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 The Republican Brain

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Henry

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PostSubject: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:24 am

I am in the middle of reading a great book: The Republican Brain. It could not be more pertinent to what has gone on at OBCC since its inception. The premise of this book is that political affilitation is goes far deeper than a choice about political policies; rather it is an expression of our personality at a very deep level along with even our brain structure. Yes, Republicans and Democrats, or conservatives and liberals actually have significant differences in their brains. I strongly suspect that what is true for what they are finding out about personality and brain structure in conservatives and liberals may well equally apply to OBC and OBCC members. That would certainly be a fasciinating study.

The book asserts that there in the relatively new field of political neuroscience, there has amassed a body of evidence in peer reviewed research that has been replicated so many times that many things about the personalities of conservatives and liberals are accepted as true within the field. Conservatives are more uncomfortable with uncertainty; they are less open to new experiences; they are much more concerned with having closure on subjects, so once a decision or point of view is established, they are much less likely to revisit it or be open to challenges to it; their decisions tend to be more reactions to fear than deliberations on accuracy; on and on. Of course these things are true statiistically rather than true of any particular individual. There was a longitudinal study going back to '65 that followed subjects for decades. The 3 year olds that were more open and curious tended to grow up to be liberals; those that were more fearful and defensive, grew up to be conservatives. Conservatives have larger, more active amygdalas (all fear reactions go through the amygdala) and liberals have larger more active ACC, the part of the brain that corrects for error. The more primitive part of the brain tells you what it thinks is there/true, and the ACC reviews it before the frontal lobe makes a decision.

The reality is that evolution wise, both types of folks are needed. We'd have died off long ago as a species without conservatives. But the differences are striking and deep and, I believe, account for much of the inability of OBCC folks to have meaningful dialogue with the OBC folks--a theory anyway.
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:25 am

Hi Henry,

Any downsides to being a Liberal ? Just wondering......

Stan.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:41 am

I imagine a liberal is more likely to be eaten by a tiger, dithering trying to figure out whether the rustle in the bushes is a squirrel. Conservatives also did better overall on loyalty issues. If I remember correctly there were 5 loyalty categories. Liberals did well on 3, conservatives did well on all five. I think on this site, you can see that the OBC advocates appear to place loyalty higher than OBCC folks. That could be argued (eg. OBCC folks are loyal to what they consider truth), but it seems a fair assessment to me overall. Conservatives are more loyal to their group. That has pros and cons.

Conservatives can be more decisive, overall. Shoot from the gut kind of thing. Again helpful in some circumstances, not in others.
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:41 pm

So how do you know OBCers are Consevatives ? Is that your judgment based
on your opinions ? Anything concrete to back that up with ?

Are we not all a combination of both as individuals ? I suspect that OBCers
and OBCCers have both categories as individuals.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:24 pm

My experience when i was there, admittedly some time ago now--there was an acceptable view and to challenge views held by especially Rev. Kennett could be problematic. There wasn't an atmosphere of challenge and inquiry. There was also a highly authoritarian structure. Challenging authority could also be quite problematic. From what many had written here from more recent times, that continued quite strongly.

It is also interesting to me that though I was invited to go onto an OBC facebook site, my views that challenged the prevalent view held about Rev. Kennett was not well received. If you think about it, pro OBCers come to this site and complain about about our critical views of the OBC and Rev. Kennett in a way that makes me believe that they somehow consider it rude or inappropriate or unappreciative to express these thoughts, even on a site dedicated in significant part to those whose experiences in the OBC were quite troubling. As for sites of active OBC members, it was made clear to me that my thoughts were not welcome there either. Where is it appropriate to express such dissenting thoughts? To me it is reminescent of the "love it or leave it" attitude prevalent among conservatives, at least in the US.

Also, though OBC advocates complain that they are "attacked" when coming here, I beleive that though there is some of that, for the most part I think they are challenged, which makes them feel attacked. Again a statistically conservative trait. When I went on the facebook site, I was quite ready to be challenged and even attacked to a point. But I was asked to leave the site if I wanted to continue to express my ideas. On OBCC, though we can get roudy, the large majority of us (methinks) like OBC advocates to come here and challenge our thinking (as you are doing with me now) and always found there weren't enough of them.

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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:41 pm

PS yes we're all liberals and conservatives to a degree, we just have traits that veer us in one direction or another. Some are highly conservative or liberal in most areas of their lives.

I also think that once a religion or religious community becomes established, there is a fundamental conservatism that can take hold. This is true of religion in general, not just the OBC. It is a stabilizing force in society that more often than not (with notable exceptions) defends the status quo rather than is on the forefront of innovation.

Again, these things tend to be statistically true. Being a stabilizing force can be a very good thing. People get unbalanced with too much change too quickly. At it's best, the conservative/liberal dichotomy can be complementary phenomena.

I've wanted to engage (though I've largely lost interest after two years) directly with the OBC folks in a public or semi public manner or even a forum whose structure was largely dictated by the OBC. Didn't work on OBCC, didn't work on OBC facebook site, OBC wasn't interested in creating a forum where a few of us at OBCC (they could pick who they wanted to engage with) would interact on a private forum. They weren't interested. This contentment to be one's own bubble, where one's beleifs are not challenged is statistically speaking a conservative trait.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:01 pm

This probably has nothing to do with the ice wine eggnog but..
I Just wanna to say how much I appreciate the clarity of your postings, Henry!

Ohhh I just know I'm gonna regret this tomorrow?
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:21 pm

Stan Giko wrote:
So how do you know OBCers are Consevatives ? Is that your judgment based
on your opinions ? Anything concrete to back that up with ?

Are we not all a combination of both as individuals ? I suspect that OBCers
and OBCCers have both categories as individuals.

Yes, I think it's more useful to recognize how we we are capable of both perspectives/behaviors. When do we act from our inner conservative Vs our inner liberal? We all react/contract around certain situations and expand/explore around others. The problem is terms take on negative connotations depending on which group we generally affiliate with. Sometimes it better to throw out the contaminated language and start over.

As to the matter of the relationship between personality traits and brain structure and I think this is a Chicken & Egg argument. The brain is far more malleable than once believed and I think it's just as likely that the brain changes in real time in response to our choices as the other way around.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:40 pm

Isan,

Very true. They call it neuroplasticity and parts of the brain do grow or atrophy depending on how we use it. Jugglers have certain parts of there brains that are larger and more active as do musicians. Neuroscientists are very curious about the very chicken and egg phenomena you are referring to. No doubt this will be further clarified over time. Those longitudinal studies do point to a genetic factor also. But genetics are not considered determinants as much as influencers. Again a whole field of study underway to further clarify.

