Talk:Importance of Neotraditional Approaches in the Reconstructive Transmodern Era

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--Poor Richard 18:32, 25 April 2011 (UTC) discussion:

The Main Argument: the common immateriality of traditional and post-industrial eras

I see traditional immateriality as stories that filled in gaps in the pre-scientific ability to explain natural phenomena. The post industrial immateriality is categorically different. I think you may be associating creative work with immateriality, which I would question. In my own post-industrial world view everything, including thought and feeling, is natural, material, physical. There is no nature-supernature or mind-brain or material-non-material dichotomy--things which may appear immaterial probably involve materials that are simply imperceptible or unknown to us. (Yesterday's miracle is today's physics.)

Further, socio-economic "materialism" in an industrial society or consumer society is not the same as the materialism of physics. I suspect that there is some invalid commingling of connotations of the word materialism that are suggesting imaginary relationships between unrelated things. I see no "common immateriality" bridging traditional and post-industrial culture.

Another point is that neither traditional nor post-industrial societies are monolithic, so comparisons can not be made at the level of broad generalities at all. Such an effort immediately winds up in the factual and semantic "weeds". Some members of traditional societies are what we might call "secular" (not active participants in the dominant mythos and ceremony of the society). Members of post-industrial societies (often multicultural) follow many diverse belief systems and social systems.

The Second Argument: the nature of post-deconstructive trans-modernism

I would agree that some segment of post-modern populations are romantically attracted to traditional cultures and traditional religions (not entirely the same things). This is mostly delusional. Another post-modern cohort is attracted not to the religion, myth, or even social milleu but to the practical skills and "home economics" of traditional life (living in a tipi, hunting and fishing, being free, being in intimate contact with nature, living green and sustainably, etc.) There is nothing immaterial about that. Some just want a life that may seem simpler and less stressful. Or they may imagine a traditional life to have "more meaning". ETC.

Nevertheless, there is nothing about traditional life that is not available in a secular version to post-modern people who are willing to learn ecology, ethnobiology, etc. and serve an apprenticeship to nature and to those with the desired knowledge and skill-sets.

The Third Argument: the problematic nature of tradition

No disagreement here. You make some attempt to de-romanticize tradition. There may have been just as many political and economic agendas and subtexts in traditional religion and social structure as in modern and post modern cultures.

"it would therefore seem important to have some kind of methodology, or methodologies, that can allow some kind of critical and reconstructive appropriation of earlier insights."

The critical reconstruction for contemporary man is based on anthropolgy, ethnobiology, ecology, etc. Alternatively, one can make an aesthetic analysis of tradition and "go native" for creative reasons. In my mind, recapitulating traditional spirituality or non-materiality (e.g. magic) would be the worst reason to appropriate tradition.

Fourth Argument: the road to differential post-industrial development

"I see neotraditional economics as a similar approach, but not limited to an attitude to technology selection, but to the totality of political and social choices. In this way, in harmony with local values, those aspects can be chosen, which increase the quality of livelihoods, but do not radically subvert chosen lifestyles and social forms. It represents a new approach which combines the high tech of globalized technical knowledge, with the high touch elements of local culture. For example, it becomes imaginable to conceive of local villages, adapting localized and small-scale manufacturing techniques based on the latest advances in miniaturization and flexibilisation of production technologies, and which are globally connected with global knowledge networks."

I agree fully. I'll just repeat that from the "totality of political and social choices", traditional (pre-scientific, pre-enlightenment, pre-democratic) spirituality would seem the least desirable material to blend into current practice.


Fifth Argument: Adapting to Steady-State Economies in the Age of the Endangered Biosphere

This imperative is self-evident these days, but I prefer an entirely secular approach.

Conclusion: Can the transmodern peer to peer ethos be mixed with neotraditional approaches?

Probably yes, but I see little prospect of doing anything in the same frame of reference premodern people had, and I would especially avoid drawing on imagined premodern notions of spirituality or causality to anchor current social, economic, and ecological practice.

Importantly, over the past 40 years I have evolved a secular,, naturalistic, neurobiological and ecological framework for interpreting the practices, processes, and states of awareness involved in shamanism. As I study pre-scientific shamanistic practice, I reinterpret it and explain it to myself in modern scientific terms. By making it "my own" in that way, if my interpretations are accurate and appropriate, I am maintaining the greatest fidelity to deep shamanic principles.

