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Another ISNS Subject Proposal

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  • Thomas Mether
    If Neoplatonism is alive and well (authentic), to what extent is a living tradition one of passing on experiences instead of ideas? If both, what is the mix or
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 17, 2011
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      If Neoplatonism is alive and well (authentic), to what extent is a living tradition one of passing on experiences instead of ideas? If both, what is the mix or role of each?




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • gregshaw58
      Thomas, I think this is THE question. In the case of Neoplatonists it is definitely both; they are intricately linked. It is one of those obvious truths
      Message 2 of 8 , Feb 18, 2011
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        Thomas,

        I think this is THE question. In the case of Neoplatonists it is definitely both; they are intricately linked. It is one of those "obvious" truths that, at first glance, seems hardly worth noting, but to explore HOW our discursive reflection is directly related to experiences that are not themselves contained in the discursive frame....that's worth something.

        As to those who want to oppose the experiential to the discursive (in favor of experience), I think they easily become both poor thinkers and disconnected experiencers.

        I think Dennis' post on his exploration of theurgy is precisely on this issue. Iamblichus' theurgy was hardly "anti-intellectual" but rather an attempt to put "thinking" in its proper place. That place, I think, to use Thomas' earlier metaphor, is "surfing" on an erotic wave...to the good and beautiful. Eros has priority.

        David Abram (author of "Spell of the Sensuous") has a nice passage in his new book, "Becoming Animal": "Our intelligence struggles to 'think' itself out of the mirrored labyrinth, but the actual exit is to be found only by turning aside, now and then, from the churning of thought, dropping beneath the spell of inner speech to listen into the wordless silence" (178). Plotinus said this as well (ask Mike or perhaps Kevin Corrigan where). The problem we have is that we tend to demonize thinking (in reaction to its over-valuation) but thinking too is part of Life and so must be coordinated with what Platonists termed the erotic trajectory.

        So, we need that surfing, but I also deeply appreciate that one of us (Marilynn) can post a question about where Aristotle sees the cosmos as divided into three and within hours someone (often Mike) will reply with precisely what she asked for. This is invaluable. These texts, these authors, combined the most acute intelligence with a kind of visionary/imaginative capacity that I find enriching. We need both: their visionary capacity...AND their texts to discipline the vision.

        Greg

        --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:
        >
        > If Neoplatonism is alive and well (authentic), to what extent is a living tradition one of passing on experiences instead of ideas? If both, what is the mix or role of each?
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
      • dgallagher@aol.com
        In a message dated 2/18/2011 10:16:18 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, gregshaw58@yahoo.com writes: These texts, these authors, combined the most acute
        Message 3 of 8 , Feb 18, 2011
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          In a message dated 2/18/2011 10:16:18 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
          gregshaw58@... writes:

          These texts, these authors, combined the most acute intelligence with a
          kind of visionary/imaginative capacity that I find enriching. We need both:
          their visionary capacity...AND their texts to discipline the vision.


          Precisely, Greg.

          This strikes me as paralleling tantra and sutra in Buddhism, which,
          roughly speaking, seem correspondent with compassion and wisdom. Once asked a
          monk why wisdom and compassion are always related one with the other. He
          said wisdom leads to stable compassion. Might that be taken as somewhat
          congruent with disciplining the vision?