I am not one for throwing out "contaminated" language as I believe it is more the emotions about the conflicts that can contaminate (cause hostility really) than the words themselves. Michael Moore and Sarah Palin would find plenty to dislike about each other with or without labels. And besides, people are so attached to their labels that they wouldn't want to give them up. What liberals find infuriating about conservatives are a badge of honor to them and vice versa.

Interestingly, I found this book to help with my tolerance towards conservatives. It helped provide a framework in which to understand what is going on on a deeper level. And I now believe that us liberals would have died millenia ago without conservatives in our fragile species. Where to go from here though, I have no clue.

Howard,

You will not lull me into a complacent state with your well designed compliments. I will remain vigilent.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:38 pm

I so agree with you Henry. Interestingly along similar lines I remember reading sometime ago a paper on the attitudes of the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, and why they were incompatible. It was argued that the Catholics when they were negotiating were interested in laying down broad reaching principles to be adhered to before moving on to detail. Whilst the protestants were interested in hammering out the minutiae of how any agreement would be implemented before addressing matters of principle. No wonder it took so long to reach agreement!
In religion it is often the iconoclasts who tend to appear early in a movements history. Having smashed the old icons they move on to set up new ones. Then a more devotional phase takes over, with the institution of hierarchies and embodiments of 'The Truth', slowly growing more moribund and accreting more and more dogmatic embellishments. Till a new iconoclastic movement takes hold, sometimes throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and the cycle starts again. This is of course a very simplified view, but then I tend to be more interested in principle than detail! I think we can see this with the OBC. Us early ones tended towards the iconoclastic, even JK in the beginning. Now I feel that the OBC is growing more devotional, more hierarchical, and accreted more and more dysfunctional and dogmatic embellishments, and as a consequence has become slowly more moribund. It seems to be rejecting a more reforming approach to renewal. Something it clearly needs. Churches are here to help but so often a demand for unquestioning and dogmatic acceptance enslaves rather than frees, allowing a multitude of sins to hide behind hierarchy and dogmatism.
Large organisations, like the Catholic Church say, can accommodate both trends simultaneously, but still have an overall 'feel' of one or the other tendency at any one time. Smaller movements, especially those that center themselves around a central figure and develop a cult of personality, often have problems with renewal, which is why so many, indeed of necessity most, end up dying out. They come to their 'fiscal cliff' and either reform and renew in order to avoid going over or plunge over blaming all around for their own wrong wrongheadedness and intransigence, and from there become increasingly sidelined till they die out or are replaced.
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:06 pm

Hi Henry,

Thanks for your considered reply to my questions. I don`t disagree with many of the points
you made in your original post but I do disagree with some of your conclusions. Not that it
matters a great deal to me.........I don`t consider myself to be an advocate for the OBC nor the
OBCC. I`m not having `a go` at you here, just some of your points made....not all.

The main problem I find with your `Sell` is that the assumption that what is contained in the
book, is unquestionably correct from the get go. I reckon that`s a major `extraction of the urine`
for a start off.

The book is written by a liberal, trumpeting the liberal cause, and from the start saying that the
liberal view is the one and only right view. You state that you are a liberal and had/have
tolerance problems with conservatives. Throw in the darned `more active amygdalas` and all
conservatives must be pretty well screwed. Not exactly an unbiased view ! perhaps the cons
just can`t help themselves. Maybe they need their amygdalas operating on at birth ? Leave a
few of them unaltered for evolutionary survival purposes. Someone tried that Master race
stuff before and, it didn`t work then.

Another point is that the Lib/Con argument, is an extremely limited model view of an individual.
Particularly if applied to the field of politics....Democrats v Republicans. Someone `up there`
must be having a big laugh. Two sides of the same coin. We have the same problem in the UK.
Seems to be universal. The whole thing is an existential set-up. A no win situation that will never
change as long as we buy into it. We are just so conditioned from the start.....hence the rise of
psychology to near science status at the moment. It sure is needed.

Personaly I find it a sign of good mental health to not identify with the values of a society I can`t
relate to. I feel that the American society must be the most difficult of all to live healthily in.
At every turn is the consumer message.......buy this product, assume that identity, buy this
entertainment. Always implying how small, needy and unfulfilled we are......when in fact we are
the exact opposite. It`s endless stress. The more you want....the needier you are. It`s the
ultimate `low self esteem` programing.
So what have we got in the richest society in the world ? Celebrity cultism, drugs, alcoholism,
pornography, consumer debt and the breakdown of marriage.....way to go ! Does that sound
conservative ?
I`m not having a `pop` at America or it`s politics. Not really my place and I`m not really that
interested. Obama got in last time on his "Yes we can" program and I can`t really see much
progress being made. He got in again and it will soon be plain enough to see how the Liberal
agenda makes out. Whatever happens, I reckon both sides will just keep on blaming each other
for the state of affairs anyway.

I do believe that there is a sort of programing that makes people identify themselves with notions
such as liberal and conservative. Amongst many other programings. We think we are unique
and act out our wills in the world but, really for the most part we just react. Our karmic vasanas
or inherited tendencies, pressure us to act out our wants , we identify with them and off we go
again. Eventually, they wear us out. They are utterly predictable...hence our boredom with our
lives. The entertainment industry isn`t so huge and rich for no reason.
The Enneagram `lens` I believe is much more instructive with regard to our programing. It not
only shows our programing of our selves, but even can show how whole countries act in certain
ways. The lib/con view is only a part of that model which itself does not have all the answers.

I think that stretching the Lib is better than Con theory to politics and further down the line to
OBCC v OBC is unworkable in practice. Some Conservative guy can write a similar book with
emphasis on the Cons good points and Libs bad points...expand on the amygdala and ACC
connections and voila ! an equal and opposite book. What can you actually do with these
partisan conclusions ? Is even one person going to be converted to the other side ? I wouldn`t
hold my breath.

I was surprised to see you say that when you went on to a pro OBC facebook site, that you were
asked to leave if you wanted to express your ideas. As I recall, you were very well received and
you did express many of your views. There were people who expressed agreement with your
views very strongly. In fact wanting a semi official approach to be made to the OBC.
If I`m not mistaken, there was only one person who said he was not happy with you using the
site to express your views. It is a site for people with OBC views in general after all. At this point,
You said that you didn`t want to offend anyone, you are obviously not wanted and, were going
to leave. The main moderator and others asked you to stay on. She pointed out the times that
people showed alarm with the OBC shadow dynamic. She even said she would consider leaving
the OBC if the Hierarchy point blank, refused to hear out and deal with an OBCC direct approach.

