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Thread: Zen in the West

  1. #11
    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abhaya View Post
    Don't look at the finger pointing look at the moon!
    Indeed... reading the Dao De Jing is a very good corrective for the kinds of people who go on and on about religion and forget that religion is about re-ligio (to re-unite)... not the means of re-uniting...

    though the problem is that whenever one tries to formulate a rule, it backfires...

    - Don't look at the finger pointing at the moon! It's not about what particular path you take, it's really about where you're going, where you ultimately want to be...

    - Ah, but it's not about where you're going, but the going itself...

    - So the path we walk is more important than the final destination?

    - Yes... the pointing of the finger is, thus, more crucial than actually getting to see the moon.

    - You... bastard...



    P.S. Abhaya... have you lost all fear and, if so, how?
    Madman's azure lie: a zen miasma ruled.

    Realize us, Madman!

    I razed a slum, Amen.

    ...............................................

  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel De Mazarin View Post
    P.S. Abhaya... have you lost all fear and, if so, how?
    Good points.... and I am working on it.
    Happy colored marbles that are rolling in my head..." - Ween

  3. #13

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    All is One - That is the secret for me.
    Happy colored marbles that are rolling in my head..." - Ween

  4. #14
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel De Mazarin View Post
    There's nothing much new about Zen... it's just one more way of connecting with yourself better and then, having made the connection, improving on it, understanding it... meditation... Hinduism (Yoga, Vedanta, certain Right-Hand Tantras), Buddhism (Zen, various Tantras, different -vadas)... then you have the ecstatic and/or devotional cults, Hindu (Bhakti), Christian (Quakers), Muslim (Sufism). This notion that somehow Zen is new to the "West" (whatever that is... different conversation) is strange... Buddhist and the earlier/concurrent Hindu styles of self-questioning and meditation have had parallels in Greek thinking for donkeys' years... the writings of Heraclitus, much of Plato... Gnosticism... none of this is new!
    How many practicing Quakers do you know?

    Zen, I would argue, has not caught on at all here in the West, and we are just starting to see it open up. Writers like Watts, Leary, Ram Dass, and Suzuki are responsible for its introduction, but only its introduction. The question is: how will it end up taking foot in the West? How will it disseminate and integrate into our culture?

    My housemate thinks that Zen will be intellectual (which is not to say that Zen is a philosophy -- I think we're all on the same page about what it is). I think there's some truth in that. Americans also seem to be a little more needy. I think therapy is a good place to start.

  5. #15
    Senior Member Anonymous's Avatar
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    I have to admit large ignorance on both Zen and psychotherapy, but this is how I see it. Psychotherapy is for healing, and things like Zen is for enrichment of the already healed. Now I'm not saying that those who have mental troubles can't learn Zen, but it may be a lot more useful for those who already have a healthy mental base to play off of.

    So like this

    Psychotherapy or equivalent >----------Mentally healthy>----------Zen or equivalent

  6. #16
    Member Mercurial's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    What do you think Zen will look like in the West? Will it be formalized? Will we go to classes to learn how to meditate? Will we use therapists as our teachers? Will psychotherapy and the dharma merge, or stay separate?
    I think it will come on Xbox360 and that we will be able to ride down upon our enemies with it online and make them KNEEL BEFORE ZEN!!!
    [rabid foaming]

  7. #17
    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    How many practicing Quakers do you know?

    Zen, I would argue, has not caught on at all here in the West, and we are just starting to see it open up. Writers like Watts, Leary, Ram Dass, and Suzuki are responsible for its introduction, but only its introduction. The question is: how will it end up taking foot in the West? How will it disseminate and integrate into our culture?
    I actually know several practicing Quakers and a very good K-12 school in New York City (where I live), called Friends Seminary, is founded on Quaker principles, hosting Quaker-style congregational meetings regularly every week. I almost went there and regret, everyday, that I didn't, particularly as I went to one of those every-kid-in-here-is-from-a-stereotypically-wealthy-and-prestigious-Jewish-family type school... the latter ended up being full of snobs who were also quite racist (Jews are the new WASPs in NYC).

    As for Zen, how many people do you know actually practicing Zen? And when I say practicing, simply owning a few books on the subject doesn't count... moreover, how many do you think you'd meet in Japan as a percentage of the overall populace?

    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    My housemate thinks that Zen will be intellectual (which is not to say that Zen is a philosophy -- I think we're all on the same page about what it is). I think there's some truth in that. Americans also seem to be a little more needy. I think therapy is a good place to start.
    The whole point I was making about Zen, which you seem to have ignored, is that its teachings are not, in that sense, very novel. They're beautifully presented, there's a grand tradition of Zen, and we can all benefit from it. But people in America haven't even learned from the traditions that are native to its soil, or at least flourished there, (like the Quakers or native American philosophy, which environmentalists could have learned a lot from before reinventing the wheel)... or even the European traditions which advocate a reevaluation of all values (yes, copped from Nietzsche himself)... what makes you think that even a significant percentage of Americans will understand or really try to understand Zen? Look at what happened to Yoga! The Yoga tradition, whose roots are Upanishadic, is even older than Buddhism, and advocates the attainment of dhyaan (yes, again, that's where "zen" comes from), and it's devolved into physical exercises! It's not even about Americans... it's about human beings... they generally don't have what it takes to go that far out of their comfort zone... Zen is initially about being made uncomfortable with the way you interact with the world, and then growing more comfortable with yourself and the world... it requires some fair amount of effort, like Yoga...

