It is occasionally amusing to read comments that seem to assiduously avoid the focus of a posting in order to vent some personal suspicion of inadequacy. I have, of course, blocked the petulant child who seemed to think that vulgarity is a sign of maturity when it is really a sign of angry impotence.
And then there are the self-appointed hall monitors whose principal contribution seems to be to castigate anyone who might have a thought and be willing to offer that thought in the hope that it might prove helpful to others. I am reminded of a quote from Inherit the Wind: Henry Drummond: “Suppose God whispered into a Bertram Cates’ ear that an un-Brady thought could still be holy? Must men go to jail because they find themselves at odds with a self-appointed prophet?” These “self-appointed profits” parading as hall monitors generally contribute nothing to a discussion except impotent castigations. The idea of irony of that impotence seems lost on those who seem to be determined to demonstrate in themselves what they posture as finding in others. But, in the end, these are very uninteresting people who have very little to add and are best ignored.
After many years of mentoring individuals through transformational life journeys, I have discovered that the tendency of the human brain to want to maintain control of Zen ideas is essentially a defensive mechanism. As long as an idea is “intellectualized”, there is control over its impact. But, when an individual truly begins living those ideas, transformation is unavoidable. As I wrote above “The realization of the meaning of the Four Noble Truths is not an intellectual exercise.” For me, the essence of Zen and the teachings of the Buddha cannot be accessed through intellectualization. They have to be lived and experienced directly. The Four Noble Truths indicate a path that must be walked to be understood. Simply reading them accomplishes nothing at all. To make the point, ask yourself, “are these self-appointed prophet evidencing not just an understanding but a living demonstration of those Truths?”
Things get even clearer if you focus on the Eight-Fold Path. Are they evidencing “Right Understanding”? Are they employing “Right Speech”? Are they demonstrating “Right Conduct”? And the list of questions goes on and on. For instance, are they evidencing the “Right Mental Attitude” or “Right Mindfulness”?
I would suggest that they are not. A contributions to a conversation about Zen Philosophy by nihilists or agnostics is not really a conversation about Zen Philosophy. It is simply the inadequate working out of fear and self-loathing.
© Dr. Earl R. Smith II