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ikkainogakusei
06-27-2003, 12:12 PM
For anyone interested in this topic, it started in the Aikido and Libido thread. I questioned Mike Lee on his statement that all lust is bad. We have continued the discussion but it seems that it has run shy of the original topic, so I have started this new thread.

synopsis
ML: 'All lust is bad'
JT: 'even a lust for life?'
ML: 'Lust for life makes no sense, it is supposed to be 'zest for life' The wise know the difference, the ignorant do not'
JT:'Google finds 871,000 references for 'lust for life', 144,000 references for 'zest for life'. Dictionary.com uses 'lust for life' in definition of 'lust'.

Hopefully we can play over here and not hold the other thread hostage. Come play Mike.

:D :triangle: :D

Chuck Clark
06-27-2003, 03:03 PM
One person's lust is another person's zest.

Unless you can feel these people's "hearts" when they're using these terms, then it's just words and a semantics debate that ends up with everyone kinda chasing their tails, in my opinion.

Alfonso
06-27-2003, 03:29 PM
it's incredible though, how much discord is caused by semantics.

ikkainogakusei
06-27-2003, 03:45 PM
One person's lust is another person's zest.

Unless you can feel these people's "hearts" when they're using these terms, then it's just words and a semantics debate that ends up with everyone kinda chasing their tails, in my opinion.
Agreed. I think you're right, and I started out attempting to get a better understanding, or hoping to find some level of 'new-facet' as it were. Words to me have much potential for understanding the different hues of states of being or whathaveyou. I may have fallen into the wrong path for this discussion. I just feel challenged by absolutisms. What I mean to say is; when someone puts out a limitation, I want to discuss potentiality. It has caused me to get a little frustrated with extremists and black&whiters. After having looked at Mr. Lee's profile and that he has been 'ignored' by two others makes me feel like this is probably not going to produce growth however.

:)

Kevin Wilbanks
07-05-2003, 08:19 AM
If you want some absolutism, I'd be more likely to say the opposite: all lust is good. Lust, desire, erotic energy... this is what put us here. It's the essence of the urge to connect and create.

If you want to understand where M. Lee is coming from, I don't think you'd have too much trouble finding a Christian or Buddhist theologian with something more thought-provoking to say than 'The wise know the difference, the ignorant do not'. From what I have seen in that discussion and others, he's just toeing the age old religious line of shame, guilt, and fear about our bodies, natural urges, sex... even desire itself. I think your question about life is right on the money: why do major religions often condemn getting wrapped up in sensuality, pleasure, passion - things of the here and now - in favor of some abstract value pronouncements, another world, or "afterlife"? The zest/lust distinction sounds like evasive sophistry to me.

My idea about this is that it's about fear and copping out. I can't count how many times I've seen the same dynamic on a small personal scale. Someone puts themselves out there, takes a risk, gets hurt, and comes away from the experience afraid to take a similar risk again to avoid the possibility of getting hurt again. Take that position of reluctance to take a risk, dress it up in a bunch of fancy rationalizations and rituals, and you've got buddhism - the essence of which is to eliminate, to uproot all desire from one's life to avoid suffering. Christianity seems to focus more on control and repression in terms of sex, which I think is more complicated (hence more twisted).

Personally, I prefer a Shakespearian take on humanity and life: messy, passionate, funny, heartbreaking, incomprehensible. I want to amplify my desires, get totally immersed in sensory and emotional experience... higher peaks, lower lows, and everything in between. I'm not going to pack up my toys and go home at the prospect of a little pain. I'll save sitting around on a cushion and experiencing utter desireless stillness for later. There will be plenty of time for that when I'm dead, or at least way older than I am now...

Jim ashby
07-05-2003, 10:53 AM
Amen bro!

opherdonchin
07-05-2003, 12:01 PM
Yeah, I have to agree that that was very nicely said, Kevin.

I read an interesting twist on this dichotomy recently. A friend of mine gave me a book by Ken Wilber. He's a popular (or populist ...) philosopher and I have no idea how seriously I'm supposed to take his stuff. Still, there was one idea that caught my fancy. He said that philosophies tend to fall into one of two extremes, either deifying the lust for life or deifying the rejection of this life in favor of some notion of Spirit. Buddhism and Christianity are in the latter camp; nature worship and Taoism, I guess, would be in the former camp. He said that he thought the truth was probably more in the middle.

It's a little hard for me to understand where the middle would be. I guess it seems like you either have to believe int the One or in the Many. Still, I found it thought provoking.

