Issue 15, March 2002
In the midst of a world where spiritual idealism is all but extinct and feminine mediocrity and worldliness dominates our every thought and action, Genius News strives to re-ignite the noble in Man; to reinvent the philosophic wheel and recapture what has always been best in the human character: Reason. Our goal with this publication is to reach out to those rare souls who have been blessed by Nature with sufficient consciousness to suffer for the nature of the world and for their own ignorance. We hope to inspire them into ever greater levels of idealism with challenging and provocative material suitable only for those with the loftiest of philosophic aspirations. Our aim is to encourage such ones to embrace the Infinite and walk the dangerous but rewarding path to Enlightenment - the path of the true individual.
Welcome to Genius News.
The -[- symbol will return you to this contents table from each major section.
- Watchfulness -
Watchfulness is the path of immortality: unwatchfulness is the path of death. Those who are watchful never die: those who do not watch are already as dead.
Those who with a clear mind have seen this truth, those who are wise and ever-watchful, they feel the joy of watchfulness, the joy of the path of the Great.
And those who in high thought and in deep contemplation with ever-living power advance on the path, they in the end reach NIRVANA, the peace supreme and infinite joy.
The man who arises in faith, who ever remembers his high purpose, whose work is pure, and who carefully considers his work, who in self-possession lives the life of perfection, and who ever, for ever, is watchful, that man shall arise in glory.
By arising in faith and watchfulness, by self-possession and self-harmony, the wise man makes an island for his soul which many waters cannot overflow.
Men who are foolish and ignorant are careless and never watchful; but the man who lives in watchfulness considers it his greatest treasure.
Never surrender to carelessness; never sink into weak pleasures and lust. Those who are watchful, in deep contemplation, reach in the end the joy supreme.
The wise man who by watchfulness conquers thoughtlessness is as one who free from sorrows ascends the palace of wisdom and there, from its high terrace, sees those in sorrow below; even as a wise strong man on the holy mountain might behold the many unwise far down below on the plain.
Watchful amongst the unwatchful, awake amongst those who sleep, the wise man like a swift horse runs his race, outrunning those who are slow.
It was by watchfulness that Indra became the chief of the gods, and thus the gods praise the watchful, and thoughtlessness is ever despised.
The monk who has the joy of watchfulness and who looks with fear on thoughtlessness, he goes on his path like a fire, burning all obstacles both great and small.
The monk who has the joy of watchfulness, and who looks with fear on thoughtlessness, he can never be deprived of his victory and he is near NIRVANA.
What is the ultimate nature of the world? Is it really physical, as it seems? Or is that just an appearance? Is it mind-created? Or is that just an appearance too? How do we get beyond the appearances?
Jon: Philosophy basically boils down to interpretation and analysis of human thought, how and why we think (and do) what we do. Like mysticism, the thoughts of the philosophers are basically interactions of brain chemicals. So we are using our own brain chemistry to contemplate the brain chemistry of philosophers who were using theirs to interpret brain chemistry of the general population. Whew! My brain chemistry is getting all foamy, how about yours?
David Quinn: While I agree that everything we perceive is a construction of our own brains, it begs the question, what of the brain itself? After all, being a perceived entity, it too must be a construction. But what exactly is it a construction of? It can't be a construction of the brain because that would be tantamount to saying that everything we perceive is a construction of a construction, which would be meaningless. So in reality, it isn't actually the case that everything we perceive is a construct of the brain, but of something deeper. What is it?
Jon: Perhaps I'll be considered a bit thick and simplistic here but to paraphrase the popular cliche, there is a forest to be seen here in spite of all these confusing trees.
To assume "something deeper" is to assume that what we perceive as reality is in fact not. And this is the frustrating conundrum that lies at the heart of philosophy. The meaning of life is a silly question if we doubt the reality that life exists in. Call me pragmatic but it seems to me that we must deal with what we know. Without dismissing the possibility that something beyond or in addition to reality exists, we need to agree that essentially the same physical universe exists everywhere, for nearly everyone, for the simple reason that when we open our eyes, there it is. While minor details of this reality vary, these is attributable to the fact that everyone perceives it from a different perspective. And not only a dimensional perspective, but cultural, cronological, genetic, educational, and yes, chemical as well.
Religious, mystical and out of body sensations can be induced by chemical, and even visual and magnetic, manipulation of the mind. Without further indications, is it logical to assume that these supposedly metaphysical conditions are anything more then reactions to natural forces? While such discussions may have been relevant when these natural forces' effect on the mind and body were not even partially understood, isn't it logical to conclude that these discussions are fast moving towards the redundant and/or irrelevant?
My conclusion is that the reality we all perceive is probably the reality that exists with the above noted, relative, individual abberations. Euphoric and/or depressive mental states leading us to believe that there is some "deeper meaning" to them are products of evolution of our species (and life as we know it in general) in this real environment, and maybe necessary in the past or even present to our continued survival and evolution. Victor's assertion that we use logic much more then we are credited for illustrates this evolution. Consciously or not, our beings logically continue to breath, jump out of the way of cement trucks and chose the shortest and easiest path from home to work or from the easy chair to the refrigerator. This is of course all in the context of what we perceive to be reality.
Unless and until plausable evidence emerges for this deeper meaning, or even the necessity of it, even our individually variable perceptions of reality should convince us of the futility of searching for it.
I AM: What we see, feel, hear or whatever is the only reality we know. It is the interpretation our senses give us. We don't have to say it is unreal or doesn't exist, but it would be intelligent to understand what we see is niether the "ultimate" perception of the "thing-in-itself" nor anything "less". It is our world. It is a reflection of us. You are the world and the world is you. We can theorise that everything is energy and this energy ebbs and goes from the "absolute" which has no beginning or ending and therefore hasn't been created, and we may be correct, but the only thing we can ever prove at this point is that we are conscious.
Jon: Sure, the entire Universe, including you, may be a construct of my brain (mind) which may or may not be housed inside my skull, which of course may also be a mental (or other) construct. Or I may just be a construct of your mind. Etc. etc. etc. Until we are able to mentally enter the minds of others, we'll never know for sure. Not to mention the philosophical confusion that that might generate. Understanding the concept that every man (or woman) is a conceptual island unto themself, my point is that to function we must concede that there is a universe out there that is essentially the same for all of us. It is fine to speculate about mental constructs, but if one doesn't occasionally construct some nourishment to shove down one's construct of one's digestive tract, one will not be speculating for long. Just ask some Ethiopian constructs.
David Quinn: The key words here are "to function". What you're essentially saying is this: Let's stop valuing absolute truth altogether and just pretend, for the sake of practical purposes, that there is an objective, physical world out there, after all. Or to put in a nutshell, let's abandon philosophy. Some solution.
Jon: It's a perception of a solution I can conceive of! If "reality" is simply what we individually perceive through our perceived senses, then the very notion of "absolute truth" is not only an impossibility, but an absurdity as well. Logic and reason, and hopefully philosophy by extension, is the art of deducing what is possible and/or probable.
David Quinn: The trouble with this conclusion is that it is based on something which is perceived to be absolutely true - namely, that all reality is "simply what we individually perceive through our perceived senses". In other words, you're treating the idea that all reality is subjective as though it were the absolute truth.
Jon: One could conclude the absolute truth is that reality consists of nothing more then individual perception. However, this would be absolute truth only for the being making the conclusion as there would be no way to disprove reality went beyond mere perception for others. Can we view anything as absolute truth if it is only true for an individual? My position is that we all share a common reality, even if it is merely a generally basic, common perception, concrete or not.
