Sign in to follow this  
sean

There is no "Chinese mind"

Recommended Posts

Via The Useless Tree

 

Dave, over at Peking Duck, posts about a new book entitled, The Confucian Mind: A Historical and In-Depth Look at Asian Culture and Psyche. I know it is not fair to criticize the book before you read it, but I guess I am in an unfair frame of mind this morning (perhaps I have been grading too many papers of late!). In any event, from Dave's description, and witty critique, I will almost certainly not read this book. And I'll tell you why.

 

This seems a cruder and even more overgeneralized analysis than the recent "Chinese Mindset" dust-up over at China Law Blog. In that discussion I argued that there is no singular Chinese mindset. So, I will repeat myself somewhat here and say that there is no "Confucian mind' or "Chinese mind," or, at least not in the simplified form offered in the blurbs of the book Dave has discovered.

 

Of course there are "cultural differences," which here would imply varying expectations of social behavior, etiquette and formality. I would even go so far as to say some cultures, Thais come immediately to mind, are generally more polite than others, New Yorkers, say. But the term "mind" hardens dynamic social differences into unchanging mental constructs, which I believe distorts things. I think Dave's critique is right on the money:

 

But it is when the psychological profile of another culture is made utterly foriegn ("they don't guarantee the child's survival needs! What barbarians!") instead of pointing out that the difference between cultures is one of degrees and not kind (Woody Allen freaks out about other people's opinions, family thanksgivings in America are sometimes a tour de force of fake ingratiating, lip service to hierarchy and thinly veiled threats) that I feel it crosses a line. The tone shifts from how different human cultures place different emphasis on universal human feelings and ideas, to how "Asian values grown out of that social structure (subservience) diametrically contradict core Western values of freedom and justice".

 

There seems to be a certain urge, on the part of some people, to reduce large and complex cultures down to small and compact statements and sound bites. This is not a new thing. As I suggested before, in the nineteenth century people from Europe and America wrote all sorts of books and articles about Chinese characteristics. They were convinced that Chinese were lazy and backward and superstitious and dirty and... you get the idea. Conclusions would then follow about how Chinese cannot really rule themselves or modernize their economy or fight wars effectively. The "Confucian mind" was just not suited to modern life.

 

Fast forward a hundred and twenty five years or so and we have a strong and rising China which has been the fastest growing region of the world economy for twenty years and whose governing institutions, however overly repressive they may be, have maintained routine administrative rule across a vast population and territory (Max Weber would be proud!). In other words, what was thought to be impossible, given the "Confucian mind" as it was understood by Westerners in the 19th century, has come to pass. It would seem then that either: 1) the "Confucian mind" was misjudged in the 19th century; or 2) the "Confucian mind" has changed; or 3) any conception of "mind" is of little significance compared to other historical forces (military strategies, economic forces, political structures, etc.). I think all three are true.

 

Just about any assertion of a "Chinese mind" or a "Western mind" fails to capture an intricately multifaceted underlying reality. This might best been seen in the counter-construction of the "Western mind." Notice in passage above that Dave quotes the author as saying that the subservience of the "Confucian Mind" contradicts "core Western values of freedom and justice". But what does it mean to assert that? Yes, there is an intellectual history of "freedom," and the concept has certainly shaped the creation of political institutions and economic practices in the "West." But there have also been regular transgressions of that principle in the West - when did African Americans finally gain the freedom to vote as they wish? With the 1964 Voting Rights Act or later? American society, in other words, tolerated a fundamental violation of one of its "core values" for decades and decades after the formal dissolution of slavery. And let's not even talk about the restriction of basic freedoms that American society now tolerates in the name of the "war on terror." So, when did the "West" become the "West"? Or has it ever really been the "West"?

 

Bottom line: any society is always more diverse - in good and bad ways - than any oversimplified assertion of "mind" or "core values" can even capture. So, why create categories that are bound to fail? Why not just be patient with complexity, and narrow our explanatory and descriptive focus to more manageable questions?

 

Read the rest ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well with that line of thinking any form of categorization fails at some level of analysis. Its all arbitrary at the root. The exsistence of anything could be/has been/ is questioned.

There are differences in both cultures that you could lead one to generalize and call different styles of "mind."

For instance logic and critical thinking were born in Greece from what I understand. These things probably haven't influenced china until recently and even then not in the fundamental way they have affected the "west". These ideas strongly influenced the very way people think in the "west", while other ideas were forming the basis of thought in the "east."

 

Anyway there is some good discussion of these matters on the forum SeanDenty started. You would probably dig that part of it if nothing else Sean.

Cheers, :)

D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think his point is much more sophisticated than just a foggy deference to relativism.

