Re: virus: Lakoff lecture: Q & A period

Wright, James 7929 (
Sat, 15 Mar 97 23:37:00 EST

Lee Daniel Crocker[] wrote:
<snip preamble>
>1. Zen is not Buddhism.

I can agree with this, but to deny the Buddhist roots might be
misleading. Various groups meditate, practice charity and compassion,
etc., but there is little evidence of Zen ideas in Catholicism, Islam or
anywhere else.

>2. Zen is not philosophy or epistemology in the modern sense

The Japanese "do", or our word "way" comes closest in my opinion, but
that is only my opinion.

>Buddhist dogma has served that role for many, but objectivism would be
every bit as compatible.

Somehow, I doubt it; see my last several discussions with DHR. How can
someone practicing Zen maintain simultaneously the "axiom of identity"?

> In fact, many perceptions of Buddhism can be viewed through objectivist
>glasses as not very different (though Buddhists then postulate different
>For example, I interpret "suffering is caused by desire" to mean desire
for things to be other than they
>are; i.e., suffering is caused by evasion of reality. When a roshi
>tells you to quell your desires, he does not mean to become a poor
>ascetic (although some have), but rather, to focus on the experience
>and activity of your mind and body in the moment. Some masters did
>preach asceticism, and this is compatible with Buddhist doctrine in
>which monks may not work or hold riches. But Zen master Dogen, for
>example, refused to eat when his students hid his tools from him,
>chastizing them for desiring that he should live without working.

You are indeed interpreting; attachment to ANYTHING through desire
(including enlightenment, surprisingly enough) causes suffering. Poverty
is not required as a necessity, in my understanding; non-attachment is.

>The philosophy or epistemology that a student brings to Zen practice
>need never change, and Zen itself is compatible with any of them. It
>is not a specialized application of the mind, but rather a way to
>experience those applications and processes from the outside; a way to
>learn to perceive directly, and to experience one's own cognition.
>What one then does with those faculties later is philosophy.

I think my understanding coincides with yours here.

>3. Zen has no purpose

>Zen was used to train ascetic monks, and to train Samurai. It is
>quite adaptable to both, or to any other way of life.

Don't forget the "wandering beggars" and various other lay persons.

>It may not be as directly useful in such professions as, say,
>philosopher, but it is certainly not incompatible with them.

I suspect some Objectivist principles would be hard to maintain after

>4. The Satori experience is very real

>My own first Satori came on a beach in Fiji, in the evening, when I
>happened to look up at the stars.

Later on you say you "have no doubt" this was satori. I hope you are
right; have you asked your roshi if it was?
I do not mean to imply ANYTHING with this question; I ask for interest,
since I have not attained it for my own, I am interested in those who
James Wright