David Quinn: It's a matter of definitions. I personally define an absolute truth to be any truth which is true in all possible worlds, and therefore true in every person's subjective reality. An example is the truth that all objects and events that we experience in the world are finite in extent (i.e. they don't constitute the totality of all there is). As you can probably see, an absolute truth does extend beyond the individual's perception of things, in the sense that it is something which is necessarily true in all fields of perception, not just one's own.
Jon: If I mention Osama bin Laden or George W. Bush or the
Pyramids or the Washington Monument, we all should be able to conceptualize an
image from our shared experience of a shared reality, albiet through our own
perceptions of that reality. While I have no proof that all of you perceive generally
the same images as I, we probably all agree on a skinny guy with a beard
wearing a sheet, a man with a silly smirk that needs pretzel chewing lessons,
stone constructions with triangular sides and a huge, white phallic symbol.(my
own personal, preferred perceptions)
The idea that we can agree on much of what we perceive as being basically the same as others' perceptions leads logically to the hypothesis that there is indeed a hard reality that we can all individually perceive through mental processes but cannot significantly change by same processes.
David Quinn: It could just as easily lead to the hypothesis that we are all computer-simulated objects generated by the same program. Or that we are all being dreamed by the same dreamer. I'm sorry, but there is no "evidence" at all that a physical universe exists beyond our minds. How could there be, when any evidence that we might want to draw upon is necessarily part of our perceptual world and therefore part of the system that we are trying to explain? Simply pretending that there is a physical world-in-itself doesn't make it true, unfortunately.
Jon: Notwithstanding your computer program hypothesis, the starting point for all thought is the old reliable "I think, therefore, here I is!" This is the basis for all reality. Everything further is what we deduce with logic and reason from that original thought. And to get beyond that original thought, we must use what we perceive individually in comparison to what we perceive others' perceptions to be. My point is that it is logical and reasonable to assume that there is a common reality out there, with minor perceptual differences, that can be inferred from these perceptual comparisons.
David Quinn: I agree that there is a common reality "out there", one which we all share in. But it would be erroneous to imagine that this reality is a physical universe of the kind that we perceive within our consciousness. Physical properties can only occur within consciousness. They need a mind to give them an existence. They can't occur outside of it.
So in the end, the one reality which underlies everything is not physical in nature, nor is it mental or spiritual. Reality is fundamentally beyond all these things. In a very real sense, it has no nature.
Jon: "Erroneous" implies error. While I cannot prove to anyone that the general perception of a physical universe that we all share is in fact real, neither can you show that this general perception is wrong.
David Quinn: I can show you it is wrong. The reason why the physical universe cannot exist beyond consciousness is because (a) the physical universe can only exist as an appearance, and (b) appearances are things that can only exist in relation to an observer. In other words, if something isn't presenting an appearance, then it isn't existing. That is what existence means: to appear.
Of course, this line of reasoning also shows that other competing hypothesies of what lies beyond consciousness - e.g. a super-computer, a cosmic dreamer, God, a spiritual essence, whatever - are equally misguided. Even the idea that there is nothing at all beyond consciousness is misguided, for the same reason.
Jon: Your unequivocal statement is that nothing can exist unless some consciousness is there to perceive it. Isn't this erring on the side of ego? Shouldn't there be at least an equal chance that a physical world might exist with or without our consciousness?
David Quinn: If you can logically demonstrate how a physical world can exist without presenting an appearance, I might be persuaded to agree with you. But it is impossible to execute this logical demonstration, as nothing can exist without presenting an appearance.
Bondi: It would be better to say: to manifest. "Appear" presupposes - for me, at least - that one has to "see" it or perceive it in any other way, if "appear" was interpreted in a wider sense. Existence also means not just "to manifest" but - as the principle of existing - the possibility of manifestation.
David Quinn: If we were to define existence in this way, then we would have to conclude that all future events, which have not yet arisen, are currently existing.
Bondi: That's right. Because time is an aspect of the manifestation as well.
David Quinn: Well, to me, this only serves to mangle the concept of existence beyond all recognition. I realize that I am often accused of mangling definitions myself, but one thing I never do is alter a definition so much that it loses all connection to the original definition. The best alterations are those which don't stray too far from the original, and yet manage to shine a whole new light on the subject matter at hand.
If we say that all future events are currently existing, then we would have to conclude that your own death, Bondi, is a current reality. This conflicts with the obvious fact that you are still alive, as evidenced by your participation on this forum. So what are we to make of this? Are we to conclude that you are currently both alive and dead? Your definition of existence seems to create irreconcilable contradictions, which makes it a poor definition.
Serpenteen: [David, you said:] "If something isn't presenting an appearance, then it isn't existing. That is what existence means: to appear". Does this mean Totality/Everything is only a concept without full existence of it's own?
David Quinn: In a way. Since the Totality isn't a particular thing (it is everything), it lacks form and appearance, and therefore cannot be said to exist. On the other hand, we can't say that it doesn't exist either, for the same reason. Only "things" with form and appearance can exist or not-exist. The Totality, being beyond all things, is capable of neither.
Serpenteen: The reason I ask is:
1. You often describe Totality as "formless" which could be interpreted as having no appearance.
2. If Totality includes things which don't exist (for example: pure nothingness?), then one could conclude Totality does not fully exist. One might then also conclude Totality only exists as an imaginary conception which is dependant on things which do exist (i.e. the mind). Of course, there can be an Everything-That-Exists which is more than a conception, but the Everything-That-Exists Conception seems to be less than the Everything-That-Does-And-Doesn't-Exist Conception.
(Actually those two Conceptions could be considered equal the same way "1" and "1+0" are equal. But this is assuming everything in Totality exists and and if something appears to not exist it is an illusion caused by things that do exist.)
David Quinn: The Totality embraces utterly everything, including those things which are imagined not to exist. And as you point out, even non-existent things possess a form of existence in that they are conceptual entities that exist in the mind.
Bondi: Here we can see the confusing of concepts ("nothingness" and "exist" - just because of failing to see that Totality is itself the Existence and Non-Existence, so it is (metaphysically) irrelevant and makes no sense to say something like "Totality does not exist".
Serpenteen: I suppose it's all "irrelevant" as long as you aren't interested in the nature of Totality or existance.
David Quinn: I think what Bondi is getting at is that being "formless", the Totality isn't nothingness (a form).
Serpenteen: Perhaps "nothingness" is confusing my point. If Totality includes the nonexistant giraffe in my room, this (nonexistant) part of Totality does not exist in itself. This part of Totality requires an existing mind to concieve it. Also if Totality does include Non-Existance, it shows that it is an illogical concept. Something cannot purely not-exist and still exist as a part of Totality. (BTW, The nonexistant giraffe in my room could still be considered a subset within the Existance part of Totality if recognized that it is an existing concept made up of existing pieces.)
David Quinn: I'm not sure that I see the problem. Even though it is true that a non-existent thing needs a mind to bring it into existence (as a non-existent thing), it's essentially no different to the fact that a tree needs fertile soil for it to come into existence, or the fact that a cloud needs the right atmospheric conditions. A non-existent giraffe is just as much a causal creation as a tree or a cloud is, and they are all manifestations of the Totality. [
From Genius Forum
Matthew Timpanelli: I think it is a very difficult thing to discern who really is a genius from a forum such as this. Yes, many have an advanced intellect, but how exactly would one go about catagorizing one as a genius?
