Intellectualization

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:58 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:... with Zazen you sit without any preoccupation or expectations whatever...
This is exactly the point. When there is preoccupation of mind, what form does it take?

"Preoccupation" as you're calling here I think is simply ignorance/Avidya, it doesn't matter the content. Where I think you might be off is equating the mere presence of thought or movement with ignorance, or assuming the a 'quiet' mind is free of ignorance by definition - it isn't, sometimes a quiet mind can be steeped in it. If this were not true then animals would all be closer to enlightenment than human beings, as their discursive thought is so much more limited.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:15 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:03 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Meido wrote:This does not mean Zen practitioners must become scholars (I certainly am not). But I would say that a teacher who does not at some point "dissect the path" - or who is unable to have an intelligent conversation about it - is pretty useless.
It is important though to make a distinction between inclination and ability. A teacher will analyse aspects of the path when necessary for the student's understanding, not from habitual tendency.
Can you go into detail about "habitual tendency" and how it's related (for instance) to something like a conversation about "bliss in Zen" or similar?

How do you differentiate between "habitual tendency" inclined towards what you call intellectualization - presumably trying to find clarity on concepts, definitions, what have you, and "habitual tendency" towards poetry, art, or music? I would argue that there can be just as much 'habitual tendency" in some trotting out of Zen slogans (finger pointing to the moon is a classic that gets so overused) as there is in in-depth technical discussion on the meaning of a word.

Habitual tendency as (I think) you mean it here isn't limited to one kind of behavior, you can't simply assign things you don't like that label, and then assume that another kind proliferation is ok, or more valid practice because you find it pleasing.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by muni » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:30 am

Dear all,

Since I got to hear about Wonhyo, he wasn't contradicting what Mipham Rinpoche explains here.

Whenever you study or contemplate the Dharma,
Rely not on the words, but on the meaning.
If the meaning is understood, then regardless of the speaker’s style,
There will be no conflict.
When you have understood what it was
The speaker intended to communicate,
If you then continue to think about each word and expression,
It is as if you’ve found your elephant but now go in search of its footprints.
If you misinterpret what is said and then think of more words,
You’ll never stop till you run out of thoughts,
But all the while you’re only straying further and further from the meaning.
Like children playing, you’ll only end up exhausted.
Even for a single word like “and” or “but”,
When taken out of context, there’s no end to what it might mean.
Yet if you understand what is meant,
Then with that the need for the word is finished.
When the finger points to the moon,
The childish will look at the finger itself.
And fools attached to mere language,
May think they’ve understood, but they will find it difficult.

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Four_reliances

I feel this may give some guideline. There should be care not to cling to dharma words as this habit is said, is difficult to get rid of. We may think if we do not so, we are no buddhist, but masters only use them to guide, not to cling. We remain conditioned when we cling to words as without we lose our safe buddhist ground. They are like matches, very useful but of no further use when their job is done.

Wonhyo: The very nature of language
requires an "I" to be the subject of the sentence containing that phrase.
We think we use language but we do not. Language controls our way
of thinking.
Last edited by muni on Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by dharmagoat » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:00 am

:good:
It is good to know that this is not just a Zen perspective.

I wont be jumping through your hoops, Johnny.

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:08 am

dharmagoat wrote::good:
It is good to know that this is not just a Zen perspective.

I wont be jumping through your hoops, Johnny.

They aren't hoops, you came into the thread and made various points for discussion, and I'm just trying to keep the discussion going, that's all. If you can't, won't, or don't see value in it that's up to you, but nothing to do with me making hoops for you.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by SeeLion » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:35 am

Intellectualization is when you are contemplating the picture of an orange

and say to yourself: "This is an orange".

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:44 pm

Meido wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Someone who practices Zen and does not feel inclined to dissect it.
That's fine in the beginning since Zen's gate is experiential rather than intellectual. But if one trains with correct motivation - that is, in accordance with vows to help others - then how could there ultimately be any limitations or prejudices regarding what tools one must learn to use in order to aid other beings?

We vow to practice infinite dharma gates, and to actualize the Marvelous Observing Wisdom and Perfecting-of-Action Wisdom i.e. the means by which we could help others in any conditions. Certainly this means that we should gain the ability to use words and concepts skillfully to suit circumstances.

