DIY and Not-So-Private Minds • 11 May 2009

Somehow between Cross-fit and the apocalypse, I’ve got this idea that I need skills. I admire people with skills. You know… CPR, vegetable gardening, computer hacking, lock picking, multiple languages, fire-building, kombucha homebrewing. You never know when you’re going to be lost in the forest or trapped in a burning building or get a flat tire in downtown Detroit.

A first batch of kombucha is burping away under cheesecloth in the kitchen. I’m taking care of the little guy while his owner is away for the summer. No other way to refer to the soft rusty half-shell kombucha blob with its light eau de vinegar: it’s…he’s… very much alive, and happy to culture some tea for you as he goes about his business of cell division and just sitting around. Nice of him. He’s already beginning to split off a little twin, a little mini-blob that will be equally happy to render the human-addictive substance as a by-product of his unassuming kitchen-shelf existence..

I love domestic chemistry, playing with fermentation. It’s disgusting! The blob is just slippery, ugly raw information that has to be tended and fed and allowed to reproduce itself if it’s going to live. I massage him under a warm faucet before sliding him back into his brine, talk to him, let him split and send the new little guys on to another and another.

What’s this little guy’s kombuchu parampara? Does his lineage go all the way back to the grow-yr-own fermenters of the 60s, or was he brought to life just recently for the Californians with their panoply of celebrity fountain-of-youth practices? Can he trace his progenitors all the way back to that very first kombucha sage-gods? I do hope I’m drinking the original, immortal nectar of the ancients here.

Mmmm. I am also, ridiculously, switching to Mac. Why did this not happen a decade ago? The machine is one sleek piece of aluminum, tricked out with extra RAM and already a better extension of my self than the long-suffering Inspiron ever was. And god so beautiful on the inside, too. Yes, I don’t just love her for her looks. I’ve been waiting for this little machine a long time, asking the universe for just the right file structure, aiming to manifest the perfect processor. And thank god, it all feels so right now, nevermind the chunk of first-home-savings I'm down. But… what if I get stranded somewhere without wifi…?

…Speaking of DIY, or not so Y… when we get together I can see your thoughts. So can anyone. Not to unnerve you or anything. But the line a thought makes across the body as it travels, tiny tensing like a snake under the sand, the way the neck flexes, the drop in the breath.

If your attention is on a sound or motion beside you, this is the way the body registers it. If a new emotion shows up, it moves through the head, neck, shoulders, low back. An emotion is by definition a bodily event, but very often thoughts are too. A thought is not just content–the thing that is thought–but also a wave in motion.

I say this because of the aspect of practice that is about isolating myself from the thoughts of others. Some teachers, (even if they’re not getting the petty clairvoyance that pranayama seems to bring up) experience a mysore room kind of like air traffic control. The trick seems to be to kill the volume. Allow and trust the planes to fly themselves, don’t take the controls of every one who radios in for help.

But for students who claim nobody can know their motivations or thoughts, that it's a private matter whether they’re actually focused, ummm. The mind is really not that private.

Especially not in the company of body-workers or anyone who is very intelligent below the belt (or even below the neck, for that matter). In the case of teachers, yes, some are not perceptive. But chances are they've just gotten good at pretending not to see others' thoughts, both out of respect for and to protect themselves from all the static.


  • Posted 11 May 2009 at 4:28 am | #

    Not seeing thoughts is very polite (and, I guess, self-protecting). I am constantly amazed by people who think they are opaque. I mean, God, even dogs can see us thinking. Still, they’re gracious to the primates.

    Oh, and you know D is a CrossFit fanatic, right? Or at least you’re not surprised. 🙂

  • Posted 11 May 2009 at 4:11 pm | #

    “I am constantly amazed by people who think they are opaque.”- Karen, that made me chuckle.

    I think I could get into CrossFit.

  • meniscursus
    Posted 11 May 2009 at 5:04 pm | #

    But you do have skills! Bo staff, nun chucks…

  • Posted 11 May 2009 at 5:42 pm | #

    Oh No! First we had the Ashtanga police and now there’s the Mysore thought police. We’ll be arranging our mats in a panopticon next.

    Jealous of your mac is it the Air, the really thin one that fits into a manila envelope?

