Speculative Non-Buddhism

ruins of the buddhist real

After One Year

Posted by Glenn Wallis on June 4, 2012

Speculative non-buddhism, as an idea and as a blog, is now one year old. Here are some thoughts that come up when I reflect on things so far.

  1. Most importantly, I am pleased with the intelligent, thoughtful nature of the comments. Thank you. I hope you will continue to discuss and argue with one another. Your “site of struggle” approach has been edifying for me.
  2. I will do my best to keep this an anti-right-speech forum. You’re welcome! “Right-speech” is a popular x-buddhist stratagem for perpetuating the x-buddhist status quo. It is a passive-aggressive form of conformist coercion.
  3. Speculative  non-buddhism, in other words, is a humanistic project. It aims to nudge the human–whatever that entails–to the center.
  4. Speculative  non-buddhism views x-buddhism as anti-humanistic. X-buddhism aims to place itself in the center. X-buddhism desires to replace your thoughts with its thoughts. It desires to graft its emotions, values, and actions onto your life and world.
  5. Speculative non-buddhism is not offering a new and improved version of Buddhism. It is an attempt to think new thoughts, non-Buddhist in nature but using Buddhist postulates. Because of the force of those postulates (as really, really special, and super-duper Buddhist, for instance) this is no easy task. So, much of the project involves disempowering the voltaic mania of x-buddhist postulation. One way of doing this is to probe the rhetoric operating unconsciously in the x-buddhist text. That’s where the critical thrust of the project comes from.
  6. “Thinking new thoughts” also means imagining new material structures for practice and dialogue. Speculative non-buddhism is an applicable critical practice. You can apply the ideas (of the heuristic, for example) to  x-buddhist works in order to discern certain operations that the work—whether a sutra or a website—doesn’t make manifest. You can also imagine, and even experiment with, a form of sitting practice that has been stripped of, say, x-buddhistic path tropes. You can try talking about x-buddhist themes without using buddhemes. There are endless possibilities for application.
  7. X-buddhism” is a stand-in for all varieties of Buddhism. The term is meant to convey the fact that every form of Buddhism—from the most secular to the most orthodox, and including quasi- and crypto- forms such as “mindfulness”—are merely individual instances of a common structure. Following the contemporary French thinker, François Laruelle, I call this structure “decision.” You can read more about it here. I have yet to encounter a version of x-buddhism that does not conform to this decisional syntax. What that means is that, for example, Stephen Batchelor’s secular Buddhism is absolutely identical to Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s fundamentalist Buddhism.
  8. The language used for this project spans a continuum from everyday syntax and vocabulary to technical and creative forms. Unlike every other x-buddhist venue, I assume that my reader is intelligent. I also assume that he or she has access to a dictionary.
  9. Hallucination” on this blog refers to what happens when x-buddhists mistake their dharmic ideology for a natural state of affairs, for how things are. Non-buddhism assumes that x-buddhism may have value for human beings, but only if x-buddhism is taken as yet another regional form of knowledge, and thus is consciously integrated into an ideology.
  10. There have been a few critiques of the project around the web. But in each case it seems obvious that the reviewer either did not read the basic material describing the project, or read it but didn’t understand. The two most egregious examples have been Stephen Schettini and Seth Segall, and, in a much more limited scope,  Sujato Bhikkhu. Schettini and Segall could only bewail what they perceived to be the un-buddhisty (hence, necessarily wrong) tone of my language; and Sujato, as monks tend to do, could only recite reams of intricate exemplification. I look forward to more relevant criticisms in the coming year.
  11. All blogs have what are known as “lurkers“–regular readers who never comment. I don’t mind that at all. Please, lurk all you like. I do it myself on other blogs. But I do find it interesting that I receive so many private emails from some of these readers. Included among them are academics, Buddhist studies scholars, and even well-known figures in the Buddhist world. I believe that all of these people should speak openly. Take a fucking risk, for Christ’s sake. I would like to say to the latter in particular: You possess an institutional stamp of approval. It signals to everyone that you are good and knowing and even wise beyond the average person. That’s why you are the sensei or lama or roshi or meditation teacher or popular author or whatever. Well, prove it to us, fuggermuckers!
  12. Yes, you will be confronted with the occasional provocation, like “fuggermuckers.” Whether crude or sophisticated, such provocations are meant to help you see–help you feel–where your deceptions are fermenting. Where is that? Usually at the confluence of ego, preciousness, and indignation. Disabuse us of the belief that an x-buddhist is a person who does not do what s/he says and does not say what s/he does.
  13. Some of you are writing comments that are more like  stimulating post material. Reminder: you are all invited to write for this blog.
  14. Finally, I said at the outset that I hope to attract five or six people who pick some of this non-buddhist flotsam out of the murky ocean of so-called knowledge. Matthias Steingass, Tom Pepper, Tomek Idzik and Adam S. Miller, in doing so, are pushing the project in ways beyond what I imagined. And that’s exactly as it should be.

Hanx!

______________

Image: Jeffrey Hayes, “Tangerine Number One.” Artist’s blog.

50 Responses to “After One Year”

  1. Greg said

    #11 Doesn’t surprise me. In the dozen years that I’ve been involved with Buddhist communities, I’ve found that all the “real talk” happens in private. Interesting that we are not more curious why that is.

  2. Peter K said

    Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!

    And many thanks for hosting this stuff. It’s now essential reading for me. (But if it’s ONLY reading, what am I? And if not now, when?)

  3. jonckher said

    #0 Point 14

    Gasp! How is it possible that I didn’t get a mention!?!

    Actually, given my lack of wordage (1) and large words (2), I can completely understand my missing out on a mention. Matthias and Mr Pepperpots have got both in spades! Kudos kudos kudos! (-stage whisper- I don’t know who the other two guys are (3))

    However, I think there should be a GREATEST FANS page where the not so brainy ones can be listed.

    Here are my nominees (in no particular order):

    a) sometimesihatemycat – because she is very cool and I love reading her comments and her blog. Sassy and smart!

    b) jayarava – actually he is very brainy plus he looks like a cross between Mahatma Gandhi and Gandalf. Which is the coolest ever! Also, so few people post their real faces. Why is that? How do I know you’re not all canines?

    c) robert – no blog link, no photo – this man is a cipher but his sensitive engaged questioning is totes amazeballs!

    d) and me! – comic relief and self-appointed peanut thrower. (also eye candy)

    with metta, as usual,

    ps: happy birthday

    (1) quantity = quality. I must I must! I must increase or bust!
    (2) big = better and never mind all assertions to the contrary!
    (3) srsly dude, what have they done for you lately?

