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Unbending the Twig
Posted: 22 April 2007 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]But I think there would have to be another set of criteria related to the idea of teachability.  This is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while but don’t have any definite conclusions yet.

That’s pretty grim, when the first thing you do is admit how specifically unproductive your thinking has been. Relating the idea of “teachability” to experiences that are quintessentially subjective (though you might maintain up and down that they are not) just leaves you with dogma which, as we all know so well, is unnaturally, inconveniently and specifically teachable.

Rational coherence? That is just fancy words for dogma. Don’t make me laugh. I don’t doubt you can get people to buy into this kind of crap. Barnum’s Axiom is alive and well. Knowing a tree by its fruit? Sure, and if spirituality gives you lemons, put up a lemonade stand.

It’s nice if you’re pursuing elegance and coherence, but what are you making it cohere with? If you borrow the terminology from physics but have no physics to make elegant, you are engaging, again, in the kinds of foggy linguistic games that the postmodernists play in analyzing texts with the “uncertainty” principle. Meaning that your meaning is modified whenever you try to read it.

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Posted: 22 April 2007 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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The Unconditioned Response

Back in the days when I was foolish enough to answer the door when fundamentalist missionaries came knocking, I recall how, when I asked them a question they would either quote from the Bible, or hastily flip the pages to find the passage that was their response to my question.  This is robotic ‘thinking’ at a simple level.

Slightly more complex is when we get good advice from a role model or someone we admire and respect.  Faced with a situation that relates to this advice we bring it into play.  Ow!  That didn’t turn out the way uncle said it would!  What did I do wrong?  Your girlfriend goes out with someone else.  You call her later and tell her just what Dr. Phil said to tell her in such a situation.  Ow!

Almost all of us want to know ahead of time how to respond in a given situation.  We are all constantly acting like robots, responding to the unknown with conditioned responses.  Who can take in an entirely new situation, entirely new players, new circumstances and respond with something creative and fresh - ‘off the top of the heads’.

The Zen patriarch, Rinzai (Lin-ji) was always harping, “Trust yourself.  There is no one else to trust.” 

Samurai were interested in Zen back in those days.  Nothing makes a master swordsman deadlier than if, from moment to moment, his opponent hasn’t a clue what he’s going to do next.  The secret?  The samurai doesn’t know either.

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Posted: 23 April 2007 04:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]...

I wouldn’t have a problem with any of this twiggishness, but so far, it’s still all up in the head. In every sense of the word, even the nautical. I don’t mind somebody injecting a dollop of neoplatonism into the curriculum, or a dollop of zen centeredness, or even have a few whirling dervishes show up for a school assembly now and then. But I want to see those who urge these contributions to be included to make sure they acknowledge the role played by a scientific appreciation of just what is a fact, and what is an opinion

Salt Creek, that was definitely uncalled for…but funny!

We need to accept the twists and turns of history as a fact, and even see them as beautiful, even if sometimes grotesque. But now that we have greater scientific understanding, we cannot allow this mental foot-binding caused by religon to continue. To not speak out against it would in fact be a sin. My opinion only.

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Posted: 23 April 2007 04:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“mentor”]We need to accept the twists and turns of history as a fact, and even see them as beautiful, even if sometimes grotesque. But now that we have greater scientific understanding, we cannot allow this mental foot-binding caused by religon to continue. To not speak out against it would in fact be a sin. My opinion only.

I don’t take it all that seriously. But non-theistic spiritualists (who believe in dog) yelp just as loud as the theists do when their chain gets yanked. They’re only human.

I guess the zen of it is that the chain, in this case, is just the great chain of being.

For whoever is leashed among you all, this one will be great. :D

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Posted: 23 April 2007 05:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“mentor”]We need to accept the twists and turns of history as a fact, and even see them as beautiful, even if sometimes grotesque. But now that we have greater scientific understanding, we cannot allow this mental foot-binding caused by religon to continue. To not speak out against it would in fact be a sin. My opinion only.

