Translation and Transformation

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Paladin, Sep 1, 2007.

  1. Dondi

    Dondi Well-Known Member

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    I suppose you could look at it a "evangelizing, prosletysing". But what are you listen to when you hear a fired-up preacher? Someone with a conviction that what he believes will change the hearts of man, and by extension, the world. The man behind the pulpit, if he is worth his weight, is burdened and shows passion. Even if you don't agree with the message, you've got to admire someone who is at least trying to change the world. Sermons can be shouted at any pulpit, even at the secular level. It is the art of persuasion to make the other person think outside of his own paradigm. And it does take a tremendous amount of courage to put oneself out on the limb for people to cut off.

    On the other hand, there is a fine line between passion and pomp. One must not shout too loudly that you can't hear the other speak.
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Translation and transformation aside (plenty of scope for discussion there, I think) the question of religion remains.

    Actually, if I were to give my most critical view, I would suggest that Wilbur is another example of the process Hal Blacker was talking about "the translation of the mystical traditions from the East (and elsewhere) into the American idiom" — Both those areas of operation that define religion for him fall within the scope of psychodynamics, and are not unknown in Buddhism, nor are they unknown in the Christian contemplative tradition, but to suggest that is all that Buddhism — or Eastern traditions — are and do, is to fall a long way short of the mark.

    In terms of Abrahamic or Eastern Revealed Traditions, his a-theist position renders him in no position to comment.

    His critique of religious practice, and the conclusions he draws, is somewhat shallow and self-serving, I think. Wilbur seems to be making great news out of the fact that we all know smoking is bad for us, but we don't all give up smoking.

    The fact that he is highly intellectual (or at least articulate), and appears to embrace tradition should not mask this fact. He utilises teachings from disparate sources to authenticate a position of his own occupation and a system of his own invention and (it would appear from his critics), with no great discrimination.

    Then we come to this:

    "... Let us proceed carefully with this transformative shout. Let small pockets of radically transformative spirituality, authentic spirituality, focus their efforts and transform their students."

    Is this not what religion has been doing since man first looked skyward? Or are we to assume that Mr. Wilbur determines what is 'authentic spirituality'?

    "... And let these pockets slowly, carefully, responsibly, humbly, begin to spread their influence, embracing an absolute tolerance for all views, but attempting nonetheless to advocate a true and authentic and integral spirituality—by example, by radiance, by obvious release, by unmistakable liberation."

    (Not by ranting, then ... sorry, couldn't help that)

    Why does he labour to invent new systems, where the old stand as exemplars that, in themselves, have been refined by millenia of practice and have no equal?

    How can ersatz Buddhism better Buddhism?

    Thomas
     
  3. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Thomas,

    Thanks for weighing in on this, I thought you might find it interesting and I was curious as to what you might make of it.
    Wilber is very critical of what he call Boomeritis Buddhism and many of the things the Boomer generation has come up with, yet at the same time views traditional religion with a jaudiced eye. There is quite a movement up in Boulder following his AQAL model and Integral Spirituality. Anytime I see someone get a large following I begin to suspect their motives, but thats just me.
    The idea that religion serves these two functions isn't new, but I think it prudent to be aware of the obvious, because there is much there still to see. For those who use it to better themselves, and perhaps become a better human being, it will serve quite well.
    I often wonder what is it in a human being that "ripens" when the time is near for trancending the self, or transformation as it is defined in the article. Why so few? Surely the method can't be blamed for it is relatively inert until given life by practice. Would Rumi, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa, and others had their experiences if they had been born in another tradition? I would like to think so.
    I would also like to think that persons seeing the underlying value of looking again at the obvious might find a higher understanding helpful in seeing the value of religion in both translation and transformation.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    From:
    God's Playing a New Game

    Integral Post-Metaphysics and the Myth of the Given
    Andrew Cohen: So today we’re going to speak about your wonderful new masterpiece Integral Spirituality, which I’ve just finished reading. You open the book with the assertion that the metaphysics of the great spiritual traditions have been “trashed” not only by the usual suspects—the modern scientific materialists—but even more so by the postmodern revolution, because of the traditions’ inability to stand up to the challenge presented by the insights of postmodernity’s great philosophers. And as you boldly put it, “[T]here has as yet arisen nothing compelling to take their place.” This is the fundamental theme of the book—explaining, in the most illuminating way, why the traditions have consistently failed to stand up to a postmodern critique and simultaneously re-envisioning religion and spirituality in such a way as to avoid the pitfalls of outdated metaphysics. This, of course, has been a central topic of most of our discussions over the past few years, but reading Integral Spirituality has had an enormous impact on me, and as a result I have seen much more deeply into the nature of our spiritual predicament.