  4. fionnchu said

    In fear and trembling I’ve been lurking awhile but I did review earlier this year (Amazon US) GW’s “Basic Teachings” + “Dhammapada.” That reveals my time lag, but they were skillfully edited and stimulating editions. After finding out about the SBA, I searched for more about GW among x-B’s. I tried to do pre-requisite reading here, but I’m decades behind you all, as tardy observer and not participant. Mid-life, after a diss. on the literary idea of purgatory and a lifelong interest in how we talk ourselves into systems and visions, I’m peering into Buddhism four years (now I’m teaching a Comp Religions course). I’ve been working on three linked blogposts to appear June-July on Ruin + SN-B, but this funhouse spins posts faster than I can stumble upon. I found you all at the right time, before warning signs went up but after studying x-B’s from a cautious, curious, unaffiliated distance. Looking up GW’s website, I found out about Ruin, which twirled into my own punk leanings and my longstanding curiosity if there was/is dharmacore. An unwilling native of L.A.’s unheard music, but better late than ever to this all-night (Philly) lotus party.

  5. jonckher (#3). Oh, I agree. I have not disagreed with a single syllable of yours since you have generously splayed your rich bacilli around this slog. Excellent nominations. I second.

    You are sniffing the backside of a C now.

    No sleep ’til Hammersmith, my friend . . . .

  6. Robert said

    Thank you, Glenn, for for your efforts in hosting my two absolutely favourite blogs on the information highway. And thank you for nominating me, Jonckher, you are very kind. Next year I plan to piss people off a bit more. I am so tired of being sensitive. I want to be more like Tom, my secret role model. Nobody ever calls me an asshole, and I feel left out.

  7. Adam Miller said

    It’s been an excellent year. Thanks, Glenn. Though I’ve been quiet, the work here has shaped and reshaped me. Thanks especially to Tom Pepper for showing me more about how to loop my interest in Buddhism together with my interest in Badiou.

  8. Alan said

    re: #11

    Okay, now I’m suffering from lurker’s guilt. Glad to see a few others are as well. But at least I’m not the roshi-, sensei-, lama-, popular author-, Buddhist celebrity-, self-proclaimed enlightened wise person-type lurker referenced by Glenn. I’m a high school English teacher (with a few teenage Jonckher wannabes in my classroom) without much knowledge of classical Buddhism or contemporary French thought. I am a relative newcomer to meditation (less than four years). I’m interested in useful and important information and ideas, and I find plenty here. I’m trying to become more aware of my own ideologies and to look more critically at my own thinking and how all that impacts the way I live my life. This blog helps. Thanks and happy birthday!

    LURKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

  9. fionnchu (#4).

    Fuck aff nie ye fenian bastard ye.

    That’s what my daughter came up with when I asked her what a “Fenian” is. I think it’s from some slang dictionary. She lives in Belfast in a house with both Catholics and Protestants. Apparently, they’re not killing each other so much these days.

    I share your “lifelong interest in how we talk ourselves into systems and visions.” Maybe you can say more? Are you interested in the psychology behind it, the social forces, more? You may find the work of Pascal Boyer interesting. He explores the issue from a cognitive-science-meets-anthrpology perspective. Really interesting data. You may also like Justin Barrett’s article: “Exploring the Natural Foundations of Religion.” (Link at the bottom of the page.)

    Really, this project is an extension of Ruin. I have dropped hints about it all over the site. I also have lots of veiled references to punk rock and rock n’roll in all four of my books. I always told my bandmates: “this has nothing to do with music!” The punKoan, then, is: with what does it have to do?

    Beautiful blog, by the way. I hope you won’t be surprised to see that I’ve pilfered a Yeats painting, or something else, for this site.

    Síocháin agus beoir!

  10. jamie said

    Another lurker, here…
    Two questions I’ve feared to ask out of my lack of depth and breadth of knowledge:
    Is Wallis’ “decision” any different than “faith” (I am thinking in a fundamentalist Christian sense)?
    Is Pepper’s “truth” any different from “god” (if we agree to disallow any personal projections onto either)?

  11. Hi Jamie (#10).

    Thanks for coming out of the shadows. But feel free to stay there, too, if you like.

    I think “decision” is, in one sense, something like “the faith of Buddhism;” and in another, “the faith in Buddhism.” In it’s main sense, decision describes a move that is at the heart of Buddhism and all of its varieties, called, for the sake of simplicity, x-buddhism. Decision is x-buddhism’s faith that it possesses the transcendent grounding (The Dharma) for its vast inventory of world-describing items (from the dependent origination-samsara nexus). In the first instance, The Dharma features only as “the teachings” that articulate this nexus. But it is then split off from the nexus (hence, the scission metaphor) in order to establish the necessary–really, the desired–authority. This decision constitutes the “faith of x-buddhism,” because it’s the belief that The Dharma possesses sufficient explanatory power. That’s a very poor rendition of Laruelle’s idea of what he calls “philosophical decision.” I think it works for x-buddhism just as well; so I adopted the term. I have tweaked the sense of it, though, to include what I call “affective decision.” Affective decision is the reflexive acceptance of the x-buddhist “hallucination”–hidden ideological presentation–of the world. Affective decision manifests as buddhemic speech (automatically reaching for x-buddhist vocabulary), ventriliquization (permitting “the dharma” to speak through you), dharmic framing (viewing everything through some x-buddhist trope or schema), and other instances of reflexive–literally like an automatic reflex–action. That, then, may be something like “faith in Buddhism.” But since I have never been part of a “faith tradition,” maybe you can say how you see it. Is faith something as reflexive as that, or is it more of a mental/verbal identification with a belief system?

    Hope that helps. If not, I’ll try to be clearer. Thanks for joining in.

  12. Jamie said

    This is exactly analogous, in my way of thinking. Thanks.

    Let me ask another question, this one about your sitting sessions which you describe as “coupling a minimally-framed practice with a dialogical component that eschews notions such as ‘an agreed upon claim,’ much less ‘truth.’”

    I’m not sure what exactly the pre-dialogue component accomplishes — although I would like to know but cant seem to discern it yet (my obtuseness) from your writings or the writings of others. However, I am very enamored of Pepper’s notion of the mind being a social construct, so the unstructured dialogue sounds sort of like a psychoanalytic group process (Matthias: an “attempt to express experience is totally free in the confines of ‘this is what I make of it,’ while at the same time the spontaneous affective all-knowing critic takes a backseat and shuts up”), but without the shrink. To me, it would serve a function toward some sort of “development” of that social-construct mind. It’s sort of a “World,” in Pepper’s sense, in which minds – and Worlds – are, indeed, changed. And it seems to me that it is up to the individuals involved to decide if that is something he/she wants to happen. Still, it strikes me as a process that is not much different from psychoanalysis, except for the lack of focus specifically on affect – and, of course, no analyst.

