On Sat, Aug 4, 2012 at 12:16 AM, David Harding <davidjharding@gmai...> wrote:
> Hi Dan,
>> 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..
First of all, thank you for partaking in this discussion. Your posts
are full of thought and care. I deeply appreciate being able to share
my poor words with someone as well-versed as you.
This snippet from LC comes to mind:
"In German there are two words for “know,” kennen and wissen. The Zen
approach reduces Wissenschaft (scholarly knowledge) and thereby
improves Kenntnis (recognition without intellectual interposition)."
This seems to have a direct bearing on what you say about freedom in
the East vs freedom in the West. Perhaps we could say the two cultures
approach freedom from different directions. In the West we are more
apt to use scholarly knowledge while in the East freedom is recognized
without imposing intellect upon reality.
That doesn't mean there are two kinds of freedom, however. These are
but two ways of realizing freedom.
>>> 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…
I think it is better to say we experience freedom by coming at it from
>>> 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 take it you are saying they seek to obtain a different kind of
freedom than do we in the West. I disagree. They may go at it in
different ways but the freedom they obtain is the same freedom we
obtain in the West. There are not different kinds of freedom. There is
> 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.
I disagree that there are different kinds of freedom. Perhaps I
haven't been clear. There is freedom and there is constraint.
>> 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...
Nor can we avoid Dynamic Quality. It is right here! Point to it and it
is not there. Look for it and it cannot be seen. Yet it is everywhere
we point; it is all we see.
Perhaps this will help:
AHP Transcript Part One:
Question: 'So that's how you determine Quality… this compared to that?'
Pirsig: 'No, no. Not Dynamic Quality. There is a dynamic choice that
takes place and this is what I used in the classroom with the students
remember? I said, "Look, I've got four essays here. Don't think about
why these four essays are better or worse, just sit there and listen
to them and make a choice as to which one you find better of worse."'
Question/comment: 'yes, but it's a process, a comparative process…?!'
Pirsig: 'Well, that intellectualises… My process is just sitting there
and waiting for the words, there is no conceptualisation as I go
there. I just sit there in a kind of a zazen state. There is no
process going on that I'm aware of and this word just comes up, and
this sentence comes up and this concept comes up. What I do is I go
there in my room which is very silent at eight in the morning and I
may not come up with any process until eleven in the morning. What
will occur is just a dying away of junk that is getting in the way of
this pure value of Dynamic Quality that I'm looking for. Okay?'
See, there is no process going on; there is no static quality to avoid.
I say wake up as short for wake up to the moment by allowing the junk
to die away. Dynamic Quality is the pure value of experience before it
has been chopped up into parts.
>>>> 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..
I apologize. Either I am not being clear (which is likely) or you are
misreading what I am saying. I just said: Choice? What choice?
I said that in response to you saying we have no choice, that our
silence is a protest. Not having a choice is a choice, however.
Silence comes before all that. So to say silence is a protest in
itself is to misunderstand. It is to chose no choice. It is to protest
silence with silence. This is not the way.
> "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.
Ah. I see the source of confusion though I doubt I can explain it in a
way that makes any sense. Yes I am using static quality to point to
that which comes before all this. And I understand this recalcitrance
in letting go of this need to explain the world. The thing is, in
order to know the world one must let go of the world, so to speak.
Your refusal to protest as a form of protest is a refusal to let go.
> Or to put it another way - who is to say your silence is 'directed' or not?
Who else is there?
> 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.
Everything I say, everything I do, everything that is, was, and will
be, all this is the result of this vast wave I call experience; a
result of that which has no name, of that which comes before it all,
of that from which all value springs. Once judgement starts I lose
this primal virtue. By ceasing the judgement I return to it.
You will never know it by naming it.
>> 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'.
I should think this is the intellect telling you that you can know the world.
>> 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.
That seems related to the attitude we have to Quality. Perhaps this
snip from the AHP Transcripts will help:
Question: 'What is the role of attitude before you hit Dynamic or even
static? Does it exist? I'm not sure it exists.'
Pirsig: 'It's a word I hadn't fitted in at all in the MOQ. On the
surface I don't know, I'll try to think about it but I'm not sure if
I'll come up with the right attitude, to use that word. I would say
that "attitude" is a static set that somebody has, facing a new
situation. They use it a lot in aerodynamics, you know, the plane has
a certain attitude and somehow that word comes to mind but, hey, I'm
just spitting this off, I haven't thought about this at all. It's the
condition of your karma perhaps, to use an oriental word which puts
you in a certain relationship to this oncoming experience.'
'I would say it's a cultural pattern which is a mixture of
intellectual ideas and social relationships to things. And also has an
emotional content, a biological content. I guess it might be a front
with which one presents to new experience as it's coming in. If I have
a bad attitude today, whatever comes in the door or down the chute I
am not going to like, you know, because my karmic predisposition has
put me in a negative mood.'
We each experience the world in a uniquely new way based not only upon
our cultural mores but on our attitude. I would say it is static
quality that is the same for everyone within that culture while
Dynamic Quality comes as a surprise. We are taught to expect certain
results. If we work hard and keep our nose clean we expect the same
results as everyone who works hard and keeps their noses clean.
If we cultivate an attitude that coincides with the static aspect of
life then we shut ourselves off to the new. We lose the magic of
surprise. That's what I hear when I read you saying we master a
pattern to put it to sleep. To master something is to become an
expert. To experience life as a surprise, however, would seem to
entail beginners mind and not expert mind. The expert knows it all.
There are no surprises left.
>>> 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.
I on the other hand have probably been writing too much Buddhist
literature. Does a dog have Buddha nature, or not? Does Lila have
Quality, or not?
No matter how we answer the question we will go to hell. No, not the
christian kind of hell with the devil sticking pitchforks in our ass
and flames waiting to devour us but a hell of our own making. By
answering the questions one way or another we become ensnared in the
intellectual pitfalls of explaining the unexplainable.
So, you say, the only alternative is the degeneracy of silence. I do
not accept that. By opening up to the moment without conceptualization
we know the world without classifying the world.
> 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.
I would like to thank you for rescuing me from my own delusions. Often
times the most profound of discussions seem to lead nowhere.