  • Posted 11 May 2009 at 6:30 pm | #

    Interesting gender identification here, between raw, burbling Mr. Kombucha, and sleek, beautiful Mz. Macbook.

    Winemaking is crazy fun, too! It’s impossible for me not to occasionally lift the lid off of an active fermentation bucket and check out the bubbling yeast revelries going on inside.

  • Posted 11 May 2009 at 7:17 pm | #

    The culturing classes agree: somehow, the kombucha mass is certainly a “little dude.”

    I know the kids who designed the manila envelope sleeve, made a mint in 24 hours. For me the Air is not enough machine. After much deliberation, I went with the 13” aluminum Macbook with several upgrades. I can’t believe I put up with the other guys for so long.

    CrossFit… ultimate skill attainment workout. I expected D to be in to that… where else the inspiration for the Cold Dropback Challenge? Good for dodging punches, but for urban survival/defeating all enemies on sight, the real weapon might be Durvasasana-on- Demand…

  • Posted 11 May 2009 at 7:20 pm | #

    Thought police… oh jeesz. Maybe nobody had mentioned it before, but this practice is about focusing the mind, using gaze and body and breath to reign in thoughts. The mind is not some mystery: it is permeable and always manifest in little ways.

    It is odd when people do a practice that is all about uniting mind and body, and yet maintain that the mind is unobservable, mysterious. A lot of times the more someone practices, the more embodied and observable her mind tends to become. Vipassana practitioners say that too… whether you like it or not, practice makes you more transparent.

    Cognition is powerful and often brilliant, but not some secret machine locked away in skull-vault, right?

  • Grimmly
    Posted 11 May 2009 at 10:14 pm | #

    ‘This practise is about……focussing the mind…..reigning in thoughts’. Really?

  • Posted 11 May 2009 at 10:26 pm | #

    Wouldn’t you say so? You have me all curious…

    BTW, I’m sorry this post was so offensive to some people. I didn’t intend to make anyone feel overly exposed or naked.

    Rather, I wanted to suggest that none of us actually believes, on a practical level, that the mind is a black box. We may say “You don’t know what it’s about for me” in a moment of defensiveness, but in everyday life we all act as if other minds are accessible to us all the time. And they are.

    All the moreso as the “line” between mind and body is blurred.

    Anyway, forgive me. No offense intended.

  • Jamie
    Posted 11 May 2009 at 11:28 pm | #

    Hmmm… after practicing yoga for some years, getting educated and trained as a psychotherapist, and finding my vocation as a Rolfist (that’s a Rolfer with mad slap leather skillz), my working hypothesis is that mind and body are not different. I have no further philosophy on the subject. Just not different. However, I have no special skill at mind reading. As far as you know.

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 1:24 am | #

    download & install quicksilver, and search around for its various uses, at lifehacker & elsewhere

    look into a safari shortcuts (esp command click on links)

    and sorry, can’t do the kombucha; that stuff’s scary!

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 10:30 am | #

    Just lost all this so have to write it again Grrrr. Excuse me if I’m less subtle this time.

    Wasn’t me who was offended, just making a little light banter about thought police.

    Mac Air in a manila envelope, nice up to date Mind as a black box image

    OK, This practice is ABOUT …..when you say THIS practice, are you referring to 1. Yoga, 2 Ashtanga Yoga (the whole eight limbs deal, or 3. the practice of Asana as sequenced into primary, intermediate, Advanced, including of course, drishti, bandha, breath and vinyasa.

    so…. According to Yoga Mala
    1. ‘Yoga signifies the means to the realization of one’s true nature’
    2. Ashtanga as eight limbs, to make the mind ‘one pointed so that we can see the universal self’
    3. Asana, ‘the preceding step’, before all else ‘The method for purifying and strengthening the body is called asana’.

    As long as your purifying and strengthening you can think about anything you please no?

    Now I personally, happen to use my time on the mat for a kind of moving Vipassana meditation. I let my mind do what it wants through standing with just some noting on my part. By the series proper it’s settled and I’ll observe where it settles, an emotion perhaps, some sensation or maybe it just settles on the breath in a kind of Zenish no mind type way. This works for me.

