Thursday, February 22, 2007

Grammar Patrol

Pretty Lady's dear friend Chris Rywalt asks what may, perhaps, be a rhetorical question:

How can someone use the words "teleological" and "reify," then follow those up with "historicity," and yet still use an apostrophe in the possessive its, and even worse, confuse "whose" and "who's"?

Can you explain this to me? Because I sure as hell don't get it's.
Ah, Chris. Tsk, tsk.

You are making the same error as did, apparently, that ridiculous IQ test that Pretty Lady took the other evening (which was obviously unreliable, because it said that Pretty Lady's IQ was only 138! The horror! Or perhaps Pretty Lady has fried one too many brain cells with all that tequila...hmm...a definite possibility, sadly) and mistaking vocabulary for intelligence. Indeed, Pretty Lady is quite certain that she got the vocabulary questions on the alleged IQ test correct, which further depresses her regarding her score.

But enough of this egoistic rumination.

You must understand, my dear Chris, that as Pretty Lady learned all too well in the course of obtaining a couple of thoroughly useless degrees, "intellectual" is by no means synonymous with "intelligent." In fact, toward the end of her 'education', Pretty Lady began to suspect that the two concepts bear no relationship to one another at all. To this day, whenever she attempts to engage a so-called intellectual in sensible conversation, she is stymied by the fact that possessing a gargantuan vocabulary by no means guarantees that a person can follow a simple train of logic. Pretty Lady forgets herself, and saunters off into wild, polysyllabic ruminations, only to be brought heavily down to earth when the other party to the conversation entirely misses her point, by virtue of failing to comprehend her rhetorical devices.

After much contemplation upon the issue, Pretty Lady ascribes this phenomenon to 1) insufficient abuse by junior high school teachers and 2) the Parrotic Obfuscation Technique. There is further evidence to suggest that the one may be a consequence of the other.

To wit: if a person was not forced, by a fascistic sixth grade teacher, at the sort of school where you get sent home for being creatively dressed, and expelled for smoking marijuana, to learn to diagram a compound/complex sentence down to the last prepositional phrase, that person's command of basic systems of logical thought is permanently impaired. Or rather, it has not ever been given the structure with which to develop properly, and thus grows like weeds in an abandoned lot, throwing off dense, impenetrable foliage in every direction.

You see, in the process of diagramming the kind of sentence which takes up the entire length and breadth of a regulation-size blackboard, one is forced to consider the logical relationships among every single word one uses. After an entire year of this sort of thing, a person is literally incapable of constructing a statement which does not make internal sense. The horror of attempting to figure out where to attach that last dangling participle is simply too painful to contemplate.

A person who has not undergone this type of radical brain espalier in childhood, however, will cheerfully spew forth sentence after alleged sentence which lacks either a subject, a verb, or an object, in the mistaken notion that he is communicating something. He is under the impression that nouns or verbs by themselves, in all their creatively modified glory, translate into a coherent understanding of the universe--no matter that notions of time, cause and effect are lacking therein. Which may, on a deeper level, be absolutely true; however, trapped as we are in the space-time continuum, we are forced to rely on these tedious constructs in order to get anything done.

A person thus logistically handicapped who is hurled into the morass of Higher Education is then in desperate straits. Unable to follow a line of reasoning lucidly enough to test its validity, this person is equally incapable of mounting a cogent argument with which to challenge it. Thus, Obfuscation becomes his only viable means of self-defense. And words like 'teleological' and 'reify' work wonders in this arena. Not only are they casually used in even the most elementary philosophy class, but even the professors have only a vague notion of what they actually mean, if anything.

(teleological, from the Greek 'telos' meaning 'end or purpose,' and 'logos' meaning 'rationality'; an argument for the existence of God, based on the perceptions of design or order in nature: reify, from the Latin root 'res, reis' meaning 'thing'; to regard an abstraction as though it had concrete existence, literally to 'make a thing' of it)

Thus, my dear Chris, we get the monster that you have so unfortunately fetched up against, presumably in the art blogosphere. This is a person who drops teleologies and historicities until the cows come home, but is unable to distinguish between the concepts of possession and contraction, let alone their semiotic manifestations.

At this point, Pretty Lady suspects that this person's mind is a Lost Cause; the wiser and wearier may eventually come to a point where they recognize that they are drowning in their own mental manure, move to the country, and take up composting. These are the lucky ones.

But most of them will continue to spew, in increasingly dense and tautological verbiage, because they are walking an infinitely diminishing tightrope which has no end. They have become Specialists, and must defend their miniscule intellectual niches in the space-time continuum, no matter how ineffectually reified.

32 comments:

Chris Rywalt said...

The last IQ test I took put mine at almost exactly yours. I was bummed I didn't break 140.

I have a fantastic vocabulary and am quite intelligent, and yet every single time I come across the words "teleological" or "reify," I have to look them up again. And never once in my life have I felt the need to use them in writing or conversation.

On the other hand, I never learned to diagram a sentence. It's pretty much impossible in English anyway; it works for Latin, and was imported by scholars who thought Latin was superior to their native tongue and English should be laid in that Procrustean bed. Ending sentences with prepositions I'm a big fan of.