Qatana
07-05-2003, 03:50 PM
in 15 years of Buddhist practice i have never been instructed to deny or suppress any thought or feeling that comes up. there is a big difference between taking action on them or just noticing they were there.i was never told to "uproot desire" rather to be concious in my choices.

regarding love/lust i think the Buddhist precept of not harming through the use of sexuality is an excellent guidline. if no one is harmed,even in a purely physical relationship, some degree of love exists, if only temporary.

Kevin Wilbanks
07-05-2003, 04:42 PM
What kind of buddhism are we talking about here? It's my understanding that - although popular in the US - Zen is a very small and idiosyncratic part of the world of buddhism. When I've tried to talk Zen with people who have lived in SE Asia, they found the ideas completely alien and nothing like the buddhism of their experience.

Qatana
07-05-2003, 08:10 PM
most of my training has been from American & Western students of Southeast Asian teachers.I can't trace their lineage but i know they can.

There are several Zen centers in the area, its a matter of time before i get to them...

Kevin Wilbanks
07-05-2003, 08:55 PM
All I was saying is that I think Zen is enough of a different animal as to probably not have much bearing on the generalizations we were making above.

opherdonchin
07-05-2003, 09:23 PM
Again, I agree with Kevin. Zen and Daoism and Buddhism seem to be quite different things. The Buddhist reading that I've done seems to make a really strong issue out of 'avoiding suffering.' It's hard for me not to read this as a fear of something that I see as an essential and inalienable part of life. Zen and Daoism don't have this flavor.

But then, neither my reading nor my experience with any of these things is very serious.

Qatana
07-05-2003, 09:50 PM
Avoiding Suffering? the First Noble Truth is that there IS suffering. and there is a way OUT of it. that doesn't mean not Feeling Pain, or Love, or Passion. It means not being a Victim to any of these things.

There are many different kinds of Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism is nothing like Zen which sometimes resembles Therevada( south-east Asian). They all have meditation practices involved which are similar techniques but many different philosophies. Here in the West we have the opportunity to mix & match & take what works for each of us as individuals.

kinda like Aikido, huh?

Kevin Wilbanks
07-06-2003, 12:20 AM
Avoiding Suffering? the First Noble Truth is that there IS suffering. and there is a way OUT of it. that doesn't mean not Feeling Pain, or Love, or Passion. It means not being a Victim to any of these things.
It sounds to me like you're drifting into the same sort of evasive, sophistical talk that Mike was using earlier. The standard stuff about finding a way out of suffering has to do with abandoning desire, especially for pleasure, material objects, and I guess in some sense immortality (although it seems arguable to me whether the quest for nirvana isn't just an immortality scheme of a different type). #1 is that the world is suffering, #2 is that desire and immersion in the messy stuff of life is the cause of suffering, #3 lo and behold, is that one can escape all this and get to Nirvana, #4 and worst yet, is that one has to follow all kinds of prescriptions for proper thought and behavior to get there.

The kind of 'roll-your-own' spin you're putting on this essentially life-denying scheme reminds me of someone I knew who claimed to be a radical, promiscuous sex-positive Catholic, or all the hordes of people out there who say they are Catholic but disagree with a good chunk of the dogma. If these people would just fess up to what the church was all about and accept the consequences, the damn place would go out of business next week. I don't see picking and choosing from various religions, or pieces of a particular religion as a good or lucky thing at all. I see it as wishy-washy way of avoiding personal responsibility which often results in lending de facto support to oppressive leaders and creeds.

Qatana
07-06-2003, 09:01 AM
fine Kevin. you know better than I do what I am talking about. Buddhism & meditation is all about escaping from reality. If you say so.

Since Kevin is the arbiter of all Truth in this site, why are we even bothering to have discussions at all.

Not to mention throwing 2500 years of a working philosophy right out the window.

No Buddhist country has ever started a war. And no, I do not consider Japan a Buddhist country.

Kevin Wilbanks
07-06-2003, 10:18 AM
Since Kevin is the arbiter of all Truth in this site, why are we even bothering to have discussions at all.
Hey, if you can't handle a little argumentative rigor, feel free to run and hide. But if so, perhaps you should refrain from making bold, absurd claims like this:
No Buddhist country has ever started a war.
Surely you jest. First, are you limiting the definition to wars between soveriegn states? 99% + of contemporary wars are civil wars. Now, maybe you don't consider oppressing a minority until they can't take it any more 'starting a war', but I do. In that case, Laos and its Hmong population comes to mind immediately. If I were more up on history, I'm sure I could come up with dozens more examples. Even assuming inter-sovereign national war as the only kind, ever hear of the Siamese Empire, the Angkor Empire? Any idea how one acquires the the designation "empire"?

