen speak.

 "We are what we understand"

 

Edited by tariki
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I have a problem with the word "should" ... philosophically speaking. It implicitly assumes we could have done otherwise.

Having said that ... never having been a card bearer of the Bible or Buddhist text carrying societies; potentially my hands are also free. But on closer inspection I find I am cradling reason carefully in my hands. I find people occasionally suggest perhaps I also carry compassion or perhaps love. 

If that happens ... it happens. 

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Well, after a brief interlude of just who will be getting the drinks, back to the thread. 

(Just to mention that any contribution at all will be appreciated)

The mention of "should" and "could" and the implications for the ancient on-going conundrums concerning free will and determinism, I'm becoming convinced that the failure to truly resolve the paradoxes and various logical problems actually have to do with our notions of "self", of exactly who we are in reality. As I see it we are possibly asking questions, and trying to solve them, about a construct that doesnt exist as we have constructed it/imagine it, to be. 

Just so long as we presume an inner self (subjective) looking out, and an outer reality, objective in and of itself, the age old questions will never be settled. (In fact, many will simply insist/presume  their own "answer" based upon the subjective conditionings and necessities of whatever belief system they  subscribe to - which certainly becomes a nonsensical tangle) 

Our knowledge now of reality points to the interdependence of observer and observed. Innumerable eminent physicists at the cutting edge of scientific discovery and experiment have testified to this. Maybe I'll dig out some relevant quotes sometime. 

Once again, this for me is not academic. It relates to "suffering (dukkha) and the end of suffering". It is about finding myself/ourselves. 

All seems to be paradox. In dying to self we come alive for the first time. In losing ourselves we find ourselves. I'm reminded once more of an entry in the Journals of Thomas Merton. Speaking of "change" he made a comment when in 1954 he was visited by his friend Mark Van Doren. Van Doren remarked that Merton had not changed much since his entry into the monastery. Merton replied....."Why should I? Here our duty is to be more ourselves, not less"

Paradoxically, "becoming more ourselves" is to let go of the congealed beliefs and allegiances that we think sustain us. Which can be frightening at times.

OK. Lots of "analysis" or whatever, conjecture, call it what you will. 

"Fidelity to grace in my life is fidelity to simplicity, rejecting ambition and analysis and elaborate thought, or even elaborate concern.(Thomas Merton)

What price "simplicity"? (Or, as we say in the Pure Land, hakarai - no calculation)

 

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As per my previous post, a few relevant quotes regarding interdependence (or in mumbo-jumbo speak, "non-duality v duality"):-

 

Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one. This is a virtual certainty because even in the vacuum matter is one; and if we don't see this, it's because we are blinding ourselves to it. (David Bohm)

 

Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else. (Erwin Schrödinger)

 

There is a fundamental error in separating the parts from the whole, the mistake of atomising what should not be atomised. Unity and complementarity constitute reality. (Werner Heisenberg)

 

Maybe the moral is that what we should have in the other hand is each other. Simply because this is the hard reality. What comes to one must come to all. 

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On 10/14/2021 at 7:40 PM, tariki said:

..... As you say/imply Paul, keeping the hands free, keeping the mind free of any theology or system, is a better preparation for meeting the next moment with any degree of compassion/understanding. 

I do think the world would be a much better place if many weren't so fixated on their beliefs being THE beliefs that everybody else should have.  Whilst my hands are free I have grabbed onto bits and pieces from time to time that help me through life.  I reckon there's maybe a bit from all sorts of religion, philosophies and science that we can all find a benefit from.  But what's good for the goose is not always good for the gander and so we should be relaxed about others not being as passionate about our beliefs as we are.  Each to their own I say, just as long as there is no harm done.

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On 10/15/2021 at 3:33 PM, tariki said:

A link here to the story behind "3 Dads Walking"....

https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2021-10-07/the-dads-united-by-their-daughters-suicides-hoping-to-prevent-more-deaths

Worth a moment of time.

Suicide is such a tragedy I think, mainly for those left behind.  Unanswered questions, thoughts if more could have been done, blame and responsibility, etc.  In my previous career as a police officer (some 20+ years ago now) I attended numerous suicides and numerous attendances to notify family and loved ones.  Always the same question from them - "Why?".  I have a much better understanding of 'why' these days, after having been in such a dark place myself at one point, but fortunately I didn't reach critical mass.  I try to encourage anybody getting close to suicide - just keep breathing - you will come through it (whatever 'it' is) eventually.