David Quinn: That's easy enough. By examining their words and assessing whether they are consistent with the genius's comprehension of Reality.
Matthew Timpanelli: If I was a genius and looked at all the posters in the forum, I wouldn't see any genius because (a) I posses genius where some do not and (b) because some posseses genius beyond what I can understand.
David Quinn: If you were a genius, then you would have no major difficulties in being able to judge those who were not up to your level of genius. As for those who have more genius than yourself, they would necessarily be geniuses by default.
Matthew Timpanelli: If Leonardo da Vinci wandered in here and gave his views about enlightenment, would we recognize his genius?
David Quinn: Was Leonardo Da Vinci a genius? I see no evidence of it. He was energetic and inventive, yes. But a genius ....? I don't think so.
Matthew Timpanelli: You must not be familiar with Leonardo da Vinci's life. He is exactly what you describe. I suggest you look him up. A very interesting character, indeed. He was probably the first scientist to study human organs in dead bodies, an experiment which could have gotten him arrested in that time. An example of how you would characterize him as a genius would be, he used to sit and study how birds flap their wings for days, weeks. He was an observer, and studied reality till his death.
David Quinn: He was a scientist-type. As far as I know, he didn't attempt to open himself up to the Infinite. Nor did he encourage people to abandon their delusions or challenge them to strive for ultimate knowledge. He displayed none of the traits of a true genius.
Matthew Timpanelli: In my view, he may have been the only genius to grace this earth.
David Quinn: Well, let's put this to a test: What, in your view, was the wisest thing he ever did or said?
Matthew Timpanelli: "Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind."
David Quinn: "Use it or lose it", as the saying goes these days.
Matthew Timpanelli: I don't believe this to be the wisest thing he has ever said, but this really does sum up his life. His never ending quest for the truth. His accomplishments speak for themselves. He was making plans for tanks and helicopters 100s of years before they were brought to life.
All these scientific accomplishments aside, his greatest accomplishments are those of an artist. You are wrong to say he is a scientist type, because truly he was a painter. All his scientific work was due to his gift of observation. His greatest work though was in my opinion the "Last Supper".
David Quinn: To me, all of this constitutes proof that he wasn't a genius. Instead of focusing upon the only matter which befits a genius - namely, the deepest comprehension of Reality - Leonardo instead diverted himself with the painting of pretty pictures and the invention of toys. So rather than think of him as a genius, we should regard him as someone who frittered away his great potential for genius on mere trifles.
Matthew Timpanelli: To me a true genius is one that can express beauty and emotion in such a way that no one can deny. Simply said, the man was far ahead of his time. When everyone was superstitious, he was a man who changed the way we think today.
David Quinn: That may well have been his greatest accomplishment, yes. For that he should be commended.
Still, I don't believe that mere inventiveness and artistic skill is enough to qualify one as a genius. What is invention exactly? It is the process of creating something new and useful. For this to spark into action, a person needs to find ways of escaping the traditional manner of viewing the world so as to free up his mind and enable him to make new mental connections. This is all very admirable, and it does share a set of traits that are found in the true genius (as I define the term). But it's not enough. It's what we do with this great freeedom of mind that determines our level of genius.
What distinguishes a person of genius from the rest of the human race is his authoritative grasp of Reality. Most people tend to hold back in their thinking, for fear of gaining genuine knowledge of anything. The genius, by contrast, goes for the jugular without any hesitation at all. He doesn't rest until he has shaken every last secret from Nature. But most people are far too modest and humble to attempt anything like this.
In other words, genius isn't a function of intelligence as such, but rather of the application of intelligence. Genius is the fruit of intelligence applied wisely. Most men have the genius seed inside them; all it needs is a bit of nurturing for it to grow and flower. But most people aren't interested and it shows in their words and behaviour.
Matthew Timpanelli: All of your ideas, DQ, about genius are a matter of opinion. You make it seem as if a genius is easily spotted by his thirst for knowledge of realtiy. [If that were the case], wouldn't all of us here be geniuses? To actually find out who is a genius we would have to define what genius is. The definition of genius is quite varied from person to person.
David Quinn: I define it as the ability to thrive and prosper in the light of Truth. The genius is easily spotted (at least by other geniuses) by his comprehension of Reality and the demeanour this produces.
WolfsonJakk: The greatest scientists have more in common with the greatest artists than they do with other artists or scientists. People should pay more attention to the Cubist period (led by Picasso) of modern painting history in conjunction with Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. Einstein once described his ideas as visual: "I experienced the barn as I past on the train all at once...."
...speaking of his imaginings of approaching the speed of light.
Picasso once said of his Cubist period something like "...I experienced my subjects from many different angles and even times". The two were contemporaries, though not aquaintances. They did not know each other, it is presumed.
Zagreus: The greatest artists and scientists only have to do with each other what a great man has to do with them. He can only do away with them ultimately.
Scatteredmind: Definitions are always a matter of opinion. So there must be as many forms of genius as there are opinions. Surely David's opinion of genius is simply that-- David's opinion of genius. But David, poor David. Won't anyone ever live up to your definition? Intentional dismissal of people not up to your standards is not a good definition. You are no more genius than my left foot. It seems abrashness is the only thing that gets noticed here - never mind genius. How sad.
David Quinn: If we don't raise the definition of genius to the highest degree, then all we do is weaken and dilute it. This would then lead us to lower our standards and cause us to start calling the merely talented and the industrious "geniuses" ......
Avidaloca: I think this is a simple matter of David Quinn's definition of genuis being vastly different to the average person's understanding of it as someone who is exceptionally gifted in a certain field (or just generally). David thinks of the word as the embodiment of a wise person or someone who has attained enlightenment, which could not be said to be the usual use or understanding of the term.
Scatteredmind: David's definition of Genius is akin to God. Why expect, or accept, anything less? Man cannot be God.
David Quinn: I don't believe that my concept of genius is all that different to traditional concepts of it. In essence, all I'm doing is isolating the genius portion of great scientists and artists such as Einstein and Michelangelo, and relating this portion to the greater concentration of genius found in wise people such as Jesus, Lao Tzu, Socrates, Buddha, Weininger, etc.
The "genius" exhibited by Einstein and Michelangelo is really just a weakened form of spiritual genius applied narrowly within a certain field of endeavour, such as the field of scientific theorizing or artistic expression. One of the major differences between an Einstein/Michelangelo and, say, a Jesus or a Weininger is that the former is unable to express his genius outside his field of expertise. Whenever Albert Einstein, for example, stepped outside of the realm of physics and commented upon other issues, he invariably displayed a complete lack of genius - as was evidenced by his painfully adolescent and uninspired philosophical observations. He magically ceased to be a genius in these circumstances and became just another ordinary man! This would never happen to a Jesus or a Weininger. The great spiritual genius never ceases to be a genius, no matter what he is doing.
Given this, one could perhaps say that da Vinci was a greater genius than either Einstein or Michelangelo, on account that he was extraordinary in both science and art. He was like an Einstein and a Michelangelo all rolled into one. That would certainly be a valid point to make, but still not a very interesting one. All it would mean is that da Vinci had a knack of spreading a weakened form of spiritual genius over many superficial areas. It's not much of an achievement.
Matthew Timpanelli: Actually, Michelangelo was more than just an artist. Architecture takes a great knowledge of physics and Michelangelo was one of the greatest architects ever. Also, he was a writer. Hence, the whole renaissance thing. This multi-disciplinary studies of art, nature, science, philosophy, etc.