 

Honestly, to say "logic and critical thinking were born in Greece" reminds me of the exact sort of condescending 19th century Judeo-christian critique of the "Chinese mind" discussed in this article. As if entire Chinese culture has been sitting in lotus position speaking only in funny paradoxical riddles for thousands of years while "the West" was using formal syllogisms to make every day decisions. Heh. Because we all know how logical and rational the history of Western civilization has been. :rolleyes:

 

"Rational" is like "evil" and "beauty", it's such a loaded term. The history of Chinese philosophy is as rich and varied a tapestry as Western philosophy. Eastern and Western philosophers approached the same human and existential questions and many ended up saying strikingly similar things. Skim some Aristotle. Then read up on Mohism and the Logicians. Kick back with some Plotinus and Spinoza. Then flip through Laotzu and Chuang Tzu. Afterwards ask yourself if the "Chinese mind" is really so foreign and convoluted. There are cultural differences, sure. But are they so vast we need to postulate and attempt to defend our belief in a whole new category of mind, people or culture? Seems like just a new clever way of reinforcing separation; of keeping the lines in the sand. And it smacks to me of the embarrasingly common trap of the Western seeker fetishizing Eastern culture.

 

None of this has anything to do with authentic spirituality IMO. In fact it appears to be a form of resistance in nearly the opposite direction. Concepts are just funny powerless little clouds. Arising. Typically puffed up. Often twisting on themselves. Thinking themselves into mistaken identities. Throwing fits of thunderstorms. All the while there is the One Clear Awareness behind (and also as) the eyes of every man and woman, every tree, bird, rock, computer monitor ... all of the ten thousand things, all of manifestation. To think we need more knowledge, more understanding before Awakening is just another powerless thought. What is always already present regardless of wether we are rich, poor, sad, happy, insightful, stupid, up, down, born with a "Caucasian mind" or a "Chinese mind"? ;)

 

Sean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course there is no inherent 'Chinese' mind or 'Western' mind just as there is no inherent real personailty or "self"(With smal "s") Take a Chinese Baby who's family was raised with Chinese values for the last thousand years(ummm...Buddhism, Confusionism or Communism?) and bring him to Paris to be raised by a French family and your going to have one espresso, croissant and art house movie loving 'Chinese' guy(stereotypical example) Or an American baby and raise him in Iran and you'll have one middle eastern food and culture loving grown up who thinks Persian cities and civilization was mugh higher than the US(I recently met a blond hair American guy who grew up in Iran and told me this).

 

It's all conditioning. Of course cultures have conditioning the same way people do. Thousands of years of people speaking a certain language and relating a certain way results in a paticular mental construct and personailty. But take a child out of that conditioning at a young age and put him or her in another type of conditioning and you see pretty quickly there is no real lasting truth to any of it.

 

At the same time I think there is a value in preserving and appreciating each cultures unique expressions. You can see all the different languages and philosophies as myriad concepts but still enjoy the unique expression.

 

For me, the 'higher' level would be appreciating the unique expressions without judging, comparing and contrasting which is better it's all just the way the Self(Big "s") is expressing and will undoubtedly change and change again.

 

 

ps. Didn't Socrates, one of the founders of western philosophy end up saying "I know that I don't know"? I have never been interested enough in Greek or western philosophy to study it deeply but didn't some of the top guys essentially end up burning out on "thought" and arriving at the silence and stillness that the Eastern sages talk about? Hell, even Jesus, by far the West's favorite spiritual teacher, was by some accounts basically an enlightened teacher who has just been heavily misinterpreted for power and money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think his point is much more sophisticated than just a foggy deference to relativism.

 

Honestly, to say "logic and critical thinking were born in Greece" reminds me of the exact sort of condescending 19th century Judeo-christian critique of the "Chinese mind" discussed in this article. As if entire Chinese culture has been sitting in lotus position speaking only in funny paradoxical riddles for thousands of years while "the West" was using formal syllogisms to make every day decisions. Heh. Because we all know how logical and rational the history of Western civilization has been. :rolleyes:

 

"Rational" is like "evil" and "beauty", it's such a loaded term. The history of Chinese philosophy is as rich and varied a tapestry as Western philosophy. Eastern and Western philosophers approached the same human and existential questions and many ended up saying strikingly similar things. Skim some Aristotle. Then read up on Mohism and the Logicians. Kick back with some Plotinus and Spinoza. Then flip through Laotzu and Chuang Tzu. Afterwards ask yourself if the "Chinese mind" is really so foreign and convoluted. There are cultural differences, sure. But are they so vast we need to postulate and attempt to defend our belief in a whole new category of mind, people or culture? Seems like just a new clever way of reinforcing separation; of keeping the lines in the sand. And it smacks to me of the embarrasingly common trap of the Western seeker fetishizing Eastern culture.

