2011.01.06 01:00 - Language, Meditation and Spiritual Bypassing

    Table of contents
    No headers

    The Guardian for this meeting was Zen Arado. The comments are by Zen Arado.Present were Cavino Rabeni, oo0oo, and myself

    Our mundane use of language:

    Zen Arado: Hi 0 :)
    oO0Oo Resident: hi Zen
    Zen Arado: just thinking that 'Hi' was derived from 'Hiyah'
    Zen Arado: and in turn from 'how are you'
    oO0Oo Resident: oh?
    Zen Arado: but we now say Hi and then 'how are you ?
    Zen Arado: :)
    oO0Oo Resident: that's interesting
    Zen Arado: so how are you?
    oO0Oo Resident: it's worth revisting, or discovering the basis for our mundane or habitual use of language; I'm OK thank you
    Zen Arado: yes
    Zen Arado: we take it for granted that others know what we mean in the words we use
    oO0Oo Resident: yes, as I work with that more, and become more literal, ironically I feel sometimes more alienated than ever
    oO0Oo Resident: not become more literal, but concern myself with literalness
    Zen Arado: language takes us away from reality maybe
    oO0Oo Resident: human life seems a series of serial estimations
    Zen Arado: what does 'literal' mean for instance?
    Zen Arado: 'serial 'estimations'?
    oO0Oo Resident: good question, I some ideal of correspondence
    oO0Oo Resident: yes, well, it feels like much of cognition and communication is based on estimating things in a relative way
    Zen Arado: yes
    Zen Arado: words obscuring rather than clarifying
    Zen Arado: throwing a veil of concepts over reality
    Zen Arado: a subjective veil
    oO0Oo Resident: for instance, I can imagine you and I choosing an object and agreeing on its colour, but then allow that we are biologically seeing a nuanced version or even more extreme difference in colour, but we seem to be having, and wanting the shared experience
    oO0Oo Resident: so language then becomes a temporary assumption, or set of assumptions, and gets messy quickly
    oO0Oo Resident: messy as in further away from what is
    Zen Arado: assuming there is an obective reality
    oO0Oo Resident: yes, perhaps assuming works also in place of estimating, or alongside
    Zen Arado: reality is impermanent so it doesn't stay still enough for us to put a label on it
    Zen Arado: Hi Cal :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Hello
    oO0Oo Resident: hiya Cal
    Zen Arado: we just asked 'how are you' in an abbreviated form
    Zen Arado: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: ayup !
    Zen Arado: 'Hi' actually means - how are you

    Literality and correspondence theory of language:

    Zen Arado: why did you say correspondence Sam?
    oO0Oo Resident: thinking about literalness Zen, some kind of ideal in communication
    Zen Arado: not many words have a real correspondence to things in reality
    oO0Oo Resident: how about zen?
    Zen Arado: they refer to ideas and concepts that are secondary
    Zen Arado: zen means meditation
    oO0Oo Resident: it does? oh
    Zen Arado: from 'dyana' in Pali or Sanskrit
    oO0Oo Resident: and zazen?
    Zen Arado: and Chan in China
    Zen Arado: za means sitting
    Zen Arado: so zazen = sitting meditation
    Zen Arado: that is why there is so much emphasis on meditation in zen practice
    Zen Arado: I guess
    oO0Oo Resident: :)

    Meditation evaluated:

    Zen Arado: I am re-evaluating my meditation practice lately
    oO0Oo Resident: your motivation? or the form?
    Zen Arado: why do I do it?
    Zen Arado: or why should anyone do it?
    Zen Arado: the motivation mostly I guess
    Zen Arado: notice there are 'bad' ways to do it
    Zen Arado: or maybe should just do it and not think so much :)
    Zen Arado: thinking creates problems
    Zen Arado: maybe we should consider why we meditate during next pause?
    oO0Oo Resident: I have been told that reconnecting with, and or questioning one's motivation is a good thing, and your insight into "bad" forms of practice would, it seems, lend to better forms, or at least discussion with wise/elder practitioners
    Calvino Rabeni: I've been going to a group that's doing a series on spiritual bypassing - it seems apropos - we spoke of it in previous PaB sessions
    Zen Arado: yes to both
    Zen Arado: but meditation requires faith too
    Zen Arado: we can't know in advance why we need to do it maybe
    Zen Arado: though we shouldn't do things mindlessly
    Zen Arado: and concentration type of meditation can lead to spiritual bypassing theough it is very popular
    oO0Oo Resident: there is for me some kind of faith in previous experiences with meditation, and or teachers, and or teachings
    Zen Arado: like we put an iron wall against our emotions
    Zen Arado: instead of opening to them and staying with them - letting them be
    oO0Oo Resident: it seems easy for a 'gaining' or 'avoiding' aspect to enter our practice, in which case suffering ultimately is increases, but it is all path
    Calvino Rabeni: letting them be ... functional and intelligent
    Zen Arado: yes Sam - maybe that is the aspect worries me most
    Zen Arado: trying to get somewhere
    Zen Arado: like enlightenment
    Zen Arado: like trying to get some place we are at already
    oO0Oo Resident: I don't think is anywhere else, but here and now
    Zen Arado: more of a 'coming back' really
    Zen Arado: yes
    oO0Oo Resident: *enlightenment*
    Zen Arado: and maybe we create a false path to nowhere
    Calvino Rabeni: I believe, practices also have intrinsic qualities of their own, independent of the issues of the practitioner
    Zen Arado: yes Cal, and we forget that meditation has been around for thousands of years
    Calvino Rabeni: I assume it's been around as long as minds
    Calvino Rabeni: which probably predates humanity
    oO0Oo Resident: I think we are constantly creating a false path, and that's sort of OK and perfect in its own way, as awareness glimses it
    Zen Arado: yes - we just gave it a name
    Calvino Rabeni: exactly
    oO0Oo Resident: samsara and nirvana not separate
    Zen Arado: maybe it's seeing the falseness of the path
    Zen Arado: so it eventually falls away having done it's job of providing a prop for a while
    oO0Oo Resident: I have been told that to remember the spark that first brought us to the path is reliable
    Zen Arado: and why do some not seem to have that spark?

    Worthwhileness of questioning, and conversing in generalities:

    Zen Arado: sometimes wonder why I keep thinking about all this stuff
    oO0Oo Resident: I mean to say, that whatever the causes and conditions, and circumstances at the time, we had an initial entry to the path, our path of genuine connection
    Zen Arado: why not just enjoy life and forget about looking for meaning?
    Calvino Rabeni: I'm questioning - whether and in what way it could be useful to converse in such generalities
    oO0Oo Resident: it's like a glimpse of buddha nature, or beinner's mind perhaps
    Calvino Rabeni: For example, someone uses a concept which is very general, like spiritual bypassing
    Zen Arado: agree Cal
    Calvino Rabeni: and they don't have a clear idea of what they mean by spiritual, what is being bypassed, and what that consists of, and why
    Calvino Rabeni: So without filling in the specifics it seems questionable whether much is being said or learned
    Zen Arado: yes - we were saying that earlier - that we invent words and expressions and assume everyone around knows what they mean or even agree on what they mean
    oO0Oo Resident: I think that kind of incisive questioning is quite important cal
    Calvino Rabeni: Therefore, are we willing to be more specific
    Calvino Rabeni: ?

    Spiritual bypassing:

    Zen Arado: so what do you mean by 'spiritual bypassing' Cal?
    Zen Arado: agree entirely
    Calvino Rabeni: Well I have no meaning for that first term Zen, I wanted to ask you because I think you have a distinction in mind
    Calvino Rabeni: of one critiques a teacher's communication as "too psychological, not enough spiritual"
    Zen Arado: using grand sounding phrases can be a kind of intellectual superiority
    Calvino Rabeni: then it suggests one has a distinction in mind
    Calvino Rabeni: well we can absolve ourselves of that, I believe, Zen :)
    Zen Arado: even the word 'spiritual' is hard to define
    Calvino Rabeni: Well does it mean anything to you?
    Zen Arado: to me it means ideas about the meaning of life
    Calvino Rabeni: Because assigning *some* meaning, however vague, would give form to the concept "spiritual bypassing" for instance
    Zen Arado: why are we here? what are we here for?
    oO0Oo Resident: well, is the motivation to take any reference point and dissect the mandala connected to it, or is the motivation to be free from suffering, and free others as well
    Zen Arado: good point Sam
    Calvino Rabeni: Whose motivation?
    Calvino Rabeni: Don't each of those have some merit and interest?
    Zen Arado: a lot of my motivation is plain curiosity
    Calvino Rabeni: Sure :)
    Zen Arado: is that bad ?
    Zen Arado: sorry - getting dualistic again :)
    Calvino Rabeni: I hope that's a rhetorical question :)
    oO0Oo Resident: pure curiosity is needed and helpful I think - necessary
    Zen Arado: we wouldn't be sitting here otherwise probably
    Calvino Rabeni: One sense I had about this topic of spiritual bypassing is that it sounds like it denotes something pathological
    oO0Oo Resident: pursuing things from interest alone can be a sidetrack
    Zen Arado: to me it means using a concentration type of meditation that avoids or puts to one side , emotional things that come up in meditation
    oO0Oo Resident: I think it comes up especially as buddhism and buddhist psychology mix in the west
    Calvino Rabeni: And the term "spiritual' is sometimes used to mean really quite a wide variety of things, and sometimes used as if very exclusive
    Zen Arado: yes
    Calvino Rabeni: And what I suspect is there's not much currency of a term like "spiritual" outside the West
    Calvino Rabeni: maybe not where buddhism lives
    Zen Arado: so - should we be proactive and dig up old problems from the past?
    Calvino Rabeni: Trick question in a way
    oO0Oo Resident: in a sense Zen, I wonder if in questioning your practice, you are asking yourself something like, am I spritual bypassing? But the catch phrase seems to become loaded and condemnatory sp?
    Calvino Rabeni: It does bias the contemplation
    oO0Oo Resident: like adding pain on top of pain
    Zen Arado: I was never that keen on concentration meditation
    Zen Arado: maybe I should be cos I think so much
    Zen Arado: but I always like shikantaza type more
    oO0Oo Resident: you spoke of choosing an alternative, to enjoy life, live well?
    Calvino Rabeni: If we dropped the term "spiritual" then the question is whether there is "bypassing" going on in ways that don't need to be valorized with the term spiritual
    Zen Arado: just open awareness - noticing and investigating my thoughts
    Calvino Rabeni: SO yes 0, that may be the key idea
    Zen Arado: yes Cal - more like emotional bypassing to me
    Zen Arado: that too Sam
    Zen Arado: and enjoy meditation
    Calvino Rabeni: I can't see how human life and experience could be divided from its essential unity as if there were separate spiritual, psychological, somatic concerns that are disconnected
    Calvino Rabeni: BUT
    Calvino Rabeni: the idea of spiritual bypassing seems to suggest
    oO0Oo Resident: I'm thinking of some Zen monk who left the monastery and wrote poems about his sexual life, and there seemed to be no problem, or good or bad judgement about that.
    Calvino Rabeni: that someone is substituting some activity they call "spiritual" for some other type of thing they would be better served by
    oO0Oo Resident: yes spiritual, could be revisited in just that way that you did "hi" Zen
    Calvino Rabeni: so what I tend to think, is that a lot of bypassing, both in and out of the spiritual distinction, involves just getting fixated on a specific narrow concept of human activity - getting fundamentalist about it
    Zen Arado: that was a monk who achieved enlightenment as he made love to a prostitute Sam ?
    Zen Arado: a good way of enlightenment :)
    oO0Oo Resident: just don't count on it
    Zen Arado: :)
    oO0Oo Resident: :)
    Zen Arado: need more practice I guess :)
    oO0Oo Resident: the poems are really wonderful IMO
    oO0Oo Resident: you only need more of something that you do not have
    Zen Arado: was that Ikkyu?
    oO0Oo Resident: that sounds right Zen, I don't precisely remember the name
    oO0Oo Resident: yes, i think so
    Zen Arado: I think I studied philosophy with the same motivation I have for Zen

    The nature of motivation:

    Calvino Rabeni: What motivation, in addition to curiosity?
    oO0Oo Resident: getting somewhere?
    Zen Arado: me neither - though I have a book of haiku of his
    Zen Arado: something to do to pass the time?
    Calvino Rabeni: Anything will do for that Zen :)
    Calvino Rabeni: So your choice may have been more specific
    Zen Arado: funny - I think having a disability motivated me that way a lot
    oO0Oo Resident: sounds like you are expanding, still with curiosity, and willingness to question
    Zen Arado: overachieving to compensate for feelings of inadequacy because of physical limitations
    Zen Arado: that is quite common on reading the stories of others with my disability
    Calvino Rabeni: I understand, but it could be stated positively ? LIke making good use of your specific abilities
    Calvino Rabeni: iN other words using your strengths rather than your weaknesses
    Zen Arado: yes
    Calvino Rabeni: that sounds like an excellent strategy
    oO0Oo Resident: exagreed
    oO0Oo Resident: agreed

    Determinism - how much free will do we really have?

