Santa Monica, California, USA
Hi John -- re your most recent post above: I agree with you completely about language being a barrier between the nature of “am,” existential notions of “am-ness”, and the experience of “am-as-state-of-being.”
One of the simpler, but intellectually incomprehensible language takes towards an expression is “I am that I am.” The key word seems to be “that,” as opposed to a an easier “what.” Changes the whole frame of reference and throws it into meta-metaphysics. I don’t think this can be understood on a rational level, but agree with you again that it can be experienced.
Every time we have a shift in perception, a moment of epiphany, transformation, or experience an experience, however one wants to couch it , we are open, to a realm of “am-ness.” It has nothing to do with what we think about it, and probably even less to do with what can be said about, those these might be the same thing.
In “I am that I am,” someone was presumably quoting the Judeo-Christian God. I posit that the person quoting had had a key experience, a flash of insight that was uber-rational. Most Biblical concordances offer grand glosses on the “meaning” of this statement. The problem is a gloss or explication has to be couched in words, which, as we seem to agree, doesn’t cut it.
The transformative experience as gateway to, or absolute state of “am” is always available, and happens all the time, perhaps particularly when “time” is not a factor, in another poor, wordy expression. It doesn’t need to be forced, and I don’t think it can be.
Two difficulties come up: Most people don’t simply experience their experiences. We tend to get too busy thinking about it. Second, “experience” or being in the “experiential state” is transitory. Downright fleeting, in fact. It seems to be too intense to sustain, though not impossible to remember.
If we were able to sustain such a state, would we be enlightened beings? Or are the fleeting experiences, moments of enlightenment, about the best we can hope for? I don’t know.
Which brings me to a recent Bob post:
Hi Bob: Re:
“Intellectually I can see what the Buddhists can call the "hell realm" they live in, but my compassion is horribly limited for them. They can feel this in me, very often, and they try to play with me a bit on those occasions when I've had occasions to talk with them, since the notion of guilt is something they like to use to toy with people who have any particular sense of right and wrong.”
The problem here is the characterization of Buddhists or Buddhism as some kind of monolithic entity, when in fact, they and it are almost as diverse in thought and practice a the Hindu, of which they were a subset to begin with. It is impossible to reconcile your view with a basic Buddhist tenet of compassion for all living things (even within this life of hell as some strains view it.)
There are Buddhist line of thought embracing a vast demonic hierarchy, levels of hellishness, which, to them, is not speculative, but as “real” as anything in Revelations. These strains have long been a part of Tibetan and Bhutanese culture at least. But Buddhism did not begin there, just a Christianity didn’t start in Rome. The Buddha, of course, was born in India. He wrote nothing down, and everything attributed to his thought was/is subject to different interpretations.
Zen, or Chan Buddhism, which started in China and migrated to Japan, has much, I think, in common with the thought of the lineage of Milarepa, its possible source, and does not reflect conservative Buddhist thought. Maybe they can be thought of as similar to the Universalist/Unitarians of their time.
One of the tenets of Zen is to be attuned to experience the now. This sect is non-judgmental, but from a position of compassion.
Do “Buddhist’s” like to mess with “non-Buddhist” minds? Well, some of the American converts I’ve met seem to, but then, there are smart alecks everywhere.
[This message has been edited by oceanvu2 (09-28-2008 07:30 PM).]