At this point you replied that you were`nt aware of that.....must be a case of shoot first, aim later !
You`ll correct me if I`m wrong Henry. Not one person made a comment about your `shooting
first and aiming later`. I`m pretty sure that you would be welcomed back now by the great
majority of that forum. That was said to you at the time. I certainly hoped you`d stay on.

You say that the OBCC is a "site dedicated in significant part to those whose experiences in the
OBC were quite troubling." Fair enough but why expect to have many OBCers come over to
debate your views, if they don`t find them particularly relevant to their lives ? We all have pretty
busy lives and the internet can be very time consuming. Most people come home pretty tired at night and don`t need more difficulties or confrontations than they`ve already got. It`s not that
they generaly don`t care. Also, if you say that the OBCers generally have an "inability to have
a meaningful dialogue" and are just content to "be in one`s bubble", then you`re going to have
very few people interested in dialogue. Under those circumstances anyway. It`s like you want
to beat them up and then have a nice chat about why they deserve it !

Just to be clear, I would like to see the OBC address it`s problems and in an open and transparent
way. It would be wonderful if all of the OBCCers hurts were recognized and embraced. It would
also be good to see a new going forward for the OBC with checks and balances in place. If not,
then the OBC may well survive but be forever lamed in some way. In ten years time, the forum,
the OBC, AND unaddressed problems may all still be here. It`s not a pretty thought. But who will
find the common ground ? Is there a will to deal with it all in the OBC ? I`ve heard snatches of
quiet work being done in the background. Apparently there`s a once in so many years conclave
to be held next year...if I`m not wrong. I do have my hopes.

There`s another point that comes to mind. If there has been authoritarianism and people were
strongly kept in line in Shasta, then it had to be the seniors that were doing this on a day by day
basis. Jiyu may have initiated it but, it was the folks below her that carried out the `orders` so to
speak. When we started our training, in our innocence and with an open heart, we accepted the
teaching with faith. I believe that faith is an essential part of training but it has to be a certain
sort of faith. Not blind faith. That`s asking for trouble...sooner or later. It has to be faith pending
the results of inquiry into the teaching. A certain amount of doubt has to remain. It could be a
lifeline.
Having gone down a wrong path, it`s easy to blame all on the teacher. Blame should be
apportioned where it is due. However, if we give away all our faith blindly, it is our fault and
we have to pick up our share of blame. In such a case, there is the pain of being misled and the
pain or guilt of allowing that to happen. I imagine there must be a lot of anger hurt and at first,
denial in that situation. How the hell did I end up in this awful place, type of story.
I can only sympathise deeply for the people who found themselves in that place. Truly, there
should be no real blame.....everyone did as best they could. Everyone was learning on the job.
There was no, and never will be a monastery where everyone has finished their training. The
gates then open and all the new trainees can enter in total safety.

RM Jiyu was a product of her times. Seems like a lifetime ago to us accustomed to the internet
age, where everything comes out into the open.
She had her shadow side as we all do and was trained in a country with a completely foreign
culture to ours. An old culture and hardly relevant even to Japan now. She was a signed up
member of the strict discipline and authority schools of Zen. She believed in giving the ego a
really hard time until it `knew it`s place`.
I recall once in Shasta her talking to a couple of people after a general lecture. I sidled up to listen
and she was talking about discipline and in particular about breaking down the trainees ego self
so as to arrive at a deeper truth. She said that she was told that there were various types of masters
and ways they used to perform an `admonishment` for the trainees` sake.
She related that the best masters could be so convincing that they could be shouting with rage at
the trainee, that their face even turned red. All the while being firmly in control of themselves !
I think she really believed that this was a true and valid way of teaching Zen. It may have been
at one time and in a different culture and she must have been born about a hundred years ago now.
It can`t work now in our culture and it didn`t fit well in her time in Shasta.

She often said that a good thing about Zen`s schools and sects was that if one of them went wrong,
it would eventually die out. The truth would carry on amongst the others. I hope The OBC
manages to continue and prosper. There was something real there for me and I`m grateful for it.

You said to Isan..."Where to go from here though, I have no clue." good point.

As for myself, I always hold to my original first intention when coming to training. The rest will
have to fit in with that.

I`ve just looked back at the length of my post Henry....I`ve certainly `rabbited on` a bit as they
say in london. I`m ready for you to be a bit hard on me...preaching on, and all !
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:54 pm

Stan said:
Quote :
As for myself, I always hold to my original first intention when coming to training. The rest will have to fit in with that.
As they say 'zen mind, beginner's mind' if only we could hold to that.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:57 am

My good (S/s)ir(,) Stanley,

So it is, it appears, a battle to the death. Amydalas have been activated and I just need a sec to gird my loins........mmmmm.....mmmmm. OK, loins girded. Where were we?

Let me start with my experience on the OBC Facebook site. I will tell you what I recollect, and if I am wrong, I will want to correct myself here, as I would have attributed to others a position they didn't hold. Something I'm not fond of. Isan was involved in this so perhaps he'd be willing to tell me if I'm off course. My impression was that there were many people on the site sympathetic, or at least willing to hear, what I had to say. However, there were those in an administrative position who were not happy with the site being used for the purpose of criticizing Rev. Kennett. My understanding was that they were deliberating whether to allow this conversation to continue, or so it was my impression from a sympathetic administrator. This sympathetic administrator felt that the OBC Facebook sit
e was not, afterall, the place for this discussion, though she wanted it to continue elsewhere, and to also have my continued presence on the Facebook site with less contentious subjects. No other site was determined for this discussion between those with my views and active OBC folks (this sounds familiar, does it not; why is it so hard to find a place?; Not here; not there; where? though as I said before, my interest in this engagement has largely dissipated at this point anyway; I've said what I've needed to say; it's all here for anyone interested.) Anyway, with even a sympathetic administrator figuring it's best to go off the OBC site for this discussion, it seemed time to go. Isan--Is this pretty much what you recall? If I am wrong, I'm happy to correct myself.


