Michael Winn's critisizm of Buddhism and Plato

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In reading the debate between Winn and Rosinke on the Healing Tao board and after reviewing Winn's tapes I have some clearer insight . I am not a scholar and do this stuff when I have time unlike the likes of Bill Bodri who in his email I just read reveals how he has read over lengthy Buddhist Sutras thousands of times! I was never a heavy Sutra guy more of a pure zazen guy and martial arts but "think" I know a thing a two. Then again what is "I"?


So Winn's main gripe with Buddha Dharma is the focus on suffering. He said it in my first "basic" healing Tao workshop 7 years ago. He looked at me and said straight up " I would be Buddhist if not for the focus on suffering". He repeats that sentiment in his basics courses to clearly define the difference between his approach and the Buddhist approach. He talks alot about how Taoist look at the universe we live in as a " Later Heaven" being bithed from "Early Heaven". it is like the child or manifestation of the Primorial Wuji or Supreme Unknown. It gives birth through it's mysterious process of turning "Yuan Shen or Yuan energy" out into Yin and Yang(male and female). We all live our lives and fulfill our destiny and it should be fun in the sun. The suffering that takes place is largely our own creation and not an objective truth inherent to life..this is Winn's apporach(I think).


He talks alot about how whatver you focus on in your life you create(interesting as it's exactly what Matt Furey talks about in Magnetic Mind Power) If you think about life being siffering and put alot of energy behind the idea,, you are creating that for yourself. If you think of life being blissful and wonderful and achiving every goal you put in front of yuorself..that will happen.


I have spent some time with both Buddhism and HT so can veryify the fact. Most Buddhist do in fact feel life is basically suffering and that is Buddhas first major spiritual question on his path to Enlightenment.." What is suffering and why do beings need to suffer?"


Plato talked about this in his debate with Winn(or maybe it was a seperate post..can't remember) he said " Look around you and tell me that life is not would be a big fat liar if you did!"


Where am I going with this? I can't remember. I post so rarely here just felt like putting someething up.


Sean, good work taking the reigns and not letting the rif raf from NY and italy screw up your site. Do your own thing man! LOL!

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While much of the debate was above me, I think you've done a good job crystalizing the essence of the disagreement.


I think it is easy to find evidence to support either argument in this world, so the debate boils down to what's going on in the non-physical, post-death arena.


Unfortunately, that's a tough call and well beyond most anyone's direct experience. So we are compelled to take somebody's word for it.


To make it even harder, there's a lot of isms applying for that job!


I've been a Buddhist in the past and got seriously depressed by the samsara, and its taken me years to climb out of that hole, and I still have further to go.


While I'm on the life-is-good side of the equation, it has been excellent to have some Bodri educated thinkers around--they definitely have some awesome insights.


Peace dudes!




PS, where did Ron's "Matt Furey and friends/poolside" photo go? I think that really got to the essence of it, that we can still be pals even if our balls are too big.

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So I am sifting through Winn's tapes and on Fusion he is saying Taoist Alchemy is great for westerners because westerners like to do stuff and it gives them stuff to do. It's sort of like intenral video games.




I can just feel the intense energy of one of my first Zen/Martial arts teachers creeping up and slapping me across the face while chastising" Spiritual practice is not a game!!"


I guess they can all agree to disagree


Now if I could just figure out who I agree with I'll be good

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life IS a game, in my opinion.

therefore spiritual practice can also be a game.


if you dont enjoy it, whats the point really?


we created ourselves out of the nothingness beyond this universe, because we saw a good game going on and thought we'd take part in it. it was essentially our own individual decision at the beginning to take part in this game. but somewhere along the lines we forgot all this (or were forced to forget, depending on what kind of view you want to take) and i see spiritual practices as once again building up this awareness of we are part of this game.


when you know its just a game, you are much more free to make decisions regarding that game (where you are reborn, manipulating universal energy, so forth), you are also free to end the game and leave if you like too... should you grow tired of having experience.


my opinion on the difference between buddhists and taoists is that buddhists want to end this game... for everyone. thats why they make the decision not to rest until every being is enlightened (left the game). essentially end the universe.


taoists just want to get better at the game (in my opinion), therefore be much more responsible for their actions and progress through the game... be free to decide how they want the game to go.


even though i suffer a bit in this current life, i realise its because my awareness of it being a game is only on a very superficial level, in other words im not really sure.

nevertheless im not interested in ending this game just yet... i want to "see how far i can take it" but in the direction of love, joy, life, creation, pleasure and happiness.

dont mean i dont want to get better at the game, reach master level.


just some thoughts....

