1/6 I offered a few comments this morning in a thread on ways later generations shaped depictions of the historical Jesus into a god-man. It occurs to me a sort of reverse direction of shaping has happened w/ Socrates, making him into a rationalist. From some writing I'm doing:
1/17+ I read today buddhologist Keren Arbel’s paper “The Liberative Role of Jhānic Joy (Pīti) and Pleasure (Sukha) in the Early Buddhist Path to Awakening.” I found useful descriptive analyses she provides for the terms relating to jhāna (=concentrative absorption states). But...
2+ ... when she offers her own interpretive understanding of the relationship between concentrative jhāna experience and realized insight, I feel she gets things turned around.
3+ (Part of the problem is that she’s focusing on the so-called “sutta jhānas” — jhāna descriptions that come from the early Buddhist discourses [e.g., the Pāli Canon] — and not so much on the so-called “Visuddhimagga jhānas"....
Nice long thread on nice, long-cultivated experiencings in meditation, with reflections on Rob Burbea's "energy body" and the perceptual space of the Old School Buddhist jhāna absorptions.
1/I’m preparing a presentation on the Buddhist jhānas. The jhānas are a very distinctive series of meditative absorption states. The style I’ve practiced involves experiencing some synesthesia.
And I’ve been listening to audio of some talks Rob Burbea gave for a jhānas retreat.
2/ Burbea makes references to “the energy body,” and I was unsure what that was. Doing some reading, and getting some helpful comments from several persons here on twitter today, I have a sense for that now, and wanted to create a thread in part related to it.
1/13~ A few notes to, um, "self," on an ongoing interest.
My current sense is that the Buddhist attention to the core problematic processes of "ignorance" and "desire" goes to something very deep ... and also very simple and very natural.
2~ The Sanskrit for "ignorance" is *avidyā.* Like in English sometimes, the "a-" is a negative (as w/ our word "atypical," which of course means "not typical"). And the "vid" is related to the English words *vision* and *video.*
*Avidyā,* ignorance, literally means "not seeing."
3~ The Sanskrit here for "desire" — also often translated as "craving" — is *trsnā* (which word in Buddhist Pāli is *tanhā*). It literally means "thirst," and in fact our word "thirst" is etymologically related to it.
2) I don't have a full answer, but sense it can be both. And where "emptiness and form" are characteristically Buddhist terms, you can get non-dual experiences depicted in other traditions, too. Like this in The Book of Privy Counseling, by the author of The Cloud of Unknowing:
3) I don't know Wilber well, but it's apparent he likes making maps of different stages & styles of contemplative practice and experience. The distinction you mention here is one the Mahayana Buddhists draw, differentiating their presentation from earlier "Old School" Buddhists'.
1/4* I got my heart broken last year. And sometimes her name enters my mind. As a distinctive little thought. Not much more than the name. It has a kind of perseverative quality. And tonight when it occurred in my meditation the sense was
𝑚𝑦 𝑏𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑛 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑎 𝑏𝑟𝑢𝑖𝑠𝑒
2* And, like a bruise, my feeling is there’s not much to be done with it. Just let it be. Don’t poke at it. Give it time.
There was also a moment in my meditation when I wondered, “Are all my thoughts 'bruises'?”
3* There are different kinds of thoughts and thinking. Some are just random bits of nothing much. And a lot of them are a kind of trying to figure things out. And the sense I had was not so much those are “bruises,” but there is a component in them of trying to help me out.
1/5# Scholars are unsure of the meaning of Socrates' last words (as conveyed by Plato): “We owe Asclepius a rooster. See that you buy one, and don’t forget.” Asclepius was the god of medicine (and a new-ish addition to the accepted Athenian canon of recognized gods).
2# But the Greek word for "medicine" — pharmakon — could also mean "poison," and the condemned Socrates had just drunk hemlock (a portion of which he'd previously asked the guard if he could pour out as a libation gift to the gods).
3# Some scholars speculate that Socrates, in dying, is thankful for being cured of the "disease" of having a body. There's maybe, too, an association with him being a "scapegoat" for the city (another, older, meaning for *pharmakon*).
When I was a younger man (on Monday) I used to joke about living like a pioneer here in freezing Texas. Today I'm placing buckets beneath spots where the broken pipes are leaking outside to collect water for the toilet. 🪣👨🌾
huh ... I happened to have just met a plumber, going to service a building across the street ... he reports he's being instructed by the city to turn off the water to various locales as an effort to try and preserve pressure for others.
1/4} Regarding some of the current calls for “healing” and “unification” of the body politic (many of which calls seem over-convenient just now), I’m reminded of two things.