I have never gotten along with my English teachers, except that one who read Cyrano de Bergerac aloud to us. (The one bone of contention between me and Mr. Ascher was his insistence on marking my British spellings wrong on all my reports; amusingly enough, I agree with him now. The little snot I was deserved to have those marked wrong.)

Crom said...

Curiously enough I must agree with Chris. (!) I too was forced to diagram sentences, but language was always an innate talent, conferred upon me by my parents, both of them Ph.D's. My parents required me to speak to them on a nominally adult level in my home and expected me to provide rationale for my irrational behavior even in my elementary years.

The apostrophe remains a shadowy foe in my writing, the proper placement of it eludes me still. However, I have difficulty summoning the will to give a fuck anymore since I believe I express my ideas clearly and am not worried about being uncommunicative.

I am guilty as well of choosing polysyllabic words over simple ones, but my motivations are different. I do it to directly combat the intentional destruction of the English language. We slide further every year into a dumbed-down form of English, with slang replacing ideas and concepts. This is intentional, because reducing vocabulary limits the speakers' range of thought. As we all know, stupid people are easier to control.

As for the grammar police, come and get me copper, I am exceptionally well-armed and practice my doubletap headshots.

prettylady said...

Oh, of course you two were separated at birth. You can continue pretending to be at loggerheads, on occasion--you're not fooling anybody, but it's quite fun to watch.

Pretty Lady always chooses the polysyllabic word over the simple one, simply because that is the first word that comes to mind. It requires a major effort for her to restrain her vocabulary to one- and two-syllable words, with the noted effect that the drunker she gets, the longer her words become.

However, the difference between the pretension of Pretty Lady and the pretension of 'intellectuals' is that 1) Pretty Lady knows what her words mean, and 2) Pretty Lady is harnessing those words to clearly articulate a significant point. The intellectuals are just pretending.

Bobert said...

All this talk...

Anybody can look up the big words in a dictionary, but that same dictionary cannot tell you when to use "who's" or "whose".

Or "Their" or "There".

Or "Two", or "too", or "to".

That takes education.

So their! Hears two you!

Anonymous said...

OTOH, some well-educated people are dyslexic. They have no problem with logic or grammar; they just can't keep those letters corralled properly in their heads or on their keyboards.

My favorite example today is a person who referred to her visually-impaired friend as "legally bling."

Beck

BoysMom said...

I knew there was something I ought to be thanking my linguist mother for. (Although my heart nearly stopped a couple days ago when I heard myself repeating verbatim her 'Good versus well" lecture to my son.)

Any of the rest of you get teased as children for using vocabulary your peers couldn't understand? I always prefered to talk to adults.

prettylady said...

Any of the rest of you get teased as children for using vocabulary your peers couldn't understand?

Oh, DID I EVER. I remember one occasion in particular, when my best friend's mom asked how my sister felt about something, and I replied, "Oh, she's ambivalent."

It seemed a perfectly clear, simple reply to me...

Jacques de Beaufort said...

I stumbled on this post by accident..it's funny because recently I wrote this passage in my blog:

"and I would invoke Lyotard as one of the high priests of anti-matter, who's project has embodied this quest to negate the teleological certainties that Modernist Doctrine seeks to reify. In such a model, the narrative validity of historicity is undermined, and there are no real ways to satisfy an inquiry into meaning by looking towards time-based categories. All we are left with are two moments. The Now, and The Eternal."

So I'm guessing your friend is referring to me..although I haven't heard anything from him. I'd love to discuss the content of my post with anyone who likes..this seems like a great way to deal with an idea..taking it head on.

I wonder why people react with such disgust when they encounter concepts that seem unfamiliar? It's pretty safe to take cheap shots at bad grammar and to throw around cartoonish pejorative stickers like "pretentious intellectual". God forbid we might get into a discussion about something interesting. That door remains open.

I'm going to leave my typo..I really don't give a fuck..sorry.

prettylady said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to announce that I was fully prepared to eviscerate this Jacques person on the basis of his comment alone, in the current context, but I forbore, fairly, until after I'd read his blog.

And although it would have been a great deal of fun to leave him as only a few smouldering strips of filet mignon on my comment block, due to the concentrated and presumptuous pretension of the above sample, I have Stayed my Hand, since the rest of his work is really very sensible.

The Lady hath spoken. Go forth and read.

Chris Rywalt said...

Any of the rest of you get teased as children for using vocabulary your peers couldn't understand? I always prefered to talk to adults.

I got teased for using vocabulary adults couldn't understand. I remember once I was stuck with my father at his shop (he was an auto mechanic) and I spent some time beating the crap out of the vast stands of Japanese knotweed which covered the backyard. I got bored and came inside and asked my dad for a stick of some kind.

"What for?"

"For thrashing the weeds."

My assistant Scoutmaster happened to be there and he could not stop laughing. "Thrashing! Hey, Al, you don't give this kid a beatin', he gets thrashed!"

My dad and a friend of his once found my D&D books on the kitchen table. They were very taken with the Monster Manual. They particularly liked the Catoblepas and the Shambling Mound. My father still occasionally calls someone ugly a catoblepas.

Chris Rywalt said...

Jacques sez:
So I'm guessing your friend is referring to me..although I haven't heard anything from him.

