2009.10.29 07:00 - on Some Planet in Another Galaxy

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    The Guardian for this meeting was Pema Pera. The comments are by Pema Pera.

    The conversation quickly turns to a comparison of different traditions, starting with medieval mysticism.

    Bolonath Crystal: namaste pema :)
    Pema Pera: Hi Bolo!
    Bolonath Crystal: wow, nobody around yet?
    Pema Pera: no, quiet today
    Bolonath Crystal: i'm already looking forward to our theme session later today :)
    Pema Pera: I really enjoyed our conversation a few days ago -- and we will continue this afternoon, right?
    Pema Pera: yes :)
    Pema Pera: last time we talked I was wondering about the connection with other approaches, like Christianity for example
    Pema Pera: have you read Meister Eckhart?
    Pema Pera: there seems to be quite a few parallels with Advaita Vedanta
    Bolonath Crystal: i heard of meister eckhardt, but never read something from him
    Bolonath Crystal: he was a medieval philosopher, roght?
    Bolonath Crystal: right*
    Pema Pera: mystic really, but yes philosopher too
    Bolonath Crystal: oic
    Bolonath Crystal: christian mystics are hard to find nowadays
    Pema Pera: he lived several centuries ago :)
    Bolonath Crystal: my 'favourite christian' is franciscus from assisi. he could have been a great yogi
    Pema Pera: oh definitely! or Taoist too
    Bolonath Crystal: can you give me some examples of meister eckhardts saying?
    Pema Pera: Here is a quote from Meister Eckhart, just as an example:
    God's characteristic is being.  The philosopher says one
    creature is able to give another life.  For in being,mere
    being, lies all that is at all.  Being is the first name.
    Defect means lack of being.  Our whole life ought to be
    being.  So far as our life is being so far it is in God.
    So far as our life is feeble but taking it as being, it
    excels anything life can ever boast.  I have no doubt of
    this, that if the soul had the remotest notion of what
    being means she would never waver from it for an instant.
    The most trivial thing perceived in God, a flower for
    example as espied in God, would be a thing more perfect
    than the universe.  The vilest thing present in God as
    being is better than angelic knowledge.

    Bolonath Crystal: thank you, pema :)
    Bolonath Crystal: hello solobill
    Pema Pera: hi Solo, great to see you again!!
    Bolonath Crystal: that sounds a little like swami vivekananda, pema :))
    Solobill Laville: Hello, Bolonath, Hi, Pema! :)
    Pema Pera: And here is a shorter quote by Meister Eckhart, along similar lines:
    Pema Pera: What has no essence, does not exist. There is no creature that has essence, because the essence of all is in the presence of God. If God went out of the creatures even for a single moment, they would disappear into nothingness.
    Bolonath Crystal: that's indeed very much like advaita vedanta
    Pema Pera: he was accused of heresy, and there is a good chance he would have been killed by the inquisition
    Solobill Laville: Therer is another great Eckhart quote that I love
    Pema Pera: it may have been a good thing he died himself before others could kill him in the name of God :)
    Bolonath Crystal: i'm not surprised about that, as christianity is a dvaita philosophy in first instance
    Pema Pera: yes
    Solobill Laville: This eye that sees is the same as the eye that God sees through (paraphrase)
    Pema Pera: yes, a nice one, Solo!