    I’m not so concerned with 1 and 2 above. I’m quite happy with employing the Western Philosophical tradition for 1. It’s organically a part of me and makes more sense to stick with that rather than take on another Likewise for 2. I’m brought up in a Christian(though I’m not practicing or a believer) and Western philosophical tradition that deals well enough with most of the other eight limbs. Where It’s lacking I’ve always had Buddhist leanings.
    So, No, for me the practice isn’t necessarily ABOUT focusing the mind or reigning in thoughts though I might choose to employ the practice that way.

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 1:54 pm | #

    I remember having that feeling of needing “skills” when I was a grad student. I realized at some point that all I could really DO was read, write and analyze texts. Now I’m a bit better, I can TEACH, read, write, analyze, cook, and knit rectangular things.

    Kombucha squooges me out. I didn’t even know one could make it at home.

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 6:35 pm | #

    I find the term zoogleal mat to be more satisfactory.

    I can’t imagine finding joy in drinking anything that’s steeped with a zoogleal mat.

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 6:37 pm | #

    Oops, I guess Wiki doesn’t have anything to say about zoogleal mats. Sorry!

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 7:00 pm | #

    Carl, what on earth are you talking about? Ok, “zoogleal mat” just returned me this article called Antioxidant Moonshine. I did not read it, but it looks to be a good discussion of the phenomenon. I also like that it says moonshine.

    I actually talked Tim in to buying his first kombucha last weekend at his local Whole Foods Utopia (like a regular Whole Foods, but supersized and with super cheap prepared foods and—get this—SAMPLES… like little cheese cubes and chips and dip under domes in the produce section). Sorry it didn’t work out, man. I understand. Gumbomum is completely right about the squooge factor.

    My skillset: running quicksilver on a mac (Thanks!!!), durvasasana (and other equally useless shapes), backcountry survival in all seasons, traveling to extremely remote places, organizing a batch of exams in to a normal curve, discussing history and philosophy ad infinitum, writing a LOT, mastering a new academic literature within a week, playing piano, ad-libbing university lectures, internet troll removal. Hmmm… None of it, except the contortionism–which is not really a skill since it doesn’t DO anything, calling on the kind of below-the-neck intelligence Jamie illustrates.

    More interesting skills I lack: pipe-fitting, flying planes, speaking French, driving an 18-wheeler, changing spark plugs, legal expertise, autocad, photography, talking my mother down from an episode, wrapping someone elegantly in to her first MariD, whistling, photoshop, growing herbs and vegetables, auctioneering, sailing, rolfing, raquetball, playing guitar, water witching, writing left-handed. Hmmm. Experincing skill-greed.

    Off to lunch… with my personal black box in under my arm. (Good call, Grim!) You’d never guess what’s inside…

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 8:43 pm | #

    Following up…. I like it when you growl, Grim. Reminds us that you are part Zen monk, part English hunting dog.

    I can’t argue with your analytical response. Sure, you’re right. It can be straightup physical hygiene as if no mind were involved. But the practice I’m doing is actually rooted in tristana, so it’s geared to focusing the attention. And people who stay with it seem to most appreciate that aspect—the clarity and simplicity, and good feeling that comes of learning to focus. But whatever, if a person wants to not practice tristana, that’s cool. It’s obvious to others, but it’s fine.

    But I don’t see the point in trying to preserve the mind as some sort of autonomous zone when the body is on track with the method. How confusing to interpret the practice as purely physical, and then try to separate interior and exterior experience.

    Maybe the discomfort this subject brings up for westerners is around self-ownership. When westerners feel controlled by others, we sometimes split ourselves off from our immediate experience and retreat to the mind as if that is an inviolate, special zone. Maybe those of us raised in repressive Christian situations were especially good at this… I was. The mind becomes the area that can be mine, can be self-owned. In any case, westerners get very leery about the idea that we are not their own—our sense of dignity and self-“worth” is pretty rooted in a notion of self-“ownership” (in quotes to note the intrinsically capitalist mind that this involves).

    It’s a kind of mindset that is only possible in a certain kind of property-ownership world. GA Cohen’s work is the best discussion I’ve seen on this topic. He’s a Marxist who goes after Rawls specifically because his and other political philosophy becomes really collectivist. Super ironic the critique is Marxist, but he’s also influenced by the analytical school, if I remember right.