A man like Jesus devoted most of his time to teaching. How does that make him more of a genius? Perhaps he is a genius because he was more accepted amongst his people. But this was only because they thought Jesus was there to free the Jews from oppression.
Dont get me wrong. I have a great respect for Jesus and Buddha. But don't count out everyone else just because they prefered to be an artist. Artistry is philosophy of pictures and feeling. Most great artists could do many other things but devote their time to making art because art is important. Is the statue of David less important than the Bible. No.
Take someone like M.C. Escher. The man created such beauty, and had mathmatical theories, but never graduated past the 4th grade. He found an importance in art more than any other field. My point, then, is that wisdom is shown just as much in art, if not more, than in books. In fact, writing is an art and so is everything else - math, science ...... [
- Spiritual Friends -
by Dan Rowden
Someone once remarked that friends are "thieves of time". I would go a step further and say that friends are thieves of mind. There is a world of difference between a true spiritual friend and a friend in the sense that such a thing is commonly understood. A true spiritual friend is also your greatest enemy. He is a constant reminder of the path to which you have dedicated yourself; he is a constant reminder of your imperfection and of the egotism that remains in your character. He is a gnat that buzzes around your head and gives you no peace. He is the conscience that presents itself when your own fails.
Conventional friendships exist for one purpose only - to boost one's ego. This is the sole reason one has "friends". A friend is someone who validates us, who indicates to us that we are valued - a person of worth and substance. How many people have friends that constantly tell us we are a worthless piece of shit? We may have spouses that do that but that's another story altogether.
How can you have friends! You who is supposedly on the path to enlightenment and who claims to be an individual? How can the true individual have friends? The spiritual man is a solitary being by definition. Friendship is an anathema to him. Worldly friendships make us stronger in ego. They reinforce the false idea of our existence and because of this friends are always at each other's beck and call. Our connection to them is 100% about egotistical need. We choose our friends precisely on the basis of who best satisfies those needs. This point alone proves the wholly egotistical nature of conventional friendship.
The spiritual friend is one whose only concern is wisdom. He is not at all interested in your ego, other than in the sense of wanting to destroy it. Such a friend works to make us weaker in ego and thereby more able to make room in our hearts and minds for God. Most people would not even begin to think of such a one as a "friend". They would regard him as one who seeks to bring you down, to bring to ruination your self esteem - and they'd be right! A spiritual friend is indeed one who seeks to facilitate your down-going. But that is exactly what makes him a true friend in spirit. That downgoing is what makes us ripe for God in our lives. Most people are far too strong for God. They have so many friends to give them support in their hours of need; so many friends to bring concretion to their egotistical delusions; so many friends to validate them - how could there possibly be room for God?! What possible need could there be for such a thing? What need could one have for Truth when there are so many friends willing and able to tell us the most exquisite lies!
Ultimately, the truth seeker need have only one friend - his own reason. However, if others should cross our paths, be certain that those with whom we consort are of good character - good enough character to not be willing to lie to us.
From Genius Forum
conversation was triggered by a paragraph from Kevin Solway's excellent work Poison for the Heart which was posted by WolfsonJakk for
WolfsonJakk: From the Buddhism section in "Poison For the Heart", it is written:
" The Buddhists of today believe that the individual is alone responsible for all that befalls him. Consequently they do not consider it possible to cause another to suffer. Nor do they believe it possible to change others for the better. Thus, in a single blow they avoid any responsibility for others."
Could David or Dan please explain how this position exists in conjunction with the previously stated position that compassion is delusional. It expresses the selfish desires of an ego that believes in it's inherent (non-causal) existence. What responsibility could a Buddha possibly have toward others?
David Quinn: A Buddha doesn't think in terms of "others". To him, the whole world is his "self", including all human beings. Thus, his compassion towards others is really just a desire to improve his "self" and make it become perfectly wise.
Avidaloca: How is this true type of compassion, that which you ascribe to the true Buddha, any less selfish than the false Buddha's compassion you describe as possessing "the selfish desires of an ego that believes in it's [sic] inherent (non-causal) existence."? Neither appears greater than the other, yet you say they are complete opposites: the former is right compassion, the latter wrong compassion.
David Quinn: The difference is that a Buddha is no longer controlled by the illusion of self, and hence the foundations of selfish behaviour no longer exist inside him. So when a Buddha attempts to enlighten others and rescue them from samsara (the realm of ignorance), it makes no difference to him whether he succeeds or not. He has nothing riding on the outcome. He doesn't make the sort of personal investment that ordinary people make when they indulge in "compassion" (or indeed, any activity at all). Not having a self, the idea of a personal investment in a future outcome has no meaning for him. Thus, his compassion is clear-sighted, non-emotional and pure.
The following two lines of the Tao Te Ching sum it up well:
The sage has no mind of his own,
He is aware of the needs of others.
Zagreus: These laughable few words are said as though his awareness of the needs of others follows from his supposed lack of his own mind. The sages mind is made up, he is mortal, it is the only way he can learn to become immortal. Self is no illusion, not to those whose vitality crushes every despondent feeling, every decadent thought... my buddhish brother, david quinn, you have a self, I happen to have one, the sage is the one who is most his own self. Why are you always going on about the sage, do you know him on a name to name basis? Emotion is present in every thought that becomes one to those in the presence he who thought it. Purity is to be found, by way of if not directly, in expression.
WolfsonJakk: Does anyone else see the parallels with the Christian missionary perspective?
David Quinn: I don't see them. Missionary work is based on the deluded concept that there is a "self" which is enlightened and "others" who need "saving", a concept rejected by Buddhas.
WolfsonJakk: If a sage "emanates his widom", does it matter whether he is Buddhist or Christian? Was Jesus a Buddhist?
David Quinn: Christianity and Buddhism are both extremely deluded religions. If a sage was a member of either one of them, I would have to question his level of wisdom.
A better question would be, was Jesus a Buddha (i.e. a perfectly enlightened man)? My answer to that would be: no, he wasn't perfect, but he was on the right path. Or to use Buddhist language, he was a bodhisattva. He was a timeless individual who was beyond all religion.
Matthew Timpanelli: Jesus, was an enlightened man. Actually he probably was enlightened well before he was a man. THe early teachings of christianity are very much like buddhism. Even Early christian Art resembles buddhist art. Somewhere along the line the church has added their own views and superstitions to make a profit. Im sure Jesus had no intention of starting the Christian Religion as we see it today.
It doesnt matter If you are a scientist, devil worshiper or buddhist etc. Wisdom is wisdom no matter what field it comes from. Wisdom comes from everywhere, even from people who are not wise themselves.
It is better for a wise man to teach you but it all depends on how the student is able to understand it. Some student dont need wise teachers, just wise phrases. Wisdom then comes from inside themselves. Actually all wisdom comes from inside, just some wisdom is easier to find in some. The less blessed or people who have bad karma have wisdom hidden beneath all their fears and insecurities and need a very wise teacher to wipe away vexations of their personality to unlock their wisdom.
Whether Jesus had knowledge of buddhism or not doesnt matter, because we can all come to the same conclusions and beliefs if you are enlightened. Jesus was not a buddisht though because buddhism isnt a religion. He had similar beliefs and probably practiced similar methods but I dont think he had any knowledge of buddhism.
