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Intro to Zen - Alan Watts

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I love these Alan Watts videos.

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Alan Watts does the best job explaining Eastern thought to Westerners. I am particularly engaged by his observations on how one's native language actually creates one's perceptions and views of the universe.

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@ThereAndBackAgain

 

After a talk I gave the boys on the way up the mountains to trout fish, I sent them this audio of Alan Watts explaining the middle range between theism and atheism to further the ideas expressed: 

 

 

Intro's to spiritual minded, agnostic atheism. In contrast to the fundamentalist monotheism they've had rammed down their throats and which they've been rebelling against. 

 

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@Joshpantera what do the boys think of this?  How old are they?

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1 hour ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

@Joshpantera what do the boys think of this?  How old are they?

 

17 and 14. They seem to be getting it. The older has already read Hitchens and Dawkins and feels like something's missing. He said that he likes Harris a lot better. I wanted them to take in the atheistic aspect of eastern thought for the philosophical value. And to understand, mainly, how low rung christianity is a spiritual tradition compared to these others. And they do understand that upon explanation. 

 

My talk focused in on the contradictions involved in thinking of a god which is placed far away, in a specific location, as infinite and eternal. And how anything placed in a specific location instead of everywhere and everything, is not infinite nor eternal but finite. You can draw a circle around any fixed location, fixed form or image and section it off as finite. And then went into the eastern concepts of god as Brahman and the pantheistic implications. I illustrated with my hands christianity way down here full of self contradiction on the bottom rung, and the more philosophically sophisticated eastern concepts up here as the top level marker, which are self consistent at least in terms of calling something infinite and eternal and then sticking to the claim and it's necessary implications instead of self contradicting right after. 

 

The next time I see them I'll see what they think of Watts. 

 

 

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"If you are intelligent and reasonable you cannot be the product of a mechanical and meaningless universe."

 

If the universe produces an intelligent human being then the universe must be intelligent.

 

I like that.

 

 

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On 10/9/2018 at 9:00 AM, Joshpantera said:

 

17 and 14. They seem to be getting it. The older has already read Hitchens and Dawkins and feels like something's missing. He said that he likes Harris a lot better. I wanted them to take in the atheistic aspect of eastern thought for the philosophical value. And to understand, mainly, how low rung christianity is a spiritual tradition compared to these others. And they do understand that upon explanation. 

 

 

Were they thinking along these lines before you came along, or did you sow these seeds?  Anyway kudos to you for encouraging such out-of-the-box thinking and exploring!  Not many people are exposed to these ideas, let alone at this age when it can make such a difference in their lives. 

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35 minutes ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

 

Were they thinking along these lines before you came along, or did you sow these seeds?  Anyway kudos to you for encouraging such out-of-the-box thinking and exploring!  Not many people are exposed to these ideas, let alone at this age when it can make such a difference in their lives. 

 

Yeah, they were already going that way and now I've arrived. 

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On 10/9/2018 at 9:00 AM, Joshpantera said:

 

17 and 14. They seem to be getting it. The older has already read Hitchens and Dawkins and feels like something's missing. He said that he likes Harris a lot better. I wanted them to take in the atheistic aspect of eastern thought for the philosophical value. And to understand, mainly, how low rung christianity is a spiritual tradition compared to these others. And they do understand that upon explanation. 

 

My talk focused in on the contradictions involved in thinking of a god which is placed far away, in a specific location, as infinite and eternal. And how anything placed in a specific location instead of everywhere and everything, is not infinite nor eternal but finite. You can draw a circle around any fixed location, fixed form or image and section it off as finite. And then went into the eastern concepts of god as Brahman and the pantheistic implications. I illustrated with my hands christianity way down here full of self contradiction on the bottom rung, and the more philosophically sophisticated eastern concepts up here as the top level marker, which are self consistent at least in terms of calling something infinite and eternal and then sticking to the claim and it's necessary implications instead of self contradicting right after. 

 

The next time I see them I'll see what they think of Watts. 

 

 

 

I definitely agree there are philosophically sophisticated concepts in the east, but I also see a lot of people who really seem to think "the east" has all the wisdom when really the average buddhist in the ACTUAL east as opposed to western buddhism is just as superstitious as most Christians. They believe in a LOT of "woo". I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that but I also don't really see buddhism and Christianity as very different systems. To me they are basically the same fixed "selfless morality" that doesn't think through the logic of that... or the fact that the ONLY people who follow systems like this are people who are already good, leaving them weakened prey for those who won't follow such a system.