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On 10/15/2021 at 11:35 PM, romansh said:

If your hands are free, perhaps you can bring a beer over.

I would gladly, Rom.  Maybe one day when this world opens up again!  Frankly though, just now my focus is finishing my 3-weeks out here, as we are a completely dry vessel!  I suppose my forced temperance could be viewed as a health benefit - probably more physical than mental though! :)

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44 minutes ago, PaulS said:

Suicide is such a tragedy I think, mainly for those left behind.  Unanswered questions, thoughts if more could have been done, blame and responsibility......

Yes, one of the Dads actually admitted feeling anger towards his daughter for having chosen such a "solution". Such bravery to admit such. 

My only link to such tragedy was my GP. A young guy who treated me for over 20 years, once through a period of acute depression. Always family photo's on his desk. Always greeted me with a smile. I had absolutely no suspicion of his own challenges. When I found out that he had taken his own life I was shocked. It still keeps coming back into mind.

When I was deep in the pit a consultant said to me that others often have no idea just what we are going through, "especially people like yourself." I asked what he meant, and he said: - "You are always smiling". I had no idea! Simply automatic, it meant nothing. 

Mental health needs to be broadcast, spoken about, admitted. The suffering will obviously be far worse for anyone under the impression that all others are fine and coping well. 

 

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On 10/18/2021 at 5:36 AM, tariki said:

Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one. This is a virtual certainty because even in the vacuum matter is one; and if we don't see this, it's because we are blinding ourselves to it.

Bohm ... I have found to be a little impenetrable. It is interesting to think about how things like invention come about in a unfolding universe.

On 10/18/2021 at 5:36 AM, tariki said:

Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.

Here I find myself disagreeing with Schrödinger a little. I agree that as yet we have yet to scratch the surface of the phenomenon of consciousness. Saying we cannot account for it in physical terms reminds me of Auguste Comte's prediction we will never know the composition of the Sun. Little did he know that the tools that lead to the understanding had been developed a few years earlier.

On 10/18/2021 at 5:36 AM, tariki said:

There is a fundamental error in separating the parts from the whole, the mistake of atomising what should not be atomised. Unity and complementarity constitute reality.

Not really familiar with Heisenberg and his writings. But it would appear he was a devout Christian. I wonder if he had literal beliefs in Christ. If so ... how does an intelligent person believe in a Godly birth?

It is as though we can't let go of our indoctrinated beliefs and perhaps if we do we fill the vacated hole with another belief?

 

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Thanks Romansh

I was offering three examples from prominent scientists. There are many more. As I see it all point towards a paradigm shift, this from a Reality experienced as "me in here, that out there", "me subjective, that objective" into one where there is a fundamental inter-relationship between observer and observed. Experienced and understood as such.

(Anyone interested could look up a post I made on March 1, 2017 on the  thread Dogen in Other Wisdom Traditions, which relates)

Thank you once again for your interest. It is appreciated.

(I'Il give further thought to what was said concerning Heisenberg)

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8 hours ago, tariki said:

... into one where there is a fundamental inter-relationship between observer and observed

Yes ... We draw an arbitrary boundary ourselves described by the pronoun "I", and then we have the fuzzy bits of "my" and "mine". 

In reality all kinds of molecules, atoms and ions are exchanging in and out of our bodies. To be fair the exchange is slower in the brainy bits. I think the phrase inter-relationship in reality is an understatement. Indra's net perhaps gives a better analogy. Similarly, for more nebulous bits like ideas and beliefs. Our material goods exchange, monies exchange. 

For me, connection is a 'better' word. We are connected to the the rest of existence, at the very smallest to the very largest scales; through the depths of time. 

If someone were to ask me, "are you religious?"  I would have to answer, "no, but I am perhaps ligious." For I am connected to the universe and don't need reconnection.

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I often browse in books of poetry. This evening I came upon this one, which made me think of this thread:-

You say, “If you want to be happy

there’s no way, but to be a hermit.

Flowers in the grove are better than brocade,

every single season’s colours new.

Just sit by a creek and turn your head

to watch the moon’s ball roll.”

And me? I ought to be at joyous ease,

but I can’t help thinking of the people in the world.

 

(Shih Te, 8th Century, translation from the Chinese by J. P. Seaton, from "The Poetry of Zen")

 

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