    I agree that self-ownership, and by extention personal responsibility, are good values. (They’re western values—Latin American and Asian cultures don’t identify with this stuff so much.) But… do I really own myself? My genetic information received at birth… mine? My thoughts and energy… mine? The things I produce with what I’ve been given? Don’t I also belong to the people who made and make my existence possible, and to anyone who really needs me? That’s an ethical question more than a descriptive one. Personally, I do not so much need to stand above the world to have dignity… I’m ok with being integrated, even though that impinges on my self-ownership. Or, at least, this is my ideal even though I also sort of want to run away from everything.

    Being soft on self-ownership means privacy and personal boundaries have to be negotiated, because they’re not static or guaranteed.

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 8:43 pm | #

    The ability to mesh constructively with people is a good skill to have. Pipe-fitting and Photoshop… you can improvise those.

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 8:46 pm | #

    Jinx! Carl and I just posted the same comment at once. Except for he worded it way more efficiently. Thanks Carl.

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 11:27 pm | #

    Did I growl? Well maybe a little. Sorry about that, it was softer the first time I wrote it I’m sure, but my laptop crashed and I lost the whole thing.
    Two things irritated me though the ‘Maybe nobody had mentioned it before, but this practice is about…’ which sounded a bit patronising in the ‘Maybe nobody had mentioned it before’ bit and authoritarian in the ‘this practice is about’ part. That on top of a mail I received this morning from a friend who told me that an Authorised teacher had written to her saying that practicing in the evening was not an honest practice.
    Sorry if I was snappish and took it out on your post.
    And of course I’m a Heideggarian and we dont have a philosophy of mind, in fact half our job is trying to overcome the whole dammed metaphysics of mind. So ‘…this practice is about focusing the mind’ really tipped me over the edge.
    and, Oh dear, now your assuming I want to’preserve the mind as some sort of autonomous zone’ is this because I wrote once about ‘owning my practice’? Enough to make me lose my mind…except I’m not convinced we have one in the first place.

    Really difficult for a Heideggarian to have a concept of self ownership given the whole throwness, oh and that we critique the metaphysics of self too.

    btw I actually liked your watching a thought manifest bit…we don’t have a problem with thoughts or with attention so tristana as focusing attention is less problematic for me than focussing mind, though I would prefer to interpret tristana as, bringing attention to bare on bodily experience which brings us back to Vipassana and experiencing a thought, an emotion, a sensation bodily.

    oh and my knee hurts and I couldn’t do Karandavasana this morning and…..and your Kombucha is about to give me nightmares.

    We’re still good right? : )

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 11:51 pm | #

    We are having a semantic disagreement (the word mind creates the illusion of disagreement), but I am tempted to prolong it to see you growl and get you to reveal more about the inner workings of the secret Heidegger club. We of the secret Hegel club are always looking for clues about your belief system.

    Do consider the comment about preserving the mind as an autonomous zone during a supposedly unified practice. I see this a lot. It’s interesting and weird.

    I apologize I came off as condescending. I appreciate the feedback. Sarcasm I’ll dish, but talking down is just an annoying posture and usually hides insecurity. I’ll leave it to you to consider what it reveals about me if I ever take on that tone.

    Also, are you mad I called your club a belief system? Hahahaha. Now go have a kombucha. Nectar of the gods!!! Or at least the wood nymphs. Gurgle gurgle gurgle.

  • Posted 12 May 2009 at 11:52 pm | #

    Shit, every time the comment thread gets out of control I feel compelled to post again to clean the slate. Taking a vinyasa, kind of thing.

    But it’s only Tuesday!


  • Posted 13 May 2009 at 12:21 am | #

    It’s a hurdle, isn’t it? Why should anyone have to apologize for not being understood while attempting to transcend the usual semantical morass to describe the obvious? The politeness impulse helps us keep it all tidy.

  • Posted 13 May 2009 at 7:40 am | #

    Is it merely a semantic disagreement the differnce between ‘attending’ and ‘focussing the mind’? I don’t see this as one of those times when you are seeking to ‘transcend the usual semantical morass’. When you say it’s about focussing the mind I think you mean Mind, no? It suggest profound Philosophical issues to me particularly for how we consider the practice.
    How to talk about the practice without resorting to mind / body language. Is the understanding of Mind the same in the West as in India, both presently and historically in how it relates to Yoga. Doesn’t that have implications for how we experience Yoga here in the west and attempt to say what it is.

