Friday, February 12, 2016

The Answer

I get complaints that I do not answer questions.  That is not quit correct, rather I do not answer the question in the format expected. They want a brief, direct quote, as one quotes  Bible scripture to support a view.  I am more likely to have drawn on a variety of sources and made both deductions and inductions.

My answers are more like that of  a Shoalin  master addressing a Shoalin monk. I assume that you know all the scriptures and are seeking deeper meaning.  My answers may be either technical points from my notebooks, or broadly philosophical, but they are not going to from a single cite.


Ruth B said...

You are not a Zen master. Your arrogance is certain proof of that. If you really were a master, you'd stop braying like a donkey, sit down, and face the wall.

Aaron said...

What do Zen Masters do? What would I have to do, for you to consider me a Zen Master?

I knit fabrics that you consider impossible to knit. Therefor you consider me a liar. I think that knitting things that you consider impossible to knit, does indeed put me in the Zen Master class.

Who else do you know who makes their own 6-stand sock yarn and knits it a reasonable commercial rate into fabrics at 150 stitches per inch (11.2 spi by 13.2 rpi)?

Who else do you know who makes their own 4-ply gansey yarn (2,500 ypp), and knits it at 12 spi by 20 rpi?

Post links to others who do these things routinely. I figure there is one master for every 5,000 or 10,000 monks. There are about 4 million knitters, so there should be on the order of 400 - 800 knitting masters around. So tell me, who are my peers? Who else is making these kinds of fabrics these days?

Ruth B said...

Well, for starters, you'd have to be a Zen practioner. Those of us who do practice Zen know who the masters are - each lineage keeps records. You're not one. Period. Zen is not extraordinary; it is quite ordinary, as you would know if you were a Zen master. "Zen mind is ordinary mind." To quote from the Mumonkan:

Joshu asked Nansen, "What is the Way?"

"Ordinary mind is the Way," Nansen replied.

"Shall I try to seek after it?" Joshu asked.

"If you try for it, you will become separated from it," responded Nansen.

How can I know the Way unless I try for it?" persisted Joshu.

Nansen said, "The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion; not knowing is confusion. When you have really reached the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as space. How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?"

With those words, Joshu came to a sudden realization.

Mumonkan, Koan 19
Ordinary Mind is the way

Alexander said...

.... I do

Aaron said...

We were in Nepal, trekking from the Annapurna Sanctuary to Pokhara Town and our guide pointed out a fellow as a great Holy Man, a Zen Master. We went over to the fellow, and I asked him, "How we could know that he was a holy man?" He pointed at a rock, and had our guide weigh it. Our guide took out his scale (used to weigh the porter's loads) and the rock was 40 kg. The Holy Man took off his loin cloth, and used his just his prick to pick the rock up, off the ground. Real Zen Masters do things that others cannot.

Other than keep records, and "talk about the way" what do your "Zen Masters" do?

I expect a Zen Master to understand "how things work", so that the Master is able to accomplish things that others are no not able to do. This would include martial arts, physical feats, and exceptional craftsmanship.

I expect a Zen Master, to routinely do things that others do not normally accept as being humanly possible. A Zen Master walks the narrow line between "magic" and "advanced technology", with his audience unable to tell the difference between magic and science. In fact, the existence of a Zen Master is dependent on a technically naive audience that does not understand the science used by the master to accomplish his feats.

All of that talk about "The Way" is the "hocus pocus" of the performance that distracts the audience from inquiring too deeply into the technology of the feat. I do not need the hocus pocus/ discussion of the way, because many in my audience have a 'bias blind spot' and are not inclined to do the science. My students are those few in the audience that seek to understand the science.

And, yes, one sunny Kensington afternoon 33 years ago, I was able to offer water, ice cream, and transportation to a rather warm and tired Dali Lama. We spent an hour or so together, and were able to talk of many things. He offered a different perspective from what I found in say the Green Gulch Zen Center.

So, Ruth B., tell us about The Way.

Ruth B said...

Thank you for just proving my point that you are not only not a Zen master, but you know nothing about Zen at all. To paraphrase Mark Twain, it would have been been better for you not to reply to my comment and be thought a fool than to post such an ignorant and silly reply and remove all doubt.

Aaron said...

Ruth B
Again you respond with your preconceived notions about me, rather than "Mindful" commentary on Zen. Your saying that I do not understand Zen is rather like your saying that I am not a good knitter be cause I do not use circular needles such as you prefer.

