See more articles, reviews, fiction and poetry, including more of my writings, at group blog PLUTO'S REALM.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mumbling Towards Babylon (Some Bull)

Physical tiredness seems to take the mental energy out of me for this blogging thing. Or maybe it's just that I'm doing a lot of yoga and a lot of zazen and I'm just a little less adamant about, well, everything, but it feels like I'm just more inclined to equivocate. The one firm commitment I have now is to go down to Atlanta to see the New Year in with Michael Elliston and the ASZC; it's been years since I've felt like going out and partying on New Year's Eve or any other Amateur Night, so normally I've just gone to bed before midnight. 2007 was a very good year but it's ending in a minor key so I feel the need to start 2008 with a major chord, 'cause I feel like things are gonna get worse before they get better.

As Hunter said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." God, we need that guy now.

The layoffs at work seem inclined to spread; I'm not sure how much jeopardy my job is in (I think I'd be kept as long as anyone, but you never know), but my income may be primed for a big hit anyway, and it's not that impressive to start. The police state is oppressing my friend in ridiculous, Kafka-esque ways.

Since my fiftieth birthday in November, a few things I'd wrestled with seem to have become clear, or maybe just not worth wrestling with any more. Brain chemistry seems paramount and I see no need to disturb it any more than with my required dosages of caffeine and a little occasional aspirin. The health of the physical self also seems paramount. I am tired of seeing really fat people in my environment, and seeing my own self image in them; not so much for ego or style, but because I know we're being poisoned by the fake food they feed us for profit and I really resent being fucked up so they can make money off me.

Some things are good. I'm really bad at yoga, but I love it more and more. Over seven years of doing something badly, you'd think I'd have given up by now; more maturity? And step aerobics, a dying art, stuff I still love -- about the best moving meditation I've ever done. So what if most of the people who do it are assholes?

And more about the stuff we eat. I need to get over this sugar addiction we all have now, me less than others but still enough to annoy. And I've found my position with regard to the omnivore thing. We are natural omnivores, it's true. Man was a hunter-gatherer long before he invented agriculture, so vegetarians and vegans who claim that eating meat is some kind of an aberration are just historically and scientifically wrong. Our bodies are still designed for it. On the other hand, I am a being with the ability to make choices, and I really do empathize with mammals. They do feel pain, and I don't like to see it, or be the cause of it. Not so with birds (I kind of detest them) or fish (who were put there for me to eat, cause I love them so much). The problem with poultry is just that the way it's raised is so nasty. So in a perfect world, I'd eat no mammal flesh or poultry, with good seafood when I can get it.

Forget the "don't eat anything with a face" folks. Have you ever seen the "face" on a monkfish? Anyone who can't see the difference in a fish and a cow is a pure idealist. I want to keep this real. Of course there's the other side of the issue. Am I going to offend my 85-year-old dad by turning down a steak when he cooks it? Of course not. The beef is already dead. And yes, if you've been sick, meat is a good way to get a lot of nutrition in your system fast. The healthier I am, the less I need it, and the less of it I eat, the better I feel.

Of course, the driving force behind these decisions; the factory-farming system, like most of modern agriculture (and modern overpopulated "society") is evil, evil, evil. Occasionally I get all these new-agey things on the internet; I like some of them. But somewhere I saw that old Native American ritual where the people who are about to eat some meat thank the animal who died so they could live. It struck me as a really sick joke that someone would do that when the hamburgers came from Kroger. Now, you already know what I think about people who cringe from bearing the consequences of their actions by dissociating their McShit from living animals. No one should be allowed to eat meat if he can't hunt, kill, clean and cook the animal himself (not every particular animal, mind you).

But the Native American ritual makes sense if you're talking about a man with a spear or a bow out on a plain with a buffalo. Winter is coming. Only one of them can live. So the man, after some effort, kills the buffalo and supplies meat for his family for a while. I can respect that; I can respect the man and I can respect the buffalo. When the man in prayer before eating thanks the animal, I can respect that. The buffalo would respect it too, if a dead buffalo could respect things.

Butwhen a bunch of hippies sit down stoned or blissed out on "meditation", hold hands and thank their Big Macs for dying for them, I want to vomit. Because those cows were raised in pain, tortured and forcefed and imprisoned and treated in ways I'd like to treat Dick Cheney. You know what they'd say if they were thanked? Fuck you! Fuck you, Nazi! You and your endless hungry idiot children! I hope you get e. coli and die! And I'd agree with them. Death to McDonald's customers!

But enough of that. I think you get the point. If you don't, I'm wasting my caffeine rush.

Next up: Is the Nashville Buddhist Festival fast food for the spiritually retarded? Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

First, I repeat - why aren't you a professional writer somewhere?! I enjoyed this post a lot; although, I fully realize that I am probably one of your primary resources for the New Age things haha ... however; if those contributions prime the pump for posts such as this, I will consider it an obligation and duty to find more to send!

I agree with most everything you say. Your Dick Cheney comments caused me to laugh out loud (glad no one was around to see that).

Agree that there's a big difference between a Native American hunter trying to keep his family alive during a winter than we consumers who have endless choices as to grocery stores and restaurants to go to and continue to support factory farming, which is indeed one of the worst concentration camps ever in existence.

Keep it up -- I'm always happy when I have a new blog from you to read.


P.S. Please get a professional writing gig. It's so obvious that it's where your talents belong ... at least it's obvious to me!

teri said...

I won't get into the debate about whether humans are naturally omnivorous. But I do want to address another factor you didn't mention, and that isthe toll of meat consumption on the environment. You *can't* be an environmentalist or complain about global warming and eat meat without being a total hypocrite. Raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all of the vehicles of the world combined. Not to mention deforestation for the land for raising animals for food. The mass capture and farming of fish is also *extremely* destructive to the marine environment. It takes seven times less land to feed a vegetarian than it does someone on a meat-based diet. So it's not just about the animals suffering, it's about *everyone* suffering.(Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization).