          David






          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Thomas Mether
          Greg, In the Dennis and Greg posts, one in replay to Sebastian, I hoped I was clear that it is not an either/or choice; both experience/nous and discursive
          Message 4 of 8 , Feb 18, 2011
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            Greg,
            In the Dennis and Greg posts, one in replay to Sebastian, I hoped I was clear that it is not an either/or choice; both experience/nous and discursive thinking/dianoia have to be cultivated in tandem. Bali Temple dancers say dancing is their way of integrating both; some Hesychast priests say that the Orthodox liturgy is really a way of integrating them among other things. In the huge two volume Agni (with recordings) by Staals on the performance of the traditional Vedic yajna, a brahmin makes the statement that the ritual is a means of integrating experience and discursive thinking as well as providing the evocative conditions to provide a series of guided experiences. So I'd say that those who oppose reason and experience have probably the bulk of spiritual traditions against them. So I agree with you. When I said a living tradition is the transmission of experiences in contrast to ideas, I did not mean exclusive of reasoning and discursive thought. I
            meant in contrast to purely literary types of influences. A living spiritual tradition is much like training in medicine. you have to have the intelligence, you have to hit the books and absorb a lot of technical information, in learning to apply that information in making diagnoses, reason as a discursive power is active, but the training of a physician is also much more than what was learned in the classrooms or even laboratorys. In a real sense, it is a transmission of experiences from those experienced to those becoming experienced or a passing on of competencies. Some years back, in California, a Chinese Hua Yen master, the Dalai Lama, a Vedantin Swami, and a Sufi were at a retreat. The topic was what is a spiritual tradition? They upset some new age types, some academics, and some old fashioned "western occultists" when the issue was whether a transmission is just and only readers reading books so occultist A reads occultist B who read occultist
            C, and so on. Is there a tradition or transmission if it only and merely consists of texts being read and teaching others how to read those texts and/or having others read those texts and thus "influenced" by them. Their answer was a firm "no". At the time, MacIntyre's After Virtue had just come out and being widely read and Derrida was at the height of his fame in California. So, they compared the reading of texts as influence to Derrida's notion of disemination in contrast to a spiritual tradition as spiritual insemination via a person to person lineage of those experienced and competent passing on and training others to be experienced and competent. They then went on to suggest that without that, western spiritual traditions, western religion, and western philosophy were in the same state of internal disarray described by MacIntyre's opening in After Virtue "A Disquieting Suggestion".
             

            --- On Fri, 2/18/11, gregshaw58 <gregshaw58@...> wrote:


            From: gregshaw58 <gregshaw58@...>
            Subject: [neoplatonism] Re: Another ISNS Subject Proposal
            To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Friday, February 18, 2011, 9:16 AM


             





            Thomas,

            I think this is THE question. In the case of Neoplatonists it is definitely both; they are intricately linked. It is one of those "obvious" truths that, at first glance, seems hardly worth noting, but to explore HOW our discursive reflection is directly related to experiences that are not themselves contained in the discursive frame....that's worth something.

            As to those who want to oppose the experiential to the discursive (in favor of experience), I think they easily become both poor thinkers and disconnected experiencers.

            I think Dennis' post on his exploration of theurgy is precisely on this issue. Iamblichus' theurgy was hardly "anti-intellectual" but rather an attempt to put "thinking" in its proper place. That place, I think, to use Thomas' earlier metaphor, is "surfing" on an erotic wave...to the good and beautiful. Eros has priority.

            David Abram (author of "Spell of the Sensuous") has a nice passage in his new book, "Becoming Animal": "Our intelligence struggles to 'think' itself out of the mirrored labyrinth, but the actual exit is to be found only by turning aside, now and then, from the churning of thought, dropping beneath the spell of inner speech to listen into the wordless silence" (178). Plotinus said this as well (ask Mike or perhaps Kevin Corrigan where). The problem we have is that we tend to demonize thinking (in reaction to its over-valuation) but thinking too is part of Life and so must be coordinated with what Platonists termed the erotic trajectory.

            So, we need that surfing, but I also deeply appreciate that one of us (Marilynn) can post a question about where Aristotle sees the cosmos as divided into three and within hours someone (often Mike) will reply with precisely what she asked for. This is invaluable. These texts, these authors, combined the most acute intelligence with a kind of visionary/imaginative capacity that I find enriching. We need both: their visionary capacity...AND their texts to discipline the vision.

            Greg

            --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:
            >
            > If Neoplatonism is alive and well (authentic), to what extent is a living tradition one of passing on experiences instead of ideas? If both, what is the mix or role of each?
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >











            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Thomas Mether
            David, Look at the quotes on the nature of Buddhist meditation in my Dennis and Greg posts. One of the quotes I did not put in is at the higher states of
            Message 5 of 8 , Feb 18, 2011
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              David,
              Look at the quotes on the nature of Buddhist meditation in my "Dennis and Greg" posts.
              One of the quotes I did not put in is at the higher states of meditative practice, analytical reason no longer works indirectly with concepts as mediation but becomes a conceptualess analytical and reasoning clarity working directly with what is seen so that the nous is the lens and dianoia is the focussing power. But, as the Goleman quote brings out, besides samadhi-calm abiding practice and analytic-wisdom practice there is also sila (cultivation of moral virtues and transformation of emotions into the spectral modalities of compassion). Besides the designation of the Eightfold Path, Buddhism is alos called the threefold practice of sila (virtue ethics and cultivation of compassion, samadhi (concentrative meditation and increased intensity of being consciously aware, of direct seeing), and wisdom (also called analytic meditation or perfection of analytic and logical powers that start out discursive and conceptual, as I said above, but then work
              directly as part of the direct seeing as a conceptualess, nondiscursive, unmediated, power of logical analysis that sharpens, so to speak, the lens of nondiscursive direct conscios seeing).

              --- On Fri, 2/18/11, dgallagher@... <dgallagher@...> wrote:


              From: dgallagher@... <dgallagher@...>
              Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Another ISNS Subject Proposal
              To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Friday, February 18, 2011, 10:03 AM


               



              In a message dated 2/18/2011 10:16:18 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
              gregshaw58@... writes:

              These texts, these authors, combined the most acute intelligence with a
              kind of visionary/imaginative capacity that I find enriching. We need both:
              their visionary capacity...AND their texts to discipline the vision.

              Precisely, Greg.

              This strikes me as paralleling tantra and sutra in Buddhism, which,
              roughly speaking, seem correspondent with compassion and wisdom. Once asked a
              monk why wisdom and compassion are always related one with the other. He
              said wisdom leads to stable compassion. Might that be taken as somewhat
              congruent with disciplining the vision?

              David

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]











              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • dgallagher@aol.com
              Thomas, Two brief points without elaboration: 1. I find Sufi dancing to be integrative in the sense you portrayed. 2. Plotinus helps me make some semblance of
              Message 6 of 8 , Feb 18, 2011
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                Thomas,

                Two brief points without elaboration:

                1. I find Sufi dancing to be integrative in the sense you portrayed.

                2. Plotinus helps me make some semblance of sense of my experience.
                Further, Proclus helps me make better sense of Plotinus.

                David


                In a message dated 2/18/2011 11:15:52 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                t_mether@... writes:




                Greg,
                In the Dennis and Greg posts, one in replay to Sebastian, I hoped I was
                clear that it is not an either/or choice; both experience/nous and discursive
                thinking/dianoia have to be cultivated in tandem. Bali Temple dancers say
                dancing is their way of integrating both; some Hesychast priests say that
                the Orthodox liturgy is really a way of integrating them among other things.
                In the huge two volume Agni (with recordings) by Staals on the performance
                of the traditional Vedic yajna, a brahmin makes the statement that the
                ritual is a means of integrating experience and discursive thinking as well as
                providing the evocative conditions to provide a series of guided
                experiences. So I'd say that those who oppose reason and experience have probably
                the bulk of spiritual traditions against them. So I agree with you. When I
                said a living tradition is the transmission of experiences in contrast to
                ideas, I did not mean exclusive of reasoning and discursive thought. I
                meant in contrast to purely literary types of influences. A living
                spiritual tradition is much like training in medicine. you have to have the
                intelligence, you have to hit the books and absorb a lot of technical
                information, in learning to apply that information in making diagnoses, reason as a
                discursive power is active, but the training of a physician is also much more
                than what was learned in the classrooms or even laboratorys. In a real
                sense, it is a transmission of experiences from those experienced to those
                becoming experienced or a passing on of competencies. Some years back, in
                California, a Chinese Hua Yen master, the Dalai Lama, a Vedantin Swami, and a
                Sufi were at a retreat. The topic was what is a spiritual tradition? They
                upset some new age types, some academics, and some old fashioned "western
                occultists" when the issue was whether a transmission is just and only readers
                reading books so occultist A reads occultist B who read occultist
                C, and so on. Is there a tradition or transmission if it only and merely
                consists of texts being read and teaching others how to read those texts
                and/or having others read those texts and thus "influenced" by them. Their
                answer was a firm "no". At the time, MacIntyre's After Virtue had just come
                out and being widely read and Derrida was at the height of his fame in
                California. So, they compared the reading of texts as influence to Derrida's
                notion of disemination in contrast to a spiritual tradition as spiritual
                insemination via a person to person lineage of those experienced and competent
                passing on and training others to be experienced and competent. They then
                went on to suggest that without that, western spiritual traditions, western
                religion, and western philosophy were in the same state of internal disarray
                described by MacIntyre's opening in After Virtue "A Disquieting
                Suggestion".






