New Civilization News: Am I cynical, yet?    
 Am I cynical, yet?9 comments
26 Jul 2002 @ 19:39, by Ben Tremblay


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26 Jul 2002 @ 23:49 by shawa : All of us...
...should have a goodly dose of cynicism regarding our construct of reality/conditionings, NOT about human nature. The fact that we base our choice, as a species, on an artificial (man-made) consensus reality (Barrabas), rather than on an enlightened choice of a reality made of the innermost energy of the heart (Christ) only indicates the low level of the conditioning we are submitted to since birth. It does not indicate anything about who we really are.
Sorry to sound trite, but so it is.

cho: replies -
Trite? Gosh ... no, "trite" wouldn't have come to mind ... not at all.
You know, the Vidyadhara (Trungpa Rinpoche) is reported to have suggested cynicism as the appropriate attitude (without dismissing bodhicitta, I'm sure ... he didn't contradict the teachings), and I always questionned that ... really doubted it ... wondered if he didn't actually mean something more like "skepticism". But you know ... over the years ... little by little ... it's almost as though it's naive or je-jeune not to bite the bullet. My god, look at the mess we've gotten ourselves into? Heh ... it might be only sensible to regard with some cynicism our reluctance to adopt a somewhat cynical attitude concerning our machinations and rationalizations! Indeed, maybe it's patronizing to be /other than/ cynical. (I think there's more chance of insight from perverse manipulativeness than from fog-bound ignorance, if a person has the courage to confront it.)
Maybe anything less hard-nosed than cynicism is just part of the denial syndrome ... I'm no fan of "tough love", but there's something passive-agressive or benignly neglectful about indulging destructive habits ... smacks of co-dependence ... "idiot compassion" and all that.  

27 Jul 2002 @ 02:56 by jazzolog : A One-Man Band
Encouragements to you Ben, and thanks for the reference---which is a lifeline to me since you apparently got the point of the piece at least! In the midst of the mundance deceptions that pass for "reality" these days, shine the light of confession right on them! Allow for worry and depression and make something new out of ourselves! (I'm working on a new essay that posits, despite what EVERYONE says, Worry can be a useful tool.) Add a new pie plate to your drumset, take it to the streets, and bang away. Spice up Halifax today!

And oh, nearly forgot~~~Tricia posted a tremendous writeup of some segments on Primetime that are apropos to this topic. I don't think she'd mind at all if I copy part of it out of the WorkGroup and put it up here (if she does she'll tell me and I'll take it down):

"The first segment [...] dealt with what the CEO's of the recently failed corporations are doing now[...]. Well, the CEO's are still continuing to build their new mansions [...] I felt a sense of hope in watching that particular segment: If we as a people become outraged with these CEO's, perhaps we will become outraged with our elected, and perhaps the involvement of the elected in these corporations will surface fully.

"The second segment on lying was the most interesting: It showed how children at the earliest stages of development learn to lie, and the example used was a preschooler defending his father by saying that he had not looked at a toy he was instructed not to look at, when in fact he did. What was interesting about this was the preschooler followed the instructions and did not look himself. It then went on to show a test of school-age children: Each child was given a list of words to spell correctly. They were also given the correct answers on a page underneath the list of words and were instructed not to look at the correct answers. After the researcher left the room, 40% of the children looked at the correct answers to respell the incorrectly spelled words they were given. When a prize of $10 was added as an incentive for correctly spelling the words, that figure increased to 60%. What is even more frightening is that 100% of them insisted they did not cheat.

"The next stage was of course the adult: The environment they chose was motorists passing through an unmanned toll booth. Shortly after passing through, those who did not pay, paid with pennies, or merely pretended by putting a hand up as though paying, were pulled over by a policeman. Each and everyone of them insisted they had paid. One even insisted that the toll machine never works!

"The most alarming statement in this entire segment was that those who lie are the most well-accepted, popular, and successful members of our society."

cho: replies -
The day-by-day stuff you wrote about really brought it to mind, Richard ... how often does slight anger turn into bitter resentment because we can't even get a little bit of plain old fashioned acknowledgement?
And yet I can't advocate being just a chip of wood in the stream ... I can't subscribe to a practice of victim-think ... and yet we /are/ affected by our social surrounding (if we aren't, or come to believe we aren't, then we're going to create an increasingly inhuman space!) There's somethind dialectical about this that has got me re-reading some of my dusty old Tibetan texts ... maybe something I've forgotten, or *worse* mistakenly though I had understood.