I don’t take it all that seriously. But non-theistic spiritualists (who believe in dog) yelp just as loud as the theists do when their chain gets yanked. They’re only human.

I guess the zen of it is that the chain, in this case, is just the great chain of being.

For whoever is leashed among you all, this one will be great. :D

Speaking of dogs and zen:

What did the Zen Master say to the hotdog vendor?

“Make me one with everything!”

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Posted: 23 April 2007 05:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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speaking of dogs and zen

Our family used to have a dog. We also had a sandbox in the back yard for the kids to play in, but they couldn’t, because the dog liked to do his business there instead of on the grass.

We called it “the sand of one hound crapping.”  :D

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Posted: 24 April 2007 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“burt”]But I think there would have to be another set of criteria related to the idea of teachability.  This is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while but don’t have any definite conclusions yet.

That’s pretty grim, when the first thing you do is admit how specifically unproductive your thinking has been. Relating the idea of “teachability” to experiences that are quintessentially subjective (though you might maintain up and down that they are not) just leaves you with dogma which, as we all know so well, is unnaturally, inconveniently and specifically teachable.

Rational coherence? That is just fancy words for dogma. Don’t make me laugh. I don’t doubt you can get people to buy into this kind of crap. Barnum’s Axiom is alive and well. Knowing a tree by its fruit? Sure, and if spirituality gives you lemons, put up a lemonade stand.

It’s nice if you’re pursuing elegance and coherence, but what are you making it cohere with? If you borrow the terminology from physics but have no physics to make elegant, you are engaging, again, in the kinds of foggy linguistic games that the postmodernists play in analyzing texts with the “uncertainty” principle. Meaning that your meaning is modified whenever you try to read it.

Wouldn’t society benefit from a broad teaching of spirituality?  It would seem that a person would be free to choose whether he believed in the theories or not, like Salty, but as long as the discussion remains academic, it might actually be beneficial.  I have absolutely no problem with Salty’s harshness of religion, because as far as I can tell, he has invested time into understanding the arguments for religion.  Everyone is and always will be allowed to not follow.

In my experiences, people generally take up whatever religious doctrine they hear first.  I have also witnessed countless people become disenchanted with their particular faith as well.  The shame is that they lived so long as if they had the one true answer.  I see this as lost productivity in a sense.  If that situation was dealt with by a broad array of study into mythology, philosophy, psychology, and every other soft science, maybe there would be less sheeple and more intellectuals. 

I am not at the level of the other posters on this thread, but does this make sense?  As usual, I would like to clearly state this is far outside any formal training or expertise, so no need for insults, but I welcome constructive criticism.  (And I haven’t seen any trolls lurking in this thread.0

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Posted: 24 April 2007 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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I hope nobody sees my position as declaring that spiritual teachers should be rounded up and jailed. My orientation is, if anything, much more anarchic than coercive. I simply see spirituality as snake oil, and in a world of economic scarcity, ultimately powerless against the very scarcity it seeks to palliate. The amount of respect that spirituality gets is far out of proportion to its actual demonstrated effectiveness. So sue me, I’m being grossly materialistic, here. Science is the best route to realizing that we do not have all the answers, and is badly misunderstood by many people who lack scientific training.

I make strong, even vituperative, arguments against spirituality from a kind of authoritarian point of view. I consider spirituality a waste of time, but when all is said and done, if someone wants to spend his time on spiritual matters, who am I to stop him?

I make the best argument I can, and when that fails, I insult people’s judgement. Whatever the case, I am not inclined, and am in no position to dictate how people spend their time.

This is an internet forum, and not a legislative body. Whoever cannot stand the heat should leave the kitchen. If mockery is not your cup of coffee, try that chamomile tea that Sander recently recommended me.

[ Edited: 24 April 2007 05:01 AM by ]
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Posted: 24 April 2007 05:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“burt”]But I think there would have to be another set of criteria related to the idea of teachability.  This is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while but don’t have any definite conclusions yet.