    Does this make sense?

  13. I haven’t been here in a while — so glad I stopped in for a visit. I did a bout of reading Buddhist blogs, following a few Buddhist Tweets and got rather burnt out on the Buddhist soup — contrarians and waiters alike — myself included. But I do love jumping back into your language. Congrats on the anniversary!

  14. Jamie said

    More on #12:

    It seems to me that the function of the minimally-framed practice part must be to facilitate breaking through the delusion of a separate sense of self.

    And then the function of the dialogical component is, in effect, to replace the delusion (or make up for its loss) with a changed, social mind.

    The risk in the former is that whatever practice is invoked for the task is unsuccessful in breaking the delusion.

    The risk in the latter is that the group process merely forms an alternative, shared delusion.

    So, for me, the question are: what minimally-framed practice best facilitates breaking through the delusion? And, what dialogical component is least vulnerable to the development of an alternative delusion?

  15. Another non-roshi/sensei/lama/llama/celeb lurker crawling out of the woodwork and onto the saute of the non-buddhist warlock …

    By way of introduction,
    I’m a confused software developer who reads meditation books without meditating.
    And i lend gravitas to that by citing King Crimson
    “Confusion will be my epitaph ….”

    2 wishes i’d like to nail to the door.
    1> A big succor for me here is the virulent denial of right-speech shenanigans/canards. There is indeed a difference between saying

    things differently and saying different things. Right-speech frobnications make the latter painful.
    2> There will be an exposition of the really useful, super-duper Buddhist postulates from thought #5.

  16. Tom Pepper said

    Jamie,

    re #10: I’m never sure what people mean by “god.” Bhaskar, in “From East to West”, claims to have an incontrovertible argument for the existence of god, but his concept of god sounds, to me, the same as the madhyamaka concept of sunyata/emptiness, which I don’t think is what most people mean when they say god. I would suggest that Truth, in Badiou’s sense, is similar to what Spinoza means by god: Spinoza presents god as equivalent to the laws of nature, and so god in his sense exists and affects our lives, whether or not we are aware of “his” existence (gravity affected people who did not believe it existed, e.g.), and these laws of nature, eternally true, can become known to human minds. Of course, this idea got Spinoza excommunicated from his Jewish congregation, and his works were banned throughout Europe for centuries–so it’s probably not what most people mean when they say god.

    No need to hesitate to question, ask for clarity, or offer opposing arguments. You only get hit with the stick for offering the standard reactionary responses that thought is bad, capitalism is nature, delusion equals compassion, emotion is reality, truth is ineffable, and all opinions are true.

  17. Jamie said

    Thank you, Tom.
    I’m with Spinoza – which means excommunicated, I guess!

  18. Matthias said

    Jamie (#12 & #14)

    My idea about an “open conversation” would indeed be like something you say, that it would serve a function toward some sort of “development” of that social-construct mind.

    The original idea came to me when I saw that in meditation groups I took part in, it was rare that an open conversation about what everybody was doing during meditation took place. Speaking about the hidden motivations one has, or even trying to think about that one might have “hidden” motivations and to try to express them, could be one goal of talking in such a group.

    A good conversation guided by some rules can change the whole atmosphere in a group and this in itself changes this social molecule. The idea is that such groups configure themselves through a trial and error process which at one point could lead to a social nucleus of people which have a strong relationship and build a structure which is supportive for the members and which is the base for wider social activity.

    If the process in the group is of a kind like a psychoanalytical process or if it develops other forms depends on the knowledge of the participants and what they choose to put to test for the experiment. But the role of the analyst in the psychoanalytical process may be of interest. S/he has to be able to listen in a certain way which for example abstains from any compulsive reaction. This is, I think, a very important feature in such a group – to listen and to be aware of ones own reactions.

    Trust is also important, of course, very important. Otherwise no one would talk about personal things.

    I think the impression of a being a separated being can very much diminish when one experiences trust and understanding. But I would not set out with the explicit goal to “break through the delusion of a separated self.” I would rather see it as an indirect one – that through good, trustworthy, honest communication separation melts down.

    Can we get rid of our delusion? Personally, in a sense, I don’t think so. I mean this in the sense Tom Pepper is saying that we never life without ideology, only better ones can develop. One important point in such processes is that they always can freeze into something suppressive. The marker for suppression is if something cannot be said openly. That would be the flashback into really a primitive ideology.

    Rycekutcher (#15)

    If you cite King Crimson you have me. The song you mention is still so much up to date. The fate of all mankind I see is in the hands of fools. That is a dark and sombre piece of music. The middle part with the solo of the clarinet sounds to me like the funeral march for reason.

    Talking about meditation has been difficult even here. I think that has to do with Glenn’s thought #5. The voltaic mania of x-buddhist postulation is distorting everything. Doing something to get the head clearer is at once ‘meditation’. And ‘meditation’ is at once about enlightenment, rigpa, an eternal deathless mind – in any case it has to be about something very very special.

    Just recently I came about the idea that it is about boredom, not doing something to while away the time. Doesn’t sounds like an idea one could sell at the next buddhist prop-room.

    But anyway before I get carried away. Do you feel like telling a little bit about what your motivation is to read books about ‘meditation’? My personal experience is that the appeal of ‘meditation’ might have to do a lot with confusion and that it really has to do something with the search for consolation – especially when the fools rule.

  19. jayarava said

    Recently the BBC showed part of an old interview between Caroline Coon and John Lydon. It was her as labelled the Sex Pistols with that old word “punk”. She asked him what his beef with hippies was, and he looked at her with that mind-bending intensity he had and just said “they’re complaisant”. Just that. My hair stood on end. I watched it several times. It was a moment of utter clarity. What’s wrong with Buddhists today? They (we) are complaisant. Buddhists are convinced they’ve got this universal panacea, perfect wisdom, and infinite compassion all in one easily digestible sound bite. In other words they’re fucking delusional. We either need to start manifesting this panacea big time, or reassess our contribution to world peace, because outside our safe little suburban world things are a bit messy.

    I think Glenn is wrong about being the only one who assumes his readers are intelligent. I do it. Though after today’s comments on my blog, and reading the dying embers of the “Faith of Secular Buddhists” here, I don’t know why I bother. Zappa once said something like “The stupid will inherit the earth.” Some days it seems like they already have.

