can zen be separate from buddhism?

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by cole grey, Jan 8, 2005.

  1. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    This is all great stuff.
    I was hoping there would be contradiction.
    It is much more interesting to have the spice of what I come to disagree with, for the soup I want to eat.
    I don't want to be an unruly guest, but I hope there is more.
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  3. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    I was assuming that zen was not the process only.
    the famous saying 'zen that can be named/"zen"ned/described is not the true Zen' seems to imply that zen is not a type of meditation, but something else. If there were another path to the true zen besides this meditation, could we still call its enlightening "zen". I guess my paragraph answers itself that we shouldn't call it anything at all, but is keeping silent "compassionate"? Is zen just an arbitrary sign we try to hang on a breeze?
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  5. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    Dan74 wrote:
    Yes, I need to dust off the books. It's been a few years.
    Some of us live too far from any monk or nun, and have to glean where we can.
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  7. duendy Registered Senior Member

    ahhhh, but where did that aspiration "path to enlightenemnt" originate? it was coming from the stuff the Hippies of the 1960s were hearing from the proliferating gurus and guru books--there to feed the demand.

    dont know if you have read Storming Heaven, by Jay Stevens all about those times, and it recalls Timothy Leary as guru encouraging the wannabee-enlightened residents of their Millbrook House to "push the envelope"...which mane tmany taking copious amounts of LSd to try and get to....'enlightenment'

    that is what i question. the idea--coming from the East, that therer actually is a state that is 'enlightenement@--thus denigrating--in the process--so-called 'mundane' or 'UN-enlightened' life
  8. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    I only bring it up because you mention Timothy Leary, who I have a lot of respect for...
    I hung out at his house for a while about ten years ago and he did not seem enlightened by his journey. I mean he was of course enlightened in some way by it, but I would say it verified my sources, that the use of hallucinogenics causes brain damage. Brian wilson is another good example. An approach like the dancesafe website at least tries to let people know about the choices they make. T. leary was pretty out of it and I'm pretty sure his brain was fairly well cooked by then. He still had lucid moments in which you saw his quickness, but I'll skip on the brain damage. At least as a regular thing.
    Hallucinogens can take your brain to places not accessed during normal days, but other non-chemical processes can access similar places, or maybe they skip the places but you still come back with the "experience" you know. Hallucinogens are usually very selfish approaches as practiced currently, it's sad.
    Maybe duendy needs to write something to show people how to use them with the respect of the earth or whatever, and maybe help out a kid or two.
  9. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    As a former heavy user of the hallucinogens, I don't think they really contributed anything to my understanding of eastern philosophy, except for the fact that they revealed the limitations and basic premises of society. They can be an antidote for culture and conformism, and instill a deep curiosity in philosophical questions. At it's center, and our center too, I found only emptiness. It is what you make of it. It reflects whatever you bring to the table. On a secondary level, it can reveal interesting things about nature and the body, but I feel they are hardly a replacement (to me anyway) for original, sober thought. You really don't have to "travel" to find yourself, since you always bring it with you anyway.
  10. duendy Registered Senior Member

    I have really warmed to you saying that my friend. it's lovely. and actually that is at heart what i am trying to do. my disertaions when doing art was all about that.
  11. duendy Registered Senior Member

    Well i am seeing us, me, as a CONTINUUM, where each part of the dynamism is alriaght. so for exampl, i am alright now just being what i am now. i am not a bad/ignorant 'self' who needs to get 'enlightened' and achieve 'non-self'.
    Later my sense of self may feel differernt. i may be bored, or excited, or really really excited.then i may be sad, etc etc etc. just being natrual

    then i may decide to take an hallucinogen. and then i am ecstatic......and i have insights etc. later i integrate them

    all along is CONTINUUM. no worries about reaching anywhere. CEPT maybe the deepening of exploring the wonders of the intelligence of Nature, and how to live so as not to fuk UP this interealtionship. Which IS actual, and IS needed so we may and ALL others may live abundanatly
  12. dan74 Registered Senior Member

    There is no need for you to get enlightened, duendy. Some of us sense the inherent unsatisfactoriness of life, especially at the moments when everything is supposedly great. There was a person who felt that and wanted to find out what the whole thing was about. He explored the workings of the mind and its various delusions and assumptions deeply, and discovered (or rediscovered) a deep sense of joy and serenity that is not conditioned on anything, and that opens to boundless wisdom and compassion. This is what we now call Buddhism.