    No not mad that you called my club a belief system (am purring now), I asked for that by refering to myself as a Heideggarian, something that would make Martin turn in his grave. But it’s more of an anti-belief system. Once you stop believing in, or rather try to no longer take as a given, the Autonomous Subject and that world view or indeed the subject altogether, where does that leave you. Is it even possible to live and function within that World view while not holding to that World view. Heidegger doesn’t do much more than leave you with the problem and the beginning of some approaches for addressing it.

  • Jamie
    Posted 13 May 2009 at 2:53 pm | #

    This reminds me of an old workshop I read about that was called “Language as Psychedelic Experience”.

  • Posted 13 May 2009 at 4:38 pm | #

    ‘Attending’ and ‘focusing’ are active verbs. ‘Transparent’ is more a passive sort of adjective, though it’s not exactly passive in the context it was used. I simply can’t go back and try to read the post and all the comments again, but I believe Owl has been trying to relate only that the ways we think we’ve attained individuation are a silly fraud. We don’t have the luxury of self-dominion like we think we do. But we’re free to watch if we want.

    And I only meant that it goes beyond the usual debate, which some quotable body said is all merely semantical. The Debate all takes place in the You/Me/I/We/Him/Her/They-space, which is just a cloud of pronouns that prevent us from gazing in the direction things are actually happening.

  • Posted 13 May 2009 at 5:02 pm | #


    OMG you guys we are sooooo far down the rabbit hole now!!!

    Can anyone save us????

    Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Nisargadatta/Ken Wilber, Pattabhi Jois, Susan Blackmore, Genpo Roshi, Mark Whitwell…?

    I’ll, um, meditate on it and see what arises….

    Working now though!


  • meniscursus
    Posted 13 May 2009 at 5:30 pm | #

    you know who, fool

  • Posted 13 May 2009 at 11:50 pm | #

    Yoda will save us.
    “You will find only what you bring in.”

  • Posted 14 May 2009 at 4:16 am | #

    Yoda? Are there any other ND (not DND, ND) superheroes besides him?

    I do intend to dig this hole a bit deeper at some point, but my mind is fried at the moment. I mean my awareness. I mean my body.

    Argh. Didn’t we agree a year ago that saying “mind” and “body” was ok? It’s just coordinate language, not necessarily an act of reification?

    I love it when the hardcore deconstruct-your-brain Buddhists trip themselves out by attempting to speak without using subjects and objects. A very high quality mindfuck, it seems.

    Anyway. PLEASE NOTE. If you happen to read these pages through Rogers Cable Commnications of Toronto (apparently, there are four or six of you out there using this server? I don’t have a stat counter but that’s the best I can figure from the activity), and even after this mess you would like to keep reading, please drop me a line in the next day before I go radio silence in Toronto. Thanks.

  • Posted 14 May 2009 at 1:01 pm | #

    Things seem super-dualist on the dharma overground (I know, you’re trying not to look!). I guess all the mind body business is because it’s a Theravada club.

  • Posted 14 May 2009 at 8:28 pm | #

    They are??? That’s kind of hilarious, since at some point the a-ha experiences in Vipassana have to do with generating nondual experiences! I.e., resting in awareness as a totally indifferentiated field of reality. But… they probably don’t feel like that when they are blogging. I’ve only experienced non-intellectualized, actual spacious awareness after 4 or 5 days of silent retreat.

    (Do modern relations of production—relative comfort, computer screen days—make us less troubled by a mind-body “problem” than the conditions of modernity—struggles to be fed and warm, and industrial work?)

    Anyway! Thank you for helping me stay away from Dharma Overground. If I start reading those threads I’ll get sucked in. Like most of us did when we first discovered the EZ Board archives, eh?

    About solving the mind-body problem… did Heidegger really pull it off? Just positing a logical solution doesn’t take the problem off the table—as Bishop Berkeley’s “solution” demonstrates. His position is logically watertight, and entirely stupid.

    It seems like most western investigators are still flummoxed by the mind-body “problem” or the question of what consciousness is. So much so that many have finally declared failure and sought refuge in eastern paradigms as well.

    Some scientists get really hung up on the texts—the endless dumb lists in the Pali Canon or even the characterizations of chitta in Patanjali. It’s like another system they can learn. But others just get in to looking at “mind” from the inside, experiencing consciousness as more and more embodied (usually). Maybe eventually fewer westerners will feel compelled to start every philosophical treatise with a chapter on how they feel about Rene Descartes, and will just have more of a Grimmly or Jamie attitude. I.e. Mind – body problem? What problem?