In assertiveness methods for working constructively with persons who disagree with you about a matter...
2} ...you look to describe how *you* see things, and express how that makes you feel, and make clear what your concerns are. That approach enhances the prospect of getting a constructive response from others — *but it does not guarantee you'll get a constructive response.*
3} And I’m reminded more graphically: I’m a cancer survivor. You do not look for “unity” with malignant cells. The healing and integration begin when you get those uncooperative, sickness-bearing elements out of the body.
1: In connection w #WorldPhilosophyDay, thought I'd share some notes on how the word "philosophy" has a history. The way we use it now was mainly inaugurated by Plato, largely as a creatively transformative enterprise, and then Aristotle, as largely a matter of logic & analysis.
2: Prior to them it was used somewhat loosely in connection with things like reading books (historically a new resource), speaking wittily, displaying curiosity, and/or being practiced in debates.
3/3: Scholar Livio Rossetti suggests the prolific production of writings by Aristotle's school contributed to shaping that school's use of the word from that point on.
As Lisa notes in her essay, the word "mystic" is fairly recent. I offer a discussion of the related words, "mysticism" and "mystical" in a book I'm currently writing (addressed to my young adult daughter, who doesn't consider herself religious).
2` As a longtime student of contemplative practices, I'm too aware of the modern Western emphasis on "philosophy," "beliefs," "ideas," and "theories," and an implicit equation between "religions" and (conflicting) metaphysical notions.
3` Steven Katz' insistence that diff contemplative traditions are incompatible since "they are rooted in differences of language" is inadequate. Many contemplative experiences are quite literally too simple for words, so their resultant language is not a fitting comparison point.
2) He was asking it in connection with this interchange:
3) Sometimes when I'm leading a mediation group, I’ll say, “There’s a miracle going on, there really is, and it’s everything.” To that I’ll often add something like, “And whatever you do, don’t take my word for it — go look.”
1/10* I don't know Carse's work well, but I find it odd he can say here "religion is poetry," but then go on to say religions are "absolutely" totally different from each other. One would imagine it possible for different poetic expressions to voice similar and same realizations.
1|Regarding "perennial wisdom" I personally find we're best served looking at the actual experiential practices the world's contemplatives engage in. And while there are many & great variety, it's not hard to find persons across cultures & centuries doing very similar techniques.
2| And those contemplative techniques are typically exercises in paying attention. They're an embodiment of honesty, & they include looking at how we look at & see things. In the end, they involve a kind of open-mindedness that's quite literally too simple & immediate for words.
3| Our words come later; our words are effectively artistic gestures towards something too original for ordinary, habitual language. I'm fond of saying, "If you take religious language literally, you're not taking it seriously enough."
1. I've long been interested in those experiences that mean most to people in their lives. American religious studies professors (Harvard) informed me that was "psychology." My later psychology Ph.D. committee suggested that that was "religion."
2. And when I looked to facilitate a contemplative sitting group, the state of Texas (Comptroller’s Office) informed me it was “counseling without a license,” since it didn't require a belief in a Supreme Being. (So, before we took it to court, it was illegal to “just sit.”)
1|12 When I meditate, I often welcome (or, in effect, I feel welcomed by) a kind of "not caring." And that can sound odd. "Not caring" can sound like detachment, or indifference, or disdain. But that's not what it's like. It's not a distancing thing. It's the opposite-
2| ... when "not caring" comes along as a main quality of my meditation, I don't feel distant. I feel *more* present to my immediate experience of the moment.
3| That quality of experience reminds me of older etymological uses of "to care," which were connected with the meanings "to lament" and "to grieve." (The words "to care" and "to cry" might be related.)
1# Yesterday, I tweeted some thoughts on problems w academic treatments of religion, and said, “religious language isn't a primitive science thru which we're expected to explain the world; it’s more a poetry thru which we're invited to touch the world."
3a# As a reply to that, I’d like to start at an experiential place that comes before religion and language. This is an illustration of what I mean by that. It’s a story from my childhood (from part of a book I’m writing, addressed to my daughter):
0/ This thread offers a mini-critque of some Western conceptions of "religion" - especially academic conceptions of religion.
1/ The way I myself approach religion gives useful some perspective on how I come to see the weaknesses in academic conceptions of religion.
2/ I'm a contemplative. In practical terms that means I meditate a lot. In somewhat broader terms it means I'm someone who actively seeks out and engages in practices of honesty and clarity and intimacy to put me in touch with an undeniable experience of life's worth and wonder.