I'm not sure I'll get to all your points, but I'll see where this goes. First of all, though the liberal/conservative dichotomy does not embrace the whole of human experience, to me, it is a significant dichotomy that is playing out in the US in very important ways. Perhaps it something of less import in England--I can't say--but here the consequences of where we are going are dire, and have no interest in sitting idly on the sidelines, erroneously (in my view) believing that being in the middle of all arguments in somehow being closer to a personal God (in which I don't believe) who has little better to do that laugh at people of good faith trying to sort out a difficult mess.In the US, conservatives (or at least their elected officials) have been advocating for free access to assault weapons--I believe there are dire consequences to this. Conservatives here have been waging a war on science. No evolution, no global warming, the bodies of women who have been "legitimately" raped have ways to "shut down" the ability to get pregnant, so if they do get pregnant they weren't really raped, so no need to allow them the choice of an abortion. Conservatives want to privatize medical care for the elderly (me in 3 years). They want to end Obamacare. Because of the latter two I wil,l not be able to retire or semi retire for a very long time because I will have to continue to work in a high stress, residential facility for at risk teens until I am 76 so my wife can make it to Medicare age, if the conservatives have not privatized it past what we'll be able to afford anyway. These issues, along with many others, are of considerable concern to me. I have no interest in yucking it up with God about how funny people are that they are concerned they and their fellow citizens are dying for lack of medical care, that there are children are being taught Christian mythology instead of science (in schools not churches), and we continue to blast carbon dioxide in the air, oblivious to the science of global warming and rising seas. I have nothing against those who want to take a more passive role; I hope you forgive me for not being one of them.

Another important issue you raised, which I've heard repeatedly, is about "blaming" Rev. Kennett. Why is bringing up mistakes made by a person "blaming?" Why shouldn't we examine what others have done when we believe those people have done harm? I can tell you that when I was at Shasta, I saw a lot of blaming of those who attempted to bring up mistakes they saw being made, and I saw shamefully little willingness to even consider what was being said. Eko was the inevitable result of that lack of self-examination. If there had been a true dialogue, I don't think anyone would here on this site continuing to "blame." But when all one gets is denial, rationalization, minimization, and justification, the discussion tends to continue--especially when new stories continue to arise that support the position of those who brought up concerns years, even decades before. You see this as blaming. I see it as examination with a purpose--to gain insight for oneself and others. What is more Buddhist than to examine actions and their consequences--unintended and otherwise? Why should this apply to the whole universe except one's teacher?

It seems to me that the argument you pose for staying out of the con/lib controversy is similar to the one posed to not criticize the OBC--that somehow status quo/letting things be/letting others sort it out is a superior position. I would pose an alternative position--that examining thoroughly the actions taken, the beliefs held, and the good and harm that comes from those is a more helpful position to take than neutrality. Few argue that no good came from Rev. Kennett, and I'm not one of them. But most here posit that the mistakes she made were never able to be examined or discussed with her or even within the OBC. And even here on OBCC, advocates for the OBC appear to take offense at that endeavor.

One last point regarding the book. Yes it is apparent and stated by the author that he is a liberal. And I have to admit I'm getting somewhat less interested as the focus of the book shifts from science to politics. I'm fairly well versed in the politics, but the scope of the science on brain/psychology aspects of politics is new to me and I find it fascinating. Psychological testing and brain imaging, up to now, has been politically neutral. Its results are used by conservatives and liberals. In the military, psychological profiling can aide in determining whether on should be a navy seal or computer analyst. In police work, it can aide in capturing serial killers. In the business world, it is used to increase sales. These same testing proceedures are--whether we like it or not--is coming up with new information about personality structure of conservatives and liberals. The author of the book, a liberal, did not conduct those studies. They are peer reviewed studies in the most respected professional journals. What are we to do, discard them because they are revealing patterns that may disturb conservatives? What do we do with what was revealed on OBCC about the patterns of behavior exhibited by Rev. Kennett and others (and ourselves)--discard it because it puts some in a "bad" light? The two to me do not seem that different. Knowledge is knowledge. Actions and consequences are good to be aware of.

Awareness, while neutral in and of itself, does not necessarily lead to inaction and does not necessarily lead to a lack of conclusions about what is harmful and what is not. Just the opposite, I would say. And yet, we must always be open that todays understanding is just that--today's and not necessarily tomorrow's if expanded knowledge leads us in a different direction.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:23 pm

PS I forgive you for having conservative tendencies, even while trying remain aloof, hanging out with God.

PPS And one more thing. I'm glad I don't have "beginner's mind." Perhaps I am just less pure than you, Mark, and seemingly most Zen practitioners. My beginner's mind was rather self centered when it came to spirituality. I was rather ambitious, wanting to be more enlightened than the next guy and wanting (at least a little) adulation. Hopefully, I'm a little more pure in my intent. Beginner's mind? Rather let go of it.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:46 pm

Henry wrote:

Let me start with my experience on the OBC Facebook site. I will tell you what I recollect, and if I am wrong, I will want to correct myself here, as I would have attributed to others a position they didn't hold. Something I'm not fond of. Isan was involved in this so perhaps he'd be willing to tell me if I'm off course. My impression was that there were many people on the site sympathetic, or at least willing to hear, what I had to say. However, there were those in an administrative position who were not happy with the site being used for the purpose of criticizing Rev. Kennett. My understanding was that they were deliberating whether to allow this conversation to continue, or so it was my impression from a sympathetic administrator. This sympathetic administrator felt that the OBC Facebook site was not, after all, the place for this discussion, though she wanted it to continue elsewhere, and to also have my continued presence on the Facebook site with less contentious subjects. No other site was determined for this discussion between those with my views and active OBC folks (this sounds familiar, does it not; why is it so hard to find a place?; Not here; not there; where? though as I said before, my interest in this engagement has largely dissipated at this point anyway; I've said what I've needed to say; it's all here for anyone interested.) Anyway, with even a sympathetic administrator figuring it's best to go off the OBC site for this discussion, it seemed time to go. Isan--Is this pretty much what you recall? If I am wrong, I'm happy to correct myself

What I remember about the discussion in the OBC Facebook group is that for a while it went along cordially enough, but eventually a few members began to complain. You made a point of mentioning that you didn't want to disturb people by expressing unwelcome views and when it became clear that at least some people found them unwelcome you excused yourself. No one asked you to leave, but it felt clear to me that the point of view that both of us were presenting had worn out its welcome.