 

Also, in the east a lot of peopel think you can reincarnate as an animal which I think is just goofy. And while i can respect in theory the "we are all one" thing, the reality is... if GOD (i.e. all that exists including us) thought that it really was best for us all to be ONE BIG BLOBBY thing with no separation we would be doing that right now instead of this.

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4 hours ago, VerbosityCat said:

I definitely agree there are philosophically sophisticated concepts in the east, but I also see a lot of people who really seem to think "the east" has all the wisdom when really the average buddhist in the ACTUAL east as opposed to western buddhism is just as superstitious as most Christians. They believe in a LOT of "woo". I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that but I also don't really see buddhism and Christianity as very different systems

 

They have similarities. But christianity is still a dumbed down version in comparison. It's basically the ancient solar mysteries turned inside out from esoteric to exoteric. And conceptualizing god as transcendent and keeping to the logic, with Advaita Vedanta and the "tat tvam asi" genre, makes for a higher level spiritual outlook because there can't very well be anything higher than fully and completely transcendent. Christianity is based on worshiping a "mask of god," and never making it to the transcendent realization level of human spirituality. The low rung status is what it is. I choose not to affiliate with either, though. 

 

I'm good as an agnostic atheist who understands human spirituality and just takes it for what it is - various human concepts. Pantheist friendly, maybe pagan friendly as well. Concerned with consciousness, but not in a structured religious sense. And that's where all of this is headed. 

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20 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

They have similarities. But christianity is still a dumbed down version in comparison. It's basically the ancient solar mysteries turned inside out from esoteric to exoteric. And conceptualizing god as transcendent and keeping to the logic, with Advaita Vedanta and the "tat tvam asi" genre, makes for a higher level spiritual outlook because there can't very well be anything higher than fully and completely transcendent. Christianity is based on worshiping a "mask of god," and never making it to the transcendent realization level of human spirituality. The low rung status is what it is. I choose not to affiliate with either, though. 

 

I'm good as an agnostic atheist who understands human spirituality and just takes it for what it is - various human concepts. Pantheist friendly, maybe pagan friendly as well. Concerned with consciousness, but not in a structured religious sense. And that's where all of this is headed. 

 

Yes I definitely agree with you. Christianity is at the very bottom of the turd pile. Though I'm not sure Buddhism is that much "better". And I say that as someone who, after Christianity and as part of my spiritual search spent about 3-4 years as a nominal buddhist and that worldview made me fucking miserable. It was REALLY negative. And I didn't even get THAT deep into it though here is a really good example of some of the bullshit some raised in buddhism go through: https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/4021/the-dark-side-of-buddhism

 

I don't feel some obligation to pretend Buddhism is a "great system" or super sophisticated and deep There ARE sophisticated interpretations (though overall they are still very negative as a worldview) but there are also more sophisticated interpretations of Christianity. I just can't give Buddhism as pass. That doesn't mean I think nobody should be Buddhist just that I think people should be careful before jumping into it thinking it's this super logical rational system that is really sophisticated and deep and wonderful. They may use more $5 words and sound more sophisticated but a lot of even the non-mystical side of it really is just as unprovable as anything else. And yes one can experience meditation for themselves but you still have to "interpret" that experience and it seems Buddhism doesn't REALLY want to let you interpret it for yourself but wants to tell you what you are supposed to think of that experience and what it means.

 

And I agree re: solar mysteries turned from esoteric to exoteric. Very likely Christianity was intended as a Jewish version of the pagan rising/dying godman mystery cults that were popular in the mediterranean around that time. Then the outer mysteries got used as a political weapon and here the fuck we are.

 

And yeah, I don't do organized religion either. About the most label I'll accept is "heathen" and that's because it really can mean nearly ANYTHING in reference to the old gods. I prefer the stories/myths/gods of my ancestors because it's culturally relevant to me and I don't have to twist my mind around it. Shit like Ragnarok feels "current" to me. It also feels like a way that my ancestors were coping with loss of their native faith in the face of Christianity. Reclaiming that somewhat defiantly has been healthy and freeing for me. But I don't "worship" anything. I believe we are all "part of God" I don't think we are being "punished" for anything, but I do sort of feel we are defining who/what we want to become as souls. I see the gods as souls at the "next rung" of spiritual development who were once "human" too. They make me feel connected in a very disconnected world. but in the grand scheme I don't think it matters what anybody "believes" about shit. I don't believe there is a prize for being right.

