Category: zentao

Pragmatic Material Realists vs. Saturated, Infatuated Believers

In my daily life, especially with regard to both martial arts and the zentao lifeway, I often find myself besieged by one of two extremes — the pragmatic, material realist or saturated, infatuated believer. These two extremes are dynamically at odds with one another, yet love to seek me out, the former to argue and debate, the latter to try to gain reinforcement for their phantasmagorical euphoric belief systems.

Pragmatic material realists are the ‘safer’ of the two. People don’t get themselves into dire jeopardy, falling off the crumbling brink of their own sanity, when adhering to pragmatic material realism like do saturated, infatuated believers. Pragmatic material realists are ever steeped in skepticism, and skepticism for any method is very, very healthy. The mind of a skeptic questions, looks for holes in logic and reasoning, examines precepts and purported truths with an intent honed to detecting rot and misguided thinking. I applaud that. I invite it, even sanction and condone it. In fact, I do it myself quite readily and fervently, even in and to myself. It is the zentao way to do so. What I don’t condone, though, is that pragmatic material realists never bother to critically examine their own reductionist beliefs and question their close-minded, tunnel-vision. Worse, they outright dismiss anything and, worst, everything except pragmatically material explanations, no matter how contrived those explanations must become to fit the evidence. These folks ‘make decisions’ about absolutely everything, even when there are no grounds upon which to make such a decision.

Still, though, I much prefer the pragmatic material realist to the saturated, infatuated believer. While I won’t debate them (knowing very much the futility of trying to open a steel-reinforced granite vault whose 150 ton door’s locking mechanism has long-since rusted shut), I’m much more at home with their grounded perspective. Exposing the zentao thoughtway to the pragmatic material realist, though, is purely, for me, an exercise in patience and in accepting futility. Epiphany is beyond their any scope, yet they are apt students of martial ways, even Tai Chi, though it must be taught using principles of Newtonian physics. While the pragmatic material realist might never gain the ease and flow of Tai Chi, at least they gain a comprehension of the body mechanics involved in defending themselves.  Tai Chi is, after all, a very effective self-defense system when practiced as its founder intended.

Saturated, infatuated believers, on the other hand, are utterly and completely immune to any form of grounded, rational thinking. Their ecstasy at any possible supramundane suggestion they can, will, and do conceive, even the most ludicrous, propels them into ever-heightened euphoria. There can be no reaching the insidiously infatuated to bring their hot-air balloon brains back to earth.  Even suggest unlimited thinking to them, and their minds leap to the most fantastical, utterly and completely spurning any practical rationale whatsoever. Try to teach them a martial art, especially Tai Chi, and they embrace, not the self-defense system, but rather some dreamy, completely ungrounded oozing — people fronds waving in the sea of park — that they claim will magically protect them by sheer virtue of belief. To introduce them to the zentao thoughtway would be completely unethical …like handing a lit match to a toddler squatting in a pool of gasoline.

Blunt Honesty from a zentaoist POV

Here’s some honesty:

In social circles, or, better said, by human judgement, your value is often measured by ‘successful’ achievements, by your name and heritage, by what you do for a living, by how lucky you are, by who likes and loves you and who doesn’t, by how much money you have in the bank and your status in relation to others. These are quantitative measurements.

And it’s all false.

In reality, your value, which can only be measured by you and no one else, is a qualitative, not quantitative one. It’s based on who you are as a Self, an entity, or, better said, as an entity consciousness. It’s not what you do for a living, how many assets you control, what you own, what kind of car you drive or the house(s) you own in which neighborhoods, who you’re friends with or related to, who values you and who doesn’t, your status amongst peers or any other nonsense. And it is nonsense.

In zentao, we say that we are what we do, but that ‘saying’ — those words — can mislead the uninformed. It’s not whether you dig a ditch or perform successful brain surgery. It’s not whether you build rockets, lead an organization, or raise children. It’s not ‘what’ you do, as in some job label, that defines you, but, rather, the ‘what’ of yourself with which you do anything. It’s the quality that matters. It’s the intent that matters. It’s the essence of the very doing that matters.

If you cut wood for a living, it says nothing about you, the self. If you clean septic tanks, likewise. Or write legal briefs. Or build cars. Or run a multi-national conglomerate. Or a country. Rather, it’s the nature of your intent and intensity — what you pour into the doing of yourself into that project, that job, that ‘doing’, that is the measure of yourSelf. And the judge of that doing isn’t others — it doesn’t matter whether they deem it of value. Rather, it’s what you yourself KNOW — that you did your utmost with pure heart and clean intent.

Labels mean nothing. At all. I tire of friends who brag upon the supposed accomplishments of themselves and of others whom they claim as friends, the very fact of that friendship some supposed measure of their own value as a person.  Bunk.

I tire of the long lists of Fortune 500 names they drop. I tire of the relations they claim as uncle, aunt, grandfather, or great grandmom. It means nothing — nothing at all.

What matters is who they are, not who they know, not who they are related to by blood, nor the mammon they have managed to hoard. What matters is how they do anything, even breathe — how they live their lives, in their hearts and with their minds.  Do they, when they set out to do something, whether they fail or succeed in that task, do it fully and completely to their utmost? …Because what matters is what of themselves they commit to any and EVERY moment of being and doing. And that’s the blunt truth of the matter.

It’s not ‘what’ you do, as in job, but how you do it, not measured by false standards of success or failure, but, rather a ‘how’ of pure intent and pure self-immersion in expression.

When we say ‘we are what we do’, what we mean is: Every doing we undertake, we do with our utmost, pouring ourselves into it to the fullest perfection, willingly and thoroughly, with complete commitment of ourselves in that doing. If you don’t commit yourself to that level of doing regardless of what it is — washing dishes, taking the garbage out, raising a child to majority — anything — then you’re doing injustice to your Self and insulting, even, yes, vulgarly desecrating the very resources utilized to perform that any action, activity, or project, including the resources utilized to maintain your life  — the very air you breathe and foodstuffs that sustain you.

In short, if the quality of your every moment of being isn’t committed to the utmost expression of being and doing YOU, then you defame your Self.

Live Now.

An  art friend of mine has recently begun posting some secular humanist perspectives over on G+. He turns off comments, perhaps to avoid discussion…or, maybe, to fend off trolls.  Of course, it could be that he considers anyone who might choose to discuss the topic to be a troll.  He’s rather odd that way–easily offended, easily riled, easily disquieted.

Anyway, his posts got me to thinking about the mindset of atheist secular humanists, especially those who perceive life and reality as reducible to clear, concise mechanical processes that include chemical reactions and Newtonian physics. He’s a retired engineer, so this mindset comes quite logically and naturally to him and his. Dwelling in the strictly empirically measurable pragmatic, any idea of something more than life as a chemical reaction and consciousness as a neurological function is quite alien. Having myself dwelled in mechanism, pragmatism, atheism, and stoicism for a solid decade or more of my own existence, I can understand the very solid, stolid stability provided by it. What bothers me is that what he’s doing is no different than the proselytizing of the fervently religious. In truth, it’s no different.

Here’s the thing, though: Does it really matter what he believes versus what someone else believes? No. His beliefs give him solace, just as those who believe that their loved ones have gone to join Jesus or entered Nirvana or…do them. The fact is there is no proof or disproof of continuance of the self/soul/spirit upon the body’s demise, and, truly, it really doesn’t matter. Live now.

An Awesome Message

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