I'm sorry, Jacques, I was indeed talking about you behind your back. I just found that particular post quite amusing and your constant use of the extra apostrophe really annoying. I didn't mention you by name, nor did I expect Pretty Lady to quote me so exactly.

I actually find most of your posts well written (although your grammar does need some help) and readable. You just have this tendency to wander off into artspeak, which is unfortunate, and -- as Pretty Lady might put it -- should be sharply curtailed.

You say further:
I wonder why people react with such disgust when they encounter concepts that seem unfamiliar?

The trouble is not concepts that seem unfamiliar. It's concepts that are silly, overwrought, tautological, or wound up in so much worthless and obfuscatory jargon as to be incomprehensible, if not entirely meaningless.

Words like "historicity" just about merit the old <BLINK> tag so everyone can be sure the author is wandering too far afield from anything resembling coherent discourse. That way readers could at least skip ahead to the more reasonable bits.

Listen, it's just me. I may just be trying to overcompensate for a smaller brain than I'd like.

Jacques de Beaufort said...

Chris
I can see how alot of this stuff seems really ridiculous..and I think that the manner that it is often employed does seem often to be a purposefully mystifying sort of erudite gobbldegook. I came to the language through a spiritual practice, so it makes sense to me. Most of post-modern thought is actually a wholesale cribbing of eastern philosophy..and as "artspeak" it is oft subject to a horrific misappropriation in order to fulfill the intellectual credibility of marxist conceptual artists in grad programs . Which is ironic to me because generally collectivist (communist, socialist, ultra-leftist) ideas are equally skewered by an application of post-modern thought, which remains critical of all ideologies that propose that they are The Solution To All The World's Problems (meta-narrative). I think these ideas are worth engaging even if you have to learn this seemingly tainted and annoying language to do so. Maybe they seem tautological because they are essentially about questioning and critiquing reality rather than bolstering the illusion of Truth..which hopefully you can admit is a construct rather than a certainty. You are after all a writer..and so know the power of language to construct belief.

Sorry about the hubbub.

prettylady said...

I came to the language through a spiritual practice, so it makes sense to me.

That is no excuse. I find that spiritual practitioners, all too often, either speak in platitudes or in gobbledegook, and occasionally a stultifying amalgamation of the two. This is incredibly off-putting, and actively chases sensible people away from the theory, if not the practice. What practical purpose does this serve? Isn't it contradictory to the very essence of spirituality?

Most of post-modern thought is actually a wholesale cribbing of eastern philosophy

Is it? How so? Maybe superficially. But the effect of the philosophy detached from both culture and practice has a most destructive effect, quite the opposite purpose of the philosophy itself.

as "artspeak" it is oft subject to a horrific misappropriation in order to fulfill the intellectual credibility of marxist conceptual artists in grad programs .

Granted. Ack, ack, phooey. And they wonder why I didn't get an MFA.

I think these ideas are worth engaging even if you have to learn this seemingly tainted and annoying language to do so.

They are. You don't. The language gets in the way. Please stop it.

they seem tautological because they are essentially about questioning and critiquing reality

Have you ever considered Humor? Satire? Pretentious, self-referential irony? These are the tools in which Pretty Lady trades, and she has Great Fun and Makes Friends. As opposed to alienating people with her rhetoric. Although she does a goodly share of that, too.

rather than bolstering the illusion of Truth

Perceived reality is an illusion. Truth isn't. Get your terms straight, and lay off the nihilism, or you're fired.

which hopefully you can admit is a construct rather than a certainty.

Perceived reality, I must reiterate, is the construct. And I can prove it. But you must promise never, never to use the word 'reify' again, except when teasing someone.

Sorry about the hubbub.

Oh, we thrive on hubbub, round here. Please do drop in again. Our epistemological demographics could use some re-appropriation. ;-)

Jacques de Beaufort said...

"Perceived reality is an illusion. Truth isn't. Get your terms straight, and lay off the nihilism, or you're fired. "

Looks like I'm fired..I'm going to dig my heels in on this one..but not without an explanation:
http://professorjacques.blogspot.com/2007/01/buddhism-and-nihilism.html

I'm enjoying The Pretty Lady and her sparkling wit. For sure I'll come by again..how could I not?

Chris Rywalt said...

Pretty Lady said mostly what I might've said, only more pleasantly, so I'm not going to go over everything. I do want to reply to this, though, where Jacques says:

I think these ideas are worth engaging even if you have to learn this seemingly tainted and annoying language to do so.

Let me say right up front that I think postmodernism is hogwash. I've discussed this at great length in other forums with other people; right now I don't feel like getting into it. Nothing against you, Jacques, and I imagine you might feel like I'm blowing you off because I can't win my argument. Not exactly true; I don't know that I could win the argument, but I don't mean to blow you off. I just don't feel up to it at the moment.

I think learning the vocabulary of postmodernism is where I started discovering that it's all crap. It's not worth engaging with, and if you start to trade in ideas like that, it's going to muddy your thinking in other areas as well. Postmodernism is actively bad for you, like lead.

prettylady said...

Jacques, this is exactly what I mean about failure to follow a simple train of logic. I tell you to lay off the nihilism, you say you defy me, and in support of this position you link to a post declaring that Buddhism is not nihilism.

Well, DUH.