I've devoted a lot of time to dishonesty (I did a couple of presentations in our Social Psych classes on lieing ... shocking stuff) and haven't quite cracked it ... it's all tied up with some subtle questions of epistemology, self-delusion, and social games. (If I think that lieing is an accepted behaviour and to be expected, that's hardly the same as if I lie knowing that nobody else does and that it's truly and actual taboo.) I'm afraid that part of the neo-liberal disease is a sort of impunity ... if I can lie and be rewarded for it, I can then use the power of that reward to shift the consequences of my lie onto someone else; /that/ would be really really addictive, in a deeply fascistic manner.

(I trimmed the quote from Tricia's log a bit ... I went looking for the original, but couldn't find it ... perhaps you could put a link to it in place of the text?)

Reply by Jazzolog: I'd have put a link, rather than take up valuable space at your Log, except that Trica's comment was in Conversation at the International Peace Group. I believe there is open admission to membership, but I doubt a link from in a Group would work. You can try [link] and let me know.
cho: replies - ayup, the link goes to the group frontpage for non-members; the group is open to joining; after joining, or for members, the link goes directly to the chat-space, but the article is already gone so I'm glad I let it stand til we worked out this link stuff. So uhhh ... so! :-)

Jazzolog, mustering great inner reserve, replies: Cho, my dear Benny the Bopper, the article is there at 2002-07-26 09:56:55, message by Tricia. If I put my 3-masted schooner in at Cleveland this afternoon, I can be sailed into Halifax harbor tomorrow and show you the entry. :-)
Ayup, it is there ... I musta just whoooshed right past it!  

27 Jul 2002 @ 03:05 by scottj : A really fine post, thank you very much.
Your inner questioning is more or less the same process I have gone through over roughly the same length of time. I have no answers but some of these little splinters seem to float in the dark sea and provide some bouyancy .........

- The high ideals of Freedom, Justice, Honesty, Equality and so on DO really exist and the proof is seen by applying Descartes' famous dictum in a distinctly non Cartesian setting: They exist because we can conceive of them and the fact that the current state of Materialistic Barbarism continually has to justify its actions with reference to them is a measure of their potency. The universe of ideas is real and unfolds (willingly or reluctantly) according to its own inner logic.

- We are not alone: On the contrary we are a manifestation of something that is both within us and without us. The key to being spiritually awake is to ride the wave between the inner and the outer never being fooled by the insistent pull of either.

- Understanding change is to understand the dialectic: All things change into their opposite, the energy of the process is measured by the tension between the poles of opposition. The greater the differences the more profound and "unbelievable" the change. Thus the apparant lack of any reasonable basis for hope that the present anti-life social form will become its opposite is the greatest reason to hope.

- Simplicity: complication is like the stack of bean tins in the supermarket. Impressive but oh so vulnerable. Never be fooled by the complexity of a problem because that very complexity is pointing directly at a correspondingly simple solution.

I am sure we will to be amazed at what Change will bring and I trust we will not be disappointed.


*sigh* A wholesome optimism might be entirely appropriate and realistic, just understanding that it's valid and productive and wort while ... but *sigh* somehow, that doesn't make it hurt less!

* The notion that "ideals exist because we can conceive of them" has meant a lot to me, over the yeras, and not just in a fuzzy reassuring sort of way: I'm not going to go all the way by using this as a strong ontological proof (I might be able to conceive of a unicorn, but my good dawg Mr. Chips exists in a way the unicorn does not ... and I realize that is dangerously close to mind/brain dualism) ... I suspect the new science of complexity has something to reveal here: what is it about some concepts that they act as "strange attractors" for social behaviour, that for some reason these resonate as though universally? There has to be an as-though physical force that can be harnessed for good ... perhaps the potential for a consensus that is more individually rooted and less the product of the convential processes of coercion and influence?

* The only time I feel really alone is when I get a sense that most / all around me have perjured themselves. If my fellow humans pursue their own happiness in their own way by the light of their own experience ... I don't fear that chaos. But when they start marching in some false unity as though to the beat of some invisible hand, that worries me deeply; that's when I can imagine a Hitler/Stalin sort of gulag world ... darker than anything by Kafka.

* I've recently been rereading my sources on "the dialectic" with this point in mind: can a person intent on willful soveriegnty have a dialectical appreciation for how things unfold? I suspect not. So, really, as long as acquisition and accumulation is the aim of the game, we will be subjected to political policies that are mechanistic and reductionist. Not for the absense of a more enlightened view, but as a consequence of psycho-pathological dread on the part of those who wield power. "I don't give a damn about truth and fact, I just want to win!" No winning coach would speak that way, and neither would a winning warrior: it's simply insane. (Any bets on US invading Irag? I ask you, can you think of something plausible more insane than this?)