Call me a hippie, but I *don't* see the difference between a fish and a cow, or a human for that matter. Aren't these artificial boundaries we create in our mind, somehow thinking we are different and superior to other forms of life? Life is life. Are other sentient beings not just as capable of feeling pain as we are? What exactly makes us different? That we have a *soul*? hehheh : )

Kozan Bob said...

I'll respond very briefly, cause I've done so at greater length before, but (1) as to the environment, you're right, but the environment could tolerate these effects if there weren't so damn many people, and there's really no way to save the environment at this point anyway; and (2)as to harm, it's absolutely impossible to live without causing harm, which makes the first precept of Buddhism completely impossible. So you just have to pick the harm you do and live with it. I empathize with mammals, but not with birds or fish, so I really don't like mistreating them. It's subjective.

I certainly appreciate your comments, keep it up!

teri said...

So basically, you're saying that the moral precepts of Buddhism are not possible to obey, so pick and chose whatever you want to do. The environment cannot be saved, so we might as well continue to rape and plunder it for as long as we can. ?

Isn’t the gist of non-harm to *avoid* harm whenever possible? I agree that it is impossible to live completely without harm, but there is a difference between accidently stepping on an ant and choosing to eat a slaughtered animal when there are many other, less violent options freely available. I guess I am curious as to why you chose to identify yourself with Buddhism if you don’t believe in making an honest effort to follow its moral guidelines. Why not make your own brand of meditation or self-inquiry and leave the morality out of it? Granted, I have not been reading your blog for long so forgive me if these are issues you’ve addressed before. I am not trying to be the morality police- just trying to understand why you would affiliate yourself with something you don’t seem to embrace.

As to your attitude on the environment, this is what I notice: It seems you have a very justified contempt for the destruction mankind has wrecked on the earth. However, in light of the fact that you identify yourself with Buddhism, I don’t understand your willingness to throw up your hands and make predictions for an apocalyptic future. The world is a reflection of yourself. Your actions moment by moment affect the reflection that you see. What the “future” may or may not bring has nothing to do with the choices you personally chose to make moment by moment. The future is a fantasy, is it not? The judgments you place on what others outside of you have done or are doing are also projections, correct? You, Right now is the only thing that is real. Doesn’t it make sense to do all that you can to respect and revere the earth in every way you live, regardless of the outcome or what ‘others out there’ are doing or have done? Isn’t that what’s real? I’m not that educated in Buddhism. I’m only calculating what makes sense to me. I’m not criticizing you either – I’m probably addressing the ways that I see a reflection of my own tendencies in you. I’m just curious how you reconcile these things.

Kozan Bob said...

Two facts about Buddhism: First, very few Buddhists, or rather schools of Buddhists, are vegetarian. Of the main schools, only the Theravadans, as far as I know or can think of right now. Second, the Buddhist precepts are actually rules for living together socially (originally within a monastic community), not moral commandments as in theistic religions; only when taken as a categorical imperative does "Do no harm" fail to be practicable. So what I said is both true and false. Hey, if Dogen can do it....

I do disagree with the common assumption that militant vegetarians make that man's omnivorous nature is an absolutely bad things for animals. Very few animals, in this age of massive human overpopulation, would exist at all if not for man's desire to eat or somehow use them. Reflection yields that man's relationship with the other animals is more codependent that you might believe. Surely you don't think millions of cattle would be frollicking freely in the wild? Or that they would even exist as a breed, at all?

The abiding principle of Zen as opposed to some other Buddhism is that one should maintain an inductive faith in the practice of zazen itself, with the guidance of a teacher to keep from getting off course. However, in the long run one trusts one's own experience over any teachings. I realize that many if not most Buddhist teachers claim to think that the world can be saved. I do not, but I don't think that's a problem. I am not a teacher, but I have more and more faith in my own perceptions. And I practice to be able to face reality just as it is. I just trouble having expressing it in words, as honestly I think everyone does.

It is not really hard at all to see the difference between a cow, a fish, and human -- objectively, that is. Subjectively, the value we place in them, like in a stuffed animal or in another person (as in my old "Chobits" article you commented on), determines their meaning to us, not an objective existence or soul.

teri said...

I do disagree with the common assumption that militant vegetarians make that man's omnivorous nature is an absolutely bad things for animals. Very few animals, in this age of massive human overpopulation, would exist at all if not for man's desire to eat or somehow use them. Reflection yields that man's relationship with the other animals is more codependent that you might believe. Surely you don't think millions of cattle would be frollicking freely in the wild? Or that they would even exist as a breed, at all?

No, I don't think they'd be frolicking in the wild. But if i had to choose between enduring a life of confinement, abuse, suffering and misery, culmuniating in an inhumae death versus not existing at all, I think I would chose not existing at all. Breeding and raising thinking and feeling creatures so that we can torture them and use them as food and commodity is not exactly giving them a gift of life. I think it would be much better to reduce the suffering of living beings by not bringing them into the world for such a cruel purpose in the first place. It's barbaric and sick to do so when it is so unnecessary and destructive to the earth and everyone involved.

Thanks for the info on Buddhism and vegetarianism. I didn't realize that, and it makes me even less inclined to look toward any Buddshit organization for guidance. Unneccesary killing of other living creatures is a pretty simple concept, so to say that non-harm is a moral precept of Buddhism, and for the vast majority of them to not follow it in such a way, makes them hypocrites who pick and choose their interpretations as it is convenient for them. We all do this, but I'm certainly not going to respect anyone with such a blatant disregard for their own teachings.