I take no issue with your post, since it is just basic Buddhist philosophy, and any reasonably intelligent person who is not being wilfully obtuse will accept it--admittedly, this subset does not include many of the more rigid Christians of my acquaintance, but with sufficient friendly teasing, some of them are beginning to soften. In my perceptions, anyway.

But I stand by my position that there IS such a thing as Truth. Truth is what fills your consciousness when you have emptied yourself of ego. The fact that it may not have any concrete form is irrelevant.

Granny J said...

Coming from one or two generations earlier than most of you folk, I found diagramming sentences an entertaining amusement. I still diagram a sentence and prove the Pythagorian theorem occasionally to keep the juices flowing. I don't do post-modernism.

Crom said...

Again I must agree with Chris Rywalt's stance. Not being a Buddhist my philosophy trends towards tangibles, notably the Law of Non-Contradiction, which states: "One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time."

However, this does not seem to hold with practitioners of Eastern thought who have little difficulty positing mutually contradictory states, ie. "there/not there."

I heard an argument once where the practitioner of Eastern thought processes was arguing multiplism against the Law of Non-Contradiction, and asking his opponent why he could not accept the viewpoint that multiple contradictory states are possible. The man answered, "So you are suggesting that I accept multiplicity, or nothing else?"

As you can see, the singular emerges. To quote Ravi Zacharias, "In Eastern countries where Buddhism is prevalent people still look both ways before crossing the street. It's either the bus, or me - not both of us together."

Chris Rywalt said...

Crom sez:
Again I must agree with Chris Rywalt's stance. Not being a Buddhist my philosophy trends towards tangibles, notably the Law of Non-Contradiction, which states: "One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time."

I appreciate that you agree with me. But I want to mention that I don't agree with that first axiom of Objectivism, either, namely that A is A.

Basically I think that Aristotelian either-or logic is inapplicable to most phenomena in the universe. It's very useful in limited circumstances, as the Chinese scientists discovered when the Westerners showed up with gunpowder, for example, but logic is widely misapplied.

Crom said...

"Basically I think that Aristotelian either-or logic is inapplicable to most phenomena in the universe."

So when crossing the street, which is it? You or the oncoming bus? Or do you merge perfectly with the bus, and redirect it's energy along the contours of your body?

I do not buy into pluralism because A = A consistently everywhere in the universe. 2+2=4. Men can argue that it does not, you can torture Winston Smith until he cracks and tells you five, you can even question whether there is a two, nevermind a four.

The problem with answers like the ones above are designed to deny logic and reality. The old koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" is not meant to elicit a scientific response, since it does not have an answer. Another koan, "What is reflected in the empty mirror," again posits a state that cannot exist except linguistically in the abstract. The questioner is supposed to reflect on these unanswerable questions to attain a state of "no-mind" where the answers are also suspended in a state of anti-logic. Oftentimes the correct answer to a koan is marked by it's detachment from the original question, signifying that the answerer is no longer responding from a position of logic and thoughtful deduction, but rather an emotional and unthinking free-association outburst.

I am not trying to insult anyone, but consciously training yourself to ignore the real world to derive your answers and instead believing that your emotional reaction to something defines the sum of it's existence seems foolish. Deliberately ignoring or dismissing the world around you does not make it go away, it simply means you have placed your head in the sand. However, that is the appeal. It's much easier to believe that we are all a dream of the Buddha or that there is no spoon, because then there are no meaningful consequences to our actions and we are free to be as evil and selfish as we want. It's the belief system of those who cannot accept responsibility for anything, and who foster an extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one's feelings and desires.

Jacques de Beaufort said...

wow...this thread is still running??

" It's much easier to believe that we are all a dream of the Buddha or that there is no spoon, because then there are no meaningful consequences to our actions and we are free to be as evil and selfish as we want. It's the belief system of those who cannot accept responsibility for anything, and who foster an extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one's feelings and desires."

Crom this is a really reckless statement..you're kind of missing the point entirely. No self is all about getting away from a preoccupation with one's feelings and desires. It almost sounds like you are casting this really harsh judgemental net over all of Eastern Religion. By the way there is no belief system in Buddhism..it's only a method. This means that one is still free to engage in a system of morality and ethics of their own chosing. Usually in Asia this is Confucianism. Remember Confucius? He's the guy who said "Goody goodies are the thieves of virtue."

Please don't be so extreme.
2:08 PM

Jacques de Beaufort said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
prettylady said...

Crom, much as Jacques is still on Pretentiousness Probation, he's right on that one. Just because Buddhist philosophy is often used as an excuse for extreme narcissistic self-indulgence by smartypants Westerners does not mean that such self-indulgence is the basis for the philosophy or the inevitable result of its practice, any more than Christianity is about stoning gays and fornicators.

In rigorous practice of Zen Buddhism, any 'unthinking emotional outburst' is JUST AS MUCH A BLOCK to true transpersonal consciousness as any logical response to the situation. They're all manifestations of the ego-self which one is attempting to transcend, and the practice explicitly directs that they should all be recognized as such.

Christianity has a system for ego-transcendence as well--that's what all those pesky moral standards like the Ten Commandments are all about. They maintain social order, first, but they also lead the serious practitioner into transpersonal consciousness by rigorously insisting that he love his neighbor as himself, in practice.