David Quinn: You only have to read the Gosepl of Thomas to observe the "buddhist" nature of his thought. There are a lot of very Zennish comments in that gospel.
i. Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All."
ii. Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, `See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, `It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realise that it is you who are the sons of the living Father.
iii. Jesus said, "Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you. For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest."
Jesus said to his disciples,
"Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like."
Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel."
Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."
Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like."
Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out."
v. The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end shall be." Jesus said, "Have you discovered then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there the end will be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end & will not experience death."
vi. Jesus saw some infants being suckled. He said to His disciples, "These infants being suckled are like those who enter the Kingdom." They said to Him, "Shall we then, as children, enter the Kingdom?" Jesus said to them, "When you make the two one, & when you make the inside like the outside & the outside like the inside, & the above like the below, & when you make the male & the female one & the same, so that the male be not male nor the female female; & when you fashion eyes in place of an eye & a hand in place of a hand, & a foot in place of a foot, & a likeness in place of a likeness; then you will enter the Kingdom."
vii. Jesus said, "Whoever believes that the All itself is deficient is himself completely deficient."
viii. Jesus said, "It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the All. From me did the All come forth, & unto me did the All come forth, & unto me did the All extend. Split a piece of wood, & I am there. Lift up the stone, & you will find me there."
ix. Jesus said, "He who has recognized the world has found the body, but he who has found the body is superior to the world."
x. His disciples said to him, "When will the Kingdom come?" Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying, 'Here it is', or 'There it is'. Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
Simon Peter said to them,
"Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life."
Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven." [
Society's hidden misogyny
The Weekend Australian, February 23-24
Women will set sail for the stars in the next
50 years, aboard vast spacecraft that look more like the Cutty Sark than the
Starship Enterprise, NASA scientists predict.
Men need not apply; the all-female crew would probably take a sperm bank, rather than male astronauts, to save on weight without losing the ability to reproduce. The spaceships that will carry the first interstellar travellers to Alpha Centauri at one-tenth the speed of light will be powered, not by the warp drives or ion engines of Star Trek, but by light sails powered by lasers measuring hundreds of kilometres across.
The first human beings to experience this new age of sailing will embark within 50 to 100 years in spacecraft of at least 1 million tonnes that would operate as self-contained miniature cities, according to Geoff Landis of NASA's Glenn Research Centre in Cleveland, Ohio.
Passengers should forget about booking a return ticket. It will take 43 years to get there and another 100 years to stop, with the original astronauts' great-grandchildren becoming the first to wake up to the dawn of a different sun. Interstellar travel has often been assumed to be impossible because of the difficulty of designing a light-weight engine with the power to propel a ship 4.3 light years to Alpha Centauri.
Space scientists, however, are increasingly confident not only that humanity will travel to the stars, but also about the form that such journeys will take, Landis, who researches space propulsion systems, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston last week. "Often technology develops much faster than anybody expects," he says. "It will probably happen in 50 to 100 years, though it probably won't be in my lifetime."
An interstellar spacecraft, he says, could not carry an engine because of the weight of its fuel. The best course would be to attach a life-support module to a sail hundreds of kilometres wide, but only a few millionths of a millimetre thick. "You would then shine an incredibly powerful laser beam on to the stars as the wind pushes a sailing ship," says Landis. "The energy from such a beam could propel the ship to reach 10 percent of the speed of light, which is fast enough potentiality for it to carry astronauts."
The sails would be made of diamond, just a couple of molecules thick, for maximum strength and resistence to heat, and the laser would take several years to power up before producing its beam. The orbiting laser could fire either an intense single pulse or a continuous, focused beam - either form of energy could be caught by such a vast sail. If the target speed were reached, the total journey would take 43 years.
That, however, is far from the end of the design problem. "You really want to stop when you get there and it's just possible you might want to come back, " says Landis. "These are both as difficult as getting there in the first place."
It would be possible to stop the ship using a magnetic parachute, a giant magnetic field nearly 100km in diameter that would create drag as it is passed through the tiny number of hydrogen atoms in outer space. "This might take 100 years and the last part might need help from a rocket." It means a round trip of 200 to 300 years, assuming that the return leg is possible.
The life-support module would have to carry everything the astronauts needed for more than a century, including equipment for making oxygen, greenhouses for growing food and a nuclear plant for generating power.
Says Landis, "After the long voyage without any men present, they may discover that humanity doesn't actually need men after all and they'll engineer a society without them. But then, maybe that will be better anyway. It certainly might be worth a try."
Comment: It is incredible but true that otherwise educated people feel compelled to raise women up by putting men down. Such is our disregard for the feminine mind. Such is the depth of our dishonesty regarding our true feelings on the matter. Society's contempt for women seems so complete that we need to artificially sully the character of men in order to give the appeance of female virtue. It is quite astonishing to see this phenonenon exhibited by the leading intellectual lights of our community. It goes to show just how widespread this form of contempt for women actually is.
Baring her all
U of A student takes eye-popping campaign approach
By SHANE HOLLADAY -- Staff Writer
NEWS March 3, 2002
The bare facts of Kelly Shinkaruk's eye-catching campaign for public office are that it takes a "slap in the face" to break voter apathy, she says.
Spurning more conventional election images, Shinkaruk opted for an eye-catching campaign: she's featured nude on her posters.
Shinkaruk is running for VP student life, a spot on the University of Alberta's Student Union responsible for non-academic pursuits - like housing and S.U.-sponsored parties.
"I'm not afraid to do things other people are more squeamish to do," said Shinkaruk, a second-year med student.
The whole idea behind her posters, which she said are modeled after an animal rights campaign, is to beat voter apathy.
"I never thought 'I'm going to get naked to get people to vote.' Maybe people need a bit of a slap in the face to take notice. You have to do something to get people to vote," said Shinkaruk.
Only one letter in recent issues of the university's Gateway student newspaper expressed disapproval, although not very strenuously.
"I can't help but feel that using sex appeal to promote a political campaign in such a blatant manner isn't such a great idea," wrote student Robert O'Malley.
"But I also can't deny that she got my attention."
When asked about the mood on campus during Shinkaruk's campaign, Gateway editor-in-chief Dave Alexander said his contract bans him from speaking to the media.
Other candidates for the position were unavailable for an interview. Alex Ragan, the S.U.'s chief returning officer couldn't be reached by The Sun yesterday to give other candidates permission to speak.
According to Eva Ng with the S.U.'s electoral office, candidates can't talk to external media without Ragan's clearance.
If they do, they face censure, she said.
Ng called The Sun to confirm that Shinkaruk had been interviewed acting, she said, on a complaint by Christine Rogerson, another candidate for VP student life.
Rogerson had spoken to The Sun earlier, but said she couldn't talk without permission from Ragan.
Shinkaruk said that by speaking to The Sun, she risks being kicked out of the campaign - in which case, she'd have to pay her campaign costs without any S.U. subsidy.
"If that happens, I'll just sell the posters."
Comment: It's tempting to suggest that this story indicates the contempt that women have for themselves in our society, but that would be a mistake. It would be to presume that women conceive of themselves in any way as mental creatures. But the truth of it is that for almost all women, the body is the beginning and the end of them; it is the All of them. In fact, for most women, it would be an insult to suggest that were primarily a creature of mind, as that would imply - at least for them - that they were in some way physically unattractive. I'm afraid our species has a long way to go before it reaches anything resembling real humanity. Our feelings of superiority to other species is surely a gross overestimation of ourselves. [
From Genius Forum
Yet another discussion that was initiated by a section from Kevin Solway's Posion for the Heart, sent in by WolfsonJakk.
