Posted by M. Steingass on March 15, 2012
Speculative non-buddhism poses a simple question: shorn of its transcendental excess–its adventitious conceptual representations–what might x-buddhism offer us? That question suggests a methodology. It starts by deflating the lofty doctrinal postulates, hovering above our heads like the Hindenburg, and watching them come crashing down. As they lie there, prostrate on the ground, we can have a closer, less doctrinally-determinate, look.
In the present post, Matthias Steingass continues a lively discussion about the prospects of raw, doctrinally-shorn, x-buddhistic materials for practice. This discussion started with the post and comments (particularly those by Tom, Robert, and Erick) on “Raw Remarks on Meditation, Ideology, and Nihilism,” continued with Matthias’s article “Meditation and Control,” and has since arisen on the comments of virtually every post here, regardless of the post’s topic.
Although he does not cast it explicitly in such terms, Matthias’s piece is, in my eyes, an example of what we can do with non-buddhism. Maybe it is fairer, and in fact more to the point, to say it is an example simply of what we can do with thinking–thinking being what happens when we drain from cognition the charism surging in from the x-buddhist power grid.
I hope the reader will pay especially close attention to the programmatic remarks Matthias makes toward the end of the essay. There is something concrete there that we can build on, something promising that we can explore in action. (Glenn Wallis)
No More Meditation!
There is a lot. Calm, the coming and going of explicit thought, feeling, sensation, mixtures of this and its phasing in and out of syntactically correct renderings, spots of non-thought presence, the wandering of the focus of attention, physical effects, effects which might be reflected in behaviour, insights, ideas, dullness… but no meditation.
Let’s turn the thing around. No introduction to “meditation” but search for experiences which might point to or are certain specific properties of being conscious. There are experiences which one can describe. It is not from semantic content to experience but vice versa. The point is, one has to find a way to describe experience in a fresh way. Talking about “mindfulness” is not talking about mindfulness: it is talking about something one has learned to say about mindfulness in a series of expensive seminars. The other thing is not learned but is a given – and it is for free, which, in our economic culture, means it has no value. What is the point to know that I am right now? That is at once a trivial and at the same time very important question. This is nothing mystical; it is present experience – for which one can find expressions. Interactional expression is the creative scribe which maps out and structures – with all the colourful complicating reciprocity that this brings with it.
But let us abandon the word and then look for experience as not looked for but experienced – and just let’s say “No!” to “meditation.” Read the rest of this entry »