Recognizing and integrating the underlying patterns of religious thought and moral philosophy is not about finding sneaky ways to get out of following the rules. It is a very great shame that some people have used them this way, but the fact that they do does not negate the integrity of the traditions themselves.

Crom said...

"Please don't be so extreme."

Jacques - fair enough... Let me say clearly that I do not believe that everyone who worships at the altar of selfishness and greed is a Buddhist or is a practitioner of Eastern philosophy - that was not my intent at all. However, my sentence as I wrote it could easily be interpreted that way. Your objection is noted and sustained.

PL - you have a spirited defense of the Buddhist philosophy here: "Just because Buddhist philosophy is often used as an excuse for extreme narcissistic self-indulgence..." Which seems to me an antithetical stance for a true believer in Eastern thought since how can you judge narcissism or self-indulgence? Those are moral values you are assigning to that behavior. What you deem selfish from your viewpoint could be wholly virtuous in someone else's - and by that reasoning not narcissism or self-indulgence at all.

The problem with relativism (and I am equating Eastern thought with relativism here, feel free to demonstrate where I am wrong) is that the circular nature of it does not allow for truth. If your truth conflicts with mine, then are these opposing truths both truth? The logical conclusion then is to deny that any specific truths exist. However, considering the metaphysical nature of morality versus truths I can prove - I used math earlier as an example where I demonstrated that truth is a provable entity by stating 2+2=4. You can deny math's existence all you want, but do not be surprised at my skeptical response to someone denying math who is simultaneously using a computer...

Jacques, you stated the following: "...one is still free to engage in a system of morality and ethics of their own choosing." I believe I understood that statement. I might have said it differently, however. "Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law," is an identical expression, albeit one from a distinctly Western philosophy.

PL - I did note your bringing Christianity into this argument, but it seems from my point of view that Christianity, unlike Buddhism or other Eastern schools, is specifically about judgments, and has no equivocation in it's tenets. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the the Father but through Me," is not inviting debate. It's a flat declaration, and the reader/listener must make a decision whether to believe it or not. There are no shades of grey, and leaves little room for misinterpretation. In Christianity morality is defined, ethics are defined. Christianity by nature sets itself up to be difficult, it forces you to make a clear choice rather than allowing you to cherry-pick it for whatever you like. Buddhism, although not a "religion" according to Jacques, allows you to mold it to whatever you desire - to be as difficult or as easy as you want. It appears that all the rigor in Eastern religion is not to deny your desires, but rather free yourself from desire by sating them if you so choose. It returns to the definition of truth. If your definition is fluid, then it is self-negating and meaningless.

prettylady said...

since how can you judge narcissism or self-indulgence? Those are moral values you are assigning to that behavior.

No, they are discriminating values that I am assigning to behavior. There is a difference.

'Non-judgment' in the Buddhist sense simply means that you admit that you cannot know the ultimate consequences of any individual action, thus you have no basis on which to decide whether it is 'good' or 'bad.' You can still discriminate. You are merely removing the excess agitation from your own mind, associated with making a value judgment, upon yourself or anyone else.

Thus, when I find myself in the middle of the street, suddenly surrounded by people swinging baseball bats, I may think to myself, "Hmm. Those people are swinging baseball bats. I had better move away." That's not judgment; that's discrimination. If I were to think, "OMG! Those people are BAD!!! They're swinging baseball bats! How dare they! I'm calling my Congressman!" I would not only be subjecting myself to undue stress, I am much more likely to actually get hit, while dithering and blithering on the sidewalk.

Do you see how the practice is entirely concerned with bringing peace to my own mind, and not with arbitrating a set of behaviors among human beings?

I am equating Eastern thought with relativism here, feel free to demonstrate where I am wrong

You are assuming that Eastern thought in this context is concerned with generating an entire system of ethics. It isn't. It's coming at things from a completely different perspective. It is describing the world from a holistic perspective, which perspective is achieved by following certain practices.

That's the problem with studying a philosophy in an abstract context, divorced from the culture from which it sprang. Societies where Buddhist thought developed have draconian social systems that prescribe a specific, rigid social role for every individual, as part of a social organism; the concept of the 'individual' as we perceive it in the West scarcely exists in those cultures. Thus the tenets of Buddhism do not concern themselves so much with behavior toward others; this is taken care of by their culture.

the circular nature of it does not allow for truth.

No. It is describing truth from a transcendent perspective. It's truth on a level that has nothing to do with physical bodies as we perceive them; it is an attempt to describe a deeper order from whence all perceived reality springs. On that deeper order, everything must exist simultaneously. Nothing can NOT exist. It must encompass everything.

In a way, Buddhist philosophy attempts to describe the mind of God.

Christianity, unlike Buddhism or other Eastern schools, is specifically about judgments, and has no equivocation in it's tenets.

That's because it is building an ethical system from the ground up, which as I have described, is NOT what Buddhism is doing. Christianity emerged into societies and cultures where the concept of the individual as a believing, decision-making entity was on the ascendant.

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the the Father but through Me," is not inviting debate.

You have obviously never met a mature Zen master. They ALL talk like that. They're ALL different flavors of Jesus Christ. They're conscious, literally, of everything; they're holding out their hand and linking you to their direct experience of the Divine.

