RE: MD Is the MoQ still in the Kantosphere?

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Dec 26 2004 - 00:42:02 GMT

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    Sam Norton wrote on Monday, December 20, 2004 9:54 AM
    ...........................................Now what I think of as 'praxis',
    that is, being within or
    exploring from a particular tradition, *includes* both bakhti and jnani, so
    far as I have understood
    those terms from a brief read of the website. In other words, however
    different the emphases may be
    in each main tradition, I'm quite happy that each of Buddhism, Christianity,
    Hinduism, Islam etc has
    jnani and bakhti aspects.

    dmb says:
    Here you are stepping back from the brink of a breakthrough. I'm trying to
    tell you that there is a kind of mysticism outside of traditional, outside
    of practice. Here you seem to be saying that non-traditonal mysticism is to
    be found within the tradition. This is a pretty clear indication that you
    have not understood the distinction. In effect you have denied the existence
    of non-tradtional mysticism and this is exactly what the distinction is
    meant to cure. Naturally, I very frustrated by this. This is exactly the
    view that theistic devotees take. As Campbell puts it, in the esoteric,
    noetic forms if you like, "the two strengths, outside and within, are
    finally to be recognized as identical. The savior worshipped as without,
    though indeed without, is at the same time one's self. All things are Buddha
    things." But, he continues, in the Western theistic religions "no such no
    such identity can be imagined or even credited as concieveable. The aim is
    not to come to a realization of one's self, here and now, as of one mystery
    with the being of Beings, but to know, love and serve in this world a God
    who is apart though close at hand, and to be happy with him when time shall
    have ceased and eternity been attained." This is the duality I refer to as
    the source of SOM, but for our purposes on this point, the idea here is that
    I'm trying to tell you about a form of mysticism that is pretty much
    unimagionable and inconcieveable. That pretty much defines the nature of a
    blindspot, see?

    Its like you want to see the distinction, but then end up undermining it by
    trying to fold one into the other so that there ends up beign no mysticism
    outside of tradition one again. You see, the thing about blindspots is that
    we can't them. Thus the name.

    Sam said to dmb:
    What gets me annoyed/ frustrated/ resentful in our discussions has been, so
    far, when you've tried
    to claim that Christianity is in fact about this Jamesian spirituality; and
    so what has made me
    relaxed much more recently is when you've been prepared to accept that
    Christianity isn't just a
    sociological expression of this Jamesian truth. Great.

    dmb relies:
    Huh? You're relaxed because Christianity isn't just a sociological
    expression of this Jamesian truth? You're the one who insists on bringing
    James into the discussion and I don't recall anyone ever saying anything
    about "sociological expressions", whatever that is. I think you must have
    misinterpreted my point about Christian symbols and myths, which is that
    they can be read as a depiction of the mystical experience, that the motif
    of death and ressurection to being born again, is a metaphorical reference
    to the mystical experience. The same blindspot prevents this reading, which
    is probably why the idea is still being misunderstood here.

    Sam said:
    Now, in so far as you think the Jamesian point of view is the good and right
    one, you will reject my
    descriptions, which is perfectly fair enough. What I suppose we need to do
    is find some form of
    language to have a conversation about this. How are we to assess which is
    the true description of
    what is going on? A little while back, you used the Hamlet analogy, which
    seems to provide a point
    of agreement; that is, you can't understand what's going on in Hamlet's head
    unless you study the
    play, try to act it out, etc etc. I think that's a description of praxis,
    and that's what I think
    the different religious traditions, in their diverse ways, are all about.

    dmb says:
    As I understand it, by analogy, praxis would be like reading a collection of
    books that interpreted the play in a certain way and that denied the
    possiblity of anyone ever getting to see that same play while you're still
    alive on this earth. Actually, to be more specific, devotional practice is
    supposed to get you ready to actually see the play and appreciate it
    properly. But the problem in Christianity and the other Western theistic
    religions is not just that they are devotional, but that the devotion
    doesn't seem to be aimed at such a preparation, but instead seems to insist
    that we may only see the play after we're dead. See, its not that practice
    is inherently inferior. I have no doulbt that rituals and such can proper
    one's mind beyond the field of static forms and into a transcendent
    experience. The problem is that the practice has become the goal instead of
    the means to the goal. The static forms have become objects of worship where
    they should be transparent to transcendence. So yes, the traditional
    approach through devotion has obscured that which it is supposed to portray.
    It has hidden what is supposed to be illuminated. Even worse, it actively
    attacks those who would like to take it out of hiding because it threatens
    hundreds of years of static interpretations.