@Stan. I don't know that either Henry or I expected the folks in the OBC to debate our views. We didn't start that conversation - someone else who is a current member, not a former member of the OBC, did. As to why they should debate our views either that's apparent or it's not. If it's not seen as problematic that they are members of an organization that doesn't encourage them to prove the Buddhist teaching true for themselves - as the Buddha exhorted people to do! - but instead tells them to follow and obey and not ask questions about anything that makes them uncomfortable then no conversation need be had. Buddhism is all about inquiry. Everything is on the table. If you buy in to the belief that some things may be talked about while others may not, well then what exactly is being practiced?
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:51 pm

I remembered something else I think is important regarding my departure from the OBC Facebook site. Again, some help in remembering from Isan or Stan--was it Brightmoon or the OBC Facebook site(or both) that you had to make it clear what your affilitation was with the OBC? I remember reporting before becoming member that I was a former monk of the OBC but had no current affiliation. This was good enough to allow me on the site. Anyway, once accepted on the site, I mentioned in one of my posts that I was not affiliated in any way anymore with the OBC. This was at the same time that, as Isan put it, it was becoming clear we had "worn out our welcome." But I would not completely agree that I wasn't asked to leave, as a number of people started to question if I should even be there, not being affiliated with the OBC any longer, though I thought that had been obvious and dealt with before I even started to post there. At that point, I understood that the administrators were trying to decide if I could even remain on the site. Given the sense that many did just not want to engage in the conversation (which an active OBC member had already started), along with the debatable validity of even just my presence on the site, and along with even a sympathetic administrator suggesting it would be best if we have controversial conversations off the OBC Facebook site, made it pretty darn clear that my participation in that sort of conversation there was not welcome. Officially kicked off?--no. Close enough to make no difference?--Seemed that way to me.

Contrast that with a similar situation on OBCC a couple of years back. There were some folks who were significantly hurt emotionally and trust wise by OBC members. They did not want OBC advocates on OBCC because it was too painful for them and they wanted a site that was emotionally safe. The OBCC administrators, while sympathetic, made it clear that the therapeutic aspect of OBCC was only one aspect and that all views would remain welcome. There is not a right or wrong here, it's just different. OBC appears to have a high value on loyalty to the group, and OBCC more a loyalty to accuracy and diversity.

Again this seems very similar to what the research cited in the Republican Brain point to regarding liberal and conservative values. It's just all quite interesting to me and is helping to increase my understanding.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:57 pm

Henry wrote:
Anyway, once accepted on the site, I mentioned in one of my posts that I was not affiliated in any way anymore with the OBC. This was at the same time that, as Isan put it, it was becoming clear we had "worn out our welcome." But I would not completely agree that I wasn't asked to leave, as a number of people started to question if I should even be there, not being affiliated with the OBC any longer, though I thought that had been obvious and dealt with before I even started to post there. At that point, I understood that the administrators were trying to decide if I could even remain on the site. Given the sense that many did just not want to engage in the conversation (which an active OBC member had already started), along with the debatable validity of even just my presence on the site, and along with even a sympathetic administrator suggesting it would be best if we have controversial conversations off the OBC Facebook site, made it pretty darn clear that my participation in that sort of conversation there was not welcome. Officially kicked off?--no. Close enough to make no difference?--Seemed that way to me.

Henry, it would have been better for me to say that I didn't remember your being explicitly asked to leave. I understand well enough how you felt though.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:08 pm

And my good sir, Henry.....

"A battle to the death" you say. Oo-er, Cor Blimey and Uh-oh !

I`m about to go through to enjoy a pleasant meal and a small drink and welcome in the new
year. When the image of you girding your loins abates, I shall do just that. May I wish you
and yours a Happy new year !

Not sure if we`re both quite in agreement as to what we`re `battling` for but, I`m willing to
have a little battle. It`s got to be a fair fight mind...no biting, no scratching. No hitting below
the belt.

So, a little bit of quick footwork....a tentative left jab, and my first question is...

Does your wife think you`re argumentative ? Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:22 am

But Stan, that last question to Henry
' Does your wife think you`re argumentative ?'
IS hitting below the belt .
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Tue Jan 01, 2013 6:46 am

Hi Nicky,

Yes, naughty isn`t it ! I don`t expect any better from that wily old dog. :-)
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:07 am

Full of remorse after being upbraided by Nicky, I`ll change my question to you
Henry.

Do you think Daizui was a conservative ? Reckon he was genetically
predisposed to voting Republican ? One of Shasta`s Bad boys with a narrow
mind ?

You can use the word `statistically` if it helps.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:00 am

Daizui was a Republican. He actually was in the Young Republicans when in college, maybe high school. I regularly gave him a hard time about it. He never really explained what attracted him to the conservative end of the spectrum, we more used the topic more in a joking way. My guess is that he was fiscally conservative. I would also venture to guess that he would not recognize the Republican party today, with a considerably more amped up brand of conservatism than I believe he was allied to.

I myself try to find conservative columnists to read or to understand conservative fiscal policy as no doubt there are good ideas to be had. David Brooks is my favorite, even though I often disagree. Being in England, you may or may not be fully aware of the degree of bizarreness the conservative end of the spectrum has come to here.

Also being a therpist, I find the research in the Republican Brain to be fascinating. IN the US there are many who cannot grasp what planet the opposite side of the political spectrum are from. This is especially true with the rise of the far right here. This book truly helps explain that phenomena. Also to look at political affiliation not from the viewpoint of policy but from our political affiliation being an expression of deep aspects of personality structure, genetics, and brain structure is just interesting to me. The field has also gotten to the stage of using meta analysis, where they take previous studies (in one case over 80) analyze them, and have found the meta analysis corroborates what most of the studies pointed to: that conservatives and liberals to consistently display different personality traits. This is a body of scientific knowledge that is growing. Will the US far right poo poo it as they have evolution, climate science, and female biology? Seems likely. But I for one think it's an important advancement in knowledge, whether or not I or others have clear views on how to use it productively as yet.

You seem to take the tack that because I site research that has consistently indicated (STATISTICALLY) conservative traits that conservatives might not like attached to them that I would view all conservatives as flawed human beings (as if liberals are not). Why have you concluded that? That seems a similar approach to OBC advocates on OBCC who appear to perceive that because OBCC members point out flaws in Rev. Kennett or dysfunction in the OBC that we somehow see them as "lower than." I help people see their dysfunction all day long, and yet I view them with great respect, often affection. Why this persistent connection of pointing out dysfunction to disrespect, lack of gratitude, superiority, etc.?

As to my argumentativeness (loins are girded, Nicky; he missed) I don't perceive myself as argumentative (much of the time anyway). I just see the substance of these conversations as a puzzle in which the pieces fit together well or don't. I organize the pieces in a way that I see as fitting together to make the clearest picture and present it others to see what they perceive from it. Flawed, not flawed? Helpful, not helpful? Stupid, not stupid? like I said, I do this all day, hopefully for good. It really is not a stupid game to me.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:31 pm

Hi Henry, Replying to your first points....

1. Concerning your experiences on the OBC Facebook site. Incidentally, as far as I can tell,
it`s not strictly an OBC site insofar as it`s not run by the OBC. I repeat..........