 

None of this has anything to do with authentic spirituality IMO. In fact it appears to be a form of resistance in nearly the opposite direction. Concepts are just funny powerless little clouds. Arising. Typically puffed up. Often twisting on themselves. Thinking themselves into mistaken identities. Throwing fits of thunderstorms. All the while there is the One Clear Awareness behind (and also as) the eyes of every man and woman, every tree, bird, rock, computer monitor ... all of the ten thousand things, all of manifestation. To think we need more knowledge, more understanding before Awakening is just another powerless thought. What is always already present regardless of wether we are rich, poor, sad, happy, insightful, stupid, up, down, born with a "Caucasian mind" or a "Chinese mind"? ;)

 

Sean

 

OK maybe it would be more accurate to say that logic as the underlying structure of human thought within a society began in the "west".

And that might be condescending if I valued logic as the be all end all as is meant to be the case in this western society. I personally think that western civilization is the way it is probably due to the application of this flawed system of thought. and certainly it is valuable in many ways.

 

As for logic in China, wasn't Mohism and the study of logic banned by the Qin Dynasty? Maybe I am wrong.

 

Anyway being long out of college and forgetting much of my philosophy and history studies I'm gonna make it simpler for myself.

In my own layperson's terms:

Western thought is generally binary. Something is or it isn't. True or False.

Eastern thought generally embraces paradox. Not binary.

Western thought is very individualized: I, Me, Mine.

Eastern thought is not so based on deferring to the ego from what I understand (which isn't much).

 

Of course even making that distinction reveals the binary aspect of my own thinking. And ultimately any concept is irrelevant.

 

But the function for that distinction as I see it has nothing to do with fetishism. The function is to understand that we are outsiders in regard to Taoism and it is our binary and egocentric way of thinking that makes it so. What I have come to find out is that most of these westerners writing about Taoism don't even have an elementary grasp of what Taoism is, me included for the most part. We like to tell ourselves that we get it. But even our concepts of what lies beyond concepts are concepts.

 

How do you know what we need or don't need before awakening? Are you awakened? Is your teacher Awakened and describing what it is like? Have you shut your thoughts down long enough to know what is behind them? Are you sure this is what the ancients are referring to? How do you know? Did you learn these things from a book or someone trying to translate the idea to you in terms of our binary way of thinking? I don't mean any of this as a challenge so much as an illustration. I ask myself these questions as I write them.

 

After being exposed to the tiniest little scrap of information on what I believe is the real thing, the general "Western Taoist" notion of Taoism is completely misguided and flat out not accurate on many levels.

 

So, if we can see the differences between the two types of thought or the cultural differences or insert your preferred nomenclature here, perhaps we can gain access to this real, living, means of cultivation. It won't happen if we expect to learn these things on our terms. We must adapt ourselves to understand what the few real Taoist Masters require from a student. So that is why it is helpful for me to understand the vast albeit general difference between western and eastern thinking.

 

Oh also I am not gonna discuss what I believe to be the real thing is because I am not anywhere near qualified and the little info I have seen is very new to me. Again see SeanDenty's forum and you will have the same info I have.

Edited by darebak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My understanding is everything is the dance of Tao, of creation, of Brahman or whatever language we care to use. Different cultures and spiritual paths use different language for the same one essence that underlies everything. If your getting into this game where the 'real' Taoists in China are the ones who understand this truth more than others than that is your trip. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with you making that trip and making those discovieries for yourself.

 

If I was attracted to it I would do the same. At best I think I would find just another expression of the same awakeness that I can easily find in my own culture in my own familiar language. Right here, right now. If you think all these western people who are waking up are full of shit, again, that's your trip and good luck with all that.

 

Cameron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK maybe it would be more accurate to say that logic as the underlying structure of human thought within a society began in the "west".

And that might be condescending if I valued logic as the be all end all as is meant to be the case in this western society. I personally think that western civilization is the way it is probably due to the application of this flawed system of thought. and certainly it is valuable in many ways.

But my point is, thought has very little to do with the collective actions and destiny of a society and even less to do with enlightenment. Thoughts just come. Typically in the aftermath of action. There is no thinker. Decisions are just made. Preferences come and go. Societies rise and fall. What does thought have to do with any of it? What does thought have to do with the primal pull of sex, of reproduction, of birth of love and hate and war and death? Thoughts are just insignificant details. Ghosts. Philosophies are crystallized conversations that arise in the aftermath of the perception of what is.