 

Also, I can't help but feel my ancestors who followed the old gods would be happy to see some of their descendents wearing the hammer again instead of the cross. I definitely think a "repaganization" is happening. At the very least Christianity is dying in the west. And good riddance to that horseshit.

 

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Buddhism and other Eastern religions come in as many flavors as Christianity. It is the most basic core view of reality that sets us apart from Eastern thought.

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1 hour ago, VerbosityCat said:

Yes I definitely agree with you. Christianity is at the very bottom of the turd pile. Though I'm not sure Buddhism is that much "better". And I say that as someone who, after Christianity and as part of my spiritual search spent about 3-4 years as a nominal buddhist and that worldview made me fucking miserable. It was REALLY negative. And I didn't even get THAT deep into it though here is a really good example of some of the bullshit some raised in buddhism go through: https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/4021/the-dark-side-of-buddhism

 

I know what you mean, there's a guy down here who was raised Nichiren and it amounts to the Jehovah's Witness of Buddhism. The guy kept giving me pamphlets and I looked it up. That does mirror christianity. And I'm sure other aspects do as well. But I'm not trying to defend Buddhism, I'm talking about eastern philosophy as a whole which is something that Buddhism took and tried running with. The philosophical aspects of the Upanishads. The grand realization of Advaita Vedanta, "tat tvam asi." That sort of philosophical, not structured religious content. I have actively resisted becoming Buddhist because I have similar disagreements with it. I think it's ancient and outdated like the rest. My interests in pantheism are more modern, scientific pantheism and philosophical, not religious oriented. The ancient versions simply representing a stage in man's philosophical evolution. 

 

1 hour ago, VerbosityCat said:

I don't feel some obligation to pretend Buddhism is a "great system" or super sophisticated and deep There ARE sophisticated interpretations (though overall they are still very negative as a worldview) but there are also more sophisticated interpretations of Christianity. I just can't give Buddhism as pass. That doesn't mean I think nobody should be Buddhist just that I think people should be careful before jumping into it thinking it's this super logical rational system that is really sophisticated and deep and wonderful. They may use more $5 words and sound more sophisticated but a lot of even the non-mystical side of it really is just as unprovable as anything else. And yes one can experience meditation for themselves but you still have to "interpret" that experience and it seems Buddhism doesn't REALLY want to let you interpret it for yourself but wants to tell you what you are supposed to think of that experience and what it means.

 

Obviously I agree with the above. But regardless, it's sophisticated in comparison to something as dumbed down as christianity. I think modern pantheism is more sophisticated than ancient pantheism. 

 

1 hour ago, VerbosityCat said:

And I agree re: solar mysteries turned from esoteric to exoteric. Very likely Christianity was intended as a Jewish version of the pagan rising/dying godman mystery cults that were popular in the mediterranean around that time. Then the outer mysteries got used as a political weapon and here the fuck we are.

 

Yeah, here we are. Well over it's peak and on the down hill slide of it's duration as relevant. It will have to get down below 50% before I think it's political relevance will finally be over. But it's dropping pretty steady. 

 

1 hour ago, VerbosityCat said:

Also, I can't help but feel my ancestors who followed the old gods would be happy to see some of their descendents wearing the hammer again instead of the cross. I definitely think a "repaganization" is happening. At the very least Christianity is dying in the west. And good riddance to that horseshit.

 

They probably would. We're like the Moses of this transitional time period. Most of us are probably too old to see the promised land of christianity finally paying the price for it's sins. But the promised land doesn't seem all that far off at this point. 

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22 hours ago, florduh said:

Buddhism and other Eastern religions come in as many flavors as Christianity. It is the most basic core view of reality that sets us apart from Eastern thought.

 

Yes, that's true. I don't mean to imply that there aren't a bunch of different versions. Only that in the west it seems a lot of people think "western nontheistic 'sophisticated' Buddhism" is "the real Buddhism." When in reality that's not exactly true and Buddhism can be just as psychologically harmful to people as Christianity. Of course ANYTHING can be psychologically harmful. It really depends on the person practicing/following whatever.