    Zen Arado: wonder how much we are just pushed into things though
    oO0Oo Resident: pushed Zen?
    Calvino Rabeni: yes, following life's flow, is being pushed, only if one has other ideas
    Zen Arado: circumstances kinda push us in certain directions
    Zen Arado: like you get plaudits for coping with disability when you really have little other choice
    oO0Oo Resident: hard to predict
    oO0Oo Resident: plaudits are a way of others keeping their fear at bay
    Calvino Rabeni: Like - I wanted to be a prize fighter, but the circumstances of my physique and intellectual acumen pushed me into Philosophy
    Zen Arado: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: You know the story of Milton Ericson
    Calvino Rabeni: ?
    oO0Oo Resident: no
    Zen Arado: always remember the Elvis song ' In the Ghetto'
    Zen Arado: no?
    Calvino Rabeni: He became one of the most effective and creative innovators in the field of hypnotherapy
    Calvino Rabeni: and a lot of it was that he was highly disabled
    Calvino Rabeni: to begin with, and capable of observation and little else
    Zen Arado: ah yes you mentioned him before
    Calvino Rabeni: and became very very good at observing and thinking about human behavior
    Calvino Rabeni: all based on using the strengths he had
    oO0Oo Resident thinks of stephan hawking
    Zen Arado: and maybe his life would have been quite 'normal' if he didn't have to struggle with a grave disability?
    Zen Arado: ditto for Hawking
    Zen Arado: though Hawking obviously had the talent for that already
    Zen Arado: but maybe disability concentrated it even further
    Zen Arado: if hadn't been disabled I might not have bothered studying philosophy so much
    Zen Arado: I would have been out enjoying myself more
    Zen Arado: travelling etc
    Zen Arado: and meeting nice women....
    Zen Arado: getting carried away :)
    oO0Oo Resident: challenges/obstacles can give rise to tremendous opportunity and transmutation. Furthermore, we are all in our own ways impaired ~ some versions more obvious than others. Then, it is said sometimes that there is a universe to be discovered within, accessable to those who take the journey.
    Zen Arado: so - how much are our lives ruled by innate abilities and circumstances?
    Zen Arado: agree Sam
    Zen Arado: maybe we need the challenges to bring out the best in us
    oO0Oo Resident: well, what we do have control over is our motivation
    oO0Oo Resident: it is said that everything is workable
    Zen Arado: like the refiner's fire transmutes gold and burns away the dross

    Brene Brown and vulnerability:

    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, I like what Brene Brown said that along with much else we are "wired for struggle"
    oO0Oo Resident: I'm sure practise, study, contemplation help train the mind
    oO0Oo Resident: Brene ~ vulnerability
    Zen Arado: I'll have to watch that video again
    Zen Arado: everyone seems to be getting different things from it than me :)
    Calvino Rabeni: The concept "within" seems like it doesn't hold up under scrutiny
    oO0Oo Resident: lol
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes zen that's half the fun
    Calvino Rabeni: ask someone what they get from something like that, you get a lot of different ideas, which means, it was a good piece of work
    oO0Oo Resident: estimations/assumptions of language
    Zen Arado: I got the sense of how much she tried to control her life
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes it was a nice "confession" piece
    oO0Oo Resident: and how she had a destiny with breakdown
    Zen Arado: that's what resonated with me
    oO0Oo Resident: in a way we are fortunate to loose big
    Calvino Rabeni: There are lots of ways to break down
    oO0Oo Resident: and face that sooner than later
    Zen Arado: think we all do that to an extent (generalizing again ) :)
    oO0Oo Resident: yes, many ways
    Zen Arado: yes - the control runs out sooner or later
    Calvino Rabeni: For example, when learning something, either a small thing or a huge one like a paradigm of living
    Calvino Rabeni: at first things make no sense, then it starts to, and there's a rush of significance
    Calvino Rabeni: and a feeling of control, with all the security of the appearance of certainty
    Calvino Rabeni: if someone stays there, it becomes a fixation
    Calvino Rabeni: which is a form of fundamentalism
    Calvino Rabeni: which happens after some kind of "conversion" experience
    Zen Arado: yes - it's a drive for security at bottom?
    Calvino Rabeni: A path toward further mastery, has to put that all at risk
    Zen Arado: an answer to everything
    Calvino Rabeni: and subject it to test and challenge
    Calvino Rabeni: right zen
    Calvino Rabeni: clinging to that feeling
    Calvino Rabeni: so even eventually a lot gets called into question
    Calvino Rabeni: resulting in some kind of breakdown
    Zen Arado: mid life crisis
    Calvino Rabeni: in a spiritual path it might be called the dark night of the soul
    Zen Arado: yes that too
    oO0Oo Resident: and it would seem therein lies the value of vulnerability
    Calvino Rabeni: so it's the opposite point, in a cycle of experience, from the AHA and insight stage
    Zen Arado: I have a friend who said he went through that before his Christian conversion
    Calvino Rabeni: and perhaps has opposite emotional tones too
    oO0Oo Resident: mmm
    Zen Arado: it could be equated with the realization that materialism is shallow and empty
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes but if someone traded a shallow materialism for a shallow spiritualism, I suspect they'd be headed for a similar experience of finding it incomplete and unsatisfying
    Zen Arado: or things you thought were so important are transitory and meaningless
    oO0Oo Resident: spiritual materialism
    Zen Arado: yes
    Zen Arado: or existentional angst?
    Zen Arado: think I am still stuck in spiritual materialism
    oO0Oo Resident: I keep thinking how grounding it is that laundry, and dishes, and grocery shopping still need to be done
    Zen Arado: need a dark night of soul to get out
    Zen Arado: yep Sam
    Zen Arado: we come out of Dark night of soul and get the groceries :)
    Calvino Rabeni: A question that's related is, WHAT IS IT to be "embodied" or "authentic", in the sense that people use those words to refer to a desirable way of being?
    oO0Oo Resident: hehe
    Calvino Rabeni: And in that sense I throw "grounded" in with authentic/embodied
    Zen Arado: authenticity is just dropping our pretensions and being honest I think
    Zen Arado: 'Just' :)
    oO0Oo Resident: well I'm reminded of an account of Trungpa Rinpoche in an interview with his root guru
    oO0Oo Resident: he asked him what about enlightenment
    oO0Oo Resident: pregnant pause
    oO0Oo Resident: there is no enlightment
    oO0Oo Resident: this is it
    oO0Oo Resident: very down to earth level of being
    Zen Arado: agree Sam
    Zen Arado: we want a bog experience with blissful feelings and lights
    oO0Oo Resident: the word and notion of "enlightenment" complicate things
    Zen Arado: big*
    Zen Arado: :)
    Zen Arado: bog standard :)
    oO0Oo Resident: Cal, maybe some interconnectedness is part of genuine/authentic/embodied?
    Calvino Rabeni: I'm not sure how much farther that formulation gets of using the word honest - it adds a kind of element of expression and representation that seems fairly "conscious" .. but there seems to be more in addition to that
    Calvino Rabeni: Interconnectedness yes
    Calvino Rabeni: Of what?
    Zen Arado: yes Cal
    Zen Arado: always seem to be adding layers of meaning
    Zen Arado: just being
    Calvino Rabeni: Do you believe in a "naked" being, that is meaningless?
    Zen Arado: just allowing whatever we are to shine through without adding to it
    Calvino Rabeni: What if - what we are, is the adding we do?
    Zen Arado: no - we are all unique with all sorts of innate abilities and have been shaped by life
    Zen Arado: what about the innateness though?
    Zen Arado: our genetic tendencies and programming
    Calvino Rabeni: Some of that innateness is not individually distinctive - and some is - it seems fair to assume
    Zen Arado: remember the philosopher John Rawls saying our ability to work hard is programmed into us, not something to take pride in
    Zen Arado: which I found strange
    Calvino Rabeni: so if that's true, then authenticity can't be defined in the conventional way of being based on expression of individuated qualites over and against a presumed oppressive environment
    Zen Arado: yes
    Calvino Rabeni: Rawls has a point
    Zen Arado: I start to question the idea of free will....
    Zen Arado: but I'll have to go now
    oO0Oo Resident: are you choosing, or destined to go? lol
    Zen Arado: thanks for coming and enjoyed discussion Sam and Cal
    oO0Oo Resident: take care mate
    Zen Arado: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Same to you, thanks Zen
    Zen Arado: it was fate :)
    oO0Oo Resident: lol
    oO0Oo Resident: I better transition too. before I go though, I want to say that it is always nice for me to encounter sharp, able minds that do not impede or discount compassion for others. Great talking and being here with you and Zen. Best wishes.
    Calvino Rabeni: Thanks Sam
    Calvino Rabeni: I feel the same
    oO0Oo Resident: See you again Cal.

    Tag page (Edit tags)
    You must login to post a comment.
    Powered by MindTouch Core