    If you don't feel the need or interest in Eastern spirituality, that's fine, and you can be a fine and happy person. Exploring the wonders and the intelligence of nature is a great journey. Enjoy!
  13. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

    I find a trip out in the woods with psychedelics by myself (preferably) or with a few close friends , once or twice a year clears the cobwebs in my thinking. A spring tonic I started 35 years ago.

    I found this interesting, the much longer full article has some nice historical content.

    From E ASPAC (Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast)
    Zen enters the psychedelic domain
    The blending of Zen, youth rebellion, and incipient psychedelic movement created some difficult issues for serious Zen Buddhists. Harvard psychologist and psychedelic guru Timothy Leary gushed that the LSD experience was an authentic version of the Zen satori , and even such Zen scholars as Ueda Shizuteru and Suzuki himself acknowledged the similarity between the chemical experience and the Zen phenomenon of makyô , i.e. , the "demon region" that was sometimes induced through intense meditation. [53] Most Zen Buddhists, however, thought that the association between makyô and the psychedelic experience was a case of confusion on the part of recreational drug users who were trying to validate pleasure seeking as a form of religious expression. Watts maintained that there was something false about using drugs for religious purposes. One of the greatest problems adhering to "beat Zen," he argued, was its fascination with drugs such as marijuana, peyote and lysergic acid. [54] He seemed to believe that while people with a "requisite gift" for mysticism might benefit from drugs, he was suspicious of claims that psychedelics could automatically "induce states of consciousness equivalent to satori or mystical experience." [55] Given the fact that Watts himself, through such works as The Joyous Cosmology , The New Alchemy , and his regular participation in Timothy Leary's Millbrook Project, [56] seemed to champion spiritual questing through psychedelics, we might well wonder about the source of his apparent skepticism. The "squareness" of his view concerning drugs seems to hinge on the idea of the "requisite gifts" for insight possessed by the user, which would mark the distinction between a favorable mystical experience, and what he called "ecstasies without insight." [57]
    Snyder, too, cautioned that a proper intentionality, meaning a propensity to contemplate religious mysteries, was a necessary pre-qualification for people seeking a drug-induced illumination. In a 1957 essay called "Passage to More than India," Snyder wrote, "[t]hose who do not have the time or money to go to India or Japan, but who think a great deal about the wisdom traditions, have remarkable results when they take LSD."
    In several American cities, traditional meditation halls of both Rinzai and Soto are flourishing. Many of the newcomers turned to traditional meditation after their initial acid experience. The two types of experience seem to inform each other. [58]
    Snyder's observations were guardedly confirmed in the laboratory in a series of psychedelic research projects in the 1960s. [59] Joseph J. Downing and William Wygant, in a 1966 article entitled "Psychedelic Experience and Religious Belief," reported that among forty-two subjects, sixty-percent felt that their religious attitudes had changed. [60] This led them to the cautious conclusion that they should classify their subjects' experiences as "possibly, not certainly, to be of a religious nature." [61] Blum, Blum and Funkhouser, making specific reference to the Zen "emphasis" of many of the users they studied, looked at the relatively thin record of deep changes in life orientation, and wondered about the sincerity of the religious transformations induced by LSD.
    Masters and Houston, in experiments with 206 subjects, and interviews with another 214 experienced psychedelic users in the early 1960s, concluded that "authentic religious and mystical experiences" did in fact occur among their subjects. [63] Masters and Houston were careful, though, to qualify reports of religious awakening through drugs by pointing out that many of the subjects they tested had little or no real understanding of religion or mysticism, and were attributing spiritual value to experiences that were just "undefinedly exciting." [64] Thus, experiences that were sometimes interpreted as religious breakthroughs were really just "analogues" of the religious experience. In other words, they were, perhaps, glimpses of religious insight that may have represented a stage on the way to religious experience, but were certainly not "authentic." [65] The authors also seemed to believe that much of the trumpeting about spiritual insights and "cosmic revelation" came from disaffected middle class users who seemed reasonably well-informed about "eastern" religions, and were merely seeking a "flight from reality." [66]
    The situation is complicated by the fact that many such persons are caught up in a quasi-Eastern mystique through which they express their disenchantment with the declining Western values, and with the proliferating technology, the fear of becoming a machine man, and the yearning for some vision of wholeness to turn the tide of rampant fragmentation. [67]
    These researchers laid responsibility for the false assignment of religious value to hallucinogens on writers such as Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts, whose essays "imposed upon the psychedelic experience essentially Eastern ideas and terminology which a great many persons then assumed to be the sole and accurate way of approaching and interpreting such experience." [68]
    The episode usually began with the ego dissolving into "boundless being," amid a perception of extreme light. Categories of time vanished into eternity. The world was transfigured into an undifferentiated unity. Knower, knowledge, and known all became one. Thereafter, the person became more interested in, and more responsive to, the basic phenomena of everyday existence. This latter quality is an essential aspect of Zen transformations. [73]