 

But the function for that distinction as I see it has nothing to do with fetishism. The function is to understand that we are outsiders in regard to Taoism and it is our binary and egocentric way of thinking that makes it so. What I have come to find out is that most of these westerners writing about Taoism don't even have an elementary grasp of what Taoism is, me included for the most part. We like to tell ourselves that we get it. But even our concepts of what lies beyond concepts are concepts.

Yes, and another culture's concepts will not change this.

 

How do you know what we need or don't need before awakening? Are you awakened? Is your teacher Awakened and describing what it is like? Have you shut your thoughts down long enough to know what is behind them? Are you sure this is what the ancients are referring to? How do you know? Did you learn these things from a book or someone trying to translate the idea to you in terms of our binary way of thinking? I don't mean any of this as a challenge so much as an illustration. I ask myself these questions as I write them.
This is my experience. There is just awakeness. There is no one that awakens. There is just ordinary awareness that is present. It can be present timelessly because it has no qualities that I can describe. There is a sense of sitting in a chair and typing. There is a sense of emotion. There are thoughts. There are sounds. There is the image of words appearing on the screen. There is a sense of a self. Of a "Sean"; memories, tendencies. And there is a spaciousness, the clearest stillness, just soaking everything. There is a felt sense that there is no one home. No one here to awaken. There is the feeling of This Is It. There is still a lot of gripping, grasping. There is gripping and grasping at the graping to stop gripping and grasping which is a knotted mess. Sometimes the entire mess gets dropped for a moment. This feels very nice. It feels so nice there is gripping and grasping soon afterward. Still there is spaciousness. It's not special. It confers no talents or advantages, in fact it removes things and makes the me feel stupid and anxious and embarrassed sometimes. There is a sentimental sadness in knowing that the ego will never succeed. I am involved in a gigantic failure that just keeps getting worse and I have no idea where I am going. :)

 

So, if we can see the differences between the two types of thought or the cultural differences or insert your preferred nomenclature here, perhaps we can gain access to this real, living, means of cultivation. It won't happen if we expect to learn these things on our terms. We must adapt ourselves to understand what the few real Taoist Masters require from a student. So that is why it is helpful for me to understand the vast albeit general difference between western and eastern thinking.

 

Oh also I am not gonna discuss what I believe to be the real thing is because I am not anywhere near qualified and the little info I have seen is very new to me. Again see SeanDenty's forum and you will have the same info I have.

Trading one culture for another. Re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It's all in good fun. :D

 

 

Warmly,

Sean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some interesting speculations and ideas here...

 

I'm seeing mind-set being substituted for social values...The various systems within systems that make up multi-cultural societies such as China or the USA or the European Union are conglomerating within themselves at the same time the various inner cultures are striving for autonomy. The seperate values each smaller society holds may seem outlandish to others within their own wider system and seem ever so normal to others in far-away places. These concepts may also be thought of in terms of families having various members with very different personalities. Some of us feel more comfortible amongst our friends than our family.

 

I have felt a far greater sense of culture shock returning to America from both Europe and Asia; as I see the incredible amount of avarice that creates so much waste and yet more consumption in my home country. Most of the world just does not take for granted that their gluttony will be catered to - as we Americans do. That the world at large is now being globalized into this consumerism is a real shame...China has become far more westerized in terms of industialization and consumerism than the west has become Easterized in more communal and extended-family ways of conducting our lives..

 

That to me is the biggest difference- This being that Asian culture puts the family first and then takes individual desires and goals into account. We of the west tend to be far more individualistic in our assumptions and values. Some would say more isolated as well-insulated within our minds and egos. With that comes independence and the need to problem-solve for ourselves rather than as a part of a whole.

 

This seems to break down into a more general idea of capitalism vs socialism that may be valid as value systems/mind-sets expressing inner ideas of proper comportment or conduct as we live our lives...

 

In any case I believe we are still spiritual beings having a human experience in our various cultures. The inner spirit is basically at one with all spirit in a universal flux of change some call the Tao, just to be able to speak of it...So our differences are far less important than the unity of life. For me, striving to express our individualism as a member of a culture, nation, region, city, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation only serves to make things interesting.Yet, this diversity is a real blessing that I hope we never lose! It is the tapestry of humanity.

 

It may be that we end up a global humanity of mixed race with light-brown skin and almond-shaped eyes, having one religion and one language and one government. If so, it will not be as interesting, and any divergence will be much more likely to stand out as "the other"- with any prejudice of that other being easily accepted by the now hughly similar human race...

 

So, if and when we do become a global society I hope that most of our current diversity will still exist. So many wonderful cultures have been swept away already, and so little of those cultures' glory has been saved- (particularly in China), that I worry for our future as fully realized spiritual beings... This, as I see the tendencies of our world to be moving away from spiritualism into a non-spiritual religiousity that is dogmatic, and primarily just lip-service to make appearences of inner values being strong...But lacking in compassion and humility, or respect for other's humanity if it differs greatly from what we are used to.

