Re: MD 'unmediated experience'

From: phyllis bergiel (
Date: Tue May 06 2003 - 13:52:30 BST

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    Scott, Sam:

    Ever hear of these folks? I'm not affiliated in any way, just wonder if
    anyone sees this as an alternative to the traditional or individual mystical

    Scott wrote:
    > Sam,
    > > I haven't read the Eric Lerner. I have read 'What the Buddha never
    > by Timothy Ward, though.
    > > Is that similar?
    > It's been a while since I read the Ward book, but as I recall, he was more
    > into pointing out the way Buddhism was practiced in Thailand, while the
    > Lerner book is more about his personal spiritual growth. So, no, not all
    > that similar.
    > >
    > > In any case, I agree that this example is much more subtle (and more
    > interesting) than the Yorkshire
    > > Ripper example. Can you explain a bit more why you say: "On the other
    > hand, that tradition is more
    > > than tradition in the Western sense, since the teachers knew what the
    > problem was because they had
    > > gone through the same thing. There is, of course, a Western mystical
    > tradition, but it seems to me
    > > that this level of teaching ability is pretty rare, and what there is is
    > still pretty much a
    > > side-show." That hasn't been my experience, but then I've never spent
    > in a Buddhist monastery,
    > > only Christian ones, so maybe I'm deprived.
    > Well, my point is that you don't need to spend years in meditation and
    > the scrutiny that Lerner describes to become a Christian priest or
    > (n.b., Lerner did not become a "master" or whatever, at least not in the
    > book.). Certainly there is a lot of this kind of spiritual activity, but
    > ones who really pursue it are considered "contemplatives", and hide
    > themselves away in monasteries and convents, as opposed to being the
    > face of the church. But I acknowledge that this is now starting to change.
    > I also acknowledge that practice in Buddhism does not always measure up
    > either. I read once that there exist books that give "correct" answers to
    > Zen koans, and I'm sure there are many ordained Zen monks who couldn't
    > meditate their way out of a paper bag.
    > >
    > > I'm familiar with Peter Berger, although I haven't yet read The
    > Imperative. It seems to me
    > > that if we are to get to the 'high end' of the spiritual path, we must
    > already have gone through a
    > > number of stages (in MoQish, we must at least have learnt to exist as
    > social beings, ie use language
    > > etc, before we can start to operate at the fourth level, and we need to
    > have some competence at the
    > > fourth level before we can really start the solitary journey into DQ). I
    > do not at all disagree that
    > > there comes a time when the tradition must fall silent and say 'now you
    > on your own'; my concern
    > > is to say that the traditions are the silt/fertile soil thrown up by
    > previous sojourners, and that
    > > we don't need to reinvent the wheel. I could be misunderstanding David,
    > but I think he's denying
    > > that the faith traditions have any role to play, and that it is the
    > cultivation of the 'mystical
    > > experience' which is the be-all and end-all. I think that's a mistake (a
    > mistake with a particular
    > > cultural history).
    > I agree up to a point. Berger's point in The Heretical Imperative is that
    > *if* you are a modern, well-educated person then you *have* to question
    > tradition, because there are all these other traditions you have been
    > exposed to and who's to say which one is the "right" one. My point is that
    > there currently isn't a well-articulated Western theology "fit for
    > intellectuals". In part, I find, this is because the leaders feel obliged
    > pander to the social level. So there is a lot of guff about sharing and
    > dealing with existential despair, but not about working out (say) the
    > of DQ and SQ. In my opinion -- and as opposed to Matthew Fox, by the
    way --
    > liberal Christianity needs to reemphasize the fundamental reality of
    > Original Sin -- as I interpret it, of course :).
    > >
    > > I would not want to deny that some people seem to be able to simply
    > it all. Yet those people
    > > demonstrate their developed awareness through the high quality of their
    > lives, and so live in
    > > recognisable continuity with the tradition (even if the social
    > don't recognise that
    > > continuity). Either way, unless you're a religious genius, I think you
    > more likely to be able to
    > > climb your mountain by journeying deeper into a religious tradition than
    > by seeking a particular
    > > experience (which isn't to say that you won't have experiences on the
    > way).
    > Again, I agree up to a point. My complaint about Western traditions is
    > it remains difficult to dig deep. Too much chaff with the wheat. (Again, I
    > must acknowledge that this is in practice true of Eastern religions as
    > The irony is that the Westerner looking at Eastern religions has the
    > advantage of having most of that chaff removed by the transmitters. D.T.
    > Suzuki, by the way, is the main transmitter of Zen to the West. He didn't
    > mention those answers-to-koan books :)
    > I find it interesting
    > > that Eastern thinkers who are honoured in the West (eg Gandhi, Dalai
    > don't say 'you must take
    > > up Buddhism' (or Hinduism) but 'take up Christianity' ie get acquainted
    > with your own tradition and
    > > see where it gets you. I think the links between Christianity and
    > modernism are profound and largely
    > > ignored, and when moderns try and take up an Eastern religion, whilst it
    > might sometimes seem to
    > > work, there are often deep cultural discontinuities that emerge and
    > problems (as with the
    > > Timothy Ward book, possibly with Lerner too?).
    > Lerner pretty much accepted the culture change. He did return to the U.S.,
    > but continued to work in the Vipassana tradition, which is now pretty much
    > established here.
    > I agree that if you have been raised in a tradition, it is usually best to
    > stay in it (unless it is exclusivist, or otherwise Bad). But there are a
    > like me and, I presume, DMB, who left the tradition well before it started
    > to sink in on an intellectual level. So when I do start investigating it
    > to "prove" itself. If I am looking around, now convinced that mysticism is
    > where it's at, it is a lot easier to discern it in the transplanted
    > traditions than in the Western. Indeed, it took Barfield and Georg
    > to clue me in that Christianity may have something to say that Buddhism
    > doesn't.
    > > Of course, such discontinuities could be the source
    > > of the next DQ breakthrough. Orange Catholic Bible anyone?
    > Not enough, if there are still jihads running rampant through the galaxy
    > - Scott
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