  • meniscursus
    Posted 14 May 2009 at 9:04 pm | #

    There was a young man who said, ‘God
    Must think it exceedingly odd
    If he finds that this tree
    Continues to be
    When there’s no one about in the Quad.’


    Dear Sir:
    Your ashtonishment’s odd:
    I am always about in the Quad.
    And that’s why the tree
    Will continue to be,
    Since observed by
    Yours faithfully,

    (Ronald Knox)

  • Grimmly
    Posted 14 May 2009 at 11:12 pm | #

    It wasn’t so much a solution as rather disputing the problem in the first place. Where ludwig disolved it by saying it was just two different language games martin didn’t accept the whole objectified autonomous subject. So there is no mind body problem. However there is a world view that derived from it and dualism. The problem becomes how to form a new world view. In a sense Heidegger has pulled the rug out from under several hundred years of philosophy and everything else that derived from it. How do you get to go about your subject without taking a subject object position? By the way the Bishop is much under rated due to being poorly read, was a he’ll of a philosopher and one of the few who could write well .

  • Posted 14 May 2009 at 11:48 pm | #

    Menisc has been reading the Bishop though!!!

    Is it in part II of the Introduction to Sein und Zeit that he does this. Paging through, I ran across this passage that I used to ridicule (1962:32):

    Dasein is an entity which does not just occur among other entities. Rather it is ontically distinguished by the very fact that, in its very being, Being is an issue for it…. Dasein understands itself in its Being…. with and through its Being, this Being is disclosed to it. Understanding of Being is itself a definite characteristic of Dasein’s Being.

    The message is that some people are intimately involved with the question of the inner nature of their existence and the over-arching oneness that they contain in themselves. But most people are not tapped in to the source, nor are they living the question.

    Why be so elitist? That was always my question for Heidegger.

    But now I guess it doesn’t feel elitist. It feels like he’s saying Look, a few people out there understand themselves and understand the nature of reality. The rest are groping in the dark.

    But… I don’t know how different this is from my recent concession that, yeah, a very few people out there are tapped in to some higher insight in to the nature of reality. Maybe there are more such people in existence now than in 1926, but still “Dasein,” if it is out there, is rare.

    That admission that certain people are more insightful than others makes both academics and hippies sooooo mad!!!! Hahahaha. The integral solution to that is to say that hierarchies of insight do not imply hierarchies of worth. On the contrary.

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 6:11 am | #

    quick apolgy for my previous post, bit of a mess wrote it in bed in the dark on my itouch.

    you get elitist in Heidegger??? always found him the opposite. but need to come back to this, have to practice now.

  • meniscursus
    Posted 15 May 2009 at 6:33 am | #

    Forget that mate, just have a brew and a bacon butty…You’ve earned it.

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 7:38 am | #

    Sorry Owl, not sure how your getting from the Dasein quote to ‘..The message is that SOME people are intimately involved with the question of the inner nature of their existence…’ Are your reading Dasein as some kind of Nietzschean superman? Dasein for Heidegger is us, each and every one of us, our being here,our throwness into the ongoing world. Dasein is all of us,whether we choose to become intimately involved the question of our inner nature or not. (But again there we go with inner nature, that would be a problem for him, concealed condition perhaps but not inner nature), that our being (not inner nature being, but just our being-in-the-worldness is an issue for us is what differentiates us from a rock, a spoon or the above bacon butty (just trying to remember if the bacon butty is ready to hand or present at hand…if ready to hand then i might forget i’m a veggie). Latter he does talk about authentic and inauthentic dasein which was misread and misrepresented (though in a very cool way) as a judgement call by Sartre and Camus et al. I thnk Marty would question the degree to which you could actually function in the world authentically all the time……how deep is this rabbit hole anyway?

  • knl
    Posted 15 May 2009 at 4:03 pm | #

    What happened to the need for “skills”? I weigh in on that: attaining “skills” is good. There’s nothing like an honest day’s work (perhaps reading Camus before bed)— or something like that.

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 4:15 pm | #

    I take issue with “academics and hippies” not liking the hierarchies of whatever-we-called-it (self-awareness, blah blah, begin to feel anti-gravity of rabbit hole here).

