Re: Zen? Atheist? Is there such an animal?

From: \[ Robert-Coyote \] (
Date: Wed May 31 2000 - 16:07:12 MDT

My Intelectual alarms go off as well belive me... those kind of glib canned
statements that I wrote are very dangerous to critical thinking, however
there is some value in not substituting the map for the terrain.

--- "[ Robert-Coyote ]" <> wrote:
> Define it however you like, the way that can be
> spoken cannot be the true
> way, as you define it, your destroy its original
> nature.

While my intellectual ego's danger sirens are sounding
due to your observation, there's really no arguing
with the truth of that statement. [This will go
somewhere - quickly] Zen embraces dichotomy to brake
down dualistic thinking. That may sound like an
obvious, shallow regurgirgitation of rhetoric. But,
it is really the key insight - in fact, the one that I
grappled with. To elucidate my take on this truth, I
believe this is an expression of the universal truth
that linguistic communication is, at best, a crude
approximation of the internal dialogue/computation
process. [I feel myself getting sucked into the
vortex again - but, I hear that siren song and can't

"You demonstrate a profound grasp of the obvious Dan!"
  Thanks. But, whether we simply acknowledge the
inadequacy in vague (perhaps, superior...) maxims such
as the above or build an elaborate (and ridiculously
convuluted) theory about the transfer and acquistion
of meaning (e.g. Sapir-Whorf type theories of
culturally/linguistically restricted meaning), the
underlying, INFURIATING truth remains! Everything
that is said by a reasonably intelligent and
thoughtful mind on this topic is, very likely,
completely true...and, entirely devoid of functional
Thus, people who are looking for a resolution to the
ineffability of the highest levels of cognition
(alternate conscious states, "mystical" insight, what
have you) chase their mental tails around in a
practically infinite web of semantic structure; always
lured forward by the logic and truth of their
pontification while deriving neither meaning nor
satisfaction with their travels because the journey is
endless. It's not that is travelling to an infinite
"metaphysical destination" but, neither is it simply
circular. New semantic structure is created by the
analysis of the existing structure - it's novel! It's
useless! Some people never give up that attempt -
some philosophers, some of the sutra's authors (who
knows if they're aware of its futility). Others
accept it in quiet resignation either out of wisdom
(Boddhidharma, etc.) or a stillborn ontological
curiosity...(virtually everyone!) Who wins?

Screw it - I'm going to dinner!

> How about abandoning the habit of thinking in boxes
> I'm a this.. I'm a
> that.. Your a that, not a this.

Great point - language creates false dichotomies and
only roughly approximate relations...blah, blah, blah
(just insert a paragraph from any of my other posts
here - they're pretty much all the same completely
true/useless/futile rhetoric!


> Just this
> compare it only to itself
> > Thus, Zen becomes the ideal ethical/spiritual
> system
> > (which, referring back to the earlier statement,
> is
> > the definition I choose for a "religion" : "a
> > coherent, stable/sustainable structure of
> > ethical/spiritual principles with both
> suggestive and
> > predictive power."
> >
> Also Taosism. It precludes the inclusion of a
> western deity while still
> being
> known as a religion.
> Fact is, it can be practiced as either religion OR
> philosophy, or neither.
> Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at

Dan Adams
Boston College

"I cannot articulate enough to express my dislike to people who think that
understanding spoils your experience...How would they know?"
    - Marvin Minsky

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