* I found myself saying something rather odd and novel the other evening, talking with a group of student activists (I had taken off my "revolutionist" hat for the occasion). Really, do we have control over anything more than this very moment? As a cliff climber, as a parachutist, as a motorcyclist, as an infantryman, I know how elementally simple situations really are: I may aim at this, I may intend that, my ultimate destination may be there, but in this very moment my actuality is actually a good deal simpler (though the context is at once complex and exquisitely responsive): no pretended brilliance will bring me impunity, and no impressive display of knowledge and sophisticated expertise will remove me from the play of consequences. I /can/ falsify the situation by a play of power that displaces the consequences onto others, and through coercion and bride influence others into subscribing to a false account of what has taken place, but that's just madness. In any and every situation, I actually have a set of simple motives to manifest, and a set of simple actions from which to choose. The interplay of those simples, though ... there's the chaos that the reductionists dread ... the life force that cannot lie, that cannot fib, that cannot perjure or falsify, that does not respond to hope of promise or fear of threat, it will have its say, despite the players' hubris.
Oh, oh, oh! Caught in despair, and dreading it, I am /at least/ respectful of that primordial honesty! So much better to at least be connected with that wrathful energy (which can, of course, manifest as benevolent) than to think myself a mere product of my own ego-centric imagining!  

27 Jul 2002 @ 04:20 by istvan : Toy-ing with reality
Most people perhaps rarely functioning at higher than 8-10 year old developmental level, not knowing that they are conditioned by nature itself for survival at any cost. Perhaps God is just a cosmic CEO running a cosmiccorporate experiment on how to turn an animal into a marketeable, well behaved slave to increase the bottom line of the energies of the Universe, by refining the gross into fine.Man is not a finished product, rather it seems as an evolving "simplicity" into "multiplicity", the cross betwean the animal and God nature. The process is a "Question of Balance". This process is working well if the environment( all that is) appears harminious in this Devine play, thinking of Mozart, Bach, and all other cratives who were able to simulate this balance through music, yet could newer pemanently get their "sh.."together in eweryday life.
This would be a nice book to read if someone wrote, but enough for now.


cho: replies -
Really, our world is so often hard, so seldom appreciative and nurturing; who can blame those souls that opt for a convenient ignorance? And who's to say that it's anything more than apparent ... imagine if those who seem so mind-numb have only been playing a waiting game, taking on the protective coloration of conformity!

But heh ... funny, the connection between creativity and disfunction in the mundane. I wonder, is that necessary? or just because conventional society in our civilization jeopardizes the muses' work; I like to think that the fabric of daily life itself has a certain graceful harmony to it .... naaaaaaaah, some folk are just out to lunch and brilliant! huh huh *someone came to mind, a close friend*
But there's a certain authenticity to that disfunction ... if partly neurotic and a product of socialization, the partly but /only/ party ... something about orienting to something that's somewhat larger than the moment, or immediate enrichment. *!Yikes, yet another set of paradoxes!*  

27 Jul 2002 @ 10:40 by chaiyah : Cynics toy with reality.
Souls invested in Peace, parse carefully the aggregation of experiences, into a coherent pattern of objective, physical and subjective phenomena. Each of us creates a quilt, a design, a mandala, that gives instant recognition, where each new part fits into the whole. Some of it is light and some of it is dark; but it is all reflective of wisdom or doubt.

cho: replies -
Yes, yes, yes yes yes! And I think that's what I was drilling down to ... maybe we can only access that universality of the trivial and mundane by valuing and acknowledging it in the moment; not buying into it, not getting sucked in or swept away, but neither sweeping _it_ away. Heh ... giving the mirage all the credit that is due it, I can appreciate it without making it into a pool of water, and then _who knows_ what blissful relaxation will arise from that moment of peace-filled equanimity? Perhaps just ceasing the turn the wheel of karma in a moment of actual indignity will break the spell that I have struggled for so long to maintain! Then the playfully brilliant interelatedness of it will become a lucid display rather than just potential *and oooooh, fractals are /so/ beautiful!* 8-)  

28 Jul 2002 @ 18:52 by cho : __{*}__
Dear and precious strangers ... thank you so very much for your thoughtful comments. This posting came from me out of a very painful place, and *of course, as you can appreciate* it means a lot to me that I was heard and responded to.

!Profound Brilliant Glory!
Karma Cho:pal  

29 Jul 2002 @ 03:49 by shawa : Inner spiritual Surrender... _(*)_
... Surrender to cynicism, Surrender to errors, Surrender to weaknesses, Surrender to anger, Surrender to pain, is... Surrender to our beautiful humanity.
Deep acceptance of "what is" - without flinching, without running, without laughing it away, without giving in to self-pity - brings Profound Brilliant Glory. You are right.