This does not mean Zen practitioners must become scholars (I certainly am not). But I would say especially that a teacher who does not at some point "dissect the path" - or who is unable to have an intelligent conversation about it - is pretty useless.

~ Meido
For what it is worth, I so much agree with Meido. One must never stop questioning and reaffirming this Path, always demanding that this Path prove itself again and again. As well, always try everything possible to help the Sentient Beings.

One way to help the Sentient Beings might be to insist on having just a little space, a little leeway, where Zen folks can talk about Zen with other Zen folks ... another little space where Rinzai Zen folks can talks about Rinzai Zen ... a little space where Soto Zen folks can talk about Soto Zen ... and other areas where folks of beautiful diverse perspectives can share, compare and even mutually, respectfully debate their traditions. Places for all things, plenty of bandwidth to allow all such spaces.

However, where folks come into a Tradition which is not their own to set folks straight, to tell the folks what their own beliefs and religion actually does mean or should mean ... well, I feel it is not good. There can be other places for that.

Also, everyone in any place should always be respectful and open to each other. ALWAYS respectful in tone.

The French chef cooks his rich and skilled soup, mom cooks her simple soup. Both delicious and, though with similar ingredients, the flavor perhaps very different. Only mom's soup is mom's soup. Mom should have her kitchen, and the fine French chef his. It is truly a shame if the French chef charges into mom's little kitchen to show her how to cook better, tsk tsking her choice of spices. No need ever for the French chef to get upset with mom if she asks for a little room, and disagrees with how to chop the potatoes in her own kitchen. Let dear old mom cook her beloved way. However, it is also lovely if there are other areas and sharing spaces where maybe they can compare recipes, maybe even politely debate, find commonality, agree to disagree. Even the French chef might learn a thing or two from mom, and mom from him. :smile:

Gassho, Jundo
Last edited by jundo cohen on Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Jeff H » Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:02 pm

muni wrote:Dear all,

Since I got to hear about Wonhyo, he wasn't contradicting what Mipham Rinpoche explains here.

Whenever you study or contemplate the Dharma,
Rely not on the words, but on the meaning.
If the meaning is understood, then regardless of the speaker’s style,
There will be no conflict.
When you have understood what it was
The speaker intended to communicate,
If you then continue to think about each word and expression,
It is as if you’ve found your elephant but now go in search of its footprints.
If you misinterpret what is said and then think of more words,
You’ll never stop till you run out of thoughts,
But all the while you’re only straying further and further from the meaning.
Like children playing, you’ll only end up exhausted.
Even for a single word like “and” or “but”,
When taken out of context, there’s no end to what it might mean.
Yet if you understand what is meant,
Then with that the need for the word is finished.
When the finger points to the moon,
The childish will look at the finger itself.
And fools attached to mere language,
May think they’ve understood, but they will find it difficult.

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Four_reliances

I feel this may give some guideline. There should be care not to cling to dharma words as this habit is said, is difficult to get rid of. We may think if we do not so, we are no buddhist, but masters only use them to guide, not to cling. We remain conditioned when we cling to words as without we lose our safe buddhist ground. They are like matches, very useful but of no further use when their job is done.

Wonhyo: The very nature of language
requires an "I" to be the subject of the sentence containing that phrase.
We think we use language but we do not. Language controls our way
of thinking.
:good:
This is an excellent quote. The four reliances are good advice from Tibetan Buddhism, summarized here in Buddhist Philosophy, by Daniel Cozort and Craig Preston:

“(1) doctrine, not person: truth is important, the source is not; (2) meaning, not word: intention supercedes what is actually said; (3) definitive, not interpretable: rely on sutras that do not require interpretation; (4) wisdom, not dualistic consciousness: wisdom is a consciousness directly realizing emptiness and, therefore, is not dualistic.” (p.171)

But from my perspective, I need to internalize such good advice and make it part of my mind-stream. That, IMO, is the meaning of “Yet if you understand what is meant, then with that the need for the word is finished.”

The term “intellectualization” has a negative connotation in the sense that one can be said to intellectualize in order to mask ignorance. But the reason I am attracted to Tibetan Buddhism is that someone like me needs to use his intellect to “understand what is meant”.