    Deep spirituality is almost like intelligence... it's distributed to a very small percentage of the population... all people can benefit from knowledge, but only a few will ever go onto get PhDs... of those who graduate college, how many really learned anything of lasting value?

    Psychotherapy is too dominated by the DSM-IV and textbook learning... it will take a complete departure from current methodology to incorporate anything resembling Zen into psychotherapy.

    __________________________________________________ _____________________________

    Beyond all this... I'll stress this... the distinctively Zen-character of Zen teachings can be found in Kabbalah, Vedanta, mystic Christianity, Sufism, and a hundred and one other spiritual and philosophical disciplines around the world. Why should psychotherapy or modern-day medicine explicitly utilize and integrate Zen when it can simply harvest the essential core of all of these traditions and institute secular amendments? Unfortunately, Buddhism too comes with a metaphysics...
    Madman's azure lie: a zen miasma ruled.

    Realize us, Madman!

    I razed a slum, Amen.

    ...............................................

  8. #18
    Senor Membrane
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    There must be lots of people in humanistic psychology who have been working on this subject. Good place to start.

  9. #19
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel De Mazarin View Post
    I actually know several practicing Quakers
    Yeah, they're friggin' everywhere.

    As for Zen, how many people do you know actually practicing Zen?
    That was my whole point, dude. Not many people practice Zen. I get what you're saying here:

    The whole point I was making about Zen, which you seem to have ignored, is that its teachings are not, in that sense, very novel.
    But my point wasn't to ask whether there has ever been an experience we can label as "Zen" in the West. The questions was whether and how it would flourish here.

    what makes you think that even a significant percentage of Americans will understand or really try to understand Zen? Look at what happened to Yoga!
    Yoga's very popular in Los Angeles, which is, to me, a good sign. The mental aspects of yoga are being taught and incorporated into the practice at many yoga studios.

    I think people will get into Zen in some form, because it's a natural progression. (It doesn't have to be called Zen, but the EXPERIENCE will be adopted sooner or later.) The natural progression that I'm talking about is hard to pinpoint exactly, but the Self-Help movement seems to be embracing experiences that are connected to Zen in the sense that the notion of well-being is becoming more identified with letting go, acceptance, love, and emotional understanding, rather than accumulation of material assets. As a society, I think we're starting to see the futility of chasing our needs and avoiding our fears. That's the same path Eastern philosophies walk.

    The Yoga tradition, whose roots are Upanishadic, is even older than Buddhism, and advocates the attainment of dhyaan (yes, again, that's where "zen" comes from),
    FYI, I've studied Buddhism.

    It's not even about Americans... it's about human beings... they generally don't have what it takes to go that far out of their comfort zone... Zen is initially about being made uncomfortable with the way you interact with the world, and then growing more comfortable with yourself and the world... it requires some fair amount of effort, like Yoga...
    Sure, but I think it can definitely be accomplished. Throwing people out of their comfort zone might take same time and carefully chosen words (or some type of cataclysmic event) but I think it's doable.

    Deep spirituality is almost like intelligence... it's distributed to a very small percentage of the population... all people can benefit from knowledge, but only a few will ever go onto get PhDs... of those who graduate college, how many really learned anything of lasting value?
    Maybe, but I thought we're talking about POTENTIAL, not just how many people have already attained something?

    Psychotherapy is too dominated by the DSM-IV and textbook learning... it will take a complete departure from current methodology to incorporate anything resembling Zen into psychotherapy.
    Humanistic, Positive, and Existential Psychology are pretty decent candidates. I can see the DSM IV being revised (fuck, I'll do it) and reframed using Buddhist psychology parameters. Neuroscience is another fertile area that has already started investigating meditation and Zen.

    Besides, is the reliance on the DSM really that troublesome? The diagnosis seems less important than the strategy used to assess that diagnosis. In traditional Freudian psychoanalysis, the goal of therapy was to raise the unconscious into the conscious. This requires a certain honesty and investigation and willingness to let things be as they are, rather than disguising them to look more palatable. Wouldn't you agree that Zen uses similar techniques to address mental chatter and noise?

    Beyond all this... I'll stress this... the distinctively Zen-character of Zen teachings can be found in Kabbalah, Vedanta, mystic Christianity, Sufism, and a hundred and one other spiritual and philosophical disciplines around the world. Why should psychotherapy or modern-day medicine explicitly utilize and integrate Zen when it can simply harvest the essential core of all of these traditions and institute secular amendments? Unfortunately, Buddhism too comes with a metaphysics...
    It doesn't need to embrace ZEN, particularly, just the experience. If I gave the impression that I was talking about a particular path, I apologize.

  10. #20
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    I'm a Quaker lol.
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