My Buddho-Blog Shift

Blogging BuddhistMy first year and a half of blogging on Triangulations primarily discussed Atheism as it relates to Christianity.  My second major theme has been criticizing the approaches some atheists use in understanding religion.  My criticism is based on my understanding of mind which is largely informed by personal experiences in meditative traditions.  Thus many of my posts were Buddhist-tinted psychological and philosophical posts but usually addressing Christianity and Atheism.

I left Christianity many years ago and then lived in Asia for a decade.  In Asia I pleasantly did not have to discuss aggressive Christianity at all — instead I mainly dialogued with Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, Taoists, Confucianists and Secularists. But on returning to the United States, and especially after starting a family, I was confronted by many varieties of Christians, both personally and by policies of Christians in our government.   So I was inspired to write about Christianity since it was again in my face.

But as this blog has unfolded, I have enjoyed my occasional posts outside of Christianity and over the last months I have found my Buddhist posts refreshing.

I am not Buddhist in any orthodox way.  But it is fun untangling the variety of Buddhist bloggers just I have tried to categorize the huge varieties of Christians who blog.  I will thus be exploring taxonomies, psychology of religion, evolution of religious thought, historical and literary criticisms and the role of superstitious thinking as relates to Buddhism — very much similar approaches I used in exploring Christianity.

When I started these posts, my blog stats took a large dive because I probably lost Atheists and Christian readers.  I imagine that the lost Atheists readers were either those who were repulsed by the parts of Buddhism that I value, or because their atheism is largely anti-Christianity and so they naturally lost interest.   Many Christians probably left because they enjoyed conversations only as long as it was about their faith but they too aren’t interested in Buddhism.  But I call this blog “Triangulations” for good reasons –> My thoughts are not primarily atheist, anti-christian or Buddhist, they are primarily skeptical, pragmatic and empirical.

Of course, I have been graced with many new readers who are interested in Buddhism.  But they too will self-select to those who don’t mind my sacrilegious, irreverent, scientific approach to studying religious thought and behavior.  And many Buddhist will probably fade out when my posts jump back into discussing Christianity, Hinduism and others.  But I hope to keep some readers that enjoy my style of exploring religion and who jump in to discuss posts that interest them.  Because I am grateful for my dialogues with both believers and skeptics because they help me tremendously in my exploration of both my mind and those of others.  So before I went further, I thought I’d explain myself for those interested.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

35 responses to “My Buddho-Blog Shift

  1. ian

    I’m enjoying the posts, though I can’t think of much to say that’s intelligent on it. I am learning though…

  2. Yeah, glad to see you are still around. Cheers!

  3. And here I thought you were just loopy. 😉

  4. @ Mike: I am loopy-plus! (not just loopy)

  5. Come to the dark side, Zen is calling you!

  6. @ Kyle :
    As may have read, I have attended 3 different US Zen Centers for a total of about a year and I was a member of a temple in Zen temple in Japan that did martial art for 2 years. So I have been to the “dark side”. 😉
    There is much in Zen that I has stopped it from being a home for me. I will post more later on that. But I do plan at looking at some non-Zen Buddhist places here in town and will post on those experiences.
    But thanks for the re-invite.

  7. Many Christians probably left because they enjoyed conversations only as long as it was about their faith but they too aren’t interested in Buddhism.

    That’s part of it for me, though I haven’t left, mostly ditto what Ian said: “I’m enjoying the posts, though I can’t think of much to say that’s intelligent on it.

  8. What, you mean Zen isn’t for everybody? :boggle:

  9. @ atimetorend :
    I didn’t think about transitions from commenter to Lurker! 😀 Glad to know you are there, even if hiding behind walls in the dark.

    @ Petteri :
    But I will soon offer a post offering a form of Buddism that should work for everyone — well, maybe for only the intellectually sophisticated [sorry, other readers, that is an inside joke]

  10. @ Sabio – So, apart from you, me, and Kyle, who else is invited?

  11. Sadly, I am intellectually simple. 😉

  12. @ Mike :
    That was my prev. inside joke to Petteri. On one of his post he felt that lack “intellectual sophistication” made people more susceptible to a certain type of idealistic nihilism [if I understand him correctly]. I replied declaring: “I am happy to admit that I am intellectually defective”.
    But in all seriousness, I think Petteri is right to state that certain types of skepticism and insight take intellectual abilities that just don’t come too naturally. I am, of course, arguing against globally judging someone as intellectually insufficient, which wasn’t Petteri’s point. Thus the previous allusion.