WolfsonJakk: In the "To Judge Another" section, it is written:
"There is no greater virtue than judgement, and it is so easy to judge truly. You can judge a tree by the fruit that it bears: how can it deceive? How can you be misled or mistaken if you trace the pathways of cause and effect? Judge a man's character by his actions, look at his friends, and you too will learn to see through walls."
Friends? Can a Buddha have friends? I think Dan and David are friends IMO, though they probably would not admit it....hehe, boys will be boys, as Momma said.
David Quinn: We're friends to some degree. But I usually think of Dan as a colleague, rather than as a friend, even though I do like him and we get on well. To me, a "friend" is someone with whom you've bonded to emotionally and whom you're willing to do anything for, even die for. A colleague, on the other hand, is merely someone who is working with you for a common purpose. Colleagues might naturally bond together to some degree over the course of time, but in most cases, if it wasn't the existence of the common purpose there wouldn't be any basis for friendship.
So even though Dan is a fine fellow with a lot of admirable traits, it is unlikely that I would be willing to die for him and therefore I cannot really count him as a friend. (Under this definition, of course, I have no friends.)
Can a Buddha have friends? Well, he can have colleagues ...... A Buddha is incapable of bonding emotionally with others and therefore incapable of friendship.
I AM: Do you mean incapable of bonding emotionally with "specific" others, David?
David Quinn: That's right. A Buddha had no reason and no inner means to bond with other people because he is already completely fused to the whole Universe. The emotional bonding of love can only occur when people are spell-bound by the illusion of seperateness. It's a contrived way of bridging a chasm which doesn't really exist.
I AM: I would imagine that a "Buddha" feels a total love, a total energy, a total bond with everything and everyone.
David Quinn: Well, "love" is a misleading way of describing it (for the reason articulated above). The feeling of love can only arise when there is the illusion of self and others. People bond with others in order to gain greater protection for their selves in the face of a vast, threatening world. It's essentially a form of self-presevation. But if you don't have that illusion of self to begin with, then you have nothing which needs protecting and therefore no need or desire to engage in the feelings of love. Thus, in a very real sense, a Buddha is incapable of love. He is too pure for love.
Or to put it another way, if you experience any feelings of love towards someone, however lofty or joyful, it's a sign that your mind is still heavily deluded.
Zagreus: Are these the words of a sage?! Oh fuck, we love you Dave! Read over your words once or twice, see how they sound, and then maybe do it again!
WolfsonJakk: Can a person judge their parents for having them? Surely their fornication is a function of delusion...but what of my awareness and consciousness? Is my vision not worth their delusion?
David Quinn: This is an interesting question. There are two seperate aspects to consider here: (a) the motivations of your parents, and (b) your value as a living human being. Ethically, the two aren't really connected. Even if you were to become a great Buddha, it still wouldn't change the nature of your parent's motivations. If their motivations were egotistical and deluded, then any Buddhas they happened to produce would merely be a happy accident.
Kierkegaard and Weininger both thought that bringing children into this world was a sin of the highest order and basically a crime against truth. They saw it as a core link in the perpetuation of humanity's fundamental ignorance. I personally don't go along with this because I believe it is possible to produce and raise children without transgressing the dictates of wisdom. But these children would probably need to be raised in a society of Buddhas and highly advanced bodhistattvas for this to become a reality. [
From Genius Forum
conversation is a continuation of a discussion that occured on Genius Forum
during the previous month (and subsequently published in Genius News # 14). For
those who are interested, the first discussion, entitled "Secular Humanism
and Mysticism", can be read here.
WolfsonJakk: Must [meditational experiences] actually be blissful? Personally, I have only experienced this same fleeting bliss as an adult, but there are many stories both in ancient texts and modern ones that describe a more horrific extra-conscious experience. There are those images of personal demons, end-of-the-world scenarios, and burning in Hell itself, etc., etc
Dan Rowden: I remember an incident in one of the places I used to live: a guy I knew passingly, who was this big, burly, tattooed lumbering giant sort of guy came to my house one night in a terrible mind state. Now, I should add that despite his intimidating presence he was really a gentle giant with a very religious mindset. He even had aspiriations of becoming a pastor one day. But this night he'd entered a terrible altered state and was literally seeing the Devil and various demons coming out of the walls at him, just as surely as he was seeing me.
The guy was utterly terrified and didn't know what to do, so he came to me for help (clutching tightly to a Bible, btw). I did what I could to calm him but I don't think it helped much. Anyway, I saw him the next day and he told me that someone the previous day had given him a mushroom sandwich, but unbeknowns to him they weren't your run of the mill fungi, if you know what I mean. So he was basically trippin'. But because his head was full of religious imagery and obviously fear of the devil and so forth, that's what he saw in his altered state. Needless to say he was somewhat relieved, but also angry, at knowing the cause of his waking nitemare.
So, I think there's an obvious connection between what lies in a person's mind - i.e. that which looms largest in their psyche - and what will come out in such altered states, probably depending somewhat on the cause of that altered state. The same is probably true of everyday dream states.
David Quinn: Mystical experiences often bring to the surface things that are repressed in the subconscious. They also tend to reflect the yearnings and fears that one has in normal life. So, for example, if you're a Christian who habitually fears the Devil, then a mystical experience can easily bring this fear to life and create a living hell for you.
There are other kinds of mystical hells as well. For example, a person might enter into a mystical state too deeply and suddenly fear that they may never "come back", and that they will lose their minds, and so on. Another person might have a very sensitive conscience and start to panic that he is not perfectly in tune with God. When one is in a mystical state, concerns of this kind can be severely heightened and can make the experience extremely hellish.
Another type of hell is the one in which a person gains insight into the true nature of his past and present life and can suddenly see that his entire existence is a sham. If a person isn't ready for such an insight, it could overwhelm him and drive his mind down some very dark corridors.
WolfsonJakk: What are the differences of opinion concerning these mystical experiences from the perspective of a psychologist/psychiatrist versus that of a mystic? Which set has the most evidence to validate their claims?
Bondi: A mystic would say that psychology is a branch of modern science -- and it is a brand-new science. It identifies everything with the inferior. (For example, the (in)famous "subconscious" of psychoanalysis.) From psychological point o' view, David is quite correct, but from a mystical one we could say that he describes perfectly what we can call pseudo-mysticism. Today's science is trying to give naturalistic explanations for everything, so does psychology. This is not to say that they are totally untrue but - according to the truth - these explanations are "relative". It is pointless to claim an "evidence". Psychology always stays in the realm of mind [because of examining humans] and in the realm of reason [because it is a science], while mystics [forget 'ism'-s] is beyond the human realm and reason, that's why it does not make any sense from a rather scientifical point of view. "Evidence" is pointless to claim from both.
David Quinn: I think it's important to isolate whatever is true in the mystical experience and seperate it from the many illusions which invariably surround it. In other words, we need to seperate the wheat from the chaff.
For example, we need to recognize and accept that the feelings of bliss, timelessness, and familarity that I describe above are indeed illusory products generated by our psychology and egotism.
But not everything associated with the mystical experience is necessarily an illusion. The perception of the unreality of the world, for example, - which is a fairly common occurance in mysticism - is one that may well be aligned with the enlightened perception of the world. (Although it may well not be, either; it depends on how wise and undeluded the person experiencing the perception is.) In this case, the mystical experience is throwing up something which is neither scientific nor psychological in nature, yet is very real.