    Ken Wilber: Yes. I think it is the great catastrophe of the modern and postmodern world that spirituality, higher spirituality, was killed, as you mentioned, not just by nasty science and the Newtonian/Cartesian paradigm but by the humanities themselves. All of mystical spirituality got thrown out by the humanities because it was caught in outdated metaphysical systems. And most importantly, because mystical spirituality was monological—it didn’t understand what postmodernists call “the myth of the given.” [/quote]​

    This just flies in the face of reality, and is inevitably what happens when fan clubs operate in the media.

    The author and interviewer have never heard of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Paul Ricoeur, Gabriel Marcel, Phenomenology, Existentialism ... Neither, apparently, have they heard or read modern Thomist philosophers — Bernard Lonergan, Kenneth J Schmitz, Tom Norris ...

    The above interview falls into the trap of assuming empirical philosophy is a proven and an inarguable system that swept all before it.

    Oh, and by the way, Wilbur's 'The Myth of the Given' looks suspiciously like a retread of Plato's 'The Myth of the Cave' ...

    Thomas
     
  5. JosephM

    JosephM Well-Known Member

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    Greetings Mark,

    It seems to me that the 'translation' portion is used to tame the ego to a point that 'transformation' to the ego is not seen as something it would agressively oppose. This makes it 'ripe' so to speak. It becomes open to the fact that even though its identity will be lost, it will trust something greater awaits. The ego comes to grip with itself that it is destined to die anyway and ceases to oppse surrender.

    I see translation as a kind of taming a wild horse. And transformation as the radical loss of identity with that aspect of ones life which is facilitated by the taming or training process. Just a thought to consider.

    Love and Peace,
    JM
     
  6. earl

    earl ?

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    This just flies in the face of reality, and is inevitably what happens when fan clubs operate in the media.

    The author and interviewer have never heard of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Paul Ricoeur, Gabriel Marcel, Phenomenology, Existentialism ... Neither, apparently, have they heard or read modern Thomist philosophers — Bernard Lonergan, Kenneth J Schmitz, Tom Norris ...

    The above interview falls into the trap of assuming empirical philosophy is a proven and an inarguable system that swept all before it.

    Oh, and by the way, Wilbur's 'The Myth of the Given' looks suspiciously like a retread of Plato's 'The Myth of the Cave' ...

    Thomas[/quote]
    Well Thomas, I'd have thought you'd be uncomfortable with Wilber's distinction between "ethnocentric" and "world-centric" Christianity as he mentions in this article.:D Wilber through all his books reads and mulls over in his voluminous reference notes an unbelievable number of thinkers past and present-the guy's a human computer. He certainly is quite familiar with phenomenological/existential literature. As to his familiarity with some of the other theologians/philosophers you mention, I cannot say. I'd agree he most certainly is more conversant with Eastern religious views than western. He certainly as the article indicates has been in ongoing dialogue with some modern day ("liberal":eek:) Catholic priests/monks such as Thomas Keating and David Steindl-Rast who would be less instantly turned off by such a perspective.;) earl
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Earl —

    If he's as widely read as that, then he's operating a selective process of what he takes on board and what he doesn't — I would suggest he's inventing his own paradigm, and then things stand or fall with regard to that. I'm sure he's in favour of anyone who seem to support his thesis, but one can't simply close ones eyes and ears, or pretend things don't exist, if they prove to be problematic.

    That's like me saying simply that 'Liberal Catholicism is a catastrophe'.

    Thomas
     
  8. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

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    Phew, I know what you mean, I'd thought I was just a 10th grade Buddhist:p.

    s.
     
  9. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

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  10. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

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    I can only go on what I’ve read here and bits on his books, but your comment did strike a chord with me, in combination with this from the article:


    “But in today's America, this is much more disturbing, because this vast majority of horizontal spiritual adherents often claim to be representing the leading edge of spiritual transformation, the "new paradigm" that will change the world, the "great transformation" of which they are the vanguard. But more often than not, they are not deeply transformative at all; they are merely, but aggressively, translative—they do not offer effective means to utterly dismantle the self, but merely ways for the self to think differently. Not ways to transform, but merely new ways to translate. In fact, what most of them offer is not a practice or a series of practices, not sadhana or satsang or shikan-taza or yoga. What most of them offer is simply the suggestion: read my book on the new paradigm. This is deeply disturbed, and deeply disturbing.”