    However formulaic these "symptoms" of satori may have appeared, they seem to have been only that--formulas, not real "transformations."
    Among established psychedelic researchers, Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner of Harvard were rare in holding fast to the idea that the fundamental purpose of psychedelics was to raise human consciousness to a higher spiritual level--they were also rare in their almost complete abandonment of objectivity. In defending the rationale of their IFIF Center in Zihuatanejo, [74] the Harvard group asserted unambiguously that the object of their scientific research was to discover ways to expand consciousness, in order to go beyond learned modes of experience and induce "ecstasy," a process they equated to achieving "samadhi, satori, numina, nirvana, mystic or visionary transcendence." [75]
    The split between Zen Buddhists and the psychedelic community was formalized somewhat in a "symposium" published by The Eastern Buddhist in 1971. This printed roundtable discussion was actually a collection of position papers from committed Zen Buddhists, some of whom, like Alan Watts and psychologist Ray Jordan, had experienced LSD, and others, such as Ueda and Suzuki, who had managed to resist the temptation of entering the "demon regions." The participants in this symposium, Suzuki, Watts, Jordan, Ueda, Richard Leavitt and Robert Aitken were unanimous in condemning psychedelics as a path to enlightenment. All members confirmed the final primacy of what Watts called the "ordinary mind." In almost every case, the argument put forth was that psychedelics were, in Jordan's words, an "obstacle rather than an aid in the practice of Zen." [76] Watts argued that rather than leading to enlightenment, psychedelics were more apt to lead its user to "disorientation" and "psychosis." [77] Ueda lamented the LSD experience had been falsely perceived as an authentic encounter with the Buddha, and attributed this false perception directly to the "misunderstanding of Zen sayings."
    [T]he significance of the LSD experience is unfittingly overestimated as the primordial experience, that is, misunderstood anew, since the LSD experience from the beginning is described by citing various Zen sayings. It is not understood in itself, but is given a falsely enhanced interpretations on a horizon foreign to it--the horizon of Zen. [78]
    Finally, Suzuki's paper, appearing five years after his death, made clear that the fundamental distinction between drugs of any kind, and religion of all kinds was the question of which contributed most to the cultivation of "the true man." "Religion produces the true man," Suzuki wrote. "Therefore, no drug induced from without, or apparition seen externally will ever penetrate to the depths of religion." [79]
    The official discrediting of the psychedelic satori seems to have opened a rift between the true believers in religion and the true believers in psychedelics. As Jordan and Austin observed, most people genuinely serious about religion eventually realized that psychedelics were a hindrance and gave them up.
    Richard Alpert, Leary's partner in the Harvard and Millbrook experiments, became, ironically, an exemplar of this type. In 1965, after being dismissed from his position at Harvard, Alpert experienced an emotional crisis, and traveled to the Himalayas to conduct some psychological research and self-exploration. While there, he found not only that his religious sensibilities were deepening, but also that few of the "legitimate" gurus he encountered were even impressed by the effects of the LSD he offered them. [80] Alpert eventually gave up psychedelics in order to rely on the "ordinary mind" of Buddhism, and to embrace a new identity as a disciple of the dharma named Baba Ram Dass. [81]
    In contrast to the retreat of Zen disciples away from psychedelics, and the hardening of their view that drugs cannot lead to enlightenment, proponents of the psychedelic have persisted in interpreting their praxis as the best path toward spiritual gnosis, despite everything their "straight" counterparts say about the spuriousness of the chemical experience. In making these claims, they also seem to be placing religious experience below the psychedelic experience. Leary, for one, believed that LSD would be the basis of a new religion, but a religion so radicalized that no structures or institutions, save the subject and the "mind," could gain entrance. Of course, as a spiritual guru, Leary was almost entirely without credibility. He was almost certainly among those people that Zen writer Richard Leavitt had in mind when he described the LSD experimenters as "notable fools." [82] Leary was, after all, not a religious figure, but a psychologist. His IFIF library at Zihuatanejo, complete with its Tibetan Book of the Dead , its collections of Huxley, Watts, and various "Zen theologians," seems to have served the primary purpose of giving researchers a rich source of metaphors for their personal experiences, but his version of psychedelia failed to sustain itself as any kind of valid religion.
    More recent psychedelic empiricists have insisted that hallucinogens (or to use a preferred term, "entheogens," which means "containing divinity") are a valid path to spiritual insight, and that natural means such as meditation can rarely reproduce the states readily acquired through psychedelics. The late ethnobotanist and psychedelic explorer Terence McKenna, in particular, came close to scoffing at new agers and religious devotees who rejected psychedelics in favor of spiritual gnosis acquired naturally, or as he termed it, "on the natch." [83]
  14. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    Thanks duendy,
    there is something beautiful in art that is irrefutable. Even bad art. Even "evil" art. It doesn't REQUIRE meaning, it is in itself meaning. Humanity must take the blame for it's own actions. Only after that shock could we possibly understand what God really is. That seems to me a trap that buddhism, as an ideology, never fell into due to the idealism of the whole instead of the individual.