Ok, that's it, you're officially on notice: if I every get the chance, I am going to give you suuuuuuuuch a hug!!

Yes, something very much like that. I ploughed through a very difficult section of the most difficult text I have (I've been nibbling away at it since 1992), a passage that explains *sigh ... excuse the technicalities* the subtle differences between the schools of Tibetan Buddhist thought; it's very much like epistemology/ontology/metaphysics, very logical and rational while being critical of logic and rationality. When I got to the section on "shentong", the ultimate teaching of my own school (Karma Kagyu ... "mahamudra" is a term that, while not quite synonymous [sp?] is a bit more common) I was blown back to a similar understanding that came to me in a different situation: linking back to the root of spontaneous presence, what has to be there, as the base for everything (though even calling it a "base" turns it into an object, which negates the realization" is consciousness itself ... no noun, no entity, no thing, beyond questions of "form and formless", beyond time itself. _Surrendering into the veracity of this very moment_, I can at least engage my karma authentically and honestly. If, with that, I can experience something like a thought of compassion, then itsn't it likely that I will engage whatever arises with something like creative spontaneity? And can there really be any finer state to wish for? 8-) I mean, even though I'm primarily motivated by a wish for the suffering to end, doesnt' the chain of wisdom move me link by link to an effortless relaxation that is at once blissful and responsive? *Heh! "Like falling off a log!!*  

29 Jul 2002 @ 11:55 by jazzolog : Bringing To Mind
Ah Cho, I remember how I bought the texts of some talks by Rinpoche at Karma Choling, and people said, "Well you certainly can buy them, but you probably won't be able to understand them." I thought how rude and ignorant of them; I studied philosophy at Harvard---Husserl and all that. How can they think I won't understand these simple talks? Confidentially they seem to be in some other language or something---or else great demons come and put iron doors up between my mind and those texts. Looks like those hundred thousand prostrations will be necessary for this understanding.

And you know it really is true: there are levels of understanding in the mind I believe. I have sat in a Siddha yoga gathering, chanting the same little jingle for 3 hours---but once I'm out of there, I can't remember the tune for the life of me! It is way down deep or way up high where my mind doesn't go very easily without much inner preparation or the help of the teacher and/or group. An amazing phenomenon of perception and behavior that I haven't seen studied much. Surely, Cho, you've had experiences too of being in meditation in a group in Halifax or somewhere, and "achieving" much in it which you know you could not do in meditation at home alone. What's with that?


Cho: replies -
I've heard some very senious students say some very foolish things ... "credentials and credibility" is a very problematic issue. (Husserl and stuff?! Kewwl ... I really have to develop a better understanding of phenomenology.) I suspect those who have spent a lot and realized little use their influence to make their experience seem the norm. *sigh* If over-stating one's attanment is a huge offense, surely giving rise to doubts concerning the benefits of the path is more grievous. If, sadly, they cannot acknowledge their own experience as being their own, then they empoverish themselves. In that state, if they happen to empoverish others ... yikes! It's hard to imagine anyone benefitting from that!

As for practice ... since it's a path, and a process, there's really very little that can be generalized universally. I mean, it's said that those with the benefit of previous accumulation will experience full realization by merely reading the title of a text, and I don't doubt that. But it would be mechanistic to focus only on that moment of realization, because of course it is karmically conditioned by the very many moment that preceeded it. My point is this: just over the decades I've been a practitioner (which, lets face it, isn't that long a time), I have done a lot of practice at home or alone as well as in group. So ... mutati mutandis [did I get that right?]. I may bitch and complain about the injustice of poverty, but it's nonetheless true that I have intentionally engaged what I think of as something like "charnel ground" training. I have very rarely benefitted from the fine teachings that take place at a distance (again this year my teacher gave a month long shedra only a couple of hundred miles away ... the cost was equivalent to my entire disposable income for 4 months, and so again I missed it.) And I have not been able to advance my studies (no ngondro, no higher practices ... I'm "just" a shamatha student *grin*) But I get to spend many many many hours sitting "empty handed in the market", and that's a very special thing to do.
I certainly cannot dismiss dzogchen, and I certainly won't present things mechanistically, since it is a karmic process ... I can't experience of the consequences of what I have not done, but I will definitely experience the consequences of not doing them! And, of course, whatever I do will necessarily have its consequences, as well. I have experienced the frustrating inability to memorize ... but I also experience the actuality of reciting from memory, so huh huh huh! Nothing to attain, and nothing to bring into being. :-)  

29 Jul 2002 @ 17:40 by shawa : And...
Belly smiling.
Totally at ease.
Not a worry.
Hee hee!
Reading the above,
And surrendering
Only one jewel...

Not so far away.  

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