    Glenn’s project has often seemed impenetrably obscure to me. Both scatological and ferociously intelligent. It’s difficult to know how to play here – how not to appear stupid and be made fun of. And yet what is said clearly concerns me! In parallel I’ve been taking Buddhism apart to see how it works. Lately looking at the Zoroastrian input for example, which I hope to get into an academic journal at some point. But also thinking about how belief functions to make us stupid (as David Webster puts it). Reading Thomas Metzinger finally put the supernatural to bed for me. I finally felt able to relax with my total non-belief in the supernatural. Mystery? Sure. Supernatural. No! So for all the dissonance I experience reading this blog I’m drawn back by a sense of shared values–something is rotten in the state of Buddhism.

    However I am still very much a Buddhist. Something that no one here has challenged me about yet, though I don’t seem to be counted amongst the idiots! At some point I need to blog about why I am (still) a Buddhist. I don’t think I’m “in love” with Buddhism any more, at least not as naively as I was. I no longer believe in rebirth or cosmic karma, or perfect wisdom, or that the Buddha was a real person. But I’m still a Buddhist and part of the Buddhist community, and feeling good about it.

    So, one year. Not bad. I have found myself looking forward to what comes next over the last few weeks especially. Cheers Glenn.

    Jonckher #3. Gandhi staged a hunger strike to prevent Dr Ambedkar dismantling the caste system in India. He might have kicked the British out, but the same foot came down on the Dalits. Where it remains. Fuck Gandhi and his dead foot. But thanks for saying I’m brainy. Should we start a campaign for real faces?

  20. jonckher said

    #19

    Under the flickering light of your torch, you discern two metal bound oak doors, each covered in mystical glyphs.

    Behind one is the Slippery Slope. The glyphs read: buddhism -> equanimity -> contentment -> complacency -> holier-than-thou smugness.

    Behind the other is the Upward Drive. The glyphs read: buddhism -> compassion -> engagement -> social action -> self-righteous smugness.

    Brave adventurer, which door do you choose?

    And can you avoid the ultimate fate of ending up looking like Prince Joffrey?

  21. Jayarava (#19).

    Ha ha. I can picture that scene exactly. I know that Johnny Rotten stare. Here’s another great interview moment with another beast of a song writer, Leonard Cohen. The trouble begins when the interviewer asks him in broken English (I transliterated for easier listening):

    Leonard Cohen: You mean, why, why do the people come to see me?
    German interviewer: Well, why are they so fascinated?
    Leonard Cohen…

    I actually got that look from John Lydon himself once, a long time ago. I don’t remember what I said to earn it. But my band opened for the post-Pistols PiL in Philadelphia. Lydon heard that the opening band were “Buddhist punks,” so he actually stuck around for our sound check and spent the afternoon with us–mainly making fun of us and cracking jokes at our expense. But he was obviously fascinated by the fact that we were “Buddhist punks.” He wouldn’t let it go. He asked why we didn’t have a huge gong on the drum kit and where our wizard hats were and stupid crap like that. I gave him shit right back, and he gave me one of those stares for something I said. For fun, we burned incense and lit candles–Buddhist style–during our set. He watched from backstage. I believe to this day that we thoroughly kicked PiLs ass that night.

    I think you are right that I am “wrong about being the only one who assumes his readers are intelligent.” I think you do so, in abundance. I think David Chapman does so beautifully. I think Matthias Steingass does so–German-style, which is a high standard. Tomek Idzik does so, as far as I can make out via Google translate. Adam Miller writes with the assumption of intelligence, too, though infrequently on Buddhism. I’d like to know of others you think do so, and I’ll add them to my blogroll. But, I think you’ll agree” it’s pretty slim pickins.

    I’ll take “scatological.” Is that a reference to my love of Georges Bataille? First, the etymology:

    scatological: “obscene literature,” 1876, from Gk. skat-, stem of skor (gen. skatos) “excrement” (from PIE root *sker- “to defecate”) + -logy “treatise, study.”
    scat: “filth, dung,” 1950, from Gk. stem skat- “dung” (see scatology).

    Now, Bataille. (Followed by Nick Land’s comment. All of this is, I think, relevant to the conversation.)

    Laughter

    Laugh and laugh
    at the sun
    at the nettles
    at the stones
    at the ducks

    at the rain
    at the pee-pee of the pope
    at mommy
    at a coffin full of shit.

    Nick Land’s comment (from The Thirst for Annihilation).

    This poem introduces three of the most crucial themes traversing Bataille’s writing: laughter, excrement, and death. Such “themes” are suspended only momentarily at the lip of philosophical intelligibility, and then released into a euphoric immolation upon the burn-core of literature, disintegrating into a senseless heterogeneous mass. His texts obsessively reiterate that the decomposed body is excremental, and that the only sufficient response to death is laughter. The corpse not only dissolves into a noxious base matter analogous to excrement, it is also in fact defecated as waste by the life of the species. For the corpse is the truth of the biological individual, its consummate superfluity. It is only through the passage into irredeemable waste that the individual is marked with the delible trace of its excess. It is because life is pure surplus that the child of “Laughter”—standing by the side of of his quietly weeping mother and transfixed by the stinking ruins of his father—is gripped by convulsions of horror that explode into the peals of mirth, as uncompromising as orgasm. “Laughter” is, in part, a contribution to the theory of mourning. Laughter is a communion with the dead, since death is not the object of laughter: it is death itself that finds a voice when we laugh. Laughter is that which is lost to discourse, the hemorrhaging of pragmatics into excitation and filth.

    It’s difficult to know how to play here – how not to appear stupid and be made fun of.

    Well, you sure as hell don’t have to worry about that.

    I would love to read your essay “Why I am (Still) a Buddhist.” I would love to re-blog it here, if that’s okay with you. It would mean double-time on the comment responses. But it would surely be great fun. So, please, stop reading and start writing.

    Thanks for your participation here, as always, Jayarava!

  22. Jamie (#14). I wholeheartedly agree with each of those statements. I don;t make a habit of saying “wholeheartedly,” either. I mean that I have come to those exact same views through years of, first, traditional Zen practice and, second, experimentation with minimizing the risk you speak of. And you are right: it is an ever-present risk. So, the question that I–we, the whole group–keep constantly in front of us is:

    what minimally-framed practice best facilitates breaking through the delusion? And, what dialogical component is least vulnerable to the development of an alternative delusion?