    Zen joined our conversation, and gradually more examples are brought in.
    Pema Pera: Hi Zen
    Bolonath Crystal: namaste zen
    Solobill Laville: Hello, Zen
    Zen Arado: Hi all
    Pema Pera: I think that in all religions you can find individuals who somehow sprang the bounds of their tradition
    Pema Pera: and thus can form bridges with other traditions
    Solobill Laville: Indeed
    Bolonath Crystal nods
    Zen Arado: I am reading Huston Smith at the moment
    Zen Arado: he really did that
    Zen Arado: learned about different traditiona by living them
    Zen Arado: not just academic study
    Bolonath Crystal: ramakrishna was such a person as well. he was living hindu, muslim and christian tradition, and he tought that they all lead to the same aim. the differences are merely artificial, set up by cultural differences of the 'followers'
    Pema Pera: yes, he was a very inspiring person, I learned a lot by reading the "Gospel of Ramakrishna" when I was a teenager
    Solobill Laville: I've read a bit about Ramakrishna as well, very amazing person
    Zen Arado: have to read him
    Zen Arado: never have
    Zen Arado: I was an evengelical Christian
    Zen Arado: takes a long while to overcome its prejudices
    Pema Pera: there is a great story about a cat that walks in while he was supposed to offer milk to the Goddess Kali -- Ramakrishna then gave the milk to the cat instead, to the great consternation of the other followers of Kali worship. Ramakrishna happened to see Kali in the little cat :)
    Bolonath Crystal: vivekananda, a disciple of ramakrishna, wrote a book about him, telling about his life. very inspiring :)
    Zen Arado: Buddhism is a bit different from other religions though?
    Solobill Laville: How so Zen?
    Zen Arado: well - no God for a start
    Pema Pera: a nice aspect of evangecial Christians is the emphasis on personal experience, don't you think, Zen? Even with all the other drawbacks?
    Pema Pera: *evangelical
    Zen Arado: never thought of that Pema
    Bolonath Crystal: buddhism fit very well with advaita vedanta, i think. not so much with dvaita vedanta of course, as the dvaita vedantins see god as a distinct person, while in advaita god is the unpersonal basis of all being (brahman)
    Pema Pera: yes, I think so too
    Zen Arado: I suppose there is an initial conversion experience but after that I thought it was rather formulaic
    Pema Pera: zen can also be formulaic -- "just sitting" can quickly turn into a rather hardened formula, unfortunately
    Solobill Laville: Zen -> There are wider views of "God" in Christianity as well, as we were discussing when Zen arrived
    Zen Arado: I have read some neo Advaita teaching
    Zen Arado: Tony Parsons and others
    This brought us to the cultural aspects of religions.
    Solobill Laville: I think that culture is a key construct in this discussion, which makes it such an interesting time in the West right now
    Zen Arado: I suppose any religion can become like that if you let it
    Zen Arado: is religion a product of its culture?
    Solobill Laville: True, life itself can become quite mechanical if you let it ;)
    Solobill Laville: Zen -> YES!
    Bolonath Crystal: i also think so, at least to a great amount
    Solobill Laville: Is there a "True" religion? (a baited quesion, I know...)
    Zen Arado: not sure about that though there is an influence I suppose
    Zen Arado: the Buddha was a bit counter0cultural don't you think?
    Solobill Laville: Well, he got to know himself, experienced, and made some good rules to follow
    Zen Arado: and Jesus?
    Solobill Laville: Same :)
    Zen Arado: seems to take unusual individuals
    Bolonath Crystal: 'true' religion probably cannot be put in words, so in each religion there may be a true core, but as you give it any kind of 'form', it becomes cultural ifluenced
    Solobill Laville: Agreed, both Zen and Bolonath
    Zen Arado: the interpretation of it to ppl becomes culturally bound?
    Solobill Laville: What would religion be like on some planet in another galaxy?
    Zen Arado: we would see it on our terms through our perspective
    Zen Arado: like Christian missionaries labeled 'Buddhism'
    Zen Arado: as an 'ism'
    Bolonath Crystal: funny question ;) for most of us a religion from another planet probably might be simply 'strange'
