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How it is that we have come to invade Iraq
November 8, 2004 4:07 PM   Subscribe

How it is that we have come to invade iraq Zen teacher Sevan Ross, on the reasons for our invasion of Iraq.
posted by tranceformer (43 comments total)

 
If we catch the terrorists alive, Bin Laden and the gang, perhaps we should have them go to a special facility where they have to do sesshin after sesshin.  Possibly for years.

While that may sound grueling to some, bin Laden spent years in Afghan caves and fighting for God. I doubt any number of sesshins would produce any change in him.
posted by homunculus at 4:14 PM on November 8, 2004


Thich Nhat Hanh on Abu Ghraib.
posted by homunculus at 4:19 PM on November 8, 2004


spent years in Afghan caves, praying and fighting for God.
posted by homunculus at 4:20 PM on November 8, 2004


Thanks, tranceformer.

In a similar vein: Thoughts In The Presence of Fear.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:38 PM on November 8, 2004


Great front-page post. With all the sound and fury about the war and the state of the war and the reasons for the war, it's nice to find a genuinely different perspective... and while it might seem to boil down to "if we all meditated, things like this wouldn't happen" there's a lot more going on in this piece than simply that.

Though trying meditation suddenly seems like a good idea.
posted by Hogshead at 4:44 PM on November 8, 2004


so we invade iraq because we live in places like chicago ... why doesn't he move?

and i'm not being snarky here ... i'm dead serious
posted by pyramid termite at 4:45 PM on November 8, 2004


'I doubt any number of sesshins would produce any change in him.'


I daresay that's true. You can lead a horse to water and all that...
Nice article - only slightly swizzy title.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:47 PM on November 8, 2004


Group Hugs solve everything.
posted by srboisvert at 5:31 PM on November 8, 2004


Maybe Buddhism not for everybody. That's OK!
posted by crunchburger at 5:35 PM on November 8, 2004


so we invade iraq because we live in places like chicago ... why doesn't he move?

I agree, I'm just trying to figure out why he hates america so much..
posted by tranceformer at 5:47 PM on November 8, 2004


The author lost me by starting off with the tire story.
posted by billsaysthis at 6:11 PM on November 8, 2004


Shame about "Iraq" in the title, meaning almost everyone with any sense is going to skip this thread, when it's really not about Iraq (previously titled 'Why We Are Invading Afghanistan').

Well, he convinced me not to buy a VW Bug. Liability insurance for snowplows is ridiculously expensive in Canada. I can only guess how much worse it must be in the generally more lawsuit-happy USA.

...but you really know something's wrong with the universe when a tire shop doesn't own a tire iron.
posted by sfenders at 6:41 PM on November 8, 2004


Getting Beyond Good vs. Evil: A Buddhist Reflection on the New Holy War
I've plugged this before, but it's a really good examination of how dualism has brought us to where we are. Thanks for the good post, Tranceformer.
posted by planetkyoto at 6:54 PM on November 8, 2004


OK article, but the subtext was kind of bothering: I am in touch with true spirituality...taking control of down-to-earth realities like car repair.
posted by kozad at 6:59 PM on November 8, 2004


Roy explodes in rage and reason.

Note the Orwell. Justice/Human rights.
posted by wah at 7:04 PM on November 8, 2004


Gorgeous piece, thanks.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:37 PM on November 8, 2004


If a post is written in a condescendingly large font on the internet, does anyone read it?
posted by interrobang at 8:23 PM on November 8, 2004


did you "?!" ?
posted by wah at 8:50 PM on November 8, 2004


Is "to ?!" a verb?
posted by interrobang at 9:18 PM on November 8, 2004


How is it we've come to invade Iraq? We have to ask this?

It's greed and vengeance disguised meekly as patriotism and global concern for humanity, coupled by complete disregard of the need for an exit strategy.

Zen Buddhism isn't where you look to find the answer to this question. Was Sun Tzu a buddist? If Shrub had bothered to read The Art of War we probably wouldn't be in this pickle.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:05 PM on November 8, 2004


...but you really know something's wrong with the universe when a tire shop doesn't own a tire iron.

I heard a report on Weekend Edition--fast food chains generate 70% of their business window and by the miracle of the economy of scale are moving to taking orders from regional call centers. You could be in Iowa ordering it super sized and the woman who tells you this speaks in a room somewhere in Kansas, staring at a monitor wearing a headset, sitting at a table with more people talking to strangers sitting in cars all over the Midwest. I hate those self check out counters at the grocery store. I hate those gargantuan megastores, hangers all full of mobs and halide lights and lost sparrows in the rafters. We are become ants in a hive, bowling alone, life out of balance.