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"If you don't enjoy it, what's the point really".


I don't have a judgement on the Buddhist path or Winn's Alchemy path. I have practiced bits of both. So my response is not really something I feel deeply personally all the time so much as my understanding of the path.


Your response is clearly not that of the Buddhist Bodhisattva..again NO JUDGEMENT here. We are starting back a dialougue that has probably been going on for thousands of years between Alchemists and Buddhists. The FIRST thing you do in Buddhism is get rid of the notion of a seperate "I" or a seprate self. As long as you think there exists a seperate self in relation to the rest of existence, you havent even learned the abc's of Buddhism. AND THAT IS TOTALLY COOL. I am presently debating whether I am buddhist, Taoist, or sick of labels entirely but we have to atleast define things correctly and have some understanding of what the hell we are talking about otherwise we should stop fooling ourselves, eat, drink, fuck(and ejaculate :o ) and be merry..smoke a fat doobie and enjoy your day.


but of course some of us(not necissarily me included) are really trying to accomplish something so we should define what it is. you's cool to think of spiritual practice as a video game and life as a game and have fun with the whole process. I think that's cool, I like it. Winn is A OK in my book and I personally dont' wish him to burn in hell with his teacher or anything like that. I hope and think if nothing else he has done some good teahcing lots of people to do the inner smile. unless you really beleive there is a deep Karmic Hell for those that teach spiritual practice without being Enlightened as others have commented..My guess is you DON'T beleive that.


Where was I going with this?


Oh, so buddhism doesnt' really focus on fun because the Bodhisattva FIRST experiences him or herself as being one with all of creation. At that point the idea that if something is fun you dont' do it is sort of not the priority your a Bodhisattva and you see a kid burning in his house and the kid is going to die unless you run in there and save the kid but you will die in the process or get 3rd degree burns or some other engative shit..well a Bodhisattva just does it. he doesn't think to himself "No,no..that..dying..or getting burned..won't be fun". I mean whats the point in saving a kid I don't know if I die, right?


I understand beleive me.


But say somone into Alchemy who has sepent decades doing practices to make himself immortal sees that same kid burning in the house. That guy..his main focus has been on having fun and doing sexual practices and moving energy like a video game and all that. He doesn't have any philosophy about there being endless Kalpas of time where you basically do good deeds in order to gain merit to meet a high level teacher and get Annutara Samyak Sohmbodi(I think that's what it's called..can't remember)


What was my point? Oh..Buddhism and Taoist Alchemy as taught by Winn are worlds apart..and I don't know which path to follow..and like both..


Yeah..but..have fun..totally

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i guess i didn't explain myself entirely clearly.


im not talking from taoist point of view or a buddhist point of view.... rather my own, a conglomeration of ideas (including the both) in which i have picked out what i believe to be the truth in them, or an interpreation of it.


i have long term buddhist parents, who have been buddhist longer than i have been alive. i have done a bit of buddhism, but it isn't really for me. noble goals and all, just i dont like the metaphor of all the deities and so forth, a little bit too close to worshipping sometimes... although i know it isn't.


some flaws i have come up with in buddhism. 1. life is suffering... i dont believe so. i believe life is as we make it, but until we have an expanded awareness it most of the time is... so not really a big problem here.


2. i find a very big conflict in buddhism, that my father has never been able to make clear because whenever we debate about it, his answers always conflict each other at this point.

here it goes.... so the universe is illusion or whatever, we dont really exist. so going with that thought... everyone, you, my parents, whatever... dont exist. at the highest level, nothing exists. so there are no other beings in the universe. so whats the point in trying to get all beings enlightened when they dont exist??? seems a little counter-productive here. to enlighten other beings you have to aknowledge they exist, but in doing so you are no longer enlightened, in the sense of being in a place where you realise everything is illusion.


very confusing, we can go around and around in circles here but never get to the end of it.


i believe that outside of the universe (which all beings existing within it co-created together) individuals do exist, at the higher levels we are all part of the same thing, the 'one' or whatever you want to call it.... but we are still individual to a degree. one higher than this is the nothingness, which created us all in order to have an experience.