 

Even as the world becomes more global and our knowledge of the wider world expands, the minds of many remain narrow. People from vastly different cultures come together in modern cities, seeking jobs and money. For me this is about adopted values more than original mind-set. It is based on materialism, and refutes the idea of preserving inner-mind-sets that represent the ancient ways of people's back-grounds.

 

Individuals change much faster than cultures do. That is also how cultures disappear. The young just drift off to the city and lose the old ways. A few more generations of this and poof - no more diversity.

Edited by Wayfarer64

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No Chinese mind? Talk to some people who have adopted Asian babies and get back to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So your saying there are inherited behavioral traits that are passed down to Chinese babies?

 

What about half chinese half white? Would those traits then be blended according to your view?

 

*question directed to QiDr.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is getting 'round to the old nature vs nurture idea of child rearing. I have little to add, but an interest in any actual experiences that show there is a distinctly deep psychological difference in socialization between children of genetically different backgrounds being raised in the same environment.

I am very sceptical of any claims of genetic make-up being an indicator of much- beyond looks and physical ability.

 

My belief in the oneness of life precludes such diferentiations via race or social background without the culture being that which the child is raised in...

 

These questions predate Butler's Erewhon and Eugenics and Nazism, but they do trouble me as points of departure from our shared humanity.

 

Every child I have gotten to know related to the society they were in far more intensly than their adult counter-parts, as learning about this construct preoccupied them. The nature of their genetic back-ground soon faded as they tried to normalize themselves into the world around them...

Edited by Wayfarer64

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could write for days on this topic. I'm more drawn to meditate in my free time though so I'll have to condense my thoughts as best as possible.

 

Please understand that my point is not that differences between cultures do not exist. Everyone at times notices and perhaps more importantly, feels differences between themselves and people from other cultures. But thoughts and feelings arising naturally in response to the alchemy of a moment is a whole different ballgame than creating a new mental category "Chinese mind", much less taking it seriously and attempting to operate with it.

 

Let's take a close look at the good QiDr's example of a Chinese child, adopted at infancy and raised by American parents. Let's say the child is male for simplicity in my story here. Ok, so the boy's parents have begun reporting an observation that "Chinese characteristics" not explicitly taught by the parents are emerging. Setting aside for a moment the deep problem of defining "Chinese characteristics", let's proceed.

 

First, we are immediately confronted with the fact that race is little more than a fuzzy, social classification strategy based on superficial visual characteristics that are the result of only about .01% of our genetic makeup (and that can shift easily, ie: in response to weather). The genetic difference between two Chinese individuals is just as likely to be significantly greater than the difference between someone Chinese, and an individual of a different race. (Let that sink in for a moment, because it really instantly dissolves many innacurate assumptions people seem to have about what genetic ethnicity means.)

 

Now we are clear that the "Chinese thoughts and behaviors" we witness in the child are not physically measurable. They are 99.99% unrelated to the genetic makeup of this boy's body. So what does that leave us with in our search for the root of this child's "Chinese behavior"?

 

Culture and ancestral qi.

 

Ok, well, cultural influence can be almost entirely ruled out. Or can it? We assume the child is disconnected from his birth family and from an immersion in Chinese culture. Yet we might speculate that having a Chinese body in a largely Caucasian country might naturally lead to certain differences in attention. The child spends a moment longer staring a a page in a magazine advertising a new theatrical Chinese play premiering downtown. He is fascinated with the face of a Chinese boy in the poster. He doesn't see boys like this in his neighborhood. He feels like he is looking into a mirror. "Who am I? Am I different from those around me? Am I more like this child?" The boy takes the time to study the Chinese characters and the beatiful, subtle, artwork in the advertisement. Is there a transmission in moments like these? Most likely something unique is stirred.

 

But we are left with perhaps the most powerful influence. "Collective karma", or in more Taoist terms, ancestral qi. Ancestral qi is essentially the last 150 years or so of your ancestor's spirits hanging out with you, guiding your destiny, whispering in your ear, sometimes sitting in your body, stirring your emotions, influencing food preferences, etc.. This is where the rich potential for a Chinese influence on a child otherwise disconnected from Chinese culture becomes very clear. Our boy is being directly influenced by the last few generations of his family ghosts. Simple. :)

 

Really, all three of these influences, genes, culture, ancestors, are on a continuum without firm division. There is not a hard distinction between physical and nonphysical, just a gradient of density. The distinction is made in modern science by a reference to what is measurable. What is reasonably measurable is, in one sense, the only phenomenon the mind is capable of grasping and making use of. "Chinese mind" is a mind's attempt at a useable mental category. But is "Chinese mind" measurable at all, even relatively for a specific purpose? Well now we have returned to the original, deeper problem of actually defining "Chinese characteristics".