That’s pretty grim, when the first thing you do is admit how specifically unproductive your thinking has been. Relating the idea of “teachability” to experiences that are quintessentially subjective (though you might maintain up and down that they are not) just leaves you with dogma which, as we all know so well, is unnaturally, inconveniently and specifically teachable.

You can say unproductive, I would quote Edison: “No results, why man I’ve got plenty of results.  I know 999 things that won’t work.”  I guess you want the results out in a flash all pretty and ready for the lab, but if a method doesn’t exist yet, or is in a process of development, any thought about it might appear unproductive to you. 

As for teachibility, do you even know the difference between teaching and indoctrination? 

[quote author=“Salt Creek”]
Rational coherence? That is just fancy words for dogma. Don’t make me laugh. I don’t doubt you can get people to buy into this kind of crap. Barnum’s Axiom is alive and well. Knowing a tree by its fruit? Sure, and if spirituality gives you lemons, put up a lemonade stand.

I don’t think you know how to laugh, unless it is directed at demeaning somebody else.  Rational coherence as an evaluative criteria means just that: a claim that is not rationally coherent is unacceptable.  One that is may or may not be, depending on satisfaction of other criteria.  How are you going to argue with a postmodern radical who tells you to your face that your science is just part of the discredited Enlightenment narrative and it needs to be relaced by a narrative of disinfranchised empowerment, blah, blah, blah.  All you can do is sputter and hurl insults, not the best sort of response.  Better to be able to show, point by point, according to criteria that are accepted as valid (but not part of the present rational/empirical method of science), that the guy is full of it.  As I see it, part of the task today is to develop those sorts of criteria and include them in scientific method.  If nothing else, they are necessary for the social and human sciences which are very much in need of some rigor. 

“Your old road is rapidly aging, get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand for the times they are a changing.”

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Posted: 24 April 2007 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]“Your old road is rapidly aging, get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand for the times they are a changing.”

O! The voice of prophecy! mahahaha never said it so well.

Burt, spirituality has been plodding along its old road for five or fifty thousand years. No results except for a plea to “just give us a little more time”. Unproductive. It has had its crack at the staff. Check out that “Free Energy” thread in the Science forum. More mumbo jumbo.

Science has been around in its present form for, what, 500 years?

Human sciences? Somebody characterized the social sciences by “well, sometimes this happens, and sometimes that happens”.

How are you going to argue with a postmodern radical who tells you to your face that your science is just part of the discredited Enlightenment narrative and it needs to be relaced by a narrative of disinfranchised empowerment, blah, blah, blah.

I think Alan Sokal and the follow-ups to his important work laid bare the fact that postmodern radicalism is an empty linguistic game. It is a deep illness in compartmentalized academia that has preserved it so thoroughly. What Sokal performed was not an argument, but an experiment.

Better to be able to show, point by point, according to criteria that are accepted as valid (but not part of the present rational/empirical method of science), that the guy is full of it.

I’ve seen enough of these arguments drag on for thirty pages, and no trace of recognition in the bullshit artists. Read my lips:

I make the best argument I can, and when that fails, I insult people’s judgement. Whatever the case, I am not inclined, and am in no position to dictate how people spend their time.

This is an internet forum, and not a legislative body. Whoever cannot stand the heat should leave the kitchen. If mockery is not your cup of coffee, try that chamomile tea that Sander recently recommended me.

Like it or not, burt, you ought at least to contend with the notion that I take this position not simply for spite. How do you know I am not simply here at this forum to entertain? Perhaps you are miffed that I am not here specifically to entertain you or your delusions of grandeur. Perhaps I am simply lampooning the way some people - even I - take themselves way too seriously, theistically or not. The difference is I am aware of who may be taking himself too seriously. How can I take myself that seriously once I am aware of it?

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Posted: 24 April 2007 07:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]

This is an internet forum, and not a legislative body. Whoever cannot stand the heat should leave the kitchen. If mockery is not your cup of coffee, try that chamomile tea that Sander recently recommended me.