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22 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

I know what you mean, there's a guy down here who was raised Nichiren and it amounts to the Jehovah's Witness of Buddhism. The guy kept giving me pamphlets and I looked it up. That does mirror christianity. And I'm sure other aspects do as well. But I'm not trying to defend Buddhism, I'm talking about eastern philosophy as a whole which is something that Buddhism took and tried running with. The philosophical aspects of the Upanishads. The grand realization of Advaita Vedanta, "tat tvam asi." That sort of philosophical, not structured religious content. I have actively resisted becoming Buddhist because I have similar disagreements with it. I think it's ancient and outdated like the rest. My interests in pantheism are more modern, scientific pantheism and philosophical, not religious oriented. The ancient versions simply representing a stage in man's philosophical evolution. 

 

 

Obviously I agree with the above. But regardless, it's sophisticated in comparison to something as dumbed down as christianity. I think modern pantheism is more sophisticated than ancient pantheism. 

 

 

Yeah, here we are. Well over it's peak and on the down hill slide of it's duration as relevant. It will have to get down below 50% before I think it's political relevance will finally be over. But it's dropping pretty steady. 

 

 

They probably would. We're like the Moses of this transitional time period. Most of us are probably too old to see the promised land of christianity finally paying the price for it's sins. But the promised land doesn't seem all that far off at this point. 

 

And yeah, agreed with all you say there. I think my twitchiness is just the western "need" to always explore "exotic shit" rather than explore its own values and philosophical ideas to their conclusions. Definitely re: modern pantheism more sophisticated than ancient pantheism. and there is definitely a pantheistic part of my view on things as well. I think everything emanates from what we might call "God" but that "God" is not the god of any conventional religion. Individual spiritual systems are reflections of the spiritual awareness and sensibilities and value systems of different peoples. So everybody's gods are very much like "them on steroids".

 

By the same token I definitely think my interpretation and version of spirituality re: "the old gods" is more sophisticated than the ancient version. I think spiritualities really need to evolve with a people. It comes out of a people, but it needs to grow and change with them, not stagnate. This is the problem with "organized religion". Human beings have this deep flaw where we LOVE hearing the sound of our own voice and our own ideas parroted back. We fall so in love with some transient ideas that we codify them and domatize them and suddenly it's a "code" we feel the need to enforce or defend.  Organized religion feels like "slavery camp" to me.

 

If "Heathen" was an organized religion instead of a very generalized term saying the vague direction my values and ideas and myths go in, I wouldn't accept it because it would be too much of a fixed perspective I'd feel "obligated to slavishly follow". That's the great irony of spiritual paths. They, IMO, are meant to help your soul grow, but a lot of times they just become things that slow down progress.

 

It's hard, I think for people to take full ownership of THEIR nature and THEIR desires and THEIR will and values instead of blaming it on gods or demons. They want to say "God has xyz purpose for me" instead of "I decided this is the purpose I want to follow that most closely matches MY values and that I believe will lead to my happiness."

 

People are so conditioned to think of themselves as subjects or minions of some god, that they don't realize "the gods" are just us, at the next level of soul development (IMO, not a "dogma" lol. Just how I see it, that the gods were once where we were and we will someday be where they are.)

 

When I think about peak Christianity I sometimes think about the viking age and how these were the last holdouts against christianization wearing their hammers in the face of this slowly increasing number of crosses. And now I see a sort of reversal starting and I wonder if the Christians now feel how the Heathens once felt. The difference is, I don't know a single Heathen who would try to forcibly deconvert a Christian. If they want to be slaves, let them. The old gods are IMO for people willing to take control of their own destiny and take responsibility for their own choices.

 

re: the Moses analogy, I hear you but one of the last purges I've been making is all this "bible analogies or sayings" about things. I don't want this shit hardwired into my brain like this. I think of it more as Ragnarok... the twilight of the gods and then them being reborn and that they are being reborn in people who are waking up and returning to something that actually BELONGS to them in a deeper way. I don't want another culture's stories superimposed on top of my life. I want the stories that came from my ancestors because I hear those stories and I know they are mine in a way these other stories never were, and to me that is a powerful thing.

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