    I would like to suggest that the question must remain perpetually open. Along the way, we experiment. Right not, we have a dialogue after an hour uninterrupted sit–no walking, no pretty bells, no solemn-voiced instructions. Someone then reads a text. You can see some of these texts on our Facilebook page. The text generally emphasize, well, have a look, and maybe you can say what you think they’re about. You might see a clear ideological bent in them. Then, if you came to our sit, you would tell us that. And that would be well-received. Why? Because–and this is as close as I can come to an answer to that question above–because included within our frame is sensitivity to the fact–really, suspicion–that we are building a cozy new nest for ourselves. Making explicit the insidious nature of The Human Agreement System keeps us vulnerable–the wound never closes.

    But the force of desire to fit in and agree and get and give answers and feel like you’re getting somewhere and all the rest is as relentless as the Undead.

    I’d like to hear your ideas. If you look around the blog some, for example Matthias Steingass’s posts, you find a lot of discussion on this subject.

    rycekutcher (#15). I took so long to answer above . . .I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Thanks!

  23. Jamie said

    re: #22, my ideas, cozy new nests and relentlessness

    I agree about the need for the question’s perpetual openness. But here’s my current idea (albeit changing perpetually) in a nutshell:

    The minimally-framed practice practices attending to input from the five senses in the here-and-now, rather than attending to thoughts and feelings.

    The dialogical component practices attending to the thoughts and feeling of others, rather than to one’s own. The dialogue is about thoughts and feelings that hampered individual attention to input from five senses during the minimally-framed practice (in the style described by Matthias in #18 above and elsewhere).

    There are so many caveats, though, as process probably needs to be tailored to individual genetics, neurobiology, psychological development…

  24. Michael Clifford said

    I enjoy following this blog. It is a love hate relationship for me, but a very healthy and creative one. The ideas and question it invokes allows me to get out of the vehicle of Buddhist thought a bit and kick the tires so to speak. The Buddhist Ideology is one that I follow and use for direction, but I always feel it is well advised to try and get out of the vehicle you are riding in and question the whole thing. I really enjoy ideas and questions that make me cringe. This cringe lets me know that perhaps something I took for fact is not so, and knocks this “fact” down from a Universal Truth to a decision. This service is invaluable; you never know how many of these landmines are laying about in your thinking because you mistake them for bedrock.

  25. Robert said

    Re 22, 23. No mater how minimally framed the meditation session, nothing can hide the fact that the meditation practice, focus on the breath and so on, is just about the most maximally (new word, it should exist) unusual thing that a person can engage in. Whether we just sort of slide into the meditation, no pretty bells and so on, or whether we get elephants, eighteen year old dancing girls and shriners to formally circumabulate the meditation hall prior to sitting, it doesn’t really matter. If we truly want to experience what it is to be human, I suggest the dentist chair is a much more appropriate place than the meditation cushion.

  26. rycekutcher (#15).

    Nice to meet you. Thanks for crawling past. That’s sauté (jump) as in: to toss in hot fat, right? I like it!

    We will keep our vats full of heat and
    Fat for all who wish to fume and fizzim
    In our septic barm of non-buddhism.

    That’s funny, reading books on meditation without meditating. It really is; it makes me chuckle. It’s the chuckle of understanding. You would appreciate Robert’s many comments here on the strangeness of sitting on a cushion, or whatever, meditating. (See his latest, #25.) Do you mind saying why you don’t meditation? Meditation–what “it” is, how to conceive it unbeholden to the ancient postulates and tropes, etc.–is a major interest for many of us here.

    Yes, we will virulently (that seems the only way) deny right-speech shenanigans. I just read a long, long comment by a leader in a Buddhist group. He was being so nice and so cautious and so understanding and so vacuous and so robot-like and so full of shit, all at the same time. There is an insidious form of passive-aggression at work in contemporary North American x-buddhism. It comes wrapped in the sweet smile and gentle eyes of “right speech” and “compassion” and “skillful means.” If it gets anywhere near me, I will unsheathe my sword of Manjushri and chop off its balls–although, come to think of it, it probably doesn’t have any! That’s the whole problem: no balls!

    About #5. I see that I did not formulate that so well. Would it be cheating to go back and fix it? What I mean is that the goal of speculative non-buddhism to “think new thoughts,” is hindered by the force of x-buddhist postulates. One way that force manifests is that the postulates are presented “as really, really special, and super-duper Buddhist.” That formulation is shorthand for what I consider x-buddhism’s shield of defense against regional knowledges (biology, philosophy, literature, and so on and on). Following Kant’s “principle of sufficient reason,” I call this the “principle of sufficient buddhism.” (Laruelle speaks, too, of the “principle of sufficient philosophy.) I also call this insistence on the postulates’ specialness and buddhistness a refusal to sit, as a good democratic citizen, at the Great Feast of Knowledge. X-buddhism comes to the feast as an aristocrat, courtiers and knights in tow; and insists on sitting, diva-like, at the head of the table.

    Once we can find a way to democratize x-buddhism, we can, indeed, as you say, offer an exposition on its postulates–on, in short, its contribution to human (read: not to x-buddhistic) knowledge.

    Hope you’ll sauté a while longer. Peace and barm . . .

  27. Mike Preston said

    Happy Birthday Speculative Non-Buddhism!

    Thanks to all here for posing many of the problems I am now trying to solve.

    Glenn, you say to kicked PIL’s ass? And they only wanted to be loved. I am not surprised.

    My mom is a cat lady, with a small herd. This place reminds me of her society of felines, as some of them shit outside of the box, most of the time.

    Glenn, regarding you above reflection #7 on Laruelle’s notion of decision:

    I have yet to encounter a version of x-buddhism that does not conform to this decisional syntax. What that means is that, for example, Stephen Batchelor’s secular Buddhism is absolutely identical to Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s fundamentalist Buddhism.

    It seems to me that on some analyses, absolute identity is a notion freighted to the bones with troublesome results. Could “this” be the same as “that,” all the time, always, already? Really? Once again, you got me thinking.

    Rhetoric aside, what I most like about this site is its focus on peeling the Ideology onion. It makes me cry, sometimes a river, but then I want to build a bridge and get over it.

    Mike

  28. jayarava said

    Re #21. Glenn, I sat down to write something on Why I am (Still) a Buddhist and it turned into a long list of people I’m grateful to for various kindnesses, especially the gift of friendship. Most of them you’ll never have heard of because none of them have ever courted publicity or been public figures, though many seem to me to be outstanding Buddhists. Basically I’m a Buddhist because it’s more joyful than the alternative, and I like the company. However I may try to compose something on what I think is left when the dust of my iconoclasm settles. Which may be what you had in mind…

    I seem to have put most people off commenting on my blog. It’s kind of a relief really as it was becoming a nightmare. I’m quite impressed that you can get 200+ comments on one post!