There are so few points of daily social contact in a human friendly space anymore. The points in our lives where we can make nice talk with strangers and familiars in the small scale are vanishing. It's no wonder that they shot Friends in a coffee shop.
posted by y2karl at 10:21 PM on November 8, 2004


Shame about "Iraq" in the title, meaning almost everyone with any sense is going to skip this thread, when it's really not about Iraq

I agree. Though the ending was a tad bit disappointing (to me), the point he makes is quite interesting, and goes beyond politics.

Of course, with the tiltle, we'll have members put forth the same political rhetoric we see in thread after thread, because we just can't. help. ourselves.

It makes me wonder if they even read the link, or simply see the title as an opportunity to rant.
posted by justgary at 10:54 PM on November 8, 2004


generate 70% of their business from the drive through window, that should read...
posted by y2karl at 11:11 PM on November 8, 2004


If Shrub had bothered to read The Art of War we probably wouldn't be in this pickle.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:05 PM PST on November 8


Such a position implies reading begets understanding.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:25 AM on November 9, 2004


Great link, thanks. Was it just me, or, when you were reading that piece did you also hear it in a sort of hippy monotone?
posted by DrDoberman at 3:23 AM on November 9, 2004


when you were reading that piece did you also hear it in a sort of hippy monotone?

I heard more of a whine. So an anti-automobile zen man has problems getting his car fixed and feels the pace of modern life disconnects people. Reminds me of the time I got cut of by a VW van with peace symbols full of hippies flipping the bird at me on the way to Lollapalooza.

Next we will have armchair Chaos theorists blaming butterflies in the Gulf, Native's saying Saddam needs a justice circle, Goddess worshippers telling us Saddam is just out of touch with his sacred feminine.

I guess you can say Saddam needs buddhism and get away with it because buddhism is a cool alternative religion. Imagine the same article saying Saddam needs some Christianity.

Personally, as a software developer, I think the cause of the war was his failulre to use OOP techniques. Global Variables are evil.

There is a line between open-minded and hole-in-the-head. Linking his Live Journal'esque comments to Iraq crossed it. Unless of course this was meant as a nonsensical zen koan in which case...perfect.
posted by srboisvert at 4:05 AM on November 9, 2004


srboisvert -- you do realize that if you don't understand this piece, then no one can explain it to you.

One hand clapping, and all that.
posted by mooncrow at 7:37 AM on November 9, 2004


thanks for the relink, planetkyoto. i hadn't read that before, and it's very good. also thanks for the Berry and Thich Nhat Hahn links. i liked those three pieces better than the original link.

i didn't see it as a nonsensical zen koan. i read it as a not-so-subtle illustration of how much energy our society uses driving and maintaining automobiles. it seems obvious to me, and it is the reason why the U.S. invaded Iraq. in the perverse political logic where Florida Nader voters elected GWB in 2000, American car drivers started the war in Iraq. it's a bit overdone, but he gets the point across well enough.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:29 AM on November 9, 2004


"Some people are able to remain compassionate because they are lucky to have received a spiritual heritage, kindness and goodness, that stayed at least partially intact despite their training. This heritage is transmitted by parents, teachers, and community."

Awesome.
posted by Eamon at 10:17 AM on November 9, 2004


Well I did say "probably" but yeah in hindsight perhaps I should have said "possibly" instead.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:47 PM on November 9, 2004


bin Laden spent years in Afghan caves, praying and fighting for God. So we invade iraq because we live in places like Chicago. If we all meditated, things like this wouldn't happen.

I am in touch with true spirituality...taking control of down-to-earth realities like car repair; but I write in a condescendingly large font.

There are so few points of daily social contact in a human friendly space. It's a nonsensical zen koan. One hand clapping, and all that.

A not-so-subtle illustration of how much energy our society uses driving and maintaining automobiles.

And it's very good, but the author lost me. The cause of the war was his failulre to use OOP techniques. We just can't. help. ourselves.
posted by sfenders at 1:51 PM on November 9, 2004


Just curious, those of you snarking:

Do you now have, or have you ever tried, any sort of daily meditation practice?
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:57 PM on November 9, 2004


"Do you now have, or have you ever tried, any sort of daily meditation practice?"

Funny, I got the same line from some witnesses just the other day except they said "prayer" instead of "meditation practice".