this universe is a result of beings operating at a higher level and getting together and saying "lets do make something...." they made the universe, then all other beings saw this and are like "that looks like fun, lets get on that ride!" we chose to enter the universe.


as time passed the universe gets more and more solid and real. we forget that we just created it (getting very buddhist again isn't it?) and that we can choose to end our part in the game at any point, should we desire.


get it?

its kinda weird, but if you look deeply at all the schools of thought you can fit this view (funny metaphor with the game though) into any of them very nicely.


the only conflict is with the seemingly buddhist belief that there is no individualisation whatsoever.... although perhaps this can be clarified as a misunderstanding somewhere, or not.


anyways so we are here for experience... i believe. that does not mean get so wrapped up in it you forget everything else, or seek only sensual kinds of pleasures etc. it does not mean that because you seek to experience and enjoy that you put it ahead of helping others, that your decision of pleasure conflicts with the need to save a boy burning in a building.

pleasure exists within helping others also. a true pleasure seeker (please i cant think of a better word than pleasure, but i dont mean the kind of superficial pleasure most would associate it with) understands this, and creativity, love, kindness and so forth are at the very forefront of his/her ideals and ways of expression.


so lets see how far we can go with it.... in the right direction!


some people may have grown tired with the game and ready to leave it/gain enlightenment... others may not have tired yet and still wish to experience more. it is up to the decision of each individual.... and eventually this universe will be ended, it is inevitable.... then a new one will be created, something different next time. what will it be like? who knows! it isn't in our current realm of experience...



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Suffering is internal, although the thing being suffered is external. So "shit happens" externally, and we react to it internally and cause internal suffering, by reacting against it, rather than accepting it as is, and dealing with it.


Life isn't suffering. Life is life.

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Cool. I re read what I wrote and didn't like it. but oh well.


My small understanding of the Buddhist teaching that "We don't exist" is not that we don't physically exist or are real beings. But rather the non existence of the ego . In other words the self that you feel is seperate from the rest of the universe as a distinct entity is an illusion. You still exist physically and you have your own special karma, genetics etc . But it's ultimately empty.


What the hell does that mean?


The best explanation i got for this concept of Emptiness is a Zen book I read years ago. It talked about zen mind being like clouds and water. A cloud and water can instantly change in accordance with atmospheric conditions. It is still a cloud or water...atleast for awhile...but can transform it's shape depending on the outer environment.


Zen is saying the same thing..we are still human just as a cloud is a cloud and water is water..but when we wake up we realize that our personal I is an illusion and can change just as easily as a passing cloud. There is no inherent ego or soul in western terms just a temporary phenomena that is always in a state of change. Buddhism teaches..arises when you invest energy and thought into the beleif that at any point you exist as a distince entity. I don't think they are saying you don't actually exist as that would be ridiculous..of course you exist who the hell is typing these words? But rather "you" is just a tempoary phenomena . You will change over and voer again throuout life. your looks, your feelings, your thoughts, your goals..everything changes over and over. From that perspective nothing is "set" everything ultimately dissipates and moves through and then dies .This, in my small understanding, is what is meant by no one is real. The cloud is moves through the sky and changes shape countless times and evaporates into the atmosphere . When was it born, when did it die? Only humans have a real concept of life and death nature just keeps on going.


Actually Michael Winn says something funny on his tapes only humans have funerals. cat's don't have funerals.


In Buddhist terms we are the ones who develop this tremendous sense of self through our higher mental capacities but we also have the potential to wake up to the higher truths of life through spiritual practice.


But I like your ideas also, go all the way with life, love, and all that life has to offer.


I don't particularly like the idea of ending anything. but not sure that is really what zen is about. If we can do anything to clarify this stuff that would be a good start.


Actually, I don't even want to open my mouth about a subject anymore unless I really know what the hell I am talking about..and this stuff is definetly that.


But I guess no harm in banging around ideas...

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The best explanation i got for this concept of Emptiness is......


My favourite has always been the comparison between the human self and a wave. A wave is distinct from the ocean, you can see it start, move, rise, fall and end, but it is always just water from the ocean. Before there was the wave, and after it has gone, there is still the ocean. Has the wave vanished, or just changed/lost form?

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