    How is the ideal in taoism different than the ideal in buddhism? Is it?
  15. duendy Registered Senior Member

    Dear Be Here Now......THANKS for putting that artice out. it is really informative and interesting.
    My equipment i do web-ing on is failry limited. i can't acquire url addressess. could you give me the correct url address for that page please?

    regarding what it says....i didn't know Alan had written off psychdelics in 1971. i KNEw he was a 'hang the phone up' kind of experiencer--ie., that once the insight is gotten, give up hallucinogens and start meditating etc, but didn't know he had warned people OFF of psychdelics
    i have a jewl of a book of his called The Joyous Cosmology. it is a beautiful book, the way it is written--about an overview of the Trips he had, and insights--and has facing every written page pictures of natrual objects, and markings on natrual objects. get it if you can, it's worth it

    i feel a confusion as i am saying is the idea--for both East and West, that there is a STATe that one can 'get too' that is a static state of bliss, or 'awakening'. this i am calling a myth. sure people can have experiences, with and without drugs and plants, and some poeple may be more senistive than others regarding certain capacities, but this doeans't mean that EVERYone should/must be like that. to THINK that is so is what's called the 'monomyth' or the 'perennial philosophy'. And idea the likes of Huxley, and Campbell
    propigated in their writings, and all influenced by its Eastern origina

    this is why we get the utterly condescending attitudes from people caught up in that myth that some peoples ecstatic experiences aren't really 'religious'. a bit like having some dodgy panel of judges giving you marks out of 10 for kosher ecstasy. i'd tell em to go fuk themselves

    noone has the right to disenfranchize someones insight.....but---

    i would say this. i personally DO challenge people if their insigghts are denigrating Nature. from my research i am aware that ancient cults who most likely used hallucinogenic sacraments--for example the Orphics--DID go o to create divisive dogma. ie., of the the 'spirit' being trappen in Nature, etc.
    would be interesting to explore why they'd do it later
  16. BeHereNow Registered Senior Member