    @ Petteri : 😉

  13. @Sabio

    Oh, I know. I just wanted to make it clear that I’m not the least bit sophisticated, intellectually speaking. 😉

  14. Well, it does. It’s also not a matter of (innate) ability as much as it is of training and practice. Metacognitive thinking is an acquired skill, although naturally different people have different degrees of talent for it too.

    Do you have a less loaded word or expression you would suggest I use instead of ‘not very sophisticated?’ “Defective” and “insufficient” are not my intent, nor are they synonyms for ‘not very sophisticated.’ A transistor radio is not very sophisticated compared to an iPhone, but that doesn’t mean it’s defective, nor insufficient.

    Similarly, someone who’s intellectually not very sophisticated isn’t necessarily unintelligent and certainly not “insufficient” nor “defective;” he just hasn’t acquired the skills to think his way through or around tricky cognitive pitfalls. And if he doesn’t have the intuitive ability to avoid them, then yeah, he is left vulnerable to various pitfalls.

    There’s a whole raft of them at the “intermediate” level of metacognitive ability; the one I described is just one of them. Another common one is falling for self-validating systems lacking an epistemological basis—some flavors of postmodernism, for example. IMO Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory is one related to Buddhism, to keep this vaguely on topic.

    (Sorry for sidetracking your thread. I do that a lot.)

  15. Sorry for sidetracking your thread. I do that a lot.
    — Petteri

    Now you are a liar and a thread hijacker ! ‘Cause you aren’t the least be sorry. Oh yeah, btw, sorry I called you a liar.

  16. @ Petteri :
    I was kind of agreeing with your main points. But here is my corrective emphasis:
    Even “honed meta-cognitive skills” are often not global. No one is universally skilled in meta-cognitive skills or any class of skills. So we should avoid phrases that seem to imply more about the mind of the person than is actually the case. For instance, I meet all sort of atheists who feel Christians are superstitious fools and don’t even see the superstition in their own lives.

    I’d wager there are those who think themselves meta-cognitively sophisticated but that are unaware of their own meta-cognitive blind spots.

    But by reading your posts, I know you agree. We are just talking about phrasings. I agree with your insights and their value.

  17. Ed

    I am loving the Buddhist posts as I lean that way. However, my style is not conventional. In a previous comment I mentioned “finding it” (enlightenment) as a goal. I only meant that as a way to speak about it. The essence of Buddha’s teachings and those others who have awakened is simply to “see”. No enlightenment. And there is nothing to see really. This is it. So, this “style” is more like Krishnamurti than any organized religion. I am wondering if you will address those with this approach? Thanks. Keep writing. :-}

  18. Graham

    I found your blog when reading about Buddhism. I was raised a Christian and am now an Atheist. I would also consider myself a pragmatic Buddhist but I generally refer to myself as Atheist.

    I’m quite interested in all the topics you cover, so keep posting!

  19. @ Ed :
    I will write something about “enlightenment” – but it won’t be prescriptive at all. You will have to wait! 🙂
    As for Krishnamurti — nah, remember, we are all waiting for you to start your own WordPress blog and enlightening us! 😀

    @ Graham :
    Very nice to have you. Thanks for dropping a note.

  20. I’d wager there are those who think themselves meta-cognitively sophisticated but that are unaware of their own meta-cognitive blind spots.

    Uh, like, everybody?

    The damnedest thing about blind spots is that you’re, by definition, unaware of them. That’s why they’re blind.

    Incidentally, I don’t believe that anyone is so completely enlightened that they have no blind spots left at all. The best you can do is locate and work your way through some of them. But that’s better than nothing already. Not that there aren’t other, possibly more productive uses of your time.

  21. Nitram

    Hi Sabio will definitely read more of your blog, there is quite a bit of depth here and we may well have some views in common and some enjoyable differences as well we can perhaps explore. Thanks.

  22. I am proud to say I am the most unsophisticated Buddhist, but I do look forward to under analyzing and minimizing your future Buddhist posts…..that was a sad joke.

  23. All I can say is that you haven’t lost me. I just haven’t been around the Internet much lately.

    I do appreciate your balanced view of things, as opposed to the radical perspective of others. I’m sure you know what I mean.

  24. @ Lorena: Yes, I know who you mean. Good to see you.

    @ Kyle: I look forward to your razor-like dissections and uncompromising categorizations as you thrash me closer and closer to true enlightenment. (PS – I too enjoy sarcasm. Not sure it falls in the “Right Speech” OK list. But maybe that is just for monks.)