 

Genes are easily measurable.

Minds are not.

 

In fact, a mind has yet to even be located by the measurable sciences. Cognitive researchers are left to taking polls and interpreting statistics from subjective interviews over the course of decades just to formally identify a single, and yet still highly questionable, distinction in human psychology. Richard Nisbett's research that Sean Denty posted a blurb from, and with which I am familiar, is an example of these kinds of attempts. If you have read Nisbett, you know what he has found is that East Asian individuals exposed to living in America for less than a single generation will score almost identically to a native born American on his various "East West" tests.

 

So where did the "Chinese mind" he has found go?

 

Or was there never a Chinese mind? Just Awareness effortlessly wearing the empty robes of Chinese cultural conditioning. Robes that flap in the wind, are torn by the rain, mended by silence, and tugged at by old ghosts. Robes that are no closer to or further from untouched Awareness than any other robe in manifestation.

 

I have two final things to say about cultural differences in regard to this thread:

 

1) I wish anyone the best of luck who is interested in trying to locate and/or translate your observations into accurate or even partially reliable mental distinctions between you and someone from another culture. If this is something you are drawn to, you have quite an interesting project on your hands. I hope you have a clear felt-sense of what the purpose of your project is as well.

 

2) If your purpose turns out to be another self-improvement project for a self that doesn't exist via adding new distinctions in order that you may more "purely" embody your own concept of what that cultural difference means to your own satisfaction so as to feel more capable of accurately studying the historically recorded perceptions accumulated by another culture all in order to one day "learn" to stop ignoring the Enlightenment that is already in this very moment :blink: ... Well, all of this sounds like more convoluted horizontal movements of the seeking, dualistic mind to me. Which is really just fine. That is what the mind does. Any mind. My mind. Chinese or American or Indian or Persian minds. "Oh, enlightenment is not here, it must over there. Yes, they must have it." Perhaps the mind ultimately has to completely wear itself out before it gives up and allows what is beyond itself to be revealed. And what better project for that than an impossible and futile one. :lol:

 

At the moment I am more interested in That which transcends speculation on empty distinctions that have no permanance. Where is the Tao unscathed by form, Now? The Tao that is only lost when we take the horizontal strivings of the mind seriously, and the thought that we've lost something that must be found arises and dazzles the One child-like Awareness. The Tao that is already Awake and already what is aware of the words on this screen, yet is often covered by thoughts such as "I can't be awake. I still get angry. I am still sad at times. I make unvirtuous decisions. I am a mess. I am out of control. I need something else. I am in pain. I need money. I need to read this new special book. I need a secret practice. I need an ultra elite lineage teacher. I need to go there, or there. Anywhere but here!" As if The One is separate and somehow more or less than your ups and downs. As if the infinite Tao is so separate and bound by manifestation that it is limited to only express It Self through a particular cultural mind form, having specific kinds of experiences, in a specific language, in specific terminology. As if the Tao is in any way separate from the simple, ordinary clarity of this very moment.

 

"Yeah right Sean, snap out of it man. That is way too simple."

 

Precisely why it's so easily ignored. It is what is always already present. :)

 

 

Don't listen to me. Trust your intuition. Follow your bliss. Be well.

Sean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hey Sean- and all-

 

That's quite an entry. And it does seem apt. Being in the moment dismissess the maya of cultural baggage...We are always one with the cosmic wholeness of life-but we allow everything else to get in the way of our enjoying, or getting comfortible within that sense of oneness...We let our egos take charge of the moment, and it is gone again...

 

It may be that having a more collective sense of community lends itself to a more ready acceptence of wider realms of belonging, which is one way to see the Asian perspective taking hold of so many here...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sean,

 

The Chinese have very different values and beliefs and ways of seeing reality. I have witnessed this first hand in China. We, as westerners, really don't have a clue about how these differences operate unless we are educated about them and this is why many westerners are dismissed or taken advantage of when they are first introduced to Chinese spirituality. The book I recommended is worth a read and points out some very helpful ways of understanding Asian culture and the Chinese mind; although, certainly the book does not contain all the answers.

 

I can appreciate your writing here, an interesting speculative argument, but, you should know that the term 'Chinese Mind' is really just pointing out these very real differences. If you are a tourist in China, you might never encounter these differences in a substanistive way, but if you want to study the Dao they should be considered.

 

S

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wayfarer, Sean, thank you for your comments.