    So are his books offering a new paradigm that will change the world? That seems to be the flavour of his books in the blurbs and excerpts that I’ve looked at. And whatever they are offering, from what you say about him above, his wisdom does not seem to have deconstructed his own “self” too much, does it? To paraphrase badly: is it a case of “Be as I say and not as I be” ?

    If his work is purely “academic” or “intellectual” then fine as long as we don’t confuse this with…the non-academic and non-intellectual, the ineffable. Religion is not simply an academic pursuit for intellectuals to make careers from. I believe that a “call” to a “spiritual search” may take us from our mundane life but then that “search”, such as we label it, may be directed by the same conditioning as in our everyday life. Hence we may mistakenly search for spiritual enlightenment or (more concretely) through the route of garnering knowledge; as if each book, each new fact, each new theory takes us a little closer to our goal. It is a goal we can never reach and so disillusionment is the only possible destination. There is nowhere to search because we are already there. Oh bugger it, I suppose I’ll get one of his crummy books.


    s.
     
  11. earl

    earl ?

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  12. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

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    Just an observation. I can see that if the West cherry picks what it wants from an Eastern tradition (maybe only meditation for utilitarian purposes, in the extreme) this may be seen as a negative. But Buddhism has only come to the West relatively recently, compared with its movement to other parts of the globe, so from that point of view I think it’s rather early days yet.

    Also, as you may be aware, as Buddhism has moved around the globe it has changed quite considerably wherever it has gone, always adapting to local cultures (as with any global religion I imagine). So maybe now it is adapting to the ways of the West in order to mean something to the people of the West.

    Buddhism has changed so much as it spread to other countries, I wonder what Siddhartha Guatama would make of his teachings if he could look around the world today. It may only be “ersatz” in the West, but is that worse or better than being virtually extinct (as it is in the land in which it was born?)

    s.
     
  13. dauer

    dauer Well-Known Member

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  14. earl

    earl ?

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    I should probably clarify myself: as to title of this thread-the topic of "translative" effects of spiritual practice and/or religion vs. "transformative" effects-I do believe his thoughts on that subject are very good.:) earl
     
  15. earl

    earl ?

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    As follow-up to my follow-up on that whole "translation vs. transformation" thing, might it be fair to say that, if a religion does not facilitate one's "transformation" into...well not an "enlightened, perfected" person cause gosh darn it all I think any form of "perfectionism" is a bane on humanity:D...a "better" person, then it and/or the one following it aren't doing their jobs? If we use any belief system to enable us to remain safely ensconced in a self-protective shell preventing us from stretching (translative strategies which keep us comfortably the same in comfortable story lines), then we are not really plumbing the depths of ourselves to transform. I tend to think nearly any religious belief system if approached with the ptoper attitude may enable its practitioners to a bit of that stretching, but, of course, many religious leaders do not approach their own religions in a transformative manner, but rather a "translative" one. earl
     
  16. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Yup, and thats the real point of the article. Too bad that Wilber is such a character, it is hard to see a message when it's all wrapped up in personality.
    Probably why "Principles before personalities" is such a strong tradition in AA

    Because I never really had a lot of formal education after high school I got in the habit of reading things that might have been beyond my grasp, and then try to see if it stood up to the test of actual living. When I'm alone in my own head I can test the mettle of religious and philosophic thought to see of what worth it may be.
    As far as its translative worth, nearly all the religion I have learned has been of help, and for all I know the wake really does move the boat. But to move any farther it is now up to me. Now is the time of surrender, not so much to anything as surrendering up of something.
    It is at this point perhaps that the universe, the sages and saints hold their collective breath to see if there has been enough absorbtion of their words and deeds to give us the courage to step forward into the unknown.
     
  17. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

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    I should keep that to yourself (/selves) :p

    s.
     
  18. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    All the points we bring up and this is what you focus on?
    (hmm didn't realize I had said that out loud:D )
     
  19. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

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    All the others I agreed with.

    s.
     
  20. earl

    earl ?

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    Paladin-have always loved the many wise aphorisms of AA. :) earl
     

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