  17. duendy Registered Senior Member

    I mentioned somewhere's else here, cole, i had seen this illustration featuring 3 men. a Confucian, Buddhist and a Taoist. they all have put a finger into a bowl, and have tasted its contents---now, i cant remember what expression the Confucian has, but the Buddhist has a sour look on his face, and Taoist a happy look

    so what it is implying is that the Buddhist begins with its premise that 'all is suffering' whilst mr Taoist is more that everything is dynmaic and the exTREMe of suffering is pleasure
    you know, Taoism is all about looking at how Nature moves. and it has some great insights, but i would never say 'i am Taoist' or i am anything. i'm an explorer

    i have also had short shrift from a so-called Taoist forum. as soon as i brought hallucinogenic experience into the discussion they 'politely' threw me out...hehe
  18. Renato Registered Senior Member


    First, no-one needs to be shocked because the "understating" of "what" or "where" God is.
    Quite on the contrary, the experience of God is physiologically perceived during an educational exercise in the Arts.
    The end result of this exercise aimed to find out "where" God is, the experience could be exilarating.
    However, let me anticipate the end results of the workshop which is when an individual finds out that the divine power is residend among the folds of one's own intelligence.
    This concept is not new because this is the foundation of the Indu religion.
    However the scientific demonstration of the existence of GOD is a real unexpected thrill for many.
    The draw back of this experience, for others, is when the individual is not prepared to be consciousness-raising of this "responsibility" to be the courier, the ambassador, of the divine flame which should be accepted and cherished.
    For this purpose I posted few arguments about human intelligence and science converging into the religious essence.
    My name is Renato

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    and my portfolio is
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2005
  19. duendy Registered Senior Member

    Dear Renato.....i ried to open up your link but considering my system is very limited with memory i cant open up whole page

    thing is though. i HAVe tried to dig where you are coming from at some other threads where you have tried to explain. and i must admit i find it hard going to understand you

    if there is one thing i would advize, renato, is that you try and tone it down and make it as intelligible as you can so a cross section of people can get their heads round it.
    all the people i admire, and have communicated insights to tm, speak so as one can understand them

    this is just me. if you are happy with it then so be it. it's your trip
  20. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member


    maybe I underestimate humankind's receptiveness to change when I use the word "shock", but as evidenced by our past I would say the word is probably fair.
    I do appreciate the ideas you posted on the co-entity-ness of man and God, as they relate very much to the thread.
    Like DUENDY kind of pointed out, it takes a LOT of work on my part to get your meaning. If this is due to you not expending enough effort to translate your thoughts into words, I would suggest that most people will also then not take the time to translate your words into their thoughts. However, if you are just trying to be cryptic, let me say you are succeeding. If you are really doing the best you can to put words with all of these concepts which very few people, or nobody, can claim to fully understand, I guess that is all we can ask.

    Ok, I might as well come completely out with this, after prompting by another idea about absolute unity, and re-phrase my initial question more specifically to say this- Can a path which doesn't accept the final identification of myself as "God" as being a realistic ending point be called "Zen". Or, maybe better said -
    Can a path be called "zen" if there is any idea of God at the end of it?

    P.S. renato, I get no text from your site other than a few phrases and one link to an .exe file, which I won't run on my computer because I have too many important programs on it. You should probably rework it a little if you want people to be able to access the information.
  21. dan74 Registered Senior Member

    Why worry about the destination, cole, God or no God? If we knew already what to expect at the end, would the journey be worth taking? Zen or not zen, as Technoterri pointed out, these are just words, labels, concepts, the reality of the experience is what matters. Not the intellectual preemtying of it. That just prejudices the outcome, biases the whole thing. The point is to let go of this. Don't have to throw it away, but let go.
  22. duendy Registered Senior Member

    I agree with Dan. when you, for example, loookat thestruscture of patriarchal religions--and i include Buddhism and Zen--they all insist there is an end-point one must reach

    from conversations with Buddhists and Zennists, some refuse to admit this desire of their to 'reach'. and then they put DOWN desire...hence the non-participant of their belief is immediately guilted for having desire. or rather being attached to it

    i feel this patriarchal pattern i intuit, is the underlying idea that spirit has a destination AWAY from Nature.....
  23. VossistArts 3MTA3 Registered Senior Member


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