Once again, you're giving us a rose-colored spin on what is essentially just another world religion. Areas in which it was popular have had just as bloody a history as anywhere else. I suspect it is arguable that Buddhism is a bit less war-like and oppressive than the big monotheisms and Hinduism, but it's not a bunch of peace-lovin' Californians sitting on comfy cushions.

Qatana
07-06-2003, 10:38 AM
no Buddhist Government has ever started a war

opherdonchin
07-06-2003, 03:09 PM
All right, no need for any of us life-affirming people to get angry or (even subtly) abusive.

Jo, if I'm willing to agree with you that Kevin is probably overstating his point, are you willing to agree with me that he does have a point?

Qatana
07-06-2003, 06:51 PM
And what point is that?

Kevin Wilbanks
07-06-2003, 10:35 PM
You got me! There were no real points. All that verbose gibberish was just window dressing. I actually have no belief or genuine interest in any of the content of my posts here. I'm just a big meanie, and my sole purpose in posting is to hurt people's feelings. Curses, foiled again!

happysod
07-07-2003, 06:36 AM
And here was me thinking you were just a big softy with a lust for "squats" :D .

Seriously, getting back to the "lust" thing, don't you think that it's the actions associated with lust that make so many uneasy? By this I mean that while lust itself is essentially natural (remember teenage years?) it's the methods used to asuage that lust that can make it come a cropper. I don't see much difference between Mike's total denial (and implied associated guilt) where lust is concerned and hedonists who believe they have the right to act on their lust. I prefer to acknowledge rather than deny my lusts, many are unobtainable, but their impact is lessoned if I face them rather than just deny them.

Having said that, I do have an unnatural lust for my sensei's katana which is giving me some severe ethical problems... :)

opherdonchin
07-07-2003, 08:33 AM
And what point is that?
The standard stuff about finding a way out of suffering has to do with abandoning desire, especially for pleasure, material objects, and I guess in some sense immortality (although it seems arguable to me whether the quest for nirvana isn't just an immortality scheme of a different type).
Although, I guess it isn't Kevin's point after all. :) Maybe it's mine.

On the issue of lust, specifically, I have to admit to being a long way from 'accepting' all of my lusts. Some of them feel very wrong to me, regardless of my philosophy.

Qatana
07-07-2003, 09:56 AM
well since the quote you posted has pretty much nothing to do with any Buddhist teaching i ever heard i suppose you're correct.

once more- it is not about "abandoning desire" it is about recognising it as what it as and choosing then to make an informed choice whether to act on any particular desire. there is the desire for sustenance- we Must eat.there is desire for a sword, or a car, or a man,or a particular colored belt- are these things necessary for me to survive? well maybe i don't Need them, i know i Want them and well maybe i can survive perfectly well without.

And lets just be clear that i am talking about the practice for the general populace. Monastic practices are a bit more stringent to highly restricting in various schools. monks take vows of renunciation because their primary focus in this world is their Practice.They chose a life of Practice and the practice is recognising those things that distract from the practice and using that recognition as practice instead...

And i just want to repeat here at the bottom of the page that all i am saying is stuff that I have directly experienced, as i said "Buddhism As I Know It".

Theres a reason its called "practice"...

ikkainogakusei
07-07-2003, 11:28 AM
Funny, I find valid points in both Kevin's and Jo's arguments. For me, the most significant advice from the Buddha is 'take the middle road'.

My interpretation of Jo's assertion [paraphrased] 'accept that we all lust, just don't be a victim of it' is that if we go to an extreme with lust and allow it to ruin our lives then we have not taken the midle road. On the other hand if we are obsessed with self-control/denial then we have gone to an extreme of desire [uh for control]which will complicate our lives as well.

I agree with Kevin about dressed up fancy rationalizations, it happens everywhere, not just in religions. I feel however that the simple beginnings and basic tennets set out by some of these 'prophets' are oft manipulated by those who choose to wrangle for control. One does not often hear an evangelist quote Romans 14:13-14 'Let us not therefore judge one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hinderance in the way of another [B] I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but thinking it makes it so '. Why, because in organised religion, shame is a powerful tool. Having a mass of people feel shameful that they are unclean or have committed an unclean act allows a manipulator to weild a lot of power.