Like it or not, burt, you ought at least to contend with the notion that I take this position not simply for spite. How do you know I am not simply here at this forum to entertain? Perhaps you are miffed that I am not here specifically to entertain you or your delusions of grandeur. Perhaps I am simply lampooning the way some people - even I - take themselves way too seriously, theistically or not. The difference is I am aware of who may be taking himself too seriously. How can I take myself that seriously once I am aware of it?

I have no idea as to your condition.  What I do find is that for the issues that I consider important your comments are totally unproductive.  You are locked into a fixed mental prison and strengthen its walls by attacking anybody who differs with your beliefs.  That said, I will, for the most part, continue to ignore your posts.  Since you have such a low opinion of me, I suggest that you ignore mine.  We seem to have nothing to say to each other.  Recall the disease of aging Vulcans—having tried to be logical all their life, they lose the ability and can no longer control their emotions.  I think you suffer from this, in your case it comes out in indignation and mockerey.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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[quote author=“unsmoked”]The Unconditioned Response

Back in the days when I was foolish enough to answer the door when fundamentalist missionaries came knocking, I recall how, when I asked them a question they would either quote from the Bible, or hastily flip the pages to find the passage that was their response to my question.  This is robotic ‘thinking’ at a simple level.

Slightly more complex is when we get good advice from a role model or someone we admire and respect.  Faced with a situation that relates to this advice we bring it into play.  Ow!  That didn’t turn out the way uncle said it would!  What did I do wrong?  Your girlfriend goes out with someone else.  You call her later and tell her just what Dr. Phil said to tell her in such a situation.  Ow!

Almost all of us want to know ahead of time how to respond in a given situation.  We are all constantly acting like robots, responding to the unknown with conditioned responses.  Who can take in an entirely new situation, entirely new players, new circumstances and respond with something creative and fresh - ‘off the top of the heads’.

The Zen patriarch, Rinzai (Lin-ji) was always harping, “Trust yourself.  There is no one else to trust.” 

Samurai were interested in Zen back in those days.  Nothing makes a master swordsman deadlier than if, from moment to moment, his opponent hasn’t a clue what he’s going to do next.  The secret?  The samurai doesn’t know either.

Back in the mid-70s I knew a guy who had been Canadian fencing champion.  He told me that he never thought about what he was going to do, that he just felt and followed the impulses to move.  In interpersonal relations, I’ve found that the best feelings and results follow from acting in a similar way but from the heart.  But acting without forthought requires practice.  I couldn’t just sit down and play a piano sonata without having put in lots of practice, going back to hours and hours of scales.  That’s true in martial arts, too. 

This brings it down to education—what sort of education is most likely to produce enlightened individuals?  I don’t have children of my own, but have observed the children of friends and their forms of education, and my cousin founded a charter school devoted to teaching the 3R’s because she thought the public schools were not able to give her children a sound education.  Having had some inside experience at the university level, many of the students I get lack the sort of background necessary to do university level work.  I’ve seen good results come from Waldorf schools, Montisorri schools, and from a carefully managed mix of home schooling and public school.  What seems most important to me, however, are the exemplars in a child’s life.

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Posted: 26 April 2007 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”][quote author=“unsmoked”]The Unconditioned Response

Back in the days when I was foolish enough to answer the door when fundamentalist missionaries came knocking, I recall how, when I asked them a question they would either quote from the Bible, or hastily flip the pages to find the passage that was their response to my question.  This is robotic ‘thinking’ at a simple level.

Slightly more complex is when we get good advice from a role model or someone we admire and respect.  Faced with a situation that relates to this advice we bring it into play.  Ow!  That didn’t turn out the way uncle said it would!  What did I do wrong?  Your girlfriend goes out with someone else.  You call her later and tell her just what Dr. Phil said to tell her in such a situation.  Ow!

Almost all of us want to know ahead of time how to respond in a given situation.  We are all constantly acting like robots, responding to the unknown with conditioned responses.  Who can take in an entirely new situation, entirely new players, new circumstances and respond with something creative and fresh - ‘off the top of the heads’.