" As I recall, you were very well received and
you did express many of your views. There were people who expressed agreement with your
views very strongly. In fact wanting a semi official approach to be made to the OBC.
If I`m not mistaken, there was only one person who said he was not happy with you using the
site to express your views. It is a site for people with OBC views in general after all. At this point,
You said that you didn`t want to offend anyone, you are obviously not wanted and, were going
to leave. The main moderator and others asked you to stay on. She pointed out the times that
people showed alarm with the OBC shadow dynamic. She even said she would consider leaving
the OBC if the Hierarchy point blank, refused to hear out and deal with an OBCC direct approach.

At this point you replied that you were`nt aware of that.....must be a case of shoot first, aim later !"

Why, after the Facebook mod made her point, and said that she had made it before, did you then
agree. You said you "shot first, aimed later ! (or afterwards). Are you saying you didn`t say that now ? I`d appreciate an answer to this point if that`s o.k with you.



2. "the liberal/conservative dichotomy does not embrace the whole of human experience, to me, it is a significant dichotomy that is playing out in the US in very important ways. Perhaps it something of less import in England--I can't say--but here the consequences of where we are going are dire, and have no interest in sitting idly on the sidelines, erroneously (in my view) believing that being in the middle of all arguments in somehow being closer to a personal God (in which I don't believe) who has little better to do that laugh at people of good faith trying to sort out a difficult mess"

We have our own political dichotomy in England/Europe. It`s all the same old, same old. Left versus
right. The right believes the individual is sovereign and must remain free to work out his destiny.
the State is subservient to the will of the people...it`s the essence of Democracy. They say the system
of the left/Libs, works fine only until it runs out of other peoples money. State benefits are the drug
of the working classes and they buy votes for the left
The story of the Left/Libs, seems to be that collectivism rules. The state is the Mom and Pop and is to
be relied on to fairly apportion the spoils of society in a fair and even way. The state must rule and
all must conform...no dissent. There is what I would personally call social engineering increasing.
It has been actually admitted by Tony Blair that the floodgates were deliberately opened to mass
immigration in order to change British society irriversably. The European Union is supposed to be the
logical outcome of this political empire building. Loved and despised by opposing sides.

The money is running out, All services are being cut back...including the hallowed National Health
Service. It is itself becoming something of a sick joke...but it`s the only health service that is available
to all. Front line staff are cut but administrators and management thrive and outnumber the front
line staff by I believe four to one. So yes, we do have our own dichotomy over here.

I don`t have a beef with you "not sitting idly on the sidelines". Why should I ? We should all do what
we can for the working of the greater good. It`s how the word we`re born into seems to be set up. A
completely benign world that works for all the parts of the whole. It looks after the cancerous cells as
much as the whole body, and we`re in no way in control of that. We can initiate actions for the benefit
of ourselves but, cannot guarantee the results of those actions at all. We are too limited as individuals
to influence the field around us.

Like you, I also don`t believe that sitting between "the middle of all arguments" is being closer to a
personal God as you put it. Let`s put it plainly....what you are describing is a `cop out` and ascribing
that as my position. A sort of quietism. Not guilty your honor. I simply believe that if I play my
small part where I can, I have done my duty to the greater good. Doing my dharma so to speak.
I don`t know where you got the "personal God" thing from ? If you believe you can change anything
in the world, that`s really o.k with me. Let me know when you change just one thing ;-)
Just to conclude, I don`t bow down to the god of Political Correctness either. Not saying you do,..
of course.

3. Automatic weapons, Rape denial, Mock Christian science etc....yeah, straightforward. `Nutters`
we call them in the U.K. You find them everywhere...all shapes, colours and persuasions.

4."Another important issue you raised, which I've heard repeatedly, is about "blaming" Rev. Kennett. Why is bringing up mistakes made by a person "blaming?" Why shouldn't we examine what others have done when we believe those people have done harm? I can tell you that when I was at Shasta, I saw a lot of blaming of those who attempted to bring up mistakes they saw being made, and I saw shamefully little willingness to even consider what was being said."

Important ? Important for who ? Not for me. I used the blame word because of a certain context.
The seniors ran the show at Shasta. They interpreted Jiyu`s teachings and passed them down the
line. Some were mistaken and harmful. That`s what we see on the OBCC forum isn`t it. I didn`t
get to see much of the shadow side. I was a humble junior and I wasn`t there long. I left of my own
accord as I thought that in the end, I wouldn`t resolve my issues there. I had a couple of private
meetings with Jiyu but she couldn`t convince me that anything is likely to change for me. I figured
that the Zen teaching had a very limited tool box, and I wasn`t going to learn any more there. The
answer was `keep doing more of the same`. I had a `major` kensho before I went to Throssel hole,
let alone Shasta Abbey. I was very grateful for what I learned and found the teaching very helpful
but, I still couldn`t `crack the code`. The experiences were at that time as much frustration as
liberation.

I saw Jiyu only once rip somebody up. quite mercilessly I thought...totally unhelpful. I parted
on good terms with her. One of the seniors had a good go at me for leaving when it was known that
I would soon be gone. It didn`t faze me much. I just thought..`Oh go forth and multiply` and
shrugged it off. When I first arrived at Shasta, amongst various impressions, it felt to me like a large
boarding school. Something I was familiar with but not over pleased about. Pretty soon, new friends
were made, other folk were given a wide berth and life went on. It was a beautiful place, great food
and I felt great. There was of course a very definite vibe and I was underwhelmed with a lot of the
seniors...I don`t know what I expected I should find ! Most of them seemed like dimwits just like
me. Nice ones mainly.

I never felt that the teachings were going to be downloaded on to me. I always felt that I had to do
the work of gaining understanding. So when I hear that mistakes have been made and that they
are all attributable to just one person, I just don`t buy it. What was everybody doing for 10 or 15
years ? Switching their inquiring minds off ? When everybody points the finger at one person only
and don`t own up to any participation in the process, I call it blaming. It`s like the German attitude
after the war.....I was only following orders. Sorry, i feel that unless everyone with an involvement
owns up to their part in the process, Not saying that the `mistakes` are all on one side, or there never
will be a resolution. Assuming one is still wanted of course. And yes, the mistakes have to be
recognized and owned to start with. I feel that this is the common ground for going forward. Both
sides in a joint venture have to accept their own mistakes. Openly.
Not long after the Buddhas enlightenment, apparently he taught a large group of people who ended
up by taking their lives. They thought they were taking a spiritual`short cut`. The teaching had been
far from clear, and yet Buddhism survived and flourished. We could go right back that long ago and
try to put things right...... and maybe it would be a good lesson. At some point we learn the lessons
we need for ourselves and don`t need to keep re-learning them.