Bondi seems to be saying that it doesn't really matter how a mystical state is produced, the information that it contains may well be valid in its own right. In other words, even if a mystical experience is produced by drugs, or electric stimulation, or faulty chemistry, or whatever, it needn't mean that the internal knowledge that the experience provides is undermined or made invalid by such humble origins. I would agree with this, providing that the knowledge in question makes logical sense. If the knowledge is true, then it doesn't matter where it comes from or how it is generated.
On the other hand, if it doesn't make rational sense, then all you are left with is an unusual experience that you really can't do anything with. An interesting, but ultimately worthless, curio.
Bondi: But from the viewpoint of reason, any mystical experience is "unusual" - what's more they are considered "irrational". Most people fail to realise that a mystical experience is neither limited by reason nor by any other human characteristic. Such consequences would fall into the category of "hungover", which we cannot label mystical.
That's the point: you cannot "do" anything with mystical experiences. When you try and do, you are overrating reason so that you are merely arbitrary. "Possessed"...
David Quinn: To me, what makes an experience worthwhile, whether it be a mystical experience or some other kind of experience, is whether it is able to trigger a greater understanding of Reality and take us closer to ultimate enlightenment. Some mystical experiences are helpful to this quest, some aren't.
Unfortunately, people usually become even more deluded when they have mystical experiences, due to the way they falsely interpret them. It doesn't take much to blow a person's mind, it seems, and even the weakest and least truthful of mystical experiences can convince them that they have experienced the nature of God. When it comes to spiritual attainment, people are satisfied with so little and stagnate so easily in shallow world-views. They don't realize that the path to Truth extends far beyond mysticism, and that it is always important to challenge and cast aside one's previous mystical experiences, and move on.
Scatteredmind: Perhaps you should keep in mind that your descerning of rational and irrational is always in question. Is it not the experiences that define the 'fundamental nature of Reality' ?
Those experiences (whether mysical or not) that 'shed light' are only named as logical simply because they fit into the current inner logics of what's next.
However, an experience as seeming to 'shed light' and be completly logical at the time, may turn out to be very illogical and irrational later on when a brand new experience, or what I call 'Epiphany of Reality', takes over.
I can see how a buddist (genius, enlightened, etc) might be defined as living in one big mystical experience as someone else said-- however, how does he know that his inner logic or rationality is correct? If he 'knows simply because that is what is most logical' -- is that not also called Faith? What is most logical or rational at the time, must be challenged because it may turn out to be very much illogical.
A person trying to live an enlightened life and gaining an outside view of the world by living outside of it -- does not seem very logical to me if they no longer gain new experiences. I believe that it is the experiences that create the life... and the enlightenment. It may as well be death for the person that no longer wishes to have a new experience.
WolfsonJakk: This is a major question I have as well pertaining to the Solway/Quinn/Rowden school of Buddhism. I prefer the term Absolutist Buddhists. It differs from the Fundamentalist Buddhist in that ceremony is shunned. Also, it is assumed that the individual can use "logic" to determine the "Absolute Truth". This needs to be explained further, I feel.
David Quinn: There's nothing mysterious about it. One defines what "Absolute Truth" is and then one uses reason to find out what exactly in the world conforms to this definition. There is no other way.
WolfsonJakk: Please explain the role of emotions in terms of organic life and why individuals should abandon this path.
David Quinn: Emotions are products of a false interpretation of Reality. They are generated out of the false view that things inherently exist and there is a "self" which needs to be protected. Given this, it is surely obvious why the emotions are abandoned by a Buddha. When you realize that everything is yourself, then you automatically realize that nothing can possibly harm or destroy it. You see that there exists nothing beyond your self, the totality. Thus, the very linchpin of the emotions - namely, the perception of threat - vanishes.
WolfsonJakk: How can the student know that his/her conceptual idea of "truth" is not delusional and based in egotistical Will to Power?
David Quinn: Ultimately, he cannot know until he becomes enlightened. Short of that, there is no certainty.
WolfsonJakk: It sounds like you are saying "You can't go to Heaven until you are saved." Pure rhetoric.
David Quinn: Not so. It's a logical point. A person cannot be certain that he is free of all delusion (and be 100% correct in this certainty) until he is actually free of all delusion.
Scatteredmind: Circular argument with a leap of Faith in Buddha is still a BELIEF. If your beliefs are no longer challenged, how do you know it isn't YOUR delusion?
David Quinn: My beliefs have been challenged every day for many years - not only from people such as yourself, but also from my own mind which accepts nothing less than pure, authentic truth. But as I say, from my perspective, it's like a bird in the air looking down and watching the broken remains of a shell being poked and turned over.
Avidaloca: While we exist as imperfected beings in delusion, there will always be some aspect of that delusion in our lives, or to use your dictum: "False minds have false beliefs."
A perfect being no longer requires belief, which rests on faith, because truth permeates his life now to the extent that he has knowledge. You can legitimately claim to know logical statements to be true and so on, but you cannot exist in the realm of pure knowledge prior to that awakening - there will always be uncertainties under the bold facade, because ultimately you still exist within delusion.
If, as you say, you have conquered all falseness, then so too would you have conquered delusion itself, which you agree you have not absolutely achieved in the present moment. Therefore, your knowledge cannot be absolute either. It may be the best possible level of knowledge you can attain within samsara, but it is not perfect knowledge until you yourself are perfect.
David Quinn: That's true. To the degree that one's mind is not dwelling in perfect enlightenment, one's knowledge of Reality will be distorted.
On the other hand, those who have already awakened to the nature of Reality (i.e. have temporarily entered at least once into the realm of perfect enlightenment at some point in the past) are likely to have a near perfect understanding, even though they still experience delusion. When they do slip back into delusion, the fall is not very great and their picture of Reality remains a very close approximation. Although not absolutely perfect, it is usually good enough to facilitate further advancement in the future.
Serpenteen: A person who is delusional can always believe with 100% certainty that he's not delusional -- but of course, this would be part of his delusionality.
David Quinn: True.
Serpenteen: How can a non-delusional person know with 100% certainty that he is totally non-delusional? Wouldn't he realise that there is always a possibility of an unconscious part of himself that might be delusional -- especially if he believed that there was no seperation between his "self" and everything?
David Quinn: The trick is to train oneself to "believe" in only those things which cannot possibly be false, and to keep your distance from every other belief or theory that is less than 100% certain.
An example of a belief which cannot possibly be false is the belief that one is conscious. It is impossible to challenge such a belief because the very challenge itself is an act of consciousness. Another example is A=A. Yet another is that truth that all things lack inherent existence.
So the person who is beyond all delusion is essentially someone who has examined his mind from top to bottom and discarded everything that is less than 100% certain and retained the rest. If there is even the slightest possibility that something may be false, then it's got to go.
There is also the aspect of "emptiness" to consider. When a person penetrates the very foundations of existence and enters into emptiness, any attachment that he may have had to a particular form is abandoned. This is very important to understand because it means that the knowledge of the delusion-free person isn't dependent upon any particular object or process or form, which makes his deepest knowledge of Reality unshakeable. A person can only be deluded if he is clinging to some particular "thing" in the belief that it is the truth. But when, in the consciousness of the Infinite, you cling to nothing whatsoever, all possibility of delusion vanishes.
Serpenteen: I understand a person can be 100% certain that specific thoughts are non-delusional (i.e. "A=A"), but the belief that one has no delusional thoughts DOES have the potential for being false and therefore is not a belief that someone should be 100% certain about. Wouldn't you agree?
