Nothingness and Everything (Zen, Taoism, Buddhism and Beyond)

brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 26,891
This is probably more an All Encompassing Trip topic (and could be move there, if our wonderful powers-that-be decide it should be) but we have talked a lot about religion, Christianity, Islam, and Judaica on the Train forums, so here is where it starts.   We have not so much talked about non-dogmatic philosophy here.  Let's talk here about philosophies such as Zen, Taoism, Buddhism and other forms of non-dogmatic thought.  Hopefully, we won't pit one philosophy against another or focus only on one or two.  Let's also try to stay away from cliches, which is very difficult to do in any philosophical discussion. Since this isn't about theism, it probably isn't about atheism either.  But nothing is disallowed as long as it's within forum rules (i.e let's not make it about someone but rather about the topic!)

Questions we might consider:

-Is nihilism related to eastern thought such as Zen and Taoism, and if so, how?
-Is it offensive to refer to eastern thought as nihilistic?
-Is it embarrassing or inappropriate to hear westerners use terms like "namaste"?
-Does focusing on the here and now free us from any concerns about the future?
-If we are content to be in the here and now, in what ways are we to be responsible humans?
-Can our actions change anything or is everything that happens inevitable?
-Should we concern ourselves with how close we can come in this life to understanding Life, The Universe, and Everything, and if so, how do we get there? 
-Or should be just go along fat dumb and happy?


These are just ideas for jumping off points. 

My own "philosophy" is more one of multiplicity and often verges on antiphilosphy  (i.e., I'm not big on labels).  As I move through this life, I find myself more drawn to Zen and Taoist ideas and thought, although I have no intention of becoming a "Zen Buddhist" or a "Taoist".  I prefer a broad palate from which to draw.

And maybe the propensity of some like me to borrow from many sources and remain non-committal is something someone here would want to debate.  It's all good... and bad.  Ying/Yang.  

I think I just used a cliche.  Dock me points, haha!




“Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.”
-Terry Tempest Williams
***********
M.I.T.S.






Comments

  • Thoughts_ArriveThoughts_Arrive Melbourne, AustraliaPosts: 13,212
    I recently met a nihilist at university. It was very eye opening and at times uncomfortable.
    Adelaide 17/11/2009, Melbourne 20/11/2009, Sydney 22/11/2009, Melbourne (Big Day Out Festival) 24/01/2014
  • josevolutionjosevolution Posts: 21,055
    I listen to trans music everyday really makes me comfortable and at ease .
    jesus greets me looks just like me ....
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 14,641
    edited November 2018
    curious Brian why someone would say eastern thought is nihilistic or is equitable with nihilism?
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  • HughFreakingDillonHughFreakingDillon WinnipegPosts: 18,020
    I got some readin' ta do. I don't have a sweet clue about most of your questions, Brian. 
  • benjsbenjs Toronto, ONPosts: 7,567
    I'll answer the questions I have thought about answers to, and am very curious to learn from you about the concepts I haven't yet!

    Regarding terms like 'namaste', I might be one of those weirdo Westerners who really identifies with Eastern spirituality. After teaching English to Tibetan monks and Himelayan Sherpas in Nepal for a month, namaste feels like a part of me. My students never seemed to have a problem with it so I hope I haven't embarrassed anyone.

    There's an old Jewish proverb about two men on ladders. One is on the 2nd rung, climbing up, the other is just relaxing on the 7th rung. The question is "which is higher", and the answer I've heard is "the one who is moving in the right directions". I believe in focusing on the here and now, only if we understand the direction that got us to here, and validating that it's the direction we wish to keep moving. That's why I've given up on us collectively - our short-sightedness got us here, and yet we've never seen short-sightedness (on a mass scale at least) as our downfall. If we haven't figured that out at this point, we haven't earned and won't receive a future.

    Next, regarding the worth of our actions. I really believe our actions could have made waves, but due to a number of reasons (distractions, survival priority, greed, apathy), and tangentially related to the above, I believe fat, dumb, and happy is the best we can hope for now until we're gone. 

    A better future for the planet and the universe is one without us.

    '05 - TO, '06 - TO 1, '08 - NYC 1 & 2, '09 - TO, Chi 1 & 2, '10 - Buffalo, NYC 1 & 2, '11 - TO 1 & 2, Hamilton, '13 - Buffalo, Brooklyn 1 & 2, '15 - Global Citizen, '16 - TO 1 & 2, Chi 2

    EV
    Toronto Film Festival 9/11/2007, '08 - Toronto 1 & 2, '09 - Albany 1, '11 - Chicago 1
  • benjsbenjs Toronto, ONPosts: 7,567
    As an aside - my feelings are based on the Law of Conservation of Energy. If energy is neither added nor destroyed, I believe the big bang was a reorganization of energies. Before it, you have God (or Karma, the Source, Nature, whatever you want to call it). After it, if you summed up everything that is 'now', you'd still have God. The problem is that that unified consciousness has splintered into parts no longer concerned with wholeness.
    '05 - TO, '06 - TO 1, '08 - NYC 1 & 2, '09 - TO, Chi 1 & 2, '10 - Buffalo, NYC 1 & 2, '11 - TO 1 & 2, Hamilton, '13 - Buffalo, Brooklyn 1 & 2, '15 - Global Citizen, '16 - TO 1 & 2, Chi 2

    EV
    Toronto Film Festival 9/11/2007, '08 - Toronto 1 & 2, '09 - Albany 1, '11 - Chicago 1
  • HughFreakingDillonHughFreakingDillon WinnipegPosts: 18,020
    benjs said:
    I'll answer the questions I have thought about answers to, and am very curious to learn from you about the concepts I haven't yet!