                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • dgallagher@aol.com
                Thomas, Is it possible to say it more plainly without all the technical terminology? Perhaps I m getting lazy. This seems to resonate with *Republic* VI,
                Message 7 of 8 , Feb 18, 2011
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                  Thomas,

                  Is it possible to say it more plainly without all the technical
                  terminology? Perhaps I'm getting lazy.

                  This seems to resonate with *Republic* VI, 511a-c.

                  I'm immediately enamored (eros) with your nous and dianoia metaphors.

                  As described, wisdom or analytic meditation is how I experience reading the
                  texts; especially in those moments when a given expression of an idea
                  induces the suspension of thought and a no-thought trance-like state ensues
                  which, in reflective retrospect, seems to have been some sort of transfixation
                  in an atemporal-aspatial void. A very cool "place". Those "interludes"
                  are important to the process of understanding what I am; that is, my
                  experieince.

                  Thanks,
                  David



                  In a message dated 2/18/2011 11:27:15 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                  t_mether@... writes:




                  David,
                  Look at the quotes on the nature of Buddhist meditation in my "Dennis and
                  Greg" posts.
                  One of the quotes I did not put in is at the higher states of meditative
                  practice, analytical reason no longer works indirectly with concepts as
                  mediation but becomes a conceptualess analytical and reasoning clarity working
                  directly with what is seen so that the nous is the lens and dianoia is the
                  focussing power. But, as the Goleman quote brings out, besides samadhi-calm
                  abiding practice and analytic-wisdom practice there is also sila
                  (cultivation of moral virtues and transformation of emotions into the spectral
                  modalities of compassion). Besides the designation of the Eightfold Path,
                  Buddhism is alos called the threefold practice of sila (virtue ethics and
                  cultivation of compassion, samadhi (concentrative meditation and increased
                  intensity of being consciously aware, of direct seeing), and wisdom (also called
                  analytic meditation or perfection of analytic and logical powers that start
                  out discursive and conceptual, as I said above, but then work
                  directly as part of the direct seeing as a conceptualess, nondiscursive,
                  unmediated, power of logical analysis that sharpens, so to speak, the lens
                  of nondiscursive direct conscios seeing).

                  --- On Fri, 2/18/11, _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
                  <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) > wrote:

                  From: _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
                  <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) >
                  Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Another ISNS Subject Proposal
                  To: _neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
                  Date: Friday, February 18, 2011, 10:03 AM



                  In a message dated 2/18/2011 10:16:18 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                  _gregshaw58@..._ (mailto:gregshaw58@...) writes:

                  These texts, these authors, combined the most acute intelligence with a
                  kind of visionary/imaginative capacity that I find enriching. We need
                  both:
                  their visionary capacity...AND their texts to discipline the vision.

                  Precisely, Greg.

                  This strikes me as paralleling tantra and sutra in Buddhism, which,
                  roughly speaking, seem correspondent with compassion and wisdom. Once
                  asked a
                  monk why wisdom and compassion are always related one with the other. He
                  said wisdom leads to stable compassion. Might that be taken as somewhat
                  congruent with disciplining the vision?