To argue the different divisions of Buddhism might be folly, as they all have different paths with one goal in mind. Much like arguing which Aikido is best, or more 'true'. Much like insisting that there is only one 'lust'. ;) There are some basics which [uh, I assume] all Buddhists agree Buddha taught such as the eightfold path, and there are things which [likely] most Christians agree that Jesus taught such as 'love thy neighbor as thyself...' or 'Let he who has not sinned throw the first stone...' but still there is a dogma which imposes more opressive and less simple rules which become more about capitualting than living.

For me, I see my lust as an element of my being. I accept it and on occasion give in to it so long as the spirit of my intent is neither harmful to myself nor another. In addition, I don't see lust as only sexual. Many of us, especially those of us in the U.S. are inundated by a media which has been honing it's skills for decades to tap into the lusts/desires which inspire us to buy needless things which only have the hollow promise of bettering our lives. Sometimes when witnessing the gluttony of consumerism I am inclined to agree with Mr. Lee, but then I remember to 'Take the Middle Road.'

Whoa, I'll step down from my soap box now. Thanks for the patience during my pontification.

:ai: :D :ai:

Qatana
07-07-2003, 11:41 AM
Thank you Jane.What you said here:

"For me, I see my lust as an element of my being. I accept it and on occasion give in to it so long as the spirit of my intent is neither harmful to myself nor another"

is exactly what i am talking about.

Lust is neither good nor bad. It just Is.What we do with it, how we respond to it, is the true issue.Will this cause harm, or benefit, or neither, or both???

Kevin Wilbanks
07-07-2003, 12:00 PM
No, no. Lust is good... very good. If you don't believe it, ask all those old men buying boxes of little Viagra pills for whom lust 'just isn't'.

Also, as far as going to great lengths to calculate the resulting harm or benefits of one's actions - this doesn't sound very zen to me at all. That's certainly not what I took away from it. I thought the idea was more to get out of the calculating, judgement-making inner dialogue and just be responsive and awake in the present moment - the assumption being that living in this simpler way will automatically result in better living for oneself, and more appropriate responses to one's context/circumstances above and beyond judgements of good, bad, benefit, or harm.

opherdonchin
07-07-2003, 02:01 PM
well since the quote you posted has pretty much nothing to do with any Buddhist teaching i ever heard i suppose you're correct.I feel like you are missing my point. At the heart of every story I've heard of the origins of Buddhism and what it has to offer is a basic distaste with suffering, old age, illness and death. If nothing else, than the Siddhartha story exemplifies this powerfully. Buddhism has often been sold to me (in writing) as a way of 'conquering' suffering and death. In this way, it is not much different in my mind from Christianity.

Perhaps your Buddhism is different. Many different things wander around the world calling themselves Buddhism. However, my point is that this 'aversion to suffering' that I've encountered is neither a wild mis-reading nor a vanishingly small aspect of the religion.

That is the validity of Kevin's point (as I understood it) that I'm asking you to accept. There's an underlying philosophical point for me, here. I think every human endeavor has its flaws and achilles heels. I think that the more attached we become to an endeavor, the more imporant it is to keep those in mind (in 'awareness'). Aikido, Buddhism, and Love are no exception, I think.
I see my lust as an element of my being. I accept it and on occasion give in to it so long as the spirit of my intent is neither harmful to myself nor another.Is this really what you manage to do in all situations, or is this more of an aspiration. I have the same aspiration (more or less), but I'm curious if I'm the only one who does not achieve it.

ikkainogakusei
07-07-2003, 05:04 PM
I see my lust as an element of my being. I accept it and on occasion give in to it so long as the spirit of my intent is neither harmful to myself nor anotherIs this really what you manage to do in all situations, or is this more of an aspiration. I have the same aspiration (more or less), but I'm curious if I'm the only one who does not achieve it.
Uh, hmm well it would be laughable to say that I am perfect. It has been a path of lessons through life. With regard to the most obvious manifestation of lust [being sex]I haven't ever been disloyal to a lover or partner in my lustful pursuits. I had twice [in more youthful times] expressed a want to have 'no strings attached' to a friend and might not have seen that though they verbally agreed, the spirit of their intent did not follow the same path. Lesson Learned. No more 'no-strings' it's an illusion anyway.

As for lusts which come in other manifestations, uh well I do live in California, so I am often informed about which manufacturer has employed slave or prison labor to make their products, and when I think it is a legitamate source, I make an effort to aviod that product. I own very little, and do not aspire to rule the world. I don't think I need a sport-ute, diamonds, a Pacific cruise every Summer, or digital cable. At the same time I don't lecture my friends or family about wanting such things because I think such lectures don't often come from a clean source.