 

Sean, again, I know that China has a very unique culture and people. If you are drawn to a study and immersion in this, that is truly wonderful. I am too. I would like to learn Chinese and spend a few years in China someday. My only real point here is simply that grasping a "Chinese mind" is impossible and, more importantly, not a requirement for "attaining" Tao. Tao is not Chinese. (It's also not not Chinese. Etc.)

 

It's a pretty mundane and obvious point actually, considering there are fully enlightened teachers from every continent, all speaking their own languages, all with their own cultural idiosyncracies.

 

Regards,

Sean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are studying to be a doctor you would rather study at UCSF than at Joe's Bargain Medical School in Granada, right?

Why shouldn't you find the most genuine lineage Taoist transmission if you want to study the Tao?

 

At UCSF you would also be learning the deductive style of thinking that is traditional to Western Medicine, that Doctors use to diagnose patients.

 

Why shouldn't you learn the holistic style of thinking that is traditional to Taoism, that Taoists use to cultivate themselves?

 

As for your comments on enlightenment and awareness, etc:

Do you really think that thousands of years in "codifying" and transmitting Taoist traditions and practices results in an adept suddenly realizing , "Aha! That nameless state beneath my thoughts here in this moment is Awakeness.Enlightenment is here in the moment. The Tao is everything and nothing. Lets call it a day."? How are you so sure Enlightenment is here in the moment? You cannot measure it yet you assign a name to it. It is a distinction between two states. A concept, A theory. Is there Enlightenment? Is "Enlightenment" or "Awakeness" a mind's attempt at a useable mental category? How do you know what is or isn't a requirement for attaining Tao?

 

From what I gather, the practice of holding the state before thoughts, desires, etc. arise is the very beginning prerequisite for most genuine Taoist practices.

 

Maybe understanding, realizing, merging with or being the Tao takes certain specific steps, taken over time, made more efficient through generation upon generation of of lineage transmission. Perhaps it is simple AND complex. And perhaps the instructions for these steps become inaccurate or incomplete when taken out of their original context.

Edited by darebak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Darebak, seandenty, the way we frame enlightenment, at least on the surface, appears very different, so I'm not sure we'll find the satisfaction of agreement here. It doesn't really matter though.

 

Darabek, yes, anything can be grasped at as a mental category, including what I am writing about and including by my own mind. I almost want to say especially spiritual jargon. That's why I say, don't listen to me, trust yourself. What is most important to you.

 

I know enlightenment is present because there is access in any moment. It is not complicated or hidden at all. It's all one. Nothing is separate. Sometimes enlightenment is obscured. Sometimes it is revealed. How and Why are a mystery. When there is a deeper and deeper noticing of this presence, an evolution in manifestation occurs. The mind can be changed, the heart can be changed, the body can be changed, etc. And perhaps it really does lead to a kind of immortal supermen with incredible powers. And perhaps the Chinese culture really does have beings that have stopped turning away from enlightenment for so long they have been transformed in ways we can only imagine. I hope you have found the most powerful, enlightened teachers on this planet. I wish that for everyone.

 

There is a part of me that can see how a continuous noticing of That, without anymore running, can cause radical change. Steps. Layers. Deepenings. Mystical insights. Powers. Openings. Flowerings. Stages. One of the most powerful experiences that I read about, and am drawn to, is the description of how the belief in a separate ego is finally incapable of being held. It just breaks for good. A sense of self remains, but it's seen through like a story, or a movie on television. You realize you are sitting on the couch.

 

But there is another part of me, thought to call it a part seems horrible inaccurate. And this part is pure spaciousness in which there is a silent insight that even so-called "spiritual evolution" through higher and higher "levels" of attainment is just another story. It's not "unreal" in the sense that is can be poo poo'd, but in the clarity of Oneness, ultimately there is no "deeper understanding". Manifestation is polarized. Joy cannot be sustained indefinitely because it is defined by the absense of joy. So you can fly. So you can do incredibly martial arts. So you've healed your body completely. So you have learned to penetrate the deepest regions of consciousness. This is all wonderful, to be celebrated ... it's the fullness, the love, the dance of creation. It's inseparable from the One as well, and yet there is always stillness. In the drunkest evil uncultivated bastard there is That.

 

Can you access the space in which everything is Ok now? Perfect and One as it is? Already always? It's easy to write it off ... "oh that's just the first step in my three dozen formula enlightenment to-list my master has given me". Yet it's the ground in which this whole drama unfolds.

 

 

Sean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These are interesting conversations to be sure and I don't want to come off as disrespectful of anyones tradition. I think traditions and lineage and all that is fine, until it basically is seen as some special doorway to power or knowledge.