I look forward to the day when I will have truly understood what the masters I study mean to impart to me. But to prematurely assume I’ve arrived at that understanding would be “jumping to conclusions” –- another term which also has negative connotations.

BTW, I also agree with Jundo's last post, advocating for allowing the different traditions their space on a diverse forum like DW and encouraging more respectful inter-discipline dialog.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:21 pm

However, where folks come into a Tradition which is not their own to set folks straight, to tell the folks what their own beliefs and religion actually does mean or should mean ... well, I feel it is not good. There can be other places for that.
Well, that isn't what happened, people disagreed with you, that's what happened.
Also, everyone in any place should always be respectful and open to each other. ALWAYS respectful in tone.
You gonna try that one again? Take note of your own advice.

BTW, this thread is on a specific subject, as was the other one, and there flashes of interesting stuff, then you showed up in both apparently giving up the actual subject, and trying to to now make the thread about how "Zen people" on the whole are being somehow mistreated by the conversations. I don't think that's true at all, and I notice you still have yet to answer any of the questions posed in the threads.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Norwegian » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:36 pm

Jeff H,
By the way, the source of the four reliances is not Tibetan Buddhism, it's Mahayana, more specifically the Akshayamatinirdeshasutra:

"Do not rely on the person, rely on the teaching,
do not rely on the words, rely on the meaning,
do not rely on the provisional, rely on the definitive,
do not rely on consciousness (vijñana), rely on primordial wisdom (jñana)
"

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Jeff H » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:40 pm

Norwegian wrote:Jeff H,
By the way, the source of the four reliances is not Tibetan Buddhism, it's Mahayana, more specifically the Akshayamatinirdeshasutra:

"Do not rely on the person, rely on the teaching,
do not rely on the words, rely on the meaning,
do not rely on the provisional, rely on the definitive,
do not rely on consciousness (vijñana), rely on primordial wisdom (jñana)
"
:thanks:
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:09 pm

I believe that the whole tone and structure of this thread is so far off from any approach to Zen Practice I know, that I do not know how to approach the questions. One would be thrown out of the Dokusan room, directed back to the sitting place. Such discussions belong in the coffee shop, not in Zen Practice. However, let me give a try.
1. which posts in that thread qualify as "intellectualization," and by what criteria, and according to whom. I say this because it didn't read like a tangled mess to me, apart from some well-meaning but repetitive and off-topic reminders that it's a bad idea to seek after bliss experiences in meditation practice (yes, we get it).
Who are you?
2. what "intellectualization" even means. is it prapanca? If so, then it would have no place in any Buddhist practice; it's not something that would have value in some but not others; and therefore, it seems to be something other than prapanca. But if it isn't prapanca, then what is meant by it?
Who are you?
3. what is it about the discussion on Bliss that might impede realization? It seemed to me that the discussion was oriented around practice and largely constructive. What did I miss in there that was so counterproductive?
Who are you?

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:18 pm

Ironically, the above response is exactly the kind of "Zen intellectualization" I was pondering earlier...it's basically proliferation via poetry I think.

As if somehow Zen practice inhibits one's ability to answer reasonable questions, on an internet forum :shrug:
, that I do not know how to approach the questions.
Yes, that much is obvious, either that or you won't even try.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Norwegian » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:20 pm

jundo cohen wrote:I believe that the whole tone and structure of this thread is so far off from any approach to Zen Practice I know, that I do not know how to approach the questions. One would be thrown out of the Dokusan room, directed back to the sitting place. Such discussions belong in the coffee shop, not in Zen Practice. However, let me give a try.
But it seems as though there's no clarity on what "intellectualization" means in that thread at all, or in some others in this sub-forum, so I propose we use this thread to square it away, because this is an area that has real consequences for practice.
Who are you?

Gassho, Jundo
What's great though, is that this is "A Buddhist discussion forum on Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism" as it says on the top banner. And so this isn't a zendo, or a dokusan room. This isn't a practice room or a meditation room or a temple. It's a Buddhist discussion forum.

Debate and discussion has been part of Buddhism since its very beginning, in fact, it's quite the celebrated part of Buddhism. Now, maybe these things aren't for everybody. And that's fair. But it's certainly strange to complain about discussion happening on a discussion forum...

