> If you ask them what the unwritten dharma is I think most Westerners
> will look at you funny. But we all know what it means. Dharma is the
> way of life. It may encompass how we treat others. It may lead us in
> our behavior. Most people know we cannot simply do as we like. We
> learn this as small children. At least we should. Those who fail to
> learn are usually not part of society for long unless they become
> CEO's, celebrities, or politicians.
Yes, except most of those groups are amongst the most valued members of society. With the exception of celebrities who *are* the most valued members of society. There are many celebrities who do indeed act like they can do 'whatever they like'. You might remember the quotes from Lila which indicate that those figures which a society values most are actually a reflection of that society?
To repeat, I'm not claiming that both types of 'freedom' don't exist in either culture. I'm claiming that they do, just that we emphasise one more than the other in each culture. And as your example shows, they are emphasised by our cultural icons..
>> Well in the West our freedom does actually free us from the suffering which a _particular_ pattern brings by being able to do something else. That is a freedom which traditionally is not encouraged as much in the East. We might not be truly free but are more free in some ways than Eastern cultures by following this type of freedom.
>> But what you say about never being truly free in the West is ultimately right.
> I didn't say that. You did. I said I disagree. As I explain later with
> my baseball analogy, we do find freedom in the West.
Well as I've said, I'm not claiming we don't experience either type of freedom in the West. Just that we emphasise one more than the other…
>> As Pirsig describes in the Lila quote I've been offering - this type of freedom is called 'Bad Karma chasing its tail'….
>> "The explanation for this contradiction is the belief that you do not free yourself from static patterns by fighting them with other contrary static patterns. That is sometimes called 'bad karma chasing its tail.' "
>> If we continually change patterns in this way it will result in chaos and not much else...
>> Pirsig goes on to explain in the next sentence the other type of freedom (more commonly emphasised in the East)..
>> " You free yourself from static patterns by putting them to sleep. That is, you master them with such proficiency that they become an unconscious part of your nature. You get so used to them you completely forget them and they are gone. There in the center of the most monotonous boredom of static ritualistic patterns the Dynamic freedom is found."
>> He then sums up, as you point out, that there is also a danger in following this type of freedom blindly as well..
>> "Phaedrus saw nothing wrong with this ritualistic religion as long as the rituals are seen as merely a static portrayal of Dynamic Quality, a sign-post which allows socially pattern-dominated people to see Dynamic Quality. The danger has always been that the rituals, the static patterns, are mistaken for what they merely represent and are allowed to destroy the Dynamic Quality they were originally intended to preserve."
>> That is the pitfall of this type of freedom in that things can become too static and rigid. We can get so caught up on some such a static pattern and forget that it is merely a static portrayal of the undefined Dynamic Quality..
>> That's why I think an acknowledgement of the pitfalls of both types of freedom is important and a balance between the two is what is valuable.
> I still maintain there is freedom and there is constraint. There are
> many paths to freedom but not different kinds of freedom. As I said
> before, what RMP is talking about here is the ritualistic nature of
> Buddhist monks. We may in some convoluted way overlay those patterns
> on every day experience but I think for the most part they belong to a
> specific culture. To fully understand those patterns one must of
> course be part of that culture.
I'm not sure what you seem to think I am claiming about Eastern culture? I'm not attempting to overlay anything. We needn't be a part of that culture - we experience both types of freedom. You say it yourself, that when you get lost in an activity, that is true freedom. This is the same freedom which is more emphasised in the East. I'm struggling to understand your hesitancy to agree with me? Maybe it goes back to the fact that you haven't seen much a difference between cultures to begin with.. Perhaps I am talking hot air. Perhaps I am like an eskimo trying to describe all the different types of ice when all you've experienced is 'ice'… But that can't be right, because my point is, regardless of whether you see a difference between Eastern and Western cultures, you do experience different types of freedom. A freedom achieved by doing something else, and a freedom achieved by doing the same thing.
> We can only say what Dynamic Quality is not. What is there to point to?
Exactly. But you do point to no thing. You say 'wake up'! What are you pointing at? You are pointing at a thing we have called Dynamic Quality. If we didn't call it that we wouldn't be able to discuss it right now on a philosophical discussion board. So we can point to Dynamic Quality. We can even say what it is called. Perhaps the best description of Dynamic Quality is that it isn't anything. But then this is still a description of what it is, even if we say and know that it isn't. We cannot avoid static quality...
>>> Yes, why speak at all. I think some people speak because they enjoy
>>> hearing and reading their own words. It is a kind of ego climbing. You
>>> see it when someone sends a post and moments later sends a correction.
>>> You know they've read what they said and are horrified to find a
>>> mistake, as if no one will realize it was a mistake.