The Zen patriarch, Rinzai (Lin-ji) was always harping, “Trust yourself.  There is no one else to trust.” 

Samurai were interested in Zen back in those days.  Nothing makes a master swordsman deadlier than if, from moment to moment, his opponent hasn’t a clue what he’s going to do next.  The secret?  The samurai doesn’t know either.

Back in the mid-70s I knew a guy who had been Canadian fencing champion.  He told me that he never thought about what he was going to do, that he just felt and followed the impulses to move.  In interpersonal relations, I’ve found that the best feelings and results follow from acting in a similar way but from the heart.  But acting without forthought requires practice.  I couldn’t just sit down and play a piano sonata without having put in lots of practice, going back to hours and hours of scales.  That’s true in martial arts, too. 

This brings it down to education—what sort of education is most likely to produce enlightened individuals?  I don’t have children of my own, but have observed the children of friends and their forms of education, and my cousin founded a charter school devoted to teaching the 3R’s because she thought the public schools were not able to give her children a sound education.  Having had some inside experience at the university level, many of the students I get lack the sort of background necessary to do university level work.  I’ve seen good results come from Waldorf schools, Montisorri schools, and from a carefully managed mix of home schooling and public school.  What seems most important to me, however, are the exemplars in a child’s life.

Today I heard on the PBS News Hour that there’s a new biography of Einstein.  I wonder if it mentions his childhood exemplars, if any.  I understand he bucked authority, and didn’t do well in school.  He thought that, in science, imagination might be more important than knowledge.  This brought to mind Lao Tsu’s comment, “Every day the scholar knows more, and every day the man of Tao knows less.”

On the theme of the kind of swordsman mentioned above, Lao Tsu commented, “Wage war with surprise moves.”  There’s a story that goes something like this:  Like some legendary gunslingers of the American West, or the Australian Outback, a famous Chinese master of the sword finally got tired of being challenged by upstarts who wanted to defeat him and claim his title; got tired of the bloodshed his reputation seemed to bring on.  He stopped practicing, put his sword away, and went into seclusion in the country to take up the art of brush painting.  Another master swordsman, Xuedou, gained a reputation for being unbeatable and deadly.  However, though his fame spread far and wide, people still said to him, “Xuedou, no one dares challenge you, you are the greatest, but still, you never fought with master Chao.

This caused Xuedou to scour the land, looking for master Chao, and he finally learned his whereabouts.  He sent an emissary to deliver a formal challenge to Chao.  Chao was irritated with this intursion and sent back word that he was retired and no longer interested in duels.  At this, Xuedou began telling people that master Chou was afraid of him and was hiding in the country pretending to be an artist.

Finally, Chou got tired of the gossip, and told his men to make arrangements for the fight.  He specified a small island where he would meet Xuedou at ten in the morning on the day after the spring equinox.
As the day approached, master Chou’s men began to fret when they saw that their master was not sharpening his sword, not practicing his skills with them, not getting in shape.  They reminded him that Xuedou had killed more than a hundred men;  that he was ruthless; that his sword was said to be invisible, flashing like lightning. 

The morning of the fight came and Chou’s retinue were horrified to find the master sleeping in, apparently having forgotten about the deadly duel.  “We have to call this off!” they said to each other.  “Master has gotten senile. He’s forgotten how to fight!  He has no idea what he’s up against!”  Just then Chou appeared in the doorway, asked for a cup of tea and his sword.  “Is the boat ready?”

Meanwhile, Xuedou was pacing up and down on a knoll on the island, waiting for his rival.  At a few minutes to ten Chou’s boat appeared out of the mist, and grated on the shore below the knoll.  Climbing out, oar still in hand, Chou suddenly rushed up the bank, smote Xuedou on the head with the oar and killed him.

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Posted: 15 June 2007 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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Oh, man. Those porn spammers. Unbending the twig as you never saw it!

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Posted: 15 June 2007 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]Oh, man. Those porn spammers. Unbending the twig as you never saw it!

Never got off on Twiggy myself, skinny for saying skinny. 
But some guys I knew, got really bent.

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