"It seems to me that the argument you pose for staying out of the con/lib controversy is similar to the one posed to not criticize the OBC--that somehow status quo/letting things be/letting others sort it out is a superior position. I would pose an alternative position--that examining thoroughly the actions taken, the beliefs held, and the good and harm that comes from those is a more helpful position to take than neutrality"

With respect, I didn`t pose an argument for staying out of the con/lib controversy. I just find the whole
dichotomy extremely limited and don`t want to saddle myself within those narrow confines.
As for "neutrality", there really is no such thing. All actions are done for self interest. Even altruistic
actions are pleasing for the self. We don`t do anything to deliberately displease ourselves.


5. "One last point regarding the book. Yes it is apparent and stated by the author that he is a liberal. And I have to admit I'm getting somewhat less interested as the focus of the book shifts from science to politics."

Well that`s interesting. A couple of days ago you were "in the middle of reading a great book."
Maybe the book will get even less interesting as you go on. ;-)

" They are peer reviewed studies in the most respected professional journals. What are we to do, discard them because they are revealing patterns that may disturb conservatives?"

No, but they should be treated with great caution. The pharmaceutical Industry is full of studies, trials
and proofs of safety of medicines. All very professional and convincing. Only later is drug after drug
withdrawn as side effects and deaths take their toll. Follow the money. Follow the vested interests.
I agree with you totally, Actions and consequences are good to be aware of.


6."Awareness, while neutral in and of itself, does not necessarily lead to inaction and does not necessarily lead to a lack of conclusions about what is harmful and what is not. Just the opposite, I would say. And yet, we must always be open that todays` understanding is just that--today's and not necessarily tomorrow's if expanded knowledge leads us in a different direction."

Do I want to go here......? o.k, call me mr.picky but.....I`m of the view that Awareness is neither
neutral nor anything else. It`s just awareness. Completely limitless, actionless and ordinary. There is
only one awareness and it`s the same one for all of us. It can`t lead to a `conclusion` as you put it if it`s
`neutral` ...by your definition. There`s no such thing as a neutral conclusion. There can be a lack of
conclusion. By means of the intellect, we can reach a conclusion, but that comes after awareness.
I do agree with your main point however, that we cannot stand on `today`s understanding. Of any
object at all really. They are always in a process of change.

Henry, if you`ve posted further comments whilst I`ve been writing this, I may not respond straight
away. I`d like to complete the reply to your first posts and move on then. We could be getting into a
debate of `War and Peace` proportions otherwise.

For now.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:03 pm

Hey Stan,
Eventually I'm going to have to get to my home vacation projects. But here's a go:

#1 I stated above what I remember occuring at the OBC Facebook site. Isan can concur or not as he remembers. You are welcome to your recollection. As to the shoot first comment, I'd have to get the whole context of it before commenting. I know I think of my responses on forums sometimes in the "shoot first" way, as there is so little time and so much to comment on. Not saying it's the best, but I do do it sometimes.

#2 I agree. Straight far left, straight far right doesn't do much to solve problems. I happen to believe center left (at least what's center left in the US) presently provides the most sensible solutions (though not all of them). Compassion with what's doable. Ideal and practical. Seems we have similar views--maybe.

#3 Seems we're good.

#4 If it's not important to you, I have no problem with that. After two years of many productive conversations and realizing that the OBC is not interested in participation, its importance to me is negligible too at this point. It becomes important when another person shows up here trying to work through there experience. I help as I can.

I would disagree that we are blaming one person here. Or at least that's true of many of us. Can't speak for everyone. Many of us, myself included, admitted to contributing to the very things we've criticized. I think Rev. Kennett's name comes up so often is that she played the pivotal, most important part in the problems many of us saw and obviously continued at Shasta and elsewhere. Some of us have the belief that it is important to see and acknowledge her mistakes in order to fully understand present day problems. But as I said, I have little concern for that anymore. I've said my piece here many times. I've shared my views and have been helped by the stories, experience, and views of others. The OBC is not interested and I respect that. They will sort out their problems as they see fit.

You stated: "With respect, I didn`t pose an argument for staying out of the con/lib controversy. I just find the whole
dichotomy extremely limited and don`t want to saddle myself within those narrow confines.

My apologies for misconstruing your position. (A shoot from the hip moment perhaps).

You stated: "As for "neutrality", there really is no such thing. All actions are done for self interest. Even altruistic
actions are pleasing for the self. We don`t do anything to deliberately displease ourselves."

I would disagree that all things are done out of self interest. From an evolutionary standpoint, to preserve the species we need to preserve ourselves and preserve our tribe. One might even argue that the preservation of the tribe, evolution wise is more important. Do we preserve ourselves (self interest) for the sake of the species, thereby making self interest subordinate to altruism (saving another at risk to oneself for the good of the whole)? Or do we help others because it make us feel good, making altruism subordinate to self interest? Or is this a chicken and egg situation? I think to proclaim unequivocably that self interest is the primary determinant is questionable.

#5. I am much less leery of academic studies than I am of studies funded by interest groups. Also when the body of evidence is confirmed 100 plus times in peer reviewed studies and meta analysis confirms individual results, you either take notice or just figure the scientific method is useless. Science is always changing its conclusions--that is part of the scientific method. Modern physics doesn't discard Newtonian physics, it just defines its limitations. Political neuroscience is a new field with much to learn. I am interested and I respect the methodology without necessarily concurring with all extrapolations of those results. But those extrapolations themselves can be put to the test themselves. That is the scientific method. While skeptical of any absolute conclusions, I am not cynical about the whole process. Perhaps you are not either.

#6 A man is by a fork in the road. He is aware of the fork. On his iPhone he is informed that there is a restaurant down the left road. He is now aware of the location of the restaurant. The man is aware he is hungry. Aware of all these factors, in a sense the awareness does not conclude anything, but the man goes down the left road. I don't know if this concurs or veers from your stated position, but I hope it clarifies mine.

Have a Happy New Year Sir Stanley!!

PS If this goes on much longer you may win the battle to the death by sheer stamina. I hope you are a merciful man.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:34 pm

"PS I forgive you for having conservative tendencies, even while trying remain aloof, hanging out with God."

You`re so cute and cuddly Henry. I love those charming misconceptions you have about me !
Frolicking amongst the daisys, strocking bunny rabbits and chatting with God ? Keeping away
from the dirty nasty world...especially politics. Keeping my kensho in a box under the bed for
safety....that kind of thing ? So quaint. So spiritual.