>>> At the same time though these words have a kind of pull to them, at
>>> least for me. I spend all my time after midnight writing. I have a
>>> dozen books all full of trash. I don't care though. I am not writing
>>> to impress anyone including myself. I am just writing. As I go along,
>>> I find I get better at it. It is the same way with Buddhist monks and
>>> their silence. The more they practice, the better they get.
>> I doubt Buddhist monks would agree with this sort of value judgement but I get your point..
> Really! Of course I am no monk but I do know from experience the
> longer I go not-speaking the less inclined I am to speak. It may seem
> odd to most people to say we practice not-doing. But it is no
> different than to practice doing.
> I make this point to acquaintances who smoke cigarettes and drink too
> much. I tell them not-smoking and not-drinking is a habit just like
> smoking and drinking is a habit. They never listen. It is a shame but
> all I can do is point the way.
Yes, that's right, not doing is a habit. A static habit. Keep this in mind for below..
>> That silence is a form of protest.. We have no choice. That's my point.
> Silence is not a protest unless the silence is directed. Just sit
> silently. Do nothing. Watch as the world unfolds. Choice? What choice?
You can pretend all you like Dan, but as Pirsig says and you have told me, as far as static patterns go, you have no choice..
"To the extent that one's behaviour is controlled by static patterns of quality it is without choice. But to the extent that one follows Dynamic Quality, which is undefinable, one's behavior is free."
'Sitting silently', 'doing nothing', 'watching as the world unfolds' - all these are static things. Dynamic Quality is no thing. Not even these words which are pointing to Dynamic Quality. All of those things are a form of protest. A refusal to protest is a form of protest.
Or to put it another way - who is to say your silence is 'directed' or not? I'm sure we can experience Dynamic Quality by sitting silently, doing nothing and watching as the world unfolds. But those things are not Dynamic Quality. They are actual activities. And activities by their nature are things. And things by their nature are values. And values can be good and they can be bad. And things which can be good and can be bad can be protests themselves or protested against. In other words, they can be judged. They can be valued. A protest is nothing other than a value judgement.
> I have read that though writing was known during his life the man
> known as the Buddha being a prince always had attendants and so he
> himself never learned to write. Whether it is so or not who can say.
> That he did see a need to transmit his teachings is clear, though. The
> story goes that when the Buddha asked an assembly of monks which one
> of them would like to accompany him and be his personal attendant they
> all eagerly volunteered. All except one, who walked away in silence.
> Later when they asked him why he didn't volunteer his services he said
> the Buddha knew which one to pick.
> Now you are wondering: why is this important?
> It speaks to knowing, not to believing. Every other monk believed they
> were the right person to be the Buddha's attendant. One monk knew.
Okay, can we speak from this perspective of 'knowing' (via experience). Can the Buddha's attendant, or indeed the Buddha, point to what he knows through speech? I think they can. Just because words are not Dynamic Quality, doesn't mean they can't be used to point to it. We can use words from the perspective of many different MOQ levels and they can have an entirely different meaning depending on which level they are spoken from… So we can, and do, use words from the perspective of our 'Buddha nature'.
> We are all human beings. Just because a person is born in Japan and
> another is born in the US doesn't mean their respective cultures
> emphasize one kind of freedom over another kind of freedom. There is
> only freedom. Again, we may seek that freedom by walking different
> cultural paths. That is my point, you see.
Yes, it's the same freedom from static quality suffering. But the different paths result in different (static quality) results. One type of Freedom results in our doing something else entirely. While the other results in our mastery of a particular pattern. So each journey results in a different static quality result. Yes - we are all human beings and we experience the same Dynamic Quality. However, we reflect that Dynamic Quality differently through the way we emphasise it statically.
>> Yes words are not Dynamic Quality. But words can, and do point to Dynamic Quality. Because of this we can say we know (via experience) the perspective of the Buddha and that enlightenment and Dynamic Quality exists.
> If one sees enlightenment as something that exists, then it exists.
> Without being the man known as the Buddha I don't see how anyone else
> can know that perspective, however. It is like saying flying in a
> plane gives a person the perspective of a bird. No, it doesn't. One
> would have to be a bird to have the perspective of a bird.
> Now, if one wishes to argue we all have Buddha nature that is a very
> different argument. Perhaps this is what you are saying?
Yes that is what I am saying. Seems I have been reading too much Buddhist literature and forget that it is a shorthand for Buddha nature.
Sometimes I want to rip my hair out because we seem to be getting nowhere(exageration), but if we go over it again and again, I think eventually the writing becomes better, our ideas better formed and also, our understanding of each others viewpoint better as well.
Thanks for your patience Dan - I'm still very much enjoying this intellectual discussion.