    Sam said:
    What it seems to me that you have been arguing for - and I'm quite happy to
    be told I'm wrong in
    this - what I think you've been arguing for is that there is something which
    is the end-point of the
    spiritual path which is grounded, or established, or validated, or mediated,
    through *a particular
    type of experience*; moreover, that this particular experience is common
    across the diverse
    religious traditions, and so the different traditions are simply more or
    less replaceable clothing
    which obscures the truths generated from that particular experience.
    My rejection of that does not correspond, so it seems to me, to a rejection
    of jnani in favour of
    bakhti; if anything, it seems more the reverse, a doubt and seeking of
    intellectual validation
    (jnani) of an established pattern of devotion (Jamesian philosophical
    understandings, bakhti).

    dmb replies:
    There you go again. You're still not getting it. Jnani IS NOT about seeking
    intellectual justification of static devotion. That describes theology, not
    enlightenment. That is just stacking static upon static and is the source of
    the obfuscation, is the process of blocking out the DQ. It is about taking a
    spiritual path of your own in an effort to shatter those traps. Its
    spirituality for contrarians, for those who feel boxed in by the available
    static forms. It is about spiritual seeking outside of tradition. And one of
    the most central assertions is that the experience is beyond both ritual and
    intellect. You keep wanting to understand the mystical experience, the
    enlightenment expereince, in terms of what you already know about mysticism,
    in terms of what's already got your cup full. This won't work. As I keep
    trying to point out, union with God is unthinkable in those terms. That
    tradition teaches that there is a gulf between we and He that can never
    really be crossed. Philosophical mysticism asserts the very opposite. It
    says you ARE the ground of being, you ARE the world, that your ultimate
    identity is not as an isolated soul longing to be in the presence of God,
    but rather that the sense of seperateness is the very illusion to be

    Sam said:
    My rejection of it is, by and large, that I don't see it as spiritual in any
    sense at all, either
    jnani or bakhti, exoteric or esoteric, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, whatever.
    In other words, I see
    it as lacking in Quality. More specifically, I see the Jamesian
    understanding as the product of
    Western metaphysics, with very little relation to any living spiritual
    tradition. Most crucially, I
    don't see people like Plotinus as fitting in with James, even if that
    neo-Platonic strand comes
    closest to what James was describing. This is what my essay was wanting to

    dmb says:
    The mystical experience, as described by James, is not spiritual in any
    sense at all and does not fit in with people like Plotinus? Well, at least
    your position is clear. Like George Bush's view, I don't agree with it and I
    don't even think it makes any sense, but at least I know where you stand.
    But seriously, I still don't see what makes James particularly SOM or why
    Pirsig would accept such assumptions because James did. I mean, one of the
    central reasons that the MOQ rejects SOM in the first place is that it can't
    explain mysticism. It pretty hard to believe that Pirsig would so
    conspicuosly undermine his own project. Also, I'm fairly certain that if one
    puts James' description next to that Plotinus exerpt from THE ONE, its easy
    to see that they are describing the same experience. So I still don't know
    what big difference you see between them. I certainly don't see enough of a
    difference to accept one and reject the other.

    Sam said:
    Finally, to Pirsig. I had been thinking that in Lila (not in ZMM) Pirsig was
    aligning himself with
    the Platonic strand of Western thought, and that he was extending that line
    of spiritual searching.
    Since writing that essay, I'm now quite concerned that in fact he is much
    more Modern in his
    metaphysics than I had thought, and that the correspondence of language and
    structure between the
    MoQ and Schleiermacher is not an accident. This was a surprise to me, but it
    ties in with the
    various discussions we've had here and in the MF section, especially about
    whether Quality is
    separate from DQ/SQ (my perspective) or whether DQ and SQ are in a
    source/expression relationship
    (your point of view, as I recall).

    dmb says:
    I think there are premodern, modern and postmodern elements in Pirsig's MOQ
    and that all these elements work together in a harmonious and integrated
    view. But I'm not really very interested in putting him into drawers and
    categories like Platonis or Modernist, at least not without being much,
    much, much more specific. Otherwise I can only guess what you really mean.
    In any case, I think Paul may have already cleared things up for you with
    respect to that last claim. (That Quality is separate from DQ/SQ.) You seem
    to have backed off from that view or modified it somehow already, but I
    wanted to point out that your mistake on that point seems, once again, based
    on the inability to escape dualism in your thinking. I strongly suspect that
    this is what led you to conclude that Quality divided by two equals three.
    Its seems like you're trying to make sense of THE ONE in terms of dualities
    again and it just doesn't fly.

    I realize that I've repeated myself too much. Blame it on the blindspot.
    She's fighting for her life here and she knows it. She is clinging with such
    ferocious desperation that the only thing to do is pound, pound, and pound
    some more until she lets go.

    more later,

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