    As a good piece both academic and hippie, I always liked Nietzsche’s thing (I got it from him, thus I so attribute it) about the way the will to power ruins egalitarianism. I’m reluctant to say that the WtP is “distributed unequally,” since that implies a distributor (and thus ruins Nietzsche’s major argument), and I’m also reluctant to say that we partake of it unequally (since that implies that it is metaphysical pie and leads in a big hurry to social Darwinism, which is yucky).

    I’m afraid that my chosen model is probably the schizo out for a walk; you know, from those French guys, including the one who did that famous autodefenestration.

    I also am a fan of skill acquisition, as recent life has been foisting upon me.

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 5:39 pm | #

    “looking at ‘mind’ from the inside, experiencing consciousness as more and more embodied”

    You know, my question is always how language plays in relation to this. Doesn’t it just become superfluous, or even just disappear entirely? So you sit in meditation (or, if you get really good at it, you achieve this state wherever and whenever you please) and experience consciousness. THEN (and this is the part that’s weird) you conceptualize it and (if you’re me) often write it down. It’s like applying language to a half-recalled dream — it’s clear that the very act of naming is deeply affecting the shape of the experience. The conceptualizing is actually creating the experience.

    Uh… no more words. I think that’s the answer.

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 5:45 pm | #


    I just saw this rabbit hole OMG. Keep going… India is on the exact opposite side of the planet!!!! We’ll hit paydirt eventually…

    Skills. Ok so I just learned that I cannot clear pipes (long story), but taught a private and have another in 5 minutes. These people appear to believe I have skills I hesitate to admit are here. I’ve been spending too much time reading Sartre!?


    More in a bit. KNL, Patrick, Karen, Grim, and fussy Menisc…. you are cracking me up….

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 7:20 pm | #

    Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
    Who was very rarely stable.
    Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
    Who could think you under the table.
    David Hume could out-consume
    Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel,
    And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
    Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

    There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya’
    ‘Bout the raising of the wrist.

    John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
    On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
    Plato, they say, could stick it away;
    Half a crate of whiskey every day.
    Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
    Hobbes was fond of his dram,
    And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart: “I drink, therefore I am”
    Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed;
    A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he’s pissed!

  • meniscursus
    Posted 15 May 2009 at 8:13 pm | #
  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 10:06 pm | #

    Wait…. so if I leave this thread open, you guys will just start leaving a series of presents…?

    Love it.

  • meniscursus
    Posted 15 May 2009 at 10:22 pm | #

    Ward clear of the bits of the warren reserved for J. Jonah and Frederic and wait to be feted.

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 10:31 pm | #

    Ok. We can leave J. Jonah and Fred up there in shallower wells.

    Karen, as I mentioned, Shinzen Young puts it like this. Zen says too little; Vipassana says too much. So what do you do?

    Maybe it’s that all transmissions generate a lot of static. It’s a matter of finding which channel minimizes static from where we are standing.

    Grimmly, I seem to have been misreading Martin all along. I like your interpretation, but must say that yes… the Satrean reading on authenticity was the one I took.

    Patrick, you were not a little bit offended 14 months ago when I wrote that some people are deeper than others. Here and here.

    Skills. Three privates today. Each person somehow looking for an A-HA moment. And all I can offer is this: daily practice. Shear away the a-ha. Forget epiphany. Build skills. Make it mundane. Become practice.

  • meniscursus
    Posted 15 May 2009 at 10:36 pm | #

    ‘Shallower’! Holy Jesus, send me the rapturator and some trail mix…

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 10:48 pm | #

    Jesus doesn’t have trail mix.

  • meniscursus
    Posted 15 May 2009 at 11:30 pm | #

    Then your kinfolk are gonna be mighty disappointed.

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 11:34 pm | #

    “So what do you do?”

    Zen question! Zen question!

    And yes, the Vipassanis DO go on. 🙂

  • meniscursus
    Posted 15 May 2009 at 11:39 pm | #

    Word has it that 11 is going to be the new 10…

    And, rascal, do you remember how many epiphanies have you forgotten?