    Regarding terms like 'namaste', I might be one of those weirdo Westerners who really identifies with Eastern spirituality. After teaching English to Tibetan monks and Himelayan Sherpas in Nepal for a month, namaste feels like a part of me. My students never seemed to have a problem with it so I hope I haven't embarrassed anyone.

    There's an old Jewish proverb about two men on ladders. One is on the 2nd rung, climbing up, the other is just relaxing on the 7th rung. The question is "which is higher", and the answer I've heard is "the one who is moving in the right directions". I believe in focusing on the here and now, only if we understand the direction that got us to here, and validating that it's the direction we wish to keep moving. That's why I've given up on us collectively - our short-sightedness got us here, and yet we've never seen short-sightedness (on a mass scale at least) as our downfall. If we haven't figured that out at this point, we haven't earned and won't receive a future.

    Next, regarding the worth of our actions. I really believe our actions could have made waves, but due to a number of reasons (distractions, survival priority, greed, apathy), and tangentially related to the above, I believe fat, dumb, and happy is the best we can hope for now until we're gone. 

    A better future for the planet and the universe is one without us.

    wow. 
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 26,891
    mickeyrat said:
    curious Brian why someone would say eastern thought is nihilistic or is equitable with nihilism?
    What made me think of that was that a while back I saw an interview with Harry Dean Stanton who held to some of the ideas of Taoism and Zen thought but did not define himself as Buddhist.  He said that he was not religious and that the closest he came to having religious beliefs was Taoism.  In the interview, he also said that he believed that everything that happens does so as it is supposed to.  The interviewer got a bit agitated and said basically, "So your nihilistic?"  Stanton says "I'm not being nihilistic, you can put all kinds of labels on it."

    I just looked on-line for that interview on YouTube (it's about 20 to 25 minutes long  and is included in the Criterion DVD edition of Repo Man) and could only find this edited 5 minute version which cuts out the interviewer's comments and some of the other stuff they talked about, but what it does include some of what he said about Buddhism and nihilism. 



    “Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.”
    -Terry Tempest Williams
    ***********
    M.I.T.S.






  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 26,891
    benjs said:
    I'll answer the questions I have thought about answers to, and am very curious to learn from you about the concepts I haven't yet!

    Regarding terms like 'namaste', I might be one of those weirdo Westerners who really identifies with Eastern spirituality. After teaching English to Tibetan monks and Himelayan Sherpas in Nepal for a month, namaste feels like a part of me. My students never seemed to have a problem with it so I hope I haven't embarrassed anyone.

    There's an old Jewish proverb about two men on ladders. One is on the 2nd rung, climbing up, the other is just relaxing on the 7th rung. The question is "which is higher", and the answer I've heard is "the one who is moving in the right directions". I believe in focusing on the here and now, only if we understand the direction that got us to here, and validating that it's the direction we wish to keep moving. That's why I've given up on us collectively - our short-sightedness got us here, and yet we've never seen short-sightedness (on a mass scale at least) as our downfall. If we haven't figured that out at this point, we haven't earned and won't receive a future.

    Next, regarding the worth of our actions. I really believe our actions could have made waves, but due to a number of reasons (distractions, survival priority, greed, apathy), and tangentially related to the above, I believe fat, dumb, and happy is the best we can hope for now until we're gone. 

    A better future for the planet and the universe is one without us.

    Teaching English to Tibetan Monks!   What a great wealth of experience that short time must have given you, Ben! 

    I don't criticize people for using terms like "namaste"- it's a kindly gesture- but for myself I believe that that unless I have immersed myself in another culture, it is best not to adopt it's language or customs.  Doing so borders on cultural appropriation. The fact that you worked with Buddhist Monks gives more credence to you using "namaste" than it would for me to do so.

    I learned this little lesson from a friend who lived in Fiji for a few years.  My wife also spent time there so on occasion, when parting, the two of them say "Moce" (goodbye) to each other (I believe that is the spelling- it is pronounced mo(d)they).  So one time, when parting, I said to this woman, "Moce" and she said, "You don't know Moce!"  She was correct.  I have never been to Fiji and only know a little about their customs.  I do not believe I have earned the right to use that term. 

    The other thing you brought up, Ben, about what you said about our shortsightedness and the future of the planet- this is something I think about a lot.  I have been hugely aware of human's destructive nature and our influence on the degradation of the health of the planet most of my adult life.  I've spent a lot of time educating myself about the science of ecology and environment, done what I can to support and bbe involved in organizations that are the most focused on reducing human impact (groups like Sea Shepherds and Wildlands Network that spend less money on bureaucracy and focus more on action).  A very large piece of my adult energy has gone into this sort of thing and now, later in life, I sometimes wonder if I have squandered too much of my time on something so futile as trying to help protect a world for future generations when it is going to be what it is going to be.

    But looking back in that manner is also futile.  I suppose most of all I'm looking to find a balance in all this.
    “Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.”
    -Terry Tempest Williams
    ***********
    M.I.T.S.






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