2009.09.02 - Bottom Up vs. Top Down

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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 September 2, 2009.

     

    P: Yesterday we talked about the possibility to start "bottom-up"
       with phenomenology, and in that way to rediscover something like what
       Buddhists have found, independently
    P: In constrast to such an approach, Buddhism starts with an overall
       view, and within that context then advocates forms of practice
       that effectively start through working with phenomena
    P: and Play as Being puts even more of an emphasis on a kind of
       "ultimate" view, by mentioning Being right from the start
    P: so when I compare the three, phenomenology is bottom-up, whereas
       Buddhism and PaB are top-down
    P: yet I also feel that PaB is bottom-up, more than, say, Buddhism,
       in the sense that the view is far more open and not defined in any
       specific way
    P: Am I making sense so far?
    S: perhaps enuf to continue ...
    P: So for me PaB is full of delightful paradoxes . . . .
    P: it has in common with science a kind of bottom-up mentality: start
       where you find yourself, play with it, see what you can discover,
       without a priori buying into any "ism", any religion or philosophy
    P: and yet PaB also has in common with some of the most radical forms
       of spiritual practice, like Zen and Dzogchen, the notion that
       nothing needs to be done, that Being already IS, and that we can
       celebrate, starting from there as a resource or Ground
    P: Perhaps PaB is a kind of bridge between science and spirituality
       in that way: the play of science, the IS of spirituality
    P: So when we come back to wu-wei, including its subtler aspects, it
       will be interesting to see how we can view wu-wei from both sides
    P: from the phenomenology/science side and from the contemplative
       side
    P: How about starting with a description of what you called the more
       subtle side of wu-wei?
    S: I don't remember ... I don't have the full log in front  of me.
    P: let me find the quotes
    P: Here it is:
    P: [2009/08/31 8:37]  S: But I mean, it's very different manifesting
       wu-wei in rl than in sl, given the reduced set of cues people can
       get about your own presence
       [2009/08/31 8:37]  P: yes, and yet a lot of it still carries over
       to SL
       [2009/08/31 8:38]  P: as does a lot of other stuff, re: discussions
       you had with Storm and Corvi during the retreat
       [2009/08/31 8:38]  S: well I had that in mind
       [2009/08/31 8:38]  S: But this is an extreme case, a greater challenge,
       in some ways
       [2009/08/31 8:39]  S: wu-wei is by its very nature quite subtle
    S: so that's all I said?
    S: :)
    S: sorry to send you off to find that
    P: I then went into a segue of "what contains what" -- so it was my
       fault :-)
    S: well, nice of you to put it that way.
    S: Anyhow, you want me to comment on this "subtle" wu-wei?
    P: for starters, can you say a bit more about it?
    S: I suppose there is a lot of material concerning how the term is
       used in rituals, martial arts, painting, etc.
    S: Perhaps there is some about how to live too ... i don't know.
    S: The contemplative version is "subtle" simply because it concerns
       more subtle mind dynamics than the usual ... it's basically an
       expression of emptiness.
    S: There isn't a lot to say about this, it's mostly something to
       learn about directly thru practice.
    P: yes, I can see that, of course; it has to be lived, and to be
       discovered by trying it out
    P: and to be recognized that way
    S: yes
    P: however, if we want to suggest wu-wei as a specific topic to be
       investigated by the PaB community, we will have to find ways to
       talk about it, or at least about the kind of practice that will
       explore it.

    At this point SL crashed, and it would take more than an hour to come back
    up again, so we postponed the rest of our discussion till the next day. 

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