 

My view-today atleast-is this constant search for more and better are the minds disease. Adyashanti says at some point as children we turned away from our natural state. We become "Cameron" or "Sean" or whoever. We developed the sense of seperation and cultivated our uniquness. Whether these special qualities brought us a sense of pride or suffering they all amount to a turning away from our true unborn nature. This original unborn nature is not cultivated. It's not created and it cannont be destroyed.

 

Edit-Actually, cultivating our sense of uniqueness is perfectly fine. Following a traditon or not following a tradition are perfectly fine. Thinking this is all bs or is the truth is perfectly fine :)

 

If you think there is one highest best way to go about becoming an immortal, or Xian, or whatever it is we are talking about achieving, perhaps there is. And you can compare this to going to a good medical school to learn a field of study.

 

But I wouldn't put this in the same category as teachers who are helping others wake up to your true nature, which is niether created nor destroyed and predated "Taoism" by, oh, well...eternity. :)

 

But as Adyashanti says the Taoists explain things very, very well. And I still trust my western Taoist teachers to do a good job, but would visit China to meet any "real" Taoist in a second if the time and right opportunity came up. Just isn't my priority or interest right now.

 

Blessings to you,

 

Cameron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm getting the idea that perhaps we are each correct for ourselves and our view-points. Having whatever sort of mind we may have - gives us each an amplification or dimming of our original inner self to various degrees. I have always felt a connection to my "original" self and indeed remember being in the womb and being born. These are of course rather deep and not as often in my waking consciousness-as say- thirst and the need to piss etc...(Which is to say at least once a day). And dimmed a bit by the following 52 years of living between then and now... but they're still vivid and true memory experiences.

 

This does not make me enlightened. It helps me only to realize that there is a continuum and connection to that which could enlighten me; if I could make the encredible efforts of will becoming non-will, and being returning to non-being , (while still a breathing, singular entity), - that such seeking would seem to intail!

 

Still, I am becoming more ready to delve deeper into my spiritual path and seek a fuller understanding of the Tao. I have already presumed some level of understanding as I became a conduit for a book of Taoist sonnets, and had the ego to publish them! This with only some small understanding of the" Chinese mind"... I am also quite secure in my work being a worthy element within Taoist thought. This is not from ego, but from a sense that the way the poems came through my consciousness as an act of creativity was an inspired response to something within me that used me for its' own expression.

 

This is true of most good creativity, it just comes through the artist as if the artist were a tool as the artists' tools are their tools, the process of pure creativity, (which in this case may be thought of as the Tao too!) - uses all minds to manifest itself...

 

Most of those whos' thoughts I have read on this site have educated themselves to many aspects of Chinese philosophy in an open hearted and open minded way that breaks down many of the barriers created by cultural constructs... I have also met many Chinese here in America who had no clue about Taoism, and/or think of it as a backward and superstitious system of little value to themselves... So some of us may indeed have a more profound grasp of the "Chinese mind" at ancient levels of connectivity than those with real Chinese genetic make-ups...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to clarify(For myself as much as for others) I think there is real value in connecting with a real, living traditon and would commend anyone with the committment and dedication to follow through with that level of study.

 

Ime just not sure any of that is necissary from the enlightenment point of view. I think there may be a subtle danger of little egos thinking they are somehow responsible for coming up with something or transmitting something. I am pretty sure the real teaching on this matter is it's not about transmission of anything so much as waking up to what you already are.

 

Of course, there are those that have a certain telent in helping you see what you already are.

 

Right now, before you have a thought or concept. What are you?

 

I myself, don't know shit about anything. Just trying to be as honest as possible about that truth and live my life from the place of not knowing shit with open arms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Go spend ten years in a cave; then you can talk about enlightenment, if your still alive and sane.

 

 

 

Thoroughly deluded perspective. Thanks for removing all doubt :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to clarify(For myself as much as for others) I think there is real value in connecting with a real, living traditon and would commend anyone with the committment and dedication to follow through with that level of study. Ime just not sure any of that is necissary from the enlightenment point of view.

 

Your not alone

 

 

 

there may be a subtle danger of little egos thinking they are somehow responsible for coming up with something or transmitting something. I am pretty sure the real teaching on this matter is it's not about transmission of anything so much as waking up to what you already are.

 

Sounds like more coffee tabel wisdom to me. "All those Taoists in China are caught up in some ego trip; We've got it all figured out here in the good old USA." This reminds me of Michael Winns commentary on the Buddha's "mommy issues." Say what???

 

I myself, don't know shit about anything. Just trying to be as honest as possible about that truth and live my life from the place of not knowing shit with open arms.

 

Only thing you've said that makes any sense all day.

Edited by seandenty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this