With regard to the 'no harm' aspect, I do eat meat, I'm pretty much an omnivore, because I think that meat is not the only living food. I couldn't follow Jainism [ironic eh?], there is a cycle of life which we are a part of. Plus, I don't think it is very 'middle road'.

There may be another element of what I said that you might see, but I haven't included; are we looking at more than lust?

:ai: :) :ai:

Qatana
07-07-2003, 05:15 PM
Probably you need to have direct experience of Buddhist Practice to understand. We are using the same words but they mean different things.Context changes with each experience.Which is something my sensei, and his, are interested in exploring- how the identity changes with each technique.

And the meanings of words, given different contexts, are still entirely subjective. For example where Kevin says "Lust is good" i would prefer to say "sex is good". In my book "lust" means "obsessive and probably unhealthy desire" but it also means "wanting to have sex with a person i am attracted to and may love or come to love" and "sex" means "something fun to do with another person which may be an expression of love or lead to love or just might be a hormonal adjustment" and "love" is "caring for another being with whom i may or may not be having sex with or may be my dog Tigger"

So the meanings of words change with the context and the individual. Aren't there words that have different meanings to you now than before you began Aikido?

And so there is suffering. And there is a path out of suffering but that doesn'T mean aversion to suffering- we ALL have an aversion to suffering.

If you had spent the first twenty years of your life in isolation and luxury as Siddhartha did, how do you think you would react to the Real World when you encountered it? How do you feel about getting old & weak & dying? It didn't bother the Buddha one little bit.

Qatana
07-07-2003, 05:17 PM
And yeah, what Jane said

ikkainogakusei
07-07-2003, 05:21 PM
No, no. Lust is good... very good. If you don't believe it, ask all those old men buying boxes of little Viagra pills for whom lust 'just isn't'. You may feel that way, but ironically there is a problem that has arised with a subculture of men using a combination of Viagra and Crank [crystal methanphetamines] and having a lot of very unsafe sex. It is an extreme case, but applicable. Once again, not the middle road.

Here's one reference, not the best, but the first to come up. There are many more on Google.

http://uk.gay.com/headlines/4613
Also, as far as going to great lengths to calculate the resulting harm or benefits of one's actions - this doesn't sound very zen to me at all.
There is more to Buddhism than Zen or Cha'an. Uh, and I don't think that I personally go to great lengths to calculate the resulting harm. I think I wouldn't be able to eat or drive or deficate or breathe really; if that were the case. I try to take the middle road. I simply consider the spirit of my intent, knowing what I do know, rather than postulating what might be and attempting to calculate unending results. I try to live consciously, rather than simply reacting.
I thought the idea was more to get out of the calculating, judgement-making inner dialogue and just be responsive and awake in the present moment
There is a book by Eckhart Tolle called The Power of Now that spends a lot of time in this. I really like the book, but I think it can be taken to an extreme, and not the middle road. The idea of 'You are not your Mind' is a good tool, but in extremes, it makes one an automiton.

ikkainogakusei
07-07-2003, 05:34 PM
Thank you Jane.What you said here: "... as the spirit of... intent is neither harmful to myself nor another"is exactly what i am talking about. Lust is neither good nor bad. It just Is.What we do with it, how we respond to it, is the true issue.Will this cause harm, or benefit, or neither, or both???Uh, sure :D Happy to oblige. I think that this conversation might turn into a lot of chasing tails, but that can create a little exercise as well. Really, I get a lot from Buddhism, I mean more than just Middle Road, but I think spirituality it is such a personal thing. The aiki part I would like to impart to others with regard to spirituality is the whole Masakatsu Agatsu idea, and that it is manifest not only in martial practice, but others [like spirituality]. Really though, I can only call out from the other ridge as it were. My path up the mountain is still a different one.

:ai: :) :ai:

ikkainogakusei
07-07-2003, 05:47 PM
You got me! There were no real points. All that verbose gibberish was just window dressing. I actually have no belief or genuine interest in any of the content of my posts here. I'm just a big meanie, and my sole purpose in posting is to hurt people's feelings. Curses, foiled again!
Okay, I just noticed this one.

:straightf :) :p :D So tempting, but somehow I think that it would be wrong to agree. Very funny. :D

Qatana
07-07-2003, 06:26 PM
and i thought all he wanted was to argue...

ikkainogakusei
07-07-2003, 07:14 PM
Okay so how much worse is this conversation than Aikido and libido?