I am convinced that Jesus was a Master Teacher in every sense, including the Buddhist one; when a person achieves 'enlightenment' through Buddhist practice, essentially he has become Jesus Christ; they are sharing the same consciousness.

It appears that all the rigor in Eastern religion is not to deny your desires, but rather free yourself from desire by sating them if you so choose.

Yes. It's coming at it from the other way around; it's showing you that this physical reality can NEVER satisfy you. It's showing you the way to drop all that and experience your divine nature. You don't rid yourself of desire by denying it; you merely observe it and note that it is not you, and does not have to control your actions.

I repeat, Buddhist philosophy was never intended to replace a system of social ethics. The problems come when people assume that it should.

If your definition is fluid, then it is self-negating and meaningless.

No, it is simply acknowledging the nature of mind. It is describing the flow. Buddhist philosophy is entirely concerned with the true nature of Mind. It is only concerned with the physical world as an extension of how it is experienced by the individual mind.

Buddhism and Christianity, in my view, simply have hold of the opposite ends of the same stick. Christianity says, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' Buddhism says, 'Thy neighbor IS thyself; once you really understand that, how can you help but love him?'

Jacques de Beaufort said...

true that

Crom said...

"when a person achieves 'enlightenment' through Buddhist practice, essentially he has become Jesus Christ; they are sharing the same consciousness."

And the proof that they are sharing the same consciousness is...? Do Zen masters at their pinnacle start praising God and acknowledging Him? I would hazard a guess that the answer is no. The idea that we can become God ourselves may indeed be the most self-aggrandizing concept I have ever heard, and precisely what got Lucifer into all that trouble. You are stating that through spiritual practice you can become Jesus Christ, and share the same consciousness? One cannot "become" Jesus Christ any more than one can "become" Julius Caesar. Christ was very clear in who he was, and He never mentioned a "Christ-consciousness" anywhere in his words, although I have heard black magicians use that phrase in describing the Age we live in.

I would like to know specifically where in the Bible Jesus told us that through the spiritual practices of the Buddha we could become one with Him. He said no such thing, anywhere. He made it very clear that the only way you were getting to God is through Him, not through a multiplicity of disciplines. In addition, Christ defined morality and ethics for the Christian, which you stated. If the Zen master arrived at the same conclusions at the end of his journey that Christ laid out in His Bible, then I might agree that both paths have a similar destination. However, the morals, ethics, message and method of delivery are so vastly different that to conclude they encompass the same set of ideas is simply nonsense. Note that I am not saying Buddhism is nonsense, I am saying that to make the statement that the two "religions" are similar or arrive at the same conclusions is not supported by the facts.

Zen masters who speak in a manner similar to Jesus Christ does not make them Christ-like, any more than me doing a dead-on impersonation of Christoper Walken makes me a fine actor. I believe that the people who strike the "Jesus Christ Pose" do so to entice the weak-minded. It provides a false sense of security to their disciples, a wire-monkey mother to which they desperately cling.

Christians do not seek nirvana, they do not seek the Void or to be one with all consciousness. They seek to spend eternity with their Creator in the heaven he described. The Buddhist path does
not mention any of these things. When Christ said he was the Way, he didn't say "everyone can get there by their own path" He made it clear that He was the only way, and despite many Zen masters claiming similar things - which I find amusing since it goes back to man trying to put on airs he does not have - Jesus Christ was the first one to say it and Christianity is unique in that regard.

If you were in Houston, and asked me for directions to Dallas/Fort Worth, I would tell you to take 45 north. By your reasoning, you could ostensibly take 290 all the way to Fort Worth since you are in essence positing the position that "all paths lead to the same destination". However, you might be perturbed when you ended up in Austin.

I said previously "If your definition ( of truth ) is fluid, then it is self-negating and meaningless." to which you responded, "No, it is simply acknowledging the nature of mind. It is describing the flow. Buddhist philosophy is entirely concerned with the true nature of Mind. It is only concerned with the physical world as an extension of how it is experienced by the individual mind.

Let me put that into a a parallel perspective, to illustrate the thought pattern. Orwell wrote the following in 1984, "O'Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. 'We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation -- anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.' Your contention of the physical world in relation to the mind is identical to the Orwellian concept of doublethink. This may not be the strongest base on which to build a belief system, all things considered.

You have mentioned before that you believe Jesus to be a Master Teacher, and suspect that in His travels he did the whole "hanging out with Ravi Shankar thing". This is possible. However, if He
did then He certainly did not give the same message to those folks as he did the Israelites and Gentiles. Christ did not tell us to come up with our own morals, ever. He laid down a consistent set of rules - again something you have acknowledged - and those rules have nothing in common with the self-determined ethics that are taught by the Eastern disciplines.

I would recommend that if you are interested in the personhood of Jesus Christ, you might want to focus directly on His teachings, instead of connecting the dots to other disciplines.

Chris Rywalt said...

I so do not want to get involved in this discussion any more, but I simply have to step in for this bit, where Crom quotes Aleister Crowley:

Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

If you're going to chide Pretty Lady by recommending she focus directly on the teachings of Jesus instead of looking to others, then I recommend you focus directly on the teachings of Crowley instead of what others have said about him. "Do as thou wilt" has been egregiously misquoted and misunderstood so many times it's hilarious. The equivalent might be taking "Lema sabachthani" and concluding that Jesus Christ teaches that God has abandoned us.