I prefer thinking to either praying or meditation.
posted by srboisvert at 3:05 PM on November 9, 2004


I don't know what your definiton of thinking involves, srboisvert, but meditation is about paying attention to the here and now, which requires a level of concentration that most people never attain. Daydreaming, fantasizing, speculation and the generation of opinions on subjects with which one is unfamiliar require far less skill in means.
posted by y2karl at 3:34 PM on November 9, 2004


I have a complicated relationship with zen buddhism. We officially broke up a long time ago, but we're still very attracted to each other and spend a lot of time just hanging out.

It's a good religion, but it's sometimes hard to maintain. I never take it to the dealer for repairs, and the local garage just seems to far away sometimes. So, it's not in really good shape, and it needs new tires, but it's still fun to take it out for a spin sometimes, as long as the weather isn't too bad. It's always gets the basic job done, anyway. It's a great vehicle.

My daily meditation practice hasn't been happening every day, lately. It comes and goes, like a cat. It always comes back. I'm expecting it to return soon, probably around the time when the ski season starts.

I prefer thinking to either praying or meditation.

The kind of prayer they're talking about is not the same thing. Not even close. Meditation, zen style, is not incompatible with thinking. Nor is it incompatible with prayer, but that's another matter. You have to at least experience non-thinking before you can understand what thinking is. Which, I think, you do not. Think about meditation all you like, it won't help you understand it until you already understand it.

(pause for meditation)

I'm not into buddhism. Doesn't really work for me. Try as I might, I can't get that damn buddha-nature out of me. But you know, one has to make an effort.

meditation is about paying attention to the here and now, which requires a level of concentration that most people never attain.

I guess concentration is one place to start, but you don't see enlightened zen masters walking around *concentrating furiously* on everything. Well, sometimes you do. But it certainly isn't the only way to pay attention. I'll just say that if you think the purpose of meditation is to learn to stop your thoughts from wandering, you got it all wrong. YMMV. Consult your local dharma body.

I've got to stop my thoughts from wandering. They're getting lost again. Maybe this weekend I'll do some zazen. Good thing this thread came along.
posted by sfenders at 4:42 PM on November 9, 2004


What y2karl said, and very well put it did he.

srboisvert, it's better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool, than open it and remove all doubt.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:25 PM on November 9, 2004


i don't think attainment of "here and now" experiences ... which can happen without meditation ... necessarily make one right or unusually perspective about things ... or aware of what one's participation in a process really is ... and the inconsistencies exposed ... they can help ... but they don't always solve everything ... i have tried meditation ... i have had much deeper experiences by other means ... and no, i'm not talking about drugs, necessarily ... doing something creative can trigger it ... and sometimes i have no idea what triggered it

minds are funny that way
posted by pyramid termite at 7:21 PM on November 9, 2004


personally I go for random walks.

then just listen.

the City will talk to you.

it will draw pictures of you.

it will ask for change.
posted by wah at 12:23 AM on November 10, 2004


Perfecting States of Concentration
posted by homunculus at 2:39 AM on November 10, 2004


I don't know what your definiton of thinking involves, srboisvert, but meditation is about paying attention to the here and now, which requires a level of concentration that most people never attain. Daydreaming, fantasizing, speculation and the generation of opinions on subjects with which one is unfamiliar require far less skill in means. - y2karl

srboisvert, it's better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool, than open it and remove all doubt. - adamgreenfield


So if you two, who I assume are meditators and possibly zen buddhists, resort to petty ad-hominen attacks at this trivial level of disagreement what could possibly make you think it can lead to a better world?
posted by srboisvert at 3:51 AM on November 10, 2004


That's not an ad-hominem attack, chief. It's advice.
posted by adamgreenfield at 4:52 AM on November 10, 2004


For the record, John Q Sensitive, I am neither a meditator nor Zen buddhist and as to whether meditation will lead to a better world, I have no opinion. You tritely and shallowly dismissed a discipline of which you betrayed no knowledge at all. That's not thinking, that's chest thumping and posturing. Obliquely pointing it out is not a reflection on your person or character. Think about meditation all you like, it won't help you understand it until you already understand it, as the far from egoless sfenders rather pompously put it.
posted by y2karl at 7:23 PM on November 10, 2004


adamgreenfield asked: "..those of you snarking: Do you now have, or have you ever tried, any sort of daily meditation practice?"

Meditation stresses me out. I find peace and tranquility through snarking.

Are you now, or have you ever been, a transendental meditationist?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:23 AM on November 18, 2004


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