David Quinn: In a sense, yes. Even though a perfect Buddha is undeluded when it comes to the fundamentals of existence, it's possible that he may be deluded in his conclusions about what he perceives in the empirical realm.
For example, he might misread a particular social situation, or mis-analyse a scientific theory, or wrongly assess a person's psychology, and so on. However, unlike the ordinary person, his delusion wouldn't be of the form of an attachment to a distorted view, or the product of a hidden bias. Nor would it be the result of shoddy thinking. Rather, he would only be deluded if the data available to him was incomplete or false.
In other words, while his mind remains undistorted and pure at all times, there is a possible avenue of error to be found in the flow of information that enters his senses. There is essentially nothing he can do about this. He is in the same boat as everyone else, in this regard.
Also keep in mind that a perfect Buddha is fully aware of the inherent uncertainty of all empirical data, and of the scientific theories that are built upon them, And so he would never make the mistake of thinking that he was 100% certain in any empirical matter. He would treat all empirical theories and "facts" with a grain of salt, knowing that any one of them could be false. Because he doesn't cling to any of his empirical knowledge, he is never fooled by it in a philosophical sense.
Serpenteen: Can you go into detail about your experience(s) of the realm of perfect enlightenment? What lead up to it? What was it like? And perhaps include how it was different from a "mystical" experience.
David Quinn: These are always difficult questions to answer because "perfect enlightenment" isn't really an experience as such. Well, it is and it isn't. One enters perfect enlightenment by realizing the nature of emptiness and seeing therefore that there isn't, in fact, a state of perfect enlightenment. One sees that there is no finite abode of truth for the mind to enter and ultimately no mind to do the entering.
So the whole idea of entering perfect enlightenment is seen for the ridiculous notion that it is, and it is only then that one enters perfect enlightenment.
If you can understand this point, then you would also understand that the very idea of descibing perfect enlightenment is meaningless. It is not the sort of thing that can be described. It isn't an object of the senses, nor an object of the mind, and so there is ultimately nothing for the mind to get a handle on and try to formulate into words. At the same time, however, it is fully understandable by the mind that comprehends the lack of inherent existence in all things.
How does it differ from a mystical state? A mystical experience involves the core delusion that one has entered into a special state, and thus is fundamentally flawed form the outset. For example, I used to have altered states in which it would seem as though the whole world had dissolved into a sort of timeless essence or unity. It was always a very powerful experience. During it, the illusion was created that the physical world was very flimsy and insubstantial and the timeless essence so very real and eternal.
The experience of perfect enlightenment is not like this at all, nor is it like any other experience, mystical or otherwise. There are no flashy images, no bells and whistles, no head-spinning revelations. Just the clarity of perception and deep certainty that comes with comprehending emptiness.
Scatteredmind: Perhaps you should keep in mind that your descerning
of rational and irrational is always in question. Is it not the experiences that
define the 'fundamental nature of Reality' ?
David Quinn: Experiences of perfect reasoning, yes.
Scatteredmind: Those experiences (whether mysical or not) that 'shed light' are only named as logical simply because they fit into the current inner logics of what's next.
However, an experience as seeming to 'shed light' and be completly logical at the time, may turn out to be very illogical and irrational later on when a brand new experience, or what I call 'Epiphany of Reality', takes over.
David Quinn: If one has truly reasoned one's way into Ultimate Reality, then no subsequent experiences can possibly overturn it. That is what the "Ultimate" part means. That is what makes it so great.
Scatteredmind: I can see how a buddist (genius, enlightened, etc) might be defined as living in one big mystical experience as someone else said-- however, how does he know that his inner logic or rationality is correct?
David Quinn: A person attains enlightenment when there are no longer any distorting influences in his mind produced by delusion, attachments, fears, mental blocks, etc. This produces perfect clarity and enables him to judge with perfect accuracy whether or not he is reasoning correctly.
Scatteredmind: If he 'knows simply because that is what is most logical' -- is that not also called Faith?
David Quinn: Faith in logic? Where should we put our faith, if not in logic?
Scatteredmind: What is most logical or rational at the time, must be challenged because it may turn out to be very much illogical.
David Quinn: Agreed. It's very important to constantly challenge one's deepest knowledge and assumptions. That's the only way timeless truths can be uncovered. [
Quotes of quality from Genius-L and Genius Forum
We all have a finite and infinite nature; I can perceive my individuated form, as I can with all things; and yet I can also perceive my beginninglessness and endlessness, as I can with all things. Dan Rowden
I prefer to die than to be a slave. Zagreus
I AM: What are other animals feeling? Are they already
"enlightened"? Do they live in any kind of duality? Or are they
already "one with the universe"?
David Quinn: They are one with the universe, but in an unconscious sense. They lack the capacity to either fall into delusion or become enlightened.
I AM: If our "true nature", our "inner-self" our consciousness is the same consciousness in every other human being, then does that mean it is the same consciousness in every other animal?
David Quinn: This is like the question, does a dog have a buddha-nature? A dog possesses the same true nature that we possess, but it lacks the conceptual faculties to become aware of it.
Intelligence is the key. If pain was all that was required to makes us wise, then we would surely be living in a world of great wisdom by now, given the sheer amount of pain that the human race has experienced over the years. There would be Buddhas everywhere. We wouldn't be able to go anywhere without tripping over one. David Quinn
Linear cause and effect is an artifact of
consciousness. I experience the world, in this sense, in much the same way as
entities with a similar consciousness experience it. If some guy comes to my
door and says: "Dan, you won $M yesterday on lotto." - I'm not about
to say, "No, I can't accept it; I don't experience cause and effect like
you do so yesterday doesn't exist for me." I am going to take the damn
Attachment and non-attachment are all about the false belief in the inherency of things. It has nothing, really, to do with perceptions of linear cause and effect, which are just models generated by consciousness. Problems arise when particular models of causality are believed to represent some inherent state in Nature (as sometimes occurs in Science, for example), or, more generally, where inherent states are believed to exist in Nature at all. This is what "ego" attaches itself to, and is the basis of the claim of the delusional nature of attachment because no such inherency exists in Nature. Dan Rowden
What people call "sudden
enlightenment" is nothing other than the sudden piercing of maya (the
illusion of existence) and subsequent insight into emptiness (the nature of
Reality). Gradual enlightenment, by contrast, refers to the gradual
transformation of the mind in the light of this great insight.
To my way of thinking, a person isn't really "enlightened" until he has completed the gradual transformation phase and succeeded in orientating his mind such that it is able to slip effortlessly into the nature of Reality at will. Prior to this, a person isn't so much "enlightened" as gifted with insight.
But these are all arbitrary labels which don't really mean anything, at bottom. We shouldn't get too hung up on them. In reality, both sudden enlightenment and gradual enlightenment are important phases that the spiritual person has to go through on his road to perfection. They aren't really at odds with each other. One succeeds the other. David Quinn
All images in this publication are taken/adapted from "The Devil's Gallery"
Disclaimer: editorial opinions expressed in this publication are those of its authors and do not, necessarily, reflect the views of subscribers to Genius-L or Genius Forum. Dialogues adapted from Genius-L and Genius Forum have been edited for the purpose of brevity and clarity. Certain spelling mistakes and typographical errors have been corrected to preserve meaning.
Copyright © 2000 - 2007 David Quinn & Dan Rowden