Unfortunately for the spiritual types, The world thinks they`re a bunch of losers. Escaping from
real life. Not man enough for the job it seems. Can`t hack it. They need to get down and dirty
with the common man. Have a few beers and lighten up, for tomorrow we die. Let`s all go down
together . Are you a Buddhist ?
Where do you keep getting all this God stuff anyway ?

PPS And one more thing. I'm glad I don't have "beginner's mind." Perhaps I am just less pure than you, Mark, and seemingly most Zen practitioners. My beginner's mind was rather self centered when it came to spirituality. I was rather ambitious, wanting to be more enlightened than the next guy and wanting (at least a little) adulation. Hopefully, I'm a little more pure in my intent. Beginner's mind? Rather let go of it."

Sorry to dissapoint you Henry....I`m not a Zen practitioner and `Beginer`s Mind` was not my
expression. I mentioned my "original first intention" with regards to myself. It`s not something I
`have` or `let go` of. Sorry to sound a bit Zenish.

"perhaps I`m just less pure than you, Mark, and seemingly most Zen practitioners". Beats me.
Maybe you`d like to think so ?

"Beginner's mind? Rather let go of it."

Beginer`s Mind....."pure in my intent". Whats the di.......

Never mind,......Now you`re playing with me Henry."
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:42 pm

Stan you made a very important point:
Quote :
I figured that the Zen teaching had a very limited tool box,
Zen is only addressing a very limited question, and even then only from a very particular direction, so yes it does have a very limited toolbox. If you want to learn astrophysics, or flower arranging, in fact just about anything you care to name, then zen per se will not teach you. Unfortunately very often people come to zen with very unrealistic expectations (I include myself in this). Even more unfortunately many hold on to these views about what zen can teach, and to whom. They don a kind of cloak of omniscience and omnicompetence believing they and zen have the answer to all questions and all ills, not so. I think that the myth of the 'zen master' only encourages this, both in the zen masters and in their followers. This form of elitism is the very opposite of what for me zen is about.
As for the conservative/liberal argument I think that often adherents have rather similar elitist views about their own 'rightness'. In the end who cares, it is whether the prescription 'works' and doesn't cause more harm than good that counts, not whether it is right or left, conservative or liberal, etc. In any case it seems to me that there is very often a whole range of answers, from both left, right and in between. All with their own good and bad points. You pay your money and you take your choice.
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:03 am

:-) Thank you, Messrs Henry and Stan for that interesting discussion!

I think I have now determined (with my political genius of comparing an apple to an orange) that, in the USA, monasteries might tend to be viewed as exhibiting characteristics somewhat to the 'right' of the prevailing local political system, e.g "[Adherents] are more uncomfortable with uncertainty; they are less open to new experiences; they are much more concerned with having closure on subjects, so once a decision or point of view is established, they are much less likely to revisit it or be open to challenges to it; their decisions tend to be more reactions to fear than deliberations on accuracy", and that loyalty bit; whereas in the UK, monasteries might tend to be viewed as exhibiting characteristics somewhat to the 'left' of the prevailing local political system, e.g "The [Order] is the Mom and Pop and is to be relied on to fairly apportion the [resources of its members] in a fair and even way. The [Order] must rule and all must conform...no dissent". (-:
PS: Lest I am 'done' for misrepresentation, I'd better add that the words in square brackets, in the above quotes, are my own substitutions and not the original words of Messrs Henry and Stan.

PPS: None of this trivial aside is intended to distract from Henry's observation that, without fear (or awareness of risk/danger, and caution), we'd have very short lifespans.

PPPS: I guess we mightn't care very much about the truth either! ;-)
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:27 am

Hi Henry,

I guess we`ve come to a `fork in the road` in our awareness now.

"PS If this goes on much longer you may win the battle to the death by sheer stamina. I hope you are a merciful man."

Well,I`ve been counting on that. I`ve got ..let me see...another six pages
or so ready to go ! However, I`m all mercy....we can touch gloves and live
to fight another day. I`ve enjoyed it. Much respect to you. Maybe catch you
next New Years Eve.

Happy `Fiscal Cliff Averted` day !
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:57 am

Mark

My curiosity has got the better of me !

"Zen is only addressing a very limited question, and even then only from a very particular direction, so yes it does have a very limited toolbox."

Would you care to elaborate as to what this "very limited question" means to you ? What do you
mean when you say " even then, only from a particular direction" ?

It seems to me that the spiritual world at large, is based on people having an enlightenment
experience and creating a `teaching` around it. I would include the Buddha in this category, never
mind Jiyu. After all, the Buddha didn`t study `Buddhism` per se. That was left up to us.
What he studied seemed to work great for him...but we are not him.

What he seemed to study to me, was the `Self`.....the "house builder" and emphaticaly stated that
there is something called `Liberation`.

I wonder what we all expected to achieve by starting `training` and entering monasteries.

It seems that the new `Seeker` is at the mercy of the quality of the teachers` enlightenment . You
have the good, bad and the ugly. Good ages and arrid ones. The old `masters` were not worried
about sending a student to another Master/Monastery if it helped the student to achieve
understanding. It seems that we`re in a bit of an arrid age. What does it take to convert a seeker
to a finder ? The `Road map` seems very sketchy...too open to misrepresentation by teachers of
limited understanding. Wasn`t it ever thus ?
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: The Republican Brain   Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:19 pm

Ah Stan.. you've called my bluff and asked me to put up or shut up I think. Well here goes. If we look at Soto Zen as I understand it, not at the OBC because I don't know what they are doing now. Stripped down to it's simplest terms it seems to me that what is being taught is to 'just sit'. All the rest is supportive to this central 'practice'. So the 'very limited question' in terms of soto's 'very particular direction' is: 'How do you just sit?' or 'What is just sitting?' or perhaps 'Sitting?', maybe even 'Who is just sitting?', though some might say the latter is straying off into rinzai territory; not that that really matters a jot.

As we all know it ain't quite as simple as it sounds, and yet on the other hand, and in another way, it is clearly even simpler than it sounds. In sitting all manifests naturally, whether we know it or not. All the rest is support or commentary.

Whilst this is very straightforward it can be very difficult and sometimes dangerous. Dogen talks of his being driven nearly mad by a meditation sickness which is why some form of mentoring is advisable. Sitting won't cure the spiritually sick, though it might help. And it can easily make the mentally disturbed worse rather than better. But in the end if you can actively just sit then you can start to 'just sit' in everything.

This is the soto way. There are lots of others ways that I'm sure are just as valid, but this is my way.

Maybe Howard, the great zafu pilot, or someone else can put it better. But that, like this, will be just support and commentary. In the end it comes down to just being...
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