                  David

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • t_mether
                  David, My latest flurry of posts, sort of at John and your request, was to elaborate on the Hesychast tradition as lived. As Greg Shaw might appreciate, each
                  Message 8 of 8 , Feb 21, 2011
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                    David,
                    My latest flurry of posts, sort of at John and your request, was to elaborate on the Hesychast tradition as lived. As Greg Shaw might appreciate, each spiritual tradition involves learning a technical terminology or language. As one's experiences grow within that tradition, technical language gets fleshed out with experiences validated, not validated, and/or pruned by a Spiritual Father or Mother (and yes, we have female guides in Hesychasm). I particularly enjoy, but shouldn't, those Near Eastern and Middle Eastern males purposely being referred by their Spiritual Father to his female colleague. From my own experience, "while I am not one of those", to a degree I am (or was). Women have a clarity about men that men no matter how spiritually "along the way" maybe can have. Anyway, if asked to explicate Hesychasm experientially as you asked, I need to do the technical terms. Some children grow up bi-lingual; but it does not help if don't know either language. Language is (Greg?) theurgy in matters of the heart. Loose, it is poetry. Under guided training under special conditions provided, it is a science of the spirit. It starts out as learning the lingo others use to communicate. Then it becomes something deeper with experiences attached. Part of the Buddhsit 8fold path is "right view". That "right view" is to lead to something deeper in terms of experience and realization. In Hinduism, darsana is, in a way, "right view/teminology" as a yeast for the complete view which is siddhanta = view + realization. Apart from siddhanta, all teachings are fragments or fragmentary clues/lines of force for meditation/self study of something unknown until one gradually makes them, under guidance under correct conditions, one's own consolidated as both one's experience and as oneself. Against the suggested relativity about languages, the starting-points grow more and more relative or one finds as a bilingual child one is fluent in two languages. Putting it in your own terms only works within a tradition/language.
                    Thomas

                    --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, dgallagher@... wrote:
                    >
                    > Thomas,
                    >
                    > Is it possible to say it more plainly without all the technical
                    > terminology? Perhaps I'm getting lazy.
                    >
                    > This seems to resonate with *Republic* VI, 511a-c.
                    >
                    > I'm immediately enamored (eros) with your nous and dianoia metaphors.
                    >
                    > As described, wisdom or analytic meditation is how I experience reading the
                    > texts; especially in those moments when a given expression of an idea
                    > induces the suspension of thought and a no-thought trance-like state ensues
                    > which, in reflective retrospect, seems to have been some sort of transfixation
                    > in an atemporal-aspatial void. A very cool "place". Those "interludes"
                    > are important to the process of understanding what I am; that is, my
                    > experieince.
                    >
                    > Thanks,
                    > David
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > In a message dated 2/18/2011 11:27:15 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                    > t_mether@... writes:
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > David,
                    > Look at the quotes on the nature of Buddhist meditation in my "Dennis and
                    > Greg" posts.
                    > One of the quotes I did not put in is at the higher states of meditative
                    > practice, analytical reason no longer works indirectly with concepts as
                    > mediation but becomes a conceptualess analytical and reasoning clarity working
                    > directly with what is seen so that the nous is the lens and dianoia is the
                    > focussing power. But, as the Goleman quote brings out, besides samadhi-calm
                    > abiding practice and analytic-wisdom practice there is also sila
                    > (cultivation of moral virtues and transformation of emotions into the spectral
                    > modalities of compassion). Besides the designation of the Eightfold Path,
                    > Buddhism is alos called the threefold practice of sila (virtue ethics and
                    > cultivation of compassion, samadhi (concentrative meditation and increased
                    > intensity of being consciously aware, of direct seeing), and wisdom (also called
                    > analytic meditation or perfection of analytic and logical powers that start
                    > out discursive and conceptual, as I said above, but then work
                    > directly as part of the direct seeing as a conceptualess, nondiscursive,
                    > unmediated, power of logical analysis that sharpens, so to speak, the lens
                    > of nondiscursive direct conscios seeing).
                    >
                    > --- On Fri, 2/18/11, _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
                    > <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) > wrote:
                    >
                    > From: _dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...)
                    > <_dgallagher@..._ (mailto:dgallagher@...) >
                    > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Another ISNS Subject Proposal
                    > To: _neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
                    > Date: Friday, February 18, 2011, 10:03 AM
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > In a message dated 2/18/2011 10:16:18 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                    > _gregshaw58@..._ (mailto:gregshaw58@...) writes:
                    >
                    > These texts, these authors, combined the most acute intelligence with a
                    > kind of visionary/imaginative capacity that I find enriching. We need
                    > both:
                    > their visionary capacity...AND their texts to discipline the vision.
                    >
                    > Precisely, Greg.
                    >
                    > This strikes me as paralleling tantra and sutra in Buddhism, which,
                    > roughly speaking, seem correspondent with compassion and wisdom. Once
                    > asked a
                    > monk why wisdom and compassion are always related one with the other. He
                    > said wisdom leads to stable compassion. Might that be taken as somewhat
                    > congruent with disciplining the vision?
                    >
                    > David
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
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