    Solobill Laville: Well, waht if we were REALLY good anthropologists, and hid our biases as much as possible
    Bolonath Crystal: well, we are still human
    Zen Arado: if we didn't translate it into our terms we wouldn't have any handle on it
    Solobill Laville: They'd probably say the same of us, of course
    Zen Arado: yes :)
    Bolonath Crystal: isn't it strange, that most gods have a human appearance?
    Solobill Laville: My point is just, heavy cultural influence, but fundamental truth
    Zen Arado: human projections
    Solobill Laville: yes
    Pema Pera: yes, human projections, or coordinate systems for human use
    Zen Arado: ah what is that Solo?
    Pema Pera: maps in the US are in English with miles and feet
    Pema Pera: in Germany in German with kilometers
    Zen Arado: if you fly over there are no lines :)
    Pema Pera: :)
    Bolonath Crystal: next time i cross the equator i'll have a look on that ;)
    Solobill Laville: heh
    Zen Arado: thought constructions and projections
    Zen Arado: we don't even see their falsity
    Zen Arado: we believe our representations
    Bolonath Crystal: i like the idea of looking on religions as maps
    Solobill Laville: yes, interesting
    Solobill Laville: "not the territory" ;)
    Zen Arado: they are useful for us?
    Zen Arado: explanatory?
    I gave a specific example of coordinate systems.
    Pema Pera: we have magnetic North, experimentally based on using a compass, and "true" north based on using a GPS system, but both can be translated into each other
    Bolonath Crystal: they can be used for orientation, but never can replace the real journey
    Pema Pera: neither of them is more "true" than the other
    Pema Pera: when I walk from A to B I have to go a different number of steps "north" when relying on a compass than on GPS
    Pema Pera: and a different number of steps "west"
    Zen Arado: I find words becoming so doubtful and meaningless lately
    Zen Arado: word like 'true'
    Solobill Laville nods
    Bolonath Crystal: well, words are symbols. but they are pretty useful for communication
    Pema Pera: true, Zen :)
    Solobill Laville: but, alas, we must used them
    Solobill Laville: *use
    Zen Arado: yes but we put such weight on them
    Zen Arado: as if there is some final thing that is indupitable 'true'
    Zen Arado: rather than a consensus of opinion
    Zen Arado: or true to us as humans
    Bolonath Crystal: maybe because our culture is so mind-orientated
    Zen Arado: but there are true facts I suppose
    Bolonath Crystal: like what? (i mean true in an absolute way)
    We're cheerfully beginning to reach the end of this fun sessions.
    Zen Arado: can we become less mind oriented by thinking about it?
    Zen Arado: :)
    Solobill Laville: hehe
    Bolonath Crystal: hehe, good point, zen :)
    Zen Arado: mathematical truths?
    Solobill Laville: I think part of the dance may just be smiling through all ;)
    Solobill Laville: *it all
    Zen Arado: dance is a good word
    Bolonath Crystal: mathematic itself is a thought construct
    Zen Arado: yes but alien species could see it ?
    Bolonath Crystal: even logic only can be 'true', if you give a definition of the frame
    Pema Pera summarizing Zen: mind your mind
    Zen Arado: more possibility of universality
    Solobill Laville: mind Mind ;)
    Pema Pera: :)
    Zen Arado: attention attention
    Solobill Laville: :)
    Pema Pera: play as Being
    Zen Arado: just be
    Solobill Laville: dance-play-being-mind
    Zen Arado: Just -
    Zen Arado: :)
    Zen Arado: I'm getting silly now
    Zen Arado: sorry
    Solobill Laville: Silly is good
    Pema Pera: yup!
    Bolonath Crystal: that brings us back to eckhardt
    Solobill Laville: Full circle! How so, Bolonath?
    Bolonath Crystal: ' So far as our life is being so far it is in God'
    Zen Arado: Meister not Tolle?
    Bolonath Crystal: meister
    Zen Arado: was reading Karen Armstrong on definitions of God
    Zen Arado: apparently he became a creator only when we started manufacture in a big way
    Bolonath Crystal: i gotta go
    Bolonath Crystal: bfn, om shanti
    Solobill Laville: Me too :)
    Zen Arado: yeah me too
    Solobill Laville: thanks, all :)
    Bolonath Crystal bows
    Zen Arado: thanks for discussion
    Zen Arado: bye
    Pema Pera: bye everybody!
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