Conversation overheard between an ambitious grad student and a simpleminded process-relational philosopher . . .
Jake Wanano-Everton: Sir, where do you draw the line between what’s real and what’s not real?
Prof. Noah Fewthings: The only things that are real are the moments of experienced reality — drops of experience, let’s call them — pulsing through the vector stream of the universe right now. There are lots and lots of them, too many to count: what you and I are experiencing right now are only two, or more accurately some, of billions and billions unfolding at this moment. And this one. And this one. They are all that’s real; and they are irreducibly real.
For anyone who thought “socially engaged Buddhism” (a.k.a. liberation Buddhism, Buddhist socialism, et al.) was a marginal movement within the Buddhist world, Bruce Smithers’s Tricycle article “Occupy Buddhism” shows it reaches high up the (sort of) hierarchy of publicly known Buddhists… to the Dalai Lama.
It’s a selective analysis (the DL is much more pragmatic than this suggests). But worth reading, as are the comments.
The following provides an updated diagram and some further notes pertaining to my three-part article “What A Bodymind Can Do.” The earlier parts can be read here: part 1, part 2, part 3. (Please note that this version has corrected a minor error in the originally posted article, and added a bit more information at the end.)
“What A Bodymind Can Do” was an attempt to map the possibilities of human perception, action, and realization by synthesizing Shinzen Young’s systematization of mindfulness meditation practices (primarily Buddhist, but with reference to others) with a process-relational framework rooted in Whiteheadian process metaphysics and the triadic phenomenology of C. S. Peirce.
This started out as a response to Slavoj Zizek’s recent talk here at the University of Vermont on “Buddhism Naturalized,” but evolved into a consideration of subjectivity, which happened to be the topic of my next post in the pre-G (process-relational ecosophy-G) series. So this can be considered part 1 of a 2-part series.
The same issues I have blogged about in relation to academic file sharing site aaaaarg.org have been (predictably) arising elsewhere, including most recently — and a little less predictably — in the world of online Buddhism.
This is the concluding part of a three-part article. Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 here. They should be read in the sequence in which they were published.
The True, the Good, and the Beautiful
All of this can be related to the triad of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful — or, in their Peircian sequence, aesthetics, ethics, and logic. Aesthetics, as Peirce conceived it, is most directly concerned with firstness; ethics, with secondness; and logic, with thirdness.
This continues from the previous post, where Shinzen Young’s model of core mindfulness practices was expanded into a system of classifying what a human bodymind can do. Here the model is deepened following the process-relational insights that are at the core of Shinzen’s system as well as of other (especially Mahayana and Vajrayana) Buddhist systems, and of the philosophies of A. N. Whitehead and, in some respects, of C. S. Peirce, Gilles Deleuze, and other process-relational thinkers. This part is followed by a concluding segment, found here.
Working with Shinzen Young‘s system of mindfulness training, which I’ve described here before, and thinking it through in the process-relational logic I’ve been developing on this blog (and elsewhere), is resulting in a certain re-mix of Shinzen’s ideas, and of Buddhism more generally, with Peirce’s, Whitehead’s, Wilber’s, Deleuze’s, and others’. Here’s a crack at where it’s taking me…
I’ve divided this into three parts due to its length. Part 1 builds on Shinzen’s “5 ways to know yourself as a spiritual being,” which presents five core mindfulness practices, to develop a basic classification of ways in which the human bodymind can know itself and the world. Part 2 deepens the model by pushing beyond traditional dualisms through incorporating what Shinzen calls “flow,” which is analogous to the central insight of process-relational philosophies about the fundamentally processual nature of subjectivity or mentality, objectivity or materiality, and the dynamic and interdependent relationship between the two. Part 3 provides some concluding thoughts and caveats.
I’ve been meaning to catch up on the discussions over Buddhism and objects/relations, Slavoj Zizek’s critique of “Western Buddhism,” and related topics, which have been continuing on Tim Morton’s Ecology Without Nature, Jeffrey Bell’s Aberrant Monism, Skholiast’s Speculum Criticum Traditionis, and elsewhere. I haven’t quite caught up, but here are a few quick notes on some of what’s been said…