  29. jayarava said

    Re #25

    If we truly want to experience what it is to be human, I suggest the dentist chair is a much more appropriate place than the meditation cushion.

    But the fact is, Robert, that if you want to feel the exquisite pain of dentistry in all of its fullness and terror, you need to be able to stay focussed and aware. And this takes practice, especially with pain. Most of us just dissociate in the presence of pain and do not experience it in anything like it’s fullness. We’re all like flinching, and thinking about something else, and wishing it to be over. We are not exercising the faculty of awareness at anything like it’s full human potential. If you can find it, listen to a song by Neil Finn called Lester, it’s on the Crowded House album called Afterglow. That kind of sums it up for me.

    You’ve completely missed the point of meditating, and mostly missed the point of being human.

    I think we experience what it is to be human most fully in an empathetic relationship with another human being. To feel what another living being feels. How fucking amazing is that? Really fucking amazing I would say. An awesome take on this outlook can be found on the RSA website. Kia Ora.

  30. […] nachdem er einem anderen Kommentator erklärt hat warum er meditiert: You’ve completely missed the point of meditating, and mostly missed the point of being human. […]

  31. Robert said

    Re 29, Jayarava. Oh no! I am old and a widower to boot, and now you tell me that I have mostly missed the point of being human. All because of one comment I made! And time is running out! I am screwed! How fucking screwed am I? I am really fucking amazingly screwed!

  32. Robert said

    Maybe this one-year anniversary is an opportunity to brainstorm a bit about what the next year should bring for this most excellent blog, what formal topics Glenn could introduce for us to promptly ignore and stray from in our comments.

    When it comes to thinking new thoughts about old buddhist postulates I personally have been thinking about suffering lately. Not because of my personal circumstances, but because it is such a fundamental concept to x-buddhist philosopy. When I was a hard-core buddhist I knew exactly what it meant, now that I have stepped outside so to speak I am not so sure anymore. So maybe that is a good one.

    Compassion, empathy, what the hell is that?

    You can never think enough about the political sphere. Buddhist political engagement is a very peculiar thing, very ostentatiously buddhist both in the way it presents itself and in terms of what it considers to be the problems and the solutions offered. Lots there to think about and insult one another. I believe it was Ray who not that long ago mentioned non-violence as not being so clear cut, that could be one sub-topic that we tackle..

    Meditation and its transformative powers. (Hope springs eternal, one of these days somebody will explain to me why meditation, x-buddhist or non-buddhist, is a good thing. It’s not for a lack of trying).

    I raise this especially now that so many of the folks who rather read than comment (I don’t like to call them lurkers) are coming out of the closet to offer congratulations. I used to be like that myself, and then I stopped being like that, and terrifying as it is at times, and no matter how much I regret some of the comments I have made here (like # 30, 20 minutes ago), by and large nothing sharpens your thinking like commenting. It’s fun and educational.

    So what do you think?

  33. Jayarava confesses to turning away commentors on his blog, then illustrates how by characteristically calling others stupid and worthless. and highlighting Robert’s question on the value of meditation.

  34. Matthias said

    Hi Robert (#32)

    If you still like to name it “meditation” ok. But if you equal it at once with a “transformative power” then you have at once the whole dilemma. It is the dream about a magical cure, it is still the dream that some thaumaturgical refuge will free us of all “suffering”.

    I don’t say that you dream this dream. I understand that you do not anymore. But if you frame meditation like this it is useless for us here. I think we are beyond the point to declare to each other that we don’t believe this shit.

    But from another point of view there is this transformative power. That is what I wanted to say in No More Meditation. It is about communication and that we can alter communication in a way that transforms our interaction. Tom writes in one of his comments about an aesthetic practice like reading a poem or hearing music. It is possible to listen to another person in this way and it is possible to speak like finding words for a poem. In a manner which gives a little more room for awareness of the unfolding of meaning and ideas (and that means the whole range from thinking “what is this idiot talking about” to “whow, I couldn’t have said it better”).

    I don’t mean that form now on we always speak like we make poems…. although maybe we would life in a better world then. What I mean is that we can come to a better communication which is more honest and more connected. If we define this attempt as “meditation” would this answer your question : Why do we meditate?

  35. jayarava said

    #33 Sabio. Ah, my stalker returns. I turned *you* away. Repeatedly. But you kept coming back for more. And here you are making personal remarks, still angry, still that frustrated desire to be liked by me. Why me? In your case I’m bored by your dilettantism and have become wary of these random personal attacks when I disagree with you. Give it up Sabio, there’s no mileage in seeking approval from internet strangers. And there’s no mileage in scape goating in this or all forums. If the crowd aren’t already against me then your pathetic ad hominems are hardly going to turn them. Stupid is as stupid does.

  36. jayarava said

    Actually I want to apologise to Glenn. Last week, I think it was, I chided him for expecting too much of his readers. But Sabio has reminded me of the towering sense of entitlement that blog readers often have. The insistence that an essay which emerges from years (decades in your case) of study and reflection, and is crafted over many hours of writing, ought to be skim readable in a few minutes and understood by any idiot. In fact when one writes from one’s decades of experience it is often beyond the ken of people who don’t share that background. I can see why you value those few people who seem able not only to grasp your ideas, but to run with it too. What a delight to feel understood, and how rare that feeing is. Sadhu to those people.

    I can empathise with the frustration at people who refuse to come up to speed, glory in their stupidity, and insist you write at their dumb level–because, fuck it, everything ought to be arranged for their convenience and easy digestion. Not only complaisant but probably fat. (Soon it will be a “hate crime” to call someone fat in the UK, so I’m getting a few in before I’m arrested). I hate those kinds of interactions and after 7 years of it on my blog feel quite jaded.

    And I’m sorry because I’ve been guilty of this. I too expect to be able to skim read, and forget about the references and background reading. I suppose I figure I’m smart enough to fake it. But it’s not good enough, it’s lazy and a bit arrogant. I want my writing to be taken seriously, and bristle at the phrase ‘skim read’ and I should have given you the same courtesy that I wish to receive. I did print out the Articles of Faith essay and read it several times, but only after beginning to comment.

    I’ll try to do better in future. I admire people who can think, and aspire to be one them.

  37. Q.E.D.

  38. Tom Pepper said

    I share the frustration with the overwhelming arrogance of the willfully stupid. They insist that it is arrogant to make arguments and expect intelligence, when of course believing that one already knows everything without doing all that boring work is the very height of arrogance.

