Thursday, December 15, 2011

Al Gore's Dogma and Anger, and the limit to my intuitive wisdom.

Chevy Chase, from the Climate Reality Project sent me this missive today:

Dear Kim,

I don't know about you, but I get angry when I hear people claim that global warming isn't real. We know that the science is clear and climate change is an urgent problem. And we need more people to learn the truth....

The letter went on to talk about how Al Gore trained 3000 people to talk about climate change and Chevy wanted my money to pay for more presentations.

Driving to the Zen Center I wondered if Chevy Chase's anger was more a threat to our lives that climate change.

The other day I read the words in an email, "destroy the planet," and I questioned whether there was some less violent way of describing our precious lives on earth. Then G asked me if I was going to sign up for the Environmental Workshop and I told her that I would get angry. She said that it would be an opportunity to practice "equanimity." (Don't you love Buddhists?) She added, think of all the stuff you've gotten from global warming to write about.

Then I read on one of my previous blog posts a comment from a former colleague, M, in St. Louis,
"What is the debate really? This is proven and accepted science. Are we to debate the veracity of human evolution, the spherical nature of the earth, the age of the planet?"

I barely could get out of my chair this afternoon to go to the Zen Center, afraid that the dogma was making me into an obedient zombie. Anyway... I did go and was glad to be back after a couple weeks of playing hooky.

I was shoved out of my chair by this brilliant little paragraph that was sent to me from the website (no relation to Austin's Juniper).

The Three Moments is a model for describing the process of inner realization on the Buddhist path. T.R.V. Murti first coined the term in his classic work, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism1. Murti saw the main task of Buddhist training as “purifying the mind and freeing it of the cobwebs and clogs of dogmatism.”2 This occurs by examining and, ultimately, deconstructing the artificial edifice on which one’s inner life is built. The result is a refined level of awareness that is the basis for reorienting how we experience and engage the world.

The three moments comprise three states of inner maturation along the spiritual path: dogma, critical analysis, and intuitive wisdom. They can be summarized as follows:

  • Dogma: the unquestioned acceptance of what we know.
  • Critical analysis: examining what we know.
  • Intuitive Wisdom: going beyond what we know.

1 T.R.V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, (New Delhi, India: Munshiram Manoharlal 1955), 140-143
2 The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, 146

So what a beautiful gift to get that email. Just as William Blake spoke of innocence, experience, and organized innocence, so does the Buddhist path of dogma, analysis, and intuitive wisdom show us the stages of understanding. Perhaps it is just dogma for those who claim that knowing the planet is burning is not rocket science, and that you see one melting iceberg and you know that the world is coming to an end... and that it is our fault.

If you've gotten this far, you need a little humor. Please see the Onion's take on the environment where they report that "If global warming isn't under control by 2006, scientists say it will achieve unstoppable momentum, destroying the only planet we have."

So if by now you are scratching your head and wondering what I believe anyway... join the club. I do believe that anger should have no part of this conversation. That might be the limit of my "intuitive wisdom."


Anonymous said...

I do believe that anger should have no part of this conversation. – Mr. Kim

I think one of the biggest qualms I have with how I have experienced the Buddhist religion is this striving for ‘inner peace’ or ‘no anger’. It’s like wanting that euphoric high one might get from a drug only one should get it naturally by mediating until one is filled with acceptance and peace.

I don’t really think it works like that. To me this is as much a dogma as scientist believing in the terrible end of human existence. In my experience, emotions are like breath. . . You can’t just not have emotions like you can’t just not have air to breath. Anger will happen often whether one wants it to happen or not.

You know that stereotypical idea of the ‘hysterical or emotional woman’? Woman is sometimes viewed as that gender that doesn’t live by logic or reason but by her chaotic emotions. I’m not trying to act as if every man or even every woman believes this stereotype, but when you are the woman and you know the stereotype exist. . . It pissed you off. And you know you don’t have to feel bad about that rage because the stereotype exists in part as a means to dismiss your point of view when necessary. If you show even a little emotion, you are just a hysterical emotional woman.

I have had conversations with other woman who sometimes point to how Obama had to cultivate that image of not being ‘the angry black man’. Because if he would have been allowed any show of anger, he wouldn’t have been able to become president as the world is not ready to accept the ‘angry black man’. I think that ‘angry black man’ stereotype exists in part as a means of dismissing one’s point of view when necessary. If you show even a little emotion, you are just an angry black man.

Good action or bad action? Savior or sinner? --- Mr. Kim

Angry or peaceful? Savior or sinner?


Anonymous said...

PS - - - No, I wouldn't send money to Chevy Chase.


Melanie said...

I'm at work and don't have much time to comment, but found a couple of things that relate:

The ino at the SFZC, Shundo, posted this on his blog the other day ( from Suzuki Roshi:

"Student: Roshi, what about focus? You said that the clouds don't know they're the children of the mountain and vice versa, but when we humans open and arrange our eating bowls, we focus on that without listening to the stream. It is a different activity.
Suzuki Roshi: It is the same activity.
Student: For me it is different.
Suzuki Roshi: That is why you get the stick. [Laughing]. When you really focus, there is light and darkness together, but when you are thinking there are two sides. Now you are asking a question. When you are asking a question you are thinking, so it is hard for me to answer your question. I may have to be very angry with you. That is the only way. If you get hit you will probably stop thinking about it" - Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness.

Anonymous said...

How the subject of Global Warming inspires such extreme emotion is an interesting thing to me. I have decided for myself what I think about it, and this video helped me to see the balance:

We are not just vermin crawling around on the surface of the planet - we are integrated components of the universal whole. Light and Darkness together - there is no separation. The yin and yang symbol needs to spin as do electrons, planets, galaxy, all of the moving components of the whole - integrated. Separation is the illusion. Those who get so intensely emotional about Global Warming should probably get the stick. Just sayin' ha ha.

Who's in the world?

Xiushan said, "What can you do about the world?" Dizang said, "What do you call the world?"