The proper phrase is "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" followed shortly by "Love is the law, love under will."

The key is in knowing what thou wilt. It does not mean doing whatever you want -- it means knowing your True Will and following it. What's your True Will? That's what Crowley's system is all about: Discovering your True Will, how you fit into the universe, and what you should be doing.

I'd suggest you go and read The Book of the Law except it's pretty much gibberish if you haven't studied a lot of tarot, magick, kabbalah, and so on. And even if you have, it's still fairly incomprehensible. I haven't read it and don't get a lot of it myself. But I understand more now than I used to. I've been reading The Book of Lies, which is both more approachable and shorter.

Chris Rywalt said...

I would also note that being hit by a bus isn't logic, it's physics.

prettylady said...

Tsk, tsk, tsk, Daddy. It seems as though Pretty Lady has been a bad girl, and is rarin' for a spankin'.

Do Zen masters at their pinnacle start praising God and acknowledging Him?

Direct quote from Zen monk ex-boyfriend, the clinical sociopath:
"After a solid week of zazen, I came to the empirical understanding that the essence of Zen practice is spiritual love."

Direct quote from Bible: "God is love."

From this I conclude that there are some parallels, at the very least. I also conclude that Zen is good for sociopaths; it keeps them occupied, and out of trouble.

One cannot "become" Jesus Christ any more than one can "become" Julius Caesar.

Not in this literal, physical, separated world, no. I am not talking about that. Neither is Buddhism. Neither was Jesus, if you go and read his words very carefully.

Jesus transcended death. He transcended the body. When you take the body and death out of the equation, what do you have? Consciousness. Transcendent consciousness; a consciousness not bound by the body, and thus connected with all things. NO singular, separate, physical identity. Names attached to bodies thus become utterly meaningless. Even names like "Jesus Christ."

to make the statement that the two "religions" are similar or arrive at the same conclusions is not supported by the facts.

We are not talking about 'conclusions' in the sense that you mean; we are talking about words given to describe experiences. Zen masters, the real ones, are describing something. They are attempting to communicate. The real ones do NOT attempt to manipulate, control, or pretend to be something they're not, because these are all tricks of the ego. Once any trick of the singular identity comes into play, it's not real anymore.

you are in essence positing the position that "all paths lead to the same destination".

Of course they do. When there is no physical separation, no world with roads and towns and freeways, there's only one destination: here and now, which are everywhere and eternity.

Your contention of the physical world in relation to the mind is identical to the Orwellian concept of doublethink.

Nope. Orwell posits control of the physical world with the egoic mind. This is precisely the trap that the ego wants you to fall into. The physical world may be a projection of the ego; thus it may, in fact, be possible to control the laws of nature with the mind, i.e. levitation, etc. But even yogi warn against getting hung up on this; the term for it is 'spiritual materialism.'

The point is that to know Christ, you don't want any of that. This world of separation and death holds nothing that you want. Being attached to it is the source of all misery.

you might want to focus directly on His teachings,

I do, my dear, I do. They boil down to 'love and forgiveness.' Remember that? 'Turn the other cheek,' and all?

What does that mean, though? Does it mean being a patsy? Wouldn't you be a total fool to 'forgive' someone who had harmed you terribly and permanently, and a bigger fool to let them have at you again?

Wait! People harmed Jesus terribly. They crucified him. He died. That's pretty permanent.

Oops, except that he was resurrected. Huh.

So maybe the point of forgiveness is that harm is not truly possible.

Thus 'forgiveness' is the true understanding that there is nothing to forgive. I.e. non-judgment. I.e. defencelessness. I.e. the end of guilt and separation.

So there.



This is not semantic jujitsu, by the way. Direct experience of this stuff, on the rare occasions when it happens, serves to show why words get in the way. It is literally indescribable.

Crom said...

"Direct quote from Zen monk ex-boyfriend, the clinical sociopath... Wait a minute, a Zen monk - an enlightened one, yet still a clinical sociopath? Something does not add up there. You might think that all this spiritual love would teach him to transcend his illness...

After taking a step back and looking at your arguments as a whole I realize that we are out of phase linguistically, and spiritually. The words we are using to describe things like "consciousness", "love", "transcendence" and "truth" have different meanings in our vocabularies. I have a linear, concrete definition for these concepts, whereas your viewpoint is distinctly more celestial. I do not believe that Christ transcended death in the manner that you do, you see it as a re-merging of His spirit with a vast spiritual connected consciousness whereas I see it as a literal resurrection to life and physical ascension to heaven, nevermind what James Cameron may think. I do not believe in a vast connectedness between all things, I have seen little proof of any type of Jungian collective conscious despite many years of studying the mind, and it's capabilities.

"Names attached to bodies thus become utterly meaningless. Even names like "Jesus Christ."

Here I must disagree entirely. Without going into detail, I can attest that the name of Jesus Christ has an overwhelming impact on spiritual entities. No matter the setting, corporeal or ethereal - this name is a spiritual sledgehammer. I have seen this countless times, so I cannot agree that names become meaningless.


"there's only one destination: here and now, which are everywhere and eternity.