  • Posted 15 May 2009 at 11:40 pm | #

    Karen, isn’t it more about the purpose and/or capability of the language? Here: you move in a series of patterns and get into outer space, right? Well one practitioner writes it down and creates (some would say ruins? misses?) the experience, but another chants (is that language? does it WORK like language?) and does what? Perpetuates it? Develops it? See the question?

    Owl, yes and no. It’s really—this isn’t a copout as much as it sounds like one—how it’s put, sort of “of what the language is capable.” My 21-year-old reading of Fred heard, “Personal power is distributed unequally in souls,” and really dug that. My 38-year-old very brief exposure to the deeper-than-thou-but-its-all-good folks heard, “Some people are deeper than others, which is fine, and this has great potential to do something or other, but not really to change anything.” It had a very “yellow is better than purple, ta-da!” kinda profound “so what” flavor. That, I didn’t dig as much. And yes, I’m sure I underestimate it and/or get it wrong.

  • meniscursus
    Posted 15 May 2009 at 11:55 pm | #

    Then here’s the strop to Ockham’s razor:

  • Posted 16 May 2009 at 12:04 am | #

    This must be the Vipassana version.

    And… it doesn’t just go to eleven.


    I don’t remember how many epiphanies forgotten. Maybe a lot, but I doubt it. It takes me a while to find the light—it doesn’t all shine down at once.

    Is the end of the tunnel near?

  • meniscursus
    Posted 16 May 2009 at 12:20 am | #
  • knl
    Posted 16 May 2009 at 12:37 am | #

    Practice every day. Keep it simple. The majesty of the quotidien.

  • Posted 16 May 2009 at 8:00 am | #

    And yes, the Vipassanis DO go on. 🙂
    love this, so true, so true.
    ( I know this came up ages ago but when I went to bed you were on 38 I think now it’s what 58 and there’s a new post on drains to think about). Feel bad that we’ve neglected your Kombucha here.

    Interesting what karen was saying way back there about achieving some meditative state….‘and then we write about it’. the obvious response is, so dont write about it, or think about it, but of course we do. Guess it depends what kind of language we go for, poetry might work perhaps, suggestive, evocative.
    Funny, but I’m convinced I could find the old chestnut of peace and understanding, of a sorts, by commiting myself totally to Zen or Vipassana, and yet the whole world thing nags at me, an itch that needs scratching, a suduku that needs compleating. Another few years trying to work out Heidegger’s project and then I’ll commit myself to Zen…Ok another couple of years…..and so on. Didn’y you say you were struggling with something like this a while ago Owl? Sorry, we’re on to drains…..

  • Posted 16 May 2009 at 1:12 pm | #

    Oh, you’ll enjoy zen, Grimmly. I look at your ongoing videos and they are an illustration for Seung Sahn’s “just do it” (and yes, he said that before Nike).

    Huang Po:

    “You people are just like drunkards. I don’t know how you manage to keep on your feet in such a sodden condition. Why, everyone will die laughing at you. It all seems so easy, so why do we have to live to see a day like this? Can’t you understand that in the whole Empire of the T’ang there are no ‘teachers of Zen’?”

    A monk stepped forth and asked, “How can you say that? At this very moment, as all can see, we are sitting face to face with one who has appeared in the world to be a teacher of monks and a leader of men!”

    “Please note that I did not say there is no Zen. I merely pointed out that there are no teachers!”

    Shinzen Young’s in AZ in Nov. 🙂

  • Posted 16 May 2009 at 6:40 pm | #

    Drains are like wells though…

    A suduku that needs completing. Hahaha. I don’t suppose it’s productive to resolve the tension between being and becoming. Then you get only “Shut up! You are already realized!” or, oppositionally, the GTD Approach to Spirituality.

    Shinzen’s doing an 8-day in the mountains 10 miles from my house in July. What is the point? There are no teachers? 🙂 I could just close up my apartment and do 8 days inside? But being around very wonderful beings shows what is possible, better than staring at my kitchen floor (usually). I registered the first day it opened but it seems priority is for his established students and they have not responded to my several calls or emails…. Hmm…

    Re: fast results in training and enhancing attention, whatever that is, this.

    A nice UCLA study on how people who do a littl meditation are more emotionally controlled, happy and smart, here.

  • Posted 16 May 2009 at 8:10 pm | #

    Gosh, I love attention (paying, not getting!). Shinzen in AZ. Yes, no teachers. Maybe I’ll go.

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