In some ways, I am rather like Forrest Gump. I went out and did very ordinary things in a "mindful way" resulting in exceptional experiences.

I used circular needles to knit and mindfully discarded the technique as inadequate.

I have considered Zen, and concluded that what is taught as Zen is inadequate. The difference between us is that I have actually served the Dali Lama water when he was thirsty, and had a chance to as serious questions and received serious answers. His answers were better that those that I received at various Zen Centers.

In Nepal, our guide spent his life protecting life. He climbed to the summit of Everest 7 times. He was a prime example the "best of the Best". He was the kind of Zen Master that teaches by example. He did what he did because it was important. Doing what he did brought him calm both because he was doing something important, and because he did it perfectly, mindfully.

Chanting, or raking gravel, may bring some calm as a meditation, but it does not bring Samyaksambuddhahood.

There on many texts on knitting and more texts on Buddhism/ Zen. Do not bother citing these texts unless you can provide insightful commentary. Seek to provide value added.

Ruth B said...

Green Gulch is a farm, not a Zen Center. More proof that you know nothing about Zen except what you make up in your head.

Aaron said...

Depends - I spent time there circa 1986-87. A friend lived there, and I often went up to visit. For those who do not know, it is For those who live there, it is as much a Zen Center as Tassajara or Berkeley Buddhist Priory.


I disagree. The Buddha achieved enlightenment, therefor at least one person has achieved perfection in some things. However, perfection is not an all or nothing event. One can master some things without mastering all things. For example, the Buddha achieved enlightenment but was not able to teach all people everywhere to achieve enlightenment. At best, the Buddha was able to show some, but not all people, paths to enlightenment.

Aaron said...

Some know that Ruth B is deeply attached to one technique of knitting, and therefor violates the second of the 4 Noble truths, "The source of suffering is desire and attachment." (Dukkha restated)

Her style of knitting is familiar, and therefore pleasurable, and she clings to it. Clinging to temporary things and states is inherently unsatisfying, and her attitude is shows that she is not happy.

When one can knit in any style, then all styles of knitting are equal, and one can work in the style of knitting that produces the best results. Good knitting brings lasting happiness to both the knitter, and the user of the knit object. Better knitting brings more happiness to both the knitter and the user.

Perfection of knitting is a path to double happiness.

Ruth B said...

And what single style of knitting do you purport to know about me? As I have said often before, we have never met, you have never seen me knit, and so you have no idea about my knitting style(s). As usual, you invent facts to suit your fantasy. Delusion upon delusion. How sad.

Aaron said...

How you knit does not really matter. There are about 2-dozen ways to knit, each with its own virtues and vices. The good knitter knows them all and uses each as needed.

A good number of the techniques require various kinds of knitting sheaths or knitting belts. Since you disparage my use of knitting sheaths, we can guess that you do not use such tools and have not mastered those techniques.

Thus, I conclude that you do not use a knitting sheath.

Without those techniques, one cannot knit objects that cause experienced knitters to exclaim, "How is it possible to hand knit such a fine fabric?!" That is the kind of response that I have come to expect from the best knitters. I do not get these comments over the internet because people cannot touch and feel the fabrics.

Ruth B said... are wrong, wrong, wrong, Aaron. I do use a knitting belt. All the time, in fact. I prefer dpns and a knitting belt to circular needles, though I have used circular needles on occasion. . And I've made my own knitting sheath, too. And I bought two sets of needles from you some years ago as well. On the other hand, I know people who knit beautifully and well using circular needles. It is a tool that works for them. So as you can easily see, your conclusions are based in nothing more than your own wishful thinking and your need to be The Expert in everything.

Aaron said...

I was correct in that you do not use a knitting sheath. I did not say that you do not use a knitting belt. So, why are you so angry? Why are you so made at me?

OK, you have made ONE knitting sheath. Knitting sheaths are like hammers - they each have their purpose. Perhaps you made a ball peen hammer when you needed a claw hammer? I had to make a dozen different kinds of knitting sheaths and try them on a dozen different kinds of knitting before I fully understood what kinds of knitting sheaths worked best for the different kinds of knitting. It was only years later that I worked out swaving - which dramatically informed my understanding of the traditional knitting sheath designs, and dramatically improved my knitting sheath technique for all kinds of knitting. Today I keep and use at least 5 different kinds of knitting sheaths. And, even those proven and loved designs keep being improved for particular projects.