Again, I have a linear viewpoint of time that conflicts with your definition. Even in matters spiritual, I see time as a line stretching back to infinity ranging out to infinity. I do not believe in a circular value of time, because despite cyclical activity along a timeline, time has yet to reverse. In my home, the glass knocked off the counter shatters on the tile. I have yet to see the shards leap off the floor and assemble themselves into an unblemished vessel. Human consciousness can only perceive the here and now, remember the past and speculate about the future.

"The physical world may be a projection of the ego; thus it may, in fact, be possible to control the laws of nature with the mind

This seems doubtful at best, since this cannot be done in a scientific, controlled environment. The .gov has spent lots of money testing these types of claims, from telekinesis to other more obscure phenomenon, and concluded that they are not effective enough to be considered for further application. In addition, we return to the dilemma that you cannot positively confirm that your ego is not convincing you that you have somehow spiritually manipulated the physical world. I have known people who were convinced that they were breathing sparks, and that the reflection in the mirror was actually the real person, and that they were the reflection. Granted, the person in question had taken a few thousand mikes of acid and I suggested that to fuck with him. Sadly, the guy became terrified to leave the bathroom for the remainder of his trip since he feared losing that tenuous connection to himself in the mirror. Yes, this was cruel. However the point is that your mind can convince you that what you are perceiving is real, and whether you are using meditation or lysergic acid diethylamide to achieve an altered state of consciousness, the real world remains constant despite your perception of it.

Thus 'forgiveness' is the true understanding that there is nothing to forgive. I.e. non-judgment. I.e. defencelessness. I.e. the end of guilt and separation. So there.

This directly conflicts with the Christian definition of sin and the consequences thereof. It is by grace that we are forgiven, and it is mandatory to ask for forgiveness of sins in the Christian religion. Repentance is key there. Sin is not self-negating or relative for Christians. However, in Buddhism sin is defined by the sinner - which is far more convenient, I would have to agree.

After all of this, I would have to say that we are not going to agree on this since our core definitions of the main concepts remain opposed. This is an impasse, since we both seem to remain equally unconvinced.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk, Daddy. It seems as though Pretty Lady has been a bad girl, and is rarin' for a spankin'.

ROFL... This was probably my favorite part of this entire exchange. It paints quite an image in my mind, one that involves a hearty amount of the Christian concept of sin. =D

prettylady said...

Zen monk - an enlightened one, yet still a clinical sociopath?

No, no, no. Just trying. He was using the practice to bypass his psychological issues. Ken Wilber discusses this; it's pretty common among very bright people who switch traditions out of their own culture. I reflected later that it was probably some residual health in his psyche that took him completely out of society, instead of remaining within it to wreak havoc. He's now married, with a child, living in humble poverty at the top of a mountain. Pretty good, for a sociopath.

I realize that we are out of phase linguistically, and spiritually.

Yep. That's the source of a great deal of misunderstanding, both locally and globally. You've got to remember that all these ideas are translated from different languages and cultures, each with its own grounding in different sets of assumptions and shades of meaning. One can describe the same experience using radically different words, or different experiences in the same words. I ran into this a lot in Mexico--once nearly lost a friendship over the word 'coraje,' which as I understood it, meant 'courage,' and as he understood it, meant 'anger.'

I see it as a literal resurrection to life and physical ascension to heaven

Yes, I have fundamental problems with literalism. There are all those natural processes of decay to take into account. Plus, a loving God would never send me to heaven in these same feet. ;-)

I have seen little proof of any type of Jungian collective conscious

I have my issues with Jung as well--he's more about sub- or pre-conscious collectivity, where as what I'm talking about is trans-conscious. I have a feeling that what he was observing has more to do with genetics than with consciousness.

I have a linear viewpoint of time that conflicts with your definition.

I would remind you that Newtonian physics is perfectly valid, and good enough for most experiments that we can produce on this planet. However, in extreme circumstances, the theory of relativity comes into play, and ordinary conventions of space and time are no longer applicable. My notions of time and the eternal present are analogous to this.

you cannot positively confirm that your ego is not convincing you that you have somehow spiritually manipulated the physical world.

That's quite valid. It's one of the reasons that miracles need witnesses.

the real world remains constant despite your perception of it.

In whose mind? ;-)

It is by grace that we are forgiven, and it is mandatory to ask for forgiveness of sins in the Christian religion.

Yes, indeed. That's one of the things I forgot to emphasize--you can't 'forgive' by yourself. The Holy Spirit has to show you the truth.

I must also remind you that I'm not pulling this out of my hat with no net. I'm paraphrasing the Course in Miracles, which was 1) written by two people in response to an 'inner voice' which declared itself to be Jesus Christ, thus fulfilling the 'witness' requirement for a miracle; 2) uses Christian terminology specifically and consistently; 3) produces astonishing transformations in the people who practice it, both in accordance with its own claims and in accordance with Biblical teaching. The fact that its teachings are not in conflict with Buddhism either makes it a lot easier for me to work with, given that the level of bigotry and rigidity in the Christian church were what drove me out of it in the first place.

This is an impasse, since we both seem to remain equally unconvinced.

Pretty much. But I hope this doesn't obviate conversation. It's really boring, hanging out with people who agree with me on everything.

It paints quite an image in my mind, one that involves a hearty amount of the Christian concept of sin.

Good. ;-P