    However, there has been enough truly intelligent response on this blog to give us some hope that the Great Stultifying does not have complete control of the collective mind.

    Robert, re 25, 32: I think part of the problem is with the assumption that meditation is always and only “following the breath,” the idea that the only goal of meditation is to achieve that consciousness without a content, the state of being conscious only of being conscious but not conscious OF anything. This really only serves to reinforce the “subtle atman” kind of Buddhism, and certainly isn’t the only thing meditation can mean. I like Matthias’s idea of a practice group that serves as a kind of psychoanalytic group. I was just re-reading an essay by David Loy, in which he claims that “Buddhism does not give us truths but shows how to become aware of and let go of the automatized truths we are normally not aware of holding”; in this sense, perhaps another way to put it would be that practice can be a kind of group deconstruction?

  39. Robert said

    Re: The Feast of Knowledge. I have been thinking lately about why, long ago, I joined a sangha and became a buddhist. One of the reasons was definitely that in the sangha I joined I was allowed to think on my own, to say dumb things, to learn. This was the kind of group where we collectively read Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti and argued a lot about what it all meant. It was also a very democratic group, it didn’t matter if you were an academic or a carpenter, all were welcome, and all could ask questions, offer opinions and in the process develop understanding. I was absolutely starved for that kind of intellectual discussion, and would have had a hard time finding any kind of equivalent in a more secular context, not having academic credentials. Now, much later, I recognize that there were indeed unwritten limits to these investigations. For instance, any notion of reading western philosophy or science new or old, any notion that there was even a need to look much beyond our authoritative texts was unthinkable. Similarly, politics was simply not a topic ever. And understanding always implied an ultimate aligning with the authoritative texts and interpretations, they were authoritative in the most fundamental way, the goal was always to understand, the assumption or the foregone conclusion was always that the official interpretation of the texts was correct.

    What I love in this most excellent blog is this same democratic approach to knowledge, but beter yet, without any constraints about what interests we should bring to the feast of knowledge, how well we can articulate our comments, what conclusion we should eventually reachh, even to what extent we are allowed to expose our stupidity. Glenn, Tom, Matthias, without exception are willing to consider any argument thrown their way as long as it reflects a spirit of genuine curiosity and always take their time to explain their point of view. I am tremendously appreciative of this attitude, and have learned more about fearless investigation in the last year than in the 30 years or so prior to that. We weave a bloody tapestry of ruin here, we don’t moderate comments ever, and that is the way it should be.

    This one year birthday being a celebratory event, and me being in a celebratory mood, I just wanted to say this. I should cut down on coffee though.

  40. Greg said

    My experience, Robert, was very similar. Well stated.

  41. saibhu said

    Robert (#38),

    And understanding always implied an ultimate aligning with the authoritative texts and interpretations […] the goal was always to understand, the assumption or the foregone conclusion was always that the official interpretation of the texts was correct.

    In my group I’ve experienced something similar. Whenever they try to apply some Buddhist teaching to daily situations they already have an opinion how to deal with the situation. Consequently, if the interpretation of the teaching contradicts their opinion they change their interpretation accordingly.
    I always wonder why they bother to think about the teaching in the first place if it doesn’t “create new thought”.

    When it comes to little exercises (like talking mindfully and kind) and they encounter problems (sometimes kindness doesn’t work…), again, they assume *they* failed.

    The underlying notion is always “we made a mistake” (wrong interpretation/action), of course, because the teaching *has* to be correct.

    I think Matthias once asked about the kind of personality that people have that makes them behave that way. I would extent this question and ask the other ways round: what kind of personality does such a behavior create (e.g. there’s definitely guilt involved)?

  42. sometimes said

    I shortened my name to make it easier, but please know that the occasional cat hating is still occurring.

    Wow! I am coming out of a bit of a (busy with my life and blog) bubble. And I am THRILLED. I only skimmed over the entire conversation, so no I didn’t read your entire posts Tom (wink) but it is refreshing to read new voices. ALAN…so good to hear from you, you are officially not a lurker anymore. I was thrilled with the nomination at the beginning (I’ll take sassy, smart, and cool…but only for a moment because in the next one I am bound to reveal myself as boring, ignorant, and lukewarm.) But also glad to know that my blog is being followed by anyone, much less the smart and thoughtful people who contribute to this blog.

    Re the meditation as psychoanalysis comment: I have to say that I have spent much of my life in an exhaustive state of analysis, both professional and personal, and while there is need for that direction of meditation it is also important to balance that with meditation that is minimal (as Glenn suggests.) I have practiced both types of meditation and the balance of the two have served me well. I wonder if there is room in a meditation practice for it to be able to breathe and vacillate just like we do? Maybe not if we hold too tightly to dogma…but perhaps in actual practice there is no choice but for it to vacillate.

  43. sometimes said

    P.S. Re # 39…beautifully written Robert. I have had a smiliar experience with this blog and with my interactions in my own sangha, as we often have some of these very discussions. I wonder if I have been spoiled or coddled when my entire meditation/sangha experience is one that has told me to ask questions, think outside the dogma, question everything, find out for yourself. Whichever is the case, I have enjoyed it and been educated by it.

  44. Robert, Jayarava, Sabio. You will all see a connection between the new post and your comments and concerns. In fact, I hastened to post it because of this mounting issue about modes of dialogue. I have seen the word “stupid” show up in many places lately; so, I thought, hey, there’s my title! Given the fact that I earn my pay from a Buddhist organization, it is probably a stupid choice. And I don’t mind saying so: I am capable of unbelievable stupidity.

    Robert, you will see the theme of the Great Feast of Knowledge addresses there as well, although under different language.

    Any, I will get back to all of you later. Thanks!

  45. Robert said

    Saibhu, 41. You ask “What kind of personality does such a behaviour create?” That is indeed the more interesting question, and the one that should always be in the back of your mind. In many ways, it is the central theme of this blog. Stick around! Keep thinking!