On a final note, I have personal experience with the quasi-traditional cultures of Appalachian hill people and Mennonites. In both cases I have found a substantial number of "secular" members of those cultures who without fully participating the religious and socio-ritual aspects of the communities nevertheless followed the same ethic of hospitality, sharing, etc. and the same secular customs and economic lifestyle as their more spiritual or religious peers.

I have also found evidence that some tribes of Native Americans have one set of myths and "spirit stories" for their children and another far more secular set of beliefs about the world for the adults. I gather that they are amused when white anthropologists take the former as the tribal world view.

--Poor Richard 18:32, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

"On Buddhism and Organisations"

  "For example, Buddhism only became acceptable to to the ‘mainstream’society of its time when it accepted to exclude slaves."

I've been thinking a lot about the paragraph on Buddhism and slavery, and how it mixed with feudal society. I'm a Nichiren Buddhist, and so I follow the teachings of a 13th century monk who lived in feudal 13th century Japan. I'd like to know where the reference came on excluding slaves from buddhist practice. On this online history of the period, which goes from the introduction of Buddhism to the botched mongol invasion and fall of the kamakura shogunate, there is doubt as to whether there was anything like a slave at that time in the first place, although a rigid class structure was obviously present. I don't remember mentions of slaves in the Gosho (the collected letters Nichiren sent to followers), but he does correspond with single mothers and very poor, politically persecuted or dishonoured people (mostly due to following his teachings which were quite controversial and constituted a new type of faith or sect for the time).

What I do know about Buddhism, and which was one reason for my distancing myself from Soka Gakkai, is that any religion, or in fact any organisation is always infused with the values and laws of it's time. This is also in a sutra by the way! The Innumerable Meanings Sutra talks about laws that come and go around us and how we should act with regard to them, and I interpret this to include underlying social or cultural laws within a geographical area that form the basis for different groupings or identities within it.

When Buddhism arrived to Japan it was strict, difficult and took all day to practice. No-one could spare the time for this apart from people who could devote their whole lives or a good chunk of their free time to it. Then, as the linked article shows, Zen became popular with the warrior class, but it was "Chant" based sects like Nichiren or Amida/Shin Buddhism that popularised it with peasants and the general population outside of the courts and military spaces: This is because the practice of reciting verses and repeating a mantra was much simpler and easier to do than other practices at the time, and it stated specifically that everyone could reach enlightenment - in Nichiren's case in your present lifetime, and with Amida Buddhism, upon death - where you'd be reborn in the pure land.

Fast forward to the 1950s and you have Soka Gakkai, a secular organisation founded by educators and businessmen, rapidly growing in post-war Japan under US rule, and with rapid industrialisation, free market policies and a cultural memory of famine and suffering that no-one in their right mind would want to go back to. In the early 1990s Soka Gakkai, now an international organisation (with it's own political party) split from the priesthood which had carried the faith on since Nichiren's time, run temples and become a part of the system of the day as it were. It was interesting that one of the first changes then was that our daily practice as members, of prayer and recital of sections of the Lotus Sutra, was further reduced, and where Priests would carry out long winded versions of these prayers during rituals and celebration, whose basic length was about 30 minutes recital (a lot to memorise!) was reduced to a few pages and about 10 minutes worth of reciting the sutra per sitting. Instead of being a post-war religion for the poor, it was now practiced by all sorts of stars - from Tina Turner to Orlando Bloom - and regular people with hectic lifestyles could now practice it. As an artist/web developer myself in the 90s and noughties I was surrounded by other creative people, all chanting happily for the next role, project, gig, deal etc.

But I didn't think it didn't work, or that there was something wrong with the faith per se or the people around me - but I felt the organisation in general was very concerned with Japan, with it's growth, with proselytising, with the priesthood and the feud with them. I guess I grew apart from it as I got more into environmentalism and self organised collectives. I think those are all "laws of the land" that keep changing and carry seeds for good or bad things in future, and so will the organisation or whatever organisation we choose to align ourselves with.

Nowadays I'm in the Catalan Integral Cooperative, which I also feel is based on a strong belief in a particular reality that we want to develop and grow, but I feel the reality we are now striving to build is more fitting with the post-capitalist times I feel I already partly inhabit: maybe I traded some positive values for others that might be less so and vice versa, but I'm able to use Buddhism in my present world view, and I don't feel my particular slant of it has lost any of it's essence. Buddhism already been through many more ups and downs than it has this past century. Maybe as many individualist anarchists would say, you should be wary of any organisation, but even if I were to lose other structures around me, I'm still just an organisation of cells and processes, and so far it's a useful organisation to be a part of. --Alefernandez (talk) 12:21, 20 January 2015 (UTC)