2009.10.05 - Noble, in Contrast to Idealist vs. Realist

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    Here is the text of a dialogue held by Piet Hut (in SL: Pema Pera) and Steven Tainer (in SL: Stim Morane), in Second Life on October 5, 2009.

     

    P: Good morning Steven!
    S: Hi Piet!
    P: Is there any particular topic that you would like us to talk about?
    S: one thing from the previous meetings was the issue of idealism ...
    S: re idealism, for instance, the sorts of things I had in mind were
       not just the general class of abstractions, but the "noble" ones ...
    S: things like truth, justice, equality, liberty, etc
    S: these are not merely abstractions, but realities that catch the
       ordinary mind very powerfully, but in a way that causes problems.
    S: They are quite important things in their own right for meditation
       traditions, but there the issue is to get past the ordinary mind's
       way of getting "motivated" by them.
    S: the same point then applies to the seductive power of "higher"
       teachings ...
    P: perhaps we should start from scratch, by considering what kind of
       "meditation traditions" we are talking about, to see whether they
       all qualify as being in some way "idealistic"
    S: the traditions try to avoid idealism while being noble ...
    S: i.e., they try to emphasize noble things, but in ways that don't
       catch the ordinary mind too much.
    S: They spend a lot of time dealing with the latter sort of mind.
    S: So they don't necessarily fall prey to the danger ...
    S: but "religions" are different from meditation traditions in this
       regard.
    P: That is a very interesting starting point: "noble" as opposed to
       both idealist (but perhaps ungrounded) and realist (pragmatic but
       perhaps short sighted)
    S: well, yes, there are those two pitfalls
    S: that is the challenge ...
    P: and "noble" includes other approaches, beyond meditation traditions
       in the strict sense, I take it; for example martial arts, and
       perhaps other forms of art
    S: yes, it could ... although those would not _necessarily_ be concerned
       with the higher aspects
    S: or they might value them and promote them in modest ways, not
       really comparable to the scope of meditation traditions
    S: there are a lot of choices here
    S: a very high-level teaching with the least amount of disciplining
       of the ordinary mind might be expected to be the most at risk ...
    S: but there are doubtless ways of avoiding this danger
    P: can you give some examples of such teachings?
    S: Zen is often an example
    S: It's really very different from what it seems to be nowadays and
       has confused people about the view and its applications in life
    S: But people often comment about Vajrayana etc as being examples
    S: Then there are things that are simply "off peoples' maps" in terms
       of exposition ... too high = "abstract"
    S: not so much danger in the latter case, but not much to grab people
       either ...
    P: when you mentioned "nobility" I had to think of the approach
       introduced by Trungpa, he called it the Shambala tradition of the
       sacred warrior, I believe; an attempt to introduce some of the
       essence of his own background without packaging it in terms of
       Buddhism
    S: this was not meant to be a restatement of Buddhism
    S: it was an alternative, possibly in some ways a bridge, and a way
       that fits modern peoples' lives better than a monastic tradition
       might
    S: He had all of those in mind ... drawing from the "basic sanity" of
       his culture and its Bon roots
    P: would that be another example of what you mentioned as "high-level
       teaching with the least amount of disciplining of the ordinary
       mind"?
    S: no, it would be a modest-level teaching with definite grounding
       mechanisms
    P: in that way as a bridge?
    S: yes
    P: and how about the Time Space Knowledge approach?
    S: it tried to be all levels ... but that is very difficult to pull
       off
    S: traditionally, it has been seen to be easier to separate things
       than to come up with a "one size fits all"
    P: just curious, don't you think that Trungpa's Shambala tradition
       also tried to be all levels?  Or did he specifically present it as
       an introduction to something further?
    S: The latter
    S: it was meant to be a self-contained path for many people in modern
       life, and also, for some, as a bridge
    P: and that is then the reason that the Shambala teachings do not
       speak much about Being or the equivalent thereof?
    S: it's just not the point of that teaching to emphasize such matters
    P: Thank you, Steven, let us continue tomorrow!

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