  46. fionnchu said

    Glenn Wallis (#9),

    Many thanks for responding. After coming “out of the long grass,” as the Irish say, I was hoping for welcome words, and I found them in triplicate–in Gaeilge, Beárla, and what non-Fenians inflict as you and your daughter orthographically and correctly transcribe from Norn Iron “Ulster-Scots,” which post-peace process constitutes in some enclaves an officially recognised “language” in these carefee (beoir relentlessly marketed by Carlsberg + Guinness) times of less killing and more ‘illin’. A recent Irish tourism ad had a large sign inadvertently (?) placed on a “quaint” depiction of its model island’s attractions: “You are leaving Belfast.” My family were so desperate they emigrated to that city from the west of Ireland during WWII to find work, and as emigrants from such turf to its shipyards, didn’t. My great-grandfather was a Land League agitator “found drowned in mysterious circumstances” in the Thames, according to family lore, when he went to London to agitate. I inherited some of his restlessness within systems and beliefs, and I hope not all of his racially proverbial luck. I certainly grew up contemplating how we Irish sought out republicanism and Catholicism as “inspired.”

    Tangentially, my research interests lately involve bits of how the Irish discovered and imagined http://fionnchu.blogspot.com/2011/02/irelands-new-religious-movements-book.html “Celtic Buddhist” connections. Mostly earnest autodidactics and/or dour intellectuals but see text and links here for a new discovery about an enigmatic beach bum who may be “The First Irish Buddhist Monk?” I’ve been fascinated by “how we talk ourselves into systems and beliefs” since my unsurprisingly Irish Catholic childhood just after Vatican II kicked in–how my family and friends hung on to a demoted system even as the institution tried as with purgatory to diminish it and with limbo to abolish it. I asked my teachers arcane questions at a very young age about these concepts when they seemed consigned to the rubbish bin and they were perplexed no less than me. This mystery never diminished, and decades later it led to a diss. on “the idea of purgatory” as my own faith ebbed away congenially but wistfully from my formation, during which punk and orthodoxy, medieval studies and postmodern literature swirled at odd angles for quite a few years in my maturing mindset. I peer into belief systems which others hold so closely, wonder about my own unacknowledged verities, shift my views with what I read and think, revolve about, and as with Marxist friends or punk conformity once and Buddhism recently, I watch what happens when the hive’s kicked and loyal drones mass, swarm and sting. At SN-B I smell honey, pollen, and venom.

    I touched on the bardo and afterlife visions and concepts of purging and renewal long before I listened to Bardo Pond, in my diss. but I never got closer than a National Geographic Himalayan interest until a few years ago. My wife’s noted that there’s nothing more depressing than having a white person come up to you and start a conversation with “I’m a Buddhist,” and that comment resonated with me out here in L.A.! I live a mile from (since 1925) the Self-Realization Fellowship’s world headquarters, in a former hunting lodge where Charlie Chaplin left Hollywood a dozen miles east for his discreet hilltop trysts! I’ve seen plenty of (usually transplanted) locals peddling “into the mystic.” Hipsters founded a NKT outpost in a nearby barrio ex-church but they promote its downmarket address as trust-fund hip Silver Lake, tellingly. But despite my reticence personally, culturally I am interested in how Buddhism’s marketed and transmitted. That beckoned after a mention late in Michel Houllebecq’s The Elementary Particles led me to wonder if people had tried to tie mandalas to the Book of Kells in real life as well as fiction. Very few had, but enough to justify my book chapter, and as stage props edged into the limelight, I’ve spent the last half-decade finding out more about Buddhism as an interested bystander, and qualifying to teach a introductory college course now in world religions. That’s its own challenge as you may imagine, against such deployments of chapter, verse, and platitude as “proof.”

    My blog therefore includes recent book reviews and a few musings on religious origins, and those links in #9 you’ve kindly provided to Boyer and Barrett are both exactly what I need to pursue; I’ve known of Boyer from Robert Bellah et al. but not firsthand; Barrett I learned about with your “Oz” post, and his model will be intriguing to investigate. As my background’s literary-cultural but not psychological, philosophical, or sociological, I’ve been expanding my p-o-v via your blog, related sites, and my own free time study in the field. I like learning here, and the exchanges challenge my assumptions– as what Thomas Tweed labels a “nightstand Buddhist” despite my having no horse in this race to bet upon but my own sorry Dobbin. In closing, here’s what as of admittedly three years ago and less knowledge I wrote (severely edited to meet a word count and as with many here I reckon, don’t hold me to what I said “when I was so much younger then…”; it begins with Buddhism Without Beliefs as I don my asbestos anorak): “Beckett, Buddhism, and the Void” As with Ruin, we all form a history from a legacy; S N-B and allies remind us not to stay looking back, but to turn our heads around, and this blog’s been head-spinning, in the best ways if not always comforting ones, as it should be. Regarding some of these ways, musically and conceptually, I’ll post on my blog soon– but I keep updating them, re: proliferating SN-B’s jam-kicking.

    P.S. I bet you kicked PiL’s ass. I may’ve seen them on that same tour. I had eye contact with Mr. Lydon too, from a distance. Somehow I never forgot that look. Or the plastic cup of Guinness Shane McG shared with me in the front row at the Pogues’ first US tour a few years later at the same H’wd venue, speaking of beoir but I digress. Le gach dea-mhéin, a scríbhneoir[í] dána

  47. fionnchu said

    P.P.S. #46: that URL meant to be embedded is not in para. 2 as http://fionnchu etc. but to “Celtic Buddhism” Thanks…

  48. Jamie said

    Re #42, and the meditation as psychoanalysis comment

    My experience is that psychoanalysis shores up the delusion of the self so that (just like the individual’s intent for any other delusion, including those that get into the diagnostic manual) it helps the individual function in his/her social “home.” That is, it helps assure that when the individual thinks “I,” it is at least a consistent set of neurons that fires…

    The practice, on the other hand, is intended to learn how to let go of the delusion.

    I often wonder if the latter is even possible unless the former work has been done. That’s why I am enamored of the combined Glenn/Matthias approach: practice followed by psychoanalytically-informed dialogue. I wonder, though, if the dialogue really serves to shore-up the social self after practice, so that the individual can return to his/her social home.

    And I really worry about the dialogue leading to new, shared delusions…

  49. Tom Pepper said

    Jamie,

    It is true that in America psychoanalysis was mostly of the “ego psychology” school, which, as you say, was intended exactly to shore up delusions of the self. This was a kind of reaction to the dangerous implications of true psychoanalysis, and simply ignored the basic premises of Freud’s theory. Russell Jacoby’s very enjoyable book “Social Amnesia” discusses this at length.

    I would suggest that ideologies are only “delusions” if we take them as naturally occurring and permanent. The goal is not to avoid having an ideology, including an ideology of the “self”, but to know that it IS an ideology, a sort of tool functioned to serve a purpose, which we can lay down when we are done with it.

  50. Lee said

    Re # 22

    Jamie, interesting proposal for minimally framed practice. What’s the intention / reasoning behind the proposal?

    Lee

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