    @ Nitram :Welcome, I will have to write on my experiences with Da Free John’s teachings (your “master”), sometime.

  25. hi Sabio,
    It is great to hear more about you! I am especially interested in your experience with Zen, as you mentioned you will post about why it didn’t feel like a home to you. And, also curious about your experiences with Adi Da.

    I so appreciate your ‘irreverant, sacrilegious, irreverent, scientific’ approach!

  26. @ Aly
    Glad you enjoyed — and thank you for your last sentence. More on Zen and Adi Da (Franklin Jones) in the future.

  27. I’d wager there are those who think themselves meta-cognitively sophisticated but that are unaware of their own meta-cognitive blind spots.

    Uh, like, everybody? ”

    Yea, this wager had ‘invitation to comment’ written all over it, eh. A whole series of posts on this alone would be useful, S (for me at least). “Recognizing Blind Spots.”

    But then again, no matter how many windows or doors we put in our house, there are going to be walls blocking the view. Unless we live in glass houses I guess… and stand back to back to back for 360-degree vision… and yell when the rocks come…

    The importance of good communication, I guess?

  28. @Sabio – Shit, you knew Bubba Free John?! Well that explains a bunch. Can’t wait to hear more!

  29. @ Andrew:
    Acknowledging our blindspots is the first step, transcending them or holding them lightly or embracing them is the next, I guess.

    @ Petteri :
    Alright, dude, you must share. I will try to post a very short thing on Bubba tomorrow to start the conversation, but before I get there, please do tell me a few things that you think my exposure to Franklin Jones explains in what you have seen in me.
    BTW, I never sat satsang — never met the chap. But have met several of his close disciples.

  30. @Sabio – Just one of those intuitive flashes. Somehow, it just… fits. Fits what? “A suffusion of yellow.” Or something. In a good way, of course.

    Anyway, can’t wait to hear your Bubba story. No, make it can wait – I’d rather read a considered piece even if it takes longer, so if you’re asking me, I’d prefer that you take your time with it and do it right.

    (Also, I think that acknowledging that you have blind spots is the first step. Figuring out what they might be is the second. Once you’re at the point where you can acknowledge them, they’re no longer blind, more like seriously myopic at worst.)

  31. @ Petteri
    Will do — I look forward to opening that old chapter in my book. 🙂

    But I must say: Much like many optical illusions which no matter how hard you stare you can’t see the “truth”, I think many cognitive illusions (a pernicious form of ‘blind spot’) are likewise persistent inspite of the most noble of efforts.

    To not see that is yet another blind spot.

  32. geoih

    I started visiting your blog because of the items you’ve posted on other blogs. I generally find your postings interesting, but I typically could care less about all things “spiritual”.

  33. Thanx for popping in, geoih.
    Yeah, my blog often slides into areas some would call “spiritual” — but I still don’t believe in spirits or magic. Nonetheless, I do (as opposed to many atheist sites), feel folks can still do valuable things under the banner of “spiritual” and that some atheists avoid dialogue these valuable things which are not addressed by secular society in general. I am against surrendering to cheap culture. I want insightful culture inside of my secular culture, my dialogue is to encourage that.

    I am sure you get all that. But just wanted to try to verbalize my approach.

  34. @Sabio:“Much like many optical illusions which no matter how hard you stare you can’t see the “truth”, I think many cognitive illusions (a pernicious form of ‘blind spot’) are likewise persistent inspite of the most noble of efforts.”

    Yes, I agree. As I said earlier, I don’t believe it’s even possible to get rid of all of them. What would that even be like? An omniscience of a sort?

    That could lead to an interesting digression regarding the Buddhist model of cognition. It says that the way we cognize is inherently defective—the ‘bright spots’ are defined by the blind spots. You can’t get rid of the latter without getting rid of the former.

    To ‘see reality as it is’ is to bypass the cognitional apparatus. In that case, cognitional blind spots no longer apply, because you’re no longer cognizing; you’re only experiencing. Vasubandhu calls this ‘supramundane knowledge.’

    Unfortunately, that knowledge is pretty much useless when it comes to the phenomenal world. All it can do is give you a different perspective, which, perhaps, can help you recognize and work around a few more blind spots—but all of them, no way.

    (Yes, I do wonder sometimes if there is a point to this whole enlightenment racket. I think there is, though. One Theravada guy called Bob Woodward apparently said ‘Highly recommended. Can’t tell you why.’ For some reason, I’m inclined to take him at his word…)

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