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by conebeckham » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:33 pm

SeeLion wrote:Intellectualization is when you are contemplating the picture of an orange

and say to yourself: "This is an orange".
I'm not so sure that's what people mean when they say "Intellectualization" here. That's a very bare instance of "naming"--it's definitely prapanca, but I don't believe that's what people find fault with.

Perhaps it would be more clear if we contrast Intelllectualization with it's presumed opposite, "Anti-intellectualization."

For an example of what I THINK people SHOULD mean by "intellectualization," take a look at the "Inherency and the Object of Negation" thread, here:
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=21402
There are examples of conceptual apparatus at work, theorectical explorations, etc., as well as examples of clinging to theoretical models, "rationality," and conceptual processes there. So, Intellectualization in it's positive and negative lights......

In Zen, as I understand it,(based on very little exposure,) such sorts of analysis, intellectual reasoning, conceptual elaboration, are beside the point at best, and antithetical to the Zen path at an extreme. Of course, as Meido has pointed out, there is a place for intellect, and intellectualization, given the right circumstances, etc., but the practice of Zazen surely is not a theoretical exploration using one's conceptual apparatus.

The term, "Anti-Intellectualization," could be seen as lauding an experiental, as opposed to "Theoretical," "conceptually-based actual practice. The practice of Zazen, and also the "contemplative" practices of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, at some point instruct us to actively avoid "theorizing," etc. But frankly, I think this term is often the approach of people who are not interested in theoretical approaches, or can't be bothered, or, really, are being defensive when they feel their tradition is under attack. That last instance is unfortunate, as the cry of "Stop the Intellectualization!" comes across as a cop-out. But sometimes conceptual analysis does have it's limits in discussion.
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It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Grigoris » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:42 pm

Meido wrote:I'm fairly certain no one is arguing for a clinging to habitual predilections, and agree with you on that point.
Except maybe in the case where the habitual predilection is positive/wholesome? ;)
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:51 pm

Norwegian wrote:[
Debate and discussion has been part of Buddhism since its very beginning, in fact, it's quite the celebrated part of Buddhism. Now, maybe these things aren't for everybody. And that's fair. But it's certainly strange to complain about discussion happening on a discussion forum...
Hi Norwegian,

You are quite correct, although perhaps not for the Zen portion of Mahayana Buddhism in the Zen portion of a Forum. However, let me try to answer your question directly without any ambiguity.

Who are you?

(By the way, not original material on my part. Completely stolen Zenny shtick for addressing these kinds of question)

Folks may be annoyed by or not understand such a response, but if you think about it (or better, don't think or think-non-thinking about it), it is the most crystal clear response possible.

Gassho, J
Last edited by jundo cohen on Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:55 pm

Folks may be annoyed by or not understand such a response, but if you think about it (or better, don't think or think-non-thinking about it), it is the most crystal clear response possible.
It's a basic meditation instruction in pretty much every Buddhist system, and something that I'll bet every single person in this thread is already familiar with. In this case it's just being used to *not* answer questions, on an internet forum :shrug:
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Re: Intellectualization

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:56 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Folks may be annoyed by or not understand such a response, but if you think about it (or better, don't think or think-non-thinking about it), it is the most crystal clear response possible.
It's a basic meditation instruction in pretty much every Buddhist system, and something that I'll bet every single person in this thread is already familiar with. In this case it's just being used to *not* answer questions, on an internet forum :shrug:
I assure you that it is the best and clearest answer you can ever hope for.

Who are you?

Gassho, J
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: Intellectualization

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:00 pm

jundo cohen wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Folks may be annoyed by or not understand such a response, but if you think about it (or better, don't think or think-non-thinking about it), it is the most crystal clear response possible.
It's a basic meditation instruction in pretty much every Buddhist system, and something that I'll bet every single person in this thread is already familiar with. In this case it's just being used to *not* answer questions, on an internet forum :shrug:
I assure you that it is the best and clearest answer you can ever hope for.

Who are you?

Gassho, J
Naw, it's another dodge. IN the right context, you are right, it is the most profound question without an answer(er)

In this one, it is just you messing around because you don't want to engage and be vulnerable, but DO very much want to win.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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