Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: The Missionary Position

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  • BenWilson,

    I finished it. But I wouldn't say I was profoundly moved by it, despite it actually coming from every angle I could appreciate, being a motorcycle rider myself, having a long interest in Zen, having studied Western philosophy (which it was actually more about), and having written a lot of technical manuals. The bit I didn't dig about it was the endless psychological torture that was inflicted on the child in the story, and the implication that you have to go nuts to find yourself. Zen has always struck me as a much more practical and compassionate philosophy than any of that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    What Ben said.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    to project an aura of sensitivity and manly practicality

    Clearly from the days when only soft men were supoosed to read books. Hang on, not sure that's changed..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    haha, reading to learn zen ben....rich ironies.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    笨 bèn: stupid; foolish; silly; slow-witted; clumsy

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    mark, reading about zen seems very pointless. But you do have to read a bit about it to realize that.

    I noticed that in Thailand my name also seemed to arouse a lot of mirth.

    English: Mark: ....skid-mark, a trail of left on the ground by tyres, and....

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    sorry Ben, no offence intended, it's a very light word, used most amicably in this case.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    English: Mark: ....skid-mark, a trail of left on the ground by tyres, and....

    ha. Thanks. perspective!

    But you do have to read a bit about it to realize that.

    you'd think...at least to know how what you're knowing is defined. There is something telling in your reading of that book to the end.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Don't worry dude, I know you're just amicably making your mark. You are not marked for death. It's not a black mark on your name.

    I think in Thailand the name lent itself to all sorts of word play, because it's part of the verb "to be".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Yes, when I was young and foolish I hadn't learned that it is not necessary to read a book to the end.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I think in Thailand the name lent itself to all sorts of word play, because it's part of the verb "to be".

    Sounds like great fun...partake:

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Yes, when I was young and foolish I hadn't learned that it is not necessary to read a book to the end.

    I can only assume that your parents weren't 'The Beatles' obsessives...

    Dao de Jiing #47

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I really can't for the life of me understand why so many people consider feelings as somehow occurring outside of biology.

    Nice, Giovanni.

    The English term 'spiritual' itself, with it's secondary definition,

    of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature: a spiritual approach to life.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spiritual?qsrc=2888

    does seem something of a misnomer.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I really can't for the life of me understand why so many people consider feelings as somehow occurring outside of biology.

    I can understand it. I just don't agree with it. I'm sure the reason people don't see the mind as biological is because they themselves have one. It's the only mind they can see, and furthermore they see it directly. But no-one else can. So it's pretty easy to think that maybe it's somehow intangible. Also, the illusion of free will is a particularly difficult conundrum for seeing ourselves merely as machines.

    But what is easy to think is so often not true.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I am confident that feelings are compleatly biological. But again, what is spirituality? I think its a humen construct, that has practical purpose...

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    But what is easy to think is so often not true.

    Even so, why some feelings and not others? Lust, because it makes blood rush places I guess, is generally considered a 'biological' feeling (hence pejoratively an urge) whereas the contemplation of beauty, or friendship, or human solidarity and altruism, would be spiritual hence higher, better. That discrimination alone has been the cause of untold misery throughout history, I think you'll agree.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    being a motorcycle rider myself

    I find that 3-4 hours of high-speed worship on a sunday morning almost always fills me with a deep sense of spiritual calm...

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    I am confident that feelings are compleatly biological. But again, what is spirituality? I think its a humen construct, that has practical purpose...

    The practical purpose being?
    There is beings of a comprehensive literature on this subject. It does challenge in a very substantive way the mind/body dualism humanity has been saddled with for a very long time, to our deteriment I think.
    Anyway Descartes made his reputation out of it, underserved IMO

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    EDIT
    Beginnings of a comprehensive literature.

    Descartes reputation is undeserved in this area of study.
    Just as the new era of christian apologist who resort to digging out Augustine and Aquinas to prop up their convoluted belief systems and throw in quantum woo just for good measure.
    If one has to go to that much trouble... why F....ing bother.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    The practical purpose being?

    Resilience in the face adversity...

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Resilience in the face adversity...

    Is a "spirituality" necessary to be capable of this?
    Isnt an intelligence from which to decide and choose from a variety of plans of action enough (in the case of hominds such as us).

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Okay, wow, a lot went by here while I was watching cricket and playing Carcassone, and obviously I can't do justice to all of it.

    Mark, your criticism of the Buddhism quote is justified. I said right after that that it was 'harsh', and I actually was going to write more, but I felt uncomfortable because I'm not a Buddhist, and I didn't want to be speaking for them. The basic 'you go your way I'll go mine' attitude of Buddhism has a lot in common with Wicca, and I find it appealing. But it has a very 'fluffy bunny' reputation in the West that isn't really representative of the whole story. The John Saffron vs God episode on Buddhism - 'get the koan or we hit you with the big stick' - was an eye-opener.

    All religions are cultural. Eastern Buddhism is different from Western Buddhism like Christianity in Africa is different from Christianity in Europe.

    And now that I've pretty much offended everyone...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Even so, why some feelings and not others? Lust, because it makes blood rush places I guess, is generally considered a 'biological' feeling (hence pejoratively an urge) whereas the contemplation of beauty, or friendship, or human solidarity and altruism, would be spiritual hence higher, better.

    And, what really fascinates me, why this neurochemical reaction to this particular thing, and not that one? Why is this thing beautiful, but not that?

    Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless, peacocks and lilies for instance.

    Yes, this thread is reminding me of Ruskin and the counter-reaction to Utilitarianism.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I prefer enjoying beauty to understanding it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    Missed this until Emma dropped it just now:

    Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless, peacocks and lilies for instance.

    Subjective of course, but I'm still compelled to disagree. Both that lilies & peacocks (what is more garish? their very name has become a synonym for strutting men in single minded pursuit of a lukewarm hole - the very least interesting people in any bar) are among the most beautiful things in the world, and that beautiful things are useless.

    I find people pretty beautiful, and I also find that people are the most useful things in our world. (This perception might be a little affected by the huge number of pregnant women in my life at present. Everyone seems to have discovered their uterus, all at once.)

    And the most useful, well designed, functional things, also tend to be the most attractive - take the time to cast your eye over the aesthetics of an old, well used, well organised workshop some time. Everything with a job, and everything with a place.

    But still, subjective.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

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